Episode 9.22

“Stairway to Heaven” Review
By Annie Kenney

Without sounding like a broken record I am so disappointed (again) with this latest episode. The angel storyline continues to confuse me and I am losing my faith in both the writers and the series. If not for a few bright moments along the way and an ending which made me want to know what happened I really don’t think I’d be watching next week’s finale and that would be unthinkable.

So the angel battle is ongoing; a seemingly rogue angel goes into an ice cream parlour and sacrifices himself for Castiel. This made for a dramatic start but it also introduced us to lots more angels with lots of names I’m never going to remember (although a shout out to Constantine was very Meta!)

We then flash back to Sam and Dean in the bunker; I like it that, now Sam can sleep, he seems to be making up for lost time! I adore early morning Sam with his shocked expression and his tangled hair. I also liked the conversation between the brothers about the First Blade. Somehow, though, I knew that Dean wasn’t going to be leaving it there on the table!

At this point it might be prudent to know just where we are regarding Sam & Dean’s relationship. Does Sam still look at Dean as simply a partner (I think not) or is he starting to forgive? How does Dean view Sam right now? He certainly isn’t acting like a protective big brother and his attitude is more like John’s in early Season 1. Dean is clearly not himself (although as Castiel said Dean is always belligerent so it is difficult to tell) and the mark is definitely affecting him. One of the things that I have liked is that now Dean is under the influence so to speak Sam is getting to have all the witty one liners and it is nice to see Sam being Sam (for once he isn’t the one with something wrong with him).

Just as I was enjoying some brotherly interaction we are thrown right back into the angel wars again. Am I the only one who cannot take Castiel’s command room seriously? Last night I was watching with my daughter (not a fan) who said ‘Can this series get anymore stupid?’ It hurt me to realise that, to some extent, I was starting to agree with her. How did a simple, scary and dark show about urban myths and two brothers fighting evil become so bogged down in its own mythology? I saw the same thing happen to The X Files and I ended up not watching anymore. All these angels and their factions just serve to lose my interest and I keep hoping that ends will tie up and explanations will be given but that just isn’t happening and more and more things are being thrown into the mix.

I still can’t see where all this is leading; I like Metatron but, although he is clearly insane and dangerous, he comes across as an eccentric old man and he just isn’t frightening. I think the fact is is that the story isn’t about the brothers anymore, it is about them interacting in someone else’s story and that isn’t right. Of course we have Dean and the blade but even that doesn’t peak my interest. Dean is on a killing spree – that in itself isn’t unusual – he has always been the brother who liked to shoot first and ask questions later. I think the audience was more shocked at soulless Sam’s behaviour because it was so against type. Dean, on the other hand, is just a little madder than usual! I’m not sure I care if the angels go back to heaven or if they all just slaughter each other in one mass bloodbath!

I did enjoy Sam and Castiel’s quest and loved the fact that Metatron used pop culture references as clues. This was probably my favourite bit of the whole episode and it actually made some sense! It was nice to see Sam working with Castiel too and it is good that the angel now relates to both brothers but Sam in particular. I hope we see a bit more of this next year but in a different context perhaps.

I did question the random appearance of Tessa but her reasons for doing what she was doing were quite understandable and actually very sound. I didn’t know that reapers were angels (perhaps I missed that or maybe it is something the writers added to fit in the storyline I don’t know). Sad to see Tessa go the way of most of the Winchester’s allies. There can’t be many of Sam & Dean’s associates left alive.

One thing I have noticed about this season is there have been a lot of old favourites coming back. The Trickster, Garth, Tessa, Crowley’s son, Death, the Ghost facers and Bobby (to name but a few). I’m not sure why that is but my suspicions are that the writers are no longer trying to appeal to new viewers and are happy to appease their old audience. Sad to say I’m not sure if this is a good idea because it certainly isn’t working for me.

One thing that bought this episode around was the end and – oh no – Dean seems to have put an end to Gadreel. I sincerely hope not (although next week’s preview doesn’t bode well) because he is one of the most interesting characters the writers have given us this season and I REALLY like him. Tahmoh Penikett and Jared Padalecki have done an excellent job in making this character believable and, oddly, sympathetic. Both actors appeared to have watched each other playing the part and this has given the character some sort of continuity. I was on the edge of my seat when Gadreel turned up at the bunker and when Dean put out his hand as if to welcome him I was actually shouting ‘NO!’

This alone will have me tuning in next week to see what happens. I hope that the finale makes me want to tune in next season but if the angels are still around then I am going to be reluctant to watch.

Supernatural has been one of the best shows on television for years; it has also become an integral part of my life and it has seen me through a lot of bad times. I don’t ever want to stop watching but it is getting really hard for me to convince myself that I am still enjoying it, that it is still worth watching.

I still care about Sam & Dean so this alone will probably persuade me to turn on but come on writers give me more…