Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S09E22 – Stairway to Heaven

In the twenty-second and penultimate episode of the ninth season of Supernatural, DEAN, NO. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.

Oh, Dean, NO.

I am pretty much cackling at the last couple paragraphs of the previous review for this show because I HAD NO IDEA HOW BAD THIS WAS GOING TO GET. How the hell is Dean ever going to get back from this? The First Blade is absolutely changing Dean Winchester, and I’m not sure he’s turning into someone who can do the type of good we’re used to. How is what he does here good, so to speak?

Let me back up a bit. I do want to say that there’s one part of this that confuses me so much that I’m actually going to outright reject it: Tessa. Her use here as an agent of Metatron makes zero sense. None at all. I don’t understand why that character had to be the one that interacted with Dean other than for the shock value. I realize that this creates the meta-textual moment near the end where Metatron can talk about “flipping the script,” but… no? See, there’s a difference between shocking a viewer through misdirection and writing someone out of character. I do not understand Tessa’s motivation for turning herself into the angel version of a suicide bomber. I don’t! In one breath, she tells Dean that she cannot stand to hear the screams of the dead souls who cannot access heaven, and yet she was willing to send more souls to this fate in order to help Metatron.

Why would Tessa, one of the most empathetic and emotionally sincere characters in Supernatural‘s history, be willing to do shit like this? Work for Metatron? Are you serious? There is nothing – literally nothing! – within the canon of her character that would explain this at all. Even if she was personally prioritizing the opening of Heaven, that does not explain her willingness to KILL OTHER HUMANS. This is the same character who shows up to a town to take up the work of a missing reaper in “Death Takes A Holiday.” She’s the same character who guides Dean through death and vengeful spirits in “In My Time of Dying.” LOOK AT ALL OF “Appointment in Samarra,” Y’ALL!!! How can that same character do this?

I don’t buy it at all.

It’s disappointing because the rest of the characterization here is so in line with what we know of these characters. We know that Gadreel is obsessed with honor, loyalty, and respect, so much so that he finally turns against Metatron. That was hinted at in “King of the Damned,” so it makes a lot of sense here. At heart, Gadreel wants the best for Heaven, and he’s realized that Metatron can’t provide that.

I also think that Castiel’s big decision here – to choose to spare Dean’s life over allying with his “flock” – is also perfectly consistent with Cas’s ongoing characterization. That’s a choice we expect from him because he values Dean so much. (Apparently not enough that the show can have them be in anything other than a totally masc platonic friendship. OH WELL.) After what Castiel did to the other angels, he’s at a point in his life where he’s no longer willing to end even a single life for the greater good. That is development, y’all, not shock value for the sake of it. Isn’t that precisely what Castiel has been fighting for this entire season? He’s sought redemption by changing the way he views humanity. I imagine that his time spent being human influenced that, too.

And it’s not like Castiel doesn’t want to re-open Heaven. He’s clearly been heavily invested in that this entire time, enough that he allowed himself to be the leader of this faction of angels. But in the end, he couldn’t trade the life of his friend for Heaven. To him, it wasn’t worth it.

Of course, this is all compounded by Dean’s behavior while under the influence of the Mark of Cain. I do wonder sometimes if things like Dean’s past with violence, or his time in Purgatory, influence what we see here. The show is strangely silent on the issue, though. Regardless, there’s no beating around the bush at all here. Dean is so attached to this blade that he will openly lie to Sam about it, use it in situations where it’s absolutely not needed, and then gloat to Sam’s face about his own superiority because of all this. Dean’s always been an intense, confrontational character, but this is him amped up to a mortifying degree. He did not need it to deal with Tessa, but Dean didn’t even consider this. When she thrusts herself upon the blade, he can’t even seem to be upset about losing someone like her.

However, it’s the final scene in the Men of Letters bunker that gives us a sign of the end. Dean is out of control. Even when Gadreel approaches the group to solicit their help, Dean can’t even refrain from lashing out at the angel. LITERALLY. And it’s so unfortunate and terrible and THIS WAS YOUR ONCE CHANCE TO GET AT METATRON. What the fuck are you doing? Which makes me wonder: Does Dean know what he’s doing? What sort of power does the Mark or the First Blade hold on him? Is he cognizant of his actions? Or is he disassociating from them?

Regardless, THIS IS NOT GOOD. AT ALL. How the hell is this going to work??? I’m guessing that Gadreel can’t die before he reveals how to get to Metatron, but I also don’t see Gadreel outlasting the finale. THIS IS MESSED UP.

The video for “Stairway to Heaven” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.K., and Ireland. Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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