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We followed up with Cas this week as Sam and Dean split up – Dean to check up on Cas and a case Cas had referred, and Sam to stay home to work on reversing Metatron’s spell. This was a character episode – something that has become rare on Supernatural lately – so it seemed a little slower that what many fans have become accustomed to. But it was richer and a higher quality than many we’ve seen lately, and served to push forward at least a couple of character arcs, and the mytharc to a lesser extent.

The Highlights

Cas works in a convenience store. The fallen angel is depressed and trying to find his bearings in a new world where he has to learn the proper etiquette around high-fiving, how to clean the slushy machine, and how to quiet a crying baby. He relates to the baby his is caring for more than anyone else, as they both have been “shoved out kicking and screaming into this human life, without any idea why or idea why any of it feels like it feels.”

The monster of the week is another angel cast out of Heaven – a type of battlefield medic who healed sick angels and killed those in pain. In Enochian, the name for his kind means “hands of mercy.” Like the other angels, Ephraim is new to this world and doesn’t understand the nuances of human emotions. He performs mercy killings on anyone suffering – even if that’ a teenager who was just dumped by her boyfriend. He hones in on Cas’ pain and tries to take Cas out his misery as well.

Meanwhile, Sam and Kevin follow up on a theory that Sam thinks may be the key to reversing Metatron’s spell that banished the angels from Heaven. Hoping to translate some ancient symbols, Sam enlists the help of Crowley, who bargains his assistance in return for a call to Abaddon – by way of Kevin’s blood. Like Cas and the baby, Crowley is also struggling to adapt to his new condition – made partially human by the ritual of “curing” him – and we see something curious at the end of the episode. Crowley has stolen some of Kevin’s blood and is injecting it into himself.

The Good

I just loved the characterizations in this episode. This is an area that I’ve been particularly critical of in the past few years – but Robert Berens, the new writer who worked on this episode, nailed them. When someone starts at a company and they haven’t been immersed in the institutional knowledge yet, they look at it through fresh eyes – and sometimes do things that – just make sense. It was like no one told the new guy that he’s supposed to write Sam scenes with little dialogue, Dean with awkward innuendos in his scenes with Cas, and Cas as comic relief.

With Cas, we got a break from the tired fish-out-of-water jokes and saw more depth to his character. With Crowley, there was a nice balance of snark, sadness at his new state, and maybe fear that Abaddon might be right. With Sam, we saw someone whose dialogue consisted of more than questions, and who could hold his own against Crowley. And with Dean, we saw a return of the big-brother protective persona. Dean’s dismissal of Cas’s job at the convenience was truer to Dean’s character – the boy who never took school or “geeky” activities seriously because he was looking for shortcuts to bigger things. I don’t know who else might have had a hand in the writing of this episode, but right now I’m insanely hopeful that this is a sign that we’ll get more good characterizations from Berens in the future.

Also in the “Good” category is that this episode took the time to slow down and actually show what’s going on emotionally with Cas. We got some of that in I’m No Angel, but a lot is going on with Cas at the moment, so it’s important that we follow along with the changes to understand where his character is at.

I loved the back-and-forth between Sam and Crowley, as well as between Abaddon and Crowley. Although you could argue that Sam wasn’t acting particularly smart in allowing Crowley to have his call, because Crowley always has a trick planned, Sam knew that but decided the information was more important. Sometimes you have to take a risk to get things moving.

There was good teamwork between Dean and Cas. I loved the scene where Dean slides the knife to Cas so that Cas can take out Ephraim.

Nice touch with Cas using the thorns from the rose to make the angel warding symbol. It’s a sad fact, but true, that in the Winchester world, everything that starts shiny and hopeful ends in blood.

Loved Crowley being put on hold.

The Bad

My biggest criticism with this episode is that it felt a little slow. I kept waiting for the pace to pick up, and it didn’t really. I enjoyed it more in the second watching, though, after my expectations were adjusted. This might be an issue more with the pacing of the season than of the episode. It’s often about this time in the season when I start getting impatient for some forward movement in the mytharc. What’s been happening lately is that we get a long string of fillers, followed by an episode in which about 3 or 4 major storyline developments are crammed into an hour – and none of which are done very well.

I found the setup around Cas not knowing that his “date” was with babysitting, a little too forced, or implausible. It felt like an overused sitcom scenario that really didn’t make much sense, since there’s no way the woman wouldn’t have known what she sounded like she was asking.

I didn’t really believe that Cas – who struggles with so much of human culture – would know the words to the theme song to the Greatest American Hero. Maybe Jimmy (the original host of Cas’ body) knew the words, and Cas would know what Jimmy knew, but Cas doesn’t know so many other things that Jimmy would have known. Also, I swear I was listening to Misha’s voice, not Cas’s, for a bit while he was talking to the baby.

The “Huh?”

Cas made it sound like he’s only been on Earth for a few years, but it’s been established that he’s been watching humans for a long time unseen.

Since when do angels flash pink goo?

Has Sam ever seen a demon call another through the blood ritual before? That always seemed to be something demons did in private.

The Speculation

What are your thoughts on why Crowley really called Abaddon and why he was injecting himself with blood? On my first watch, I thought the call was a loose end. Why would Crowley want to talk to Abaddon when he didn’t really seem to have anything to say? But then I realized his real end-game was to get some blood.

So what’s going on with Crowley – is this like Sam’s blood addiction – something that Crowley needs now? Or is this more of a blood transfusion – that he’s trying to counteract the effects of Sam’s purified blood in his system? A few episodes back, Crowley baited Kevin into a rage, and demons exist on anger and hate. Was Kevin’s blood, in his current emotional condition, more suitable for demons? Or did Crowley not want Sam’s blood because he knows there’s an angel in Sam? Demons have always been able to recognize angels in the past. Why would that be different now?  Tell me your thoughts below.

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