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. It’s the Winchesters’ final ride and this time, they’re up against God. MAJOR spoilers ahead for the midseason finale.
A Brief Synopsis
Okay, this is a tough episode to describe in just a few sentences, but here we go: the episode lights up on Chuck (Rob Benedict) is on a metaphysical bender, playing slots and terrorizing casino waitresses. He seems to be listless and directionless, except for terrorizing the Winchesters. Enter Sam and Dean, with a new idea that the demon tablet could have some clues on what Chuck’s Achilles’ heel might be. Donatello hints that Michael might have some answers, so Dean, Sam, and Castiel traipse down to hell. They don’t find Michael–but they do find Rowena, newly crowned Queen of Hell–and she imparts some key relationship advice to Dean and Castiel. Later, they find Michael topside and, after a hell of a lot of convincing–and the obliteration of Lilith–he agrees to help them defeat Chuck. Sam and Eileen go out on a hunt that turns out to be a trap set by Chuck, and Dean and Cas? Well, they’re heading back to Purgatory.
Oh, fam, I don’t even know where to begin with all my thoughts on the characters in the episode. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to focus on key relationships as presented/discussed in this episode.
Chuck and, well, everyone
Chuck is being increasingly presented as something like a spoiled child who has too many toys yet throws a tantrum whenever one of them had dead batteries. When the Winchesters don’t fall into line and do exactly what he writes for them to do, he threatens to kill Donna, Jody, Eileen, and anyone else the Winchesters care about. Hell, he’s more likely to destroy the world than he is to accept that he’s a hack of a writer. It’s a clever way to blame all of Supernatural‘s faults on shitty writing, and hey, it wouldn’t be the first (or last) time the show breaks the fourth wall.
Chuck and Michael
The real suckerpunch to the feels in this episode was presented in the character of Michael/Adam (Jack Abel returned after ten years in the Pit). Family struggles are at the forefront of this part of the story, and it’s an interesting dichotomy that is demonstrated in the performance of one actor.
In the past ten years, Michael and Adam have come to an agreement and formed an almost-symbiotic relationship. Michael doesn’t completely dominate Adam’s consciousness, and Adam appears to be friendly with the archangel. Michael was always supposed to be connected to Dean but it’s also surprising how similar Adam is to his half-brother as well. Michael’s blind loyalty to ‘His Father’–even in the face of compelling evidence–reminds me of a younger Dean. It is Adam–who I believe represents an older, and wiser, Dean–who is able to present Michael with a logical, and rational perspective on Chuck. When that fails, Castiel forces Michael to confront some harsh truths about his father.
Michael’s response to the truth of his Father is 1) heartbreaking, because he feels betrayed by one he loves (oh, doesn’t this sound familiar?) and 2) probably too easily earned. Just like Donatello says at the beginning of the episode:
“what is it with you people? can’t anything you do be easy?!” -Donatello
It seems almost too easy that Michael helped them find what they need to defeat Chuck. Can Michael’s newfound realization counteract millennia of following orders?
Well, it worked for Castiel, so maybe it will work for Michael too.
Sam and Eileen
Okay, I’m gonna try not to squee too much about them but…they are so friggin cute. In the beginning of the episode, Eileen is on a hunt with Sam worrying over her like…well, like a boyfriend. She tells him to stop worrying, that if she needs help, she’ll ask him. It’s a meaningful interaction, because it’s been a long time since Sam–or Dean, for that matter–had a love interest that needed both support and boundaries.
It’s been hinted at since Eileen’s return that she is a love interest for Sam (DO YOU HEAR THE SHIPPERS SING???) but this episode confirmed it in a conversation between the Winchesters. Dean, in sort-of adorably awkward words, tells Sam that he should go for it, that Eileen is a good woman and that Sam deserves happiness.
In the end of the episode, when Eileen asks for help saving a friend on a hunt-gone-wrong, Sam rushes out the door with her. The boundary and respect that we saw earlier in the episode demonstrate the strong feelings that these two have for each other, so when we realize Eileen’s friend’s call for help is a trap set by none other than Chuck, I wasn’t really surprised. Using the Winchesters as bait for each other is so last decade, so the Almighty is using the one other person that Sam cares incredibly deeply about? I’m not gonna say Saileen is endgame, but Saileen is endgame.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that Sam’s endgame story would include a romantic story arc, but it’s been hinted at for a long time (okay, since pretty much the pilot) that, if given the opportunity, both brothers would leave the hunting life behind and settle into normal lives. For the first time in a long time, we’re seeing a chance that Sam could get the life he’s always wanted. If he survives, that is. This season’s worse than Game of Thrones, because anyone who dies this time around stays dead.
Dean and Castiel
These two have had a rocky relationship since…okay forever, but it got really bad after the death of Mary Winchester. The past few episodes, they’ve hardly been able to look at each other, but, much like Sam and Eileen, it’s clear that these two care deeply for each other (ship them or not, there’s a lot of emotion between them), and it’s not really surprising that we’re getting a subplot completely centered on these two.
The depth and complexity of feeling between Dean and Castiel is based a lot on what isn’t said. Dean cuts his hand to perform the spell that will get them into hell, and Castiel uses his angel mojo to heal Dean–even though we know that Castiel’s angelic powers are failing and by doing so he is just weakening himself further. Castiel has proven time and again that he will do anything to keep the Winchesters safe, and yeah, I’m gonna say Dean in particular because the angel has put his life on the line how many times now? This is probably foreshadowing to how Castiel’s story arc is going to end, but I don’t want to think about that yet so let’s talk about Rowena.
My favorite moment in the episode is when Rowena, the newly crowned Queen of Hell, sends Sam out of the room and then calls Dean and Castiel out on their emotional constipation. She–the most powerful witch in creation–takes the time to play therapist to these two bickering idjits. “Fix it,” she says. “Fix it before it’s too late.”
Something tells me that ‘too late’ is going to be sooner rather than later.
While Sam and Eileen
walk straight into Chuck’s trap go to help her friend, Dean and Castiel make headway with Michael. Castiel shows his moody archangel brother exactly what Daddy dearest has been up to for the past few years. It’s a shock to the system, and it pushes him to help Dean and Castiel…by unlocking the door to Purgatory, where they’ll find the final ingredient for the spell to banish Chuck. Oh holy sh*t we’re getting more purgatory!
All Adam really wants is an apology for being thrown in hell and forgotten for nearly a decade, and for a while, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get it. Yet just before Michael leaves, Dean asks to speak to Adam. Adam and Dean are two sides of the same coin. Both destined vessels for Michael, both trapped in a messed up predestined storyline written by a narcissistic god. The oldest Winchester apologizes to his half-brother, and tells Adam that none of that should have happened to him–or any of them really.
“Since when do we get what we deserve?” replies Adam, after which his eyes dart to Castiel. Adam knows that what they deserve is a chance at happiness, but something always seems to get in the way, even if it’s the Winchesters themselves. In these last few episodes of the longest-running genre show on television, I find it very telling that important secondary characters like Adam and Rowena are spending the time to tell Dean and Castiel to get their heads out of their asses. It’s almost like they know that the boys need Castiel to make it to the end. It’s one hell of an emotional right hook to throw at the audience, and unfortunately, by emphasizing Castiel’s importance, it’s probably to make his story arc more heartbreaking in the end. Castiel has a bad habit of dying for the Winchesters, and I don’t think this time will be any different.
The final Hellatus is upon us
Supernatural returns on January 16 with a new episode called “The Trap.” If you need something to give you good SPN feels before then, here are the two Hillywood parodies (which, if you haven’t seen, are absolute gold).
Carry on my wayward fandom.
Have SPN feels? Come tweet at us! @collectivenerds