Supernatural S11E10 “Devil in the Details” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on E4 on Wednesdays at 10pm
Writer: Andrew Dabb
Director: Thomas J. Wright
Essential Plot Points:
- It’s Christmas with Crowley, and he’s got a Sam! Rowena looks on at the domestic, brightly lit vista that her mind has conjured up with despair. But who’s this? It’s Satan Clause! (Yes, you read that correctly.) Rowena’s nightmare just got a Hell of a lot more bearable.
- Back in the real world, we’re picking up right where we left off: with Lucifer and Sam in the makeshift cage. Lucifer’s endgame is using Sam as his vessel, but Sam isn’t about that. Lucifer takes him down memory lane to try and change his mind.
- Turns out Lucifer was using Rowena’s dreams as a way of recruiting her, and she’s been working for him ever since. She wants to see him ascend to Heaven, and be there by his side. Plus, hey, he helped smite The Darkness before, so he’s their best bet right now, even if Crowley’s not at all for it.
- Meanwhile, Dean’s drive toward angel nuke ground zero takes a turn for the worse when his vision turns kaleidoscopic. Luckily, his guardian angel Cas pulls up after receiving a call from him earlier, and after giving Dean a quick once over (including what looks like an offer to take his temperature, uh, rectally – steady on there), Cas makes his diagnosis: smiting sickness.
- Cas offers to head into ground zero alone to see if Amara is dead, since angels aren’t affected by the sickness. Dean protests, but given that he looks about a second away from vomiting again, agrees.
- Amongst other memories, Lucifer takes Sam to Stull Cemetery, scene of the season five showdown between Michael, Lucifer and Sam. Lucifer’s point? Sam did the brave thing, throwing himself into the Cage to save the world. He misses that Sam.
- At angel nuke ground zero, despite being the middle of the day, things are pitch black. Not a great sign. Castiel comes across another angel, Ambriel, who’s also searching for signs of life. She’s heard things about Cas. Bad things. And then she goes on a spiel about how the two of them are “expendable”. Ouch.
- Dean gets a call from Crowley, and finally finds out about Sam and Lucifer and the Cage. He’s not pleased. Crowley sends him to Billie the Reaper, who sends him to Hell with a witch catcher in tow.
- Ambriel comes across Amara’s body first, and gets her grace sucked out for her troubles. Yeah, turns out even an angel nuke can’t down The Darkness. Amara turns on Castiel next, but decides that he isn’t worth the effort. (Now hold on…!) Instead, she sends him to Billie.. and then stumbles. Looks like the angel nuke wasn’t entirely useless after all.
- Using the witch catcher, Dean and Crowley get Rowena under their command, forcing her to prepare a spell to send Lucifer down – so long as Sam doesn’t say yes. Luckily, he’s standing his ground against the Devil.
- Lucifer’s run out of patience, and starts trying to beat Sam into submission instead. Hearing Sam cry out, Dean and Cas run to the mock cage, but only get teleported into it by Lucifer.
- Set to a bit of funky disco music, Lucifer proceeds to beat up the entirety of Team Free Will, ending in him threatening to kill Dean if Sam doesn’t say yes. Cas stops him just as Rowena completes the spell, and Lucifer disappears in a burst of light.
- Once out of the cage, Cas opts to stay behind, and goes to talk to Rowena and Crowley. But it quickly becomes obvious that it isn’t Cas anymore – it’s Lucifer. At the last second, Cas had accepted Lucifer into his vessel, believing him to be the only means of defeating The Darkness.
- The first port of call for Lucifer? Kill Rowena. She’s the only one who can open the cage, so it only makes logical sense to have her gone. And then he turns on Crowley…
Now here’s an episode that would have been deserving of the “mid-season finale” title! With its web of different storylines meshing together to create something that ultimately, we could never have predicted, “Devil In The Details” sends us on a sometimes trippy, sometimes nostalgic, mostly drama-ridden rollercoaster ride. There’s a lot to cover here.
It’s been a while since we last saw Sam battling with Lucifer; season seven in fact, although that was just the Lucifer that Sam’s battered brain conjured up to torture him. This is the real deal, and like a broken record his endgame is to wear Sam to the prom, where the “prom” in this case is “smiting of The Darkness”. Sam is understandably sceptical. This is Lucifer, after all – the same Lucifer who wanted to burn the Earth to the ground, and may well do again. So even after some pretty damn convincing arguments, Sam stands his ground – he says no. It’s a victorious, punch-the-air moment for Sam: he’s standing up to someone he’s afraid of, no matter the consequences.
Interestingly, Lucifer does bring up a good point in his spiel: co-dependency. As any even semi-regular viewer of the show will know, it’s something the Winchester brothers have in spades, and that often works to their disadvantage. “Instead of choosing the world, you choose each other,” Lucifer comments, and not that we want to agree with the Devil himself, but he’s got a point. It came to a head last season where Sam was not only the catalyst to Charlie’s death, but also ended up unleashing world-ending force The Darkness herself unto the world, all to save Dean. Sure, it keeps the show going, but it is not healthy. Of course, manipulative bastard that he is, Lucifer ends up using that very same co-dependency to his advantage – say yes, or Dean dies. If we had to guess, we’d say Sam would be up one angel possession if it wasn’t for Castiel jumping in to stop co-dependency from making stupid decisions on Sam’s behalf.
Instead, it’s Castiel who makes the stupid decision. Sigh.
Though really, who could blame him? When it comes to Castiel, there’s a definite theme this episode that voices something fans have been crying for seasons. What is Castiel to the Winchesters? (Or should that be to the writers, maybe?) Is he some expendable tool that they pick up and put down whenever they feel the need, or is he a true friend to them? After seven seasons, it should go without saying that Cas is a core member of the Winchester’s family, and yet incredibly, things are still a bit blurry on that front. Writer Andrew Dabb bringing this “expendability” issue to the forefront of Castiel’s arc hopefully means there’s finally going to be some sort of concrete resolution to those questions – not to mention help appease fans who have been wondering if their voices have gone unnoticed.
Point being, it’s after being told that he’s “expendable” and second fiddle to the “real heroes”, the Winchesters, and after Amara dubs him “hardly worth the effort” that he allows Lucifer to use him as his vessel. It’s Cas’s (albeit dramatic) way of helping – of making sure that he makes himself useful – and it’s heart-breaking. That said – Misha Collins playing Lucifer? Now that we can get behind. Castiel has always been a fairly stoic character for Collins to play, and given that his real life personality is more akin to that of the Trickster’s, it’s not difficult to tell that he’s going to be having some fun letting loose. It’s a shame that we’re going to be losing out on more Mark Pellegrino, sure, but Collins is a more than welcome substitute. We’re looking forward to more of that!
Finally, Rowena. From her psychedelic Christmas-themed nightmare to her fangirling over Lucifer to her tear-jerking speech about love to Crowley, she really shines this episode – up until, you know, she gets murdered. It felt inevitable, especially for a female character; it’s amazing that she managed to hold on this long, really! (Although after the Charlie debacle, it’s a wonder the writers had the balls to kill off another female redhead so soon in the first place!!) For once, it doesn’t feel like a wasted, “did it for the drama” death either – she was the only means of opening the Cage and throwing Lucifer back down again. It makes sense that he’d want her gone. But hey, this is Supernatural – who knows what’ll happen next.
- Sam refusing to let Lucifer manipulate him into saying, “Yes”. Despite what Lucifer’s saying, it’s a testament to Sam’s character and shows real strength.
- The ridiculous Christmas-themed episode opener, starring Mark Pellegrino as Satan Claus and Mark Sheppard in a onesie. Good stuff.
- Cas coming to the Winchester’s aid – first to help Dean with his smiting sickness, and second to help Sam in the Cage.
- Crowley making Dean “sing” Camptown Races as the password to Hell.
- Ambriel the admin angel! For the short time she’s around, she’s completely adorable – we can even almost forgive her for calling Cas “expendable”.
- Amara’s “waking up” VFX. The darkness coiling away and up into Amara’s dress to reveal daytime is stunning.
- The nostalgic flashbacks Lucifer takes Sam on, from teenage Sam to revisiting Stull Cemetery.
- Lucifer turning the makeshift cage into a party with the incongruous “Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel” blaring in the background as he beats Team Free Will into submission.
- Crowley and Rowena’s relationship – particularly Rowena’s witch catcher-driven confession of how Crowley, or rather Fergus, is a reminder of the lacklustre life she led before becoming a witch.
- Misha Collins taking up the reigns as Lucifer!
- Dean didn’t have all that much to do this episode. He got ill, chased after Sam and got beaten up, pretty much. Oh, and Lucifer used him to pinpoint the “co-dependency” thing by nearly killing him, too.
- The surprisingly easy path down to Hell that Billie the Reaper provided. Since when has that been on a Reaper’s power roster?
And the Random:
- Looks like Cas managed to get his car (fondly nicknamed the “pimpmobile”) back from Metatron whilst he was beating information out of him.
- When Sam asks what Lucifer plans to do after smiting The Darkness, he replies, “Move to LA and solve crimes?” which is a blatant tongue-in-cheek reference to the show Lucifer.
- Crowley’s Christmas present is the Funko POP! doll version of Sam Winchester.
Review by Jessica Anson