SUPERNATURAL 6.20 ‘The Man Who Would Be King’

Castiel takes stock of his choices as the Winchesters come closer to learning the truth about his alliance with Crowley.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "The Man Who Would Be King"

Writer: Ben Edlund

Director: Ben Edlund

Previously on "Supernatural":

After traveling to the past to get the Phoenix ashes capable of killing "The Mother of All" aka Eve (Julia Maxwell),  Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) teamed up with their mentor, Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) and the Angel  Castiel (Misha Collins) to hunt down Eve once and for all. What they found was a town full of people transformed by Eve into monstrous hybrids. Even Sam and Dean were unable to detect that the young boys they personally escorted to safety were essentially Eve's way of spreading her influence. And when she cornered Sam and Dean in a diner, she practically demanded that they help her kill Crowley (Mark Sheppard).

Despite the brothers' incredulous response that Crowley had already been killed, Eve insisted that her rise was in response to Crowley's continued attempts to siphon souls from Purgatory. Dean was eventually able to trick Eve into biting him, which destroyed her because he had ingested the Phoenix ashes. And when the brothers raced to find the young boys, they discovered that demons had already killed them. After separating from Castiel, Sam and Bobby voiced their doubts about Castiel's intentions. Meanwhile, Castiel met with the very much alive Crowley, who sarcastically said that he was tired of cleaning up after him.

Story:

In a cemetery, Castiel warily reflects upon the events of human history that he's witnessed, even his own death during the Apocalypse last year. Castiel speaks to an unseen listener and starts back at the beginning. We see Castiel appear to Dean in the Impala and claim that he's not sure how Crowley survived and tricked him. Castiel then teleports to Crowley's lair, where the demon king takes perverse pleasure in dissecting Eve's body. Crowley threatens the Winchester brothers' lives, but Castiel warns him to stay away from them. In flashback, Castiel raises Sam from hell and arrogantly doesn't notice Sam's lack of a soul. 

At Bobby's house, the Winchesters torture a demon for information on Crowley, but he won't talk. Once again, Dean defends Castiel and insists that he wouldn't betray them, but Sam and Bobby are less convinced. Unknown to all of them, Castiel is there listening but he remains shielded from their senses. The demon eventually brakes and tells the brothers that he worked for a demon named Ellsworth. Rather than let Ellsworth lead the Wincesters to Crowley and their death, Castiel eliminates the demon and his underlings himself. In flashback, Castiel's return to Heaven made him an angel celebrity, where his fellow heavenly beings came to view him as God's chosen one.

The angel Raphael eventually demanded that Castiel help him free Lucifer and restart the Apocalypse. When Castiel refused, Raphael demonstrated just how much more powerful he was and then warned Castiel that he would die if he didn't get in line. Back in the present, the Winchesters and Bobby come under attack by demons sent by Crowley, forcing Castiel to reveal himself and smite them. This wins back the trust of Sam and Bobby, while Castiel feigns surprise that they would doubt him. Castiel then returns to Crowley again and threatens to destroy their alliance if he goes after the Winchesters again.

In the past, we see Castiel seek out Dean during his self-imposed retirement, but he can't bare to actually drag Dean back into the life. Crowley then appeared to Castiel and suggested an alliance against Raphael as "the new God and the new Devil." Crowley's plan is to find purgatory and split the souls with Castiel to shore up their respective powerbases. He even floats Castiel a loan of 50,000 souls to get started. Newly empowered, Castiel declares war on Raphael and forces the angels to pick sides between them. In the present, the Winchesters and Bobby trick Castiel into stepping into their trap.

The Winchesters angrily point out how Castiel deceived them about Crowley and he can't deny the truth any longer. He insists that he's only doing it to save creation from Raphael's plans, but the brothers no longer trust him. As a horde of demons approaches through the clouds, Castiel tells his former allies to run for their lives. When they're gone, Crowley appears and arrogantly frees Castiel. Crowley then states that Castiel's friends are holding him back. Later, Castiel appears to Dean at Bobby's house. Dean begs Castiel to cease what he's doing and when he won't, Dean vows to stop him.

Bringing us full circle, we see that Castiel is still in the cemetery relating his story for God, whether the creator is listening or not. He penitently asks for a sign if he's gone off of his path, but he receives no response to his question.

Breakdown:

I'm glad I took the time to get back up to speed on "Supernatural," because this was the best episode of the season.

The entire "Mother of All" story felt like a placeholder from the start and I had significant doubts about the creative direction of this show. But this episode actually holds the entire season arc together more cohesively than I would have thought possible. If this was the plan from the beginning of the year, then it's an effective reveal.

When the last episode aired, I mentioned that I'm not a fan of making Castiel the "big bad" of the season. And Raphael had to be planning something really horrible if Castiel was going to be the good guy by comparison. And this episode actually delivered on that front by giving us Raphael's plan: restart the Apocalypse. It's not quite as epic as last year's story, but the stakes have finally been set and it's easier to understand why Castiel has fallen as far as he has. It also has the added effect of bringing the war in Heaven to the forefront of the Crowley arc that's been percolating for most of the year. That's really good storytelling.

It was also refreshing to see events taking place from Castiel's point of view. Misha Collins has basically perfected his "bad ass angel" routine, so the more vulnerable side of Castiel gave him some much needed dimension. It's also been a running joke on the show that Castiel "loves" the Winchester brothers and I think there's some truth to that. Why else would he leave Dean in retirement and side with Crowley as an alternative? Castiel also goes out of his way to save the brothers in this episode as well. But if we're really going to see Castiel go dark, than I think we need to see him reach the point where he's willing to eliminate his friends.

I really like Mark Sheppard, but I'm kind of sick of Crowley at this point. I do like the idea of Castiel and Crowley as the new God and Devil, but I feel like Crowley's story has already been played out. Raphael is still a bit of a cypher himself, but at least there's some potential for new stories if he winds up in charge of Heaven. I'd get a lot more invested in the Winchesters again if creation itself literally turned against them. That would be an interesting way for season seven to play out.

Either way, I'll be back for the season finale.

 Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.