I finally gave in. Some of you have been gently encouraging me (read: harassing me day and night via email, Facebook and telephone). Some others were a little more subtle; while you did see it coming, as evidenced by your emails, you didn’t outright say it, just sent me positive, encouraging and what you hoped to be brain-washing vibes.
Well, it worked, and so here it is: my first official review of a Supernatural episode. While past Supernatural episodes have inspired blog posts, I didn’t dare think of any of them as a review until I saw Episode 16 of Season 4, On the Head of a Pin.
Ever since angels were introduced into the series, I have been very uncomfortable with their portrayal. Their attitude, the way they have black wings (I know, superficial, but still), the fact that they were so violent and destructive (Uriel’s specialty is to annihilate entire towns… Not something you usually associate with angels!) – it all made me really uncomfortable.
This level of discomfort reached epic proportions while watching On the Head of a Pin; I couldn’t come to grips with what the angels, supposedly under the orders of God, were asking Dean to do: torture Alastair to find out who had been killing the angels. That couldn’t be right; why would God, in His wisdom, ask anyone to do something that terrible? And also, why would God ask Dean to do something Dean himself admitted might break him?
It didn’t make any sense to me, and violated all ideas and conceptions of God that I have. But I figured this was the show’s writers’ idea of what God is, and while it might prove to be shocking and downright disturbing to me, I could always just turn off the TV (as if I would do that). After all, this is a show called ‘Supernatural’ in which really weird things happen. How close to the truth was the entire show? And, in consequence, how close to the truth could their definition of God be?
How I underestimated the writers of the show, and for that, I apologise.
It turns out that I was right: there definitely was something wrong with the script. As Anna challenged Castiel to understand, there are some things that although we are told come from God, can’t be coming from Him.
Anna, to Castiel: The God that you love; would He ask this of you?
Which begs the question: is Anna really a ‘fallen’ angel? Has she no right to question what God asks her to do? Is she the better believer because she questions God, or is Castiel a better believer because he believes, almost blindly, in God, doing whatever He asks for without batting an eyelash?
Interestingly enough, the March 31st interview of David Plotz on The Colbert Report (watch it here) ties in beautifully with this review. In this interview, David Plotz explains that the real heroes of the Bible are those who questioned God.
David Plotz: One of the great Jewish traditions is that we do question the Lord, that Judaism is not – and this I realised when I read the Bible, that the heroes of the Old Testament, or the heroes of the Bible, are the people who question God, who doubt God, make demands of God.
So which is the ‘right’ kind of faith: blind faith, or intelligent devotion? There are excellent arguments for both sides, as I’m sure many of you have heard or have yourself used in the course of a conversation.
In Castiel’s case, he seems to think that having faith is of the first kind, i.e. blind faith. Castiel doesn’t think we should question what God says. However, Anna challenges him to do exactly that, because in our attempts to help make the world a better place, we must be very careful not to let our faith blind us into doing exactly the opposite. And in the end, it was Castiel’s blind faith that made him give Dean the order to torture.
This entire concept ties in to another story arc in another series; Heroes’ Danko is so convinced that he is doing the right thing that he doesn’t head anyone else’s opinion, and has done some pretty horrific things. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and even if Danko & Castiel started with the right intentions, their blind faith – Castiel in ‘God’ and Denko in his role as protector of the public – sends them both into their own personal hell.
Interestingly enough, another character in Supernatural who is following the ‘Danko-path’ is Sam, who is convinced he is doing the right thing and only wants to help his brother – and is now reduced to sucking the blood of a demon.
Speaking of which: ew.