It – He – They’re Back! Supernatural ‘Don’t Call Me Shurley’
I’m in the middle of a family vacation, so this is a one-time viewing review. Forgive me if I mess up details – and feel free to correct me! I’m writing from the heart (which, let’s face it, is usually a large part of what motivates my writing about this Show anyway).
I loved this episode. It’s another one of those episodes that split the fandom, though I think there were more people on the squee side than the OMG NO side this time. I will admit right up front that at first I was skeptical. I’ve been skeptical ever since we’ve pretty much known that Chuck was back and he was going to be God. Kripke carefully didn’t “go there” because seriously, that is one BIG risk for a show to take. As soon as this episode began and Chuck revealed himself to Metatron, I got nervous. Oh boy, here we go – Show is really truly going there. I might have bitten my fingernails a bit.
It’s a controversial move to make God an actual character, but surely everyone was prepared for it to happen. They set that up the second they made Amara God’s sister, so I had plenty of time to prepare for the reality of it. It’s probably been hinted at since the Show changed course to include angels in the SPN universe. Is it messy? Sure, it’s ridiculously messy. But I also give Show credit for being willing to try very risky things, and this is surely one of them. Actually portraying God changes things. Now God is not MIA. He’s a fed up bitter being who created universes because he was lonely, then got mad because his sister kept destroying them. He’s a little like every big brother or sister in the world, who gets pissed when their baby sister knocks down their latest Lego creation.
There are also plenty of people who loved Chuck as the quirky bathrobe-wearing hard-drinking writer (and unwilling prophet), and didn’t want to see that character become something different. Though I’m not sure how different, because in some ways Chuck is still Chuck. It definitely requires a leap of faith and some suspension of disbelief to believe that he was God all along, but I’m willing to go along on that ride. And I was just plain overjoyed to see Rob Benedict, who is so beloved at the cons, back on the show that brought him to the SPN Family in the first place. It just felt so right.
We got lots of in jokes in this episode, which I adore, but again, I know some people loathe. (Watching this episode was a weirdly split experience for me in the beginning, as I was torn between just enjoying it and worrying about what fandom’s reaction would be, which made me rather dizzy.) This episode had a whopping portion of “fan service”, which itself is a controversial idea. Some fans welcome it with open arms, either because it feels like it gives fans some acknowledgement or maybe even some power (that latter part, not really, but it can feel good) or because it’s just plain fun (that’s the camp I’m in and I’m staying there because frankly I’m all about the fun when it comes to my favorite show – it balances out the heartbreak). Other fans view it as inherently manipulative – a way to get fans emotionally invested instead of “earning it” through the story itself. But they don’t seem mutually exclusive to me. I love when the story grabs me by the heart and bowls me over. But I also love when Show tells me that it understands what I want and what I care about and sometimes it wants to give that to me. I mean, come on, it feels GOOD!
The episode also had a lot of call backs, and I enjoyed those too. One to Monster At The End of This Book as Chuck once again poked fun at himself for writing actual SPN episode titles. (I’m the only one who didn’t hate ‘Bugs’, aren’t I?) Yes, I know they’ve gone there before, but this is Chuck – why wouldn’t he go there again? I actually laughed out loud at ‘Revolution’ being another Chuck book series attempt (Kripke, you’ll never truly be gone from Supernatural).
(In fact, Kripke is far from gone – he tweeted his support of the episode, and confided that writer Robbie Thompson ran it all by him for his approval. Which frankly made me get all warm and fuzzy inside, because Kripke!)
I admit that I stayed skeptical for a while, wondering if Show could actually pull this off and thinking about all the years of canon that would have to fit into this new frame. Chuck/God allowed some truly horrible things to happen to Sam and Dean and Cas and a whole lot of other people and angels while he was off being an absentee dad. But that’s a pretty accurate reflection of the real world we live in anyway. Who expected Supernatural’s version of God to be so hands on that he swooped in and interceded 24/7? We don’t expect that from our real world deities!
Still, there are potential HUH points with this new reveal. Becky had a fling with God? Hmmm. I guess Fangirls really are special. Though really, God hanging out and being human for a while isn’t that much of a stretch when you compare it to various traditional religions’ stories of how God became embodied at times.
Anyway, I was nervous for the first part of the episode. So I was laughing, half that sort of nervous laughter that you can’t control and half a truly amused I’m-having-fun sort. Chuck casually revealed that he’d even done some dating – dated some girls, dated some guys…
Wait, what? I sat there grinning at my television and thought, you know what? Screw it. Look, I love this Show and I just can’t help it. Yes, they’re going somewhere that’s insane and it’s going to be tough to pull off, but seriously? There is no show like this show. This show has as much balls as the Winchesters do – and that’s really saying something!
My timeline: Supernatural. The Show where the first canon bi character is God.
Yep. That’s the show I love all right.
So I let myself start to relax and enjoy the ride, and then you know what happened? My show got fucking amazing. Rob Benedict and Curtis Armstrong, two of my favorite people in the universe, made absolute magic happen. They’re both great actors, I know. But the scenes between the two of them in this episode, the writing and the acting, were amazing.
So much dialogue, it should have made my attention wander, it should have pinged my ‘too much exposition’ bell, it should have made me cringe. Instead it had me sitting on the edge of my seat, and then reaching for the tissues as Metatron – of all people! – ripped my heart out.
I’ve always been a bit of a Metatron fan just because I so love Curtis and his portrayal, but this human version of Metatron is a character who I empathize with. How much he’s changed from being human! From tossing the dog the last bit of food to pleading the Winchesters’ case, this isn’t the same being who was a narcissistic power hungry dick. This is a man who has been touched by humanity and now is trying to save it on behalf of an entire world full of people who don’t even know their world is about to be destroyed. It turns out that Metatron’s brains and skill and sincerity are the only things that might save the world – who saw that one coming??
Rob and Curtis sold the complex back and forth between Chuck and Metratron, as they bullshit each other, goad each other, threaten each other, and finally get real with each other. Metatron – of all people – is the one who saves the day. Curtis (and Robbie’s dialogue) made me truly empathize with Metatron. He hears every hurtful word that Chuck says to him, is undefended enough to let the harsh truth of his own not-specialness sink in, and we SEE the pain it causes him. But he doesn’t run away from it. He owns up to it, confesses how much it hurts, dares to be real and open and talk about it – and isn’t that exactly what we all tell each other too? Not to keep quiet, to reach out when we hurt – to always keep fighting. Metatron does that, and Curtis shows us every bit of his pain and every bit of his courage too.
(Also who knew Rob Benedict could look so effing scary?!)
(Or that Curtis Armstrong can’t pour himself a beer?)
I loved the moment when Chuck decided to be Keith Richards, loved the use of ‘Gimme Shelter,’ and was that a photo of Richards hanging in the bar too? The music in this episode was A+++, so wonderful that it made it feel almost like a season finale instead of episode 20!
There were so many reveals, my head was spinning trying to keep up. (And yes, it’s true, some of them stretched the limits of canon, but didn’t entirely break through the boundaries). This episode had alot to do – I can just imagine Robbie Thompson getting the word and trying to figure out how the hell all that could happen in one episode!
So Rob and Curtis were amazing. Meanwhile, Sam and Dean.
I love Robbie Thompson for writing the little domestic Sam and Dean moments that we rarely see – and that entire 20K works of fanfiction are written around. Dean ironing Sam’s shirt? With beer? Oh yes please, give me more of that!
Dean and Sam suit up as two extraordinarily good looking FBI agents (nothing new there) named Greer and Erhart, a tribute to Kansas. In the lovely inclusiveness of the SPN Family, Kansas replied with a tweet:
@KansasBand: Hear there are nice FBI agents on that show.
When are we seeing Kansas on SPN??
As I said, there were scenes that seemed to be deliberate call backs to other episodes – especially Jus In Bello as they all try to stay safe inside the sheriff’s office, and Croatoan, where we see that one of the Winchesters is immune to the demon virus (and, more importantly, that the Winchesters WILL NOT leave each other, no matter what). Those are two of my favorite episodes, so I appreciated the call backs here.
Sam tries to save everyone – and I do mean everyone – before the deadly fog gets there. Who didn’t melt when he pulled that little girl out of the car and called her “sweetheart”?
Dean is both appalled at what the infected woman has to say to him about being spared by Amara, and determined (as always) to keep his brother safe. He pulls Sam away from the fog at the last second and the Winchesters make a run for it.
They attempt to save the people huddled inside by duct taping up the vents and windows, in true MacGyver fashion. Except it worked for him.
The fog gets inside, we see Sam have to take a breath and cough, and to my horror we see the black veins creeping up him. People are dying, so we know it’s bad. Ohgod Sam, it’s bad.
Dean knows it too. This scene broke my heart – it was like Croatoan all over again, with Dean refusing to leave his brother and run to what might be safety. This time we get Sam really failing though, so it was even more emotional. Dean holding him, petting his hair, telling Sam he’s there, he’s not gonna leave.
Dean: I’m not leaving my brother.
Like in Croatoan, they close the door and leave the brothers behind.
Dean: I’m here. I’m not leaving you. Ever.
I started to cry when he said that, and then there was that moment that my poor heart wasn’t prepared for. Dean knows Sam is dying and steels himself, looking up in determination. And then he takes a purposeful breath, inhaling the fog.
Ready to die beside his brother, unwilling to leave him.
It’s the second Romeo and Juliet moment this season and Ohgod, my heart. This is why this Show owns me.
To his surprise, Dean doesn’t die. And then, something unexpected happens. Earlier in the episode, Chuck had mentioned the amulet, and my heart had started to beat faster.
Would they? Could they? I didn’t dare get my hopes too far up.
As Sam is fading and I’m sobbing, Dean looks down to see something glowing in Sam’s pocket.
I stopped sobbing. I don’t think I was even breathing.
He pulls the glowing object out of Sam’s pocket and IS IT? IS IT?
OMG IT IS. IT REALLY FUCKING IS.
My daughter came downstairs at that moment to find me sitting in the middle of the living room staring at the television with my mouth literally hanging open. Gobsmacked. Speechless.
The look on Dean’s face – it’s not only “Ohmygod it’s glowing, what does this mean?” but “Ohmygod, you kept it? All these years, you kept it?”
The emotion I felt at that moment was truly overwhelming. I couldn’t even talk. Pretty sure Robbie Thompson was bowled over by my adoration at that moment even though he was on the other coast. You can call it fan service – there would never be a way of Dean getting it back that wouldn’t be, because of all the many things fans want, that was always at the top of the list. You can call it pandering, I guess – frankly, I don’t care what we call it, I’m too overjoyed to have it happen. It needed to happen. I needed it to happen.
I think Jared and Jensen felt the same. They loved this episode. They’ve both been dying for it to air, dying for fans to know about the Samulet. Jared confided that he cried reading the script for that scene between the brothers – and that’s how much emotion he and Jensen put into it. There was nothing that wasn’t genuine about the actors’ belief in this script and that scene. Nothing that was inauthentic or pandering. And that came through.
Meanwhile, Rob Benedict is serenading Curtis Armstrong.
I mean, Chuck is serenading Metatron. But really it seems like canon has crashed headlong into the metatext of a convention, and my head – which was already spinning because all the blood rushed to my heart – honestly wanted to explode. You can’t help wondering if God in Supernatural is about to be the most literal Deus Ex Machina in the history of ever, but again, I love Show’s balls.
Sam and Dean stumble outside, Dean holding the amulet – and there’s Chuck.
They were almost as open mouthed as I was.
“We should talk.”
A lot of the fandom loved this episode. Supernatural, Metatron, Amara and #GodIsComing all trended worldwide! Some people I know and love definitely didn’t.
So what did you think? Tell us in the comments!
Much thanks to @kayb625 for the beautiful (and speedy) caps!
ETA: I can’t even read my own review now without sobbing. The last Supernatural episode that Robbie Thompson will write? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Heartbroken. Absolutely heartbroken. And now I see it through that lens and it all makes so much sense. Kudos, Robbie. I’m devastated, but this was a masterful goodbye.
To read more of our Supernatural thoughts, along
with lots from the SPN cast and crew, check out our
books on Supernatural at amazon – links on the