SPN 9.21: King of the Damned review-ish
You know there’s a problem with a show when you think, “Well, that could have been a lot worse,” but when the episode was penned by the writing team of Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming, it’s a good thing. How sad is that? I have to say though that there were no PoCs in dog collars or major canon violations. So, they appear to be improving. I’m not suggesting that the writing was sophisticated or subtle. The dialogue was often ham-fisted, the characterization two-dimensional, and scenes cliched.
Going into the last three episodes of the season, there were two battles going on: Castiel and his resistance movement against Metatron and his loyalists, and Crowley against Abaddon. Interestingly enough, Crowley turned out to have no loyalists left in his inner circle, but more on that later. To begin, Sam and Dean get a call from Castiel and drive to an old power plant where they find him in a cliched version of War Games, complete with a big light up map on the wall. How many shows have we seen that in? It’s not a big thing, but just once I’d like to see a show put a little more thought into “command central.”
After hugging Sam and Dean — still weird — Castiel reveals that he’s captured on of Metatron’s foot soldiers and he needs someone to interrogate the guy. Apparently, he can’t get his hands dirty because he’s not that kind of guy anymore, so he wants the Winchesters to do his dirty work. Recalling “On the Head of Pin,” Castiel says that they might not want to, and Dean shrugs it off with a “Why wouldn’t I want to?” When Dean leaves the room, Castiel stops Sam for a talk, but instead of asking how Sam is or how Dean is doing with the Mark of Cain as one might expect, Castiel asks what is was like when Sam was possessed. Did he ever feel that Gadreel was hostile? Sam says he didn’t, but since Gadreel killed Kevin, he must have been wrong about that feeling. Really? He didn’t feel Gadreel was hostile when he said that Sam no longer existed, stole his body, and then fought to stay in it? None of that seemed hostile? I can’t decide if it’s just bad writing or … yeah, I think it’s bad writing.
Sam and Dean then go to interrogate the dweeb angel that was working for Metatron. Dean becomes aggressive right away, and Sam has to call him off like he was an attack dog. Sam then starts making fun of the angel, suggesting that Metatron would never choose a guy like that, and essentially calling him a poseur. Dean sees where Sam is going with the strategy and joins him. The two of them work together belittling the angel until he gives away that he really does know next to nothing except that there is a portal to heaven which moves around making it difficult to find. The angel is later found stabbed to death, which reveals there is a Metatron mole in Castiel’s camp.
Dean gets a call from Crowley that he knows where Abaddon is. He gives the Winchesters the location of the First Blade, so they can retrieve it. It turns out that it is inside a corpse buried at a cemetery, and the cemetery is guarded by one of Crowley’s hellhounds. Sam and Dean take refuge inside a mausoleum, and Dean calls Crowley and puts him on speakerphone. In some heavy foreshadowing, Crowley calls off the dog — “Juliette, it’s daddy. Stand down.” — much as Sam called Dean off earlier. Knowing the kind of power the blade is having on Dean, Sam insists on retrieving it from the corpse.
Meanwhile, Castiel meets with Gadreel to try to convince him that he can’t trust Metatron. Gadreel still insists that he wasn’t to blame for what happened in the Garden of Eden. Cas tries to point out that Gadreel is being duped by Metatron just as he was, but Gadreel is all, “But I gave my word.” I can’t decide if he’s a liar or just a bonehead. The two of them are attacked by a pack of Metatron loyalists, and after the fight Cas follows Gadreel to another location and tells him that the offer to work together still stands.
While all that was going on — this is an action packed episode, folks — Crowley discovered that his inner circle betrayed him to Abaddon, who went back in time and abducted his son, Gavin, to use against him. While that might not have worked in the past — we know from season six that there was no love lost between the two — his recent human blood addiction has given him “feels.” Abaddon soon has Gavin writhing in pain and bleeding and begging on the floor, and Crowley caves. He calls Dean and gives Abaddon’s location, but manages to warn Dean by using the word Poughkeepsie as he learned in “Road Trip” is a Winchester code word. Dean, however, doesn’t tell Sam they’re walking into a trap. Instead, he sends Sam on a wild goose chase. Sam looks dubious but goes along with checking out the basement. Really? He doesn’t call Dean on it? I’m really getting fed up with gullible Sam whenever it’s convenient for the writers. Sam isn’t stupid, and he knows damned well that despite telling Dean no more lies and secrets, that’s Dean’s MO. I just don’t buy that Sam would trust Dean’s word at this point.
Be that as it may, he does and Dean walks into the penthouse. (Have we seen that set before? Seemed familiar.) He fins Crowley collapsed in a chair after having been shot by Abaddon with a magic bullet that makes him powerless. Dean and Abaddon face off, she pins him to the wall a couple of times — and okay, I’ve just got to say here that the pinning to the wall thing is just starting to look silly at this point. Anyway, she pins him a couple of times. He drops the blade but Luke Skywalkers it back into his hand. (Wait, wasn’t Sam supposed to be Luke?) Abaddon’s givin’ it all she’s got, but Dean draws power from the blade and stabs her just as Sam bursts through the door with his mane blowing in the supernatural wind of demon power. Abaddon falls to the floor and Dean stabs her, and stabs her, and stabs her, and … you get the idea. Sam yells at him to stop and eventually gets through to him. Dean looks up, covered in blood with a bewildered look on his face. Crowley peeks back over the chair at his champion.
It was kind of disappointing to see Abaddon go out with so little fanfare. Like Meg, and Eve before her, another female character with great potential got unceremoniously kicked to the curb. Maybe if they hadn’t wasted an episode on that abomination last week (or should we say abortion given its cancellation?), more time could have been taken playing out these final plot points with demon battle.
In what will surely come back to haunt the Winchesters, they take their eye off Crowley for a moment and he makes off with his son whom he leaves in 2014. Gavin was supposed to die in a ship wreck on the way to the Colonies, but that can’t happen now. As Sam warned Crowley, any change in the past will have a ripple effect that could completely change the future, and with Gavin now in the future, who knows what might happen?
The episode ends as they so often do with a conversation between Sam and Dean in the Impala. Sam confronts Dean about his lie to keep Sam out of the line of fire. Sam accuses Dean of doing it to protect him again, and Dean explains that since the first time he picked up the blade, he knew that he would kill Abaddon with it. That he had sense of calm. “I had to go it alone, Sammy,” Dean says. This is a far cry from what he said in “Sacrifice”: “I can’t do this alone,” or in “I Think I’m Going to Like it Here”: “There ain’t no me if there ain’t no you.” So much of the conflict between the two of them has been about Sam staying with Dean and whether Sam had Dean’s back. Dean is saying here that he no longer needs that. The blade gives him the ability to go it alone. “We keep each other human,” has never had more significance because the First Blade is causing Dean to lose touch with his humanity.
Sam is clearly troubled by what’s happening to Dean and suggests that they take the blade and put is somewhere safe. Dean simply replies, “No.” It’s easy to see the parallels here with Sam and his demon blood addiction. He liked the feeling of power and control it gave him and refused to see how it was destroying him. Dean is being seduced by the fact that he no longer feels guilt or remorse while under the influence of the blade. He is losing his humanity and his connection to Sam — both things that cause him a great deal of pain.
I was reminded of the conversation that Dean and Soulless!Sam had in in “Clap Your Hands If You Believe” about suffering. Dean insisted it was the only game in town. That’s what having a soul meant. Soulless!Sam seemed dubious as to why that was a good thing. Similarly, Castiel echoed the idea in “First Blade” when he told Sam that being human had taught him what it meant to truly feel guilt and be sorry for something. That’s what Dean is losing touch with. He is losing his soul. Just as Abaddon was Lucifer’s top knight, Dean is becoming Crowley’s top soldier. Like Juliette, he’s becoming Crowley’s attack dog.
It will be interesting to see where they go with this storyline. My feeling is that the season will end with a cliff hanger, not resolution of the Sam and Dean rift or bringing down Metatron. One possibility I’ve heard bandied about is that Dean will kill Sam. I’m not sure where they’d go with that. Sam as a ghost working from within heaven? I like the idea that Dean kill Crowley and become the King of the Damned himself. What irony. After he browbeat Sam throughout season four over his alliance with Ruby and drinking demon blood, after calling Sam a monster, to become the very thing he feared for his brother … delicious.
Prediction: That will not happen. TPTB hate my ideas. 😉