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TV Review: ‘Supernatural’ – “Do You Believe In Miracles”

Supernatural's ninth season finale features a resurrection with hellish consequences. “Do You Believe In Miracles,” written by Jeremy Carver and directed by Thomas J. Wright, is the culmination of a season driven largely by internal arcs instead of a centralizing "Big Bad." It's a memorable finale, one that I've appreciated more with each rewatch - from the way it brings together an unusual and uneven season narrative to its showcasing of the cast members' prodigious talents. Last week's "Stairway to Heaven" is framed, in part, by Metatron's insistence that "everyone play their parts." It seems appropriate then that "Do You Believe In Miracles" continues the…

Review Overview

Reviewer's Rating

Summary : "Do You Believe In Miracles" fundamentally shifts the world of Supernatural.

User Rating: 4.71 ( 8 votes)
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spn 9x23-1Supernaturals ninth season finale features a resurrection with hellish consequences. “Do You Believe In Miracles,” written by Jeremy Carver and directed by Thomas J. Wright, is the culmination of a season driven largely by internal arcs instead of a centralizing “Big Bad.” It’s a memorable finale, one that I’ve appreciated more with each rewatch – from the way it brings together an unusual and uneven season narrative to its showcasing of the cast members’ prodigious talents.

Last week’s “Stairway to Heaven” is framed, in part, by Metatron’s insistence that “everyone play their parts.” It seems appropriate then that “Do You Believe In Miracles” continues the exploration of the parts the characters choose to play. The episode picks up immediately after Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) attacks Gadreel (Tahmoh Penikett). Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Castiel (Misha Collins) have to restrain Dean and pry the First Blade from his fingers.

In a scene reminiscent of both “When the Levee Breaks” (4×21) and “Devil May Care” (9×2), Dean is confined to the dungeon. After a season that finally developed Sam and Cas’s friendship, the two act as a unified front, moving in sync as they disregard Dean’s protests and wordlessly lock him inside. When they discover that Gadreel left the bunker while they were occupied with Dean, they set out to find him. Meanwhile, Dean’s vomiting in a corner of the dungeon, and when he turns, there’s blood on his mouth. The image of him looking at his bloodied reflection in the mirror is especially haunting.

spn 9x23-2Post title card, we see Metatron, typing away in his office. He tells Neal, the angel who is setting up an angelic broadcast radio, that he’s writing “a marvelous story, full of love and heartbreak and love.” We don’t know who he’s writing about, only that he’s preparing to go forth “to tell the rest of the story.” Though this scene showcases all of Metatron’s annoying characteristics, it also foreshadows his ultimate failure: He insists on being called “God,” assuming the title and its associated power. He’s manipulative, and he lacks compassion; his desire to look “pathetic” so he’ll blend in with a homeless encampment reveals how he views an already marginalized and underprivileged group.

Metatron is playing a part, as we’re reminded by his response to Neal’s praise for reuniting the angels: “It’s like “winning a People’s Choice Award? Not quite the real deal…” Considering that a PCA is a voter-driven award, this jab tells me that Metatron has no respect for the angels under his command. They’re all pawns in his game. He shows his lack of care again when he uses the radio to inform his “flock” that he’s leaving. He promises that upon his return “all will be explained and it will be glorious,” but Neal’s response reminds that the angels have abandonment issues, thanks to God’s long-term disappearance. Metatron still leaves them.

On earth, Sam and Cas locate a severely injured Gadreel. Cas heals him, despite the injured angel’s protests that Cas will weaken his grace. Afterwards, Cas certainly looks ill for a moment. Gadreel then informs them that Metatron wants humanity.  Back at the bunker, Dean has moved quickly, breaking out of the dungeon and accessing supplies to summon Crowley (Mark Sheppard). Perhaps the Men of Letters should have rethought putting the dungeon inside a storeroom?

When summoned, the King of Hell is receiving a massage, a seemingly light-hearted scene in an otherwise dark episode. But a comment by the masseuse, about the demons wanting direction, importantly indicates that all is not well in Hell. Crowley answers Dean and tells him that the human body can’t handle the combined effects of the Mark and the First spn 9x23-3Blade. If Dean doesn’t kill, he’s going to decline until he’s “the least less better.” Less than a day after telling Tessa he’d never considered suicide, Dean is told he’s dying. He looks shocked and asks what will happen if he gets rid of the Mark. Crowley asks if he wants to get rid of it. Ackles conveys Dean’s internal conflict, and the moment he decides is obvious: “I want Metatron.” Off-screen, Crowley helps him escape and retrieve the First Blade from its completely ineffectual hiding spot.

Sam, Cas, and Gadreel return in less than an hour to find that Dean is gone. When Gadreel learns that Dean has the Mark and the Blade, he says that Dean may be the only one who can kill Metatron, who’s harnessing the angel tablet’s power. At first, Sam resists the idea that “our best chance is arming the warhead and hoping it hits the mark” because “This is not a bomb we’re talking about. This is my brother.” It’s nice to hear Sam voice his protectiveness of Dean.

However, Gadreel assures Sam that Dean won’t be in this alone; he and Castiel can help. Cas suggests that if they can break the connection, then Metatron will be “an ordinary angel.” Six seasons ago, going up against even an “ordinary angel” gave the Winchesters pause — how times have changed! Sam’s concerned at how easily their cover might be blown, but they all know that with or without their help, Dean is going after Metatron. In order to give Dean a shot, Cas says, “We have to try.”

spn 9x23-13Meanwhile, Dean and Crowley stop at a bar for its Wifi. Superficially, this is another humorous moment as Crowley chastises Dean for not making his order worth the waitress’ while. But there’s more happening here. Crowley tries to engage Dean in conversation: “So this is what you and Moose do, eh? Criss-cross the country, searching for evil…?” Dean, who’s intensely focused on his research, answers, “Yep.” Crowley is undeterred: “You never get tired of the rat race? Never get the urge to just bugger off and howl at the moon? Never ask yourself, is this it? Is this all there is?” These contemplative comments seem more about Crowley than Dean, so if Crowley really has “kicked human blood,” as he claims, then is he dealing with lingering internal effects?

Dean appears annoyed by Crowley’s talkativeness, finally asking, “How’s hell?” Sheppard delivers Crowley’s response with aplomb: “Hell’s fine. Hell’s like a Swiss watch. Don’t worry about hell. [pause] Hell’s complicated.”  Dean scoffs and cuts to the truth with the memorable, “Game of Thrones is complicated. Shower sex – that’s complicated. Hell ain’t complicated. It’s you.” Surprisingly, Crowley agrees with a “fair enough.” Crowley’s minions then deliver video of Metatron, as Marv, healing a pedestrian hit and killed by an automobile in Muncie, Indiana. With that location, Dean grabs his gear and heads for the door, leaving his untouched cheeseburger behind because he’s “not hungry.” Dean doesn’t notice the speculative look on Crowley’s face.

Cas and Gadreel move forward with their plan, arriving at heaven’s door, currently located in a playground and guarded by two angels. I will be forever disappointed that neither spn 9x23-4Winchester is present to see Cas hold up handcuffs and explain his plan with the single word, “Wookie.” Gadreel looks completely befuddled and says, “Brother, I have no idea what that means.” Cas tries to explain but quickly gives up, saying “Nevermind.”

Dean and Crowley make their way to Muncie, only to find Sam waiting at the home of the healed pedestrian. Sam is understandably upset and snarks, “I guess one of us doesn’t need a demon to follow a clue trail.” Dean doesn’t take the bait, though, and when Sam pushes, he states, “I’m not going to explain myself to you.” Sam informs Dean that his “real friends” are “risking their asses to help you win this fight.”

This moment catches my attention for a few reasons: Sam includes Gadreel as a friend, despite his alarm at finding the angel in the bunker only hours earlier. That progression seems to happen awfully fast, no matter how good Gadreel’s intentions (now) are. Dean, who had set off for Metatron alone, now learns that Cas is already risking himself on his behalf, and Sam’s here, willing to do the same. The foreshadowing is on the wall: Dean might not be able to stop Cas, but he’ll try to stop Sam. I don’t think that Dean much cares whether or not Gadreel gets caught in the crossfire.

spn 9x23-5Most significantly, the scene gives the brothers a moment to somewhat reconnect. In a conversation that echoes the one in “Swan Song” (5×22), Sam tells Dean, “I know you’re our best shot [to get rid of Metatron].” Dean clarifies his position: “I’m going to take my shot for better or worse…No matter the consequences.” Sam says, “I know. But if this is it, we’re going to do it together.”  Crowley, who’s attentively listened to their conversation, tells them to come on then. Sam looks furious at the idea, but Dean tells the demon that his help is no longer needed. Crowley is unsurprised: “Guess I’ve been Winchestered. I’d wish you boys good luck if I thought it would help.” And with that zinger, he’s gone.

While Sam and Dean join forces, Gadreel and Cas access heaven and gain entry to Metatron’s office – or so they think. In fact, an annoyingly smug Ingrid and Hannah (Erica Carroll) are expecting them, and with impressive special-effects, the “office” transforms into a prison. Cas immediately goes into strategy mode, while Gadreel becomes physically ill.

In the homeless encampment, Metatron makes headway despite an angel who calls out his deception and identifies him as “a petty, un-liked, unloved angel driven by the relentless pursuit of power…an abomination.” Metatron prepares to fight, but the humans in the camp do it for him. After he subtly slides over his angel blade, they make short work of killing the outspoken angel. The people have no idea that Metatron/Marv is manipulating them.

The tension begins to build from this point forward. The Winchesters park about a mile away, and we get a brothers’ moment reminiscent of old times. Sam hands Dean the First Blade, in a sense giving his blessing to what Dean’s about to do. Dean tries to apologize for their recent strife, but Sam cuts him off: “I know. So, before we find something else to fight about, tell me: You ready to gut this bitch?” Instead of a witty retort, Dean answers with a punch that knocks Sam out cold. “Sorry, little brother. It’s not your fight.”

spn 9x24-6In heaven, Cas is trying to convince Hannah to release him and Gadreel. She doesn’t believe their stories: “I’m expected to trust the word of an angel who’s only ever thought of himself since the garden and you?” She still wants “proof” that she should trust them. Before we learn what proof might suffice, the scene cuts back to Dean entering the encampment and learning that Metatron is expecting him. He also sees the blood from the earlier angel murder.

More bloodshed is about to occur in heaven. While Cas and Hannah have been talking, Gadreel has been planning. He mentions his past mistakes, and Cas reassures, “You’ve been redeemed, my friend.” But Gadreel doesn’t accept that. He says, “The only thing that matters in the end is the mission. Protecting those who would not and cannot protect themselves. The humans – none of us is bigger than that…” Cas makes reassuring comments, but Collins conveys that Cas knows something is wrong. I’ve disliked Gadreel, though I found him interesting; Penikett sells the angel’s desire for redemption so well that I actually like him in this episode. I am genuinely sorry that Gadreel fulfills his redemption arc by committing suicide. After carving the spell into his chest, he orders Castiel to move to the far side of the cell: “When they say my name, perhaps I won’t just be the one who let the serpent in. Perhaps I will be known as one of the many who gave heaven a second chance.” Even though Hannah is right there with the key in hand, Gadreel smites himself. Castiel crawls out of the rubble and asks Hannah, “Do you believe him now?”

Back at the encampment, Dean greets Metatron with, “You can save the humble pie Jesus routine for somebody who gives a damn.” Metatron calls him out on his cynicism before waxing on about how he can save humans, that he’s “giving them a brand they can believe.” Dean, of course, doesn’t buy any of it, and says, “I’m blaming you for Kevin. I’m blaming you for taking Cas’s grace…” Dean pulls out the First Blade, which Metatron recognizes as a “nasty piece of work.” (I’m still unclear if Metatron already knew Dean had the Blade or if he only knew Dean would come after him?) Metatron informs Dean that Gadreel and Cas have been taken prisoner, and Dean appears to be rethinking his strategy. He then feints and lunges, landing a blow that earns a comment about his “super juice.”

spn 9x23-7Here, the story shifts quickly between Cas, Sam, and Dean. Metatron doesn’t know that Cas is free and looking for the tablet; Dean doesn’t know that Sam is looking for him; and Dean is losing his fight. Thankfully, Cas finds the angel tablet inside of the typewriter, exposing that despite Metatron’s posturing, he isn’t creator/writer/God. He’s been using the tablet’s power to generate his stories.

Dean, now crumpled against the wall, calls the Blade to his hand for one last try. But before he can even lift the Blade, Metatron drives an angel blade into his chest – and Sam sees. The angel tablet shatters in heaven as Dean falls to the concrete on earth. Metatron watches smugly as Sam comes to his brother’s side, and I imagine that Sam would have been next on Metatron’s list. The building begins shaking, though, and by the time Sam draws an angel blade and lunges, the angel has disappeared.

“Well-played, Castiel,” Metatron says when he finds Cas sitting at his desk, the tablet’s shattered fragments on the floor. Metatron proceeds to blame Castiel (and his weakness) for Gadreel’s death and the tablet’s destruction. In “Stairway to Heaven,” Metatron declares that Cas is “in love [pregnant pause] with humanity.” This time, he identifies Cas’s weakness more specifically: “So, Gadreel bites the dust and the angel tablet, arguably the most powerful instrument in the history of the universe is in pieces and for what again? Oh, that’s right. To save Dean Winchester…you draped yourself in the flag of heaven, but ultimately, it was all about saving one human.”

spn 9x23-8Cas doesn’t deny that he did it all for Dean; he’s said it himself (5×2), and since then, the two have only become closer. The way Collins portrays Cas’s facial expressions here even reminds me of the way Ackles portrays Dean’s when Naomi calls him out for his loyalty in “Taxi Driver” (8×19). Unfortunately, Metatron doesn’t want to just point out Cas’s attachment to Dean. He has news to share, and he takes decidedly too much enjoyment in delivering the verbal blow: “Well, guess what? He’s dead too.” The look on Cas’s face is heartrending.

Contrary to Metatron’s claim, Dean is still alive, albeit barely. Sam is with him, promising, “We’ll get to a doctor; we’ll find a spell — you’re going to be okay.” But Dean stops him, saying, “Listen to me. It’s better this way. The Mark – it’s making me into something I don’t want to be.” Dean makes the choice that he’d rather die than succumb to the Mark. Sam already knew that Dean didn’t expect to survive, but just like Dean in “Swan Song,” he had to be there anyway. When Dean asks, “What happened to you being okay with this?” Sam answers, “I lied.” Dean delivers one last snappy one-liner: “Well ain’t that a bitch.”

spn 9x23-9While a distraught Sam tries to get Dean out of the building, in heaven, Metatron taunts a heartbroken and angry Cas who is now handcuffed to the chair. Visibly emotional in tone and expression, Cas tells Metatron, “You will never get away with this.” I can’t tell if the “this” refers only to killing Dean or if Cas is referring to that plus heaven’s manipulation. Regardless, Metatron is unfazed. He still expects to win and gloats that the angels are “frightened little sheep.” He says Cas is “losing” because he lacked curiosity and “never learned how to tell a good story.” Cas vehemently retorts, “But you did.” He turns and looks pointedly at the radio that’s been broadcasting this entire time. Metatron is completely stunned that Cas tricked him, even as angels come in and take him prisoner.

Back at the encampment, a faltering Dean tells Sam, “I got to say something. I’m proud of us.” It’s a big moment: Not only is Dean affirming Sam, but he’s also affirming himself. For Dean, the latter is especially huge. It’s only a brief glimpse of the self-worth Dean might have, and Ackles plays the poignant scene beautifully, including the moment later when it’s clear that Dean is “gone.” Padalecki compellingly channels Sam’s painful grief as he holds Dean’s body upright.

spn 9x23-11Off-screen, Sam takes Dean’s body home as Cas ensures that Metatron is imprisoned. Hannah still seems way too eager to follow a leader. She tells Cas (again) that he’s doing “what a leader would do.” Cas replies, “I’m no leader, Hannah. I never was. I just want to be an angel.” Collins delivers this line with sad weariness and punctuates his words with a visible, emotional swallow. As an angel-turned-human who only re-angeled to help fight Metatron, the claim about wanting to be an angel doesn’t make sense to me unless it’s interpreted as further proof of his grief. After all, he won’t feel emotion as deeply if he’s a full angel. Hannah confirms that Cas’s waning grace will kill him, but judging from the look on his face, even that may not be impetus enough for him to replenish it. (I expect that will change when he learns what has really happened to Dean and realizes angelic powers will be needed.)

So what does happen to Dean? Back at the bunker, Sam lays Dean’s body on his bed with its memory foam mattress. It’s significant (and heartbreaking) that the room Dean so carefully decorated and spn 9x23-12maintained in season eight and for most of season nine is messy now. A grieving Sam sits alone in the research room, drinking, before he decides to summon Crowley and demand that he help Dean. Instead of going to Sam, though, Crowley goes to Dean. The monologue that he then delivers is long, but world-changing:

Your brother, bless his soul, is summoning me as I speak – make a deal, bring you back. That’s exactly what I was talking about isn’t it? It’s all become so expected. You have to believe me, when I suggested you take on the Mark of Cain; I didn’t know this was going to happen, not really. I mean I might not’ve told you the entire truth, but I never lie. I never lied, Dean. That’s important. It’s fundamental. But, there is one story about Cain that I might’ve forgotten to tell you. Apparently, he too was willing to accept death rather than becoming the killer the Mark wanted him to be. So he took his own life with the Blade. He died, except as rumor has it, the Mark never quite let go. [Crowley pulls the First Blade from his coat pocket.] You can understand why I never spoke of this, why it set hearts aflutter at mere speculation.

It wasn’t until you summoned me. No, it wasn’t truly until you left the cheeseburger uneaten that I began to let myself believe maybe miracles do come true. Listen to me, Dean Winchester: What you’re feeling right now, it’s not death. It’s life. A new kind of life. Open your eyes, Dean. See what I see. Feel what I feel. Let’s go take a howl at that moon.

spn 9x23-12The last frame of the episode is Dean opening his eyes – and they’re demon black. Even though many wondered if the “eye-opener” Ackles teased at the CW Upfronts would, in fact, be “black eyes,” it’s still a shock to see.

This plot twist fundamentally shifts the world of Supernatural. Dean, who’s never had powers, is now a supernatural being. The repercussions of this are huge, and in a way, it’s mournful: I love bad-ass, human Dean with snarky come-backs who likes to cook and has his mother’s photograph propped up on his desk. I can’t forget that “Dream a Little Dream of Me” (3×10) makes Dean’s fear of becoming demonic clear or that season four explicitly establishes Dean’s regret over breaking in hell. More recently, in “Devil May Care” (9×2), Dean cautions Tracy: “You wanna go after somebody, you make sure they got black eyes. Gotta know who the real monsters are in this world, kid.” And after all of that, now it’s Dean who has black eyes.

In another way, it’s hella exciting to consider where the storyline might go from here. Will Dean be able to fight his newly demonic nature? Will he want to? How much havoc will he wreak? Will he have a redemption arc? How far will Sam and Cas go to save him? Much will depend upon Crowley’s intentions and how Dean’s “rebirth” is handled. As it is, I think Dean “becoming” a demon will prove to be quite a distinction from a meatsuit “possessed by” a demon. Crowley is also way too enthralled with this  so-called miracle for my liking, not to mention that his use of “miracle” has me wondering if Dean will be more than just “demon”? I simply don’t trust Crowley because even if he did not intend for this to happen, he certainly seems happy that it has.

Though season nine had me worried at times, as a whole, I appreciate its alternate approach and what it’s revealed about our beloved characters. The finale sets up promising avenues, particularly if we read Cas’s destruction of Metatron’s creative source and Crowley’s value of the unexpected as symbolic. In all, I’m very intrigued about what October will bring, and the writers are already hard at work. I would like to formally petition that we never see this amount of grief in a single episode again, though. I’m still overwrought from the combination of  Gadreel’s suicide, Cas and Sam’s grief, and Dean’s death scene and demonic resurrection.

spn 9x23-12Thankfully, we do know that there will be no lag time in Supernatural’s world between the finale and the premiere, but in ours? We have almost five months of hellatus to endure. Supernatural’s tenth season premieres on Tuesday, Oct. 14, at 9 pm on the CW network.

What’s your reading of “Do You Believe In Miracles?” What are your speculations for season ten? Share in the comments below!

 

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About Lyda Scott

Lyda Scott is a freelance writer and editor, among other things. A good day is one spent over-analyzing film, television, and literature. Follow her on Twitter @Lyda_Scott.
  • Jessica

    Thanks so much for your review Lyda! Definitely my favorite out of all the ones I have read. I haven’t been able to read all of your reviews this season, but the ones I have read, I found all very thoughtful and insightful.

    I had a feeling someone was going to die in the finale, but with all the possible foreshadowing from earlier in the season, my thoughts were it was going to be Dean killing Cas or Sam because he would be so out of control, or Dean killing himself so he wouldn’t hurt anyone else. (I thought maybe Tessa killing herself in front of Dean was foreshadowing, but it actually was more of a set up for Gadreel’s ultimate sacrifice. I came to love Gadreel too in the last two episodes… now I want him back!) I really was not expecting Metatron to kill Dean. It goes against what we expect which is good to overcome evil.

    I started the show very invested in the brothers’ relationship, but that has waned in more recent seasons But for the first time in a long time, that death scene of Dean, and all the emotion that Jensen and Jared put into it, for lack of a better term, I got the biggest brother feels from the scene. Just loved it. And you brought up the most important part of Dean’s death. The fact that he was finally – finally – proud of himself. That’s something Dean NEVER would have said before and it was definitely something he never believed when his father or Bobby said it to him. In his dying moment we saw the first big step into Dean having some self worth and it was beautiful and tragic to watch. Kudos to Jensen for delivering that so well. And I can see why Jared cried so much during that scene. (Re: Jensen mentioning Jared getting tears on his shoulder and Jared mentioning crying while reading the end of the script.) I have to hand it to Jared and Jensen, they hold back no punches in scenes like this.

    And lastly, I really want to comment on Misha’s portrayal of Castiel when he found out about Dean’s death. He is not an angel of wildly expressed emotions. He loves with his whole being, but he’s fairly stoic nearly 100% of the time. The fact that he teared up and -freakin’ Misha I saw that lip wibble – and even more so when Metatron brought out the blade he used to kill Dean, still covered in his blood; that was a look of Castiel in despair. Castiel loves humanity as a whole and even though his angel brothers and sisters, many of them don’t like him or even hate him, he still loves them too. I think Cas’ capacity for love is amazing. There are certain people the Cas became quite attached to since he met Dean, but it is his love for Dean that motivates so much of what he does. His other motivations being love for humanity in general and love for his angel family. There’s something so amazing about a more often times than not naive little angel who is completely motivated by love.

    Anyway, sorry for rambling and thank you for your thoughts! Looking forward to more reviews from you next season!

    • Lyda Scott

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Jessica! I know we already talked a bit about Dean’s transformation, etc., and even though I’m still worried about what “Dean is kaput” means exactly, I am right there with you for cheering that Dean was proud of himself *and* Sam. (Now, if that’s the last we ever hear from real-Dean, I may cry forever).

      And Misha portrayed Cas’s grief so poignantly. Just thinking about the scene is getting to me. You make many good points about our favorite angel.

  • dottweets

    Thank you for a thoughtful review. You made me choked up over the episode all over again. I really appreciate your commentaries on this season, you help me see things I’ve missed, and discussed aspects of the characters that it means a lot to me to see get discussion.

    I felt as you did about “I’m proud of us”–how it pointed to Dean having deep down awareness of his own worth, as well as being proud of Sam and what they’ve accomplished together. Dean acknowledging them as a partnership. Even after in the same ep he punches Sam to take him off the playing field, to protect him–shades of dictator Dean–but while Dean has trouble shaking off the protect-at-all-costs role, he doesn’t really believe Sam is a screw up or a burden and he knows Sam is an adult and a badass hunter not just his little brother. In his final moments, Dean shows his whole heart and how he really perceives the two of them. So Dean transforming into something he doesn’t want to be, right after, is extra tragic. But I’m hopeful that the demon Dean story will further the character growth and insight and we’ll see Dean regain his sense of self and understand he deserves to be saved and isn’t just the blunt instrument protector his father drilled into him was his only purpose in life.

    Loved your commentary on Castiel. I appreciated his arc this season, and how this character is pulled between two families and two cultures. He wants to save both and it’s an impossible task. But his second, human family in many ways understands him better, Sam and Dean accept him as he is–and he chose them. 9×22 had a very definitive gesture that even Dean openly acknowledged of what Cas gave up for Dean. 9×23 showed how shattered Cas is at learning of Dean’s death, and we’ve seen Dean lose Cas (over and over) but haven’t really seen Cas reacting to losing Dean in the same way. And Supernatural made a very overt statement about Castiel’s motivations. While it’s not his only reason, his love for Dean when it gets down to it is his big touchstone and anchor to humanity and reasons. However we want to define that love, there is a powerful bond between them. His “I just want to be an angel”–thank you for pointing out how that line was delivered, and how sad and defeated Castiel sounded. This is not him finding his true path, he’s grieving and so retreats to all he thinks he has left. But I suspect Castiel’s dilemma between his two natures will continue in S10, along with the issue of his fading grace and the danger to his life.

    The ending with Dean’s eyes turning black is so frightening and gutting and sad yet I’m giddy thinking about where season 10 may take the characters with this.

    • Lyda Scott

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Dot! You make so many good points, and I like how you talk about the brothers and about Cas. You may already know from twitter that I’m a bit thrown by the “Dean is kaput” news… that (and other things) has lessened my excitement for S10. We’ll see if it recharges.

      And I just want to hug Cas and tell him it’ll be okay. I’m not looking forward to his continued heartbreak over what’s happened to Dean (or Sam’s heartbreak either).

  • Julie Dusk

    Lovely review! I feel the same way about demon!Dean – on one hand I’m mourning the loss of humanity in the most human character on the show, and on the other I’m really excited to see where they take this storyline. Thanks for spending a few words on Castiel’s reaction to Dean’s death too, I was already emotional from everything that had happened to that point and that’s the scene that made me lose it. Also Tahmoh deserves a honorable mention, his final monologue was beautifully acted and so heartbreaking. I’m going to miss Gadreel, and it has a lot to do with Tahmoh’s portrayal of him. All in all I’d say it was a great end to a shaky but mostly good season. Can’t wait for October!

    • Lyda Scott

      Thank you for reading and commenting! My excitement is dimmed over JA’s con comment that Dean is really dead, but maybe the writers can make it work. Maybe.

      Tahmoh and Misha were wonderful in this episode. I loved them.

  • Ginger

    Once again, a thoughtful review. I can’t rate this episode, though because; while I compliment Carver for his script, this episode left me decidedly contemplating whether I like his vision of the show. Let me compliment the exceptional acting in this one fir, though. JA, MS, and Curtis Armstrong are outstanding (even though I detest Metatron’s character). Tahmoh did a wonderful job, too. I wish they would keep actors/characters like
    that recurring as opposed to those we get every year. I also compliment the director and the crew on this one. Let me discuss the episode and, though, and its effect on why I have to decide whether to continue with the show.

    The Winchesters lost. Since Sam’s Ruby story, Dean has been the protagonist in SPN, humanity’s avatar, and Carver just threw that out. No matter how Carver takes the story, Dean is now a supernatural being, which means the moral center of the show has shifted (to Sam? To Cas? To Crowley? To supernatural beings?) Dean gained self-worth. How? I
    saw no progression to that. Did the MoC magically do that for him? How does that work?
    Throwing away your main protagonist is certainly a way to change the landscape that I fell in love with and committed nine years to. I liked the idea of Dark!Dean (actually, Edgy!Dean), but I don’t like the idea of Demon!Dean. Besides, Dean did no carnage, did not
    cross any moral principles (thank Chuck), and there was no hint of Dean’s living regret that he tortured in Hell.

    The writers did away with one supernatural species; the reapers, and made a new one; Dean Winchester. Dean died, which I think he wanted to do to keep from being the very
    thing that ruined his life and that he hunted, and now he just IS a demon – a new kind of demon. How? Dean is not possessed; he has an anti-possession tattoo. His soul was not
    corrupted after centuries in Hell. Does the MoC magically cause some “soul” disease with a side benefit of immortality? Also, Dean can’t be “cured.” To be cured, the human would have to show regret. We all know that Dean has been filled with regret since he was four years old.

    Crowley and Metatron won. Crowley respects Dean. Always has. He had a plan to use Dean as a tool, and Dean is now a tool to be used. Whether or not Crowley can achieve that remains to be seen. Yet, Crowley is decidedly more human than he is a King of the Damned, and he does seem quite bored with his Hell; but any way you look at it, Crowley played Dean and won…again. BTW, I like how they are rehabilitating Crowley’s character back into the love/hate/mutual respect character he originally was. He and Dean are great
    foils for each other.

    Sam saved no one, and he backed off his anger that caused a half-a-season spat between the brothers. I loved Sam’s “I lied,” and Dean’s “Ain’t it a bitch.” That’s how the Winchesters say, “I love you.” These are the brothers I want to watch – not demon
    Dean and his human brother, Sam; whom I think we are supposed to assume has now chosen hunting, but has yet to learn that his loyalty to family has always been the right choice.

    Metatron killed The Dean. Metatron is a failed character, despite being made to play pseudo-God. He lives to yap and yap and yap another day. I get that that was necessary to give Cas a reason to be in the show, but I hated the depiction of all the angels this season, and Metatron was more irritant than evil bad-guy. More yakking to come, because there needs to be a reason to have Cas in the show.

    Cas’ story was weak and uninteresting. I like Cas when he paired up with Dean. I like the “profound bond.” The Winchesters were not connected to Cas or the angel story in any way. Unless Cas is connected to Dean specifically, I have no use for Cas one way or the other.

    All said, the Winchesters’ internal arc was the B-plot of the season, while Cas and Crowley’s characters were expanded. I would even say, because they were not
    connected in any way to the angel story, the Winchesters were the B-plot to Metatron and Cas’ story all season. That is a changed landscape for sure.

    No rating from me, because I am angry. My hero is a demon (probably a good demon, but a supernatural entity in every way), the two leads played support characters to a story that was not theirs, neither accomplished a thing, and I prefer having two leads with good support characters, not an ensemble cast. Add that to the sub-standard writing (except for Carver himself), the lack of story structure, poor plotting, poorer pacing, the flip-floppy characterization, the complete tonal change of the show, and the lack of respect for canon, and that brings me to a decision point. I am weighing the enjoyment I get from watching JA’s talent play weekly across my screen against all the disappointment the once unique and captivating show is delivering now.

    • Lyda Scott

      These are all good points, Ginger. After hearing some of the news from the weekend’s con (paraphrasing: that Dean is *really* dead and that JA was glad of separate scenes from MC b/c of shipping), I have to say that my outlook on Season 10 has dimmed. I assumed Dean would have a redemption arc and come back to himself better than ever; while the writers have said on twitter that they’re just now back to work, word of mouth said JA was serious about Dean being gone. Though apparently both JA and JP spoke to the brothers’ bond being important, how can they be “brothers” if Dean isn’t Dean? I also love the profound bond and knowing that D/C’s separation may be intentional because of too much chemistry (?!) affects my take too.

      All of this information could change, of course, over the next few weeks. I’m going by con reports (vids & transcripts), and I wasn’t there. I also have no inside knowledge of how spn is being reconstructed or what it will look like when they’re done. If any of the info’s accurate, though, then the story structure that I thought Carver was building in terms of the brothers especially, and also with Cas, doesn’t fit with never-again-himself Dean.

      So, all of this to say, your points make me think even further about what is/may be happening with the show. I started watching the show in 1×1 for Dean and if he’s really being turned into something “new,” then my entire view of the show will change. I don’t know where that will lead me. Thank you, as always, for reading and commenting.

      • Ginger

        I guess I am mourning a show and a character that has given me nine years of pure enjoyment. In giving it more thought, here’s what is bugging me the most.

        Cas had a separate storyline apart from the brothers, and he took out the big bad with no Winchester around. That means Cas is a lead character, whether they choose to all him that or “a regular.”

        Crowley got the big speech in the finale and all the camera time, and then it was announced that Mark S. is now “a regular.” He also said he had plans for Dean, which means Crowley will probably have the big story in S10 (especially if JA’s comment “Dean is dead,” is true).

        None of the individual issues brought up with the Winchesters were resolved. What we got was three short lines to placate the fans desire that the Winchesters love each other: I lied. Ain’t it a bitch. I am proud of us. During Dean’s dying scene, they actually flipped back over to Metatron and Cas. A lead character dying, one would think, should be shown as something significant.

        Cas got character growth. Crowley got character growth. Gadreel got character growth. Garth got character growth. Even Jodi Mills got character growth. The Winchesters got nothing — not the big bad, not any resolution to their issues, and no character growth.

        There is no way in hell that next season the Winchesters are anything more than one each in a cast of four. Carver has made an ensemble cast and the J2s have lost their own show. That is the problem I am grappling with, and a few lines affirming the Winchesters love for each other is not enough to satisfy me.

        I haven’t read any tweets or reports or anything about the cons, so I don’t know what’s being said. I am actually not in the mood to be played again by the showrunner/writers or get my hopes up that Carver will fix the problems that were there when he took over, because it appears to me that his idea of fixing the problems is to diminish what was the heart and soul of the show and attempt to fan service each segment of the SPN viewers to keep ratings up.

        Of course, this is all my opinion based solely on how I interpreted S9 and the finale, I certainly don’t want to be a wet blanket on those who enjoyed the season. I am just feeling very unappreciated as a fan that has also watched since 1.01 and never missed a live showing of an episode.

        • Lyda Scott

          I don’t think you’re being a wet blanket, and I think your points are all very valid. I got a little teary more than once just writing the review as I went through scenes and clips – Dean’s death scene & S&C’s grief just were a lot to take in. The only way I pushed through that was thinking “this will all come to something good.” As soon as I heard that JA said Dean is really dead, “kaput,” I felt sick. I love Dean – he is an awesome character on so many levels. Now, they may handle his storyline wonderfully and restore him and it’ll be great… but if Dean is forever not-Dean? I don’t see how that’s going to work. That’s part of what I’m struggling with right now – and I feel like I’m mourning Dean too. I had planned to rewatch the finale w/o having to take notes/etc this weekend, and I just can’t do it.

          I also think you’re right that the show has shifted structure and is continuing to do so. Some of that I can deal with, some I also don’t like. I do wonder where it’s going to lead for S10. I imagine it’s going to depend on whether or not the show goes longer… ? I see your points about characterization, too. I’m sorry you’re feeling down about the finale, but know you’re not alone. I’m troubled about some things myself (Ironically, more so than when I wrote my review!) I always enjoy hearing your perspective, and I’m sending good thoughts to you!

          • Hannah

            I felt the same way about the idea that Dean (real Dean) would be gone forever, but recently I read notes from someone who attended the Meet & Greets at JIBCON, and apparently in Jensen’s he said that human Dean would definitely be back. I don’t know if it will let me put a link here, but I’ll try (http://sinka.livejournal.com/23742.html). Hope that helps!

          • Lyda Scott

            Thank you for passing the M&G recap along!! :)

  • spnlit

    I am a dedicated SPN viewer, and seen every episode at least twice. I am part of the new growing audience – had to get up to speed by DVD and now watch online on the CW network site. For me the story is great literature played out on the screen. I think Jensen excels at his craft and I enjoy his depiction of Dean. I love the character. I have to say I agree with Ginger. Devastated is the word that comes to mind when I saw Demon!Dean. It has caused me to post my first comment and join the discussion. I can not bring myself to watch the episode again. I need some recovery time. DEMON!DEAN!!!!!!
    Seriously? The only way this torment (for the viewer and character) will work is if Dean
    is restored to his humanity and it brings him some redemption, and a new
    sense of self, and a stronger insightful relationship with his brother, Sam. This show is cemented with the two human brothers bonded by their human condition- extreme life experience and the intricacies of their unique, individual personalities and intelligence. This is why I watch. (Demographically I am between the ages of 30-50).
    I do not have some dewy eyed view of these characters; they are seriously flawed and damaged. This is what makes them HUMAN! Dean as evil incarnate, decimates his being, his character. Dean is the human heart of this show. I know some get bored with Dean left out of the mythical arcs, but Dean’s ongoing major arc is love. He is a whole super character by his capacity to love. Think about his love of his immediate family, his connection with kids, his love of saving people, and how other characters are drawn to him and love him- Cas Charlie.
    Demon!Dean destroys the premise of this epic journey- brothers keeping each other human while living the life dealt …. hunting monsters, saving people….. Bringing each other back from the edge or when they go over; many kinds of edges. One of the scenes that really touched me was watching Dean bring is brother back from the brink of insanity in the warehouse where Sam was being tormented by Lucifer. Dean told Sam what was real and he was real and he reached out and pressed on Sam’s wounded hand and said this is building block one. It is a simple human scene. Humanity is the cornerstone of this show. We know what humanity means to the Winchesters- every time a demon, Meg or Crowley want to bring them to their knees, they start killing off their friends, loved ones or people they saved. As Crowley noted it is what keeps (the boys) going and allows them to sleep at night. Cas’ struggle is centered on his love of humanity. The only time Dean is willing to give up his brother is to return Sam to his humanity by slamming his soul back and when Sam took the great swan dive to save humanity. Also curing a demon means returning to humanity!

    There is something different about the writers killing Dean this time. I think that is part of my devastation. I was horrified to see Dean in Hell but felt he would return and then the payoff -Dean crawling out of his grave, walking down a hot road and getting his supplies of food water and porn. This time I fear they will leave Dean a demon and I just cannot watch. The powers that be may want a big changer late in the game- season 10, Crowley is now a season regular, and season 9 had some pointed issues.

    In season 8 we had the promise of Sam stating that he can do the trials, see a way out, a light and not a suicide mission and will bring Dean with him. Then the big chose in the finale- brothers over closing gates of hell. So what do we get in Season 9 after all this promise. Distance between the brothers, no one talking no one listening, crappy bickering. (Example from Purge is a one liner from Sam about also dating someone bendy – just trivialized the whole Lisa history and meaning.) We the viewers did our time in season 9 suffering along with disconnected brothers and angry jacked up Dean.
    What did we get for our patience? Three phrases and the penultimate destruction DEMON DEAN! And what did they do to Sam! Super intelligent, caring, been there so I know, Sam. Dean announces he has a supernatural mark from the father of murder (Mark of Cain) and Dean is working with Crowley. What does Sam do? Not much. Are we to believe Sam cannot do research and find something that would cause an inkling of concern. Not the Sam we know.

    Okay there is a great line of thought that Carver is tearing down the brothers to rebuild into a better relationship. Dean has to walk in Sam’s shoes (being a demon) and vice versa. Okay, but you need to bring Dean back to humanity for the payoff. I hope this is where they are going.

    What the MOC means in SPN world. Lucifer tried to corrupt Cain’s younger brother Abel. In order to save him, Cain made a deal so that Abel’s soul would go to Heaven and in exchange Cain’s would go to Hell. Lucifer agreed on the condition that Cain kill Abel. Cain did so with an animal’s jawbone, which became the First Blade.
    Lucifer marked Cain with a brand that gave the First Blade its power, and made Cain into a demon, the first of the Knights of Hell. Cain trained and led his fellow Knights, leaving a path of destruction on humanity. Cain tells Dean that Dean is worthy of the transfer of the Mark. We are not told why. Because Dean is a killer or because he loves his brother???? Cain transfers the mark to Dean who wants it because it is, according to Crowley, the only way to kill Abbadon. Crowley states that Cain tried to kill himself but the mark/blade would not allow him to die. To Dean the mark/ blade causes Dean to want to kill and if he does not kill, Dean feels physically worse….. puking up blood -dead worse. Metatron kills Dean and the blade brings him back a demon (with the help of Crowley). BUT….. Cain married a mortal human Collette who was killed by Abbadon. Cain ditched the blade and and lived (seemingly) alone and quietly for centuries. So what does that bit of info mean for Dean????? Humanity I hope. I want to get back to enjoying an intense, interesting, complex, humorous, philosophical, brotherly, sexy, rocked out story with the real HUMAN Sam and Dean. PLEASE bring Dean back before the end of season 10. There are other places to go and things to do …… work to be done… they are Men of Letters after all, just sitting on or rather living in the quintessential power house of Supernatural knowledge.

    • Lyda Scott

      I’m so glad you’ve joined the discussion!! You’re making *many* good points — I’ve always thought Dean’s humanity helped anchor the show; he’s the one of the three who has always (except for the brief few days in S6 when he was a vamp) been “human.” (And even as a vamp, he never fed, so he held onto his human-ness even then.

      When I wrote my review, I was very much of two minds: Horror/Grief over Dean being “dead” and the excitement over the possible story avenues that the Demon!Dean twist opens up. However, hearing that Ackles said at JibCon5 that Dean is really dead (“kaput” is the word he used) has skewed my reading more towards horror than excitement at the moment. Dean Winchester is one of my fav characters of all time, and if he’s gone? And if the storyline isn’t carefully plotted and orchestrated to bring Dean back to himself (as I expected when I watched the finale), then… I don’t know what my reaction will be. And I really don’t want to find out. Because you’re right, that pay-off needs to be there to be any chance of this working with the audience (especially the fans who are heavily invested in the characters and their arcs!).

      Thank you so much for reading & commenting – join in on the discussion anytime. :)

      • spnlit

        My horror for Demon Dean is on multiple levels. First, Dean is one of my all time favorite characters too and I just simply did not want to view this horrific storyline for our beloved Dean. I cannot re-watch this episode. I protest this decimation of my favorite character. Also, I personally miss seeing the real Dean. Most of season 9 we endured jacked up killer Dean and estranged brothers. Now I fear I may never see Dean and a real brother relationship again. Season 10 could be all about Demon Dean without a redemption or one at the finale of season 10 and perhaps the end of the show. Carver only had a Season 8-through 10 plan. At JIBCon. Jensen made several statements about Demon Dean. You are right he said Dean is “kaput”. We will not see Dean’s reaction to being a Demon because Dean is gone. Jensen also stated that he can, with every twist and turn of the storyline, take comfort to find the Dean no matter what the writers throw at them. The demon aspect is going to be challenging -might not be able to outwardly play Dean so it will be internalized which sometimes does not translate to the screen. He also stated he would like to explore demon Dean and not have it
        scrapped or cleaned up too quickly and to bring on the challenge. Jensen (always the diplomat) also stated he had a lot of faith in the writers as they have a lot of faith in us (the actors) and I think the collaboration will… uh…. hopefully be something you guys (audience) will enjoy… so fingers crossed. No fingers crossed for me. I want the real miracle….. the pay off of real Dean by mid season 10.

        • Lyda Scott

          I’m sorry that I’m responding so belatedly! I completely understand your concerns, and I know you’re not alone with them. Thank you also for sharing what Ackles said – it’s good that he’s excited, and (though I’m still nervous) I am hoping that his arc will be a good one, and Demon!Dean will eventually be redeemed, and then we’ll see Dean again! :) As for the finale, I still haven’t re-watched – I just can’t go there yet! Thank you for sharing – and I hope we’ll get some good tidbits of info at SDCC.