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I’m No Angel by Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner puts its focus on Castiel’s struggle with his new status as a human being as well as on his attempts to evade the faction of the angels that are out for his blood – and as such the episode is of little interest to me. While there are at least some enjoyable, domestic Sam and Dean moments in the episode, there are also problematic moments where Dean’s handling of Sam’s current status is concerned, but, well, given the writers of this episode that was probably to be expected. So, overall, this is a rather short and not particularly deep review. It is just not the kind of episode that inspires the meta-writer in me.



I guess that, for the majority of fans, the names Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner have become synonymous with mishandled mythology and characterisation by now. Their latest offerings for the show reveal such a fundamental ignorance of past canon and lack of understanding for character history that many fans ask themselves why they are still on the writing staff at all. Now, I am the last person to defend this writing duo, but I think the blame for the shortcomings in their episodes does not fall on them alone. I mean, from the conception of the story idea to the final product, their scripts go through many hands. The showrunner, the producers, other writers and story editors, they all give their input at varying stages of the creative process, but it seems that none of them ever cares enough to point it out to Ross-Leming and Buckner when they trample all over past mythology or undermine established characterization and long-term character arcs. Basically, I feel that the failures of Ross-Leming and Buckner reflect badly on Jeremy Carver and his creative team.

See, under the direction of Eric Kripke and Sera Gamble, Ross-Leming and Buckner have been comparatively weak writers as well, but they still managed to hand in watchable (and sometimes even outright enjoyable) episodes. Okay, so maybe the racist monster truck in Route 666 was a ridiculous idea, but the siblings dynamic in the episode was a delight, and the exploration of Dean’s more vulnerable side marked a significant development for the character at the time. Of course, in S1 there was no character history or mythology to speak of, so there was nothing for Ross-Leming and Buckner to mess up, but fast-forward six years and they give us Of Grave Importance, in which they successfully navigate and expand the rather extensive ghost mythology of the show in a believable and interesting manner. And while Shut-Up Dr. Phil and The Slice Girls may have rather weak monster-of-the-week plots, they at least offer an enjoyable, season-consistent and even somewhat insightful characterisation for Sam and Dean. So, overall, I think that, with the right guidance and direction, Ross-Leming and Buckner are at least capable of meeting a certain (low-level) standard, and the fact that their latest scripts tend to fail across the board suggests to me that said guidance and direction are missing.

Ezekiel: "You see, Dean, I can be useful."
Dean: "So can my brother. So why don’t you go, check your email and if I need your help, I’ll let you know."


Let’s begin with some of the more enjoyable moments of the episode. I guess it comes as no surprise that the opening scene between Sam and Dean in the Batcave is my favourite scene of the episode. Dean lounging about in his old-man bathrobe, sipping his coffee and looking all domestic and content will not get old any time soon, and the good-natured brotherly banter that ensues when Sam comes back from his morning run is just delightful. By the way, it is much more common nowadays to see Dean with a cup of coffee instead of a beer or a glass of whiskey, and while I am glad to see Dean getting a grip on his alcohol problem, I really wished that the writers had addressed his recovery in a more explicit manner last season. I just think Dean’s alcoholism storyline never quite got the attention it deserved. But anyway, I love that Sam surprises Dean by bringing him his favourite greasy breakfast food, and I like the way the theme of Dean’s questionable taste in food is later picked up again, when Sam mocks Dean for buying artificially flavoured pie. The brothers’ different eating habits are just a never-ending source of amusement to me. ♥ I also love that Dean openly expresses his worry about Sam’s renewed fitness mania. Given that Sam had been at death’s door only days earlier, his worry that Sam might overdo it is understandable, but I think it is more than that. I mean, Sam’s obvious physical health is just not natural and as such it serves as an uncomfortable reminder of Sam’s possession for Dean. Not to mention that, last time Sam was obsessed with his physical fitness, it was a way to mask the fact that he was falling apart, mentally and emotionally, so really, Dean’s worried reaction to Sam’s new morning routine is not that surprising.

The rather light-hearted scene between the brothers takes a more serious turn, though, when Ezekiel takes Sam over to initiate a conversation with Dean, and there is one moment in particular that stands out to me during that conversation, namely when Ezekiel points out to Dean that he can be useful. In fact, the reason why Ezekiel takes Sam over in the first place is to demonstrate just that, to prove his value to Dean by offering him unsolicited intel on the newly formed angel faction. Ezekiel’s statement about his usefulness, in conjunction with his readiness to override Sam’s control of his mind and body whenever he feels like it, as well as his reluctance to relinquish said control again, suggests to me that he has no real intention to leave Sam’s body any time soon. I mean, the whole scene comes off as just another sales pitch from Ezekiel, similar to the one about mutually beneficial help he gave to Dean in the hospital, only this time he does not offer himself up as a silent partner, but as an active part of Dean’s life in Sam’s stead, and I find that worrisome. Now, while I am happy with Dean’s initial reply that Sam is useful in his own right, his sincerity is later undermined by his decision to 'swap' his brother for Ezekiel anyway, in order to use the angel’s supernatural abilities. I admit, I am rather dismayed that Dean makes use of Ezekiel in this manner, and the way he talks past a confused Sam to the angel within his brother makes me really uncomfortable. The past two episodes worked really hard to establish that Dean feels extremely guilty and conflicted over what he has done to Sam, even though it was to save his life, so his sudden willingness to violate his brother’s rights for even less valid reasons seems out of character to me.

It also seems rather uncharacteristic to me that Dean complies with Ezekiel’s later demand to send Castiel away again without so much as questioning the angel’s motives or his sincerity. Now, do not get me wrong, there is really no question that he would choose Sam’s safety over anyone else’s, but I cannot help and wonder why Dean just accepts Ezekiel’s rather vague explanation or why he does not ask for some kind of proof that Sam would still no longer survive without Ezekiel’s presence. After all, resurrecting Castiel was a rather powerful demonstration of Ezekiel’s abilities, so I find it quite suspicious that, after all this time, he apparently did not manage to at least bring Sam back from the brink of death. Besides, Ezekiel’s explanation that Castiel will put him in danger by bringing Bartholomew and his minions right to their doorstep does not really add up. I mean, if he really is just another foot soldier, who was cast out of heaven when Metatron’s spell hit, why would he even have to fear his fellow fallen angels? Then again, why did he help find Castiel in the first place, not to mention resurrect him, if the former angel presented such a danger to him? Ezekiel’s motives really become less transparent with every passing day, and I more and more fear that Dean’s choice to trust him will come at a high price in the end. As it is, Dean will have a difficult job explaining to Sam why Castiel had to leave the Batcave again, especially given the lengths they have just gone through to retrieve him, and since Dean’s lies to Sam come off as increasingly implausible lately, I hope Sam will know that something is up pretty soon and confront his brother.

Random Notes:
  • I admit, my mind was mostly drifting during the Castiel-centric scenes, but I do appreciate that the writers at least refrained from reducing him to a completely clueless fool, like they did in the grocery store scene in Clip Show. I do like Castiel’s scene in the church, though. Once upon a time, he would have sought out the place to find comfort in his father’s house and reconnect with his faith, but now the church is simply a building, a place where he can escape the noise and confusion of the city for a while. Castiel’s chance meeting with a faithful parishioner really highlights his absolute loss of faith and hope, and in those moments I really felt for him.

  • I cannot help but wonder if Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner somehow take issues with the reaper lore established in the past seasons, because they sure seem intent on re-writing it. I mean, it was bad enough when reapers suddenly became visible to everyone, even though it was established early on that they can only be seen by the dead and the dying, and that they could be killed with a run-of-the-mill angel sword, even though they are, essentially, death themselves, but now they are able to possess people, too, and are angelic in nature as well? I just can see no compelling reason for all these changes in the reaper lore; it all comes off as a simple plot convenience. Sadly, it not only further erodes the differences between the unique creatures in the Supernatural universe (and thus greatly diminishes its variety), but also takes away from the mysterious nature of the reapers.

  • And while we are talking about the decline in the variety of Supernatural’s creatures, while angels and demons have always had similarities, I feel that, these past three seasons, they have become virtually indistinguishable from each other. Suddenly angels could be summoned like demons (Appointment In Samarra) and started to use blood magic for communications (The French Mistake), and now they apparently do no longer need personal consent – a general consent of any kind will do – and possess people the same way demons do, even though we have seen angelic possessions before, and it sure did not involve angelic grace entering a person through the mouth. It does not help that, so far at least, the angelic storyline this season is basically a repeat of S3’s storyline about Azazel’s confused and disoriented army of demons trying to establish their presence on earth and organise themselves under a new leadership. The new angelic villain/leader Bartholomew is even less compelling or scary than Lilith was, and even though his business-like demeanour may be reminiscent of Dick Roman at times, he just lacks the leviathan’s charisma and dry wit. Bartholomew is just – bland. I really find the recent lack of creativity worrying; it just makes for boring storytelling.
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