The worst-kept secret of this episode is Castiel's mysterious, stupefying and...lackluster return. He flutters into the bathroom, just as dirty as ever, and that's that. No tests, no hugs. "I remember endlessly running and hiding from Leviathan and then I was on the side of the road in Illinois and that was it," he explains. He was so weak that he couldn't "teleport" to the Winchesters, but something worked, so what Dean was seeing was probably Castiel's attempts to return to him. He’s back in his starched trench coat faster than you can realize how convenient it is that he arrived as he immediately identified the victims of would-be prophets as all angels “instinctively know them.”
And this is where the episode loses its steam for me. I have never tried to hide my on-and-off indifference to Cas or that I admired Sera Gamble for killing off his character. Before you type angry comment, let me explain: Castiel had served his purpose, so it made sense for him to die from a writing standpoint. However, Cas and his portrayer Misha Collins are fan favorites and pretty cute, so he's understandably back. Also, with the main storyline being about God's word, it actually makes sense that he's back. It would be also be a happy reunion of Team Free Will if Dean hadn’t suddenly transformed into this drippy, woe-is-me, ball of angst. That's Sam's job! Their scenes feel like a time-warp back to Ackles' stint on "Days Of Our Lives." As well-acted as their scenes are, with Collins maintaining his ethereal power and Dean raging against the machine, it feels melodramatic to comedic proportions, especially with their rumbly baritones. Dean Winchester should know that bad things happens, and you have to feel it, bury it and move on.
Back at the mothership, Crowley is torturing Kevin now. He first tries to appeal to his humanity, squishing the Patriotic Lady like a water balloon in front of him. When that doesn't work, he cuts off his finger. Kevin instantly breaks. You have to admire him, Crowley would have had me at the exploding lady. Just how much and how truthful Kevin is in his translations, we'll never know. He does mention to Crowley that there's a way to seal the gate to hell permanently, and that Metatron, the angel who carved the tablets, left a note at the end, stating there are even more tablets, presumably one for every type of supernatural creature. That's Truth Bomb #2.
Outside, Sam, Dean and Crowley sneak into the warehouse, leaving Mama Tran captive in her own car. It seems odd that they are laboring in stealth mode considering they have a full-on angel with him, who has smited (smote?) entire rooms of demons. But after offing one demon, Cas wobbles, apparently not at full-strength, so that's why. While Sammy demon-bombs a few henchman into shadows of ash and saves the other would-be prophets, Cas and Dean search for Kevin. Dean can't pick the lock to enter the room, so Cas flutters inside for a biblical angel v. demon cage match. They both brandish their angel blades. Castiel basically wins in a feat of epic puffery. His pushes out his power and glows with Heaven's awesome wrath, whipping out his black wings for a frightening finale, and smashes the tablet in two pieces. Crowley vanishes with one half, but he can't complete the meal with half of a recipe he can't read. When Castiel's batteries recharge, Kevin will get his pinky back. The Winchesters chalk it up as a win.
Near the end of the episode, Dean is once again waxing emo about all of the people he couldn't save and how horrible he feels and how Stefano DiMera just won’t die: "I don't need to feel like hell for failing you like I've failed every other God forsaken thing that I've ever cared about." Castiel drops Truth Bomb #3. Dean remembered "the heat and the stink and the pain" the way he needed to remember, and Castiel has decided shows him to capital-T Truth. In Purgatory, they fought leviathan at the edge of the portal in a pretty badass sequence (until Dean stepped over it like he was getting into a bathtub. It's a camptastic effect that's reminiscent of the Shatner era of "Star Trek”). Wind whipping, portal closing, he reached back for Castiel, who grabbed his hand and then...let it go. "After the things I did on earth and in Heaven, I needed to do penance. You can't save everyone, my friend." I forgot how sweet Castiel can be, and now he's looking at Dean with those glittering blue eyes. Everyone on "Supernatural," especially those who try to do good (i.e, Jo and Ellen, Gabriel, Balthazar…) are punished in unspeakably brutal ways, and it seemed that Castiel got off a little too easy. The knowledge that he was remorseful enough to punish himself, that he understood what he did and why and didn't retreat into an angelic coma or madness, makes me feel like there's still profound good in him, and that he might finally stop using people as pawns in his own agenda and be able to embrace his own free wil...
CRAP! One blink and Castiel is in Heaven…or at least its administrative offices. Behind the desk is an angel named Naomi. She explains to Cas that her garrison is responsible for pulling him out of Purgatory, and his repayment is to report in on the Winchesters’ activities. Heaven, depleted from civil wars and angels going rogue, must be too busy to do it themselves even though that's what they did for eons. Castiel refuses, of course, and Naomi just smiles and proceeds with a gentility that is icily unnerving. So Castiel is a pawn again, whether he knows it or not, and I am suddenly more intrigued with this season than I have been since the premiere. Why would Heaven want to stay apprised of the Winchesters' hunts without actually intervening? Hmm.
"A Little Slice of Kevin" was an episode that tried to be bigger than the story allowed, but it still made bold strides.
Grade: From A to 5, "Lazarus Rising" to "Family Remains," this episode was a bombastic B and an A for effort.
What did you think of this episode? Were you excited about Castiel's turn? Did you enjoy all of the gore? Was the use of "The Animals" song the best use of music this season? Hit up the comments section.
"Supernatural" won't be back until Nov. 28, and when it returns things will be very Looney....get it?