There was so much right about this episode. We got Sam, Dean, and Cas together again, giving us some much needed Team Free Will moments. We got meaningful interaction between all three of those characters both as a group, and in separate pairs, which is rare for one episode to be able to cover. Crowley also made himself known and, no matter how evil he is, I really can’t find it in myself to hate the guy. There was also Hannah, who is proving to be a well written female character who, thus far, is amazing me with her ability to stay alive. This was another episode directed by Jensen Ackles, which always leads to profound directorial decisions that can only really be made by someone who has lived in this world for the past decade, which elevated all these amazing bits even more. The only downer is that I feel like they ended what was the most exciting and interesting plotline of the past few seasons so quickly. There was a wealth of material to explore, but instead it looks like we’ll be heading right back into familiar territory that we’ve been traveling through for the past nine seasons. If only we could have explored this just a bit longer. There’s so much wasted potential.
Everything about Team Free Will reuniting was pitch perfect. Sam and Cas, a long neglected friendship on the show, has really strengthened as they’ve grown closer over their desire to save Dean. Dean is the major common denominator between the two of them and with the pain of his absence, they’ve had a chance to bond separately from him. Sam also went through a personal struggle with how far he was willing to go to save his brother. We knew he’d go through a lot, but he cost a man his soul in order to do so. Judging by the look on his face, he hoped to intervene before the deal was done, but the soul was still lost and that’s definitely going to weigh heavily on him. Considering how much guilt the Winchesters already carry, he didn’t need one more thing to add to his ever going list of “stuff to feel bad about.” Once Dean was back in their possession, we got even more Cas and Sam moments as they worked in tandem to cure him. So far, this season has been the “Cas and Sam friendship” season and I really hope their development doesn’t stop there. Don’t let me down, Supernatural. Take this and run with it.
While Dean and Cas have a moment together after Dean is cured, we don’t really know how Sam and Dean will move forward. Fans of Dean and Castiel definitely had a gratifying moment between them, but next week we’re going to have to deal with the brothers dealing with all that happened. Cas made a startling good, albeit hilarious, observation about their lives though. They’ve been through so much, that Dean threatening to kill him with a hammer is pretty minor. Their relationship will recover, no doubt. While this feels like it should be a happy thing, I was really hoping for demon Dean to last a bit longer. Last season I complained about their constant fighting, but demon Dean was a completely different type of conflict. This wasn’t “two brothers fighting,” which is annoying and repetitive, but rather “one brother completely changed down to his soul,” which was so incredibly interesting. If they are back to sipping beers by the Impala after only three episodes I’m going to be a tad disappointed at all the unexplored territory this show could have covered. The mark of Cain is still there though, so there’s still potential for a darker side of Dean to mix things up.
Crowley was also pitch perfect in this episode. While “Team Free Will” was coined by Dean back in season five to refer to himself, Sam, and Cas, I almost feel like Crowley has earned an honorary spot on the team. Yes, a reluctant and antagonistic spot, but somehow I just feel like they’re incomplete as a team without their friendly neighborhood King of Hell popping up to save the day every once in a while. He did what Cas couldn’t do based on Cas’s morals and stole some grace for him. As much as they’re both reluctant to admit it, they are the ying to each other’s yang and they need to both exist for there to be balance in the world. It’s an uneasy alliance, sure, but I enjoy the hell out of it every time it gets put to use.
This is the part of the review where I pause and confess that, yes, I do realize Crowley is evil. Yes, I do realize he killed people. Yes, I know he’s not really on the same side as the Team Free Will, but he’s saved their asses enough times and he brings enough snark that it makes up for it in my eyes. He’s an evil MOFO who brings the snark and saves our heroes when convenient. More Crowley, please. Always more Crowley.
One part of the episode that I don’t think should be ignored is the increasingly important roll Hannah is playing in the plot. She’s a character that I’m growing progressively more protective about. I was afraid she’d be just a one off character that was killed just a few episodes in, but so far she’s survived. Her own journey with the complex nature of humanity has a lot in common with Cas’s own journey so many seasons ago. Even though she doesn’t always understand Cas’s human based decisions, she believes in him and has put herself in a dangerous position in order to fight alongside with him.
I just hope that Hannah doesn’t 1) die, 2) become evil, or 3) become a love interest (who then might also die or become evil). This show is capable of having a dynamic, recurring female character who doesn’t fit into one or more of those categories. So far, there’s only three regularly occurring characters that fit that bill besides Hannah. There’s Jody Mills, who dubiously had romantic potential with Bobby and therefore might not be completely free of the aforementioned categories. Then there’s Charlie, who is a lesbian and thus ineligable to be a romantic interest with any of the lead characters. Lastly, there’s Krissy, who is too young to be a romantic interest. Now we can add Hannah in with them and pray to Chuck that she stays on this incredibly short list of characters. It feels like they might push a romance with Castiel, but it’s not a sure thing yet. I’m looking forward to her standing on her own as a character.
The way the episode ended was thoroughly disappointing, though. We are introduced to another mysterious red head who, from her brief appearance, seems to be Abaddon part two. While I really loved Abaddon, I’m hoping we cover new ground. It’s feeling like we’re going to fall back into previous patterns when the season was off to such a promising start. I’m hoping I’m wrong and that this season blows me out of the water. Now that the biggest conflict is solved though, I’m not exactly sure what they plan on doing for the rest of the season. Introducing a new villain that’s going to just get killed off by the end has been done ad nauseam; I want something new.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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