"Stairway to Heaven" has been a polarizing episode. Written by Andrew Dabb and directed by regular Guy Norman Bee, it takes us along the deeper, darker dangerous path Dean is going on. This was an excellent episode, with action, plot development (a few episodes late but that's how "Supernatural" does it) and humor. It was pre-empted by baseball for us in New York. I had to find a copy online to watch on my (much) smaller monitor. But them's the breaks.
Two reasons fans are raging out over this episode:
1) It kills yet another female character from the past. I know this show is sexist to the point of misogyny. But this is too damn much, okay? Why not call the bunker the He-Man Wimmin Haters Club?
2) "Our Dean isn't our Deeeeeeeen anymore! He's so not nice! I want my Dean back!"
Please. The whole point of this arc is that Dean isn't Dean any more. Several metas I've read--I suffer for my art--talk about Dean being the audience's POV and the show's emotional center. And now that's gone AND SHOW IS BROKEN!
It's called 'character development'. It's about time Dean got some of his own. It's fun, and it gives Jensen Ackles a chance to use his acting chops for something other than moping and loud self-pity.
THEN: Tessa the reaper, First Blade, killing Abbadon, etc.
NOW: An uptight suburban mom is giving instructions to a poor schlub wearing a cap with two ice cream cones on it precisely how many blueberries she wants on her no-fat, no-sugar, no-flavor dessert. Her little boy wants the banana split a little girl is having. Mom goes huffily to little girl and demands to know where her parents are (no doubt to give them a lecture on the devil white sugar). The little girl is an angel and tells her to get lost. Then, a shirtless man in a coat walks in, yanks it open to reveal a sigil, she screams, and the entire ice parlor is blasted apart by white light.
It is so wrong in so many ways that I love it.
Dean wakes up Sam with blaring rock music. Sam's instinct is pulling a gun out from under his pillow and pointing it at Dean. "Nice reflexes. Better hair," Dean observes. That's a funny line, but there's such a thing as too much meta at the wrong time.
They got in two hours earlier. Dean has clearly spent the intervening time caressing and doing god knows what with the First Blade. Cas called in a case and there's something in MO, but he couldn't talk about it over the phone. Sam asks why.
Dean: Because he's a weird guy, okay? He's a weird...dorky little guy. But he happens to have an army of angels and if we're going after Metatron, they might be useful.
Heh. However, Dean wants to take FB---no, not Facebook, the First Blade. Come to think of it, Dean wouldn't have any friends on Facebook. Everyone's too scared of him. ANYWAY, Sam talks him into leaving the FB at home. That's pretty much everything Sam has to do in this episode. Jensen Ackles spoke recently of how Dean during the Soulless Sam time was "a whiny little bitch". The writers don't seem to know what to do with Sam now that Dean is the problem. So he does some exposition, and follows Dean and Cas around. And refuses to acknowledge that Dean has gone full psycho. Even after watching his brother kill Abbadon. In what way was that normal?
Sam wonders, "da fuq?" Aaaand that's pretty much it for the next 40 minutes.
They head to Dixon, Missouri and the nuked ice cream parlor. Castiel is there before them. Can I just say how delighted I am whenever Cas plays agent? He's told the police he's waiting for his partners, "Spears" and "Aguilera". Because Cas knows that the Winchesters choose the names of "popular musicians."
Short version: the angel who nuked the place is a suicide bomber for Castiel. Stick a knife into the right sigils in your chest, whammo! Throughout the episode, I was pretty sure that the suicide bombers were working for Castiel, because he has lied so much to the Winchesters about he's done. And it's hard to tell with Cas. He's like normal Dean, Cas gets mopey when he's lying. He seems mopey.
Meanwhile, Metatron is trying on a trenchcoat, striking poses in a mirror. Hee. He looks pretty cute in a trenchcoat.
What the well-dressed angel is wearing
Gadreel knocks. "Just a second!" Metatron barks, pulling off the coat. Gadreel enters. "I waited one second." Metatron is pissed--he's losing to Castiel. He wrote him in to the part of leader, but "I didn't know he'd be good at it." Gadreel is pissed, because his boss had him followed to his meeting with Castiel.
Wow, Gadreel has a great bitchface!
Metatron can't understand the "Castiel lovefest. I'm loveable." Aaaaaaw, poor Metatron. He's practically God and nobody thinks he's cool. Maybe you should have another angel fix those teeth, dude. However, he has a plan. And it doesn't involve wearing the trenchcoat. He is meeting with Tyrus, who heads a flock of unaffiliated angels.
Sam, Dean and Cas enter Cheap James Bond Imitation Angel Central, with the lights and computer screens and all kinds of stuff. Cas's lieutenant, Hannah, tells him that "Josiah" wasn't present at roll call.
Sam: Hold up...roll call?
Cas: They like to hear me say their names.
Dean: I know a couple women like that.
A poor bastard teenager's cell phone is produced. The video on it shows the suicide bomber plunging a blade into his chest, shouting, "I do this for Castiel!"
Crickets. Cas looks at everyone, everyone looks back. When he says it wasn't his doing, Dean blows up:
"What you've got here is a friggin' cult. Last time you had this kind of juice, you killed angels and humans and lied to Sam and me about it the whole time."
All of the angels do a collective "that doesn't sound good". Sam herds Dean and Cas into the office and closes the door. Stuff goes on that confuses me. It ends with Dean making Cas go with Sam to find somebody. In "Coloradaa" as Cas says it. Smart choice, Sam. Leave your insane brother to interrogate the angels. I'll do one plot line at a time.
They take Cas's pimpmobile. Because it gives him more authority in the scene, Sam is driving.
"Sam, there is something wrong with your brother." "No big."
They find this week's abandoned warehouse, but they can't get in. First Sam tries to break open the door. Cas sweeps him aside. "I got this." He crashes into the door. Nothing. "I don't got this." At night fall, they get in. Castiel says it feels like Heaven/ There's a closed door with unearthly light pouring through it. But Sam reads something on the wall (forgive me, I've only seen the first Indiana Jones film and that was when it came out) and two big saw blades come swinging out of the walls, cutting back and forth. If Sam had been standing, it would have cut through his knees. They go to the door, Cas swings it open:
Confetti! It's a parade! (sorry)
"The hell?" Cas mutters. Have we ever heard him say that? He's getting more human by the episode...uh-oh...Confused, they look around, and there's a deep-fried angel. A trap that released holy oil and set it on the fire is over the door.
This angel works a second job on The Walking Dead
The angel is still alive. Metatron has promised to send him home. Bzuh? Why is he there, then? Was he the one who set the trap, but the ladder slipped? When Cas starts to heal him, the angel says he'd rather die. When he looks into Castiel's eyes, he doesn't see an angel any more. Uh-oh. Then his burned up eyes get even more gross and he dies. By now it's unclear who's doing what, Castiel or Metatron.
Back at Cheap James Bond Imitation Angel Central, Dean is interrogating an angel named "Flagstaff." She works at the hospital nearby, performing minor miracles. She goes on a rant about Dean being a killer, not a hero, blood on his hands, and "I HATE men like you!" What? Since when do angels have enough gender to hate men or women?
Dean up-ends the table, pinning her with the angel knife, hissing, "Honey, there ain't any men like me!" JESUS I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!
"Please! I'm not as important as the other woman you're going to kill!"
I understand they need to have Dean whacking out, but does that have to be the set-up? Why doesn't he say, "Here's my killer penis, bitch!" It amounts to the same thing. Dean is hauled the hell out of there. Later, Dean finds Tessa lurking around a high school production of "Jesus Christ Superstar", about to go in and blow herself up. He takes her back to Cheap James Bond Imitation Angel Central. Before he interrogates her, the angels gang up on him and Hannah demands his angel blade.
Does anyone else think the blades look like they're made out of aluminum?
The whole reaper/angel/rogue reaper thing sticks in my craw, partly because I want Death to show up and make them all toe the line. Death's off eating pizza rolls. If he showed up, he'd reap everybody. But I digress. Tessa has lost it, listening to all of the trapped souls wailing. Reaping is her job, and she can't do it. Dean takes out the First Blade--of course he had it with him. She impales herself on it, whispering, "thank you."
Tessa knows she's there because an important female character has to be killed.
The door swings open and the angels stare in. Oh, dear.
During all of this, Metatron and Gadreel meet Tyrus in a bowling alley. He's not interested in going back to Heaven. He likes earth. "Smell that," he says. "Old shoes and alcoholism?" asks Gadreel. "Authenticity!" Nice call-back to Sam stepping in horseshit in "Frontierland"! Tyrus does a tell ya what I'm gonna do, and challenges Metatron to a bowling match.
Titus prays to the gods of the CW that his character is brought back. Not happening, bro.
Metatron loses the match. Another suicide bomber shows up and kills Tyrus, but Metatron and Gadreel are unharmed.
The angels have tied up Dean and put duct tape over his mouth, which looks pretty damn funny. Before Sam can give Dean Full Metal Bitchface, Hannah calls Cas into the main room of Cheap James Bond Imitation Angel Central. Metatron is Skyping a call, and he's on all the monitors.
Metatron tells them that Tyrus is dead, his followers joining Metatron's army. Castiel charges Metatron with deception that caused The Fall. Metatron says something to the effect of 'he had to do it to make them a family again' . He offers a one-time deal: amnesty for any angel who joins him and returns to Heaven with him as their God. They clearly need to follow someone; they don't know what to do with free will. But it shouldn't be Castiel because not only does Castiel send angels out to die, he stole his grace and he's burning out. When the grace is gone, so is he.
Metatron: I'm not the best, but I'm the best you got. The only thing Cas cares about is himself and the Hardy Boys.
All the angels turn around and stare at Cas, who looks like he's wet himself. The "well, none of it's true, the stolen grace thing, yeah, but" doesn't go over. The angels grab Dean and tell Cas it's Dean or them. I thought that Cas might actually try to kill Dean and there being a big rebound from the MOC. But no. They gaze into each other's eyes and Cas can't do it.
Hannah gets the heck out of there before Dean kills more women
The angels were pretty shaken up by what Dean said earlier, and they all know Cas was God once. Look how that turned out. So they all file quietly out of the Cheap James Bond Imitation Angel Central, and that's the last time we'll have to look at this lousy set.
It seems Metatron brainwashed Castiel's new recruits into believing that killing themselves and others was what their leader wanted. Oh, you crafty little God manque.
"I'm practicing my MWUAAHAAAHAA for the finale!"
Metatron is all happy happy happy, practically dancing for joy that all of those numbnut angels fell for his blarney. Gadreel listens to Metatron prattle on about how he "always wins", obviously wondering: this guy lived in one room for centuries, when he did ever get to play board games?
"You really are a jerk-off, you know that?"
Back at the bunker, the following conversation between the Winchesters ensues:
Dean: Yeah. I lied. But you were being an infant.
Sam: Wow. Even for you that apology sucked.
Dean: I'm not apologizing. I'm telling you how it's gonna be. The Blade is the only thing that can kill Metatron and I'm the only one who can use it. So, from here on out, I'm calling the shots. Until I drive that Blade into that douchebag's heart, we are not a team. This is a dictatorship. You don't have to like it, but that's how it's gonna be.
Do NOT mess with the Stabby Eyes!
Sam storms off. Dean sits with Cas. They talk about Cas's stolen grace and have a nice moment about Team Free Will being re-established. But then Sam comes in, yelling, "Guys!" And waddya know, in walks Gadreel. Since everyone in the free world has been in the bunker by now, I don't care about the warding. It's obviously past its sell-by date.
Gadreel wants to talk peace. He's had it with Metatron. Now, here I wanted Sam to jump in and yell, "You rode me like a death pony, asshole!" But:
"I'll be right over here, doing...something, I dunno."
Dean puts out his left hand, Gadreel grasps it, and then HOLY CRAP! Dean slices Gadreel across the chest.
That's gotta hurt.
Sam and Cas hold Dean back from his intended victim. Dean ROARS like a frenzied animal. And whoo-boy, that is SCARY.
I am so glad they went there. 90% of the time other characters get to go over the top, and now the show isn't afraid to have Dean rocket out of his rocker! It's so cool!
Quite a few fans have called this version of Dean "all kinds of hot" when he gets violent and stabby, which for me, doesn't align with all of the "rape culture" griping. As long as it's metaphysical rape, we can get pissed about "agency" and "consent". But let one of the Winchesters become a soulless monster, we get all hot and bothered. Those Winchesters would enjoy rape, agency and consent be damned. Anyone else get cognitive dissonance here?
I don't find him hot, I find him scary, and that's fun! Dean's a monster, and I want him to go full beyond redemption dark side.
Next week, the finale! Maybe they'll give Sam something to do besides maybe/maybe not being killed.