*Spoilers for the mid-season finale and so many feels.*
We are gathered here today, brothers and sisters, to mourn those who have been lost to plot necessity (debatable) and eagerly hope that the new plot twist thrown in by “Holy Terror” actually turns out well in the second half of the season. It was an episode of emotional ups and downs (mostly downs), of “huh” and “ah ha!” moments, and of major character developments and death. Hope you had your tissues and scotch nearby.
First of all, remember Bartholomew? He’s that blonde angel from a few eps ago who was using a televangelist preacher to scope out angel vessels. Well, apparently he’s also trying to set himself up as the new king of heaven and is locked in competition with Malachi, who we’ve never heard of before this episode and who is also an anarchist. Because that’s a thing angels can be, even though they’ve been firmly established as soldiers and staunch followers of orders. Tensions are running high between the two factions, culminating in a bloodbath between a church glee club and a born again biker gang. (Now that’s a sentence I never thought I’d get to use.)
Said bloodbath draws the attention of the Winchesters and their good buddy Castiel. (Suits! Drink!) Dean drags Sam along to the crime scene, trying to pretend everything is normal and that his little brother is not at all playing unwitting host to an angel. Cas is just there to help if he can, because Cas is a good guy who learned the good stuff that Dean knows. (They have a unique bond.) Unfortunately, he’s a victim of Dean’s flaws too. Ezekiel forces Dean to send Cas away, afraid that his presence will draw the warring angels to their location (though if that were true Cas should’ve been ganked about nine episodes ago), and Cas reluctantly leaves after enthusiastically sampling his first beer as a human. (To no one’s surprise, he’s a bit of a lightweight.)
Cas leaves the Winchesters and, rather stupidly, decides to pray for help to any angel listening. Seriously, why do you keep thinking that’s going to work out for you, Cas?! He’s lucky enough to be answered by one that is not out for his blood, a neutral angel named Muriel, who gives him the rundown of the current war between Bartholomew and Malachi, since the writers came up with this whole idea the night before shooting. Seriously, guys, you remember how you already did the “civil war in heaven” thing in season six with Cas and Raphael? If you forget, watch TNT in the morning, they’re on that season now. Anyway, unfortunately Muriel unwittingly leads Malachi to Cas’s location.
Like everyone else, Malachi is convinced that Cas knows more than he does about how the Fall was caused and what Metatron’s plans are. (Remember? From the season eight finale? This is getting complicated.) Malachi kills Muriel because he’s a dick (it’s the defining trait of all angels apparently), and lists off the names of the angels killed during the Fall. Guess what name he mentions! Ezekiel! This can’t be good.
Malachi leaves Cas in the capable hands of his henchman, Theo, to be tortured for information. Theo offers Cas a deal: agree to speak to Metatron and end this war, because Malachi is crazy and scares everyone, and Theo will let him go. Cas seems to accept, but then reveals that he learned some bad, manipulative habits from Dean too. He kills Theo and steals his Grace (I guess you can just do that? So why did they have to chase after a tree for Anna?), returning himself to badass angel-ness. He calls Dean to let him know what the situation with the angels is, and also that Ezekiel is dead.
This whole time, Sam has been the meatsuit for Gadriel, the angel who was charged with protecting the Garden of Eden from the forces of sin. That, um, didn’t go well (see: Genesis –the book of the Bible, not the band). He’s also been cooped up in Heaven Jail (not to be confused with Lucifer in the Hell Jail) for the last however many aeons (too many) and is desperate for redemption. Apparently “redemption” for him comes in the form of being second-in-command for the guy who cast all the angels out of heaven and wants to make himself into a new God. Not really God, though, he wants to be called “X” because all his time on Earth was spent reading pulp sci-fi. A flawless plan, no doubt. Metatron, being the sneaky/crazy guy he is, offers redemption to Gadriel on one condition: he has to kill someone first, someone whose name is written on a small yellow card.
Back at the Men of Letters bunker, Dean prepares to tell Sam that he is possessed by a lying dick of an angel. Kevin helps him find a sigil that will allow Dean to talk to Sam unheard, and there’s a nice moment of catharsis for Dean as he slashes through his oversized onesie of lies. A short-lived moment, because Gadriel has gotten a lot better at pretending to be Sam. (The trick was to use contractions!) Gadriel knocks out Dean and completes Metatron’s mission: kill Kevin Tran. The card that flutters down to his burnt-out body didn’t even note that he was in advanced placement. Go gently into that goodnight, you were too precious for this world Kevin (and too underappreciated by Dean.)
On January 14: The historically necessary separation of the Winchester brothers, which will definitely culminate in an emotional reunion for the finale or at least penultimate episode.