Ask Chuck Shurley: it’s tough out there for a writer. You gotta stay true to your vision and make your readers happy at the same time. Or do you? Apparently someone doesn’t think so. Because a former member of God’s secretarial pool is armed and dangerous with a vintage typewriter, and he doesn’t give a rat’s ass if the Winchesters and company like the plot.
1. “Who gives a story meaning—is it the writer? Or you?”
The structure of this episode was spectacular. From the Masterpiece Theater style opening, with its panning shots of our beloved Carver Edlund Supernatural books (aka: the Gospel According to Winchester), to the continued scenes of keys clacking away as the timeless tool of the current writer in charge storms through a story, this episode was all about one guy:
I read recently that Curtis Armstrong is thoroughly enjoying portraying Metatron, and, just so he knows, I’m enjoying his portrayal immensely too. His evolution into Season Nine’s big bad has been a hell of a ride. It’s been fascinating to watch him turn from the equivalent of Heaven’s biggest book nerd, into, essentially, the new God in town, who is writing the script for the end of the world as we know it. We started off rooting for Metatron: we watched him join the fight, save Kevin, and, we thought anyway, work with Cas towards peace. But then? BUT THEN? He went rogue, killed Kevin (indirectly, but still) and now wants to face off against Cas in the battle for the great beyond. Metatron is so snide, so sneaky, so selfish. He makes Crowley look trustworthy and modest. The writers have given Armstrong a lot to work with, it’s true, but let’s all applaud this master character actor who has deftly turned Metatron into the angel we love to hate. And I mean haaaaaaaaate. Lesser hands would have diminished his impact. Thank Chuck we have Armstrong to play him just right.
2. The Scene—from Psycho?
Dean in the shower, a sight we have all been waiting three weeks for that was nothing like what we expected. J&J have often spoken of how their show is so not a typical CW abs fest, and, thankfully for the plot but sadly for our eyes, that’s true. The previews led us to believe that we were finally going to have a slice of beefcake, and we were all planning to find it delicious. Instead? We left it heartbroken and sick with worry. Dean is changing—becoming something new—and, despite his firm chest and muscular arms, it doesn’t look good. The mark is continuing to erode all of the things that made him the caring, goofy, empathetic man we have loved for almost a decade. Sam is worried. Cas is upset. Everyone asks Dean, over and over, “Are you okay?” He says yes. He is a liar. Jensen Ackles can convey more with just his eyes than other actors can with every part of their body. Dean’s eyes, in the privacy of that bathroom mirror, tell the true answer to that question. He is anything but okay. And it’s only going to get worse every time he looks.
3. Cas on the Hunt
Cas has become Winchester junior, and it’s kind of adorable. He is investigating the mass murders of angels, complete with a research wall in his motel room, a camera phone to document the odd glyph that he finds at every crime scene, and coordinating with the brothers to divide and conquer new towns where potential angel action is about to go down. Cas misses his wings. And life on the road? “It smells.” Still, somehow? He’s never looked more in control. He’s contributing, in a way that’s safe and responsible. Too bad that his sense of job satisfaction can’t last.
4. The FanFic Writes Itself
This is a small one—an actual “moment”, if you will. Did anyone catch the look on Cas’ face when he talks to Dean on the phone? ICYMI, it looked a little somethin’ like this:
I know I’ve said before that I don’t personally ship Destiel, but the minute I saw that fond little smile I swore I could hear the squees across the land from those who do. Is Cas in love with Dean? I don’t know. I wouldn’t dare to guess. That look though? It says a lot. Cas is bound to Dean. He feels deeply for him. I think he loves him. And I admire the show for letting us interpret that as we will, even if it makes the fandom crazy.
5. On Tuesday Night We Got Loki
The minute Cas’ motel TV was “turned on” by Casa Erotica (do you see what I did there?) I hoped. I prayed. I held my breath. And then? I kind of lost it. Did anyone else scream when Richard Speight Jr., aka the Archangel Gabriel himself, appeared on screen? Like, loud? And perhaps profanely? I did. Fortunately, Speight assures me that was the perfect reaction.
Let’s face it—any episode featuring Speight (as the Trickster, as the pseudo-god of mischief, or as the sassiest angel in the garrison) is going to be about a thousand times more fun. Gabriel gets the best lines in the script, and Speight has the presence and charm to deliver them. So okay, in the end the Trickster proved to be a trick and Gabriel wasn’t technically there to guide Cas through his early, tentative steps in leadership. But Speight was, and I’ll take him absolutely any way I can get him. Might we see Gabriel fly again? Is he, in fact, dead?
Only the writers know for sure, but I know I’m rooting for Gabe’s return. (Side note? Richard, if you ever read this please know: a few years has done you a service, sir, ‘cause you looked totally hot in this episode. Just sayin’.)
6. Heaven’s Own Starsky and Hutch
Speaking of (sort of) Gabriel, can we just discuss how AWESOME he was while road tripping with Cas? His turn as Dean to Cas’ Sam was note perfect—thank you to Robbie Thompson for writing the scenes we never knew we needed until we watched that interplay and screamed for some sort of buddy cop spinoff. Gabriel and Cas (and Speight and Misha Collins) have incredible chemistry with each other. I know, I know. I said it before. Gabe wasn’t “real”. But I still want to see more of any form of him and Cas interacting. Even more than Crowley and “Abaddouche.”
7. And A Nerdy Little Angel in a Trench Coat Will Lead Them
“I’m just a soldier,” says Cas. “Bitch, please,” responds faux Gabriel. “You been God more often than Dad has.” He ain’t wrong. And by he, I mean Metatron, who impersonated Gabriel as part of his script to manipulate Cas into leading the army that will fight against his for Heaven. Instead, a thing as stupid as a rip in a coat lining has alerted Cas to the “continuity error” and Cas realizes Metatron is holding him hostage to force him to take the helm of the rebel angels. Cas, who doesn’t want the gig, thinks this will make him a hero, which makes Metatron laugh long and loud. Just like every villain does, Metatron thinks HE is the hero of the story. He cut Cas some slack—made him a human to give him happiness—but now, since Cas is operating on stolen grace (which is burning out, by the way) he’s become merely a puppet to “God” once more. In the end? Cas knows his role. He’s going to become Rebel Leader as it has been written. At least Metatron put millennia of pop culture references into his head before setting him free, and now Cas knows what Rebel Leader is.
8. Things Get Gadreel
Guess who’s back? Back again? Shady angel’s back. Tell a friend. Gadreel, played by the talented Tahmoh Penikett, has been on a rebel angel killing spree for the boss man, trying to earn his way home. Unfortunately for him, he gets got by Sam and Dean. Gadreel manages to get in quite a few swipes at both Winchester boys hearts and souls, telling them the things they already know about the weaknesses inside them.
Sadly, Sam only gets one healthy punch in before Dean sends him off to find the hostage Cas. Gadreel thinks Dean’s going to play good cop. Not so much. Dean kicks the ever lovin’ hell out of Gadreel, threatening Gadreel’s worst nightmare: in the end, Dean’s not going to kill him, he’s going to lock him up forever. Alas, it’s all for naught. Since Metatron wants him returned to do his dirty work and he has a trade in Castiel, Dean won’t get to have his angel and beat him too. Gadreel goes back, but he has an intriguing smile on his face as he talks to the new father of heaven.
Is that a smirk of satisfaction? Suspicion? Cunning? Methinks Gadreel is not as loyal as Metatron believes. And speaking of Metatron…
9. Metatron? More like Mega-tron, am I right?
Okay, that was reaching, I admit, but it’s important to note just how sincerely powerful Metatron has become since season eight. He always been able to erase angel warding. He was always a well-read genius. He was Heaven’s true historian, and the scribe of God—okay. Season nine Metatron, though? He can do things like this:
Metatron, throughout this episode, pulls tricks that show the very good reason he considers himself the new God. He’s no longer a mere angel. Like Dean, he has evolved, and it looks pretty terrifying. “Why are you doing this?” Dean asks. “Because I can,” snarls Metatron. “Because you, and your little brother, and your fine feathered friend, and all those secrets you’ve got locked away in your bunker can’t stop me. But I am going to enjoy watching you try.” This is the true Revenge of the Nerd.
It takes a lot to inspire the Team Free Will Triple Bitchface. Congrats, Metatron. You earned it.
Chuck Shurley might have a problem with endings, but it’s clear Robbie Thompson does not. The montage at the end of the episode, set to the affecting tune of “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)” by Frankie Valli, sets us up perfectly for the final run of episodes that will close out season nine. Sam and Dean drive the Impala, determined to find an entrance to Heaven to get the jump on Metatron and, as if they didn’t have enough to do, try to find and kill Abaddon at the same time to prevent the literal hell she will rain down on earth. Castiel tears down the research wall he has constructed in his motel room, accepting the truth: he isn’t a hunter’s grunt, he is, in fact a leader. He summons the rebel angels and greets them as his flock. And all the while, Metatron types his script, calling himself God, sure he is directing everyone’s actions. Is he? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
So. Much. TENSION! The Winchesters have more on their plate than ever before. They’ve got to stop “God”. They’ve got to kill the “Devil”. And Sam might actually have to save Dean for a change. Will Gadreel turn his coat? Will Metatron survive the editing process? And will Cas finally—FINALLY—pull off a plan without screwing it all up? We’ve got mere weeks to figure it all out. See you next time, for “Alex Annie Alexis Ann”, featuring my beloved Sheriff Jody Mills. Uh oh. A female recurring guest star is back on SPN? And she’s not dead yet? Great. Now my stomach is really in knots. See you then.