Supernatural S11E20 “Don’t Call Me Shurley” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- “Don’t Call Me Shurley” opens on a character we haven’t seen for a while: Metatron. And against all expectations, he’s doing a good thing: feeding a begging dog. Until…
- …he’s in a bar. The Beach Boys are playing. The dog’s there… And so is Carver Edlund, aka Chuck Shurley.
- Metatron figures that he’s being punked; that he’s being punished for his sins by being thrown in limbo with, in his words, “a hack writer”. Ouch!
- Except Chuck’s not a hack writer, nor is he a prophet of the Lord. Chuck passes some sunglasses over to Metatron, and with a click of his fingers, reveals that he is His Holiness in all His glory. Chuck is God.
- Metatron’s rightly confused as to how nobody knew Chuck was, well, Chuck during his stint on Earth. He brings up Dean’s amulet, meant to glow in the presence of God – which Chuck pulls out of nowhere. And then turns the amulet on. Cocky bastard had it turned off this whole time! No wonder Cas never found him.
- Meanwhile, back in the secular world, Dean’s ironing his suit, and just in time – Sam has a case, and the victim’s got prominent black vein lines running down his arms. Sound familiar?
- So what exactly has Chuck brought Metatron to him for? Turns out he needs an editor. For his autobiography. Yeah.
- Metatron isn’t too impressed with Chuck’s first draft, telling him it focuses too much on Chuck, and not enough on God. It’s going well until Metatron suggests adding a piece on, “Why?” – “Why did you create life?”
- Chuck explains how, when it was just him and his sister, he wanted to show Amara how beautiful life could be, and built worlds to show her. Worlds that she kept destroying – and so he locked her away so he could create with no boundaries.
- Chuck knows that Amara’s out again and on a rampage, but he’s basically resigned to knowing that his life’s work is going to be destroyed. In fact, he doesn’t seem too bothered by it.
- Back with the Winchesters, there’s a fog rolling in, and Sam and Dean know what that means: rabids. One of them has a message from Amara: everything is going to go away, forever, but not Dean.
- Chuck doesn’t see Amara being out as his responsibility. The Winchesters caused this shitshow, so they can fix it. He’s saved them one too many times. But more than that – Chuck is hiding, using his writing as a distraction. Metatron is seriously unimpressed.
- Sam and Dean lock themselves away from the fog in the police station, duct taping every possible entry point, but it’s not enough. The fog gets in, infecting Sam.
- In desperation, Metatron begs Chuck to save humanity – Chuck’s creation who fight for survival, who never give up where Chuck already seems to have. It obviously strikes a nerve, and he writes a ream of new pages that he encourages the despondent Metatron to pick up.
- Things are reaching breaking point with the Winchesters. Rabids are beating the police doors down, the fog is thick – but Dean is unaffected.
- Chuck picks up a guitar, and starts to sing. On Earth, an object in Sam’s pocket begins to glow: the amulet. The fog disappears, the rabids are miraculously healed, and Chuck sings.
- The Winchesters walk, dazed, through the healed town, finally coming across who they’ve been searching for for so long: Chuck.
By this point, we’ve established in our Supernatural reviews that Robbie Thompson is on top of his game when it comes to his scripts. He has all the characters’ voices and personalities down to an art, an encyclopaedic knowledge of the show, and a wholesome sense of meta. “Don’t Call Me Shurley” is bittersweet, then, as it’s both one of the best episodes that this show has put out in its 11 seasons in all those respects, but is also Thompson’s final episode.
There are some key, fundamental things this episode addresses that ranks it so highly. For one thing, the very idea of a “God” in the Supernatural universe is something that’s been toyed with ever since angels were introduced, particularly with Castiel’s hunt for him in season five, but has never been followed through on. Even so, fan speculation has run rampant ever since the very last minutes of “Swan Song”, season five’s finale, in which “Chuck” faded off-screen in a cloud of smoke after finishing his (supposed) final book in the Winchester Gospels series.
What did it mean? The fan theory that Chuck was, in fact, God started there, and only grew in strength in the years to come. Robbie Thompson is known for tipping his hat to the Supernatural fandom in most of his episodes, and none so strongly as finally confirming this beloved fan theory. If you’re going, you might as well go out in a blaze of glory, after all!
Supernatural is a series well-loved for how it humanises the fantastical; makes it more relatable and grounding to viewers, which is absolutely exemplified in Thompson’s choice to have God appear not as a terrifying deity bearing down judgement on all, but as Chuck, the singing, writing, cat-blogging nerd. The most powerful being in all the universe, condensed down to a guy who just wants to have a bit of fun, and avoid the second coming of the apocalypse if he can help it.
Incredibly, this episode humanises Metatron of all people too. Metatron is “that” character in Supernatural – the one that you want to punch in the face, hard, for everything he’s done to the world since his introduction. He tricked Castiel, he turned the angels out from Heaven, he tried to be God, he filmed people getting murdered for his own profit… and yet by the end of “Don’t Call Me Shurley”, you genuinely feel sorry for the guy. All he ever wanted was attention from his Father, and all his Father tells him is that he was never special. Plus, it takes balls to stand up to God and tell him that his writing’s subpar. That alone gives him points.
There are so many things that make this episode wonderful to watch. The countless meta references back to Supernatural, (“The last time I saw that look on an editor’s face, I had just handed over ‘Bugs’”), the immense shade Thompson throws, (“Why I never answer prayers, and why you should be glad I don’t!”) and how he casually outs God himself as bisexual. But the cherry on top is the amulet, fondly known as the “Samulet” in fandom. Next to devil’s trap insignias, it’s probably the most well-known SPN symbol. Fans were devastated when Dean threw it away all the way back in season five, and have been waiting for it to come back ever since. Once again, Thompson delivers, throwing in the beautiful reference to its supposed “glowing in God’s presence” powers. He had it turned off. So simple, so aggravating. Just perfect.
Sure, the Winchesters are in this episode, trying to fight off Amara and her rabids-creating fog, but they’re not the focus this time, and that’s good. They get the screen-time they need, and no more. This episode belongs to Chuck and to Metatron, and for good reason. That said, the episode’s ending, the culmination of everything, where Sam and Dean discover the glowing amulet, and soon after Chuck himself, with Chuck serenading the scene the whole time, is perfection. The calm, understated manner in which its scripted and directed compared to the gravity of what’s actually happening is genius, and brings everything together beautifully. This might be Robbie Thompson’s last Supernatural episode, but it’s one that he’s obviously poured his love for the show and for the fandom into, and we couldn’t be more grateful.
- The most popular SPN fan theory is finally brought to life: Chuck is God! And his reveal is stellar – heavenly chorus and all.
- Chuck and Metatron throwing shade at Supernatural is beautiful – it’s great to see a show laughing at itself, which SPN is no stranger to. Plus it’s very in-keeping with the “meta” aspect they’re so fond of, which is no surprise given Chuck’s job was literally publishing the Winchesters’ lives as a book series in the show’s universe.
- The re-emergence of the beloved Samulet, and its weight in the episode’s goings-on. Finding out that Chuck had simply turned it off so it wouldn’t glow in his presence is one thing; sending it back to the Winchesters glowing is a whole other, really emotional moment.
- Metatron finally feels like a fully-rounded character with more to his personality than just evil incarnate as he cries to his Father to stop hiding and go save humanity, damnit, because they’ve fought for survival, and they’ve kept going, and Chuck hasn’t. It’s powerful stuff, and we’re sure it resonates with a good number of viewers as well.
- God keeps a cat blog. He emphasises twice how they’re really cute. Only on Supernatural.
- Plus God being bi – that wasn’t something anyone was expecting, we’d wager! As we’ve mentioned before, there’s been a noticeable rise in LGBT representation on the show, so much so that the big guy himself is a part of it too!
- Chuck’s darker side shows through as the episode goes on, and Rob Benedict does a fantastic job of switching from the blasé, carefree Chuck to the dangerous, scary Lord of Everything.
- In fact, just having Rob Benedict back on the show again is such a gift from Thompson. Can we have Gabriel back next, please?
- Thompson utilising Rob Benedict’s singing to sing a literal farewell to the viewers is an emotional moment.
- If we had to pick something, we’d take out Sam and Dean’s mini-storyline and give the episode entirely to Chuck and Metatron. But then the final scene with the glowing amulet and the singing wouldn’t be in there…
And the Random:
- At one point, Chuck tells Metatron that he started a new series of books: Revolution. But he doesn’t think it’s going anywhere. It’s a reference to SPN creator Eric Kripke’s new series, Revolution, which… isn’t really going anywhere. In fact, it was cancelled after two seasons.
- “Bugs” is a season one episode, and one that Eric Kripke sorely regrets writing. The very fact that they had the actors had to shoot with a room full of live bees for it should tell you enough!
- Metatron criticises Chuck’s writing by telling him there are no revelations in it. Of course, Revelation is the infamous final book in the New Testament, focusing on the Apocalypse and the horrors that come with it.
- An official download of Rob Benedict’s cover of Fare Thee Well that plays over the final scene in the episode is available here.