“Stairway to Heaven” refocused on the war between angels and just how far our characters are willing to go to obtain their goals. It opened with an innocuous teaser featuring a woman scolding a young girl eating ice cream. “Does your mother know you’re eating diabetes?” she questions. The little girl is an angel, likely regretting the fact that Heaven didn’t have banana splits. The funny scene ends abruptly when one of Castiel’s angel soldiers enters, and blows the little angel away.
Later, a familiar face shows up, the Reaper Tessa, whom Dean met several times before. She insists that Castiel is the one who picks the angels (and her) to destroy themselves in order to put a dent in Metatron’s army.
I didn’t buy Tessa’s motivation for signing up as a suicide bomber. It seems every time we’ve seen this character, she loses the wisdom and mystery that made her a compelling character to begin with. Tessa was too smart to get involved in this. The reasoning is finally revealed that Metatron brainwashed the angels. It feels like cheating for Metatron to rewrite the rules so easily.
Cas makes a Lord of the Rings reference, then remarks to a surprised Sam how he’s pop culture savvy now. I wonder if this knowledge will ever prove more than to make Cas witty. The angel was always funniest in his simplicity and his socially awkward nature. We see a little bit of that when he gives the boys the aliases Agents Spears and Aguilera. It was also really funny to see Cas struggle opening a locked door after boldly announcing “I got this.“ It was amusing, but a clear indication that Cas’s stolen grace is burning out and he’s very close to the end of his rope.
Castiel has to deal with the consequences of choosing humanity over his angel followers. By not killing Dean after Dean has murdered Tessa (by her choice), the angels have lost faith in their fearless leader and some begin to sign on to Metatron’s cause.
There’s a cool transition near the end when Dean tells off Sam, then the camera pans to see Cas there and Dean goes from being a jerk to consoling the angel.
Finally, Dean goes fully dark-side. When Gadreel approaches the Winchesters and Cas and appears to be a turncoat, Dean lashes out with the Blade and slices him wide open. The last seconds show an animalistic Dean steaming with rage.
“Stairway to Heaven” has some of those humorous and fun moments that make Supernatural a joy to watch, like Dean rudely waking up Sam with loud rock music from his phone, the bowling-enthusiast angel, or the preschool joke written in Enochian, “Why is 6 afraid of 7?” A couple things didn’t work for me. Tessa the Reaper, surely a fan favorite, was treated as a throwaway character. The visual effects on the pathway to the fake door to Heaven were lackluster. The blades that came out of the walls looked way too cartoonish. Normally I let a lot slide when it comes to visual effects on television, given the extremely short production time. Is Metatron such a movie buff that he needed to throw that in there? This wasn’t a comedic episode of Supernatural like “Yellow Fever” or “Mystery Spot,” so the visual reference seemed out of place.
We end the episode knowing that Sam, Dean, and Cas are now alone to defeat Metatron and his growing army all by their lonesome. Expect some infighting when the First Blade compels Dean to more bloodshed. The season finale will no doubt be bloody.