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Supernatural – Episode 9.06 – The Gripe Review

Hello SPN fans and welcome to the first Gripe Review. This is not a weekly episode review as those are beautifully covered by Lisa and Christine. This instead is a distillation of the major nitpicks and complaints fans brought up about the episode in the days immediately following its airing. I collect these from Supernatural forums and chats, as well as Social Media sites such as Twitter and Tumblr, and add some of my own takes to them. Consider this a review you would get if Simon Cowell was in charge.

Why write a nitpick review? Because this show has one of the most passionate, active fandoms online that criticizes the show not to knock it down, but to challenge it to rise to its potential. True there are diverse opinions among fans, but some trouble points gain such notoriety, you find many fans talk about them days after the episode. Such are lacks of continuity, OOCness of characters, and gross canon violation, all things that bother viewers. Instead of letting them slide and pile up to unbearable levels that may cause us to stop watching, we point them out and discuss them so that our grief becomes a source of communication instead of frustration. 

Anyone reading is encouraged to voice their opinion in the comments. You are also encouraged to add your own. But please be respectful to others and keep the language civil.

With that in mind here is the list of gripes (and praise) for “Heaven Can’t Wait.”

Gripe #1 – bite me Zeke: I didn't get to post the fandom's gripes about Zeke for the previous episodes. How he has caused Dean to constantly lie to his brother, throw his best friend out on the street, and how he plays the deus ex machina every episode. However in this episode he is the reason Sam and Dean are on two different missions, and while that in itself isn’t bad, when the reason is because Dean can’t trust the parasite living inside his brother to be around his best friend, and therefore has to keep Sam away from not just the case, but someone who is essentially a third Winchester, it becomes annoying. This is not a continuity issue or canon violation. But it is a storyline that prevents the episode from becoming much more engaging. Personally I believe Sam and Castiel are friends and like many, I like to see them interact more, so of course it saddens me when they don’t get to do that because of Zeke.

Gripe #2 – Dean is a dick to Castiel: At the end of I’m No Angel Ezekiel forced Dean to eject Castiel from the bunker. I didn't write a gripe review back then but if I did, that poorly written scene would have definitely been on it. None of us knows how it went down but from this episode's looks, it seems like Dean didn't give him anything to survive on. Castiel having to find a job, hiding his toothbrush in a cabinet at work, and lying about working late so that he would have a place to sleep, shows in what a bad shape he is both socially and financially. And it’s all because of Dean's decision to ignore his needs.

While Dean’s excuse for throwing Castiel out might be valid (again a lot of debate here,) nothing justifies the condescending way he talks to him when he sees what he’s become. “So you went from fighting Heavenly battles to nuking taquitos.” Yes Dean. That happens when you lose your grace, fall to earth, turn into a different species, have to run from your own kind, and the only friend you could rely on for support throws you out of the only home you know. As one fan pointed out Dean should know how hard it is to live on the streets with only the clothes on your back, especially when you have an army of angels coming after you. The fact that Castiel managed to find a job and a place to live is admirable and should be praised, not ridiculed.

Gripe #3 – Castiel, the ladies’ man: We know this fandom has a reputation for disliking the random women the boys get involved with. To defend this position I will point out the problematic ways those women are written, mostly not as real characters but a receptacle for the boys’ romantic interests. We saw that with Lisa and Amelia. Now we have Nora.

I don’t dislike Nora, I don’t like her either. I don’t know her enough to have either those feelings. What I, and some other fans, have a problem with is the way her story confuses Castiel’s priorities and undermines his story. In this episode we are told by Ephraim that Castiel is depressed and in pain. That is consistent with canon because we know he lost his grace, is struggling to live among humans, and knows there’s a price on his head. Yet, throughout the episode, it seemed he was more preoccupied with romancing Nora than finding a solution to his dilemmas. It felt forced and sitcom-ish because, aside from hormonal teenagers, people who are in dire situations barely think about dating someone they barely know. Saying Castiel is in so much pain he attracted the Dr. Kevorkian of the angel garrisons yet showing him at such peace that he would pick flowers from the side of the road and ask Dean for dating advice is confusing.

Gripe #4 – surprise me but not with the absence of logic: No parent would ask someone to babysit their child without first making sure the person knows exactly what they are doing and has both the ability and the willingness to do it. The twist the writer was going for by making Castiel, and us, believe he was going on a date, then hitting him with a babysitting anvil, came at the a cost to Nora’s character. She appeared both an irresponsible parent and an opportunistic employer.

Gripe #5 – uncertainty about Castiel’s motives: At the start of the episode Castiel’s behavior gave me the impression that he didn't want to deal with the fallen angels and instead wanted to spend his time learning the ropes of being human. At the end however he said his goal was to help the angels. Just like the romance thing, this is a point of inconsistency for Castiel’s character and motives. At this point I really don’t know what Castiel’s goal is. Does he want to live a quiet life as a human, or does he want to become something more and help his brethren find their way back home? Either option is fine, and provides possibilities for good storytelling. I am just not sure which direction the writers want to take him.

Gripe #6 – Kevin can’t read the tablet: I personally had no issue with this but many fans pointed out the inconsistency between canon’s definition of a prophet and Kevin’s inability to read the angel tablet. Last season it was established that a prophet could read Metatron’s word like it was his/her native language. This was demonstrated in the test Crowley presented to the prophets-to-be he had kidnapped in A Little Slice of Kevin. They couldn't read the tablet so he deemed them rejects. Only Kevin was the genuine item, yet now he only manages to translate two words, which looks like a canon violation and a convenient way to drag the tablet story further.

Praise – To end the review on a positive note I will say I liked the episode because it had the rare quality of featuring all the major characters of this season. Sam, Dean, Castiel, Crowley, Kevin and Abaddon each make an appearance in this episode and, in one way or another, play a role in the story. Even though I preferred the two parallel stories to be more connected, it did provide each character with a moment to shine. 

What do you think about these gripes? Did you have other complaints, or compliments, to add to these? Sound off in the comments and let us know.



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