Episode summary: Charlie’s about with a spooky book. Cas and Metatron bond over defecation then have an angelic slap fight in a library ending in Cas retrieving his grace. Everyone has a glorious beer together, and everything goes well until DAMN IT SAMMY. Written by Robbie Thompson.
I thought this episode was ‘totes not butt’. I take issue with the personal-fandoms box ticking in Robbie’s writing sometimes, and I did with some general things in this episode too, but overall this felt like it had a good amount of yang to ying, so to speak. It didn’t feel bogged down with ‘FEEL THE GRAVITY OF THE SITUATION’ like some other episodes do. Without wishing to sound reductionist, a lot of episodes tend towards depressive outlooks. They tell us as the viewer to focus on the massive negative thing at hand at the cost of all other things, resulting in us rarely seeing any every day positives, eg. smiling clerks at the Gas ‘n’ Sips, music on the radio that doesn’t feed into the depressive narrative, domestic situations that aren’t laden with double meaning. The inclusion of the last scene in this episode especially (everyone just having a damn beer!) gave the arc of the series so much breathing room, I’m really amazed. It did more to relieve the tension than a silly filler would have, I think. Hats off to Robbie for that.
Cas getting his grace back and blowing up the damn library shelves in the process… yes please. Add that to my list of ‘awesome moments in which angels are angels’, because I was into it. It was visually interesting, it conveyed that Cas is still very much ‘Other’, and it was bad ass. Yes all over.
While I’m on that scene, I took personal pleasure in Cas having to go on a scavenger hunt of sorts. Sweet revenge. The fact that Cas actually did things of purpose, and of his own volition this episode was a real plus for me. And at the risk of making myself a stereotype, I did find myself skipping to his and Metatron’s bits on my rewatch.
The directing in this episode was pretty good. I really enjoyed the way the Damn It Sammy moment was edited into the domestic scene. It had great pace and was the right swing of emotion that you’d want from that sort of contrast. Also, there were moments in scenes where the family who were chasing Charlie (name escapes me) were shot from low down that really really reminded me of Breaking Bad’s style. I’m not sure it fit seamlessly with how SPN generally looks, but I did appreciate how interesting it was.
So, onto things that I’m not so hot on about this episode…
Light things first, that I hope we get an explanation for: Cas’ wings. Why were they burned? He was the only angel that didn’t technically fall. Maybe it’s a symptom of underused grace…? Clutching at straws, I know. xD I just had high hopes of him being the last angel able to really function typically, wings and all.
The family chasing Charlie… meh? I don’t know why, I just was pretty bored with them. There wasn’t any sort of charisma or intrigue there, it just felt like another band of angry demons/angels/monsters/etc, which is something that’s been done to death, especially recently.
The clues in the scavenger hunt scene were great – I loved the idea of it being Metatron’s favourite books. Calling back to core aspects of a character we’ve not really seen in a while – fab. The thing that could have packed more punch though, was a line that more people would be able to shout at Cas to get.. if that makes sense. Maybe I’m not well read enough, who knows, but I feel like if the answer to Cas’ clue had been more easily accessible to the audience, the line before he nommed the grace would have had more punch.
Charlie… I love you. I do. I love Felicia Day, and I really like that we have a female character who is allowed to be feminine in a non-stereotypical sense. Charlie is needed. However, the fears I had after watching the promo kind of carried on for the episode. A lot of the things Charlie brought to the table in this episode really rang of a deus ex machina. On a simpler level than that, her lines felt very stiff in places – almost as if the audience were to brainstorm things that they wanted addressing in the scene, wrote those questions on a bit of paper, and stuffed her pockets with them for her to pose when there was a lull. I understand the need for characters to sometimes fill this role, especially when trying to neaten up some confusing ends about who knows what and where they stand, but her lines nearly across the board were very on the nose, at least to my ears.
Similarly, I don’t think I needed to hear another ‘hunters lives are hard’ speech. I said elsewhere that I thought this was turning Charlie into a Mary Sue, but after thinking about it, it’s really turning the boys into Mary Sues. They’re the ones who are constantly being portrayed by newbies to the hunting scene as perfect (in their own way), and after ten years of watching them both do their thing, I feel like hearing these sort of speeches from newer characters is A. redundant, and B. irritating. The viewer is aware that hunters have it tough – they’ve been through a lot of stuff, including lots of ‘hunters have it tough’ sub plots with the bros over the past several years. These speeches, I feel, only serve to cheapen that. I realise that this speech was probably intended as a realisation for Charlie about herself and her own situation as a hunter, but I feel like it could have been framed as such in a much better way. For example, reference happenings in Oz to show us where you’ve come from and your understanding of ‘the life’. We know the boys’ version of events inside and out, so hearing generic ‘such tough, so sad, wow’ speeches doesn’t add anything. At least, in my opinion.
On a lighter note, I could have done with a little less mental imagery of Metatron pooping.
Or visual imagery of him nearly pooping, in honesty.
In all, I really enjoyed this episode. It had lots of stuff that I was actually interested in going on. Cas did more than pumped gas and we were given a solid theme (to build on, writers, please!) for his next arc. Sam felt like Sam, which is excellent. Dean was doing his thing and had some interesting turns. Charlie was… present, but has a relationship with Cas now, which is fantastic. And Metatron got smacked in the face. Awesome.
I give this episode: 3 particularly satisfying Metatron face punches.