Hellatus is over, and we finally caught up with Sam Winchester in the cage, where he’s been languishing with Lucifer for the last few weeks. The Father of Lies tried to work his silver-tongued magic on Sammy by taking him on a trip down memory lane and reminding him of how decisive and heroic he used to be, before suggesting he let Luci borrow his meat suit for old time’s sake, seeing as he’s the only archangel left who can topple Amara. Apparently, Michael is in The Cage singing show tunes and touching himself, so at least we know it’s not all bad news for poor, neglected Adam Winchester. Sam’s memories provided the opportunity to see his younger self portrayed by Colin Ford, who is the One True Baby Sam as far as I’m concerned, but it also raked up the whole Amelia storyline which should frankly have been left buried in Season 8, or – better still – salted and burned. Lucifer’s berating of Sam for letting his brother rot in Purgatory seemed to serve as an awkward meta apology for what many (myself included) see as the defamation of Sam’s character at that time, but I would argue that this kind of heavy-handed fan service and back-pedalling only underscores these past transgressions.
While Sam held his own against his old bunk buddy, Dean enlisted Castiel’s help in investigating whether the smiting had finished Amara. Dean couldn’t get close enough himself due to ‘smiting sickness’ (really?) After chucking up his guts (and yes, Jensen Ackles is still stupidly attractive with vomit on his chin), Dean left Cas to it while he returned to the bunker to find Sam still missing. A quick call to Crowley revealed that Sam was stuck in Hell, so Dean and Crowley teamed up once more, procuring a witch-enslaving device from Billie the Reaper in order to force Rowena to put Lucifer back in his box.
Meanwhile Cas bumped into another angel, Ambriel, a Heaven grunt who’d been sent to check on the Amara situation. Ambriel proceeded to deal several blows to Castiel’s dwindling self-esteem by calling him a murderer and pointing out that they both had the unenviable task of checking up on The Darkness because they are dispensable. Ambriel illustrated this by stumbling over a prone Amara and quickly becoming her breakfast. Amara laughed off Castiel’s attempt to stab her with an angel blade, and instead of killing him, she sent him back to Dean branded with a chilling message: I am coming.
With Rowena secured, Dean and Crowley set her to work on the spell, but before the witch could finish her incantation, Castiel arrived and they were interrupted by the sounds of Lucifer whaling on Sam. Once they were in reaching distance, Lucifer beamed Cas and Dean into the holding cage and set about dishing out some serious bruising. The trio held him off long enough for Rowena to finish the ritual, but unbeknownst to the others, Castiel agreed to let the devil get all up inside him to defeat Amara a split second before it was complete. This will not end well. Lucifer’s first act on his liberation was to break Rowena’s neck, she being the only one who could reopen the cage. Crowley’s grilling of his mother whilst she was bound to speak the truth gave us a lovely little monologue from the witch, and this glimpse at her human side made her inevitable fate much more emotional than expected.
So Lucifer is bound to Earth once more, and The Darkness is still at large. It remains to be seen who will pose the biggest threat to humanity, and how the Winchesters are going to position themselves in this epic showdown. It was good to be reminded that Billie is still lurking, determined to make sure that if one of the brothers bites it, they stay dead this time.
Final Grade: C-
+ Dean messing with Sam’s voicemail and Cas offering to take Dean’s temperature with his index finger made me laugh out loud.
+ The VFX as Amara gathered the darkness back to her was rather beautiful to behold.
+ Mark Pellegrino is always a joy to watch.
+ Sam telling Lucifer he will always have faith in his brother made my heart do a little flutter because I’m so easy.
– Lucifer’s cajoling of Sam seemed contradictory. He was using the fact that the Winchesters put saving each other above the greater good to shame Sam, in much the same way Gabriel and Zachariah did way back when, yet revisiting Amelia highlighted a period when Sam didn’t try to save Dean.
– Cas, Cas, Cas. I am so sorry, buddy. I have always had a lot of love for this character, but how spectacular the fall from glass-shattering, eyeball-melting badass who raised Dean Winchester from perdition to this broken, inept creature who can’t seem to put a foot right. All traces of his wisdom and gravitas have been eroded at this point, and it’s such a shame.
– I’m so confused about the validity of vessels (and continuity in general, to be honest.) If Sam was Lucifer’s only true vessel, how will Castiel’s form support him? Although Nick’s meat suit should have perished years ago, so I have no idea why I’m thinking about this so hard…
Crowley got the same thing as me for Christmas (a Pop Vinyl Sam Winchester). Although I got Dean too, so I win.
It’s a shame that we finally got to see some complexity in Rowena’s character, some genuine pathos, right before she got ganked! She joins Charlie and Abaddon in the dead sassy redhead gang.
Seeing Stull Cemetery will always stir up feelings for me, and I think this episode cemented the fact that I have very much separated the Kripke era (Seasons 1 through 5) from everything that comes after, in my head and my heart.
So over to you! Were you astounded and awed, or dazed and confused? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!