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Supernatural: On the Head of a Pin

Castiel: "I know our fate rests with you."
Dean: "Well, then you guys are screwed."

Three, count them, three major revelations. So to speak.

They finally jumped off the story cliff they've been teetering on the entire season, and now we know that there's an actual angel civil war going on. That's one. And that Dean himself was the first seal that got broken, making him the only one who can end the approaching Apocalypse. That's two. I'm genuinely impressed. It made sense, and explained a lot.

It's not easy to pull off an episode as heavy as this one, and I'm not completely sure that they did. I hated seeing Dean torture anyone, even his own torturer. But at least it was mostly holy water and salt, which is how Dean usually fights evil. A bit easier for the audience to take, I assume, although not for Alastair.

Castiel broke Dean down completely, and then finished him off by dropping the weight of the world on his shoulders. Dean looked dead inside, like his soul was slowly being shredded. All that, and Sam had to come in and save the day. Any self-esteem Dean had left was just trampled into the dust. Poor baby.

I honestly thought Castiel was going to end up toast by the end of the episode, so I was surprised and pleased that he not only made it, but he and Anna have hooked up, so to speak. I like both of them a lot, and they feel right together, since they're both too emotional and care too much about humans to follow orders blindly any more. They're sort of forming their own angel faction. Factions, factions, everywhere.

Not to be outdone in the big plot reveal department, revelation number three was that, um, Sam is addicted to demon blood? Really? I don't like this at all. The similarity to vampirism must be intentional. How long until Sam becomes a demon himself?

Geez. I just did the math. Sam killed Alastair instead of sending him back to Hell. If only angels can kill angels, does that mean only demons can kill demons? Is Sam a full-fledged demon already? No, he couldn't be. I'm confused.

Bits and pieces:

— John Winchester was supposed to be the one to break the seal. He held out for a hundred years, in comparison to Dean's paltry little thirty. (Once again upstaged by Daddy. Poor Dean.) If Dean hadn't broken, would they have tried Sam next? I guess not; his demon blood would have disqualified him.

— Ruby is deliberately turning Sam into whatever it is he is becoming. She was treating Sam like he was her child as he drank her blood. Like nursing. That was mildly disturbing.

— Apparently, Latin incantations can send angels back to heaven, just as they can send demons back to Hell.

— Uriel and his fellow bad guy angels have murdered seven good guy angels. How many angels in a garrison? How many garrisons? How many bad angels, how many good, how many on the outs like Castiel and Anna?

— Everyone was suddenly calling Castiel "Cas." A nickname out of the blue.

— Some great visuals in this episode. Loved the black ashy outline of the absolutely immense dead angel wings, and the devil's trap with the chains. I also liked Castiel slowly realizing what was really happening during two discussions in the bleak, snowy outdoors. It fit really well.

— No sympathy for Alastair. But I kept thinking about that poor guy that Alastair was inhabiting. He certainly didn't deserve what happened to him.

— The building where Dean tortured Alastair had a sign that said, "American United Meat Processing." Very funny.

— Gold acting stars for Jensen Ackles again. That was a lot of complex emotion to portray. And Christopher Heyerdahl did a fine job as Alastair... although at times I couldn't quite make out what he was saying, what with Brando and the lisp and salt and blood in his mouth.


Dean: "Home crappy home."

Uriel: "I think I'll go seek... revelation. We might have some further orders."
Dean: "Well, get some donuts while you're out."

Dean: "You guys don't walk enough. You're gonna get flabby. (Castiel doesn't react) You know, I'm starting to think Junkless has a better sense of humor than you do."
Castiel: "Uriel's the funniest angel in the garrison. Ask anyone."

It's not that I prefer suicidal teddy bears and alligators in the sewers to the heavier topics, but I didn't like this episode. I just hated seeing Dean broken this way. But it was certainly an important episode in the arc,

Billie Doux adores Supernatural which is a good thing since apparently, it's eternal.


  1. Hey Billie,

    Hate to disagree but I loved this episode. It brought may of the major plots threads together, gave us some great revelations and lots and lots of angel action (welcome back Anna).

    Dean torturing Alastair was disturbing (not to mention karmic) but I felt it was necessary. Dean needs to confront this dark chapter in his life before he can move on and save the world.

    I’m officially worried about Sam. He’s always had good intentions but now he’s paving his own road to hell. And worst of all he seems to be enjoying it. I have a very bad feeling about this…

    Sad to see Uriel go (I love it when anyone from The Wire pops up in anything) but I also liked the Anna/Castiel team-up at the end (Spin-off! Spin-off! Spin-off!)

  2. Ye sorry,have to disagree as well because personally I thought this was the best episode of the season if not the best episode of the entire show to date.

  3. I can see where you're coming from, in that I too hate seeing Dean constantly beat down and broken. It's like the writers get off on torturing him the poor guy or something. On the other hand, Jensen Ackles acts the hell out of it and Dean Winchester is one of the complex, compelling characters on TV. I thought this was a very good episode, well except for Ruby and Sam's "SuperHAND!"

    My own hope is they are doing this so Dean can rise from bottom where they have stompted him and become a stronger, even more kickass hero than ever before. Please, he deserves it. :) It would also very much fit with the hero's journey, where the hero goes through some version of hell, literal or figurative, and comes out of it stronger and with the ability to save his people or his world.

    I have to admit I don't believe Alastair's revelation about John. He was Dean's torturer for 3 decades in Hell, he knows Dean's weak spots. As I see it Dean is the one who has had all foreshadowing - not John. Dean is the one who, in Season 2, was sort of indentified with Michael the Archangel. Dean was the one who, in Season 1, was healed from a failing heart by a preacher who said the Lord's hand guided him to Dean because Dean had an important purpose, as opposed to the person he was originally supposed to heal as guided by his evil wife. Dean was the man they needed to break the seal and treated him accordingly. John was never going to be tortured like Dean was, they were willing to trade John for Dean after only 2 or 3 months as shown in Season 2's Crossroad Blues. The first opportunity they had to get Dean down there they tried to take it, even though they would have had to wait ten more years - 1000 years in Hell - to get him according to the terms of the first deal offered. The demons needed Dean and they knew it.

    They also knew he was the one who would then have to end it, stop the Apocalypse, so they have done everything they can to break Dean so completely they hope he will be unable to in any way fulfil that function. No better way to do that than to say "Hey you're dad was supposed to break it but he was so much tougher than you, he didn't but you did". Dean would believe that without question because of the issues his dad's neglectful almost to the point of abusive treatment of him growing up left him with.

  4. This was a VERY important episode, Billie, and I'm surprised you didn't award it four stars. The revelations here tell us SO much about what's happening in SUPERNATURAL, past, present and future. Yes, it's hard seeing Dean so beaten, but after what he learned, what happened to him physically, mentally and emotionally, what else would you expect? Sam and Dean aren't "boys" anymore, they're MEN now, dealing with the end of the world! Ultimately, it's going to take BOTH of them to get up the chops necessary to do what must be done, and together. Sure, Kripke is going to break our hearts before that happens, but it's going to be an amazing ride. You've got to hold on, Billie, because Krip and his writers love to torture the fans through the Winchester brothers! Love, Robin

  5. I loved this episode. It was touhg to watch, but the writing/acting was superb, and I loved all the info that we got.

    Didn't see the whole blood-sucking thing coming, but it makes perfect sence that since Sam got his powers in the first place by being fed deamon blood, his powers grows stronger with even more deamon blood.

  6. Hi Billie,
    I can’t believe you didn’t like this one, I’m really surprise. I just love this epi. It's definitely a five out of four stars for me. So I agree with all the others on your board. Love the way they wrap around a lot of answers / revelations, love the new directions they started, and love the writing and acting. Sure don’t like to see Dean so broken, but as tessathereaper said is part of his hero journey. Not sure how I feel about Sam's demon blood addiction, but I trust Kripke and co. so I just will wait for a good surprise. Maybe if you watch it again you will like it better? Hope so. Love, C.

  7. Fantastic episode.

    Not much to add to what's been said in the rest of the comments.

  8. I loved, loved, LOVED this episode, although I was a little iffy about the whole torture thing. But Dean! And Castiel! So much goodness! I might also be the only person who's ambivalent towards Anna.

    Just wanted to add my two cents to tessathereaper's comments as well -- I actually do believe Alastair's story about John. John Winchester knew a *LOT* about the upcoming apocalypse, and it stands to reason that he knew about the first seal, and therefore held out longer. I'm sure if Dean had KNOWN that he was the first seal, it would have taken him a lot longer to break, if he would at all. It just goes back to the whole John Winchester keeping secrets from his son, and it coming back to take a huge chunk out of them (certainly out of Dean).

    Has anyone else thought that Sam might either become Lucifer, or that Lucifer will possess his body, perhaps WITH Sam's permission?

  9. "No sympathy for Alastair. But I kept thinking about that poor guy that Alastair was inhabiting. He certainly didn't deserve what happened to him."

    No, he certainly did not. What I'd like to know is why no one seems too upset about that poor man and the fate he suffered. When Sam slept with Ruby, he was instantly condemned by fandom at large for being all sorts of unsavory things, despite the fact that they explained in detail that the body wasn't inhabited, but neither was it quite dead. Some people even chose to take that issue to the level of confronting Jared about it at a con. Did I like that idea? No! And I nearly quit watching over it, but here I am still.

    Now Dean went in there and carved that body Alastair was using to shreds. I disagree with the review on that point. There was a lot of blood involved. That body was cut up pretty thoroughly, and we saw Dean sink the knife into that man's belly and twist it. Dean never asked if that body was dead, he never even mentioned it. He just went in there and did his dirty work. Yet no one seems to have a problem with this. Um, I do. I have a problem with that. He could have at least asked. Was the body dead? Probably, especially after the lightning thing last week. Probably doesn't cut it for me though.

    I'm tired of the double standard in this fandom. Dean can do no wrong, and Sam can do no right. It's ridiculous.

  10. Very good point Jen. Although I think to some extent the fandom can't be blamed since the creators have always reinforced that Sam is the damaged, morally ambiguous one of the pair whereas Dean is always portrayed as the glorious hero - torturing souls in hell was the first Really bad thing he's ever done. Now they're making him suffer for it which endears the fandom to him even more. Practically everyone who's commented has said "poor Dean" in one way or another. I actually felt like Dean deserved to get a beating for what he did in this episode. Sure, Sam may have sex with a demon but Dean just graphically tortured one in a possibly still conscious human body without much apprehension. In fact, he really got into it.

    Anyway I would agree with this being a 4/4 star ep, although I wish that 'Cas' could have been just Dean's thing - Anna calling him that too was a bit of an out of the blue nickname overload.

    Jamila I'm Loving the Sam/Lucifer possession theory, that would make for a brilliant finale!

  11. I actually felt like Dean deserved to get a beating for what he did in this episode. Sure, Sam may have sex with a demon but Dean just graphically tortured one in a possibly still conscious human body without much apprehension. In fact, he really got into it.

    I thought Dean went through with it because Castiel said it was an order from God, that Dean resisted as hard as he could. And that doing it emotionally destroyed him. I don't think he got into it. I think he just faked it as well as he could because he *had* to.

    I love Sam, too. I've been saying all along that saving people by pulling demons out of them seems altruistic to me. Sucking demon blood was a bit of a negative turn, though.

    There's absolutely no chance that I'll drop the show. I LOVE Supernatural. It's my favorite show right now (with Lost a close second). And I don't dispute that this was a very good episode. It just freaked me out. I tend to react to shows and write my reviews by talking about my emotions; it's my writing style. Maybe I'm just too emotionally involved with Dean and Sam right now to be objective. :)

  12. My heart goes out to Dean in this one. He learns that he broke the first seal, that his dad never gave in and that he has to save the world. That just breaks my heart. Poor Dean!

  13. Was Sam more powerful than Castiel in this episode?! I was thrown off by the way Alistair dealt with Castiel so easily, but couldn't lay a finger on Sam. That was odd to me. I was even afraid that Sam was going to hurt Castiel. Or that Castiel was going to kill Sam because he was afraid of him. SL

  14. Wow, did this episode generate a lot of discussion. My two cents, for what they're worth (two cents?).

    I see this as the episode where the battle lines were drawn. It is tempting to classify it as good v. evil, so that's what I'll do:

    GOOD: Dean has reached the end of his rope. "I'm tired of burying friends." To the best of my recollection, this is the first time he's ever said anything like this. So, we have a mentally and physically exhausted young man who then, literally, has to go back to hell.

    While he's there, he is told that he was not as strong as his father and, as a result, jump started the apocalypse. Was Alastair telling the truth? Finally, it doesn't matter because Dean believes him because it fits right into his sense of self.

    Castiel, too, has to adjust to some hard truths. He is forced to ask Dean to torture, even when Dean says that he will not like what will come out. The first time through, I thought he meant he would come out evil. He meant that he would come out broken -- which he did, both in body and mind.

    Castiel must also realign his allegiances, something that I am sure does not come easily to him. His face when he realises the truth about Uriel was very sad. Both Castiel and Anna talk about choosing disobedience, yet are they? I'm not at all sure who's been giving Castiel his orders. As Anna points out, would God really sanction such an action as torture?

    What I thought most telling was that at the end, it is Castiel who is sitting by Dean's bedside -- where was Sam?

    BAD: While I do think that Sam believes he is doing good, he has gone bad. (It kills me to even write that.) He knows damn well that drinking the blood is wrong, yet he's obviously been doing it for some time. He has aligned himself with Ruby. One look at her face while he was drinking? She knows exactly what she's doing and I am convinced she is going to betray Sam in the end. But for right now, it doesn't matter because Sam is in her camp.

    Yes, Sam is strong and he was able to save both Castiel and Dean, but the look on his face scared me. He is tumbling down the rabbit hole at warp speed. Even Castiel seemed to be very wary of his strength.

    And, Uriel is on the side of the demons. No real shock there. It seems a shame that they killed him off as soon as we learn this, but maybe we'll get to see more of Anna now.

    Jen makes an excellent point that I hadn't thought of until I read her posting. I am guilty of forgetting that the demons inhabit live people, so I don't tend to think about what is happening to them. But one of the reasons I love this show so much is that it asks the morally difficult questions and then doesn't try to find the easy answers.

  15. Billie, I wasn't wild about this episode either (though it was good to hear Anna insist God wouldn't order torture). Too dark and depressing. But I am amused that Sam ran into Hoyt Fortenberry last week and has now ended up in a plot from True Blood.

  16. I have already watched the entire series twice until the current episode and I'm on my third cycle right now. Supernatural is that damn good of a show where I can watch it over and over again and will never get bored. I also find out new clues that I missed the first couple of times of watching. It's kind of reading between the lines/stop to smell the roses to understand it better.

    1. Reading these comments, I see a lot of things that makes sense and connects a few dots for me. One of the readers wrote about "Faith
    and how Roy said the Lord had a purpose for Dean, that's why he chose to heal him. One can actually believe that to be true. It makes sense and after watching their path so far this season, it fits perfectly. Supernatural is good with continuity.

    2. It also makes sense now why when Sam died in Season 2's "All Hell Breaks Loose", the Crossroads Demon offered Dean a year year deal instead of the ten years they usually dish out. Maybe, it was because John was getting tortured and they saw that he wasn't breaking so they went to Dean as plan B. And their plan wouldn't have worked if they gave Dean the full ten years.

    3. Charmed used to be my favorite TV show up until the end of season 6 and it went downhill from there in my opinion. (Supernatural has taken over the favorite tv show now, deservingly..) Because Charmed was my fave tv show, I was very familiar with the guest stars and I couldn't put my finger on it but I knew I saw Misha Collins on an episode of Charmed but couldn't remember which one. I saw the episode from Season 2 of Charmed, "They're Everywhere" where there were warlocks who were after the Akashic records and they captured an innocent's father in order to get the info they needed. Misha played the innocent (Eric) and I was surprised to see him so young and different than the Castiel we see on this show. Another note: in the episode, Misha's character Eric, asks Phoebe if she was an angel, and Phoebe replies, "I'm not an angel but I could introduce you to one if you'd like." I kinda thought it was funny how he plays an angel in another supernatural themed series. :)

    4. I noticed Billie mentioned that the characters are calling Castiel "Cas" now but I noticed that Sam was the first to call Castiel "Cas" in the episode "Heaven and Hell" right before Cas knocked him out trying to get to Anna....just a minor observation...lol

    5. According to Misha Collins, this episode was supposed to be his last episode starring as Castiel but due to the fans loving his portrayal of his angel and his fanbase growing rapidly, they kept him in as a recurring character. A Supernatural fact for the Supernatural lovers out there...lol

    Sorry I rambled on for five paragraphs. This show is too damn good to stay silent....lol

  17. Kenny Winchester... Dean calls Castiel "Cas" in one of the earlier episodes, much before Sam does.

  18. I had been thinking that Ruby was secretly working to enact the Yellow-Eyed Demon's plan by grooming Sam into whatever he's supposed to be. This episode makes it look like I might be right, but I'll have to see.

  19. Very good. I've really come to enjoy Uriel being the meanest angel ever, but it was so sad to me to see angel killing angel lol. They really should've lingered longer on the shot of him on the floor with the ashy wings print. It looked really cool
    There was something vaguely frustrating to me the way Castiel and Uriel were introduced this season but then taken back out of the action again, with only a few check-in scenes so it was most satisfying to see it all properly dealt with and resolved. Even if I would've accepted more Uriel as someone taking command and positioning a counterattack to Lilith. Who's gonna do that now? Castiel, as much as I love his line about "it's not blame falling on your shoulders, it's fate"? He just admitted he doesn't know much.


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