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And the (Fourth) Walls Come Tumbling Down: Supernatural’s MetaFiction

April 17, 2014
Warner Bros/The CW

Warner Bros/The CW

This week is the Popular Culture Conference in Chicago, which means I get to hang out with other academically inclined folks and have deep discussions about some of my favorite things – including fandom, the reciprocal relationship between fans and the things we love, and of course, Supernatural. That doesn’t leave me much time to do a review of this week’s episode (so this will be a briefer review than usual). But Robbie Thompson sure as hell gave me a lot to talk about!

I love meta episodes. Any time a character has mentioned “subtext” in the first minute of the Show (while breaking the fourth wall and staring into the camera, no less), I’m a happy camper. My daughter Emily, however, is generally not a meta fan. She likes Supernatural, and she loves to take it apart and critique it, but she usually prefers her characters not to talk back and the fourth wall to stay firmly in place. Imagine my surprise when we watched Show together last night and she announced, “I liked it!”

We both liked it – miracle! In fact, I wish we’d had time for a rewatch, because there are still parts I’d like to think more about and ponder (or savor, as the case may be…). No time for that this week, but even with one viewing, we had a lot to discuss on the drive to the train this morning.

Me: So you liked the episode, right?

Emily: I did. It was meta, but not too meta.

Me: And there were some beautiful scenes.

Em: (making a face) Are you talking about the Dean shower scene again?

Me: (shifty eyes) Um, no. I’m talking cinematography. Obviously.

Unfortunately Emily has read Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls and was not easily fooled. However, I moved the conversation slyly to more intellectual topics.

One of those was the question of why Gadreel was so eager to die. After being imprisoned in Heaven for so many millenia, was the idea of being kept alive but once again imprisoned a fate worse than death for him? Or does Gadreel know something we don’t about what would happen to an angel after death now? I admit to having an imperfect understanding of what being stuck in the veil would entail – or does he believe that Metatron would get him back to Heaven somehow?

Another question we both pondered was why Castiel changes his mind and decides to become a leader. I wondered if it had something to do with seeing the Mark of Cain on Dean and realizing that things were pretty dire, and that maybe he needed to step up and take on that responsibility, even with the doubts he clearly still has. Em had a hypothesis that I like better, though. She was intrigued by Metatron’s granting Cas the accumulated knowledge of all the stories ever written, and frustrated that it didn’t seem to “go anywhere” other than being used as joke fodder. But perhaps we just missed the more important implication. What if the impact was bigger than that? What if, now that Cas has that wealth of knowledge, he’s able to make a different decision. With the changed context, perhaps he has a more nuanced understanding of what it means to be a villain – or a hero. Perhaps, with the benefit of all those ‘stories’, Castiel feels more capable of defining for himself what he is and what he wants to be. Supernatural has long played with the gray areas of good and evil, hero and villain, good intentions and slippery slopes and bad outcomes, after all.

We don’t actually know why Cas had a change of heart, but I like Emily’s theory. This episode was all about stories, and their impact. About whether the person who writes the story controls the narrative, or whether each individual who hears it controls the narrative through their interpretation. Metatron gave Cas all that knowledge along with his own interpretation – but Cas, like all of us, is free to come up with his own. Write his own version of the story. And act on it.

Cas ponders his story

Cas ponders his story

That sort of layered storytelling is what made this episode really work for me. It was a self-referential episode, in that the messages about authorship and power and control could just as easily be about the Show and its intimate relationship with its fans as about Metatron and his megalomaniacal intentions. Some fans bristled at the implications, which is always a risk when the Show decides to break the fourth wall and comment on itself and its viewers. The specific comments on continuity and canon, which are constant bones of contention in fannish discussion and in some fan/writer interaction as well, were interpreted by some (and here we are, back at interpretation again!) as instructing fans to ‘get over it’ and accept that canon evolves and sometimes a ‘retcon’ needs to happen. Some saw that as condescending.

Emily and I thought, instead, that the deliberate comments on canon glitches, continuity errors and retcons (Thompson wrote ‘retcon’ into canon, and I admit to loving that immeasurably) were not condescending at all, but a way to acknowledge the imperfectness of the process. Every conversation I’ve ever had with the SPN writers has made it clear that they care about these things just like we do. The fact that Metatron’s writing is as imperfect as any of ours (SPN writers included) seemed to be an important one, perhaps crucial at some point in the future.

As a huge fan of fanfiction and transformative works, I also loved that so much of this episode was about interpretation. Validating and celebrating interpretation. Saying that interpretation is what we should be doing, what we have to do. That means interpretation in all its broadest definitions – how we understand these characters we love, how we construct the world in which the Show exists, who we ship or don’t ship. Thompson seems to be saying, it’s all good. Do what you do, make of this what you will.

I don’t think, however, that the episode suggests that canon is meaningless or that continuity is unimportant. I do think it’s harder to accomplish after nine years and dozens of writers and three showrunners, but I think it remains a serious goal. When the Show makes a mistake, we get to call them on it, and that’s okay. The idea of imperfection runs through this episode (and the Show itself) – both Sam and Dean struggle to accept their own and each other’s imperfections; Castiel has to accept his failings in order to have the courage to go out on a limb and attempt something risky once again; Metatron’s refusal to see his own imperfection will perhaps be his undoing.

Who writes the story?

Who writes the story?

Gadreel certainly seems to be seeing Metatron’s imperfections more clearly. His entire demeanor with Metatron changed after he asked whether being captured by the Winchesters was part of the plan. Metatron’s admission that sometimes the story plays out differently than you intended was both an important message on a meta level, and something that Gadreel heard loud and clear. He’s back to being the interesting and nuanced character that he was when first introduced, and Tahmoh Penikett is doing a kickass job of playing him.

So basically we loved the meta part of MetaFiction. Kudos, Mr. Thompson.

The plot also progressed in this episode, which was perhaps a bit overly ambitious in how much ground it wanted to cover. At times, it felt like there was too much going on, and some things were cut short. There were several subplots going on, and I wanted more of most of them! The exception to that was the broader angel storyline. Other than Castiel, I just don’t care much about the angels – nothing in the narrative has ever given me much reason to. Cas is the only angel who I have an attachment to, so when the story revolves around the angel ‘war’ or whatever, I tend to tune out and check out what people are saying on twitter. Although I do think that Metatron is becoming a rather fascinating villain. I said long ago, at the very beginning of this season, that I found him to be truly terrifying – he’s creepy in a way that many SPN villains are not, and ingratiating in a way that throws you off and makes you keep questioning his motives. He seems very very dangerous to me – and I like that. Supernatural works best when it’s truly scary.

Castiel’s journey, in contrast to the whole angel war thing, is fascinating. His struggle to come to terms with his history of good intentions and bad outcomes is a universal one – I love him for his imperfections. I also love how much he cares about the Winchesters, which Collins plays subtly but effectively. His joy at reconnecting with Dean on the phone was touching, as immediately giffed a thousand times on Tumblr.

Awww

Awww

I also may have yelled out loud “YES! Finally someone is taking this seriously!” when Cas grabbed Dean’s arm (rather forcefully…) and demanded to know what he had done. I’m so frustrated that Sam hasn’t said much about the Mark, although it’s clear he’s concerned about what it will do to Dean. It’s like the elephant in the room, and I was so relieved that Cas actually confronted Dean about it. I want so much MORE about the Mark and what it’s doing to Dean! It’s a story arc with so much potential, and I just want it NOW! Also, Castiel’s reminder to Sam to look after his brother was sweet – though there’s no part of me that isn’t quite certain that Sam doesn’t need the reminder. I like the idea of Cas and Sam worrying about Dean together, since he seems to need it.

I wanted more of Sam and Gadreel too. I whooped with excitement when the Winchesters captured Gadreel (which seemed to happen so quickly I was disoriented – was it really that quick and easy?? Apparently there were some scenes cut of the Winchesters tracking him down, according to Thompson’s tweets). Anyway, I was psyched that Sam would finally get a chance to confront the angel who possessed him against his will, who killed Kevin using his body. Sam so needed that confrontation, and Jared played that need powerfully, taut with pent-up rage and emotion – and then he was cheated out of it. I felt cheated too – it felt like psychologically, Sam really needed that. He needed more than one wild punch. He needed some revenge and to work out some of his rage on the being who was primarily responsible for the horror inflicted on him. I get that Dean hates Gadreel as much as Sam does – maybe even more, for what he did to Sam and for what that did to Sam and Dean’s relationship – but we did get to see Dean give in to his need for revenge and take it out of Gadreel physically.

Showdown

Showdown

I think Dean needed that catharsis too, but I think Sam needed it just as much. I can only hope that it healed something in Sam to see how much anger Dean has about what happened to Sam, both his part in it and Gadreel’s. I hope that’s at least a little healing for them both.

The end of that scene was one of my favorites of the episode – Sam finding Dean crumpled on the floor like a rag doll after giving in to the violence of the Mark. I loved Sam’s protectiveness there, the way he calls for his brother and makes sure he’s okay. Both Padalecki and Ackles played that scene with understated emotions, and it hit all the harder because of that. It’s chilling how out of it Dean was, and damn it, I SO want more of the Mark storyline, have I mentioned? Give it to me, Show!!

Let’s stick with the theme of more for a minute. A great big thank you to Show and Thompson for writing Richard Speight Jr. back into SPN. It’s long overdue, and I know that it’s been something that both fans and producers have wanted for some time. Most of fandom was successfully unspoiled, so the Trickster’s appearance onscreen was greeted with so much squee on Twitter that I swear it was actually audible. How wonderful was it having Gabriel back??

I kept thinking that Gabriel seemed “off” at first, finally realizing that it was a clue that things were not as they seemed. But before Cas figured it out (smart!Cas, yum), we got so many delicious moments. Gabe riding shotgun while Cas drives, with banter at close to Winchester levels. Gabe grabbing Cas by the face to show him the approaching ‘minions’ (hehe) and calling Cas “Dean’s boytoy”. The spontaneous (and apparently unscripted) Gabe and Cas hug!

Angel hug

cap supernutjapan

cap supernutjapan

cap supernutjapan

The Trickster (and Gabriel) are some of my favorite characters over all the SPN seasons, and Richard Speight Jr. did a great job embodying the trademark snark we love him for, along with that touch of genuine caring that is always clearly underneath. It’s that combination that has made him such a beloved character. And thank you, Robbie, for leaving it up in the air as to whether Gabriel is still alive – I, like most of us, choose to believe that he is.

Okay, and speaking of things I wish we could see more of….way to tease us for three weeks with a Dean shower scene tidbit, and then have the entire scene be barely longer than the teaser! And not only ‘above the waist’ but way above. Yes, I’m pouting. And being shallow. Although I will admit that what we got was very very nice.

MORE PLEASE!

MORE PLEASE!

GUH

GUH

Dean spent a lot of time trying to scrub himself clean or examining himself in the mirror during this episode (not complaining about either). He seems to be trying as hard as we are to figure out what the Mark is doing to him, if he’s changing, and how. It was both terrifying and heartbreaking to see his confusion and discomfort, and the mirror scenes seemed full of foreboding. Who is Dean Winchester now? Even he doesn’t seem to know. I’m just hoping that the people who love him can remind him when the time inevitably comes when they need to.

Seems like this review got long anyway – the episode itself was so jam-packed, it sometimes felt like too much. Emily and I both noted that the pacing felt a bit off at times, but I think that might be more about the way the season as a whole was paced. We went rather slowly for the first three quarters, and then it seemed like someone sat up and said “oh shit, we have a lot to accomplish in the last five episodes” and now it’s wham wham wham! Supernatural always feels like a rollercoaster ride, but now it’s a rollercoaster going about 150 mph. Guess I’d better hang on tight right up through the finale.

In keeping with a meta episode, the cast and writer were all over Twitter during the broadcasts. They were joined by CW fan William Shatner, who kicked off the night with a provocative exchange with Misha Collins.

WS to MC: I did see a preview. Apparently he and his lover angel are into bondage. And thankfully lover angel gagged him!

MC: Hey WS, what we do in the privacy of our leathery libraries and then film and broadcast internationally is none of your business.

(See? It’s all up for interpretation….)

Robbie Thompson continued the meta theme on Twitter, checking off his additions to canon:

Robbie: “No spoilers” is canon.

Robbie: Liam Neeson is canon….

He also added that he put in the Sherlock reference because he heard @curtisbooger is a fan. (That caused me to yell “SuperWhoLock!” at my television, btw)

Sometimes fan tweets and comments are the most priceless.

@Gadreel: I’ve been in your brother’s body, Dean. #kinky

@SPNfreaks: I feel like Metatron’s on Tumblr sometimes…

My daughter: Who the hell is cutting Dean’s hair? What’s with the fade??

Haircuts aside (and I tend to agree), what did you think of the episode? And what did you think about the return of Richard Speight Jr. to Supernatural? Tell us in the comments and we’ll pass them along to Richard – we’ll be chatting with him at the upcoming DCCon.

-Lynn
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34 Comments leave one →
  1. Susanna permalink
    April 17, 2014 3:47 am

    My daughter and I had to pause the TV and take a SQUEE break when Gabriel appeared on screen. There may have been jumping and dancing involved as well. I loved this episode!

  2. April 17, 2014 4:10 am

    I loved this episode SO MUCH. Where to begin?!? I squealed out loud when Casa Erotica popped up on Cas’ TV. I recognized something off with Gabriel, but was hoping SO HARD it was for real, but knowing deep down it was Metatron’s construct. I was amazed at how long Dean’s shower scene was, but then realized I had the TV on pause for about a minute🙂 I think Metatron has woefully underestimated Our Boys. Crowley seems to be the only one who doesn’t. And I wouldn’t take any bets on him! I loved the Twitter action during both the East and West Coast airings. I ADORE that William Shatner is freaking live-tweeting during Supernatural. How amazing is that??!?? I loved the fact that one of the books on Metatron’s desk was S.E. Hinton’s “Tex”, and that SHE was thrilled about it! LOL, I love that William Shatner and Robbie Thompson are at this very minute planning a “thwarting” against another GISHWHES team. I mean, how can you NOT love this fandom and this SHOW?? All in all, I’m just so very happy with Supernatural right now🙂

    • April 17, 2014 4:24 am

      Oh, I forgot to mention! I loved Cas’ smile when he first heard Dean’s voice over the phone. Such fondness and affection🙂

  3. April 17, 2014 4:12 am

    The second “Casa Erotica” came on the tv I started screaming with joy. It was the happiest I’ve been all week. I had no clue Gabriel was coming back and it was the best thing ever even if it’s debatable whether he’s actually alive (he totally is!).

  4. April 17, 2014 4:26 am

    Truly interesting take on the Meta. I’m not sure about it. I need to see how the remainder of the season plays out in order to decide whether I was OK with it. I think in the end I will either think this episode was genius, or a giant dud. Yet to be seen!😉

    I’m 100% with you on the MoC storyline. I feel like the writers have been dangling a carrot in front of us. Taunting us with it! I hope we get some movement there ASAP because the season will be over very soon! I for one do not want to see the MoC storyline carried over into season 10, simply because I think it will then carry over the Sam & Dean brother angst. In fact I think it is actually boarding on cruel now how long the writers are dragging out this bro-angst war. You are the villains, writers! For withholding Sam & Dean & all their amazing brother-ness from us! WHYYYYYY?

    While I was happy Cas was concerned about the MoC & the implications for Dean, I did not like that Robbie wrote Cas to tell Sam to watch out for Dean – like duh, right? I was also kinda upset to hear that a line about Sam being concerned about Dean was cut – that makes no sense to me. We desperately need insight into Sam’s headspace. While Jared is an amazing actor, the writers cannot expect Jared to express Sam’s POV solely through his eyes.

    I too am bored by the angels. I dislike how disjointed SPN is beginning to feel – it is the Winchesters’ narrative & then the angel narrative & it does not make for a really cohesive story. Rather than deal with more angel vs. angel drama, I would rather be watching MoC implications..or really anything else.

    I have been struggling with Sam & Dean’s roles in SPN as of late & I think last night’s episode really highlighted it. I feel like more & more, the brothers are becoming secondary characters in their own show. I’m all for new/additional characters in the SPN verse because they GREATLY enrich the SPN world, however, I’m beginning to feel like Sam & Dean are no longer at the center of that world.

    You ladies re-tweeted a lovely interview with Kim Rhodes earlier today. Kim says “The fact is, the story is about Sam and Dean. Many other characters have rich existences, but we only are there to facilitate their story. I know a lot of people, myself included, take what happens to the characters very personally, but it doesn’t show a lack of love from the writers when we eventually bite it. It shows how much they value our impact on the brothers.”

    I think Kim is 100% right. And yet I’m not seeing that mentality being presented onscreen. I feel like SPN this season has very much deviated from the brothers story.

    I get some fans may enjoy & appreciate that, but has been / is a tough pill for me to swallow.

    I am optimistic for the rest of the season. I find the MoC so, so intriguing & I just want to get on with it!

    • Toni-Jo permalink
      April 17, 2014 6:05 am

      Agree with your comments, JM, completely. This Episode was outstanding, but we have been drifting along enough for this year. Dean and Sam are the reasons I love — and watch — Supernatural. Rich “other” characterizations are beautiful garnishes, but they — in and of themselves — are not the point nor the centerpieces of this epic series. Let’s give the writers their heads and aim them toward the finish line. Blow our minds, writers! We’re more than ready for you to do it.

      [Note: The blood vessel bursts in Dean’s eyes are a sign that the MoC may be a manifestation of ‘roid rage, caused by the Mark. If so, Dean is going to go nuclear. People who love him had better lay on an anchor, or this Winchester is going to be in a very bad way.]

    • Rick D permalink
      April 17, 2014 1:05 pm

      Total agreement, JM. I was so mad when I read they had cut that line. I couldn’t believe it! Except I could believe it, as it now fits their new pattern.

    • Theo permalink
      April 18, 2014 7:53 am

      I so agree that it really feels like Sam and Dean are suddenly secondary to Castiel’s story in the main arc. I have nothing against Castiel. But, I want the brothers back front and center in the MAIN ARC, not just during the filler episodes. If meta fiction was the 1st supernatural episode I watched, I would think Misha was the leading actor of Supernatural. And, I don’t even want to talk about what they’re doing to Sam this season. He now doesn’t only have an arc (but, that’s fine, it’s Dean’s turn), but neither does he have a POV, he feels like a side character, which IS CRAZY! If Dean’s carrying the arc, we need Sam’s POV!

    • April 18, 2014 1:21 pm

      TOTALLY agree with u. 100% !

  5. April 17, 2014 10:07 am

    Reblogged this on A Beautiful Mess….

  6. April 17, 2014 10:31 am

    I agree with all and more. I have been waiting for this for so long, this season’s pace really disturbed me but my faith in the writers and the fact that I generally accept where the plot is going and how it was constructed helped me being more patient. As you said, it’s now all going to go really fast.

    I have been obsessing about Dean and the Mark from the moment they released the synopsis for ‘First Born’ and I almost forshadowed all that is happening right now for Dean so I’m equally thrilled, frustrated and scared to death xD

    I didn’t understand why Cas would choose to lead either after what Metatron showed him and told him. But again, because I have faith in the writing, I sensed that it wouldn’t be about Cas making a mistake again. Cas has made a lot of mistakes mostly because he hasn’t had a great understanding of things before. He had so many steps to climb before getting a clearer view of reality. His angelic identity and his struggling with never really belonging, his need for understanding in both sides, his love for humanity (and Dean xD), his inclination for making good and truly embody the mission his Father gave the angel (initially, if he really did) as well as his love for his brothers and his need for family. I often see him as innocent, a child, a young soul trying to see the trugh and understand but also willing to prove himself and make it better.
    So I always understood his mistakes. They were always plausible.
    Here, this season with his new experience as a human, I truly believe that he would finally see or find the answer. Maybe being an angel is not for him or maybe he could find a way to not just be a fallen angel but an angel who can not just be a soldier, a robot. An angel that could really understand humanity.
    So when he made the spell and called his minions, I was very disappointed, ‘NO CAS, NOT AGAIN!’ He has been manipulated so many times because he is so eager to do good! ‘Metatron is getting you exactly where he wants you!!’
    Once I calmed down, I realized that Cas wouldn’t fail again. This time, Cas must defeat Metatron because he is not just the fallen angel who stopped the apocalypse, got saved by God, destroyed Heaven and went to purgatory. Cas is the angel that became human and will use this experience and become wiser.
    I know he will. I will set fire to my screen if not. I just didn’t know why I was so confident.
    And I like your daughter’s interpretation. Probably, all those narratives, all those stories are what opened his eyes. I LOVE THAT SO VERY MUCH!!

    Gadreel is so very complexed. The reason he followed Metatron was already complex but my heart already breaks for him. I know there is more to his story and his actions. And I feel it is very sad. So very Sad.

    Show is sad. Show is painful. Show has no mercy…

    SHOW BROUGHT GABRIEL BACK! Show is amazing.

    Show I love you.

  7. April 17, 2014 11:46 am

    I literally screamed, out loud at my TV as soon as I saw Casa Erotica and realized what it meant. Almost woke up my sleeping kids. Then I spent the majority of the rest of the episode trying to breathe while flailing. I love Gabriel and am SOOO happy that they let us have Richard back, even for a short time. There was so much in this episode to love, I thought, Dean and Castiel talking, those endearing “I don’t understand that reference” moments. Castiel’s reaction to the MOC was great, and something in my chest became warm and glowing when Cas just grabbed Dean’s arm, not even waiting for permission, because he needed to know what was wrong NOW. There have been a lot of irons thrown in the fire though, and I am crossing all my crossables that they can deal with everything adequately in the remaining episodes.

  8. Sara permalink
    April 17, 2014 11:50 am

    Normally, when I get around to watching the episode I’ve seen all the spoilers on twitter – this week I went into the episode relatively blind except for the message my friend sent me “HAVE YOU SEEN IT YET?” – when I got that I knew something good was coming. When Richard appeared on my screen I screamed “OH MY GOD HE’S ACTUALLY THERE!” – that was the best thing I could ever have wished for! I’ve never believed him to be dead – “hello, trickster” – and now that there’s still a chance he’s alive I am just so happy – thank you so much show!
    I admit I’m always a little wary of meta episodes but I did like this one and can’t wait to watch again!
    Also, I’m crossing my fingers that Gadreel is going to turn on Metatron and maybe help ‘Team Free Will’ – I’ve had this feeling about him from the start that he’s not as bad as he seems. As for the thing about wanting to die, I chalked that up to not wanting to be locked away in solitude again – but who knows?
    Basically I enjoyed every aspect of this week’s episode – Cas & Gabe, Metatron’s… creepiness, Gadreel’s little smirk at the end, Sam’s soulful, worried eyes, Dean’s anger and angst (and shower scene😉 ). It was filled with much of what I love about this show!

  9. Heather permalink
    April 17, 2014 12:33 pm

    Lynn-
    As always a remarkable review! My head was still spinning from all the thoughts/feels thrown at us this week and your review helped me get my thoughts in order. The rollercoaster is indeed rushing headlong into the finale and I fear where the Mark of Cain will take Dean. We all know what Cain did and I worry that the history of the mark will return and put Sam and therefore Dean in danger.
    Also loved reading everyone’s comments so far. Our fandom is full of smart people!! I usually have to go back and watch an ep three or four times to truly get it all in. And let’s be honest, the shower scene will be rerun over and over again. Thank you Robbie Thompson for hearing the loud begging of the Dean-girls over here!! The squees were heard ’round the world!
    We are a lucky fandom to have a group of writers that actually listen to our crazy talk and find ways to make us smile, cry and throw stuff at the tv-admit it, you’ve done it! To know our love of Show is reciprocated and resonates throughout the cast/crew/writers is a wonder to behold. There will never be a show like Supernatural ever again on tv.

  10. Kimmie permalink
    April 17, 2014 12:55 pm

    I really liked this episode and was very excited to see Gabriel back on the show. I’m the only one in my family that’s watches and I was screaming with excitement like most of the fandom. I liked the fact they are “showing ” that Sam is concerned for Dean. He does care about him and always will and I wish they would let more of that out. I also agree that Sam should have been the one to confront Gadreel. It was his body that was possessed and his hands that was used to kill Kevin. He should have been able to get some sweet revenge. Jensen and Jared both of course nailed it again this episode. They could both not say a word and you can be astonished. I enjoyed seeing Cass again and glad that now he knows about the MOC. I have to admit I am waiting for Sam’s big break, to step out and protect his brother. I hate that the relationship is rough at best right now but Sam will always love dean enough to whatever he has to to save him. Thanks again for the awesome review and your insights.

  11. chriscross permalink
    April 17, 2014 1:19 pm

    Unfortunately I saw the first 15 minutes and then watched the words “Technical Difficulties” for the next 45 minutes. Grrr. I did see Dean’s shower scene (too short) but beautiful (gosh- eyelash porn). And I agree that these days Dean’s hair looks like its being cut by a hairdresser using a hamster’s teeth. Hope to see the full episode by some other means. I don’t know how many were affected by the ‘tech diff’ but ratings were down considerably for this episode. Personally I feel the constant breaks and reruns during the season are to blame. The 23 episodes must be stretched out so that the finale is aired during May sweeps week. But along the way we lose so many viewers tired of tuning in and seeing yet another rerun. Why not run 11 consecutive episodes before Christmas and 12 consecutive episodes after with a 1-2 month break in-between, along the lines of The Walking Dean, etc. The operative word being ‘consecutive’. All momentum is lost when we’re hit with hellish hiatuses all thru the season. Sorry to be going on about this…. a bit miffed.

  12. April 17, 2014 2:16 pm

    I was totally unspoiled for Gabriel’s return and Hubs and I looked at each other when the Casa Erotica video started.
    “They finally got Richard back!” “He’s baaaack” We said in unison. (Richard was Hubs favorite part of the convention when he went with me to Toronto a couple of years ago)

    I liked the episode. I love to hate Metatron.
    Metatron is SUCH a dick. I don’t know how the Boys are gonna gank him, but if it entails ripping his wings off and stuffing them down his smug throat, that would work for me. (Crowley I want to live to be evil another day – Metatron needs to die horribly)

    How come the holy fire didn’t work? Is he so strong because he has all the power now? Because he’s the only angel with access to the power of the souls in heaven? Maybe Cas and his ‘flock’ can use the power of the souls stuck in the veil?

    I love Gadreel and I think Metatron made a big strategic error when he admitted that he hadn’t foreseen the Winchesters capturing him. I wish Gadreel could be a friend, but its hard enough for the writers to keep one angel storyline going, let alone two, so I unfortunately I don’t see that going anywhere past the current conflict. (hope I’m wrong)

    You know, its a beautiful thing really. The fact that Metatron has read all these books, seen all these movies and still thinks that it somehow qualifies him to be ‘hero of the piece’. There’s lots of ways to understand, but understanding through a prism of ego is gong to be fractured at best. Certainly its a blind spot that our real heroes can use.

    I thought it was funny that Cas understood the reference to the Death Star, but still didn’t “get” the reference. It’ll take some time to adjust, I think!

    I know some fans are upset about the ‘brothers bond’ this season, but honestly I don’t get it. I still see it. It seems evident to me in the way they continue to work together and especially in all the subtext J&J bring to it that Sam & Dean, while upset, yes, are still very close and care about one another.

  13. April 17, 2014 2:41 pm

    I agree and disagree. While a lot of people find the Angel storyline to be boring, I don’t think it’s because of the storyline itself, I think it’s because of how it’s been written (no offense intended towards the writers). They could have done SO much more with this … not really with the Angels themselves because those guys (mostly) have no desire for world domination, but they do look for leadership, I don’t suppose a couple of demons, or other hunters couldn’t have figured that out? In addition, there are thousands of ghosts wandering around that can’t go to heaven–not all of them would have been as understanding as Kevin and Candy. This is the problem with shows worrying about being renewed each season the writers, and everyone else, have no idea what they’ll be able to truly focus on until they are scrambling to write it.

    The MoC is most likely not going to be resolved until next season. The reason being, well, you already said it, because the Angel storyline can’t be dragged out (it could, but I believe they’ve already filmed the last episode, or close to it), so they have to button it up–A pity in my opinion, again, they could have done so much more with this.

    I agree that Metatron is scary as hell, but he’s only been screwing with Cas and the Winchesters, not with the rest of the world … he hasn’t really played God, he’s not trying to “fix” things, just trying to take out the ones that could cause him problems. Maybe he’d get around to messing with the rest of the world, but–unless they really throw us for a loop–we all know how this story is going to end, the only thing we don’t know is if Cas is going to live through it. Honestly, this is my concern because this is the character that I identify with.

    The reason the MoC storyline is so interesting, because we don’t actually know if Dean is going to come out the other side. And, if he doesn’t, well, Sam already stated that he won’t be bringing Dean back, and what if Cas does die? Then there is no guardian angel to drag Dean back out of hell, again (honestly, do you think any other angel would rescue Dean? Probably not).

    Both of these storylines have, or had, a lot of potential. I loved Meta Fiction, but they cut too much of it out. Really, it’s an episode that should have been a two-parter—there were also some strange issues in the time sequence that I found a bit confusing. I’ve watched the episode 3 times and still haven’t figured those out, except to assume that the writers are hiding a vital piece of information … or, there was a problem when they were shooting and they simply had to change day into night for those scenes.

    The question for me is, why have the three abandoned each other? Why is Cas working by himself and is he now, again, hiding things from Sam and Dean? Why is Sam so hell-bent on a normal life when it didn’t work out? Remember, he left because Emilia’s husband returned, NOT because Dean was back. Dean is the only consistent character—determined to self-destruct. He wants to rest, possibly even go to heaven, but now he’s concerned he’s damned himself for eternity, again. His only real fear is becoming what he hunts.

    One final question, what are the other creatures on the planet doing? Why aren’t any of them trying to take advantage of this situation? In other words, hell is in civil war and heaven is totally f-ed up, the “power” creatures are too busy fighting themselves and each other to even pay attention to the “beasts.” And I don’t just mean the Leviathians, although, they are still out there as well. Just a thought.

    I really desire for the show to continue, but I’m really wondering how they are going to keep coming up with these huge story arcs–and use the story arcs effectively.

    My 2 cents.

  14. blinderd8 permalink
    April 17, 2014 2:55 pm

    I thought all of what you stated and did re-watch it the next day to appreciate the nuances both in writing, acting, and editing. Reading the tweets and knowing what was edited out and why it made sense, Metatron is so well written that he is one of the most fleshed out villains in the series and while I find him worthy of wanting his demise, he is intriguing to watch. Curtis A. will forever be iconic in this role. He is also a true challenge for the Winchesters. Intensity beginning to build toward a whopper of a finale. The subtle acting by J2, MC and RSjr, superb and all the more believable.

  15. Shelby permalink
    April 17, 2014 3:11 pm

    While I din’t love the episode, I thought it was a little too “talky” and slow in places, there are some scenes that I really loved. I’m sure you can guess one of them – the Dean shower and mirror scenes. duh, right? LOL But, I loved it for more than the obvious reason of seeing Jensen shirtless, I loved it because it was a wonderful piece of acting by Jensen, showing us, without any dialogue, with his facial expressions and eyes only as to what Dean is thinking and feeling.

    I also loved the Gadreel-Dean scene. I thought Jensen and Tahmoh have great chemistry and brought a lot of intensity to the scenes. I loved seeing Dean stop himself and pull back, realizing that Gadreel fears not dying more.

    I’m with you, though, I want more of the Mark of Cain storyline. I hope it does continue into season 10 because it, in my opinion, is an exciting storyline.

  16. April 17, 2014 5:50 pm

    I’m not a big Gabe fan but I was pleasantly surprised to see RSJr. back, with his smart-alec yet more serious delivery (even though it was Metatron-scripted, after all.) I dug the play between him and Cas. Good stuff!

    I, too (and perhaps, unsurprisingly), was dismayed with how little Sam got to confront Gadreel. Dean hauled Sam off, sent him on an errand, and then proceeded to beat the living tar out of the angel. I don’t think it was as much about Dean being angry at Gadreel, as Dean being angry at himself. Angry because he let himself be duped, angry that he fell for Gadreel’s lies (making Dean’s lying to Sam all the more damaging), angry because the Mark of Cain is exaggerating all Dean’s rage. But come on, when it’s all said and done, it’s Sam who needs to ‘have words’ with Gadreel. And words with Dean, for that matter. Sam was so manipulated by both, to have him pulled out of the confrontation felt sour to me.

    I get why Dean did it, no doubt! He wanted righteous justice. He wanted Gadreel to hurt as much as he did. Makes sense, but me personally? I didn’t like it. I wish I could put my finger on what’s bugging me, but I just can’t sort it out. I KNOW Sam is exercising more autonomy lately, and he’s finally showing his smarts again, but I dunno, still feels like he being shoved away from where he really needs to be, from what he really needs to fulfill to heal.

    Or maybe this is simply viewing the show through my Sam goggles.😉 Overall, it wasn’t a terrible episode. A little too much exposition for me, but it also felt necessary to move the plot along toward the end of the season. Thank goodness there’s no more breaks, s’all I can say! /!

  17. April 17, 2014 8:38 pm

    I agree, I want SO much more on the MoC story!! I love that Dean has been given a story arc of his own, but now we don’t get to see much of it. I find myself becoming troubled over what’s going on behind those eyes. I, also, am becoming tired of the angel story and wish it would wrap up. And where did Metatron get all those powers? Did I miss something?
    I think Gadreel wants death NOT because he was in that chair and chains. Since the beginning he has struck me as a man (angel) who so desperately wants to atone for his mistake. I think that’s partly why he fell so easily under Metatron’s spell. Metatron has proven to be a master manipulator almost right up there with Crowley. Maybe Gad is starting to see through Metatron’s lies and is beginning to realize that aligning with him will NOT bring him atonement but rather only serves to further Metatron’s personal agenda. My hope, and this is from way back when Gad first agreed to side with Metatron, that it will be Gad, making some sort of self-sacrificial act, that will ultimately stop Metatron, thereby gaining for him the redemption he so earnestly seeks.

    And I have no problem with Dean’s hair….or any other part of him (shifty eyes of my own).

    • April 17, 2014 8:40 pm

      Oh! In addition, I don’t think I’d mind the MoC story carrying over into season 10, ONLY because if they end it with season 9, then once again, Dean will have been shortchanged out of what could have been an epic storyline. End season 9 with the end of Metatron and the angel business and continue with Crowley, Abaddon, and the Mark in season 10.

    • April 19, 2014 1:25 pm

      This is my reading of Gadreel too. I wish there was a way to redeem him in the storyline, but I don’t see that happening. Nevertheless, his little smirk and his wanting Dean to kill him seem to indicate that he at least sees through Metatron’s scheme. I predict a double-crossing to come — and maybe maybe it will be a sacrificial one that will redeem Gad just a little!

      • blinderd8 permalink
        April 19, 2014 1:51 pm

        Perhaps we see Gadreel’s wheels turning. All he ever wanted was redemption, so he may be showing remorse as he walks away in this scene. If he does a double cross on Metatron, then I doubt it would be the only double cross in the season. Crowley is after all a demon and looking for well, love. The show loves to play with parallels so fasten your seat belt.

  18. Bonnie permalink
    April 17, 2014 11:43 pm

    Love having Gabriel back. I’d love to see him back for good–wouldn’t he be great spearheading a faction in the Angel War!

  19. April 18, 2014 10:15 am

    I am a die hard fan of SPN. I really am. But now i am really started to get angry over the writers. about what they are doing. Well I always appreciate the writers and their amazing creativity but they are making us feel like Castiel is the main concern of SPN and Sam&Dean are just supportive roles in their own show. I mean what this show is about? Castiel and his heavenly mission? Or 2 boys against the whole world and their brotherhood? And what we are getting in this season? ALL CASTIEL and NOT MUCH WINCHESTERS. and I really cant able to deal with it. Only 5 episodes left. Except e19 & e20 only 3 epis left to deal with the main plot. and we know almost nothing about Dean’s mark of Cain storyline and Sam’s point of view about his life and his relationship with Dean..and the scene where he said he is worried about Dean got cut from s9e18.why? We needed to see some Sam’s point of view too! And all we have been getting All the angels stuffs and its really becoming a boring thing. we watch SPN for the Winchesters .This is always was ,is and will be the same way. Winchesters are the main concern of the show. This is the epic love story of Sam & Dean And everybody else is here just to come and go. So i wish writers stop toying with our feelings and give us enough of the Winchesters!

    • blinderd8 permalink
      April 23, 2014 3:47 pm

      Don’t let the vampire action plot distract you from the subtext that is all about family decisions and loyalties- It is still about the Winchesters.

  20. Rain Trower permalink
    April 18, 2014 8:04 pm

    My thoughts on the episode – Wow. Just wow. After some very blah episodes this season, finally an episode to rank with the very best. So much to love. The unnaturally beautiful colour of Jensen’s eyes in the shower scene, The cosy monologue by Metatron which was somehow more chilling than him making threats and ordering murders. Gadreel back (and channelling Mark Rolston as Alistair in his delivery this week). Sam;s “Remember me?” giving real chills. Sam showing his desperate concern for Dean without needing to say a word. So many incredible moments. But nothing comes close to the electricity of the beat between the finger click from porn Gabriel and Castiel turning ’round to see him standing in the motel room. I was holding my breath to keep from hyperventilating. There were even actual tears. I am stupidly invested in this character. My gut told me instantly that is wouldn’t really be Gabriel, but that didn’t matter, because it WAS really Richard, and that was more than enough for me. I still feel like I dreamed the episode. It was a shame not to see Gabriel with the Winchesters, but I loved the car journey with Castiel (“Bitch please!” was golden Gabester snark). I personally adore the show when it gets meta because it acknowledges perfectly the unique relationship the makers of the show has with the fandom. And I’m totally taking the eyebrow waggle as confirmation that my boy is alive, because the alternative is just too sad to contemplate.

  21. April 19, 2014 1:27 pm

    As always, I love these reviews!

    I would only add that Castiel’s comment to Sam at the end sounded at least a little ominous, maybe even echoing John Winchester’s whisper to Dean in the first season that he would have to kill Sam if he couldn’t save him. Scary!

    • blinderd8 permalink
      April 19, 2014 1:52 pm

      And the season parallels past events now doesn’t it. But there are twists and hooks for fans. Oh, wait is the summer break our Hell?

    • blinderd8 permalink
      April 19, 2014 1:55 pm

      Perhaps Sam will have to kill Dean because he cannot save him but with the MoC, Dean may be immortal( for a while) and wouldn’t you just love to see the angst on Sam and Dean’s faces if it came to this. Not sure the writers wouldn’t redeem Dean prior to a cataclysmic event in order to save the brotherhood.

    • Sue permalink
      April 27, 2014 1:52 am

      That’s an interesting interpretation of Castiel’s warning to Sam: “You keep an eye on him.” as a call back to John’s prompt to Dean in season 2 to Dean. If he can’t save him, he might just have to kill him. Chilling.

      So many people are taking that line on the surface level to mean that he was saying it out of concern for Dean’s well-being. I took it to mean the opposite – he told Sam to keep an eye on Dean out of concern for SAM’S well-being. Dean is bearing the Mark of a man who committed fratricide, after all. Castiel as an angel of heaven would know all too well what the implications of bearing that Mark actually means. And seeing as how Sam has spent his entire life keeping an eye on Dean, he doesn’t need to be reminded to do so no matter how upset he might currently be with his brother over the possession.

      Sam to me has been amazing with his resolve this season. He’s obviously agonizing over this decision to put boundaries between he and Dean, but it’s what’s necessary for him to do in order to have some semblance of control over his life. He knows it’s hurting Dean and in turn it’s hurting him to be the cause of that pain, but it’s what he has to do in order to get them both to a healthier place. And through all of this, you can still see how much he really does love Dean. He’s concerned for him, sure, but backing down now is not an option. Wanting to make these changes in his and Dean’s relationship is coming from a place of love, both for his brother and for himself. His strength is inspirational and I have never been more proud of a fictional character in my life.

      Dean I’m just worried about, period. He’s not in a healthy place at all right now and the Mark of Cain is not helping matters one bit. He’s spiraling out of control and I just wish that he could see the forest for the trees and realize that Sam does love him, these boundaries are as much for his benefit as they are for Sam’s. Sam’s character development has been beautifully done, I can only hope for the same for Dean. With four episodes to go this season I fear that it’s going to have to wait until season 10 and that’s just heartbreaking to even think about.

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