First off, can I just say how awesome Mark Sheppard is? The first time I recall seeing him was in my other favorite show, Firefly, and his turn here as the demon Crowley, while too short, was fantastic. I also thought it was hilarious how Supernatural’s first man-on-man kiss was NOT with the two main actors, but with two minor characters no wincester really wanted to see. ^_~
Crowley’s twist was also fantastic and unexpected. His banter with the Winchesters, being so nice as to call them "functional morons", was also awesome. Sheppard brought a depth to Crowley that isn’t often seen in demons on this show. The dip into the mythology between angels and demons, and how Crowley worries for his own survival once humans are eradicated, was both unexpected and compelling. It’s one of the few times, at least that I can recall, that a demon hasn’t been fully on the Lucifer train, and it’s both refreshing and fascinating.
At Bobby’s place, we find the Harvelles, the Winchesters, Castiel and Bobby relaxing before their big mission the next day. Watching Castiel down five shots of Tequila and then saying "I’m starting to feel something" was precious. The scene between Dean and Jo was even more priceless. I’ve never disliked Jo as a lot of fans have, but if Jo had been written like she was in this scene from the get go, I think she’d have been much more awesome from the start. The scene between Dean and Jo actually made me wince, in a good way. Poor, poor Dean.
Now when all six of them lined up to get a picture taken, I should’ve known something awful was coming, but we’ll get to that. Once the boys arrive in Carthage, Missouri — after following a lead from Crowley — they find the town apparently deserted, which is dang creepy. However, when Castiel sees dozens and dozens of Reapers are in the town, it just gets moooooore creepifying. Castiel follows a Reaper only to run into…Lucifer! Holy crap! The conversation between Lucifer and Castiel is also fantastic. Two cast-out angels, two rebelling angels, both seeing the situation completely differently.
Now I dunno why, but the scene between Meg, her hellhounds and our heroes was one of the tensest for me. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t able to actually SEE the hellhounds, maybe it’s because one of them got Dean, or maybe it’s when one ripped into Jo. Whatever the case, that scene was wrought with tension, intensity, confusion and quickly moving events. I’ve read that combat is all of those things at once, and if so, this scene captured the intensity and chaos of combat quite well. It also reminded me of just about any combat scene from "Blackhawk Down".
The scene wherein the hunters are shacked up in the hardware store is much more subtle, but just as tense, and ultimately, much more tragic. Dean tearing up when Bobby asking what their next move is…figuring out that Lucifer is summoning Death…then Jo making her awful decision…all brilliantly directed and acted. Props to both Alona Tal and Samantha Ferris as Jo and Ellen, respectively, for their amazing and, sadly, final turns as the Harvelle women. Watching Ellen cry brought tears to my own eyes, as Ms. Ferris pulled out all the stops as both strong and sad. After seeing this episode, I’ve come to the conclusion that no one should ever make Samantha Ferris cry.
Watching writers kill off characters we love, especially when the stakes are so high, is something I know I both love and hate them for. It worked by killing Wash in "Serenity"…and it worked here just as effectively. Also, Ellen’s tribute line to Kim Manners, "kick it in the ass," was perfectly placed.
While one might not think it could get ANY more depressing after Jo and Ellen’s sacrifice, holy hell would one be wrong. When the Winchesters went up against Lucifer and shot him with the Colt — and Dean didn’t miss — only to watch Lucifer come back and explain that he’s one of five things the Colt can’t kill…actually made me whimper a little. While others have told me they saw that coming, I totally didn’t, and was in a complete state of shock.
Back to the episode, it was creepy hearing Lucifer saying that Sam would say yes to him in six months in Detroit…which is where we were told Sam said yes to him in "The End," also written by Edlund. Also, props also have to go to Mark Pellegrino as Lucifer once again. He was just absolutely fantastic. His monologue about being a younger brother, beaten down by his older brother, called a freak and so on, was both touching and compelling.
The scene between Castiel and Meg was also fantastic. Misha Collins, as usual, is fantastic as Castiel, and him using Meg as a bridge to cross over the holy fire was just inspired. It was sad, however, to see Castiel unable to smite demons on his own. Hopefully he’ll get his powers back. Thankfully he had enough to zap the Winchesters away from Death’s rising, which we didn’t see much of thankfully. Make it creepier by letting our imaginations run with it, which works wonderfully. Sadly, the final scene was much worse than anything we probably could’ve conjured. Watching Bobby and the boys stare at the photograph with the Harvelle’s burning up while hearing about the disasters in Missouri? Freaking awful, that was.
Overall, honestly, there was nothing I didn’t like about this episode. The story itself was full of twists and turns, the acting was phenomenal, the characterizations engaging and compelling, the direction was fantastic, and the mythology both moved forward while consistent with what’s been previously established. Honestly, this episode probably sets a tone for the rest of the season, and I see very few, if any, happy episodes ahead. If this is the last season — which I hope it is — we have twelve episodes left…and God help us with how hard they’ll probably be to watch, if this one was any indication.
The next two months are going to be hard on fans like me, clamoring to see what happens next. Will this truly be the last season? Will the brothers say yes and become the vessels to their respective angels, leading to a brother vs. brother deathmatch? Will the writers take us somewhere entirely different, mucking about with our expectations? We now have to wait an agonizingly long time to find out.