Supernatural 5.19: "Hammer of the Gods"

The higher powers in “Supernatural” have always been a bit of a complicated mess. It was one thing when the Hunters were only going after demons of unspoken origin and faded gods out of past mythology. Once it became clear that the Judeo-Christian theology was going to dominate the pantheon, there was a question of how all the various powers would interrelate.

Ultimately, the writers seem to have taken an Old Testament approach to the matter, much as they have with the angels. In essence, some interpretations of the Old Testament point out that the followers of God/Yahweh never said their weren’t other gods or deities. The Bible clearly states that other peoples had deities of their own, in some cases with power. But it was made very clear, from the Hebrew perspective especially, that God was the most powerful and everyone else was a pretender in comparison.

Taken with a bit of the typical “Supernatural” creative license, the assortment of gods in this episode fit pretty well with the notion that there have always been higher powers strong enough to impose their will and influence the belief of human followers. In accordance with the Old Testament, God strolled in with his angels and took control, based on relative power alone.

Kali’s comment about Western arrogance and religious violence perpetrated on peoples of other faiths won’t be taken well by some (particularly those with a sanitized view of Judeo-Christian history). But again, this is in keeping with the Old Testament: God ordered his chosen people to tear down the old and competing gods and slaughter their followers.

Besides, there are non-Judeo-Christian viewers, and it makes sense to put other faiths in perspective. It’s not simply that the writers of “Supernatural” are adhering to the most common Western faith; this episode makes it clear that the Judeo-Christian God took control some time ago, and the other faiths have been losing their war to remain relevant.

This is abundantly clear during Lucifer’s violent killing spree. When all is said and done, God created the angels, and that includes Lucifer. Lucifer may have been one of the most powerful of the archangels, perhaps right at the top of the list, but he’s still never depicted as God’s equal. He’s simply bent on corrupting and destroying humanity, based on the perceived slight that humanity’s existence represents. If Lucifer can wipe the floor with more than a dozen gods, even fallen as they are, it’s no wonder God has taken control of the higher order!

(Of course, there is the small matter of how all these gods could conceive themselves as the authors of creation, on whatever scale, if God and his angels are credited with the origins of humanity itself. It’s pretty much an either/or proposition, especially if Lucifer remembers when the first humans came along and inspired him to rebel. Unless, of course, the implication is that God was letting the other gods do whatever they wanted until God was good and ready to take control? Gabriel’s apparent alter-ego as Loki suggests as much. See, still a bit messy!)

From the perspective of the Brothers Winchester, it really doesn’t matter. It triggered Gabriel to take action to save them, which in turn lead to important revelations, but the real game-changer was the restoration of their resolve. Had it been known earlier in the season that Lucifer could not be killed at all, it might have broken them completely. Having come through the other side of their heart of darkness, however, Sam and Dean have the strength to adapt.

For a little while, I thought perhaps Gabriel’s involvement would signal that his archangel sword was going to be the McGuffin that would resolve the Lucifer problem. Of course, it’s not that easy. If anything, Lucifer now has a weapon that could be used against Michael, so if the apocalyptic showdown were to take place, it wouldn’t look good for the angels.

Resealing Lucifer, and thus short-circuiting the apocalypse, just sounds like a better option, even if it seems a bit facile when considered against the difficulty of breaking Lucifer out in the fourth season. Yet it also helps to explain why God doesn’t feel the need to step in and take care of the problem himself.

As Gabriel says, there’s really three sides to the conflict. The angels, the demons, and the humans caught in the middle. That’s been clear for a while. (And for Babylon 5 fans, this is very familiar territory.) So if God is all about humanity being his true favorites, so to speak, why not construct a scenario in which humanity proves that it has the ability to thwart both angels and demons in equal measure?

Once again, that gives the story the kind of purpose and scope that would lend itself to something called the Winchester Gospels. My only real concern is that the potential McGuffin of Gabriel’s sword is instead represented by the rings of the Four Horsemen. From a narrative perspective, it makes sense, because the writers have been emphasizing those rings since War first appeared on the scene.

But in a way, that’s also the problem. It was an obvious connection, and a lot of fans made it a long time ago. With only three episodes left until the series arc hits a climax, there’s not much time for a new twist to make it less predictable. They have to get the ring from Pestilence, then get the ring from Death somehow, and then handle Lucifer. That’s a lot to cram into three episodes.


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