Now that’s more like it! All season (and much of the last), there’s been something missing from Supernatural. One of the things that the series used to do quite well was mix the personal with the epic. The epic came in the form of the battle between good and evil (or at least Heaven and Hell, since good and evil aren’t that black and white in life or on the series), a Paradise Lost for the modern age, that started with a single family’s attack from something unholy, and came to encompass all of creation. The personal was the struggle against these forces by two brothers in that family (as well as a handful of others) and how it has impacted them down to an almost cellular level—their desire to do the right thing constantly at war with their need to protect each other and those they care about. Weaving together those strands of a fight simultaneously occurring on both a grand scale and a more intimate one—and using each to illuminate the other—is what has elevated Supernatural above its TV kindred. Until the last couple of years. In seasons 10 and 11, the show has largely abandoned the epic in favor of focusing on the personal relationships (and freaks of the week) of the characters. Gigantic upheavals above and below the earth have been replaced by mother-son spats between Crowley and Rowena, Castiel dealing with his utter rejection from Heaven and his physical limitations, and Dean giving into his darker desire to sing karaoke—badly. Sure, there have been larger storylines—the brothers’ crusade to get rid of the Mark of Cain and their subsequent releasing of the Darkness. But these have been anemic and drip-droppingly slow compared to the pace and scale we had grown accustomed to. And the creativity with which such events explore human nature and human relationships has been almost absent as we have watch Sam, Dean, and others repeat personal “revelations” that are actually retreads of past character development. But “Don’t Call Me Shurley” and “All in the Family” have largely been a return to former glory. The epic is hard to deny: at long last, God—so long an inexplicable narrative vacuum—has shown up. That he is Chuck is hardly surprising. I would say that fans called this out years ago, but it’s just as likely that Eric Kripke and company, long known for their respect for fans, have followed them rather than leading the way on this. God’s appearance is enough of a shocker at this point, but that he is not the deity we were expecting is what makes it wonderful. And personal. Because it turns out that God—or, as he prefers to be called, Chuck—is not above his own struggles, not the least of which is sibling rivalry and a form of creative constipation. In “Don’t Call Me Shurley,” we find the fallen Metatron—the voice of God—dumpster diving for food. So when he is suddenly pulled out of our realm and into Chuck’s in order to help edit the Writer’s new work, God: An Autobiography, we know that he’s had a good taste of the human experience. And it’s that experience which allows him to confront Chuck about the self-involved—yet unrevealing—tripe that He’s currently dedicating to paper. His new tome is uninteresting because Chuck himself is uninterested: uninterested in the fate of His Creation all the while enjoying it for Himself on a selfish level. Because apparently Chuck’s been out enjoying the world: playing guitar, speaking French, indulging in a few girl and boyfriends along the way (what must it be like to date God?). His Creation has become an amusement park to Him. It is with such sweet irony that Metatron is left to argue the case for a universe that he himself almost burned to cinders in his desire for acknowledged relevance. Because it seems that while Chuck knows all about Amara’s crusade to unmake everything, Chuck has no interest in defending his own work. It’s Amara’s turn, he tells Metatron. And besides, humans are destructive and refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Which is where Metatron is able to turn the tables on Him: Chuck isn’t, as He claims, just a dad who (as Chuck will later claim) used a little tough love with His children. He has abandoned them (which makes the fact that He’s drinking out of a “World’s Greatest Dad” mug especially funny) and left them to stumble in the dark. He’s a coward and worse, indulging in a nihilism that will lead to the obliteration of everything at the hands of His sister from whom He Himself is hiding. We see the impact of the Divine Editor on his boss in “All in the Family,” where Chuck chooses to intervene to save the Winchesters and the town they are defending from attack by Amara and moving in with them in the bunker. This allows for a confrontation long in the making: Dean stands in for all of humanity as he asks why Chuck has been absent while there has been so much suffering, so much need for Him. It’s an amazing scene and I cannot give Jensen Ackles enough credit for his performance here. Dean is really torn here. Until now, God has been, at best an abstraction for him. Now he sits opposite Him and, with due deference, all but demands He explain why abandoned humanity. When Chuck’s answer comes up short, Dean pushes further until He finally snaps back, “I know you had a complicated upbringing Dean, but don’t confuse me with your dad.” (I admit that I have long thought of Ackles as a pretty boy with some decent comic timing. But watching his face as Dean struggles to be heard by God has finally convinced me that Ackles is far more talented than even most fans give him credit for.) And this is where things get real. As Amara takes out another town, killing thousands as Chuck lounges about in Dean’s bathrobe, it seems clear that God hasn’t returned to do battle with the greatest threat his Creation has ever faced. As usual, it’s up to the Winchesters. Even Metatron, reaching out to the brothers, confirms that at best, Chuck is going to try to make a deal with Amara, agreeing to be jailed for eternity in exchange for her (or is it Her?) sparing all that is. Problem is, of course, that once He’s packed away, who can possibly enforce such a deal? The Winchesters, of course. Which has never seemed more unfair—in a show that has documented their every sacrifice—than now. As the Dean, Metatron, Sam and the new prophet Donatello work to free Lucifer/Castiel from where Amara has been torturing him (Metatron—a courageous character at last—dying in the attempt), Chuck chills back at the bunker, probably enjoying Dean’s massive porn stash and curling on television, intervening at the very last minute to keep His sister from vaporizing them (well, except Dean. And Amara? I get that she’s a hottie, but out of all of creation, this is your one true un-soulmate?). But for now, all the pieces are in places for an epic battle in the final two episodes of the season. There’s much that goes unsaid between Lucifer and Chuck when they are finally reunited, so he’s still a wild card. Sam and Dean again have the weight of the world on their shoulders. And it’s especially heavy on Dean, who is not only dealing with his connection to Amara but in what is obviously—despite years of expressed indifference towards God—his deep disappointment in yet another father-figure. The new prophet is out-of-sorts but willing. And Chuck? Well, there’s the big question. Usually it’s more existential than this, but isn’t it just like Supernatural to make real such metaphysical issues: Can we depend on God? Is He really there for us? In the end, will He save us from obliteration? Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response John E. Meredith May 19, 2016 Admittedly, I haven’t really seen much of SUPERNATURAL the past couple seasons. Chalk it up to having rabbit-ears television at home, limited time, and a wealth of other things to catch up on. Your review made me really, really want to see it again. While I love the “smaller” episodes of the show – the ones where they get all meta in particular – it’s these epic situations that ultimately drive the show. Maybe not MAKE the show, but . . . yeah. All of this makes me wonder where it’s all eventually headed, if the guys will get to drive off intothe sunset in their final episode, or if it will end more sadly. Thank you for your words. Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.