Thursday, April 17, 2014

Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 18: Meta Fiction

Metatron playing narrator and breaking the 4th wall? Nah, Supernatural, don’t do this it never works. Don’t try to be artsy

Now, Dean showering. That works. Hotness comes with Mark of Cain angst, though. He continues to pretend nothing’s wrong though

To Castiel! Yes Castiel! My angel’s back! And he rips his coat – since this is brought to our attention AND that harming Castiel’s coat is blasphemy, there is bound to be a story purpose behind this. He’s following a blood trail to an absolute massacre of angels – with a strange, halo’d V symbol in blood on one wall. He talks to an injured survivor, Hannah, who heard a musical, heavenly tone and followed it along with a lot of angels. It was a Metatron recruitment pitch (promising a return to Heaven, which is supposed to be impossible) and it ended badly for those who turned him down. She and her fellows want to follow the great leader Castiel – but he refuses on account of the fact EPIC BAD THINGS happen when he’s in charge. He does intend to hunt down Metatron though – and Hannah adds that Gadreel (the Sam possessor) is working for Metatron too.

He passes this on to the Winchesters and this is the first time they realise Gadreel is Metatron’s puppet and not just acting on his own and Castiel and Dean have a moment with Cas’s endless bemusement over the world. They identify the luring-angel spell as having being used in several different mass murders in Utah. They can plot Gareel’s route though and find two possible locations for his next stop. Castiel takes one, Dean and Sam the other

Castiel is joined by… Gabriel. Who is supposed to be dead, killed by his brother Lucifer. But since he has been playing Loki for a few centuries I guess we should have expected deception. He was hiding in Heaven and then fell with the rest when Castiel and Metatron barred Heaven. Metatron is now hunting him – which shouldn’t be a problem because the four Archangels are pretty much unstoppable by anything but another Archangel – but Gabriel lost most of his power in the Fall. Gabe’s now revealed himself because the little musical thingy to bring all the angels into a trap is the Horn of Gabriel and isn’t meant to be used for angel killing. Gabe wants to join in the killing Metatron quest – in fact, he wants to lead it.

Trusting Gabriel is a bad idea. I’m just going on record with that now. Gabe leaves a message for Dean and Sam about being back and he and Castiel exposition a little on how they’re different from other angels – since angels are generally pretty bad at free will and all that. Cas denies how special he is but gets a rather accurate “you’ve been god more often than dad has.” Which I don’t think we can really argue against. Anyway, Gabe is happy to step up to lead (I repeat about not trusting him).

When they stop for petrol, Metatron’s minions drive up. Gabe decides to hold them off so Castiel can escape – surprise! Yes he wants Castiel to be leader not him. It’s a bold and brave moment – and Castiel notices his coat isn’t torn. It’s all an illusion.

Castiel has actually been taken prisoner by Metatron and is even now tied to a chair in his office (whether or not Gabriel is alive, dead, real, enemy or friend remains, as ever, a mystery). Metatron (who is extremely well read and has a vast reverence for stories) has no patience for Castiel’s complete lack of any kind of cultural knowledge so just downloads everything he’s read into Castiel’s head just so he’ll get the literary references. That could be… interesting. This love of stories is kind of why Metatron brought Castiel to him – he needs a villain to contrast with his hero – so he needs Castiel to step up and actually lead the dissident angels.

Castiel isn’t playing and a place in Heaven isn’t a sufficient bribe – but that stolen Grace Castiel has is running out

Sam and Dean, meanwhile, find the hunter shop in town only to find Gadreel got their first, picked up supplies and killed the owner. But they do find Gadreel – and trap him in a circle of burning holy oil and Sam has Issues he wants to work out on the angel. Which is fun and all but won’t actually make Gadreel talk. For that they need Castiel who is (obviously) not answering his phone. Dean wants to send Sam because his rage over Gadreel isn’t helpful.

That leaves Dean with Gadreel and questioning or not he just wants the angel to suffer after the death of Kevin and possession of Sam (actually mainly Sam, there has been little mention of Kevin). Gadreel does the classic “I will enrage you so you kill me” scene and Dean refuses, throwing back the equally clichéd “I’m going to leave my enemies alive so they can suffer more, even though killing them would be much more sensible and efficient.”

Sam, meanwhile, gets all irritated at the number of missed calls from Dean (suggesting some of Gadreel’s rant about Dean being ridiculously co-dependent is hardly inaccurate; but then, we knew that) and Metatron offers a trade: Gadreel for Castiel.

Sam returns to find Dean in full on angst mode and Gadreel rather badly mangled. Anyway, Sam’s plan is to make the exchange and trap Metatron. Which they do – though Metatron totally saw the trap coming. Holy fire doesn’t work on Metatron – no idea why but he does tend to know all the best secrets. He makes the exchange anyway and gives them back Castiel ”because he can.”

The good guys brainstorm how to defeat Metatron when he’s using all the Angel Tablet power (and the Winchesters have the deep shock of Castiel getting a pop culture reference – ruining it, but he gets it). Castiel is not even slightly happy about Dean wearing the Mark of Cain though.

In the closing scenes, Metatron writes his play – and Castiel plays his part; calling (I don’t think this is him being a puppet, I think it’s Metatron just predicting what Castiel will do) the other Angels to him.

Mah, I’m not buying it. Whatever Metatron’s love of the narrative, the whole idea that he’s setting up an opposition and letting Sam, Dean and Castiel work against him and even trying to organise a resistance for some kind of storytelling need just falls flat for me. I need a real motive behind this shenanigans. I would say “boredom” because he’s won already and rules heaven – but how short is this guy’s attention span? He’s held Heaven for, what, a year? And he already needs to manufacture enemies to keep himself amused? I’m hoping that “God looked over them smiling at his good works” is not Metatron’s self-reference but maybe some convoluted side reference (after all, he is the voice of God?)

Did all the angels just stop hating Castiel? There’s no resentment here?

I also kind of expected the Mark of Cain to be a little more epic than it has been. Its been a vehicle for angst. Supernatural needs another vehicle for angst as much as the Vampire Diaries needs a convoluted love triangle, the 100 needs some extra characters or the Tomorrow People needs a badly executed retcon.