This review contains spoilers.
9.6 Heaven Can’t Wait
Heaven Can’t Wait sees the return, yet again, of Castiel: like I’m No Angel, this episode deals primarily with Castiel as a character and the way he’s adjusting to being human. Thus, yet again like the episode in which Castiel last appeared, this one is primarily focused on the adventures of the former angel, with the hunt itself as barely a backstory.
I have to say, I was never particularly fond of the idea of Castiel becoming human to begin with; my opinion has always been that in a show called Supernatural, there should be… well, supernatural creatures. It seems I’m outnumbered, however, and I’m left with evaluating a storyline I’d much rather had never happened. Nevertheless, as far as a human Castiel-centric episode goes, this was a drastic improvement over the last one.
After the usual scary intro, we get to Castiel, who seems to be adjusting so much better to a human life this time than he was three episodes ago. Sure, he still hasn’t mastered the nuances of social interaction (but then again, neither have a number of humans), but he’s thankfully in possession of at least a share of his previous competence. The brilliant angel has become a brilliant human, adapting with grace and dedication to his new-found status. It’s a bit saddening to see a heavenly warrior transformed to a gas station clerk, but that, perhaps, is part of the point. (I’m still not happy about it). Nevertheless, it’s a mark of his ability to adapt- and just like Dean, I’m proud of Castiel.
Furthermore, unlike previous episodes, this one truly delved into how Castiel is feeling about being human. He’s conscious of his state and introspective about it, examining and attempting to comprehend his feelings rather than being buffeted by them in different directions and overwhelmed. Perhaps it’s better writing, or perhaps Castiel is making progress in adapting, but, in any case, that adaptation has finally taken on a small level of complexity that it’s been missing. Like a newborn child, Castiel was thrust into a human life without asking to, unsure of how to live it – but now, it seems, he has some inkling; his own comments on the fact were, though obvious, also highly necessary at this point in the story to emphasize the complexity of the emotions and experiences our former angel is going through.
It is a complexity evident in the climax of the episode, where Castiel makes the choice to live, even as a human. It’s a big step for Castiel, who not so long ago wanted to die at all costs and do penance. Though Ephraim’s words about being human and human pain are hardly a profound reflection on human existence, they are, nevertheless, important for the journey of our angel.
Yet another high point of this episode was Dean’s interaction with Castiel. Though I had hoped this episode would feature the two of them hunting together, a la Free to be You and Me, with that easy partnership and camaraderie, their interaction here is of a different sort – different, in fact, from so much of what we’ve seen before. According to Misha Collins, his direction for this episode included being told to act like a “jilted lover” towards Dean, and the words are astoundingly accurate. This may very well be the first time Castiel hasn’t greeted Dean with “Hello, Dean,” and there’s certainly unresolved tension between them. A tension that, unfortunately, seems to see no end, as the combination of emotional constipation and secrets (it appears Dean hasn’t explained to Cas why the angel had to leave) makes its return yet again.
But, though they parted on uncertain terms, and still have much to resolve (one wonders when, if ever, they might finally talk), there were some beautiful moments – moments that revealed how much Dean cares. In fact, much like Castiel, wanting at all costs to offer Dean a happy human life by taking on the burden himself, it is, this time, Dean who wants to offer Castiel a happy human life, even if he must carry the burdens himself. It is the reason why he watches Castiel through those windows with a longing look on his face, and keeps the secret of the irreversible spell that made the angels fall from him. This is a Dean who wants his best friend happy at all costs – even if that includes without him. We know where this road leads for Dean and Castiel, as we’ve seen it already, and I just sincerely hope that the two of them will be smarter about it this time.
But the episode’s not all Dean and Castiel: while Dean is bonding and hunting with Cas, equally interesting things are happening at the bunker. Sam and Kevin are pursuing their favorite geeky pastime of research, as well as dealing with Crowley. It seems that the former King of Hell finally gets to do something besides shoot one-liners at our leads (what a relief). He has some of that complexity we saw in Sacrifice again, especially evident in his confrontation with Abaddon. I continue to love the juxtaposition between a bureaucratic leader of Hell and a Knight of Hell: a conflict, one might say, between two systems of values, two forms of leadership. A conflict in which Crowley appears to be the better man (metaphorically, of course). Whoever knew that Hell politics could be so interesting?
Even more interesting is Crowley’s sudden desire for something resembling humanity, as revealed by his choice to inject himself with human blood (and, presumably, become more human). Even he appears repulsed by Abaddon’s actions, craving some sort of decency that she does not possess. It poses intriguing questions. Could there be something like redemption for Crowley? Is it possible for a demon to have something resembling human decency, something Crowley seems to show here, in his desire to keep his word and preserve order rather than chaos?
But perhaps the most climactic part of the episode was the huge narrative bomb that was the fact that Metatron’s spell is irreversible (or so we’re led to believe). Of course, Supernatural being Supernatural, this could go one of several ways: somebody obscure might dig out some really obscure spell that counteracts Metatron’s for the sake of plot, or Supernatural will deal with the idea of a new world order, where Heaven has washed its hands of the affairs of humankind. I’m honestly divided about this fact: on the one hand, I would love to see Castiel as an angel again, while on the other, the amazing potential of a complete reworking of the nature of the universe in Supernatural is appealing. So far, everything we’ve seen has been driven by the existence of Heaven, Hell, and humanity caught in between, striving to make its own way. Without Heaven, humanity might truly have a chance to make its own way and be free, and the implications of that would be fascinating to watch.
In any case, this episode leaves a lot of tantalizing hints: will Crowley wish to become truly human again? Is the spell actually irreversible? Will Dean and Castiel ever, in their lifetimes, talk through their issues and actually communicate? Will Dean ever stop keeping secrets from the people he cares about to protect them? And though, to some extent, these are questions about the writers’ ability to develop character and relationship, they are, overwhelmingly, intriguing questions about where the narrative is going, based on the narrative itself. I’m actually rather excited.
Read Anastasia’s review of the previous episode, Dog Dean Afternoon, here.
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