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Stream of Consciousness, Epi 9.22

Right now I can't decide if I'm anxious for next week's episode because I can't wait to see what happens...or because I can't wait to get it over with. Like ripping off a band aide. I know it's gonna hurt, but I need to go through it. Maybe it's a little of both.



I don't know if I've really ever been quite this conflicted over a Supernatural storyline. Even the Soulless Sam storyline, while definitely not my favorite, didn't leave me feeling so torn. Which, if you think about it, is the sign of a good story. Or great acting. Or...maybe just obsession, I'm not sure.

You know what kept echoing back to me throughout this whole episode? The image in the THEN when they reminded us who Tessa was. The heart and the emotion on Dean's face as he looked at her just struck me, even as quick as that clip was. I hadn't realized how much I missed that about him over the course of the last few episodes, but I really do. Especially after they pulled the rug out from under me with the last five seconds. I miss his compassionate intensity, the quiet desperation that always wrapped around his actions, the there ain't nothing I'd put in front of you...there ain't to me if there ain't no you emotion when he focuses on Sam. I know why it's gone -- and I know it's much more than the Mark and the Blade -- but I miss it. And I didn't realize how much until this episode.

In general, I like stories where I am caught by surprise, where I can genuinely say I did not see that coming and be delighted. But I don't like feeling manipulated, and I gotta be honest...the Metatron part of this storyline has become a little manipulative for me. It's not that we can't recognize a double-cross. I mean, while they might have tossed a bit off balance, questioning Cas because of his stolen grace or whatnot, we know our angel just as Dean and Sam do. So, it's not that Metatron had double agents or that he fooled Cas' followers into following him that has me frowning...it's that he's writing about it. He's creating it, playing the "God" role. It's the idea that he is a puppet master...it makes me feel...icky. The only light in that scenario being that he still can't seem to get a bead on the Winchesters -- and he lost his primary lieutenant.

If there's a saving grace to the First Blade/MoC combo for me, it's going to be that Metatron has no idea how to write that into his "masterpiece." I get that he was the Heavenly scribe and literally wrote God's word so it's a natural transition for his character to be writing this saga, but I'm kinda over the concept of "writers" overseeing the story within the story itself. If Metatron doesn't die or get defeated next week, well, in the immortal words of Prince Humperdink, I shall be very put out. Despite his clever and insightful monologing  about writing and storytelling, I'm over him.

And is it me, or has there been a I did what I had to do theme going through the latter part of the season? We've heard Dean say it, Sam say it, Cas say it, Gadreel say it (in fact, the Sam saying it might have actually been Gadreel, I can't remember), Tessa say it, and Metatron say it. I can't help but think we're supposed to do something with that. Will someone make a choice next week that will shatter us all because it'll be what they had to do? It seems to be said when the action or choice strips away the heart of the person and they simply move from a place of cold, necessary logic. Which has me chewing my lip a bit, I'll admit.

As for Dean...oh, my Dean. I figured this would be the direction they would go with him, but I didn't realize how hard it would hit me. And to be perfectly honest, the biggest thing I felt he did wrong was slicing Gadreel at the very end. That, for me, came out of nowhere. But in retrospect shouldn't have been a surprise. When Cain talked about the Blade, he talked about the power and how he knew exactly who to kill and how to do it. He was in complete -- albeit crazy-intense-homicidal -- control of his actions when he annihilated the Knights of Hell.

This is the direction we've seen Dean heading since they found the Blade. The Mark has affected him, sure. But Cain lived centuries in peace with just the Mark, once the Blade was far away from him. Of course...he was also pretty much alone. And I think that they will have to figure out a way to remove the Mark from Dean in some way eventually -- probably next season -- but, it's the combination of the Blade and the Mark, I believe, that really sends Dean over the edge and where my conflict comes into play.

I both love this storyline and feel like it's starting to be a gut-punch. And I both want it fixed now and want to see it play out. This is why I think I just want next week over with because the duality of my emotions around this is exhausting. *laugh*

I wanted Sam to do more to convince Dean that he's changed and needed to be rid of the Blade. But...I really don't know what he could have done,  aside from hiding the Blade, which would have just been a step back into their secret-keeping mess, so that's out. It's possible he could have tried different tactics when confronting Dean: "You're angry all the time." "You're not yourself." "You remind me of me when I was soulless." "I'm worried about you." "You're scaring me." But...would Dean have listened? I think Sam missed that window. And I think from his perspective, he's really kinda...stuck. I mean, it's not like he's not mentioning it all, but he doesn't know enough about the blade and the ramifications and they went into this whole MoC situation with a truce as thin as a tightrope between them.

Sam's in a tough spot because the only way he might be able to get his brother back is to become vulnerable -- emotionally -- and open up and he wasn't able to do that when Dean was Dean. Now that Dean is Mark-influenced, it's going to be one of the hardest things Sam has ever had to do. And I feel for him. But...y'know, Dean's done it for him. He's done that and more.

I wanted the conversation between Sam and Cas, where they both recognized that Dean seemed angrier, amped up, on edge to go somewhere. I wanted them to discuss solutions for helping Dean -- decide to seek out the burden of the Mark, find out what the effects were on a human that wields the blade, actually talk about solving this problem. Plan an intervention. Something. I wanted them to stop taking for granted that Dean was strong enough. That his innate humanity, his compassion would stop him from doing anything he couldn't come back from due to the Mark's influence.

I wanted them to see him as someone who needed to be saved.

But the distraction of Cas' situation was too much for them to think too long about Dean. Cas was too worried, really, what all the angels -- and Dean and Sam -- thought about him. He was wrapped around the axle of being in power when he never really wanted to be, and the fact that Dean expressed doubt about his involvement in the Angel Nukes. And he was freaking out that he had literally no idea how to deal with all of this. So, shifting his attention to what was eating through his friend was one concern too many and that? Just makes me sad.

There's always someone else to be taken care of. Someone else to be saved. And then when Dean falls, he ends up falling hard and falling far because the hands that reach for him reach too late to grasp him. And the only thing he can do is figure out a way to climb out of his own Pit. I don't see him climbing this time. Not on his own.

The thing is, until he slashed Gadreel, while there were moments where he appeared barely in control, I think he was very much in control. I think he knew exactly what he was doing. It may not have been what others would have done -- like scaring the bejeezus out of that angel, Flagstaff, or not anticipating Tessa would use the blade to her advantage -- but it was calculated and often effective.

He is still moving from the stance of fighting for humanity. The way his voice softened sadly when he told Tessa she was so wrong about humans not mattering in her suicide bomber mission, the way he told Cas that he believed him because he gave up an army for one guy, the shock on his face when Tessa killed herself, the plea in his eyes when the angels challenged Cas to kill him -- those were all Dean. Our Dean.

Even the moment he yelled at Sam, saying that until Metatron was dead, they weren't a team it was a dictatorship felt, to me, him. More harsh than he's ever been with Sam, yes, but aligned to the internal pressure cooker he's been dealing with. It felt like a guy who has been pushed to the edge and realized that no one was going to pull him back. It felt like a guy who's been dealing with a constant, subtle pulse of power whispering to him like Wormtongue (heh, I can make LOTRs references, too) that he was the only one with the power and it was up to him to get rid of all the bad guys. It felt like a guy who had nothing to lose finally pushing back.

Sam was the one who'd said they weren't brothers, they were partners, and the longer they've gone without a retraction, the more Dean has allowed himself to believe that. So since he feels like he is the one who can end this, who will end this, I wasn't really surprised by his words, despite the fact that they were devoid of the usual buffering and compassion he reserves for Sam. I missed that, but I wasn't surprised by it...not now anyway. It was clear that Sam was surprised, though, and that he was hurt by it. And while it panged my heart to see that hurt flash across Sam's expression, part of me kinda wanted to say, "Well, now you know how it feels. Sucks, doesn't it?"

Now, I can't imagine he's not dead since it's the First Blade and all, but since we didn't see that big blast of light, I'm going to reserve my thoughts on Gadreel being dead until next week. There's still a chance that slash didn't kill him -- though if that's true, I can't imagine him being that excited about helping them now. Killing -- or trying to kill -- Gadreel was the first real Blade-related mistake I think Dean made and I can't find logic in that one. He didn't kill him back at that warehouse/factory place -- he wore himself out beating the angel up for information, but didn't kill him. And that was before he knew about Castiel being taken by Metatron.

If he was able to stop his anger and desire for revenge then, what triggered it now? I think it's the Blade. It's not just the Mark. I think saving him is going to involve separating the two and maybe...locking Dean up in a panic room like he did to Sam. If they can get him in there. After he kills Metatron.

So, yes, I'm conflicted. I am enjoying Dean having such a compelling storyline. I'm very much enjoying Jensen's amazingly nuanced performance. But it hurts -- like this weird, physical ache in my heart -- to see our Dean slowly vanish from his eyes. To see the compassion and the heart be slowly burned away by the Mark. And the weird thing is, while I want it back -- want our Dean back -- I can't imagine it going any other way. It makes sense with the direction of his storyline, but...ugh. *rubs heart*

He was at one of the lowest points he's been since his father died when he went off with Crowley, when he confronted Cain, and when he accepted the Mark. He was without his brother, without his balance. He believed he was nothing. No good. A killer. And he dove blindly, not bothering or caring about the ramifications of his actions...perhaps even hoping they would take him out, despite what he said to Tessa about never being low enough to kill himself. There's not been much since then to convince him that anything is different; his primary drive being to save as many as he can while he takes out those he deems as the "bad guys."

I see him still thinking that he's doing what he's always done: saving people, hunting things. I see him growing blind to the fact that the methods he's employing to get the job done are growing more and more dark. And I seem him lost in that darkness, not even realizing that he should be looking for a way out, for the light. Because right now, the Blade, and its power, makes sense to him when nothing else in his life really does.

So far, I think he can probably justify every death he's caused with the Blade -- even Tessa's and Gadreel's. After all, she killed herself (though, Sam's dead-on when he said that she wouldn't have been able to had Dean not lied and brought the blade) and regardless of his "hey, we've all made mistakes" stirring speech, Gadreel betrayed Dean and killed Kevin. They've trusted baddies before and have been betrayed for that trust. And I'm pretty sure he didn't know that Castiel was setting up clandestine meetings with Gadreel trying to win him over to the good side. So, even though he faked him out with a handshake and Cas and Sam were willing to work with him again, Dean could easily justify and live with what he did there.

But if he goes further, when he's rid of the Mark (because...he will be), he will have to live with whatever he does, and I don't think he'll be able to let himself off the hook as he's let Sam (you were possessed, you were soulless, it wasn't you it was the angel inside of you). He will have to accept that what was done was done by him and I'm worried that he'll do something next week that would kill him to live with.  If that makes sense.

I go into next week with these thoughts:

  • Metatron must die.

  • Will saving Castiel from burning out by his stolen grace be what brings Dean back? Or would it send him further away?

  • Will the LOTR references continue and Dean have to travel into the heart of his own Mordor and find the strength in himself to throw the Blade into the belly of Mt. Doom (in a metaphorical sense, of course)? Will the roles they held last season reverse and Sam find himself as Samwise this time, ordering Dean not to let go, and pulling him up from death? *not-so-secretly loves that idea*

  • Is Gadreel really dead? And if so, what does that do to Metatron's "masterpiece"?

  • Will Crowley end up helping the brothers, Dean especially? And how bad will that end up being for them? Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if they ended the season with Dean going off to work with Crowley again and have Sam save him next season. My gut hurts thinking about that, but it would fall in line with the picture they're painting and Dean could easily think that he could kill more "bad guys" working with Crowley than with Sam (who fights against him and doesn't believe in him) and Cas (who has a barrel of monkey's on his back and the burden of Heaven distracting him).

  • Will they play "Wayward Son" and will my heart actually break? Not really a "Wayward Sons" kind of finale, says me.

  • They honestly and truly better not go the Cain and Abel route with this. Just...no.

Okay, some other lists. Because this is a Ramble, after all.

LOVED:

  • Sam waking up with a gun in his hand and bringing it to the ready before he really gets his eyes open. Even with the impressive bed-head, that was damn sexy.

  • Castiel picking their FBI Agent alias -- Spears and Aguilera -- because they pick names of "popular musicians."

  • Castiel getting the LOTR reference and Sam's bemused grin. I guess now we know why Metatron gave him the info dump -- so he could lure him into one of the fake Heaven's he'd set up.

  • Immediately yelling "KNEEL!" at my TV when Sam read the Last Crusade line, "Only the penitent man will pass."

  • "Oh, Tessa. You are so wrong."

  • "Do you think the three of us will be enough?" "Always have been before."


LIKED:

  • The fact that Tyrus' bowling team was called "The Saints." And the fact that he said the bowling alley smelled of "authenticity"...very Dean circa Frontierland, that.

  • "I know a couple women like that."

  • The tone of Cas' voice when he tells Dean, "No." It was very you're not the boss of me.

  • Even though he was freaking scary in that moment, Dean growling, "Honey, there ain't no other men like me." Holy smokes.

  • Dean knowing Fiddler on the Roof.

  • Castiel's reasoning the riddle to be about prime numbers. Because, they are intimidating.

  • "Cas, you just gave up an entire army for one guy. There's no way you blew those people away."

Meh:

  • Not so much 'meh' as 'groan' -- the fact that the playhouse where Dean found Tessa was playing "Jesus Christ, Superstar." *rolls eyes*

  • How come a bowling alley can have 'authenticity' but we have to use our imagination to surmise what a group of angels did to overpower Dean, get the blade away from him, and cuff him to a chair? I mean, yeah, he was holding his side a bit when he got up, but all we get is a little nosebleed out of that? They made Jody's beating look real, why not sell it a bit better with the boys?

Questions:

  • Okay, so...Reapers are like angels? How have I gone 9 seasons and not picked up on that? I figured that since Death could actually kill God, and the Reapers worked for him...they were kind of on a different level. And if Reapers worked with the angels, what else could do so?

  • Did anyone else feel like there had to be more to Tessa's suicidal focus than just Metatron pretending to be Cas and giving her a "purpose"? I mean, Gadreel said Metatron brainwashed them and I have to think it was a literal mind-bending maneuver because it felt like we were looking at Tessa's face with no Tessa behind it. Even with the explanation of listening to the screams and not being able to do her job it just felt like such a radical shift from the compassionate guide who told Dean he'd fought enough, he'd done enough, he deserved to rest and the driven agent who was angry at Dean for purposely dying just so that he could talk to her boss...to this. Maybe I'm just not won over by the tortured souls lost because Heaven's closed storyline quite yet.

  • After someone mentioned it in the comments last Ramble, I have to echo this -- where is the global ramifications for all the angels inhabiting vessels? Is no one wondering where their wife, daughter, husband, son, brother, sister, mother, father suddenly ran off to? There were a lot of people in Castiel's HQ alone.

So THEN was basically the Blade changing Dean, the angel war, Gadreel, a door into Heaven, Cas' stolen grace, Tessa, and that Metatron (thinks) he knows the end. While I should have been geeking out over the fact that we finally have another Led Zeppelin-influenced episode title in Stairway to Heaven, I found myself instead chuckling during the THEN when they were talking about not finding the door that led to Heaven as the, "No Stairway? Denied!" line from Wayne's World slipped through my head.

NOW we're in Dixon, MO, in an ice cream shop where the most uptight woman in the world is ordering a very specific combination of ice cream -- with 10 blueberries, not 9, not 11...10 -- for herself before asking her young son what he wanted. He points to a little girl sitting alone eating a ginormous banana split. Uptight Woman heads over to the little girl and wants to know if her mother knows she's sitting there, eating diabetes. I got an image of John Coffey from The Green Mile sucking all the disease out of someone in the form of thousands of black flies.

The little girl basically tells her to shove off, she's an angel. Just then, a man wearing a raincoat comes in and the little girl looks scared. Her eyes flash blue and she tells the woman to run, but it's too late. The raincoat dude heads over to the little girl's table and opens his coat where we see a sigil of some kind carved into his chest. He pulls out his angel sword, declares loudly that he is doing this for Castiel, then stabs himself and goes nuclear on the whole place.

In the bunker, Sam is sleeping and Dean decides to wake him with a loud guitar riff from his cell phone. Sam comes up, gun in hand, then see's it's his brother and is like WTH, man.

Dean: Nice reflexes. Better hair.

Sam: What's wrong with you? I coulda shot you. Why aren't you sleeping? We got in like two hours ago.

Dean: Not tired. (Tosses Sam's shoes at him) And we got work to do, so put on your dancing shoes and let's boogey.

Sam = grrrr...yawn

He comes into the main room, holding a cup of coffee like a lifeline, and sees that Dean's loading weapons in a bag. Dean says that Cas called and there's something going on in MO, but he couldn't talk about it over the phone. Sam wanted to know why.

Dean: Because he's a weird guy, okay? He's a weird, dorky little guy. But! He happens to have an army of angels and if we're going after Metatron, they might be useful.

He starts to load the Blade into his bag and Sam asks him not to take it -- not unless they're going after the Big Bads like Crowley and Metatron. He argues that magic like that comes with a price and they don't know what the price is. I think it's his please that stops Dean from fighting him right there and Dean sets the Blade aside, picks up the bag and walks out of the room before Sam. Now...unless he secretly heads back inside without Sam noticing, he had to have wrapped some other knife in that cloth that he left on the table, purposely playing the sleight-of-hand routine because I can't figure out how he had the blade on him later.

And I'm now irritated with all three of them -- Dean, Sam, and Cas -- for not spending time to figure out what the price is to the magic they have. I mean, they've multitasked before...what the hell, boys? Dean may not care to find out, but if Sam is that worried, he could have at least done some google-fu. *sighs*

Dressed in their I am an FBI Agent suits, they show up at the crime scene. Before they can introduce themselves -- and luckily before the cop who greets them sees their badges, else the fake names Cas gave would have been a sure give-away -- a lady cop asks if they're Agents Spears and Aguilera and says their partner is waiting for them. After amusingly confronting Cas about the names, they inspect the burned-out husks of bodies in the body bags -- six humans and one angel.

Cas: I knew he wanted a war, but this is abhorrent even for him.

Back at Metatron's pad, he's checking himself out in a mirror, wearing a trench coat. Gadreel comes in (causing Metatron to shuck the coat quickly) and wants to talk about what's happening that night. Gad's like, we're losing; Castiel's followers outnumber us and have proven capable. Metatron confronts him about meeting with Cas (apparently he had him followed)

Gadreel: He spoke. He lied. I listened. That's it. I serve Heaven. I serve you.

Metatron: Don't forget it. (starts whining a bit) I don't get this whole Cas love-fest either. I'm offering our people a way home and still they choose him over me.

Made me think of this sad line from Legends of the Fall: "I followed all of the rules, man's and God's. And you, you followed none of them. And they all loved you more." Of course, I had a bit more sympathy for Alfred in that movie than I'll ever have for Metatron. He was just being a whining whiner who whines.

As he continues to complain, Gadreel's like, Dude, you wanted him to be a leader. But Metatron hadn't figured  Cas would be so good at it. Which, of course, we now know even that was a lie because in order to be the underdog in the scenario he'd constructed, he had to play the part. They shift to talking about what was happening that night and how they need to convince Tyrus and his peeps to join them.

Metatron: I've got a plan.

Gadreel (looking at the trench coat flung over the back of a chair): It's not that is it?

Metatron: Shut up!

At Castiel HQ, the boys and Cas walk in with a box of evidence from the crime scene and meet Hannah, who tells Cas that an angel named Josiah wasn't at roll call.

Sam: Hold up...roll call?

Cas: They like to hear me say their names.

Dean (smirking): I know a couple women like that.

The angels jump to the way-too-easy conclusion that Josiah is the mole and the one who killed Ezra, but now he's vanished. Dean's like, au contraire. No wings means he has to travel like a human and in minutes, Sam finds out that Josiah's vessel, Sean Flynn, was last in Colorado. And that's how it's done. The angel examining the crime scene evidence finds a cell phone with a memory card still intact and plays a vid from that phone, showing the Angel Nuke. Cas does not look pleased. Hannah recognizes the little girl (from the back of her head, so...impressive *arches eyebrow*) as one of Metatron's peeps.

Sam: Is this a hit?

Cas: I don't know.

Dean: Stop saying you don't know.

Cas: You can't think I'd allow this?

Dean: Cas, I know you try to be a good guy. You do. You try. But what you've got here is a friggin' cult. Last time you had this kind of juice, you killed angels and humans and lied to Sam and me about it the whole time.

Can't blame him for questioning. Sam, though, is keeping a level head and herds both of them up into Cas' office, ordering Dean to "stow the baggage." Good boy, Sammy. Cas tells them that the angel in the video is Oren, and worked with some of his other...flock...at a local hospital helping where they could. Small miracles, nothing that would show up on the radar.

The Enochian runes on his chest focused energy. He said the girl was atomized...which, hold up. I just realized that doesn't make sense because didn't they look at a body at the ice cream shop when Cas said there were 6 humans and 1 angel? *hand waves*

Anyway, Dean tells Cas to hang back, he and Sam will look into this.

Dean: The Manson girls aren't gonna give us a straight answer with Charlie in the room.

Cas: So, I just sit here.

Dean: Pretty much.

Cas: No. (Dean blinks at this) If you don't want my help, then I will follow Josiah's trail to CO. I have to do something.

Understanding this rather intimately, Dean gives in.

Dean: Fine. But Sam's coming with you.

Cas: Because you don't trust me?

Dean (eyes softening): To help.

Sam, though, looks worried about leaving his brother alone...probably thinking about how he'd wanted to interrogate Ezra not long ago. But, he goes anyway and pretty soon, they're in Cas' Caddy, Sam driving.

Cas: Abbadon is dead.

Sam: And then some.

Cas (worried): Oh, no.

Sam (nervous laugh): Okay, ominous.

Cas: Does Dean seem...different to you?

Sam: Yeah. Lately he seems to be...amped up. On edge.

Cas: Effects of the Mark.

Sam: What else?

Cas: He does seem...angry. I mean, he's always a little angry, but now it seems like more. Like a part of him actually believed that I ordered those angels to...you don't, do you Sam?

Sam: No, man. Cas, listen...you got a weird thing going on back there. It's like you're part rock star, part L. Ron. [As in L. Ron Hubbard? I'm guessing?]

Cas: They've put their faith in me.

Sam: Maybe that's the problem. People have been doing messed up crap in the name of faith -- name of God -- since forever.

Cas: I'm not trying to play God. I'm just trying to get my people home.

And make up for his massive mistake in trusting Metatron and getting his people kicked out in the first place....

We head to a bowling alley where Metatron is being Mayor of Smarmy Town while Gadreel grimaces nearby and Tyrus does and awesome 'Fred Flinstone at the bowling alley' impression. Tyrus is not only not interested in joining Metatron, he doesn't really want to go back to Heaven -- and neither do his peeps -- because they like Earth. And it's authenticity. Just as Metatron is about to give up, Tyrus tells him that if he can out-bowl him, they'll talk.

Back at Castiel HQ, Dean is in a room questioning one of the angels who worked at the hospital with Oren.

Dean: What do I call you?

Angel: My angelic name is 18 syllables long; let's stick with Flagstaff. [Okay, I think that's what she said, but it's a weird name for an angel, so...feel free to correct me.]

Dean: Copy.

She tells him that Oren was a joy and Dean makes a crack about his explosive personality. She's not being helpful at all and says she has to go save lives. Dean's like, welcome to the club.

Flagstaff: Ha! You think you help people. That's amusing. I help people. I do good in this world. You believe every problem can be solved with a gun. You play the hero but under all the hype, you're just a killer with oceans of blood on your hands. I hate men like you.

Just as I was about to mutter grumpily about this being yet another character telling Dean he's a killer and it's enough already, Dean explodes into action, throws the table between them aside, knocks her chair back and crouches over her, the angel sword at her throat.

Dean: Honey, there ain't no other men like me.

Terrified, Flagstaff begs for her life and Dean demands the names of Oren's friends. She tells him Constantine and Tessa. Dean backs off when he hears Tessa's name.

Meanwhile, following a clue the kid at the Colorado Gas 'n Sip gave them, Sam and Cas find Josiah's car in Pray, MT. (Get it? Pray? Where the door of Heaven is? Oh, Show. *shakes head*) Cas says the building it's parked outside of is radiating power -- such that he's not felt since Heaven. The door is locked. Sam picks it. Nada.

Cas: Stand back. I got this. (Rams his shoulder against it a few times, then backs up) I don't got this.

Back near Castiel HQ, we see Tessa -- with a lot more make-up on than she's worn before -- heading into a playhouse. Dean is there, gets her attention, and stops her. He followed her from the hospital (where she took an ambulance). When she tries to walk away from him, he catches her arm, pulling her shirt away from her collar bone a little and sees markings on her skin like the runes on the other Angel Nuke.

Dean: Not happening.

He pulls her close, cuffs her to him, and pushes her against the wall, demanding to know where Constantine is.

At the bowling alley, it's clear that Metatron has lost, and just before he and Gadreel leave, one of the Angel Nukes goes off. Tyrus is caught in the blast, but Gadreel protects Metatron. Bummer.

Back in Pray, Sam and Cas are still trying to get into the building. It's gotten dark and Cas uses an angel-meets-Iron Man palm light power like a black light and reveals Enochian markings on the wall above the door. It's a riddle: why was 6 afraid of 7?

While Cas is wondering about the intimidation factor of Prime Numbers, Sam says, "Because 7 8 9," and the door opens.

Cas: The answer's the key like the doors of Durin in Lord of the Rings.

Sam (dumbfounded): Wait, you know Lord of the Rings?

Cas is like, I'm hip to all this pop culture jazz, dig it? Only...he can't figure out an elementary school riddle. Heh.

Dean calls and asks how Cas is. Sam's like, he's Cas. Dean tells him about Tessa -- Tessa yelling, "Your brother is a psyhco" into the phone, which I'm sure helped Sam's nerves a ton -- and then takes her inside. Once there, Dean walks in on Flagstaff telling Hannah that Dean put a knife to her throat. Dean shows Hannah the marks on Tessa.

Hannah: Oh, God.

Tessa: There is no God. Only Castiel.

Dean: Oh, and you're done.

Dean puts Tessa in the interrogation room, but Hannah, Flagstaff, and a guy angel follow him, demanding to know what he plans on doing. He pulls out the angel sword all, what do you think? He says they need to know if there are other bombers out there. Hannah says only one person can punish Tessa.

Hannah: Castiel is the only thing holding us together. A month ago, half the angels in this place were trying to kill the other half. Castiel gave them a purpose and a way to live in peace. We have rules. If I let you take matters into your own hands, what's to stop them from doing the same?

While she's talking, several angels join them, basically surrounding Dean. They tell him to go talk to Tessa, but leave the sword outside. And they're not asking. So, he does, and heads into the room.

In Pray, Sam and Cas have finally gotten into the building and after what Dean told him about Tessa, Sam wants to go back, but Cas is being called forward by the power of that place and wants another minute. They head down the hall and Sam sees the words, "Only the penitent man will pass." Just as I hollered, KNEEL, Cas does and avoids getting chopped in half by whirring saw blades. Sam's like, Last Crusade? Weird.

Meanwhile, Hannah is in the room while Dean questions Tessa. She calls Tessa a liar when the Reaper says she works for Castiel.

Tessa: You'll never understand. Sacrifices have to be made.

Dean: You go after the bad guys and if a few humans get microwaved, no big deal.

Tessa: In the grand scheme, they don't matter.

Dean (closing his eyes and shaking his head, sounding tired): Oh, Tessa. You're so wrong.

And that? Gives me hope.

Tessa says Castiel told her she could do this because she was strong; others couldn't handle it. Hannah launches for her and Dean jumps up, catching Hannah and herding her outside of the room.

Dean: Settle down!

Hannah: Do you think she's telling the truth?

Dean (frowning): She thinks she is.

Back in Pray, Sam and Cas find the door to Heaven. Or...so they think. They head inside and it's like a cheesy party scene, circa 1972, complete with "I'm in Heaven" playing overhead.

Cas: The hell?

*chuckles*

Sam crosses the room and picks up a card: "Welcome to your own personal Heaven, Castiel. Good luck finding the real one."

Now, I gotta know...how did Metatron ever expect Castiel to find/read that card if his door booby trap of Holy Fire actually worked like he wanted it to?

Anyway, they find a burned body of a man -- hideous and painful looking -- behind the door. It's Josiah and he had been burned by holy oil and a blow torch. Only he's not dead yet. He startles the crap out of Cas by grabbing his arm and saying that Metatron promised he could go home. Cas offers to heal him and Josiah says he'd rather die than owe his life to Cas.

Josiah: You play like you're one of us, but I look into your eyes and I don't see an angel staring back at me.

Uh-oh.

Back in the interrogation room, Dean goes in on his own to talk to Tessa. He wants to know why she's doing this. Not why she thinks Castiel wants her to, but what would make her want to "pop her top"?

Dean: I've been in bad shape, I have, but I have never been that damn low.

Tessa: I guess I just can't take the screaming.

Dean (frowning): Who's screaming?

Tessa: All of them. The lost souls. The ones who can't get into Heaven. They are so confused. In so much pain. All I want to do is help them. It's what I do; it's my job. But I can't. So, I suffer until death. Nothingness. Suddenly it seemed easy.

Dean asks why she didn't just put an angel sword to her throat and be done with it -- why take out people with her? She said she was too weak, until Castiel gave her a reason.

Dean: See, that just doesn't sound like the Cas I know.

Tessa (playing the role of Wormtongue at the moment, weaving doubt into Dean's consciousness): Doesn't it, though? Would the Cas you now raise an army of angels without telling you? 'Cause this Cas did.

Dean looks down and away, his usual tell that he still doesn't buy it, but he doesn't have a compelling argument for his case.

Tessa coyly tells him there's more out there like her. Many more. Dean wants names, but Tessa says that would "ruin all the fun." This makes Dean angry -- she's playing with people's lives, innocent people. So, he pulls out the Blade and says the fun is just getting started, clearly intending on intimidating her. She looks scared at first, then oddly intrigued.

Tessa: Dean, what have you done?

Dean: What I had to.

Tessa: Welcome to the club.

She grabs his shoulders and steps forward before he can do anything, impaling herself on the Blade in front of Dean's shocked eyes. There's nothing he can do but let her die in a bright burst of light. As she falls off the blade, a tangled mix of horror, fear, and an almost giddy sweep of pleasure cross his features and he's trembling a bit, looking at the blade...then the door opens and several angels rush in, seeing Tessa dead on the floor. Dean holds up a hand, like whoa, wait.

Next thing we know, Dean is chained to a chair, duct tape across his mouth, and his nose bloody as Sam and Cas are heading into the room. Sam immediately crosses to untie him while Cas orders everyone else out.

Cas: They said you killed Tessa?

Dean: Not so much. She killed herself.

Sam: Why would she do that, Dean?

Dean: She was saying all kinds of crap, Sam.

And why he didn't just tell them what she said -- about how she said she was hired by Cas and about hearing the souls screaming -- I don't know. Time, maybe. But I wish he had.

Sam: So, that's why you brought out the First Blade? We had a deal!

Dean: It was a stupid deal.

Sam: If you stuck to it, Tessa would still be alive! Without her, we got jack.

Good point, Sammy.

Dean: You think I wanted that to happen?

Sam: I don't know, did you?

Cas: Stop it!

Me: Thank you!

Sam getting angry and accusatory -- even if he is right -- does not help the situation and only pushes Dean further and further away. And that whole argument was making me clench my jaw with the desire to crack their heads together and order Dean to stop being a stubborn ass and Sam to stop being so self righteous. Siblings. Jeeze.

Just then, Hannah comes in and says that Cas has a call -- from Metatron. As they walk out there, Dean is favoring is right side, holding his arm close as if they did work him over a bit...but it's also the arm with the Mark on it, so I don't know. Maybe it was burning or something.

Metatron: Castiel. Bet you're not happy to see me.

Dean: Is anyone? Ever?

Metatron: Ah, Dean. Always with the B-grade, '80's action movie wit.

Sam: What do you want?

Basically, Metatron is there to inform them that the bomber failed. Tyrus is dead and now those followers have joined Metatron's army. Castiel charges him with deception that caused The Fall and Metatron pulled out the I did what I had to do line. Sam calls him on the fact that he had Gadreel kill all those angels, and Metatron's like, yeah, that was a mistake, but we all make them. He offers a one-time deal: amnesty for any angel who joins him, and returns to Heaven with him as their God. *shudders*

He says they clearly need to follow someone; they don't know what to do with Free Will. But it shouldn't be Cas because not only does Cas send angels out to die, he stole his grace and he's burning out. When the grace is gone, so is he.

Metatron: I'm not the best, but I'm the best you got. The only thing Cas cares about is himself and the Hardy Boys.

He signs off and Cas turns to his "flock" saying Metatron's lying. Well, not about the grace, but about everything else. Hannah wants proof -- she wants Castiel to punish Dean. Dean's like, ya'll can all go to Hell and tries to walk away, but the angels catch him and hold him fast. Sam tries to stop them, but he's held back by other angels. Hannah hands Cas an angel sword -- and I had to wonder for just a moment if Cas had stabbed Dean, if it would have killed him. I know it's an angel sword and all, but with the Mark...I thought Dean was impervious to death. It would have been interesting to see that play out.

But instead, Castiel looks at his friend's pleading eyes and say he can't do it. The angels walk out leaving the brothers alone with Castiel.

Back at his place, Metatron is all whoo-hoo! I won! but Gadreel is not happy. He says he should have been told what their "elite unit" -- the one Ezra was trying to get into -- was really for. He'd recruited Tessa and Constantine and didn't realize they would become Angel Nukes. Metatron starts to explain the art of storytelling, where you create an unbeatable enemy -- like the Death Star -- so that he looks like the underdog, then using double agents play both sides against the middle.

Castiel is in love with humanity and now...for the angels, Metatron is inevitable. He was just shy of saying, I have foreseeeeeen this, ala The Emperor.

Metatron: While everyone else is playing checkers, I'm playing Monopoly and I always build a hotel on Boardwalk. And I always win.

Back in the quiet car, Cas in the backseat, the boys are heading to the bunker. They get inside and Sam immediately jumps on Dean having lied about the Blade.

Dean: Yeah. I lied. But you were being an infant.

Sam: Wow. Even for you that apology sucked.

Dean: I'm not apologizing. I'm telling you how it's gonna be. The Blade is the only thing that can kill Metatron and I'm the only one who can use it. So, from here on out, I'm calling the shots. Until I drive that Blade into that douchebag's heart, we are not a team. This is a dictatorship. You don't have to like it, but that's how it's gonna be.

Harsh, yes. Unfair, maybe. Surprising, no. Not really liking this "not a team" stance across the board, but can't say as I blame Dean when he's been coping with Sam saying they're not brothers for a while now. However, the Blade/Mark influence is probably not going to make Dean a benevolent dictator and someone needs to cowboy up and find a way to get that Blade away from him...after Metatron is dead.

The boys storm off, parting from each other. Dean heads to Castiel, where the angel has dropped into a chair at the big table.

Dean: So, batteries?

Cas: I'm fine.

Dean: How long you got?

Cas:  Long enough to destroy Metatron, I hope. But without an army....

Dean (smiling, eyes gentle): Well, you still got us.

Cas: Dean, those bombers. You don't think that I....

Dean (smile softening): Cas, you just gave up an entire army for one guy. There's no way you blew those people away.

Cas: You really believe we three will be enough?

Dean: We always have been.

Just then, they hear heavy footsteps and Sam's terrified cry of, "GUYS!" and they're immediately up and running...only to practically run straight into Gadreel. Sam is across the room, practically shaking with rage and maybe a little bit of fear. Cas looks surprised. Dean looks stone-faced. Gadreel says he's not there to fight and that, basically, Metatron has lost it. Says the bombers were Metatron's agents.

Gadreel: I understand you don't trust me. I've made mistakes. But haven't you? Haven't we all? At least give me a chance.

Dean looks at Sam and Sam kinda eyebrow shrugs. In slow motion, Dean steps forward, offering Gadreel his hand, and then like a hammer in his head had dropped and all the words Gadreel had used to convince him that he would help them when he'd been betraying them all along had slammed into his memory, Dean pulled the First Blade out and slashed it across Gadreel's chest, causing the blue-white light of Gadreel's grace to shine out and the angel to stumble back.

Sam and Cas lunge for Dean, both of them grabbing him and pulling away as Dean stares rage-filled daggers at the angel, his neck taut, his eyes dangerous and deadly.

And I stared at my TV thinking what the hell was that?!

Guess we'll find out next week. Hopefully you'll be there with me.

Thanks for reading!

Tags: episode review, ramble, supernatural, what do you think?
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