Supernatural- “Stairway to Heaven” (S9E22)
The episode opens on an ice cream shop in Missouri as an obnoxious mother questions a young girl about where her parents are. The girl, an angel, tells her she needs to run as a man walks in and we see an angel blade fall out of sleeve into his hand. The next shot is an exterior of the ice cream shop as there is an explosion inside.
After the cold open, we see Dean waking up Sam, who is sleeping with a gun in his hands. Dean tells him to get dressed because they have work to do. Having apparently spoken to Cas in the middle of the night, Dean tells Sam that they have a case in Missouri. Dean packs up the first blade to bring, but Sam stops him and says they shouldn’t bring it. He says “Just leave it, please” and Dean obliges.
They arrive in Missouri and are greeted by the local police officer, who is expecting them. Cas, with his new knowledge of pop culture, had given them the aliases “Spears” and “Aguilera”, much to their un-amusement. Cas shows the brothers the victims and states that the male angel was one of his own. Castiel says that he knew Metatron wanted a way but called this act “abhorrent” due to the loss of lives of both angels and innocent humans.
Up in heaven, Metatron is trying on a tan trench-coat in front of a mirror as he hears a knock on the door. Gadreel walks in to update Metatron and to tell him that Castiel’s army is growing and they are capable soldiers as well. Gadreel is also upset that Metatron had him followed and planned a hit on Castiel without telling Gadreel. Metatron asks him “what is that old line about sins and stones?” regarding the fact that Gadreel met with Castiel in secret. Gadreel confirms that he serves heaven and Metatron.
Metatron, ever jealous of Cas, goes on to tell Gadreel that he doesn’t get the whole “Cas-love-fest”. One of my personal favorite parts of the episode was Gadreel’s expression every time Metatron spoke. Metatron says, “I’m loveable, and I’m funny,” to which Gadreel raises an eyebrow in disagreement. Gadreel reminds Metatron that they are meeting with Tyrus, another leader of a large faction of angels, and that Metatron needs to get him on their side. Metatron tells him that he has a plan, to which Gadreel side-eyes the trenchcoat on the chair and says, “It’s not that, is it?”.
Back at Castiel’s angel base, the Winchesters get introduced to Hannah, the angel who seems to be second in command. Dean, obviously displeased by the whole “commander” Cas situation and adoring groupies, is full of snarky side comments. Hannah tells them that an angel, Josiah, was missing at role call and so they believe he is Metatron’s mole who is behind the attack. Sam quickly tracks Josiah through his credit card statement, but another angel interrupts them with video from the ice cream shop incident. It shows an angel with a sigil carved onto his chest, who suicide-bombs the place saying “I do this for Castiel”.
Dean asks Cas about it and questions his actions. Cas says, “You can’t think that I would allow something like this”. Dean brings up season 6, when Cas worked with Crowley (irony is thick), and how Cas broke their trust in the past. Causing a scene in the middle of the room, Sam asks them to take the fight somewhere else, and tells Dean to “stow the baggage”. Dean tells Cas to sit back and do nothing, but Cas refuses and says he will follow Josiah’s trail while the Winchesters interrogate the angels in Castiel’s faction. Dean agrees but tells him Sam will go with him. Cas asks, “Because you don’t trust me?” Dean says Sam will go with him to help.
As Cas and Sam drive to Colorado to pick up the trail of Josiah, and Cas asks about Dean and if he seems different. Cas says that Dean seems even more angry than usual and that Dean seemed like he actually believed Cas was capable of ordering suicide bombers in his name. He then asks Sam if Sam thinks he would do that. Sam tells him that his situation is weird, with the angels looking at Cas as if he is part rockstart and part Elrond (LOTR reference count: 1), and that people have been doing messed up things forever for their beliefs. Cas tells Sam that he’s not trying to play god, he’s just trying to get his people home (great character development for Cas, especially with the comments that remind us of his past deeds).
Metatron and Gadreel meet in a bowling alley with Tyrus as they try to win him over to their side. Metatron offers Tyrus a ticket back to heaven if they join his side, but Tyrus asks him, “what if we don’t want to go?” He tells Metatron that it’s boring, he likes being independent, and the kicker; “I hate your face”. Metatron says, “Well, I could get a new face”, which I am still wondering if this is on the table for the finale. With Abaddon dead, Crowley the unseen puppet master, and Metatron losing…who will be the big bad in season 10? Will Metatron take on a new vessel? Will it be Castiel, the root of his jealousy and obsession? Tyrus calls Metatron a nerd trying to be one of the popular kids, but they can talk more if Metatron can beat him at bowling.
Back at the base, Dean starts questioning the angels who worked at the hospital with Orin, the suicide bomber at the ice cream shop. She tells him she doesn’t know why he would do what he did, and asks to go because she has lives to save. Dean responds, “welcome to the club”, which she snorts at. Echoing Dean’s words from the end of episode 10, she tells him he doesn’t help people and that he just plays the hero, but he’s truly a killer and that she “hates men like him”. Hitting a nerve, Dean throws the table aside and slabs her to the ground, pulling out an angel blade as he tells her “there ain’t no other men like me” (quoting Jaime Lannister, kingslayer, hmmm). He asks the angel to tell him Orin’s friends and she says Constantine and Tessa.
Menawhile, Sam and Cas pull up to the location they tracked Josiah to. Cas tells Sam that the building is radiating power, similar to heaven. Unable to pick the lock or kick the door open, they look for other ways in. Cas says he thinks he found something and illuminates a riddle written in enochian along the top of the building. The riddle, “why is six afraid of seven” stumps Cas who says that maybe it’s because seven if a prime number and “prime numbers can be intimidating”. Sam, not as amused as perhaps I was, simply states “because seven ate nine” and the door opens. Cas, now understanding it, says “It’s like the doors of Durin in Lord of the Rings”. My ringer heart was soaring at two LOTR references in one episode. Sam is shocked that Cas knows about Lord of the Rings and Cas tells him with his typical sass, “I’m very pop culture savvy now”. Sam and Cas enter the building and Sam notices a warning etched into the wall, “Only the penitent man shall pass”. Cas ducks just in time as spinning razor blades come out of the wall, like “The Last Crusade”.
Dean tracks down Tessa, who is supposed to be working at the hospital but is at a school musical instead. She asks him what he’s doing there, or if he just loves musical theatre. He replies, “Only if it’s Fiddler”, before telling her that they need to talk. She turns to walk away but he grabs her jacket, pulling it back to reveal part of a sigil carved into her skin.
At the bowling alley, Metatron is leaving, having lost the bowling game and thus the opportunity to have Tyrus join his ranks. They are stopped by an angel, Constantine, who rips open his shirt and says “I do this for Castiel” as he stabs himself in an attempt to kill Metatron.
Dean drags Tessa back to the angel camp, where the angels are gathered and talking about Dean and how they know he’s the commander’s friend and they’re supposed to pretend they like him. Clearly unhappy with his methods, the angels view Dean as unnecessarily rough and demand that he leave his blade outside as he questions Tessa. They explain that only Castiel can be allowed to punish Tessa, and Dean hands over the angel blade to them.
Tessa tells Dean that Castiel came to her and gave her the mission because she’s strong, and others would be unable to handle the mission, as she looks at Hannah. Hannah lunges at Tessa, but Dean stops her and walks her outside. She asks Dean if he thinks Tessa is telling the truth, and he says “She thinks she is”. Despite his previous comments and lack of trust in Cas, he doesn’t truly believe that Cas would order this and it’s good to see the development since even season 8 had Dean questioning Cas with “you didn’t trust us, you didn’t trust me” with the angel tablet.
As Sam and Cas walk through the abandoned building, they find an illuminated door and Cas tells Sam that it is the door to heaven. He says, “If we control this door, we can take the fight to Metatron or we may not even need to fight at all”. However, as the walk through the door, they find it is not what they expected. In a room set up like an old 80’s prom, with inflatable dolphin balloons, disco ball, and cherub cut-outs holding pie. Sam picks up a card from Metatron that says, “Welcome to your own personal heaven, Castiel. Good luck finding the real one”. As they turn around, they notice a badly burned angel on the ground who turns out to be Josiah.
The angel, still alive, reveals that he was the one working for Metatron because he just wanted to go home. Cas offers to heal him, but Josiah says “I would rather die than owe my life to you.” He goes one to say that he looks into Castiel’s eyes and he doesn’t see an angel staring back at him. Harsh, but important words, as Castiel has fought with this question all season.
At the angel base, Dean returns to continue his questioning with Tessa. He asks her why she is doing this, why she would plan to kill herself. He says, “I have never been that damn low”, which is honestly a lie even as recent as season seven. Acting as a mirror to Dean this season, she tells him that she wanted to kill herself but was too weak until she was given a reason to die. Having lost her job as a reaper, unable to escort souls to heaven, she listens to the screaming of the souls caught in the veil. Dean tells her, “That just doesn’t sound like the Cas I know”.
He asks Tessa for the names of others like her, but she refuses. He pulls out the First Blade (did anyone believe he really left it behind?) and Tessa asks him what’s done. Reiterating one of the themes of the scene, he says, “What I had to”. Tessa responds, using the same phrase that Dean said earlier to another angel, “Welcome to the club” as she throws herself onto the blade. Acting as a very obvious parallel for Dean, is this a bit of foreshadowing for the finale? The other angels immediately enter the room, seeing Dean with the blade and Tessa dead as his feet.
As Sam and Cas return, they find Dean tied up with tape over his mouth. Hannah tells Cas, “He put up a fight”, an explanation for the blood on his face, but Cas just says, “Get out”. Sam and Dean argue about Dean bringing the blade, but are interrupted when Hannah enters to tells Cas he has a call from Metatron.
Metatron tells Cas that the bomber didn’t kill him, and that Tyrus’ death caused his people to jump onto Metatron’s team. Metatron tells them that every angel will be given amnesty and be allowed to return to heaven where he will be their god. Hannah asks why they would follow him, and Metatron says that they need to follow someone because it’s in their DNA and that Cas is not what they think he is. Metatron asks if the other angels know about his stolen grace, which they clearly do not. He says that at the end of the day, Cas only cares about himself and the “hardy boys” and that they have a choice to make, and to make the right one.
Castiel, unable to explain about the stolen grace, quickly loses the trust of his followers. Hannah tells him she wants to believe him, but needs proof. She tells Cas, “Punish him”, in reference to Dean, for killing Tessa. The angels grab Dean and hand an angel blade to Castiel. Hannah tells Cas, “Don’t lose it over one man”. Of course, Cas is unable to do so, saying “No, I can’t,” and dropping his blade. Really, what show were they watching? In a similar situation as the episode “Goodbye Stranger” where Naomi asked Castiel to kill Dean and trained him for it; Cas refused. It comes at a steep price of course, as Castiel loses his army of angels.
Metatron, having orchestrated the events, is pleased with himself as members of Castiel’s army call in to join him since there is no other side to join now. He says of Castiel, “After a rousing speech, his true weakness is revealed; he’s in love” (did anyone else’s jaw drop? Because there’s a big pause where you ask who he’s in love with), followed by, “with humanity”. Metatron giggles to himself and says “I’m inevitable”, believing he has won. Gadreel however, is unhappy with the way Metatron has been “writing the script” so to say. The “elite” squad that Metatron had Gadreel form was the group of angels he had tricked, appearing to them as Castiel, and instructed them to go on suicide missions. Metatron says, “While everyone else is playing Checkers, I’m playing Monopoly”, an interesting comment considering Checkers is a game of strategy while Monopoly is much more a game of chance (that you DON’T win by building on Boardwalk).
As the boys enter the bunker, Sam asks Dean if they are going to talk about the First Blade. Dean tells Sam, “I’m not apologizing, I’m telling you how it’s gonna be”. Turning into his father, Dean tells him that they are not a team, it’s a dictatorship. Sam storms off to his room, and Dean walks into the other room to talk to Cas, asking about his grace that is burning out. Losing some of his anger and edge, he asks Cas how long he’s got, and Cas says he hopes long enough to defeat Metatron. Cas, worried about Dean still thinking he was the one who sent out suicide bombers, asks Dean if he thinks he would do that. Dean replies, “Cas, you just gave up an entire army for one guy. No, there’s no way that you blew those people away”. Dean then reassures that that the three of them will be enough because they always have been.
Before they can continue, Gadreel walks into the bunker and tells them that he can give them Metatron. He tells Cas that the bombers were Metatron’s agents, not Castiel’s. Gadreel tries to apologize for his mistakes, and asks them to give him a chance. Dean steps forward to shake his hand, only to pull out the First Blade and slash Gadreel across the chest. Sam and Cas quickly grab Dean to restrain him as he loses his cool entirely.
With Dean so affected by the mark of Cain, I wonder how useful he will be in the finale as they work to over throw Metatron. Without an army, and Team Free Will as broken as they were in season four, they’ve got a steep hill ahead of them. Especially if Gadreel is dead and unable to lead them to Metatron. Will Dean be able to keep control of the effects of the mark and will Cas succeed in overthrowing Metatron before his grace burns out? Will the finale finally resolve the tension between Sam and Dean that has been present all season?
Tune in next Tuesday, May 20th at 9/8c for the season finale of Supernatural “Do You Believe in Miracles”.
Facebook: Variety Radio Online
Tumblr: Variety Radio Online