Supernatural – Season 11 Episode 21
“All in the Family”
Sam and Dean are finally properly introduced to God in an episode of Supernatural that tries to put all of the relevant pieces in place before the final two episodes.
Meeting God is naturally a very big deal and the show has been building to this for a very long time so it makes sense to take some time to really let that sink in. This episode does a really good job with this early on with the reactions taking up a large chunk of screen time.
It’s also nicely constructed with God using the previous profit Kevin to vouch for him to cut through any doubts that the brothers might have. It was good to see Kevin again and seeing him allowed to be at peace in Heaven was a nice ending for the character.
Sam and Dean react differently to being in the presence of God. There’s an important difference to how the brothers view God with Sam persistently holding onto his faith long after many other people would have lost it and Dean transitioned from being an Atheist to resenting God for his lack of presence.
Now that God is around Dean has the chance to make his feelings on that abundantly clear. Jensen Ackles really knocks his performance out of the park in an emotionally raw scene where Dean unleashes absolutely everything. He talks about all the bad things that have happened since God has been gone and all that humanity do in his name. He just can’t believe that any being would be able to sit back and do nothing while all this goes on.
God broadly sits there and takes it while offering the same justification for letting this all happen as he did to Metatron. His hands on parenting was doing nothing to improve things so he made the conscious decision to step back and see if humanity could find their way without him. As far as he was concerned his continual involvement was more enabling than parenting so it makes sense that it had to stop. Dean points out that things didn’t get better but God disagrees with him. Dean still doesn’t accept that and God is very understanding of his points while showing real sympathy for the way he’s feelings. It’s an excellent scene with powerful performances that show just how disillusioned Dean is with God as a concept.
Sam’s reaction is pretty much the opposite. He fanboys out at meeting God as it’s a proper dream come true for him. He never stopped praying and never gave up hope so finally meeting him is completely overwhelming. Again, God broadly sits there and lets the reaction wash over him because he had to expect it.
The tile of this episode is incredibly accurate as it is all about family at its core in ways that both benefit and hinder it. In terms of benefits it keeps the whole thing grounded in some sort of reality that we can all relate too. Essentially God has a sister and they don’t get on. His son, Lucifer doesn’t like him either and the feud caused by this Biblical dysfunction puts all of creation at stake.
Since the major theme of this show in general is that family can be counted on above all else this links naturally into the story of the Winchester brothers. They are brothers who have their spats and disagreements but when all is said and done they have each other’s back and seem to be able to overcome anything together.
The problem is that the family dynamic wasn’t explored in any detail that added further weight than what was seen on the surface. Dean’s relationship with his father was mentioned as a comparison to the way God treats humanity which might have been interesting to explore. I really like the idea of the Winchester family having parallels to God and his family but it is glossed over with no real explanation.
Similarly the dysfunctional sibling relationship lacks the necessary detail. God mentions that they should know exactly what he’s talking about but that’s really the end of it. This might come into play more when God and Amara share scenes together in the coming episodes.
God’s attitude throughout the episode really confused me especially after the personal revelations that he came to last week. At the end of the previous episode he was ready to take action and help bring down his sister but in this outing he is back to being reluctant to take action. This doesn’t fit with the whole point of his emotional journey last week and comes across as a stalling tactic because there can’t be too much forward momentum with two episodes still to go.
As such, God basically commits the sin of Sloth which definitely counts as ironic. Maybe he’s a “do as I say, not as I do” sort of deity. He sits around in his underwear eating junkfood, drinking beer and watching TV showing his disinterest in becoming involved in. It makes sense that Sam and Dean would be confused by this as they didn’t see what decisions were made by him last week but from an audience point of view I found this fairly baffling. It’s bizarre as he would never have introduced himself to the Winchesters if he hadn’t decided to become involved but we couldn’t have the scenes where he sits around doing nothing as they look on astonished without him deciding to remain passive. It doesn’t really work either way but at least it is amusing to see God acting like…well, Dean.
The issue of Lucifer is enough to provoke a reaction from him as it clearly strikes a nerve when his name was brought up. God recounts how Lucifer represented his greatest hope at one point and the betrayal clearly cut him deep. He also doesn’t appreciate that they let him out of the cage on two separate occasions no less. He’s right in his concern that Lucifer has become worse after being imprisoned for so long so that marks an embarrassment for our heroes when they are told off by God.
Sam and Dean get help from the unlikeliest source in the form of Metatron who gives them God’s autobiography. The twist is that the autobiography is actually a suicide note to be left behind when he sacrifices himself to Amara. It seems that the plan is for God to trade everything he created for himself and will allow himself to be locked away if Amara spares everything he loves. He thinks that it’s all that Amara wants so is all set to give it to her. Dean doesn’t think that she’ll go for it because Amara told him her plan. He also resents the fact that God thinks he has a right to put an end to reality simply because he created it and thinks that God owes them more than that.
Interestingly, God has complete faith that humanity will step up to fill in the void should he fail. He refers to “the chosen” while numbering Sam and Dean among them. I wonder if he is being figurative or if there are actually chosen humans who have a big part to play in protecting all of creation. Something for next season perhaps?
Despite God’s reservations the plan is to free Lucifer and ask for his help because they need as much muscle as they can get. Lucifer will be used to convince God to take action and use the extra resources to help bring down Amara. Metatron is a big part of that plan and he is willing to help because he wants to do everything he can in service of God. For the purposes of this Metatron can be trusted and the Winchesters are willing to put aside their personal issues -of which there are many- with him because they don’t have any better alternatives.
The plan is more or less a success but Metratron is the casualty. I would say it’s about time for him to go because I personally never liked the guy but sacrificing himself in service of God seems appropriate for him and hits the necessary emotional note. It marks the loss of someone close to God and helps inspire him to take action. Or at least it should come next week.
Outside of the apathetic God story we are introduced to a new Prophet named Donatello (Keith Szarabajka). Dean gets the Ninja Turtle joke out of the way pretty quickly and the character proves to be an asset in finding Lucifer. The idea of an Atheist becoming a Prophet is an interesting idea and the episode plays around with it well. Due to the lack of time on their hands Sam and Dean have to dump a lot of information on him in a matter of hours which naturally causes him to feel overwhelmed. Keith Szarabajka does a great job of portraying that and there’s definitely an intellect beneath that is starting to process it all. It’s pretty much guaranteed that he will return and probably be more secure in his new role when he does.
Donatello’s presence presents a problem for the episode in terms of tone. The scenes with God and Amara have a distinctly serious tone to them but Donatello is more played for laughs. Normally Supernatural is able to balance disparate tones in really slick ways but the imbalance really stuck out to me. It’s not a massive issue but it is noticeable.
Amara sheds more light -or darkness- on what she has planned for Dean. Apparently she wants him to become a part of her in a very literal sense. My prediction is that this will happen in the finale somehow and set up what happens next season. What form that will take I can’t guess but I feel that this is about to become really significant as far as obstacles go. As usual the interactions between Amara and Dean are well performed and have a creepy edge to them that comes more from Amara. Their connection has yet to be properly explored but it’s clear that there is one.
A strong episode that has a few flaws that drag it down. Sam and Dean finally meeting God worked really well and led to some incredibly emotional scenes but God’s motivations were a bit unclear considering the apparent choice he made in the last episode to become more involved. The exploration of a dysfunctional family being the root of all this conflict is a nice idea but the episode doesn’t explore it as much as it could have. It was onto something interesting but never quite took it to the next level. Introducing an Atheist Prophet was a nice idea and the character was well acted but he presented an imbalanced tone with his scenes being more comedic and feeling at odds with the tone of the rest of the episode. Amara’s desire to have Dean become a literal part of her is an intriguing prospect and I look forward to seeing how it plays out.