"Supernatural" is notorious for not only breaking the fourth wall, but demolishing it with a sledgehammer and a wicked smile. This week's episode, the beginning of the end of season 9, follows in that same tradition using the uber-villain Metatron as the narrator, and treating his manipulations like the calculated whims of a writer.
Grab your favorite ascot and let's dive in, shall we?
Welcome Back, Cas!
Castiel's trenchcoat is a sight for sore eyes. He's still bravely moving trying to help all the angels he can with his stolen grace that has rendered him unable to fly. A warbling siren sends him to a warehouse littered with bodies and burned out angel wings. A strange sigil on the wall pulses with light before going dark. There is one survivor: a woman named Hannah and she's grotesquely injured. She and her friends were lured there by the bizarre beacon that "sounded like Heaven." An angel arrived who we know was Gadreel and made them a promise: Fight against Metatron and eventually return to Heaven.
Those who refused were slaughtered. Castiel graciously heals her, which I wondered why he didn't do it 10 minutes ago instead of letting her suffer half-blind through her story. But now she has both eyes to gaze at him Sad Puppy style and ask "Are you going to lead us against Metatron?" with desperate hope.
That is Castiel’s quandary for the most of the episode and the back-half of the season. Castiel has tried to lead the angels to better times, to show them their power and how to make good choices, but he has failed every time, so he refuses.
Metatron's puppeteering become more elaborate. Castiel's television mysteriously turns itself on to play "Casa Erotica 14." At first I thought flickers were due to Castiel's malfunctioning grace, but as the well-lit and styled porno will shows, it's actually The Second Coming Of Gabriel aka The Trickster aka the archangel who was massacred by Lucifer in Season 5's "Hammer Of The Gods." "You can't take the trick out of The Trickster," Gabriel promises before dropping a lot of exposition.
The aptly named angel faked his death during the battle of Lucifer and went to hide in a comfy corner of Heaven where he too was ejected by Metatron and injured in the fall, so he hid on earth. Then someone blew the famed Horn of Gabriel. The tool designed to unite angels was now leading them to their doom. So he figured it was time to stop hiding and fight.
Gabriel is cleverly played by Richard Speight Jr. The snark and the knee-slapping one-liners are there but he seems flatter than before, the jokes more forced, almost like a caricature of the real thing. Or really bad writing.
It is the greatest of indignities that archangels are riding in a hoopty to meet up with Sam and Dean. Gabriel obtusely points out that they need gas. Even more strangely a group of Metatron's goons are right behind them. Gabriel all but grabs Castiel's lapels and confesses soap-opera style. He has more archangel juice than he was letting on. He will protect Castiel only if he promises to lead the faction of angels against Metatron; it's her dying wish. Castiel maintains that he's not a leader. Gabriel is serious and convincing. But the devil's in the details. He had torn his trenchcoat at the top of the show (a great metaphor for his waning grace) only now it wasn't there. The jig is up! When confronted, Gabriel confesses that he was playing a part. He won't even admit to being officially dead. See ya in season 10, Gabriel!
The next instant Castiel is back in Metatron's mess-perpiece theater, bound and gagged. Metatron drones on and on about stories and how important they are, and downloads Castiel on a millennia of books, movies and TV shows he's ever seen. So now Castiel will always get that reference. Captain America and your trulys would love that download. I still haven't read "The Great Gatsby."
Amongst Metatron's prattling, there is a bottom line: Castiel is the villain. Metatron wants him to unite all of his naysayers so he can slaughter them all and delight while doing it. Castiel refuses even when Metatron offers him unlimited grace.