Supernatural 5.10: "Abandon All Hope..." Review - Featured

After too many light-hearted episodes, the writers finally get back to the apocalypse. Despite the dialogue in several episodes suggesting that progress was halted for good reasons, it was never convincing. This is what we've been waiting to see, and the writers deliver a gut punch to remind us that they still know what they're doing.



I'm very sorry to see Ellen and Jo go, especially since they were gone for so long and they were strong supporting characters. I was in the minority regarding Jo, especially when the backlash against her seemed to be based less on story and more on issues within the fandom. Ellen was sorely missed as a surrogate parental figure, though Bobby has shifted into that role more and more since the second season.


I expect that there will be some criticism for the killing of two recurring female characters, which seems to follow the pattern that minorities get the shaft on Supernatural. I even expect a few comments about sexism. I don't see it that way. While some deaths might have been questionable earlier in the series, this is the apocalypse. This is war, and these are the soldiers. The characters themselves knew the risks, and they accepted that they might have to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the world.


Jo went down saving Dean, and she made a conscious choice to make her death count in the end. In other words, she went down like a Hunter. Ellen's decision to stay with her daughter and sacrifice herself was both pragmatic and emotionally charged. In the end, if Ellen had not stayed, Jo wouldn't have held out, and the bomb wouldn't have gone off at the right time. I think it was a fitting end for two Hunters. If anything, they received the kind of heroic sacrificial moment that is typically reserved for male soldiers in war movies.


There is the small matter of the attraction between Dean and Jo. Frankly, I had no problem with this, and I really liked the fact that they had Jo deny Dean the "last night on Earth" play. While the writers never went down that road during the second season, they had clearly established the attraction, and it made sense to pay it off at the end. Had the apocalypse never come, would Dean and Jo ended up together? I seriously doubt it, but they had a history, and this was a good way to acknowledge it.


I also liked the portrayal of Meg and Lucifer in this episode. Rachel Miner is deliciously evil as Meg, and her interplay with the Brothers Winchester and Castiel was well done. I suspect that there may be a twist with Meg before all is said and done. A rather critical point was brought up by many of the characters: if Lucifer considers humanity a plague on creation, why would he keep demons around when they were just human souls twisted to become minions? If Lucifer wins, the demons are expendable. If Lucifer actually forces the final battle and then loses, the demons are finished. As Crowley says, the best option is to fight to maintain the status quo.


It doesn't surprise me that the demons collectively never thought of that. After all, the angels collectively didn't recognize that God's absence might have been part of the plan. The minions bound to service on both sides were never meant to see their true role in the endgame. Only Castiel and Lucifer seem to get it: the entire point of it all comes down to the choices of those granted free will. It's all about humanity, and in that sense, it's been about the Brothers Winchester.


This is one reason why the interplay between Castiel and Lucifer was so compelling. Neither one of them seems to understand the true nature of the situation. Lucifer chose to rebel against the will of God, and his self-justifications cannot mask the ugly truth of his intentions. Castiel, on the other hand, rebelled against his fellow angels, who themselves had turned their back on God. Castiel didn't fall; the rest of the angels did. It's just that none of them have recognized that fact yet. The difference is faith: Castiel still firmly believes that God is still there and worth searching for, while the rest of the angels have assumed that God is dead.


For this reason, it occurs to me that God may not only be waiting in the wings, but he may have prepared himself a vessel. Thinking back on the analogy from "Changing Channels", there were parallels drawn between Michael and Dean, Lucifer and Sam, and God and John Winchester. Assuming that John Winchester is not going to be brought back as some kind of avatar of God (which would be one predictable direction), who else could play that role?


The answer might lie in two unexpected but interesting possibilities. One would be the sole remaining father figure for Sam and Dean: Bobby. That might explain why he was paralyzed, and why the writers are having him struggle with finding a purpose as a Hunter and as a human being. Bobby may be on the path to be offered the chance to make a profound sacrifice on the behalf of his "sons". Given Bobby's personality and attitude, it would be an ironic choice.


But if the writers wanted to avoid the notion of having a human being act as God's vessel, they may have already constructed an alternative. Castiel was brought back from the dead for a reason, and he has always served as the heavenly support behind the Brothers Winchester. Thematically, it would make a great deal of sense: Castiel searching the world for God, only to find God within himself. As the only angel to retain his faith in God, what better way to be rewarded? I think it would be a worthy end to Castiel's character arc.


Whatever the case, this episode continued to demonstrate that Supernatural all comes down to human choices. Even during the apocalypse, it all comes down to free will. Things are getting dramatically worse, now that the Angel of Death has come on the scene, but the Brothers Winchester will keep fighting.

Comments

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Nov 21, 2009 9:24AM EST

i like your tought on castiel very much... i think for me taht would be the best way. "to find god within himself..." awesome

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Nov 21, 2009 10:17AM EST

Nice thoughts on Cas - I secretly kind of hope that he does find God within himself.
And I was devastated to see Ellen go. Jo, I gotta admit, I was never a big fan of her before, but she did go down fighting, and it was really a great episode despite those tragic deaths.

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Nov 21, 2009 10:17AM EST

nice thinking on castiel especially.

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Nov 21, 2009 11:04AM EST

Ooh, interesting thoughts there.

Bobby as God - pure awesomeness. It seems unlikely to me that God will actually appear in person, but then again, this *is* Supernatural, and its writers are fearless, so anything is possible.
"I expect that there will be some criticism for the killing of two recurring female characters, which seems to follow the pattern that minorities get the shaft on Supernatural. I even expect a few comments about sexism. I don't see it that way."
I don't either. It can look that way, until you remember that *everyone* gets killed off on Supernatural. Frankly, I'm afraid the writers will even kill off the Winchester brothers in the end.

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Nov 21, 2009 2:22PM EST

i think i read something about it being the actors that plays bobby, last season and they were tryin to think up a way to send him off on a huge note.........so i think the idea that god will wear bobby around like a pair of rollerskates is a really good idea ..........

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Nov 21, 2009 4:32PM EST

When I think about it God will probably use bobby as a vessel. But remember what Castiel said about when a vessel is used by an extremely higher power (ie Gabriel wanting to use Dean). Castiel said that if Gabriel used Dean as a vessel then his body would be ruined so it is safe to assume that if Bobby is God's vessel then he will die afterward. This would sum up the whole theme of the Winchester's losing everyone they love.

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Nov 21, 2009 8:15PM EST

@thetravellerjohn21
while i agree with you that God would be more powerful than Michael or Lucifer, and that sure he has the power to destroy Bobby as a vessel, remember this. He is God, he has ultimate power, he created everything, and thus he has the power for to leave Bobby in perfectly good condition after he is done. Afterall, he can do anything..

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Nov 22, 2009 12:32PM EST

@zfountas
Isn't the point of his absence that he *can't* do anything? Or that he simply doesn't care? (I mean, isn't Meg right when she calls him a deadbeat...)It seems really ambitious and perhaps redundant to involve God in all this now... If you think about it, he has nothing to do with any of it.I hope that if the writers do involve God, it will have some brilliant message that makes us all look at it in a way that we never have before.I don't really see that happening.
What's with the writing in this episode? "those bitches" this and "go to hell ugly bitches" that and "suck it!" and just.... uhg. It seems a little lame. IMO, the profanities were overused, and generally unintelligent.
Ellen and Jo dying was unimaginative and just unnecessary. They probably did it because it was the last episode of 2009 and they wanted to end it with some kind of bang, but it just didn't work for me at all.Plus, can you even really kill hellhounds in a simple explosion?
Not a good episode to end 2009 with, if you ask me....
Of course, I didn't look at the actual meaning behind any of it, I'm just bitching about the writing here.I love Supernatural, but ever since the Devil vs. Angels things began, they just seem to be running around in circles. It's like, you've reached the ceiling in your genre and you don't know how to make something of it anymore.Of course there's all these new episodes and new developments yet to come, so we'll see if they move forward....

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Nov 22, 2009 12:47PM EST

It's kinda ironic and sad really if you are a hunter and been with the Winchester's for more then twice you are as good as dead or in a wheel chair I think Bobby has held out the longest or even thie father has too. But if you are a hunter and work with Dean and Sam more then once you are as good as dead.

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Nov 23, 2009 4:55PM EST

@Faye-lynn
I'd definitely disagree with the statement that God is a deadbeat. Thats just ludicrous. A major aspect of this show, as well as God, is the aspect of free will. People have free will, and thus God will not intervene with their choices, so no it's not that God *can't* do anything, and its definitely not that God doesn't care. He cares enough to give us choices. What kind of life would it be if we never got to choose? A crappy one I think.
In any case that wasn't my argument at all. My argument was that if God took over Bobby's body, why would anyone think that Bobby couldn't handle it? Just cuz Raphael was powerful, and put his vessel in a vegetative state doesn't mean God would. Sure God is obviously more powerful, but he is Also GOD. The creator of everything. He has all power, and thus he would have the Power to leave Bobby in the same condition or better.

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Nov 26, 2009 9:35PM EST

I am glad to see the parallels that the writers make throughout the entire supernatural life, and not having mutually exclusive seasons like most other shows do.
For example, the way that Jo dies is similar, if not the same, as the way the demon describes the way Jo's father died in 'Born Under a Bad Sign'... some interesting foreshadowing going on from the second season.
I also agee with zfountas. God doesn't just blatantly come out and make shit happen. He gives people the free will and choice of making their own decisions, and does very minimal intervention. Which explains why God is absent through all of this. Futurama also plays with this notion... when Bender gets lost in space and a civilization starts to grow on his body and he randomly finds God in space who helps him. It's a good episode.

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Nov 27, 2009 10:55AM EST

Oh sure, free will is all kinds of awesome. Until you throw predestination into the mix. And then it's kind of pointless.
Unless it's only the choices that matter in the end. Which I think is kind of lame in that theological "you can't have proof because proof kills faith" way.

Agree that God riding Bobby wouldn't necessarily damage him.

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