The episode begins with something of a recap of the main plot points from the premiere, and the primer is a good thing. For one thing, it lends credence to the assumption that Castiel believes that God has been the one behind the whole sequence of events since the beginning, presumably to some greater purpose. Castiel wants to find God and press him to take down Lucifer himself.
Dean continues to assume the worst, in his post-betrayal psychological state, and repeats his opinion that God is dead and thereâs nothing else to do but fight until they canât. This brings up an interesting point of debate, as I mentioned in the review for the premiere. If we dispense with the naÃ¯ve and self-serving assumption that the writers are speaking their true feelings through their characters, Castiel and Dean represent some of the hopes and fears of modern humanity. Some desperately want to believe that God has a plan, while others bitterly deride such thinking. I applaud the writers for taking that aspect of the season further and further, and thereâs no reason to think it wonât continue.
After all, the writers are taking a direction that I personally appreciate by taking items from the Biblical apocalypse and reinterpreting them. The writers have always put their own spin on the traditional elements of religious lore, and this is no different. That will no doubt be unpopular among a certain segment of the audience (those still angry about the depiction of angels, for instance), but thatâs largely the point. With talk of impending doom being a common topic in popular culture, it becomes progressively more difficult to imagine how the real End Times might dawn without widespread recognition.
Which is why I continue to have faith that the writers will treat the subject with balance. It may not seem so thus far, but that has a lot to do with the setting. We see the struggle through the eyes of those on the front lines, fighting the gathering and strengthening darkness inch by inch. The story is about the strengths and weaknesses of the Winchesters as they fight that battle. Their entire world is drenched in the recognition and understanding of the nature of that evil.
That makes it seem, more often than not, that there is no light to balance the darkness. But I would submit that there has been, on more than one occasion, the intervention of a higher power. The most recent signs have set Castiel on his path, but it goes back further than that. Deanâs possession of the amulet needed to find God is too convenient to be a random happenstance. There is a larger context that they, and we, havenât recognized yet.
Thatâs not to say that Castielâs resurrection or the rescue of the Winchesters had to be God. Heâs just the most obvious candidate, since the one who saved them seems not to be angelic or demonic. There are lesser gods in the âSupernaturalâ mythos, but why would they intervene? The logic of the situation is that something bigger than all of them is pulling the strings, and there is a purpose. Iâm sure that the revelations to come will be creative, to say the least.
Those elements were not the strength of the episode, despite how strongly they might spark my interest. The writers managed to bring back Ellen, Jo, and Rufus without killing off any of them. I can just imagine how many people were waiting for Rufus to die, given the writersâ questionable track record, and it seemed like Ellen or Jo would be close behind. Hopefully this is a sign that all three will come back throughout the season. Sam and Dean could use some allies, and Castiel only brings so much to the table.
A lot of fans will be focusing on the real gut-punch of the episode: the rift between Sam and Dean. Their separation has been a long time coming, and in a way, it is a reflection of their brief separation in the first season (demonstration how things are coming full circle). People rarely work out relationship issues by distancing from each other, so this is a bad sign. On the other hand, itâs also a completely realistic progression of the story. It would have been dishonest to avoid the consequences of Samâs choices in the fourth season.
The obvious problem is that Dean was a big part of Samâs coping mechanism. It may have hurt for Dean to distrust him, but Sam needed to know that Dean wasnât going to give up on him. Sam wasnât expecting Dean to agree that they should split up; Iâm fairly certain that Sam was expecting Dean to argue with him. After all, that would have given Sam a reason to believe that he could overcome his addiction, if he knew for sure that Dean would stand by him. The concern now is that Sam could spiral back out of control.
The writers have made it clear, stretching back to the beginning of the series, that the Brothers Winchester are stronger together than they are alone. On their own, they fall prey to their weaknesses. That was true when the threat was the occasional legendary creature from the first season, so itâs definitely true now. They must ultimately come to recognize this fact before all is said and done, though by then, it may be too late.