First off, the music intro was so smart, with ELO's “Long Black Road.” Man, if that doesn't fit Supernatural in theme, I dunno what does. (Now, I'm listening to the Electric Light Orchestra all day on Spotify. It is beauteous.)
I always go into episodes written by this pair with great reservations—many of us do—but dammit, if they didn't juggle things pretty well this time. They always seem to write busy episodes, where often it feels like they bite off more than they can chew, but somehow they got the recipe right. And yanno, I kind of like the way they write Sam. They give him personality, snappy lines, instead of defaulting to giving all that to Dean, which seems to be the norm. (I totally get it, though; Dean is so much fun to write! I love writing his POV, and Sam is usually put in the role of 'straight man', setting up Dean's punch-lines. That doesn't mean Sam's dialog has to be as flavorless as it has frequently been, though. So good on ya, B/R-L! )
Was anyone else shipping Rowena/Guthrie? No? Awww. Oh well. RIP, Guthrie, we hardly knew ye. Also, angel Ingrid is interesting. I'd like to see more of her. In just that one quick scene, you could sense her passion for the cause and no-nonsense demeanor. She could be a solid ally for Cas.
So. Metatron. The dickwad we love to hate. :) I really enjoyed him in this episode. Yeah, he loves to hear himself talk, but mmmm, did I love to see him shut up when Dean came out of the shadows. It is unreasonably hot when Sam and Dean work together to be intimidating. Brady's death scene, way back when … remember that?
Brady: What is this?
Dean: All those angels, all those demons, all those sons of bitches, they just don't get it, do they Sammy?
Sam: No they don't, Dean.
Dean: You see, Brady, we're the ones you should be afraid of.
—5.20, 'The Devil You Know'
Claire's actress did a strong job in the Astoria Hotel scene; liked her a lot there. She really hammered home the understandable issues Claire has with Cas. He's trying, he really is, but he just isn't human, y'all. I like the way Misha balanced that in this episode. At once, he plumbed Cas' growth in behavior and understanding of what it means to be 'human', but still maintained his drive to repair his relationship with Heaven. I think that's why he could drive away from Claire at the end. He's still not quite there yet, may never be, but he's got his ear to the ground for her. Her guardian angel, as it were. :) (I'm a big fan of angels as Other, so I don't ever want him to go entirely human. Nope, not me.)
Nice jeans, Sammy. Finally found a pair that fit, huh, buddy? The scene with Sam and Dean walking and talking down the hallways of the bunker was faboo! Nice change-up from having them just sitting around, talking. Excellent call. Who directed this one, anyway? * is lazy *
Crowley is starting to feel a tad overly gullible to me. I dig Rowena's machinations, but I want ruthless, sarcastic, dangerous Crowley back. A worthy opponent. But maybe this is a reflection of Crowley's quick spin with humanity. Maybe he's lost his edge. Time will tell …
Best dressed squatters, ever. Damned nice leather jacket, there, lady.
Dean, revisiting his torturer days: SMOKIN'. I do so love a man who's good at his job. ;) Is that a competency kink rearing its head? Probably. And it's DEAN, so, yeeeeeah.
Cas standing there, while Sam ineffectually batters at the dungeon door: silly. If Cas had moved a few times to intercede but Sam was damned mad at that door and it would've been tough to get a word in edgewise, I would've bought it. Not a big deal though, just a little silly.
Okay, let's stop a moment to appreciate how good everyone looked, shall we? Rowena has the most glorious hair. I disagree, Claire, I like Cas without his tie but it is kinda his trademark, so okay. Have I mentioned that Dean, torturing, is hot? And wet Sam. WET SAM. Also, it's good to see Jared getting his shoulders back, dang. About time! Mark Sheppard has been trimming down lately, and it suits him! I love him thick or thin, but a little exercise is never bad for a soul, especially as we age. (Hear that, self?)
My biggest complaint, I think, is that it felt like there were pieces of dialog that wound up on the cutting room floor, due to time. A few conversations felt clipped, and I suspect there was supposed to be a scene where Dean talked to Claire after she tried to have him killed. Such is television.
Last night, when I first watched the episode, I was a little disgruntled; I still feel like Sam isn't being well-utilized as a LEAD character, that his role could be spread out between other characters and we wouldn't miss him (Carver, I'm looking at you), but upon rewatch today, I dunno, we got some teensy glimpses into Sam's brainspace finally, and that was good for me. His hope is returning—that dogged tenacity that there is a solution and if they just look hard enough, they'll find it. I'm still a bit at odds with how seemingly quickly he went from “None of us are more valuable than anhyone else” to “I'll save my brother at any and all costs” but hey, this can be a conversation they'll have if the writers will allow the characters to go there. The fact that they revisited Dean's allowing Gadreel to possess Sam (and the fall-out from that) is promising.
Pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this one! Yeah, my expectations are lower in general these days, but that's just the way it goes. I'm slowly getting more invested in where the show is going with the characters again, even if it's tempered investment. If I'm gonna be in this until the bitter end —and I am—I'd better find a way to care! And I have. God help me.
And in closing: