“All in the Family”
May 11, 2016
THEN: “This isn’t her story. It’s mine.”
Sam and Dean gawp in confusion at the guy who looks like a writer of middling genre fiction/prophet of the Lord, but who the Samulet is telling them is actually God himself.
Chuck smiles fondly at them. He says he’s happy to fill in the blanks, but maybe they should go someplace where they can sit … Dean cuts him off. They’re not going anywhere. How do they even know he’s really Chuck …
*Finger snap of the Lord*
… and not just some crazy spell or manifestation? The boys find themselves standing in the Bunker. Chuck folds his hands in front of him. For anyone else that might be proof enough, but he knows the Winchesters aren’t just going to take his word for it. He needs someone to vouch for him.
Kevin peeks out from around Chuck’s shoulder. Kevin. KEVIN!
Kevin looks light and carefree – in contrast to the boys. He says they look stressed. Especially Dean. But it’s cool. “Trust Chuck.” Whatever it is Chuck needs them to do, he must think they can handle it. Kevin knows they can.
“I always trusted you.”
“Yeah, that ended well.”
Kevin may as well have kicked Dean in the chest. The guilt over Kevin’s death is something that will never fade and never go away. Kevin knows this, but it’s clear that he has forgiven and moved on. He reassures Sam that death is treating him well. He’s okay, all things considered.
Chuck says that Kevin has been in the veil long enough. Wait, what? Did … did the King and Queen of Plot Holestan just … address a plot hole? Kevin is as stunned as I am. “It’s time you had an upgrade.” Chuck waves his hand. Kevin dissipates into a glowing blue-white ball of soul energy.
Bye, Kevin! Go find Ash in Heaven. He’ll show you the ropes.
In that moment, doubt is replaced by belief. Of course, Sam has always been the boy who believed. The one who had faith. And now he has questions. So, so many questions he hardly knows where to start. He vibrates with the million questions that all want to be asked at the same time. The first one is easy to answer. Yes, they should call him Chuck. “I prefer it.”
Sam apologizes. He says they need a hot minute to process. They didn’t even know he was around, well they knew about Chuck and the competing theories about what it meant when he disappeared at the end of “Swan Song” and was he God or just an avatar for Eric Kripke, who is himself god and owns all of our souls even though Kripke denied that he would ever sink to that level of “M. Knight d-baggery” and anyway Sam was hoping that God was around, he had faith, he talked to burning bushes in the woods, and he prayed even though he’s not sure God ever heard his prayers, maybe they got buried in God’s inbox and lost in his spam folder and …
Sam stops talking. Dean is on the step by the door. He sits with his knees drawn up. It’s a childlike posture. It makes him look smaller. Like he’s trying to protect himself. Fold in on himself. Dean fidgets and chooses his words carefully. He stresses that he means no disrespect and is delighted that Chuck has come back to help with the Darkness. It’s fantastic. But …
Chuck has been gone a long, long time. “And there’s so much crap that has gone down on the Earth, for thousands of years … and you were, I don’t know, writing books? Going to fan conventions? Were you even aware or did you just tune it out?”
Dean’s issue has never been that he lacks faith. He believes in God. He’s just never believed that God cared. And if that is the case, Dean desperately needs to understand why.
I think it’s interesting too that Dean doesn’t call Chuck out for his and Sam’s suffering, but that he does it on behalf of everyone else. It’s the pain of others that he’s feeling in this moment. And that has always been Dean’s motivation, going back to the campfire scene in “Wendigo” and as recently as “Halt and Catch Fire.” Dean is the Righteous Man and his peace is helping other people.
And he can’t understand why God wouldn’t be driven to help them too.
“You did nothing.”
Dean quickly says he’s not trying to piss God off. This isn’t a confrontation and Chuck bless Jensen’s instincts in this scene. The direction on the page may have been for big and angry but Jensen saw something different. Dean is angry, but more than that he’s hurt. He’s tired. He’s heartbroken. Jensen creates a quiet, intimate moment that carries so much more emotion and punch than a big shouty outburst would have. Well played, Ackles. Kudos.
Still, Dean can’t help but make a joke. He says that he doesn’t want to turn into a pillar of salt. Chuck corrects Dean. He didn’t actually do that. Dean is like, whatever not the point. He says that people pray to Chuck. He has to be thinking of Sam now, and how badly he wanted to believe that it was God talking to him earlier in the season. That his prayers were being answered. “People build churches for you. And fight wars in your name.”
“And you did nothing.”
Dean’s voice is thick with emotion. His eyes shine with tears. Chuck gets it. He understands Dean’s frustration. He says he was hands on for … “wow, ages. I was so sure if I kept stepping in … Teaching. Punishing. That these beautiful creatures that I created would grow up. But it only stayed the same. And I saw that I needed to step away, and let my baby find its way. Being over involved is no longer parenting.”
And from where Chuck sits, things got better. Dean wipes the tears away. No single perfect man tear here. Disappointment is plain on his face. Chuck’s answer sounds like a cop out. Because from where Dean sits, “it feels like you left us and you’re trying to justify it.”
Chuck has explained himself all he cares to. “I know you had a complicated upbringing, Dean. But don’t confuse me with your dad.”
They reconvene around the map table some time later after the decompressing and splashing of cold water on faces. Chuck says what they have to understand about Amara is that she’s relentless. “A force beyond human comprehension.” And as a sibling, she’s the worst. “Always telling me what to do. Making me do what she wanted … I mean, you guys know how that works.”
Chuck and Sam both look at Dean. Dean looks ashamed. I don’t think he heard that statement in relation to Sam, because trust me – speaking as the elder child – we are shameless in the bossing of the younger. I think he’s reacting as someone who feels powerless to resist the Darkness, and hates what he sees as a weakness.
Dean asks where Amara is, but Chuck has no idea. She’s warded herself against him … which seems like an odd thing to do, given that she’s spent all season trying to get his attention. Chuck philosophically says it’s only a matter of time. The boys will figure something out.
“I’ve always had faith in you … even if you didn’t return the favor.”
Chuck excuses himself to check out the water pressure he’s heard so much about. He claps Dean on the shoulder as he passes. Dean calls him back. Chuck knows she’s got Lucifer, right? Chuck doesn’t turn around. The boys don’t see the shadow that passes over his face. Chuck evenly says, “Uh-huh.” Dean is nonplussed by the apparent non-reaction.
Sam cautiously dances around the subject of Lucifer’s role in bottling up the Darkness. Chuck emphatically says, “No.” He calls Lucifer his greatest hope and his bitterest disappointment. “Do you think if I could have trusted him for a moment I would have put him in the cage?”
“And I wasn’t going to mention this, but thank you so much for springing him.”
Two. That’s now two times that Sam has been called out by God. He literally deflates under Chuck’s reproach. Well played, Padalecki. He mumbles that it wasn’t really the plan … Chuck observes – correctly – that Lucifer is only worse for his time in the cage. And Chuck suspects that Lucifer has probably tried to form an alliance with Amara. “Not walking into that trap, guys!” He says again, loudly and forcefully, “NO.”
“Thus spake the Lord.”
Dean sits alone in the map room, three beers into another scan of weather reports, police blotters, and social media chatter. Frank would be proud of him. He hears Amara’s voice in his head. When he looks up he sees her. The expression on his face is equal parts compelled and repelled. Crompelled?
Amara has a message for her brother. Chuck should know that his favorite isn’t doing so well. “To say nothing of the vessel.” Cascifer appears next to her. She places the blame for the angel’s dire state on Chuck. By ignoring her, he is allowing this to happen. Dean looks stricken as the vision of Amara disappears.
Sam joins the morning shift at the computer. Dean supplies the caffeine. He wonders where Chuck is. Sam shrugs. Sleeping in? “Does God sleep?” Sam can’t answer that, but he does know God takes really long showers. Dean is like, right?? And he sings, too! “Like crappy old folk songs. I had to tell him to cool it three times.” Sam is taken aback. Dean told God to cool it?
“Yeah. I sleep.”
Four hours a night, but still. Sam mentally calculates if his room is in the smiting zone before pivoting to what an amazing situation they’re in. There are so many things he wants to ask God! Why are the planets round? Ears, why so strange? Dean tells the fanboy to calm down and stay focused. They need to find Lucifer before it’s too late.
Sam pings on Dean’s sense of urgency. Dean cares and shares – Yay! Caring and sharing! – about Amara’s vision and the state of Castiel. Sam shushes him as Chuck walks in. I guess he doesn’t want God yelling at him again over the ‘L’ word. Chuck is carrying a box of baked goods. Apparently he was in Portland picking up donuts. He is also wearing Dean’s dead guy robe.
Chuck sits on the table and tells them again some more that it’s a mistake to get mixed up with Lucifer. As much as it pained him, he had to walk away. “Too much drama.” Chuck sips his coffee and asks if they have any bacon. Dean is both surprised and delighted that Chuck digs on the pig.
Sam gets a hit. Lewis, Oklahoma has been attacked by the Amara fog. It wasn’t as lucky as Hope Springs. Chuck says Amara is baiting him. Thousands are dead, which is unfortunate, but he can’t respond every time. “I won’t be manipulated.” Not for the first time, Dean deeply wants to punch God.
The boys motor to Oklahoma to interview the sole survivor, vampire hunter Daniel Holtz who, after kidnapping Angel’s son Connor and raising him in a hell dimension, became a chemistry professor living under the absurd assumed name of Donatello
Renfield Redfield. He witnessed the fog as it rolled into town but he was saved by a bolt out of the blue. He gingerly touches the laceration on his forehead.
He says his head felt like it was exploding. Not with pain, but with knowledge and clarity. And then it was filled with visions of Amara and the Darkness. Visions of destruction and death. Sam and Dean understand immediately what has happened – Donatello is a newly minted Prophet. Though whether he’s powered by God or Amara seems unclear.
While Sam tests Donatello on his Enochian reading comprehension, Dean hangs back at the coffee station. Amara pops in to arrange a meet. Events are moving quickly and she needs to see him in person. Alone. In her pantaloons, probably.
Local law releases Donatello to the boys’ custody. They bring him up to speed on this season’s arc and his possible role in it. The prophet tries to tuck and roll from the back seat, but child locks. The sputtering atheist says it’s like asking him to believe in Santa Claus!
Sweet Peter on a popsicle stick! Sam cuts Dean off before he can recap “A Very Supernatural Christmas.” Wait, did Buckner and Ross Leming work in a clever nod to a past season? What even is this episode??
Donatello makes a noise from the back seat like he’s about to throw up. He says he’s sensing something. Something big. “Could it be …”
Dean goes into the Bunker first to prepare the way for the prophet. Chuck is in the map room, sock feet up on the table, eating take out lo mein, and watching curling. Dean notes with a hint of concern that Chuck is watching curling on his computer.
“I’ve never seen so much porn … Not in one sitting.”
Dean reaches out and pushes the lap top closed. Now let them never speak of it again. He tells Chuck that Donatello is a little wigged out, so maybe just dial back the “god stuff” … and put on some pants. The prophet comes down the stairs. His first impression of God is less ‘shock and awe’ and more ‘ … him?‘
In between bites of food, Chuck does his best to put the man at ease. “Good to see ya. Sorry about your cat.” He reassures Donatello that his atheism isn’t a problem. Chuck believes in himself, so. And skepticism is to be expected.
“I did include free will in the kit.”
With Donatello safely ensconced in the Bunker, the boys respond to a call from Metatron. He has information they need to see. They meet him at a dive bar with the most cunning light fixtures. I really need one of these pendants in my dining room.
The boys walk through the door and Metatron calls for two margaritas, top shelf. Based on the acid green beverage they’re presented with, I’m guessing the top shelf is about six inches off the floor.
Metatron pulls Chuck’s manuscript out of his bag. He thunks it on the bar. He says Chuck is going to confront Amara, “he’s just not going to take her out.” Instead, he’s going to sacrifice himself.
“It’s not an autobiography. It’s a suicide note.”
Chuck sits on a park bench watching kids play in a sandbox. Holy metaphor, Batman. Dean asks, if Chuck is so captivated by his creation, why is he bailing? Chuck goes still. He turns and gives Dean such a look! It’s a wonder he didn’t *poof* in a pile of dust.
Chuck turns back and sighs heavily. He says what Dean calls ‘throwing in the towel,’ Chuck calls strategy. Amara’s beef is with him. So Chuck will trade himself for everything he has created. He will be caged, but “it goes on.”
Dean perches on the bench next to Chuck. He still doesn’t see how this is a “blueprint for success.” The Amara he knows is a mountain of pissed off who spent an eternity in the empty waiting for it to be her turn. Chuck calmly says he’ll give Amara her turn … as long as she accepts the deal.
Dean says there is no deal. Amara is going to eliminate Chuck and destroy everything that he has created. She’s told Dean so. Dean says that Chuck started all of this … but does it give him the right to end it?
“I think you owe us more than that.”
This whole scene is a nice call back to the end of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester.” Once again, Dean is sitting in a park with the weight of trying to save the world on his shoulders.
Okay, this is like the third time I’ve complimented this script. Now granted, most of the heavy lifting is being done by the actors. Buckner and Ross-Leming have always benefitted from talented performers who can make silk purses out of their sows ears. But still. This episode doesn’t suck. It’s good! Like, legit good.
Which now makes me think that maybe Buckner and Ross-Leming are locked in a storage closet somewhere in Los Angeles, and Robbie Thompson actually wrote this script as his final act before leaving the show.
Chuck says if his plan doesn’t work, then humans will step up. There’s a note of pride in his voice, certain that his creations will rise to the challenge. Dean, Sam, others who are chosen, will have to find a way.
“It’s why I saved you years ago.”
Dean is like, ‘What in the who now? Which time??’
“You’re the firewall between light and darkness.”
Dean’s usual bravado is gobsmacked right out of him. Fighting monsters is one thing, but taking on God’s sister? It’s too much. Way above his pay grade. Chuck listens and looks disappointed.
Donatello sits in the map room staring off into the middle distance. He’s still a little shell shocked. Dean brings him a beer. He doesn’t know if the prophet drinks, but …
“I do now.”
The door clanks open. Sam leads Metatron down the stairs. He tells him to make it quick and don’t touch anything. Metatron thanks Dean for inviting him in. “Inviting you? You’ve been circling the building all night. You sent me 200 text messages with dumbass emojis.”
Metatron introduces himself to Donatello. “I was there when you were designed. I wrote your name on the inside of the angels’ eyelids.” Dean tells the scribe to quit freaking out the prophet and tell them what exactly he has to offer.
Metatron runs through his resume. In addition to world class douche baggery, he transcribed the angel tablet and all its spells, he knows what makes Amara tick, and he had a relationship with the big guy for eons. Shall he keep going? He flops down in a chair and picks up Sam’s beer. Sam immediately snatches it back.
“You need all the help you can get. Even douche bag help.”
Dean questions Metatron’s motivation. The scribe has never given a Hoover Dam before. Metatron concedes there was a time he didn’t. But now God has gone kamikaze, leaving them with the Darkness …
“I was by his side since the Creation. He believed in me. If there’s something I can do to help save him, and his creation, then … seems like I should.”
Dean’s shields can’t repel sincerity of that magnitude. Metatron is in. Dean says the plan is to rescue Lucifer from Amara. He’ll then teleport the extraction team out of Amara’s hideout. Then they convince Chuck to use Lucifer to fight the Darkness.
What could go wrong?
Dean creates the diversion by meeting with Amara in a forest. Didn’t Balthazar get his fool self shanked by Castiel in a forest just like this? Amara appears and the sight of Dean seems to take her breath away. Girl, been there. Had to go find a quiet corner and sit with my head between my knees for a few minutes.
She thanks him for reaching out to her. Dean looks like he wants to jump out of his skin. I’ll skip the part where Buckner and Ross-Leming break out of the storage closet long enough to try and turn this scene into a high school break up – which, no – and jump to the part where Amara tries to offer Dean some rest.
She says this world hasn’t been especially easy for him. Shouldn’t he at least consider her offer? Dean concedes that the world is flawed, “but I am not ready to say goodbye to it just yet.” Amara says it’s inevitable. Her brother won’t stop her again. He can’t.
“Dean, give up your smallness – your humanity – and become boundless within me.”
An interesting choice of words, since it’s always been Dean’s humanity that has made him great. It’s what makes him a big damn hero. But he admits that he is drawn to Amara – and he tells her it bothers the hell out of him, “because I can’t control it.”
Amara tells him to stop fighting it then. “What you’re feeling is that I am the end of your struggle. Something stops you … keeps you from having it all.” Amara reaches out and puts her hand on Dean’s cheek. She strokes his face and Dean turns his head away, overcome by the all too familiar feelings of shame, yearning, and aversion.
The extraction team roll up on the abandoned power plant? oil refinery? that Amara has been using as her base. Cascifer is still bound to the crucible where she left him. He’s overjoyed to see that the Three Stooges have arrived to rescue him. He snarks through clenched teeth as though he has a broken jaw. Metatron is horrified by the state of him, but quickly sets to work to free him.
As Metatron chants an incantation, Sam tells Lucifer that he’s going to help defeat Amara – or they’ll just leave him there. A painful laugh wheezes out of the angel. He’s not exactly going to say no to dishing out some payback after what Amara has put him through.
Sam clarifies that Cascifer will be working with his father. Is that going to be a problem? “Eh, that’s family. This is bigger.” Metatron completes the spell and Cascifer slowly sinks to the floor.
Amara’s face falls. Her touch goes from caressing to commanding as she forces Dean to look at her. Where are his thoughts? Something is different …
Sam tells Cascifer to zap them to safety, but no can do. Amara’s torture has left him temporarily grounded. And can we talk about the fact that the ‘zap us out of here’ plan required leaving Baby behind? Wrong. No. False. Nobody puts Baby in a corner and NOBODY LEAVES BABY BEHIND.
Sam drags Cascifer to his feet as Donatello cries that Amara is coming! Metatron tells them to go.
“I got this.”
Metatron hastily marks out a blood sigil. He finishes just as Amara appears. She sneers and calls him the secretary. He gives her his douche baggiest grin and slaps his bleeding palm onto the sigil. It flares to life in a blinding flash of light … and barely musses Amara’s hair.
“You were kidding with that, weren’t you?”
Metatron’s final thoughts are for God and his creation. He tells Amara her brother meant well. He asks her to spare the universe before collapsing in on himself like a black hole. Nice work VFX team! And farewell, Scribe. You were a wonderfully hateable antagonist. You murdered Kevin, betrayed Gadreel’s trust, stole Castiel’s grace, and killed Dean and I’m still sad you’re gone. Curtis Armstrong, you were a delight.
Sam tears down the road trying to put as much distance as possible between them and Amara. We get a Baby POV and she’s all like, ‘I can’t believe you were going to leave me back there. And mind the potholes. You know what happened LAST time.’
Sam slams on the breaks as Amara steps out into the road in front of them. She is very, very cross. Sam throws the car into reverse and floors the gas. Baby’s tires screech and smoke as they spin in place. The car doesn’t move. “You really aren’t worth sparing. None of you.”
NO! NOT THE CAR! DEATH! DEATH TO SHE WHO WOULD …
Baby drops out of the air for a 10 point landing in the Bunker’s basement.
“Occasionally I do answer a prayer.”
Cascifer lurches into the room. He leans against a pillar for support. He never takes his eyes off God. Chuck looks disgusted and disappointed … and then he just looks sad. He heaves a sigh and then flips a switch. Cascifer glows from the inside. Yay! Chuck is pulling Lucifer out of Cas! Cas, who was so devastated at the end of “Dark Side of the Moon“, will finally get his moment with God!
Lucifer is still firmly in control of their shared – but now healed – vessel. Chuck even dry cleaned his coat! But that’s enough of the father and son reunion for now. Buckner and Ross-Leming were out of the storage closet just long enough to tack on an awkward ending to an otherwise well paced episode.
Dean has somehow made it back in time to see Donatello off. He recommends a spa day. And good luck resettling in a town where everyone else is dead and local law thinks maybe you’re responsible. Bye, Donatello! Bye!
Sam asks about Amara. She knew something was afoot but didn’t rip Dean’s head off, so what’s up with that? Dean says she wants him to be a part of her. Literally. Forever. “So in other words, adios.”
Wednesday Thursday at 8:00 p.m. on The CW. Follow Whitney on twitter @Watcher_Whitney.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site chron.com.