Supernatural returned this week, along with Castiel’s mojo, as our feathered friend stepped up and did what needed to be done to prepare for a holy war of epic proportions…
We were in two worlds throughout the episode, tracking Mary and Jack’s escape from Michael in the Apocalypse world, while the Winchesters and Cas continued with their plan to open a rift in our own realm. There were a couple of surprise returns, one with a familiar face, and one wearing a new visage. Zachariah, last seen being stabbed with an angel blade by Dean in season 5’s “Point of No Return” had a younger, leaner incarnation in Apocalypse World, but Bobby Singer was reassuringly unchanged.
When Michael and Zachariah’s various methods of coercing Jack into opening a door into our world failed, he was flung in a cell with Mary Winchester, who was holding up pretty well considering all the torture, except for some annoying migraines. Mama Winchester and the nephilim realised their matching headaches were a symptom of warding, and the lessening pain in one part of the cell meant it wasn’t as well protected. This enabled Jack to break them out, and it wasn’t long before they found refuge with Alt Bobby.
Bobby’s camp in the woods reminded me a little of “The End”, where Zachariah sent Dean Winchester into a vision of the future in which Sam had said yes to becoming Lucifer’s vessel. I know many fans are bored of the angels and demons saga, but for my money, this story arc is being handled pretty well. It stands to reason that Michael and Lucifer wouldn’t stop in their attempts to destroy humanity, and although the Apocalypse World can seem like a conceit to bring back dead characters without having to explain how, Mary and Bobby’s realisation that Mary’s demon deal had saved one version of the world in a roundabout way was an important one. It essentially absolves Mary of over thirty years of regret and self-recrimination.
Supernatural has toyed with the concepts of alternate realities and time travel in the past, and “Good Intentions” actually went a long way towards tying the present day show to previous seasons and plot threads. If we’re going to have angels and demons prowling about after thirteen seasons, I want them to be scary and badass, not suited drones. And that’s what we got with this episode. Jack’s true identity was enough to make Bobby change his mind about offering Mary a safe haven (at least until Jack’s angel-smiting powers came in handy), and while Michael and his soldiers were tearing up Apocalypse World, Cas was remembering his roots as a soldier of the The Lord back on our Earth.
Donatello cracked the code on the tablet, meaning the Winchesters had the spell they needed in order to open a portal into the Apocalypse World to rescue their mom and Jack. However, unbeknownst to the brothers and Cas, the prophet was out to sabotage their plans on Asmodeus’ orders, and he sent Dean and Cas on a wild goose chase to obtain the hearts of Biblical figures Gog and Magog, while he stayed and ‘helped’ Sam gather ingredients for the spell. The encounter with the ancient warriors was played for laughs (largely because it’s hard to summon the kind of gravitas needed to play legendary giants, I suspect) and was a welcome bit of respite from the bleakness of the war torn realm.
It did irk me a bit that we were asked to believe that Sam Winchester – a man so deeply connected to his brother that they shared a Heaven as soul mates – didn’t hear his phone buzz when Dean was calling him from a potentially life threatening situation, and allowed himself to be floored by Donatello. But at least he quickly regained control and overpowered the prophet with relatively little effort. The question of what to do once Donatello’s treachery had been discovered was an interesting one. I would have expected Dean to take him out, no questions asked, ensuring a new prophet would become available to help them complete their mission, and that Sam would reluctantly go along with him. But the brothers were surprisingly squeamish about taking a human life, and it was Cas who defied them both to extract the information he needed to complete the spell, even though it left Donatello brain dead.
The question of who has the right to judge who (or what) should be allowed to live or die is central to the show. Sam and Dean make a judgement call every time they kill a monster for ‘the greater good’, and yet the lines between human and monstrous have been blurring for years now. Castiel’s decision to sacrifice the prophet for the sake of stopping another celestial war was harsh but understandable. Castiel has been hoodwinked many times, made dubious alliances, and allowed himself to become human. But his vulnerability has often been depicted as weakness or stupidity, so it’s a huge relief to see him as a leader again, the mystical being that plucked Dean from perdition all those years ago. And what he did was smart. It was the simplest solution to the problem at hand, and he identified that and acted accordingly. I also enjoyed the reminder that Amara ate Donatello’s soul, as it demonstrated levels of continuity not always present in this show, and served as a reminder of Sam’s suffering, as well as the futility of waiting on God/Chuck for any kind of help. Just as Bobby told Mary in the other dimension, Sam and Dean are the only ones standing between humanity and its imminent destruction at the hands of vengeful angels, so let’s hope their angel can maintain his good counsel and help them do whatever it takes.
Final Grade: B
+ Jack making shadow puppets with the kids in the camp and not being able to keep from using his magic was both adorable and slightly worrying. The kid puts me on edge, which is exactly what he’s supposed to do, but damn, I am rooting for him.
+ Misha Collins had a lot to do this week and he did a great job.
+ Dean’s pile of bacon made me laugh out loud. Imagine how long it takes to cook that much bacon. And how do they afford it?! Don’t see them hustling much these days…
– It’s never a good thing to make a Winchester dumb for the sake of a lazy plot point.
– The ancient dialogue about Cas and Dean being super pretty seemed a bit of a stretch. We get it, Dean Winchester’s milkshake brings all the murderous giants to the yard.
Extra Thought: Donatello’s vessel is lying empty in a hospital bed. I wonder if it’s going to be snapped up by a supernatural being with nefarious intent, or whether that’s the end of the road for the chicken-loving prophet.
What did you think? Did “Good Intentions” surpass your expectations, or are you sick of these parallel world shenanigans? Sound off in the comments or over on Twitter.