[This is a REVIEW of Supernatural Episode 18. There WILL be SPOILERS.]

After almost a month break, Supernatural returns with one of its famed “meta” episodes which, in this case, turns Sam and Dean’s world upside-down and presents Castiel with a heavenly proposition he’s unable to refuse. One problem: Sam and Dean don’t know it yet.

In this week’s episode, “Meta Fiction,” written by Robbie Thompson, the Winchester Gospels make their triumphant return, serving as homework for Metatron’s plan to take over as God. With a typewriter in hand, Metatron sets out to write his own stories, as the new God, and welcomes Sam and Dean’s attempt to dethrone him. Meanwhile, Gadreel finds out what happens when Dean gets angry, and Castiel gains a new flock of angels.

There have been “meta” episodes of Supernatural in the past, but this is not one of them, at least not in the typical sense. Sam and Dean do not travel to any far-off world, or experience any adventures which mirror the series itself, even though the Trickster Gabriel is brought back. Metatron is in charge of this story now and, as the new God, knows how the story is going to the end.

This is a bit of a peculiar setup, as it’s not until the episode’s final moments that the full meaning of what’s been presented is fully understood. Sam and Dean are the unknown variables, it seems, and though Metatron can help craft the world around the Winchesters, he’s still unable to fully account for what the brothers can do in any given circumstance. More so, Metatron has the hubris of one who is all-powered and, as such, is using his powers to their fullest extent – with a bit of flare thrown in to keep things interesting, of course.

Although this type of control clearly falls on the side of being convenient – especially after this season’s ups and downs – this episode gives the series a strong sense of direction, and Metatron’s control makes up for some of God’s absence throughout. We may not see the man (or woman), but we can get a sense of his power, which is far more intricate than anyone could have expected, or as complete as this episode shows. After all, it takes but a few strokes of the keys for the writer of it all to change the world.

Now that Metatron is actually in control of the world, and Sam and Dean are able to (sometimes) sidestep written Gospel, it elevates each and every situation that the Winchesters now find themselves in. They are now supposed to fail, overall, but who says that each win – or loss, even – which comes their way before the “big battle” isn’t just Metatron keeping things interesting.

Castiel’s next move, whatever it may be, will reveal more about Metatron’s plans than this episode was able to. Sure, Castiel is in need of newfound Grace, but perhaps that’s not why he agreed to work with him, as leader of his own flock. Clearly things are not as they appear, and Castiel will likely regret making the decision to go along with the new God – but what if he doesn’t?  Metatron presents an interesting argument about rebuilding heaven in the absence of God.

Whatever may come next, this episode of Supernatural helped invigorate this season’s storyline, which may or may not be extended into season 10. If it is, the producers have set a terrific card for what will likely be the series’ final bout: Sam and Dean vs. God – even if it is Metatron. And if they win, then what? Who takes over for Metatron?

Supernatural returns next Tuesday with “Alex Annie Alexis Ann” @9pm on CW. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below: