Let’s just get into it, shall we? Spoilers after the jump.
This episode opens with Castiel, who’s staying at a men’s shelter and working as a litter collector. He’s going by the name of Clarence, which is awfully cute for the sole reason that I still miss Meg. Meanwhile, Ezekiel tells Dean that the other angels are organizing, and Dean insists to a perturbed Sam that they’ve got to go after Cas before the angels get him. Sam doesn’t know how Dean knows that Cas is in danger, because he still doesn’t know about Ezekiel, so I’m going to assume that he goes along with Dean because he clearly thinks Dean needs to get laid. The two of them track mysterious deaths throughout the country, assuming that Cas is laying out a trail of dead angels as he hides.
Capitalizing on my hypothesis that angels can only be white people, our presumed baddie this season is Bartholomew, who is apparently Naomi’s protege. Ol’ Bart has convinced a cheesy televangelist, the Reverend Buddy Boyle, to preach to his followers that angels need vessels and anyone who hears them calling should open their hearts to them. Bart and his angel buddies can’t find Cas, though, so they hire a reaper, Maurice, to follow the Winchesters around until they stumble on Cas for him. Maurice has somehow missed the memo that it’s not wise to fuck around with the Winchesters, because said Winchesters capture and torture him for information on the other angels.
Castiel, meanwhile, has indeed been hiding and killing angels as he goes, but he’s also been pretty confused by human things such as urination, hunger, money, sleep, breasts, etc. He gets what I presume is an angel-warding tattoo, and keeps on trucking until a pretty white girl called April takes him in. Cas has sex with her, so unfortunately, she’s slated for death from the very instant she shows up on the screen. In the morning, April takes Cas’s angel sword, ties him up, and tortures him with it. (Lots of torture in this ep, because when the title card reads Supernatural I guess you’ve got to get your money’s worth.) Cas tells her that Metatron was using him and that he had no idea what Metatron’s real plan was, but she doesn’t believe him. The Winchesters burst through the door, and April stabs Cas through the stomach before Dean kills her with the same sword. Cas is dead, at least until Zeke heals him. Dean does some fast lying to both Cas and Sam to cover up Zeke’s actions, and all three head back to the bunker.
Once at the bunker, Cas is pleased with the food and the accommodations there, and goes off to eat a burrito. Zeke takes this prime opportunity to tell Dean that the angels are coming for Cas and that Cas isn’t safe here. Dean, understandably, brings up Cas’s angel warding tattoo, but Zeke just tells him that if Cas stays, he’s leaving, and Sam’s body will be worse off for it. So the episode, of course, ends with Dean telling Cas he has to leave the bunker.
Okay, so complaints about this episode—I have all of them. First off, what was with the good Reverend? He has a podcast, so it can’t even really be counted as televangelism, but “the popularity and influence of the Reverend is growing at an unprecedented rate”? I’m sorry, I thought the most famous podcast was Welcome to Night Vale, or at least This American Life. I’m not religious, but it was still hard to see this episode as anything other than a giant dump on religion. The Reverend tells people that if they hear an angel calling them, they should let that angel in. That’s pretty much par for the televangelism course, except we know that angels are dicks with wings who actually don’t care about people at all, so it’s more like subverting religion to convince people to let demons into their bodies. The Reverend was also totally willing to sacrifice some unsuitable people for eventual glory in Heaven, which seems pretty un-Christian to me.
And that nice woman in the chapel who talked to Cas? She was definitely a believer, and she told him what a true believer might say: that his lack of faith didn’t cancel out her faith. Unfortunately, we, the viewers, know according to Supernatural canon that God has left the building and that the gates of Heaven are shut. So the woman comes off as crazy and misguided in her faith, because we know that Cas is right and she is wrong. These two, the woman and the Reverend, are not exactly positive examples of the faithful. Meanwhile, Cas meets all sorts of nice homeless people who have been kind to him, yet show no signs of being religious—so it seems like the show is saying that organized religion is a bad thing that only stupid people believe in. This is not the sort of message they want to be sending.
And just as an aside, if Bartholomew wants to use “not all who are willing are designed to contain Heaven’s grace” as an excuse for failed-and-exploding angel vessels, then we need to see angels who are not possessing white men or women. Where are the angels of color, or are no people of color fit to be angel vessels? Were Raphael and Uriel just flaws? (And two pretty white women died this episode, not just one. God, Supernatural, you are lowering the fucking bar for yourself pretty well.)
Plot holes in this episode? Big enough to drive a truck through. Dean wanted Zeke to track down Cas by looking for reapers near him, but how did Zeke know that April was near Cas if he couldn’t find Cas due to that angel warding tattoo? Zeke also said that Cas had to leave the bunker, or he would leave Sam to die—but why does Cas have to leave? His being killed didn’t unmake the angel warding tattoo. He was brought back to life, but not in the bunker, so the angels don’t know his present location. There are angel warding sigils on the bunker itself, and if there aren’t, Dean can apply them, so there’s no reason that Zeke might be discovered, either.
And even beyond these plot holes—we’ve seen this exact plotline play out before. Dean’s told he must put Castiel in a dangerous position in order to save Sam; he always chooses Sam. (See: end of Season 4, where Castiel gives Dean time to confront Sam at the cost of his own life; most of Season 5, where Dean berates Cas for losing his powers and no longer being useful; and then there’s Season 7, where Cas takes on Sam’s madness at the cost of his own sanity.) Dean’s constantly made to choose between Sam and the rest of the world; he always, always chooses Sam. (See: end of Season 2, where Dean sells his soul to a demon for Sam’s resurrection; end of Season 5, where Dean risks the world on Sam’s Lucifer gambit; and obviously the end of Season 8, where Dean leaves the freakin’ gates of Hell open instead of letting his brother die to close them.)
The producers are even holding to their old pattern of following up a shit episode with a Charlie episode to allay the fanbase: her initial appearance in Season 7 was after Dean found out and disapproved of Bobby’s staying on as a ghost (7×20); she reappeared after Cas killed Samandriel and Sam broke up with Amelia (8×11); and her latest appearance to date was after Kevin had been captured by Crowley (8×20). This is transparent in its repetitiveness to the extreme, and while I know that nine seasons in, it’s hard to come up with new plot ideas, it’s also ridiculous to keep playing out the old ones in the exact same way.
Listen. I liked Season 6 (in which Cas goes after the ultimate power to protect friends and loses control of said power; ends up paying for his actions); I liked Season 7 (in which Dean learns to grieve and forgive in a healthy manner). I understand that those two seasons didn’t go over too well with the general watching public. But they did something new; they took the characters to unexplored emotional states through use of layered writing and character development, and that was something I enjoyed watching. If the Supernatural producers have decided that coming up with new plotlines and actual character development is too much trouble for them and their ratings, then I’ll leave them to their retreads of past seasons. It seems to be working out well for them, with respect to ratings. But with respect to writing, I give this episode zero stars out of ten.
Oh, and Adam’s still in hell.