Spoilers ahead for the October 15 episode of Supernatural, called "Gimme Shelter."
The countdown to the series finale of Supernatural continued with the latest episode, called "Gimme Shelter." Unlike last week's lighter installment with Mrs. Butters bringing the holidays to the Men of Letters bunker, "Gimme Shelter" was heavy on the mythology and set the stage for a dramatic final five episodes. Supernatural actor Matt Cohen stepped behind the camera to direct "Gimme Shelter," and the episode left fans with a whole lot to talk about as Season 15 carries on. He broke down the episode in a chat with CinemaBlend.
In "Gimme Shelter," Team Free Will 2.0 split up into two groups, with the Winchesters driving east to try and find Amara while Castiel and Jack chased a killer who wasn't supernatural at all. By the end of the hour, Dean may have convinced Amara to help their cause, although he didn't tell her the whole story. As for Cas, he struggled with "acceptance" throughout the episode as he tried to look at life and faith through the eyes of an unconventional pastor, only to learn Jack's devastating secret: Billie's spell means Jack has to die to kill God and Amara.
Considering the deal Cas made when Jack died for the first time back in Season 14, it's probably a safe bet that any acceptance he accomplished in the episode won't extend to Jack's fate if he can help it! Matt Cohen spoke with CinemaBlend about his directorial debut with "Gimme Shelter," and he broke down the contrasting dynamics for Castiel in the episode, ranging from Dean to the pastor to Jack:
Well, the story starts out and you kind of understand that Cas is being sent on a mission so Dean can go on another mission with his brother. And there was no like, you know, Cas really knows who God is, in his world anyways, and so does Jack. So I wanted Cas to digest it in front of the camera, kind of the way the other people were dealing with God. So when he comes in contact with the pastor, the pastor's daughter, and these other people at our soup kitchen, he's witnessing the other takes on God and how other people feel. And I think it kind of reflects this country right now, you know, there's a lot of truths out there. But it seems we only live in our own truth, and everybody else's truth that's different from our truth is wrong. And so I wanted to explore that a little bit and see if there was any acceptance in that with Cas and Jack.
Castiel's feelings about God were pretty clear in his conversation with the pastor, when he said that "God just doesn't care." In contrast, the pastor felt the important thing was for everybody to take care of each other. The faith-based group didn't have a whole lot of rules other than wanting to do the right thing (which unfortunately resulted in the pastor's daughter thinking she needed to kill certain people), but it put Cas in a very different situation with humans than he's used to.
Thanks to the group's meeting, Castiel shared his regrets about the "pretty terrible things" he did due to following orders and blind faith, but then revealed that finding a family and becoming a father allowed him to rediscover his faith and who he is. (And if I wasn't already worried about Cas, I sure would be after this speech!) Matt Cohen elaborated on the question of God's role and faith in Supernatural:
The way the story plays out, it's very kind of true to form of how we think the show's gonna end. But then I wanted to leave the question like, 'Is that really what's going on? Or is God relaying messages through some of these characters to our main cast? Or is God inside our pastor?' I wanted God to feel like he was there and he wasn't there at the same time. So I was really trying to, you know, kind of push the God talk and the God thoughts and the judgment and nonjudgment, how people look to our God figure. And just let the acting unfold within that, because you're inevitably going to deal with God somehow, some way at the end of the series. And I think everybody's gonna have a different take on how they feel, both the viewers and our characters within the series.
Supernatural has been building to an epic confrontation between God and Team Free Will 2.0 ever since the Season 14 finale, so they will indeed have to deal with the God question sooner rather than later. Castiel had to face his own issues with faith in this latest episode and then react to the terrible news that Jack was planning on dying.
Understandably, Misha Collins delivered of a lot of the emotion in "Gimme Shelter," even though Jensen Ackles was on the verge of his classic one perfect tear in the scene with Dean and Amara. Throw in Sam dealing with the prospect of what they were going to do to Amara on top of Jack bravely intending to die as the "bomb" that goes off and destroys God and Amara so that the Winchesters will forgive him, and the stage is set for the end.
When I noted to Matt Cohen that "Gimme Shelter" felt like the beginning of the end with the heavy focus on the show's mythology, Cohen said:
You know what, it's funny, we don't know everything. So like I come into doing the fifth from the final episode. And I don't know what the last four episodes look like. So I know a little bit that God will be involved. And obviously Amara, because she's in my episode, and the boys will be there and Jack and Cas will be there because these are the people that are around in the fifth episode. But you constantly want to kind of give that moment of 'Oh, is this setting up something for the end? Or is this kind of that false setup?' And you try to do that without overdoing it.
Fans shouldn't interpret everything that happened in the episode as a sign of what the final episodes have in store, but the additions to the mythology and the characters' reactions are sure to pay off in the final weeks of Supernatural. The good news on the Cas front is that he definitely seems unhappy enough that The Empty might not have reason to come collect him any time too soon!
God may have to be the higher priority over The Empty. Matt Cohen shared his reaction to tackling the Supernatural version of God in his episode, saying:
So, as far as the mythology goes, I was very excited to be dealing and talking about God a lot. But not necessarily maybe the same God that everybody thinks of as our lovely Rob Benedict, Chuck/God that we love so much. But the pastor in our soup kitchen thinks about God in one way, and his daughter thinks about [in one way], and Cas and Jack obviously think about God in one way. So do Sam and Dean. So I wanted these characters to be able to really have an emotional journey on this thing. They're each fighting for a different thing for a different reason. And they're each fighting for their own truth. And what they think is right, so I wanted to let that unfold performance-wise and the actors' spaces. So you'll notice I stay in a lot of tight close ups.
The mythology surrounding God has been pretty wild ever since Supernatural started getting celestial back in Season 4, with the angels changing everything (and eventually opening the door for Matt Cohen's on-camera Supernatural debut as the young John Winchester). It's arguably only fitting that the being who created everything is the antagonist at the end of the whole show.
Matt Cohen has returned to Supernatural several times since his first appearance back in Season 5, now including a turn behind the camera thanks to "Gimme Shelter" finally airing after months of delays due to production shutdowns. As a veteran of the show with plenty of experience with the cast, he counts himself a fan:
And honestly, the fan in me of these actors I've worked with on so many things, not only Supernatural, but the fan in me wanting to let the performances happen. And so I really focused on that. And then I would kind of nudge the actors in a certain direction if I felt it would lend itself to our future story on Supernatural. You know, our future of how involved does God get? Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? And how do people perceive him? And everybody perceives him differently. And I just I kind of tried to harp on that.
Find out what happens next in Team Free Will 2.0's efforts to stop God with new episodes of Supernatural, airing Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. If you want to relive earlier seasons of the show (which is a pretty good idea, based on comments from Jensen Ackles) and see Matt Cohen as the younger version of Jeffrey Dean Morgan's John Winchester, you can find the first 14 and a half seasons streaming on Netflix now.
For some viewing options once the road so far on Supernatural finally comes to an end, check out our 2020 fall TV premiere schedule!