There was far more than the sagas of Sam and Dean though. “Reichenbach” succeeded where “Black” struggled. It was able to handle the three stories involving the four main characters simultaneously and blend them together perfectly. Each one kept my interest for the entire hour. Actually, more than interest. I was engrossed and emotionally invested from beginning to end. To be honest, it’s been a long time since I can say that about a “Supernatural” episode.
Let’s start first with the angel story. Last week I wouldn’t give the adventures of Castiel and Hannah the time of day because it was that pointless, but this week, it delivered. Castiel is still dying, is getting weaker, but Hannah watches him and their experiences with common humans with a fascination. I really want to believe that Hannah’s intentions are pure. Castiel even acknowledged her act of being there for him was a human thing to do. Why is she so devoted to Castiel? Is it an attraction or is there a plan? No matter, because watching her tenderness with him was endearing. I got a little misty when she covered him with his trench coat while sleeping on the couch. She got to see first hand how humanity has affected Castiel and how he’s embraced these creatures much like God. She’s technically him back in season four, and I’ll admit this week I enjoyed watching her curiosity regarding humanity and their customs.
The scene with Metatron was quite revealing! Finally, something has lit that fire under Castiel and it’s not Hannah’s gesture of making a deal. Cas resigned himself to dying, thinking that his death would mean another angel wouldn’t be harmed. I loved his line to Metatron that his imprisonment took him to his happy place. Metatron’s deliciously evil reply though that he would get out eventually and everybody dies set the wheels in motion. This is the big bad that Metatron should have been last season when he was being written too cartoonish. He freaked me out. Castiel now wants to live, if anything to protect the earth, just as God intended. He’s off to find that way and it’s kind of curious he’s hanging with Crowley next week.
Then there’s poor Cole. Doesn’t his story make for a much better spinoff than the crap we were saddled with last season with Ennis in “Bloodlines?” It’s almost like Carver and Dabb are using Cole as a chance to finally get it right. Travis Aaron Wade is a standout, and one could argue he’s the second coming of John Winchester. There’s certainly enough parallels. He’s a well trained soldier who has just found out monsters are real, as in the supernatural monsters, not the human ones he eluded too in Iraq, Darfur, and the Congo. He took it the way John would, he wants to know more. He’s ready to take them on. He’s a fighting his own war, and what do you know, his story is quite similar to how other hunters got started. A tragic, brutal loss of a loved one right before his eyes. I felt his pain, his thirst for revenge, and my heart broke over his story in the beginning much like Sam’s did (I saw those sympathetic puppy dog eyes Sammy!). Somehow, Cole’s story seems more real and more genuine than the stories we’ve seen in the past with other hunters. Maybe because he’s not burned out by all the horrors he’s seen yet, but he’s still seen plenty. In a way, he’s just getting started.
I get that Crowley has gotten in touch with his human side and really longed for that second in command to be by his side, but I’m sorry, that was just going over the top with his lament to “Hey There Lonely Girl” to that goofy picture of him and Dean. I’m sure that was the point, and I bet it got plenty of giggles, but I’m ready to see fearsome, wise cracking Crowley again. He’s better than this. Strange to say, but he deserves better! Yes, he deserves to be loved. :) I love how he refused to stoop to Dean’s level with brutality. He just went with plan B, getting hold of “Bullwinkle” (Bwah!). You’ve got to admit, he knows the Winchesters. The only person who could neutralize Dean is Sam. Taking the first blade was a brilliant touch. I think it couldn’t be safer with Crowley. Although, I do wonder if Crowley has another motive that involves getting the Mark of Cain someday. No matter what the motive, he’s moving on from Dean and I’m glad.
Sam has gone through a very long, hard road to get to this point and the things it has to be doing to his already damaged psyche. It’s been very hard watching him try to hold it all together when he seems like he’s on the verge of losing it all. Of course he wasn’t going to give up his brother to Cole, although I’m a little disappointed that Sam didn’t realize he was being followed. I love that the first person he called was Castiel and didn’t beat around the bush with the news - Dean is a demon. I do wonder if Cas wasn’t so weak if he would have found Dean right away and let the smiting begin. Sam still believes in his brother though, no matter what horrible things Dean says or does.
We know Sam’s history, he rarely accepts things with such blind faith, except when it comes to his brother. He remained calm and stern with Dean, refusing to let anything Dean said get to him. Again, it reminds me of Sam from “Point of No Return.” Sam chose to believe that the reason Dean left was because of Crowley. “It really wasn’t,” Dean replied. That didn’t deter Sam. He took out the cuffs anyway and declared he was taking his brother home. In the Impala on the way home Sam believed that Dean still had a human side. After all, he let Cole live. Dean’s chilling admission as to why he did that certainly shook Sam (and me!), but he kept driving. He’s clearly not giving up and that’s why next week looks so exciting.
I can hear it now, Dean’s demonic self is probably drawing a lot of comparisons to Soulless Sam. Setting that thought aside though, he’s about as ruthless as they come. He’s definitely running with the blood of the Knights of Hell in his veins; hot tempered, brutal, and wildly unpredictable. Kudos to that stripper for standing up to him, maybe because she’s seen a lot of creeps in her day, and Demon Dean has to be one of the creepiest creatures this show has ever had (if not the creepiest). On a side note, kudos to the editing as well weaving in Dean’s vicious beating of the security guard with Sam’s own beating at the hands of Cole. It really amped up the tension rather than just focusing on Dean going off the rails!
One scene that struck my curiosity was Dean at the piano just before Sam arrived. He sat there letting Crowley’s words sink in before slicing himself, just to watch it heal. Was that him accepting himself as a demon or missing his humanity? Perhaps both? Given the very frosty welcome he gave Sam (as well as that ending scene) I’m wondering if that was him letting go of whatever humanity he had left and choosing the demon side. What would Dean have done if Sam hadn’t captured him? Would he have challenged Crowley like Abaddon? He obviously blew his assignment (sorry Crowley but Lester did have it coming), but did he do that out of sympathy for the wife (the human thing to do), because Lester was just a jerk that insulted him (demon temper), or because he was doing opposite of what Crowley wanted (defiant underling). Ah, the motives of demons. They’re never really quite straight forward.
Still, kudos to Jensen Ackles for that final scene in the Impala. That had to be one of the most stomach turning scenes I’ve ever seen in any show. Sitting in the back of the Impala chained up, it’s bad enough he tells Sam that the Impala was just a car. He had no sympathy for Cole, just total delight that he was able to crush someone’s lifelong obsession for revenge by kicking the crap out of him and blowing apart his world. Of course he let him live. “It’s the worst thing I could have done to him.” Oh, but Dean doesn’t finish there. “It’s not as bad as what I’m going to do to you.” You’ve already done it Dean. Sam is unnerved to the core, but he’s sticking with you anyway.
The pacing of “Reichenbach” was slower than normal, but that added to the tension and enhanced the story telling, giving it room to breathe. I’m all for taking more time to let interesting stories unfold rather than throwing the kitchen sink at us. Okay, I do have one criticism, and it’s related to something I ranted about looking at season nine. How many times can one human being take being knocked out? It happened to Sam a ridiculous amount of times in season nine, and here he is two for two in season ten. Give it up people! There’s other ways to immobilize Sam than knocking him out. Get creative. Technically, he should be a vegetable by now.
My overall grade this week is an A. Well done Andrew Dabb, I knew you were due for a good one, despite the deep darkness in parts and often hard to watch scenes. The story had to be told his way, and now there’s plenty of momentum going into next week’s big showdown in the bunker. Stay tuned, this is gonna get brutal.