Some celestial shenanigans this week, as we met Lily Sunder, a woman with unnaturally long life due to her command of Enochian magic, and a Kill Bill style vendetta against an angel called Ishim.
As well as expanding our knowledge of the angels’ history on Earth, and their interactions with humanity, this episode dealt with the personal fallout of Castiel’s decision to save the Winchesters by smiting Billie the Reaper. Although we still don’t know what the ‘cosmic consequences’ of his actions will be, it seemed this had been praying on Dean’s mind, as the hunter was barely speaking to his seraph pal. Despite Sam’s insistence that Cas had acted for all the right reasons, Dean was determined to give Cas the cold shoulder. Cas, for his part, was feeling equally stubborn, and this made for a long, awkward car journey, as they set out to investigate the murder of Cas’ old brother in arms, the angel Benjamin. There wasn’t even any picking of music from the disgruntled driver, just plenty of cake-hole shutting.
Having ascertained that Benjamin was offed with an angel blade, Castiel enlisted the help of his old garrison to find the culprit. It turned out that Castiel, Ishim, Mirabel, and Benjamin had been sent on a mission back at the turn of the last century, to dispose of a nephilim child who’d been born to Lily Sunder and another angel, Akobel, in Maine. Lily, bent on revenge, had taught herself the angelic arts, and, having been imbued with longevity, had finally tracked down the beings who murdered her child. But in a twist, Sam and Dean discovered that actually, Lily’s daughter had been entirely human, born before Lily ever met an angel. Ishim, himself obsessed with the mortal woman, had framed her in an act of spite.
While the plot of this episode was fairly straightforward, it did throw up some questions regarding what will probably be the main arcs of the season – namely the birth of Lucifer’s child, and the consequences of Cas breaking Sam and Dean’s deal. Lily was considered too human to simply kill, even though, technically, practicing Enochian magic must make her some kind of witch. After Ishim’s death at Castiel’s hand, Lily was allowed to go, even though she might still pose a threat to Cas as the last remaining member of the assassin gang. Cas was duped into killing an innocent, but this episode asked us to consider whether ignorance is an excusable defense.
Similarly, although Kelly is a human, she is carrying a being that might be more powerful than even Castiel understands at this point, so will the Winchesters be justified in killing her for the greater good? Cas claimed he killed Billie because he believes the Winchesters are too important for the safety of the world to lose. But could it be that his personal weakness for them, especially Dean, lead him to make a decision which will turn out to be detrimental to mankind, and eventually cause more harm than their sacrifice would have done?
So was it any good? The angels are always going to be a source of contention for many fans, and while I loved them as mysterious being in the earlier seasons, and was absolutely aboard the apocalypse train throughout seasons 4 and 5, I do feel that they have been reduced to petty, bureaucratic stuffed shirts in later years, kind of like demons without any of the fun bits. As someone who wrote a book about fallen angels and the nephilim, I desperately wanted the show to really explore this rich mythology, but in reality, this episode left me cold. Angels should be warriors, capable of immolating someone with a single glance. Remember when the sound of Castiel’s voice could shatter glass, and poor Pamela Barnes got her eyes burnt out just looking at an angel? But the heavenly hosts are pretty toothless these days, so even the thought of Lucifer’s spawn walking the planet isn’t inspiring any chills anymore. Similarly, while Death’s death may have released Amara, and potentially means souls now go to The Empty, the consequences were largely overcome. Somehow Billie’s death doesn’t feel all that scary. While it did a bit of foreshadowing and posed some interesting moral dilemma’s, as a piece of TV, “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” felt a little sluggish and lacklustre.
Final Grade: D
+ Sam bonding with Lily over the loss of one’s soul was one of the more genuine and touching moments of this episode.
+ I like the introduction of the knowledge than humans can harness angel magic, although it seems odd that the Winchesters haven’t discovered that until now…
+ It’s always good to have an adversary walk away alive. It lends depth and scope to the world-building knowing these characters are still out there somewhere.
– The dialogue felt laboured and unnatural this week. Everyone seemed a little out of character.
– I’m confused about the consistency of Castiel’s abilities and it’s beginning to annoy me. He can still heal people and other angels, but he can’t track Sam and Dean, or find Kelly. Can he still teleport? Time travel? And how come not every angel gets the badass burnt wing thing when they bite it these days? So many questions…
– While it stands to reason that fallen and earthbound angels would be subject to corruption, I wish they’d do something a bit more interesting than bump off love rivals and kill kids for no real reason.
Extra Thoughts: Are Sam and Dean going to become masters of Enochian magic now? Because I feel like that would be handy. And they kind of have an expert under their roof!
So what did you think? Was this episode like a choir of seraphim serenading you, or a load of angel radio white noise? Sound off in the comments or tell us on Twitter!