Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S06E22 – The Man Who Knew Too Much

In the twenty-second and final episode of the sixth season of Supernatural, Castiel goes to drastic lengths to assure his victory. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.

Y’all. Y’ALL.


I am so thankful – so thankful!!! – that a great deal of the “The Man Who Knew Too Much” revolved around Sam Winchester. I’ve written before about how much Supernatural revolves around Dean’s perspective, which means that sometimes, we don’t actually get a narrative that’s all that sympathetic of Sam. It’s through Dean’s eyes for the most part, so it’s refreshing and exciting to me that Sam’s difficult journey here is entirely his own. It’s his own story, and he deserved the space within the narrative to deal with it.

I genuinely believe it’s one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking things the show has done for a character, and goddamn, has Sam had a difficult path to get to this point. Here, though, Sam gets to make the choice about what he does to his own mind and his own body, and even if they’re emotionally and physically harmful, he does it because he refuses to give up. Sam’s been abused, misused, and tormented for going on seven years, so I find it inredibly powerful that “The Man Who Knew Too Much” so wholly respects his agency. As he navigates the confusing amnesiac world that his mind constructs for him, he comes face to face with three examples of his past that he’s had the luxury of ignoring for half of this season. And despite that each representation of his psyche warns him of the horrifying path ahead of him, Sam does not run away from the truth. Well, okay, he initially does so, but that’s because he doesn’t understand what’s happening to him. Once he’s aware of what’s happening in his dreamscape, he faces the truth head-on.

What’s so admirable about this is that it involves him accepting responsibility for what he did when he didn’t have a soul and accepting the reality of what happened to him while in Hell. While Robin certainly represents his subconscious mind’s guilt, Sam does not choose to wallow in that guilt. No, he openly accepts that even though he didn’t have a soul, he is not exempt from the horrible things he did. And that is such a meaningful thing for me to see because it would have been remarkably easy for him to distance himself from his behavior while he didn’t have a soul. If you accept that Sam’s internal identity split into three once he went to hell and then was raised out of it, then it’s almost like three separate people were at work at one time or another. So I respect that Sam not only destroys the soulless version of himself, but he takes those memories in.

Sam chooses to risk himself in the waking world just so he can be at his brother’s and Bobby’s side. That’s why it’s so heartbreaking to watch him confront the “other” version of himself. The whole scene is coded so that we’d think this was some evil version of Sam. He’s shrouded in darkness in a mansion full of cobwebs and candles, and the way he rises out of his chair is terrifying. Except when the light finally falls alongside his face, we see he’s covered in blood and frightened himself. While I admit that I would have loved to see more of the ramifications of this choice, I definitely understand why it doesn’t work in this episode. That’s something I imagine the next season is going to deal with. For now, I’m crushed just thinking about this whole sequence. Sam Winchester WILLINGLY ACCEPTED HIS MEMORIES OF HELL SO HE COULD HELP HIS FRIENDS AND HIS BROTHER AND DO A GOOD THING SAM WINCHESTER IS GOING TO FOREVER RUIN ME



You know, for a finale, this episode is remarkably light on Dean. Truthfully, it’s a Castiel and Sam show, but it needed to be. Which is not to ignore Dean’s pivotal role here, which I’ll discuss towards the end of this. The title refers to both Sam and Cas, since it references Sam’s pursuit of knowledge and the knowledge that Cas comes to possess. Thankfully, we have the context of “The Man Who Would Be King” going into this episode because it directly informs everything that’s happening here.

I won’t parse words here, either. Like Sam’s journey, Castiel has been on an agonizing path this season, and this episode is… well, it’s upsetting. And it’s supposed to be! Misha Collins’ whole performance is based on upending a lot of our perceptions of Castiel. He may have started out as an intimidating, inhuman angel, but a lot of that harshness has been whittled away over the course of the past few seasons. He’s felt a lot more goofier than he’s ever been, and it’s also been obvious that he’s developed a lot of affinity and affection for the Winchesters and for humanity.

So, while it’s important to understand why Castiel does what he does here – take the wall out of Sam’s mind, kill both Balthazar and Raphael, obliterate his deal with Crowley – I know that we’re meant to be disturbed by this. This is intentionally uncomfortable. We have to watch him grapple for power by becoming more and more desperate, and we have to see him do so while being utterly disappointed in everyone around him. That might be what hurts most about this. While I can’t admit to understanding what a civil war in Heaven might even begin to be like, I can appreciate that Castiel was put into an impossible situation. There was no easy end to this. No, that’s not quite right; there was no happy end to this. It was always going to end in death, and it was just a matter of who that would be.

But death isn’t the worst part of this, though I’m sad to see both Balthazar and Raphael leave the show. It’s the loss of friendship that’s the most brutal aspect of “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” When Castiel realizes that Balthazar is the “Judas” of the group, you can see the disappointment spread across his face, and it’s awful. So is the little speech he gives before taking Balthazar’s life. Now, I don’t think that Castiel’s actions are excusable, nor should he be absolved of any responsibility. Defeating Raphael was important, and this is a deeply complicated situation. But it’s easy to see why Castiel feels so abandoned. Instead of offering to help him come up with any other option, his friends turned against him. Of course, that’s his perception of all this, and I don’t know that it’s an accurate view of the whole situation. Dean was clearly concerned that Castiel would die or unleash the creatures of purgatory into the world, amidst other things. But Castiel was so lost in this crisis that he was unable to see things from any other point of view.

It’s tragic and scary at the same time. The con he pulls on Crowley and Raphael at the end of this hints at his cleverness, but it’s not until the show reveals that Castiel already completed the ritual that we get to see the horrifying end result of his planning over this season. It’s shocking and it opens up the mythology of Supernatural in fascinating ways. I love this character and I’m frightened of what he might do, but I must admit that I’m totally intrigued by what the writers have done. Castiel’s transformation to God –LITERALLY, WHAT THE FUCK – is something that felt inevitable in hindsight. Castiel could never have consumed all those souls and then simply give them up. He’d already been chosen as the “leader” of Heaven after Michael and Lucifer were locked in the Cage. And what other possible end could we have gotten?

It’s not lost on me that Castiel kills Raphael in a way that calls back to the end of last season, and it builds on this idea that we were always heading to this. Dean’s stand against Castiel – which I understand – failed. I don’t think he’s sorry for doing this, and his behavior at the end of this episode seems more like fear than anything else. He doesn’t want to second-guess how much power Castiel has. I MEAN, CAS JUST DEMONSTRATED HOW POWERFUL HE IS. But Dean’s worried about how much further Castiel might take this.

Unfortunately, it’s too little to late for Castiel, and y’all, Misha Collins is just terrifying in that final scene. He’s God, and they can’t kill him. Are we witnessing the birth of a new antagonist? THERE ARE SO MANY FASCINATING IMPLICATIONS OF THIS. Shit, y’all, this finale was absolutely wild, and I liked it a lot. In general, I’ve enjoyed most of this season, but damn, it went out with a bang.


The video for “The Man Who Knew Too Much” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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