Supernatural – Season 11 Episode 9
“O Brother Where Art Thou”
Supernatural ends its 2015 run with a more philosophical take on the concepts of good and evil as well as religion and how that relates to us as human beings.
Broaching the subject of religion is always a tough one as you risk annoying a lot of people who have strong opinions and feelings about religion. This doesn’t mean that the subject shouldn’t be explore, it just means that some care should be taken when it is.
Supernatural has been using the Bible for source material since season 4 but has been really careful to stick to the “facts” for want of a better word. The portrayal of the Angels as warriors for God being a good example of things that were lifted from the Bible. As time went on other figures were introduced like the Archangel Gabriel and Cain who helped deepen the overall mythology of Supernatural.
The introduction of Amara -also known as the Darkness- this season changes up the Bible source material somewhat by revealing that she is God’s sister and was imprisoned by him a long time ago. Now that she has been released she is really angry with her brother and very much wants revenge. Having Emily Swallow return to the role after her introduction in the first episode is more than welcomed as she adds so much depth to the character.
Amara has spent a lot of time exploring Earth by seeing both the human and demon side of things. She is less than impressed with both aspects but feels sorry for humans who are suffering because of God. At least that’s how she sees it. God created humanity and then abandoned it but allows people to worship him as well as do unspeakable things in his name.
It’s Amara’s belief that God doesn’t deserve such admiration as he has done nothing to deserve it but she sees herself as different as she intends to be a more active participant in the affairs of man. Her reaction to the fact that people blindly worship God is a very extreme one and produces some really cool effects as she brutalises them with lightning before massacring an entire church full of people.
To say that she’s evil would be oversimplifying it a bit but she definitely doesn’t have a sense of morality that matches that of Sam and Dean. She finds humanity a curiosity but has no problem with killing people. She needs to feast on souls to become more powerful and human souls are a good source of nourishment. Her statement that when she does that they become part of her was interesting so maybe consuming souls is helping with her understanding.
Her conversation with Dean where she points out how disgusted she is in what she sees and how insulted she is that God doesn’t answer anyone’s prayers, least of all her own. The way she phrases her points is hard to disagree with as from a certain point of view she is right. According to all evidence God has abandoned his creations but she is physically here and seems to have some idea of what she wants to do. She mentions that she aims to bring the world bliss with darkness. I don’t really know what that means as the two concepts seems divorced from each other but I am interested to find out. Amara clearly doesn’t define things the same way we do so she could mean something else entirely.
The discussion about Amara and Dean being connected since he is the one who freed her. They are tied together by the Mark of Cain but I’m not sure why they are meant to be together. My working theory is that her life force is somehow tied to him which means that if Dean dies then she does. If not killing her then maybe it puts her back in her prison. Either way it would explain why she is so motivated to protect him.
I like that Dean manages to overcome the attraction he feels towards her by trying to kill her. This solidifies her threat level as the Angel Blade completely shatters on contact. This weapon has been able to kill everything else that it has been used on so the situation is much more dangerous with this being ineffective. Her connection with Dean is definitely her weakness but I’m unsure how this can be exploited as yet. I’m sure Dean will find a way.
Amara’s showdown with the nameless Angels was a cool moment. Their warning about bringing the full force of Heaven down on her if she doesn’t cooperate definitely feels like they mean business and the fact that they go through with it is even better. The Angels have been fragmented of late so it seems that this threat can unite them. I imagine that their attack will do squat but it’s another resource for the Winchesters to use. The involvement of the Angels does beg the question of where Castiel was in this episode. It would make sense for him to be involved somehow.
Sam’s part of the story involving him summoning Lucifer to have a conversation with him is great as well. I like the setup of these scenes where Dean wants it completely under controlled circumstances as he has made it abundantly clear that he isn’t crazy about the idea so wants Sam to be safe.
Enlisting Crowley and Rowena to help with this makes sense and Crowley agreeing to help works since he has a lot to lose if Amara isn’t stopped. Rowena normally really annoys me but she was tolerable here as she was in service of a larger story. Her talk with Sam about him fighting for freedom while putting her in chains was an interesting one and shows how finely the Winchesters have to tow that moral line to get things done.
Having Lucifer back was excellent. For an added bonus Mark Pellegrino returned to play him and hasn’t missed a beat since he last took on the role. I like that the episode even explains how the Mark Pellegrino vessel still exists. Apparently if he leaves the cage then the vessel will burn up so if he wants to escape then he’ll need a new one. No prizes for figuring out that his first choice is Sam just like it was before.
In a clever twist it turns out that all of Sam’s visions are courtesy of Lucifer. Amara’s release damaged his cage enough so that he could project some of his power out of it. Being an Archangel he heard Sam’s prayers and decided to do a little God roleplay. It’s such an obvious twist that I’m shocked I didn’t suspect it before, especially when the visions started showing the cage. Just goes to show that the writers can make this viewer hope for miracles as well.
Pellegrino’s performance is as captivating as it ever was. I just love the casual way he plays Lucifer as if he doesn’t have to act menacing because everyone instinctively knows how evil he is. His arguments are somewhat persuasive as well mostly down to his performance. For now the Winchesters and Lucifer have a common enemy in Amara so it might make sense for them to work together. The problem with that is that Sam would have to say “yes” to being his vessel which would unleash a problem that nobody needs. Maybe they can stop Amara but does anyone want to tangle with a being that was able to stop her? The story potential here is staggering and Sam being trapped in there with them is a great way to end things. I do wonder where the Archangel Michael is or Sam and Dean’s other brother Adam who were both stuck in the cage with Lucifer.
This episode is about as high stakes as it can get. I appreciate that it remains character driven at every point and gives Sam and Dean an equal chance to move the plot forward. There’s a lot of promising developments in this episode so we will see how it all turns out in January.