THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS – 7/10.
Those Winchester boys are back from their mid-season break with a bang. When we last saw them Sam was trapped in a cage with Lucifer and Dean had just finished trading spit with a soon to be angel-nuked Amara. As cliff-hangers go it was a particularly good one. Before picking up the threads we are treated to a frankly spectacular dream sequence/flashback set inside Rowena’s personal hell, Christmas Morning with a romper suit wearing, man child version of Crowley. Evidently, this is where Lucifer first contacted her and the plan was set to betray the hapless Sam. This scene is a prime example of how seamlessly Supernatural manages to blend comedy with horror to create the tone that has defined the show for 11 seasons.
From here, we re-join Sam as Lucifer tries to convince him that the only way to defeat Amara is to serve as his vessel. Mark Pellegrino is always an absolute delight as Lucifer, equal parts charming and malicious without ever sinking into pantomime. The writers work wonders with his dialogue, managing to drop in multiple wisecracks whilst he plays mind games with Sam, my favourite being a reference to DC’s Lucifer when claiming that after defeating Amara he would move to LA and solve crimes. To further his case Lucifer takes Sam on a ‘Sam Winchester’s Greatest Hits’ tour. Reliving various moments from Sam’s life including Lucifer’s defeat at Stull Cemetery (it’s always nice to get a “Hey, ass-butt!” call back).
Meanwhile, Dean is both suffering from the fall out of the angel-nuke and desperately trying to contact his missing brother. With Dean in no state to continue, Castiel steps in, heading to ground zero to check for signs of Amara. Here he encounters Ambriel, a chatty angel who plays on his longstanding sense of misplacement; he doesn’t belong with the angels and he will never truly belong with the Winchesters, so perhaps he really is expendable. This is not the first time Castiel has questioned himself in this way and it clearly cuts deep. But before he can ponder this Amara has awoken, absorbed Ambriel’s power and made short work of Castiel. She too has harsh words for Castiel, declaring him to be used up and unworthy of God’s interest, before zapping him away with a message.
As Sam’s encounter with Lucifer continues, Dean and Crowley concoct a plan to force Rowena to send Lucifer back to his cage. As ever it involves a bit of deus ex machina in the form of the witch trap, an ancient relic that for some reason was in the possession of Billie, the reaper that appeared to Sam when he was infected with the rage plague. Billie’s sole purpose in the episode is to remind us that the next time a Winchester dies there won’t be any coming back, which suggests A) a Winchester will die soon, and B) they will definitely come back. On a side note I was a bit befuddled that Dean could see Billie, previously it had been made clear that a human can only see a reaper when they are close to death, excluding the Grimm Reaper himself that is.
Enraged by Sam’s refusal Lucifer bares his vicious side and proceeds to lay a beating on Sam, Dean and Castiel, a well-choreographed fight that features the second “Hey, ass butt!” of the episode. With the witches trap on Rowena, the race is on for her to complete the incantation to send Lucifer back to his cage before he destroys our fearless heroes, which of course happens… or does it? Well no it doesn’t actually. Unbeknownst to the Winchesters, before Rowena could complete her spell Castiel’s crisis of faith led him to agree to serve as Lucifer’s vessel on Earth. After the battle is done Castiel/Lucifer (Castifer?), played with amazing glee by Misha Collins, confronts Crowley, kills Rowena and appears to have nothing but the very worst of intentions for the world.
As mid-season premiers go this was a good-un and it certainly sets the scene for the coming episodes. No one could have predicted that Castiel would make a deal with Lucifer. While he had been made to question his own worth surely he would know how much of a bad idea it was to let Lucifer loose? It was, as ever, a delight to see Lucifer on the show. It was an even bigger delight to see Collins mimic Pellegrino’s performance, showing once again what a gifted performer he is. Aside from Lucifer’s release the other big event was Rowena’s death. The character certainly had outstayed her welcome on the show, but as with any death on Supernatural it probably won’t be the last we see of her. So moving forward it looks like a triple threat match: The Winchesters vs The Darkness vs Castifer, let’s get ready to rumble!
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Crowley got a Sam Funko Pop for Christmas! Does any other show do meta as well as Supernatural does?
- Absolutely loved Sam and Crowley’s answering machines; “For sightings of that ginger whore, Rowena, press 2.”
- Satan’s M.O. is apparently “snapping necks and cashing checks”.
- If Rowena really is the only one who can open the gate then she will definitely be back at some point.
- Interesting to see Amara shaken by the angel-nuke, but were there any long term effects?