I knew it! “Abel wasn’t talking to God. He was talking to Lucifer.”
Now that I got this off my chest, let me welcome you to the Winchester Brothers Report for episode 9, “O Brother Where Art Thou”. The mid-season finale of Supernatural season 11 was full of twists and turns, some I saw coming, some I didn’t. There was a lot going on and a lot to cover, so let’s get to it!
Sam and the visions: “Is this really the answer?”
Sam has a vision while out in the woods. He’s inside the Cage. Lucifer touches his cheek and smiles. “Is this what you want?” Sam asks God. When a nearby bush catches on fire, “like in the Bible”, Sam feels he’s received his answer.
“What proof do we have, that any of this is actually real?”
Dean remains skeptical. He doesn’t see any proof that the visions and the burning bush are an act of God. Sam getting anywhere near the cage is still a “horrible idea” and it’s not gonna happen.
Amara issues God a challenge: “Show yourself!”
“God, you mean?… He’s not the only game in town.”
Amara challenges a street preacher who believes God’s the only one capable of creating fearsome plagues and destruction. She changes the water of a public fountain into blood, summons a storm and has the preacher and his disciples struck by lightning, leaving charred skeletons on the ground. She looks at her handy work and back to the sky. “Well?”
Amara then visits a church and demands to meet with God, “in a room”. Praying doesn’t yield the desired result and she’s puzzled to learn that not only can’t she meet him the flesh, no one has ever seen him.
“Only, dead people get to see him? And this makes sense, to billions of you.”
Amara believes humans have been manipulated by the Word of God and they don’t know who he really is. When the priest answers that “God is the light that vanquishes the darkness”, Amara massacres the church and demands that her brother shows himself.
Sam, Dean and the decision: “What choice do we have?”
Sam explains that, while he would ordinarily share Dean’s reservations, he trusts the visions because they occur as a direct result of his prayers, and that Lucifer, who is featured in the last one as a potential ally, has firsthand experience in fighting The Darkness. Sam also doesn’t want to wait until Amara, who’s already started killing on larger scale, becomes an even bigger threat than she already is.
Sam, Dean, Crowley and Rowena talk Hell: “We need a secure site.”
“For the record, I hate it.”
Dean reluctantly agrees to look into the possibility of a meeting between Sam and Lucifer. The brothers contact Crowley, inform him that Amara, the girl he let slip away, is God’s sister and that the only way to defeat her is for all of them to work together. Dean wants a safe way for the meeting to occur, away from the Cage (I’ll call it the Cage 1.0). In order to have a “modicum of control”, Crowley suggest a secure site and the use of magic to neutralize Lucifer’s powers. Sam monitors Rowena as she looks for a spell in the Book of the Damned, and Dean goes out to investigate the church massacre.
Deanmara: “We will become one.”
“You felt my presence, that’s why you came here.”
The moment Dean leaves the crime scene at the church, he senses something. He’s in a park ordering a hot dog when Sam calls him, but he’s already slipped into a trance. Amara’s with him and she transports him to an empty field, much like the one where they first met. She explains that she only killed humans to get God’s attention as he’s been ignoring her prayers, and assures that she has no reason to harm God’s “chosen” because her issue is only with the one who banished her because he was threatened by her power.
“You misunderstand my purpose on Earth.”
Amara also gives a clue as to her plans for humanity. No more of God’s rule, “no pain, no prayer, just bliss”. That feeling Dean has when he’s with her, “for everyone, forever”. What’s in it for her? The recognition of what she is.
“You and I will be together.”
Dean tries to stab Amara and the knife disintegrates. She tells him she understands his warrior instinct to resist, and she kisses him, after a brief moment where it looks like she wants to swallow his soul. He bore the mark and she is the original mark. He can’t escape the “inevitable” future: they will be together and become one.
“What have you done? They will smite you.”
Three angels interrupt the scene to demand that Amara surrenders, lest she be struck by all the angels in a single unified blow, something that even she can’t survive. Dean tries to dissuade the angels from attacking Amara, because “a whole bunch of people are gonna die.” He looks worried when Amara declares war by vaporizing the angels, but she’s still thinking about God. “Maybe now, he will hear me.” She sends Dean back to the safety of the park before the skies open to let the collective blow of the angels rain down on her.
Sam meets Lucifer in the Cage 2.0: “You want a vessel.”
Sam promised Dean he wouldn’t go to Hell without him, but when Sam calls, Dean has already been snatched by Amara and Rowena, the spell caster, pressures Sam to get going. “It’s now or never.” In Hell, Rowena paints sigils on an empty cage (Cage 2.0), different from the suspended Cage (1.0) Lucifer lives in. She casts the spell, fire surrounds the cage as a suitably apocalyptic music plays in the background, and Mark Pellegrino’s flamed colored irises appear from behind the bars. Lucifer makes creepy jokes about Sam being his old “roomie”, and asks for a hug. He says he doesn’t know anything about the meeting they’re having, but he listens to Sam and agrees to help him on one condition.
“There has to be another way.”
Sam, who has up until now insisted that there was no other way, is now ready to find one because he won’t agree to the Lucifer’s terms: becoming his vessel again. The fire that surrounds the cage goes out. Concerned, Crowley asks why the warding failed but Rowena calmly orders him to follow her.
“It was always just, me.”
Lucifer transports Sam inside the cage. When he remarks that Sam is extraordinarily calm given the circumstances, Sam responds that everything is happening according to a plan that God’s already shown him. Lucifer explains that the shockwave that followed the release of The Darkness damaged the Cage and allowed him to communicate with Sam through the fissures. He reveals to Sam that God has never been with him because Sam’s been talking to Lucifer the whole time.
Overall grade: 9/10
I give this one a 9. I really, really, really enjoyed this episode, and an episode has to be mighty good for me to overlook Sam and Dean barely sharing any screen time. The only other episode that managed an outstanding grade without Sam and Dean sharing the screen was “First Born”, which, interestingly enough is very relevant in light of Sam’s arc in “O Brother Where Art Thou”.
I found the midseason finale was riveting. Aside from the angel assembly of generic dudes in a suit who completely broke the flow (I understand it was exposition for the angels crashing the Deanmara scene but still, can one of these angels wear a bright red embroidered robe and/or have the charisma of Kurt Fuller?), the episode kept my interest at every turn. I’ve rewatched it twice already with the same level of excitement. Some found the editing choppy; I personally enjoyed the back-and-forth between the scenes. I wouldn’t have been able to stomach the Sam-Lucifer scene in one go. It needed to be broken up in digestible pieces for my sanity.
I loved the scene with Sam and Dean in the bunker. When they were having an animated conversation about the Cage, I kept waiting for Charlie to pop in and tell them they were bickering like an old married couple.
I loved seeing Crowley and my favorite witch, Rowena again. Crowley’s knowledge of his kingdom and Rowena’s proficiency in magic made for a great alliance in this episode. I thoroughly enjoyed the uneasy truce between mother and son. Watching them discuss their mutual attempts at killing each other was very entertaining. “Not easy being a parent, knowing when to hug your child or to kill them.” Oh, sweet, devious, fabulous Rowena. I got a kick out of watching her fangirling over Lucifer, “He’s so alpha”, while Crowley suggested she got a hold of herself, “Mother, you’re drooling”.
Mark Pellegrino was amazing. He gave an unforgettable performance. He’s always been a talented actor but he was on another level. Standing ovation, Sir. Of course, they couldn’t have anyone else play Lucifer. I still appreciated the explanation for the Nick vessel. Lucifer described it as basically fake, meaning not corporeal enough to take him to Earth because behind the paper suit, he’s “so much smoke.” Nice.
I liked that the Book of the Damned came back into play, and the Charlie mention (ooh, this still hurts. Miss you, Red).
I’ve been an Amara girl since the premiere and I’ve been waiting for Goddess to spread her wings. Welcome back, Big E Swalz (Emily’s twitter handle). I loved every moment of Amara’s scenes but I’m amused that she thinks hurting humans will make God appear. He doesn’t give a fig, and she’ll learn, like the rest of us had to.
Watching the guys blame each other for losing Amara was also entertaining. Sam can be so biting when he wants to, and while Dean’s sarcasm just hits the spot, Sam’s sarcasm hurts. “You had a shot at taking her out when she was with you but apparently you thought sucking up was the way to go.” Ouch. Crowley in turn blamed Dean for losing control of his “girlfriend”. He’s never bought that Dean seriously tried to fight Amara and he suspects Dean of protecting her. The King of Hell didn’t get to where he is by being an idiot…
As someone who’s always known Sam was talking to Lucifer, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the burning bush. All I saw was hellfire. Feels like this is season 4 all over again, where I could see it coming, where Sam wouldn’t listen to Dean, where he trusted an enemy and fell into a horrible trap. At least he can say that this time, contrary to season 4, where everyone and their mother knew it was a bad idea, he managed to convince other people to go along with his plan. Which brings us to a recurring theme in Sam’s story: trusting the wrong ‘people’.
The dangers of faith: “In the vision, Lucifer touches me. And I feel… calm.”
“That wasn’t God inside your head, Sam. That was me.”
In the “Baby” report, I noticed Matt Cohen’s character said he could “never fool Sam” and that the lyrics to the song playing said “Going with him someday soon”. In “Plush”, I knew the clown was Lucifer, and the elevator, the cage. Whenever I discussed this with many of you, I brought up a quote from Cain in “First Born”. “Abel wasn’t talking to God. He was talking to Lucifer.” All along, I’ve been railing about Sam’s refusal to consider that someone else could be talking to him and been dismayed at his refusal to entertain “another way”. This is what kept this episode from being a 9.5 (it would have needed less generic stunt angels # 3s and more SamnDean to be a 10). I admit that including archangels again, the Cage, the illustrious M. Pellegrino are all wonderful ideas to revive a story and make it interesting.
It’s unfortunately done at the expense of Sam, who once again comes across as the one who is easily manipulated and can never get it right. I’ve been pre-emptively devastated by the knowledge that he was ending up in the Cage and his reaction to Lucifer (who once called him “his b*tch, in every sense of the term”) mentioning the two of them sharing a bunk is something I’m not ready to get into at this moment. All I know is his worst nightmare caught up with him and the Devil’s got him. Now that the heartbroken Sam loving fangirl’s done moaning, let’s talk Padalecki.
Best Sam moment: Sam versus the nightmare, again
“You missed me, bet you did.”
Jared gave us all of Sam’s courage, vulnerability and dignity while he was facing the monster that once destroyed him. His performance is heartbreaking, in the best possible way. I felt I was side by side with Sam, next to him in front of the Cage, feeling his fear and sensing his determination to stand strong and keep his head up in spite of his terror. It made it all the more painful when he vanished from my side into a place where I couldn’t reach. His tear when he realizes he’s completely alone and that God‘s never been with him was the coup de grâce. Well done, Sir.
Best Dean moment: that thing about the spontaneously combusting bushes
“You were in the forest. There are bushes there, and sometime they burn!”
My gentle poet never disappoints, bringing some levity when I need it the most. He sounds like he’s the one who’s completely in denial, except when you know he’s right and is trying, albeit clumsily to make Sam see that he continues to ascribe divine meaning to things that have nothing to do with God. Take a sip of that drink, baby. You’re gonna need it.
Best broment : “Because if Sam’s not safe, it’s not happening.”
I love a protector and Dean is the embodiment of the word. I just love him so. Sweet prince. I’d let you watch over me for a lifetime.
Best quote: “Goodness, mummy. Loosen the grip.”
Miss You-have-issues-with-your-big-bro Rowena might be an armchair psychologist, but her son is the real deal. Maybe because he studied Dean? From his comment about Dean’s maternal instincts in “Form and Void” to his astute analysis of his relationship with Amara, Crowley is spot on. Only thing is, Mummy Dean can never loosen the grip with a Sam that keeps coming up with ideas that involve playing hide and seek with the Devil near his Cage. Somebody has to keep an eye on that kid.
The Winsync strikes again: Telepathic!Chesters
When they’re not walking in cadence or speaking in unison, they’re using the same line in completely different universes (maybe Earth/definitely Hell). And this, is season 5 all over again. Amara (Michael) wants to jump Dean’s bones and Lucifer still wants to jump Sam’s. Both of them say no. Which brother will surrender first?
Juicy Bit : “Bliss”
“I was the beginning, and I will be the end.”
There was a moment with Dean and Amara that I’m still unable to explain. She opens her mouth like she’s going to swallow his soul. What’s unclear, is exactly why she stops. Is his soul missing? I don’t believe that. Is there something wrong with his soul? No. Can she not inhale the soul of an archangel’s vessel? Of a former Knight of Hell? Amara explained that the souls she consumed are not gone but live inside her. She also said she and Dean would be one. Ingesting his soul would be one way to make that happen. I may be thinking too hard about this, could just be she wanted to kiss him. That would be enough to stop me from eating his soul, trust me. There’s still a mystery there, and I’m very intrigued by it.
“The end is near.”
“Oh honey, you wish.”
Something else caught my attention. While the symbolism of the bloody fountain cherub later manifested in the death of three angels, the rivulets of bloods running from the fountain make me wonder if this is an image of what humanity has to look forward to under the reign of Amara. She says she doesn’t want to end humanity but fill it with bliss. Now, what we need to figure out here is Amara’s definition of bliss… for humans.
I loved this episode. I enjoyed what little Sam and Dean interactions we got. I wanted more but the episode was still excellent. The locations were beautiful. Limbo, Amara’s field, the church.
The music gave all of Lucifer’s and some of Amara’s scenes an epic feel and when it comes to minor characters, I enjoyed the performance of the actor who played the street preacher.
I see rivers of blood in humanity’s future and Amara confirmed that she and Dean are destined to be together. In what capacity, I’m not sure. Will she try to swallow his soul, try to mate with him, try to turn him into her demi-God consort? I’m open to all the possibilities that don’t include Dean losing his soul and completely forgetting who he is. He will defeat her as some point, but I’m here for the Deanmara bond in the meantime and I find the way he can go from trying to kill her to protecting her from others fascinating (sorry, I’m operating on second language skills here, and I have no other word for these two) .
I thoroughly enjoyed Rowena and Crowley. Talk about family dysfunction. Mark Pellegrino was outstanding as Lucifer. Padalecki wore Sam’s heart on his sleeve and Sam, the Tower of Resilience broke my heart like a small child about to be fed to a monster. He even gave us Jensen’s trademark “One Perfect Tear”.
So what’s next? Let me spread a little hope with these quotes.
“Clearly if Sam enters the Cage, he’s gone.”
“Sam is lost if he enters the real cage.“
Remember, they were talking about the Cage 1.0. Sam isn’t in the “real” cage. He’s in Cage 2.0, an imitation that should be easier to access, and that Rowena, the supposed “professional” should have been able to control.
Sam’s words while Rowena was warding the cage felt like foreshadowing.
“Let’s just hope she knows what she’s doing. This will all go to crap if the warding’s not right.”
Rowena was eager to get to the cage, knowing Dean wouldn’t be there to watch Sam’s back and she left with Crowley and abandoned Sam when things went awry. Did she botch the warding on purpose? After all, she could finally get rid of one of those bloody Winchesters, especially the one who chained her up one time too many. One thing’s for certain, Dean will figure out what went wrong and he has God 2.0 on speed dial ready to help him. For a price. What will Amara demand in exchange for her service? Mmm, this season is getting better by the episode. Don’t you think?
XI : Winchester Brothers Report
11.01 “We Broke It, We Bought It”
11.02 “That Giant, Crazy Fart”
11.03 “And I have a fake badge”
11.04 “We’re home”
11.05 “That whole sensitive verbal massage”
11.06 “She overpowered me, end of story”
11.07 “What do you mean, killer bunny?”
11.08 “The family that showers together”