Summary : "Do You Believe In Miracles" fundamentally shifts the world of Supernatural.
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 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.
Post 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 Blade. 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.”
Meanwhile, 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 Winchester 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.
Most 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.”
In 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.”
Here, 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.”
Cas 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.”
While 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.
Off-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 maintained 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.
The 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.
Thankfully, 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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