Episode 09×18 AKA Does Supernatural Even Have a Fourth Wall?
We’re in the final stretch. The last leg. There are only 5 episodes left in season 9 of SPN, and if last night was any indication, this finale is going to f**k with our minds. So, without any ado whatsoever, let’s talk meta.
The SPN Family is very…verbal, to put it mildly. We regularly trend things like #Misha4SPN10 or #AngelWarrior or #HelloCas (sometimes, without even meaning to!). We’re a dedicated group, and to say that we spend too much of our free time analyzing and contextualizing the show’s subtext is an understatement. Last night, Supernatural went meta again, this time, from the voice of one Scribe of the Lord/God-wannabe: Metatron.
The show lights up with Metatron, in a smoking jacket, sitting at a typewriter, talking about what makes a story good. We have the Word of God, the Divine Scriptwriter, giving us a lesson in Creative Writing 101. Everyone, slow clap for Robbie Thompson, who grabbed Thor’s hammer and f**king smashed that fourth wall, and, in doing so, made a brilliant commentary on the interaction between the show, the writers, and the fans. In the words of Robbie Thompson (Metatron):
Who gives a story meaning? Is it the writer? Or you? -Metatron
More on the meta of “Meta Fiction” in a minute.
Cas and the boys are working together again (Team Free Will feels) and Castiel is investigating the slaughter of many angels and a strange sigil that appears by the bodies. He pulls out his angel blade, and in doing so, rips the fauxcoat (it’s not the trenchcoat). He calls the Winchesters and tells them about the sigil, and adorably uses technology to send them a picture. He and Dean have a cute moment, and at that moment Twitter exploded. My reaction to their phone conversation was something like this:
The boys decide to trap Gadreel and get some answers about Metatron. They track him to a factory, lure him in with the silkiness of Sam’s hair, and in a moment of pure badassery, trap him in holy fire. When it becomes apparent that Gadreel won’t give up any information, Dean tortures him. Once again, the show references itself, particularly alluding to the time Dean spent in hell with Alastair. He sends Sam away to look for Castiel, and when he’s alone, we see a Dean who is struggling against the temptation of the Mark of Cain (his “precious”, my brain so helpfully supplied). He wants to kill Gadreel, and Gadreel wants to die. Earlier this season, we saw a pretty blatant comparison between Dean and Cain, but what of Gadreel? Gadreel knows what buttons to push, which emotions to manipulate, what to say to make Dean homicidal. Who else do we know whose words can drive Dean to the edge? Who else this season has expressed a desire to die, to have it all end? Who else is a living reminder that because of their mistakes, Lucifer almost took over all creation?
I’ll leave you to ponder that.
Castiel is missing, as far as the Winchesters know. What they don’t know is that Cas has been whisked away by the sexiest angel in the garrison, that archangel who died for them back in season 5. That’s right. #GabrielLives
After the “Surprise! Not dead!” moment, Gabriel tells Cas that he’s been hiding out in heaven for the past few years, until Metatron kicked all the angels to the curb. Since then, he’s been hiding out in porn (to anyone not in the SPN fandom: yes, this is a real plotline). This newly alive Gabriel is different from the prankster we know, love, and lust over. He’s angry, and he’s taking the initiative. He tells Cas that the Angels need a leader, and that he is going to lead the fight. (Does anyone else think that General!Gabe is a sexy, sexy thing?). When the two angelic brothers get cornered in a convenience store, Gabriel tells Cas to run, sacrificing himself yet again. Cas tunes into the OOC-ness of Gabriel, and promptly stabs him with his angelic sword. The image flickers, and the audience realizes that Metatron has been using the memory of Gabriel to manipulate Castiel.
And so our hearts broke again, to lose Gabe again so soon.
We realize that Metatron’s opening monologue was spoken to Cas, and he’s apparently casting our favorite angel warrior as the villain in his new melodrama (more on that later). He intended to use Gabriel to manipulate Castiel into being a leader for the renegade angels, for what purpose, I can only guess. Metatron did not, however, intend for Gadreel to be captured by the Winchesters, so he negotiates a trade with the boys. Gadreel is traded for Castiel, and Metatron very condescendingly says that he likes to watch the boys run around and attempt to outsmart him.
Team Free Will ain’t buying your shit, Metatron. You’ve dictated the boys’ parts–their identities–but I think you’re going to find out that they’re called Team Free Will for a reason.
The episode ends with the boys splitting away from Cas again, and Cas embracing his flock, as their leader. Metatron, that little shit, revises his script to add in the new twists and smiles knowingly at the camera as he types “To be continued.”
What This Episode Reveals About the Winchesters
Oh, Dean, baby, you hurt my soul. Not to kill the Gollum reference, but Dean really is treating the Mark of Cain as his precious. He keeps it covered when he’s around Castiel or Sam, but when he’s alone, he seems to look at it constantly. Which probably means he’s thinking about it constantly. His reaction when Castiel sees the Mark is just pure, unadulterated, pain and self-loathing:
Dean didn’t hide the Mark from Sam, but he hid it from Cas, who is probably the only one of the three that knows just how deep the sh*t is that Dean has gotten himself into. This season, I’ve been slightly confused by Dean’s obsession with killing Abaddon, especially considering it was Gadreel who possessed Sam and Metatron who kicked the angels out of heaven.
Dean, baby, you’re avoiding the problem.
On the subject of avoidance, let’s talk about why Dean is focusing on Abaddon rather than Metatron. Both Metatron and Abaddon are undeniably above the Winchesters’ typical kill-grade, and while we know the First Blade can kill a Knight of Hell, what’s to say that it can’t kill Metatron as well? My theory for Dean’s Abaddon obsession is thus: avoidance. In his mind, if he kills Abaddon, it will all be worth it: letting Gadreel possess Sam, not closing the Gates of Hell, and abandoning Cas. Now, according to my psychologist roommate, people who use avoidance as a coping mechanism often use it to avoid situations or feelings that make them feel inadequate or awkward. Since the fallout with Sam, we can assume that Dean has been feeling like a less-than-stellar big brother. Is he addressing the problem? No, he’s drinking and committing random bouts of homicide. Castiel, his bestie/profound bond mate, has had his grace stolen and been thrust into humanity. Was Dean there to walk him through it? No, in fact, this season has an obvious lack of interaction between the two friends.
Dean, baby, your level of self-loathing is going to be the death of you and Team Free Will unless you get your head out of your ass.
Last night’s episode was not Sam-centric, and while we may have gotten less Sam dialogue than usual, we learned a lot from what Sam didn’t say. When Dean asks Sam to find Castiel, he does so almost without question. When he returns and Dean confesses to almost having killed Gadreel, Sam doesn’t comment on it. Sam wants to kill Metatron. He has the focus on the right villain, the one that poses more of a threat in the grand apocalypse/destiny kind of way. Abaddon is evil, but Metatron is a vengeful god who has decided to use humans, angels, and demons as his sock puppets. But I digress.
In the last scene with TFW, Castiel asks Sam to keep an eye on Dean. For the third time this episode, Sam stays silent in a crucial moment. He tightly nods and then drives away with Dean in the Impala.
Sam recognizes his brother’s issues, but he doesn’t know how to help Dean. Sammy boy, let me clue you in: this quasi-silent treatment isn’t helping. The other real question is: does he even want to help Dean anymore?
My poor, broken boys. Get your sh*t together.
The Big Picture
“Tonight I thought I’d tell you a little story, and let you decide. That was my plan anyway. I guess that’s where my story failed.”
In an episode titled “Meta Fiction,” it’s my responsibility to address some of the meta-ness. And boy, was there a lot last night.
Metatron reveals himself to be the writer, the mastermind behind the story. When he burns one of the “Winchester Gospels,” he is taking the role of the Designer of Fate and Destiny. In simpler terms: he’s a five year old girl, the world is his dollhouse, and the Winchesters are his Barbies. In his desire to be both god and the hero of the story, he has chosen Castiel to be the villain, the leader of the renegade angels. I don’t know if Metatron has heard this saying before, but: Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. Let’s think of another renegade angel who was a villain. Oh right, Lucifer. Remember him, Metatron? Metatron has cast Castiel as Lucifer in his story, but the writer has seemingly forgotten that it was Team Free Will who trapped Lucifer in the cage. Metatron has cast the characters and set the stage, but he’s forgotten that the Winchesters don’t like being slaves to destiny. Team Free Will is more relevant than ever, folks.
If Metatron is a metaphor for the writers’ of Supernatural, then last night’s episode was a nod to the fandom. How often have we sat around on Tumblr, agonizing over the subtext of the show? Robbie Thompson–who is now a hero of mine–acknowledges through Metatron’s words that his job is “to set up interesting characters and see where they lead [him]. The by-product of having well-drawn characters is: they may surprise you.” Read: Thompson validates the subtext, the nuances we read into the writing. By addressing the question of who gives the show its meaning, the writer or the audience, we become a part of the creative process. It’s both Metatron (the writers) and the characters (the audience) that make the show what it is. You can’t have one without the other. It’s a clever nod to the power of fandom, BUT, we should never forget that the writers have one thing to hold over our heads:
“I know something they don’t know: the ending. How I get there doesn’t matter, as long as everybody plays their part.” -Metatron
Supernatural returns next week with vampires and Sheriff Mills. Only five episodes left in season nine, and in the words of Metatron, “It’s going to be a hell of a show.”
If you need someone to chat SPN with, you can find me on Twitter. @dearcollectress Follow me for more ramblings.
Disclaimer: All images & videos are the property of the CW and edits have been credited to the source.