I briefly considered making this week’s recap four words long: “Devastating. That is all.” True and succinct as it may have been, there’s so much more to this story.
I really admire first-time director Ben Edlund’s choice in episode, which he also wrote. The time-jumping, dialogue-heavy episode was certainly not the easiest he could have chosen for his directorial debut. In fact, it was quite a special episode in many ways, a different beast, if you will. But I wouldn’t expect him to take any less of a challenge. Thankfully, it was a rousing success — in my opinion, at least. The only problem? How to give this painfully intelligent and innovative Cas-centric episode the breakdown it deserves. Sigh. Let’s start from the top. (And I apologize for the organization here, but it was going to be impossible to go straight through it with all the time jumps and flashbacks. I had to improvise.)
We opened with Castiel sitting on a bench, pondering everything from the Tower of Babel (confession: your heathen recapper had to Google this) to the averted apocalypse. We didn’t know who he was talking to at the time, but we’d later learn it was God. But one thing the beginning made very clear was that this episode was going to try some new storytelling devices. And boy did it deliver.
During the ep, Cas’s story took us back in time and, essentially, turned the scenes upside down. Specifically, we were taken back to last season’s finale, when Lucifer/Sam snapped his fingers and blew Castiel to pieces (resulting, at the time, in my loud gasp and instant tears). The additional, mind-bending new info we learned in this episode? Castiel was the one who brought Sam back. “I was so full of confidence, mission. I see now it was arrogance, hubris,” the angel said of his act. We also learned that after he “supposedly saved Sam,” Castiel went back to Heaven.
I loved the show’s concept of Heaven (each soul generates its own version of paradise) and the fact that Cas had a favorite. (Note: Once I’m gone, he’ll be welcomed in mine any time.) Upon returning to the Holy ground, Castiel tried to explain to his gaggle of angel friends the concept of freedom. They wouldn’t have it, though, like “teaching poetry to fish,” Castiel said. Or, as I’d say, teaching a Winchester to iron.
Over in Ken Lay’s heaven (gigglesnort), Raphael was chilling upon Castiel’s post-non-apocalypse return to home turf and Castiel paid him a visit. He was dejected to learn that Raphael wanted to get the apocalypse back on the road, just as soon as Castiel pledged allegiance to him. When Castiel refused, Raphael kicked his ass.
Also among my favorites scenes was when Castiel found himself at Dean’s house. (This was taking place during Dean’s “retirement.”) He had wanted to ask Dean for advice, but he told himself that Dean should stay retired — that he shouldn’t involve his friend because he was finally out of the game. This broke my heart because while we could tell that Castiel was beginning to understand the concept of friendship (you give/you receive), he wasn’t fully there yet. Cas is a giver by nature — part of the angel DNA, I suppose. But he had yet to become comfortable with the receiving of help. I think that Cas perhaps felt like the Winchesters’ gift to him was the concept of freedom and learning, as he said, to “stand up” and “what to stand for.” In a way, I think he still doesn’t understand the concept fully. If he did, I don’t think he’d presently feel so alone in this fight. (This makes me feel terrible for him — which is surprising since last week I didn’t know if I’d be able to forgive for his betrayal.) So, essentially, Castiel’s refusal to ask for help led to his deal with Crowley.
NEXT: It all makes sense!