alt

From emerging the monotone washout of purgatory to ancient tablets and secret bunkers to angels and their wings burning against a night sky - welcome to the wonderful world of Supernatural, where you never really see the end coming no matter how hard you look!

In the end "Sacrifice" wasn't about closing the gates of Hell. Or Heaven. It came to down to what it always comes down to and that is love. For Sam and Dean the brotherly love between them drove Sam to want to not fail his brother, but allowed Dean to get through to him and stop him from finishing the trials. It meant Dean wasn't willing to sacrifice his brother, instead making the point that they had gained so much knowledge and could save so many lives with that - but he wouldn't lose Sam for anything. For Castiel it allowed him to be a tool, led by the promise of fixing his home and family. For Metatron, his love and devotion to God twisted him darkly (like Lucifer), leaving him with an obsession for revenge and a taste for blood. Even Naomi, in the end, was reaffirmed by the love of God and the understanding of the Angel's duty to protect humans. Not that it did her any good ultimately, but A for effort I guess.

For all the speculating, guessing, bad feelings and wild assumptions this episode took a dark direction that this reviewer definitely did not see coming and ended with a final, chilling scene. Angel and their wings burning in the ether against a black night sky is an unsettling image, to say the least. "Sacrifice" was well written, clever, deliciously dark and macabre and left us poised for something completely new venturing into season nine.  

Curing Crowley - "We just shared a foxhole, you and I."

alt

Of course the big question was, and actually still is whether Crowley would be cured - after all that was the third trial. Mark Sheppard, as always, delivered each and every moment he was on screen. I sincerely hope that Crowley is not cured, or not permanently, so that we can continue to see the snarky SOB King of Hell we've come to know and love these last years. Some of the best moments include the realization that he was trapped in the enchanted handcuffs, biting Sam ("Biting Crowley?! Really?!") and realizing Abaddon wasn't his cavalry.

Speaking to Abaddon, she had a much smaller role than expected in this episode. If Crowley is cured (though the spell was not finished so I wonder how that works) perhaps she is in line to be the new big bad for season nine. You know, after Metatron, because he has that maniacal dictator thing going for him pretty good at the moment too. On that note, I still wonder whether Crowley's progression to good post-Abaddon encounter was an act or not. Wasn't it brilliant though, to show his out of character leanings via television references and brothers in arms quips? ("You're my Marnie, Moose"¦I deserve to be loved!"). As the final trial never finished nor was the final part of the curing ritual complete, one does wonder how long the curing effects will last on Crowley - who, last we saw, was quietly chained to a chair during Sam and Dean's sweet brother moment. 

What was interesting was how Sam "purified" his blood for the trial - simply using the confessional box but not speaking to anyone directly such as a priest. This was the only part of the entire procedure that lacked ritual, as far as we saw, and as a result it left me questioning whether the cure would work with Crowley. 

Metatron Madness:  "Do you have any idea what it would be like to be plucked from obscurity to sit at God's feet to be asked to write down His word? The ache I felt when He was gone?"

alt

Anyone else yelling "I knew it!" at their TV? Wow, could that guy switch from good to bad in a flash. Some of the best Supernatural plays are the characters whose true agendas we don't see coming or can't fully predict no matter how apparent they seem to be (see: Ruby) and Metatron earned his place on that list last night. The plan was never to close up Heaven and repair the mess that had been made with warring factions of angels but simply vengeance. How long has Metatron been simmering on this idea? It became clear as he sucked out Castiel's grace and sent him to earth as a mortal telling him to return with a "story" that somewhere as he stewed in his hobbit hole over the centuries, Metatron had gone stark raving mad. Not unlike Lucifer, Metatron's "specialness" in the relationship with God was the first stone laid on this path to insanity. For all the problems free will has caused mankind, the obsessive love that the angels were driven to have for their creator sure hasn't done anybody any favours either. The Metatron storyline was well done over all: it was simple, fresh and despite our suspicion of the scribe - unexpectedly twisted. 

Merely Mortal: "I'm not wrong. I'm going to fix my home."

alt

Poor Cas, can't quite seem to back the right side no matter how good intentioned his convictions. There were many good moments with Castiel in this episode, such as him questioning the bar tender about the personal ads. An important moment though was when he confirmed with Metatron there would be no killing for this trial though. It seems the nephilim's death still weighs on him and somehow, despite the mistakes he makes, this is important - he wants to do the right thing. And one day, he'll get there fully I'm sure. Poor Cas. 

Like much of the episode, this was another area that ended unexpectedly. Though it was difficult to determine, it did not appear as though Castiel was without memory in the final moments of the episode so perhaps season nine will see poor Castiel trying to make his way through the world as a human - maybe a hunter again - with Sam and Dean. The last few weeks have hinted on several occasions at Castiel failed though earnest attempts to interact with the human world - all leading up to Castiel the Man? Humour possibilities aside, this presents an opportunity to grow Castiel's instincts and hone his fighting skills. 

Brotherly Love: "Don't you dare think that there is anything, past or present, that I would put in front of you!"

"Dean was so strong and sad and brave. And Sam..ugghh!....the best parts are when they cry!" If anything could describe the emotion of the final exchange between Sam and Dean, it's probably this quote from Chuck's book editor. 

alt

Sam was absolutely devastating to watch, talking about being a disappointment to Dean. Physically he was completely wrecked: sunken, sallow face, haggard eyes, exhausted and overwrought doesn't do justice to the look the genius make up department managed to achieve here. Emotionally, that isn't even a fraction of where he's at. Sam is shattered, his self-worth completely fractured and thinking he needs to make this sacrifice so he doesn't fail his big brother. As for Dean, this man was just so hurt that Sam could think, even for a second that he would be disappointed or put anybody before Sam, after everything. The expressions on his face were pure desolation at these notions. Curse those wide, unblinking green eyes - break your heart every single time.

alt

Dean begging Sam to let go of the trials and Sam, looking ever so the little brother here, asking how to let go because he can feel it inside; then we have that great hug. This was one of the best Sam and Dean moments, definitely among the top ten, because not only was there a full confessional of feelings but there was a fall back into the big brother/little brother roles which always makes for a great broment. These two men have the most dysfunctional relationship of anybody ever but at the same time probably one of the strongest, if not the strongest relationship, going.

"Angels. They're Falling."

alt

The final moments of this episode were nothing short of artwork. To use of a cliche term - that final scene was epic. Supernatural finales have been grandiose before certainly, but somehow this was on an entirely different level. There are the global implications. Certainly, Lucifer rising or averting the apocalypse had worldwide impact - just not that many people were aware. A large-scale angel meteor shower on the other hand, was likely witnessed. Visually speaking this was a beautiful vista: Kevin in the bunker with alarms blaring, Sam and Dean watching against the Impala, Castiel (the mortal) watching among the trees in awe. It was shocking and horrible and where to even begin with this crisis? 

Final Thoughts

Closing the door on Heaven in this manner, however temporary, puts the playing field somewhere new and interesting for season nine. Though it almost seems like a pre-season four world, at the same time all the knowledge about celestial spells and beings exists so it isn't quite the same. Furthermore clearly Metatron didn't expel himself or lose his own angel abilities and one wonders: did his spell work on all angels, or only those in Heaven at the time the spell was cast? There must be a reversal right? What do all of these former angels now mortals mean for earth? All of these questions will no doubt be tackled throughout season nine; in the meantime we're back to a world without angel teleporting, super-healing, time travel and all the other toys that the Feather Brigade offered. Not that I haven't enjoyed the angels - but I'm kind of looking forward to some of that "good old days" feel again. 

Now - is it October yet? Please?