Friday, May 3, 2013

Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 21: The Great Escapist

Kevin, prophet of the lord, trying to translate the demon tablet and slowly breaking his own mind has turned up after going missing – he’s in Crowley’s control – but Crowley is being crafty and skipping the usual torture route and it using people disguised as Sam and Dean to talk to him and both translate Crowley’s half of the tablet and reveal Sam and Dean’s plan to close the gates of hell – including the three trials.

In the Winchester Cave, Sam is still feeling like crap and Dean is trying to coax him to eat and play nursemaid, much to Sam’s frustration. He isn’t ill, the trials are transforming him.

And they get an email from Kevin – a time release message that would automatically send to Sam and Dean if Kevin didn’t reset it; which he didn’t.  It’s emotional, more than a little unstable video from a Kevin who assumes he’s dead and that Crowley has him. The link uploads all of his notes and translations – and it’s acting like this that makes Supernatural stand out.

There follows considerable self-recriminations from Dean and his classic painful-grieving-he-can’t-express.

To New Mexico – to a dishevelled Castiel!


Castiel seems to be having stability issues as well, as he lectures a waitress on the history of coffee. And he’s being chased by angels working for Naomi, Ion and Esper. It seems Castiel is doing an excellent job of ducking between fast-food chain restaurants whenever they get close to him – and because every franchise of this restaurant everywhere in America looks exactly alike, the angels are having a horrible time actually tracking him down.

Looking through Kevin’s notes, Sam notices a symbol – a triangle of circles – appearing over and over, which Kevin took to be the signature of Metatron indicating editors notes. But Sam has seen it before in humanities studies – it’s a petroglyph created by a tiny tribe of Native Americans in Colorado and it translated as “messenger of god”. Which is where they’re headed  to.

Castiel continues to zap from restaurant to restaurant until he arrives at one in Santa Fe where everyone inside has been massacred – except one woman, her eyes burned out saying “you have to stop.” Him pausing to see the suffering women gives Ion and Esper chance to catch up with him and hold angel blades to his throat.

Sam and Dean arrive at… a casino. The receptionist greets them in utter silence and a little bemusement while Sam zonks out, hearing things.

Naomi arrives and Castiel protests at the treatment of the humans, they’re supposed to be shepherds not murderers. Naomi reminds him of all the slaying all the first born sons of Egypt thing as a pretty strong counter argument. Castiel doesn’t even remember it since Naomi has messed with his mind so many times. She sends Ion and Esper to search all the fast food restaurants, assuming he has hidden it along the way.

On the fake boat with the tablet, Kevin sends fake!Sam and Dean for food. And Crowley is surrounded by sycophants watching Kevin on CCTV

The real Sam and Dean get a room – and notice no-one has stayed there since 2006. And Sam is even more zonked out, remembering things from when Dean was 4 and giggling about them. Dean leaves him behind to go check out the Tribal Museum. An old man there tells him the history of the place and that it was the “home on earth of the great spirit’s sacred messenger.” He would bless them in exchange for stories. Looking at one of the old photos, Dean sees the hotel/casino’s silent receptionist in one.

Zonked Sam goes walkabout and finds a big pile of boxes full of books – fiction. Sam staggers back to his room to desperately inform Dean about the boxed up library – and faints.

Y’know, you can play the ominous music all you want, but there’s no way you’re going to convince me that a power that delivers eternal life in exchange for storybooks is a bad thing. Stop trying to instil drama through music because the action isn’t doing so – it’s cheap and not fooling anyone.

Castiel is still a prisoner being beaten up by Esper because he and Ion can’t find the tablet. The torture is about to begin when Crowley appears and shoots them both with a special gun. Special in that the angels actually fall rather than make him eat it. The bullets are made from angel blades. Naomi is not amused and goes all glowy and angely – and Crowley points the gun at her. He fires – and she disappears. He made her run, Crowley can accept that. Ion staggers to his feet holding his wounded arm, Castiel notices and Crowley confirms that, yes, Ion is on his payroll. He shoots Castiel in the stomach and takes him prisoner. Presumably there’s a reason why Castiel doesn’t just flap away.

Sam wakes up – in an icebath. Wonderfully shocking. Dean found him passed out with a high temperature and resorted to desperate measures to bring it down. Sam says he can hear Metatron.

Kevin, meanwhile, tells Fake!Dean & Sam that he’s wrong, he needs the other half of the tablet, so he’s going to tell them where it’s hidden. Of course Crowley is busy talking to Castiel – and he has made some logical deductions Naomi missed. If Castiel broke Naomi’s control by touching the tablet, would he ever stop? The tablet is buried inside Castiel’s torso.

You’ll be shocked to learn that Kevin was lying to Fake!Dean & Sam. He sent the demons into a devil trap and forced them to listen to awful, awful music.

Back to the real Sam & Dean, Sam is still remembering things from when he was a small child and staggering around – and he mentions how, on some level, he knew he had demon blood when he was young, he thought he was “not clean” enough to go on a holy quest. And the trials are purifying him of that demon blood.

This revelation revealed, they arrive at the book filled hotel room – it has even more books than my house – and an old man with a gun who makes Sam’s ear’s buzz and can teleport around the room. Metatron. Metatron is out of the loop so much he doesn’t even know who they are – and worries they may be working for Michael or Lucifer. He doesn’t know they’re in Hell, doesn’t know Gabriel and Raphael are both dead. And Sam is hearing ringing because he’s resonating with the word– Metatron himself because of how far along with the trials he is – ready to pull “one of the great levers.” And he’s been hiding because he isn’t an Archangel, he’s a secretary. When god left, the Archangels started taking over, plotting themselves and Metatron realised they would need him, the word of god, so he hid.

It’s no good, Alan Rickman will always be Metatron to me.

Castiel and Ion talk while Castiel pulls the bullet out of himself. Castiel appealing to their mission, their purpose and Ion saying they don’t even know what that was since they’ve had forces in their heads changing their minds. Ion turned because he worked for Naomi and, rather than having his memory altered constantly like the soldier angels were, he remembered everything. And Castiel smacks him over the head. Then he forces the angel sword bullet into Ion’s eye. Well damn…

And Crowley goes to see Kevin. Who is much much more together than he was earlier. He says even on their best day Sam and Dean wouldn’t go out and get Kevin BBQ when there are leftovers in the fridge. The demons were too polite.

Back with Metatron, Sam loses it with the word of god. He’s read all these stories, been in awe of them, and hidden – despite all the suffering he’s read about, despite no-one knows how much evil the angels themselves have done, he’s just hidden. Dean backs Sam up and lands his own punch – Kevin, dead (or so they think) because angels involved him in their schemes.

Kevin’s very much alive and he’s taunting Crowley. TAUNTING HIM. Crowley grabs him by the throat and slams him against a wall. And Kevin glows with a bright shining light and makes that high pitched angel sound – Crowley’s thrown across the room, badly burned.

And Kevin appears in Metatron’s room, in his chair, Metatron heals his injuries. He got past Crowley’s angel warnings because he’s the scribe of god – he erased them. He tells Dean that it’s their choice to close the gates of hell – it’s always their choice – but they have to consider the cost and what the world will be like afterwards

Kevin wakes up and tells them the third trial – cure a demon.

Cut to them driving along the road, Sam & Dean (what about Kevin?) and stopping for a figure in the road – Castiel, not in the best shape.


For some reason the idea that the angels can’t find Castiel among a sea of identical franchises cracks me up. Just Ion saying “there’s just so many of them…”

The petroglyph… look Supernatural already has a severe problem with treating other cultures and religions poorly. Not only does it have a mythos that pretty much ascertains the Abrahamic faith as being true – but it has repeatedly cast other beliefs as lesser with things like Lucifer massacring his way through Hindu deities, presenting other deities as demons/monsters etc. With that history, presenting a Native American tribe with a Judeo-Christian symbol while, at the same time, having them survive while their neighbours were killed is deeply problematic and another assertion of the superiority/strength/veracity of Abrahamic Religion.

I don’t know whether it’s stupendously arrogant for Sam to expect all angels to have heard of him or merely an acknowledgement of how important and powerful they’ve been over the years