We opened this week of SUPERNATURAL with Sam still in Hell and Lucifer revealing that he had manipulated both Sam and Rowena to get the younger Winchester back in the cage with him. But Lucifer wasn’t interesting in tormenting him — oh no, he wanted to help Sam (then again, the devil is a liar). To do this, he took Sam back through some particular memories: kissing a girl, sacrificing himself at the end of the Apocalypse, and a scene with Amelia. Lucifer’s lesson? To convince Sam that he needs to be the man he once was and sacrifice his loved ones and himself in order to beat the Darkness.
Meanwhile, Crowley had also come to the realization that his mother was in league with the devil and confronted her. Naturally, the new King of Hell wasn’t eager to have Lucifer roaming the earth once again and no amount of Groupie Rowena’s praise of the devil was going to convince him. Her plan? To have Lucifer conquer the Darkness, ascend to his throne and then become his queen.
As Crowley yelled at his mother, Dean was trying to get in touch with his brother. Sam wasn’t answering his phone, naturally, and Dean’s worry was soon interrupted by a vomiting episode. Cas appeared to announce that smiting sickness was a thing (no, seriously, it’s a thing) and Dean had to get away from the site of the recent smiting by angel in order to feel well again. Instead, Cas volunteered to check if Amara had been killed. Soon after, Dean arrived back at the bunker and Crowley called with some bad news: Sam was in Hell with Lucifer.
The forrest where Amara was allegedly smited was dark — in the middle of the afternoon. And it’s there that Cas met a bureaucratic angel who had been sent to confirm Amara’s death as well. She expressed upon him that the Winchesters were the real heroes and Cas was really nothing more than a grunt in the great fight. Moments later they stumbled upon Amara, who killed and consumed the female angel and then introduced herself to Castiel, insulting him before sending him off to do a job for her.
Dean, meanwhile, got a meeting with Billie the reaper, who works with Crowley. She opened a doorway to Hell for him and he soon reunited with Crowley. Dean wanted to kill Rowena right off the bat, but Crowley cautioned patience because Rowena would be needed. His idea was to restrain her with a witch-trapping collar. Despite Rowena knowing of their plan, Dean and Crowley got the one-up on her and Cas showed up to deliver the message that Amara was coming.
In Hell, Lucifer made one last ditch effort to convince Sam to be his vessel, but Sam refused. He was prepared to die and watch Dean die, but he refused to be Lucifer’s bitch. As he rightly pointed out, Lucifer had help from his brothers and fathers the last time they beat the Darkness and even if he did accomplish it here, he would just try to jump-start the Apocalypse again. And so Lucifer resorted then to beating up Sam and Dean rushed to the cage when his brother started screaming. Cue a big fight between Castiel, Lucifer, Sam and Dean. As Rowena enacted her spell, Lucifer disappeared, but not before asking Castiel if he had any final words.
Later, we got the first scene ever with all five of the characters and then Crowley sent Dean, Sam and Cas on their way. But Cas opted not to join the Winchesters. Instead, he returned to Hell and revealed the fact that had agreed to be Lucifer’s vessel to Crowley and Rowena. And then he killed Rowena when she confirmed she was the only one who could return him to the cage. If you’re really dead I will miss you, Rowena. I liked you a lot.
Here’s my problem with this “Casifer” storyline: SUPERNATURAL spent two seasons with its main characters continuously saying “don’t let Lucifer out of his cage or become his vessel, that would be a super really terrible bad idea”. And then when he is let out of his cage and when Sam does agree to become his vessel it’s because it’s the end of the world and the moment has all sorts of emotional repercussions and leads to terrible consequences (see: trip to Hell). Lucifer even takes Sam to revisit the moment when he made a big choice and sacrifice (lasting an additional two seasons) in taking on Lucifer as a vessel. This was a hugely important storyline the show’s overall mytharc and it’s one that had an enormous and lasting impact on both Winchesters.
But now, in the span of only two episodes, the writers have seemingly said “remember those two seasons? Well, forget ’em! We’re just going to throw that out of the window and let Lucifer loose. And not only that, but we’re going to have him inside of CAS, despite that making no sense in terms of canon (and diminishing the storyline concerning Dean and Sam as archangel vessels). Who cares if we’ve nullified the struggle, emotional resonance and gravitas of previous seasons, amirite?!”
And….for what? What’s the point of this? The emotional resonance of this storyline can’t equal the earlier one because there was no build-up and Castiel simply doesn’t have the personal connection to this arc that both of the brothers had. This wasn’t about a seasons-long internal struggle. Castiel made a unilateral and terrible split-second decision because he was sad about his lot in life and wanted to be a hero (while Sam intelligently opted not to go this route because it was very clearly a bad idea). What’s the lesson to be learned here? You may be saying “it’s too early to tell, Clarissa”, but the truth is that it isn’t. It’s the disregard of the initial journey that already erodes whatever lesson may be found.
If you follow logical storytelling, the end of this possession arc would be Castiel’s death. He may end up doing something heroic along the way, but he would die (and I hope he would do something heroic because there wasn’t much about his choice here that was heroic). That would be a lasting consequence and would harken back to last time he made a deal with a devil (see: seasons 6 & 7). But since his permanent death is not likely to happen, this storyline seems like an unnecessary retread and subversion of the emotional struggle of the earlier arc. Not to mention this episode framed Castiel in a rather poor light for the decision he made — even if he did this to help save angels and other people from Amara, it still comes across as deliberately obtuse after Sam’s eloquent refusal. It doesn’t feel sacrificial at all, it just feels self-serving in the face of fully knowing the dangers of this choice. And, frankly, it wasn’t fair to Cas that he was portrayed like this.
And that is disappointing. Because emotional struggle is what SUPERNATURAL is all about and this situation, regrettably, feels like nothing more than a plot device.