Review of Episode 8×17: “Goodbye Stranger”
Take 10,000 dead fake-Deans. Add two unicorns, an angel/demon romance, a bunch of crypts owned by Lucifer, and a healthy side of Crowley, and what do you get? A squirm-around-on-the-couch, yell-at-the-screen, pretty darn good episode of Supernatural. This ep had great forward motion, answering questions, resolving some hanging storyline threads, and bringing several issues out into the open:
Sam’s Illness: Honestly, when Dean found that bloody tissue, I was more relieved than anything. Finally, Dean has all the facts – or at least as many facts as it is possible to have at this point. Apparently, Sam is damaged on the subatomic level. He is damaged in ways that Castiel can’t heal, and it may or may not be fatal. You’d think this info would make me want to cry into a couch cushion, but hearing all of that actually made me feel better, not worse. I like knowing what we’re up against, and I trust Castiel’s diagnosis, even though he was still under Naomi’s control at the time. Cass is a healer who can sense everything from a person’s coronary health to whether or not they have a mild bladder infection, and as far as we know, he had no reason to lie about Sam’s condition. At the end of the episode, when Dean said he couldn’t take any more lies from anyone, Sam seemed to hear him and really take the message to heart. I feel confident that Sam will be honest about his health going forward. The lies hurt Dean more than the truth about Sam’s suffering, and I think Sam finally gets that.
Naomi’s Mind-Control: Finally, finally, Castiel has broken free! He remembers Naomi’s torture and even was able to tell Dean what happened. Of course, before that could happen, we all had to suffer a little bit of torture ourselves, watching Castiel beat Dean’s face into bloody mulch. The fact that Cass had to practice killing Dean thousands of times to even come close to killing the real thing says so much about the bond these two share. The scope of that opening scene, the cinematic scale of seeing all those dead Deans, was brilliantly handled by the FX team and truly proved that a picture is worth a thousand words. As I writer, I shouldn’t really say that, but dang if it wasn’t true in this ep! That was a bigger, better effect than the shot of Dean hanging by meat-hooks in hell at the end of Season Three.
And of course, hearing the real Dean begging and pleading for Cass to stop, hearing that fear in Dean’s voice when Cass reached out to heal him…brutal, gut-wrenching stuff. That whole scene was a beautiful and very deliberate parallel to Sam/Lucifer pounding Dean into raw pulp in the cemetery in Lawrence. Not quite as powerful, since Sam and Dean have a stronger bond (and since this wasn’t literally the end of the world), but a touching moment nonetheless. In the end, the power of Castiel’s love for Dean was deeper and stronger than the power of Naomi’s mind control, and I never doubted that it would be. This show may be the very definition of dark, but ultimately, light will always triumph.
Meg’s Whereabouts: At long last, Castiel got to rescue his demon love, and we got to see our favorite bad-turned-kinda-good black-eyed b**ch in action. I can’t tell you how much I missed this girl: Sam: “You let dozens of innocent people get killed because you were ‘buying time’?” Meg: “Hi, I’m Meg. I’m a demon.” ROFL! How can you not love her? It was cool to see her used as a resource to find Lucifer’s crypts – sometimes it’s easy to forget just how deep her history is. Being Azazel’s daughter and an important Lucifer-loyalist, Meg has all kinds of insider knowledge and it was neat that the show finally explored that a little bit.
Another neat thing: She still has the hots for Cass! And he still has the hots for her! Their scenes together were oddly touching. Their relationship has gone through so many different stages, from sane to crazy to almost-sane again. They are the ultimate odd couple, and there is absolutely no reason why a romance between these two characters should work, but maybe that’s why it does. Love is insane, and I ship Meg/Castiel. And even though I knew no happy ending could ever be possible for them, I was disappointed to have their time together end so abruptly. Knowing how much Meg meant to Cass, I felt sure that Sam and Dean would try to save her, but instead they just drove away…and I was left a little bit bereft. Meg’s death felt kinda wasted. I know she was buying time so Sam and Dean could escape, but still. If they’re going to kill off a character that important, who’s been on the show since Season One, they should do it with more fanfare. Cass should have been there, at the very least.
The Angel Tablet: Finally, Sam and Dean know about the angel tablet. It’s always scary when there are threats floating around that they don’t even know about, so this was another big relief. And now that Cass has the tablet, I know he will keep it away from demons, bad angels, and yes, even Dean. I don’t blame Castiel for wanting to keep the tablet from his human friends – considering that those same friends brought on the apocalypse just a few years ago. I don’t think it’s necessary for Sam and Dean to read the tablet or possess it. Now that Naomi’s mind-control is broken, I trust Castiel to keep the tablet safe on his own.
Randomness: I’ve always liked the fast cuts between Castiel’s scenes with Naomi in heaven and his scenes with Sam, Dean, etc, back on Earth. This episode was full of these cuts, giving it a fast-paced feel that only added to the urgency of the situation. Also liked: Sam and Meg’s long overdue conversation about when she possessed him back in Season Two. Interesting stuff, and funny, too. Love interests on this show shall henceforth be referred to as unicorns. 🙂
Questions: What exactly does “subatomic damage” mean? Are we even sure it is damage? Maybe Sam is just changing – like, physically transforming into something else. Like, a more powerful being that will be capable of closing the hell-gate, once his transformation is complete. (Hey, don’t look at me that way – I’m just throwing out ideas!) Another question: Why does Naomi want Dean dead? She spent loads of time training Cass to kill Dean, but killing Dean was not necessary in order to secure the tablet – Castiel could simply have knocked Dean unconscious and taken the tablet. Cass clearly had the upper hand, strength-wise. So, what’s Naomi’s motive for wanting Dean dead, and what’s her motive for obtaining the angel tablet? Originally, I assumed she just wanted to keep it away from demons, which is quite understandable, but in this ep it sounded like the angels could actually use the tablet to become more powerful…eeek!
Final Question: Is Meg really dead? Like for sure???
Final Thoughts: Just a great episode that kept things moving. Supernatural has always been a show about giving payoffs and rewarding viewers with real results and storyline resolution, rather than stringing people along for eight seasons with no answers. We got a lot of answers and resolution in this ep, even as more questions were raised, and I am left feeling super-excited for tonight’s episode. 🙂