The sins of Castiel’s past catch up with him when a mysterious woman starts killing angels

By Sara Netzley
February 02, 2017 at 11:48 PM EST
Diyah Pera/The CW
S12 E10
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How much do you love a Supernatural episode that features a standalone bad guy, while also connecting to the overall plot of the season, and nodding to the show’s history, and giving us a heaping helping of Dean/Cas angst, and reminding us just how much our favorite angel has evolved over the course of his long life?

In other words, “Lily Sunders Has Some Regrets” left the audience with very few.

We open on the angel Benjamin playing Rampage in an old-school arcade. Suddenly, a redhead with an eye patch and two angel blades appears. Whammies from Benjamin roll off her back, and their fight ends with Benjamin up against a wall, weaponless and psychically reaching out to the other angels, including Castiel.

“That’s right. Call your friends,” the redhead whispers before driving the blade home. “I’ve waited so long.”

In the bunker, Mary’s out on a solo shapeshifter hunt while Sam and Dean lament their inability to track down Kelly Kline and her unborn, fathered-by-Lucifer baby. Specifically, Dean’s frustrated that Castiel has been no help, and Sam is frustrated that Dean’s giving Cas the cold shoulder for killing Billie the reaper. Dean clarifies: “I’m not pissed that he cares about us. I’m grateful.” But he’s worried that Billie warned about the “cosmic consequences” of breaking their deal.

At this point, Cas arrives to insist that he did the right thing, and also, he’s taking off on a personal errand that he heard about via angel radio. Sam immediately offers to come with them.

“Both of you?” Castiel asks hopefully. Dean reluctantly agrees, if only to keep Cas “from doing anything else stupid.” Sure, whatever helps you sleep at night, Dean.

Oh, but that car ride. That awkward car ride. Dean and Cas aren’t speaking, and Sam’s attempts to play peacemaker fall on sullen silence.

Cas finally explains that this mission is urgent because Benjamin wouldn’t call for help lightly. This is too much for Dean, who snarks that Benjamin probably also wouldn’t make half-cocked, knee-jerk choices. Castiel snaps that what he likes about Benjamin is that “he’s sarcastic, but he’s thoughtful and appreciative, too.” Sam looks supremely uncomfortable to be caught in what clearly in no way resembles a lovers’ spat.

When they arrive at the arcade, angel wings are burned on the wall, and Castiel’s baffled at how a warrior like Benjamin was defeated. When Dean finds a discarded angel blade (sloppy!), Cas touches it and realizes it’s not Benjamin’s.

Across town, the redhead, Lily Sunder (Alicia Witt), bolts up from where she’s been meditating and murmurs, “Castiel.” She presses a kiss to an old-timey photo of a child before leaving her hotel.

Cas tells the Winchesters that he needs to meet his former commander, Ishim, and he needs to go alone. He snipes at Dean, “If I plan to do anything else stupid, I’ll let you know.” These two are killing me. I’m just saying, a little partners’ counseling would give them more productive strategies for disagreements.

Inside, Ishim and Mirabel, the only angels left from Castiel’s original squadron, give him grief for being the angel who caused them all to fall and lose their wings. Castiel responds that sometimes sacrifice is required, but Ishim points out most of the sacrifices seem to come from other angels.

Outside, Sam correctly predicts that Dean’s ready to storm in. Once they’re inside, they hilariously cram into the booth next to Cas, while Ishim dispatches Mirabel to make sure they weren’t followed.

“Who wants some pie?” asks Dean, that beautiful broken record. Ishim tosses dessert money onto the table and leaves, telling Cas to find him at the safe house. The Winchesters don’t understand why Cas let the angel speak to him like that, but Cas says he’s willing to take it if Ishim will help stop the killing.

He’s a little late, though. Lily’s already killed Mirabel in the alley, and she’s able to take a slice out of Ishim before Cas joins the fight.

“I know you,” Cas marvels, and we see a flash of Lily in Gibson Girl garb. The Winchesters join the fray, but Lily declines to harm any humans, blinding them with angelic light before peeling away in her car.

NEXT: Ishim sits on a throne of lies

At the safe house, Cas demands an explanation for why Lily’s still alive. Aaaaand flashback! 1901, Maine. Angels rarely came to Earth before the apocalypse, but Ishim’s squadron is there because an angel fell in love with a human woman, and they had a child. Here, we get a quick info dump: A Nephilim is a creature with a human soul mixed with angelic grace. These creatures are dangerous because they can grow into their powers and destroy entire worlds, so they’re forbidden by one of the oldest laws in heaven. Hence, Ishim leads his troops, in high-necked blouses and long-tailed coats, to make things right.

The angel Akobel comes out of his house with Lily, and Ishim chides Akobel for taking up with “a filthy animal.” But Akobel passionately defends humans. “How could anyone know them and not love them?” Nevertheless, Cas, in a female vessel, reads Akobel’s death sentence for breaking their most sacred oath while another angel stabs him.

You guys, this is a such a fantastic reminder of just how far Castiel’s come since we met him in season 4 and he shared this arrogant disdain for humanity. BRB; I have to go listen to “The Way We Were.”

Akobel disposed of, Ishim tells his squad that he’ll take care of the rest himself, and he goes inside to find Lily.

In the present, Cas tells the Winchesters that he was just following orders. Come on, man, never in the history of man- or angel-kind has that been an okay excuse.

So anyway, why is Lily still alive? Ishim says she was a professor of apocalyptic literature, and he took mercy on her, but since then, she’s made a demonic pact to keep her young, strong, and powerful. The Winchesters have heard enough and head out to explain to Lily that Cas is different now, so she needs to lay off, even though the angels warn them that it won’t work.

“The way you let those simians talk to you…” Ishim complains once he and Cas are alone, and I do love that poor Castiel’s getting it from both sides tonight. Ishim reminds him that they’re meant to stay away from humans not because the angels are a danger to humans, but because humans are a danger to angels. Cas’ counterpoint: His friendship with the Winchesters has made him stronger. Damn straight.

Then Cas uses his angel mojo to heal Ishim’s cut, depleting his own energy. Ishim immediately starts doing one-armed push-ups because he is the freaking worst.

The brothers arrive at Lily’s hotel, where we’ve just seen her heal herself with similar angel magic, and they agree that Plan A is to ask her nicely to lay off the angel murder, while Plan B is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

They find her and offer condolences for what happened to her family but point out that it’s not Cas’ fault that Heaven has rules about Nephilim. Lily’s shocked and sets them straight about what happened inside the house in 1901. See, her life’s work was angels. One day she summoned Ishim, and he became obsessed with her. He called it love, but she had to ask Akobel to protect her from Ishim.

Ishim’s response? To break her heart like she broke his by using magic to keep her powerless while he killed her daughter. She concludes her sad story for the Winchesters: “I had my daughter long before I ever laid eyes on an angel.”

NEXT: Castiel almost loses his human weakness

The brothers believe her, and Dean rushes to the safe house while Sam stays with Lily. While they wait, he asks why she’s taking her revenge now, after all these years. She explains that before the angels lost their wings, she wasn’t able to hunt them down. Ah, so that makes this partly Cas’ fault, since he was responsible for the fall. Yet another sliver of guilt to add to his plate.

Furthermore, she didn’t make a demon pact and instead uses Enochian magic. She touches her eye patch, indicating that it was the price of admission, and she says that every time she uses one of their spells, a piece of her soul burns away. Sam, of course, knows all about how this chips away at your humanity until you care about nothing. Lily confirms that she used to dream about her daughter every night, but now she dreams about nothing.

Oh, and she also reinforces her reputation as a patient strategist. She knows that Ishim will kill Dean, which will put Sam in her corner. “And for that I can wait,” she concludes. She’s… a little scary, actually.

Sure enough, Dean arrives to find a weakened Cas. He tells Cas that Lily’s daughter was human, but Ishim scoffs, “Who are you going to believe, your brother or a filthy ape?”

Yeah, no contest, friendo. Ishim repels Dean’s attack, then whales on Cas’ handsome, stubbly face, hissing that he used to envy Cas for being chosen by God, but now Cas is sad, pathetic, and weak. Then he proposes to cure Cas of his human weakness by cutting it out.

I honest-to-Chuck did not know what Ishim meant until he advanced on Dean, and then I got it: Of course he’s Castiel’s human weakness. Dean is the reason Cas fell, and he’s been loyal ever since.

That loyalty goes both ways, though. Dean’s drawn an angel-banishing sigil in blood, but Ishim points out that this will blast all the angels in the room, and Cas might not survive in his weakened state. Dean’s hand immediately drops. Thankfully, that’s when Lily and Sam show up. “Hello, my love,” Ishim skeeves. It’s impressive that on top of everything else, this episode is also a metaphor about the danger of exes-turned-stalkers who “love” you too much to let you go.

Anyway, even four against one, Ishim gets the upper hand until Lily removes her eye patch to reveal an occluded orb that blasts angel light and overwhelms him. “I’ll never be powerless again,” she hisses.

She tries to keep him immobile while he struggles forward. But when he goes to strike a killing blow against her, Castiel appears behind him and stabs him in the back. This is the second episode in a row that this has happened, and if it’s going to be a weekly thing from now on, I’m cool with it.

With Ishim dead, the Winchesters broadly hint that Lily needs to retire her revenge agenda.

Then Castiel does something extraordinary. He apologizes and says that he may not have known they were killing an innocent, but ignorance is no excuse. He can’t imagine her loss and pain and says if she leaves there and still can’t forgive him, “I’ll be waiting.” Lily thanks him, and it’s very The Bride in Kill Bill. (Sadly, Dean doesn’t tell her that if she kills Cas, then he’ll be the one out for revenge. But in our hearts, we know that’s true.)

Back in the bunker, Dean hands Cas a beer, which in Dean-speak means “I’m sorry I’ve been a jerk but I know that what you did, you did for me, and feelings are hard and I appreciate it and I feel the same.” At least, I think that’s what a beer means.

Sam, though, uses his words to assure Cas that he’s changed for the better, and the loyalty he showed them took real strength. Castiel affirms that he doesn’t regret what he did to Billie, even if it costs him his life.

Apologies out of the way, they start making plans to track down Kelly and Fetus Lucifer, Jr., who, as the spawn of the Devil himself, could be even more dangerous that your standard-issue, world-destroying Nephilim. So, yeah, that’s gloomy. And yet, as Sam points out, it’s also a mother and her child. Castiel acknowledges that there was a time when he wouldn’t have hesitated to strike, but now? He’s not sure.

“Let’s drink, and hope we can find a better way,” Cas says.

Whew. Whew. What a perfect blend of plot, action, callbacks to previous seasons, history-dependent emotional angst, and setup for episodes to come. (Think one of the brothers will try to master Enochian powers at the cost of his soul?) Kudos to Alicia Witt for creating a strong, tragic character in Lily, who I’d love to see turn up again.

What did you think? Would you keep an eye out (sorry) for Lily in future episodes?

Episode Recaps

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki star as the Winchester brothers, hellbent on battling the paranormal forces of evil.
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