Supernatural gives us a riveting mid-season finale with “O Brother Where Art Thou?” Sam faces his biggest fear so he can figure out how to fix what he’s broken when the Darkness was released. In the process, he ends up getting closer to his old nemesis than he expected. While Sam gets reacquainted with the Great Deceiver, Dean gets to know the Darkness a little better. Sam and Dean aren’t the only ones concerned about the Darkness. Will the middle-management angels reinvigorate their warrior reputation?
Evil abounds in “O Brother Where Art Thou,” with Rowena (Ruth Connell), Crowley (Mark Sheppard), Amara (Emily Swallow), and Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) making all kinds of big moves. Okay, despite the soul-sucking evidence, we’re not positive Amara is pure evil, but the others certainly have supervillain written all over their trading cards. We’re reminded why Sam is so afraid of Lucifer—because that archangel is a master manipulator and is absolutely terrifying. It’s truly a gift to have the talented Mark Pellegrino back on Supernatural.
After getting some support from his old friend Sully in “Just My Imagination,” Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) has finally decided he needs to go the Cage and face Lucifer. In the biggest surprise of the episode, Dean lets him. It’s just as Dean said to Sam in “Swan Song,” when Sam went to meet with Lucifer: “It’s not on me to let you do anything. You’re a grown—well, overgrown—man. If this is what you want I’ll back your play.”
Unfortunately, Dean gets distracted by the Darkness and Sam must deal with Lucifer on his own. Though a cowering Crowley and admiring Rowena are in the peanut gallery, they don’t exactly have Sam’s back—or each other’s, for that matter. Yet we don’t miss Dean in this scene, not simply because it’s unlikely he could’ve done much except make the usual threats (“If you hurt my brother I’ll …”), but because watching the scene between Padalecki and Pellegrino was mesmerizing. We could watch an entire episode of these two in dialogue. Lucifer burns with a cool intensity while Sam tries to keep his fear in control. The grim starkness of Hell allows their performances to shine that much more.
Dean backs Sam’s play by setting up a meeting with Crowley (we’re pretty sure the King of Hell wouldn’t return Sam’s calls after his attempted assassination in “The Prisoner”). Crowley can get them into Hell, but talking to Lucifer in the impenetrable Cage without releasing him is beyond his skill set. So Crowley’s minions capture Rowena because they need her to cast an all-access spell. We can see Crowley working with the Winchesters, even though he just tried to kill Dean in “Our Little World.” They have a long history of working together when their interests are aligned, not to mention Crowley was just shamefully rejected as surrogate father by Amara. Rowena, on the other hand, always requires a certain degree of coercion, as she doesn’t play well with others. Rowena has proven she isn’t someone they can trust, but they hope to control her for a bit (good luck with that). As Dean points out, they can get back to the business of killing each other later.
While his brother faces Lucifer in Hell, Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) stands with Amara in a field. Nothing like a little first-base action with God’s sister to add some spice to Season 11 of Supernatural. We expected to be more creeped out by the fact that Amara was so recently a baby/child/teen, but it helps that it was this adult version of Amara that Dean first met. Ackles and Swallow (quite an unpleasant combination of names) keep our attention throughout the scene, as we wonder: will they kill or kiss? Dean’s attempt to kill Amara with an angel blade is easily thwarted, while Dean disarms Amara with those sexy green eyes. You’d think Dean would have this impact on more of his foes.
Amara explains that all her bad behavior has been an attempt to get God’s attention. We’re not sure we believe it, but she paints an interesting picture. She does make some very good points out how God lets people suffer and uses religion to feed his ego. The souls she’s taken have become a part of her, giving them what she describes as a form of immortality. Dean seems to give her story some credence, warning the attacking angels that people will die if they take her down.
Amara easily kills the angels, using different killing moves on each of the three, which makes it that much more fun. Amara sends Dean to safety as the heavens begin to open. Yet, she doesn’t seem worried. She brings the attitude of “Let the smiting commence!” Though we were grateful the writers kept the angel self-empowerment and subsequent attack a brief part of the storyline, it’ll be telling to see if an entire garrison of angels can hurt the Darkness. It seems unlikely, but we can’t wait to find out.
“O Brother Where Art Thou?” has a lot of Supernatural experience behind it. The mid-season finale was directed by Executive Producer Robert Singer. It was written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming, the writing team responsible for 18 episodes of Supernatural, including “Route 666,” “Soul Survivor,” “The Hunter Games,” “Paint it Black,” “Dark Dynasty,” and “The Bad Seed.” A lot happened in “O Brother Where Art Thou?” The extent to which the Season 9 story arc was advanced required anything extraneous to be stripped away. The brothers couldn’t waste time arguing, insults between Crowley and Rowena had to be succinct, Amara needed to be a little less enigmatic, and the path to Hell had to be negotiated quickly. Yet the episode never felt hurried.
The much-anticipated Supernatural mid-season finale “O Brother Where Art Thou?” was engaging and showcased some of the great characters from the show. The Winchesters have more to worry about than the Darkness now, but have another equally dangerous foe in Lucifer. We didn’t even miss Castiel. Episodes in which the brothers have separate storylines, like in “Inside Man” and “Soul Survivor,” give us a chance to recognize the richness and depth of the series, as well as exploring different aspects of Sam and Dean. “O Brother Where Art Thou?” gave us the combination of suspense, terror, and humor that we love in Supernatural.
- Forget the Mark. If anyone should be kissing the Darkness, it’s Sam.
- The beautiful scene in the meadow was a great contrast to the horror of Hell. Hell was a fantastic set, especially when you saw some of the remains lying about. Speaking of remains, those crispy bodies in the opening scene were horror-movie quality.
- It’s incredibly entertaining to see Sam and Crowley interacting in scenes because Sam really hates Crowley. Even in Hell, Sam’s as cold as ice to the King.
- Was it really Lucifer talking to Sam this whole time? Or is it possible that Lucifer is taking the tack of lying to Sam for this round?
- We thought for a moment that Sam might agree to become Lucifer’s vessel again. Lucifer made a convincing argument. We should expect no less from the Devil.
- Rowena and Lucifer. Wouldn’t that be fun?
- Can Crowley and Rowena get past trying to kill each other? They are fantastic to watch on screen together.
- That’s some pretty fancy magic that Rowena just brought down Lucifer, while Michael and Adam never appeared. Does Sam even remember his half-brother is in the Cage? Does he care even a little?
- What’s up with God?
For a full recap of Supernatural’s mid-season finale “O Brother Where Art Thou?” click here.