Supernatural: Don't Call Me Shurley

"Dude, quit ironing my shirts with beer."

Oh. My. Chuck.


This episode was HUGE. It answered questions Supernatural has been asking for eleven years, and it did so with humour, grace (see what I did there?), passion and genuine warmth for its characters.

I absolutely loved it.

An episode like this is always going to be divisive. Not everyone wants these questions answered, and of those that do, not everyone will like the answer as presented. The show has an advantage in that Chuck is a fan favourite, his true identity was heavily hinted at years ago, and I suspect a hefty majority of fans assumed that he was, in fact, God, and had done for a while. I knew that was going to be confirmed as soon as I saw him, and the World's Greatest Dad mug was a beautiful touch that clinched it (I suspect he bought that for himself).

I would never have predicted that Metatron would be the one to rediscover God (or be rediscovered by God), after so many big hitters have spent so many years searching for Him. This episode pulled off another minor miracle in the midst of the major ones, though, by making me like and root for Metatron, something I certainly didn't think possible! Part of that is down to Curtis Armstrong's performance. Both he and Rob Benedict were on fire here (not literally). Benedict's ability to flip between his schlubby, amiable Chuck persona and a wrathful deity was brilliant, and both actors absolutely sold the material throughout. I could happily have watched them argue in a room together all day.

Chuck. Chuck! CHUCK!

For much of the episode, Sam and Dean's struggles with Amara's death fog felt a bit like a distraction from the main show, even though Amara's onslaught was, of course, central to the plot. But then, we got that ending. I was already giddy with joy at seeing the Samulet again - the real one! - but for a show as dark and miserable as Supernatural usually is to pull off an actual, shining-white-light-all-around miracle and make it feel real and earned is seriously impressive. I have no idea where we go from here (I wonder if Sam and Dean are going to lose some carefully selected memories by the beginning of season 12) but this episode's final scene was utterly, utterly beautiful, and such a relief after so many years of - and I mean this in every sense of the word - darkness.

This episode was written by Robbie Thompson, who has been my favourite writer on the show for some time now. Part of the reason for that is that his writing is absolutely hilarious - I laughed so many times during this episode, without any of it detracting from its dramatic punch. But it's also because he really gets what the show is, at its heart. Not just because he knows it inside out (and that 'Bugs' is always worth taking a pot shot at) but because he understands the themes of the series, like free will, the price of unconditional love and hope in the face of despair, better than anyone else. I always look forward to his episodes, but I thought nothing could eclipse 'Fan Fiction' as my favourite episode of latter-day Supernatural. I need to think about this episode a bit more, but it might be in with a chance.

I didn't even mind that Castiel wasn't in it.

Bits and pieces

 - Hope Springs. It's a bit on the nose, but who cares.

 - Amara's fog looked weirdly white today.

 - Loved the song. Not one I'm familiar with, but it was great.

 - God is bisexual, thus reinforcing one of the few things Godstiel got right way back in season 6.

 - Revolution was the show Supernatural creator Eric Kripke created after he left Supernatural.

 - "Don't call me Shurley" is, of course, a reference to Leslie Nielsen's famous "I am serious. And don't call me Shirley" line from comedy classic Airplane!

Billie Doux says...

This episode was awesome, pun very much intended. I asked Juliette to review it for me because I had to have surgery on Thursday and knew I wouldn't get to see it for a bit. (Thanks so much, Juliette, for doing such a terrific job.) Interestingly, as I was going under the anesthetic, or possibly while I was coming out, I had a long, interesting dream about Sam and Dean. Maybe I subconsciously knew I had just missed a very special episode.

Episodes like this one are why I still love Supernatural and still enjoy reviewing it. Yes, the show is past its expiration date, but Chuck as God, the way Metatron told truth to power and talked Him around, and the tremendously touching return of the Samulet managed to all fit beautifully into eleven seasons of already existing series mythology and take it to a new place. I loved every single minute and every tiny detail: the town of Hope Springs, the World's Greatest Dad mug, the acknowledgement that "Bugs" is the worst episode in the series, the bit about "Vonnegut performance art", and especially the dog (God spelled backward) being called Toto and not being in Kansas anymore, since Sam and Dean were agents Greer and Ehart, who are members of the rock group Kansas, who did the song "Carry On, Wayward Son." I mean, that was like the ultimate in meta.

Can you believe that Becky dated God? And then she dumped him?


Metatron: "This is some kind of punishment, isn't it? For my sins. A limbo where I get to spend eternity in a crappy bar with a hack writer."

Metatron: "Revolution, Supernatural... maybe titles aren't your thing."

Chuck: "The last time I saw that look on an editor's face, I'd just handed in 'Bugs'."

Metatron: "You are light, beauty, creation, wrath, damnation and salvation."

I absolutely loved it and would give this four out of four Samulets, but something as big as this is bound to be a bit of a love it or hate it story - what did you all think?

Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.


Anonymous said...

Love the ep, even if there wasn't enough Sam-n-Dean in it. But it was Impressive! Never thought I could sypmathize with Metatron, but Armstrong did a fantastic job there. The performance any actor could be proud of. Don't care abut the consistency of the character, Metatron arguing with his God raised to the challenge, he was one of us disappointing people at the moment. And Benedict was absolutely great and convincing - now as Chuck the poor mediocre writer and next moment as a mighty divine force. How was it even possible to combine the two personalities so seamlessly? What a show, guys, what a cast! They really work their chops there, take their job seriously. I want to thank them.

sunbunny said...

You just can't heap enough praise on this episode. I had to keep pausing it to freak out. Finally, FINALLY Chuck returns. Both Armstrong and Benedict were amazing here. Like you, I was totally rooting for Metatron which...what? Who could've seen that coming? For the first time in a long time, I'm really excited to see where the show goes from here. AND OMG THE SAMULET. The world's greatest dad mug was perfect.

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

I loved it.

William Russell said...

Where can I get a "I believe in Chuck" t-shirt? Love this show.

Gus Brunetti said...

The Sam and Dean part was sooooo boring and felt pointless until the end, but the main dish was absolutely brilliant!

An episode like that makes me confirm I shouldn't drop this show.

I wish they'd ended this season. Ending with God would be perfect!

Paul Kelly said...

As a TV fan, when an episode is so great that you're sat staring at the credits teary-eyed, grinning like a loon, or outraged, there is no greater feeling. For me, tonight's episode ticked the first two boxes. All hail Chuck!

Anonymous said...

So God Dated Becky?

Juliette said...

The rumour on Tumblr and Twitter is that Robbie Thompson is leaving :(( This is very very not good.

Lesley Perry said...

I watch with a group of fans and we screamed and cried. Best episode ever I think. Curtis Armstrong deserves all the awards for his acting and he really elevated Rob Benedict as well. I could have watched just the two of them for the entire episode. The song was beautiful. Highlights: Curtis replied to one of my tweets and Rob commented on our reaction video that he wished he was at our party. ;)

Mallena said...

I was worried about Chuck being God, mostly because this show does not always do Hell or Heaven very well, so what if they messed up the Big Guy? I decided to chill and just go with the flow and I'm glad that I did. I'm still a little wary because it's going to be hard to watch Chuck the Prophet in the early seasons and think...that's God? He didn't act like deity, but as a scared, flawed man. It might not have been all acting, it would be cool if we find out he could turn off his God memories, and just be Chuck when needed. Metatron is likable again and that could be cool. Having to stay a human after knowing what it is like to be a powerful angel is a good punishment. Love the meta stuff. Love the Amulet being in Sam's pocket. Chuck as the God of our little Supernatural world if fine with me. Now someone can tell him to open Heaven, get control of Lucifer and the other angels and...don't know, but excited to find out.

Anonymous said...

Haven't commented here in a couple of years but I just have to jump in with a lot of love for this ep. Sorry to comment so late - I was crushing the Bahamas all week...

I completely agree that it was Curtis and Rob's work that made the Metatron/Chuck scenes so riveting. They made this an episode that requires rewatching. J&J did their usual great work, but I'm afraid nothing anyone has done so far makes Amara feel like much of a menace. It just feels like a stand alone episode with the same monster in multiple episodes. I don't know if that makes sense. This is still one of my favorite episodes of the season.

I also have to give a little squee for a fandom mashup for me - Beach Boys and SPN. LOVED hearing the SMiLE version of Good Vibration with the original lyrics. swoooon! Plus every good BB fan knows that Brian Wilson's autobiography was a load of B.S. Chuck made the right choice going with Keith Richards!




Billie Doux said...

Juliette invited me to add a section to her review, since this was such an important episode and I had to miss it. I just did. Thanks again for pinch hitting for me, Juliette. You're the best.

Juliette said...

You're very welcome, and thank you for adding to it! :) Though I still think Man's Best Friend With Benefits and Dog Dean Afternoon are tied for worst episode in the series...!

Katherine said...

Happy Mothers Day to all.

I got a Mothers card from my daughter with the tag line...

"I love you more than words could say; Jerk..."

She couldn't finish the quote because it was going to be reviewed by an actual Catholic nun. And the next word would not have past the test.

But I got the point.

Anonymous said...

I was sobbing hysterically by the end. This episode made me feel so many feels, especially when Dean's amulet showed up again. When everything and everyone was all right again at the very end, I was rocking back and forth, tears of joy streaming down my face. Now God and our Wayward Sons are going to talk. My question is, after God has reappeared, what happens in season 12? What will be left to battle--unless God plans to disappear again. Love, Robin

Benjamin said...

Now watched the episode three times, wanted to make sure it I didn't caught up in the moment . . . before deciding that this was my favorite Supernatural episode ever. Yeah, really. It's hard to top Sam and Dean's refusal to ever give up on each other inspiring God/Chuck to find hope again in his creation. So good, and with the help of Metatron of all people, who we were somehow all loving and rooting for all episode. And that doesn't take anything away from any of previous favorite episodes (Swan Song, Lazarus Rising, Monster at the End of this book, etc.) All those other great classics from the early seasons (especially 2-5) were necessary and essential for this one. That's what made this one so good — it took 11 seasons worth of mythology and managed to explain it all in way that was beautiful, enthralling, and that actually made sense. What other show can do that? Has ever done that? I feel like I've just been rewarded for sticking through the tough times collective known as seasons 6-10 (especially 6,7, and 9), and it was actually worth it. You know you've seen a great episode when the more you watch it, the more you enjoy it. That's only possible when they nail the details so that you uncover and find more to love each time you watch. As Billy pointed out with the dog/toto/Kansas references, they did that here. So good that it actually makes me wish this was going to be the series finale this year. Not sure they'll be able to come close to maintaining the return to form that we've gotten this season. Season 11 for the win. Off to watch this one again!

The Gunslinger said...

I think the song was a hint that Chuck expects to be "gone". I hope it isn't true, but somehow I picture a "matter/anti-matter" collision as the only way to take Amara out. And Chuck expects to be annihilated in the process.

Let's hope her fondness for Dean allows a different result.

In the top 5 of best episodes.

I watched it twice in quick succession, and will do so again to get all the details others mentioned.

(I entirely missed the "Worlds Greatest Dad" mug...TWICE.

Billie Doux said...

The Gunslinger, that theory about Chuck and Amara is an interesting idea and it makes sense. Huh.