Episode 09×21 Or the Abaddon/Crowley Smackdown
After last week’s detour of an episode, it was nice to see our boys back in the driver’s seat again. With only three episodes left in the season, “King of the Damned” began wrapping up the many, many plotlines we’ve seen developing throughout season 9.
Here is what happened in “King of the Damned” in eleven sentences:
- Castiel, commander in chief to the renegade angels, captures one of Metatron’s lackeys (and commander!Castiel is a sexy sight for sore eyes).
- Cas calls in the Winchesters to “interrogate” the angel and when Sam & Dean arrive, he hugs them (and we all squeed).
- Sam and Dean play “mean girls” and manipulate information out of Metatron’s lackey (to the writers: please take note of the proper way of breaking the fourth wall, see “The Real Ghostbusters” and “The French Mistake” for reference).
- Crowley has a son that Abaddon kidnaps from the 18th century so she can manipulate the King of Hell.
- Crowley and Abaddon team up to eliminate the Winchesters because apparently their personal vendetta can wait.
- Dean and Sam retrieve the First Blade, as per Crowley’s instructions; they learn that Crowley has a hellhound named “Juliet.”
- Concurrently, Castiel and Gadreel have a chat in the woods, and I can’t really remember what was said because of their voices that are like caramel-covered sex.
- Abaddon backstabs, errr shoots, Crowley (surprise surprise).
- Back in the woods, Metatron sends assassins for Castiel, and Gadreel joins Team Cas (or so we think?)
- Dean kills Abaddon with the First Blade and then refuses to give it up when Sam asks him to (in Crowley’s words, “I sense drama.”)
What This Episode Reveals About the Winchesters
The most telling thing about Dean’s season 9 persona is not the fact that he refuses to give up the First Blade or that he went after Abaddon by himself (we all knew those things would happen, didn’t we?), but rather the look on Dean’s face when Castiel hugs him (pictured above). Compare his reaction to Sam’s reaction (pictured below), and bingo, you have the inner self-hatred of one Dean Winchester on display.
Now, I’m no expert on the science of reading facial expressions, but it doesn’t take a degree in psychological research to see that Dean is uncomfortable. Now Dean’s expression is so fleeting it is what researchers call a “microexpression”–they are there and gone again in fractions of a second. According to Drs. David Matsumoto and Hyi Sung Hwang’s article “Reading Facial Expressions of Emotion,” these expressions are “likely signs of concealed emotion” and “may be produced involuntarily even if the individual is trying to control his or her expressions.” Now, I know it may seem ludicrous to analyse the microexpressions of an actor portraying a character, but for Jensen Ackles, stepping into Dean Winchester’s shoes is as familiar as putting on his own. If Jensen is as good as I think he is, then he’s letting himself feel what Dean would be feeling, and this microexpression reads as “I don’t want to fucking be here” or the more likely “Please stop touching me. I don’t deserve your kindness.” Matsumoto and Hwang also note that microexpressions occur more frequently when people are trying to hide, or lie, about their emotions.
Sounds like Dean Winchester to me. Stop trying to hide it, Dean. We all know you’re damaged.
We learned this week that Sam was not as unaware of Gadreel’s possession of his body as we had previously thought. He sensed Gadreel’s regret, and, even though the angel killed Kevin Tran, it appears that Sam pities the angel in some ways. Personally, I think Sam can empathise with the angel; who else besides Sam understands being outsmarted by Lucifer and bringing such uncontrollable evil into the universe? Sam may not want to admit it, but Gadreel and he have much in common.
In regards to Dean, I think Sam’s quasi-silent treatment is almost at an end. By the episode’s end, when Sam realises that Dean lied to him (again) to keep him out of the way so he could kill Abaddon, Sam knows that his brother didn’t do this only out of obligation to protect him, but also because Dean wanted to enjoy the kill by himself. Sam’s been suspiciously quiet in the past few episodes, but last night he called Dean on his BS, saying, “[The Blade] is doing something to you.”
With only two episodes left in season 9, I think that heartwrenching dialogue between the brothers is imminent, and for once, I’m not sure that they’re going to work it out.
The Big Picture
On the heavenly side of things, we know that Metatron has an “elite squad” of angels that are securing/policing Heaven. We know that there is a backdoor into Heaven (seriously, have the writers been reading my fanfic?????) and Castiel is full of purpose and righteous justice; has he ever been sexier? Burden me with your purpose, Cas. Any day. Any time. Wait, what was I saying? Oh, right. So Castiel is the new CIC for Angels Against Metatron, and his command central is bustling. He seems slightly ill-at-ease with being the one in charge (with how season six ended, are we surprised?) and instead of interrogating Metatron’s lackey himself, he calls in the Winchesters. This is an interesting choice because we know that Cas is capable of being…persuasive…when he wants to. He didn’t really need to call in Sam and Dean, but, awkward writing aside, I got the sense that he did so because he wanted to check up on the Winchesters, particularly Dean. Cas’s jab at Dean’s past with Alistair intentionally tested how far Dean has gone to the Dark Side, and if it weren’t for Sam’s intervention, it is likely that Dean would have used his Alistair-supplied skill set on the angel they are interrogating.
In the circles of hell, Crowley still seems to be feeling a bit humanly, and it’s proven in the arrival of his son, Gavin. Will we be seeing the Prince of Hell again? My spidey senses say yes, and something tells me that Gavin will be just as opportunistic and cunning as Daddy-o.
What’s really interesting about Crowley is just how much integrity the demon has. Instead of taking Abaddon’s opportunity to double cross the Winchesters, Crowley once again proves that he’s a demon of his word . Yet now that Abaddon, the Queen of Hell is dead (moment of silence to mourn the future lack of Alaina Huffman), will the Winchesters still be willing to keep Crowley around? Jury is still out on that one.
Now, as for the Winchesters…this season we’ve seen the recurring themes of humanity and family tangling in their storylines again and again. The arrival of Crowley’s son made the demon a little more human, and I think the brothers could learn a thing or two from that. Perhaps it’s our family that keeps us human, boys. Luke Skywalker brought his father back from the Dark Side, can Sam do the same for Dean?
Next week: Tessa the Reaper returns and Castiel has a cult following.
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