What does work is the final reveal that Dean and Castiel have been pulled into Purgatory along with Roman. That was a surprise and opens up all kinds of possibilities for next season. Purgatory looks very frightening and I would welcome a chance to actually see one of the boys’ experiences in these alternate vistas, instead of just hear about them. Sam’s devastation at being alone is completely believable and offers a lot of dramatic potential, because Sam has never dealt well in the past when he is separated from Dean.
I give the finale an A- for being able to tie together a disjointed season and offer such a tantalizing glimpse for next season in the I hope capable hands of new show runner Jeremy Carver. On that note, there are some things I hope Carver keeps in mind.
The Castiel Problem:
Castiel was created for the Apocalypse arc and since that story line ended, he’s been a bit of a problem. In his original arc, his power was limited because the archangels were much stronger than he was. With the archangels gone, his power has too often leaked the tension out of the brothers’ predicaments.
He was also created as Dean’s new relationship to balance the one Sam was forming with Ruby. With Ruby long gone, Castiel unbalances Sam and Dean, because the angel has no real relationship with Sam and Sam has no equivalent friend.
I thought the writers did a good job of addressing these issues when they brought Castiel back in the second half of this season. Damaging Cas’ psyche and making him unreliable was an excellent move. I also liked that Castiel cared very much he had hurt Sam and that Sam found it easier to forgive the angel than Dean did. It looked like Sam and Castiel were forging a relationship of their own, which I think is necessary if Castiel is to be an important part of the show again.
With this in mind, I’m not sure the writers made the best choice in trapping Dean and Castiel together in Purgatory. We already know they have a relationship and we know Dean has forgiven Cas. Strengthening Castiel and Dean while Dean and Sam are separated has the potential to make Castiel even more of an unbalancing agent on the show’s main relationship—Sam and Dean. If Sam goes it alone while Dean gets even closer to Cas, there is a risk Sam will start to seem a bit of a third wheel. If Sam gets a new relationship of his own to explore, the writers risk weakening the strongest aspect of the show: Sam and Dean’s chemistry.