I didn’t quite reach my note-taking record this time; actually, I got nowhere near it. And it’s not because I didn’t have anything to say. It’s simply due to the fact that this episode was really amazing. So amazing in that that while a lot of thoughts flitted by, I was distracted by the awesomeness of this episode.
And that doesn’t have (much) to do with the fact that Sam and Dean finally are back together.
Why was this episode so awesome? Let me count the ways.
1. Right from the first moment of this episode, I’m giggling when the sidewalk preacher asks passersby, “Good evening, folks. Is your soul rapture ready?” Like you wouldn’t believe, I chuckled at the screen. Of course, had I known that this guy was part of the Zachariah information network, I probably wouldn’t have reacted quite in the same way.
2. The little details that make Supernatural all around awesome were particularly noteworthy during this episode. They include: the "Now Playing: Route 666" and "Closed for Renovations" signs in the destroyed city, the reference to 2014’s president (President Palin), the subsequent headlines of the Washington Herald, including not only a reference to President Palin, but also to homebrewed biodiesel and Canadian aid to the US. These details serve to hone the awesomeness of this show.
3. Castiel’s awkwardness just keeps getting better and better. It went from not understanding Dean’s jokes and puns to the interaction in the last episode between him and the sheriff (demons!) to, in this episode, Castiel waiting for Dean on the side of the road for the latter to get some sleep, and to this line as he's on the phone with Dean: "The voice said I’m almost out of minutes."
4. The Imapala and Dean’s love (if it can be described merely as love) for it, and his reaction to her state in 2014: "Oh baby, what did they do to you?"
5: Dean’s one-liners. Seriously. How do the writers come up with them?
6: What’s better than one Dean? Two Deans, obviously!
Dean 2009: They were pink, they were satiny, and you know what? We kind of liked it.
Dean 2014: Touché.
Dean 2009: Oh come on, you don’t trust yourself?
Dean 2014: No. Absolutely not.
Which makes me wonder… we know that Dean doesn’t like being told off, but he feels very comfortable telling other people off. So in this situation, when he is telling himself off… how does it feel?
And I will stop at six reasons (pun totally intended) and proceed with some more substantial discussion.
While Castiel 2014 was hilariously different from Castiel 2009, meeting him was very sobering not just for Dean, but also for me. It got me thinking: how does someone change so drastically in such a short time? Castiel went from being an angel of the Lord intent on finding God (and, therefore, the truth) at the cost of him being shunned by the other angels, to a man high on pills and organizing orgies as a way to commune with God.
Dean 2009: Are you stoned?
Dean 2009: What happened to you?
While Castiel is a fictional character in a TV show, I’m certain that, just like me, you know of at least one person who started high and crashed to the lowest depths imaginable. What makes us so fragile? Is it an inherent human attribute? How do we go from that high to that far a low? And, most importantly: is such a drastic fall preventable, or is it inevitable?
Dean: Welcome to the club (of being human).
Castiel: Thanks. Except that I used to belong to a much better club. I’m now powerless, I’m hapless, I’m hopeless, I mean why the hell not bury myself in women and decadence? […] That’s what decadence is for. Why not bang a few gongs before the lights go out? That’s just how I roll.
Doesn’t this reply from Castiel sound remarkably like something Dean would have said in season three, when he knew he was going to hell? It also gives decadence a whole new meaning; from something fun that we choose to do, decadence becomes a numbing drug that keeps us from the pain of failure and veils us from seeking the truth.
Decadence could be the poison to faith.
Pushing the thought a little further, it seems that just like the line between love and hate is fine, so is the line between hope and despair, as well as the line between faith and lack thereof. What keeps us from passing that line? It doesn’t seem that faith alone is enough; it needs to be backed up by action.
It reminds me of a prayer I often read: In the darksome night of despair, my eye turneth expectant and full of hope to the morn of Thy boundless favour… Faith is a great thing to have, but it seems that if it doesn’t go hand in hand with action, it’s destined to fizzle out. So perhaps Castiel’s faith fizzled because after the shock of having lost his angel status, he stopped acting. What would have happened, had he continued trying, even in the fact of the severe limitations life as a human gives us?
Hopefully, the real Castiel 2014 will be nothing like the one we saw.
Perhaps the question of faith is the key to why Sam finally said yes to Lucifer in alternate 2014. Perhaps Sam lost his faith; perhaps he gave in to despair, or perhaps Lucifer threatened to kill Dean – those are the only possible scenarios I can come up with.
Speaking of which, Sam as Lucifer’s prom suit was also a pretty disturbing sight. And Lucifer wearing white was pretty ironic, and a reflection of the size of his ego and the extent of his denial.
Dean: The only thing different between them and you is the size of your ego.
It’s often said, and history has clearly shown, that the most dangerous people are the ones who do what they do because they are convinced that they are right, to the point that they could read sacred writings and interpret them in a seemingly logical way to suit their needs. Extremists aren’t stupid; quite the contrary, they are usually quite brilliant. However, their ego keeps them from entering into a collaborative investigation of the truth; they become so convinced of their own interpretation of the truth that the only relationship they can enter is one in which everyone agrees with them.
The other problem is that consultation with these people is impossible, and also, dangerous; the strength of their conviction manages to convince many otherwise sane people to do things they never would have thought themselves capable of doing. Think of Nazi Germany; whatever might be said, I’m sure that most of the people involved in the Holocaust got caught up in the moment, would never have thought themselves capable of doing these things, and had lived year of guilt and shame. I met one such person and I don’t think I will ever forget the guilt this person carried their entire life.
The question is, again: how do we keep ourselves from being swept in the hysteria?
One character in the show that seems to be suffering the consequences of his own over-inflated ego – other than Lucifer, of course – is Zachariah. He’s so sure of himself that he sees only one way out: for Dean to say yes to Michael. And if he doesn’t, well, hello alternate 2014 with the messed up Castiel. As Zachariah says, "This is what happens to the world if you say no Michael."
Zachariah does have a point; Dean is, after all, Michael’s vessel, and saying yes would definitely allow for Lucifer to be defeated (again), be it at the price of Dean’s sanity. However, on the flip side, Zachariah’s point is so narrow that it’s only that – a point. The alternate 2014, where Lucifer remains undefeated, could happen if Dean says no; but it’s only one of the possible realities. Zachariah is so convinced of his own truth that he can’t be consulted with to find alternate solutions and use Dean as Michael’s vessel as last resort. It’s the autocracy of Zachariah: his way or the highway.
Imagine if he was open to consultation. Imagine if he, Anna, Castiel, Bobby, Dean, and Sam were able to sit down and hash out other plans, and, if all else fails, then Dean becomes Michael’s vessel.
Then again, the show wouldn’t be as interesting, so I guess I should thank Zachariah for being such a bonehead.
Needless to say, the ending of the episode left me very happy. I know it’s going to be awhile before the relationship between the two brothers becomes as it used to be – especially in season two, when they were playing pranks on each other – but it’s nice to see them trying to pull through and get things back on track. Of course it does makes me wonder if Dean will truly be able to trust Sam 100%, and if Sam, intent on proving himself worthy, won’t make a mistake or two or more.
There are a couple of questions I haven’t figured out yet: why did the angels run away in 2014? After all, isn’t this their mess? They let the Apocalypse happen! And where is God in 2014?
Last thought: in 2014, Dean was trying to get cell phone reception but couldn’t. Does this mean that there is no Internet, either? If so, then it’s definitely Armageddon!