It's the best part of every season: in the middle of an increasingly trying slump, Supernatural looks around, puts on its big boy flannel, and decides to stop sucking. Satan's baby momma is still on the loose and Team Free Will is still taking their good old time in getting back to that particular hunt, but Momma Mary (Samantha Smith) has been busy making frenemies while Sam ( Jared Padalecki) and Dean ( Jensen Ackles) avoided engaging with the overall narrative this season. All of those recent episodes that insisted on navel-gazing at Castiel's ( Misha Collins) repeatedly well-documented slide into humanity — Do you sense my frustration here, Supernatural? DO YOU? — were building toward something after all. Dean's latest scrape with mortality might have been a total dud, but the man-angst was flowing in "Stuck in the Middle (With You)" when Supernatural decided to kill Castiel.
Castiel's mortal peril works where Sam and Dean's no longer has the same cachet because frankly, he just hasn't been killed off as many times and as a "celestial being" that is "roughly the size of the Chrysler building" when he isn't wearing a meat suit, Castiel isn't the sort of character one expects to see facing certain death every other week. He certainly isn't supposed to bite it on what everyone assumed was a run of the mill demon hunt.
That basic demon hunt turned out to be anything but when the gang's target showed us his pretty yellow eyes and visions of Azazel — RIP since season 2-- started dancing in our heads. Turns out, Azazel's status as THE Yellow-Eyed Demon and ultimate baddie for, well, just about all of Supernatural's early seasons, was a bit of an exaggeration of his importance. It's a class thing. Supernatural rewrote its own mythology by introducing the Princes of Hell: the First Class to Lucifer's Charles Xavier. These are the demons who were created right after Lilith — RIP since season 4-- and before the badass red-eyed Knights — RIP since season 9-- and while there were, and are, several of them still around, they just didn't care as much about the whole perfect-vessel-special-children-let's-free-Lucifer-and-cause-Armageddon conspiracy as much as Azazel did, which is why we're just learning about them ten seasons later. Sure.
I can't be mad though. When Supernatural rewrites its own mythology, it tends to do it very well. The Men of Letters ripped a hole in the fabric of the series' reality that continues to get bigger, deeper, and better as the seasons go on (and on and on and on). Mary Winchester's hunting pedigree turned twelve seasons of Winchester family lore on its head and she very quickly evolved from a sort of mythical, reverential, untouchable figure to a complicated, flawed, and human character in her own right.
It was Mary's own side-mission that got her hunter-buddy-of-the-week killed and almost got Castiel and her sons killed. Mary Winchester has struggled with finding a place in a world that moved on thirty years after her death and her uneasy alliance with the British Men of Letters feels like the sort of organic bad decision making that led Sam to work with Ruby in the wake of Dean's death. She has been forced into an impossible situation and she isn't coping well. Her support systems are gone. The boys she was supposed to mother grew up without her and are more experienced and knowledgeable about the world she's been thrust back into, but she struggles with reaching out to them because they're both still those little boys she died on, as well as grown-ass men who are total strangers. The British Men of Letters are selling a bill of goods she can get behind, and she very much wants to make her own way in her new reality, but the fact that she still couldn't bring herself to reveal the real mission to her family even after it all went to hell, reveals the level of internal struggle she's been dealing with off-screen during the last few weeks of stagnated storytelling.
AND THEN HER MISSION WAS TO STEAL THE COLT. THAT'S RIGHT. THAT COLT.
To recap: out of the darkness of Filler Land, Supernatural gave us a new class of demon to worry about, mortal peril that actually felt perilous, THE COLT, aaaand Lucifer ( Mark Pellegrino) locked in Crowley's ( Mark Shepppard) basement and bringing the sass. I'm just so happy right now, you guys.
Supernatural airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.
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