“The Rising Son”
October 19, 2017
Azazel was a fanatic. Ramiel was a fisherman. Dagon had her toys. Asmodeus has his hobbies.
The doors burst open. Blinding white light spills into Hell’s throne room. The light recedes to reveal a tall man with the fashion sensibilities of End!verse Lucifer (or a Kentucky colonel) and the accent of a True Blood vampire.
He strides to the dais and announces that he is Ahs-Moh-Deus, Prince of Hell, there to rule and restore fire and brimstone order until Lucifer & son return.
His first order of business is to conduct the harshest Project Runway elimination ever. Demons, if he did not call your name, you’re about to get your eyes burned out of your fool skulls, EEEEEP! Which is weird, because smiting is an angel thing, and Kentucky Fried here isn’t an angel, fallen or otherwise. Is he?
Or is this just something new that writers Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming decided to pull out of their butts because lol!canon?
After the smoking carcasses are cleared away, Assman brags to the remaining demons that he and Lucifer are super total besties, with a relationship forged by eons of service, sacrifice, and abject humiliation.
So basically, Asmodeus is Dwight Schrute to Lucifer’s Michael Scott.
The Impala roars through the night. EJ is asleep in the back seat. They’ve got at least another twelve hours on the road. Sam tries to convince Dean to let him drive. “Do I ever want you to drive?” When that doesn’t work, Sam tries to get Dean to open up about Cas and Mary. It’s easier for Dean to focus on EJ. That’s a problem he can “solve”. He insists again some more that their mother is gone.
“There’s no fixing that.”
Except that she’s not. Because despite Dean – and Mary’s – expectations, Lucifer didn’t kill her straight off, and doesn’t plan to. At least not until after he exchanges her for his son. Lucifer needs Mary alive.
So they walk around in circles dodging fire bombs from Heaven and rapey locals. The third time they trudge by the ruined church steeple they’re confronted by a detachment of angels. The unit leader declares all of Lucifer’s statements false. He can’t be the Morningstar – the archangel Michael killed him.
The angel orders his group to smite on his command. Mary ducks and covers. Lucifer snaps his fingers. The host explodes into puffs of smoke.
Another fire bomb rockets out of the sky and makes impact a short distance away. Out of the dust and debris steps another angel – Michael. I was confused about why the archangel was wearing this handsome African-American man and not Adam. And then I remembered that in this world, John died before he and Mary were even married. If Sam and Dean don’t exist in this reality, then neither does Adam.
Poor Adam. That kid just can’t catch a break.
But hey, welcome handsome new Michael! He’s confused at first by this new Lucifer, but is all too happy to tear his brother apart again. “Hey, can’t get enough of a good thing.” Mary gives the angels a wide berth as they fight fight struggle fight.
Michael quickly gets the upper hand – by snapping Lucifer’s arm and bending it back at an unnatural angle – but he doesn’t deliver a killing blow. Michael snarls at Lucifer that maybe, he needs him.
When Dean begins hallucinating sheep on the road, Sam insists they stop for the night. EJ is delighted by their room and by his first exposure to television. He declares it wonderful! Dean is himself briefly sucked in to the Scooby-Doo cartoon, but then remembers that joy has been cancelled and turns it off.
He sends EJ to the couch and tells him to read a book instead. He tosses the Gideon’s Bible to him. And for the first time I notice that EJ is wearing a graphic tee printed with the immortal words of Vice-Principal Richard Vernon – “You mess with the bull you get the horns.”
Also, EJ turns to the Song of Solomon, the book of the Bible that is a celebration of love. If you’ve been to a wedding, you’ve probably heard the “Many waters cannot quench love” passage. So that might be some foreshadowing into EJ’s true nature, too.
Sam wards the room while EJ inhales a burger. Dean tells him to slow down. The food isn’t going to disappear. Sam snarks at Dean, “Have you ever seen you eat?”
EJ begins mimicking Dean, Dean snaps at him to quit it, and Sam is like, hey so your super powers. What else can you do? Can you teleport? EJ has a confused, which should not be a surprise, given that shoes were a new concept to him as of 24 hours ago. Dean tries to be more specific. He asks EJ what he would do if he wanted to be on the other side of the door, right that instant.
EJ gets up, walks to the door, opens it, and steps into the hallway. His pleased grin when he comes back into the room is a delight. Teleportation on lock!
Dean is skeptical that EJ didn’t pick up anything before he was born. That Lucifer never reached out to him. EJ has a flash of glowing red eyes and Lucifer smiling at him from his prison cell.
EJ shakes it off, but it seems clear that he’s disturbed by the memory. More foreshadowing! Maybe!
They boys are about to call it a night when they realize someone is lurking outside the room. Hey, it’s 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 Redfield.
Then in Season 11, he became a Prophet of the Lord and had his soul sucked out by Amara. Which he seems to be handling pretty well. He says when he comes to a moral crossroad, he asks himself what Mister Rogers would do, and he does that.
You know, as general guides to life, what would Mister Rogers do and what would Dean say not to do, are pretty solid.
Anyhoo, Donatello says he thought he was out of the Prophet business until a few days ago when he was knocked off his feet by a wave of power. It drew him all the way to their motel room in Wyoming.
He goggles at EJ, caressing the unseen energy emanating from the boy. Honestly, it makes me a little uncomfortable for EJ. I think he needs an adult.
Donatello tells EJ that he met Lucifer, and his energy is nothing like his father’s. Not dark, not toxic. Dean growls, ” … not yet.” Sam is concerned that angels and other entities may tune in to the signal that EJ is giving off. He says EJ needs protection. To the tattoo shop!
The tattooist is a little leery that EJ isn’t getting inked by his own choice. Sam pulls aside his collar to reveal his own tattoo. He says they’re brothers and the design is kind of like a family crest. And, hey! Way to passport that Sam got his anti-possession symbol replaced after Castiel removed it in Season 9.
Did … did BuckLeming just find a clever way to answer an outstanding point of canon?
The artist fires up his gun. EJ flinches when the needle touches his skin. And by flinch, I mean shorts out the machine and psychically flings the guy into the wall. Come on, they could have at least warned the kid it was going to be a little zingy!
I will also note that the artist didn’t apply a stencil to EJ. Which either means he’s all about that freehand life or that no one involved in this scene has ever gotten a tattoo.
It’s the little details that make a difference.
EJ isn’t sure what just happened. He simply says it hurt. Dean snaps that sometimes things hurt, so you just “man up” and deal with it. Because Dean has been forced from childhood to internalize his emotions, shoving them down until they come out in spurts of violence and alcoholism. But EJ takes a more philosophical view of Dean’s words. He says that pain is a part of the complete human experience and accepting it is a sign of maturity.
Dean is taken aback. It seems like a very Season 4 Cas thing for EJ to say.
The tattooist shakes it off and tries again. He completes the anti-possession symbol as well as a warding sigil to protect EJ from all comers. And then EJ’s body absorbs the ink and the tattoos disappear.
Back at the motel, Donatello tries to moderate as Sam and Dean debate again some more whether EJ is a blank slate who can be taught to be good or is fundamentally evil. They argue in front of EJ which, besides being rude, creates an atmosphere of hostility that – literally – triggers the boy’s flight response.
Sam finds him some time later, huddled in the alley behind a dumpster. I just want to wrap him in a blanket and give him some soup. EJ tearfully wonders why Dean hates him. Sam offers a derisive analysis of Dean’s current emotional state before accurately saying that Dean feels like it’s his job to protect everyone. Sam gently tells EJ that they need to protect him, but they may also need to protect people from him.
EJ’s face crumples. He thinks maybe he’s not worth all this. Sam says that Kelly and Cas thought he was. And Sam thinks he is, too.
I think this scene interesting, and I hope telling, about EJ’s true nature. He doesn’t feed off of anger and conflict, he flees from it. And rather than brooding or nursing resentment, he seeks comfort in what hazy memories he has of his mother. He thinks about Kelly and takes refuge in the love she had for him.
Dean is finishing a drink in the motel bar. He has a conversation about Daddy Issues with a waitress who is way too interested and involved. He leaves and she transmogrifies into Rock Me Asmodeus.
Okay, being all smitey with the demons is one thing, but this is just ass. We’ve never seen another Prince of Hell do this. There’s never been any hint or suggestion that they have this power. And why would they even need it? It makes as much sense for Asmodeus to possess the waitress as it does to kill her and throw up a glamour. Why? WHY??
The next morning Sam tries to reignite the spark of hope that losing Mary and Cas extinguished in Dean. He reminds his brother that they’ve been down before – rock bottom – and they always find a way. It’s what they do. He says that EJ wants to do the right thing. He’s scared of who he is. And he’s scared of Dean.
It seems like Sam’s words are making an impression, but discussion is halted by a knock at the door. Donatello comes in with breakfast burritos and says he wants to talk about EJ. Sam is like we just did that when you were here before.
And that’s when they realize that maybe having the kid bunk in with the prophet and not with Sam was a terrible idea because now he’s gone.
And it was curious to me during the scene with not!Donatello that Sam wouldn’t have been more concerned that EJ was alone and untended. But this is a BuckLeming episode, and the only way they can move the plot from Point A to Point B is to write the characters like brain-damaged kittens.
Dean goes back to his room to gear up and is promptly set upon by a demon. Fight fight struggle fight. I would complain about Dean having to be saved by Sam two weeks in a row, except for the fact that Dean then steps out into the hallway and expertly throws a gladius at the demon attacking Donatello, bulls eying the baddie in the neck.
That’s what Willis was talking about.
Meanwhile, Assman has donned a Donatello glamour and spirited EJ away to Jasper, Wyoming. He tells the boy he must prepare himself to use his gifts and fulfill his destiny. He can begin by rescuing a troop of God’s bravest soldiers who are trapped in Hell.
Asmodona leaves out the part about the shedim being so dark and base that Chuck himself would not allow them into the light. Assman urges EJ to imagine his will drilling down into the earth and lifting the shedim from darkness.
Actual Donatello gives Dean directions, using EJ’s power as a homing beacon. As they get closer to Jasper, Donatello begins to feel a second, darker emanation. Dean tells Sam to check John’s demonic day planner. Sam announces that, according to the journal, Jasper has its very own damned doorway to Hell.
Amadeus channels his inner Shia LaBeouf, exhorting EJ to focus the force of all his will. Do it for God! Do it for the lulz! DO IT FOR THE VINE!
EJ’s eyes flare and the ground begins to fall away exposing a red glowing maw. Assman dances a jig of evil glee.
The boys roar up and Sam yells at EJ to stop. Dean fires on Assman. The glamour evaporates and the demon’s eye flip yellow. He psychically strangles the three men with a “Howdy, boys” and a wave of his hand. EJ loses focus and the ground closes up again.
Asmodeus offers EJ the world, but all the boy cares about is that his friends are being hurt. His eyes flare and Assman quickly chooses retreat as the better form of valor.
Back at the Bunker, Dean follows a strange sound to EJ’s room. He stands in the doorway and watches as the boy stabs himself repeatedly in the chest with a giant honking kitchen knife. The wounds close just as quickly as EJ can make them. Dean bursts in, horrified, and takes the knife away. He’s like, what the hell?!? EJ replies, exactly! What the hell is he?
He knows he can’t control his powers. He tells Dean that he will hurt someone. The knowledge – the guilt of sins he hasn’t yet committed – weighs on EJ. I was certain that this would be the moment when Dean’s resistance would crumble, but no. Even this, someone so clearly struggling and in pain, can’t break through Dean’s wall of grief. It’s jarring to see Dean so closed off and cold and I don’t like it. No sir, I don’t like it one bit.
Dean says that Sam thinks EJ can be saved, but that he does not. There’s no malice in Dean’s voice. It’s a simple and true statement of fact. EJ wonders what it will mean if Dean is right.
“If I’m right, and it comes to killing you … I’ll be the one to do it.”