Curtis Armstrong got a big chance to shine in this episode, and did he ever. The Masterpiece Theater take-off (very "Storyteller"), that big close-up jovial smile, and I love how nearly everything Metatron says is couched in terms of literary and cinematic criticism. The bad guy usually does see himself as the good guy in his own story, and it makes sense that Metatron would choose the rebellious but reluctant Castiel as his opponent, and puff him up as the leader of the rival gang of angels. Castiel has been underused as a character, so I'm cool with that.
I was confused about what was happening with the storytelling, though. There is no prophet now, and former prophet Chuck was simply compelled to record what was already happening to the Winchesters. Yes, Metatron was manipulating Castiel by making him see things that weren't there, but was Metatron also writing scenes on that typewriter and making them happen? Is that included in his new pantheon of "I'm God now" powers, like blowing out angel fire and breezing past sigils?
At least we got to see our beloved Gabriel/Trickster again. (Big woo hoo from Billie as Casa Erotica 14 popped up on Castiel's motel TV.) Although I knew right away that it couldn't be real, mostly because Gabriel was acting a bit off, not like the Gabriel was all know, love, and miss very much. It's not that I wouldn't love to have Gabriel back, but they resurrect too many characters on this show and it never goes well. At least we got to spend some quality time with Richard Speight again.
(Did anyone else think at first that Gabriel was going to make Castiel a new archangel, perhaps with some extra grace? Yeah, that would help the writers figure out what to do with Castiel -- making him even more powerful.)
Meanwhile back in the bunker, Jensen Ackles is usually awesome, and I mean acting-wise, not standing in a shower (and if you're going to give us Dean in a shower, could you make it last a bit longer next time?). But the super grim way he's reacting to the Mark of Cain is starting to bug me. I'm also tired of being told that Sam secretly thinks Dean is pathetic and doesn't care what happens to him. Maybe I'm seeing Supernatural differently than everyone else, but it feels like it conflicts with the rest of the series and isn't working for me. Which I may have said before, and possibly will again.
At any rate, the way the Winchesters tricked Gadreel into an angel trap was smart. I knew that Tahmoh Penikett would eventually get something cool to do; the way Gadreel tried to talk Dean into killing him and then begged for death was effective, and it's very interesting how not onboard Gadreel appears to be with Metatron's agenda.
But what happened in the end? Gadreel was beaten unconscious by Dean, and then they were trading him for Castiel -- did something else happen in between? And how come the boys were smart enough to catch Gadreel but they both looked like idiots in the parking lot with Metatron? Is it just because they didn't realize how powerful Metatron is now, or did they want Gadreel back with Metatron? Or am I seeing a twist where there isn't any, because writers love a good twist?
I'm not complaining, really. This was an enjoyable and creative meta episode, the sort of cleverness that Supernatural pulls off so beautifully, even if it didn't end as well as it could. And I especially loved Metatron giving Castiel an immense shot of pop culture. That's going to be fun.
-- Metatron got his own credits. I always love it when they do special credits.
-- Castiel's grace is disintegrating. Because it's not his, I assume?
-- The top of the Gabriel's horn angel siren symbol was the same as the Gas 'n Sip sign. Was that deliberate?
-- Metatron as Gabriel got pretty creative with the Sawyer-like nicknames: Columbo, Hotpants, Old Bean.
-- This week: Bishops Falls and Ogden, Utah. Castiel stayed in the Cedar Lodge. Did we meet that poor guy in Ian's Herbal whatever before? I don't remember him.
Metatron: "What makes a story work? The plot, the characters, the text? The subtext?"
Castiel: (reading) "'Honor bar'. What's honorable about a miniature bar in a motel room?"
Castiel: "I miss my wings. Life on the road… smells."
I recently spent a couple of weeks on the road. It can indeed smell.
Castiel: "Where have you been?"
Gabriel: "Oh, you know, hither with a side of yon."
Gabriel: "I dropped. I hid. I finally watched Downton Abbey."
Gabriel: "I got hurt in the fall, too. Used most of my juice to get back into porn. (pause) That came out wrong. (pause) So did that."
Gabriel: "Aw, crap. I really hate continuity errors."
Metatron: "I just gave you every book, movie and TV show I have consumed in the last couple of millennia. Now do you understand that the universe is made up of stories, not atoms?"
Castiel: "I understand that that's a quote by Muriel Rukeyser."
Castiel: "Can you bring angels back to heaven?"
Metatron: "Sorry. No spoilers."
Dean: "Did you just understand a Death Star reference?"
Metatron: "Either of you bring smores? Holy fire always gives them a delightful minty aftertaste."
Metatron: "That is why we rewrite. That was God's problem. He published the first draft."
This was the first episode in a long time that I was anxious to watch a second time, although it wasn't quite as good as it could have been. Does that make it three out of four smores?
Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.
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