season-9-speculation

Abel wasn’t talking to God. He was talking to Lucifer. Lucifer was gonna make my brother into his pet. I couldn’t bear to watch him be corrupted, so I offered a deal – Abel’s soul in heaven for my soul in hell. Lucifer accepted… As long as I was the one who sent Abel to heaven. So, I killed him. Became a soldier of Hell – a knight.
—  Cain, telling us exactly what’s going to happen in the season 9 finale
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At the end of “Do You Believe in Miracles?” Crowley tells Dean, “Your brother, bless his soul, is summoning me as I speak. To make a deal, to bring you back.”

But that’s not what Sam says, is it? No, what he says “You got him into this, and you’re going to get him out of it.”

Does that sound like someone who is looking to make a reckless deal to you?

The fact is that Crowley basically avoided Sam throughout season 9. His whole focus has been getting Dean on his side, and with Dean off the leash and out of control because of his need for vengeance, that’s all Crowley needed. There’s a reason Crowley has mainly been around with just Dean and gone away when Sam was also getting involved. He knows Sam is smart, he knows Sam is capable of figuring him out with enough information.

And Sam has been extremely skeptical of Crowley this entire time. He never once stopped being suspicious of Crowley’s motivations. He has always, always known that Crowley was in this to get something for himself, even beyond killing Abaddon.

But Crowley’s final speech reveals that he is making the same mistake many others have made before him—assuming that Dean’s life being at risk makes Sam weak and easy. But I have some news for you, Crowley. The Sam on the right is not the Sam on the left. Sam is not a scared kid with no options and only one way out. Sam is a Man of Letters, a man who has been dealing with demons for years, a man who saved the world. A man whose entire world you just corrupted entirely for your own ends.

And I think you should be really careful about underestimating him.

Eyes and Ears Everywhere, or Where I Speculate Wildly about 9x21

Hmmm, wondering if we have Cas’ insider right here in the colours of his master.

The colour of Crowley’s demon form is a very distinct colour, as was this angel’s entire get up. And it wasn’t the only visual that connected Crowley to Cas Central. Crowley was also connected to Ezra’s murder by being shot in the exact same spot as we saw Ezra’s fatal wound.

Also, Crowley gave Gavin reading skills in the same way Metatron gave Cas knowledge of every story he’s ever read.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Crowley and Metatron are actually connected/ in cahoots somehow. It never sat right with me that in First Born the demon called out to Cain and Dean about their new master he wanted to please. Crowley immediately filled that in as meaning Abaddon, but Abaddon has been very specific in calling herself Queen, so it wouldn’t make sense for her to be called Master, would it?

So, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if one of the plottwist still coming up is Crowley and Metatron working together.

How I hope the finale will go:
  • Dean: I must kill
  • Cas: No bby
  • Sam: Guys does anybody really care about me in this episode or just the fact that Dean might kill me...???
  • Metatron: I didn't choose the thug life, the thug life chose me.
  • Gadreel: NOW IM LYIN ON THE COLD HARD GROUND
  • Crowley: Dean, you're screwed.
  • God: *makes grand entrance*
  • God: I HAD TO COME ALL THE WAY HERE
  • God: YOU TWO *points to Dean and Cas*
  • God: YOU ARE IN LOVE OKAY?! I don't give a shit about the whole "homosexual/bisexual" thing because Castiel dragged your ass out of Hell.
  • God: He died like FIFTY TIMES and I kept bringing him back. You know why?!
  • God: BECAUSE YOU'RE MY ME-DAMNED OTP THAT'S WHY. NOW KISS ALREADY YOU DUMBASSES.
  • God: P.S., Metatron...Cas isn't in love with humanity, he's in love with DEAN you ignorant creation.
  • *screen goes black*
Castiel's Complex: Why ET won't be running back to Elliot's home.

So I don’t know where everyone is getting the info about Cas being shunned from the bunker. I’m going to assume someone said he won’t be in there for awhile and it escalated. I could be wrong. But I could see Cas not returning to the bunker until Dean drags his injured ass back.

Cas isn’t used to staying in one place, he hasn’t had a home for millennia. Now he has just done exactly what Dean warned him not to do and now he has a legion of powerful fallen angels lynching him.

Also lets look at how Castiel thinks the Winchesters view him. The cast has said it several times that Cas feels like he is just a tool to the Winchesters. Dean has called Cas a baby in a trench coat without his powers. And Dean never thinks to go back and correct harsh words because I think Dean doesn’t always realize the effect he has on people.

So to me it is no surprise that Cas isn’t running to the Winchester’s doorstep right at the get go. Why would he? He feels useless and doesn’t want to burden Dean with his problems.

But, this is also a very good thing. This is something that is going to simmer for a while in the show and make the fans scream and wail. It may even start Cas on the endverse path. It is going to force Dean to spell it out for Cas and clarify what “I need you” really means.

Maybe Sam has to start the conversation, maybe Charlie finds Cas first. Who knows. But I do believe that something big is brewing for the two of them and it won’t be resolved or a good portion of the season.

What Does Crowley Know…About the Angel Spell?

Yesterday I rewatched 9x06: Heaven Can’s Wait. Last time I watched this episode, I was too distracted by my hopes for epic romance

and the new fact that humans blow up hot pink

to note much else of import. 

This time around, however, a certain much more plot-related scene leapt out at me.  At the start of this episode Kevin, in his last act as prophet, is able to translate the angel spell into an unreadable squiggly cartoon language

but is unable to proceed farther.  Sam and Kevin then convince Crowley to translate it in exchange for a phone call to Abaddon.

After the call, Crowley begrudgingly translates the spell from squiggle language.

So, Crowley reads the whole spell and is surprised by something in it. “Hmm,” he says, then he tells Sam and Kevin it’s irreversible. 

I wonder what surprised him.

Sure it could be that it’s irreversible. Except…

Except…the spell does not appear to be irreversible.  Because in 9x09, this conversation between Metatron and Gadreel happens (paraphrased):

Repopulating Heaven with only the cool angels? That’s not my definition of irreversible angel expulsion.

If Crowley was lying to Sam and Kevin, then what was he surprised by? Obviously, I have my own biased, wishful thinking suspicions, based on Crowley’s interests in the next episode he was in:

But really, the question is ripe for more speculation.

An aside: interesting distillation of the angel spell ingredients, right? Heart. Grace. Bow.

Finally, I leave you with the angel spell itself. Perhaps the whole season is spelled out in these squiggles.

Hell hath no fury like a prophet scorned (Kevin Tran in S9)...

Kevin: “The tablet says, whosoever chooses to undertake these tasks should fear not danger, nor death, nor a word that I think means getting your spine ripped out through your mouth for all eternity.”

Dean: “Good times.”

Trial and Error 8x14

There really needs to be an episode titled “Hell hath no fury like a prophet scorned…” in the upcoming season, because the Winchesters knew what they were getting into and they flunked it. 

Kevin surrendered his life, his health, his Mum, and got tortured by Crowley to do the groundwork for closing the gates of Hell. And at the end of the day, Dean chose his brother over all that, and over every single soul who will now continue to suffer demon possession or to rot in Hell.

Sam gave up the Trials because Dean couldn’t bear to see his little brother pay such a heavy mystical price a second time, after the torment of the cage. 

Objectively, for anyone who isn’t Dean, "If anything is worth dying for, this is it".

So, yes, I suspect one Kevin Tran might not be in the best of moods with the brothers Winchester once they meet again… 

A Discussion of 9x18 Meta Fiction and a Theory to End All Theories

I spent more time than I probably should have today creating an outline for a meta on narrative structure and character functions in a story. Then, I decided to watch 9x18 again because why wouldn’t I? I sit here now, after flipping every table I own, ready to write a breakdown of Meta Fiction and what we all missed. I don’t want to rehash every syllable shared between characters. All of this has been done and it has been written beautifully by others. What I’m concerned with is the story being told by an omniscient narrator.

Let’s start at the beginning.

As we know, Metatron is playing God. As the omniscient narrator, Metatron has access to all of the events and dialogue in the story, which renders his account of them the most accurate. He follows the characters throughout the story and constantly assess the progress of the narrative put in place toward the intended ending.

Metatron is writing his own version of destiny and is taking a couple of pages out of Chuck’s Winchester Gospel to do it. We focus on two books in particular. First is A Very Supernatural Christmas, in which the boys investigate a couple of yuletide deaths that end up being tied to Pagan gods. Throughout the episode, we flashback to one particular Christmas when Sam and Dean were young and Dean tries his best to give Sam a good Christmas in the absence of their father. Sam decides to gift Dean with the present originally meant for their father – the coveted Samulet, which later becomes a beacon to finding God. This episode also falls during the year before Dean goes to Hell, marking tensions between the brothers and their inability to communicate, but highlighting their love and willingness to do anything for one another, including pretending that happiness and normalcy exists for a short time. Interestingly enough, this was a Jeremy Carver episode. Keep the relationships between the brothers at this point in mind.

The second book we focus on is Tall Tales, in which Sam and Dean investigate urban legends that seem to be coming to life, only to learn that a Pagan demigod – the Trickster – is the culprit. We also know the Trickster as Gabriel. A large part of the episode is narrated from the perspective of each Winchester. The script, actions, occurrences, etc. all varied by who was telling the story. Dean’s version of Sam was literally an overgrown, overemotional girl, while Sam’s version of Dean was a dumb womanizer.

The first thing that I noticed about this episode was that Sam and Dean’s acting was little off. Dean shower scene – best thing that’s ever happened to me, yes. But it wasn’t normal. Then there was Dean bringing attention to the Mark in front of Sam. Not saying it’s not possible that he’s little more out of control of the sensations caused by the Mark, but Dean is always very careful about showing too much in front of Sam. That is evidenced in the phone call scene with Cas. Dean is completely shut down except for the smile that Cas brings to his face. But Sam is there watching and the emotional response is controlled. All the while, Sam is the picture of understanding and concern for his brother. Maybe he’s starting to think that whatever Dean has gotten himself into is bigger than their personal problems? I don’t know. What I do know is that it is not like the boys to want to call up a bystander from a past hunt to help them out. If Ian was actually in another episode, please tell me, because I’m 98% certain he just appeared out of nowhere. This is getting weird.

Enter Gabriel. I am a big Gabriel fan, I’ve been wanting him back since he died. I still want him to come rolling in Helm’s Deep style with his Pagan Army to take Heaven and Hell both down. So seeing Gabriel was incredible for me. The only problem – that wasn’t Gabriel. A cheap joke every two seconds, a silly nickname to punctuate every sentence - Sure, Gabriel speaks that way, but not to that extent, and when it’s time to get down to business, Gabriel is all business. The page that Metatron took out of Tall Tales wasn’t that Cas needed Gabriel to teach him a lesson, to get him to play his role as he did with the Winchesters. The page Metatron took was the characterization from the perspective of the narrator. Metatron created a visage of Gabriel using the personality that he perceived Gabriel to have by reading the books in order to gain Cas’s trust. Cas fell for it because he barely knew Gabriel. He didn’t notice the odd direct eye contact that Gabriel made with the camera, he didn’t notice that his calls weren’t actually going through to Dean. He didn’t notice that there is no way that Gabriel, the Trickster, the master of deceit, would allow himself to be lured out of hiding by his own horn. So why didn’t it seem that Cas’s characterization was affected? Well, I think that for the purposes of his plan, Metatron needed Cas to act of his own free will. Whatever his endgame is, Metatron needed Cas to choose for himself to lead his flock of angels. He couldn’t manipulate the plot of his story as he did with the other characters in it. Maybe the real Gabriel will return one day, but it definitely wasn’t this day.

Moving forward, the boys are able to capture Gadreel. How they were able to achieve such a feat with no source of information and months of inability to track him, I have no idea. Then, we see Dean doing the concerned boyfriend act, sending Sam to find Cas, and opting to stay and torture information out of Gadreel. I could see this happening, sure. But looking at these events from the perspective of being in on the narrator’s knowledge and motivations, everything is suspect. I would say that Metatron certainly does ship Destiel. More importantly, all of these events were orchestrated. Metatron told Gadreel at the end that he didn’t foresee this. Of course he did. Gadreel is a pawn, a scapegoat, and getting rid of him is one less superfluous piece on his board, especially when he can add Castiel in Gadreel’s place. Metatron allowed for Gadreel to be captured, to be tortured for information, because he was banking on Dean losing control from the influence of the Mark and killing him. Metatron had to reassess the course of his story at this point – Castiel refused to say yes, and Gadreel isn’t dead. Perfect opportunity for a show of faith, an even trade, to establish himself as a benevolent being and an “entity” of his word. Making the trade worked out for him because he reunited Cas and the Winchesters, gave Cas purpose to say yes after seeing the Mark of Cain on Dean’s arm, and was able to hold on to his pawn for a future move. In Metatron’s eyes, he’s winning.

Now let’s go back to Dean and Gadreel because they are the most crucial part of the story.

First, Gadreel establishes that he set free humanity because of his love for it. Many biblical interpretations of the Fall of humanity cite it as a positive event because a soul can only truly be saved once it has been damned. The Book of Enoch discusses an angel called Gadreel who was sent to watch over humanity and who led Eve astray. I would take this interpretation to mean love. Gadreel, the angel, loved humanity and was in love with a human, and he set humanity free in order for them to be together. Their union would result in the Nephilim. There are interpretations of the Cain and Abel story that suggest they were not the sons of Adam, but of an angel. I think it is very possible at this point to speculate that Gadreel, not Adam, is the true father to Cain and Abel.

At this point, Dean threatens to leave Gadreel locked in his chains, which incites Gadreel to goad Dean into killing him, using his brother and his self-hatred as ammunition. We learn a great deal of information here. For starters, Gadreel paid attention while he was inside Sam’s head and knew the exact things to say that would push Dean over the edge. We also learn how much of himself Gadreel sees in Dean because he understands that self-hatred, he understands being bound by others, to have no worth, to not be loved by their fathers. Gadreel was tortured by angels for millennia because he loved too much. Gadreel is not scared of torture, but he is afraid of death. We saw that in 9x10 and we saw it again in 9x18 as his closed his eyes in preparation for Dean’s killing blow that never came. In that moment, all Gadreel felt was fear. All that Dean felt was fear. They both recognized their fear of death, mirrored in one another, even though their circumstances have them constantly running towards it. Dean stopped himself from delivering the final blow that Metatron was counting on and left Gadreel to ponder this change of events. The look on his face, more than anything, I believe is confusion because he was asking to die against his will and terror at how close he came.

Let’s skip to Dean entering the bathroom after leaving Gadreel. He’s checking his phone, he carelessly puts down the Angel Blade. He’s not alert, not aware, even though it’s possible that angels could roll in to save Gadreel or for him to escape. Dean’s not operating on Hunter mode right now. He’s just being himself, which is a great deal of odd considering how not themselves everyone has been acting in this episode. Dean looks at himself in the mirror, wipes a smug in front of his face using his right hand, sweeping from his right to his left. He washes his hands, then his face, then looks up at himself again, where shadows create very well placed darkness over his eyes, reminiscent of demonic eyes. This is a startling example of the theme of duality. Dean moves from right to left, moves from the force that drives him to his connection to his soul. Dean washes his hands and face, a means of purification of the soul. This purification is contrasted by the reminder of the darkness inside of Dean. Then Dean gets this strange look on his face like he just had an epiphany and looks down at the Mark. Next time we see his face, Dean looks resolved and he picks up the Angel Blade and returns to Gadreel.

For a moment, I would like to rewind to Sam’s characterization in his scenes searching for Castiel and interacting with Metatron. Sam is concerned that his friend is in trouble, he’s worried, and he’s a bit more twitchy than usual. Metatron, the omniscient narrator, has succeed in becoming God, can alter the fabric of the Universe to create his own destiny, so I think it would be easy for him to spring his henchman from a single Winchester if he wanted to. Yet, he appeared before Sam and scared the crap out of him. Sam actually gasped. Since when does Sam gasp? The Winchesters have everything from angels to spirits sneaking up on them constantly. Yet Sam gasps? And let’s not get sidetracked from the fact that Sam looks as though he is on the verge of not-so-manly tears the entire conversation with Metatron. That’s not Sam. He doesn’t act like this.

The next thing we see is the time jump to Sam returning to warehouse. What happened between Dean leaving the bathroom and Sam returning? All we know is that Gadreel is unconscious and Dean is splayed out, exhausted, his knuckles are bloody and he’s grasping the Mark with his left hand. Sam runs to check on him, the picture of brotherly concern, and Dean rushes to explain.

This where it really starts to get good. Dean uses short sentences and a very concise explanation that Gadreel wanted to die, he wanted to assist his death, but he didn’t because they needed him to talk. Everything that Dean says makes sense, but absolutely none of it makes sense. From delivery to how a human was able to beat an angel unconscious, it doesn’t make sense. Dean, who had been acting like Dean, stopped acting like Dean. I know you’re saying “It’s the Mark, duh,” but hold out here with me for a little longer.

The trade is made. Dean doesn’t say much. Dean always has a smartass comment to share in the face of his enemies. Metatron shows up, puts on a show for the boys, renders all of their tricks useless, and calls for the car carrying Cas. Another one of my favorite things from the episode happens here. Metatron gestures for the car and moves toward it, prompting Sam to turn and hold out his arm across Dean’s front in the shielding gesture that we often see Dean use on him. That’s an interesting role reversal. Always, always, always Dean places himself in front of Sam, right in the face of danger as an extra barrier of protection for his little brother. In this scene, Sam is in front of Dean. He’s twitching, he’s nervous, but he’s out in front providing protection. Dean is just standing there. Metatron let’s Gadreel out of the Impala’s trunk and he stands and looks directly at Sam. There is no anger, no anguish, no sadness, but his eyes aren’t emotionless either. I see recognition and determination in his eyes. The trade is made and Cas steps to the boys, also placing himself in front of Dean. Dean, the human shield with no sense of self-preservation, is allowing himself to be shielded by his brother and his angel. This suggests to me, among other things, that at some point, Sam and Cas are going to have to protect Dean from Metatron.

From this point, we enter everyone’s favorite scene, where Team Free Will is, once again, acting more like themselves. Cas senses something different about Dean. He sees the Mark, Dean deflects and locks himself back up, renewing his sense of purpose and single-mindedness in finding Abaddon.

We then cut to Metatron’s writing room and Gadreel, looking good as new.  They both reference the Stairway to Heaven that Dean just speculated on. It does exist. Gadreel then inquires about Metatron’s “play.” Interesting choice of words for a millennia old being with an impeccable vocabulary that he often utilizes. This is where it all came together for me. While Metatron is talking about finding ways to keep his ducks in a row, Gadreel is watching him and he’s smirking. Gadreel is smirking. He then makes this face where he opens his mouth like he’s about to say something, then thinks better of it and turns away, smirk still in place. He stops and speaks his thought out loud, “Was the Winchesters grabbing me part of your plan?” Grabbing. Not kidnapping. Not capturing. He used slang. Metatron says, “That was a surprise, but, hey, what writer doesn’t love a good twist?” Pan back to Gadreel’s face and his smirk is threatening to turn into a laugh. You see the pinched features trying to stay in control of his face.

Then Metatron says, “My job is to set up interesting characters and see where they lead me. The by-product of having well-drawn characters is…they may surprise you. But I know something they don’t know – The ending. How I get there doesn’t matter as long as everybody plays their part.”

Pan back to Gadreel and the smirk has yet to leave his face. He listens to everything Metatron says. He takes a breath. He half turns. He nods and sucks in his cheeks. Then he turns and walks away. Then we see Dean and Sam in the car. Sam looks horribly concerned about Dean. And Dean is completely dead in the eyes.

The smirk gave it all away. The smirk, the deep breath, the half turn, the nod, the cheeks sucked in, the completed turn, and walking away. The vocabulary that went from, “I wonder if I may procure from you the feathers of a Griffin,” and “young man, you have what I seek,” to “how did your play turn out?” and “was the Winchesters grabbing me part of your plan?”

That gave it all away. Gadreel is not Gadreel.

The short, concise, almost tentative words gave it away. The willingness to be shielded by others. The lack of snark. The instant return to snark and shutting down. The dead eyes.

That gave it all away. Dean is not Dean.

Dean is Gadreel’s vessel and Gadreel is in Dean, who is now soulless.

Let that sink in for a second.

In the time between where Dean left the bathroom, purified and resolved, and Sam returned, I believe he and Gadreel had a little heart to heart. Dean asked him why, if he loved humanity so much, he’s turning his back on it now. Gadreel told him his story. It probably does involve the love of a human, because they are mirrors and because Dean is somehow tied into the spell Metatron cast with Cas’s Grace and into opening the Gates again. Gadreel told Dean what he knows – that Metatron is rewriting destiny and everyone has a role to play. Dean realized that the only way to stop the new God from succeeding is to rip up his pages before he can even figure out where he went wrong. How else do you gain the same level of knowledge that a higher power possesses but with infiltration and gaining trust? Dean and Gadreel discussed the Mark. Could be a long shot, could be true to this story, but maybe this Gadreel was the lover of Eve and the true father to Cain and Abel. Maybe Gadreel turned his back on humanity after Cain killed Abel because he did not know that it was the Devil talking to Abel, rather than God. Gadreel knew about the Mark, though. He knew that it will destroy Dean’s soul, turn him into a demon, but there is a way. Souls are like Grace, so a soul could possibly possess an angel. We’ve seen humans absorbing human souls and demon essence into their bodies. Who is to say that they can’t take over once inside? Dean and Gadreel devised a plan for Dean to infiltrate Metatron’s ranks and find the way to open the gates from the inside. Away from the Mark of Cain, Dean’s soul will be preserved. It is possible that Gadreel and Dean are sharing the same headspace with the poor guy being possessed, but I think it is more likely that Gadreel possessed Dean and is existing in the background as he did while inside Sam. Dean is now soulless, like Sam in season six. Gadreel is in there to control the Mark and control the inhibitions that would allow soulless!Dean to maim and murder freely under its influence. Cas sensed something different about Dean, but it may not have just been the Mark, it may have been the lack of soul, or the angel hiding in the background. There is the problem of Metatron noticing that Gadreel isn’t Gadreel. The personality wouldn’t give it away because we saw a whole episode of Metatron getting the characterization wrong. Just as Gadreel left behind residue of Grace in Sam, he left enough inside his vessel to shield Dean’s soul.

The issue becomes making everyone believe the lie. Once they’ve switched vessels, all it takes is a couple of well laid punches to lay out Dean in Gadreel’s body, and I’m certain the effects of the Mark of Cain on an angel’s Grace are unpleasant. Gadreel stays in the background and let’s soulless!Dean take the wheel. Meanwhile, Dean just has to play his cards right, pretend to be a duck in its proper place.

It truly is a beautiful plan that rips up the entire story. “How I get there doesn’t matter as long as everybody plays their part.” Metatron thinks he’s winning, that he has all his ducks in a row, playing out the destiny he is creating for them. Dean and Gadreel are no longer playing their roles. They will certainly surprise Metatron in the end.

It’s a crazy theory. There are holes, I know this. But I am not the true writer of the story with the well laid plan and this works.

Go back and watch the episode with all of this in mind. Watch and listen to Dean and Gadreel toward the end. More than anything, watch Gadreel’s body language when he’s talking to Metatron.

It gives it all away.

10

“From the inside out”

Something I really enjoy(ed) about this season is how they use(d) certain camera angels and shots to go with this season’s “theme” of “the big bad being internal” and the “evil” within, that is killing you from the inside out (or I better phrase it like this: this is how I have been perceiving the big theme of the season, that’s just my impression), like we saw

  •  in “The Purge” with people shrinking until there is nothing left of them
  • in “Dog Dean Afternoon” with Chef Leo, who is killed from the inside out, because he has cancer
  • with Gadreel possessing Sam threatening to kill him, when Dean tried to clue Sam in to expell him
  • with Crowley, who is literally the evil within (in the trunk and in the bunker), who is now working on Dean’s descent
  • in “Slumber Party” with the wicked witch, who survived with Dorothy in a jar
  • and now still see with Dean, who is ~killed from the inside out, which has mostly been a psychological thing, but with him taking on the mark of Cain got a physical representation of it as well

The topic of inside vs. outside has been established last season already. Introduced in the very first episode of S8 when Benny told Dean that

“You’re either in or you’re out”

(also I won’t even go into what that whole topic might mean for Dean’s sexuality). We saw all throughout S8 though that it wasn’t as simple as that though. Physically Dean was out of purgatory, mentally he was anything but and that on top of his hell trauma, as wwll as all of what he went through when he was just a kid, lost not just his mother, but also his father in one night and was expected to take care of his little brother (because his father wasn’t able to provide any safety for his sons, because he was too messed up by what happened to him as well). This is why I find it so interesting and kind of awesome, we got all of these shots this season and the above gifs are really just a small collection of those instances.

I don’t know, I guess I just really love how that particular perspective highlights, that the characters struggle with escaping their own minds, the way they were raised, what they were indoctrinated with and how ultimately in a way - despite fighting, believing and standing for free will - in some ways are still trapped, captured: on the inside looking out.

Stay on target, stay on target...or maybe don't.

Many people (including me) have been speculating and/or hoping that season 9 of Supernatural is heading towards some version of the 2014 we saw in the episode “The End”.  We’ve been looking for signs, omens, and portents, and we have found many.  There have been similar quotes by characters, similar situations, and even similar cars, though several have been switched around as if seen in a film negative or through an old pane of wavy glass.  We are not going to get exactly the future Zachariah showed Dean, but it seems to many of us that a twisted version of that horrific 2014 is looming.

I’d like to propose something.  If we, the audience, can see these signs, who is to say that Dean can’t see them, too?  He lived through that future and was terrified by what he saw, enough to call Sam afterwards in an attempt to change their fates.  Wearing his brother’s face, Lucifer said to him, “No matter what you do, you will always end up here.”  Dean witnessed his own future death.  He witnessed his own future self sacrificing all the people who depended on him so that he could kill the devil.  He saw the date on Zachariah’s newspaper.  And, he knows what year it is now.

Perhaps Dean is suffering from a form of target fixation

Target fixation is a process by which the brain is focused so intently on an observed object that awareness of other obstacles or hazards can diminish. Also, in an avoidance scenario, the observer can become so fixated on the target that the observer will end up colliding with the object.

I think Dean saw Castiel without his angelic powers and was reminded of that other Castiel.  I think Dean saw an angel speaking through his brother (even though he caused it this time) and was reminded of Lucifer in a garden surrounded by destruction.  I think Dean saw Kevin being killed by that same angel in his brother’s body because of Dean’s own mistakes, and was reminded of his future self sending those who followed him to their doom at the hands of another angel in his brother’s form.  I think Dean is seeing all these things we’ve been seeing and has become mesmerized by them to the point where he can’t look away, no matter that that future has already been averted.  He may be fulfilling Zachariah’s prophecy himself.  Or, he may be so distracted by that possibility that he is actually fulfilling his own dream self’s prophecy that has been with him even longer.  He may be forgetting his black-eyed self saying “This is what you’re going to become.”  That other obstacle or hazard may have been diminished in his mind while he is so intently focused on the signs of “The End”.

Like the servant in the fable “The Appointment in Samarra“ and Julian in the book of the same name, Dean may be impulsively running directly into something he wanted so desperately to avoid.  At the end of “The End”, Dean decided that he and Sam should stay together in order to avoid their supposed destiny.  Now he’s decided they should be apart.  He thinks he’s going to burn in hell, and he thinks he deserves it. He’s running away from the specter of the Apocalypse directly into that other prophecy he received from himself in “Dream a Little Dream of Me” in season 3.  He is becoming the demon, the “mindless obedient attack dog”, the “soldier and nothing else” that his dream-self warned him of six years ago.

Self-fulfilling prophecies happen all the time in literature and television and film.  It happens in mythology and the bible.  We know that the Fates exist in the SPN universe because we saw one of them in “My Heart Will Go On”.  We saw her actively course-correcting Cas’ attempts to change other people’s destinies by messing with the past.  So, there could very well be a supernatural hand at work.  But, I don’t think Dean needs any supernatural entities to drag himself towards one prophesy while being distracted by another.

Consider these words from the episode “Appointment in Samarra”:

Tessa: It’s destiny.

Dean: Give me a break. I’ve spent my whole life fighting that crap. There’s no such thing as destiny, just like there was no apocalypse — just a bunch of stuck-up mooks who didn’t want us human slaves asking questions. Well, I say the little girl lives.

Tessa: Do you know what’s amazing? You don’t actually buy a word you’re saying.

Dean spends his whole life fighting destiny.  He’s a founding member of team free will.  He doesn’t want to have a fate.  But he may really believe he has a destiny he deserves and can’t avoid.  And while running away from the one he sees looming in all the signs, omens, and portents, he is running directly into the destiny he feared first and foremost.  He has even impulsively taken upon his body a mark that some consider to be a sign or omen:

The word translated as “mark” in Gen. 4:15 is ‘owth, which could mean a sign, an omen, a warning, or a remembrance.(x)

He is becoming one version of everything he hates and fears most about himself while trying to avoid the other.  He may even end up with one prophecy leading to fulfillment of the other.

He’s driving away, and he may be almost to Samarra.

Behind Bars, or Where in 9x17 There Couldn't Be More Prison Imagery and That's a Good Thing

I love how many shots we got that remind us of prison; of being caught. For both boys. We have mainly seen the idea of being caught/held against your will represented through vessels this season, but Misha sure upped the ante this episode.

Like Sam, being lead into a cage in Milton (hello devil falling into hell) in an episode that specifically reminds us of soulless!Sam who had just returned from the Cage.

And just to make sure we really get it:

Quickly followed by an image of Dean caught in his addiction, caught between the light (as symbolised by the lamp) and the darkness of the Mark (symbolised by the bottle, Dean’s other addiction)

Then there is the bars dividing Sam and Billy in the conversation in which soulless Billy says he is clear and if that isn’t scary-assed foreshadowing of Dean going dark I don’t know what is. (oh and those eyes-brows really remind me of the kid who played Dean in Bad Boys, but I digress)

Speaking of Bars. we also get this shot. For me, actually the one that really had me sit up:

Dean underneath the word Bar next to another Milton reference (I’m leaving the cocktails alone. Misha, you troll). This in an episode where in Milton, Illinois the case reminds us of soulless Sam caught with Lucifer in the cage. And here we find Dean framed between two barred windows (yes , they’re blinds, but blinds are used throughout the episode the same way as prison bars) underneath the word bar, referencing again both his addiction and how caught he is.

Oh and I just remembered this quote by William Blake about John Milton:  “he was a true Poet, and of the Devil’s party without knowing it”

Dudes, Dean is not just going dark; he’s going the darkest of dark. I might be reading it completely wrong here, but the way I see it: Forget Abaddon vs Crowley. We’re looking at the new king of hell right here:

And suddenly a redhead giving Dean a crown isn’t so funny anymore….

Speculation

Some educated guesses* about where the rest of this season is going, and what might end up happening in season 10, based on both structure and themes that have shown up in seasons 8 and 9:

*I could be utterly wrong about all of this; I’m just making guesses, and don’t have any special insight into the way that TPTB are going about all this

Dean will go dark side

The mark of Cain will definitely be playing a big role in this, and while the jury’s still out on whether or not it will put him on the road to turning into a demon, it will certainly have a supernatural effect on Dean.  Obviously, part of Dean’s decent into the moral not-so-grey ground is driven by his issues with Sam and inability to understand what Sam is trying to tell him; I’m also willing to bet that Crowley is going to manipulate him further, the way he did in 9x11.  Most likely, he’s going to use the human blood addiction as a way to sway Dean more to his side, in a similar way to how Ruby used both her memories of humanity and Sam’s addiction to demon blood to manipulate him into freeing Lucifer.

In fact, given that this season is act two of a three act structure, it’s very likely that the end of the season will play out very similarly to the end of season 4, which also functioned as act two (if you consider seasons 1-3 as a very drawn out act one).  Whatever the consequences to Dean going dark side are, they are going to form the cliffhanger ending of the season, and will drive the majority of the myth-arc for next season.  In that way, next season will be Dean’s redemption arc, both in his relationships that he’s damaged, and in the damage he caused to the world at large.

Dean will go dark side, but he’ll be pulled back from it by Cas

This could happen either at the very end of the season, or maybe at the beginning of next.  If it happens at the beginning of next, it’s maybe a little less likely that he’ll be pulled back specifically by Cas, since “Meet the New Boss” aside, the first few episodes of a season tend to set up future conflict, rather than resolve a major one from the last season with a heavy emphasis on one relationship.

Cas’ arc has definitely been heading toward a decision to become human again, probably at the end of the season, and with that decision he’ll reach the point in his redemption and character growth to help others- namely, to help Dean, who has been paralleled to Cas’ struggles this season, but on the wrong side of the coin.  If Cas manages to figure out the answer to all those questions he’s been asked- what’s out there for you, who are you, what do you want- then he’ll be able to help Dean, and maybe Sam a little, reach a place where they can answer those questions for themselves.

Sam and Dean’s relationship will be difficult to mend

It’s even possible that they will split up for a little while at the beginning of season 10, much like they did at the start of season 5.  They will both have to individually figure out what it is that they want from life if not an unhealthy relationship.  What Sam wants will have been hinted at a little more towards the end of season 9, but maybe not fully developed until season 10, since his desires conflict with the monster-of-the-week structure of the show.  Dean will first have to face the fallout from what he has done, before he can start exploring the fact that maybe he does want things for himself.  It’s possible that the myth-arc of season 10 will involve some kind of redemptive act by Dean, which he misunderstands as being a self-sacrifice but ultimately is a selfish choice dependent on his own wants and needs.

Dean and Cas are endgame, even if they are never textually romantic

Although I am cautiously optimistic that TPTB are moving in the direction of actual romantic text, it’s possible that they won’t go in that direction.  However, even if Dean/Cas remains subtext, the show has been building their relationship so that once Sam and Dean rearrange their boundaries, Cas is the person that Dean will turn to in order to bring happiness into his life.  It’ll be especially poignant because Cas will be the one to bring Dean out of his own personal darkness, leading by example, so that they both end up on the other side on equal footing.

Is this the Show or is it Reverse!Verse?

We’ve been speculating about the possible advent of End!verse for Team Batcave, but I wonder whether it will be a Reverse!Endverse, in which Sam is possessed by an angel (Zeke) and Dean is possessed by a demon (Abaddon), Heaven and Hell go flipside, and Fallen!Cas does not overdo the absinthe and orgies but saves the day in some form resembling the crucifixtion...  

A finale unlike any other...

This is my basic finale review, written as a consciousness stream when I rewatched the episode, meaning it is neither “structured” nor “themed”. I have posted this very late, due to me being upstate with a job run and no *proper* internet for the better part of a week. I’m sure by now many people have posted many things about the finale and the season as a whole (I haven’t viewed my dash properly in a week so tomorrow will be a fun filled day of blog surfing catching up on some things). The end of this review deals with season 9 speculation and talks about where the Dean/Cas love narrative will likely go from here. Everything is under the cut.

So we start off with Sheriff Mills on an unsuspecting blind date with the King of Hell. This is curious for a number of reasons. I can’t help but wonder why Crowley would go on a “date” with Jody instead of just killing her. Surely the Kind of Hell has better things to do than amuse himself with such games. The dialogue is also very curious -

CROWLEY: “We do share something, you and I.”

JODY: “What?”

CROWLEY: “Loss.”

JODY: “My son and my husband. How did you know?”

CROWLEY: “I’ve lost someone, too.”

Now we know Crowley has been reading the Winchester Gospels, so we know Crowley knows all about what happened to Jody’s family, but why the need to say he lost someone too? Why that move if he’s about to kill her? Why throw into question his backstory in the first place? We’ll come back to this. Jody’s fate is left unanswered as we cut to the title screen.

Next is Metatron telling Cas about what God was like and what the second “trial” is. Note the first “trial” involved killing a nephilim, the offspring of a human and angel “union”. Metatron then gives Castiel his next objective: retrieving Cupid’s bow (a device of “union” for the specific purpose of fostering love between humans). We are told the barman will be targeted within 24 hours. Castiel is still full of doubt and must be reassured that killing the nephilim was “good” and that the next “trial” does not involve “killing” (to Castiel’s relief). We then switch back to the Winchesters.

Crowley is then predictably captured by Dean with the Demon handcuffs revealed in the last episode. He is told he is the third trial.

We cut back to Cas and Metatron who are now in the bar waiting on Cupid. Carver then gives us a cute Destiel vs Megstiel joke in the form of asking the bartender which he prefers: “A partner in crime or someone who’s into nurse roleplay and light domination.” Naomi and her angels show up when a “free lance agent” (likely the guy on the curb seen when Cas and Metatron are talking in the previous scene) tells of their location. The bartender shoots at the attacking angels and they flee with the Scribe.

Sam and Dean prep for the third trial, locking Crowley in chains and a Devil’s Trap. Sam’s need for a confessional is addressed with Dean giving Sam some “pointers of the conversation”. Dean rattles off Sam’s “greatest hits”: Ruby, killing Lilith and starting the apocalypse, losing his soul (something Sam actually had no control over. Nice one Dean), and finally (the biggest) Sam not looking for Dean when he went to Purgatory. The writers and fans have been poking this “angry bear issue” all season (the latest in 8.19) so it’s finally looking like we might hear Sam’s true reasoning. Finally, Dean throwing in an offhand “opener” suggestion to Sam’s confessional: an incident in the 6th grade. Sam cuts back with telling Dean that was him not Sam. Dean is slightly taken aback, but seems to agree. In a season finale, where every second counts, Carver chooses to point out Dean’s “projecting” for some reason. We then switch to Sam’s confessional… and it is cut…

Outside, Cas turns to Dean for help on his current situation, making the decision he negated in season 6. Dean is shocked to learn Cas is completing the Angel Trials and that Metatron has been captured by Naomi.

Metatron wakes up to Naomi. In their conversation Metatron mentions the archangels and separates himself from them in the context of the conversation. His inscription in the Demon Tablet proclaiming himself as one is now given a new light. Metatron fancied himself important enough to give himself a false title when he recorded the Word of God.

Metatron tells Naomi “Of the blessings set before you make your choice, and be content” (its meaning is illustrated here by the lovely outpastthemoat)

Cas begins to explain things to Dean. He says “I can’t fail, Dean, not on this one. I need your help”, paralleling Sam’s story and his resolve. As Dean explains that Sam needs him more right now, Sam walks up to overhear the conversation as Dean says that Sam can not handle things on his own, to which Sam tells Dean to go and help Cas. Dean pauses as he says he is willing to send the angels back to Heaven (to the sound of ominous music) as he leaves to go with Cas. They leave with the Angel Tablet as Sam begins the third trial. We cut to Kevin being given the Angel Tablet to translate and we are given some dialogue about duty and being “out” (of the game). This dialogue serves as a reminder to the speaker as well: Cas. Cas is in a position of needing to put his duty over his personal feelings as well right now. As he reminds Kevin he’ll never be out of the game, he also reminds himself of this. Crowley sends out a distress call to any who will answer.

We now cut to the bar scene (broken down best here by sarasarai, and here by drsilverfish). While a person shooting a bow on television takes aim, Cas walks into the bar, declaring he has had no luck with finding the bartender love. Cas states that one of the females he talked to may not have been female. Cas then comments on Dean drinking on the job to which we get a lovely break of the 4th wall with “What show you been watching?”. Dean then delivers another “Talk to me” as he and Cas discuss what’s about to happen to Cas. Dean asks if the angels might kill him to which Cas basically gives a “So” reply (important since Sam does the same thing later). Dean then leaves everything unsaid between them, throwing in a pop culture reference he knows Cas will not understand (where as with Sam, Dean states how he feels about Sam leaving/dying). There is resignation in his face at the fact that Cas will never choose to stay by his side, but also affection (because Cas doesn’t get his reference). It would seem that Naomi’s words hit a little closer to home than I originally expected (the resolution of themes being thrown for a loop with the 3 year arc structure as mentioned here).

Dean understands the need for Cas to put his duty before himself, much like Dean was willing to take the trials for Sam. The difference between Sam and Cas is clear here. Dean feels he can never sway Cas into choosing them as family (and after the 8.17 crypt scene who could blame him?). Where as with Sam, Dean can easily voice his feelings towards his brother. The cupid arrives and we are treated to a “not what you were expecting scene” as the male bartender finds love with one of his frequent patrons, a male hunter named Rod. We are then treated to Dean’s disbelieving expression as he finally puts two and two together and another piece of the “Oh my God. I’m in love with Cas” puzzle is pushed into place. I think Dean already understands this to a degree, however he is pushing it down with everything he has. He doesn’t want to acknowledge it, but at the same time he’s desperate to, which is why we get scenes like we did in “Clip Show” where he talks to his brother about Cas, hoping Sam will say out loud what he yet can not. ”Because it’s Cas…” Because you love him.

As Sam gears up for the next blood injection Abaddon responds to Crowley’s call and arrives, flinging Sam out the window. Next, Cas and Dean corner the Cupid as Cas demands her bow. Abaddon then proceeds to beat up Crowley telling him it is time to talk about a regime change, to which Crowley (in good ol’ male-written Supernatural fashion) calls her a whore. Cut to Sam dousing Abaddon in holy oil and setting her on fire. Cas and the Cupid talk about the situation in Heaven, to which she willingly hands over her bow.

We are then given Metatron’s sob story (that is somewhat similar to Lucifer’s). He speaks of the “ache” of missing God’s presence and how it was unfair that he was chosen for the task of writing down the Word of God. He then blames the archangels (and Naomi) for ruining paradise and running him out of Heaven, asking if Naomi really thought they’d be no payback for that. Metatron smiles at Naomi’s information extraction tool as Naomi leaves.

Continuing the third trial, Sam resets the Devil’s Trap and injects Crowley again. Crowley then starts talking about HBO television shows and how the main character on “Girls” Hannah needs to be loved, that she deserves it, that everyone deserves it. Mark Sheppard then gives his most moving Crowley performance ever, stating “I just want to be loved”. When Sam and Crowley then look confused, it is clear that the “curing” is working. Crowley then asks Sam what he confessed so that he’ll know where to start in looking for forgiveness. This narratively points out the fact that we didn’t get to see Sam’s confessional, building up to the reveal of what Sam confessed later in the episode. Sam instead tells him that they will start with “this” holding the next injection, to which Crowley willingly tilts his head and takes it.

Kevin calls with news that none of the things Castiel described are listed under the “Angel Trials” on the Tablet. Naomi appears to Cas telling him that Metatron has lied to him. Cas comments on how she twists things as the camera focuses on Dean’s reaction (no doubt remembering his past interaction with her as she tells him in 8.19 “Castiel doesn’t feel the same way about you”). She tells him that Metatron plans to cast out all Angels to Earth. Naomi then laments about how the angels have forgotten the mission of “protecting what God created” and informs Dean that if Sam completes the Demon Tablet Trials he will die as she offers Cas a place back in Heaven and leaves. Cas says that Naomi is lying. Kevin says he can not be sure as Dean begs Cas to take him to Sam.

Cas brings Dean to Sam then leaves, telling Dean he “isn’t wrong”, that he intents to fix his home. Dean is powerless to stop him as he instead opens the doors to the church, yelling for Sam to stop. Back in Naomi’s office, Naomi is laying across a desk in a pool of blood as Metatron pulls a sword on Castiel telling him “He should have listened to the bitch”.

It is here that I would like to reference Misha’s comment about the writing of Supernatural at Asylum 10. This scene is clearly the context of his speech about the treatment of women in Supernatural. Now, as much as the fandom loved to hate on Naomi all season, most of us were under the impression that she was doing the right thing for the wrong reasons (that she had Heaven’s best intentions at heart regardless of her actions). The finale reveals this to absolutely be the case. Misha, as well as I, did not think Naomi deserved to “die”, much less be called a “bitch” while lying in a pool of blood. She should have shared the angels’ fate at least. Amanda Tapping did an excellent job in her portrayal of Naomi. Her character was strong and multi-layered and in no way deserved to be demeaned into such a common slur while being added to the ever growing list of dead Supernatural females. For all my praising of Carver and this season, I had to cringe my way through this scene during my rewatch, hoping desperately that season 9 will see some improvement in the treatment of women, but honestly I’m not holding my breath.

Finally we arrive at the climax of the season. Dean tells Sam if he finishes the Trials he is dead, to which Sam looks at him in disbelief with a “So?” (just like Cas). We then switch to Cas who Metatron has locked in the reprogramming chair. Metatron tells Castiel that these tasks Castiel has been doing are not Trials, they are parts of a spell. He slices Cas’ throat and uses a vial to remove his grace. It is the last ingredient in the spell. I elaborate on the nature of it here. If we follow that the other two ingredients follow a pattern, Cas’ fits the “union” pattern under “unspoken, unacted upon love”.

We now get Sam’s reasoning for not looking for his brother. Sam tells Dean that in his confessional he spoke of how many times he let his brother down, became someone that could not be trusted. I thought at his point we’d get a flashback to the confessional scene since season 8 was the season of the flashbacks (Hell, Jody had them at the beginning of the episode and the last episode was comprised of TONS of them), but Carver decided to cut it entirely - (I talk about it a little more here).

In the bond between Dean and Sam, love was never the issue. It was trust. In some of the best acting of his career Padalecki laments Sam’s greatest heartache, that Dean has trusted angels and vampires (supernatural beings) over him. Names are not mention because the “who” is not what Sam has issue with, though it is curious that Dean names Benny in the people who he is willing to sacrifice, but not Cas (because Cas is family). For those that still do not see Cas’ position of importance in relation to Dean, I no longer know what to say. The brotherly bond is finally reshaped with Dean’s imploring words to his brother:

DEAN: “Hold on, hold on! You seriously think that? Because none of it — none of it — is true. Listen, man, I know we’ve had our disagreements, okay? Hell, I know I’ve said some junk that set you back on your heels. But, Sammy…come on. I killed Benny to save you. I’m willing to let this bastard and all the sons of bitches that killed mom walk because of you. Don’t you dare think that there is anything, past or present, that I would put in front of you! It has never been like that, ever! I need you to see that. I’m begging you.”

SAM: “I can’t. It’s in me, Dean. You don’t know what this feels like.”

DEAN: “Hey, listen,we will figure it out, okay, just like we always do. Come on. Come on. Let it go, okay? Let it go, brother.”

As I talked about in my meta on the mindset nature of the trials and whether or not Sam would “put down the controller” and stop “playing the game”, we see it is Dean who lets go as much as it is Sam. Together, they choose family over revenge and in doing so break “the cycle of the Hunters”… but not for everyone, as the Gates of Hell remain open…

Naomi calls the closing of the Gates “the ultimate sacrifice” and that it has always been God’s intention that the Trial Taker forfeit his/her life. Will the Winchesters revisit this goal in the next season, the final season? Will it be anything like the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? That once the sacrifice is made with the “proper mindset” the person will be resurrected? For the record I thought this was what was going to happen to Sam in the finale (only the resurrection would come in the beginning of season 9). If I’m going to throw in some spec here, I’d say we might see Kevin want to take on the trials instead, considering everything he’s lost to “the Tapestry of the System”.

As Sam lays gasping for air, under the heavy cost of the trials, Dean calls desperately for Castiel. We cut to the bunker as it lights up like Christmas much to Kevin’s puzzlement, alarms blaring and dots lighting up on the Men of Letters illuminated world map. Cas, Dean and Sam watch the sky as thousands of angels fall from Heaven.

—S E A S O N 9 + S P E C U L A T I O N—

I spoke about my shock at this turn of events in the final piece of my “Grace in the Machine” meta series, where I had speculated many months ago that falling from grace may be what Supernatural would make into an angelic endgame if you will. Every time I speak about “the problem with angels” in my meta I am speaking about what Supernatural will choose to do with angels. They can’t just pretend they don’t exist anymore, since they are so heavily tied with fan favorite Castiel. In renewing Misha’s contract and pursuing a Dean/Cas love narrative, Supernatural must also, by proxy, “fix” the “problems” with the Heavenly Host (aka - the angels’ attitudes towards humanity, their mission to “protect God’s creation”, and being lead astray by the will of the archangels) through Castiel. Had the writers decided not to pursue a love narrative between Dean and Cas, I’d be willing to bet that they would have waited for this move until the show’s final year, but clearly that was not the case.

Adjusting to the understanding of the 3 year story structure, many pieces of my speculation now require repositioning in the narrative. Clearly, the narrative with Dean has been building towards Dean being able to ask Cas to stay by his side under romantic reasons (I listed this under my original finale predictions since the narrative was building towards it - this was before being thrown for a loop with the 3 year structure). Being that Cas is now “stuck” on Earth, the continuing build up of asking Cas to “stay” would indicate that there is going to be a way to “re-angelfy” the Heavenly Host and that Cas will have the opportunity to leave again in the future, to which Dean will be asking him to stay.

I’ll also say that Crowley is going to continue to play a role in some fashion next season. I’ll venture to say his reign as “The King of Hell” is most decidedly over as of the finale. I don’t see Dean (because Sam can never do the curing again right? He would inadvertently close the Gates upon completion of it?) not starting the ritual over and curing him (unless Crowley decides to help them under the premise that they cure him later). Fact remains that the writers chose Crowley’s drive as being “I just want to be loved” for a reason. Just as they threw his backstory into question for a reason. I think he may have actually felt something for Jody under all that “Hell Taint” on his soul (just as it was heavily implied he felt something for Naomi), otherwise why go on that date at all? I only say this because I believe Supernatural will continue the love parallels between Dean and Cas full force next year (and Crowley has now officially been painted into this theme - wanting and needing love). The only question is will Dean ask Cas to stay at the end of next season or the final season? It all depends on how the pacing is. No doubt Cas will be dealing with the consequences of his actions very badly (at first). VERY BADLY. I don’t see him adjusting to humanity in a healthy way at all (for the beginning of the season), although I don’t think we’ll get anything close to end!verse Castiel. I have no doubt they’ll be pieces of him in next season, but with obvious note-worthy differences (given how much Dean cares about him in this timeline vs end!verse).

Castiel’s fall is just one more check off the Vancouver “Destiel Checklist”. Dean doesn’t think angels have the equipment to care remember? Well, Cas just got the proverbial refit, so we’ll see what Dean thinks about his chances now. This will be a major focus of next season if I had to guess. I’m more excited to see what Cas does on his own though. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Dean/Cas supporter… but I care more about Cas and Dean (and Sam) as separate characters than anything. Ripping out his grace is the best thing Carver could have done to Cas developmentally speaking (just as Sam’s issues needed the airing out they got this season). Cas thinks he is an angel and not a “person”. He has such a hard time seeing past *what* he is, that (more often than not) he can’t see *who* he is. Without his grace, he’ll have no choice. Castiel needs that development. DESPERATELY.

Many things were left unresolved - the biggest of which is Dean’s feelings towards Cas. Progression of the love narrative will need to see Dean become comfortable with having romantic feelings for someone of the same sex (either as an exception or in general). We should expect more LGBT+ culture to be woven into the narrative next season, as Dean continues to put pieces of the puzzle together. Most of these elements are likely to be light-hearted in nature to balance the “heavy” Cas “angst plot lines” as he struggles to adjust to being human. I also think we’ll see a case (or two) involving a false romantic lead for Cas (much to Dean’s jealousy, moreso than how annoyed Dean was every time Meg interacted with Cas - see every reaction shot of Dean watching Meg talk to Cas ever). They might do the same for Dean, but somehow I doubt it, given that they need to focus on his same-sex attraction to Cas, rather than reinforce the already established fact that Dean appreciates women.

I still think Dean will have more hang ups over the fact that Cas is an angel (grace or not). This is Dean’s biggest issue (hence the two-fold narrative purpose of Cas’ fall - the other being a writing issue). Jensen speaks of it here (to a certain degree) at JIBCon, further illustrating the narrative’s focus on it, rather than the fact that Cas is wearing “male meat” (though obviously this can’t be ignored). Season 8’s narrative focused on this issue heavily in its Supernatural/Human parallels, which is why I don’t understand the fandom’s conclusion that those parallel’s were “empty”. The romantic parallels served a three fold narrative purpose: Cas’ mind control situation in his absence, Dean’s situation (being “unknowingly” in love with Cas), and finally, they illustrate Dean’s mindset regarding love in supernatural relationships. Since this Dean “B” plot wasn’t resolved, we can expect it to continue.

At this time, that’s all I can really guess about the future of season 9, its narrative and its themes.

In the tradition of LOST (thanks a lot Carver), the finale raised more questions than it resolved. I’m very glad they addressed Sam’s mindset over hitting a dog and stopping. I hope it satisfied those who questioned the characterization of Sam over this season. I look forward to next season with much excitement. While this season’s writing was not without its problems (see every female writing post ever), Carver certainly proved he was the right man for the job. With the improved ratings system, I can only hope the show sails through next season, again securing a early renewal. With any luck, Supernatural will blow us away like no show has before.

So spread the word. If people aren’t watching Supernatural… they should be.