Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S11E09 – O Brother, Where Art Thou?

In the ninth episode of the eleventh season of Supernatural, WHAT THE HELL. Literally! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.

Well. WELL. That was a lot of fun! I’ll expand on this, but I think the introduction is great, the episode lags a bit in the middle, and then WOW HOLY SHIT, EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING. It’s not my favorite mid-season finale from this show, but I’m interested in the two plots that are now unfolding, at least because I need to see how they’re resolved.

I imagine, though, that this episode will mark a new path for this season’s story. These developments are too big to resolve in a single episode, you know? But “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” tries to tackle some huge questions about loyalty and dedication and the very nature of evil within God’s universe. Does it always succeed? No, but I think it was a challenge for the show to address so much in only forty minutes. Which is why I’m hoping that we spend much more time with some of these themes later in the season!



It’s very common for this show to put the Winchesters between a rock and a hard place. Indeed, Supernatural is often about impossible decisions. Who gets to be saved? Who sacrifices themselves for the greater good? In that sense, there are elements to this episode that feel repetitive, and most of those moments are right in the middle of it. But as “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” opened, I was pretty damn excited. Sam was convinced that God had sent him the clearest message imaginable, and thus, he felt compelled to act. The choice was clear to him, but mostly because there wasn’t another solution. And with Amara’s murder spree getting worse, he felt compelled to act as soon as possible.

Thus, we’re given the ultimate devil’s bargain, since the Winchesters have to deal with both Crowley and Rowena to get what they want. Again, not necessarily anything new; we’ve seen this character dynamic before, especially between these four characters. And yet, it’s the promise of the endgame that sucked me in. I could tolerate some more repetitive banter if it meant that Sam and Dean would be down in Hell, standing outside Lucifer’s cage.


Why is that, though? What’s so compelling about this character? Like we see in this episode, Lucifer is the kind of character who is aware of his place within the narrative. He’s a meta-fictional force, and he toys with the Winchesters because of that. I also think that Mark Pellegrino’s acting plays a huge part in his appeal. I don’t want to ignore that! But simply put? I really think that Lucifer was one of the best antagonists on this show, and we’ve never quite gotten one who has achieved the level of terror and intrigue as him. I think Supernatural tried to do that with Dick Roman, but that guy was just a raging asshole all of the time.

So as Sam, Crowley, and Rowena descended on the cage in Limbo where Lucifer would be materialized, I was excited. VERY EXCITED. Sam in particular has had the most fascinating interactions with this character, so what would it be like? Would Sam just cut to the chase like he does with Crowley or Rowena? I think he tried to, but one thing I found arresting about the events in this episode was the fact that Sam was very clearly terrified of seeing Lucifer again. I believe that conveyed the nature of this whole interaction better than anything, no? It signaled the desperation of the crisis aboveground, and it showed us that Lucifer still had a power over Sam.

AND WHAT A POWER THAT IS. Holy shit, I was on the edge of my seat for their entire conversation. But I’ll save that for the end, because there are other things we must talk about.

The Search for God

I don’t find Amara’s actions understandable, nor would I think of condoning them, but in her characterization, we find a very direct metaphor for the search for God. At times, Supernatural wields that metaphor like a brick, and there’s no subtlety whatsoever. It was a little strange to see Amara pretend to not understand prayer or question the faith of other people only because… well, she knew all that, didn’t she? I imagine, then, that she wanted to make a point. She wanted to make people suffer for so utterly believing the “propaganda” of her brother.

Now that is interesting to me. When Amara and Dean finally confront one another, Amara tells a story – and I don’t know how true this story is – about how she was first. She was supposed to be the one to create all of existence, and her idea of life? Well, it’s very strange. She speaks of bliss, of a lack of pain and unhappiness, and she speaks of herself as the benevolent giver of all things good. Which doesn’t exactly sound comforting, but there’s a disturbing contrast here. Amara is present, and God is not. After so many people are killed or rendered soulless by Amara, God remains silent. And look, I don’t mean to get all atheist on y’all because I think this show presents God in a different context, but God is kind of an asshole. Right??? I understand that you can’t enable people throwing temper tantrums, but he locked away Amara for AGES to create his version of existence, and at the very least, he should maybe intercede to deal with her? She is his fault, isn’t she?

Well, now we’re getting into hypotheticals. All we know is that Amara wants revenge, and she wants Dean by her side because it’s “destiny.” Obviously, she doesn’t know that “destiny” and “Dean Winchester” don’t go together well. I don’t quite understand what she means by all of this, and I don’t understand Dean’s connection to her. So, because he freed her, he’s drawn to her? That’s it?

Hmmm. Well, I imagine that the angels’ giant smiting lightning bolt did not actually kill her. Maybe it made her stronger? WHO KNOWS.

A New Chapter

It was super, super obvious that Rowena was going to double cross everyone, but I admit that I was surprised that her trick doesn’t seemingly benefit her at all. I mean, you could argue that it gets Sam out of the way, but is that really worth the risk she took?

But what made me so thrilled by Sam’s big confrontation with Lucifer is that after that long conversation, after Lucifer confirmed he had helped God lock the Darkness away the first time, and after Lucifer presented his offer, Sam Winchester said no. Y’all. Y’ALL. I thought that was HUGE. Sam, who has spent this entire season agonizing over a choice he thought was good, but ended up unleashing a terrible force. Sam, who has been desperate to show that he’s still a good person despite making a mistake. And Sam, WHO REALIZED THAT ALLOWING LUCIFER OUT WAS NOT WORTH THE COST THAT WAS TO BE PAID. Oh my god, THE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT IS SO GREAT.

Which is why it was so upsetting that Rowena helped to undo all of it. Y’all, I even said early in this video that we don’t even know if it really was God sending Sam the messages, and I WAS ACTUALLY RIGHT. Not prepared, mind you. Because… well, what does this mean? Will Lucifer use Sam as a vessel? Or will the two of them be trapped in Hell together?

Gah, I really don’t want to wait over a month to find out!

The video for “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! 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 seasons 1 & 2 of The 100, Death Note, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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