Supernatural this week was the perfect example of what sets it apart from other shows, and what, at the end of the day, makes all the sexism, stupidity, and plot repetition worth sitting through. It has a bravery and a creativity to it, and with that a lack of inhibition when it comes to going wacky for an episode. It knows its only Emmy nominations ever were for sound, and I’m okay with that. The show, at its most basic level, just wants the audience to have fun.
The episode starts out with a man typing a story, and for minute, I thought it was going to be Chuck. Guys, I was so excited. Turns out, however, it’s Metatron, in a fancy housecoat. He smiles into the camera and begins to address the audience directly.
Now, Supernatural is no stranger to meta. Some of it is brilliant, like God writing Supernatural fanfiction or the entirety of the glorious “French Mistake.” Some of it is also kind of mean to its fans and a queerbating mess. Still, it’s something that sets Supernatural apart, and, I personally believe, really sets the tone for the kind of show it wants to, and should be.
Metatron asks the audience, “Who gives a story meaning? Is it the writers, or you? Tonight I thought I’d show you a little story, and let you decide.”
It’s easily the best cold open Supernatural has had in years. The regular title card is even warped to read “Metatron” instead of “Supernatural.”
The next scene is about 10 seconds worth of Jensen Ackles in slow-mo showering, and I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be funny or serious, but I’ll take it.
While the boys search for Metatron, the narrative FINALLY shifts to see what the angel in the trench coat has been up to. I missed you, man. You know what I didn’t miss? This new trench coat you picked up, which is not nearly as nice as the old one and has an ugly greenish-brown tint.
He finds a symbol on a wall, surrounded by bodies, and meets a bloodied angel named Hannah. She was lured and trapped there by Gadreel, who offered the angels the chance to fight for him and then return to heaven. All the angels that refused were killed, except Hannah, which seems suspicious to everyone except Cas. She recognizes him and wants to follow him in a fight against Metatron.
“I’m not leader,” he replies, much to her protests. But actually, no, honey, he’s really not. Listen to the guy. I don’t know if they all missed the God-Cas fiasco, or that time Cas teamed up with Crowley, or that time Cas accidentally helped Metatron kick them all from heaven, but they should really just let him be a follower. He agrees to make Metatron pay, but refuses her help, telling her, “You are safer away from me.” Also true, Hannah. Don’t let the puppy dog eyes make you forget what a hot mess his life is.
Cas calls the Winchesters, and Dean and Cas have the most deliberately cutesy conversation with smirking and small talk I have ever heard. How is it that this couple isn’t canon, again? Also, there’s some stuff about tracing Gadreel through police reports of mass killings, but it gets lost in the Destiel feels.
After the call, Cas is alone in his hotel room when the lights flicker ominously and the TV turns on to reveal….porn? “That’s inappropriate,” Cas mumbles. He realizes someone’s standing behind him and turns around to reveal…..OH MY GOD GABRIEL..
Gabriel is standing behind Cas. Gabriel, who was killed by Lucifer back when Lucifer was still a thing on this show. Who died back when Eric Kripke was still in charge. Wow, Supernatural, that’s a long play. Even with your track record for reincarnations, I didn’t even think I’d see Richard Speight Jr.’s sassy face on my screen again. “You can’t take the trick out of the trickster,” he says with a smirk.
Apparently he faked his own death and has been hiding in heaven watching Downton Abbey since we last saw him. Metatron came after him, though, expecting him to have more angel “juice” because of his archangel status, a fact that Gabriel denies.
“Used most of my juice to get back into porn. That came out wrong….so did that!” he says. I had forgotten how much I missed him.
Of course, the excitement is temporary and it’s all a trick, but more on that later.
Gabriel discovered that Metatron, or, more specifically, Gadreel, was using the “horn of Gabriel” to lure the angels into traps, which somehow explains the symbol on the wall as well. This leads to an angel buddy road trip to rival any of Winchester’s. Gabriel also sees Cas a leader for a cause, which Cas denies.
“Bitch, please,” Gabe responds. “You’ve been God more often than Dad has.”
“Look how that worked out,” says Cas. Exactly. Listen to the man, Gabe.
He appears to be taking me seriously, because Gabriel says he’s tired of running and plans to lead the fight against Metatron. However, when Metatron’s followers catch up, Gabriel offers to stall them, giving Cas time to escape and become the new leader. Stop that! Cas worries that he’ll fail again, but Gabriel assures him that he won’t. Of course he will! Does NO ONE else remember how horrible a leader he is?
But wait! When Cas turns to leave, he realizes it’s all been an illusion. “You’re already dead,” he tells Gabriel, and slides his angel blade into his friend with no effect to prove it. Or is he? Cas asks, but all he gets is a suggestive eye wiggle from the archangel and then finds himself tied up in a room with the storytelling Metatron from earlier.
He looks at Cas and asks him the story question from the beginning, looping back and explaining the strange intro. Frustrated with Cas’ disrespect for stories, he implants all the books and movies Metatron has consumed in his millennia as angel into Cas’ head. This quickly become one of my favorite scenes of the season, as Metatron bats around humorous but undeniably psychotic story metaphors to a confused Cas. It’s both entertaining and effectively menacing.
After reading the Winchester gospels, he got the idea to write his own world-defining story like Chuck did, which led to the temporary Gabriel re-emergence. He needs Cas to lead the angels. “You are not the hero in this masterpiece; you are the villain. I’m the hero,” he tells him, in a voice that no hero would ever use ever.
If Cas leads the angels, Metatron will give him a comfy spot in heaven once they’ve been destroyed. When Cas refuses, he points out that Cas’ stolen grace is burning him up and offers him an endless supply of replacements.
Meanwhile, in a surprisingly easy move after all this time trying to capture him, the brothers trap Gadreel. It’s actually very minor considering the insanity that is this episode. While Sam goes to find Cas, who they can’t get ahold of, Dean tortures Gadreel. In return, Gadreel says a lot of sassy things about Sam loving Dean less and Dean being sad, clingy, and needy. It would be silly, except I think we all know it’s a little bit true, so I feel for Dean in this scene. In retaliation, Dean leaves the angel alone and tied up, presumably forever, storming out with the most intimidating utterance of “son of a bitch” since season one. It might have something to do with the crazy Mark that’s driving him insane.
Metatron tells Sam he’ll trade Cas for Gadreel, and they meet in a parking lot the next day. “I was just waiting for you two to finish setting up your little trap for me,” Metatron says in explanation of his lateness, and then lets them trap him in a holy fire circle just to mess with them. “Any of you bring s’mores?” he asks, before somehow blowing it out and forcing them to make the trade. He leaves, reminding Cas that he gave him a chance, and telling the boys that he looks forward to watching them try to stop him. Metatron is a better villain than I often give him credit for. His menace is often overshadowed by his humor, but there’s a psychotic undercurrent to it that is far more intimidating than Abaddon and her leather jacket of death ever dreamed of being.
Dean wants to find a literal stairway to heaven and, as Sam puts it, “sneak onto the Death Star and kill the Emperor.” Cas understands that reference, much to the men’s confusion.
As the episode ends, Gadreel and Metatron discuss the play Meta is writing and how it needs rewrites. “That was God’s problem. He published the first draft,” says Metatron, in what I’m pretty sure is the first canon confirmation that Chuck is, in fact, God! It’s lovely to see characters like Gabriel and Chuck from the show’s heyday revisited so long after I thought they’d been forgotten. As Metatron types their story out, referring to himself as God in the pages, Cas uses the opportunity to summon the angels he is unfortunately now willing to lead. I wonder, with these obvious callbacks to Chuck and Metatron’s attempt to take over as God, if they’ll finally bring the missing creator/fanfiction writer out of whatever hole he’s been in since the end of season five.
I can’t overstate how pleasantly surprised I was by this episode. It had the fun, freshness, and stakes of a pre-season six episode. I’ve been very disappointed with this season. And the one before that….and the one before that. But this episode was Supernatural at its best and wouldn’t have been out of place in the show’s Eric Kripke glory days. This was certainly the best episode of Supernatural to air this season, and maybe to air in years. Well done.
P.S. Supernatural has a lot of passion in its fandom when it comes to shipping, so I generally try to leave my personal feelings on the matter out of these recaps, but I really can’t this week. It’s gone too far. So, to end this recap, I’ll give you my list of “how are Dean and Castiel not sleeping together moments” in this episode for your reading pleasure:
-Metatron deliberately and suggestively mentions “subtext” in his opening monologue
-The gooey “I miss you so much” phone call
-Gabriel calls Castiel Dean’s boytoy and Cas doesn’t even bat an eye
-Their broody “Are you sure you’re alright?” scene at the end, followed by Cas’ adorable worry over Dean’s bad call on the mark
-The (basically) hand-holding scene where Cas examines the mark on Dean