THE ROAD SO FAR
The boys are entering their final ride. An angry deity has emptied hell of all its souls, and the Winchesters are, once again, tasked with saving the world. Spoilers ahead. I know that I’m a bit tardy with this post, but just like every plan the Winchesters ever had, sometimes a demon jumps in and screws it all up. Anyway, without further ado, here are my thoughts on 15×05 and 15×06.
This, like “Atomic Monsters” appears to be just another “monster of the week” episode at first glance. If you haven’t seen the episode, here’s a quick sum-up: the Winchesters protect the only surviving victim of a werewolf attack while hunting the attackers. The seemingly “easy” hunt of a couple of savage werewolves is really so, so much more when the victim is more than she appears.
Allow me to digress, and to go a little biblical.
The corresponding biblical verse to the episode title reads as follows:
The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth hearts.
The reference to silver could just be a reference to werewolves’ deadly allergy to silver, or it could be a subtle hint at what’s to come. In this episode, after the werewolves bite it (pun fully intended), the victim, Ashley, is revealed to actually be Lilith…who we haven’t seen in ten? Eleven years? (This farewell tour is getting crazy, y’all.) At the end of the episode, we watch Lilith melt down the Equalizer–AKA the one thing that might actually beat Chuck/God/Almighty Douchebag. This biblical reference to smelting might be a subtle hint that the Winchesters will need to go on a quest to create a new God-killing weapon.
The more interesting portion of this Bible verse in the context of this episode, however, is the second part: the Lord trieth hearts. If you’re not up-to-speed on your Bible knowledge, no worries, because I spent 13 years in private Christian education and I knew one day it’d have to be worth it. (I don’t imagine this is the way my mother imagined me using my knowledge from Bible class…) “Trieth” in this case means something like “tests”, and if Chuck is testing the Winchesters, it’s probably not a multiple choice quiz.
This “test” is probably more akin to God’s testing of Job–which included losing his business, his ten children, and his home all within one day. Arguably, one could say that the entirety of the Winchesters’ lives has been a test from God. To what purpose? Now, that’s a little more difficult to surmise. The purpose of fining pots and furnaces is to “purify”, or, to separate the alloy from the “dross.” We could assume that when the God “trieth hearts”, He (She? They?) is separating out what is pure in a human’s soul from what is sin. Or, and I feel like this is more likely, the metaphor here could be that Chuck is testing the metal of the Winchesters (pun intended), and instead of separating good/bad, he is separating the weak from the strong. We know that Sam is Dean’s weakness and vice versa, and if Sam’s visions are any indication, it looks like the “test” that Chuck is giving them is once again going to be brother-versus-brother, throwing them both into the furnace and seeing who is made of stronger metal.
The parallels shown between the werewolf brothers and the Winchesters were intentionally heavy-handed, with Lilith admitting to Chuck’s obvious foreshadowing of “brother killing brother.” What is interesting to note, however, that even though Chuck “planned” the episode to prove a point to the Winchesters, he failed to include two things into his plan:
- The monsters haven’t changed, but the Winchesters have. One of the most awkward moments in the episode is a conversation between Dean and Ashley (before she is revealed as Lilith). It’s a definite throwback to season one Dean, when a beautiful and vulnerable girl would have been something like a mating call for the older Winchester. In this scene, however, as Ashley laments that not everything in life is planned out for them (“wouldn’t it be nice,” she says), it feels force-fed to Dean, and to the audience, and it’s clear that this is an older and wiser Dean Winchester. Chuck’s formulaic writing no longer works for the Winchesters, and it is a brilliant bit of self-awareness in this final season that indicates that the Winchesters–and the show–are going out on their own terms.
- There is a link between Chuck and Sam. I’m not saying that we should call this a Horcrux…but I’m not not saying this either. Whatever we want to call it, the gunshot wound from the Equalizer has created a link between Sam and Chuck, and is likely the source of Sam’s visions (he surmises that he is seeing all of Chuck’s possible endings). If this gunshot wound is anything like a Horcrux…then you all know what that means: neither can live while the other survives.
Chuck may be God, and he may have a plan, but his plans no longer fit who the Winchesters are, and, I would also argue that he no longer knows or understands his characters (a big no-no for an author). The Winchesters’ character development and–you guessed it–free will are going to be the key to saving the day, again, because it is the one thing Chuck cannot predict. But more on that in a minute.
So, this episode really has two arcs: 1) Castiel has been fishing after his
breakup falling out with Dean and stumbles on a case of missing children. 2) Eileen returns as a ghost and asks Sam for help because she does not want to become an angry spirit. She had been dragged to hell by the hellhound that killed her, and once a soul is in hell, it cannot go to heaven (Winchesters excluded, I presume). While I am so goddamn happy that Eileen is back, I’m going to start with Castiel’s story arc because…well…you’ll see.
Now, as we saw in “Proverbs 17:3,” Sam has been trying to get in touch with Castiel via text, and Cas isn’t responding, which indicates that Sam doesn’t know about the
breakup falling out. Castiel is in a small, lakeside town and he’s been…fishing? He claims that a friend found it meditative, and gee, I wonder which friend that could be.
A missing child in the town leads Castiel to working a case without the Winchesters. There is one really awkward phone call between Castiel and Dean, but otherwise Castiel investigates on his own. As Castiel takes down a djinn to save the missing boy, we see that he’s not at full strength. His angel blade doesn’t instantly kill, and his Grace doesn’t instantly heal. It’s the first glimpse we have of what’s going on in Heaven–and it looks like Chuck’s planning on rebooting the entire system. At the end of the episode, Castiel has a moment of self-realization that sitting out of the game isn’t going to make a difference. So he sets off rejoin the Winchesters (his family), and, hopefully, make things right with Dean.
Back at the bunker, Eileen appears, and yes, I’m still crying tears of joy. The death of the hunter broke my heart, and I’m very glad that they brought her back on the Winchester farewell tour. But I digress. Actually no, I’m going to digress some more, because the return of Eileen is indicative of larger narrative choices that could dictate the trajectory of the final season. In simpler words: it looks like the writers of the final season may be righting some of the wrongs of past seasons. Supernatural has long been criticized for its treatment of female characters–most notably that they all seem to die quickly–and Eileen’s return is perhaps a small indicator of something that they knew they’d gotten wrong the first time around.
At the beginning of the episode, we saw a witch ransacking Rowena’s apartment, presumably wanting to take advantage of Rowena’s demise, and not realizing that she’d walked straight into her own. When Eileen appears to Sam in the bunker and asks for his help, Sam knows that Rowena may have a crystal that would keep Eileen from going rage-ghosty. So, they too go to Rowena’s apartment, not knowing that it’s magically booby-trapped. (We also discover around this time that Sam had been practicing his ASL, so he could better communicate with Eileen. This ship is sailing itself.)
In Rowena’s apartment, Sam discovers that Rowena has a resurrection spell that could work for Eileen. Before they can do the spell, the family/coven of the witch, the one that kicked the bucket in Rowena’s apartment, attack Sam. Sam, apparently, is the only person who can enter Rowena’s home without dying, and they want the resurrection spell to bring back the deceased sister. Sam, with backup from Dean and Eileen, defeats the witches and takes the resurrection spell back to the bunker. Eileen becomes human again, and she gives Sam the hug he so greatly deserves. (And the shippers everywhere rejoiced.)
Okay, so lets talk a few parallels between Eileen and Castiel. Both were driven away from the Winchesters. Cas, because of Dean, and Eileen, well, because she was dragged to hell by a hellhound. At the beginning of the episode, both are lost. Castiel, because he doesn’t know his purpose, and Eileen, because she’s on a plane of existence in which she doesn’t belong. Both turn to the Winchesters for help, in their own way. Eileen’s need for help is perhaps more obvious than Castiel’s, but Castiel went fishing to meditate and find answers. He is turning to the Winchesters as an example, using Dean in particular to guide his way, as he has through much of his time on the show. In the end, both Castiel and Eileen are returned/will return to the Winchesters and be with them as they try to save the world (again).
Sam is able to help Eileen because of Rowena’s magic, and restore her to her prior self. And to have a chance at renewing their relationship, romantic or otherwise. Since we have seen Castiel’s Grace is failing, when he returns to the bunker, I am certain that Dean and Sam will figure out a solution to Castiel’s problem using magic, giving Dean and Castiel more time to fix their relationship
romantic or otherwise.
At the end of the episode, when the brothers have their traditional and expected bonding moment, Dean says to Sam “I don’t know what’s God and what isn’t” to which Sam replies, “We’re the guys who break the rules.” And here it is, the crucial element of what will allow them to beat Chuck: doing the unexpected. If they act in ways that Chuck cannot predict, Chuck’s story will not be able to unfold in the way he has written it. The best way to do this is through the use of magic, because Rowena proved time and again that she could outshine the strongest supernatural entities with her intelligence. While we expect Sam and Dean to break the rules to win, to defeat Chuck they’ll need to be like Rowena and do the last thing that he will expect from them.
Ironically, this also goes for the SPN writers of the final season. To write a hell of an ending (okay, pun not intended but appreciated), they need to give us the same thing but completely different. So, here’s my personal challenge to the SPN writers: give us the same show, but make every episode have something completely unexpected. Give the Winchesters everything they need to defeat Chuck, but have them do something completely surprising instead. Give Supernatural the unanticipated yet ultimately satisfying send-off that it deserves. Give us all the feels, you cowards. All of them.
I realize this is a long-winded rambling kind of post, but if you enjoyed it and want to talk more about SPN, come tweet at us. @collectivenerds