You know, I have been a huge advocate for a while now for Castiel getting his own stories. I always love it when they put him into Highway to Heaven/Touched by an Angel mode and show what he can do to help people out on his own. This time he even got the A plot. I’ve pitched the “Warrior Angel” spinoff before, where he somberly travels from town to town a la David Banner, looking for answers, helping a lot of people along the way. Please tell me this was a put pilot for that concept. Otherwise, I’m not sure what the purpose of this episode was, and it was certainly ill timed.
If it were any other season, in any other early season slot, I would have gladly enjoyed this episode. But we are down to the wire and expectations are high. This episode was tame, slow as hell, predictable and did very little to advance a plot that at this point in the series needs some serious action. More than one layer in the plotting would be wonderful. Case in point, episode 5.15, “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.” The raising of the dead by Death himself. That was a pretty significant twist to a multi-threaded apocalyptic storyline. Here, there’s no more time for slow character studies and wrapping up personal grievances by the writers. That should have happened much earlier this season!
“Gimme Shelter” by its Merits
Okay, let’s pretend this is just another typical MOTW episode and the series is not ending and not going into a climactic showdown that sends us away forever until the reunion movie. Let’s pretend this is episode…12.05. Yeah, 12.05.
I love the Castiel and Jack relationship. Not your typical father and son story, but the elements are all there anyway. Castiel was tasked to keep Jack safe by Kelly Kline, and he has more than lived up to that promise. He is the only one that hasn’t turned on Jack. I didn’t even mind that it wasn’t a supernatural story. It was a basic human psycho procedural, but that’s how you get some good character exposure. After all, and the current times are especially indicative of this, humans are worse monsters than the real deal.
The pastor was a breath of fresh air. He accepted that as human beings we need to help each other. Putting everything in God’s hands isn’t going to help anyone. He didn’t care what their beliefs were, sexual orientation, or even if they were clean or not. Everyone that came in there deserved their help. He put faith in humanity, not God. I’m glad that Dr. Sexy got a meatier part. The parallels between him and Castiel were wonderful, and I love their honest chat about the challenges of parenting. Which is more important, saving the world or your own family? It does feel like a Sophie’s choice at times. Foreshadowing that Castiel will exactly have to make that choice? Seemed like it to me.
I love that after all these years Castiel can proclaim with confidence that he has finally found his purpose in life. He’s content and happy, and finally feels part of a family, which means he’s going down to a horrible death. I felt like this was Castiel’s "Swan Song", but um, how can that be when this is episode 12.05? (Yes, I’m still sticking with that.)
I also loved Zack, the bored Cross Roads Demon. So Rowena doesn't believe in deals because people will end up where they deserve. Love it! She's a very smart woman. It looked like that girl was being taken off to Hell at the end. Think she made a deal or is getting what she deserved? That may be important for later, but maybe not.
Jack’s confession is not surprising. Geez, how many times has this show played the no win scenario card? Dean was supposed to be the bomb that took out Amara in season 11, so it makes sense that is the only option to take out Chuck and Amara. Since Jack has confessed though, that allows just enough time for plan B to be pursued, aka another way. That is so going to be Castiel’s sacrifice. Castiel and Jack are the new Sam and Dean, since we’ve seen those two take on so many sacrifices for each other it’s lost all meaning.
Speaking of Sam and Dean, there’s nothing like relegating your series stars to Plot B- during this very important time when the mytharc should be fully blazing in…episode 12.05. I’m not sure exactly why Sam was even in this story other than Jared’s contractual obligation and bragging rights for being in every episode. No, he didn’t have the personal history with Amara that Dean did, but, he gets to sit in the car? I’ll stop there, hoping a meaty Sam story is right around the corner. A girl can still dream.
(Enjoy the semi-wet hair pretty, the most we got from Sam this episode)
Dean asking Amara why she brought Mary back was quite a thing though. I never expected that conversation. Sure, it felt like Amara’s answer was funneled by a writing team that desperately wanted to defend their reasons for bringing back Mary to a fandom that has been vocal about butchering her character in her return, but it is what it is. Amara thought it would bring Dean acceptance of his life. A life that would not have been better if she had lived. Okay, fair point, but I still wish it was more enjoyable to watch. But I digress. Dean cleverly used that to twist the conversation back on Amara, that his whole life has been a manipulation by Chuck. Has it though?
What Dean said doesn’t sit with me. I truly wonder if anything could make him happy. He seems to be very good on shifting his unhappiness to the cards that he’s dealt and full out blaming the dealer to the point where he has to kill him rather than accepting consequences for his own actions. It’s all that anger inside that can never be quelled. He has always been Captain Freewill, but it’s not like Chuck has been controlling every single detail. Dean made many of those choices in life, several out of outright self loathing and anger. It goes back to Chuck’s statement in “Swan Song,” a sentiment that hasn’t changed whether Chuck is good or evil.
So, what's it all add up to? It's hard to say. But me, I'd say this was a test... for Sam and Dean. And I think they did all right. Up against good, evil, angels, devils, destiny, and God himself, they made their own choice. They chose family. And, well... isn't that kinda the whole point?
The question is, would Dean be this angry and defiant today if Mary had lived? Amara seems to think not, and I don’t think so either. He’s got that fire inside and I’m not sure what will put it out. Dean’s speech to Amara reminds me of the time he brow beat Gabriel into trying to defeat Lucifer and it got him killed instead. Why is Dean constantly trying to guilt people into joining his fight, asking them to choose others over their family? Would he do that for Sam? Of course not. Why is it only his family that matters? Does he truly believe it is for the greater good, or is it good the way he sees it? Is his fight for freewill worth the sacrifices that others are being asked to make for his happiness? Will things change if he wins, or is it just another segue to the next sorry situation? Sure, each victory results in some societal shifts, but will that be enough for Dean? It will never fill that hole. Who knows, maybe Dean’s peace when he is done is no more fights to wage. At this point, I only see that happening with his death.
(Amara knows you're lying Dean)
The Major Issue
Okay, pretend time over. This is not episode 12.05. IT IS FREAKING EPISODE 15.15! There are now five episodes left in the entire series and we’re stuck with slow, plotless character studies? I was really bored for the first 20 minutes. Aside from Jack’s confession, which again was no surprise to anyone that follows canon on this show, nothing happened. This is how Davy Perez chose to close out his time on this show? I was hoping for better, and I know he can do better. I have a feeling this wasn’t exactly his choice. Are all the writers being told to hold back for Dabb to wrap it up? If so, then Chuck help us all. We are screwed. This is not how I hoped the show would go out, but this is exactly what I expected. There’s just no spark left.
(I wish I could be this happy!)
This show is not better with slow, tepid plotting when they are trying to push fan excitement here at the end. It feels like they’re crawling to a finish, like it’s an agonizing chore to tell these stories rather than embrace the opportunity to send us out with even the slightest lift. Sam and Dean spent half the episode on the road! We literally watched them speculate “what if” in the car for half of their limited screen time. I can barely muster excitement over what’s left, because I don’t see where any of this is going, and not in a good way. This ambiguity has only sparked disinterest, not intrigue for what’s to come.
(Castiel's words to Dean is not creating any sort of suspense)
Overall grade, a C-. If this was episode 12.05, I’d be in B+ territory. I’m so sorry to say this, but if they can’t muster a challenge to send the show off right, it is time for the end and I’m ready. Prove me wrong show.
Screencaps courtesy of the most amazing Raloria! Thanks again for allowing me to share your wonderful work.
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!