Supernatural 9×22 Review: Stairway to Heaven


This episode seemed to be a litmus test for fans.  If you enjoy the angels and Castiel, you most likely enjoyed the episode.  If you hate Castiel and the angel plot, you were probably extremely angry by it all and (if the mentions to the writers on Twitter are any indication) probably swearing off the show for good.  I’ve never really hidden the fact that I’m a big fan of what Castiel brings to the show, so I hope my generally glowing review of this episode doesn’t come as a complete surprise to you.  If it does, sorry to disappoint.  I like Castiel so I’m overall pretty happy with what this episode brought to the table.  I didn’t enjoy everything in this episode, though.  In fact, pretty much everything having to do with Tessa angered me beyond reason.  If they hadn’t included her and had assigned that role to some random angel instead, this episode might have actually been perfect to me.   I love Tessa as a character so it’s incredibly unfortunate that they had to treat her like this within the narrative and use her to continue the baffling changes to Reaper mythology.

SPN223The biggest thing about Tessa that bothered me was the destruction of Reaper lore.  Back in 9×3 ‘I’m No Angel’ we learned that reapers are just another kind of angel.  This was a pretty big blow to reaper and angel lore, but after a few weeks I moved on and decided it was workable.  Ok, so reapers have to take a vessel to be seen by the living?  It’s weird, but I can deal with that.  Now this week we have Tessa, looking the exact same way that she did in previous episodes.  We know this isn’t a vessel because it’s the face of the hospital patient back in the season one finale.  So how was Tessa visible? I have absolutely no idea.  The narrative doesn’t bother trying to explain it either and just kind of hopes we’ll accept it without question.  I know the show has been going for nine seasons, but completely changing the lore of a recurring species on the show for seemingly no reason is pretty frustrating.

The second thing that bothered me about her story was that we were subjected to yet another death of a recurring female character.  We have such a small number of women that it’s extremely disappointing when one of them is brought back just to be killed.  We are now left with Jody, who will hopefully return next season, and Charlie, who was last seen skipping off to Oz with Dorothy.  It’s possible that they could bring back Mrs Tran, but with her son dead I’m not sure if she’d fit into the narrative.  Krissy is possibility too, though she’s been gone for over a season.  Now that Hannah has been in multiple episodes, I suppose you can consider her “recurring,” but she walked off at the end of this episode so who knows if we’ll ever see her again.  The reality is we only have two recurring female characters with strong possibilities of returning and three with giant question marks over their heads.  If you want to find any other recurring female characters you’d have to dig back many many seasons to find one that’s still alive.  Meanwhile the list of male characters recurring is pretty long.  Besides Sam, Dean, and Castiel we have Gadreel, Metatron, Crowley, Death, Cain, Harry, Ed, and Garth.  And that’s really just focusing on this season.  If you stretch it back to last season, as I did with the female characters that I listed, there are even more.  I’m not even including Gabriel, Kevin, or Bobby, even though they’ve all shown up again after their deaths.  It’s a pretty unbalanced list, obviously, so killing a recurring female character is heartbreaking.

SPN225Outside of Tessa, though, I feel like this episode was pitch perfect.  The writer of the episode, Andrew Dabb, has proven that he really understands Castiel as a character.  Though Castiel now has an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture references, he’s still awkward about it.  I laughed pretty hard at him choosing Spears and Aguilera as Sam and Dean’s aliases.  He caught on that they used popular musicians, but sort of missed the mark.  He also didn’t catch on the wordplay for the riddle until Sam stepped in with the answer.  He gets things like Lord of the Rings, but he’s still awkward and lovable.  Castiel doesn’t quite know how to put these references into something more socially relevant.  I wouldn’t have it any other way, honestly.  I love Castiel just the way that he is.  I’ve heard from some people within the autistic community say that they can see a bit of themselves in Castiel with these traits.  As I am neither autistic myself nor a Doctor who is able to diagnose someone, I’m hesitant to place that label on him, but I’m happy for those within the community that are able to identify with him on this level.  There’s so much negative representation and misuse of the “autistic” label in media that if people want to take these traits and feel represented by Castiel, that’s something to celebrate.

I think the best part about this character trait is that Sam and Dean still accept him for who he is, despite his awkwardness.  They even seem to find that trait rather endearing, just like the fans do.  Sure, Dean often rolls his eyes when Castiel displays a lack of understanding over human interaction, but Dean rolls his eyes enough at his brother for me to accept it as a gesture of amusement rather than genuine frustration or rejection of Castiel’s quirks.   When Dean refers to him as “weird,” there’s no malice in his tone.  It read to me as a fond ribbing towards his quirks and not an insult.  The only time in this episode when Dean seemed to be genuinely upset with Castiel was when he was reminded of the last time Cas had an army of followers.  His outrage was understandable here for two reasons.  First, he has a point that the last time Cas went down this road things did not go well.  Second, Dean is being heavily influenced by the Mark of Cain, so his anger is ramped up higher than ever before.  At no point was Castiel’s quirkiness ever the cause of Dean’s anger.  The episode even ends with Dean offering words of encouragement to Castiel and indicating that the three of them together will make a strong unit in their fight against Metatron.

SPN221While Dean and Cas’s interaction this episode was pretty minimal, we did get to see a lot of Sam and Castiel.  These two characters don’t usually get much screen time together, probably due to the fact that both Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins are massive pranksters and putting them in a scene together tends to slow down production.  They clearly managed to cool down the pranks long enough to allow their characters to interact in this episode.  Sam seems even more patient with Castiel’s awkward traits than Dean is.  He even sticks up for him when Dean gets a little too frustrated.  We see this happen in this episode when Dean expresses outrage over his ‘cult’ and Sam encourages them to go somewhere more private to discuss it further.  They also share a strong bond over their love for Dean.  When they’re riding in the car alone together, their conversation naturally flows to Dean and their concern over the Mark.  Sam is honest about his feelings towards his cult and Castiel listens to him.  Their friendship is a special one and I’m glad to get a more intimate look at it during this episode.

As for the plot of the episode, I thought it was pretty well done, especially after initial concerns that a lot of people had after watching the preview.  Many fans were worried the “Cult of Castiel” would be a sharp criticism of Cas fans, but I feel like that wasn’t really the case here.  The angels who were committing suicide bombings on other angels turned out to actually be acting on Metatron’s orders.  To borrow a term from social media, they were essentially Metatrons “sock puppets.”  They were fake Castiel followers doing outrageous things in his name so that Metatron could smear Castiel.  As for the rest of Castiel’s “cult,” they weren’t very big fans of Sam or Dean and ditched Cas when he refused to let them punish Dean for Tessa’s death.  I don’t know about you, but I’d never abandon Castiel for sticking up for the Winchesters.  It’s one of my favorite things about Castiel, so if this was supposed to be commentary on Cas fans, it’s certainly not about my corner of fandom.  I’m very pro-Team Free Will and it’s clear that his followers were extremely anti-Winchester.   Despite what some vocal fans claim, being pro-Castiel does not mean one has to be anti-Winchester.

SPN224Now that he’s given up his army, I can rest a little easier. As Dean mentioned, he’s been down this road before and it did not turn out well.  Now he’s backed out and I don’t have to worry that his role as ‘leader’ could be a repeat of season 6.  It’s over.  It’s done with.  We can move on now.  The fact that Castiel is with the Winchesters now also means that the finale should be filled with the Team Free Will that’s been absent for much of the season.  Castiel has been largely separated from the Winchesters, but now they’ve been reunited.  They’re working for the same cause now.  Sam and Castiel are both concerned about Dean’s well being due to the Mark of Cain and all three are concerned about Metatron’s plans.  Castiel asked if Dean believes the three of them will be enough.  Dean responds ‘we always have been.’  Even though this season has pushed a wedge between the brothers and placed Castiel on his own path, it’s pretty clear that they’re a united front heading into the final boss battle with Metatron next week.  Team Free Will is together again and Metatron should be scared.  This is the group that stopped the apocalypse, after all.

The finale is less than a week away.  Time to start preparing yourself for emotional devastation.  Go out and get your vice of choice.  Get some tissues handy.   I know the finale will destroy me in some way.  It always does.  This is Supernatural, after all.  Devastation is the name of the game here.  But thankfully it doesn’t look like I’ll be devastated because of a lack of Team Free Will interaction.  But how will it destroy us?  Will they kill off one of our three leads again?  That’s a little played out, but maybe they’ll put a twist on it.  Will Dean be the one to kill either Sam or Cas?  Will one of them be forced to kill Dean to prevent him from doing something horrible?  That would mix it up a bit from the usual character death that marks Supernatural finales.  Or maybe all three will survive, but we’ll crushed in some other way.  So many heartbreaking possibilities.  Brace yourselves as we head into the finale.

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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25 thoughts on “Supernatural 9×22 Review: Stairway to Heaven

  1. This review feels really extra inspired, Angel K, and I agree with pretty much everything. I loved the episode. The way Tessa was treated was a stumbling block, but I can headcanon away the reaper lore stuff (even though that job shouldn’t be left solely to the viewers like that), and at least I enjoyed seeing her again. This episode felt like a good showpiece for all the major characters as well as Tessa, Gadreel and Hannah. Very well balanced – maybe it was the combo of writer Andrew Dabb and director Guy Norman Bee, both skilled SPN veterans, but it felt like we were back on the Supernatural track after last week’s hilarious but confusing shenanigans.
    It’s so hard to see Dean like this. He’s still Dean, in little ways and in some moments, yet suddenly he’ll be this other person, this hard-eyed cold man, like the female angel said in the beginning of the episode: “men like you”, violent men, war lords, abusers. I want that Cain!Dean to go away and never come back. I’m hoping that will happen in the finale, and I’m expecting it to be excruciatingly painful.
    Oh, and thank you for pointing out that Cas fans generally love the Winchesters! I am a card-carrying member of the Team Free Will fan club too. I am so intrigued by the fact that I have no idea what role Sam will play in the finale. I’m sure it will be an important one, but in what way? I have no clue.

    1. The constant “Cas fans hate the Winchesters” myth drives me up the wall. I wish that myth would just die already.

      I’m predicting that Sam and Cas will have to bring Dean back from the edge in the finale. This will result in Dean either killing one of them or being killed BY one of them. Character death is very overplayed, but that’d be unique enough to emotionally destroy us again.

      It did feel really well balanced. I’m a little sad that Bloodlines didn’t get picked up, but if it means that we get to keep Dabbs, that’s a huge plus. 🙂 He’s great. He gets Cas and he knows how to showcase all the characters well.

    2. “Oh, and thank you for pointing out that Cas fans generally love the Winchesters! ”

      I don’t get where the attitude comes from that Cas fans hate the Winchesters either. I’m a Destiel fan so I tend to like more Dean/Cas stuff but I adore the Sam and Cas friendship moments too. It’s kind of weird to be accused of hating the Winchesters because I like someone. God, it’s like junior high.

      Wait. It’s exactly like junior high. Do you know how long it’s been since I was in junior high? This? This is not funny.

      1. I agree. My personal theory is that it’s a way to justify their own hatred towards Castiel. I WE hate Sam, then they can hate Castiel guilt free. Since a lot of us love Sam, though, they are left hating Castiel with only their own emotions as justification. This is just a theory based on observation of Twitter behavior and anonymous LJ commentary, though, so I could be wrong.

  2. I dunno, I don’t see it as a dichotomy the way this article suggests. There are things to like and hate about this episode that has nothing to do with Castiel. I don’t think that is a logical conclusion to come to regarding fan response? I like Castiel, hate the angel storyline, and loved the episode (other than Tessa being killed, grrr!). Dean is going down a very dark path, but the Mark of Cain storyline has been awesome and exciting. Dean attacking Gadreel was terrifying! I love it. This show has struggled with pacing this season, and the conflict between the brothers has taken a lot of the fun out of the show. More action, less soapish melodrama please. A.K.A., more like this episode. Again, none of this has anything to do with liking/disliking Castiel.

    I can’t wait until the finale. 😀

    1. I’m going based on what I’ve witnessed on Twitter. Fans of Castiel seemed to enjoy it whereas many fans who hate him have tweeted their outrage over the episode to the writers. It’s possible we just don’t watch the same stuff online, but if you look through the writer’s mentions on Twitter (particularly Dabb’s) then there’s a pretty thick line between the reactions of those that like Cas and those who hate him. The opinions of the episode I outlined in my article are based off those tweets. Since you like Castiel and generally liked the episode, that kind of fits in line with the opinions I’ve seen expressed on Twitter.

      1. But that’s a correlation not equal to causation kind of thing? I don’t like the episode because of Castiel. Many people don’t hate the episode because of Castiel either. Some of the fans simply disliked the (small) role Sam played in this episode – and I say this as a Dean fan. Sometimes there is overlap, sometimes there is not. The kind of conclusion this kind of article draws is inflammatory and completely unnecessary.

        1. I’m just telling it how I see it. People who hate Cas have been tweeting angry things at the writers. People who loved him enjoyed it. You can draw your own conclusions over that, but I’ve been paying very close attention to the tweets, the context of those tweets, and who have been sending those tweets and I see a correlation between hatred of this episode and hatred of Castiel and enjoyment of this episode and enjoyment of Castiel. Don’t agree? Fine, but that’s what I’m seeing on Andrew Dabbs mentions. Feel free to go read those mentions yourself, see who has been sending them, and put them in context as I have done.

          Edited to add: I think it IS necessary to put criticism in context. I even put a disclaimer about my own criticism in the opening paragraph. I don’t view context as inflammatory OR unnecessary. Have you been paying attention to the tweets being sent? Have you been looking at who sent those tweets? Have you been paying attention to the environment in fandom? I have been. Very closely.

  3. Except that only a small, self-selected sample of fans are extreme enough to tweet hate at the writers (or writer, since you only looked at Dabb). This is not enough of a basis to draw conclusions about ALL fans, and how/what they enjoy about the show. You said in your first paragraph, “if the mentions to the writers on Twitter are any indication” and I am disagreeing that they are. You are invalidating all other negative fan reactions towards this episode by insinuating that only biased Castiel haters reacted this way. A good number of fans hated the episode based on Tessa’s death alone. We all watch the show for different reason, and we should be able to watch it critically without being accused of fan bias. Also, enjoying Castiel” and “enjoying the angel storyline” is not mutually inclusive, and treating it this way is a logic fallacy in itself. There are many people who love Castiel, but find the angel storyline boring and not well developed, including myself as I said in my initial comment. If you are going to draw conclusions about all fans, rather than just comment on the small section you observed, then I recommend you do additional research.

    1. The reason I included the bit about Twitter was so that people knew where my information was coming from. I was also careful about how I worded “angels” versus “angel plot.” My first mention was “if you enjoy the angels and Castiel” not “angel plot” as I’m aware that there’s a distinction. I did, however, use the “angel plot” in the second part about disliking it as many people who strongly dislike that element tended to not like that it was so focused on it this episode. And if you dislike the angel plot and liked an episode that focused so much on it, I’m quite baffled about it and would like to hear more, well reasoned opinion. I was very careful about my worded so I’m sorry if you assumed I conflated the two, but I tried very hard not to do that. When I refer to “angels” I’m referring to the characters and when I’m referring to “angel plot” I’m talking about the actual plot. A lot of people like the characters and dislike the plot.

      Also I say “especially Dabbs” because he’s the one that wrote this episode, but I’ve been checking the mentions of Jim Michaels (producer) and Suzanne Gomez (Publicist for the CW) as well and the story there is much the same. You’re right that I didn’t check Berens or Thompsons mentions because they didn’t write this episode so I’m not sure why people would tweet them since it’s unrelated to this specific episode. When they write episodes, I look at their mentions for fan reaction. I’m not sure where else you’d like me to look besides Twitter? Tumblr? The writers are not on Tumblr so fan reaction there tends to be pretty self contained. Tumblr is also largely pro-Castiel anyway and the vast majority of what I’ve been seeing there is supportive of the episode… which actually fits my initial assessment anyway.

      Also I did spend a large section of this review pointing out the problems with Tessa. Not sure if you read that part. But that’s kind of a huge chunk of this review. You act as though I ignored any negative bits and spent the entire review praising it. There are legit concerns about the treatment of Tessa and I’ve seen that tweeted as well. The tweets aimed at the writers/producers/publicist tend to not focus on that too often, though, and are more urging them to stop including Castiel/the angels/the angel plot (three distinct things, but all of them mentioned in tweets). I click on the people who tweet these things and a large portion of them have timelines filled with Castiel hate. I click on the people who are sending praise and their timelines are filled with Castiel love. This is what I’ve posted about and defined and even put in a disclaimer about where the information came from, where I’m coming from, and the context of the tweets. I was very thorough covering my butt with that statement, but clearly not thorough enough for you.

      1. I see, you are separating them into three categories. I still don’t think liking Cas and liking the other angels is mutually inclusive though? A lot of people dislike the characters AND the plot. They have not been well-developed characters since probably Season 4/5, and are introduced and rapidly killed off. There is no time for emotional investment, and very little complexity to their motivations (other than Gadreel this season). I would be more than happy if they are all gone by next season (obviously other than Cas) and I am far from alone in this. As I said, we all watch the episode for different things. I liked the Mark of Cain storyline, which was shocking and action fueled (by the way, a LOT of people who liked the episode also tweeted about this – maybe you are following a biased sample of people based on your own interests?). I liked Cas finally interacting with Sam and Dean. I liked that this episode marked the END of Castiel’s cult of angels, and that we are not going to see as much of them. The angels themselves standing around and talking? Not so much.

        What you said about Tessa was that YOU didn’t like that they killed her. What you said about why OTHER fans disliked the episode did not include this as a factor. As for Tumblr fans, I don’t see why being self-contained from the writers would mean they shouldn’t be represented in your generalization about fan opinion? And once again, I need to reiterate that correlation does not mean causation. Castiel is only one of many things to like/dislike about this show. Just because it is a focus for you does not mean it is for everyone else, and does not mean that we all base our opinions on him. You are overstating his importance in this story. You are understating the importance of the other characters. And also, yano, the plot? We are capable of critical thinking and objectivity without having to be accused of having ulterior motives.

        You cited your source, and I’m disagreeing it is representative. I am also disagreeing with the conclusion you have drawn. I encourage you to avoid overgeneralizing about fandom, as you do not represent me with your narrow categories. You do not represent many others. You should not claim to do so.

        1. I never claimed to represent you. I never stated that these observations on fandom were all inclusive. I stated my biases upfront and cited my sources. I stated where these opinions came from (the mentions to the writers NOT my followers or the people I follow, as you’ve suggested here). I stated that based on Twitter (mentions to the writers and as I later clarified in the comments, specifically Dabb & Jim Michaels and Suzanne Gomez), people who liked Castiel tended to enjoy the episode and people who hate him didn’t. That is an observed behavior with the source of that behavior cited (and then further clarified). On Tumblr what I’m observing tends to be much the same. I tend to not go to Tumblr for fan reaction because it’s a lot less focused than Twitter. It’s almost always pro-Castiel and very noisy and hard to wade through.

          Why did I write about MY point of view on Tessa and not other fans? Because I didn’t see them tweeting about it a lot in the mentions to the writers. I didn’t notice a strong trend of who was tweeting about it and it seemed pretty spread out among different sects of fandom. Most of us are on the same page about it. I DID however notice a correlation between Cas fans who liked the episode and those who didn’t like it and those hate Cas. This was a strong correlation and it was worthy of being mentioned. If you disagree with the causation, fine, but the correlation is there in the places which I CITED.

          So lets see, things you are point out that are wrong:
          – I’m claiming to represent all fans. FALSE. I claimed my bias upfront. I claimed I was a fan of Castiel and enjoyed what he brought to the table on the show and this episode specifically. I have never hidden this ever.
          – I’m going based only on the opinions of those I follow. FALSE. I stated this came from mentions to writers. I do not follow Cas haters on Twitter. I actively avoid them so how would I see their hate on my timeline if I’m not following them? Have you been reading ANYTHING that I’ve been saying to you? I’m starting to doubt it.
          – I’m stating that these opinions represent all of fandom. FALSE. I stated this came from Twitter and I stated where I was coming from (mentions to writers, further clarified REPEATEDLY to be mostly Dabbs, producer Jim Michaels, and PR Suzanne Gomez).

          Things you are stating that are true:
          -I am assuming that a lot of people who like Castiel tend to like the other developed angel characters. Maybe I’m wrong here and I would have been open for a discussion on this, but to be honest, I’m pretty done talking to you because you are making up arguments from the article that are clearly not there AT ALL. I’m tired of going in circles.

          I’ve now clarified the content of this article, like, 5 times and you still don’t get it. Unless you can bring something new to the table I’m just going to start copying & pasting what I’ve already said and/or respond with gifs that represent how I feel. I’ve typed more words at you than there even are in the article and I’m tired of repeating myself over and over and over again. We are going in circles and you have brought ZERO new perspective to our conversation. Instead you are seeing things that are NOT in this article and ignoring that I’ve stated VERY CLEARLY where the information is coming from and my own biases. I’ve never hidden where this information was coming from or who is presenting the information and you are acting like I am. I. Am. Not.

          So please bring something new to the table here or just stop commenting.

          Image and video hosting by TinyPic

          1. “This episode seemed to be a litmus test for fans. If you enjoy the angels and Castiel, you most likely enjoyed the episode. If you hate Castiel and the angel plot, you were probably extremely angry by it all and (if the mentions to the writers on Twitter are any indication) probably swearing off the show for good.”

            Yeah, that’s pretty encompassing in its claim to represent others. Liking Cas AND angels (the characters) = liking the episode, not liking the Cas AND angels plot (the plotline) = not liking the episode. This was not written as a correlation. This was written as either/or, and without inclusion of other factors. This is your opening statement – an inaccurate one, and not responsible journalism.

            “Since you like Castiel and generally liked the episode, that kind of fits in line with the opinions I’ve seen expressed on Twitter.”
            This was trying to represent me, to claim that I fit into the categories you arbitrarily created (ignoring the explicitly stated correlation/causation I stated – citing myself as an example). My initial disagreement was fairly minor – I liked the episode, I liked Cas, I did not like the episode BECAUSE of Cas. All I was looking for was that it was not your INTENTION to overgeneralize, and to clarify it is a correlation based on that particular source. Maybe a little professionalism and a little less defensiveness in the future?

            1. “If you enjoy the angels and Castiel, you most likely enjoyed the episode. If you hate Castiel and the angel plot, you were probably extremely angry by it all and (if the mentions to the writers on Twitter are any indication) probably swearing off the show for good.”


              “Since you like Castiel and generally liked the episode, that kind of fits in line with the opinions I’ve seen expressed on Twitter.”


              Image and video hosting by TinyPic

            2. Why these persistent attacks on Angel K? She wasn’t being accusatory or inflammatory. All she did was start her review on a lighthearted but pretty astute note regarding the fandom’s reactions to the episode. She never said that it applied to 100% of the viewers – apparently you personally are an exception and that’s perfectly fine – but generally she’s right. You don’t agree about that, and you’ve made that clear. You’re entitled to your opinion but you can stop posting about it now. After five posts saying the same thing at length you’re just talking to hear yourself talk, and it’s starting to look like a focused attack on Angel K based on some agenda. Are you trying to wear her out so she’ll stop writing reviews? Personally, I want to read comments that actually contribute something rather than just repeatedly harass the reviewer, so I move to have you banned from this comment field.

  4. I agree almost entirely with your review except I’m surprised you didn’t mention Gadreel. I think they are building up to him being very important in the finale. The fact that Dean didn’t kill him was important or why else have that scene. They foreshadowed that Gadreel is losing faith in Metatron so having him show up at the bunker was not a complete surprise and even having Dean try to kill him wasn’t, since Dean previously said he owed him for both Sam and Kevin. It showed how far down the dark path Dean has already traveled but him hurting but not killing him will be a factor in the finale IMO.

    I also agree about Tessa. Having her in the episode just to change reaper lore some more and to have Dean kill her was both unnecessary and annoying.

    1. Sorry about not mentioning Gadreel! This review was getting quite long (almost 2000 words) and I was so very caught up in my issues with Tessa’s plot and my love of the Sam/Cas scenes hat some things went unmentioned. But yes, I feel like he’s going tot urn on Metatron. It’ll be very interesting to see how that plays out.

  5. I thought I would be more annoyed about Tessa the Reaper than I turned out to be – which is high praise for Dabb. He took, basically a turd that won’t flush canon ball drop about Reapers suddenly being angels and as easy to kill as angels, what he was given in previous episodes and made it seem more organic. Tessa – after all – ends up killing herself on the First Blade which can kill anything. (Another bit of fubar if you look back to why John and sons looked for the Colt for so long.) I ended up too immersed in the rest of the story, how the screaming of the trapped souls were distracting her because Heaven is closed, her belief that she was working for Castiel, and forgave. This episode sets up the finale nicely, but I think ending the Mark of Cain story there would be premature. My prediction is that the MoC and Dark!Dean will continue into next season.

    1. Yeah, Tessa’s death had a different context so I’m glad about that. Still upset to see even fewer recurring female characters, regardless of the context of that death. We have so few I want to cling to the ones we have so very hard. Context is important though and the context around her death was different than a typical fridging.

  6. (For the record, I love Cas and Destiel, but I didn’t really care for this episode. I know that makes me the oddball amongst Cas/Destiel fans.)

    I might have been okay with this episode, had it not been for the misogyny. I can’t praise anything with such an apparent joy at not only killing and hurting women, but also threatening them in a sexualized manner and making them ‘submit’, and having their lead male do it all. Dean’s ‘Dark Arc’ (which I don’t like, but that’s a complaint for another day) seems to predominantly manifest itself in ‘violence against women’. Not exclusively, but it’s to an excessive degree that makes me none too keen on the show. And it’s not like Dabb doesn’t go to this well often, he does, way too much (I mean, Bloodlines was ridiculously bad in it’s treatment of women). And given this season’s track record with raping and objectifying women, I give no quarter here.

    And the Reaper mythology…do they think we’re all stupid? They don’t even TRY to explain it within the episode (or 9×03, the first to bring up this impossible retcon). They just write it like they expect us just to know this to be true, but it isn’t.

    They completely bungled the angel storyline all season, to the point where I don’t know why they expected me to care that Cas had to give them up. Had they done a better job of that during the season, the significance might have been more apparent. As it was, I was just like…so? He never wanted to lead those angels anyway, now he’s just gonna stop Metatron with Sam and Dean like he should have.

    This season’s flaws severely damaged the concept of this episode, which might have worked a lot better (sans the Tessa stuff) had it been set up properly. As it was, it fell flat. :/

    1. That’s understandable. The treatment of women in this episode, this season, and the show overall has been pretty painful. I hadn’t even thought about the assault against the angel as another indicator of this, but you’re absolutely right, so thanks for pointing that out. There’s also been a lot of consent issues this season. It’s just so painful to endure. I can see how that theme would taint the entire episode for you and I’m sorry it did that. Once you separate that, though, I enjoyed the rest of the episode.

      I’m glad we moved past the angel army thing, but it did seem rather poorly constructed. He didn’t want to lead them, but he was forced to and I was expecting that to be played out a lot longer than it actually was. I was so surprised (but relieved! because I was so nervous about it) that they ended it so quickly. I was expecting it to continue on through the finale.

      I’m hoping the finale blows us away. Everything is set up for awesome TFW action against Metatron. I hope it follows through.

  7. The first part of this makes me think that they just should not do reapers anymore! The episodes (in these later seasons) where they try to do reapers just don’t work as well. Stay away from the reapers, SPN! 🙂 And quit messing with canon.

    “The writer of the episode, Andrew Dabb, has proven that he really understands Castiel as a character. Though Castiel now has an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture references, he’s still awkward about it. ” <- YES!! I just had to quote this because it was exactly what I thought too! And as Castiel is my personal favorite character- I LOVED this episode!

    This entire review was just beautiful! Thank you for it!

    1. Thank you. And yeah, maybe they should just stop writing reapers. They clearly don’t know what they’re doing with them. I thought reapers were so interesting and we rarely saw them, but the more and more they use them, the less interesting they are and the more canon fail we get.

  8. I personally think that Tessa’s visibility is due to her fall from heaven. Her invisibility could have been maintained through her connection with heaven, much like how Dean became invisible to other humans when he wore Death’s ring. Perhaps this ability is granted to reapers specifically for their special job, and when she was no longer able to perform the task, her power went away.

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