This review got finished late on Sunday night after an entire weekend of slaving over it. That’s not because I didn’t know what to write. Quite the contrary, actually. The initial version of this review was — are you ready for it? — fifteen pages long.
Yup, you read that right. Fifteen. A new personal record.
At the time of the show’s airing, it had been one week since Dean and Sam parted ways, and today still I am in shock at how events unfolded. As all fans of the show know, the two brothers bring out the best in one another. How are they going to work as effectively each on their own?
And now that we know who Lucifer’s real vessel is… oh dear God, I can’t believe I have to wait another week to find out what happens next. Until then, does anyone know when Mark Pellegrino’s contract finishes? Because when it does, that’s when (if) Sam will have accepted becoming Lucifer’s vessel.
The episode starts with Sam having a pretty lucid dream of Jessica (remember her?).
Sam: Jessica. I’m dreaming.
Jessica: No you’re not. What’s the difference? I’m here.
As we find out at the end of the episode, there is a big difference, since Jessica turns out to be Lucifer in disguise. And Lucifer being, well, Lucifer, he uses Jessica’s form to bring out some of Sam’s worst fears. While it isn’t the best feeling ever, it seems that, to a certain extent, everyone has something dark inside them. It’s part of our lower nature. But it’s not by running away that we are going to be able to change things.
However, what Jessica/Lucifer doesn’t believe is that by developing our higher nature, we will be able to control our lower nature — including its darkness. Unfortunately, it means that we are going to have a tough time, we aren’t going to know how to do it all the time and we are going to make mistakes. This implies that we’re going to have to learn to walk the line between asking ourselves to act up to the highest of standards and yet, be self-forgiving.
Not the easiest of things to balance, as Sam is finding out.
Because of this lower nature of ours, and also because of the simple fact that we are far from perfect, we tend to make mistakes. They are hard, but they are real, but being honest with ourselves about something is extremely hard. However, avoiding the truth doesn’t change its reality (when Jessica tells Sam that she was dead the moment they said hello — probably true, since fate herself seems to have it for the Winchester brothers). Quite the contrary, actually, since running away from that reality increases the probability of this occurrence happening again, whereas accepting it, while extremely difficult, can make us a much better person. Which begs the question: what would have happened had Sam accepted this dark side of himself and actively started trying to control it?
Oh, the possibilities.
Thankfully for the plot (but not for the hearts of poor Supernatural fans) both Sam and Dean’s inability to deal with the issues at hand separated them. As the brothers carry along their chosen day-to-day routines, they look so upset and unhappy that it makes me want to, again, reach into the TV and slap some sense into each of them. On a related side note, I loved how the scenes go from Sam’s life to Dean’s life, doing the same thing – cutting, cleaning, etc – but in the context of the life they have chosen for themselves (lemon versus vampire, counter versus Impala).
Unsurprisingly perhaps, Dean joins Castiel in his Godhunt, which takes an unexpected turn:
Cas: I need your help.
Dean: With what? God hunt? Not interested.
Cas: It’s not God. It’s someone else.
Cas: Archangel. The one who killed me … His name is Raphael.
Finding Raphael does seem to be a good idea, as well as one that doesn’t exceed Cas’s moral framework. But I can’t resist the opportunity to share again the thought: how far do you go in the name of Truth, in the name of good, and in the name of God? How far should you go when you are doing something for the greater good? How do you not get blinded by your end so as to resort to less than acceptable means?
This wasn’t the only dilemma I touched on in my endless note-taking. One scene I couldn’t quite decide if I found hilariously sad or simply hilarious was when Dean took Cas to the… erm, club.
Dean: There are two things in life I know for certain. One: Bert and Ernie are gay. Two, you are not going to die a virgin. Not on my watch.
First of all, while Cas’s embarrassment at Dean finding out he’s a virgin was really funny (his facial expression? Priceless!), it’s also sad that an angel of the Lord would be embarrassed to have practiced chastity. Isn’t that the point of being an angel, i.e. to have an almost impossibly high moral character?
It was along similar lines that I laughed my head off at Castiel hyperventilating in the club (his facial expression, again? Priceless!), while also wondering why he went there in the first place.
Dean: Hey, relax.
Cas: This is a den of iniquity. I should not be here.
Dean: Dude, you full-on rebelled against heaven. Iniquity is one of the perks.
For Dean to say something like this means that he didn’t quite get the real reason why Castiel rebelled in the first place. It’s not that he wanted to have full-on ‘iniquity’ access. Quite the contrary; Castiel rebelled because what he was being asked to do didn’t adhere to his understanding of what being an angel meant.
It doesn’t happen often, but Dean… you disappointed me here. Really.
There are a couple of reasons why Raphael’s arrival made for a very interesting scene. First off, it was quite unsettling to see Dean scared. Secondly, it was even more unsettling to witness an archangel admitting he has lost his faith. Granted, it’s fictional – but still. If archangels are losing their faith, then what hope does humanity have?
Third of all, the conversation between Raphael, Dean and Castiel has an eerie resemblance to the conversations happening all over the world between believers, unbelievers, and doubters, once again making Supernatural a whole lot more than a show about two good-looking brothers fighting off the dark side.
Raphael: [God’s] dead, Castiel … There’s no other explanation. He’s gone for good.
Castiel: You’re lying.
Raphael: Am I? Do you remember the 20th century? Think the 21st is going to be any better? You think God would have let any of that happen if He were alive?
While it made for excellent TV, I have to admit that I felt a thrill of fear. I have heard so many people who once had faith lose it, that this scene hit close to home. While I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting one of the Saints (then again, perhaps it’s a good thing, if I don’t want my eyes burnt out of their sockets), I have met some amazing people throughout my life, and when I talk to some of them these days (a couple of whom follow my Supernatural reviews and email me page upon page of their own thoughts and reflections), I think I feel something quite similar to what Castiel felt when Raphael outright admitted to having lost Faith in God. It’s a wonder he doesn’t get along with Dean, who himself was arguing the same thing a mere season ago. Then again, the difference is that Dean is a human, searching for faith, while Raphael is an archangel, supposed to embody the spirit of faith.
I really feel bad for poor Castiel, and Dean did work his way a little bit back into my good graces by backing him up. Hey, Dean could have just rubbed it in, that searching for God is useless, etc etc, but he didn’t.
But, seriously, who would have thought that Dean would be the one helping Castiel strengthen his faith after a rather difficult encounter with Raphael?
One last thing (a difficult decision, because I have a lot more to say about this episode): Lucifer’s vessel is Sam? Does this mean that, if Lucifer does get Sam to accept to be a vessel, and Michael gets Dean to accept to be his vessel… there is the possibility of a Sam vs Dean fight? I really, really hope it doesn’t happen.
And I didn’t even go into the other Sam-related things I wanted to mention… Oh dear…