Supernatural: Brother vs. Brother, Gods: The Reunion Special, and Rings of Power
It’s disconcerting that angels are dropping like flies these days but then again what can we expect, it’s the apocalypse. The events that transpired in this week’s episode of Supernatural were pure goodness. We had gods from world religions show up and they had fun with violence, carnage, and a dash of humor in the process.
Initially I thought this was going to be like any old filler episode but unexpectedly the plot got pushed forward in a way that I’d never anticipated. Sam and Dean drive up to a roadside motel like they normally do to get out from a horrible storm, but what they find instead is The Elysian Fields Hotel decked out in upscale furniture and a full course buffet (with great pie!). No coincidence that the place is called “Elysian” after the Elysian Fields in Greek mythology where the souls of the virtuous and heroic went to in the Underworld as their final place of rest. The man at the concierge desk turns out to be Mercury, Roman god of messengers (also known in his Greek name as Hermes) and extremely fast. Unbeknownst to the Winchesters, a group of gods from different world religions and mythologies have gathered together at Elysian to talk about the apocalypse and what course of action they should take. Some of the gods in attendance were Ganesh (Hindu god of beginnings), Odin (chief Norse god and ruler of Asgard), Baldur (Norse god of light, beauty, and love), Kali (Hindu goddess of time, doomsday, and death), Baron Samedi (Haitian voodoo Loa) and an Asian god I presumed to be Shangdi (supreme creator in traditional Chinese religion). Battlestar Galactica alumnus Rekha Sharma plays Kali.
Sam and Dean are to be used as bargaining chips as this council of gods attempts to figure out a plan of action. Odin and Shangdi get into an argument about who’s the better god while Kali is all for fighting against the angels. Mercury wonders if they could try the diplomatic approach by talking to them. This scene was particularly interesting with Baldur’s introduction of the apocalyptic events taking place, succinctly calling it “Judeo-Christian”. In the Supernatural world multiple gods exist accordingly with the world religions (past and present) represented. The writers are able to bring up the question, just because the Judeo-Christian apocalypse is happening does it affect all the other gods? Then it makes viewers wonder how are they affected? Odin scoffs and claims that if it were truly the apocalypse then a great serpent would appear and a wolf would eat him. Kali seems to infer though that the battle between the angels would just tear the world apart and ruin it for them, not that one group was necessarily more powerful than the other.
Unexpectedly Gabriel shows up to rescue the brothers, but at first it appears that the other gods don’t know his true identity as Baldur refers to him as Loki (Norse god of trickery). Gabriel knows that if Lucifer is summoned to their little gathering that they would all die but we’re not sure what his motivations are. He explains that he used to have a thing with Kali. This is an unexpected side to him after our last encounter with the archangel where he just wanted Sam and Dean to hurry up and play their parts already so that the apocalypse would be done and over with as soon as possible.
Kali though already knows who Gabriel really is and takes his blood (along with Sam’s and Dean’s) to bind them to her (so they can’t leave the hotel). She tries to kill him but Dean discovers that it was faked and talks to the archangel out in his car. He gets pissed off that Gabriel is still unwilling to take a side, while the other pointedly says that he can’t kill his own brother and that Dean should understand.
Lucifer shows up unannounced and begins to kill gods one at a time. He picks through them very easily, which makes you wonder what is it about him that makes him so much more powerful than the rest? He destroys them as easily as any regular human. After Lucifer shoves his fist inside Baldur, Kali flames on and douses the angel but alas he is unaffected. Gabriel comes in to save the day telling the boys to take his former girlfriend out of there.
The brothers face off and it was my favorite scene in the whole episode. We get to see Gabriel finally take a side and it’s with the humans. He tells Lucifer that God had it right, that they are better than them because they try to be better and know how to forgive. We get to see a different side to the devil as a wounded brother who is trying to defend his actions. In a surprising twist Gabriel is killed but you can tell that the other angel didn’t enjoy it and was probably reluctant to do so because they were family despite everything. I got the sense that Michael, Lucifer, and Gabriel had closer relationships to each other than with their other brothers. The angel’s death was the biggest surprise of the night and I was bummed that he was killed off.
I appreciate how the writers keep giving us parallels to Sam and Dean’s own relationship as brothers; where they are now trying to work together and to rebuild, their angelic counterparts are set to destroy each other. It’s also satisfying to see Dean back on track and no longer feeling helpless. First he decides to help the gods destroy Lucifer because it was the lesser of two evils. Dean even tells Kali that Gabriel tricked her and faked his death to show how serious he was in siding with the other gods. When the brothers watch the archangel’s parting message to them via DVD the elder Winchester is fully back in the game as they prepare to hunt down the final two remaining rings from the last two horsemen of the apocalypse, Pestilence and Death (they already have War’s and Famine’s rings). When they have all four they have a chance to trick Lucifer back into his cage.
On a side note, the rings of the four horsemen remind me of the rings worn by the Nazgul from the Lord of the Rings books. The Nazgul were nine men seduced by power and became the most loyal servants of the evil villain Sauron. Rings have been used as symbols for power throughout history and literature and it’s no surprise that in the Supernatural universe they play an important role as well.
The final scene of this week’s episode shows Matt Frewer as Pestilence entering a convenience store to pick up flu medication while leaving his phlegm everywhere. Frewer is a veteran actor and has appeared in some great science fiction and horror projects such as Max Headroom, The Stand, Lawnmower Man 2, Taken, Watchmen and most recently on Syfy Channel’s Alice and Eureka. It’ll be a treat to see him play Pestilence in the next episode as we find out how Sam and Dean plan to take his ring!
What Supernatural does best is throw their characters into difficult and impossible situations but they respond in a way that catches you off guard yet remains true to their personalities. The show is great at weaving mythology, history, and current events into their plots that makes viewers think and question larger issues such as religion, family, and relationships. At the same time it doesn’t take itself too seriously and makes us laugh in the process. I also love the little details they put into it, such as Kali’s belly chain with small silver skull charms (Kali is known to wear a necklace of human heads). It shows that a lot of thought goes into each episode.
Only three episodes left to season five! I’m sure all the fans are just as anxious as I am to see how it all ends!
Season 5, Episode 19: Hammer of the Gods (Originally aired April 22, 2010)
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Thursdays at 9/8C on The CW
Photograph courtesy of The CW and Michael Courtney.