[This is a review of the Supernatural season 9 finale. There will be SPOILERS].

What may very well be the penultimate season of Supernatural has come to an end, leaving a lengthy wait before the CW pairs its return with The Flash this upcoming fall season. Castiel’s army attacks; Metatron attempts to take over Earth; and Dean shows everyone what happens when he gets really angry.

In this week’s finale episode, “Do You Believe in Miracles?,” written by showrunner Jeremy Carver, the power of the First Blade continues to consume Dean (Jensen Ackles), while Gadreel (Tahmoh Penikett) joins in on the fight to stop Metatron’s (Curtis Armstrong) takeover of Heaven and Earth. When Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Castiel (Misha Collins) team up to protect Dean from the world (and vice-versa), Metatron finds new followers in humanity, and Castiel delves deep in to Heaven’s confines to discover the true source of Metatron’s power. Meanwhile, the Mark of Cain transforms Dean into the Winchesters’ worst nightmare.

Supernatural is currently sitting at the end of its ninth year on the air, and no matter how many standalone episodes to Oz and beyond there are, or late-season spin-off endeavors surrounding familial “bloodlines,” the series still manages to hold on to a significantly strong cast, which at any moment can proverbially be “turned on” and allowed to roam free within this vast and ever-growing world. Above all else, this is what the finale does best; it’s through the strength of these characters – not the plot – that this episode manages to maintain the strength of the overall story at hand, escalating both Sam and Dean’s position in this chaotic world, as well Metatron’s attempt to “win” the world over with divine intervention.

Of course, this past season has seen its far share of departures from the story at hand, which in turn made viewing this year’s adventure a bit chaotic, even for the DVR-inclined. When Sam and Dean weren’t off battling monsters of the week, however, this season’s tale opened itself up to allow Metatron to grasp hold of a Heavenly power fans rarely get to see, and use it upon the everyday world. More so, Metatron, as a character, has allowed the series to define the true power of both Heaven and Hell, as well as the integral mechanics of who and what goes in to supporting the ideals of what these two defined worlds can become, for better and worst – all it takes is a leader.

Metatron truly is one of the strongest villains that the Winchesters have been up against, and throughout this season there have been subtle indications that he’s much more than a power-hungry nemesis in search for a powerful title. Metatron truly understands the nature of his power, as well as the Winchesters’ ability to defend against it. What Sam and Dean are unable to defend against, however, is the world they protect playing into a perfectly crafted scheme which manipulates the public’s perception and places “Marv” in a heavenly light, which is something no knife or gravel-y voice can quickly change.

Unfortunately, the parts throughout this season that ultimately make up the finale whole are lost, more or less, as the climatic turning point of Metatron’s leadership in Heaven turns out to be a clear misunderstanding of how microphones and broadcast equipment works. There’s no great end to Marv but, instead, a promise that he will return next year, in some way. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Gadreel.

If there’s one true pain in watching this season of Supernatural unfold, it’s that Gadreel never received as much screen time as he deserved. Sure, the moments in which he was front and center – even in Sam’s body – helped to strengthen the story at hand, but in the end he wasn’t above the “suicidal angel” label which many of this season’s ethereal characters received. His honor has been restored, yes – but there isn’t an angel in Heaven like him, and next season this absence could very well be noticeable.

On the other hand, Dean’s horrific dive into the power of the Mark of Cain creates for an interesting adventure to have next season, blacked-out eyes and all. Dean danced with the First Blade and ultimately gave up his life (and soul?) for… nothing, essentially. The First Blade did not bring an end to Metatron, nor did it really help much in the finale’s final battle. If anything, Dean’s transformation in to a demon allows the writers to focus much of the elder Winchester’s energy towards his new persona, essentially separating Dean’s powerful personality from the Winchester name and allowing Sam to finally receive his earned time in the spotlight.

In the end, when Crowley speaks about expectations of Dean returning from the dead, therein lies an earnest message from the producers to the fans: “We know death means nothing” – which is true. Becoming a demon, however, is much more impactful than any death on this series can be, and the fact that Dean is now a demon means that they are able to introduce so many wonderful story elements which can be explored next year. Remember: Crowley is a demon who can feel human emotions; Dean is simply a demon.

As Supernatural closes its ninth season, fans of the series must decide whether or not they want to return again next year, for what may be the last time. Although this year’s story had its fair share of sidesteps, Supernatural is still one of the most powerful fan-driven shows on the air, and for good reason: it’s earned it. Does this mean Supernatural season 10 is a “must watch”? No, but it’s safe to say that you’ll be missing out if you don’t.

Supernatural season 10 premieres in October on CW.