I found some good in this episode. Among it some closure for Kevin’s death and Mrs. Tran’s mysterious disappearance, realistic writing of Sam and Dean’s issues, and hints of a direction forming for Cas’s story arc. On the other hand, there were flaws – the biggest one being what seemed like a substantial rewrite of history around Cas’s season six battles with Raphael.
First, let me say it was nice to see Kevin again. I still wish they hadn’t killed him off, but I’m glad they gave him and his mom some closure. We may still see them again, but if we don’t, that will be okay now too. Sam and Dean also got some closure on the guilt they’ve been carrying around about Kevin’s death – Sam probably more so than Dean. Wouldn’t it be nice if in the real world we got to see people who are unexpectedly killed one last time to say goodbye and see that they’re OK?
This was also a strong Cas episode. Our angel warrior came face to face with a character that’s been passing, up to this point, as one of the big bads in the angel storyline – and we learned Cas and Bartholomew had a history. We also saw Cas’s new resolve to not get pulled back into old patterns of justifying the means by the ends. Cas had an opportunity to partner with Bartholomew and gain a big strategic advantage in his mission to take down Metatron, but didn’t take it. Cas also had the opportunity to kill Bartholomew, but didn’t take that either until he was forced to act in self-defense.
The other part to this episode, which too much of the fandom is talking about, is the continued tension between Sam and Dean. They’re both still resentful and undercutting each other at every turn. But one thing I noticed and found interesting is that Sam’s two big jabs at Dean were around Crowley. By this I mean Sam’s crack about Crowley “not being that into you” and his snarky comment about giving Crowley a medal after Dean suggested that Crowley wasn’t behind Candy’s murder.
Whereas Sam is barely batting an eye at Dean’s other snipes, he’s responding to Dean’s new trust in Crowley. And this makes some sense given the history, and may be a clue to what’s going on in Sam’s head. Sam’s reactions could point to old resentments in the way Dean came down so hard on Sam about working with Ruby. Or his reaction could also be practical in nature. Crowley is NOT trustworthy, has proven that over and over again, including too recently killing Sarah Blake. Sam’s a smart hunter and this may be concern over seeing Dean fall into a too-often repeated habit of the Winchesters of justifying the means by the ends – the means being climbing into bed with the enemy.
Another comment worth mentioning is Kevin’s plea to Sam and Dean to get over it. Kevin says:
“Can you two... Get over it? Dudes, just 'cause you couldn't see me doesn't mean I couldn't see you. The drama, the fighting. It's stupid. My mom's taking home a ghost. You two – you’re both still here.”I may be reading too much in here, but the writers on occasion speak to the fandom through the dialogue, and I couldn’t help thinking that this could be interpreted in a second way. It could be writer Robert Berens saying to the fans about the fandom’s Sam-vs-Dean fighting: “We hear you. Stop fighting. It’s stupid. The show’s still here.” Just speculating here, but it would be funny if it was intended with a secondary meaning.
The HighlightsA quick plot summary – Sam and Dean realize they have a ghost in the bunker, and the ghost is Kevin. Succeeding in speaking with Kevin, they learn Heaven is shut off for all newly dead people and that Kevin has learned through another ghost that his mother is still alive and in Wichita, Kansas. Sam and Dean rescue Mrs. Tran from a storage container where she was being held by Crowley and another demon. Kevin, tied to his father’s ring, departs the bunker with his mom. Meanwhile, Cas meets up with and kills Bartholomew and is nominated new angel faction leader by a few of Bartholomew’s followers.
The GoodThis may be an unpopular reaction, but I’m still glad that the emotional repercussions of the Gadreel possession haven’t been swept under the rug yet. However, where I hesitate in saying this is that there doesn’t appear to be much movement here. There needs to be learning at the end of this arc, and we should be seeing Sam and Dean each gradually working through their own issues so that we can get to a point where an eventual reconciliation is earned. Instead, they’re both bottling everything up, not even talking to third parties about it. This resolution should not be arrived at by default without growth because the brothers are just too exhausted to fight anymore.
I usually don’t include the monster monologuing under the good category, but the twist of this week’s baddie being a disgruntled demon intern who reported to Crowley made it kind of funny. Oh, the days of being an intern!
Something I loved seeing was Sam being the one paired with the more important guest this week and having the emotional scene of telling Mrs. Tran that Kevin had died. It was a nice change and good to see some recognition on the part of the writers that Sam also needs emotional closure to the things that happen.
Also good, Cas’s storyline was compelling, and we saw hints of a character path for Cas that I think might actually stick. Cas appears to be the best leader for the angels, and it would be a fitting close to the character’s arc to see him someday take all of the lessons he’s learned about choice, humanity, and family, and meld that with the angels’ ways to launch a new era for Heaven.
The BadWhile I liked the general direction of where Cas seems to be headed, my head with swimming with the inconsistencies in the backstory. For example, Bartholomew says: “ Our leaders wanted those captives killed, and they knew you'd stand in the way of their order. Said you didn't have it in you. That you couldn't do what needed to be done. But I know different. I know you've changed.”
Who were their leaders? Cas was portrayed as being the leader in the war against Raphael, not a general who reported to someone else.
And then there’s this line from Cas: “I was never free to leave. My only choice was to obey or be killed. Well, I choose.”
Wait … What?? What is he talking about here? We’ve been led to believe that Cas followed orders only until near the end of season 4, when he rebelled. He’s been his own boss since then. I’m reading this line as relating back to the angels killed in battle against Raphael, or as referring to Cas’s murderous rampage after he defeated Raphael and became a god. Both either way, he wasn’t reporting to anyone.
The “Huh?”I have a few very small points to add here, in addition to what was noted above with the problems with Cas’s war history.
First, how did Candy get out of that foot chain so fast when she made her escape? It looks like she just brushed aside the restraint like it wasn’t locked.
Second question is what happened to Jerome? He was the person who we were told was being held in the third locker. I guess we need to assume he was already gone, but it was odd that there was no mention of him during the rescue. It looked a little like Sam and Dean left him there without looking for him because they found what they went there for –Mrs. Tran – and have stopped saving random innocents.
Also, a line of dialogue from Dean left me scratching my head. To Sam’s suggestion that the ghost may have been a Man of Letters, Dean responded: “I mean, we're the first people to occupy this place in 50 years. Why would a ghost wait so long to get its spook on?” Maybe because it’s canon that ghosts don’t start angry but gradually become angrier the more time they spend left behind? And who’s to say the ghost wasn’t there all along when the place was unoccupied?
So what did you think of this week? What did you think of the return of Kevin Tran and Cas's new direction?