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O Brother Where Art Thou? The Perfect Title for Supernatural 11.09

December 12, 2015
WB/The CW

WB/The CW

This is a drive by review – not because I couldn’t think of a lot to say about Supernatural’s mid season finale, but because I’ve got a house full of kids and family and tons of grading and holiday shopping to do, and something has to give. Anyone who knows me knows that the thing that gives is not usually SPN related, though. So, drive by it is!

ETA: Apparently even a drive by review for me is 2500 words long. Oops.

The episode didn’t leave me squeeful or wanting to rewatch it a hundred times. It wasn’t an ending that left my heart full to brimming with SPN Family feelings, or even crumpled on the floor with a used up box of tissues. Instead, I sat there sort of stunned, maybe a wee bit hoarse from having screamed “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” at my television too many times. I knew that a lot would happen, and I even anticipated what some of it would be, but I still wanted to scream at everyone on my screen – most especially the Winchesters.

Haven’t Sam and Dean learned by now that splitting up is the worst thing they can do? Sure, it’s an attempt to get things done in half the time, and somebody needed to watch Rowena, but as soon as Dean took off and Sam stayed behind, I started wailing. Nobody on this Show ever listens to me though.

WB/The CW

WB/The CW

I did love the fact that Sam didn’t do anything without discussing it with Dean. That they talked – well, argued, like an old married couple – about Sam going to the Cage.

Sam tells Dean about the burning bush. (Which made me inappropriately crack up, btw. Really, Show?)

Dean, trying to argue against Sam believing it’s God directing him: You were in the forest. There are bushes there, and sometimes they burn!

Errr, probably not like that, Dean. But I admire the sentiment.

Graphic, welovespn

Graphic, welovespn

I love that we got protective Dean, and Sam still willing to do whatever it takes, to face his worst fears even, to try to make this right. I also love that Sam promised not to do anything without calling Dean.

And he did. He kept his promise to his brother, and I love that more than words can say.

I do not love – not even a little tiny miniscule infinitesimal bit – that Dean did not pick up his goddamned phone. Obviously the story wouldn’t have worked if he had, but it always feels somehow manipulative when the plot hinges on someone not picking up their phone when they REALLY REALLY REALLY should have.

After Dean’s explicit and oft repeated protectiveness of Sam – so much so that Crowley snipes, “Goodness Mommy, loosen your grip” – I found it hard to believe that Dean would ignore a call from Sam. Sam who is with Rowena and trying to figure out how to go meet with Lucifer. Really, Show? Really?

I get that we’re supposed to think he senses that Amara is near, but he hasn’t even seen her yet. Would it have killed him to pick up the phone? Are we meant to believe that she has him in such thrall that he’d make that sort of bad decision?

ANSWER THE PHONE, DEAN! Cap, s_verasani

ANSWER THE PHONE, DEAN! Cap, s_verasani

I didn’t really buy it. After all, shortly thereafter, Dean does manage to break Amara’s hold enough to attempt to kill her. (I loved that he did that, btw. Dean Winchester is stronger than you think, Amara).

Gotta say, Emily Swallow is doing a bang up job as Amara. The character is truly frightening, wielding her considerable power with all the carefree handwaving of a child. Although she certainly doesn’t look like one anymore. Not sure why an all powerful being like the Darkness is wearing a revealing gown all the time – we got Chuck in a bathrobe and we routinely get Winchesters in sixteen layers and Cas in a trenchcoat – but the Darkness is female so we’ve got to have a low cut dress and lots of cleavage, I guess. Nothing against cleavage! But I expect Chuck shirtless and in tight jeans next time then, okay, Show? It’s only fair. (Take note, Rob…)

Anyway, Swallow is doing a fabulous job, because I don’t hate Amara like I should. She invests the character with some vulnerability – we can see the hurt little girl who was locked away by her big brother. Her conversation with the priest, where he’s speaking in metaphor and she’s being utterly literal, was priceless. I’m sort of surprised Show is ‘going there’ so directly when it comes to questioning religion and faith – Amara is openly disdainful, telling believers that God is manipulative and their belief is misplaced. But I sort of love that this Show, in its eleventh season, can still be fearless. And Swallow sells it, every bit.

I also can’t really hate Amara because she clearly has some kind of fascination for Dean. And hey, I get it. I have some kind of fascination for Dean too, after all. It makes the earlier scenes of barely-teenage-appearing Amara stroking Dean’s face a little more creepy now that we know their mutual fascination tips over into attraction. It would be hypocritical of me to question why Amara changes her mind about inhaling Dean’s soul and decides to make out with him instead though, because duh, Dean Winchester. But what is going through her mind right before she leans in for the kiss? Did she sense something about Dean’s soul, or was she just overcome by his handsome face?

“I’m all powerful, I can find out for myself just how soft those lips are, so why am I not going for it?”

I mean, I get it.

Cap s_verasani

Cap s_verasani

Cap, s_verasani

Cap, s_verasani

But the expression on her face just before she kisses him pulls for some explanation. I like not knowing, for the time being at least.

Amara fends off the angel smiting attempt, and doesn’t seem remotely nervous about the potential group smiting coming her way. She wants her big brother’s attention, and maybe she’s finally going to get it. No way will this be a good thing for anyone, but at least Dean is off that romantic mountaintop and back to somewhere where he can maybe listen to his goddamned voicemail.

(Btw, are Dean and Amara on a mountaintop as a callback to the biblical idea of Satan tempting Jesus on a mountaintop? Amara is most certainly tempting him, with both the promise of collective bliss and his own. Is this meant to parallel the tempting of Sam by the actual Devil, which is happening simultaneously? If so, I like it. I like when Show does that.)

Tempted on the mountain. Cap, s_verasani

Tempted on the mountain. Cap, s_verasani

Emily Swallow also gets kudos for managing to portray Amara as a truly powerful being. The character’s casual violence could easily be over the top, but Swallow makes it believable. Her lack of empathy or remorse when killing is chilling because of the way she carries it out; perhaps more chilling when she talks about how much God has messed things up for his poor creatures, and how she could offer ‘bliss’. Hard to believe, and yet Swallow sells both those messages.

So, back to our story. Dean gets rendered more or less impotent (sorry, Dean). Meanwhile, Sam is in wayyyyyy over his head.

Kudos to Jerry Wanek’s team for the depiction of Limbo, which was just as terrifying as Hell probably would be, but didn’t give away too much. That just made it more terrifying! Kudos to the amazing VFX team, who showed off their stuff in this episode. And to Mark Sheppard, who always plays Crowley to perfection. He clearly retains some affection for the Winchesters, even if he would probably break their necks if it suited him. But Crowley will always protect Crowley, and if the Darkness is the bigger threat, he’s more than willing to play frenemies with a Devil’s bargain.

WB/The CW

WB/The CW

Then there’s Rowena. I can’t even say enough about Rowena and how much I love Ruth Connell’s performance as this fascinating character. Every single time she’s onscreen, I’m loving what’s happening. She can make the not-so-great dialogue good, and she can deliver the good dialogue in a way that makes it absolutely scrumptious. She, like the regulars on this Show, can say as much with an arched eyebrow or a half-stifled giggle or an almost-eyeroll as most actors can with a page of dialogue.

Ruth, like Emily, also manages to portray Rowena as a powerful woman. Even when she’s in chains, she always seems to have the upper hand – or at the very least, you know she will soon. She always looks like she’s enjoying a little secret at the expense of everyone else in the room. Every conversation with her son is practically crackling with emotion – hate, derision, and still, I continue to believe, love and regret behind it all. On both sides.

Her fangirling – or should I say outright lust? – for Lucifer was also perfectly executed. Rowena has never been apologetic about being a woman capable of desire, and I love that about her. It’s one of the themes of ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’ – women are too often ashamed (or shamed) and I love that Rowena refuses to be. (Not that she hasn’t done some things worthy of it!)

“He’s so Alpha,” she gushes, staring at Lucifer.

You just know Rowena writes some steamy Lucifer fanfic in her free time, right? Probably of the Lucifer/Rowena variety.

Anyway, I also like that Rowena keeps us guessing. Did she intend to keep Sam safe or to give Lucifer what he wants? Did she hurry Crowley off with her out of that well hidden protectiveness, or does she have something more nefarious up her sleeve when it comes to her son?

WB/The CW

WB/The CW

I’m not sure, but at any rate, her protective wards don’t hold. No sooner have I fist bumped when Sam said “No” to Lucifer’s possession than I had my hand over my mouth gasping in horror. Because there was Sam, back in the cage with Lucifer. And all my worst predictions were coming true. It wasn’t God speaking to Sam. It was never God. It was Lucifer. Just like Cain and Abel in the Supernatural canon, the little brother wasn’t talking to God, but to the Devil.

Lucifer, after all, tempts people with what they most want. Sam, who was chosen instead by Azazel, wants desperately to be chosen by God. He wanted to be accepted by the Angels, while Dean has never cared (except for one particular Angel’s respect). He wanted to be the one to sacrifice himself for the greater good. He wanted forgiveness. He so wants to believe that God has been speaking to him; has chosen to help him.

My heart absolutely broke for Sam Winchester in this episode.

But, you know what?

MARK PELLEGRINO. Is it wrong that I’m so happy to have him back?? Probably. He plays Lucifer as frighteningly appealing, with a rumbling undercurrent of RUN RUN RUN RUN!

WB/The CW

WB/The CW

Seriously, I wanted to jump up and run around my living room, I had such an adrenaline rush. That shot of him with his eyes glowing red, staring at us through the bars of his cage? Gave me goosebumps.

His banter with Sam is so flirty, it almost seems like Lucifer has some genuine affection for Sam. But Sam’s response – absolute terror on the face of a man who routinely faces danger without a flinch – tells us more about just how horrible Lucifer can be than ten minutes of unnecessary exposition. Jared was brilliant in that scene. The horror on his face, the PTSD-induced flashbacks you could imagine roaring through him, the single tear he can’t hold back. He can’t keep up the front of bravado, he can’t hold it together. And for Sam Winchester to break down like that? Holy shit, Sam’s time in the cage must have been unimaginable.

It’s heartbreaking to me that Sam believed it was God directing him to go to the cage. I’ve never believed that; I’ve believed it was Lucifer all along. Even Matt Cohen’s cryptic “I could never fool you” in the car with Sam seemed to hint in that direction. But Sam so wanted to believe. We, as humans, so want to believe. In something good, in something bigger, in something or someone who knows what we should do and gives us some direction to move in.

11.09 welovespn2

My heart breaks for Sam, having that faith shattered.

I can’t really say I loved this episode, because much of it was upsetting to watch. There was a helluva lot packed into one episode, and at times there was too much exposition. But it moved the plot forward in a dramatic way, and the performances by every single actor made this a powerful, emotional 42 minutes of television. I was left shaking and unhappy – but that’s clearly the way Show wanted it. It’s a little bit like the Kripke era, where after an episode my social media would be full of icons (the LiveJournal predecessor to Tumblr and gifs, for those who might not remember) proclaiming ‘Damn you Kripke!’

Now I just want it to be January. I want Dean to be pissed as hell and roar off into wherever he has to go to save his brother. This time, it’s going to be indescribably important to Dean to do what he couldn’t do last time, I suspect. I just hope he hurries.

In the meantime, stay tuned for some Hellatus-buster interviews right here! And if you’re doing some holiday shopping, why not pick up a copy of ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’ on amazon? It’s the real story of being a Supernatural fan, the ups, the downs, the agony, the ecstacy….and lots of insights from Jared, Jensen, Misha and the rest of the cast about the Show and the fandom we all call the SPN Family.

Or check out ‘Fan Phenomena Supernatural’ for chapters written by cast, crew and fans on why this show is so important to all of us. Misha Collins and Richard Speight, Jr. wrote chapters which are by turns very funny and very touching, and Serge Ladouceur’s insights about how he helps make the Show so beautiful are fascinating.

Back soon!

–Lynn

68 Comments leave one →
  1. sarahjay55 permalink
    December 12, 2015 4:29 am

    The performances were, without exception, fantastic. Jared broke my heart too, and Pellegrino was delicious, as was Ruth.
    And the vfx were, as always, spectacularly good.
    And since the saying goes ‘if you can’t say anything nice…’ I shall leave it there regarding storylines etc…

    • spnfans permalink
      December 12, 2015 3:44 pm

      The acting was truly EPIC all around. These actors can spin gold with whatever they’re given, and often they’re given quite alot🙂

  2. December 12, 2015 5:34 am

    See, I read the underlying theme of the episode as ‘consent’. Dean is incapable of consent -he’s been God-roofied from the second he hung up. The fact he fought it -turning away before regaining enough sense of the normal Dean to attempt to kill the Big Bad, and again after the kiss-was not enough to prevent her from kissing him. Just like a lot of female-on-male violations, it becomes something that is ignored or joked about or handwaved (‘boobs & a low cut dress, yeah, right you didn’t want it). The way Twitter blew up -at /Dean/- just emphasizes it.
    Sam, on the other hand, has to consent to allow Lucifer to possess his body – yay, go Sam, right? But his literal body autonomy has been ripped from him -he’s pulled into the Cage Lite with Lucifer, threatened not-so-subtly with rape, and from his reaction -brilliantly and delicately acted by Jared- we can easily infer that this has not been an idle joke but a pointed reminder of 300+ years of probable rape. You want to know what can scare the fast,agile, powerfully built Sam Winchester? Being in a position where none of that matters.

    Sexual assault isn’t about sex, it’s about power. Both Amara and Lucifer exerted their considerable power over the Winchester boys, and many fandom reactions perfectly exemplified why most male survivors don’t report it even to their loved ones. It’s been quite a meta exploration, and an excellent piece of writing.

    • spnfans permalink
      December 12, 2015 3:50 pm

      I can read it that way too, though I’m not sure that theme was intentionally woven through the narrative. One of the things I love most about fandom is that we often pull themes that aren’t intentionally (or explicitly) there, and yet we’re all humans sharing a problematic culture, so perhaps the themes play out anyway, intentional or not. And yes, so agree about how brilliantly Jared made Sam’s trauma heartbreakingly horrifyingly clear.

    • December 12, 2015 3:52 pm

      You’re making many good points and I really agree with you, but I have to be a bit of a nitpicker. Sam was in hell for roughly 18 months, which would be 180 years hell time, not 300+. It’s still a lot, though.

      • Astrid permalink
        December 17, 2015 8:43 am

        I disagree with that.
        Sam was in the cage for less than a day, then Castiel pulled him out, but his soul stayed for 18 months.

    • December 12, 2015 3:57 pm

      I love this observation: rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power. For me, that clarifies Amara’s behavior towards Dean, even if I’m not sure this particular team of writers intended that, exactly. Like Lynn says (that is you, Lynn, right?), sometimes we recognize themes that weren’t cognitively written but are appropriate, nonetheless!

    • Susan permalink
      December 12, 2015 4:21 pm

      “But his literal body autonomy has been ripped from him -he’s pulled into the Cage Lite with Lucifer, threatened not-so-subtly with rape, and from his reaction -brilliantly and delicately acted by Jared- we can easily infer that this has not been an idle joke but a pointed reminder of 300+ years of probable rape. You want to know what can scare the fast, agile, powerfully built Sam Winchester? Being in a position where none of that matters.”

      Yes, Helena. These are my thoughts exactly–sexual assault happens to men and it is turned into some kind of joke or attack on a man’s masculinity. We know this character has faced horror and is a damn good fighter, but Sam’s terror was so evident (Jared’s understated performance was so good that my heart hurt for him, my stomach was in knots–much as I am sure Sam’s was–in empathy with him).

      Sam’s character has often been feminized (the longer hair, the intellectual Sam vs. the physical Dean, Dean’s barbs over the years: “Maybe Dad thinks you’re a girl,” “Maybe it was the only time he (Dad) thought you were a boy,” “Here’s your half-caf vanilla latte, Frances,” and other verbal and non-verbal ways that Sam is gendered female somehow but is also a beautiful example of the male form–even when he was hyper-masculinzed as soulless Sam–he continues to be ridiculed for being large, Sasquatch, Moose, etc. And, now he is back in the position where his physical prowess will not save him from brutal attack, so I am wondering if this will be an opportunity to talk about the ways we deal (or don’t) with male survivors of rape and how it will/will not be played differently (though it already is to an extent as Amara is using seductive (as is portrayed typically female) power over Dean whereas the threat against Sam is physical.

      They’ve hinted at this form of Sam’s torture in the cage for a while now (Halucier’s “bunk buddy” comments, etc.), and Sam seems unable to share any of that with Dean over the years, so maybe this will open the door to that catharsis if/WHEN Dean rescues Sam…unless Sam is somehow able to save himself, which would certain lead to some re-empowerment…sorry, I am just rambling now.

      My point is, that the loss of power and autonomy IS at the heart of sexual assault of both women and men, but the way we react to them is quite different. If any show and its actors are brave enough to go there, Supernatural and J2 would be the ones to do it well.

    • December 13, 2015 12:04 am

      May I just say, “Helena” your name made me crack my first smile in 2 long days of being sick with the local winter crud?
      That said, I love this show so much, and thank you spnfans for this site where I can be among others who speak my language and love it too. I am alone in my fandom out here in the real world and after this last episode I was bouncing around my apt. wanting to talk to anybody……………
      I loved this episode for all the same reasons that everyone else has already stated so well, and because it made me talk (raise my voice) back to the screen, and even Show doesn’t do that very often for me.
      I too missed Cas, and am thrilled at Lucifers return, the character is so awful and terrifying but Mark Pelligrino is so great that you can’t help wanting to see more of him. Those red eyes were, indeed, freaking creepy! And “Halucifer” (great name) gave me some good laughs in the past, even though Sam was suffering.
      Yep, everybody’s acting in this episode was brilliant, for me both Sam and Dean broke my heart, I saw Deans’ situation as tormented too, seemed to me Jensen played him as unwilling, and ashamed, and trapped, all things that Dean would truly hate.
      I forced myself not to re-watch until now, so I have something to occupy myself until January. So off to netflixs to see it all again.

  3. Gail permalink
    December 12, 2015 5:40 am

    How about Cas? Where’s he been, or at least, a mention of him?
    GailDunnjays4ever2014@outlook.com Gail

    • spnfans permalink
      December 12, 2015 3:50 pm

      Yes, where IS the angel????

    • sarahjay55 permalink
      December 12, 2015 4:48 pm

      The one entity they know who has previously broken into the Cage?
      What possible usefulness or help could he have been in this episode?!

      • December 12, 2015 4:56 pm

        If it’s any consolation, they didn’t go to the actual Cage; they created a faux one, to temp. hold Lucifer so they could talk to him. If I had the opportunity to fabricate a reason Cas wasn’t there, it might’ve been because angels, in places like Purgatory and ostensibly Hell, would become beacons, attracting and antagonizing the local denizens. This is canon for Purgatory, and one could only imagine how ill-received an angel would be in Hell. Yeah, he’s crashed Hell before, but that was more like a strategic strike. He rushed into the Cage, grabbed Sam’s body (forgot his soul, d’oh!), and took off again. He didn’t hang around to attract attention and talk.

        I do think it’s a little weird they didn’t so much as mention Cas this episode, though.

  4. December 12, 2015 6:28 am

    great review as always though i have to disagree with you on one thing. I don’t think amara chose not to take his soul. I think she couldn’t. Either he doesn’t have one which would explain why he’s seemed a bit off all season or something was blocking her from doing so. Also am i the only one who noticed that the hot dog vendor who spoke to dean looked and sounded like joshua. He hasn’t been seen in awhile but if you listen real close the guy even has his accent. Maybe god is keeping tabs in his own way?

    • spnfans permalink
      December 12, 2015 3:52 pm

      I was unsure whether Amara chose not to or couldn’t for some reason — she definitely went through some sort of decision making process or perhaps just a realization. I rather love not knowing and having that anticipation of finding out🙂

      And oooh, I did not notice that!!

    • December 12, 2015 4:21 pm

      Nah, Dean’s not soulless; he still eats and sleeps. But there might’ve been another reason she wouldn’t have consumed his soul. I think she stopped herself, frankly. Or the writers were just juking us.

  5. December 12, 2015 7:39 am

    How unimaginably brave of Sam to march himself to face the most horrific thing that’s ever happened to him, in a lifetime full of horrors, because even soul-wrenching terror can’t stop his determination to do the right thing. Dammit Dean…why didn’t you answer your phone!

    • spnfans permalink
      December 12, 2015 3:53 pm

      Ohgod yes, I’m in awe of Sam Winchester’s bravery. And of Jared’s acting.

      • December 12, 2015 4:08 pm

        And can I just take a moment to splash in the shallow end of the pool, and thank whoever put Sam in that red shirt? Dean’s not the only one who looks damn fine in red!

  6. anafraserlallybroch permalink
    December 12, 2015 9:20 am

    Reblogged this on Ana Fraser Lallybroch Blog.

  7. Heather Loughney permalink
    December 12, 2015 10:15 am

    I too was left unhappy and none too proud to have “called it” on this episode. I suspected it was not God chatting up our dear Sam. Poor, poor Sam. His heart breaks ours. I kept yelling “where is Cas?!” But alas, no one heard. Amara and Dean were scary, hot and scary. She promised him the world and sealed it with a kiss. And our brave, beautiful Dean refused. Finally I am disturbed by my own nervous glee at seeing Mark on Show again. He both delights and terrifies. I am upset and grumbling for the next 38 days. Happy Holidays. Grrr….

    • spnfans permalink
      December 12, 2015 3:53 pm

      Grrr indeed – I’m with you! But happy holidays anyway!

  8. December 12, 2015 10:27 am

    Oh god, Jared in this episode! I agree- heartcrack.
    But also- what could Dean have done if he WAS there? It makes it more upsetting that he wasn’t, but it isn’t like he could have prevented anything.

    • spnfans permalink
      December 12, 2015 3:54 pm

      I don’t know, he might have been a voice of reason to not go in the first place or pull Sam out of there before the wards failed…but you may be right. Still, I wanted him there! (Yes, this is all about me lol)

      • December 12, 2015 5:15 pm

        I just really need him to pull Sam out of Hell next episode and give him a hug.

  9. Masja_17 permalink
    December 12, 2015 10:51 am

    Love your reviews! Always read them. This ep was so chock full of NOOO! And I just *knew* that Sam would get trapped in the cage, or actually the sort of mirror of it, yeah? Earlier the cage was depicted as hanging in chains from all over.
    Poor Sam and damn you Dean for not picking up the phone!

    • spnfans permalink
      December 12, 2015 3:55 pm

      I read somewhere that this was a different cage, and that’s why Michael was nowhere to be seen. Alas, I sort of knew too. Poor Sam…

    • December 12, 2015 4:26 pm

      I kinda hate when the writers set up stuff like Dean ignoring Sam’s call (which I think we all know is because Amara had him mesmerized), but still, it ends up villainizing the character. This, combined with Dean’s extra-curmudgeonly behavior this season hasn’t been kind to him. It’s like Sam in early S8 all over again…

  10. December 12, 2015 11:05 am

    Loved the Dean/Amara part of the ep, did not love the rest. Hell looks so cheap now, what happened to scary hell from season 3 and 4? And what happened to hell time moving a lot faster than earth time? I never liked Lucifer to begin with, he’s too whiny to be scary and they’ve brought hem back too many times for me to care again. I’m just wondering where the hell Michael is in all off this and why the writers won’t even mention him in the scripts. It makes no sense. The “twist” that Lucifer was the one sending the visions was something everyone saw coming so that scene was not impactful. That they didn’t even consider that before going ahead with that stupid plan makes me just wanna shake my head instead of evoking any sympathy. And why wasn’t Cas there? He’s actually been to the cage so he must have some intel on that.

    • December 12, 2015 4:33 pm

      Not that I’m defending how the show decided to depict Hell (because I sorta agree with you), but they were actually in Limbo, and Rowena summoned Lucifer into that temporary cage; it wasn’t actually Hell proper. So that explains why Mike and Adam weren’t there.

      Personally, I think Sam wanted God to be the one talking to him SO BADLY, he missed the obvious. We all do this sometimes. Not sure why Cas wasn’t at least mentioned this episode, though. But since they didn’t go to the actual Cage, an angel in Hell might not be the best ally. Crowley was clearly more appropriate, more armed … as long as he can be trusted. *cough cough* (I’ve always believed Crowley, despite his status, is relatively lawful to his own code. If he makes a promise, he usually does it, especially if it serves his needs. Ex-crossroad demon and all. But now ROWENA…whole ‘nother story!)

      • December 12, 2015 7:37 pm

        They called it the outer skirts of hell so it’s still hell. I know it was a different cage but that doesn’t excuse them for completely ignoring Michael. One of them should’ve at least mentioned that he’s there as well, cause if they have to use the help of an archangel then Michael is a much better alternative than Lucy who wants to destroy the entire world.

        Cas would’ve been the perfect ally to bring when he couldn’t get a hold of Dean. Sam sent to hell with a demon and a witch that has tried to kill him an manipulate him multiple times, an ally he could trust would’ve been good to bring. Crowley is the king of hell so his underlings wouldn’t attack Cas. Besides, demons aren’t as powerful as Cas.

      • December 12, 2015 8:00 pm

        @L

        Okay, Hell’s suburbs. Not as deep into hell. Hell-adjacent. It’s not particularly important, except to note that it wasn’t the deepest bowels of Hell and not the actual Cage.

        Okay, yeah, I do agree Michael should’ve been consulted as well; he’s marginally less vile than Lucifer. Still not happy to be in the Cage, I’ll wager, and plenty bitter about it, but still. Not sure I wholly agree on the Cas front, though. But for whatever reason, they opted not to write him into this episode. I’m curious to know why!

  11. tnl0229 permalink
    December 12, 2015 12:14 pm

    I thought the same thing about Amara and the dress. Emily Swallow did a fine job in the episode, but I find it a wee bit unnecessary to have her exposed and the men are always covered.
    But it is the CW.

  12. December 12, 2015 12:17 pm

    The Dean Amara part was probably the second worst in comparison to Samifer. I was crying and gagging when Amara came on to Dean, it just broke my heart that he was there and not with Sam because apparently Amara has him on a Leash of Lust. So much pain in this episode. I’ve never cried so much in a week as I have this one because of such feels-inducing finales on most of my favorite shows

    • December 12, 2015 2:09 pm

      ” it just broke my heart that he was there and not with Sam because apparently Amara has him on a Leash of Lust.” That’s misreperesenting it a bit don’t you think? Dean asked Sam not to do anything before he was back, which Sam agreed to. How was Dean to know that Sam went and broke that promise? Yeah he could’ve picked up the phone but there was no reason for Sam to rush into things when Dean didn’t answer.

      Dean’s not really lusting over her, as evidenced by him breaking away from the kiss and wiping his mouth. Jensen said Amara puts him in some kind of trance so the bond is messing with his free will. This storyline is the most exiting part of Spn now. What does the bond mean and how will Dean break free from it? Can’t wait to have more scenes between Dean and Amara!

      • December 12, 2015 4:44 pm

        I don’t think it’s misrepresenting it that much, to be honest. We know Amara uses bliss to woo people; Dean is quite susceptible to corporeal pleasures. However, that doesn’t mean she isn’t controlling Dean against his will. OF COURSE SHE IS. She’s just doing it under the guise of seduction. It’s still artificial, and we all know Dean wouldn’t just cave to his libido and forget Sam.

        Now, regarding Sam acting w/o Dean there…this made sense to me too, because Rowena made it sound like it was “NOW OR NEVER, SAMMY BOY.” She’s been goading Sam, and clearly, she’s scheming up something. She knew those wards would fail. She wants the Winchesters out of the way.

        When I watch the show, I don’t hold the characters personally accountable for iffy writing. I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt, especially if 1.) they’re the protagonists and 2.) the writer(s) are notoriously dubious.

        Nonetheless, this episode pushed the plot along and I’m excited for Part Two! So much hiatus… *sigh*

      • sarahjay55 permalink
        December 12, 2015 4:58 pm

        “we all know Dean wouldn’t just cave to his libido and forget Sam.”

        although there was that time with Suzy, the former porn actress… but then, speaking of notoriously dubious writers.

        I certainly agree that Rowena is scheming wildly… and even though I know it will be bad for the boys, I can’t help but love watching her do it.

      • December 12, 2015 5:08 pm

        @sarahjay55, I agree! Rowena is such campy, adorable villainy, I’d watch her read the phonebook!

      • December 12, 2015 7:46 pm

        Sam should know better than to trust what Rowena says. There was no reason for him to rush into it. I don’t think it has anything to do with Dean being seduced by corporeal pleasures, Jensen used the word trance to describe it so it’s more that he’s being mind controlled than him simply being unable to resist her because she’s hot.

      • December 12, 2015 8:03 pm

        @L’s later comment

        I never said it was all about the lust, I said just because she used seduction and Dean is fond of corporeal pleasures, it didn’t mean he wasn’t controlled against his will. Just to clarify.

      • December 12, 2015 8:46 pm

        When I say Leash of Lust, it’s a crude way of referring to the trance. And yeah I get that Sam should’ve waited but he called Dean & Dean chose to not pick up. He does push her away but then why when Sam called did he not get his bearings together?

  13. carollbeirut permalink
    December 12, 2015 1:44 pm

    I really liked the episode! Nothing unexpected… but all the performances were soooo top acting material that I didn’t care that it was almost predictable.
    I loved your interpretation “Dean and Amara on a mountaintop as a callback to the biblical idea of Satan tempting Jesus on a mountaintop…to parallel the tempting of Sam by the actual Devil, which is happening simultaneously”. If intentional, that would be so Kripke (btw he had good things to say about the episode).
    Anyway, now we can only wait…. & I hate it!
    Sam, Sam, Sam….. You’ll be the end of me…
    & Dean! Damn it, you should have picked up your phone!!!!!!

  14. Dawn permalink
    December 12, 2015 3:03 pm

    I have to admit when I was reading the opening credits and I saw who the episode was written by my heart sank. While I thought the show was brilliantly acted (extra kudos to Jared and Mark P), I thought the writing was a mess. That writing duo always seems to mess with the established cannon of the Kripke era and it frustrates me to no end. I had a really hard time believing that Sam and Dean suddenly forgot how to open the cage. I can’t wait to see how the boys get out of this mess though.

    • December 12, 2015 4:47 pm

      Little clarification: they didn’t want to open the Cage (big C!), they wanted to have a sort of temp. cage where they could talk to Lucifer but not really let him out. And I think that’s what they did, there in Limbo. (Though I do agree with you 200% re. that writing team. Urgh.)

      • Dawn permalink
        December 13, 2015 3:35 am

        I missed the clarification about the cage when I watched it the first time (that’s what I get for Tweeting at the same time). I’m still a little confused as to where Crowley’s throne is located because I don’t think the show has given us a clear answer on it (forgive me if it has). Is the throne room located on Earth or is that supposed to be Hell?

  15. Laura in Denver permalink
    December 12, 2015 3:22 pm

    I liked the episode, great performances all around, wonderful cinematography! The shot of Mark Pellegrino all dark lit with just his eyes glowing was excellent!! The one thing you have to remember about stories is that if your heroes always make perfect decisions, no mistakes, then you are never going to have conflict and resolution. Plus it’s kind of of fun as a fans to ponder, discuss back and forth about ideas of where plots are going. I mean that is the point of this web site right? We have six weeks to propose ideas, wonder why Dean didn’t answer the phone, why Sam didn’t consider that the visions were coming from someone else, etc. I can’t wait to find out was Crowley really surprised when the warding failed? How is Sam going to survive in the cage with Lucifer? How is Dean going to get Sam out? Since we don’t know what happened to Bobby after he helped Sam and Cass in “Inside Man” is he down there now and can he help get Sam out?? Where is Michael and is he still in Adam’s meat suit? Is God going to make an appearance? See, lots of opportunity for plot twists!
    Happy Holidays and Hellatus!!

    • Kathy permalink
      December 12, 2015 4:47 pm

      Thank you! Well written response. I have been reading and listening to reviews of this episode and have wondered about some of the thought processes behind the reviews. Everyone has a one valid points and I wonder what is up with me that I didn’t see it that way. I kind of took the dialog toward more religious theme but then again I am more like Sam, always trying to find the hope and light in every situation. I was pulled into the episode and really paid attention to the dialog (and there was a lot) so I can see where people missed some things. Also this is a cliff hanger so there is more to what is really happening. Crowley and Rowena were up to something and probably not together on their plans. So I am going into the break rewatching the wonderful performances ib this episode, find some similarities of plot lines from earlier episodes and Mark of the days on my calendar until the second part airs and hopefully several of our questions will be answered.

    • December 13, 2015 8:23 pm

      Maybe this was just me (probably was…) but my take on Dean not answering the phone, but looking at it in all Jensen’s former Days of Our Lives glory (ever notice how on soaps you don’t hang up the phone without staring at it first? But I digress …) was that he wanted to answer it, but the bond to Amara is too strong. That this time, Sam was not enough to pull him back. Perhaps Sam could’ve in person, but I think that was Amara overpowering Dean there mentally/spiritually/whatever hold that is.

  16. December 12, 2015 4:02 pm

    Jared’s Sam just kills me. All the time, every time to begin with and this episode, I can’t even — with the tears and the terror and gut wrenching disappointment — GAH! I’ve been screaming at my TV for weeks now that it was Lucifer not God and I love/hate that I was right. (not alone in that, I know)
    But I’m kinda confused, yes, Sam is back in ‘A’ cage with Lucifer, but its not ‘THE’ Cage, right? Wasn’t that the point of Rowena’s spell? They can’t get to the actual Cage, so they drew/summoned Lucifer to a cage in Limbo? So I’m wondering if Lucifer actually is there, or is like a magical hologram. Does he know that it isn’t his Cage? He didn’t actually touch Sam, did he? (Except in Sam’s dream/vision) And Dean did specify that if Sam wasn’t safe it wasn’t happening . . . .
    I’m probably all wrong — but I’m thinking Smart!Sam running a con on Lucifer would be pretty effing awesome right about now . . . . .disappointment about it not being God is real and has to seriously shake Sam up even if he is running a con, but I hope the rest is designed to get Lucifer to tell Sam about how to beat Amara. The reason I think this is because Show hasn’t given us any other options for getting info on her —
    Just a massive rationalization on my part so the situation isn’t as dire as it seems – because I hate how dire it seems!
    Thanks for the great review, as always! Have fun with your family and Happy Holidays!

    • Laura in Denver permalink
      December 14, 2015 10:59 pm

      That would be an awesome twist if its not actually the cage and Sam isn’t in peril, hope you’re right!

  17. December 12, 2015 5:27 pm

    This episode blew my mind! Need to rewatch and think about. Splendidly angst-laden!

    Only choices left for me to survive suffering until January 20, 2016, include:

    1. Play with dog. 2. Spoil dog. 3. Celebrate Winter Solstice. 4. Drink lots of mead. 5. Feast with my family. 6. Await signs of Spring Equinox. 7. Watch SPN seasons past and present (so far). 8. Bake pies. 9. Eat pies. 10. Walk pies off with dog.

  18. December 12, 2015 7:39 pm

    On the mountain top… MANY God-related events are on top of a mountain:
    – Abraham and Isaac
    – Moses & burning bush
    – Moses getting the 10 Commandments
    – Jesus and the Transfiguration
    – Jesus and the Temptation
    I think the writers intentionally put Amara/Dean on a mountain top because it was a God-class confrontation.

    And I encourage a rewatch! So much subtlety and layers. It’s like cheesecake.

  19. December 12, 2015 10:30 pm

    Not sure how everyone here is missing the obvious Amara/Pagan goddess link. C’mon folks. She says straight up that she and God did not come from another source. Every woman that is complaining about her dress, her actions and her mesmerization of Dean is looking straight past how powerful Goddesses were considered back in the day. That outfit is a dead on match for how many Roman and Greek Goddesses were portrayed, her capturing the attention of a powerful male hero, HELLO Greek Tragedies and epic stories. How is any of that degrading to her? Are women so trained to see degradation and debasing of sex for power that they are not understanding the concept here? If and I mean, if, Carver is pulling on the pagan myths, which he is seeming to do, the women are scary powerful and not to be trifled with back in those days.

    As far as “Men clothed, women scantily dressed” Outside of strippers, pretty much every female in this show has been in jeans and as many layers as the boys. Amara is the first major female charactger to be dressed like this, ever think there may be a legit reason or all of you too upset that she’s showing boobs to see symbolism?

    I really wonder about how many people in this fandom know mythology. That is what the show is based on, always has been. Perhaps you should reference that before going right into rape ideas, sexism and all the negative connotations.

    • Susan permalink
      December 12, 2015 11:37 pm

      I get what you’re saying, and if Gaia is who the Darkness is meant to represent (the first thing my friend Mandy and I squealed when they mentioned “God’s sister”) or another goddess (though Gaia makes complete sense since she references “no daddy” and her raw power equals God’s) I do think that a conversation about gender is not off base.

      The show’s is a goldmine of themes, and yes, I keep waiting for them to run out of religions, ideologies and belief systems, cultural mythologies, urban legends, and the like, but they keep coming up with more, which is why I adore the show so much–they do a good job of researching.

      Now that they have gone pre-biblical (perhaps even pre-Greco-Roman), the matriarchal societies are rife with ideas to play with, so gender and gender roles are an important topic. All of these stories are riffing on what’s come before, and there’s a reason these stories and myths endure–because they tell us something greater about what it is to be human.

      • December 13, 2015 1:16 am

        I don’t mind the gender discussion, what bothers me is how people are automatically going to bad places with that discussion. We go straight past how Amara is challenging God, showing that he is a hollow, failed deity and right to sexual harrassment and cleavage. This episode pulled no punches when it came to pushing boundaries on belief systems, but it seems like everyone was more concerned with the kiss and Lucifer yanking Sam into the Cage without his consent. Villains aren’t supposed to ask permission, that would be why they are villains.

        I hope they keep pushing the story line the way they are, because there is a great deal of material in pre-Biblical things and a lot of it is dark and scary, just like Supernatural is supposed to be. Hopefully people buckle up.

    • December 13, 2015 8:18 pm

      I’m not bothered by Amara’s wardrobe, either. As you say it’s very much as ‘goddess’ style dress, but appropriately in black. Also, the idea that she’d present herself as attractive to someone that she’s trying to sell on this idea of a bliss, well, that’s just good strategy. If you’re idea of a pick me up for a sad girl in a parking lot is making them feel orgasm-ecstasy-chocolate cake, you’re probably pretty comfortable with your boobs. Just saying.

      I’m hoping she ends up a bit more complicated than “God = Good; Darkness = Bad” and that there’s more a duality there: male – female; light – dark; order – chaos; etc. I doubt that’s where this is going, but that would be interesting.

    • Laura in Denver permalink
      December 14, 2015 11:07 pm

      Thanks! I agree I think people over think and read to much into the dialogue and story lines. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!

  20. December 13, 2015 5:07 am

    For some reason my first comment doesn’t seem to be showing up — it probably will after I write this, so forgive me I it turns out I’m repeating myself.
    Jared’s performance in this episode was wonderful – so hard to watch — poor Sammy. I’m fascinated by Lucifer and Mark P’s portrayal of him. The two of them in that scene — so good.

    I’m glad to see the discussion about the Cage — big “C” and the cage — little “c” because that was confusing me at first. My working theory is that Lucifer isn’t really in the cage with Sam, he’s still in the Cage. That’s why Michael isn’t there too, Rowena only summoned Lucifer as a sort of hologram. And I think maybe Lucifer isn’t aware of the difference because he’s under the spell from the Book of the Damned. He has power, because he’s Lucifer and the Cage is damaged, so he’s still potentially dangerous. But what I’m really hoping is that Smart!Sam is at least partially playing Lucifer to get the information on Amara. He knows Lucifer wouldn’t give him info out of the goodness of his heart — but maybe a little more villain monologing will work if Lucifer thinks he has control of the situation.

    I also was thinking that if the Cage is damaged and Lucifer can reach out — maybe Michael can too and that’s who Young John was in Baby.

    Regardless of whether Sam is playing Lucifer or not, I still feel so bad for him — he desperately wanted the visions to be from God and to be told they weren’t is disappointing and frightening and the entire situation is very PTSD because Lucifer is so creepy. I really can’t wait to see where Show takes us with this!

    Thanks for the review as always. Hope you enjoy your time with your family and have a Happy Holiday!

    • Susan permalink
      December 13, 2015 2:13 pm

      “I also was thinking that if the Cage is damaged and Lucifer can reach out — maybe Michael can too and that’s who Young John was in Baby.”

      I thought that too, Melanie. Young JW was a vessel Michael had inhabited, and it would make sense for him to appear that way, and he would also have John’s memories, hence the Judy Collins song that Mary loved, etc. It may not be that though–I am anxious for Jan.20th to find out.

      The two cages are different in design and the cage that they brought Lucifer to is a temporary one in Limbo, so I think that it is very possible that it is Lucifer with Sam, and I think the terror Sam displays is very real. The way Rowena hustles Crowley out of there makes me think that she knows that is no hologram.

      Sam needs to confront what happened to him once and for all; he needs some catharsis. Cas lifting his burden did not take away all of the memories obviously, but allowed him to deal with what he does remember. It will be interesting to see where it all goes.

  21. December 13, 2015 2:04 pm

    As I couldn’t help exclaiming on Tumblr, I can’t believe they left Sam in hell for Christmas!

  22. debbab permalink
    December 13, 2015 5:58 pm

    11.9 is full of the parallels between Dean and Sam’s arcs. Yes, it is very Kripkeish which I applaud and stays within the canon.. Sam has always wanted to believe in God and goodness-see Houses of the Holy season 2. I did buy Amara whisking Dean to the serenity place as the quietness is juxtaposed with the demonic chanting that builds in the Cage. It is difficult to see AMara as the biggest bad as her knowledge gaps about humanity are large. I fear for Dean becoming ONE with her. As to her cleavage, this follows the early religions of female goddesses, fertility cults that predate the monotheistic beliefs that according to Amara, her brother created for his own ego. So it fits well into the story and is not gratuitous.Yes, yes, yes, credit to fantastic editing, acting, scenery, lighting, music and use of silence to stun us with the mid-season finale. What is descending onto Amara? well, wouldn’t the angels have called”Oh brother, where art thou?” to Cas? Let’s give a high five to producers(Jim Michaels) for spending the money on this production and making it more like a movie. Kudos everyobe!

  23. December 13, 2015 8:10 pm

    Happy holiday, everyone! Now let’s talk about Satan.

    This wasn’t one of my favorite episodes; it wasn’t even my favorite mid-season finale. But, what I liked I liked in a concrete way and the things I didn’t like were more vague oversights that other people have mentioned as well. I get that Cas would’ve been a beacon and drawn undo attention in Hell, but not consulting him at all seems like a massive mistake. Although, I do think on some level that was Sam really wanting this to work out so much that he was willfully denying the obvious. I don’t think anyone was that shocked Lucifer was sending the visions. If Lucifer could show up in a dream as Jess, why wouldn’t he show up as John if that’s what would get through to Sam?

    I was particularly impressed with how they wrote around the cage/Cage issue. It was spelled out that Sam wasn’t going back into the Cage, but rather was meeting with Lucifer in a relatively secure location, albeit still in Hell. That also explains how we could have a one on one with Lucifer and not see Michael or Adam. (Poor Adam…)

    I’ve been speculating since that line about Rowena being a “natural witch” that she’s on Team Lucifer, and this gives me some hope that we’ll get that. The idea of Ruth Connell and Mark Pellegrino conniving together on screen is just wonderful. I like a good a scenery chew and these two can pull that off in a way that will be both fun and terrifying by turns.

  24. Lídia permalink
    December 14, 2015 5:09 pm

    For me Dean/Amara was the best part of the episode,I’m all for more Dean/Amara scenes.

    Jensen was amazing as usual!

  25. Damnielle permalink
    December 14, 2015 8:25 pm

    Here’s my take on the non answering of the phone call:

    Dean has been exceedingly worried about the cause of Sam’s visions. When was the last time Sam had visions? When he was filled with demon blood. Dean doesn’t get that angry unless he’s worried. So when they are talking on the phone the first time Dean voices yet again that he doesn’t like the situation. But when he senses Amara there he’s not necessarily ignoring the call to choose her over Sam. He thinks he can stop all of it before Sam does something stupid. He tries to kill her and fails. He’s still choosing Sam. But Sam blames himself for releasing the darkness so he can’t just sit around and wait for Dean.

    But I guess we will find out more soon! Thanks for always posting awesome things for the Supernatural Family to indulge in.

  26. December 18, 2015 5:26 am

    maybe a double post from me, but now I’m logged in

    Why Sam didn’t ask Michael and goes straight to Lucifer? I think because of his visions about the Cage. In his last vision he saw himself in the Cage with Lucifer. And Lucifers name means the light bringer. So, against the Darkness who would you ask how to capture her again? Some second best Angel (Michael, sorry, but yes hes powerfull and all, but eh) or Lucifer, who you saw in your vision AND has a name that suggests an end to the Darkness.

    But, like I said, Sam saw himself in his vision standing side by side with Lucifer IN the Cage (second temporary cage now). And the last picture Jared posted from Sam and Dean where together on a normal set. So, I think Sam will not be long in cage. Lucifer can talk how much he wants, but its not possible for him to get Sam in the real Cage. Lucifer is captured in the real think, and even through cracks he can’t really be bodily in the second cage. He is only a powerful projection.

    So, I think Sam has known he would stand near Lucifer through his vision. And this second cage is created through a very powerful spell from the book of the damned. So, if somebody knew you have to meet Lucifer personally, you wouldn’t do that without a Plan B. A counterspell or something. Sam’s fear of Lucifer is believeable and absolutely right, so it’s hard to stand there without showing some emotions, but I think he has an extra plan for this situation.

    We will see it on January 20th.🙂

  27. Laurie permalink
    December 19, 2015 7:15 am

    I cringe when Buckner & Ross-Leming clod-hop their way through the myth episodes. The performances saved it, especally the Sam/Lucifer scenes.

    I LOVED the parallel Red/Blue scenes between Sam in hell being physically trapped by Lucifer, and Dean on that remote mountain with Amara, trapping him spiritually. The Sam scenes were scary as heck, and the Dean scenes stark but beautiful.

    That phone call bothered me as well. But at least on Dean’s side, they show Amara affecting him enough to prevent him answering (dissatisfying as that is). The REAL problem is why Sam needed to go without Dean immediately, just because Rowena insisted for no reason. In fact, Sam showed no concern when Dean failed to answer his phone, in spite knowing Amara was in the area (and knowing Dean was waiting for that call). That really needed a line to explain Sam not waiting for Dean. Huge plot hole & OOC moment on Sam’s part, after he promised to wait more than once.

    I’m weirded out by so many fans seeing Dean vs Amara as one of lust on Dean’s side. Jensen is clearly showing (and in interviews said) that Dean is confused and afraid of his inability to excercise his will against her. That kiss was reluctant, and Dean backs off stunned and wipes his mouth. He doesn’t understand his connection with her, and in typical Dean fashion, denies and tries to overcome it with action (the two attempts to kill her.)

    I’m side-eyeing anyone who thinks free-will icon Dean wants this, even if it’s “bliss”. It’s a stereotypical view of Dean as a male, as though he’s got to love it, because “oooh boobs!”. And if the writers & Carver go “Lust woohoo”, I’ll question their whole approach to life and hope they get fired.

    • Pie permalink
      January 20, 2016 9:18 pm

      @Laurie Well said to your entire post!

      Jensen has been amazing in his portrayal of Dean and his confusion and fear. He is one of the most nuanced and subtle actors currently on TV.

      I think some fans have an agenda, no matter what side of the fandom people reside in, and are almost purposely ignoring what’s being shown and acted on screen.

      I really loved Jensen’s acting in this episode, it wasn’t the ‘in your face’ storyline and the acting was just so layered, it was perfect.

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