I grew up in a household where I received a lot of mixed messages about religion. My grandparents were devout, my parents were alienated, and I long ago gave up on organized religion as the foundation of my belief system. Our spiritual relationships, if we have them, are deeply personal, and are usually a very sensitive subject, wrapped up as they are in our concepts of life and death, right and wrong, and good and bad. I’m not a person who confuses fantasy with reality, so I was quite taken aback at my emotional reaction to Dean’s first meeting with Castiel in the season opener, and to all the rest of their scenes together since then. Evidently the topic of God and his angels has the power to draw forth issues I have fought long and hard to repress.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been a Castiel girl from the start. Because I love the idea of angels as the warriors of God. Because I am seduced by the way Misha Collins plays him, with that gravelly voice and those weary eyes, so obviously fond of us mere mortals, and so worried about our fate. Because he pulled my boy Dean out of hell, and told him he was worthy of God’s grace. I think he wants to believe in Dean Winchester, and help him in his struggle to believe in himself. And yes, because he’s hot. :)
But an angel who questions his faith? A man saved from hell, who calls his divine rescuer a dick? I don’t think my minister grandfather would approve. I found myself in a state of near panic when Dean argued with Castiel, and said such disrespectful things about God. This week was the worst week of all, and I wondered if I should just stop watching. Wait. What? That’s just crazy talk! And that’s when I snapped out of it. For all that I love Supernatural, it is just a television show, there to help me escape my worries, not stir them up. Even if this season is all about religion, there’s no place for my personal baggage in the mix, especially when it prevents me from enjoying a rich, imaginative, exciting story about two boys fighting to defeat evil, save the world, and find their way back to one other, all at the same time.
And so I watched this episode again, and loved it. The first part was pure MotW, and it was great. Unsuspecting victims, gore I had to watch between my fingers, clueless teenagers, and hot boys in suits! Game on! I loved watching Sam and Dean at work, posing as FBI guys, doing research, and figuring it all out. We had all the classic elements: horny, hungry Dean, exasperated, indulgent Sam, the bizarre questions, the meaningful looks, a little funny, a little scary, and steady progress toward a showdown at which our boys were sure to prevail.
And then Castiel showed up in the boys’ motel room, and everything changed. I hated Uriel and his contempt for us, and my heart went out to Sam, shaken by an angel so different from what he had always imagined. How cute was Sammy when Dean first introduced Castiel, apologizing for saying OMG, and offering his hand so earnestly? Awww. I loved Castiel anew in that moment, as he clasped Sam’s hand in both of his. And Dean? He was my hero! I gloried in his every arrogant, insolent word. If I’m picking sides in this fight, I’m for the Winchesters all the way!
As the boys set off to finish the job, Sam was devastated by his encounter with Castiel and Uriel. Angels don’t necessarily revere human life, angels don’t necessarily show mercy, and worst of all, angels don’t necessarily like Sam Winchester, even if he is the faithful one. Dean took the time to reassure Sam, and it was a wonderful moment, where Dean not only supported his brother, but also made it clear he needs Sam to keep on believing, to offset his own natural cynicism, and to shore up his own newfound, tenuous faith.
The fight to the finish was awesome, what we love to see best, our boys saving people, hunting things, but it got a little sticky at the end. Despite Sam’s assurances that he was done with his demon powers, before the boys even got to the cemetery he was talking about using them. He didn’t even seem to understand why he shouldn’t. And we all knew that’s exactly where he would end up. When the boys’ eyes met across the crypt, as the demon smoke spilled from the wounds in Don’s chest, it broke my heart. Dean, stunned, couldn’t even move to help, to save his brother from himself. Oh, Sammy. I know it’s so good to feel the demons vanquished by your hand, with a power that is yours and yours alone, but can good be born out of evil? If God says no, I think the answer is no. And if Dean says no, I think you should listen.
So what about the reveal that this was a test for Dean? Did he pass or fail? And what exactly does God have planned for him? I’m scared for him, I’m proud of him, and I can't wait for him to show us all exactly what he's made of.
Each of the boys had a final meeting with an angel, Sam with Uriel and Dean with Castiel. Uriel was full of fury and dire promises, hostile as ever, evidently determined to put the fear of God into Sam. And he was a troublemaker as well, leaving Sam with a cryptic remark about Dean’s time in hell, which not only implied that Dean did something awful in his time there, but also that he was deliberately keeping it a secret from Sam.
Dean’s conversation with Castiel was entirely different. These two are forming a bond, opening up to one another, and finding common ground. They both love mankind, and are determined to save us. I’m glad that whatever is coming for Dean, Castiel will be by his side. He made reference to Dean’s time in hell as well, albeit much more obliquely. And Dean went absolutely still when he did. Oh, Dean, baby, what happened? And what insight does Castiel have about what lies ahead, exactly? Because the unwavering intensity of the look he gave Dean right before he disappeared scared me more than anything else in this episode.
Random thoughts: The title of this episode was interesting. That Peanuts special is all about having faith in the face of everyone and everything telling you you’re a fool. So maybe Sam needs to find the faith he’s always had and cling to it, even when his view of all that is holy has been turned upside down. Did Dean say he’d like to come back as a hot cheerleader? *snerk* “ASTRONAUT!!” hee! The way they filmed the sacrifice scene was very creepy, and very cool. Angels pray, too? And I loved that Castiel laughed at Dean’s joke. He likes him! He really likes him! :)
So I'm all in, and I'm ready to roll with whatever version of heaven, hell, and everything in between Kripke and his team dream up. I can't wait to see where the rest of this season is going to take us, and what we'll encounter along the way. I have faith in the show and faith in the boys. Whatever happens, in the end, Sam and Dean will never let each other down. That much I know to be true.