There are many more items I enjoyed in “All in the Family” than I disliked, so let’s start with the positive ones and inject the negative ones here and there..
The episode picks up directly from the last one with a glowing episode. At Asylum 16 last week, Jensen told how the reappearance of the Samulet led to a discussion of whether or not Dean puts it back around his neck. Dean puts it in his pocket.
While the episode does concentrate on the family dysfunction between God, Amara, Lucifer and all the other creations, there is much time in the bunker. At this point who does not know about it’s location? Metatron, God, Lucifer, Crowley, prophets- they all know. I would like to think that the title also alludes to the 1970’s show which featured the Bunker family: disputes were a cause of great division within the fictional family except there it was political. In Supernatural, it is personal.
There is great division between Chuck and Amara. Not between Sam and Dean. In fact, Sam cannot relate to the Chuck/Amara older sibling bossing around the younger. He doesn’t see the parallel. His expression is priceless. Is he that used to the sibling relationship? He has expressed otherwise in the past. Okay, on the same page. Let it go.
Chuck is in the bunker doing human things. Eating Chinese noodles, drinking beer, watching porn(Yes on Dean’s computer- embarrassed Dean like a boy caught doing something of which Dad might not approve), taking long showers, wearing Dean’s bathrobe-way too long for Chuck-giggle.
Dean has a heart to heart conversation with Chuck about how HE has to be part of the Cas/Lucifer rescue. In this scene, Jensen plays Dean so quietly, and he is so profoundly moved by the situation that it moves the viewer close to tears,both for Dean and for humanity. Mr. Ackles owns the scene. The tears roll down his cheeks. One can understand why Jensen needed to go off set for a while to shake this scene off. Piercing. I needed a commercial-not.
In trying to break the tension, the writers give Sam some weird fan- girl moments over the presence of God in the bunker talking to them like anyone else. It is always been Sam who has had the need to believe in a God. (Houses of the Holy). This is tolerable but when he utters the questions he would like to discuss such as why God made ears and why the planets are round, he comes across as not so bright. Maybe he is supposed to reflect the average guy, but Sam’s character is smarter than that. I didn’t find myself laughing, although Jared Padalecki fan-girls like nobody else in that scene. He has been paying attention at conventions. Okay, maybe we would be a bit overwhelmed talking to God as well. There is a childlike quality to Sam here.
Rob Benedict’s portrayal of God continues to shine as bright as that amulet. The writers give him some great lines. He acknowledges that Dean’s life has been complicated but not to confuse him with his father(John). He also acknowledges that there are “Chosen” people of whom Dean is one to stand between the darkness and the light. Yes!
Metatron finds Sam and Dean to clue them in on Chuck’s suicidal mission. He really has become a champion of humanity. He picks a side. The bar scene is well done. Curtis you play well with others.
The issue of Kevin’s fate resolves with Chuck sending him off to Heaven. Kevin is great considering the circumstances. And a new prophet is touched by God and saved from the fog virus that kills off another town with no intercession from God. Chuck’s reasoning for not interfering is interesting. Let’s forget about the canon where Metatron cast the spell to prevent more prophets- I guess with God present, he can anoint another and spells do not count. Chuck is stronger than magic, but Amara is as well. Wait for it……
The new prophet’s name is Donatello. Yes, the writer’s give Dean the Ninja Turtle line with a facial expression that we expect from Dean. Okay, we needed a light moment. Maybe. A brainy person getting hit in the head w/lightening like Kevin-voila- a prophet of the Lord. Not new, but maybe the balance of funny/serious, light/dark is the point.
There are plenty of hard moments as we see the FX and make-up department display the torture on Casifer in a light show that burns brightly. The discussion of family dynamics is exposition, but it is done so well that it is not clunky. Misha has enough sneer in his voice and his taunting of Amara is well spoken. Lucifer can do it to his Auntie Amara where Cas could never.
Amara gets inside Dean’s head and asks for a meeting. Dean using himself as a decoy while Sam and the prophet try to rescue Casifer Dean meets Amara in the woods. The scenery is so peaceful as she offers him once again the opportunity to be one with her forever. It is idyllic- why would he say no? She admits she likes the way she feels around Dean.This is a new feeling for her-something that he creates in her. She only knows destruction. Begs the questions if Dean will sacrifice himself to Amara as a deal to save humanity. Remember Sam’s utterance in the last episode? She realizes Dean is a decoy although befuddled by his response. Once again, Mr. Ackles owns the scene. Amara/Emily Swallow feels like the same note being played again and again. Same stare, same hand motions. Missed opportunity to expand her character but okay, it gives Jensen/Dean a foil.
The rescue ensues but Amara shows up. In total redemption, Metatron utters,”I got this”. Last words. Last spell. Amara is more powerful than magic. His final redemption. He takes one for the team. Nice to see a character come full circle. Is he in the Emptiness? Sam carries out Casifer, which must have been a difficult choice as he hates Lucifer but loves Cas. “Family don’t end with or start with blood.” Even Metatron becomes part of the human family in the end. SPN family might fight over his redemption for a while, but Armstrong plays it forcefully.
The writers get clever as Sam gets to do some creative driving of BABY to escape Amara. She stops them in their tracks and I fear for BABY. This is real emotion for that ’67 Chevy Impala. Come ‘on you feel it too! What other show could pull this off? Chuck’s parking skills suddenly rescue Baby, Sam, Donatello, and CASIFER. Love this deus ex machina, really! Obvious, but so effective. Underscore the choices Chuck makes. Is he a capricious God? He is not without humor. He says he answered someone’s prayers- Donnatello’s? Sam’s? Casifer’s??????
So where do we stand at the end of the episode? Resolved: the Samulet, Kevin. Metatron, Chosen ones, Chuck’s plan to let Amara have her way, Chuck’s determination to sacrifice himself so that humanity will grow up, Dean’s profound thoughts, Sam’s putting aside his hate of Lucifer in order to rescue Cas, Sam can drive wicked fast. Canon on prophets re-established- blame Chuck. Family matters even if there is dysfunction.
And attention to detail: The new prophet Donatello is put in a taxi from the bunker. The taxi says Lebanon on it. Clearly, everyone in Kansas knows where the bunker is but not what it used for. Unknown: will the prophet ever appear again or is it just a gimmick for some funny lines and odd expression? Will Chuck get on board with the plan? Will Dean sacrifice himself to save humanity- that would make him better than Chuck. Yes, I did chuckle at the porno line and a few others. I did not understand the musical selection- I will have to re-watch and re-listen. The music choice is not our usual composers for the show- I have tweeted and I await a response. If God is put in the cage, does all the goodness go with him? If Dean makes a deal with Amara, who is left standing? Can the family unite-angels, demons, hunters- to put Amara away?
So yes, it is a superb episode as the season comes to a finale. This is a good writing foray for the pair that I usually dread as writers. I do have to knock off a point because a) Sam came across as not so bright at one point and b) I need to save some gas for the finale. Mr. Ackles, Mr. Curtis, and Mr. Benedict own the episode. Misha is solid as well, just not much of him. Swallow-time for you to go my dear. Metatron- I will miss you on some level- poof-lost in a fog/smoke.
Re-watching. Tears. Laughter. Donuts-powered! God eats bacon. Torture. Baby. “Thus sayeth the Lord” . Dean telling God to “cool it” ’cause he is too loud with his singing and Dean needs to sleep- a bit of role reversal.
9.5/10 Amara needs a new expression. Don’t get the musical selection-please explain.