Thoughts on "Hammer of the Gods"
Going into this episode, I thought it'd be light-hearted and funny. I didn't read the descriptions but I did see the preview clip. Little did I know that Lucifer and the Trickster would be returning and thus overshadowing the humour with drama and emotion. At first, when Changing Channels was in the Then segment, the idea that the episode would be amusing was reinforced - until Mark Pelligrino's name flashed across the screen in the opening credits. Lucifer is not a funny guy.
The opening teaser was a fabulous throw-back to the old MOTW episodes of Supernatural - dilapidated location, innocent dude with a flashlight, creepy man in suit, blood slashed against the walls. The "elys" which was visible alluded to the gods/goddesses storyline that would arise and I was delighted when it was Elysian Fields (as I predicted to my mother and then we argued over pronunciation of the word) and then I was surprised that Sam didn't catch on - him being a walking encyclopaedia of weird after all. The Elysian Fields, of course, being heavily present in various mythologies as the resting place of the souls of warriors or a number of variations there in. Undoubtedly I'm reading too much into the name, but it does seem fitting that Sam and Dean are in Elysian Fields at one point or another- them being warriors of light and virtue.
I didn't mind the pagan gods and in fact, I wondered many, many episodes ago about creatures such as these and their reaction to the apocalypse. I agree that the gods seemed easily destroyed, but I wonder if power isn't directly proportionate to their following? Considering that the other two types of pagan gods we've encountered in Supernatural have been killed by Sam and Dean "mere mortal" Winchester, and given that at the time they were killed their biggest complaints were the lack of worship they'd received over the last centuries, this seems plausible. Also, perhaps their surrender of the planet to the Christian God (in Supernatural mythology anyways) rendered them lesser beings. Or maybe angels just kick ass, period. Hard to say.
"No one gives us the right. We take it."
Every time Mark Pellegrino graces the screen, I am more in love with his portrayal of Lucifer than before. As Lucifer's back-up vessel deteriorates more and more, so too does the façade Lucifer first adopted. He's become more and more "prideful" every time we've seen him - never more so than in this episode. Waltzing in to the hotel and flexing his muscle that way, asserting that he simply takes whatever he wants? What happened to the soft-spoken Lucifer who swayed people with quiet emotional manipulation? Lucifer's massacre of the pagan counsel was terrifying and enthralling - so much power in the flick of his wrist. Mark Pellegrino as Lucifer is always impressive. The standoff with Kali and the fire makes me look forward to the final showdown. It is very evident that, aside from angels (such as himself) Lucifer is of the opinion that all other creatures belong dead and gone.
 "You learned all your tricks from me, little brother" - There was something heartbreaking about this deliver. I'll admit, I felt for Lucifer - he didn't enjoy killing Gabriel that much was clear. He seemed almost sorry to do it. Of course, my sympathy only extends so far, given that he did, in fact, kill Gabriel.
"Luci, I'm home."
As always, Richard Speight Jr. was phenomenal. He played the role of the Trickster/Gabriel so well all these years and it's sad to see him go. The exchange between Lucifer and Gabe was tragic and poignant. After Gabe's stunt with Kali and the fake sword, I held my breath waiting for a similar occurrence to take place when Lucifer stabbed Gabe, but when the wing outline became clear, it was all over. I wonder if it was the fact that Gabe was out of Heaven for so long or just that Lucifer is more powerful. We witnessed Lucifer tear people (pagan gods) apart, in some cases without laying a finger on them. So, if the arch angels are all-powerful, why was Gabriel unable to legitimately fight Lucifer, equal to equal. It's curious and inspires questions of what Michael expects to do. I suppose, that like Cas his powers have simply faded over time (though, his trickster powers have been pretty incredible - I've yet to see Castiel create an alternate dimension and Gabe's been out of heaven a lot longer than Cas) but this raises the question about Lucifer's power - what exactly fuels him? Hmm. I'm sure that's an over analysis, but it's a lingering question nonetheless. The final speech that Gabriel made to Lucifer was pitch perfect and hopeful. It was my favourite part of the episode:
"I'm loyal. To them, to people, Lucifer. People.  Dad was right, they are better than us.  They're flawed. But a lot of them try, to do better, to forgive.  I've been riding the pine for a long time but I'm in the game now. And I'm not on your side or Michael's. I'm on theirs."
Finally! Someone on the side of humanity - this was a welcome breath. I suppose the Trickster, having spent so much time on Earth (mostly tormenting humans with iron - but only the ones who deserved it) would know better than any other angels that, despite the flaws, there are a few of us who are, or at least strive to be, decent people. The best example Gabe would have of this is Sam and Dean, whom he's witnessed time and again struggle to save people and do the right thing - even in this episode when they blackmailed him to help get the frozen soon-to-be dinners out of the freezer. Gabriel's death, if it absolutely had to happen, when down exactly as it should have. He climbed off the "pine" and took a stand, between the humans and his brothers. And, he gave mankind a spark of a chance by pointing Sam and Dean to the rings of the horsemen.
I would have liked to have seen more interaction between Castiel and Gabriel. During Changing Channels there seemed to be something between them, whether it was generally angel-to-angel animosity or more familial in nature, it would have been interesting to explore even for one scene. After all, Gabriel has lived among humans for who knows how long (and earned a Masters in the art of sarcasm) - he and Cas could have had some interesting conversations.
The Casa Erotica DVD - what a way to get a post-humus message to the Winchesters! I yelled - "we knew it!" at the tv after the ring reveal. Way to bring that back and give the boys a fighting chance! I am so excited for the final three episodes - although, pestilence made me sufficiently nauseous with just a minute on screen so I'm sure I'm ready to handle an entire episode with him as the feature baddy. The horsemen have been a slowly building element through   out this season and personally, I love it. That Dean and Sam inadvertently began to collect the tools they'd need to stop Luci was a nice touch. Good thing they postponed that trip to Mordor after all.
We're left with a few loose ends after this episode. First and foremost, what of the blood Kali collected from the boys and Gabriel? If they are bound to her, Gabriel included, does that mean that she could resurrect Gabriel? Did the boys actually take and get rid of the blood vials? Additionally, what became of Kali. Surely this isn't the last we'll see of her, since it was such a pointed get away - and, for all intents and purposes, Gabriel gave his life for her. They seemed to have a genuine mutual care for one another. Has Kali been added to the potential arsenal alongside the anti-Christ? I hope so! One wonders, where does a pagan god on the run from Lucifer go to hide? Perhaps she has an Enochian rib-carver on her payroll.
All in all, I enjoyed this episode immensely. We got to see Dean as his old self - from the pie to the name-calling antagonism of the gods to his optimistic reassurance of Sam that they'd find a way to stop Lucifer's evil plan of world domination - it was refreshing. At the same time, the hints about and cracks in Sam's until-now stable, stalwart stand tease that the final instalments of this season will be amazing. Can't wait to see how this ride will turn out.