Supernatural 11×21 Review: All in the Family
Whenever we get a fantastic episode like “Don’t call me Shurley”, viewers know that the next episode won’t be as good. Most just hope that the episode that follows is at least entertaining. Sadly, “All in the Family” left us with far too many questions and far too little action to be anything more than a disappointment.
For an hour-long episode, it was amazing just how little occurred. Pacing issues are a recurring issue with scripts written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming, and “All in the Family” was no exception. Most of the action occurs only in the last 15 minutes. I guess it’s better than Taxi Driver, where the episode was packed so full of stuff that the fandom was left trying to pick through what felt like multiple episodes crammed into one while trying to ignore the massive plot holes and illogical character changes that slipped through. However, other writers have shown a middle ground between “too much” and “not enough”. It’s frustrating that these writers are still struggling to grasp the ability to pace themselves.
Buckner and Ross-Leming tend to put little surprises in their episodes to boost viewer interest, and this episode is no exception. Although we expected Chuck and Metatron, the reappearance of Kevin was a delightful surprise. I was shocked at the implication that he was still in the veil. If he’s still there, does that mean the rest of them are as well? How big is the back-up, and since they got back into heaven, why didn’t the angels fix it? And if people were building up, does that mean Charlie got stuffed in the queue? Has our favorite geek been forced to haunt the motel where she was murdered?
In regards to Kevin, I’m glad he was “upgraded”, but I must say that not using him for more in the episode was a real waste of a great character. Why just discard him, but then immediately activate another (more Caucasian) prophet? I could see it if it was really required for the prophet to be connected to Amara to find her, but if that were the case, why could he sense Chuck? If the prophet of Amara could sense Chuck, then by logical extension, a prophet of Chuck could sense Amara. Having Kevin in the episode would have worked just as well. Especially as the prophet was simply stuffed in a taxi at the end, no longer needed in the episode. What was the point there?
For that matter, why need a prophet at all? Amara hasn’t shown the ability to mentally text Dean before, so it must have been related to whatever it was that she felt in Cas/Lucifer’s body (or heart?) Did she use the “Profound Bond” to relay the hallucination? If yes, why didn’t they use that to track down wherever she was holding them?
Metatron trying to help out and give the others time to escape was a nice moment for the character, especially after he was redeemed last episode, but it was still an utter waste. He knew God couldn’t do anything about her, and I’m sure he probably figured out that anything anyone else tried didn’t work. What did he think that sigil was going to do that no one else had managed to get to stick? That was like threatening to stop a schoolyard bully solely by sticking out your tongue. Utterly useless. I’ve always considered self-sacrifice during catastrophic situations as an honorable way to go, but there’s a difference between self-sacrifice and throwing your life away. What Metatron did was the latter. Hopefully, he’s not really dead, and we’ll see him again some other time. Guy deserves a redo.
There were a ton of other unanswered questions. For one, does everyone know where the Bunker is? It seems that every angel in the season has known where to go. Why does Lucifer not seem to recognize Metatron, but does recognize him as an angel from the “steno pool”? How was Metatron paying for all those early drinks?
If the torture spot was that close to the door, why did no one hear Lucifer screaming? Did she shield them from outsiders? How did Dean get info back to Amara to set up the meeting? Pray? And what did she mean about Dean’s thoughts? Did Chuck sever Amara’s connection to Dean’s mind, even only partially?
Is Cas still awake in there? Could he feel what Amara is doing to Lucifer? Is he still watching the tv, and if so, what is it showing? Horror movies and documentaries about torture?
How much more embarrassing is it to have God find your porn stash than your parent to find it? And what did “Not in one sitting” mean? Was it all Anime and “Asian Beauty” stuff, or does he have stuff he was worried about Chuck seeing?
The discussion of the reason why Amara and Chuck are stuck in an eternal fight actually stupefied me. The whole thing started because Chuck wanted someone to hang out with and she’s bugged by noise? Why the hell didn’t she just invent headphones, then? Or better yet, she could go hang out in the empty. I’m sure it’s quiet out there. Destroying other beings just cause she wanted a quieter environment makes her look more like an obnoxious brat than anything else. Also, why does Amara seem to think that “creepy stalker” meets “one-sided obsessive teen romance” is the right way to go with Dean? Is it a symptom of the fact that physically, she’s technically less than a year old? All in all, the episode made her seem incredibly immature.
There seemed to be a lot of comparisons between Chuck and John Winchester in the episode, which makes some sense. God would be the ultimate authority figure, similar in many ways to John. The only way the characters, both the Winchesters in particular and the angels and humanity in general, could thrive in the end was by the disappearance of the authority figure.
Chuck intended to turn himself over so Amara would spare the world. It called into mind John’s selling himself to Azazel to save Dean. However, Chuck would do well to remember the lessons learned from that event. Without some consequence to breaking their word, deals are useless. Back in season 2, Dean was saved, but Azazel didn’t stop and the events started by that night eventually lead us to this point. By doing the same for the world without some way to enforce the deal, all he’s doing is repeating the actions of the past. Amara will not stop unless she’s made to. Here’s hoping that Dean, Sam, and all their associates (both good and bad) are up to the challenge of being the firewall between the darkness and the light.
Continuity issues abounded. If Amara spent the entire season trying to get Chuck’s attention, why would she shield herself? If Metatron wrote Donatello’s name on the angel’s eyelids, why was he left out of the list Samandiriel gave Crowley? Was he holding his name back?
In the monologue by Dean early in the episode, Dean mentions Lot’s wife turning to salt. Chuck replies that he didn’t do that. However, in season 6, there’s a giant salt crystal that does exactly that is listed as a weapon of heaven. Balthazar uses it to turn Raphael’s vessel to salt. So where did that come from? If God didn’t create it, did the archangels? And if they could create the weapons, why was Raphael so determined to get the weapons for himself/herself, rather then just create new ones?
There were a number of nice moments and bits of humor. Dean’s beginning monologue and Chuck’s response were lovely. Both had decent points on their sides, and it was great to see such emotion by Dean. I recall hearing about commentary from Jensen at a convention about filming this scene, and although the scene didn’t contain the characters or subject matter that I hoped it would, Dean’s upset reaction on humanity’s behalf more then made up for it. Dean frequently acts like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders, and if anyone needed the chance to vent at the creator about God’s hands-off policy, it’d be him.
The first encounter between Lucifer and Chuck is also on my great character moments list. With only a few short lines, both Rob Benedict and Misha Collins managed to convey a wealth of emotions. Rob portrayed a clear mixture of regret and concern. Meanwhile, Lucifer looked like he was going to cry, a fitting reaction for an angel who was closest to God and had spent days being tortured. The switch to anger and defiance once healed fit the angel known for rebelling, who spent eons locked away at Chuck’s command.
Chuck answering that last prayer was cute. It was good of him to include the car, rather than just grabbing the people, but how will they get the car out of the lab?
I was amused that all the celestial beings seem to have the same tastes and hobbies. Chuck and Castiel both love TV and people watching, Cas and Metatron both adore excessive emoji use.
Sam’s geek-out moment was adorable. I’ve always loved that Sam has faith, and seeing him retain a bit of that despite all that he’s been through was great. I also thought it was interesting that in the early monologue, he seated himself in a lower chair than Chuck. That’s a submissive action, unlike the much more protective and isolated seating position that Dean took. Showing the moods and mindsets of the characters through body language and scene arrangement makes the less entertaining episodes a lot more bearable. Thanks to Thomas J Wright, the director of “All in the Family”, for excellent direction. Your experience and talent really helped improve the episode.
It makes sense that God loves bacon. As Aaron said, “Everyone loves Bacon.” And besides, he predates the Kosher laws.
It’s a shame that an episode by Buckner and Ross-Leming followed the masterpiece that was “Don’t call me Shurley.” Any writer would find it a hard act to follow, and for an episode like “All in the Family”, it’s practically impossible to look your best in comparison. Sadly, the episode just didn’t show enough action to make up for the questions it left unanswered. Thankfully, the episodes in the following weeks may answer a few, and with a little luck, we’ll forget the disappointment of this particular episode.
The Supernatural season 11 penultimate episode airs May 18th, and the season finale airs May 25th.
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