Sunday, February 11, 2018

Supernatural, Season 13, Episode 13: Devil's Bargain

So it turns out that Castiel stabbing Lucifer with an angel blade didn’t go quite as planned. In fact, Castiel ended up half dead in a park or forest or woodland or something

Lucifer is a tough cookie to kill.

Lucifer, meanwhile, is trying to stock up on grace, apparently not having snacked on Castiel. Instead he finds a passing Cupid (who is a disgrace to humanity since he rewards a woman who willfully destroys perfectly good cake with true love rather than sending her to the worst depths of hell as she deserves), sucks him dry of grace and, duly vulnerable and human like, plunges his arm right through the man’s chest

Which is messy

But also doesn’t net Lucifer a whole lot of grace because Cupids are pretty low down the angelic totem pole. More, since Lucifer is all human like without his own grace, he’s suffering from hunger and cold and other squishy human things. Without money or super powers he resorts to begging. And fails because everyone can pretty much sense his “I want everyone to die” vibe. He does win the pity of a fellow beggar whio helpfully tells him about a faith healer who has “angel” written all over her

He goes to check her out and finds Anael, an angel who is using her angelic powers to heal - for considerable profit. Yes, she’s not the nicest of people and, upon falling along with the rest of heaven, she decided not to freak out or panic but to study humanity and do the best she could with her assets, choosing the right vessel and going into business. And she does consider herself a business woman.

She is ruthless, cold, disinclined to panic and very intelligent. So when Lucifer comes to her, she doesn’t panic - she offers him a deal. He can snack on her grace - but not all of it, not enough to kill her. He can take a little grace, let her regenerate and then take more so on so forth, guaranteeing him a nice, continuous supply to get up to full power while she doesn’t get dead - and has lots of time to ingratiate herself and almost seduce him.

She also tells her story - and it’s a nice complex one. Because back in heaven she was a very low ranked angel, she had a very boring, monotonous job and any ideas she had were just ignored because her rank was just too low. It really emphasises the whole idea of free will, lack of agency and the issue angels had - and just how little freedom they had. While most angels panicked when they fell, she rejoiced because she was free. Interestingly this doesn’t actually resonate with Lucifer as he was always about trying to please dad and failing and then resenting it more than seeking his own freedom. But it does add another angle on angeldom. Anael also feels human when her grace is drained and likes it - the ability to feel, all that hope and love. While Lucifer clearly is not a fan - not just because of all the physical sensations but also because he’s much more inclined to doubt and worry about things like being a good father when he has all these human emotions

Can we have a shenanigans here? Because the idea that angels don’t feel seems… odd. We’ve seen angels be angry, jealous, feel abandoned - and Castiel has felt just about every emotion under the sun. I think we need to expand this idea of angels feeling differently

Castiel returns to Sam and Dean, letting them know about Lucifer being back, about Mary being alive in the alternate dimension, about the evil archangel Michael’s plan to destroy everything etc etc. It’s a lot and Sam and Dean aren’t exactly thrilled with Castiel working with Lucifer but Castiel stands by his choice.

The plan is to tap prophet Donatella and, powered by a huge amount of fried chicken, he will use the demon tablet to figure out how to open a portal to the parallel dimension so they can free Jack and Mary. They also need Lucifer’s grace to power this. So not a big ask

And for added vexation, Kentucky Fried Archdemon Asmodeus is also looking for Lucifer. He wants him dead before he gets back to full power and they’re all doomed. He dispatched Ketch who-should-be-dead to hunt him down. He ends up running into Dean, Sam and Castiel to make a plea for them all to work together. Yeah no-one’s having that: Castiel uses his angel mojo to send Ketch to sleep

They don’t kill him

Why they don’t kill him I don’t know

They really should kill him

The winchesters find Anael and think she’s been kidnapped by Lucifer - not realising she’s not a full collaborator - she warns Lucifer while hiding from them that he has recharged his grace a lot. Which means when they confront him he’s powered up enough for things to go badly wrong. They’re saved by Ketch (who should be dead) and Lucifer and Anael escape. Lucifer winded - he’s powered up but not that powered up yet.

Of course Ketch saving them means they do make a deal to work with him and not just murder him. They really should just murder him - especially since he tells them he;s working for Asmodeus

Asmodeus also uses his disguise act to make sure Donatello tells him if they manage to open a portal to the alternate world. Asmodeus doesn’t like fried chicken - because Supernatural is fully aware of the character they’ve created here. Asmodeus also has an Archangel blade - a weapon that can kill Lucifer. Except only an archangel can wield it

He has Gabriel imprisoned - and mutilated and tortured. And I’m going to ask how that happened since even holding Castiel captured was taxing. I know Princes of Hell are big deals but Archangels are supposed to be the biggest of deals.

Lucifer decides to consolidate his strength - by going to the angels. The angels are all prepared to dog pile him when he makes them an offer: he knows how to make more angels. We know they’ve been panicking about their lowering numbers for a long time: as one of the oldest of Archangels, Lucifer saw God create the other angels. He adds in an offer to get their wings back - all in exchange for their allegiance

Which is a big ask… but he’s offering their continued survival. And with Asmodeus in charge of hell, the angels are concerned whether they have the mojo to take on hell (and there’s never a shortage of demons). They agree… and kneel before Lucifer, new king of heaven

I can actually see the angels supporting Lucifer after so little deliberation and despite him being the Enemy. Give their desperation over their population it makes sense (think back, from the Fall, to Castiel’s Leviathan time to various other battles - how many angels have died and not been replaced?) - but also the decimation of their leadership and the fact, as Anael revealed - angels don’t lead. Free will is alien to them. Lucifer saying they need a leader makes sense: they’ve had millennia of being led

Supernatural has always been kind of inconsistent with angelic powers. At one time they were terrifying tanks of incredible power that no-one could touch. Then they were fodder like many other creatures… now we seem to be inching back towards angels-are-scary land. We can see this especially with Castiel’s power. Last episode he used the “I touch you and sear you to death from the inside” power - this was always one of the scary things about angels. Demons, who could literally only be killed by a tiny number of super powerful weapons (the colt, the demon knife, the first blade, angelic blades. Killing a demon was a major thing) could be killed by an angel with a single touch. It made angels super scary… and then they just… stopped doing it? For reasons? (About the same time everyone and his cousin started acquiring demon knives/angel blades). Now we had Castiel doing it again - and sending humans to sleep with a touch. And am I seeing a change of attitude? For a long time Castiel seemed to be almost subservient to the Winchesters - but now while he’s not as arrogant as he first was, there’s a sense of… I don’t know, a “I don’t have to justify myself to you” vibe when Dean is chewing him out for working with Lucifer. It’s not huge but I feel a slight sense of “hey, you remember I’m like a million year old angel, right?”. I’m thinking the writers, with the new focus on Lucifer, the Archangels and heaven, is trying to pull back from the whole Castiel-as-pet/comic-relief and remind us of Castiel of season 4: a being whose true form burned out a woman’s eyes, whose true voice brust Dean’s ear drums and shattered all the windows in a building.

But for all that - I still need an explanation for Gabriel here

This would also be a good time for Chuck to show up again