There’s a lot to say about this episode. Of course, it’s a contribution from the writer of The Executioner’s Song and The Werther Project, so I’m really not surprised.
One very interesting thing about Season Eleven is that it’s cleaning up a lot of my grievances with past seasons- or specifically Season Seven. You all know my love affair with Six. That season ended with so, so much potential- Godstiel and the Cage trauma arc just coming into full flower- and then Season Seven chose to brush aside these arcs and drag the Leviathan in. Godstiel, who had the momentum to fuel the season’s plot, was ditched in the first episode. Sam’s Hell problems got crammed into five episodes, when the shadow of the broken wall had loomed for all of the previous season.
And Season Eleven seems to realize the missed opportunities offered by both these arcs. Amara is, in concept, not dissimilar to Godstiel. And we’ve got the Cage visions, which are provoking massive speculation. Already we’ve seen more of the Cage than we ever did in Six or Seven, and what we have seen has been far better executed.
Then there’s Amara herself. She’s been a figure of interest since Out Of The Darkness, of course, but Samantha Isler, who played her this episode, absolutely nailed it. The trompe l’oeil effect of the whole thing was smart- Berens leads us to believe that this is going to be another Crowley-looking-for-a-family deal, and it is, I suppose. But he underestimates drastically. Amara is not a teenager. She’s ancient, she’s powerful, and she’s amoral. The only other person in SPN canon she could be compared to is Eve, but they’re sill completely different.
And both JA and Isler handled their scene together brilliantly. She’s in the body of a fifteen-year-old, he’s rugged and late-thirties, yet at the same time she is incomprehensibly older than he. It stirs up rafts of uneasiness and tenderness. There is a genuine bond there.
It’s also a great relief to hear that what everyone had assumed was Hell- Crowley’s court- is not actually Hell but an abandoned asylum. Hell itself, excepting of course Le Cage, has not been seen since Taxi Driver. I wrote recently about the trivialization of Hell, as opposed to it being the looming terror of Season Three; turns out it was just another smokescreen. I would question why the asylum looks like a church, but I don’t believe in looking gift horses in the mouth. Hell is allowed to remain oblique and terrifying.
The actual Cage flashbacks in this episode, assuming for the moment that they are flashbacks, were disturbing and evocative. I’m one of the smug people who predicted this as soon as I saw the season trailer, and it’s wonderful that the show is confident enough to be able to return to an arc they abandoned some five seasons back. And my theory that they are flashbacks is mainly based on JP’s reactions; when the first one of this episode ended, the space was framed as if it was actually a cage, and the way he crouched and looked up was as if to check that he wasn’t still there.
I enjoyed the Castiel/Metatron line here, too. I’ve missed deadpan Cas over the last season or so, and it’s good to have him back. Also BAMF!Cas. The fight scenes were awesome if you can call Metatron’s beatdown a fight. But JP’s fight scene was fantastic, practically acrobatic in parts.
Kudos, too, to the makeup department for making Curtis Armstrong look like a human who has genuinely aged and struggled. And to director John F. Showalter. Season Eleven has looked stunning thus far, and Our Little World was as gorgeous as Form And Void.
Finally, this gif. Just this gif.