Episode Title: "Meet the New Boss"
Writer: Sera Gamble
Director: Phil Sgriccia
Previously on "Supernatural":
The angel Castiel (Misha Collins) sought to prevent Raphael (Lanette Ware) and his rogue faction of angels from restarting the Apocalypse as a Civil War raged in Heaven. Towards that end, Castiel made a secret deal with the demon Crowley (Mark Sheppard) to find the entrance to Purgatory and split the souls that were hidden within. Castiel also mislead his friends and allies, the Winchester brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) into believing that Crowley was dead so that the search for Purgatory could continue without their interference.
When the Winchester brothers and their mentor, Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) discovered the truth, they turned against Castiel and briefly made him question his choices. But in the end, Castiel betrayed Crowley (before the demon could do it first) and Castiel absorbed the souls of Purgatory himself. Castiel immediately killed Raphael and he also declared himself to be the new God. Castiel then demanded that Sam, Dean and Bobby drop to their knees and show him love and reverence or else he would destroy them on the spot.
Moments later, Bobby kneels and asks if that will do or if Castiel wants the full head to the floor bow. Bobby glances at the Winchester brothers who nervously follow his lead until Castiel tells them to get up. He's upset that his former friends are only bowing out of fear instead of love or respect. He chides Sam for trying to kill him with an Angelic weapon and taunts him about the return of his memories from Hell. Dean tries to reach Castiel again, but Castiel tells them that the old him is gone. He grants them mercy because they were once his "favorite pets" and he warns them not to see him again. Castiel then returns to Heaven and slaughters the rogue faction of Angels while declaring himself the new Heavenly father.
Back on Earth, Sam collapses from the burden of his memories. Feeling helpless from the turn of events, Dean loses himself to his attempts to fix their beloved Impala. Some time later, Sam awakens and says that he's doing better, but only he hears the sound of chains in the next room. Elsewhere, Castiel drops into a church as its preacher vilifies homosexuals as an affront to God. As the new God, Castiel introduces himself and says that the reverend's hypocrisy and claims to speak for God are what truly angers him. Castiel causes the man to literally choke on his own words and he changes a glass likeness of Jesus into his own image. But Castiel staggers in a moment of weakness and leaves a burning impression on the pew.
At Bobby's place, Sam begins suffering intense hallucinations of Hell that leave him cowering in a corner out of fear. Later, the Winchesters and Bobby watch a TV report about a number of extreme religious leaders who died at Castiel's hands, leaving behind several witnesses who identify him as God. Dean dismisses the deaths as beyond their control and he even agrees with Castiel when he learns that the new God forcibly disbanded the KKK. However, when Castiel slaughters a motivational speaker convention, Dean finally accepts that he's gone too far. Elsewhere, Castiel tracks down Crowley in a trailer park and he doesn't kill him as expected.
Instead, Castiel explains that he still needs Hell for his enemies and he wants Crowley to resume his role as Hell's King. But Crowley will only get the souls that Castiel gives him. Crowley begrudgingly accepts as Castiel notices burn marks on his own hands before leaving. Back at Bobby's, Sam's visions are intense enough that when demonic chains strangle him, it feels real to him. As the trio debate their next course of action, Dean points out that they can't fight God. There is no object ever created that could ever harm God… but he remembers that there may be someone who can… namely Death (Julian Richings).
The Winchesters summon Crowley, who is all too eager to conspire against his new boss. He gives them the spell Lucifer used to bind Death. Elsewhere, Castiel cures a righteous blind man and restores his sight. But when the man opens his eyes, he asks Castiel what's wrong with his face. Castiel goes to a bathroom mirror as the words "let us out' ring in his head. He even sees hands trying to burst out of his chest. Later, the Winchester brothers and Bobby brake into the house of a collector and use his prized item to summon and bind Death. At first Death assumes that they want him to fix the Wall in Sam's mind, but they tell him that they want him to kill Castiel.
Castiel appears and tells the Winchesters that he can't spare them this time. But with Death bound, he can't immediately kill them either. Death and Castiel verbally spar about Castiel's host body being unable to contain the dangerous creatures from Purgatory. Death also mocks Castiel as a mutated angel as opposed to a God. When Dean finally insists that Death kill Castiel, the new "God" simply unbinds Death and he turns on the Winchester brothers. Castiel then disappears, leaving the Winchesters and Bobby scared s***less by a calm Death who simply sits down to eat some chips.
Castiel reappears at the offices of Senator Michelle Bachmann… I mean, Michelle Walker, whom he intends to smite for presuming to speak in God's name. But Castiel's weakened condition doesn't impress the Senator's staff as they surround him. Back with the Winchesters, Death is about to leave when he suggests to Dean that if they can get Castiel to relinquish his powers, he will ensure that the way to Purgatory will be open the next morning just long enough to do so. Back to Castiel, the angel awakens and he is horrified to find that he slaughtered all of the Senator's staff, while the voices of the Leviathans within him echo.
Sam makes a personal prayer to Castiel which brings the angel back to them, although severely weakened. As they prepare the spell to reopen Purgatory, Sam is confronted by a hallucination of Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino); which tries to convince Sam that he never escaped Hell. When the time for the ritual comes, Dean can't find his brother, so he and Bobby do it themselves. The souls are returned to Purgatory and a penitent Castiel vows to redeem himself with them. But then he tells them to run as creatures from Purgatory possess his body. Moments later, "Castiel" throws Bobby and Dean around before saying that he's going to have "fun."
The majority of the season premiere deals with the intriguing idea of the Winchesters finally up against a foe they can't touch: God himself. It's such a terrific premise that it seems kind of wasteful to move away from it after a single episode. It looks like the Leviathans from Purgatory are going to be the new main villains of the series (possibly in Castiel's body). And while it's too early to say whether the Leviathans will prove to be worthy adversaries for the Winchesters, it's a considerable step down from fighting God.
I don't know if Castiel's actions could be called a "liberal rampage," but the writer, Sera Gamble sent Castiel after very thinly disguised versions of the Westboro Baptist Church and Michelle Bachmann. It worked as a satire of a wrathful God, with one of the parishioners even describing Castiel as "sexy." The visual of dozens of dead rebel angels was also very striking as Castiel took over Heaven. There was a lot of potential for this story and it was entertaining while it lasted. But it definitely felt like it was over too soon.
The sequence in which Death held the Winchesters at bay and scared out of their minds was priceless. Julian Richings had the right mixture of humor and menace in his performance, even as he had all of the heavy lifting in getting the bulk of the exposition about the Leviathans across to the audience. Although Death's "one wall per customer" line seemed designed just to leave Sam in bad shape for the rest of the season.
Of the two lead actors, Jared Padalecki seems to be getting the best material to play with as Sam's mental condition deteriorates. Mark Pellegrino's return as Lucifer was also a nice surprise. With Pellegrino back on the show, that means there's a possibility that Sam's vision of Lucifer is more than just a hallucination. It might also eventually give Adam his shot at escaping Hell. It's been a little glossed over, but the Winchesters still have a half brother trapped in the cage with Lucifer and Michael. Some resolution there would be nice.
After last season, I was ready for Crowley's storyline to be over. But I really enjoyed his scenes in this episode. There's something inherently funny about Crowley hiding from Castiel in a trailer park and his eagerness to conspire against him.
I don't know where the story is going and I'm not sure if "Supernatural" will get another season after this. But as long as it lasts, I'm sticking with "Supernatural" to the end of the road.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.