Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 3/20/09

This week’s installment of SUPERNATURAL was a game-changer in the war between the angels and the demons. And that’s not just hyperbole — the plot really was changed by the shocking revelation that the demon hordes were not responsible for the murders of a half-dozen angels. It was one of their own! Heaven drafted Dean Winchester (DAYS’s Jensen Ackles) because they needed him to go where angels fear to tread — both literally and figuratively. For example, he and brother Sam (GILMORE GIRLS’s Jared Padalecki) were able to enter a building that barred angels with magic, and this week Dean was asked to torture the captive Alistair. Castiel wanted Dean to extract the secret of the angel murders. Resorting to torture was bad enough, but the act required Dean to call upon skills for inflicting pain that he honed in Hell. And that meant confronting the shame of what he did. Dean agreed to become a tormenter in order to curtail his own suffering. When fallen angel Anna questioned how God could possibly want Dean to torture a captive, Castiel insisted, “He’s doing God’s work.” But the way Misha Collins played the line, Castiel did not believe it. Can torture ever be a good thing? (Hey, that’s the same question 24 has been asking all season.)

Even as Dean was accessing horrible parts of his past, Sam was giving in to his thirst for demon blood. The devil juice has been supercharging Sam, but can those tainted powers really be used for good? That’s pretty much the same question Dean was wrestling with. But regardless of whether he can control it, Sam’s power is awesome: Where Dean’s torture fell short, Sam’s psi powers forced Alistair to confess that the demons were not murdering angels ; they were just taking advantage of the situation. Then Sam actually killed Alistair — a shocking move that put the fear of God (so to speak) into Cass! And that set Castiel to thinking… and then figuring out that his partner, Uriel, had betrayed him. “The only thing that can kill an angel is another angel,” Uriel growled, revealing that he was jealous of God’s love for humanity. So Uriel put in motion a plan to bring about the Apocalypse, which would raise Lucifer and burn the Earth to a cinder. And Castiel was worried about having doubts about God’s plan before! Dean was similarly devastated to learn his true role in the angels’ game: He set the Apocalypse in motion when he gave in to his dark side in Hell. Dean was consumed with guilt that his weakness was going to bring about the end of the world. But — in exactly the kind of irony that always happens with mystical prophecies — the man who started the Apocalypse is the only one who can stop it. Castiel realized he needed Dean, and noted, “It’s not blame that falls on you, Dean. It’s fate. You have to stop it.”

I have given SUPERNATURAL major kudos before for tackling questions of Good and Evil, and…wow, the show is not flinching at really delving deeply into the subject. I am astonished that they are so directly addressing the topic of God’s policy of non-interference in the affairs of Earth. Is God still interested in us little people? The God on the show appears to allow dissent in the ranks of the heavenly host, and even let Uriel commit murder! Which is another brave move: depicting an angel — one cited in the Hebrew Bible and painted by Leonardo da Vinci, no less — as defying his Father. Yes, Uriel is often used in literature (See John Milton’s Paradise Lost for one example.), but it’s definitely a bold move for TV. And what about the heroic angels — Castiel is depicted as doubting God and seriously mulling disobedience. And Cass was rescued from Uriel’s wrath by Anna — a fallen angel! SUPERNATURAL has not been so daring as to portray God himself. Yet. Maybe they’re just holding something back for the season finale. Talk about a “special guest star”!

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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