The current season of Supernatural (the 11th) finds Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) going up against the most powerful “Big-Bad” they’ve yet faced: God’s pissed-off sister, Amara (Emily Swallow), also known as the Darkness, whom God locked away at the dawn of creation. The brothers released her when they successfully removed the Mark of Cain (which acted as a lock) from Dean’s arm. Now she’s out to destroy everything.
Two weeks ago, in the episode “Don’t Call me Shurley”, viewers received confirmation of a long-held theory: Novelist and prophet Chuck Shurley (Rob Benedict), who wrote a series of in-universe novels about Sam and Dean (which will become known as “The Winchester Gospels”) is actually God. Chuck, who had been a semi regular in seasons four and five, had last been seen in a cameo appearance last season in the 200th episode, “Fan Fiction”, in which a high school theater group puts on a play about the books.
The former angel Metatron (Curtis Armstrong), now stripped of his Grace, finds himself in a bar, with Chuck. He recognizes the bar as one of God’s particular constructs and figures being there with a “hack writer” is his punishment for trying to take over Heaven and his other crimes.
Then Chuck reveals the truth of his identity to Metatron, who had been the “scribe of God.”
God, who prefers being addressed as “Chuck”, told Metatron he “put on the Chuck suit” because he likes front row seats.
“I figured I’d hide out in plain sight, you know,” he says. “Plus, you know, acting is fun.”
He also says he’s writing his autobiography and needs Metatron’s help as editor.
Metatron points out the autobiography’s lack of details, such as no mention of Amara.
“Who cares about her?” Chuck asks.
“Um… me, for starters. I assume you’re aware that she’s out and about. Tanned, rested and ready. I mean that’s why you’re back, right?”
“This isn’t her story,” Chuck replies, looking none too pleased at the mention of Amara. “It’s mine.”
Metatron also suggests the autobiography have less about God’s time as Chuck and more than just a few paragraphs about the archangels.
“Don’t you think they deserve a few extra words?” he asks. “Especially your favorite— Lucifer?”
“He wasn’t my favorite.”
Metatron points out that Lucifer helped defeat Amara and that God trusted him with the Mark of Cain.
“And when you asked him to bow down before mankind—”
“He rebelled,” Metatron says. “And in doing so, kind of wrecked Christmas.”
Lucifer passed the Mark, which has a negative influence, including making its wearer want to kill, on to Cain, who later gave it to Dean. Last season, Death (Julian Richings) implied that the Mark’s influence played a role in Lucifer’s rebellion.
Metatron says if Amara is off limits, fine, “but you know that every great hero is defined by his or her villain.”
“Lucifer was not a villain,” Chuck replies. “He- he- he wasn’t a villain.”
Lucifer, currently possessing Castiel’s (Misha Collins) vessel, escaped from the Cage earlier this season. Sam and Dean talked with him under “controlled circumstances” to see if he would agree to help defeat Amara. They initially thought they’d successfully kept him imprisoned, but later learned that a doubt-filled Castiel had said yes to Lucifer possessing his vessel because Lucifer said he could defeat Amara. Castiel, who has become so dejected by recent experiences, hasn’t made any efforts to reject Lucifer.
In the meantime, Amara has captured Lucifer, who underestimated his own strength, and is torturing him (and Castiel).
At one point, Metatron asks why God created life. Chuck says he was lonely.
“Your sister wasn’t company enough?”
“I am being. She’s nothingness. It’s not exactly the makings of a fun two-hander, you know.”
When Metatron points out that God didn’t stop at one archangel or a handful angels, but made worlds, Chuck says he was stupid and naïve. He thought if he could show Amara there was something more than them, something better, she’d change.
“But every time I’d build a new world, she’d destroy it.”
He subsequently takes Metatron to a lake at the base of some mountains, saying nature is as close as he got to something as good as or better than himself or Amara. He also says nature’s smart enough to know that sometimes there’s no fixing things.
“Sometimes you’ve just have to wipe the slate clean.”
Metatron points out that if Amara wipes the slate, all of God’s work will be lost forever.
“We should take a stroll, then,” Chuck says. “Enjoy it before it’s all gone.”
Chuck tells Metatron that nature is divine but human nature is toxic, adding that the worst part about humans blowing things up is that they do it in his name.
“And then they come crying to me, asking me to forgive, to fix things. Never taking any responsibility.”
“What about your responsibility?”
Chuck replies that he took responsibility, by leaving. He also took responsibility for Amara by locking her away.
“Barely, I might add. And, who let her out?”
“Sam and Dean Winchester, but they’re trying to fix that.”
Chuck points out that the world would still be spinning with Demon Dean in it.
“But Sam couldn’t have that, could he? So how is Amara being out on me?”
“It’s not, but you’ve helped the Winchesters before.”
In their defense, Sam and Dean had no idea what the Darkness was. If Chuck was so concerned about not releasing her, he could have stepped in at the time.
When Chuck says it’s Amara’s time to shine, Metatron asks why he’s writing a book no one’s going to be around to read. He subsequently realizes Chuck started writing the second Amara came back.
“No wonder you’re on a deadline,” Metatron says. “Now I understand why you’re masquerading in that sad little meat suit. For the same reason you created this nostalgic bar to write your masterpiece in— you’re hiding!”
Chuck had said the bar was the safest place ever created. Metatron points out that he created it to keep himself safe from Amara.
“You know, I was a crappy, terrible god,” Metatron says. “My work was pretty much a lame, half-assed rewrite of your greatest hits. But at least I was never a coward.”
After tossing Metatron through the doors of the bar, Chuck says he’s not hiding. He’s just done watching his experiments’ failures.
“You mean your failures, Chuck,” Metatron replies.
Metatron said his attempt to be God was a pathetic cry for attention— from Chuck.
He also demands to know why God abandoned everyone.
“Because you disappointed me,” Chuck said. “You all disappointed me.”
“I know I’m a disappointment, but you’re wrong about humanity. They are your greatest creation because they’re better than you are. Yeah, sure, they’re weak and they cheat and steal and destroy and disappoint, but they also give and create. And they sing and dance and love. And above all, they never give up. But you do.”
Metatron’s argument is reminiscent of Gabriel’s to Lucifer in season five.
Chuck starts typing again. Metatron’s reaction suggests his words have fallen on deaf ears.
While Chuck and Metatron interact, Sam and Dean are investigating a case in Hope Springs, Idaho involving a heavy fog— Amara’s doing— that causes people to kill friends and family.
Newlywed Deputy Jan Harris (Sonja Bennett), affected by fog, killed her husband. Before the sheriff kills her, she tells Sam and Dean that Amara has a message. The fog isn’t an infection, it’s showing the truth, that the light was just a lie.
“It will all be over soon,” the dying deputy says. “He’s not going to save them. It’s all going away, forever. But not you, Dean.”
As the fog rolls in from mountains, Sam and Dean scramble to get people inside the sheriff’s office, away from the fog.
Sam is infected, but Dean isn’t. Unexpectedly, however, the fog lifts and Sam’s infection is gone.
What’s more, Dean finds a brightly-glowing amulet in Sam’s pocket. The amulet, which Dean had owned years ago, was supposed to glow in God’s presence, but never glowed at any time Dean owned it (Chuck told Metatron he’d turned it off).
Sam and Dean go outside, where they find everyone who’d died restored to life. They walk down the street until they come to Chuck.
“We should probably talk,” he says.
Last week’s episode, “All in the Family”, picks up at that point. Despite the glowing amulet, Sam and Dean don’t accept Chuck at face value.
Until he teleports them to the Men of Letters bunker and the ghost of the prophet Kevin Tran (Osric Chau) appears behind Chuck and confirms his identity. Chuck then gives Kevin, who’d been trapped in the veil, an “upgrade” and sends him to Heaven.
As Sam sits silently, Dean, who says he means no disrespect, question’s Chuck’s inaction over the millennia
“There’s so much crap that has gone down on the Earth for thousands of years,” Dean says. “I mean plagues and wars, slaughters. And you were, I don’t know, writing books, going to fan conventions. Were you even aware or did you just tune it out?”
“I was aware, Dean.”
“But you did nothing. And again, I’m not trying to piss you off. I don’t want to turn into a pillar of salt.”
“I actually, I didn’t do that.”
“Okay. People pray to you. People build churches to you. They fight wars in your name and you did nothing.”
Chuck replies that he was hands-on for ages.
“I was so sure if I kept stepping in, teaching, punishing, that these beautiful creatures that I created would grow up. But it only stayed the same. And I saw that I needed to step away and let my baby find its way. Being over involved is no longer parenting. It’s enabling.”
Dean, replies that it didn’t get better, but Chuck says that from where he sits, he thinks it has.
“Well, from where I sit, it feels like you left us and you’re trying to justify it.”
“I know you had a complicated upbringing, Dean. But don’t confuse me with your Dad.”
Chuck tells Dean and Sam the only reason he came off the sidelines is because the Darkness is relentless, a force beyond human comprehension.
He also say she’s warded herself against him; he has no idea where she is.
“I’ve always had faith in you,” Chuck says, looking at Sam. “Even if you didn’t return the favor,” he continues as he turns to Dean.
When the boys bring up Lucifer, Chuck describes him as his greatest hope and bitterest disappointment.
“You think if I could have trusted him for a moment, I would have put him in the Cage? And I wasn’t going to mention this, but thank you so much for springing him.”
Chuck assumes that as bad as Lucifer was, he’s probably worse after all this time in prison and he could have formed an alliance with Amara.
The episode had its amusing points, as is often the case in Supernatural. Dean tells Sam that Chuck sings “crappy old folk songs” in the shower and that he told him to cool it three times.
“You told God to cool it?” Sam asks.
“Yeah. I sleep.”
The episode also established that a new prophet, chemistry professor Donatello Redfield (Keith Szarabajka), has been activated. Sam and Dean take him back to the bunker to meet Chuck.
Redfield, who’d been an atheist until then, asks if that was going to be a problem. Chuck is fine with it, saying it’s part of the whole “free will thing.”
Metatron also contacts Sam and Dean. He tells them Chuck is going to meet with Amara, but he’s not going to take her down. He gives them Chuck’s manuscript, but says it’s not an autobiography.
“It’s a suicide note.”
Chuck meets Dean at a playground, where he’s watching kids in a sandbox and describes them as endlessly optimistic.
“The wind blows over his tower, he rebuilds,” Chuck says. “Always gets me.”
“If that’s so, why are you bailing?” Dean asks. “When you see Amara, you’re throwing in the towel?”
“You think I’m a dick. What do you care?”
“Because before you went M.I.A., you did a lot.”
Chuck says “throwing in the towel” is what he calls strategy, adding that Amara’s beef is with him.
When Dean asks how dying is a blueprint for successes, Chuck says he won’t be dying; he’ll be caged.
“I trade myself for everything I created,” Chuck says. “It goes on.”
Dean tells him Amara told him personally that she’s going to eliminate God, then destroy everything he’s created. He also say humanity aren’t some toys to throw away.
“I think you owe us more than that.”
“If my plan doesn’t work, then humans will step up,” Chuck says. “You, Sam, others that are the chosen will have to find a way. That’s why I saved you years ago. You’re the firewall between light and darkness.”
Dean tells him taking on God’s sister is way above his pay grade.
“Bottom line, it’s you that has to take her out,” he says. “And look, and then after that, get a condo in Cancun. I don’t care.”
For her part, Amara continues her torture of Lucifer. He tells her she may defeat God, but she’ll never beat him.
Dean concocts a plan to rescue Lucifer and convince Chuck to use him to fight Amara. He’ll distract her while Sam, Metatron and Donatello carry out the actual rescue.
Lucifer refers to the three as “Larry, Curly and Moe” and recognizes Donatello as the new prophet.
“One minute you’re nobody and then Shazam you’re Joan of Arc. Let’s hope this ends better than that.”
When Sam asks if Lucifer’s on board with working with God, given their past history, Lucifer asks if he looks like one of Amara’s fans.
Because of his injuries, Lucifer can’t teleport them out, so Sam and Donatello physically carry him out while Metatron stays behind to cover their escape. He tries without success to fight Amara, then in the moment before she destroys him, he begs her to spare the universe.
When Amara prepares to destroy the Impala containing Sam, Donatello and Lucifer, Chuck teleports the car into the bunker.
“Occasionally, I do answer a prayer.”
Chuck tells Lucifer he’s changed. Lucifer says the same.
“Well, still, I’m pretty much the same,” Chuck says as he heals Lucifer’s wounds.
What will happen next? Amara will be defeated, somehow. But will Chuck lock himself away with her or continue to live in the world. The former would be the better choice, both dramatically and thematically.
I’m sure before he goes (one way or the other) Chuck will evict Lucifer from Castiel’s vessel, but will Lucifer’s presumed help in stopping Amara be enough to earn him a pardon? Or will Lucifer follow in the footsteps of other “villains”, like Metatron, the demon “Meg” (Rachel Miner) and the angel Gadreel (Tahmoh Penikett), and sacrifice himself for the “greater good.”
Copyright 2016 Patrick Keating.