Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S08E17 – Goodbye Stranger

In the seventeenth episode of the eighth season of Supernatural, Castiel’s re-appearance brings about chaos as Cas wrestles with the task assigned to him by Naomi. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent, queerbaiting.

WELL SHIT, THIS SHOW FINALLY HIT A GREAT STRIDE AND EVERYTHING IS SO MESSED UP. “Goodbye Stranger” was a refreshing bout of storytelling right in the midst of… well, not my favorite batch of Supernatural episodes. LET US DISCUSS MANY THINGS.


Look, this is just heartbreaking to watch, okay? I think Castiel’s penance is an important thing; he should work to do good in the wake of doing so much wrong on Earth and Heaven. This is not at all what I had in mind for that, and I suspect that Naomi knows this. As far as I can tell, she took advantage of Castiel’s vulnerability in order to control him. She knew he’d want to help Heaven! But her plan for him is SO FUCKED UP. I mean, that opening scene goes to show how long she’s been training Castiel to kill the person he cares about the most. (More on that in a bit.) She knows that is another one of his weaknesses, and she adds it to her repertoire of manipulation. All of this is done in the service of Heaven.

And while I can understand the need for self-preservation, especially from Crowley, this is just another example of how the angels quintessentially do not understand humanity. The angels of the Supernatural world are so used to the hierarchy of existence (with them placed squarely on top of all humans) that they continue to view humans as a means to an end. There’s nothing here that contradicts that. In this specific instance, even Castiel himself is a means to an end, and it’s sad to watch him become a pawn. The show does a fantastic job portraying this struggle by having the script constantly cut between real time and Castiel in Naomi’s office. It’s a nice touch that adds to the tension of it all; we get to see exactly how Naomi is manipulating Castiel and the Winchesters, and it’s an eerie experience.  Without it, the final confrontation wouldn’t be as horrifying. We needed to see the details of this con, and we then needed to see Castiel fight against it.

And about that. Lord, I thought that maybe I’d be proven wrong. I was so convinced that Dean was seconds away from telling Castiel that he loved him. I do not mean that in the sense that my own headcanon or shipping tendencies saw something that wasn’t in the script. I genuinely believed that this was this huge, huge moment for Dean, to admit that he cared about Cas more than just a friend. I didn’t even need it to be romantic, you know? Just… how do you not follow up “I need you,” with a reason for that?

There’s a wealth of opportunity here, and while I think I’ve made my reasoning for this issue of mine pretty clear over the last year and a half, I just want to make sure that you also understand that I think that just in terms of crafting a story, this is frustrating. It’s a carrot that’s dangled out in front of us that keeps being pushed closer to us, just out of reach, and then is yanked even further away. In all honesty, I’m not even that big of a shipper. It’s a part of the way I consume media, but I don’t spend my free time seeking out fics or fanart of ships that I enjoy. So it’s not like I’m terribly invested in Destiel as a thing. But I feel like this is so obvious at this point that I’m wondering why the show thinks they need to tease us so often, only to swat it away whenever we ask about it, you know? That’s what this experience is like. I don’t think any of us are necessarily imagining chemistry between these characters – and again, this does not have to be a romantic/sexual thing, and that is an important conversation we should be having, too – so what gives?

I mean, I know the answer. It just feels good to talk about this kinda shit with y’all, because I think most of us want more from this show.


While I’m thrilled with the development on a personal level, I admit I find the whole pattern of a Winchester lying, only to be called out on it, agree to stop it, and then CYCLE BEGINS AGAIN to be really tiring on a general level. I want these two to be honest and mature with one another, which I recognize is a hard thing to do within this traumatic universe. It’s not like they have all the time in the world to figure out all of their issues with one another, and they certainly take what they can get. But from the perspective of the writing on this show, it’s a pattern that’s happened so many times that most of us can recognize a mile away. Please do something different, Supernatural. I want to know that these two have grown after eight years, not because I need characters who are definitively “better” than they were when they started. I’m perfectly fine with flawed, messed up people. But it doesn’t feel like they’ve gone anywhere, good or bad.

Angel Tablet

So does that mean we’ve technically got two antagonists this season? Both Crowley and Naomi are not just in opposition to one another; the Winchesters have a reason to be afraid of BOTH of them. I’M INTO THIS, KEEP GOING IN THIS DIRECTION SUPERNATURAL. IT’S GREAT.


I love a good antagonist, and I love a good foil. Meg somehow filled the role of both of them on this show, and both Nicki Aycox and Rachel Miner made me enjoy her presence so much. There’s an element of hope within her characterization in “Goodbye Stranger,” a sense that maybe if she’d actually survived, she could have become someone different. Is that even possible for a demon? (What is with this show giving us hints of exciting potential in characters right before they’re killed off???) I don’t know. But after years of having to run away from the demons who ruled over her, I could tell she was tired. She was done escaping. She was done being tortured. And I think it’s pretty significant that she sacrificed herself to buy the Winchesters time. Sure, that might have been for a selfish reason. She wants them to close the Gates of Hell and kill Crowley, but she still did something you could reasonably argue as being good, you know?

Christ, I’m going to miss her.

The video for “Goodbye Stranger” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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