Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.03: I’m No Angel

[spoilers ahoy for several seasons]

Tagline: We catch up with Castiel, who is homeless, on the run from angels, and learning about sex and toothpaste.

Recap: Brief recap of the fake Angel Trials (with a voiceover from Naomi, whom I miss more and more), Castiel becoming human and hunted, a very brief flash of Reapers, angel stuff, and Dean’s deal with Ezekiel.

Cut to Now and two priests, a young one and an older one, walking through a garden at night. They are approached by a young woman and two men behind her in suits. These visitors want to know about Castiel, whom the priests apparently know.

Cut to the St. Anne’s Shelter for Men, where we find Castiel amidst a bunch of cliched drifters straight out of Central Casting. Seems his first few days on earth have been homeless. In a brief conversation with another man, we find out that Castiel is calling himself “Clarence,” is eating toothpaste, and hates peeing. Oh, and he’s been moving from town to town every few days.

That day, as he picks up trash at the church, he finds blood on some old gravestones. Following the trail through an iron gate, he discovers the two priests, dead. They have been impaled on the iron fence, their eyes burned out. Gee, I wonder if that woman and her buddies were angels.

Cue title cards.

Cut to the Bunker, where Dean is pouring himself coffee and wandering around in his MoL robe (back by popular demand, no doubt). Sam comes in from a run, having enjoyed a sunrise and gotten Dean some bacon and eggs. Dean is a little concerned that Sam is exercising, what with having recently been sick, and cautions him about overexerting himself. He also mentions being worried that Castiel hasn’t arrived, yet.

In the middle of insisting that he feels fine, Sam is overtaken by Ezekiel, who assures Dean that he is healing Sam and “can be useful.” To prove this, he tells Dean about a “faction of angels” he’s overheard from Angel Radio who are uniting around some as-yet-unnamed leader who wants Castiel located (and interestingly enough, Ezekiel doesn’t know Naomi’s name).

Freaked out, Dean says great, but can he have Sam back? Rather reluctantly, Ezekiel gives the reins back to Sam, who reassures Dean that Castiel is just taking a while to get to them, now that he’s human and can’t fly. Clumsily navigating his way through the two conversations, Dean confuses Sam by mentioning Ezekiel’s intel and then tapdances his way out of it by saying they need to find Castiel before the angels do.

Cut to some dimwits watching a broadcast from a Reverend Buddy Boyle on their smartphones (Yeesh, could that product placement be a bit more obvious?). He’s your typical 80s-style TV preacher with bad hair and an unctuous voice. It also turns out he has an agenda. Seems he’s hooked up with the angel group Ezekiel warned Dean about and is gathering in a flock to provide them with vessels. Their leader is named ‘Bartholomew’ (AKA ‘Bart’), and he’s about as charismatic and interesting as watching paint dessicate.

Right on cue, a young woman with long brown hair and Professional Virgin garb shows up to offer herself as a vessel. After perfunctorily determining that she really is saying yes, Bart calls in an angel. Note that the writers and director get angel lore completely wrong and have the angel coming in as white smoke via two windows. Um … so not.

Anyhoo, the young woman, though willing, is not able. Soon after being possessed, she screams, bleeds from the eyes, and explodes into bloody chunks. Seems this is what happens when you are not vessel material these days. The Reverend is freaked out, but forces himself to be comforted by Bart’s chilly assurance that not everyone who is called is also chosen. Offended, yet? Oh, don’t worry. You’ll have other chances. This writing duo is both ignorant and condescending when it comes to religious topics.

Meanwhile, Sam has discovered news reports about Hael’s dead vessel (from the season premiere) and the two dead priests in Emory Park, IA from the teaser. Dean correctly identifies these as an angel kill and angel torture (though he misreads Hael’s death by assuming her vessel was killed by another angel trying to get at Castiel). Sam starts to catch Dean’s concern and agrees they need to find Castiel before the angels do.

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Cut to a stereotypical outside homeless hangout with the barrel fires and such. Naturally, Castiel is there. He thanks another homeless man (who is Hispanic, like the young priest who was killed) for sharing his food with him. The man thinks he’s new to being homeless, but Castiel confuses him by talking about being new to being human, especially the part about realizing he will die someday. Castiel then goes off to an old abandoned bus to try to sleep.

This is unfortunately interrupted for him when an angel finds him there, his vessel a pharmaceutical assistant we previously saw watching the Reverend’s broadcasts. Castiel is able to get the drop on the other angel when the other is shocked to discover Castiel is now human. He stabs the other angel, killing him, though he’s slashed in the shoulder in the process.

The next day (apparently), Dean is talking with Castiel’s scruffy toothpaste buddy about both Cas and the priest killings. It’s mostly a boring rehash of what-we-knew-already exposition that is typical of this dynamic writing duo’s issues with pacing. On top of this, though, we get a heavy-handed bit of anti-religious irony where the friend says the priests must be “with the angels now” and Deans says he sincerely hopes not. This makes me roll my eyes.

Back in the Impala, Dean tells Sam that Castiel is now using the name, ‘Clarence,”‘which Sam notes was what Meg used for Castiel – and comes from It’s a Wonderful Life. Pop Culture maven Dean uncharacteristically looks blank at this reference. Sam also comes up with the angel Castiel just whacked, which was in Lafayette.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver’s Chinatown – oh, sorry, the Midwest – Castiel is very hungry, very broke, and yet spending his last time on a chest tattoo. Oookay, then. Later, he is both hungry and horny. I facepalm. I’ll be doing that a lot in this episode.

Back at Bart’s, we (unsurprisingly) find out the angel who killed the priests also works for him and that the TV Preacher spiel is gaining their followers many vessels. Even so, Bart is mad at his minion because she’s not finding Castiel. He’s even less happy when another angel redshirt enters and says they can’t track Castiel, anymore, since he killed their operative, Redshirt Pharmacy Tech. He must be warded. Ya think?

Castiel enters a church, where we get some closeups of Christ on the cross and angel figures. He eavesdrops on a woman praying for someone named ‘Mike’ who is ill. She asks God to send His angels down to heal Mike. As she goes to leave, Castiel engages her in conversation by correctly guessing Mike is her husband. We then get a desultory and smug debate between the blindly devout stereotype of an Irish Catholic woman and a cynical Castiel over whether there is still good in the world. Castiel believes that God has left and Heaven “has gone out of business,” despite the ample evidence from his own continued existence that God definitely still takes an interest in the world. The bovine woman blandly insists that there is still good, that she has faith, even as the writers set her up with obvious subtext that she is stupid and wrong.

I hated this entire scene. The writers bang away at their frankly offensive message, oblivious to the fact that this kind of subtle material of dogmatic-faith-versus-existential-despair is far beyond their abilities. So, naturally, what you get is a blasphemous cock-up, instead. This scene should have been sent back with a big red X through it and a note to write something that didn’t make the writers look like ignorant, uneducated jerks.

But hey, at least the church is pretty.

Cut back to Bart, who is engaging the services of a Rogue Reaper. You remember this retconning entity from “Taxi Driver,” right? Well, it’s no better here. This time, the Rogue Reaper is acting as a sort of bounty hunter and … oh, hell, it’s all just too stupid. Let’s move on.

Sam and Dean, meanwhile, are in a police station, posing as FBI agents investigating Doomed Pharmacy Angel. Given his smartphone from the evidence locker, Dean immediately zeroes in on the Reverend Buddy Boyle’s “Going for Glory” broadcasts. The brothers quickly realize that angels are behind the scam, rustling up willing vessels, and that this is going on all over the world. As they leave, we see they are being trailed by the Rogue Reaper, who has been put on their trail by Bart. Except that he shouldn’t be able to find the Winchesters because remember the time Castiel burned angel-masking sigils into their ribs, show? No? Or are we to believe that Rogue Reapers can deus ex machina past all that?

Cut to Castiel, lurking in an alleyway so he can go dumpster diving behind a Chinese restaurant for … pickles. Um, okay. Anyhoo, he is “caught” by a pretty young woman. She happens to live off the alleyway and offers him her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Ten PB&Js says she has ulterior motives, will end up dead by the end of the episode, or both.

Later that night, as it’s raining, she lets him into her apartment and treats his knife wound from the fight with Pharmacist Angel while Castiel mumbles about having stabbed him and unsuccessfully trying to save the universe. Don’t we all let strange, weird homeless guys who are camping out on our doorsteps in during the pouring-down rain? Oh, and she seduces him, too, after giving him a massage. Nope, nothing weird or creepy about that. And her name is ‘April Kelly,’ because it seems the guest stars in this episode are all Irish American.

The dialogue in this scene is especially icky.

Still being trailed by the Rogue Reaper, the brothers talk to Castiel’s second buddy, the one in the stereotypical homeless community under the bridge. He says he thinks Castiel went to Detroit (Lucifer!) after the angel killing. Later, they exit a store with pie, apparently oblivious to the Rogue Reaper trailing them as they talk about going to Detroit.

Not so. He follows them into an alleyway, but they have disappeared (though there’s a cute unscripted rat scampering across the pavement). They reappear armed and slam him against the chainlink fence, Dean wielding the Spork. It was a trap.

They take him to a warehouse set from Highlander and Dean proceeds to torture him with an angel sword and Sam asks questions, Sam playing Bad Cop while Dean plays Mr. Scary. He sings like a birdie. Not only do they find out his name (‘Maurice,’ in case you care), that he’s a Reaper, his mission (to find Castiel), and that Naomi is dead, but they even get the name of his employer, Bartholomew. Despite this, he seems to think he has the upper hand, laughing that they are behind the times. After establishing Maurice the Rogue Reaper has nothing more to add, Dean rewards his stupidity with a sword in the throat.

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Cue a montage of their driving through dairy country in Michigan. After they spend all night and much of the day looking for Castiel, Dean pulls up and starts speaking strangely to Sam. Sam looks confused until Ezekiel gets a clue and takes over. Ezekiel protests he can’t come out in public and that Castiel is warded. Dean suggests he tune into Angel Radio and see what he hears about any other “Reaper for rent” bounty hunters. He can’t track Castiel, but he can track the Reapers because … well, I’m not really sure. Shouldn’t Rogue Reapers be able to mask themselves, if only for self-protection from their former boss?

At April’s house, where their mutual passion has magically ignited candles all over the room, Castiel and April bask in the afterglow and engage in insipid dialogue. Hmm. Let me listen to a little Lesley Gore to get the nasty taste of that out of my head.

Right. Back to business.

So, Castiel is speechless at first, but after some prodding from April, acknowledges that it was all pretty damned amazing. Half-naked Castiel, while pretty, also shows us that his tattoo is a paragraph in Enochian (which looks like Hebrew) on the lower left-hand side of his abdomen. As pillow talk, we get some really heavy-handed foreshadowing about trust and Castiel’s previous sins (Castiel actually utters the episode’s title, “I’m no angel,” at one point). Hey, does anybody else here think April might be up to no good? Never mind. Castiel is too busy having a second round of do-gooder.

The next morning, as she is cutting up blood-red citrus, we find out. Castiel walks in, putting his shirt on, which April has helpfully laundered. Castiel asks her obliquely about what happened to his angel sword, which was in his jacket. He discovers its new location when she turns around, sword in hand, and puts it to his throat. Castiel, you really should learn to read people better.

April ties him to a chair and proceeds to torture him with his angel blade, saying that it can harm humans as much angels (well, yes, dummy, considering it is sharp). She wants to know about the spell Metatron created. He protests he doesn’t know any more than what he said last night. He was cast out, too. When he demands to know why she slept with him if she knew who she was, she claims she did it for fun. Her vessel, April, is “sweet” and welcomed her inside. Ick.

The interrogation dialogue is every bit as insipid as their “romantic” dialogue the night before, with Castiel essentially recapping last season’s Angel Trials plot from last season for the dimwitted April. He even points out that since his grace was “the final ingredient,” killing him might be a bad idea (not to mention that I’m pretty sure Bart would be mighty pissed off if she slaughtered the merchandise, sending his soul back to safety in Heaven). The only new piece of information we get is that April is another Rogue Reaper and claims there are many others out there looking for Castiel. Don’t sweat that, though, since she and Maurice are the only ones we’ll see.

Also, I gotta say that neither of the actors they got for either Reaper was exactly … stellar. Though yay for using actors over the age of thirty, I guess.

The brothers burst in at this moment. April!Reaper actually pauses long enough to stab Castiel in the abdomen because … well, I’m really not sure why. He’s no threat to her. It doesn’t improve her position with the brothers to kill a hostage. It would piss off her employer. And wouldn’t it summon a Reaper who was actually on the job and might rat her out? Overall, it’s just a very dumb move.

She still has time to TK the brothers across the room (even though Dean is mighty pissed to see Castiel stabbed). Ignoring Dean and kicking Sam’s angel sword out of the way, she comments, “This girl is popular with all the boys” (A woman co-wrote this crap? Really?) before laying some smackdown on Sam, who has landed in a closet. This is her final stupid act. Dean is not at all out for the count. Drawing the sword out of Castiel’s gut, he stabs her as she turns around. Blasting out white light like an angel (which Castiel did not do when she stabbed him), she falls down dead. I so don’t miss her.

Dean then rushes to Castiel (despite Sam being knocked out in the closet), but Castiel is dead. Sam gets up, but it’s actually Ezekiel. He sees Dean mourning bitterly over Castiel. Taking pity on Dean, Ezekiel staggers over to the body and resurrects Castiel, to Dean’s surprise and wonder. He then falls down and Sam wakes up, looking groggy and having no idea that Castiel was dead. Castiel also wakes up, confused because he does remember dying.

Dean makes up a lie on the spot that he made a deal with April to heal Castiel if he didn’t kill her. And then killed her. Nobody seems to notice that Dean is claiming to have got the drop on April after she killed Castiel and knocked out Sam.

Later, though, back at the Bunker, Sam is confused about how Dean knew where to find Castiel. Dean claims he looked through Maurice’s pockets, even though Sam never saw him do it.

Meanwhile, Castiel enters, having returned with them and taken refuge in the Bunker. He mentions having slept with April, which prompts a really tone-deaf conversation about sex, STDs and hedonism. His respite is brief, though, when Ezekiel takes over Sam again and insists Castiel is a danger to them all (i.e., himself). When April killed him, she broke his warding spell and other angels can now find him. If Castiel doesn’t leave, Ezekiel will leave Sam, possibly killing him.

It’s an impossible situation for Dean. Later, Castiel is eating a burrito and thanking Dean again for giving him sanctuary. Dean says, grim-faced, that they have to talk and tells him he must leave.

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Review: This is the first entry of the season with the writing team Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming, AKA The Nepotism Duo. While it could have been much worse (yays for some oversight in the writers room), that doesn’t mean it’s very good. It suffers from the usual issues of bad retcons and extremely questionable in-show morality. Plus, the pacing is bad, which means it drags. And we’ve already been through this storyline with Castiel learning how to be human while on the run from other angels … well … more than once.

In short, it might have been better. It could have been worse. But it’s no shocker that it comes off as a bit lazy and self-indulgent all the way round.

Now there’s nothing wrong, per se, with having industry connections. Lord knows we all need them and women breaking in could use a lot more. Anna Fricke and Jeremy Carver are married, but you don’t hear anybody complaining that said marriage means they have made a hash of the Syfy version of Being Human. Kathryn Bigelow and Gale Ann Hurd got their big breaks from marrying James Cameron, but talent and hard work got them the rest of the way. Leaving aside the easy cynicism that it’s not what you know but who you know in Hollyweird, that’s not that big a surprise when you consider how small the industry is, all things considered. My impression is that it’s like any small town – connections and networking are important, that it’s critical for someone reliable to vouch for you. People like to know with whom they’re working.

The problem here, what makes it nepotism, is that better writers have been deemed wanting, and either had their episode orders reduced or been let go, but these two keep chugging along and actually getting more episodes each season to write. And is their response to this to bring their A Game? I mean, they have been writing together since the 80s, so they can’t be bad, right?

Nope. Can’t be bothered. After all, why work hard for your some-thirty-thousand bucks (or more) when you can knock off something quickly and casually that will still sell? And who cares what those cray-cray saltgunners think? Says something about what these two think of their audience, doesn’t it? Not to mention their work ethic and sense of professional pride.

These two writers just aren’t very good and if they haven’t improved from thirty-plus years in the industry, it’s unlikely they will now. Especially since they appear to have no motivation to do so. Hence, nepotism.

Case in point: Let’s look at the egregious canon errors that had the online fandom in a froth when this first came out. This isn’t even retconning because, as some of you may already have noticed, only this writing team ever follows this stuff. The other writers on the staff studiously ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist. That’s a big old red flag of what they think of this team if I ever saw one.

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What am I talking about? Notably, the stuff with the Reapers. You know, the Reapers who previously were mysterious, regimented, totally dedicated to their jobs with the ultimate hardass boss (Death), and, most of all, incorporeal.

Welp, according to Buckner and Ross-Leming, since “Taxi Driver,” not only are they corporeal, but it’s because they are angels, they can go rogue, they have special angel-finding powers (except, of course, when “April” and her partner can’t spot an angel hiding inside a vessel (Samekiel) right in front of them, that is – hello gigantic plothole), and (wait for it) they can take vessels. Needless to say, this not only makes no sense in light of all previous Reaper canon, but it completely ruins all the mystique of Reapers. Kind of like what the same writing team did with ghosts in “Of Grave Importance” (more “canon” the rest of the writing staff has studiously chosen to ignore as late as 9.07). This isn’t interpreting the canon differently. It’s not even a retcon. It’s just plain being too damned lazy to research what the show did before, and doing something that both makes no sense and sucks out loud.

Then there’s the whole “two streams of one angel possessing a woman” thing (which we will see again in 9.09). Okay. Angels have been described in many ways on the show, both as corporeal and as energy forms. One thing they have never – EVER – been described as is white demons. They are not white smoke. They are never gonna be white smoke. Except, apparently, in the scripts of two writers who quite clearly can’t be arsed to get even the basics of this show right when they do stories for it.

There is also a definite WTF?! moment in that scene that even the writers’ doing their own canon doesn’t explain. We know from Anna’s taking back her grace in “Heaven and Hell” that when an angel burns out a human vessel (even if it’s the angel’s own body), it burns it out in a blast of white light. Instead, the woman explodes with a pop (rather like Godstiel killing Raphael, except that Raphael is actually destroyed in that scene; same with Lucifer killing Castiel in “Swan Song”) and the angel simply disappears. Nobody comments on it. Bart doesn’t look the least bit worried that one of his followers not only has failed to secure a vessel again, but has popped like a soap bubble along with her. The angel is neither seen nor heard from again.

And that’s not even getting into the ongoing silliness of how creatures who have lost their wings can continue to hover in the air until they find human vessels. Just what are they hovering on? And how are they not burning out eyeballs, both in the scene where the woman explodes or in any random scene where they are appearing as naked white light (or, in this writing duo’s scripts, white smoke) to people? In Carver’s script for the season finale, or even last week, angels are dangerous to look at and the arrival of one looking for a vessel is impressive indeed. This week? Much limper stuff.

Then there’s all the squicky non-con territory because we can’t have a script by these two without a hefty dose of squick and non-con. These two writers are focused on those two things to a rather disturbing extent. Really, I do not want to know why they do that or what that means for their real-life personalities. I just wish they’d stop.

I mean, of course, the fact that Reapers now taking vessels means that Castiel sleeps with a Reaper while “she” is in the body of a young woman who consented to taking in an angel, but did not consent to having sex with a total stranger off the street. Or, at any rate, Buckner and Ross-Leming make no effort to show us whether she did or not. Why? Because it doesn’t matter to them.

Nor does it matter to them that both of the female vessels (including the would-be vessel of the devout young woman who is blown up) die quite messily and nobody around them gives a damn. Extra bonus points for all the misogynistic crap the Reaper says about April because we are, it seems, supposed to overlook it’s misogynistic because it’s being spoken by a “woman” and half the script is being written by a woman. I don’t buy that, especially since some of the most sexist and misogynistic writers on this show have been women. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s a little creepy. Then again, the CW has a lot of that. So does genre TV right now, overall.

It didn’t help that I found myself not caring in the least whether April bought the farm or not (and actually cheered when Dean stabbed her) because she was so damned obnoxious, whether she was being Castiel’s version of Patchouli or showing her true colors, as it were. I actively disliked her. Plus, hey, it meant Dean got two Reaper kills. This made Dean look badass and the sooner all of these canon-blasting “Rogue Reapers” are killed off, never to be seen or heard from again, the better.

Adding to the unreality that is April (hard to feel for a character you only hear about in passing), all of the Reaper’s dialogue is quite vague about the timeline for her (and this goes for the male Reaper, too; he’s just far less developed). Just when, exactly, did April say yes to a Reaper? Why in God’s name would she? The Reaper makes it sound as though it took April as a vessel quite recently – say, when the angels fell. But this brings up another wrinkle – if the angels lost their wings, and Reapers are angels, haven’t Reapers lost their wings, too? Aren’t they now all rogue? And if they aren’t angels, why do they bleed white light when they die?

So, why are people still dying and (to all intents and purposes) going to the other side? Why hasn’t Death come down and intervened to set things right? Why is Fate still grinding through the motions if Atropos and her sisters are now wingless? Why, for that matter, are people still falling in love when Cupids have fallen? Shouldn’t the entire supernatural workings on earth be out of whack? Instead, this writing duo acts as if angels are just white-smoke demons when nothing could be further from the truth.

This is not even getting into the fact that if Reapers are still on the job, you would think that the very last thing April!Reaper would want to do is kill any human, including Castiel. If she does so, that person’s not-Rogue Reaper will appear and surely, the jig will be up for the rogue, yes?

Oh, I’m sorry, writers, did that enormous plothole not occur to you?

In fact, I am finding it increasingly hard to believe that no one in the general world who is not a religious fanatic is noticing that strange beings have arrived and are massacring each other. At the very least, law enforcement ought to be puzzled by all the sudden religiously motivated mass hate crimes.

In short, with this one retcon full of stupid, Buckner and Ross-Leming expose all sorts of holes in the premise of fallen angels that Carver either didn’t plan to explore or wasn’t yet ready to explore. And you can bet nobody will be going there now.

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That is not even getting into the part where the woman in the church who still has faith in angels (No, dumbasses, Christians ultimately have faith in God, who definitely exists on this show and has been known to help humans out) gets unknowingly schooled by a cynical Castiel. This scene is breathtakingly offensive and sounds more like a screed by Richard Dawkins than writing for a show in which God does exist. Talk about smug.

That said, I’m quite sure I was supposed to believe that Dean was an awful, evil misogynist for killing puir, widdle April. Yeah, not so much, show. Would have been nice to see some more exploration of Torturer Dean coming out to play rather than Reaper April’s tedious “seduction” of Castiel, who resembled nothing more than some dippy character on a Ziggy greeting card in those scenes. Plus, wow, I don’t spend a lot of time sweating that sort of thing, but Castiel sure got tanned all over awfully fast since his fall to earth.

This is not even getting into all the consent issues concerning Castiel and his old vessel, Jimmy. I’m guessing that Jimmy is no longer with us in the sense that he is in Heaven or has ceased to exist or … something. But if we’re going to have Castiel knocking boots while in Jimmy’s old body, or some facsimile of it, gee, writers, could you at least clear that up with a little exposition here or there? Ick.

The one thing I can buy is that Castiel as a human doesn’t have all of the memories he previously had from Jimmy. Angels get their knowledge of earth from their vessels, but it makes physiological sense that Castiel would be unable to have this kind of interface with Jimmy’s memories in his own human brain and body. So, he’d have to relearn everything.

This is also one of those stories where someone is being tortured quite painfully and still mocks his torturers, making all kinds of snarky cracks that piss them off and encourage them to hurt him even more. In fact, Maurice even goads Dean into killing him, all while spilling his guts in appropriately infodumpy fashion and not realizing he’s giving the brothers exactly what they want. Because hey, didn’t you know? That’s always happens in real life. It’s not a Hollywood cliche straight out of a bad WWII movie at all.

I found Dean’s response to Castiel’s death interesting, particularly since most of the episode was actually about Castiel, yet it was all leading up to Dean’s fateful decision near the end. Too bad this major plot point is only addressed with seven minutes left on the clock, after some thirty-five minutes of meandering “Let’s follow Castiel being human” story.

Admittedly, the initial emotional weight of this decision had a lot to do with Jensen Ackles’ acting. He really sold that scene in a way that the writing up to that point did not deserve. I also found it curious that so many people saw Samekiel’s healing of Castiel as a deus ex machina moment rather than looking at it from deeper point of view of motive.

By this, I mean that Ezekiel (yes, I know, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves in episodes) doesn’t have to heal Castiel. As a matter of fact, it really is not in his best interests to do so. Some fans have accused Dean of using Ezekiel as a go-to healing angel, but that’s not what happens in this episode. In fact, Dean doesn’t ask Ezekiel to heal Castiel at all. He’s not even aware Ezekiel is in the driver’s seat until Ezekiel chooses to heal Castiel on his own. And Ezekiel’s motivation? That Dean is standing there, crying over Castiel’s dead body. That’s what he sees when he “wakes up” inside Sam.

Now, whom is Ezekiel trying to impress here? It does seem he is trying to impress somebody that he is a good angel. Is it Dean or Castiel? The deal they made in the season premiere, and the fact that Ezekiel then forces Dean to drive Castiel out of the Bunker at the end of this very same episode (rather like driving Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden), indicates very strongly that it’s Dean. But why? Ezekiel could easily have stayed dormant, left Castiel dead (since Castiel is very dangerous to Ezekiel), and Dean would not have been the wiser. It’s as if Ezekiel wanted to impress Dean, to take the opportunity to save Castiel’s life to show Dean he is a good guy. Which is more than a little odd, when you consider that Ezekiel already has what he wants, Sam as a vessel, unless you count the so-far-forgotten deal between him and Dean – i.e., the favor Dean owes him.

Bartholomew and his followers are colossally underwhelming. Bart’s a low-rent Dick Roman, who wasn’t the most exciting (or original) villain the show had in the first place. It’s the usual motivation – world domination through snazzy suits, blahblahblah. Nothing new to see here. The Reaper Dean tortured infodumped a bit about Bart being a former disciple of Naomi, but Bart is no Naomi. Naomi was genuinely scary. Bart is just a future villain whom Dean will ice, should Bart live that long. Even the spoof of televangelists felt extremely tired, with an air of been-there-done-that-about-thirty-years-ago. It was fresh and funny when Miami Vice did it, but that was back in the 80s.

And the elaborate killing of the priests in the teaser made no sense whatsoever. It was basically done just for the gore, since the angels could as easily have gotten the info about Castiel’s whereabouts out of the priests another way or from someone else. As they did later on. Note the young woman who interrogates the priests. She will show up in the next Buckner and Ross-Leming crapfest, 9.09, albeit not for very long.

Finally, the stuff with Castiel wending his way through Cliche Homeless Village in various towns was … eh … painfully boring and not the least bit compelling or realistic. It’s gotta be said. I felt as if I were watching some pretentious Band Aid music video. Not a shock, mind you, considering how out of touch these writers are in so many other ways, but that doesn’t mean I found it fascinating. Of more interest was the fact that Castiel is still able to kill an angel in a fight, despite being human now. This seemed paired up with Dean killing the two Reapers, even staring unblinking into April’s death light. Nobody else was able to do this who was a human. Racking up quite the body count, there, boys. Let’s hope the show is going somewhere with it.

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Fun lines:

Sam [reading the ingredients on a slice of store pie]: Look at all these chemicals! Do you even read the label?
Dean [grabs the pie from Sam]: No, I read, “Pie.” The rest is just “blah, blah, blah.”

Castiel: You lied [to April].
Dean: I did … I do that.

Dean [to Sam]: I don’t see half the nerdy stuff you do. Doesn’t mean you don’t do nerdy stuff.

Castiel [about the Bunker]: I am really enjoying this place. Plentiful food, good water pressure, things I never considered before. There really is a lot to being human, isn’t there?
Dean: It ain’t all burritos and strippers, my friend.

Next Week: Charlie returns for a Wizard of Oz spoof, just in time to promote the movie’s reissue in 3D.

You can watch (or download) this episode, in standard or HD definition, on Amazon.com.

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About Paula R. Stiles

Paula is not at all paranoid about government conspiracies after six years in EMS, two years in Africa for the Peace Corps, a few summers with the Park Service, and ten years studying the Knights Templar. She's seen governments in action. They couldn't cover up a toy picnic table, let alone evidence of alien visitation. Writes about science for fun, history for money, and zombies for the company. You can read her sober-as-a-judge book about Templars in medieval Spain, Templar Convivencia, on Amazon. You can find her homepage at: http://thesnowleopard.net.

Paula R. StilesColumn: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.03: I’m No Angel