Supernatural season 9 finale review: Do You Believe In Miracles?

Review Anastasia Klimchynskaya 23 May 2014 - 07:23

Here's what Anastasia thought of Supernatural's season 9 finale, Do You Believe In Miracles?

This review contains spoilers.

9.23 Do You Believe In Miracles?

Well, that was… unsurprising.

Do You Believe In Miracles? was not a bad season finale. It’s just that it felt like it was missing those jaw-dropping plot twists, shocking cliffhangers, and high tension that’s been the stuff of most of Supernatural finales. In fact, last week’s episode felt like much more of a season finale, while this episode, though it had some truly moving moments, honestly felt like it wasn’t doing anything much more exciting than setting up next season.

That makes sense, though, because according to showrunner Jeremy Carver, season ten is going to be the final act in the three-season story arc he planned when he took over in early season eight, where everything from the past two seasons comes to fruition. Accordingly, this finale is full of parallels to season two - four, which naturally makes it feel like it’s setting up season ten just like the first four seasons set up the fifth season and its climax of Swan Song.

This episode plunges directly into the scene last episode had left off with: Dean had just attacked and wounded Gadriel, who fled as Sam and Dean restrained a feral-looking Dean. Fearing the effects of the Mark of Cain, Sam and Cas lock Dean up to detox in a scene that’s extremely reminiscent of Sam detoxing from demon blood in Bobby’s panic room at the end of season four. While Sam and Cas debate what to do, Dean wastes no time summoning Crowley, who doesn’t even need to make a deal to let Dean out – as we’ll discover later, he’s clearly invested in Dean giving in to the urge to use the Blade and to the darkness within.

Meanwhile, Sam and Cas track down an escaped Gadriel and come up with a plan to infiltrate Heaven, destroy the Angel Tablet, and take away Metatron’s God-like powers. The two angels sneak in using a tried-and-true pop culture reference (because Cas is really good at those now): Castiel masquerades as Gadriel’s prisoner, which goes really well until they get to Heaven and, tragically close to their goal, end up imprisoned.

This unfortunate turn of events, however, allows Gadriel’s arc to come to a culmination – and what a satisfying one it is. This entire season, Gadriel has been searching for redemption for his actions, and in his final act, he finds it. Seeing that he and Castiel have no way out of their predicament, he sacrifices himself, going out in a literal blaze of glory that blows open their cells and frees Castiel to complete their mission- – but not before making a truly moving, impassioned speech about his motivations. If Gadriel had to die, this was one of the most brilliant ways to send him off, gracefully allowing him to find the redemption he seeks on his way out. His death also matters, not only freeing Castiel but also convincing Hannah of the honesty of their motivations.

In the meantime, Metatron continues to pen his story; disguising himself as a downtrodden human named “Marv,” he goes down to earth to perform miracles and collect worshippers – and take advantage of social media to go viral. That makes it pretty easy for Dean and Crowley to track him, which Crowley following Dean around like a lost puppy while really, he’s carefully keeping tabs on Dean’s slow descent into darkness (symbolized by his refusal to eat a burger, of course). While that’s been happening, Sam seems to have had a sudden change of heart, deciding that Dean is in fact their best shot at Metatron, whatever the consequences. In true Winchester fashion, of course, Dean doesn’t accept his brother’s help, going to deal with Metatron alone.

Dean confronts Metatron, all right, but the confrontation doesn’t go as planned. In short: Metatron beats the shit out of Dean (somehow it’s always Dean that gets beaten bloody on this show. Jensen must be so sick of the prosthetics). Meanwhile, in Heaven, Castiel’s frantically scrambling to destroy the angel tablet and give Dean a chance, but not fast enough…in a highly dramatic scene, as a bloody, beaten Dean summons the Blade to his hand in a last effort to go out fighting, Metatron sinks his angel blade into Dean’s heart. In a beautifully tragic scene, the Righteous Man finally falls, losing his life just as he’s been losing his humanity, all in trying to do the right thing.

To add to the heartbreak, Sam runs in just in time to watch his brother be fatally wounded - just like, in All Hell Breaks Loose, Dean found Sam only in time to see him sink lifelessly to the ground. What ensues is one of the most heartbreaking and touching moments of the episode, because no finale would be complete without a brotherly moment.

It’s all the more heartbreaking not just because Sam is losing Dean, but because of all the things Sam’s said this season. In attempting to mend their relationship and move it out of its uncomfortable co-dependency, Sam’s told Dean that he’d let him die without saving him - and now, as Dean’s dying in his arms, bloody and resigned, Sam’s doubtless remembering those very words, and how true Dean believes them to be. And on Dean’s side, despite all the hardship and pain their relationship has been through recently, despite Dean’s resigned readiness to die (almost reminiscent of Sam’s readiness to die at the beginning of this season, which makes the story come full circle), he strives for that last heartfelt moment of connection with his brother, saying “I’m proud of us” as he dies. Sam’s grief is agonizing to watch – you know how sometimes something hurts so much that you start laughing hysterically in pain because you’re so grief-stricken that your brain has stopped being able to properly process events and respond to them? Yeah, that’s what it looks like - bravo to both Jensen and Jared for their acting choices.

Back at the bunker, Sam lays Dean’s dead body out on his bed and quickly downs some strong alcohol – another scene that is, yet again, reminiscent of Dean sitting by Sam’s dead body for days in All Hell Breaks Loose.

In the meantime, in Heaven, Castiel succeeds in finding and destroying the tablet – mere moments too late to save Dean. Pillaging through Metatron’s office, Castiel discovers the tablet symbolically hidden in Metatron’s typewriter – i.e. where he’s been writing the story that’s been dictating events in the past few episodes. Breaking the tablet is written as a perfect piece of symbolism: Castiel destroying Metatron’s power to alter reality and therefore to pen his story, and in the process, ripping up the story as he’s done before. In another brilliant turn of events, Castiel uses Metatron’s very talent for storytelling against him, broadcasting his motivations to all the angels and rewriting the story yet again. Except that, this time, he’s a little too late to completely change the ending and save Dean.  

Dean, as it turns out, though, isn’t dead. Not quite. He’s worse. In fact, as Crowley appears by Dean’s lifeless body, it becomes clear that it’s been Crowley’s plan all along that Dean take on the Mark and eventually lose himself to it – and that’s why he’s been watching Dean so carefully all episode. Clearly Crowley’s burgeoning humanity is making him feel some guilt, however, as he insists “I never died” to a Dean who, in the last few seconds of the episode, opens his eyes – his demon black eyes.

Forgive me if my mouth didn’t drop open in surprise. This was one plot twist that the fandom almost unanimously guessed weeks ago, pretty much when Dean got the Mark. The only doubt was whether the writers would actually follow through, and now it seems like they have – which means that I take back some of the things I said about Crowley being useless this season. Clearly, he’s had an agenda that’s finally become clear (I’m still mad about Abaddon’s death, though. I’d have enjoyed season Dean as a demon under her tutelage).

Still, as unsurprising as this turn of events is, it sets up a storyline with so much potential, and all I can do is pray to Metatron that this possibility doesn’t get squandered like that of Purgatory or of Abaddon. Of course, Dean’s not going to stay a demon forever, especially not since we know that a demon can be cured. However, Dean’s not just any demon, but a Knight of Hell like Cain, and one of the most disappointing things Supernatural could do is to resolve this storyline in the premiere of next season.

In fact, if a good portion of next season deals with demon Dean and trying to cure him, what a storyline that would be – full of Sam and Castiel fighting for Dean’s humanity as Dean struggles with being his own worst nightmare. There are so many questions to ask and answer: Cain seemed to still have some part of his humanity despite being a demon – will Dean hang on to his? How much of his personality will he retain? How much of his feelings for Sam and Castiel? Will he enjoy pain and torture like demons normally do, or will he, like Cain, be aloof and withdrawn?

It’s the perfect set-up: at the end of the second act, which is normally the darkest part before the dawn, Dean’s a demon, his humanity lost, while Sam and Cas believe him dead. And yet, just as Swan Song followed the darkness of Lucifer Rising, the finale of season ten will follow Do You Believe In Miracles? I mentioned in my last review that I’m pretty sure that Team Free Will is going to save each other with the power of love, and I still stand by that: just like, in Swan Song, they ripped up the rules and saved the world with the power of love, so they will again. Only instead of cramming it into this season finale, they’ll have all of next season to cover both the darkness and the dawn.

If I had any doubts about it, this episode overwhelmingly got rid of them.

First, there’s Sam, who’s obviously feeling like he’s got a lot to make up for: he’s spent this season telling Dean he wouldn’t save him if he were dying. Now that he’s actually faced with Dean’s death, the story beautifully comes full-circle as Sam sets out to show that he does care about Dean. He summons Crowley, looking both determined and angry (and as Crowley well knows, a determined and angry Winchester is a scary thing), and seems like he’s decided the whole demon deal thing is so seven seasons ago. He’s all set to manipulate, blackmail, and torture Crowley into bringing his brother back –and will probably fight like Hell to save his soul.

There’s also Cas. In a very interesting scene, Metatron insists that Castiel has done everything for Dean Winchester rather than Heaven. Metatron may be a bit of an unreliable narrator, but this is one subject he does seem to understand: he’s been writing a story about “love, heartache, and… love,” and that story has gotten where Metatron needed it to go precisely because Castiel gave up an entire army for “one man.” This episode has been about setting a trap for Dean and killing him to hurt Cas, and it worked because Castiel has the weakness of being “in love.” So if this scene isn’t a canonical confirmation that Castiel’s pretty damn in love with Dean “humanity” Winchester, I don’t know what is. And if you needed any more evidence, the absolutely perfect look of heartbreak Misha Collins manages to conjure up when Cas finds out Dean is dead about does it. All of which is pretty hope-inducing, because Cain himself was saved from the mark of Cain by the love of Colette. Foreshadowing? One can hope.

Supernatural is a dangerous show to predict –but this one time, I feel more than an inkling of certainty about it. I guess I won’t know if I’m right for months, but for once, I’m certain enough about what I expect that I can survive them – though I by no means discourage speculation. 

Read Anastasia's review of the previous episode, Stairway To Heaven, here.

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Disqus - noscript

The writers seem incapable of scripting genuinely intelligent characters, as demonstrated by Metatron being defeated in the most formulaic way possible. They at least did not kill him off as has been done with the previous season villains, but I still see it as them tossing him aside just as easily as they did Abbadon.

Will Crowley be the main villain in season ten, making Metatraon and Abbadon just a distraction? Seems likely. The writer should learn to invest themselves in more than just Dean since we fans clearly care more about the antagonists and mythology than they do.

Does this mean Dean becomes Crowley's B*tch?
How much fun is that gonna be for Crowley to milk???? ;)

Dean wud be superior to crowley therez a reason y crowley follows him lyk a dog, its not only cuz he wants to keep tabs on him but also because he wants to be fast friends wid him so dt he wont hv to face any problems in his hell government

Well, you know, on the one hand, it seems like Crowley was manipulating Dean into becoming a demon, so yes, that would make sense. On the other hand, this would make Dean a Knight of Hell, and Crowley seemed pretty terrified of both Abaddon and Cain. So I look forward to seeing perhaps the two of them trying to outmaneuver each other for power, and maybe eventually Dean on top.

You know, I think that was my problem with the finale - part of it is that Metatron's defeat wasn't even that interesting. They didn't kill Metatron, though, which on this show is pretty shocking and telling, so I'm guessing he'll be back next season. Cas doesn't want to kill him, which means he may very well manipulate his way out of prison somehow. I'm not sure the story's done with him yet - which might be nice, becuase this season did establish really great motivations for Metatron in "Meta Fiction" and made him really interesting, but then sort of didn't completely follow through on it.

In my experience, though, the Winchesters have always had an enemy from Heaven *and* Hell each season (the angels/Michael and Lucifer, Raphael and Eve/Crowley, Naomi and Crowley, etc...) so it may very well be that Metatron and Crowley both continue to be enemies to the Winchesters just like they were this season. I'm hoping Dean becoming a demon and Crowley having manipulated into him at least makes Crowley a little more interesting and gives him some more motivations than he's had for most of this season, though.

My issue with the seasonal conflicts and finales post-Kripe is that they have dealt solely with the emotional impact on Sam and/or Dean while ignoring the global repercussions. Season seven began without any memory of Castiel as god and season eight began without a word given to the potentially thousands of people who became vegetative from eating fast food. (They handwaved the Leviathans as being exterminated without incident)

Season eight ended (not resolved) the Hell Gate arc in favor of the angels, who themselves were not shown having much effect on the world outside of a single evangelical television personality.

If the writers insist on continuing these global conflicts then they need to actually take the time to show how society is affected, which would succeed in adding weight to the personal conflicts. Kripke knew how to parallel the two themes in such a way that each was strengthened.

Considering how little was accomplished this season with Abbadon and how much the Metatron conflict idled until the end I can't help but imagine how much everything would have been improved simply by expanding Metatron's attempt at being a messiah into several episodes, if not the second half of this season.

When Cain became a Knight of Hell he apparently did some really bad stuff, for example recruiting other Knights. I think the reason he went down this bad road was because the first thing that happened to him was losing his brother.

Dean still has his brother, and given the requirements of the show we can be sure that he won't kill Sam, so there is a good chance that Dean will not go as far downhill as Cain did. Also Cain was redeemed by the love of Collette (and I don't think she started their courtship by tying him down and injecting him with her blood) so we know that it is possible.

As a side note, given that Cain was one of the first men in creation, is it possible he was the first Demon? The mark corrupted his soul, he killed himself with the blade, and his soul turned demonic. No stay in hell was required, and he returned to his own body. Crowley's line of "he became a demon" makes more sense now. Lucifer then used that same process to create demons from the souls of humans in the centuries that followed, and used the corruption of hell to replicate what the first blade did, at least until he was locked up in his cage.

Well, it's also always possible that Dean does kill Sam, but Sam gets brought back (either by Castiel, who's acquired his Grace again, or another angel, or what have you). And killing Sam is something that might definitely make Dean realize the path he's on and possibly bring him back. But I think you're right - Cain didn't have his brother. Dean has his brother and Castiel- and I think you're right about Colette. It seems like she saw good in him and believed in it, and that's what changed Cain - and I think Castiel's always been able to see the good in Dean no matter what.

As to Cain being the first demon, I believe it's canon that Lilith was the first demon. We find out somewhere in the early seasons that Lucifer shaped Lilith into the first demon as revenge for God wanting the angels to love humanity (sort of to show God the worst of humanity). So, while that's an intriguing idea, I don't think Cain is the first demon. I think it might be safe to say that Cain is the first Knight of Hell, though. Although perhaps Lilith was one too. Hmm...interesting things to ponder.

That's a very good point. I was actually incredibly upset about the season 8 finale, because Sam just gives up the trials....and neither Dean nor Sam mentions all the people that are dead because they started doing the trials (Sarah Blake, anyone? All those people they brought back to kill them??) Clearly the Winchesters have blood on their hands. In the earlier seasons, that was dealt with because one of the themes was the brothers' uncomfortable codependency and the way it hurt the world Now - you're right. They're kind of in their own world, and you don't see repercussions. Part of the problem, too, is that almost everyone they run into lately seems to be supernatural in themselves: angels or monsers or prophets or demons. It's like normal people don't exist in this world anymore, especially hunters. We really, really haven't seen a lot of hunters lately, which is kind of sad.

In short: I miss Kripke a lot, but it goes without saying. Part of what he did was pay a lot of attention to mythology and continuity, and that paid off. He had a plan and he knew where he was going with it and it all came together. Half the villains lately feel like they're thrown together at the last minute, while half the issues/problems/plot-arcs feel like they're invented on the fly (Abaddon collecting souls, for example, or that unresolved stuff with the veil).

It really makes me wonder what Carver is doing, because he doesn't seem to be paying too much attention.

i hope dean doesnt kill sam i think it will be sam that stops dean going to far into the dark side could even need a true love from deans past bout time some female s came back to supernatural i m also hoping dean is not a demon for the whole 23 episode s of season 10 and if it is the last season that both brothers make it out alive.

The Hell Gate arc could have been approached in such a way that it would have both better tied it into the season eight arc and the different character relationships.

I would have liked to see Meg survive to be used in the demon conversion trial, which could have set her up later as a servant of Abbadon torn between her loyalties to Lucifer and her newfound relationship with Sam, Dean and Castiel.

I say this because part of what makes the show feel so small and inconsequential these days is that recurring/supporting characters only return to be killed. You are very right in that regard: the strength of the show was its supporting players, who gave a sense of a wider world and perspective. It's hard to watch only Sam and Dean as if they're the only ones with agency because everyone else is either a monster or plot device to serve their development.

Seasons six and seven get a lot of flack for their primary antagonists, but at least they had a sense of progression and presence. The writers had the good sense to allow Dick Roman to appear every few episodes and interact with various people while his plan unfolded through disguised MotW episodes.

Now, we get Abbadon and Metatron who rarely appear, and when they do their episodes are so vague that it gives no sense that they even have any plan other than "I want to be in power because someone needs to fight the Winchesters."

Do we even know what Abbadon wanted? Surely they could have given more weight to her existence by suggesting she wanted to release Lucifer from the Cage or even free other imprisoned Hell Knights. She and these hypothetical comrades could have had more relevance this season as well if they were fallen angels rather than just "super" demons. She could be making a bid against Metatron for Heaven, causing the two to strike a deal.

I hope you don't mind my rambling, which comes off like just a bunch of fan fiction. It's just hard to enjoy a show that once had arcs planned well in advance to the point that everything came together logically and organically. The new seasons always feel like things could have been written better if only the writers treated the characters intelligently enough to act outside of formula and caricature.

Neither the writers or show have made it explicit where, exactly, Cain sits within the timeline. His Biblical role as one of the "first" people would imply that he would necessarily have to be the first demon, but Lilith is canonically the first human that Lucifer corrupted.

It's easy to say that the writers retconned that part of the mythology, although it's just as easy to assume that Cain was turned later since the setting has established that God didn't create Earth or humanity in the "Young Earth" fashion many fundamentalists seem to believe. Cain, in the show, was likely just the son of the patriarch of an early tribe that existed much later than Lilith rather than one of the first humans ever. (The introduction of the Garden sort of confuses the issue, though)

It's easy to say that the writers retconned that part of the mythology,
although it's just as easy to assume that Cain was turned later since
the setting has established that God didn't create Earth or humanity in the "Young Earth" fashion many fundamentalists seem to believe. Cain, in the show, was likely just the son of the patriarch of an early tribe that existed much later than Lilith rather than one of the first humans ever. (The introduction of the Garden sort of confuses the issue, though)

Depending how dark this takes Dean, I'd kind of love to see him end up killing/deposing Crowley and becoming King of Hell which would make him the villain against Sam... but that's kind of twisted >.>

YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!
I could not agree more... such a sigh of relief that someone else sees it this way too! I really really really hope the writers read these post, and actually realise what's been lacking these past few seasons.

I responded to Anastasia in this comment thread again, but let me just boil my complaint down to an issue of investment:

Metatron and the angels weren't actually hurting anyone. They took thousands of vessels, sure, but none of them unwilling.

Abaddon, on the contrary, was actually actively engaged in a campaign against humanity. She had soul-harvesting programs with the intent of creating a soulless army, among others. Why was she not the primary antagonist?

That would be pretty cool! Dean as leader of Hell, Cas as leader of Heaven, and Sam manning the fort on earth and trying to cure Dean. I believe Mark Sheppard's a season regular in season 10 so I don't think Dean will get rid of Crowley permanently, though deposing him would certainly be a really fascinating option.

well, if Sam kills Dean then that would be a pretty cool storyline? The ultimate darkside for Dean would be killing his brother - that would give him the farthest place to journey back from and make it the most epic.
In terms of true love, though, I don't see why it has to be some female that we haven't seen in years. I don't see why Sam's brotherly love of Cas' love can't bring Dean back - Dean has a much more profound relationship with, well, both of them than with any unnamed female they could bring back.
I doubt Dean'll be a demon all 23 episodes. They'll cure him, and if sam does die it'll be temporary - but it was still be pretty epic.

Yet again I feel disappointed by the storyline of the season. Season 8 didn't seem to have anything happen with it (as Anastasia mentioned they brought in an evil character only to have her be killed unceremoniously and be replaced with the big bad for the next season). I love Sam and Dean but the lack of Castiel this season was pronounced and not even explained very well. Crowley was dull throughout even with the plot twist that he was wanting Dean to become a demon. There were a couple of good episodes this season but I feel that Supernatural had lost it's way after Season 5. I'm hoping that the next season will be it's last and that everything can be wrapped up and have a proper ending.

Cain was many years after Adam and Eve left the Garden - where Lilith was the first woman, made as an equal who refused to obey God and become subservient to Adam. She was expelled and Eve created to replace her.

I'm aware of Biblical canon/mythology. The issue is that the writers have attempted to insert more and more of it into the Supernatural mythology, which only confuses everyone.

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