The Christmas-related preview that followed the mid-season finale, "O Brother Where Art Thou", was so bizarre that I couldn't imagine how they could possibly make an episode out of it. What clever misdirection.
I loved this episode. It had everything that makes Supernatural such an outstanding series: it was clever, rich in detail, faithful to the characters, and in line with the extensive and complicated series mythology. But mostly, I loved that Lucifer managed to get out again. And how he did it.
Although this wasn't actually a Christmas episode (except for Rowena's whacko dream in the teaser), the basic structure was patterned on A Christmas Carol. Lucifer did his level best to get Sam to say yes to vessel-dom by taking him through the ghosts of Winchester past and present. I was so pleased to see Colin Ford again as dashing teen beanpole Sam getting some smoochies from a small-town girl, as well as flashbacks to Sam and Amelia (and the dog), and even the season five showdown with Sam's heroic descent into the Cage. Lucifer suggested that the reason Sam went overboard to get rid of the Mark of Cain was guilt over not rescuing Dean from Purgatory, which made sense.
The central theme of this episode, and what Lucifer was getting at with the memory lane crap, was Sam and Dean as heroes sacrificing their lives to save the world, instead of continuing to sacrifice innocent lives to save each other. Lucifer was certain he could talk Sam into sacrificing his body in order to let Lucifer defeat his auntie, the Darkness. I was downright proud of Sam for realizing the obvious and completing the thought -- as in, yeah, Lucifer beats the Darkness, and then he pops a brewski and brings on the Apocalypse just for the hell of it, pun intended.
Lucifer promptly lost his temper and started beating the boys, but clearly, he never stopped thinking. I guess he's not the prince of lies for nothing. I was pretty sure Lucifer would make it through the episode and get out somehow, but I never once considered the possibility of Castiel as Lucifer's vessel. I absolutely loved Misha Collins doing a practically perfect imitation of Mark Pellegrino. Whoever in the writers' room thought of this particular twist should get a bonus. The only sad part about it is that we won't see Mark Pellegrino again. Okay, I suppose there could be flashbacks, but I doubt it.
(Okay, I probably also need to mention that we absolutely have to get the real Castiel back. You can consider it implied.)
Castiel saying yes to Lucifer was set up so well, too, with cute little Ambriel, Heaven's statistician, telling Castiel that Dean and Sam were the real heroes, and she and Castiel were expendable. She reminded Castiel of all the things he's done wrong, and that his fellow angels despise him. Of course, Castiel would sacrifice himself to save the world as well as Heaven, just as the Winchesters would. Lucifer's ultimate goal was to take over Heaven. I bet that's still on the agenda.
And finally, Rowena. I knew she was toast as soon as she confirmed Lucifer's guess that she was the only one who could open the Cage. That's gratitude for you. And as they usually do, Supernatural gave Rowena's character some closure. Rowena admitted she hated Crowley because he was a reminder of her humanity, of love, and she saw love as weakness. At least she and Crowley got to spend a little quality time together sparring over tea with honey and a splash of milk before Lucifer/Castiel broke her neck.
The big question for me is, what happens to a witch who dies in Hell? One would assume that she would... go to Hell. I'm metaphysically confused. Any theories?
Bits and pieces:
-- Billie the reaper returned. I love that there is now a continuing Supernatural character named after me. What comic book was she reading when Castiel showed up?
-- Rowena said that Crowley's father was a rich man who abandoned her. I thought Crowley was conceived during a bacchanal?
-- Dean went down a stairway to Hell. Not a Zeppelin song.
-- Dean vomited from "smiting sickness". I don't remember him ever vomiting before, but hey, eleven seasons.
-- The forest where Amara was smited (smitten?) was dark during the day, I think because all the souls Amara had sucked were freed. The souls going back into her body looked cool. Sort of like Willow in Buffy season six.
-- A lot of the camera work in Hell showed Crowley and Rowena *through* the fire place. Very nice, like implied hell fire.
-- This week: Kenesaw, Nebraska; Hell; the MoL bunker; and wherever the angels smote the Darkness.
-- And the password is: Camptown Ladies.
Crowley: (holding up a Sam Winchester doll) "Mom! Mom! I got a Sam!"
Lucifer: "You're betting on Dean?"
Sam: "I always have."
Lucifer: (to Sam) "By the way, I thought I had daddy issues. But you? Wow."
Rowena: "Lucifer has a plan, and..."
Crowley: "And he's the devil."
Rowena: "You say that like it's a bad thing."
Crowley: "Oh, I'm a bad thing. He's a worse thing."
Dean: (on Sam's voicemail) "Sam can't talk right now 'cause he's waxing. Like everything. But leave a message."
Crowley: (voicemail) "Thank you for phoning Crowley, King of Hell. For demon deals, press one. To report a sighting of that ginger whore Rowena, press two."
Castiel: "The last time there was a smiting of this magnitude, Lot's wife turned to salt."
Lucifer: "Ass butt. I still don't get that."
Lucifer: "Snapping necks and cashing checks. It's what I do."
Ambriel: "I don't hate you, Castiel."
Castiel: "Thank you."
Ambriel: "I mean, we have a lot in common. Our names rhyme, and that's a big one. I look good in a trench coat, too. And we're both expendable."
Crowley: "Don't worry about Sam."
Dean: "I'm sorry, have you met me?"
Amara: "My brother always did have horrible taste in men."
Laugh out loud. I have no idea why this struck me funny, but it did.
Crowley: "A little tip, Mother. Never accept a cup of tea from someone who loathes you."
Lucifer: "Prison life hasn't really agreed with Michael. These days he's usually sitting in a corner singing show tunes and touching himself."
Okay, but what about Adam Winchester?
Sam: "Let's say you gank her. Then what?"
Lucifer: "Move to L.A.? Solve crimes?"
A reference to the new Lucifer series?
Wonderful episode. Four out of four witch catchers,
Billie the reviewer, not Billie the reaper
Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.
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