Move aside standalone episodes! The eighth season of Supernatural is coming down the home stretch and your services are no longer needed. “The Great Escapist” set the table for May 15’s finale by moving the important chess pieces to pre-finale positions. Kevin is back with Sam and Dean along with Castiel, who likely has a new ally in angel-scribe turned hermit Metatron. Crowley has the angel tablet and some nice facial burns following Kevin’s rescue by Metatron. Naomi will be out for Castiel’s head after his escape. All in all, this wasn’t the most exciting episode but it did set us up for one hell of a finale (pun intended). I’ve said before that Season 8 has been a marked improvement over Seasons 6 and 7 and as we head into the finale I feel even better about that assertion. Closing the gates of Hell would be a massive turning point for this series. The same couldn’t be said about Castiel as God and the Leviathans.
Drunk Sam returns in the form of Sick Sam.
Poor Sam had a rough go of it this week. We’re starting to see his body break down as the third trial nears and it makes sense – weakening the person undertaking the trials would prove them truly worthy if they survived until the end. Something tells me Sam might be one of the few people on Earth who could complete these trials given the trauma his body endured. He’s been fed demon blood (and willingly drank gallons of the stuff), hosted Lucifer, gone a year without his soul and then had Lucifer rattling around in his head for an unhealthy amount of time. Sam is a survivor, although I think that coming back from these trials will be something that takes longer than a couple episodes.
A hilarious consequence of Sam’s debilitating condition was the opening of his mind to memories from his early childhood, including the hilarious story of Dean riding a “farty donkey” down into the Grand Canyon. Sam also remembered thinking as a baby that he could never go on a quest like the Knights of the Round Table because he wasn’t clean. Did Sam know even at that age that he was tainted with demon blood? I think so. Sam insists to Dean that the trials are purifying him, which I took to mean that they’re cleansing his body of demon blood. Given Metatron’s comment about Sam resonating with the creator of the tablet, part of me wonders if the trials aren’t turning Sam into an angel. While that would throw a monkey wrench into the show’s mythology, Dean’s reaction would make some delicious drama. Aside from Castiel, the brothers despise angels but Dean has a particular hatred for God’s “flying monkeys.” Assuming for a second that Sam did turn into an angel, which would Dean loathe more: demonic Sam or angelic Sam?
Crowley should have directed this episode.
We catch up with Kevin in the pre-credits teaser and his predicament had me confused. Once it was revealed that Crowley was using Sam and Dean imposters, I was still confused: since when can demons shape shift just by walking through some blue force field?! Talk about retroactive continuity! (Side note: I also rolled my eyes when Crowley walked in with an angel-killing gun, so I’m glad they explained that in a satisfactory way.) While the high-tech surveillance on Kevin was amusing – I love that demons need to use technology like computers and cell phones – Crowley’s most important scene was when Ion alerted him of Castiel’s capture by Naomi. (Second side note: I’d like to know what it cost to have an angel on the payroll.) Naomi wimped out and vanished as Crowley fired an angel-blade bullet, giving Crowley the chance to shoot Castiel and the DIG INTO HIS STOMACH to retrieve the angel tablet. Sorry for the caps lock but that was sick.
After Crowley leaves to deal with Kevin trapping his Sam and Dean imposters in a devil’s trap, Castiel pulls the bullet from his stomach and shoves it into Ion’s eye because he’s a badass warrior angel. I may not have agreed with Castiel’s hiding place for the tablet but it makes sense given the new information that we learned about its ability to break Naomi’s hold on Castiel and keep him hidden. With all the clarification and mythology-expanding we received in this episode, it’s no surprise Ben Edlund was called in to write it. He’s penned some of the most crucial episodes of the series, and when it comes to tying up some loose ends, this episode was critical as we head toward the finale.
God stepped out for some cigarettes and never came home.
I’ve always been fascinated with the show’s insistence on an absent God. I know that Sam and Dean were supposed to meet God in the fifth season but that got changed last minute to the angel Joshua. Are the writers scared to tackle God as a character? Are they afraid the budget would be too restrictive for God-sized special effects? Maybe they feel God’s presence on the show would eliminate any chance for conflict since God could just wipe out demons and monsters in the blink of an eye. My guess is it’s a combination of several factors, including the nice parallel God’s absence sets up between the Winchesters and Castiel, all three of whom are now fatherless. Not only that, God’s absence creates symmetry between Heaven and Hell, which is being run by lesser demons like Crowley in Lucifer’s absence the same way Naomi and others are running Heaven in God’s absence.
With the gates of Hell on the brink of being closed and Castiel returning as a series regular next season, it looks like we’re headed toward a Heaven-centric Season 9. Now that he’s rescued Kevin, I think Metatron will come out of hiding and help Castiel settle things in Heaven. As the scribe of God Metatron is the only angel who truly knows what God intended Heaven, Hell and Earth to be. Restoring Heaven to what God intended it to be would give Castiel the kind of pure purpose he’d need to get back on the battlefield. We’ve seen glimpses of it this season, but as the final battles with Crowley and Naomi approach, badass warrior Castiel needs to make a return appearance. The fates of Heaven and Hell depend on it.
Line of the week
Sam: “You rode a farty donkey.”
Next week on Supernatural...
Alaina Huffman gets dug up from beneath that warehouse!