In the tenth episode of the eleventh season of Supernatural, Sam, Dean, and Castiel all face-off with their respective enemies. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.
At times, I think that “The Devil in the Details” prods along, as if this script was written just to get us to a certain point. However, I think there are elements to these developments that fascinate me because – as I said in the review for the mid-season finale – they hint at potential. But at what point do I have to accept that I’m the victim of a dangling carrot?
I don’t think this is a great episode by any means, and Supernatural is largely just slugging along at this point. I think it’s fair to say that I don’t have much faith anymore that it’ll ever pick up and become what it once was, yet I also want to give these episodes a fair examination, too! I don’t want to resign myself to cynicism so much that even my own work suffers in response to it, you know? So let’s DISCUSS THINGS.
I honestly expect to be disappointed or underwhelmed by the explanation for the connection between Dean and Amara, which is almost completely ignored here. It’s entirely possible that it was already explained as being a mere coincidence, since Dean was partially responsible for freeing Amara. (But not Sam? Why doesn’t she latch on to Sam?) If that’s the case, then… well, that’s quite awkward.
I admit to being surprised that Dean had the smallest role in this episode. If you’ll accept the silliness of this metaphor, it was like he was a character in a video game, being sent from one mission to the next, never making any significant development throughout the process. The whole “smiting sickness” thing just felt like a plot element meant to keep him away from Castiel, and his passage to Hell was extremely uncomplicated. (Billie seems cool! I want to know more about her! A reaper who reads The Sandman comics, specifically one about Death. BE STILL, MY HEART.) I say that this surprised me because I’m just so used to him being at the center of the story. Perhaps his story comes later?
I wonder how much of my distaste for the recent batch of Supernatural episodes is due to the fact that I sense many of the characters exist as static forces within the narratives. There have been some decent stories in seasons ten and eleven, but for the most part, I’m not sure the show is going anywhere. Let Castiel’s earlier scenes in this episode stand as evidence of that. He wanders around a dark field/forest and doesn’t do much of anything at all, aside from talking to THE MOST ENTERTAINING TERTIARY CHARACTER IN RECENT HISTORY. It’s so unfortunate that Castiel and Ambriel speak openly about being disposable because I knew that meant she wouldn’t last very long. SHE WAS SO WONDERFUL. I loved the idea of an angel who had no desire to join the larger conflict and was just trying to get by. Bah, and now she’s gone. BOO.
Castiel does get interesting, though, once he’s sent on a “mission” by Amara. After facing off against her and losing in literally seconds, Castiel realizes that she’s truly unstoppable, which directly influences his decision to consent to Lucifer. Now, I think it’s a bit of a cheat to have no one hear that brief exchange between them; the original scene is clearly edited in that regard. But I’ll excuse that because THIS IS GENUINELY EXCITING. Misha Collins is already fantastic as Lucifer within the vessel of Castiel, and I think a good ol’ agent of chaos will be great for the show. Supernatural needs it!
It’s hard for me not to read a certain meta-textual narrative within all of the scenes between Sam and Lucifer. I imagine that many of you threw your hands up as I did once Lucifer started addressing a great number of complaints about Sam and the story choices associated with him. Was this the show accepting that much of that criticism was correct? Were they openly addressing the mistakes they’d made in the text itself? SHOULD I ALLOW MYSELF TO GET EXCITED BY THIS?
But I can’t claim to know these things, and as meta as Supernatural has been in the past, I don’t think it’s an entirely justifiable position. It’s intriguing, sure, but I also have to accept that all of the “flashbacks” exist so that Lucifer can manipulate Sam into granting consent. It could have all been a ploy, you know? Yet I think there’s a value in at least discussing why those scenes worked so well. At the heart of Lucifer’s plan was his theory that Sam had become “weak” since the events at the end of season 5. He went from being an archetypical hero to someone who chose his brother over the fate of all humanity. It’s not like Lucifer is wrong, either! I know many people had an issue with the Winchesters NOT closing up the Gates to Hell, and I think it’s fair of the show to address this, Sam’s decision not to seek out Dean, and other issues in recent years.
Of course, Amara’s power looms over it all, and I suspected that Sam would believe Lucifer and consent. It seemed like the natural course for the story, but I think Sam’s eventual choice is so much better and smarter. If Sam had chose to believe Lucifer, he could have possibly made the exact same mistake he’s made before. Pragmatism has gotten both brothers in trouble! In the end, Sam can’t guarantee that Lucifer will exit his vessel and go back to Hell (and why would he???), so the entire deal isn’t worth. Sam would have – once again! – made a deal that doomed everyone to a horrible fate.
He learns, he adapts, and it’s one of the cooler choices a character has made this season. Bravo, Supernatural.
The video for “The Devil in the Details” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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