Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S05E01 – Sympathy for the Devil

In the first episode of the fifth season of Supernatural, Sam and Dean must face the immediate ramifications of that thing. That I don’t want to spoil. THAT THING. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.

Trigger Warning: For prolonged discussion of consent.

HOLY SHIT, EVERYTHING GOT SO REAL. Y’all, I love the way in which this show expands its own mythology, and in particular, this feels huge. the apocalypse THE WORLD LUCIFER OH MY GODS. So, there’s a lot to address, and I want to get to all of it. LET US DO THIS:


Thank you – eternally, thank you – for not spoiling the fact that Mark Pellegrino was on Supernatural, and very much looks to be the cast member for Lucifer. Look, he plays such an incredible character over on LOST, and he was in Mulholland Drive and The X-Files and EVERYTHING EVER MADE, I SWEAR. And though he’s not onscreen for that much time in “Sympathy for the Devil,” I’m ecstatic to see what the man is going to do with this character. LUCIFER. HE GOT CAST AS LUCIFER.

And holy shit, what the writers do with him in just a single episode is astounding to me. We don’t see him when he leaves his cage, and until the very, very end, he only appears as Nick’s dead wife. And yet, he’s such a fascinating force in the narrative. There’s the direct parallel with Zachariah, of course, since both characters are angels. Key to their plans to bring about the apocalypse is in securing the consent of a vessel, something that is openly discussed by the characters in the show. Which is a good thing! It’s not something we had to figure out through subtext.

But I think it’s important to examine how this happens. I think that while Lucifer’s approach to getting Nick’s consent seems “nicer” on the surface, it’s actually fucking terrifying. I think that what we saw over the course of this episode was Lucifer doing whatever he could to emotionally manipulate Nick so that he’d give his consent easier. He taunted Nick with images of his wife, with the sound of his baby crying, and with the vision of blood pouring from that crib. I feel like Lucifer tried to break Nick down, you know? All of this aimed to remind Nick of his grief and his anger, and then Lucifer did his best to explain how they were exactly the same.

Are they? I’m still not certain of all the details of Lucifer’s mythology within the show itself. How closely are the writers sticking to general Christian mythology? Lucifer is a fallen angel in Supernatural, and he speaks about getting revenge against God for loving God too much. But Christian theology holds that Lucifer was cast out of heaven for, essentially, jealousy, since he wanted to unseat God and become God himself. So is that the same thing that’s happening here? I AM VERY INTERESTED TO FIND OUT WHAT’S HAPPENING.


As Lucifer seeks his vessel, Zachariah reveals why Dean was pulled out of Hell: HE IS ACTUALLY MICHAEL’S VESSEL. And in order to stop Lucifer, Michael has to use Dean’s body to kill the Devil. LIKE !!!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! WHAT THE HELL. WHAT THE HELL.

But very much like Lucifer, Zachariah is not interested in getting consent from Dean in any sort of way that respects the importance of consent. No, he’s greedy and violent, choosing instead to threaten Bobby with permanent harm, then breaking Sam’s legs, then giving Dean cancer (I TAKE IT BACK, THE ANGELS ARE NOW THE LITERAL WORST, THEY’VE DONE SO MUCH WORSE THAN JOHN WINCHESTER), then removing Sam’s lungs. It was all done ruthlessly and without any sort of reluctance. Like we saw over the course of season four, the angels can’t fathom the value of human life, nor can they appreciate the ramifications of their behavior. Dean and Sam’s suffering is immaterial to them, but even worse, the suffering of millions of people is a mere thorn in their side, if that. They want what they want – the apocalypse to be unleashed upon the world – and they’ll do anything to get it. It is, of course, seemingly at odds with any sort of familiar Christian tenets because… shit, how can angels disregard human life so easily?


Which makes Castiel’s bloody return all the more intriguing. After Chuck tells the Winchesters that the Archangel tore Castiel apart, I was confused because WHAT. HE DIED? OFF-SCREEN? NO YOU CAN’T DO THAT, THAT’S NOT FAIR.

Do I understand what he’s doing here? Not particularly. I think that the events at the end of the last season have inspired him to follow Anna’s lead, to rebel against the angels, but his ultimate goal is still a mystery to me. He makes reference to the impossibility of two things – Sam and Dean being planted on that plane above Lucifer’s cage prior to it being opened, and Castiel being returned to life – as evidence of… something? God? God getting involved? Whatever it is, it’s enough to frighten Zachariah, enough to get him to stop torturing Dean for his consent. AND THEN OF COURSE HE DISAPPEARS WITHOUT EXPLAINING ANYTHING.

Becky Rosen

SO HOW DO Y’ALL FEEL ABOUT THIS? I think Supernatural is the first show I’ve ever watched that has such blatantly meta scenes or moments of fanservice. It’s happened before, but… this is so direct. IT’S RIGHT THERE, YOU CAN’T GET AWAY FROM IT. It doesn’t affect me because I’m not a woman writing slash or Wincest, but I did wonder how those sort of people in the fandom reacted to this. Did you think it was a loving reference or joke? Did you think it was cruel? I mean, initially, Becky is portrayed humorously, but she’s aware enough of what she does that she’s not delusional about it, you know? But she does go pretty far with Sam, so much so that Sam has to actually tell her to stop touching him. I recognized the joke, since plenty of folks find Sam hot would probably do way more than her, but combining that with a Wincest writer? I DON’T KNOW. I think that’s a question for fandom folks to answer, not me. TELL ME THINGS, SPN FANS.


You know, sometimes I like sharing my utter wrongness with y’all, just so you understand how my brain works. When it was revealed that Bobby had been possessed, I thought for like 30 seconds that Lucifer had chosen him as his vessel and that all the stuff involving Nick was actually a red herring. HEY, LOOK, IT’S NOT LIKE THIS SHOW HASN’T BEEN SUPER CRUEL IN THE PAST, OKAY. But lord, no, Mark. PAY ATTENTION.

Bobby’s possession, though, is the introduction of a theme that I think is going to play a huge part in season five, especially given how “Sympathy for the Devil” ends. I was actually kind of pleased that Dean seemed willing to let bygones be bygones, that he wanted to just move forward and not rehash all the reasons why Sam betrayed him or did him wrong. For once, Dean’s refusal to talk about ~feelings~ helped push the story forward. But when Bobby brutally criticized Sam for what he’d done, he planted a seed in Dean’s mind, one that he’d ultimately be unable to ignore. More than ever before, Dean needed to talk to Sam about what had happened.

The whole thing is intentionally messy because there’s no easy way to get past this. Sam was manipulated for nearly a year, and the result of it was that HE SET THE APOCALYPSE IN MOTION. (Oh god, I just realized that Dean started it, and Sam finished it. THE FIRST AND LAST SEAL how did that take me so long to realize.) Dean was manipulated by the angels and now has to fight them as well. And I can’t even imagine how disorienting it must feel to lose faith in someone right at this point. With no Bobby to rely on, who is Dean going to turn to? Of course, I’d love if that was Sam, but it’s clear at the end of this episode that Sam’s going to have to earn Dean’s trust all over again. I don’t know if I was supposed to infer that Dean and Sam were splitting up now, or if the distance between them was more of a metaphor than anything else. Regardless, I can’t deny how MESSED UP these two are. IT’S SO MESSED UP, AND BOBBY IS IN THE HOSPITAL AND EVERYONE IS GONNA DIE BECAUSE THE APOCALYPSE. What has this show become IN JUST ONE EPISODE?

The video for “Sympathy for the Devil” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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