10 Great Moments from Supernatural Season 11, Episode 20 – “Don’t Call Me Shurley”
As many risks as Supernatural has taken over the years I never really thought they’d go where this episode went. When you consider how deeply sacred and often polarizing God is it’s pretty damned brave to take on the concept, never mind depict Him as flawed and more than a little bit selfish. This episode walked a fine line, and it walked it well, telling us what happened when God was one of us.
Pastrami On High
Metatron. Dumpster diving. Disgraced. A shadow of his former self. There he is, sharing his only food with a sad, little mutt and smiling as he does. Does that sound like a villain to you? I wonder if this act of sacrifice was what got Chuck’s attention in the first place. I have raved about Curtis Armstrong many times but this? His performance throughout this episode? Well, I may have really enjoyed the hamburger but this time Armstrong brought the steak. It’s a CW genre show, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be noticed but I think we can all agree he deserves an Emmy for this guest star turn.
The “World’s Greatest Dad” mug. Did anyone laugh but me? Eric Kripke, long ago, asked the incomparable Rob Benedict how it felt to play God. I think Rob can answer that question definitively now. After dissing the Supernatural books (including “Home and “All Hell Breaks Loose” which is a sin, maybe even literally) Metatron discovers that Chuck Shurley—the “hack” writer, Mistress Magda lover, toilet paper coveter—is, in fact, God. My casual viewer husband asked, quite rightly, “Where the hell do you go after that, when you have that reveal four minutes in?” Fortunately, there was a lot more to say, and every moment of it between Chuck and Metatron was beautifully done.
Next? A bit of adorable. Dean ironing Sam’s shirt, using steam made from his beloved beer. Let’s face it: between the cooking, the cleaning and, now, the laundry, Dean is the domestic engineer of the Bunker, a fact that never ceases to endear him to me. And it’s a good thing he can press a shirt, because the boys are heading to Hope Springs, Idaho to play Feds and investigate a potentially suddenly soulless killer. It’s a slim lead, but one they will take to find Amara, and, hopefully, Cas. They have no idea of the flashback that awaits them.
Metatron asks why God put on the Chuck suit to begin with and he effectively ends the season five debate of is-He-or-isn’t-He by saying he wanted to hide in plain sight. Metatron wonders how no one knew who Chuck was. What about the Samulet? And then? AND THEN? Chuck pulls it out of his pocket and says, simply, he turned it off, followed by the biggest tease of the episode when Chuck says “You’ll never guess where this thing has been this entire time…” only to be interrupted by Metatron, who doesn’t care. (I may have shouted at my television, “I care, you bastard!” Hint: I did.) Why has Metatron been summoned? It turns out God has written his autobiography and he needs his scribe to help him finish it. I must say, the parlay between Benedict and Armstrong was incredible. They had such chemistry, and they each held their own with a distinct performance while working as a team to get the story told. It was, pardon the pun, divine, and I hold this episode up with some of my favorites, thanks to them and all they brought to the table.
In a Fog
I cannot believe I am saying this but the case that Sam and Dean were working, as important as it would come to be by the end of the episode and as satisfying as that end would be (more on that later) almost felt like an interruption to the story I wanted to hear. My husband asked, “What does it mean to an episode when Sam and Dean are the least interesting things in it?” I wouldn’t go that far, but I do agree that the primary pair that I wanted to watch weren’t the brothers, this go around. Sam and Dean’s story of Amara’s fog returning to claim more zombie like victims and kill them all was necessary to the completion of the arc of the episode, and I’ll never complain about seeing Jared Padalecki or Jensen Ackles and their portrayal of brotherly love. But this story? Wasn’t about them. Yet.
Nothing But the Truth
Metatron doesn’t dig the fluff-laden bio. He tells Chuck to write the truth. With details. About Amara. We see the changes in Benedict’s face as he goes from cute puppy Chuck to a powerful and bad tempered God as he tells Metatron that this isn’t Amara’s story—it’s his. Metatron tries to give him a better story with a villain and proposes Lucifer, but Chuck insists that Lucifer was not only not his favorite, but that he wasn’t a villain (something I think many of us felt when we met him initially but man, how times have changed.) Metatron finally convinces Chuck to tell the truth in detail— to tell God’s story, not Chuck’s. Even if it’s a story that will be too angry, with a side of bitter, to hear.
It’s Only Natural
Metatron asks Chuck why he created life. “Because I was lonely,” is the simple, sad answer. He also wanted to show Amara that there was something better than the both of them, but it wasn’t enough to change her. She needed to be locked away so that he could create the most beautiful thing of all—nature. Metatron knows Amara will destroy everything that Chuck created, and Chuck, for some reason, is incredibly sanguine about that. “Nature,” he says, “Divine. Human nature? Toxic.” Chuck is sick of us destroying everything he gives us, especially in his name. He thinks maybe it’s Amara’s time to shine. Metatron, of all people, defends the Winchesters letting Amara out, and wants Chuck to help them. Chuck is sick of rebuilding Castiel and bailing them out (the only part of the episode that made me wince—I don’t want Sam and Dean’s accomplishments dismissed away as divine intervention.) Chuck, it seems, has given up. Fortunately for all of us, Metatron hasn’t.
The Message is Clear
Amara is sending messages via the infected. She is “showing them all the truth” in the Darkness. The light is just a lie, and it will all be over soon for everyone, except of course, for her weakness, Dean. The boys run from the fog, saving anyone they can (including an adorable baby that Sam calls “sweetheart”, making me melt) and hide in the police station. The fog gets in as it was bound to do, and it claims Sam as it did before. Dean, of course, won’t leave him. Not for a second. Sam knows they were never going to win—that Dean was going to choose Amara over him, though of course Dean protests. Sam begs Dean to go before he hurts him. “No,” Dean shouts. “I’m not leaving you. Ever!” Dean needs help so he does what he can in his hour of need, the only way he knows how to do it. He prays, “Stop this! You hear me you dick?!” The way Dean cradles Sam close, determined to save him. Kills me, every time. “Look at me. I’m right here,” he repeats over and over as Sam fades and the noises stop. It seems, for the moment, Amara has won.
Who would have thought that Metatron would be the hero? The one to inspire God to save the world? He admits his own shortcomings even as he calls God out on his cowardice. Chuck says that he’s not hiding—he’s just sick of watching his experiments with humanity fail. As he watches Chuck write, Metatron admits that his turn at being God was a sad, pathetic cry for his absent father’s sattention. “You are light, beauty, creation, wrath, damnation and salvation, and I don’t care if I was just the angel nearest the door,” Metatron says, voice breaking, “You picked me. Your light shined on me. Me. Oh, and the warmth. But then you left me. You left all of us.” (Armstrong absolutely made me cry as he delivered these lines.) He begs Chuck to tell him why he abandoned him. Us. “Because you disappointed me. You all disappointed me,” Chuck replies, and it is devastating. Metatron says that they may be a mess, but humanity is better than Chuck’s God could ever be, because of all the loving, positive things they do, but also because they never give up, as Chuck clearly has done. I cannot say enough how incredible Armstrong’s performance was during this whole exchange. I repeat: Emmy. Now.
Oh, and this closing scene. Rob Benedict is an accomplished musician and it really shows as he sings the American folk song “Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)” beautifully over an otherwise silent montage. Metatron listens, melancholy, wondering what is happening. Sam, dying, suddenly begins to glow and heal. Dean sees that the light is emanating from Sam’s pocket and fumbles for its source. It is the Samulet, of course. God has returned. Everyone in the town is whole again. Metatron reads the latest pages as the boys stagger around looking for the source of the light. And Metatron’s face changes to one of awe—hope, maybe?—before the boys see Chuck helping a girl in the street. They stand there, stunned, as Chuck turns and says, “We should probably talk.”
Three episodes left, people, and God is in the house. Will Cas be saved? Can Amara be stopped? Will Lucifer play a part? So many questions! See you next time, hopefully for some answers, for episode twenty-one, “All in the Family.”