[This is a review of Supernatural Season 9, Episode 3. There will be SPOILERS.]
Now three weeks in, Supernatural season 9 is preparing itself for an all-out angelic battle against a rising faction led by a new threat, Bartholomew, one of Naomi’s followers who is attempting to seek out and destroy Castiel. As everyone’s favorite angelic is quickly finding out, it’s not easy being a human.
In "I'm No Angel," written by longtime series writers Brad Buckner & Eugenie Ross-Leming, Castiel is given a truly beautiful, somewhat focused tale of humility, faith and humanity, as he attempts to once again reunite with his friends who, as it turns out, are unable to support him in his time of need.
This, unfortunately, is not the only tale contained in this episode. Castiel’s attempts at survival are pushed to the limits, forcing him to eat from dumpsters, take food from strangers and live on the streets - but one poorly planned twist almost entirely makes waste of this episode’s strengths and accomplishments.
After essentially taking last week’s episode off, it was refreshing to see the series return to follow Castiel’s human plight and continued search of Sam and Dean. Misha Collins, who has been given a larger role this season, steals every heartbreaking scene he is given, elevating his character well beyond his overpowered origins. As a character, Castiel has never been more develop and more real, but as an enclosed tale, this episode really makes waste of it. (Two words: bum sex)
At the height Castiel’s struggle, a rouge Reaper takes the form of a beautiful shop keep who, after providing him with food, takes the Grace-less angel home with her, bandages his wounds, has sex with him and then turns on him the morning after. Though not a completely terrible event for an angel without a home, this unnecessary element does nothing but destroy all that this episode worked for.
If anything, the one thing Castiel’s spontaneous sex does do is further weaken Castiel’s ability to trust strangers and rely on those he holds dearest to him. This, when coupled with Dean’s lies, will likely build to a surprisingly competent winter crescendo where Castiel will truly reach his breaking point, without a place to turn to.
After this week’s episode of Supernatural, it’s clear that the structure of this season, not its character development and arcs, may be its weakest element. After 9 years on the air, that’s not exactly a bad thing. If anything, as a series ages, the handling of the characters becomes increasingly more difficult (but they’ve done so much already) and finding a competent tale to wrap them in requires far more reaching than in previous years.
Tonally, the series is as strong as ever: each and every character has their designated role - and it has been each character which has helped drive the general plot and keep those interested in on what’s to come next. What that next is, however, is still a big question – one that won't get answered for a few more weeks.
Still, while other television series are struggling to tweak its character tales through this season’s run – likely having to wait until the winter premier to do so - Supernatural merely needs to let this season’s story unfold… in its own time. Because while it’s nice to see Castiel find “love”, albeit momentarily, the episode would have been much more stronger if the series will let its characters - not its seasonal goal – to lead the way.
_____Supernatural returns next Tuesday with "Slumber Party" @9pm on CW. You can check out a preview of next week's episode below: