‘Supernatural’ Season 8, Episode 17 Review – Castiel is Back! (Again)

Published 2 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 3:41 pm,

supernatural season 8 episode 18 castiel sam dean Supernatural Season 8, Episode 17 Review   Castiel is Back! (Again)

After a few weeks of side adventures involving witches and titans, Supernatural has once again returned to their ever-growing seasonal story. This time, the long-awaited return of Castiel (Misha Collins) return brings with it a few new challenges for Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) to face along the the way.

Fresh from his Heavenly training, Castiel joins Sam and Dean as they investigate the digging of some holes. After finding out that everyone is searching for Lucifer’s crypts, which holds the angel tablet, Castiel is forced to betray those he calls family. But when the true gravity of the situation is revealed, only “Goodbye Stranger” by Supertramp can set things right in the eyes of an angel.

Even though fans of Supernatural have had much fun running around with the Winchesters as they help (or hurt) whatever ancient being needs it, it’s time to fully integrate the seasonal storyline into the newly energized show. Although there may have been a few missteps here and there, this episode has done much to elevate and refine many of season’s earlier elements, like Heaven’s involvement with Castiel.

When Castiel was first shown to have intermittent in-the-moment conversations with his celestial bosses, its implementation was more of an awkward annoyance than something required to tell a coherent and informative story. However, like with the series itself, Castiel’s phone-home abilities were reworked to create some truly great, suspenseful scenes that couldn’t really be replicated any other way. By switching out the twice-an-episode Heavenly conversation with a feverish game of telephone, Castiel’s actions, although simple, were accentuated even more with each quick trip above, elevating the suspense exponentially.

supernatural season 8 episode 18 sam dean Supernatural Season 8, Episode 17 Review   Castiel is Back! (Again)

The Winchesters, too, received some well-deserved padding to their story and the challenges they now face. Dean, like always, takes center stage when a more nuanced delivery is needed in an episode, and this week’s episode wasn’t any different. However, when faced with having to deal with an uncontrollable Castiel, Ackles somehow managed to illicit the impossible from its longtime fans: fear.

With each blow to the head Dean took from his angelic friend, Supernatural’s previous affinity of bringing characters back from the dead was all but forgotten, instead replaced with an emotion-filled scene of the caliber that one would expect from a series finale. Sure, Sam and Dean may be safe for right now, but this scene was just a quick reminder of the rich, emotional storytelling ability that this series possesses.

Of course, when Dean takes center stage, Sam must step into the background, and this episode is no exception. Hardly comparable to Dean’s emotive performance, Sam did, however, manage to, well, manage some of the messier, unnecessary story elements in this episode, like Meg.

supernatural season 8 episode 18 Supernatural Season 8, Episode 17 Review   Castiel is Back! (Again)

For all intents and purposes, Meg, in whatever form, serves as a constant reminder of past seasons, ever changing in her appearance (some more successful than other), though always appropriately positioned as one of the series’ love-to-hate characters. This time, a more personal tale of Meg was intermixed with uncomfortable references to a sexual liaison with everyone’s favorite angelic hero. That’s not to say its use was off-putting; it’s just that the further implications of such an act were largely glossed over in favor of a minimal comedic affect.

And much like Meg and Castiel, the new (now gone) Lucifer’s crypt storyline was simply introduced, used and thrown away as quickly as the 42-minute episode time limit would allow. For what reason? Likely the necessity to “bring everyone together” in a single storyline. Still, considering the weight that Lucifer’s name still holds with the series (which isn’t easy), perhaps an alternative demonic name would have sufficed.

Still, Supernatural continues to rebuild itself from “the seasons that will not be named”, so it’s not too surprising that certain tricks were implemented to help with its transition. And even though some of the big picture ideas initially lose out to the more eccentric one-off episodes, the core story that’s being told, once all the past seasonal sins are washed, will certainly be capable of carrying the show in to season 10.


Supernatural returns next Thursday with “Freak and Geeks” @9pm on CW. You can check out a preview below:

Follow Anthony Ocasio on Twitter @anthonyocasio
Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. its great that cas is finally back and his gonna be a regular next season. Still thinking sam is gonna die again from the trials this season

    • I’ve been thinking that too. But I know he won’t die this season. I hope those trial doesn’t kill him in the end, leaving Dean alone. I don’t want to see a Season 5/ Swan Song rip off…That would be truly disappointing.

    • Even if he did die he would come back somehow, there’s no question about it.

  2. Glad meg is dead, finally.

    Happy that cas is on his own.

    It says on wiki that the last ep of the season will have the second trial so I guess that plot will continue?

  3. Next Thursday? They changed from Wednesdays?

  4. This episode was so awful. This season has been so inconsistent and this episode was just the epitome of nearly everything bad that it’s done.

    I hardly see how the non-existent core storyline will be capable of carrying the story in a quality way though season 10 considering it’s the same thing that we’ve seen every year. Sam is once again the chosen one who’s suffering from something being wrong with him, and he lied to Dean about it, again. Dean is not involved in the mythology and has to take care of his brother, again, with his purgatory story line and its effects having been dropped. Cas is being controlled by an outside force he can’t change, unable to grow as a character, because the writers lack the talent to do anything else, which only ended this episode. Any storyline that Meg could have had ended this episode, because the show brought her back just to kill her through a really forced and uncomfortable magic-love-redemption story; she was the only female character left besides Charlie and she was treated like absolute crap. Dean and Sam were again exempt from the consequences of side characters dying to fuel their endless man pain machine; they didn’t even mention her during the closing conversation, much like how Bela was treated, how Amy was treated, how Kevin Chang’s girlfriend was treated in this season’s premiere, how Andrea, Benny’s girlfriend, was treated, how characters who are not Dean and Sam are consistently treated. The only reason Charlie is even still alive at this point is because she’s a lesbian and isn’t prone to competing between which dick is going to kill her. Kevin Chang is off having a journey somewhere but whenever we see him he tells us about the journey instead of showing us it. Amelia was written off and her storyline with Sam, albeit as bad as it was, was hardly ever given resolution. The tablet story is unnecessarily convoluted and boring and will be over by the end of the season. What core storyline are you talking about?

    Like that’s not even the beginning. These reviews continually claim that the show is trying to grow, but in what way is it even growing at all? I’m not talking about the events of the plot being new, I’m talking about the spirit and actual growth of the show. Nearly everything that has been done this season has been recycled and has taken place within the show’s narrow Winchester-centric mindset, and everything that had a glimmer of change, like Dean reeling from the consequences of purgatory or purgatory itself, have been abandoned. The show continues to be unable to try anything new, instead dressing up the same things in slightly different forms. Side characters continually get the shaft and female characters are treated so badly especially, STILL, like in this episode, it’s unbelievable. Details are so inconsistent; one minute Crowley was born a couple hundred years ago in Scotland and now apparently he’s old enough to have had some kind of fling with an angel in Messapotamia? One minute Dean is being told he’s the smartest hunter Sam has ever known and the next episode he’s being written dumb as a rock. Cas has never had sex or shown any kind of sexual preference or identity and suddenly he’s heterosexual and knows how to “make lady parts quiver” and has feelings for Meg? Like honestly what in the world is going on?

    The only thing I find more shocking about this show other then what it’s become is how blind most people seem to be to what’s happening. Like I don’t even know why people are so prone to acting as if Carver has somehow revived the show when he’s doing just as bad and sometimes even worse of a job than Gamble did. This episode is honestly one of the worst one of the season, just as bad as 8.07 and 8.10, other main story episodes. If you enjoy something you enjoy something, and I’m glad at least it’s not as frustrating for you as it has been for me, and at the least this season does feel different from the last one so I can understand why people find it entertaining, but when it comes to actually talking about the quality of the episode and everything I am so disappointed that no one seems to be talking about all of this.

    • 8.07 was fine, but 8.10 was awesome! Episode 10 proved that Sam really loves his brother, since Dean fans called him a dick because he went for a normal life. I have to admit that killing Meg was a big mistake, It’s not like I’m sad about it, but I was actually looking foward to see her as Big Bad on a future season, but it’s not gonna happen, unless she’s not dead ;)
      Cass story is not getting stronger, but it’s interesting, I can’t wait to know why he ran and what are Naomi’s plans. You have to admit this season has bring interesting storylines, like the the Men of Letters and Henry Winchester being followed by that strange (but INTERESTING) demon; they should bring more of those demons. I think Carver should think about bringing new RECURRING characters, both good and evil. Since Bobby is dead, I think he could bring some new hunting friends for Sam and Dean, and bring new enemies like the demon in ‘As Time Goes By’. not respecting the female characters has been happening since the Kripke times, Jess, Ellen and Jo, etc. Killing off characters was something Kripke started, destroying characters storylines and personalities has been something Kripke started, so please don’t put all the blame on Carver or Gamble.

      • How in the world is it Kripke’s fault that the show has continued to treat side/female/minority characters since the three years he’s been gone? The show could make an effort to work harder at fixing itself but it hasn’t, it sees no problem with the offensive content it continues to create.

        8.07 is so weak. From the tablet stuff to Kevin being tortured to the lazy memory twist and more. 8.10 is also bad. It was torture porn with Samandriel and just pure character torture with Castiel. I don’t know how episode 10 showed that Sam loving his brother was such a good thing, since he gave up the life that he wanted basically once and for all this time around to continue hunting with his brother. The Winchesters are miserable. Sam making that choice was not a positive thing.

        I actually don’t find the Men of Letters or Henry Winchester interesting at all. The nexus of the show is that Sam and Dean came from two very different families, that their fate up to swan song had always been written the way it was. Retconning that and making them also come from another line of slightly different hunters is incredibly dumb, and in order to make it work they had to make Henry time travel, of all things, and he died in the same episode he was introduced in. The Men of Letters thing just feels like an excuse to give Sam and Dean easy access to plot convenient information now that Bobby is gone and people reacted negatively to Garth being “the new bobby” (which was well deserved). And the demon you spoke of, Abaddon, was also killed off in the same episode she was introduced in.

        Naomi, despite a strong performance from Amanda Tapping, is still a one dimensional villain. I’m sure that she’ll be fleshed out into a potentially great character just before her inevitable death, as always. I don’t know the stakes of the story I’m watching because we don’t know anything about the tablets and that story is already boring enough already.

        There would be no point in bringing in any new demon enemies since the gates of hell are basically set to be closed by the end of the season. And the show already tried bringing in other hunters, like with the Campbells in season 6, and look how that turned out.

        • Well Kripke started it, my point is that you’re talking like everything is on Carver and Gamble, and it’s not true. A lot of things you’re complaining about now, have been happening before Kripke left. Do you really think Supernatural is having disappointing things NOW? Seriously, dude? Don’t you think other people felt disappointed about some things on earlier seasons? People like you think the Lucifer/Michael storyline was planned since the first episode, that’s not true! Kripke himself confessed that he never meant to introduce angels to the series, till the end of season 3. Sam was never meant to be a demon blood drinker (which was the biggest disappointment I have ever felt on the show), and hated it, the way he acted on season 4 really irritated me. How he trusted a demon he barely knew more than his brother. I don’t understand how a man who used to be a normal college kid, and humble guy for the first 3 seasons, became a man looking for power and trying to be “In charge” by drinking blood. Even Chuck, the SPN books writer, said he didn’t write it in the books because he was afraid the readers would dislike, or feel disappointed about Sam’s character (but Kripke didn’t think how would the viewers would react!!) my friends and I felt betrayed. I was pissed, because Sam is a smart kid, he got accepted at Stanford, he is even smarter than Dean most of the time, but he wasn’t smart enough to find out Ruby was bad; I mean, did you see how she laughed about Dean going to hell when she was trapped on that devils trap on the season 3 finale?! When she first said to Sam “I can help your brother.” Then she told Dean she couldn’t, which Sam should’ve know because by the end of season 3 Ruby didn’t have any plan, but he didn’t, because Kripke wanted him to go dark and drink demon blood, so he turned Sam into an idiot and a selfish dick (which is a personality he never had before). The Campbells weren’t hunting friends of SAM AND DEAN, they were SOULLESS Sam hunting friends, remember? I am talking about actual hunters Sam and Dean can count on. Like Ellen, Jo, Ash, Bobby, Rufus and Missouri. Those were great hunting buddies, OH, but they were all killed off! Mostly by Kripke, except for Bobby, because even though Rufus died on season 6, Kripke was still an executive consultant, so I would say that counts as a Kripke kill off. You know what, if you feel so negative about the current season, just stop watching, cause you know what, the viewers ratings increased!!

          • I’m not acting like Gamble and Carver are the only ones to have made mistakes. I mentioned in my post that SPN has always mishandled certain things.

            I think the biggest difference between 1-5 and 6-8 is that 1-5 had cohesion. 1-5 had plenty of flaws and I actually agree with most of the stuff you said about them, but it always had direction. It grew and at least to a reasonable extent, knew where it wanted to go. There were disappointments but there was still good material. I don’t feel that’s the case now. Even with the changes in the writing staff I feel like things have just been bad.

            There are plenty of bad, repetitive shows that get high ratings. And it really doesn’t matter why someone watches the show or not. It doesn’t matter why we’re here, what matters is what we have to say.

          • I disagree that Sam is smarter than Dean, they have different kinds of intelligence and Sam is just more cultured, because he went to Stanford, as the show will never stop reminding us.

            • Agreed. And the show will never stop dumbing down Dean either.

            • What I meant is that Sam is more educated.

    • About Crowley from Scotland, is the VESSEL, not the demon. The actual demon Crowley has lived for more than 200 years. Sam being the chosen one, is as not surprising like “Dean being funny, or being in charge of the series’ humor.” If Dean gets to be the funny one and the handsome one, attractive to 85% of the girls in the show, while Sam gets crappy lines and selfish dick storylines, at least let Sam be the hero.

      • I understand that, Crowley was born in 1661 and his vessel is obviously younger, but my point about the Messapotamia joke still stands.

        But the show shouldn’t have to settle for that. The show shouldn’t be giving these characters the same arcs over and over again.

    • @blueherobh

      I’m with ya amigo. I stoped watching after the horrible seventh season. For me season 1-5 were the best.

      I just wish kripkie was still show runner. Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as it is now.

    • I should probably clarify that even in a season or episode I don’t like that I still find some stuff to enjoy. I do like a few scenes in this episode, but it really didn’t come together is a whole, which is why I was so disappointed.

    • Okay, wow blueherobh … first off most female characters you mentioned were throw-away characters and I didn’t shed a tear that they passed so get off your feminist high-horse. Oh, and maybe you don’t like the show anymore (why are you still watching it anyway) but stop attacking those that do!

      • Since day one side characters and especially female/POC/lgbqt characters have been treated poorly. The names I mentioned are just the start of a very long list? You didn’t even sympathize with Bela, who made a demon deal to escape sexual abuse from her father as a child? Not even when the show condemned her to die? Not even though she was a season 3 regular? Fine. Name another character and I guarantee you they have been mistreated.

        I never attacked those who do, I actually made a point to mention that I understand why people are still enjoying the show. But I find it frustrating when people can’t see certain big issues that it has, like, say, someone not recognizing how poorly certain characters are treated.

    • Stop reading since the moment you identify as a Dean girl, men I really wish to understand this kind of comments, ’cause I never felt that way for me since day one it’s always been about the brothers I never felt one is getting more storylines than the other.

      • Since when did I ever identify as a Dean!girl? Because I said Dean doesn’t have a storyline? I don’t identify as such and I find those labels very tiresome.

        Dean’s storylines usually have to do with his role in life, they’re usually more of a mental journey. He has to conquer his inner demons. Sams’s arcs are external and have to do with him being affected by something, by what he is versus who he is. This idea served as the backbone of the show, but the problem is that the show never fully evolved beyond it. Dean got beaten down psychologically, never able to resolve all the stuff he’s gone through over the years. We almost got that with purgatory this year but it got cut, and we also almost got Sam going on an inner journey with the Amelia storyline, but they messed it up so badly that she was written off the show entirely, and everything that Sam went through there has been dropped. Sam has also gotten beaten down; he got so beaten down by everything that Cas had to actually magically remove his trauma. This formula is really hurting the show, and over the past few years (and even to an extent in 1-5) the characters have not been allowed to grow and are instead regressing, which goes back to what I said about the Winchester-centric view of the show and the refusal to evolve it. Years later and we’re still getting the same stuff. Sam isn’t allowed to find who he is, he has to be the suffering chosen one again. Dean is not allowed to find who he is because he had to take care of his brother.

    • I applaud you, very well said.
      The only thing that gave me hope was Dean’s possible bisexuality, the possibility that the writers might have decided to use Cas as a character and not a plot device, and Dean and Cas’ relationship.
      After this episode there’s nothing left for me to hold on to.

      • Yeah same for me. I was happy to hear that Misha will be a regular in s9, but it’s pretty clear from what we’ve heard that they’re going to continue treating him poorly and keep the show as brothers!only as they can.

        It’s really a shame that they would bait fans like that in and especially out of the show like that, regarding the sexuality and relationship comment. This episode especially was a big deal and they’ve really hurt and alienated quite a few of their lgbqt fans.

  5. Awesome Episode, best in a long time and there have been some really good episodes(just not that many) the last 2+ seasons…Dealt with Meg perfectly. She needed to die, it should have happened a long time go. Unfortunately she was de-villafied in season 6 and 7 and she became attached to the main story line. So she could not simply be deserted or forgotten about. I liked the way her death was handled.

    • Meg is not dead…she will come back in the body of Sam’s now defunct normal life companion with a “What, don’t like my new unicorn body suit?”.

      • nope…if crowley cant successfully kill a lesser demon then this show blows.

  6. Crowley is the demon who used to be human. The vessel he is in used to be a “fairly successful New York literary agent”.

    I think Sam is a hero, but he the hero with a heart. Dean can be a jerk at times, but that is Dean.

    • I understand that, but Crowley was born in 1661 and Messapotamia is supposed to be the cradle of civilization from a much earlier time. The area it covers is sometimes still called that but it seems like a really odd thing to put in the episode.

      • O agree. I was WTH, dude, you were not around then. Besides who is he kidding? An angel consorting with a deman, especially one who has a stick up her behind?

  7. This season has been great. It looks like it’s heading towards another great finale. The only way I see Supernatural ending is a Winchester dying. My guess its Dean.

  8. Why do i have the feeling that the pace of the show will turn up to pe an ending showing Sam alone in the Impala with a beer and guns ready heading kamikaze into the Gates of Hell, Dean dead (his resolve and revenge motive), an all-out war between Hell and Heaven with the humans as the casual victims. That’s how i feel the ending; an angry, psychotic, suicidal Sam that goes ‘WMD’ into Hell as a 3rd and final trial, closing the gates with his sacrifice (like Dean would have like to be his end) and before dying he would say ‘This one is for you bro’.
    PS. I would like to see a 4-way death match between Naomi vs Crowley vs Lucifer vs Michael (the old and badass bosses versus the new heaven boss and the new cool boss of hell) with Sam ending it as a draw…

  9. Such a great episode. The only thing that rub me the wrong was is WTF would they bring Meg back just to kill her!! She’s the longest recurring female character the show ever had. Other than that…what the hell did Crowley bang Naomi if he’s not even born yet or did that event take place in what used to be mesopotamia(which would be modern day Iraq)? Which is also weird because Castiel/Uriel mentioned that in season 4, their first appearance mark the 1st time angel step foot in earth after 2000 years…smh..but overall, great episode.

  10. Personally I long for the days when they kept it simple and were just hunters going after strange creatures and occasionally threw in so comedy. Going into these drawn out story lines takes away the real entertainment of the series. Without entertainment…..Then I guess the terrorists won….Or something like that

    • I get what you mean. Season 1 was so simple where they hunted monsters while the big bad was in the shadows. Like most shows, Supernatural has evolved and the angels and demons thing can’t go away like that. Or maybe it can if the gates of heaven are closed off. I wonder what will happen to good souls if that happened?

    • Sera Gamble already did that with season 6 and 7 where there’s absolutely more ‘monster of the week’ episode compare to arc episode. Doesn’t seem like everyone like it very much though.

  11. *potential future episode spoiler, so beware* On twitter, in reply to a fan’s question about the age bit, Mark Sheppard said “Have you ever considered the whole Fergus story might be BS”? In other words the story we heard about Crowley as the human might not be true in some way. Some fans are speculating that Crowley used to be an angel, but he fell and became a human, and then died and became a demon, which is how he and Naomi know each other from so long ago, which would work I guess. I hope it’s explained.

  12. Please don’t draw out the trials thru next season. They made a huge mistake by making it ‘one person’ who has to do them instead of letting the brothers come together to accomplish the deed. Dean isn’t going to ever fight for himself when he’s still trying to save Sam. So no growth, just the same mission since the beginning. Don’t think I can take much more of the ‘poor Sammy’ crap. Either do it or don’t, but now that Dean has effectively sidelined his brother (and rightly so) stretching that out until next season will change the hunting dynamic way too much. I stopped feeling sorry for Sam a long time ago (hated Soulless Sam and kinda never recovered), so I’ll have to admit, it’s more annoying than anything now. I’m voting ‘don’t’ since closing the gates of Hell will eliminate the opportunity for us to have Crowley grace our screens (and the Winchesters lives) and that’s a bad thing.

    I was actually sad to see Meg killed. She was actually growing on me. Her dynamic with Cas was fun and her snark was a welcome relief from all the angst. It would’ve been interesting to have a demon who wasn’t entirely evil. Just like I hope they don’t kill Benny because having a sympathetic monster is a new perspective that’s refreshing. Of course, they don’t do anything new, just rehash old cycles, so I’m guessing Benny is toast.

    So my prayer to any god or angel or writer or producer listening is to wrap up this trials storyline, fail at closing Hell, (or have some loophole that lets demons already here set up shop above ground), have Metatron come in and make poor Sammy all better, and make the brothers actual hunters again. Then make Cas the adversary next season — at odds with the Winchesters and Heaven — and go back to having a real attainable purpose instead of all these things that are truly out of the grasp of humans. :) That isn’t too much to ask, is it?

  13. Aww I really wanted to see Cas in a relationship with Meg – or at least bang off screen. Anyway, besides the death of Meg, this was a good episode. I’m not sure if the Winchester’s will succeed in their mission to close the gates of Hell. As a matter of fact I think that Crowley and Naomi will team up to do something. I know that’s a rehash of season 6 but I can’t imagine Crowley being killed off-we haven’t seen Crowley in a villain role for long enough.

  14. They said “shut up Meg” and I thought of Family Guy.

  15. good .. very goof if cas good because he will help dean and sam , wow nice finaly cas will forget the crazy body :) .. now it will be easy for dean and sam for kill the enemys , welcome back cas :)