Oh boy. That was a doozy of a penultimate Supernatural episode. At a very high level, I thought it was an effective trip down memory lane, bringing us all the way back to season 1 of the show as well as reminding us of both the progress and the stagnation that the Winchesters have experienced throughout their journey. Not only that, but Crowley needs to rule, like…everything. Because that man/demon has gone from a sassy, opportunistic crossroads dealmaker into a cold-hearted villain and I don’t really care what it says about me that I love him so much.
Welcome to the Party…Now Please Leave
We opened with Sam suffering ever increasing side-effects, despite his proclamation last week that having a purpose was making him feel better (yeah, for about five seconds, Sammy). And then Castiel walked in. The boys saved him from bleeding in the middle of the road and brought him back to the Men of Letters bunker, but Dean is not exactly rolling out the welcome mat. When Castiel offers to accompany Dean on a food run, Dean refuses his company. And then this exchange happened: “I’m sorry,” Castiel apologized. “For what?” Dean shot back. “For everything,” Castiel explained. But that wasn’t good enough for Dean, who said: “Everything? Like ignoring us? Or bolting off with the Angel Tablet and then losing it because you didn’t trust me? You didn’t trust ME. No, that’s not gonna cut it. Not this time. So you can take your little apology and cram it up your ass.” Dean, I thought I was doing the right thing.” “Yeah, you always do.” Later, Sam told Dean to “go easy on Cas, he’s one of the good guys.” “Look, if anybody else…I mean anyone…pulled that kind of crap I would stab them in their neck on principle. Why should I give him a free pass?” Dean asked. “Because it’s Cas,” Sam shot back.
Of course we have to talk about this, don’t we? The truth of the matter is that Dean has never responded well to betrayal. When Dean cares about someone (Sam, his father, Bobby, Castiel) he loves them wholeheartedly and fears the severance of that connection or any accompanying betrayal. Sam lied to him and left him in season 4 and it took a very long time for him to heal from that. In fact, it may have taken four seasons to heal from that because he was still angry about it in the episode “Southern Comfort” earlier this season. Castiel already betrayed him once at the end of season 6 and while their journey through Purgatory reaffirmed their friendship, Dean was once again wounded by the fact that he appealed to Castiel in “Goodbye Stranger” and was “rebuffed” when Castiel took off with the Angel Tablet and no word of an explanation.
Dean’s anger at Cas is, I believe, understandable given what we know of Dean’s history with the various people in his life. Is it warranted? Well, yes and no. I don’t want to say that Dean is perfect, because Dean is obviously a flawed (though heroic) individual. But the one quality of Dean that rarely, if ever, falters is loyalty. He has been loyal to his brother and to Castiel through thick and thin. In fact, he fought his way through Purgatory for longer than he needed to to ensure he did not leave the dimension without his friend. In some respects, I feel that Dean has a right to be angry when the people he is unfailingly loyal to betray his trust. At the same time, Castiel is more human than most angels and he had just broken free of Naomi’s control, he was being hunted and was very clearly confused. His actions were understandable and Dean’s anger was understandable and they are currently at a stalemate that will not, I fear, be helped by their divergent paths. Because if Castiel makes a serious misstep in trying to close the Gates of Heaven (and we’ll get to that soon), then I don’t know if Dean will be able to look past that and help repair their friendship.
The truth is, I don’t know how this will play out with Castiel and Dean. I appreciate the fact that Castiel is clearly sorry and tried to make amends by buying pie for Dean (but, of course, they were out – foiled again!), but is it going to be enough for Dean? Only the season finale will tell…assuming they connect again in that episode. On the other hand, I did enjoy the fact that Sam stood up for Castiel and tried to appeal to Dean on his behalf. After all, Sam has been where Cas is now. In fact, the two of them have so many similarities – sometimes in personality, but more often in terms of individual journeys – that I’ve always felt both the characters and the show could benefit from a deeper friendship between the two.
The good thing to come out of the Men of Letters discussion was the discovery of a film from 1957 that contained a “new” kind of exorcism, one never seen before by the Winchesters. They spotted Josie (the woman possessed by Abaddon) filming two priests attempting to “cure” a demon, which Sam and Dean later discovered essentially meant to “wash [the] taint away and restore [the corrupted demon soul’s] humanity”. This is not about expelling a demon from a human host, this is literally about stripping away the evilness that a human soul acquires after being corrupted in Hell and giving them…a conscience, if you will. Normally, you might think something like this is a bit of a Supernatural retcon, but I don’t think it is. Unlike burning a demon’s bones, the dimension-jumping powers of reapers and the shiny new powers of the angel blades, I think that this new exorcism is a fantastic addition to canon. Why haven’t we heard of it before? Because, it seems, only a select group of people knew it existed.
When the exorcism in the video in the MoL bunker failed, the Winchesters headed off to find the last surviving priest from that night, who provided further documentation from his fellow priest who eventually succeeded at his task. This new exorcism was finally achieved by purifying a demon’s host, reciting a modified exorcism chant and then “curing” the demon with a light similar to that seen when an angel kills a demon. This is fascinating. This is far beyond the powers of Ruby’s knife, the effectiveness of the Colt or even Sam’s abilities in season 4. Imagine if the Winchesters could perfect this technique…they would be unstoppable. Demons aren’t being sent back to Hell like Meg was at the end of season 1 only to come back even angrier than before. No, they’re sticking around with a conscience.
But the problem is that they needed a demon to test this on and their demon of choice was Abaddon. Fortunately, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men were able to put Abaddon back together again. She revealed that she had killed the priest who had accomplished the successful modified exorcism but seemed upset when the boys got a call from Crowley. She managed to escape before the Winchesters could even begin the exorcism, which left them back at square one.
Concluded on next page…
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