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I like this episode quite a bit. Michael Shanks can never go wrong and while I would have liked his character to have been a bit more front and center that is more because I just enjoy him as an actor.
This is a very good follow up on what transpired in DSOTM. Dean is convinced they cannot win; Castiel is drunk because what else is a fallen angel to do now that he's learned that God isn't willing to intervene. Sam is taking up the leadership position as he sees that Dean is not and he's also very aware that all is not well with Dean; what happened at the end of DSOTM is not lost on Sam.
There is plenty to laugh about, Castiel drinking a liquor store and Misha's portrayal of a smashed angel is very good, and the introduction of the Whore of Babylon idea loosely translated from Revelation is actually quite good although not funny, but well done.
99 Problems succeeds best at taking Dean to"¦well, the Point of No Return.
Point of No Return:
I reviewed this after it aired and I chose it as my pick for 'the' pivotal episode of Season 5. This is perhaps Jeremy Carver's final episode with Supernatural as he is embarking on a new project but perhaps - pretty please - we'll get an episode or two out of him just as we did for so many seasons with Cathyrn Humphries.
Action was not the main focus or impetus of this episode. While Castiel got a good fight scene in with the two angels at Adam's grave as well as the excellent effect of him blasting all the angels, himself included, to locations unknown this was mainly an episode where the characters talked.
Kurt Fuller got an excellent vehicle to send his character into the history books of Supernatural with snarky witticisms and underhanded, smarmy tricks. Kurt Fuller, like Mark Pellegrino can chew the scenery without once making it seem like he is chewing the scenery. I sometimes cue up this episode just to watch Kurt Fuller work his magic. Zach joins Azazel and Nicki Aycox' Meg and Robert Wisdom's Uriel and Mark Pellegrino as characters I hate to root for ('cause they're the bad guys) but love to see because the scene will always be very good.
This episode is all about family and love and holding on when someone is doing everything possible to push you away. Bobby, Castiel and Sam hold on tight and in the end, Dean finds a reason to hold on just as tight. It's a beautiful episode that epitomizes what Supernatural is all about, family, love, relationships, loyalty "“ the list could go on.
Hammer of the Gods:
I didn't mind this episode as much as some, although it was not a strong follow up to what had come before. Here Sam goes back to being the back-seat driver, the snot nosed kid brother. Why is it that all of a sudden Sam's not getting enough sleep and Dean needs him sharp? Aren't they both suffering sleep deprivation and both need each other sharp?
To me the main excellence of this episode are the scenes with Dean and Sam and the room full of gods and then any scene the Trickster/Gabriel is in; Lucifer making an appearance is just icing on the cake to me.
Once again the family drama of Sam and Dean is played out by others. Gabriel can't kill his brother much as Dean has battled that fear for many a season. In the end, Gabriel joins Team Free Will and chooses to come down on the side of humanity; it doesn't end well for him but it didn't end well for Ellen and Jo either; this is a battle to end all battles so casualty count must be as high as the stakes.
I don't mind the reveal at the end that the rings of the horsemen can cage Lucifer. This was somewhat hinted at earlier that the rings embodied a power in the horsemen. What does bother me is that this information was not suggested earlier because what would be the purpose of Sam and Dean keeping War's ring or for that matter Famine's when it appears as if Famine was destroyed by Sam rather than his ring being cut off.
The idea of the rings doesn't bother me overall "“ sweet lord of the rings! "“ but the planning for it should have been hinted at earlier so that the continuity was stronger. I'm just saying.