Who am I kidding? There are 11 episodes of “Supernatural” left and at this point, I would like to watch episodes I actually enjoy. When I look at the construction and intent of “The Trap” from a writer’s perspective, I see what was supposed to happen. On paper, it could be perceived as downright clever. It raises some interesting questions, like what would happen if the light of God wasn’t in the world? Can God be inherently evil? Is trapping God being done for the benefit of the world or because Sam and Dean don’t like being rats in his maze? All good questions.
Why then was this episode a total hot mess? This wasn’t fun to watch in the least. This is not my heroes’ journey.
I know a lot of fans cling onto the acting, that being the most important or only criteria for judging the worthiness of an episode. Myself, I need the total package. I need a plot that blows my mind. I need a story that captivates my imagination. I need scenes that when put together gel and make freaking sense. I need something that moves faster than a snail’s pace. I need continuity, AND I would love some good acting. When all that happens is the acting part, the whole episode just fails. That’s why I’m putting “The Trap” in the stinker column.
So what didn’t I like? Let me count the ways…
1. Sam once again looks like a chump after yet another no win situation.
I just hate how Sam always becomes the universe's punching bag. It's lazy writing. I think he did the right thing because he had no reason to not believe Chuck, but it still made him look weak in the end.
The most disappointing part was Sam’s connection to Chuck was at least some sort of a chance that he could take down Chuck or even the fight. I adored the idea that maybe he provided balance in the universe, but no, it went nowhere. He gets shown visions and now it's gone. The conclusion of that was not remotely satisfying. How is it the equalizer if Sam loses hope then God gets his power back? It smelled like the writers again abandoned an idea halfway through the season because they didn’t know how to run with it. Either way, Sam gets screwed again.
2. Dean looks like a chump by not having a plot.
The purgatory scenes were utterly useless, thus rendering Dean useless. Forget the fact that Purgatory didn’t even look like Purgatory because it was too colorful. Dean and Castiel end up going to Purgatory for…couples counseling? Dean left Sam behind for that? Did Dean get closure with Benny? That didn’t sound like closure to me. The whole plotting of why they were there made no sense at all. Even Dean’s heartfelt prayer to Castiel, which was long overdue, seemed misplaced. Again, 11 episodes guys. We don’t have time for useless filler.
3. Sam spent the most of the episode tied to a chair…again.
Come on, this is God, he doesn’t need zip ties. The power of his mind is all he needs. How about he trap Sam and Eileen in the room and let them move around in confrontation? The cliché of tied up Sam has just gotten ridiculous, looking more like a bondage fetish than anything that drives plot or heightens the jeopardy of the situation. He deserves better than this.
4. The editing was weak.
Instead of an even flowing episode that built suspense, it was a choppy mess that slowed the pacing down to a crawl and killed any hope of a tense and dramatic reveal. Scenes need proper transition and build up to keep a viewer engaged!
5. The lore was really off.
Would the spell that Michael gave them to trap God actually work? It took a massive team up of everyone, including Chuck to trap Amara back at the end of season 11 and none of it worked. Originally, it took Chuck and four archangels to banish Amara. You mean to tell me a few ingredients and a spell would do it this time? I have this feeling if Sam had broken the "magic ball" it would have done nothing.
Then there's Purgatory. Why would Eve want revenge on Castiel when Dean was the one that killed her? Why would the Leviathan want revenge on Castiel when he was the one that set them free? Why wasn’t Eve even mentioned in season 8 when they were there for months? How did she know they were coming? Why was Dean left behind unharmed and how did Castiel manage to fight Leviathan when his angel magic didn't work on the back in season seven? Yeah, none of it adds up.
I also question how some things went that wrong in his future preview, like why didn't Sam and Dean use the vampire cure, the one that's been done several times in this show, after turning? Even if that wasn't possible, when Dean was turned in "Live Free and Twi-Hard," his first request was for Sam and Samuel to kill him. He didn't want to infect others. He fought hard not to feed. Why wouldn't they have done the same here? It felt like a scene was missing of what led from point A to point B. But considering that was just an AU view, I'll have to digress. I did have a hard time believing it though. The rest, Castiel going nuts from the Mark, the monsters taking over, all seemed plausible to me.
6. Sam and Dean were rendered useless.
Jack got the “it’s time” signal. Now it becomes his hero’s journey. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jack and was really thrilled to see that he was back. But who’s story is it now? I get that one could argue that Sam and Dean played a big part, raising Jack right after his mother died so he could reach this moment, but that’s about as exciting as Bran Stark sitting on the Iron Throne. It’s logical when you think of it, but man, we invested all that time for that?
Here’s what I did like:
1. Sam’s kiss with Eileen before she left.
You could tell he’d been dying to do that for a while and his heart was crushed that he waited until a goodbye. My heart was crushed, but I’m the only person on the planet that likes these two together. But yeah, she had to leave. Sam is bad news and she needs to live. I hope she comes back, at the end.
2. Claire was dead.
Oh man did that make me happy. There, Wayward Daughters, fixed! Too bad it didn’t stick. Couldn’t that have happened before Sam had to make his choice?
3. This line:
No. Not this Sam. And not this Dean. So you go back to Earth-2 and play with your other toys. Because we will never give you the ending that you want.
Why do I like it? One, because at least Dean remains defiant. Two, I just watched the most recent DC Universe crossover on the CW and I love the Earth-2 reference. So well timed!
4. The acting
Always solid, despite the real crap they were given to work with this week.
The God Problem
Given the events of this episode, does this mean the focus now becomes not defeating Chuck, but not giving him the ending he wants? He’s the writer. How can that happen? My big issue is I still have a hard time believing Chuck is a villain. Chuck makes a terrible villain. That’s not a slight on Rob Benedict in the least. He’s doing the best he can with the material he’s given. But he’s just not believable as a bad guy. Maybe because we’ve just grown to love his nerdy, lovable loser nature. The average Joe among us who just happens to be God.
Has what Chuck been doing inherent bad? Sure, he can incur wrath. Based on the Bible he’s done that a few times before. He’s known to have temper tantrums. But he shows mercy in this world too. He’s helped in the past. He isn’t bringing about the end of the world from what we can tell. He’s just trying to change the Winchester story. But does changing the Winchester story bring about the end of the world? I guess it did in other worlds, only because Chuck left and darkness took over. How many worlds are left? Would he do that here?
I think Chuck has grown very bored of his “show” and he’s desperate to spice it up a bit. The villains have been wooden and cartoonish for a while, so why not give them a real one? You can’t go bigger than God. I don’t think Chuck wants to kill Sam and Dean. He showed pride when telling Sam about the half spell let be discovered to save Eileen. His smile when he said he knew Sam would figure it out was not that of an angry God. He was impressed. He also kept Eileen alive, perhaps still hoping for that Sam romance. It sounded like he didn’t mind watching that at all. Then there’s this comment:
You, Sam Winchester, have been playing fast and loose with the laws of nature and magic for a very long time you and your brother. Always breaking the rules. And that's what I love about you, Sam. It's so heroic. It's so Promethean.
I tell ya, he’s still a fan! I think Chuck’s threatening the bad ending for the Winchesters to spice up the “show”. It’s gone badly in his other universes and he’s holding out hope this Sam and Dean will get it right. After all, he did say in “Moriah” this was his favorite Sam and Dean. I think he wants them to pass his test, a la “Swan Song.” Just how will they do that? Maybe that’s where he gets to finally be the hero. His little preview to Sam was done not only to break him, thus breaking the link, but to warn Sam that they were heading in the wrong direction.
Having said all that, I’m still hating that the “writers lie” moniker, based on what we have seen so far, has become an excuse for the writers to carry on with bad writing rather than write a compelling story. If the writing is bad, it’s Chuck’s fault. It’s his story! Ugh.
Overall grade, a D+. Even if this episode proves to be very relevant for the outcome of the series, I’d still have zero interest in watching again. It would just make me mad.
Read more of Alice's insights on Supernatural! Reviews on every episode of the series are on Alice's Writer's Page and in WFB's Episode Guides!