"Supernatural's" 'O Brother Where Art Thou?" boasted fantastical special effects, great gore, and an ending that will leave Winchester fans ugly-crying into their Christmas trees, and yet it still felt a little paint-by-numbers: Encounter with the mysterious Big Bad: Check. Appearance of an old foe: Discount Double-Check. Main characters in hellacious danger: ANGRY Check.
As most winter finales do, the episode left us with more questions than answers. Here are the biggest questions I had after watching "Supernatural's" winter finale.
Even free of The Mark, Dean been off for most of season 11, I'm worried that he's still under the influence of The Mark and the bond he has with Amara, which he still hasn’t told Sam about. Is it because he knows Sam will stop at nothing to break it?
These fears were kickstarted earlier this season. In “Our Own Little World,” Dean lead a frutless mission to try to kill Amara even though he didn’t even know what she was. No hunter would ever attempt it, especially one as seasoned as Dean. What if that was Dean's twisted way of seeing Amara?
One glimpse of a glazed Dean ignoring Sam's calls and him letting her try to suck out his soul and make-out with him confirms my fear that he's under Amara's control so deeply that he may not even be aware of it.
Did Crowley break the fourth wall? Upon hearing that Amara is God's sister, he bleats, "[God] has relatives?!" It's a half-horrified and half exasperation, which is exactly how I feel about Amara. One one hand, it sounds ominous and shocking. On the other hand, it's shark-jumpingly bonkers. I can only imagine God and little Amara rough-housing around the universe and throwing planets at each other.
Did "Supernatural" insult religious people? The church scene with Amara is particularly revealing. Amara is a lot like Ultron from "The Avengers: Age of Ultron" in the sense that she's all-powerful but with a literal, child-like understanding of the world, especially religion. What most call faith, she sees as manipulation through fear. Faith is believing God, and following his desires, is there even though no one has seen him. If you replace the word "God" with "Big Foot” or "the Kraken" it sounds utterly ridiculous and cult-y. In world climate in which people think Christmas tree-less Starbucks cups is sacrilegious, I can't help but being fascinated by "Supernatural's" provocative views on religion.
Is Amara evil? Yes, she's killed people in horrific ways, i.e, the lightning strikes in the cold open, munching on souls. However, she doesn't want to the bring about the end of days or to strike fear in humanity, she wants to give humans perpetual bliss and peace. Granted, she only wants Capitol-E Everything in return, so she's not that much more ambitious than Kanye or Madonna, right? And if I remember my bible stories probably, didn't God once drown the entire human race, save for two people, in a catastrophic blood?
Did the angel war finally happen? Without Castiel? "Supernatural" has attempted an angel war multiple times in the last seven years with not so great results. Logistically it's difficult and expensive to execute, and angels fist-fighting will always be more campy than cool, and not in a good way. So much like the other CW show "Reign" or soap operas, the action happens off-screen only to be described by the characters through dialogue. However, in the last few seasons, "Supernatural" has seriously stepped up their FX game. I was dazzled by the visual effects in this episode, everything from the lightning strikes, Heaven's unified strike on Amara, Lucifer’s rising cage and glowing eyes was stunning.
I guess Heaven's most hated outcast, Castiel, didn't get the memo. Where the heck was he?
If an unresolved plot isn't referenced, does it still irritate the blogger? That's an eye-twitching yes! Adam/Michael fell into the cage with Sam and Lucifer, yet he was nowhere to be found. Adam's doppleganger, Jake Abel, may not be available, but there are ways around them, like showing a broken, blood figure shrouded in shadow huddled in the corner of the cage.
Also, Rowena mentioned the late Charlie by name for the first time this season. I'm still intensely bothered that Sam or Dean have ever even mentioned her in the episodes since.
Why do the Winchesters ever split up? I thoroughly love the parallels between Sam’s rendezvous with Lucifer and Dean’s picturesque pow-wow with Amara. It’s a beautiful technique used throughout the series, but there are 230+ episodes that stand as torturous evidence as to why the Winchesters should never, ever, ever, ever split up—‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’ being the most horrific one.
Why can’t Sam ever win? Between now and January 20, you may stumble across despondent people, sobbing and muttering about caged mooses or precious cinnamon rolls. Those are “Supernatural” fans, distraught over THAT ENDING. Sam braves the wilds of hell to have a meeting with Lucifer because he knows God has been giving him visions and he trusts in the Lord, the way he did when suffered during The Trials (“God is purifying me”), the way he always has. It takes about three intense minutes before all hope is abandoned, and Lucifer looms between the bars of the cage, he can’t slither out, so he drags Sam in. "God's not with you. He was never with you. It was always just me." Sam (Jared Padalecki) has always been the one to pray and to hope, and he's always been abandoned by God, and used as a weapon by Heaven and Hell. And it is happening again. How will he recover from this?
Sam Winchester is one of the strongest characters in television history. This is an emphatic statement, not a question. Sam Winchester, the boy earmarked to be Lucifer’s vessel, not only defeated him, but endured an eternity of torture in hell from two angels. Miraculously, he survived with his soul intact only to undertake The Trials in an empty to slam the door in hell. He has also survived possession by an angel and a demon at the same time in season 9’s “Roadtrip.” In 'O Brother Where Art Thou,' Sam, once again wanting to save lives, is adamant about facing his greatest fears by returning the cage if that will put an end to The Darkness. Even as he faces the world’s greatest foe, he reins in his panic and refuses possession with all the strength he can muster--and what extraordinary strength it is.
Sam Winchester always keeps fighting, and I love him for it.