Episode Review: Supernatural 4×16 – On the Head of a Pin

I barely know where to begin, so I’ll keep it simple and begin at the beginning. We open to a scene of a massive, multi-car accident with lots of car alarms going off, which Castiel stops with a wave of his hand. Pretty cool. We then see why he’s there…an angel has been…killed?! How the heck does an ANGEL get killed? Personally, my first thought was demons, but what do I know?

 
Anyway, after the break, we come upon the boys wherein…SAM is driving the Impala? WTF? That just smacks of wrongness right there, so I KNEW from that point on to expect the unexpected. While Sam is talking about contacting Ruby, Dean is pissed off about Pamela, who was sadly killed in last week’s episode. While Dean is saying how tired he is, Sam is telling him to “Get angry.” Gee, Sam, that might be working for you right now, but I don’t think that’s where Dean is at the moment.
 
Anyway, upon arriving at their hotel room, they’re greeted by Castiel and Uriel, which isn’t the happiest of reunions. Dean is pissed because he’s tired of being used, tired of being chess pieces and so on. Unsurprisingly, Uriel doesn’t care, though Castiel is, as usual, somewhat sympathetic. They explain to Dean that Alistair is being held and that, to extract information from him as to how seven angels were killed, they need his student — who happens conveniently to be Dean — to torture him in order to get it. Dean refuses, but in typical angel fashion, they whisk him off anyway, much to Sam’s annoyance.
 
Tonight’s episode, “On the Head of a Pin,” was written by Ben Edlund, who happened to also write my favorite episode of the series, “Nightshifter.” When I saw his name on the credits, I knew I was in for a treat, but God DANG I had no idea I was in for such a soul-crushing experience of amazingly awesome brilliance.
 
Am I wrong for giving away how much I loved the episode this early in the review? Maybe, but honestly, I don’t care. 😉
 
Anyway, we next find Dean, Castiel and Uriel in a warehouse, with Alistair in another room being held by a very elaborate devil’s trap. While Dean shows off more defiance, Uriel seems to actually LIKE this. We find out that, because of Castiel’s lingering doubts, he’s been somewhat demoted and Uriel has been put in charge of their garrison.
 
Dean tells Castiel in response to being asked to torture Alistair, “You ask me to open that door and walk through it…you will not like what walks back out.” This is a brilliant line with a fantastic delivery by Jensen Ackles. Actually, EVERYONE’S acting in this particular episode is spot-freaking-on. Moving on, Dean takes his tools into Alistair’s room, which prompts Alistair to begin singing “Cheek to Cheek” in a very mocking way. He then accuses Dean of being scared, and of “leaving a part of yourself back in the pit,” which is very intriguing. We also find out that Alistair tortured John, and gave him the same offer he gave Dean…but John never budged, which is both amazing and unsurprising.
 
Back at the hotel, Sam has called Ruby to help him find Dean and the angels, something Ruby isn’t too keen on, but does anyway. Sam tells Ruby while Dean isn’t strong enough to handle Alistair, he is, which raised my eyebrows for sure. We then cut back to Dean torturing Alistair…and WOW does Dean have a cold, evil look on his face, especially when he filled a freaking syringe with holy water. I liked it and was afraid at the same time. While Dean tortures Alistair, Alistair keeps comparing Dean to John. All the while, Castiel looks troubled, as he should.
 
Returning to the hotel, Ruby casts a spell in which the entirety of a map goes up in flames EXCEPT the part that shows where Dean and company are. Since angels don’t really hide, according to Ruby, finding them is easy. Sam then tells Ruby he needs “it,” and we don’t find out what that is until…RUBY CUTS HERSELF AND SAM DRINKS HER BLOOD.
 
Let me reiterate that if you didn’t get it the first time.
 
SAM DRANK RUBY’S FREAKING BLOOD!!!!!
 
Now that that’s had a moment to sink in, let’s move on, shall we? Dean is still torturing Alistair, and looks DAAAAAAAAAAMN cold doing it. Alistair continually prods Dean about looking for closure or absolution, saying at one point, “I cared you into a new animal, Dean. There is no going back.” This episode is just FILLED with great lines like that.
 
But wait, there’s more! Anna — newly reminted as an Angel extraordinaire — pays a visit to Castiel, probing him on how wrong this is, wondering how “Torture is God’s will?”, and saying they’re ruining their best weapon against the demons. While Castiel does indeed have doubts, he says he and Anna are nothing alike, and tells her to go, which he does. We then cut to a little bit of water falling on the circle surrounding the devil’s trap, breaking it. “Now wait a second,” you might be asking yourself, “how the heck can some WATER break the circle of a trap made BY AN ANGEL?” I wondered that too, and we’ll get to it in a bit.
 
Cut back to the torture room where Dean puts salt right down Alistair’s throat. EW! He spits it up and it’s all bloody and gobby grossness, just like they like on this show. Alistair then explains to Dean how, because Dean began torturing souls in hell, he was responsible for breaking the first seal and starting the road to Armageddon. As Alistair states, “The first seal will be broken when a righteous man sheds blood in hell. As he breaks, so shall it break.”
 
This is heavy, HEAVY, stuff, and Dean looks positively DEVASTATED when he hears this news. Sadly, Dean doesn’t have time to chew on this much because Alistair sees the broken seal, gets out, and begins to beat the literal SNOT out of Dean. Thankfully Castiel comes in and sticks Alistair with Ruby’s knife, but it’s not enough to slow him down, and after a solid beating, Alistair begins a chant that will send Castiel back to heaven.
 
Thankfully…or not, depending on your point of view… Sam comes in and begins to use is strengthened powers to wring the information out of Alistair. Once Alistair admits that not only does he not know who’s behind the death of the angels, but that Lilith had nothing to do with it, Dean proceeds NOT to send him back to hell, but to flat-out KILL HIM. Castiel, unsurprisingly, looks shocked by this, as are the freaking rest of us.
 
Now, as an aside, that whole “point of view” thing I mentioned is this. Sam now seems to have tremendous abilities and powers, powers that are only growing as he…SUCKS ON DEMON BLOOD. EW! Anyway, the old saying “power corrupts,” comes to mind here, as does what Pamela told Sam right before she died. I feel that Sam, in a way, is dealing with black magic. This is, as I see it, corrupted power, tainted, to be used ultimately for evil. The more he uses it, the more comfortable he seems to be with the idea of using it. This, coupled with all the lying he’s been doing, has me worried. Sam is, ultimately, a very good guy, and I would hate to see power and circumstance turn him into something twisted and wrong. Only time will tell, however, where his path will take him, but right now I’m VERY concerned about Sam’s…state of mind and being. While Sam saved the day by killing Alistair, part of me wishes
he hadn’t, so I wasn’t WHOLLY thrilled with his rescue.
 
Anyway, we next find Dean in the hospital with Sam at his bedside. Castiel appears and tells Sam he can’t heal him, while Sam tells him that Alistair wasn’t lying, which brings a LOT into question. If the demons aren’t killing the angels, who are, and why? Castiel then visits Uriel, and the two both express their doubts as to who’s giving orders from above, and what’s going on in heaven, as to them something feels “wrong.” Castiel then calls Anna and asks for instructions, not knowing what to do. Anna refuses, saying Castiel has to start thinking for himself. We then find Castiel investigating the water that broke his circle, ruining his devil’s trap.
 
Uriel then shows up, which makes Castiel have even more doubts about what’s going on. We then see Uriel pull out a knife and say, “the only thing that can kill an angel is another angel.” HOLY CRAP! Honestly, I didn’t see that coming, like, at all. Apparently, Uriel was killing members of their garrison he couldn’t convert. He also was the one who broke the seal on the Devil’s trap. He’s taken it upon himself to bring back Lucifer and put an end to humanity, since he only has contempt for them and sees Lucifer as their champion. Well, Castiel — admitting he’s afraid, something he’s not felt in a long time — doesn’t take well to this at all, and the two begin to beat the crap out of each other.
 
At one point, Uriel has soundly beaten Castiel, standing over him saying, “There is no will. There is no wrath. There is no God.” At that point, we hear a slicing sound, followed by a horrid gurgling noise from Uriel, who has just been nicely killed by Anna! HOLY CRAP!
 
We then return to the hospital room, with Castiel sitting by Dean’s bedside. Dean asks Castiel if he did, indeed, break the first seal, to which Castiel told him yes. The angels fought through hell to get him back once they learned of Lilith’s plan, but they were too late. In asking why they still saved him from the put, Castiel replied, “The righteous man who begins it is the only one who can finish it.” Dean then begins to choke up a bit, understandably, and ask Castiel about Lucifer and the Apocalypse, to which Castiel shares his ignorance of the subject.
 
Dean then begins to admit that he’s not strong enough to handle it, that he can’t do it, and that he admits he’s “not the man either of our dad’s wanted me to me.” This is a horrible admission, and when Dean tells Castiel to find someone else, he can only shed a tear in response before we fade to black.
 
Wow…just…wow…I have to admit, as strong as many of the episodes in this season have been, this one was by FAR one of the strongest. This episode set the stage for what should be the final act of the season, and it looks to be a real humdinger. I need to watch this episode a couple of more times for it all to sink in, but I’m still, as I write this, hyped up by what I just watched. Truly, an amazing episode.
 

 

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