Overall, I enjoyed the episode. It wasn't perfect, of course, far from it, but overall I like the direction it took the show into after a very uneven season, with more misses than hits.
What I liked:
- Crowley's almost being cured. Kudos to Mark Sheppard for a great performance!! I hope the partial cure sticks and next season we get to see a different, more human/less evil Crowley. I love Crowley, but he was getting old... this way we get to keep him without his "muahaha" moustache-twirling shenanigans.
- Kevin survived!!!!!!!!
- The melancholic Dean/Cas bar scene. I'm glad Dean's rage has boiled down a bit, and that Cas went to him for help (better late than never... even though I'm not very clear on why Dean was particularly needed here). We need more friendship and quiet scenes between these two... it can't just be angst and myth-arc related stuff all the time.
- The gay couple being the target of Cupid's mission was sweet. Heaven-endorsed same-sex relationships.. how progressive of the show. If only they stopped queerbaiting, it would be even better.
- The angels being cast out of heaven. I never saw that twist coming! Well done, Carver and co! I knew Metatron was up to no good (long gone were my illusions of him being a good angel, for a change) and I knew that the brothers and Cas had gotten duped again (seriously, enough of that... I'm one of the biggest Cas fans around, andI'm starting to be fed up with him because of his constant f*ck-ups. There's a point where tragedy becomes a farce, and the writers are dangerously close to crossing that line with his character..if they haven't already.), but I didn't expect that move on Metatron's part or for him to be such a badass villain. He's promising as big bad, if they use him well next year. He can also go eff himself, though. As Dean would say, son of a b*tch. You stole Cas's grace, among other things!
- The last 5 minutes with the batcave alarms setting off, and the angels falling like shooting stars was visually stunning; along with the music and Dean/Sam/Cas looking at the sky, it gave me goosebumps.
It will be interesting to see how they play the "angels among us" angle.
- Cas is human! Most people predicted that this was going to happen, so it wasn't surprising. It was the only possible solution if they wanted to keep him on the show (which shouldn't even be a point of contention anymore, as far as I'm concerned *lalalala I can't hear you, haters* lalalala). Hopefully now they will use him for more than 2 minutes per episode and more than a total of 5 episodes, and they will be able to use him as a proper character (with personal growth, learning from one's mistake and all that) instead of a plot device/tool. Please... they have abused this character enough already.
I have wanted Cas to fall for a long time, but now that it has happened I just feel said at the loss of his angelic-ness. And maybe because I didn't care much for how it happened, which leads me to the things I didn't like.
Things I didn't like:
- That Cas didn't get a choice in giving up his grace. I wanted the fall to be HIS choice, but no, he is denied agency again, just to make him even more miserable (and on top of that, let him also carry the guilt for contributing to ALL his brothers and sisters being cast out of their home. Ouch.)
- That the brothers didn't complete the hell trials. I don't really have a problem with Dean choosing to save Sam over closing the gates of hell. It IS selfish, of course, but they are allowed to be selfish once in a while. They have already sacrificed enough for the world, why should they always be the ones to carry such a burden and die and suffer? There are 7 billion people in the world. BUT I have a problem with the season-long (or half season-long) trial arc coming to nothing at all, including the people (Meg, Benny, SARAH!!!!!! ) who died for nothing, just for Dean to stop Sam and say "nevermind, changed my mind. Abort abort!" They should have had something preventing Sam from completing the third trial, some external obstacle... Sam still wouldn't have died, and I wouldn't feel like the whole thing was such a cosmic waste of time.
- Naomi's death. I loved Amanda Tapping in the role, even though she was bad to my booboo Cas. I would have liked to see more of her.
- The torching of Abbadon's meatsuit... NOOOOOOO!! That actress was the best, I don't want a change of vessel/actress.
- The Sam/Dean speech. Sorry, not my thing. At this point I don't care about the brotherly bond, and that's not why I watch the show. But despite that, I usually enjoy their scenes, but this one didn't work for me and made me roll my eyes/get a little mad. I liked that we finally were allowed inside Sam's mind/feelings, and I sympathize with his feelings of inadequacy... but geez, enough with this bloody codependence! Sorry, I hate it, and I don't need to hear the brothers (Dean, especially) constantly having to declare how they love each other more than anything and anyone and how they can't live without each other and what not. It's been established, we know. Also, it may come as a surprise to Sam, but the world doesn't revolve around him.
Dean doesn't make friends with other people because Sam lets him down, or because he can't turn to Sam...that's really dismissive. He makes friends with other people because he values them and they value Dean, and they make a connection, and a friendship grows. Dean is allowed to (and should) have his own life and his own relationships outside his brother (and so should Sam), but apparently Sam (and most of the time Dean too) seems to not get it. That's a self-involved and egocentric (and also immature) way of viewing things, and this unhealthy codependency in grown men is why I am really not a fan of the brothers anymore. Please, please, let them grow past this.
Also, wasn't Sam insisting some time ago that he had to be the one to carry out the trials because he wanted to live, while Dean didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel and so he was more likely to die in the process for not trying to survive hard enough?? What happened to that? Sam's "so" to Dean claiming that Sam was going to die sounded a lot like resignation/willingness to die to me, just like Dean...
- I don't like that next season there's still going to be something wrong with Sam, given that he is sick from the trials. Can we please heal him, and let him be okay for once?? Switch the roles, make Sam worry and look after Dean and his problems for once... yeah, right. I shouldn't even be suggesting that, what am I thinking...
- Several plot holes weren't answered in the finale, like who was the person watching Sam leave Amelia's house, and I'm sure there are many others....
Overall, I was moderately happy with the season finale. I hope next season is consistently better than season 8... I hope Carver and co do their homework during the summer!!