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Supernatural 9.23 "Do You Believe in Miracles" Review : In the Blink of an Eye

     Supernatural’s season finale, “Do You Believe in Miracles,” was written by Jeremy Carver and directed by Thomas J Wright. I have to say that after watching that episode, I no longer believe in miracles. When Carver was first announced as showrunner, I had hopes for a miracle – that the show would return to the quality it had under Eric Kripke. Unfortunately, now with two seasons under his belt, I’m forced to come to the conclusion that Supernatural’s best days are behind it.

    The season featured some good standalone episodes and started strongly, but it started to falter badly around episode 19. The episode itself was a good one, but it did nothing to help a lagging season mytharc. Episodes 20, 21, and 22 did even less. This episode felt disjointed as the various threads just didn’t seem to really mesh with each other. There were too many clever twists and turns, and yet the ending was predictable from the first five minutes.

    I won’t criticize the acting in the episode, and all the leads do deliver excellent performances. I just wish they’d had more to work with. Many of the scenes were simply too long with too much dialogue, to the point that I actually found my attention wandering. Yes, villains monologue, but Metatron’s (Curtis Armstrong) just went on too long. The conversations that didn’t go on long enough? Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean’s (Jensen Ackles). Almost every conversation was cut off or truncated. What happened to we’ll see the brothers develop a new, more mature relationship. Do they even have a relationship now? Sam would appear to have a new partner in Cas (Misha Collins) and Dean with Crowley (Mark Sheppard). At least they finish their sentences with each other.

    The episode starts with Cas and Sam locking Dean up. Suddenly, Dean is throwing up blood because he has to kill so badly? Dean looking in the mirror was, perhaps, a nice nod to the last time we saw him looking at himself as a demon and therefore foreshadowing. Maybe. Of course, Dean summons Crowley and escapes at the same time that Sam, Cas, and Gadreel (Tahmoh Penikett) decide that they need to use him to kill Metatron.

    Ackles is fantastic in almost every scene. When asking Crowley what’s wrong with him, he’s clearly scared by what the blade is doing to him. As soon as Crowley mentions that the blade didn’t kill Cain because Cain was a demon, I knew immediately where the episode was going. Dean declares he could get rid of the mark. Crowley asks him if he wants to get rid of the mark, and I did feel like he might have helped him get rid of it. Dean clearly thinks about it. In the end, he has to honor his commitment to kill Metatron and focuses on that.

    Gadreel tells Cas and Sam that Metatron is using the angel tablet to “power up” but we already knew this. Also, did it seem to anyone else that Sam miraculously got over being possessed by Gadreel? Am I wrong in remembering that he was pretty pissed about that? That said, I did like the three of them working together.  Penikett finally got to really show what he’s capable of only, in true Supernatural fashion, to be killed off. It was nice that they let Gadreel have a true heroes exit, however.

    The Dean and Crowley diner scene was interesting on a few levels. Crowley says he’s kicked him blood addiction, yet we see his masseuse urging him in his first scene to give the demons of Hell some direction, and in the diner, he seems to be savoring all of Dean’s vices. Dean, on the other hand, virtually ignores his attractive waitress and completely disses his cheeseburger with extra onions. I did love Dean’s response to Crowley saying that Hell was complicated. Dean disagrees: “Game of Thrones is complicated, shower sex that’s complicated. Hell ain’t complicated. Your problem ain’t Hell. It’s you.” Crowley watches Dean throughout the episode, and it’s hard to tell if he is still under the effects of the blood and therefore worried about Dean or if he has kicked the blood and is trying to figure out how to use Dean. It’s really impossible to tell what Crowley’s game is.

    It really does seem a shame that they got rid of Gadreel. I loved he and Cas sneaking into Heaven together. Now that Cas gets the pop culture references, like using Chewbacca to break out Princess Leia in Star Wars, it’s fun to watch Cas be exasperated by others not getting the reference.  Penikett is fantastic as he freaks out that he’s back in jail again. I really felt his despair, terror and claustrophobia. Kudos to the VFX team for the awesome jail roll over  - that was also some stunning work.

    Sam and Dean cross paths at the Millers’ trailer, and we get one of their very frustrating conversations – just as we have all season. Dean says that he’s not going to explain himself. Really? How can they both be in their thirties now and neither of them realizes that if you actually talk to each other you might actually come to an understanding. Of course having Sam tell Dean that Gadreel is their friend? Of course, then Sam goes back to blaming Dean for the nightmares he has watching his hands kill Kevin. But, it wasn’t actually Sam’s hands that killed Kevin, it was Gadreel’s power. Sam clearly felt bad in season two when he killed Steve Wandell while possessed by Meg, but I don’t remember him being obsessed over it for half a season. And let’s not forget that while Wandell was a stranger, Sam also shot Dean and hurt both Dean and Bobby. In the end, he blamed Meg, and kept blaming her.

    Rather than feel like a new season finale, this one seemed to have a lot of the previous ones all rolled into it. Dean tells Sam that he’s going to kill Metatron whatever the consequences to him might be. Sam agrees – just as Dean agreed to let Sam sacrifice himself to Lucifer and even the Trials last season. In the end, Sam drinks himself into a bad decision and is going to make a deal with Crowley, just as Dean did in season two. And Cas would seem to be the reluctant leader of Heaven – wasn’t that the season six finale?

    And once again, instead of killing Crowley while they have the chance, they simply dismiss him.

    Someone explain to me how a homeless community found out about a viral video on youtube? Apparently they all saw it so that Metatron could be recognized even though his face was completely hidden. One thing that did strike me about this scene was how Wright shot the angel challenging Metatron. We see him in profile and the way the light hits his eyes, they seem to be almost glowing and are an unusual amber color. I don’t believe that was VFX, but a clever shot captured by the director and DP.

    Unfortunately, that was the only think that I liked about this scene. Metatron is written too unevenly to ever feel really menacing. His dialogue is all over the place in this scene. Calling the other angel “Good sir”? He goes from very formal and archaic to trying to fit in with the common man. And why is Metatron so surprised by the crowd rising to defend him – wasn’t that his whole point? It’s a nice moment when Metatron says “they love me, they really, really love me,” in an echo of Sally Field’s infamous Oscar acceptance speech. Earlier in the episode, Metatron scoffs at the People’s Choice Awards (which, of course, Supernatural has won). Apparently he was holding out for an Academy Award.

    We have the obligatory scene between the brothers before going in after Metatron. And once again, Dean attempts to open a dialogue this time and Sam shuts him down. The excuse? Let’s not get side tracked by talking because that will only lead to us fighting again. Dean then knocks Sam out because it’s not his fight. Which makes me wonder what Sam was doing all season – seemed to me it was equally his fight. Is Dean once again just protecting Sam or does he not want Sam to see what he’s become? This feels like another question that has been endlessly recycled with no resolution.

    Cas attempts to sway Hannah (Erica Carroll) while Gadreel frets about redemption. Cas assures him that he has redeemed himself, but Gadreel works himself into a fever pitch – nothing matters but the mission. He wants to be known as one of those who helped to give Heaven a second chance. Both Hannah and Cas try to stop him, but he does convince Hannah to believe them.

    Dean is expected. Metatron tries to tell Dean that he cares about humanity. But Dean blames Metatron for Kevin, for taking Cas’s grace, for the Cubs not winning. Metatron reveals that he knows about the plan and Cas and Gadreel are already caught. While Dean is able to hurt Metatron, Metatron is still much stronger and beats Dean almost to death. He tells Dean that next time he should “try to be powered by the word of God.” Of course, this could be as simple as the fact that that is where Metatron gets his power, but it might be a clue to saving Dean next season. I have my doubts that the writers can keep that nugget that long.

    Sam arrives just in time to see Metatron stab Dean with an angel blade. Cas shatters the tablet just as Dean hits the floor. Metatron arrives back to find Cas with the broken tablet. Anybody else remember that Kevin – the prophet – put the tablet back together before? There has to be another prophet out there – assuming the show ever intends to adhere to any of its canon again. Metatron tells Cas that Dean is dead. Cas looks upset, but far from devastated. Cas, however, outsmarts Metatron and gets him to confess over angel radio. Suddenly, all the angels are willing to believe what they hear. Of course, Cas is freed before Dean actually dies. Why does he not go to Sam and Dean? The other angels have risen against Metatron, surely he could have popped out for a moment? Cas tells Hannah he doesn’t want to be a leader; he just wants to be an angel. Hannah reminds him that without his grace he will die – and she wonders what he will do about that.

    Sam is determined that they will stop the bleeding, find a spell, he’ll be ok – which sounds like season three again. Dean surprises Sam by telling him that “it’s better this way. The mark is making me into something I don’t want to be.” Apparently, Dean didn’t want to become a demon any more than I wanted him to become one. Sam admits that he lied about being ok with one of them dying. While this feels like a return to the Sam we’d all come to know, it also plays havoc with the Sam of the last two seasons. Dean’s death feels like a combination of Sam’s death in Dean’s arms in season two and the way that Dean cups Sam’s face at the end of season three. Dean tells Sam that he’s “proud of us.” And then dies.

    The final scene is Crowley talking to Dean’s body. Crowley muses that “it’s all become so expected.” And really that’s the core of what’s wrong with this finale. Nothing here is truly new. Padalecki and Ackles act their hearts out in those death scenes – though actual tears are now noticeably absent. There has been too much death on a show when it no longer affects the viewer. Crowley tells Dean that he didn’t know this would happen when he took on the mark. I felt like this could be the writers talking. I don’t feel like they really have a sense of where they’re going.

    Crowley tells us a whole new lore about Cain and the blade in the last five minutes. And this is the crux of my problem with this storytelling. I don’t feel that we were given any real clues to this ending. We learn that Cain tried to kill himself to avoid the pull of the blade but the blade itself brought him back. He came back a demon – which makes sense if he killed himself, he would go to Hell. Dean did not kill himself, so why does he come back a demon? Is it possible that Crowley is actually saying a spell over Dean? That he can only bring him back as far as the life that Crowley himself experiences? We were just reminded that Crowley’s mother was a witch in the last episode. Crowley muses that he'd noticed the changes in Dean but it wasn't until he'd seen Dean ignore his cheeseburger that he began to let himself believe that maybe miracles do come true. Is it a miracle that Dean is now one of the demons who answer to him?

     Frankly, I think the writers will simply run with Dean now being a demon. I wonder what Sam will think of that. What about Cas? Is Dean’s soul simply gone now? Who knows? What of Dean's fight not to become a demon in Hell let alone to avoid the influence of the mark? Does all of that count for nothing? The writers now play so fast and loose with canon, I really don’t feel that any speculation can be given weight. What can you possibly rely on for evidence? Just as Dean is completely transformed in the blink of an eye, the writers transform the storylines just as quickly.

    For me, this was a very disappointing finale of a show that was much watch television for me for many years. I had hopes for this season early on, but they definitely petered out. Again, the acting was very good from Ackles, Padalecki, and Penikett in particular, but the story itself was just too weak. Sadly, this will be the first hiatus in the show’s run that I won’t find myself impatiently waiting for what comes next. What did you think of the episode? I’m hoping some of you out there might change my mind on some of this. Do you think Cas is doomed without his grace? Do you think it’s a bad move not to kill Metatron? Do you think that Sam will simply find Dean gone? Will Sam now have to kill Dean because Dean has literally gone darkside? Is this season two all over again? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.