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Open Supernatural Couch - Houses of the Holy
Knocking on Heaven's Door
All of us have our favourite episodes, haven't we? A long summer hiatus is, for me, the perfect time to take a look back, and then take a closer look at some of my fave episodes. Houses of the Holy, directed by the ingenious and missed Kim Manners, is one of them. The inspiration simply struck, and I'd like to invite you, kind readers, to follow me down memory lane to an older episode, when the hunters didn't have an inkling of what as waiting for them...
The episode begins with a classic method missionaries, the inquisition, evil gurus or other self-righteous, so-called religious men have used for centuries - if you find a person who doesn't really believe, make them. Only in this episode it's a spirit that's doing the convincing, and it's done for a blinding selfish reason, the certainty that it was this spirit's assignment, for the miserable spirit believes to be an angel.
Gloria, a disillusioned prostitute who perhaps once was an avid believer (we see many figurines of angels in her apartment) zaps through her TV programme and seems caught by a television priest. 'I'm here to tell you, folks, the Lord is with you.' Her face shows that she doesn't approve, she might even think 'bite me!', as I can imagine her believing that God has abandoned her. She's not happy. She smokes too much. She hates her job. Somewhere along the way she probably lost... and found herself in the trash, just like the stuffed animal she put onto some garbage bin. The story behind this face is a tragic one. And she can't believe that God gives a damn about her.  
She can't hear 'those angels's time, it's time to hear the message descending! It's time to listen to the word of God! Can't you just hear the word?... I say... can't you just hear the glory?!' Okay, shut up now. You've got her attention! Congratulations - she's terrified, and ready to kill for you, Father Gregory. Whatever happened to Thou shalt not kill?!
The result of her encounter with an 'angel' is a probably permanent residence in a psychiatry's secure ward and antipsychotic medication. Doctors think her insane. That's why she responds to Sam with irony, but opens up the moment he asks for her story. I'm amazed at the sincerity Sam shows here. I don't think it's simply his puppy dog strategy. He feels for that woman. Even more, perhaps, because he does believe in angels and can't think of a reason why they would make someone kill somebody else. 
Also, on a shallow note, Sam looks incredibly attractive in this scene. She should wear white more often. It suits him, gosh, what a lovely man. It also occurred to me that there might be a reason we rarely see Sam in short sleeves - perhaps it's important, sometimes, to conceal the skin condition Jared obviously has. It looks like vitiligo (on his elbows, a disorder that causes depigmentation of skin, which can be sometimes almost invisible, and sometimes more visible. Sorry, analytic eye seems to notice everything...).  A minor imperfection which only adds to his attractiveness, on my planet.
Okay, back to the story... and another shallow moment... can't think of a moment when Dean was cuter than here, enjoying the magic fingers. Come on, Sam, but the annoyed face away - what else should the guy do when he's on lockdown?! After that unpleasant encounter with the Nightshifter in Milwaukee, he's entitled to some fun. And he's having it, but still he's able to focus on Sam's report (possibly because he runs out of quarters).
'She's living in a locked ward and is totally at peace.' Which impresses Sam who doesn't jump at Dean's sarcasm right away. 'She wouldn't be the first nutjob in history to kill in the name of religion, know what I mean?'
'No, but she's the second in town to murder because an angel told them to. Little bit odd, don't you think?'
'Odd, yes. Supernatural, maybe, but angels... no.'
'Why not?'
'Cause there's no such thing, Sam.'
'Dean, there's ten times as much lore on angels as there is about everything else we've ever hunted.'
'Hey, you know, there's a ton of lore on unicorns, too. In fact, I hear they ride on silver moonbeams and they shoot rainbows outta their ass.'
'Wait, there's no such thing as unicorns?'
'That's cute. I'm just saying, there's some legends you file under bull crap.'
'And you got angels on the bull crap list?'
'Because I've never seen one.'
'So what?'
'So, I believe in what I can see.'
'Dean, you and I have seen things most people couldn't even dream about!'
'Exactly! With our own eyes, that's hard proof. Okay? But in all this time, I have never seen anything that looks like an angel. And don't you think that, if they existed, we'd have crossed paths with them or at least know someone that crossed paths with them? No, this is a demon or a spirit.'
I have always been amazed at the passionate response Dean shoots back at his brother here. He's right. This is, indeed, a spirit. But his instincts come from painful experiences in the past. An angry disappointment that has been his company ever since their mother died. Because she believed in angels. She believed that angels were watching over them. But when she died, no angel stepped in. Dean the child was not able to put this away, and Dean the grown up isn't either. Sam doesn't know about that, tough. Not yet.
Dean believes that there is random, unpredictable evil out there that comes out of nowhere and rips you to shreds. He saw it happen to their mom. It made him believe in the existence of evil. But he hasn't learned to believe in the existence of good. Not really. I'm sure, he feels strongly about good deeds and standing up for a good cause, but that there might be a correspondence, an entity to balance out evil... no, not to his experience. 
I'm certain that Sam's openness to the possibility of angels brings back a lot of pain for Dean. He doesn't open up about it just yet, but he uses sarcasm and irony to conceal that, like he so often does. He will continue to dismiss the idea of an angel for almost the entire episode with remarks like 'a sign from up above' (upon finding the angel figure on the porch) and 'I've learned a valuable lesson: always take down your Christmas decorations after New Year, or you might get filleted by a hooker from God.'
I also believe that it hurts Sam. Being a believer myself, I notice sometimes how much words like that can hurt, especially coming from someone I feel close to. Though I am highly critical when it comes to religion as a matter to enslave people, make them stop thinking for themselves or expand fundamentalism, I'm still somewhat protective of my faith. And it hurts when friends speak about it in a devaluating or derogatory manner, even though they are, of course, entitled to their own opinions.
Judging from Sam's expressions and his later explanations on how he prays every day, it must be painful for him to hear those words coming from his brother. He surely knows that there is pain behind those, too, but has no chance of knowing what Dean means... so far.
Looking at this episode now, from the viewpoint of someone who's seen all the seasons so far, comes with a significant portion of irony. Dean, the sceptic who didn't believe in angels, becomes really close with one in the future and is chosen for an important assignment by Heaven itself, while Sam, the believer who used to pray every day, gets chosen by the Devil... It's quite painful, actually. 
Even though Dean is not convinced to be dealing with angels, he's more than willing to take a look at the scenes of the 'holy killings'. And, well, they do find what the guys were guilty of. It is most unfortunate that the angelic appointees killed them. They would have had a great time in prison. Paedophiles are not welcome among prison inmates. They would have been reaching for the soap  more often than they bargained for...
'I guess if you wanna stab someone - good timing. I don't know man, this is weird, you know. Sure, some sprits are out for vengeance, but this one's almost like a do-gooder, you know, like a...'
'... avenging angel? How else do you explain it, Dean? Three guys not connected to each other, all stabbed through the heart? At least two were world class pervs, and I bet if you dug deep enough on the other guy-'
And, yes, both went to the same church, as Dean notices. Our Lady of the Angels. Of course. What else? 
This episode is, in addition to the delayering of some of our protagonists motivations, a study on hypocrites within a religious community. The dangerous kind. You know, the serial killer type - quiet, inconspicuous, nice... with their pathology hidden behind low-profile activities like regularly going to church...
I love this show! Gosh, I do. Whenever I watch the episodes, even the older ones, I discover new aspects and angles. 
Of course, what could be more natural for the Winchesters than to pay a visit to the said church and its priest? This time pretending to be from Freemont, Texas... Texas again, eh, guys? Oh, Dean, the idea of settling for an Irish name for a Catholic priest was fine, just a tad beside the point.
'Like I always say, you can expect a miracle, but in the meantime you work your butt off.' I like Father Reynolds immediately. He's not afraid of making use of the English language, with a fine sense of humour. And he's wonderfully portrayed by Denis Arndt, an actor I've seen in many a TV series. I just like his face. There is a kind of warmth to it that often touches me. And Father Reynolds seems very down-to-earth and honest. He's doing his best. No one can do more, right? And still he hasn't seen through the façade of those parishioners of his... he hasn't spotted their dark souls. Though a priest, he's only human. 
'So you don't believe in those angels yarns?'
'Oh, I absolutely believe. It kinda goes with the job description.'
And we meet the archangel Michael for the first time here - on a baroque portrait, impressive and beautiful. 'That's true, the archangel Michael with the flaming sword, the fighter of demons. Holy force against evil.' It sounds a lot like the role Dean will be asked to embody in a few years. And, well, these brothers and their allies have been forces of light against evil... for as long as we've known them.
'So, they're not really the hallmark card version that everybody thinks? They're fierce, right? Vigilant.' Sam's opinion of angels is quite remarkable, I'd say. As Father Reynolds describes Michael, Sam instantly thinks of them as warriors (which is confirmed by Father Reynolds), that can be sent down from Heaven to execute an order from God, in this case command a human being to kill another, thereby punish them the way God would see fit. A very Old-Testamentary view - an eye for an eye. No forgiveness, but harsh retribution. 

Perhaps, even, he finds something in this picture that reminds him of his life as a hunter. Fighter of demons. Force against evil. It's very much how Sam conceives of his brother and himself - to be fighters of evil, protectors of the innocent. 
'I'd like to think of them as more loving than wrathful, but, yes, a lot of scripture paints angels as God's warriors. “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, the glory of the Lord shone done upon them, and they were terrified.” Luke two nine.'
As they leave the church they hear about Father Gregory's fate. And instantly, Dean puts the puzzle together. Instincts tuned to perfection. He knows what happened. Upon hearing their confessions, Gregory knew the deepest secrets of the victims (I often wonder how priests deal with what they sometimes hear. The laws of the church are strict. Confession is sacred. There is a grand old Hitchcock film with Montgomery Clift and Anne Baxter, I Confess, that deals with the dilemma a priest can face when entrusted with the confession of a murder.)
Dean just knows that it must be a vengeful spirit, while Sam interprets the situation complying to his own belief - that 'Father Reynolds started praying for God's help about two months ago, right? Right about the time all this started happening?'
We construe circumstances according to our own system of beliefs, thoughts, reality, hopes... 
SPN 0546  

(...) 'From the get-go you've been willing to buy this angel crap, man. What's next, you're gonna start praying every day?'
'I do.'
'I do pray every day. I have for a long time.'
'The things you learn about a guy.'


Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-06-29 06:45
When I watched this particular episode the second go round on the series, I had an "Ah Ha" moment. This entire episode, without perhaps meaning to originally, foreshadows everything that is to come.

It is no mistake or coincidence that they go out of their way to mention Michael and his Michael Sword. It is no mistake that angels are described as warriors, soldiers for God. I often feel like the show put ALL their cards on the table for the viewer, tipping their hand to what was coming---all without completely revealing their trump cards or next play. It grips me meta fictionally and makes me just amazed at how this show is constructed in so many ways.

Of course, when they did this episode one has to wonder how much of the Apocalypse storyline as we know it on the show was already planned or not. It's just another one of those things to speculate on, I suppose.

As for the episode itself, I always feel my heart break for both brothers. And for all the reasons you mentioned. I thought Jared and Jensen played both their roles beautifully in this episode. And Kim Manners, genius that he is, pulled every ounce right out of them. You could feel Sam's heart break as the doubts flooded him, when he realized that he had been chasing a ghost and not an angel. You can feel the scarred but never healed wound bleed a new when Dean describes the last moments he had with his mother. It's just beautifully written, directed, and acted.

Perhaps when I get back from my vacation and convention and all of that jazz, leading up to the new season I'll go through the series from the top again. You're right. There's always a new angle, a new twist that you pick up on when you rewatch an episode. It's what makes this show so wonderful!

Thanks for this retro open couch!
# Jasminka 2011-06-30 13:43
Thank you, FarAwayEyes, looking at old episodes is one of the simple pleasures during a hiatus... I`m glad you liked this. :-) , Jas
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-06-30 15:35
I haven't sat down to do some reviews of older episodes or really any of season 6. I'm doing other stuff with articles (the one that's already here and a couple more brewing in the head) Of course, the monkey wrench in all of this is I leave on vacation and have a convention next weekend, so when do I manage to write said articles!?

Older episodes can be so much fun for so many reasons and you picked a really really good one here to start.
# Linda-bookdal 2011-06-29 09:14
Thank you, Jas. This is one of my favorite episodes as well. It works so well on different levels, from Sam's subdued belief (which we see later in his interactions with Castiel in season 4) to Dean's cynicism that hides his disappointment in the structures of faith. The entire episode, as Far Away notes, foreshadows so much that will occur during the angel plotline.

Thank you for the open couch....I'll have to go back and watch this one again.
# Jasminka 2011-06-30 13:45
Isn`t it nice, Linda, to indulge oneself with retro episodes... In fact, I`m going to do it in a few minutes with a lovely friend by my side, on my birthday. Can`t imagine a better way to end this beautiful day. Cheers, Jas
# Junkerin 2011-07-01 03:04
Happy Birthday to you Jasminka!! Hope you had some fun.
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2011-06-29 11:25
Hands down, one of the best episodes of the series (and one of my faves). It’s not one that I automatically think of when asked but it’s an amazing episode, simple yet staggeringly weighted. It’s not often you thank an episode for ripping your heart out, stomping on it, before giving it a wee kiss and shoving it back on in you but Houses of the Holy does that, and I thank it for it every time. I get all teary every time I watch it. (I actually have a lump in my throat reading this article).

It starts off so innocuously, Sam chatting to a patient in a mental institution, the boys disagreeing on what’s going on, the traditional brotherly banter, Dean sulking because he’s grounded, his delight at the magic fingers (an underrated character), Sam’s discomfort at Dean’s aforementioned pleasurable habits (ahem), Sammy sarcasm (Sam’s funny when he’s sarcastic!) and Dean’s abject refusal to believe in angels (boy, will you learn!). It’s interesting to look back now, over four years later and see that the show started laying the foundation of the angel storylines even back then.

I think the reveal that Sam actively prays is interesting, and it’s something that is quite difficult to comprehend given Dean’s attitude to religion. I imagine John also eschewed religion after Mary died so it’s unlikely he got his faith that way which basically meant Sam read and believed. (Though sometimes I wonder if Sam found religion while he was with Jessica or in the aftermath of her death. Did he turn to God when he started having visions? Perhaps he knew this was something he couldn’t discuss with anyone else so he hoped God would listen, and maybe guide him.) I like the fierceness of this type of faith; it makes it (to me) so much stronger, that you choose to believe. Course, that makes it the more devastating when you lose your faith. It also makes me wonder about the strength of Sam’s relationship with Pastor Jim (all 15 seconds we saw of him!)

It’s really interesting to find out that Dean had no idea about that side of Sam and I bet it made him wonder what else he doesn’t know about his brother. Likewise, Sam had no idea about Mary and what she believed in until Dean told him. It makes us realise that as much as Sam and Dean know each other, there’s a huge amount they don’t know about each other.

Dean the Disbeliever! How ironic is it later on that our own little Doubting Thomas was the first one to have incontrovertibl e proof that angels exist. (Actually, how cool was it that Father Gregory’s first name is Thomas. He also doubted, believing God meant for him to kill, not save).

However, as much as there are many funny parts in this episode (Spongebob..... ), there are so many moments that make my stomach knot. The look on Sam’s face when he first sees the ‘angel’, he wants to believe in them so fecking bad it’s painful to watch. He looks like he did when he first saw Mary in Home, full of wonder and almost afraid to blink for fear it won't be there when he opens his eyes, such is the magnitude of what he’s seeing; he’s waited so long to see both. (What a pity that seeing them ended up being a kick in the nuts for him both times). Sam’s growing desperation as he chooses to eschew his logical brain and the mounting evidence that this is nothing more than a spirit, to cast all his knowledge and training aside for hope is painful to watch. Dean asked him ‘Don’t you want to know for sure?’ No, I don’t think Sam does want to know for sure. If he knows for sure, then all might be lost. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. (That’s why I leave my credit card bills unopened.)

Also poignant to watch are the various flashes of comprehension on Dean’s face when he is reminded of Sam’s destiny. It’s like he lets himself forget for a moment or two then its shoved right back in his face. I love the argument between Sam and Dean in relation to the man that Sam is meant to stop. Dean argues he hasn’t done anything wrong, Sam argues that he shouldn’t be given the chance to do something wrong, once again portents of what’s to come.

It’s painful to think that for the briefest of moments Sam must have felt so damn good, so at peace, to believe that he was chosen, fecking handpicked by Heaven to do good, to get a chance to right the multitude of wrongs that were done to him and he feared he would do, only to have that come crashing down around him with the realisation that no, it’s just a spirit manipulating him. He’s been chosen by do evil, again. Something else supernatural knows who Sam is, knows him on a first name basis like Meg, Ruby, Azazael, Lucifer and a whole host more. By the end of the episode Sam must be wondering if there isn’t any tendril of evil out there he hasn’t been touched by. He must be thinking these Supernatural beings drawn to him. Dean must be thinking it too, much as he will vehemently deny it.

The crushed look on Sam’s face when he realises ‘It’s just Father Gregory’. There’s something about that one line... An event that would be so extraordinary for someone else, is something that Sam has seen so often he’s numb to it. It breaks me that Sam is the one who takes Father Gregory’s faith away. I love how Sam and Father Reynolds actually talk Father Gregory into resting, there’s no violence, no burning bones, just peaceful acceptance and transition. (I think I find this harder to watch than a digging graves and burning bones type of death. Father Gregory, despite how scared he is, just kneels down and accepts his fate much the same as Sam does 3 ½ years later. How sucky must their worlds have been that they would welcome death?)

I also find the realisation that Dean sees Gods will in violent acts to be hard to take. This is the world that Dean has grown up in, surrounded by hate and evil, so much so that when he sees death, he thinks it could be Gods work. It's not fate, not justice, it's God. Another ow.

There are some things that puzzle me ie ‘Some people need redemption, don’t they Sam.’ How on earth does Father Gregory know so much about Sam? I mean, he could have written that final speech with Sam in mind; talking about finding peace, beating demons and getting the keys to heaven. What Sam wouldn’t have given to have had that, even at this early stage. Father Gregory said the magic word, ‘redemption†™. Sam had been seeking it for years. No wonder he was in such a mess after hearing it.

And the final scene.... (I’ve today realised I don’t need to watch the entire episode to set me off, the last three minutes are more than enough.) I usually find it difficult to watch this, mainly because that lump in my throat is now the size of a basketball and there’s this strange fluid like substance welling up in my eyes. Sam is just so worn down, so weary of life at this stage. No matter how much he wants to believe or he tried to get away from his destiny, it pulls him back in. It’s no wonder Sam feels he can’t escape evil because it is everywhere. Everywhere the kid turns there’s more pain, more evil, more wrong. (It's even more painful looking back now because we know it's going to get a hell of a lot worse for the guy.)

Dean, in typical Dean fashion, tries to make it all better, tries to give him hope, tries to keep his head above water but it isn't enough. I think it's kinda cool that Dean is slowly gaining what Sam is losing. He tells Sam he’s watching out for him, that he won’t let anything happen to him but as much as Sam believes him, his belief that his fate is bigger than Dean is stronger. This is in itself crushing, Sam’s realisation that the guy who, for him, is larger than life, unstoppable, his idol since Sam was knee-high to a grasshopper, that he is just a man and might be powerless in the face of what could happen. Ow. Watching the loss of Sam’s faith is agonising to say the least. Bastard of a show....

This episode really is an underrated little gem. Thanks Jasminka. And apologies for going on (and on and on). The couch is really comfy. Did you get new cushions??
# Jasminka 2011-06-30 13:49
Thank you, EnchantingTim, glad you enjoyed the comfy couch. You noticed I didn`t bring the inquisitor`s cushions...
:lol: , Jas
# Sylvie 2011-06-29 12:21
Thank you Jas for another beautifully written article. You know, we tend to forget this episode when someone asks us for our favourite SPN episode. Not because it's forgettable, but because it is so wonderfully understated. As Far Away Eyes mentioned, it's a precursor of things to come.

Sam wanting to believe and Dean being the unbeliever, it just breaks my heart. But I can sympathize with both guys here. Something happened to me when I was thirteen that made me hate God, even wonder if He existed. My father died, actually took his own life while I was asleep upstairs, everyone else was gone. I was always a believer, prayed every night for the welfare of my family, and He does this to me, takes my father away? Then, a few months later, I had a dream that I believe to this day was sent to me by my father. Some sort of an apology if you will. It restored my faith in God and the afterlife. I needed it then, and I still need it. So, yes Jas, I think we will be reunited with our loved ones when we pass. My sister just laughs at me (she's quite the unbeliever) but it brings me comfort.

I will be rewatching "Houses of the Holy" tonight. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about how this show can make us think about our own beliefs and mortality.

I just hope I didn't bum anyone out with my sob story. I've recovered, my father died 34 years ago this past week.
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2011-06-30 00:03

Your story of your Dad touched me deeply. It reminds me of a friend I have now, whose father died the same way. My friend is now in the process of launching some amazing suicide-awarene ss projects and discussions (nation-wide), in an effort to break the silence and get people talking about this issue. Sharing your story is so important.

It also reminded me of a friend in university, who had an experience very similiar to yours. Her brother killed himself when she was only about 14. They had been very close. She missed him terribly and felt tremendous guilt. Then, one night, he came to her in a dream and they had a long conversation. He absolved her of any blame and encouraged her to be happy. She woke up feeling like she'd found some peace with the way he died, and with him and it allowed her to move forward with her life.

I wanted you to know you didn't bum me out with your story. And I hope these other stories help you a little too.


Pragmatic Dreamer
# Jasminka 2011-06-30 13:54
Sylvie, to hear what you obviously had to go through moves me. When my mom died (happily not from choosing suicide, so I was lucky), I also had a dream which calmed me down, because she was well, smiling and happy, and I took that as a sign that she is in a good place.

I can only try to imagine what it means to lose a parent under such circumstances, but I am very relieved to hear that you have recovered. Sometimes it actually is possible to go on and leave pain behind. At least a huge part of it.
I doubt you did bum anyone with your story. I salute you for having the guts to share it here, with strangers.

Take care, Jas
# Sylvie 2011-07-01 17:11
I want to thank you both for your kind thoughts. When I hit the send button, I had doubts about what I shared, I do have a tendency to overshare sometimes, but after reading what you wrote, I'm very happy I did.

I rewatched the episode that very night, and it had me tearing up bigtime. My friend just doesn't get how I can watch this show over and over again, it's hard to explain to the "uninitiated" I guess. This is why I'm so glad this site exists, because even though you are all strangers, we are all connected through SPN.
# Ellie 2011-06-29 12:21
Underrated gem is so true this is one of my favourite SPN episodes and that last scene btween the boys one of my all time favourites.I am so pleased that Jasminka chose this thank you .
# Jasminka 2011-06-30 13:59
Much obliged, Ellie. Glad you enjoyed this. :-) , Jas
# AndreaW 2011-06-29 12:31
This is one of my favorite episodes and Season 2 is my favorite season. I miss those times in many levels. Thank you for this "retro" session. :-)

I also love it that you mentioned one of my favorite (and sadly underapreciated )Hitchcock movies. This is a great movie is Montgomery Clift is wonderful as always.
# Jasminka 2011-06-30 14:03
Hi Andrea, I am happy that you liked it... And I might consider writing one about your desired episode! thank you, Jas
# AndreaW 2011-06-29 17:24
Jas, would you consider writing a coach for Born Under a Bad Sign? This is the episode that follows Houses of the Holy, and ironically it's where Sam is fully hit by the evil he so dreaded. Not to mention that this is a fabulous episode.
# Alice 2011-06-29 23:00
I absolutely love this episode, but out of all the past episodes, this one is the hardest for me to go back and watch. Poor, poor, Sammy, clinging onto a shred of hope, completely distraught over his destiny and what's to come, that hope falls apart on him. His confession at the end is especially heartbreaking now considering what's happened to him since then. He's endured more agony, pain, heartache, physical and emotional torture than any man could bear. It's really sad hearing him worry about his future and then knowing it does indeed get much worse for him.

That doesn't mean I still don't love the episode though, I do, it's just more painful now. Great write up Jas! I definitely need to recap this one someday.
# Jasminka 2011-06-30 14:06
Thank you Alice! Julie is lending me her computer, so I can take a look here. I`m so happy that you enjoyed this. Please do recap this one, I`d loooooove it.
love, Jas
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2011-06-29 23:54
Hi Jas,

Your article is a gem, about a gem of an episode. I think of HOTH as a diamond - but instead of light, it catches and reflects thoughts, ideas and notions; it sparkles with new insights and understandings. But it is a hard, hard episode too, (and we know diamonds are among the hardest of substances) because of the emotion it churns up in the brothers and in us, and because of the doubts and truths it drills into, and brings to the surface.

I love how this episode foreshadows what is to come in later seasons. I also love how Dean suddenly gets more interested when Father Reynolds starts talking about the Archangel Michael as a warrior, and as someone who killed demons. It's like Dean is a dog picking up a new scent. You can see him vibrate with excitement.

I wonder sometimes if the writers actually used this episode as touchstone when they wrote about angels in later years. Not so much foreshadowing as creating the groundwork, laying the foundation. For instance, Dean's speech in Houses of the Holy, about only believing what he can see, and he hasn't seen angels before is almost the same speech as the one he gives Sam in Are You There God It's Me Dean Winchester. Even though Dean has now seen Castiel, he's still trying to argue that there is no proof he's an angel. I think the writers were so pleased with this episode they let it become the path for the angel stories to follow (If you follow what I'm saying).

I agree with all who have said that, knowing what we know now, it's heartbreaking to watch Sam struggle with his faith, and what his destiny might hold. It holds all the pain and darkness he was so worried about. Dean's speech is also equally tragic, because he did save Sam, but through those actions inadvertently condemned him to his destiny as well. These brothers are doomed!

I also think Dean called the skewering of the would-be-rapist as possibly God's will, because that's how Father Reynolds had been describing the actions of the warrior angels. It seemed, through his description, that they were acting on the orders of a more venegeful, wrathful deity than what is known in the New Testament.

Which leads me to wonder, new God!Cas seems rather Old Testament venegeful, and wrathful with his "worship me or die" monologue. Will the writers return to the creative juices of HOTH to shape the God!Cas character and his actions? And will the brothers long role as demon hunters, and Dean's link to Michael be significant in a new way?

Like you, I really admire how this episode gets me to ponder faith and belief. I too have a faith. It's not entirely conventional, and it's a hodgepodge of this & that, but it comforts me on the darkest days. And that's what faith is supposed to do - guide you, comfort you, give you strength.

Which leads me back to Sam & Dean. I think Dean has a very strong faith. He doesn't believe in God, but he does believe in the power of Love (long before he said it ironically in PONR). He believes that he can save Sam, and that Sam, above all others, is worth saving. That's what guides him, comforts him, gives him strength. Loving Sam, protecting Sam, keeping him safe is Dean's daily prayer of action, if not words. Sscripture says "God is Love". So Dean is perhaps far more faithful than even he knew.

Tim's right! These new cushions are super comfy. And the cookies are delicious.

Thanks for this. I'm going to go watch it now! (My house is empty for the moment and I have the TV to myself!)
# Jasminka 2011-06-30 14:07
Hi PDreamy, stay as long as you wish on my comfy couch. I`m happy that you are enjoying yourself! :-) , Jas
# FMJemena 2011-06-30 00:50
Beautiful, beautiful article and posts. Thanks!
# Jasminka 2011-06-30 14:08
And I thank you! :lol: , Jas
# CitizenKane2 2011-06-30 02:29
Just wanted to drop a note to say that I throughly enjoyed reading this.

One of my favorite parts of your article - "Looking at this episode now, from the viewpoint of someone who’s seen all the seasons so far, comes with a significant portion of irony. Dean, the sceptic who didn’t believe in angels, becomes really close with one in the future and is chosen for an important assignment by Heaven itself, while Sam, the believer who used to pray every day, gets chosen by the Devil… It’s quite painful, actually."
# Jasminka 2011-06-30 14:09
CitizenKane2, I am truly happy that you enjoyed this.Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!
Cheers, Jas
# isleofskye 2011-06-30 07:44
Wonderful episode. One the favourites in my list of preferred heartbreaking episodes.

Sam's heartfelt plea at the end just knocks the fight out of you especially now, knowing all that he will have to go through.( and very unfairly I may add!)

In my humble opinion every single episode of Supernatural is special and even in the least appreciated ones there is always some little moment that shines through.

In the episode The Real Ghostbusters which is my 100% most unloved one ,the line that false Dean delivers saying that Dean should be happy because he gets to save the world every day and has a brother who would die for him makes real Dean smile for a second( and me too after having suffered through the rest of the episode) before he goes off to face some more misery.
best regards
# Jasminka 2011-06-30 14:10
Welcome, isleofskye! And thank you ever so much for your nice comment! Cheers, Jas
# isleofskye 2011-07-01 04:13
Thank you for your kind words. regards
# Junkerin 2011-06-30 08:16
I watched the epi before comming to you couch. I have not seen it for a long, long time and watching it now again brought in some biter tast. Because we know the angels are watching but there are not watching out (meaning interfering). They meet the Trickster/Gabri el in two episodes. So for me that means that they were the forces behinde that were pushing, watching the Winchesters (especily Sam) going down. Seeing this episode now proofs that Sam never had a chance for redemtion befor he played his part (opening the cage and beeing Lucifers vessel).
But I remember seeing the epi for the first time and I was totaly with Sam and his belive in angels and I asked myself will they go there and show angels?!
I know I do have faith and believe in a higher power. I like,want and need the guidience that faith can give and I try to pass it to my children because I know someday they need help or advice I can not give because I´m myself still looking for them.
Oh god my english... I hope you know what I mean. :D
# Jasminka 2011-06-30 14:12
Hi Junkerin, don`t worry, of course I got what you meant to say! thank you, Jas
# Karen 2011-07-02 11:27
Hi Jasminka
A wonderful couch session here.
There are so many gems with this show.
So many that reach out and touch you in some way or another.
Or that gives you some new prospective to these characters lives.
This episode is definitely one of them.
No matter how many times I’ve seen this one, the ending gets to me everytime.
With Sam’s heart felt confession of how hard the job is at times and how he desperately wants to believe he could be saved. And then there’s Dean for the first time possibility believing that God could exist… all the time Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door playing in the back ground (one of many favourites I have of Dylan’s).
Thank you for sharing this with us Jas.
I hope you are able to find the time to do more.
# Jasminka 2011-07-15 13:53
Karen thank you so much for your sweet comment. I apologize for this late reply. I haven't been able to access the net due to technical problems, but now, finally, I am back...

love, Jas