The Morning After
Sam started the apocalypse! Again! Did not see that coming!
… or did he??
Supernatural’s season 14 finale was exhilarating! It was funny, witty and intense, all building up to a completely unexpected cliffhanger that set up season 15! So much happened!
Let’s see if we can identify the most important events of that overwhelming shocker:
- Jack did NOT kill Sam, Dean and Castiel even after he knew that Sam and Dean had betrayed him.
- Chuck came back! He heard Castiel’s prayer (maybe) and came back from “everywhere and nowhere, to the edge of the universe and beyond” to help (maybe).
- Castiel never gave up on Jack. Ever.
- All Jack ever wanted was to be good, and he did NOT turn evil. He tried to make the world a better place by forcing the truth out of everyone. He learned from his “mistake” and was able to control his fear, anger and powers enough to not kill his grandmother. He sought out Castiel, the father entrusted to him by his mother, and confessed all he had done. Jack may have lost his soul, but he never lost his heart.
- Dean once again embarked on a suicide mission to rid the world of an apocalyptic threat, a “monster” who had the power to end humanity (and the world) with a single thought. He did so without Sam’s blessing. This was a significant difference from Sam’s suicide mission to save the world from Lucifer in season 5, or Dean’s suicide mission to save the world from Amara in season 11.
- Jack surrendered himself to be executed. Kneeling before his betrayer and executioner in submission, he gave Dean permission to kill him and, in effect, forgave Dean by expressing that he “understood” that he was a monster. Break my ever-loving heart!
- Dean chose to not kill Jack. Dean’s anger abated, maybe because he once again saw Jack’s innocence. Jack’s peacefulness melted away Dean’s grief and rage in a way that all of Sam’s words and Castiel’s defiant challenges and actions had been unable to do.
- God turned cruel and vindictive (maybe). He smiled when Castiel turned away from Dean. He smirked in satisfaction when it looked like Dean was going to kill his son. He objected when Dean chose to help rather than kill Jack, then taunted him with murderous encouragements.
- God killed Jack. Why did he do that? Because Jack endangered creation? What did God do only moments later? This death makes no sense on the surface.
- Sam shot God. It’s unclear if Sam was trying to kill God, because Sam doesn’t miss! Was he only trying to stop God from killing Jack – distract him or break the connection with a gun shot? Sam became enraged at God’s manipulation of him and his brother, and of God’s insensitivity to their and humanity’s suffering, and in one heated, desperate moment, chose to defy God himself.
- God brought on the apocalypse (maybe). He undid all the good that Sam and Dean had ever done. He returned all the monsters they slayed. He unleashed all the demons of Hell. He woke the dead and drove all light from the world (maybe).
- Jack is back, and Death has some use for him. At least we know Alex Calvert will be returning in season 15!
While we’re trying to wrap our heads around everything that happened (or didn’t happen), the possibilities for subterfuge in the character’s actions and the plot’s direction are screaming at us, “Don’t believe it! Writers lie!”
Writers Lie (aka Season 14’s Truth Thread)
Amid the mental and emotional exhaustion that ensued from “Moriah”, I am left with one lingering reaction: I don’t believe it.
I don’t believe Chuck is the “cruel and capricious” God that he lamented about in his very first meeting with Sam and Dean in 4.18 “The Monster at the End of This Book”:
I write things and then they come to life! Yeah, no, I'm definitely a god.
A cruel, cruel, capricious god.
The things I put you through.
The physical beatings alone.
I killed your father.
I burned your mother alive.
You had to go through the whole horrific deal again with Jessica.
All for what? All for the sake of literary symmetry.
I toyed with your lives, your emotions, for entertainment.
Did you really have to live through the bugs?
What about the ghost ship? I am so sorry.
I mean, horror is one thing, but to be forced to live bad writing.
If I'd known it was real, I would have done another pass.
I commend Andrew Dabb for the symmetry of resurrecting a thought that was introduced ten years ago by nothing more than an episode title! Is God really the monster the Winchesters have been fighting all their lives? As we near the end of their story, are we to believe that all of their suffering, all of the monsters and death and tragedy and angelic/demonic infighting was all for God’s entertainment?
Dean: Sam's right. The Apocalypse, the first go-around, with Lucifer and Michael -- you knew everything that was going on, so why the games, Chuck, huh? Why don't you just snap your fingers and end it?
Sam: And every other bad thing we've been killing, been dying over -- where were you? Just sitting back and watching us suffer so we can do this over and over and over again -- fighting, losing people we love? When does it end? Tell me.
Chuck: Dean, don't do this.
Dean: No, we're done talking. 'Cause this -- this isn't just a story. It's our lives!
Was the entire Supernatural saga that Sam and Dean endured just a story for God’s amusement?
Sam: Do you watch us? When you're not here, are -- are you watching us?
Chuck: Yeah. I mean, you're my favorite show.
I don’t believe it.
When Chuck first met the boys (in season 4), he was scandalized by the thought that any god would manipulate people for his own entertainment. Years later, when he worked with Metatron to write his memoir (season 11), God was willing to sacrifice himself to keep his sister from destroying his creation. Now all of a sudden he’s willing to end it all with a snap of his fingers? Why? Because the story didn’t go the way he expected it to go? There were too many hints that his actions were all a deception.
First, God himself has stated that he is utterly committed to Free Will. When considering taking up arms against his sister (11.22), God was asked, “Couldn't you just compel them?” His answer:
I invented free will for a reason.
When Donatello was first introduced to God, he once again emphasized his commitment to honoring a person’s choice, even if that choice was a direct affront to Him:
Donatello: I guess you know that I was an atheist, until 10 minutes ago. Is that an issue?
God: Not for me. I mean, I believe in me. But your skepticism is to be expected. I did include free will in the kit.
Sam and Dean both mentioned their free will in "Moriah" to remind us that they are masters at exercising the freedom that was given to them,
and subsequently defended as sacred, by God:
Dean: We don't have a choice, Sam.
Sam: Of course we do. Don't we always? I mean, isn't that the point of everything we've ever done, that we always have a choice?
Are we to believe that God suddenly would be upset that Sam, Dean or Castiel decided on their own to save rather than kill Jack? That’s inconsistent with everything God has said up to this point.
Secondly, there was the smile on God’s face when Castiel reached his breaking point with Dean’s ultimatums, and Castiel stormed out of the bunker.
Dean: Now, I know you don't like it, and I don't really care! 'Cause you just heard it from God Himself that this is the only thing that can kill Jack, so either get on board, or walk away!
Then God smirked when it looked like Dean was actually going to kill Jack. Sam saw it:
Sam: You’re enjoying this.
God’s response was so desperate, so maniacal, it just didn’t sound like him:
God: Pick it up! Pick it up! This isn't how the story is supposed to end! Look! the -- the -- the gathering storm, the gun, the -- the father killing his own son. This is Abraham and Isaac. This is epic!
Dean: Wait. What are you saying?
Sam: He's saying he's been playing us. This whole time. Our entire lives. Mom, Dad -- everything. This is all you because you wrote it all, right? Because -- Because what? Because we're your favorite show? Because we're part of your story?
God: Okay, Dean, no offense, but your brother is stupid and crazy. And that kid is still dangerous. So pick up the gun. Pick it up pull the trigger and I'll bring her back. Your mom.
God doesn’t order people to do anything. Given his past professions of free will being a fundamental right of humanity, he should have been impressed that Dean made such a difficult choice, even if that choice went against “God’s” stated will. God also doesn’t panic. In all his dealings with Sam, Dean, Castiel, Lucifer, Metatron, Amara – everything we’ve seen from him – he’s been collected and in control. Yes, he lost his temper with Metatron, but he never panicked. He never begged for something to go his way, and he certainly never tried to bribe people to do his bidding. He asked, he gave them a choice, but he never begged or bribed.
That’s more Lucifer’s style.
Title Thread and Imposters/Disguises
Could Chuck really be Lucifer? Was there enough of a crack in the Empty when Nick summoned Lucifer for him to come back dressed as Chuck? Did he escape the Empty when Jack used the Book of the Damned? The title of this episode is “Moriah”, which is the mountainous region in the Book of Genesis in which Abraham nearly murdered his son Isaac, acting upon orders from God. @nmyinya on Twitter commented, “One of Judaism’s interpretations of the Bible is that it is not God [who] ordered Abraham to ‘sacrifice Isaac’. That was Satan’s temptation.” Taking this as a fact (since I’m not well versed in Judaic interpretations), the episode’s name might hold a clue as to whether that was truly God talking to Sam, Dean and Castiel.
In the Bible story, God stopped Abraham from killing his son. It was all a test of Abraham’s loyalty and faith, but in the end, God wouldn’t let Abraham “lay a hand on the boy.” I expected from the title that God would repeat His mercy, saving Jack from Dean. Instead, he wanted Jack killed. Why would God act so differently than he had in the past?
On the other hand, Lucifer would have every reason to want Jack dead. Jack defied and disowned his father. Lucifer coveted Jack’s power, and is petty enough to want Jack to pay for not using that power to rule the universe at his father’s side. Lucifer is also skilled at bribing and misleading people to do his bidding. So it is tempting to believe that it was Lucifer who was posing as Chuck.
There are a few obvious problems with this theory, though. Lucifer shouldn’t have the power to snap his fingers and restore worldwide lying, or create an all-powerful gun, or kill a Nephilim. Also, where would he have gotten Chuck’s bodysuit?
Alternately, the Shadow, the Empty’s entity, can make himself look like anyone (as evidenced by Castiel’s cloning nightmare in the Empty). Being on the same power level as God and Death, the Shadow should have the power to reshape the world with the snap of a finger. It would certainly enjoy seeing Castiel estranged from his best friends, since the Shadow has a personal vendetta against Castiel, so God's sly smile in the bunker could have been a crack in its perfect poker face. The Shadow could easily have seen or heard Castiel praying to God since it would presumably be watching Castiel to see when he was happiest in order to collect on their deal. It would also be perfectly in character for the Shadow to hatch a scheme to kill Jack, since it was robbed of Jack’s soul/body/death already, and I don’t think it takes lightly to being cheated of its bounty. Chuck’s smirk when Dean was considering killing Jack was eerily close to the wry satisfaction the Shadow took when it tortured Kelly, Jack and Castiel with threats of watching each other suffer or die. The entity’s super creepy smile once Jack entered the realm of the Empty was another indicator that it was smugly satisfied with how things went. That image of it in the Empty was conveniently after Chuck disappeared from the Earth. Sam and Dean’s world went completely black (the Shadow's favorite color) when it snapped its fingers and brought about the apocalypse.
There is one possible flaw in this theory: does the Entity’s power extend beyond celestial realms? It certainly is all powerful in the Empty, and it had overwhelming power in Heaven, but does it have power on Earth?
There are numerous arguments that the Shadow was masquerading as God, but if “God” wasn’t the Empty Entity, a third possible explanation for God’s rash behavior was hinted at by a different description for the blackness that surrounded Team Free Will’s last stand.
Everything went completely dark once God snapped his fingers, i.e. they were enveloped by darkness. That’s more Amara’s style than God’s! Could Amara be impersonating her brother, or could the two have merged into one entity while they were away? Is she somehow influencing him?
I’m hesitant to think that the writers would resurrect Amara as a character, but the mythology of her existence is certainly noteworthy in Dabb’s tenure as showrunner. The apocalyptic world looked exactly like the world she threatened to bring about. Also, she was NOT a fan of free will, and she was more angry and temperamental than her brother. She sucked out people’s souls or killed them on a whim. It would have been completely in character for her to be enraged by Sam and Dean’s defiance, and she certainly would have had the power to kill Jack instantly. "God" also tempted, or bribed, Dean with a promise to bring back Mary if he killed Jack. Amara knew that Mary was the most important thing to Dean. She resurrected Mary as a thank you gift to Dean, so it makes sense that she would again try to use Mary to get Dean to do what she wanted.
Then there’s a parallel that is too specific to be ignored. When Amara attacked God in 11.22 “We Happy Few”, she said:
My brother will dim and fade away into nothing. But not until he sees what comes next. Not until he watches this world, everything he created, everything he loves turn to ash. Welcome to The End.
Chuck’s final words in “Moriah” were:
Fine! That's the way you want it? Story's over. Welcome to The End.
That is too much of a coincidence to not be important! I also cannot find anything in the episode that precludes the possibility that Amara is influencing, possessing, or posing as Chuck. Do I subscribe to this theory? Actually, no, it doesn’t feel right, but something was strange about God…. or was there?
The obvious alternative to all these theories about entities influencing or impersonating God is that he was who he said he was, and that his introduction to Sam and Dean within minutes of first meeting them, was true. They really are just players in an epic tragedy written for his own amusement. That feels like Dabb’s style.
Could Chuck/God be so petty as to manipulate people’s lives like they are characters in a fictional play? If that isn’t the case, what else could be his motivation for wanting Jack dead?
It makes no sense that God would fear Jack.
Sam: Wait a second. You're scared of him.
God: Aren't you?
Since God could obviously eliminate Jack instantly, why would God be scared of him? Speaking of which, why did God lie about being able to stop Jack?
Castiel: Can you stop him?
God: Not exactly. But you can.
Obviously, God could stop Jack without working up a sweat, so why put that task on Sam, Dean or Cas? If he was lying to them about this, what else did he lie about? He pointedly denied viewing Sam, Dean and their world as disposable story drafts:
Sam: So, Michael said that you create these worlds and you just toss them away like failed versions of some book.
God: And you believe him?
Sam: Was he lying? Is that what you're doing to us?
God: No. Sam, you and your brother, of all the Sams and Deans in all the multiverse, you're my favorite. You're just so interesting.
He also admitted that he lies because he’s a writer, but something was definitely off about Chuck - there were just too many “tells” that he wasn’t himself.
Perhaps we as the audience and as fans are just being manipulated by the Supernatural writers, the same way that they would have us believe Sam and Dean are being manipulated by God. I don’t want a story I have loved for 15 years to ultimately be about a cruel God who doesn’t love his people – a God who kills innocent kids, betrays his favorite “guys” and unleashes an apocalypse just to tell a story. That makes him no better than Metatron, who at least admitted to being a poor excuse for a god and a writer! I don’t want Sam and Dean’s lives to be meaningless. I don’t want all their work to be erased from memory, and all their triumphs negated. I don’t want it all to be a lie, and I don't want to have loved a story that ended up being a long religious or political statement against God. So that means I have to believe that the writers are lying to us.
Maybe Sam and Dean are in a “mirror universe” that was foreshadowed by the face recognition company’s name – one of God’s other worlds:
Sam: How many are there -- how many other worlds or -- or universes or realities or whatever?
God: I don't know. I lost count. Most of them are boring. One's in reverse. In one, there's no yellow. One of them's just all squirrels.
God is teaching them a lesson and transported them to a “dream world” that demonstrates what the world would be like without him as God. He told them:
God: existence is all about balance, right? Dark and light, good and evil, chocolate and peanut butter.
Sam: Ugh, yeah, okay, Chuck. The point, please?
God: Right… Look, I know it's not perfect, and I'd do it myself, but, you know, if I bite it, then existence also kind of bites it, so one of you. Sorry.
So the apocalypse is what a godless world looks like, but God needing humans to fix his “god level” problem? No way. He also told them:
God: You see, this is why people need to lie. It's good. Keeps the peace, you know?
Castiel: Seems like an odd stance - for you.
God: Is it? I'm a writer. Lying's kind of what we do.
So I hope the writers are lying to us. God did not do what it looked like he did. Maybe it wasn’t even God at all.
Bottom line: I have no idea where the story is going. That’s exciting, and scary. I just hope it isn’t all a lie – no, I mean that it IS all a lie – no wait…
Oh, I give up.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Threads: “Moriah” in which I look at Jack is Back, Castiel as the voice of reason, Sam finally speaking candidly to God, the possibilities unleashed from Hell, running away and the unexpected humor of the episode!
Please add your thoughts below, then catch up on my prior season 14 "Threads" reviews, and all my other reviews and articles since season 8, by going to my Writer Page!
Additional Screencaps courtesy of https://www.homeofthenutty.com/supernatural/screencaps
Transcript Quotes courtesy of https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/