Supernaturalists everywhere, rejoice, for this episode contains many things that are Good: return of beloved characters, fan service callbacks, and actual story arc progress! It’s a little messy at times, but I think we can all agree that the overall effect earns at least a B, probably an A- if we weight it on Season Nine alone.
Tonight, Metatron is putting the meta in… Metatron. He opens by addressing the audience from behind his typewriter of doom, and begins by weaving us a yarn… which opens with Dean showering. This serves no other purpose but to prove he knows his audience.
Cas gets an admittedly less sexy entrance, as he walks into a room filled with blood and dead bodies. Still, you know, he’s Cas so we aren’t complaining. Cas finds a lone survivor, Hannah, and fixes her bloody face. (Because all women in CW worlds are either super hot or tragically [un]dead. Or best of all, both.) Hannah tells Cas that the angels here were actually killed by Gadreel on Metatron’s orders. Metatron has been calling all the angels to him, promising that he can get them back into heaven somehow. She says the “rebels” who refuse to bow to Metatron will follow Cas if he takes up his sword (metaphorically, for now, until the writers decide they need more McGuffins) but he politely yet firmly declines.
Can phones Sam and Dean and explains what’s going on, namely that there is some sort of sigil acting as an angel siren. Its power is activated with griffin feathers and fairy bones, because Harry Potter is this trendy thing all the youths love. We get a little banter of Cas not understanding an honour bar in a hotel and Dean proclaiming their wonderfulness. Man, the banter has been missed.
Our good guys (a term which applies very loosely at this point) have two different Utah towns to search for Gadreel. Sam and Dean realise the town they’re headed for is one they’ve already been to. (In an episode in maybe season seven or early eight? I remember it involving Kevin and Mrs. Tran. #NeverForget) Long before the Winchesters get a chance to leave the bunker, Gadreel walks into the small town’s smoke/magic shop and asks for fairy bones and griffin feathers. The super stoned guy running the place makes the obvious Harry Potter joke that I’ve already made, but digs out the stuff for Gadreel. ProTip: don’t help turncoat angels dig up magical potions; it will not end well for you.
Meanwhile, the lights flicker ominously in Cas’s hotel room just as he prepares to leave for his own search. His television turns itself on and begins playing… Casa Erotica (14). We shared a good chuckle, reminded of the good ol’ days with Loki. And then something amazing happens, which Doc was going to reconstruct with thoughtful, well-written commentary, but instead decided to leave as the original notes, verbatim:
GUYS, IT’S LOKI.
Doc was hyperventilating a bit, and Res screamed loud enough to possibly permanently perforate her fiancé’s eardrums. Loki is his usual sarcastic self, with a string of somewhat terrible and yet still endearing zingers to throw at Castiel, as he offers his aid in the latest adventure and kind of retcons the whole end of the world thing. He even leaves a doozy of a voicemail for Sam and Dean as the two angels depart for the other Utah town. Gabriel (remember, Loki isn’t so much a trickster god as an archangel shirking his duties) tries to convince Cas they’re rebels with nebulous causes, and it’s their job to stand up to Metatron. Gabriel apparently decided he’s going to stop running. He is ready to become a leader, as an archangel should. This isn’t terribly out of character at all.
They stop at a gas station, where Loki and Cas are trapped by Metatron’s people. Gabriel had told Cas he was more or less sans powers, but it turns out (surprise, surprise) he lied, and is in fact still all archangely. He offers to hold off Metatron’s minions if Cas will step up and be the leader in the fight against Metatron. Cas is reluctant, because he’s the only character on this show that remembers overarching things that happened in previous seasons, and last time he tried to lead rebels he wound up unleashing leviathans upon the world. Yeah, remember that? (Dick jokes for days. #NeverForget)
Anyway, none of what Loki says really matters, because it turns out he is really dead. Already. Still. Whatever. (Although, when asked point-blank if he’s really dead, Loki just waggled his eyebrows. It was simultaneously the best, worst, and only possible response.) Cas puts together what’s happening much more quickly than we do, probably because he’s not trying to live tweet and chat with his co-writer at the same time. Metatron has set up this whole farce to keep Castiel from realizing he’s been trapped since the lights in his hotel room started flickering. Cas is the fourth wall Metatron was speaking to in the intro.
Elsewhere in Utah, Sam and Dean manage to trap Gadreel using good old-fashioned holy fire. They are frustrated because they can’t get a hold of Cas, who never really left them a voicemail. Because Loki isn’t really back. (-sobbing-) The brothers “interview” Gadreel in the CW sex dungeon, presumably the one where they shoot the S&M’y promos. We are reminded that Gadreel who has been inside Sam (all the innuendo) without his consent, and the pantheon of sad Sam faces increases exponentially.
Meanwhile, Metatron in his smoking jacket implants Cas with thousands of years of pop culture so that he can monologue about his evil plan without worrying Cas won’t understand his references.
Metatron fanboys over the Winchester Gospels and we all take a moment of silence to remember another fallen prophet, Chuck (#NeverForget). The ‘Supernatural’ books helped Metatron devise the plan he needed in order to manipulate events to his liking. Cas’s role is to be the villain of the piece; Metatron wants him to lead the rebels in battle against him, where they will be slain. Cas’s reward for setting them up is a cushy seat in the sky.
As Metatron sees it, the only difference between the hero and the villain is who ultimately wins. Metatron is his own protagonist, and setting Cas up as the antagonist. Not that I find Metatron particularly sympathetic, but he has a point. History is written by the winners, after all (even when they have prophets on their side). There’s actually a lot of pseudo-deep discussion of what it means to be a writer and have that kind of control over events, although there’s no jokes about terrible past episodes so it’s not nearly as great as when Chuck was speaking on the same topics.
Cas, naturally, is not eager to lead his fellow angels into a battle they can’t win. Because he’s not a total asshat. Then Metatron drops the knowledge bomb: apparently Metatron let Cas remain as a human, because he was entertaining. When Cas baulks at Metatron’s “offer” of being the villain, we learn that the Grace Cas stole is burning out. Metatron ups the ante by offering him an unlimited supply of batteries. Evil and power hungry he may be, but you gotta admit, Metatron does know story structure.
Dean finally sends Sam off to find Cas after Sam roughs up Gadreel too much. As far as the boys can tell from his phone’s GPS tracking, Cas hasn’t left the hotel. Dean’s real reason, of course, is that he’s ‘bout to get medieval on Gadreel’s ass, as retribution for what he did to Sam. Of course, he conveniently overlooks the fact that Gadreel would never have gotten into Sam in the first place without his own intervention. Guilt has a funny way of helping one turn a blind eye to one’s own faults.
Because it’s not an episode of Supernatural without some light torture, we get some of that. Gadreel tells Dean exactly what Sam thinks of him – that he’s a sad, clingy, needy, pathetic bottom-feeder who would drag everyone through the mud rather than be alone. Really, that’s probably not terribly far off, except Dean figures out Gadreel wants to die rather than be left in chains. Are we all projecting our issues on each other a little here?
At the hotel, Sam finds Cas’s phone on the bed. While Dean washes his face in a dirty mirror, which is probably supposed to be a deeply symbolic artistic choice (or just a reminder that Dean was steamy and possibly naked earlier in the ep), Metatron appears to Sam and says that he wants to do a hostage exchange: Gadreel for Cas. Sam has some more sads.
When Sam returns to the abandoned industrial complex of torture, Dean confesses that he nearly killed Gadreel but refrained. So proud, Dean, so proud. Sam wants to double cross Metatron with a plan that - no offense - seems like walking right into what Metatron wants. (Res thought it was possible Metatron had actually captured Sam too, but that was too clever/convoluted for this episode, which was desperately trying to wrap itself up.)
Indeed, Metatron anticipated their little trap: he blows out the holy fire, erases all their wardings, and brings his peeps. He gets Gadreel back (assuring him later that he wasn’t supposed to be kidnapped and tortured, wink wink nudge nudge) and actually returns Cas, since he still hopes he will take up the villain’s mantle. Basically, Metatron is not afraid of the Winchesters or Cas, which is so OBVIOUSLY stupid. He must not have paid very close attention to the books. Or he’s just, you know, a megalomaniac drunk on power and too many copies of every book ever.
Cas finds out about the Mark of Cain and is duly worried about Dean. Dean, however, is worried about Cas because he kind of understands references. He gets them, at least, though he still doesn’t get them. It makes me sad that the writers apparently decided they’re too lazy to write Cas’s obliviousness, which is part of what makes him so endearing. In the end, Cas writes the Horn of Gabriel sigil, calling the “rebels” to him, since he can no longer trust Dean’s motives. Of course, that poses the question of why he ever did in the first place.
Next week: Filler episode. Vampires. Werewolves. Res misses Loki some more.