Everything ends. After two weeks of scattershot plotting, blatant disregard for already established boundaries and canon, continuity once again tossed out the window for fan pandering and sensationalism, and not to mention stories that fail to capture any imagination or interest, the one promising takeaway I got out of all that was Naomi’s sad sentimental words, “Everything ends.”
That’s an awfully cranky and cynical way to start a review, isn’t it? Honestly though, I saw something very promising out of this total mess of a script. No, it wasn’t a redemption for Rowena that she didn’t need or Sam and Dean once again staring the fate monster in the face and realizing that nothing happening here had any consistency from previous years. It was the notion that an end game is coming, and I have been so waiting for this all over the map saga to be over.
Let’s break it down.
This is the story line that caught my interest the entire hour. Was I impressed that Naomi was brought back from the dead? Yes, and no. No in that I never cared for her character. I could have picked about 800 more characters I would have wanted to come back. Yes though in that they corrected a nitpick I have long held and that is how do you kill an angel by putting a drill bit through her head? It makes more sense that she was lobotomized from the whole mess and had her skull wiped rather than her dying. Plus it makes sense that Amanda Tapping get a do over. She’s been a great friend of the show as a guest director since Naomi’s weird demise and has earned this.
But let’s get to the real shocker. There are only nine angels left in Heaven? Nine??? While I think there are more than a couple on earth (there have to be more Castiels out there), I suppose that watching swaths of angels die every week since season four and the fact that they don’t pro-create does justify the low number. I mean come on, how many did Castiel kill alone at the beginning of season seven? It is kind of ironic that Castiel is lthe biggest reason they are in this mess, isn’t it? Free will doesn’t work for everyone.
It isn’t just that there are nine left. It’s that Heaven is shutting down and the souls in Heaven, the billions of them, will fall to earth. Whoa, that’s a pretty big deal. Sam and Dean might want to be made aware of this. However, the whole power issue is another story.
Where the hell is Lucifer? So he decided to abandon Heaven? That’s okay if that’s what happened but maybe a small mention would have serviced the plot better? “By the way “Castiel, Lucifer was here but he’s given up on us too. Having his power got us out of this mess though. We really need him back.” I’m assuming the power surges started after Lucifer left. Of course that’s a bad idea, but given the end of Heaven, it wouldn’t have been the worst one. They’ve done stupider things.
But no, they want Gabriel. I have a hard time believing that this set of events put into motion can be saved by one archangel who has a long history of dodging responsibility. His power isn’t infinite either. They could cage Lucifer in Heaven and plug him in too and that still shouldn’t be enough. I mean, there were thousands of angels before, maybe more. But that’s not the continuity confusion. Aren’t human souls powerful too? More powerful than anything? I thought that was well established in season six. Why aren’t the billions of human souls adding to the power collective? Why not tap into that juice? I suppose the answer lies in whatever the writer’s whim is for that week.
In the last few seasons, nothing has really caught me by surprise. Even Alternate Universe didn’t strike me at a mind blowing original idea because every genre TV show and movie out there these days is flirting with AU. But now, all of the souls in Heaven falling to earth? Imagine the possibilities! The question is, will that be a bad thing? Maybe ghost Bobby will turn out to be an upstanding citizen of Sioux Falls. Maybe most of the ghosts would realize they’ve been given another chance and act on it. Maybe Sam and Dean can retire finally knowing that there is peace and harmony on earth. Okay, I’m joking about the last part. The question is, would the writers have the balls to go there? They chickened out in closing the gates of Hell and didn’t do anything with the angels falling to earth story either. Yep, still bitter.
Bottom line, the writers haven’t truly given the Heaven storyline any justice. Each time Heaven becomes the spotlight the story turns into a campy mess loaded with contradictions and no true fluidity. Angels may have power, but they all have turned into shallow dicks that serve no value whatsoever. It’s turned into scenery chewing rather than offering any real entertainment. To quote Gabriel from “Changing Channels,” I just want it to be over. A shakeup is good. If this ends up being the end of Heaven, better. That’s one less distraction for these writers who have proven multiple storylines are not their forte.
Oh boy, other character redemption! Rowena has been in one other episode this season, and I didn’t think it warranted a character redemption. I mean, she didn’t exactly leave the team on bad terms. Just death. I thought she had established herself as a team player well before that too. Now she’s evil because…she has her own agenda? All the times she’s helped and Dean doesn’t trust her? It all seemed off, but then again, there’s been plenty of off lately.
The biggest injustice to Rowena’s character is her inconsistency. I wrestled with her sudden grief over the loss of Crowley/Fergus. It could make sense I suppose, but didn’t she want Sam to kill him not too long ago? Now she’s feeling guilty? Just last season she killed Fergus’ son as payback. Ah well, I guess we’ll just call theirs a “complicated” relationship and move on.
I’ve never liked when large scenes are burned up with Rowena’s over the top behavior instead of real substance. The whole party scene could have been done in a fraction of the time. But then she calms down and has real moments. I like her bond with Sam. It’s endearing and Sam needs a friend. If anything, I was way more disappointed in Sam trying to kill her! Come on Sam, where’s the inner conscience of yours? Stop listening to Dean all the time. Of course she wasn’t going to kill Sam because he’s the star of the show. But the way the drama played out was still satisfying.
I really liked Billie’s kindness to a crumpled Rowena on the floor. I got two things about of that. First, it’s obvious that Rowena is necessary for the end of days fight ahead. I didn’t see that as a huge stretch. However, I also saw a thinly veiled message to the fandom. “Sometimes life is unfair and sometimes we lose things and sometimes we make mistakes. And some of these things can never be fixed no matter how powerful you become.” It’s there to comfort all those fans smarting over Crowley’s loss, or those of us smarting over dead characters and crappy storylines, or those who have engaged in online bad behavior or better yet, that the end of the series just might be near. Either way, it was a message we all needed to hear, no matter what the context.
So, you may have noticed, but I haven’t done a review in a while. I haven’t had a chance to share my thoughts about the return of Gabriel. With any other character, I would be screaming at the top of my bitter fan girl lungs, “CHEATERS!!!” The biggest of all continuity violations. I mean come on, we saw the wings on the ground! That meant he was dead! God admitted Gabriel was dead at the end of season eleven. I mean seriously, he didn’t know? HOWEVER, to this day, I think “Hammer of the Gods” was the second to worst piece of s*** I’ve ever seen in this series (behind the ill conceived “Bloodlines”). Gabriel’s death was bogus and always has been one of the worst mistakes of the series (next to poor Charlie who…guess what??). The fact that he decided to pull a con, throw Sam and Dean a bone with the video tape and then leave, I’m…strangely okay with it.
His “miraculous” healing given his withered state was a bit much, plus I have a hard time believing he was imprisoned that long by a Knight of Hell, people we only found out about in season twelve, who only this season decided he wanted to come out and rule. I won’t dig into that too much since that was last week’s drama and you know what happens to my blood pressure when I nitpick Brad and Eugenie.
Do you honestly believe though that Gabriel will be the savior of Heaven? Perhaps earth as well? Will he be the one after his ordeal to help Team Freewill in saving the Earth from AU Michael? Refresh my memory, why does AU Michael want to conquer this earth as well as his own? Because he’s a dick? His threat in my mind isn’t a credible one. It’s more likely to be one of those ill conceived plot lines that will be tossed aside in a half assed way because no one wanted to go there.
Sorry, I diverted myself there. The point is, I’d like Gabriel to go back to his life of porn stars and pranking people who likely deserve it. The savior of Heaven sounds like an awful fate for this guy. He’ll probably end up like Crowley and be bored by the bureaucracy of it all then go off on a bender that will last another 2000 years. I’m not sure where they are going with his return, but I hope it doesn’t turn out to be as disappointing and out of character as God’s return.
The Other Stuff
I’m not exactly sure why the Reapers were there. While I find Jessica cute, she was nothing more than “plucky comic relief.” Okay, she tapped into the fandom quirks of Sam’s hair products and Dean’s engagement in tentacle porn (yes, in SPN fan fiction that is a thing) so fan service got it’s time. But why oh why would she tell Sam that he would be the one to kill Rowena? Why play that card? I quote the Cosmic Entity from Episode 13.04:
Yes. That’s right. Nothing. Nothing but Empty. And you are soaking in it. Angels and demons, you all come here when you die.
A lot if trouble could have been saved if Sam and Dean told Rowena about The Big Empty when they met up with her (or her projection) in the bar. Or, the reapers could have shared that tidbit! “Rowena, he’s in the Big Empty, it’s over.” I didn’t think reapers could bring anything back from that. But yeah, whatever, I guess learning about burning up reapers when you’re killing someone must have been cooler.
Speaking of Sam, why does he at this stage of the game continue to plead for his life each time it’s threatened? It’s like a daily occurrence for him. For someone who has died enough times, and with the actual Death in the room, wouldn’t a simple “do it” been a little more badass? No? Okay, moving on.
This week’s episode also brought forward another nagging issue I’ve had all season (the last few seasons actually). Sam, Dean and Castiel are in full reactionary mode, unable to see or even choosing to address the big picture. I get that Mary is important to Sam and Dean but why is their primary focus on Mary and Jack, risking everything for that purpose, when there is a much bigger picture at stake here? They are the guardians of earth, chosen by God himself. Why aren’t Sam and Dean seeing all the pieces of the puzzle here? They’re pretty smart guys. Michael could overtake the earth, now the dead could overtake the earth, Lucifer is loose and could still destroy the earth, and they’re not putting faith in the fact that maybe the super powerful Nephilim that has more power than archangels combined won’t figure out how to come through on his end. Heck maybe he’s actually conquering that other world as they speak. Where is the forward thinking and real strategy?
All that comes down to the writing. There’s really no effort being put into telling Sam and Dean’s story anymore, another signal that maybe it’s time for things to end. All I see are random events, writers writing in silos, and like throwing spaghetti at a wall, they’re waiting to see what sticks. They’re throwing “end of world” stakes at us all over the place, but they’re not coming with any urgency or meaning behind it. Oh yeah, Michael wants to destroy the world, no problem, where’s my Mommy? You know, the mother Sam and Dean have lived a lifetime without. Lucifer, a very lethal menace, was ruling Heaven, but now he’s back on earth. Didn’t he used to be a priority once? Why was that dropped? Deans fit over losing Gabriel last week came across as a desperate ploy to work some emotional elements into the plot rather than any real substance behind it. It was no different that Sam’s blue funk earlier in the season. What happened to that? If anyone has a right to be in a total snit, it’s Sam.
It’s still hard for me to watch what little attention and care is being put into the season long arcs. i’ve accepted a long time ago that this is not the show it used to be, that the level of excellence will never reach what went into the first few seasons, but I cannot accept that some show is better than no show at all when all I notice in these episodes is lack of attention to detail, plenty of blown opportunities, and a total disregard for the characters I’ve grown fond of. So yes, “everything ends” suddenly becomes a comfort. I’m looking for the rainbow.
However, I’ll push all that off until next week just because of the fight scene with Dean and Rowena’s henchmen alone. Now that’s fight choreography for the win! Who needs sound plotting when we get us some awesome smackdown! Jensen’s still got it, even at 40.
I’ll just give “Funeralia” an A+ for the fight scene and a C- for everything else. It’s too late in the game this season for me to say “try harder” so we’ll just sit back for the next few episodes and see if any of this adds up. I know my future strategy now for getting through these poorly done episodes. I just take solace in knowing, everything ends.
THEN: Castiel is watching the night sky fill with falling stars, i.e. angels, Rowena, Dean with Billie as the new Death, then Gabriel killing Asmodeus and choosing to leave instead of joining Team Free Will.
NOW: It's a fancy art gallery in Portland, Oregon. Rowena, in a classy black gown, is enjoying a drink with her male companion when her phone rings. It's Sam, Dean, and Cas calling from the bunker. They need her to help rescue their family and confront the archangel Michael. Rowena stays flirty and friendly but isn't interested in helping. She calls them her beautiful Musketeers and hangs up, then approaches a society lady, gushes about meeting her, but then quietly references a newspaper article. This bothers the woman, but Rowena sweeps away after leaving her purse for the woman to hold. She dances a dramatic tango with her large companion; then, during one dramatic dip, her eyes glow purple and her hand shoots out. The woman bursts into flame and burns alive.
Supernatural’s “Bring ‘em Back Alive” crammed at least three game changing events into one episode! It was a bit jolting, abruptly closing plot lines I expected would run for at least 2-3 more episodes, but that made the episode (for the most part) enoyably intense. I thought Dean's shocking entry into the rift last week began a steady acceleration to the finale, with parallel fights: Dean and Ketch finding Mary, Bobby and Jack; while Sam, Castiel and Gabriel fought off Asmodeus and his search for Jack’s power. I totally got sucked into Dean’s prediction that they were on the ultimate multi-week rescue mission where he would miss the 24 hours deadline, search for and finally find Mary and Jack, but then would need Sam and Castiel to come save them all. Instead, this episode raced through all that in less than one day, dealing several supposed set-backs to Team Free Will.
Then: A small grate in a door slides back. Ketch and Asmodeus peer in at Gabriel. We see glimpses of Mary in Alt World as well as a reminder that an archangel is needed to create a spell to get into that world. We see Dean and Ketch step through the rift and Sam watching worriedly.
Now: A black and white world, barren branches, a snow-laden woods - suddenly, a narrow, glowing rift appears. Dean and Ketch come through. "Where are we?" Dean admits to not knowing where they are; it's different from where they were before. He expects Ketch to leave, but Ketch wants to help him find Jack and Mary. Mary will probably kill you when she sees you, says Dean, and Ketch agrees but says that Dean needs backup.