Michael is back and holy fuck is it satisfying!
It’s the episode we’ve been waiting for, for ten years: Michael (Jake Abel pulling double duty as the favorite son and the forgotten Winchester, er…Milligan) is finally back – and no, I’m not counting stupid Apocalypse Michael (though I appreciated the “what-if” fulfillment of seeing Michael inhabit his true vessel). This is our world’s Michael, who was a pretty prominent player between seasons 4 and 5 (where he was played by Matt Cohen as the possessed papa Winchester), and then never heard from after that. And I gotta say, it was worth the wait.
In just the way that seeing Lilith unencumbered was richly enjoyable, seeing Michael destroy her with a look was unimaginably amazing. This kid is power, and don’t forget, he’s the last standing Archangel (considering he was also the first Archangel he actually fits that whole “I am the Alpha and the Omega” when it comes to Archangels). Which is vaguely depressing only because I really want Gabriel to not be dead, but, until he shows up again, we’ve got old Adam. Oh yes…
Adam is the second half of this more than miraculous long-awaited appearance, because you see, unlike stupid shitty Apocalypse Michael, “cuckoo-bananas” Michael lets his host drive. And, I gotta say, both Adam and Michael seem surprisingly uncrazy given how often they are referenced as being nuts. Perhaps that’s because to the outside, normal, human observer, the man talks to himself constantly, but given anyone from Heaven’s knowledge of possession shouldn’t they have more of an understanding of that kind of behavior? Or, perhaps it’s because it’s been ten years – that’s a good chunk of time to work things out, not to mention that Adam was host to the righteous brother, not the sadistic one. Sam being trapped in the cage with Lucifer for ten years would definitely end badly, but Adam trapped with Michael? I mean…you know Michael is supposed to be the good brother, right? Technically, when Castiel makes this point (that Michael is supposed to be crazy, not that he’s the “good” brother), Dean’s smart response is that who told them Michael was in this condition? Lucifer and Chuck, not the most reliable sources (for some reason I recall Gabriel making a similar comment about Michael, but I could be misremembering, it’s more likely Lucifer was telling the same tale to Gabriel).
Either way, Michael and Adam are not in such a bad way. And they deserve a big chunk of this review so let’s run down the points of this episode quickly, yes?
Tonight’s mid-season finale (which is a bit of a misnomer considering the season is 20 episodes long and this is only episode 8) starts with terrifying reminder that God is petty and vengeful. He’s gone old testament, just straight murdering people for…the fun of it? Not entirely sure.
After the opening title graphics, we see Eileen on a hunt; she can hold her own, but she left without telling anyone and Sam follows her because he’s worried (and very obviously wants to get with her), later, in the bunker, Dean presents a plan to beat God. They enlist the aid of Donatello who is none too eager to go reading the demon tablet again (what with it driving him batshit last time), but he does the boys a solid anyway. It somewhat bites him in the ass when God takes control and talks through him Independence style, warning the boys to back-off or he’ll go after the ones they love. This gets ignored, of course, and thanks to a spell by Rowena the team travels to hell to find Michael. Speaking of Rowena…
Our dearly departed followed in her son’s footsteps grasping the scepter right quick to become Queen of Hell. This saves our heroes from being straight murdered by Hell’s welcoming committee (three kick-ass ladies who damn near kill them), and, following some heartfelt words and devious quips, it turns out the trip was for nothing: Michael isn’t in Hell.
Where is he? In true Supernatural style he’s in a diner eating a burger and fries (which fans will recall is the meal Heaven used to try and sweet talk Dean into hosting Michael). As I mentioned earlier Lilith shows up to bring the prodigal son home but fails when Michael straight smites her with a look! I audibly cheered at this – no shame. It’s a pity to lose Lilith so soon, but 1. God can just bring her back again and 2. This gives Michael another opportunity to display his awesome power when he finger-snaps everyone in the diner into just forgetting anything weird happened.
The release of power required to kill a demon of Lilith’s level puts Michael on Donnie’s radar – which prompts him to call Dean with the location. Since there’s no way they can get to the angel before he jumps locations again, Cass prays to him. It works, as does the subterfuge to trap Michael in angel fire (why do the Archangels keep falling for the ring of fire trap???), I was hoping he’d put on a show of power the way Raphael did when he got trapped but no such luck. Michael takes it surprisingly well, which is the running gag in this episode.
Michael/Adam take everything surprisingly well. Like, insanely well. And yes, I meant to use that exact word. We were promised a looney bins Archangel, instead we get a ridiculously reasonable albeit somewhat stuffy soldier of dad – or, conversely, the just-happy-to-be-out-of-hell son of John. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this episode for the most part. I could give a shit about the weird hunter side story that drags Sam and Eileen away (more on that shortly), rather I choose to focus on the Michael/Adam dynamic as it relates to each other, the Winchesters (not nearly enough), and Castiel (also not much). So, essentially, just the Michael/Adam dynamic.
Adam almost presents as a patient suffering from DID, or, as it appears upon first view, schizophrenia. He sits at a diner biting into a burger when we hear a voice telling him to think twice on his meal choice – but instead of him being alone at the booth, Michael sits across from him (this is where Matt Cohen playing Michael would have been helpful) – part imaginary friend, part completely different personality sharing a body with him. DID used to be seen as possession, and it’s not hard to see why. Just like clinical cases of the disorder, Michael and Adam seem to change driver’s seats when under duress. Though in the case of Michael taking over it plays like the angel isn’t comfortable with human emotions. It’s an interesting interpretation of how our world’s Michael might treat his vessel – not as a beast of burden under his command, but as a kind of kindred spirit (in the diner we learn these two have a good amount in common, a conversation they have clearly had before). Dean is amazed by this, but Adam explains that they were trapped in the cage for ten years, you can work a lot of things out in ten years.
I feel bad that Michael’s world view is shattered by Castiel, but our favorite angel knows the importance of information by this point and decides that despite the risk, Michael deserves the truth. It does the job and the lost boy provides team free will with the spell they need to trap God (we’ve settled on not killing him since a: he’s God, and b: if you destroy God there’s a good chance you destroy all of existence), but it also results in him leaving (though not before opening a rift to purgatory where Dean and Castiel need to go in order to get the final ingredient for the God sealing spell). On the bright side, Dean does finally get to apologize – which is weirdly the only thing Adam wanted this whole time (granted, he tells Michael he in no way forgives his brothers, yet still trusts them enough to defend their position to the angel within).
Overall, I loved this episode. I wasn’t a huge fan of the hunter red-herring with Eileen, where she rebels a bit against Sam’s overprotection but not to the point of stupidity. While she could have left the bunker, sans note, and helped out the other hunter with her vamp issue, Eileen does the responsible thing and calls in Sam for reinforcement. The twist is that there was no hunter, or vamps, it was Chuck luring Eileen out and getting Sam as a bonus – keep in mind God warned the boys against employing Michael. Now, Dean has no idea Chuck’s got his brother and the deaf hunter, as far as he and Cass know today was a win…will that be true in Jan when the show returns?
We shall see…in the new year!