Supernatural season 11 episode 20 review: Don’t Call Me Shurley

This week's Supernatural takes a strong philosophical slant, and reminds us why we fell for this show in the first place...

This review contains spoilers

11.20: Don’t Call Me Shurley

Metatron is still struggling with his human existence, his only companion a dog he ruefully passes his food to. He’s suddenly magicked into a bar and, to the strains of The Beach Boys, finally comes face to face with a character oft-referred to and long absent from the world, God. Meanwhile, Amara’s making her move against the human race as Sam and Dean investigate a mysterious murder-suicide that points to a soulless individual doing the deed.

In the beginning, there was a writer. That writer’s name was Chuck. Chuck wryly smiled and disappeared in a flash of light at the end of the fifth season finale, Swan Song. Ever since that moment and his brief cameo in the 200th episode, rumours and theories have persisted that Chuck is, in fact, God. For a story that has so often revolved around God’s plan, God has been curiously absent, a fact that has never gone unnoticed by characters who have gone searching for him or prayed to him on numerous occasions. With a flash of light, Chuck is finally, officially revealed as God himself.

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I’ve always liked the idea of God as an author because, as the episode repeatedly illustrates, he is a storyteller. His creation is the story of human life and development and much of the troubles within the show have been because he has set those stories in motion and then abandoned them for his own pleasures. His indifference has been his defining trait. The scene with Metatron in which he is confronted with the kind of memoir he wants to write is a great one, exploring all of these ideas through the prism of musician autobiographies. Metatron confronts him with his own shirking of his responsibilities too.

It’s interesting and brave territory for the show to go into, but it makes complete sense that God, in the Supernatural universe, is a being like any other. Creation happens because of his squabbles with his sister, Amara; he traps her because she keeps destroying his creations. But the episode is keen to point out that they’re two sides of the same coin, both capable of destroying and creating at will. It’s also a bit hazy on who really is the bad guy for much of Chuck’s conversation; he’s nasty and vicious, lashing out whenever his own failings are put in front of him.

The Sam and Dean elements rumble along in the background for the most part, the fog we saw back in the first episode returning to claim more victims with his infection. Then, it suddenly shifts up a gear into a full on survival horror as the fog spreads through the town and Sam and Dean take refuge with a few others in the police station. There’s several creepy moments packed into one here as the brothers seal up the station to the sounds and sights of people succumbing to the infection outside. It gets even worse when Sam himself is infected.

Don’t Call Me Shurley then does something clever in connecting the two plot strands; as Metatron opines on the virtues of humanity, namely that they never give up before cutting to Dean doing just that, refusing to leave a now-infected Sam. It all builds to a truly stunning ending, scored to Chuck’s version of ‘Fare Thee Well’ as he goes about healing the destruction that Amara has wrought. The dead return, Sam’s infection recedes and Dean’s amulet is given back to him, now glowing in the presence of a God that’s finally revealed himself to the Winchesters. That montage instantly ranks amongst some of my favourite Supernatural moments, a beatific vision of hope in a season of the Darkness.

There’s a strong, philosophical slant to the episode that Supernatural doesn’t often try, but always seems to pull out some interesting explorations when it does. The God reveal could’ve been anti-climactic, in that we’ve been waiting for it for so long, but it feels like a natural progression of the story at this point. There have been times throughout this season where I have been a little weary of Supernatural, but then it pulls an episode like Don’t Call Me Shurley out of the bag and reminds me of why I fell in love with it in the first place.

Read Becky’s review of episode 18, Hell’s Angel, here.

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