Sam and Dean aren’t the only ones with incredible chemistry. This episode had it in spades. Crowley and Rowena. Dean and Amara. And the most twisted, hypnotizing of it all? Sam and Lucifer. That’s right, friends, Sam’s livin’ for givin’ the devil his due, and the only question is: will his imprisonment be internal or external as he tries to stop Amara from claiming the kingdom of God?
1. A Fountain of Blood
Can we all just admit that Amara is a badass? Okay, okay, she’s killed a few…lot of…people but she’s got her reasons, and if she can draw Chuck out of hiding then I can forgive her frying a few bible thumpers in a public park. Emily Swallow is excellent as The Darkness—sexy, smart, well spoken, and, much like our beloved Lucifer before her, she is charismatic enough and has a history that’s just a little bit sad enough to make us almost feel sorry for her. Like her. How weird is that? First we all had it bad for the worst of the fallen angels and now we have the hots for the polar opposite of God. Damn, this show makes us have the weirdest feels.
(Side note? I particularly loved Amara seeing the sign saying “The End is Near” and saying, softly, “Oh, honey, you wish,” before looking up at the sky and saying, in invitation, “Well?” Swallow killed that delivery. I hope we get to keep her for the rest of the season ‘cause I think she’s really just getting started.)
2. Bunker Mates
Okay—I’m just gonna say that I absolutely did not get the webcam style shots of the two brothers at the beginning of the great bunker debate—but I always love it when I see the brothers protecting and prioritizing each other above all else, so I was totally in when Dean said that he wasn’t about to let Sam follow what he thinks is God’s will and jump into the cage with Lucifer.
Sam tries to tell Dean he saw a burning bush, that the visions he was sent were very specific, and that The Darkness is worse than Lucifer could ever be. They need to stop her, even if it means locking himself up with his former torturer, because he is the only being other than God that saw the imprisonment of The Darkness in person and he may be the only one who knows how to lock her back up. This plan is foolish—ridiculous even—but in Sam’s eyes it seems legit. And once again, if it means saving the world? Sam’s gonna take Lucifer on as a roomie. Yeah. What could possibly go wrong?
3. The Unholy Trinity
One King of Hell + one Book of the Damned codex reading witch + the two people who set The Darkness free in the first place = the key to getting Sam to meet with Lucifer without losing his mind—or his soul. None of them trust each other, not by a long shot, but they have to work together because none of them likes the alternative of The Darkness snuffing them out. The plan is this: Crowley leads them into Hell, Rowena casts an alterna-cage to hold Lucifer as a captive audience, Sam asks Lucifer for help and Dean makes sure that Sam stays safe. Again—what could possibly go wrong? Except everything, of course. They say the enemy of my enemy is my friend. What about the enemy of my enemy who is also my enemy? Who knows? As Crowley said, it’s a Devil’s Bargain, and he means that in more ways than one.
4. Take Me to Church
Watching Amara and that priest dance the dance between the literal and the figurative was very entertaining. (Another side note? Kudos to that priest for not being distracted by Amara’s ample assets as he encouraged her to kneel in prayer.)
Amara, after praying: It’s not working.
Priest: Well of course it’s working. He heard you.
Amara: How do you know?
Priest: Because he promised.
Amara: Oh, so you have seen him then.
Priest: Well, no one has. At least no one alive.
Amara: Wait. So only dead people get to see him? (The priest nods.) And this makes sense. To billions of you.
Priest: It is the nature of faith.
I have to say, I’m surprised that Supernatural is going here, considering how close it comes to what many consider deeply blasphemous when Amara speaks of God as a manipulator and a fraud, claims he does what he does for ego’s sake, and in the derisive way she dismisses the devout. In the past the show has tread pretty lightly when it comes to the subject of God. Angels, yes. Prophets? Sure. But the Man himself? Other than Eric Kripke confirming that Chuck was indeed a manifestation of God (which, in itself, considering Chuck’s drinking and predisposition to the temptations of Mistress Magda could be considered blasphemy, too) the show has seemed reluctant to qualify where God is and what he’s really like without the filter of perception from beings like Joshua or Metatron. I am very interested to see where they go with this. Will God come? What will He be like? Or is the biggest statement about God that the show is willing to make about His mercy the fact that He won’t show up at all? That He will once again leave Team Free Will to clean up the mess He has allowed Amara to make by ignoring her?
5. Mommie Dearest
Rowena is, as always, luminous in this episode. One moment charming and cutting, the next near tears (Real? Manipulative?) when her son calls her a lying bitch and talks about how easily he could kill her. Even in chains she has poise. Grace. Presence. And that is directly due to the incredible performance, as always, from Ruth Connell. I have made no secret of my love for her and the charisma she brings to the anti-mother of the King, and in this episode she was a delight. Her purrs of disgust with her situation, her little giggles at all of their helplessness, her hateful glare at the Winchesters, her impassioned pleas and outright demands for trust and release, and the saucy way she eyed Lucifer as though she wanted him for a boy toy? Delicious.
And, if this episode is about the chemistry of pairs, her interplay with Fergus…I mean…Crowley? Always engaging in its perpetuallly mother/son inappropriate banter. Connell has taken a character that in the wrong hands could be quite grating and made her one we can’t get enough of, which is probably why she’s the longest running female character on the show. Sorry Ruby—as both the show’s lasting and most memorable bad girl? You’ve been dethroned.
6. Hark the Herald Angels Swing
This was the scene that seemed the most extraneous here. Yes, it was important to know that the coming of The Darkness was serious enough that even the angels could put aside their differences long enough to try to smite her with all of their combined power but I must admit, their little pow-wow in the autobody shop was a distraction from the real stories here: Dean/Amara and Sam/Lucifer. It seemed very exposition-y in its delivery. A lot happened in this episode—almost too much—and this scene as a set-up for the smiting of Amara, for me, didn’t add much to the show. Maybe it would have if our beloved Cas, the most disenfranchised of all the angels, had made an appearance. O brother, where art thou indeed?
7. Bad Girl, Sad Girl, You’re Such a Naughty Bad Girl
Speaking of Amara and Dean, is it hot in here or is it just me? We’ve seen Sam helpless under the aforementioned Ruby’s bad girl spell, but have we ever seen Dean this drawn to the literal Darkness? He even (gasp!) ignored Sam’s call for her. Emily Swallow and Jensen Ackles are magnetic to watch, and, once again, Amara leaves us torn, because we know she’s bad for Dean but her little smiles, the gentleness of her voice, and the loving way she looks at him leaves us wondering about how she really feels for him. It is said that all of the truly great villains see themselves as the heroes of the story, and Amara indeed does that. So what are her intentions for Dean? To take him down? Or to make him King?
Either way, it looks as though he cannot resist finding out. Amara explains that she harmed God’s chosen because she was trying to get God’s attention. And a few more fun facts? She and God were the beginning of all, she consumes souls but they still exist within her, she cannot be killed by mere mortal means, and, oh yeah, she wants a new world order of bliss. For everyone. Forever. And I say again, what could possibly go wrong? It’s going to take a little longer to find out, it seems, because even though Amara easily kills the three angels that come to collect her all of the angels make good on their vow to band together to smite her. “Maybe now? He’ll hear me,” she says before sending Dean away, raising her arms to the sky and disappearing in a blaze of holy light. As if they could get rid of her that easily.
8. Limbo All The Way
I have to say, I loved the idea that Crowley sent Lucifer to Limbo, where all unruly souls go for “timeouts.” Crowley is nothing if not professional in his management of Hell, and if there has to be a king of it I think one would want him over pretty much any other because, as he said way back, he runs it with integrity. Limbo is strong. Secure. And it still makes your skin crawl.
It is also the home of a new cage. Not the chained up one with the ornate eyeholes that also contains Michael and Adam, but one where Lucifer will be fully able to be seen and, most important, heard. Rowena, too, is a professional, able to summon a lock tight interrogation room for Lucifer. Or has she? And did she even want to? Maybe this time Crowley and the Winchesters are being taken for a ride and maybe it’s not just by Lucifer.
9. Prince of (the) Darkness
Dean: Listen—are you sure that you’re okay with this whole deal?
Sam: No. Not even a little. But what choice do we have, you know?
Dean: Okay, well, for the record? I hate it.
And well you should, Dean. Because Lucifer, played incomparably by the taunting, teasing, wickedly charming Mark Pellegrino, is not to be toyed with. He’s almost flirty with Sam as he smooth talks him, and the fear Jared Padalecki projects onto Sam’s face tells us more about the time he spent in the cage than his words ever could.
I tried to pick a particular exchange between Pellegrino and Padalecki that I loved to share here but the truth is that if I did you’d be reading a transcript of their entire interplay. Lucifer tells Sam of Amara, how her raw power is equal to God’s but that she is not a planner—has no experience. He knows God needs him to “put the cat back into the bag” and the only way he’s going to agree to do it is if Sam gives him a ride out. Sam is still his perfect vessel and as Lucifer winks at him we are reminded of the horror of the last times Sam was possessed. Crowley muses that Sam can’t possibly be thinking of brokering a deal with the devil but Rowena knows—sometimes a deal is the only choice you’ve got. And here we are again, left sick with worry about our poor Sam, knowing that becoming his worst nightmare might be the only choice he ever had.
10. The Devil You Know
And in the end? As it has always been? The devil lies. Sam, as he must, refuses Lucifer’s request for him to be his own personal Uber and then? The warding fails. And the responses to that from the demonic duo? Interesting. Rowena is perfectly calm as she leads Crowley away, making me wonder if she knew it would happen. Crowley is shocked, heads down to help, maybe, before following her out in a bit of a panic. And Sam? Oh, no. Oh, no no no no no no. Sam ends up in a cage. Again. With the most fallen of the angels.
As Lucifer approaches Sam’s initial reaction is to put his hands up and back away, perhaps to avoid what has long been rumored as Lucifer’s physical violations of him, and there is terror in his eyes. But then he finds peace, knowing everything is playing out according to God’s plan. He knows God has not forsaken him. But the truth is? God never noticed him at all. When The Darkness was released the impact on hell was massive, Lucifer’s home cage was weakened, and through the fissures, as we saw in past episodes, he was able to reach through and manipulate Sam into thinking God was in his head, directing him to Hell. It was never divine guidance. It was all the call of the Devil.
One tear traces its way down Sam’s face as he swallows hard and tells Lucifer, “It’s never gonna happen.” Lucifer responds with a grin and says, “Ah, well, settle in there buddy.” He smiles as he paces, continuing to horrify with a call of, “Hey, roomie. Upper bunk? Lower bunk? Or do you wanna share?” And we close on Sam’s utterly terrified, helpless face in the dread of what will inevitably be the answer.
Damn you, mid-season hiatus! Dean’s gonna be pissed when he hears, and, according the preview, he’s heading for a very specific cemetery to bust his brother out—the results of which we’ll find out on January 20th, when Supernatural returns with “The Devil is in the Details.” See you then. Happy holidays and happy new year!