Dean Winchester and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day – Supernatural ‘The Future’

It has taken me another 24 hours to figure out why I had such a strong emotional reaction to this episode – and to give the episode more props for where it intended to take me even if I didn’t enjoy the ride. The thing is, I loved the last major Cas-centric episode, as my reviews loudly proclaimed. I’ve empathized with Castiel’s painful sense of not belonging anywhere, because there’s nothing in the world more painful for humans and sometimes Cas is just as human as the rest of us (thanks to Misha’s ability to invest the character with emotional nuances). I was moved by Castiel’s near death and his need, in what he thought were his last seconds, to make his feelings clear to Sam and Dean; I was moved by their reaction too, that powerful moment when they each clasped a hand and pulled him up. I had to gush to Misha about his performance in that episode repeatedly (sorry, Misha) and to Richard about his directing (sorry, Richard) but that scene really worked. That scene was Team Free Will re-established.

And it wasn’t one way. Sam and Dean also took down their barriers and made themselves vulnerable in their relationship with Cas; not as explicitly perhaps, but Jared and Jensen are so good at what they do that we could clearly feel it and see it. Castiel was accepted as family. So that’s the lens with which I viewed ‘The Future’. That the bond between the three of them was close and tight and important. That made the things that happened in this episode very painful.

I’ve felt the same way when one of the Winchesters lies to the other(s). It’s such an extraordinarily painful thing when someone you love and trust is deceitful, so it hurts to see it. As much as Dean is repeatedly angry in this episode, it’s clear that underneath that anger is hurt. He allowed himself to love and trust Cas, so perceived betrayal hurts like hell. Hence my frequent use of OUCH in this review. It HURT.

That said, perhaps that’s exactly what Show wanted me to feel. That last episode did such a good job of setting up the emotional connection between Cas and the Winchesters, and sometimes that is exactly what this Show does when it’s getting ready to punch you right in the heart. It’s a bit of a Supernatural tradition dating back to Kripke, and it’s most definitely been the cause of entire lost days of my life railing and screaming and generally shaking my fist. That’s because I care – a lot. I care about Cas and Sam and Dean and I care about how they care about each other.

Perhaps we’ll find out soon that Cas was right to believe in Kelly and the baby; that nothing is born evil (something I actually do believe, at least when it comes to humans!) I know that Sam and Dean and Cas will find their way to being on the same team again and fighting for the common things they all believe in. However, I don’t think I can totally get on board with the ends justify the means thing that the Show has tossed on the table as a possibility before, either in this episode or others.

Cas is part of the Winchesters’ family, and I’m going to be just as pissed at him when he hurts them as I am when they hurt each other. I do, however, feel for him. (Thanks to Misha’s ability to show his confusion and his yearning to belong that keeps getting him into so much trouble). I have no doubt that he wants to do the right thing—that he has always wanted to do the right thing. His struggle to figure out how to do that is a struggle the Winchesters have gone through repeatedly, and they’ve eventually managed to come out on the side that actually is the right thing. But oh the pain sometimes in the middle. I’m guessing that this is where we’re supposed to be right now –like the Winchesters, in pain and feeling helpless.

I’m just not enjoying that feeling! So I felt a little like Dean Winchester after this episode. It was written by two writers whose writing I like and respect very much, but I was left scratching my head and not in a very good mood by the time we got to the last scene. It was also directed by SPNFamily alum Amanda Tapping, so I came into the episode full of anticipation. I thought Tapping did a good job, and collaborated wonderfully with Serge Ladouceur on some beautiful shots. That said, here’s a run down on what worked for me and what didn’t. I should note that some of what didn’t work for me is not about this episode, but what hasn’t been working that well all season, despite some episodes that I’ve absolutely loved and my ongoing love of the show that’s not going anywhere any time soon. I’m in it for the long haul.

The opening scene, while tremendously disturbing, was an example of Tapping and Ladouceur’s collaboration that was powerful and accomplished just what it set out to do. I haven’t been a fan of the Kelly Kline character at all (props to Courtney Ford, but the character as written hasn’t been very sympathetic or seemed too bright) – in this scene, I did have empathy for her, and Ford sold it well. The last shot was beautifully framed and filmed, even though using that word about this sort of shot seems very wrong, and that disturbed me all over again.

Of course, the Nephilim doesn’t let Kelly die. When Dagon finds her, she’s not only healed but looking more chipper than she has in ages. Her makeup is also absolutely flawless, which is really saying something after what she just went through.

Kelly is convinced now that her baby is “good” because he saved her. At this point, Dagon seemed to me to be the one making sense, taunting Kelly that the baby didn’t save her, but saved himself.

Meanwhile, the Winchesters are back at the bunker – but hey, at least they’re in the episode! A little. We get a montage of researcher!Sam, a version of smart!Sam that I like a lot.

Researcher!Sam

Dean calls him “beautiful mind” and that makes me smile, and Sam pronounces the nephilim’s due date as May 18, which made me laugh since it’s the date of the season finale. Of course that’s the due date! Well played, Show.

I doubt there was anyone in the fandom who didn’t know that this was the episode where Cas returns, so his entrance wasn’t a surprise to us like it was to Sam and Dean, who were quite literally open mouthed.

As has become a trend on Supernatural, Dean expresses his (100% understandable) anger—and underlying hurt—that Cas just disappeared and ignored their phone calls, and Sam tries to calm him down with repeated “Dean” (inferred “calm down”) suggestions. I don’t know when this trend started, because back in the day it was Sam who was more likely to express his emotions outright and Dean to do the opposite. Somewhere along the line, Dean got better at doing what everyone was always telling him to do and started expressing some genuine emotion—which, by the way, is all kinds of healthy for those of you who are concerned about Winchester emotional health—but every time he does it, it seems like someone tries to police it (characters and fandom alike).

I’m not Sam bashing at all—Sam has become the peacemaker in the family, a role which used to fall to Dean. He just wants everyone to get along, perhaps because he’s been through so much himself and knows what it’s like to be overwhelmed by your emotions and fall into addiction. Makes sense that strong emotion, especially negative emotion, seems threatening now. So in a sense, he’s trying to protect Dean—and everyone else—by keeping things even keel. The problem with this is that it ends up shutting down the open expression of emotions that ultimately keeps relationships healthy and gives people the data that helps us make good decisions. It also takes a toll on Sam, who ends up having to minimize his own feelings to serve the same ends. I still don’t know how Sam has managed to get past the horrific torture inflicted on him by the BMoL at the start of the season, so much so that he decided to work for them and even lied to Dean about it for a while (which was also incredibly painful). Having everyone get along sounds good, but in practice it sometimes sets you up to believe people you shouldn’t and ends up getting you hurt. I’m just as worried about Sam as I am about Dean.

As much as it’s tempting (for viewers as well as characters) to want to tell Dean to cut “the drama”, I have a knee jerk reaction to that. When I teach my students how to be counselors, “drama” is one of the words they’re not allowed to use, because it’s usually a way of dismissing emotions—and that’s not therapeutic for anyone. To tell a man who has struggled with even accepting and recognizing his own emotions, let alone expressing them (thanks to his father’s explicit instruction), to calm down and cut the drama is one of the most damaging things I can imagine. (In case you’re worried that I’ve lost my freaking mind and am getting truly worried about a fictional character’s mental state, I haven’t lost my awareness of reality. I’m just trying to analyze these characters and their situation AS IF they were real, so I can make sense of their reactions.) (No, really…)

So that whole scene bothered me. Dean rightly asks Cas why he’s ignored their phone calls, and Cas outright lies at first, saying there was no reception in Heaven. He later admits that he got the messages, which of course only makes Dean more angry (and more hurt).

Dean: Oh, you did, you did read my messages. Great.

Sam: Dean…

Castiel: (looks very sad but has no justification)

I believe that Cas was actually sad here, I don’t think for a minute he’s faking that. He’s struggling mightily with what is the right thing to do. But put yourself in Dean’s place. The last time we saw Cas, he almost died, and that episode ended with Cas and the Winchesters re-affirming their mutual loyalty and love and declaring that they are in fact family. That was a big thing for Dean, because declaring those sort of feelings requires a great deal of vulnerability, something Dean has been trained all his life not to be. The very next thing that happens is that Cas disappears, without explanation. Why didn’t Cas, while he was on the phone with Dean, just say hey I’m going to Heaven to follow a lead, be out of touch for a bit? Send a text at least?? Is this a gaping plot hole or am I supposed to be angry at Cas? He essentially abandons them, leaving them worried and also handicapping their efforts to deal with Dagon and the Nephilim. How would you feel, if someone you loved and considered family did that? I think anyone would be hurt and angry.

Now Castiel is not human, and as much as Misha portrays him with a lot of emotion under the surface, I also tend to see him as negotiating the issue of doing the “right” thing differently, but in this case, he clearly knows that what he did was hurtful. He also clearly feels bad about it, yet he’s back not to reassure the Winchesters, but to steal from them. He’s back because Joshua gave him a mission, not because he was worried about Sam and Dean’s feelings. That’s what I mean about having different expectations for family, and that’s why it hurt so much.

I know shippers enjoyed the mix tape scene, and I get why, but in reality that scene was even more hurtful, I think. Cas uses the mix tape—something Dean made for him to express those emotions that he’s allowed himself to be vulnerable enough to feel—to manipulate Dean in order to steal the Colt from him. I just….OUCH. It’s a wonderful piece of canon that Dean made that tape, we can guess probably after Cas almost died, a touching gesture for a man who mostly shows his affection in gestures. But the scene itself hurts.

Dean tries again to make Cas understand how hurtful it was for him to disappear.

Dean: You can’t go dark like that. We were worried, and that’s not okay.

For Dean Winchester, that is an amazingly open thing to say. He’s not hiding behind sarcasm or diminishing his own feelings, he’s trying to go with them. And he’s trying to express them in a calm, clear rational way. He welcomes Cas back into the family, offers open forgiveness, which has to have cost him a great deal and required a huge amount of trust. Team Free Will, come on Cas.

What he gets in return is an explanation for Castiel’s abandonment that isn’t an explanation at all, but a distraction – I just keep failing you, I need to win FOR YOU. (Which sounds disturbingly like every “but I did this for you, for your own good” excuse in the history of ever)

But I don’t think it’s just for Dean that Cas feels he has to win, it’s for himself. I’m not saying for a second that Cas doesn’t care about Dean—he does. We heard just how he feels in that last episode, when death was imminent and his genuine emotions were expressed. But in this case, he seems unaware of the impact of his own emotional struggle on his decisions. This was a well written scene, just not pleasant to watch. Cas himself alludes to some realization that this is more for him when he amends what he’s said to add “and for me.” This is not what Dean’s asking of him, it’s what Cas—out of his own struggle to find purpose and meaning in his life—needs to do.

And so Cas determines that Dean and Sam won’t be able to kill an innocent and makes the decision for them, stealing the Colt and then abandoning the Winchesters without an explanation once again. I do believe that Cas was doubting his mission here—he sees how emotional Dean is, and he’s truly trying to figure out if the Winchesters would be able to kill Kelly and her baby. But again, he makes the decision for them, and the way he does it includes deception.

That’s got to be unbelievably humiliating for Dean. You can see his shame when he has to tell Sam that no, the Colt wasn’t in the safe, it was under his pillow. I don’t think Sam is judging him, but Dean is definitely judging himself and feeling foolish. Even worse, every time Dean lets himself be emotionally vulnerable and someone he trusts takes advantage of that vulnerability, he learns NOT to do that again. He has to be learning that he should just go back to closing himself off and trusting no one, expecting abandonment at every turn. That John Winchester was ultimately right. And that is breaking my heart. Maybe that really is the character evolution that the writers are going for, and it would be a valid choice if that’s true, but oh my god, I don’t know if my heart can go down that road. It’s half broken already.

[ETA- It’s like I temporarily got so caught up in the Show that I forgot how often it tries to break my heart! I guess that too is a testament to the fact that this episode was well executed by all]

Sam, relentless in his drive to find another way (and every time they say that I think of that Shaving People Punting Things outtake video where Jensen and Jared turn the Impala around and literally find “another way”…) keeps researching. This is my favorite scene of the episode, with a sleepy Dean concerned about his little brother’s lack of sleep and trying to keep up with a driven Sam.

Sam’s face as he realizes he may have found the answer is so full of joy and relief that he looks like he’s about twelve years old, and so incredibly beautiful it took my breath away. And Dean looks so joyous and relieved and proud of his brilliant baby brother, I was sitting there beaming right along with them.

Dean’s “hot damn!” was priceless. Was it scripted, or an Ackles’ ad lib? Hmmm. Either way, I loved it.

(Though I did have to take a break to eyeroll at Sam’s “remember Gadreel?” Umm yeah Sam, we had to endure an entire season of you and Dean at each other’s throats because of Gadreel, I’m pretty sure Dean remembers him. Give us some credit, Show, we don’t need a recap!)

Annnnnnd then their moment of joy is overshadowed because Cas is gone. Again. And oh yeah, he totally played you and took the Colt, Dean. OUCH.

Meanwhile, Cas brings the Colt to the angels on Joshua’s orders, which makes me cringe. Dean calls again—say what you will, he doesn’t give up easily!—and once again, Cas doesn’t answer. Now I do think that Castiel believes that he’s doing this to keep Sam and Dean safe and to free them from having to possibly kill an innocent. What he doesn’t seem to realize is that this is more about his own need to make up for his perceived shortcomings. Dean gets it – that Cas is so desperate for a win that he’s lost sight of how to go about it or how to make good decisions around it. He’s developed a dangerous tunnel vision, which is something Cas has struggled with before. Is that what showrunner Andrew Dabb was referring to when he tweeted the ominous Byron quote “The best prophet of the future is the past”? Cas has had good intentions before that led him down disastrous paths because he became so single-mindedly focused on what he felt was his “mission” that he ignored any input or advice, including the Winchesters’. Is that what’s happening now?

I’m not sure, for all his evolution and even his stint being human, whether Castiel has ever managed to get completely away from what was instilled in all the angels. He needs a mission, a plan. Someone to tell him what to do who he believes has the legitimate authority to do so. That’s why he turns to Joshua; it’s eventually why I think he ultimately believes in Kelly and her baby. Team Free Will is an ironic name for the Winchesters and Cas, because I don’t think Cas has ever been able to subscribe to that idea. I think he wants to, and he likes the idea of it, and he admires Dean and Sam for their willingness to pursue it, but he is at heart an angel and perhaps that will always keep him anchored to a mission. Cas is that part of being human that always wants to look for a reason and a master plan, to make sense of the chaos that is life. I empathize with him even as he infuriates me at times like this episode. I don’t want Cas to go down the wrong path again!

[Of course, maybe I’ll be proved wrong and this was the right path to go down, but I still won’t like how we got there]

We get a few more minutes with Dean and Sam (literally less than two) where Dean once again expresses his anger and sense of betrayal and Sam stays calm.

Dean: He came into my room and he played me.

Me: OUCH

Sam: He must be going up against something big to take the Colt.

Dean: So we’ll figure out what’s happening and then kick his feathered ass.

Sam lets that one go, and I’m grateful.

Cut to no Winchesters again now that we’ve had our Sam and Dean minute.

(Sorry, this goes under the category of things that are not really about this episode but have been driving me nuts all season. #NeedsMoreWinchesters is my most used hashtag this season)

Lucifer gets a little screen time as he figures out that Dagon lost “the container” and threatens her. I have to give kudos to Ali Ahn, who played Dagon in all these episodes masterfully. She managed to be both evil and amusing at the same time, which not everyone can pull off. And badass. Oh, and she can pronounce Castiel flawlessly which is not something everyone can master. I appreciate these things.

Lucifer: Make this right, Dagon.

The issue of what is “right” is a running theme through this episode – even the game show that Dagon is watching makes reference to being “not right” repeatedly. I guess that’s the big question we end up being left with – what is right? And do the ends always justify the means if you think you know what right is, so that how you get there doesn’t matter? That seems to be both Mary Winchester’s and Castiel’s beliefs, but it has never been Sam and Dean’s. In fact, Cas has followed a plan that he thought was “right” before and deceived the Winchesters to do it, like working with Crowley that ended up getting him possessed by Leviathans, or saying yes to Lucifer without telling anyone, or taking down the barrier Death put up in Sam’s brain. There were a lot of disastrous consequences in there for these “right” courses of action – I do think that Cas always had good intentions, and now these failures are contributing to his sense of failure. But not learning from them doesn’t seem to be the best plan!

Meanwhile, Cas and Kelly are on the road, having long conversations about good and evil and the “right” thing to do. Castiel stops to get orders from Joshua (again showing his need to have a mission) and decides to take Kelly and the baby to Heaven, which will kill them but save their souls. The truck (not so) coincidentally dies right after that conversation, leaving Kelly and Cas with lots of time to talk and me going hmmm, what is the Nephilim up to?

Kelly insists that nothing is born evil. She also knows just what to say to the struggling-for-a-purpose Castiel, telling him that this has happened for a reason, that it’s part of some plan.

Cas admits he wants desperately to believe that there is a plan, that he has a mission, but he can’t.

Castiel: You were just there.

(Shades of God/Chuck’s conversation with Metatron—purposeful, Show? If so, points!)

Kelly (or the Nephilim) then gets a great idea – ask Cas to put his hand on the baby and feel it kick.

I literally raised my eyebrows when this happened and said “really??”

I can understand why Kelly might have asked—it might be a good way to get a basically good empathic being to feel actual life and thus be more reluctant to take it—but why oh why does Castiel agree?? And even more why oh why, why does he smile when he feels it? This is the Nephilim that he’s been railing about needing to die, being inherently evil, stole the Colt and betrayed the Winchesters and got his colleagues killed to do it in—now one kick and he’s smiling like he’s a proud papa??? I don’t get it.

Maybe the Nephilim was already exerting some control over Cas? I’d like to believe that because at least it’s an explanation, but I don’t really think that’s what we’re supposed to believe. Or maybe Cas is just relieved to have a reason not to kill the baby, because he clearly does not want to. I like that about Cas, that he’s never been as cut off from his feelings as the other angels. It’s made his life a struggle, but it has also brought him closer to the Winchesters and brought the character to life in a way he never could have been if the writers and Misha hadn’t gone that direction.

The weirdly lovely moment gets interrupted by Sam and Dean. Cas answers the door wielding the Colt (which just looks so wrong).

Dean: Yeah, that’s mine.

Me: OUCH.

Dean slams Cas against the wall (shipper moment! And beautifully framed and shot) and this time Sam seems a little more willing to allow Dean his justifiable anger.

Cas: How did you find me?

Dean: While you were scamming me for the Colt, Sam put a tracking app on your phone.

Sam: Cas, you didn’t even look us in the eye.

Me: Smart!Winchesters, yay! (Also Sam is clearly hurt too, even if he did try to play peacemaker earlier in the episode.)

Castiel again tries to justify his deception by insisting he wanted to keep them safe.

Dean: You’re not our babysitter, Cas, that’s not your job! And when have we ever been safe?

He’s got a few excellent points, and I’m once again glad that at least he gets to make them. I don’t think Castiel really hears him—I’m not sure he can at this point–but at least Dean got to say it.

The next scene made me throw something across the room. Luckily it was just a notepad. Dean and Sam tell Kelly and Cas about Sam’s plan to extract the grace from the Nephilim, expecting Kelly at least to be all oh yay. Instead, she says no and walks out.

Dean: Oh, this girl has lost her mind.

They all follow her to the parking lot, where Cas and Kelly eventually agree to go back to the bunker. Inexplicably, Dean gives the keys to the car to Cas, who has already deceived him multiple times, and to Kelly, who Dean just said a second ago is not in her right mind. Then Sam and Dean inexplicably stand in the parking lot chatting. Predictably, Kelly takes the keys and takes off. With Dean’s car.

I have to take back my Yay, Smart!Winchesters, and that makes me sad. Also, their level of trusting people has gone so far in the wrong direction at this point, it’s painful.

Though it did give us another 30 seconds of Winchesters, this time with early season flavored Dean fixing the truck vibes, which I enjoyed very much.

Castiel and Kelly spend a lot of time talking again, with Kelly trying to convince Cas that the baby chose him, that “we are destined to be here.”

It’s exactly what Cas needs to hear, though he does try not to buy into it. Misha did an excellent job of showing us Castiel’s struggle here, which I’m tremendously grateful for.

Castiel: I wish I had your faith.

Kelly: You will.

Me: Oh now that is definitely ominous…

Joshua appears, and I’m disappointed that he’s not the wise old grampa Joshua who we met before. This guy.

But he gets zapped into oblivion moments after he finally comes to earth for the first time thanks to Dagon anyway, so I guess it doesn’t matter. She kicks Castiel’s ass, and then the Winchesters arrive with the Colt, but instead Sam fires at her with a regular gun, which of course does nothing, and then she knocks the Colt out of Dean’s hand (breaking his arm in the process). And then she does something that made me cry. She destroys the Colt.

Dagon: Time to take this off the playing field.

Dean: (on the ground, clutching his arm): Noooooo!

Noooooo!

Me: (practically on the ground, clutching my heart): Nooooo!

So let’s recap. Dean has been abandoned twice, had his beloved Colt stolen right from under his pillow, been lied to repeatedly, had his beloved Impala stolen, had his arm broken, and had his beloved Colt disintegrated right before his eyes. I think that qualifies for the subtitle of ‘Dean Winchester and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.’

The loss of the Colt hit me very hard. Dean was SO excited to have it back! He had a holster for it under the bunker library table, and liked to practice shooting it with adorable sound effects. He slept with it under his pillow and called it ‘sweetheart’. And he never even got to fire it ONCE!!!!! Why would you do this, Show? Bring it back with such fanfare and such emotional resonance only to destroy it in the same season???

I’m so disappointed.

As TV Guide noted in their review, “This is why we aren’t allowed to have nice things on this show anymore, like the Colt, which was unceremoniously melted after weeks of implication that it would be a big deal and a treasured link to when Supernatural knew what to do with itself.”

OUCH.

Back in the episode, Dagon thinks she’s won, but Kelly and the Nephilim have one more trick up their sleeve. She clasps Castiel’s hand and transfers some of the baby’s power to him; his eyes glow blue and then yellow, perhaps signifying that this is a mix of Castiel’s power restored and the Nephilim’s power? Whatever it is, it’s enough to zap Dagon off the playing field herself. Much as I enjoyed her, she destroyed the Colt, so yay!

Cas apparently has his full power back, which I’m happy about, since this whole season was totally confusing as far as what Cas could and couldn’t do. He heals Dean, then announces that everything is now fine. Huh?

Cas: I’ve been so lost…not anymore. I know that this child must be born., and with all of his power.

Sam and Dean and me: Huh?

Cas: I have faith. You have to just trust me.

WHAT?? After an entire episode where every time they trusted Cas, he betrayed that trust?? Why would they trust him??

Sam: We’re not gonna let you walk away, that’s not gonna happen.

Cas: Yes, it is. (knocks Sam out)

Dean: Don’t…

Cas: (knocks Dean out). Sorry.

The end of the episode was painful too. Dean asks for his feelings and wishes to be respected, and is ignored. Knocked out against his will. Is Cas rationalizing that it’s for his own good? Is he going down the “wrong” path once again, believing that the Nephilim showed him the future? Who’s to say it’s not just what the Nephilim wanted him to see? Why is he so sure? Once again, like Mary, he’s pursuing what he thinks is “right” and not listening to any input about his course of action. Or is he right, and this is the ends justifying the means?

Either way, there are the Winchesters, knocked out cold and lying on the ground like ragdolls, arms and legs askew. Dropped like stones and let fall like dead weights, which, OUCH. Helpless and vulnerable to any angels who might appear out of the sandbox or demons who might be following up on Dagon and decide to take revenge on the humans who are just lying there. Definitely not a check mark in the “this is to keep you safe” column.

Talk about a bad day. They didn’t get to save the day in any way, shape or form. They were essentially bystanders and observers, unable to impact what happened. Unable to save the Colt or get through to Cas. I know that this is probably where we have to be at four episodes until the season finale – that the show has to narrow down to Sam and Dean only having each other and seemingly helpless and defeated, and then maybe Team Free Will can be re-established. We’ve followed this pattern in other seasons and I’ve felt similarly frustrated. But this season is particularly frustrating because we’ve gotten so little of the Winchesters all season long. They’ve been bystanders and observers far too often – we’ve had so little time to look into their feelings that I don’t even know what they’re feeling most of the time!

The early seasons of the Show were all about how the circumstances that the Winchesters found themselves in impacted their family relationships – we always knew what Sam and Dean were feeling, because that’s literally what the show was about. Sera Gamble and Eric Kripke both talked about how the other characters with whom Sam and Dean interacted illuminated who they were and how they felt, about themselves and each other. Now, I still don’t know how they feel about the resolution with the Darkness, or that Sam was carrying the amulet in his pocket for years, or how either of them feel about Dean being a demon or having the mark of Cain or the lengths Sam went to in order to save him. How does Sam feel about having to face Lucifer after all his trauma in the Cage? I don’t even know, at this point, what they’re feeling about the BMoL (and Sam’s deception) or their mother! It’s like the Winchesters’ feelings are just glossed over and never explored, and yet that’s what I really want to see. That’s what I care most about with this Show, so if I don’t know what they’re feeling, I’m lost.

Someone more organized than I am added up the Winchesters’ screen time in this week’s episode. Fifteen minutes out of 42. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel like I know what they’re feeling anymore.

Yesterday was #NationalSuperheroDay. I tweeted a photo of Sam and Dean from Season One, standing tall and strong, guns drawn. Ready to save the day. Big damn heroes. I thought of that tweet as I was staring at the image of them lying broken on the ground, and maybe had to reach for the tissues.

I guess I have to circle back and give the writers credit. The episode made me plenty emotional, it just wasn’t the most enjoyable emotion. A lot happened, but I’m not sure where we’re going — and that too deserves some kudos. After all this time, Show can still keep me guessing. Misha and the guest cast did an excellent job carrying the episode and conveying the complicated emotions of their characters. Misha is in fact perfectly capable of carrying an episode and facilitating us caring about his character. Alot. The problem is that I still need to know what the Winchesters are feeling, and I still need to make sense of the relationships that drive the story forward—for Sam, Dean and Cas.

A day later, I’m assuming that I’m where the Show wants me to be. That it was supposed to be painful to watch Cas struggle to do the right thing and that it was supposed to be painful to watch Dean open himself up and be shut down. That Sam and Dean and Cas will find their way back to being open with each other and trusting each other. (One particularly bright spot? Full powers Cas is my favorite flavor of Cas, so yay if that’s what just happened). In the meantime, though, OUCH. Just don’t leave me lying broken and helpless on the playground too long, okay? I can only take so much. Also? #NeedsMoreWinchesters.

ETA because Hoo Boy, are there alot of opinions – both about this episode and about this review! It seems most people don’t think that Cas gave Dean back the mixtape to distract him in order to get the Colt, that it was not intentionally manipulative. It’s impossible to tell from the scene itself, but it’s true that it’s equally likely that the tape was a separate issue and that was Cas feeling guilty and knowing that Dean was hurt. I took my cue initially from the way that Cas pointedly looks across the room after Dean leaves, which I interpreted as looking for the Colt. And from Dean’s interpretation too (‘He played me’). But there’s no knowing, so I’mma go with the less painful explanation at least for now.

Also ETA yes I’m very aware that the lead actors who happen to play those Winchesters I want more of have very young kids at home and need time to be with them. I wasn’t suggesting that they be forced to work constantly or be in every scene for 23 episodes a season! I’d be very happy with a shorter season that’s constructed more like the early seasons, or if that’s not possible, with episodes in which they don’t appear at all (this may be an unpopular opinion, but I would find that less upsetting than  a season full of many Winchester-lite episodes — and like I said, Misha is certainly capable of carrying an episode! Or three or four.) Anyway, it’s a complicated issue and I never meant to suggest it wasn’t. But perhaps not impossible?

–Lynn
Already anticipating the next episode because yes,
of course I still believe in this Show! #AKF

77 thoughts on “Dean Winchester and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day – Supernatural ‘The Future’

  • what I can’t understand is Castiel’s determination to do things his own way. Dean told him seasons ago that he should vet all crazy ideas through the Winchesters. I get tired of the writers dumbing down the boys and Cas just to get through an episode.

  • Thanks for expressing exactly what I have been feeling/thinking about not only this episode, but the whole season. Seems like many of us are bugged by the same issues (most of all, of course, #NeedsMoreWinchesters).
    One of the problems of season 12 might be that the plot also follows the idea of “the end justifies the means”, leaving us with plot holes, inexplicable behavior of characters, guesses and desperate tries on explanations (and never giving any themselves).
    Kudos to A.Tapping and S.Ladouceur, there were great shots and wonderful lighting/color schemes in the episodes (the bathtub shot reminded me very much of “Death of Marat”, both in coloring and setting). Shooting through the ornaments of the bunker’s railing or the motel room paravent gave me the feeling of being an intruder, or someone watching helplessly from the outside, a little like the Winchesters seemed to be in the episode. Sometimes I find the beautifully composed shots almost too distracting maybe (just like the TWD reference).
    I care too much about some of the characters to give up on “my” show, alsways will, and there have been a few epsiodes this season that were deeply satisfying at least in part,
    So… maybe we get lucky and get to have answers, consistency, sense, and sensibility in the last episodes- and who knows, there might even be #MoreWinchesters!

  • I’m going to respectfully disagree with your assessment of Cas’ intent when he finally came back to the bunker. Yes, he was given a mission, which was to retrieve the Colt. And maybe I’m coming at this from a different perspective here, but I don’t believe Cas was hell bent (pun not intended!) on getting his hands on that gun no matter what. I personally was very much afraid that Cas would return from heaven “rebooted” like he was in “The Rapture”, so when Cas returned and was visibly emotional and even conflicted, I knew he was at least the real Cas. Maybe returning the tape was just a ploy, maybe it was an excuse to talk to Dean after he stormed off, so (rightfully) angry. But I believe that it was somewhere in that conversation that Cas finally made his choice, and he didn’t follow Joshua’s plan because Joshua said to. He did it, as he said, to protect Sam and Dean. It was never his intent to maliciously play them. Just like when Sam and Dean have lied to each other in the past, it was never borne out of spite or a wish to hurt one another.

    I agree with a lot of the other things you’ve written here–particularly the love of researcher!Sam and that Dean gets to express his feelings, damn it! And if this episode had been the season finale, I would have been as upset as many others are. But one of the things I love about this show is that even when the story line goes off the rails a bit, they’re in it for the long haul. Not many shows get to indulge in such long-form storytelling, and as an aspiring writer myself, it’s an absolutely joy to watch–even when the moments get uncomfortable. That’s what’s supposed to happen! But I’m truly loving how these characters’ emotional lives are developing, and how the various relationships within Team Free Will flow back and forth. We needed this episode in order to keep moving forward with the plot, and I for one can’t wait to see where it goes next.

    • Lisa – well said. I felt this article was a bit unfairly harsh on Cas when, in my view, he was just taking a page out of the Winchester how to protect your loved ones playbook.

      I have read so much of your writing and reviews Lynn, and I enjoy it so much. But I have to respectfully disagree with your criticism here. I think Castiel has shown throughout the season that he is tired of the Winchesters accepting that their lives will be full of strife and misery. However misguided, I think his efforts here were purely to save them from having to kill an innocent – an act he knows will haunt them.

      I enjoyed that this episode seemed to center around faith – the faith that Cas has in his plan, the faith that Kelly has in her son, and the faith that Sam and Dean have in Cas. That scene where Dean was fixing Castiel’s truck was very telling to me – they both recognize that Cas, at the end of the day, is just trying to do right. If his method is wrong well then, he deserves to have his feathered ass kicked. But to Sam and Dean, where his heart is matters.

      This episode to me really solidified just how much they think of him as a brother. Sam and Dean, for all the times they’ve lied and hurt one another, always knew at the end of the day that their love wasn’t in doubt.

      As for screen time, I’m glad that the boys can have lighter loads in light of their growing families. I’d rather that, then them quit the show altogether, frankly.

      I hope this came across as respectful. I realize that as a Cas fan I have bias.

      • Becky, thank you for mentioning faith! It definitely was a recurring theme throughout the episode, and let’s be honest, it is a running undercurrent all through the show. It’s just that in the past we’ve seen one brother trying to convince the other to have faith in him — usually Sam trying to convince Dean — and now there is actual faith and trust among all of them. Which, of course, is why Cas’ actions are so hurtful.

        And regarding screen time. I know especially long-time fans are really bothered by the reduced screen time. But honestly, I’m in awe of what Jared and Jensen can put on screen even with less time to do it. Like most points in this long and winding story, this too shall pass. I agree that I’d rather see a bit less of the brothers than have Jared and Jensen leave the show entirely. That would be the end of the show, for sure.

      • Totally respectful! I agree with you absolutely about Cas’ intentions – I think I said that, i certainly think it. He does have good intentions and he’s trying desperately to do the right thing. I do think that Sam and Dean know that too, and of course they’ll forgive him, he’s family. But in this particular episode, he made some questionable decisions. Sam and Dean have absolutely done the same, including lying to each other ‘for their own good’, and I’m just as upset when they do it. They all need to cut it out! 🙂

    • Lisa, I agree with you in part — I agree that Cas wasn’t deliberately playing Dean when he brought the mixtape, and I think Cas is supposed to be trying to do it all for the Winchesters. I don’t believe Cas is a bad guy and I think he is still their brother, an essential part of Team Free Will.

      His problem is the same that’s been true for many characters this season, that his reasons for doing what he did are poorly explored and kind of unconvincing. If it was coming down to the wire and Sam & Dean still didn’t have a plan, I could see Cas taking matters into his own hands. But there wasn’t a major time pressure that we saw (it’s weeks before the nephilim is due), so for him to decide on the spot like this seemed forced.

      Sam & Dean have lied to each other a lot in the past, and so has Cas; but usually there is an understandable, sympathetic reason. Most of the worse things they’ve all done, I can see how they got there, can’t help but think that in the same circumstances, I might make the same choice, as bad as it is. But this time, it’s hard for me to understand why Cas would do it this way.

      Like I said, though, Cas is hardly alone in that this season. I still don’t understand why Sam started working with the BMOL. I’m confused what Mary wants at all (does she want to hunt? does she want to end hunting? does she want to be with her boys? why can’t she, since they’re all working for the BMOL now?) It feels like the characters are mostly doing things because the plot demands it, rather than because of their natures. And while that’s a pretty common problem with TV, it’s not one I have that often with SPN.

      • You put it very articulately, Mle. I think that’s my confusion too – deceit is something all of them have used repeatedly, but in this episode it just didn’t make sense to me. Or maybe I should say the reason didn’t come through for me, which was part of why it felt so wrong. I didn’t touch on Mary but I definitely agree – that has been painful too. I don’t understand the motivations of many of the characters, which isn’t a place I’m used to being with this Show. And I don’t like it! Thanks for putting it into words so well.

      • I can agree with your assessment that this has become more plot driven lately, though I feel like they had to really move the story somewhere post-Darkness. And bringing Mary back was a great moment for Dean last season, but now what? It feels like the writing team had to make some aggressive moves on the board, and hopefully the dust will die down soon and we can see more character-driven episodes. I do love those, and hopefully we’ll see a return to that.

  • It’s too late now, but the one thing I really wish the writers had done was Google “nephilim.” It’s Hebrew and plural. A single human/angel hybrid is a “naphil” (pronounced nah-FEEL). It’s the same construct as seraph/seraphim, which Show did get right. I can suspend disbelief for a lot of things, but this is like nails on a chalkboard.

    • I feel that way when Sam and Dean pronounce Samhain as “SAM-hain”. (S4, ep7) The actual pronunciation is “sah-win” from Gaelic. Jared and Jensen wouldn’t know that but I feel like Sam and Dean should.

      • Could be a ‘reader’s vocabulary’. They know about these things, but from books and lore, and other hunters, who also know it from books and lore. So, not surprising if they pronounce it as it looks like it should be. (From a reader who has a bank of words I know the meaning of, the context, the connotation, but would have a very hard time pronouncing, because you pretty much never hear them in conversation.)

  • Some decent points, Lynn, but I think you’re being a bit unfair to Cas – especially towards the end. From the beginning of the ep and the reveal that he took the Colt, we know that Cas thinks that what he’s doing is right – and what he’s doing, as he ALWAYS does, is try to protect the Winchesters. He seemed very conflicted about it during the entire first half of the ep. Too much heart, always. The very aspect of making bad decisions with the best of intentions is the hallmark of being a Winchester, and Cas falls right in with that. It doesn’t cheapen the mixtape scene – considering that Cas was trying to leave, I don’t know that I think that the Colt was the only reason he went to Dean’s room. Of COURSE he’s worried about Dean and Sam’s feelings, otherwise he wouldn’t be trying to protect them.

    ‘Is he going down the “wrong” path once again, believing that the Nephilim showed him the future?’

    Of course not. He’s clearly being manipulated by the nephilim, if not controlled outright. He tried to leave the sandbox/playground peacefully, the boys wouldn’t let him, and he knocked them out. In, might I add, a relatively peaceful manner. Should he have? No. I thought the end was OOC, but I’m not worried about Cas and the Winchesters’ relationship in the long run. We know how much those three guys love each other, and that’s not going to change – we know they’re fighting together in the finale, and like always, they’ll be fine. They won’t be against each other. The show doesn’t work with him as a villain – too much heart was always his problem, after all. He’s not their enemy, he’s their family. And you can’t call Cas out on deceiving them when they brothers have deceived each other SO many times over the years. It’s what they all do. Our three heroes are flawed but wonderful, and I love them all.

    “the show has to narrow down to Sam and Dean only having each other and seemingly helpless and defeated.”

    But they don’t just have each other. They’ve got Cas, he’s just doing what he thinks is right at the moment. And in the end, they’ll respect that. That’s what family does.

      • I think we also need to visit that conversation Cas had with Kelvin upon giving him the Colt. He makes it clear, he is NOT on ‘heaven’s side’, so, this really isn’t just about following orders. I think he felt out Dean about ‘could you kill an innocent’. Remember, Dean told him NO, when he said ‘we’ll find a better way’. (Interestingly, it also turns out Cas can’t kill an innocent either’.) So, as IRRITATING I find all this, the subterfuge, the acting with untrustworthy agents because you feel pinned against the wall, doing something ‘for’ another person to save them by sacrificing yourself, it’s not really Cas not believing in Free will, in my view, it’s Cas following the Winchester playbook.

        I HOPE we don’t get another ‘duped Cas’, because that’s played out. We at least know Heaven (whether we like their plan or not) was at least aboveboard in their plan…even if it didn’t work. New one for the angels, so kudos. I HOPE the theme of ‘monsters aren’t always evil, it’s what you do, not what you are that makes you evil’ turns out to be correct. To do otherwise would seem to justify what the BMoL do.

    • I guess the problem is we don’t *know* why Cas went to Dean’s room. I assumed, since his mission was to get the Colt, that was why. Like I said, I don’t think for a second that he doesn’t care about Dean–or that the tape probably meant alot to him when Dean gave it to him–and Misha’s acting made it clear that he did struggle with the decision to go through with his mission, but ultimately he did steal the Colt. I hope you’re right, and he’s being controlled by the baby, or at least that he’s not being duped again. I’d really like not to find this all so hurtful! And yes, absolutely, I don’t want the BMoL to be right!

      • “Cas uses the mix tape—something Dean made for him to express those emotions that he’s allowed himself to be vulnerable enough to feel—to manipulate Dean in order to steal the Colt from him…”

        I think the word manipulate here is very harsh and not the way I see this scene. I believed that Cas genuinely wanted to return the tape not realizing that Dean gifted it to him, just look at his reaction. If he knew he wouldn’t return it. That’s my takeaway of the scene.

        Cas was already walking out the door, albeit after discreetly scoping the room. Dean was the one that stopped him by starting the conversation. Are you saying that Cas, the awkward angel, a weird, dorky one (this is Dean’s choice of words), is savvy enough to steer Dean, master of deflection and sublimation, into revealing his emotions via manipulation? You are giving Cas too much credit lol. This is the angel that does not know much about nuance. He called himself Agent Beyonce while investigating undercover when he was not suppose to bring attention to himself. He was only mimicking Sam and Dean.

        For me, I don’t believe that Cas is capable of manipulating Dean in this way, not in this episode anyway.

  • I knew it wouldn’t take when Kelly tried to kill herself, but you know? I really kinda hoped it would. I don’t hate this storyline as much as I hated the-Darkness-is God’s-sister(and-BTW-Chuck-IS-God) storyline from last year, but I really don’t like it very much. I was so happy to have Lucifer back, especially in Nick’s vessel, and the Princes of Hell were cool, but how often are the writers going to introduce a ridiculously powered entity/character (Or object! My heart, the Colt!) — that they then have to go through gyrations to de-power or ‘take off the board’??? Its annoying. Why set up Lucifer’s son to be super-duper even more powerful than the devil? The moral dilemma is the same even if he’s a run-of-the-mill powered entity. The angels want nephilim dead regardless of who the angel is that sired it is. That was enough to fuel the plotline.

    Castiel not listening to Dean is annoying. Every bad decision he has made has always been because he didn’t listen to Dean (or Sam). Is he stupid, or what? He is consistent though, I’ll give him that.

    All that being said, I still didn’t think the episode was bad. I like that the baby has chosen Cas as his warrior (getting an early start on pissing off his Dad, wonder how Lucifer will like being on the other end of that?) It might be Lucifer, of course giving both Kelly & Cas visions, like he did Sam, but I kinda hope not.

    Not enough Winchesters to be sure. I like Crowley, Lucifer, Castiel etc. best in scenes WITH at least one Winchester. The B plots without Sam or Dean don’t do much for me. Never have, never will.

  • I agree with a lot of what you said, especially the part about not knowing how Sam and Dean feel about things. I didn’t realize this has been going on for a few seasons until you listed some examples of this issue. There have been so many opportunities for great character development/interaction that were passed over. The return of the amulet was huge (in my opinion) but all we got was a look between the boys and it was never mentioned again. I was lucky enough to be able to ask both Jared and Jensen about it at a con last year, but not everyone gets a chance to talk to the Js about their characters to get more info.

    I feel like they really dropped the ball with the return of Mary. There could have been so many scenes with her and the boys talking about the past, getting to know each other again, but it was just brushed under the rug. I also hate the way they haven’t dealt with Sam being kidnapped. Another issue pushed aside. It’s like the Show no longer wants to take the time to explore important things that have happened to the boys. They’re so busy moving on to the next story or monster that they’re neglecting what made the show so special – Sam and Dean.

    The main problem with this season is not enough Sam and Dean. I’ve said this before, they’ve become supporting characters in their own show. They’re also being written out of character at times in order to facilitate the plot (Dean giving Cas the keys to the car). I know Jared and Jensen have needed extra time off so it explains a few episodes, but Sam and Dean haven’t seemed involved in this season even when they have more screen time.

    I have an issue with Dagon destroying the Colt. How could she do it? Azazel couldn’t destroy it (that we know of or I would think he would’ve the moment John gave it to him). Weren’t Dagon and Azazel on the same demon level?

    The mix tape made me groan out loud because it was obvious fan service. I felt like it was shoehorned into the episode. I really don’t understand the need to do this. Cas could have gotten into Dean’s room to steal the Colt without doing that. And while I’m on the subject, it feels like the writers having Sam being the one who wants to give Cas a chance and keep the peace is to make fans of a certain ship like Sam’s character more. Maybe I’m reading way too much into it, but that’s how it feels to me.

    This episode was really a low point of the season/series for me. I can’t remember ever being this angry after watching the Show. It doesn’t feel like the show I fell in love with and it makes me sad. I also saw that it hit an all time ratings low. I hope the ship can be righted, because I love Jared and Jensen and I know how much they put into their roles. I don’t want the Show to be one of those that outwear their welcome and go out with a whimper.

    I hope the next 4 episodes prove me wrong. I hope we get more of Sam and Dean and that the show can focus on the brothers again.

    Sorry to be so negative but this one really got me down.

    • Amen to everything you said. I was similarly let down by 12×14 that it took me forever to put myself together and find the courage to watch 12×15. Not a nice feeling. Will join you in hoping for the best though.

    • Totalt agree with you about Sam’n’Dean being OOC. The Dean of old would’ve never given the keys to anyone. He’d opened the doors though!

      Keep Sam’n’Dean in character, please!

    • This. I was so utterly disappointed in this episode. I am particularly beyond irritated that they have reduced Sam to peacemaker and little else. He never gets angry, he’s never allowed to feel anything about any of the bad things that have happened to him. Dean gets to vent to Mary, Castiel, and whoever pisses him off, but Sam is apparently Teflon because it all rolls right off. Torture him, betray him, ignore him, it’s all fine. I’m pretty sure he used to be a LEAD on this show, but there’s no evidence of that.

      • Hah! And meanwhile I’ve been annoyed that Dean gets to express some feelings (but then always has to walk them back and apologize for them) but never gets to DO anything anymore, while Sam can save people and kill monsters and figure out things about the nephilim, and be empathetic and understanding too…

        I think both brothers are getting shafted this season; hopefully they’ll both be allowed to do and feel more later!

  • Thanks for this review. #NeedsMoreWinchesters is right. This has been one of the worst seasons. This episode was the worst and for the reasons you say. Dabb needs to get his head out of his you know what. Barley any Jared and Jensen, no brothers moments at all this Season. That is what Supernatural is about. They are the heart and soul of the show. They need to get back to that or they’re going to lose the real loyal fans that have been here since the beginning. It’s not about A sstiel or Collins and that’s why it’s failing. They could solve 99% of the problems with SPN right now by getting rid of the angel and Collins full stop. And getting back to what matters, Sam and Dean’s relationship. I’m praying they kill him off like they seem to be leading to. Everyone watches for the brothers not this horned in angel crap trying to say the angel is family when we all know that’s not true. Collins and the angel has been bringing it down since S-4. Based on what J2 have said at cons and in interviews, not only do I know they agree and would support the decision but have been pushing for it too. The sooner Supernatural starts respecting J2 and the brothers and gets back to its roots the better or else we’re going to be getting episodes like this for the rest of it’s sad run. #NeedsMoreWinchesters

    • Just a reminder that they most likely filmed this the week baby Odette was born, so J2 needed light filming schedules so Jared could rush to the hospital at any moment. If you go back & look at previous episodes that were filmed around all the other children’s births, they are much the same way in being ‘Winchester light’.

      • It’s interesting that when all the kids were born it’s Winchester-light. Planned ceasarian anyone?

    • Have to disagree about Collins. From Variety article written by Laura Prudom dated September 16, 2016, titled How Supernatural Outlived The WB and Learned the Secret to Immortality, ERIC KRIPKE the CREATOR of the tv show called Supernatural said and I quote, “In my wildest dreams, I was hoping we would get to a fourth season. Sure enough, it was probably right around the fourth season that I think we finally started to relax and realize that we had a certain amount of stability,” Kripke says. “And that was the introduction of Misha Collins [as the angel Castiel], and that was the time that I probably started sleeping at night.” End quote. So, no the angel has not been bringing it down since S-4.

      • I agree Castiel had a time and a moment and it was Ok plotwise ànd added to the story alright. Early this season however I remember commenting in here that I believed the character had run his course. Now they’ve found a storyline for him making him the Nephilim’s guardian, for good or bad. Works for me, but I’ve always felt that taking the whole “Cas is family” too literal was going to far. Sam and Dean are family.

  • Cas is almost like a mushroom. He doesn’t really have a solid identity so he tends to take on characteristics of whomever he’s around.

  • Ok. Im going to comment on a single watch, which is not always the best idea, especially with episodes this… I will say fickle, in lack of a better word, but here it goes.

    First of all, as pissed at Cas as Dean is, or probably more. And much less prone to forgiveness than either Sam or Dean. Perhaps it hits a little too close to home because I have been recently deceived myself. I dont know. You’re the therapist here. 😉Anyhow. Jury’s still out on the Nephilim. I cant make up my mind whether I believe he can be good or not. Seems a scheme from Lucifer the whole thing but it would be a nice twist that it ended up being good. By the way, Lucifer did scare the hell out of me. He looked really menacing while talking to Dagon. Im glad they found a way to give Cas a real role other than just wandering around the bunker being confused. Even if it involves screwing things up again. The whole DeanCas or CasDean or whatever has been shoved into my face so much that it disgusts me a little now. Id appreciate writers not winding it up. The Colt! OMG THE COLT! I was yelling alongside Dean. Such a legend… Gone just like that! Do you think it can be refurbished again? I remember Bobby fixed it once. If Samuel Colt built it, maybe Samuel Winchester can rebuild it? I also kept yelling at the screen when Dean gave the car keys to Cas. He’s gonna take the car!!! But Dean wouldnt listen 😞 as it turns out, it wasnt Cas but still, he could have stopped her but he didnt. And that final scene with Sam and Dean lying on the floor and Cas running away with Kelly… as tough as it was, it was a cliffhanger worth of a season finale. What is it that lies ahead for us? I dread it already.

    • Bobby fixed the Colt once? I need a memory refresher on that, for sure. I’m with you, I was so upset when she melted it!!

      • It was toward the beginning of season 3. Ruby showed up while Bobby was trying to fix the Colt and I believe she helped him fix it.

      • Yes it was back in S3 and Ruby v.1 helped Bobby with that. Its weird though, like Dawn says, that Azazel could not destroy it and Dagon just melt it right out. Its those inconsistencies that bug hard core fans so much.

  • I cant even remember how long its been since the scene where Cas was dying….seems like forever. And so until I read your review, I had lost all that emotion that should have been forefront with him just re-appearing. Yes, Dean has been trying to reach him, but to me it seemed like the show was trying to fade him out. Cas seems to have barely been around this season at all. And I agree with Myfanattic, the writers seem to wind up the CasDean thing with little tidbits thrown in there…. and for what? To amp up fans who they then tell there is no such relationship? I don’t get it. And I have to vent about stupid plot details – Cas and Kelly are rushing to the sandbox (even though Kelly was not agreeing to go to heaven, so why would she drive there?), so Sam and Dean take the time to try and figure out what is wrong with Cas’ truck, then attempt to fix it? When time is of the essence? Wouldn’t they just steal another car? It’s the little details like this that bug me, when they could be so easily ironed out.

  • It certainly was an interesting episode. So I have a couple of points, that came up when I was watching this. Number one, Castiel is -as the boys say “off the reservation “again. It’s getting tiring. They trust him, he does something stupid, they get hurt, he gets forgiven… repeat.
    Number 2, I haven’t liked or cared about Kelly Kline at all. Still don’t. She could die next episode and I wouldn’t care. I’m not sure if this is the writing, acting or me. Could be me.
    Number 3, the BMoL aren’t going to be happy the Colt is gone and as I assume Ketch is still eavesdropping, so they probably know. The thing is, that gun was leverage for the boys, so that’s gone. I’m sorry to see it gone too.
    Number 4, like you, I like to see the boys more but with new babies and all, I’ll try and understand. *sigh*
    I’m dreading the season ender ( usually do) because it seems more “other people” heavy and the boys will be in some dreadful place that we have to wait 5 very long months to get answers.
    It feels like the writers are struggling with what to do with Castiel, the story line for him has been hit and miss for a season or two. Brother/not brother. Trust/don’t trust. Maybe just make him human and make up their minds?
    Last point ( too long already, I know) I really enjoyed Sam doing all that research and Dean being proud of his “beautiful mind” brother. Last time Dean used that phrase he was leaving a phone message for Bobby after the house burnt down. Cute reminder.

    • I’ve noticed the writers struggling with Cas’s character for several seasons now. Characters serve a purpose. When they no longer do, and you try to keep them, this happens. You start getting boring storylines or side plots that dont fit in. If they dont wanna get rid of him altogether just make him find an angelic purpose to keep him away and have him show now and again. Why insist on making him a third lead when he obviously is not? Not even Bobby was in every episode back in the day! I know some people would go bursting into flames over this, but I believe that characters exist for the purpose of the show, not the other way around.

      • This. I liked the Cas character in seasons 4 and 5, but by the end of season 8 when he once again screwed everything up (this time falling for Metatron’s trick) I was done. Actually, I’m done with all the angels. They were once fierce and bad ass, but now they’ve all become inept. Same with demons. I enjoyed Dagon because she reminded me of demons of old. I understand why they made Mark and Misha regulars (so the Js can have more time off) but it just doesn’t work for the overall story. Nothing against those 2 actors. Charlie fit with the boys so organically and so does Jody and Donna when they show up.

      • I think this is where the writers are being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Misha is clearly supposed to be the third lead, and in order to do that they have to write a storyline worthy of the character, and to achieve that they need to give Castiel more screen time, but then we have a very loud portion of the fans who want more Winchesters and even less Castiel if not write him off entirely. They, the writers, could’ve solved the first problem easily by making Castiel completely human, but then they’ll be running into the second problem when they run out of excuses to not have him in (almost) every episode as the third hunter (in training — possibly) because his human life will be tied to the Winchesters since he’ll be effectively cut off from Heaven (and its angel storyline/subplots).

        My point is, you can’t assign value to a character who barely has his own storyline when you want even less of him on screen. It doesn’t make sense. You could make peace with the idea that Cas will have to have his own storyline for his own character development which means sharing more screen time with the Winchesters, and if you can’t, then just accept that they write him the way it is which will never be in-depth, has the stink of plot device, and doesn’t affect the brothers at all. There’s no going back to the old days of two leads only, that ship has sailed a long long time ago.

  • #NeedMoreWinchesters is right. Lynn, I am so sick of the way the Winchesters have been diluted down this season. I, like you, want to know what they are thinking, what they are feeling, and it makes me sad to see these two vibrant creations of Kripke and Sera and Edlund and I just dug my garden over a bit, ready fJensen and Jared dumbed down to be little more than pretty cardboard cut outs. They take a licking, and keep on ticking, and that, apparently, has to be enough.

    HOW can they trust Castiel? Why would they? Look at his track record. Please explain to me how tearing the wall down in Sam’s head was to benefit the boys in any way. How was palling up with Crowley to acquire souls protecting them rather than assisting him to become ‘God’? How did it protect them to let Lucifer out of his cage? How, in fact, was this latest betrayal anything but a further, dispassionate slap in the face for the Winchesters?

    Team Free Will died with Bobby Singer, and the angel has only ever assisted the Winchesters when it served his purpose. Why do you (and others) consider him to be a good guy? I don’t get it.

    • In many ways, Dean isn’t wrong when he’s referred to Cas as a child. He is still figuring out right and wrong without having those orders to just blindly obey. If he had followed orders, we would have had the apocalypse all over again, and all of Sam and Dean’s efforts and sacrifices would have been for nothing. He’s had a number of opportunities to just go back to heaven and do what he’s told, but he puts himself at risk because he can’t hurt the Winchesters. He’s still taking those risks, believing that he’s protecting them.

      And as far as what actions benefit whom, there have been plenty of times when the brothers only gave a shit about Cas because they wanted his help. At first, I was honestly angry with Dean for giving Cas grief about him not helping them defeat Dagon. But what was really happening was that Dean was feeling guilty over his perceived failure, and lashing out at Cas–which was later addressed when Dean opened up more about it. At least Dean isn’t browbeating Sam anymore–that moment where Sam suggested extracting the baby’s grace was a really lovely moment. It was clear that Sam is still trying to get Dean’s approval, and Dean was so proud of him, even in his own snarky, brotherly way. I personally have loved how close the boys are becoming, and how much they’ve grown, even if we maybe aren’t seeing as much of it happening as some might like.

      And Sam and Dean are “diluted”? Seriously? Jensen and Jared have been bringing their A-game all season long, which is no mean feat when you have new babies at home. Yeah, the characters (especially Dean, ugh) have had some boneheaded moments lately, but since when are they supposed to be perfect? They feel real to me, more so than probably any other fictional characters I’ve experienced. As someone who initially avoided watching the show *because* I figured the guys were nothing more than “pretty”, I can tell you there’s still a lot they’re bringing to the show, and I for once am still enjoying the hell out of it.

    • Bro. All three of them have done many, many dumb things after the years. They all forgive each other and move on, because like Dean said.. “you, me, and Sam. We’re just better together.”

      Let your hate go, man. He’s not going anywhere, thank chuck.

  • Some of us are working on setting up a big postcard and letter writing campaign for the summer to encourage Dabb and the writers to do exactly what you say, #NeedsMoreWinchesters (and unrelated “Destiel Doesn’t Exist” to show support and say thanks to Jensen and hopefully purge the rabid Destihell shippers for him and fandom) for next season, and encourage TPTB to phase out M*sha more so the focus is on what it should be. They’re giving him way too much time and it’s ruining the show as you point out. Do you mind if we link and highlight parts of this for some letters and postcards? Thanks! We’re working on a project page to coordinate and for templates. I’ll link you when it’s time if you’re interested! I hope you’ll join us!

    • I really hope and kind of campaign to kick Misha off the show and/or hurt other shippers is something that Fangasm would support. That kind of hate has no place in the SPN Family.

      • Sorry, that auto corrected. I mean to say, I really hope that a campaign that would support kicking Misha off the show and/or being mean to different shippers isn’t something Fangasm would support. That kind of hate has no place in SPN Family.

    • Really, Lynn, did you point out Misha is ruining the show? I think I missed that sentence. I thought you wrote (copy & pasted here) “Misha and the guest cast did an excellent job carrying the episode and conveying the complicated emotions of their characters. Misha is in fact perfectly capable of carrying an episode and facilitating us caring about his character. A lot.”

    • Has it not occurred to you that Jensen and Jared might want more time off to be with their families? They have said as much. Also, Misha has been in less episodes this season, which, in my opinion, is a shame. But I think that he also has other things that he wants to have time to pursue, especially spending time with his family.

      • Yes absolutely – I almost put that in the review, because of course they do and they should have it. I’d be so very fine with a shorter season so they could do just that. Or with episodes that focus on other characters exclusively – like I said, Misha can certainly carry an episode. Real life is always going to be more important than fiction, but there are other ways to change things around so that it seems like maybe everybody wins. Or is that being too utopian?

    • Everyone has an absolute right to express their opinions, but I prefer to leave mine here only and expressed in full so there’s no misunderstanding, so I don’t want this excerpted anywhere else – thanks for understanding! I do very much want more Winchesters, but it’s a complicated problem. Somebody needs to figure out a way to make that happen that still allows the actors the time they need to stay sane! Let’s hope someone can do just that. Shorter season maybe? (On the unrelated topic, I actually tend to love shippers of all flavors even if I don’t ship it myself — and non-shippers too! I understand the wide chasm between different groups and how it comes from passion for the show, but I try to stay afloat in the middle and not drown.) Thanks again for understanding!

      • “On the unrelated topic, I actually tend to love shippers of all flavors even if I don’t ship it myself ”

        Thank you. I’m so tired of shipper-hate, it’s got no place in fandom.

    • Actually, what Lynn said was “like I said, Misha is certainly capable of carrying an episode! Or three or four.” Don’t drag her or us into your hate.

      1. TPTB don’t want to phase out Misha. Neither do J2.
      2. No one is interested or would join you in a campaign to get someone as amazing and kind as Misha fired. Or anyone fired.
      3. Making demands on the writing staff is rude AF and won’t work. They know the show they’re writing, and you need to accept it.
      4. Seriously, again? Do not drag Lynn into your misplaced hate campaign.
      5. Jensen doesn’t want you to purge his fans, shippers or not, from the fandom. He loves all of us.
      6. Just stop. Your attitude is not part of the SPN family, and the cast and crew would not agree with you about any of this.

  • Lynn,
    I ALWAYS love your character analysis. And I appreciate your in-depth write-up on Dean. My heart hurts for him. And that’s a good thing from an “I’m invested” perspective, but I REALLY want some payoff for the emotional work he’s putting in.
    I have question — you get so many opportunities to chat with the boys at Cons. Have you mentioned “NeedMoreWinchesters to them? I’d be interested in their thoughts.

  • I have a probable explanation for why this ep. was so Sam & Dean light: they filmed it the week right around when Padababy #3 (Odette) was born. They needed J2 to have light filming schedules that week as a contingency for “Operation Moose Drop 3” to happen, so that Jared could leave suddenly if he had to.
    I figured that out by doing the math; they just wrapped the season April 28th-ish, and it takes them roughly 8 business days per ep. if this is four episodes before the finale, then all you have to do is follow the timeline back ~4-5 weeks ago. Odette was born March 17th, on St. Patrick’s Day. Which is EXACTLY when they would have been filming this.
    I know it doesn’t entirely make up for how it comes across in SPN canon, but merely an example of how their real lives can affect how things pan out & ultimately can dictate what/how they film.

    • I agree. And I can accept that. Its the boys family life and we love them and respect them, so its Ok, but quantity/quality balance is due. If we get little screen time, it should make up for the rest. And having the boys foolishly revolving around Cas’s deceiving misguided purposes doesnt do the trick. Sam and Dean are our heroes, and no matter how little we see of them, that must come across clearly. Instead, it has been so neglected the entire season, maybe thats why it struck so bad.

      • “In My Time of Dying” is a perfect example of a Sam and Dean lite episode that worked. And when the boys were on screen they weren’t out of character. I think we agree that it’s a double whammy when we don’t get a lot of Sam and Dean and when we do they don’t feel like Sam and Dean.

    • You must be right, yes. And I am a staunch supporter of the actors having time with their families and time off after 12 years and counting. I just wish there could be a different way to make that happen — shorter season? I actually think episodes without the leads might be more fulfilling than the ‘Winchester lite’ episodes – and like I said, Misha could certainly carry an episode!

      • I don’t agree with you bit that is mostly because think castiel should be written out of the show.

      • Misha can definitely carry an episode – he and Cas add so much to the show for me (and for the Winchesters).

  • One more thing…Dear writers; I find it very hard to believe that a very pregnant lady can slide across the seats of the Impala and just drive away. I am quite sure that telescopic and adjustable steering wheels didn’t come with the car, and as she’s rather large, and shorter than Dean, she wouldn’t be able to reach the gas and brake. Plus, (I have an older car so I know) bench seats don’t adjust very easily, especially by one person. I know, picky but it did bug me.

    • That struck me too. Kelly had to slide across the seat, grab the keys adjust the seat because there is no way 4’5″ pregnant lady could have reached the gas pedal, start the engine and put it into drive…..and Castiel couldn’t stop her!!??

  • Hey Lynn. Just rereading this review. Agree with so much of this! Reposting my reactions to it from your other post.

    My reactions to your reactions!:

    -“Written by two writers whose writing I like and respect … but I was left scratching my head”: agree
    -“Tapping did a good job”: disagree, am afraid
    -“The opening scene… tremendously disturbing”: agree. Did Not Like.
    -“Sam has become the peacemaker in the family”: Especially with their mother, mirroring Dean’s previous role with their dad. I like this.
    -“Am I supposed to be this angry at Cas?” Setting up Cas to be killed? Perhaps by Winchesters?
    -“Now Castiel is not human”: character has evolved though.
    -“mixtape scene”: out-of-character
    -“This was a well-written scene”: disagree, am afraid
    -“Colt wasn’t in the safe, it was under his pillow”: not believable. Dumbing down Winchesters? Sadness.
    -“remember Gadreel?” :”plane crashed here”
    -“Sam:He must be going up against something big to take the Colt.”: out of character
    -“Lucifer gets a little screen time”: meh
    -“Cas and Kelly are on the road”: uninteresting
    -“The truck … dies”: clumsy plotting
    -“Kelly and Cas with lots of time to talk”: uninteresting
    -“Dean gives the keys to the car to Cas”: HEIGHT of OOC and ridiculous clumsy writing
    -“Castiel and Kelly spend a lot of time talking again”: uninteresting
    -“Joshua appears”: wasted character
    -“”Dean Winchester and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day,’”” :agreed!
    -“Winchesters, knocked out cold and lying on the ground like ragdolls… didn’t get to save the day in any way… essentially bystanders and observers, unable to impact what happened”: Do Not Want
    -“Winchesters’ feelings are just glossed over”: Do Not Want
    -“I have to … give the writers credit”: disagree, I’m afraid. Bad writing is bad writing.
    -“Fifteen minutes out of 42.”: 35% is not a pass. No wonder I spent most of the episode thinking ”OK, OK, yeah, yeah, move out the way – actor/scene/plot point – you’re blocking my view of the Winchesters”.

    I love Supernatural, and Jensen and Jared did what they could with this, but come on, Show. Roll on, next week! #NeedsMoreWinchesters

    • “Setting up Cas to be killed? Perhaps by Winchesters?”

      That will never, ever happen no matter how much certain “fans” like to say it. The boys love Cas. And when he comes back, they’re going to be elated. He’s family.

  • I left a couple replies to folks above, but realized I hadn’t said anything about the review itself, when I really enjoyed reading it (far more than watching the episode itself, sadly.) You eloquently described much of what I’ve been feeling myself about this season.

    Your discussion of Dean and the handling of his emotions especially was so satisfying to me because it’s what I’ve been seeing. Dean still isn’t perfect about handling his feelings, but he’s so much better than he’s ever been. And it would be nice to see more support for that.

    Also Sam as peacemaker — is perfect for him on the one hand, especially when it comes to Dean and him and Mary; as Dean was often caught between Sam and John, the parallel with Sam between Dean and Mary works so well. But when it came down to it, Dean would side with Sam against John. And likewise I’d hope to see Sam take Dean’s side eventually (as painful as it would be for him to argue with his mother.) Meanwhile Sam is so even-keel, even after everything he’s gone through, that it feels like he must be repressing a lot…

    And like you said, what I want more than anything is to see more of any of the emotions of the boys. There’s no dearth of things for them to have feelings about — let’s explore them!

  • I agree with so much of this review! I was so annoyed with this episode and the characters, but really at TPTB (showrunners and writers).

    This episode encapsulated many of the problems I have with this season 12 as a whole. So much of this season doesn’t make sense and has no cohesiveness; there doesn’t seem to be any concern by TPTB about canon (even moreso than in past seasons); the Winchesters seem to have no storyline; lack of screen time for the Winchesters (Dean has literally disappeared from episodes with no explanation); and a big one for me – Dean doesn’t get to do anything or kill anything anymore. Others got to shoot the Colt, and Dean? Well, Dean got to clean it. The last time Dean got to kill anything was basically in the episode “Regarding Dean” which was about 8 episodes ago. Seriously, show?

    At this point, I just want season 12 to end and for the show to reboot itself for season 13. LIke a quarterback who screws up and throws an interception – you have to forget about that mistake and move on.

  • I’m not sure how much of a popular view this is, but when Cas’s eyes turned yellow, I was under the impression that everything he did after that point was under some form of mind control, not unlike when Naomi controlled him. Cas, I thought, is still Cas, but there’s another power linked to his brain skewing his judgement. One of the reasons I think is that I don’t believe Castiel, under normal circumstances, would ever knock out the Winchesters and leave them behind. We’ve been shown that he cares about nothing more than the two of them, and even after seeing a vision of the future, I fully believe a normal Castiel would at least want to explain how wonderful this future he saw was, or, if he felt he couldn’t recruit them, would carry out his plan “for the best” but would remain guilty and try to work behind the Winchesters’ back, as he did with Crowley.

    I thought it was interesting, the way Cas keeps taking off like this, alone. It reminds me of the early seasons, where Dean and Sam frequently split apart, stating they just didn’t work well together. Of course, every time that happened, something horrible happened — like one of them developing a demon blood addiction, or starting the apocalypse. I feel like Castiel is going through the same thing. He doesn’t realize that, as he has now become one of the Winchester boys (“You’re our brother, Cas”), he won’t be able to do this on his own. In fact, Cas has never been able to do this on his own, as you stated, and I do think part of this is his angelic nature, his design to follow under a leader that makes free will a dangerous option for him. However, as with the Winchester boys, I think one of the big ideas that Supernatural promotes is that working on your own is a BAD idea. Without someone to set you straight, it is way too easy to get caught up in yourself. This, I think, is what is happening to Cas.

    Not to be soft on Cas, but I think he’s suffering from serious self-esteem issues. I haven’t forgotten when Ambriel said in “The Devil’s in the Details”: “…like I said, I’ve heard the stories. You help. But Sam and Dean Winchester are the real heroes.” Or, what Amara said in the same episode… “You are expendable.” Going even farther back, I doubt any of us have forgotten Castiel’s admission to fearing he would commit suicide. The way I see it, what we’re dealing with is someone built to be a part of a system, who, after breaking away from that purpose to do the difficult but right thing, has been told over and over again that he is a screw-up, a failure, and worthless. We all know Castiel used to fight celestial wars. He used to be a fairly high-ranking angel. For a while, he even led half a civil war. Now, all he does is mess up, and so I’m forgiving him for making bad, desperate choices. Dean’s been trying, I think, to show Cas how much they care about him, but Cas doesn’t seem to quite get it. I’m not sure what it will take for him to realize exactly how much he is a part of their group now, but I hope to God he gets there eventually, or he’s just going to keep making these mistakes on repeat.

    All this to say, this was a fantastic post. I agree with you on most points, especially about the Colt, which I didn’t think enough about before this post. And yeah, you’re definitely correct about the Winchesters. I would love to see more of them, or just see them have a decent victory. I do think they are still heroes, though, as much as they were at the beginning of the show and more so, because even after everything that has happened, they are still doing their very best to help the world. They haven’t gotten weaker — everything else has just gotten impossibly stronger.

    I too cannot wait for the next episode!

    • Grace – this was absolutely beautiful, and a lot of what I’ve been wanting to articulate about Castiel. Thanks for this!

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