“Don’t count on God. Okay? Count on us.” “God helps those who help themselves.” These two quotes have been key to Supernatural's season 11, and they play a major role in the episode “All In the Family.” The Winchesters are finally confronted with God under the guise of Chuck---and they have many questions and need many answers. And yet, instead of simply stepping in and fixing everything, God seems far more interested in lounging around the Men of Letter's Bunker. His inaction, on the surface, seems rather out of place and troubling considering the coming annihilation of the universe at his sister's hands. And yet, as we dig into his interactions with Sam and Dean, with the new prophet Donatello, and even with Lucifer, we can see that he has chosen to put his faith in his greatest creation instead. Certainly he'll step in when needed, but he will not merely make it all better. If they are to stop Amara, he'll need the Winchesters to do the heavy lifting. In a way, it's his way of letting his “baby grow up”---and in the long run, humanity just may be better off for it.
Let's first look at how Chuck behaves in this episode and contrast it with his statements.
Let's first look at how Chuck behaves in this episode and contrast it with his statements.
In the beginning, he must prove to Sam and Dean that he is really who he says he is. After he zaps everyone to the Bunker, Kevin is revealed hiding behind him. The former prophet is pleased to see them and has a message for them. He tells the stunned brothers, “Trust Chuck. What ever it is he needs you to do, he must think you can handle it.” From the very start, God's making a clear statement that it won't be his action that saves the day. It'll be Sam and Dean's. He frees Kevin from the veil, then, allowing the former AP student turned Prophet of the Lord to go to Heaven and find peace. This gesture says so much. While Kevin may tell them, “I always trusted you” and Dean may scoff at how it turned out, clearly Chuck's willingness to step in here and intercede on Kevin's behalf means he does still care greatly on some level. He could have done many things to prove to the brothers that he's really God. He chose, however, to save a soul languishing in the veil. He chose to step in for someone even when he's already stated to the likes of Metatron that it doesn't matter since Amara will wipe it all away.
Throughout the episode, God mostly lounges in the Bunker. He puts on Dean's robe. He eats Chinese food while watching Internet videos. God sleeps in. He takes long showers and Dean complains, “Right? And sings, too. Like, crappy old folk songs. I had to tell him to cool it three times.” It seems that Chuck's merely moved from the bar he met Metatron into the Bunker and has turned it into a new sanctuary---a new hideout from what is happening in the wider world and refusing to stand up to his sister. Chuck doesn't really take much action through the episode and the few things he does intercede on are done largely off camera or are brief. It's clear that Chuck doesn't want to simply wave a magic wand and fix things. Instead, he'd rather let others do the work and help him.
On the surface, that seems extremely selfish. He's called out on this behavior by Dean. The elder Winchester states, “Here's the thing, um, Chuck. And I mean no disrespect. Um, I'm guessing you came back to help with the Darkness, and that's great. That's, you know, fantastic. But you've been gone a long, long time, and there's so much crap that has gone down on the earth for thousands of years. I mean the plagues and wars, slaughters, and you were... I don't know, writing books? Going to fan conventions? Were you even aware or did you just tune it out?”
Certainly, there's truth to this. God did leave. He did abandon everything and everyone to the fates. There's a lot for Chuck to answer for here and his inability to stand up to his sister is just another item on the long list of grievances his creation can file against him. And yet, it's also a blessing that God doesn't simply fix everything, too. If God simply fixed it all and resumed his heavily involved “parenting” he wouldn't really be helping in the long run. Sure, his sister may be dealt with, but the win wouldn't necessarily register or provide the next growth spurt for humanity. He'd be, as he put it, “enabling.”
While Amara is wreaking havoc on another town, God is subtly stepping in and sparring one person. He creates Donatello as a new Prophet, enabling another human being to stand in the fight against his sister. This direct action is his contribution to their fight---all without being seen doing it. Chuck knows that this man can be a tool and a resource. He knows that while Donatello may have been an “atheist ten minutes ago” that in the long run it won't matter. He'll be just as key to their success as anyone else. It's why he awoke the man's abilities as a Prophet and made certain the Winchesters would find him and take him in.
Metatron has also reached out to the Winchesters, informing them of God's actual plan of action. He may be holed up in their Bunker, but he most certainly has a plan in mind to handle his sister and save his creation. It is a risky plan. The Scribe hands over the autobiography to Sam and Dean and informs them of the truth. God isn't planning on taking his sister out or locking her back up. Instead, he's going to trade places with her. He'll let her take him, cage him, and throw away the key---but only if Amara is willing to leave everything he's created alone. If she'll spare this vast universe he's made, he'll sacrifice himself in its name. It's a gamble. His “autobiography” then, is really a “suicide note.”
Dean, again, calls him out on this. He tells God, “The Amara that I know is a mountain of pissed off. I mean she spent a gazillion years in solitary. The only thing she's thinking is that it's her turn. The deal? She's going to eliminate you and then she's going to destroy everything that you've created. She's told me this personally.”
Chuck knows his sister extremely well. He knows that she will destroy everything he's created and has done so several times in the past. He complains about her to the brothers stating, “It was the worst. Always telling me what to do, making me do what she wanted. I mean, you guys know how that works.” He knows that Dean's right on some level. It's why he's gambling that this deal will satisfy her. Amara's anger is solely directed at him. His creation is merely her way of seeking retribution against him. Perhaps if he should be locked away as she was once locked away, she'd be satisfied to leave the rest in place. Even Chuck has to know, however, that the likelihood that this will work is slim.
It's why he has a plan in mind for that, too.
He tells Dean, “If my plan doesn't work, then humans will step up. You, Sam, others that are the Chosen will have to find a way. It's why I saved you years ago. You're the firewall between Light and Darkness.”
Chuck may seem hopeless. It may seem as if he's given up against his sister and is willing to watch everything be swept away. And yet, he's willing to trust in his greatest creation. He knows that they can perhaps do what he never could and in the long run if anyone can save the world it will be humanity---especially in the form of Sam and Dean Winchester.
In many regards, this was his plan all along.
While he may have to step in when Sam is unable to drive away from Amara, Chuck largely stays out of their strategy meetings. He doesn't go along on the rescue mission. He's vocal against any involvement with Lucifer. And when confronted with his wayward son, God goes as far as to cure him from Amara's awful torment---something that speaks far more than any words he's said about Lucifer or his “drama.”But he never ever stops them. He doesn't override their choices. Instead, Chuck allows them to make their own path and make their own moves as they prepare to face down the Darkness. After all, he did include “Free Will in the kit.”
What of Sam and Dean?
The brothers have their own reactions to meeting God for the first time---and their own actions reflect the truth that Chuck holds about humanity's tenacity and hope.
Dean, confronted with God, an entity he's been angry with his entire life, expresses it through anger and sorrow. It's in his accusations. It's in his tears. He knows that God could have stepped in at any time along the way while they suffered, struggled, died, and watched those they care about perish in the many years they've faced things like the Apocalypse and beyond. He's always wanted to dismiss belief in God---convinced that there was no good force in the universe, only the chaos of evil and the few that rose to meet it. Now that he's face to face with the Creator of everything, Dean must confront his anger head on. It is in how he states, “Okay. People prayed to you. People built churches for you. Fought wars in your name and you did nothing,” that last word getting all the emphasis---and holds every accusation he's ever hurled at God ever.
While God warns him, “I know you had a complicated upbringing, Dean, but don't confuse me with your dad,” Dean has a right and justification to be this angry and hurt. So many instances where they suffered and faced such insurmountable odds---so many times they were forced to find a way all on their own---and yet God knew all along and didn't stop it. Dean knows that they must find a way this time, too. Despite God coming off the sidelines and revealing himself, Dean knows that it will come down to them---and yet he still begs God to stop this before it is too late.
He remarks, “Look, you started this. You started all of this. But does that give you the right to end it? You know, we're not just some toys you throw away. I think you owe us more than that.”
In turn, he's stunned when God tells him that he knows humanity will stand up when and where he cannot. It's a lesson that he's learned by watching the Winchesters all these years. They have faced all these odds. They've stopped great evil. Chuck knows that the faith he has in them is greater than any God power he may possess---even against his sister. It's why he tells Dean about the little boy, “Look at him, endlessly optimistic. The wind blows over his tower, he rebuilds. Always gets me.” In many ways, he's referring to his rocky relationship with his sister, but in others he's directly referring to the conversation he had with Metatron---and where he was reminded that humanity never quits.
He knows that Dean won't quit, either. It's why he's taken him to this park and showed him these children and told him that they will and can face down the Darkness. God may help, but it'll be up to them once more. Any other solution doesn't solve the problem or really make things better in the long run. God knows this and while it is a painful lesson for Dean to hear, it is one he must learn if they are to succeed against a destructive force like Amara. She is hell bent on undoing everything---wanting that “solitude.” She'd easily wipe out God's “fan club” so she could once again have boundless nothingness and punish her brother for what he's done by locking her away.
And yet, she continually reaches out to Dean. It is this action that will give Dean his in as they hatch their plan to stop her. Simply, they must save Lucifer and in turn Castiel so that he can join his power with God and stop her. To do so, Dean must distract Amara while Sam, Donatello, and Metatron make their way to her hiding spot and execute the rescue. While Dean confronts her, he reveals the tenacity that has served him so well through the years. She wants nothing more than to end this---to claim Dean forever and set in motion the final destruction---but Dean isn't so on board.
She tries to coax him, she tries to tug on the suffering he's endured, stating, “This place, this world hasn't been especially easy for you. Why not at least consider my offer.” On some level, it has to be tempting to accept. After all, Amara has promised there will be no pain or suffering. She's stated that there is bliss in this void. To become nothingness is to be freed from all the evil of this world. It sounds, on paper, like a good proposition. To be released from the suffering all living things must endure may be relieving---and yet it is a falsehood.
Dean knows this. He calls her out on it, remarking, “This world is flawed, I'll give you that. But I am not ready to say goodbye to it yet.” While she may counter that he'll eventually leave it behind anyway, he's not really speaking so much about himself here as he is about the entirety of creation. Dean knows that God has a kamikaze plan to stop Amara, but he also knows that it is flawed and may end with everything destroyed anyways. Her destruction won't merely leave a wake. It won't leave a debris field. Dean knows this. He knows that her destruction will undo everything as if it had never been---and to face that everything he and Sam have done being done in vain does not sit well with him. He will refuse this offer simply because he can't imagine accepting those terms. It's why he tells her, “There can be no us. We should just walk away. ”
Dean's not the only one reacting to God's sudden reemergence. Sam has his own take on things and his own questions and concerns. He is overwhelmed by the revelation that God is here in the flesh. He's awed by the knowledge that the creator of everything is now stepping up. It doesn't necessarily mean he's forgiven God for everything or ignores all the things Dean recognizes as flaws in God's inaction. Instead, it's Sam's attempt to process what has happened. He is confronted with the opportunity to ask so many things and get the right answer from God's mouth himself. The connections, the excitement, and so much more cross in Sam's mind, making it whir so fast that he ends up babbling.
Later, when he and Dean are alone, he remarks, “You know, I know this is a really strange situation and all, but it's also really amazing, you know? I mean, it's God. There's so many things I want to ask him like the planets. Why are they round? Or ears, I always thought they were strange.” It is all of his intellectual curiosity come to light. And yet, he also recognizes that God has overstepped his bounds since coming into the Bunker and hasn't necessarily dazzled as the grand Creator as expected, either. He tells Dean, “I know he takes really long showers.”
Unlike Dean, Sam has prayed to God for years. He's put his faith into an entity that is far larger than himself because he felt a need to do so. With all the anger and taint and misery that came from his demon blood infection, from the struggles during the Apocalypse and beyond, and so much more, Sam has needed that consolation that someone out there might hear these supplications and perhaps come to his aid. It doesn't mean he trusts God---trust and faith are two very different things after all---but it is a ritual that has given him solace through the years when things have become so difficult. It's easy to see him turning to it when he was locked in the Cage or when Dean was in danger or any number of times Sam felt his own strength wane and the ability to fight back be too much to bear.
And yet, God will not simply fix things here, either. Sam has to accept that---which is why he shushes Dean when Chuck comes back into the room as they discuss things. Certainly he knows that God may have heard anyways, but Sam knows that they're dealing with this themselves. It will be their actions and their fight that will either win the day or come just short. He has firmly signed onto Dean's conviction that they ought to trust in themselves and not in God---even if Sam hopes God will assist on some level. Sam is willing to go with the plan and take on the risk of freeing Lucifer to do it. If they can get the power of God and one of the archangels together, it may be possible for them to replicate what they had done so many eons ago: they could lock up Amara or destroy her this time.
It's the only shot they have right now anyways.
This is a risky move on their part. The Darkness could arrive at anytime and annihilate them all. The window is short and Sam is worried about Dean every step of the way. He knows it's a great risk to let his brother go off alone with Amara. He knows that it could turn against them if Dean should succumb. In an effort to take action and stop the Darkness from winning, though, he will trust his brother and do what he can to help. After all, he has the solace of knowing that his brother has confessed the apparitions Amara has sent him---and that there are no secrets lingering as ticking time bombs. If they are to succeed at all, Sam must trust Dean completely---and so he does.
On a far more personal level, it is brave of Sam to take on this task. While he fears what may happen to Dean while distracting Amara, he knows that he's facing his own dragon head on here. Lucifer could turn on them in this rescue mission. Lucifer could, the moment he's free, kill him or torture him or any number of nightmare scenarios that play in his mind provide. It's written all over Sam's face as he steps out of the Impala and stares up at the silo they know Amara is holding the fallen archangel. There's no turning back now and he must remain steadfast in his trust in the plan he and his brother have concocted. Any wavering and they may find themselves lost before they've even begun.
Upon their arrival, Lucifer quips, “Oh goody. Larry, Curly, Moe.” There, his greatest enemy is tethered. Lucifer is tortured and battered and broken by what Amara has done. She's fixed him in place with some spell---and Metatron feverishly tries to undo it by finding the right words to unlock it. Sam, meanwhile, tries to get any information he can from Lucifer. Has he even considered switching sides for even a moment? Sam warns him, “You're gonna help us take her down. If you say 'no,' we're just gonna leave you here in Abu Ghraib.” Lucifer, so tortured at this point, simply snaps, “Say no? You've seen what she's done to me? Do I look like a fan!”
Once he's been freed, Sam warns him that time is short. They must teleport out and quickly. Unfortunately, Lucifer has been so battered that he's temporarily experiencing an “equipment malfunction.” There's no quick zap back to the Bunker. There's no way this archangel is in any condition to take on Amara---with or without God's help. Lucifer has been broken by this---at least for now. It leaves Sam with a dilemma. Here he is faced with his greatest foe---one that tortured his soul for nearly two hundred years---and did so with great glee. Here is an archangel that would do it again, just to see him break once more.
And yet, Sam Winchester also knows just how Lucifer feels in this moment. He can recognize the pain and the suffering. Being who he is, he empathizes with the fallen angel. He knows that what he's endured is excruciating and scarring. He's been there and he wouldn't wish that feeling on anyone---even Lucifer. Without hesitation, he rushes to Lucifer and hoists his arm onto his shoulder. If the fallen archangel can't simply teleport them out of here, Sam will help him get out the old fashioned way. Why come all this way to save Lucifer if only to leave him behind at Amara's mercy? Clearly, Lucifer hasn't given into her demands or changed sides on this matter. He's not going to join her or fight them. Sam knows this.
But more importantly, it's his humanity stepping up here. He's proving Chuck's statement to Dean clearly. When the super power of a supernatural being failed, it is humanity that stands up and does something---no matter how futile. Sam manages to get Lucifer out of the silo---but only because Metatron, a former angel turned human, chose to sacrifice himself. He tells Sam, “No seriously. I've got this.” Sam acknowledges this bravery with a simple nod and a grieved expression. He knows that Metatron has no place in his heart or his forgiveness for what he's done---namely killing his brother brutally---but in this moment, he can see Metatron's action as a small redemption. He respects what Metatron is doing here---allowing them to get away while he makes sure that they succeed in their goal. If Sam can get them back to the Bunker and God, perhaps they can finally start to stop Amara for good.
Sam drives the Impala as fast as he can, wanting to put as much distance between him and the Darkness. The sooner they can get back to the Bunker, the sooner he can make sure that his brother has survived his encounter with Amara, too. And yet, just as they're speeding down the road, the Darkness emerges to block them. She is furious with their actions and their gall to oppose her. She snarls at them, “You really aren't worth sparing. None of you.”
It seems they are doomed to failure here. Amara's won and she will destroy them here and now. The tires on Baby squeal in protest. The wheel turns on its own. Sam can't make the car do anything and they're facing their doom literally in the face.
Until they end up landing hard in the Bunker garage. They've been spared after all---by Chuck. He heard Sam's prayer and he stepped in when Sam clearly could not save himself this time. He had helped himself by going after Lucifer and finding where Amara had been hiding out---but at that moment, Sam couldn't win. God kept to his word that he would indeed help those who helped themselves. He stepped in only as a last resort and he knows that Sam has done the best that he could under the circumstances.
It is through Sam and Dean's actions that the groundwork for humanity's triumph has been built. Their differing reactions on meeting God could have divided them---but didn't. The knowledge that God has let so much evil occur and didn't stop it could have discouraged them---but didn't. No matter how many times their sandcastle has been toppled---just like that little boy's in the park---the Winchesters have stepped up and proved God right.
Because in the end, Dean's been right all along. They can only count on themselves. Sam and Dean must trust each other and in their efforts. It's clear that God most certainly does.