...change it up, fellas.
With the obvious exception of Castiel (who is bearing the brunt of the angelic mission to protect and care for humanity all by his lonesome), pretty much every angel we've encountered has been some version of bad. Even Gadreel, though I had hope for him when we thought he was Ezekial. They are disillusioned versions of their original incarnations, seeing only the unworthy parts of humanity rather than the parts that they were designed to protect. And I'm not talking theological belief system here, I'm talking SPN canon. Everyone from Zachariah to Hannah to Metatron has said that they were supposed to watch out for the humans and after a while just found us to be so...deplorable they gave up and turned on us.
No wonder the boys are constantly in danger of falling over the precipice of darkness. The main non-human help they get (again, with the exception of Cas) is in the form of demons or vamps or the like.
And it just seems to me that the go-to baddie lately is an angel. The set-up with Amelia -- living in a dream world while being fed off of -- could have very easily been a djinn, for example. I mean, I get it, I do. Her husband was a vessel for an angel and so she left her daughter seeking to find Castiel and determine what had, ultimately, happened to him, so it's logical that her fate was determined by an angel. But it just feels so...done. Rather than falling back on lore they knew and could apply their hunting skills against, it's yet another layer of anti-human angelness: the first angels on the earth went rogue, and now feeds off human souls. I mean, what? Since when has that been possible?
Don't get me wrong. Like I said, there was plenty to enjoy here, and I'll get to that in just a sec, but what I would really like to see in S11 is enough with the bad angels, helpful demon set up. The line between good and evil is smudged so severely right now it's like a Rorschach test. The boys are constantly trying to fight the good fight but with all these outside forces battling against them -- help coming to them from Rowena and Crowley and something called The Book of the Damned, for God's sake, and pain coming to them in the form of angels -- right is wrong and wrong is right.
On one hand, it could be seen as very intricate, layered writing. It could be seen as very much the way our lives actually go: no clear path, only our guts to guide us on who to trust and what choice to make. But, personally, I don't watch for an ambiguous moral compass. I watch to see good win against evil and our heroes to triumph in the face of adversity. And it's hard to feel triumphant when you're watching your hero use his demon-inclined soul to try and save his brother and best friend from dying at the hands of an angel. Or seeing a lonely, heartbroken teenager lose everything because of an angel.
We've seen angels torture and manipulate and conceal truth and outright lie. And we've seen demons and the Devil use truth to get their way because they know that everyone will automatically assume they're lying. I wish Holloway had been a djinn. Everything could have happened exactly the same way it did and I would have probably found it more satisfying for the one reason that they didn't dip into the angelic well for a bad guy once again.
Okay, all that whining aside, let's discuss our boys.
Last week, I responded to a comment from someone about how they didn't like what they were seeing from Dean -- he seemed to be putting on a show, too cheery, not really him. I replied that was the reason I did like what I saw: he is trying so hard. Too hard, in some instances. We keep being told by Sam and Cas that Dean's getting worse, but this time? We're also seeing it (albeit very, very subtly). Not just with the nightmares (though, if he wants to have more of those for us to see, I'd be okay with it), but with the need for violence. Taking out a vamps nest of six on his own last week, commenting how he just needs to punch something this week, the way he, um, encouraged Ronnie Whatshisname to spill the intel on Amelia (though, to be fair, it's not like we haven't seen him do this before - or have seen Sam do the same without having the Mark). He is going to wear himself out trying so freakin' hard to be normal.
The forced humor, the continued verbal reassurances to his brother and Cas that he's okay, really...they are betrayed by the flexing jaw, the tightness around his eyes, the quick temper, the way he has to visibly calm himself when he's benched yet again.
I believe him when he says he's going to keep fighting. I believe that he doesn't want this to happen to him, that he's doing absolutely everything in his power to stay true to who he is and who he wants to be. But every day that passes the temptation gets stronger and the fight gets harder and there is going to come a time when the bomb ticking away inside of him goes off and the destruction could very easily be something Dean won't be able to recover from. Especially if he takes out anyone else in the process.
My favorite part of this episode, though, were the moments with Dean and Claire. He didn't feel like he was putting on a show, then. Didn't feel like he was forcing the humor. He was just...Dean. It was as though she'd already seen him at his worst, what else was there? They were actually really well matched as far as character interaction. A better match, I thought, than Sam and Claire. While I got a kick out of Sam coaching her in the ways of the Force and teaching her how to hack into credit cards and create fake ones, his manner with her was more...superior. More of a, "Look, I've been where you are and have learned a few things, so be quiet and let me teach you so you have a chance to survive." Dean's was more of a, "Look, I've been where you are and it sucks. Let's go blow off some steam."
As far as Cas is concerned...I'm not sure where they're going with him. He has his grace back, but he couldn't heal Amelia, so it's limited grace. He's now been made to feel like a failure multiple times over because he already felt as though he didn't do right by Claire and now he has to live with what happened to Amelia. My only consolation with that whole Novak family travesty is that we got to see Jimmy and Amelia together in Heaven. Actually together and not in separate, individual Heavens as they made it out to be when we saw Bobby. Metatron already challenged Cas a few episodes back asking what his five year plan was (in a manner of speaking) and now that Cas has sent Claire to Jody's Home for Wayward Teens Who Have Been Damaged by the Supernatural, the only focus he has left, really, is Dean and the Mark. And that won't last forever. I just...I'm not sure what they're doing with Cas right now.
I did like how he sought out advice from both brothers on what to do about Claire and I loved how the brother's advice had nothing to do with what was best for Claire and everything to do with their individual, personal mindsets at the moment. I think Cas caught that as well. Dean's reluctantly delivered compliment followed by his thoughts that Claire might be stronger on her own were, in my mind, his secret fear about Sam. That, like always, he was holding Sam back, holding him down. He said last week that they were stronger together, but I think he just so desperately wants that to be true. He's held out the opinion for much longer that they're each other's Achilles heel and that his personal damage is going to, one day, destroy his brother. He won't ever admit that to himself, though, so it comes out as "advice" to Cas about his vessel's daughter.
Contrasting to Sam who vehemently opposed the idea that Cas leave Claire when she's just barely 18, despite the fact that he was on his own (at school) at 18. He is speaking his own heart, practically his own pep talk, when he says, "You being there for her, even if she doesn't think she wants you there for her, that's good for both of you." To channel Chandler Bing, could he BE more obviously talking about himself and Dean?
Before I dive into my lists, I have to call out one other thing. Sam's statement to Claire that, "In this line of work, death isn't always goodbye," caught me for multiple reasons. First, it could pretty much be the tagline for the show, but second, I couldn't help but wonder if it was a bit of foreshadowing. I really, really hope not, I'll admit. And this time, it's not because I couldn't bear to see one of the brothers die. It's because we've seen that. We've lived through watching Dean get shredded by Hellhounds and hung from meathooks in Hell, and Sam beat Dean to a bloody pulp before grabbing hold of Lucifer and diving into the cage. We've seen Sam stabbed in the back and heard Dean's heart-shattering wail of, "SAM!" and we've seen Dean stabbed in the gut and listened to Sam's broken tears as he's cradled his brother's blood-soaked body.
We've seen them die and seen the other turn themselves (and sometimes the world) inside out to get each other back. We have seen them make bad choices for good reasons and sacrifices for heart-wrenching reasons. It's happened so much that Sam can make a statement like that and mean it. Death has no dominion over these two.
That said, in order to avoid us seeing what we've seen before, I'm afraid that they're going to go really off the reservation and I'm not sure how to prepare myself for that. I mean, at this point, even Dean going nuclear and letting the Mark take over and returning to his demon state wouldn't be that shocking because, well, we've seen Dean as a demon with the Mark. He doesn't care -- about anything. It would suck, IMO, because then Dean would be gone, but they got him back before using human blood infusions, so I would simply imagine they'd get him back again.
No, what I'm really afraid of is having one brother kill the other -- either to save the world or out of rage, depending on who it is. That...I don't know if they or we could really recover from. I'd almost prefer them both to die (another thing we haven't seen in a finale yet) and have to figure out how to get them out of Purgatory or rescue them from Hell or have them take over Heaven or something in S11.
I don't know, but that line got me thinking. And wondering. And worrying. *bites lip*
- The music that plays as the Impala pulls up in front of the Tulsa hospital where Castiel is waiting for the boys. That had an instant grin on my face.
- Sam's little smirk when Cas referred to them as both having been "troubled teens."
- "I haven't gone in yet; I was waiting for backup."
- Sam Winchester as Mr. Logic. "We're not leaving until we know what happened, so if you want us gone, talk."
- "C'mon...give me something to punch already." (beat) "I'm fine. I'm fine."
- Cas and Dean partnering up to head to the bar. It's been awhile since we got to see the two of them together with Sam and Cas in the "let's make dangerous decisions to cure Dean and keep it from him" club.
- The camera angle on Dean's face in the Impala when he's telling Cas that he's simply a reminder to Claire of someone who is gone.
- "Pro tip: use an alias."
- "In this line of work, death isn't always goodbye."
- Claire's hair when she's at the motel -- so. pretty.
- Sam teaching Claire to hack and make credit cards. And the dodgy look on his face as he tells her this job doesn't pay the bills. He used to hate that aspect of their job and now he's passing on trade secrets to the next generation.
- Holloway being a truly evil baddie by blinding Ronnie again before stabbing him in the back. Harsh.
- "Yeah, that's weird."
- Cas giving Claire a stuffed cat for her birthday. *rubs mushy heart*
- Dean having to instantly defend himself against three sets of accusatory eyes when Ronnie is reported dead -- his expression was at once exasperated, surprised, and resigned.
- "I better get suited up and get back over there." "I'm coming with you." "I'm coming with you, too." (beat) "You want to get in on this?"
- Agents Clapton and Page. Plus the sheriff's name of Coltrane. That was all together awesome.
- "I'll stay and babysit. But, if anything happens--" "We'll call you. No fighting." "Tell her that." "Both of you."
- Dean's fake, sassy laugh in reply to Claire telling him he'd already lost his mind.
- Shifting between Claire & Dean at the mini-golf range to Cas & Sam at the old Farmhouse --> it was a good way to illustrate the juxtaposition of what Dean was saying to Claire.
- Dean's whole Caddyshack homage. Seriously, there is not one of my friends who can go to a golf course or mini-golf place and not quote Bill Murray's Carl Spackler.
- "Never seen it. Not a fan." "How dare you!" <-- pretty much everyone in the SPN fandom who encounters someone on the outside.
- Dean sassing behind Claire's back. I don't even care, that was funny.
- "Your dad's sacrifice was not meaningless. He gave up his body, his vessel, and because he did that, Cas was able to save the world. Your father's a hero." Way to go, Dean. You got me all stupid and teary-eyed. She really needed to hear that. Everyone needs to hear that the loss of a loved one was "worth it"...that it somehow benefitted the greater good. *sniff*
- Most of Claire's dialog with Dean was made of win: "You're not stroking out, are you?" "Why am I a genius?" "This is hunting? Homework?" "You got all that from a putter?!"
- Dean being all researchy and discovering that they were dealing with a Grigori -- and rightly assessing that it was the bad kind that preyed on people and not the good kind that helped people.
- "Happy birthday. Don't shoot me."
- Sam pulling the nail from the chair he was cuffed to and picking the locks. My luck, I'd get cuffed to a plastic chair. Not like I could pick a lock anyway, but you get me.
- Dean coaching Claire on shooting the bad guys.
- The way Claire's face instantly folded into tears when she saw her Mom. Mother/Daughter tears get me every time. Although Claire's broken tears when Amelia died had me totally choked up. *sad face*
- Dean and Sam informing each other that Holloway was a Grigori at the same time.
- Claire saving them all by using the angel sword on the Grigori when even amped-up Dean wasn't getting an upper hand.
- Seeing Jimmy and Amelia in Heaven.
- The decision to send Claire to Jody --> not only perfect but...why didn't they think of that before?
- Dean's birthday present of a copy of Caddyshack and The Enochian Myth, along with the advice to do her homework before she does anything stupid.
- "Are you going to be okay?" "Me? I don't know. I'll keep fighting. Keep swinging until I got nothing left." *catches breath* Seriously, he is killing me with this right now.
- Dean's lip roll. Just. I can't even.
- Claire asking Dean to keep an eye on Cas. *sniff*
- Claire hugging Castiel.
- Willie Friggin' Nelson's "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain." Way to rip out my heart, guys. Willie was one of my dad's favorites and I can't hear that voice and not miss him terribly.
- Honestly, the whole tragic story around Amelia. That was really awful -- two years being fed off of and living in a dreamscape only to barely be reunited with her daughter and then die protecting her? So awful. Made me really sad all around; the angels destroyed her life. It didn't have to be that way. She could have been protected and cared for because of the sacrifice her husband made. But angels (with the exception of Cas) are total dicks in this 'verse and that makes me sad.
- Dean and Cas basically walking right up to Ronnie in that bar without asking a single person what he looked like or where he was sitting. Ooookay then.
- The baddie being an angel. Again.
- Sam getting knocked out and tied to a chair. Again.
- At this point, you know all of them. The biggest one I walked away from this episode with was, what is going to happen when Dean finds out the truth about what Sam (and Cas) have been up to?! That has me worried. Quite a lot, actually.