Supernatural S11E21 “All In The Family” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on E4 on Wednesdays at 10pm
Writers: Eugenie Ross-Leming, Brad Buckner
Director: Thomas J Wright
Essential Plot Points:
- We’re right where we left off: on the street, the amulet glowing, and Chuck standing in front of the Winchesters. They’re understandably dubious about exactly who – or what – Chuck is.
- He manages to convince them by teleporting them to the Bunker, where none other than Kevin is waiting. As Chuck finally sends Kevin’s wayward soul up to Heaven, it clicks. They know who they’re in the presence of.
- Meanwhile, Amara’s still torturing Lucifer, trying to catch God’s attention.
- But, as it turns out, she’s warded herself against God, so he can’t help them find her, and he doesn’t seem all that bothered about it.
- Running out of options, Amara sends Dean a message, showing him the state of Lucifer – and, of course, of Cas – to try and goad him into following. It’s not looking good. Things aren’t looking great for Cas.
- The “Amara fog” has hit another town, and this time Chuck couldn’t save them; he doesn’t want to bow down to Amara. It’s reported on the news, which Metatron happens to see – along with a shot of Sam, Dean and Chuck in the town that was saved. He calls Dean, telling him he needs to talk.
- Sam and Dean find out that everyone in the affected town died – save for one man. They go to talk to him, and find out that they’re looking at the next prophet.
- Understandably the prophet, Donatello, is freaked out, but he’s been dragged in and he’s not getting out anytime soon. He’s able to sense things, including Chuck as they get closer to the Bunker.
- Next on the Winchester’s list is to go see Metatron. He drunkenly lets them know that Chuck isn’t going to confront his sister, but is going to let her take him down instead. His proof? Chuck’s autobiography, or as Metatron calls it, his suicide note.
- Dean goes to talk about it to Chuck, not wanting to believe it. Chuck explains that he plans to exchange himself for everything he created. And if that doesn’t work? He’ll leave it to his creation, to humans. Dean’s less than impressed.
- Back at the Bunker, Metatron’s been trying to get an invite inside for hours. They finally relent, and he offers his help as the former scribe of God.
- Their first plan of action is to grab Lucifer from Amara, and use him to turn Chuck around. Donatello can sense where Amara’s hiding out, but they’re gonna need Amara distracted, and they have the perfect bait: Dean.
- Operation Rescue Lucifer begins. Dean goes to talk to Amara, where she tries as hard as she can to get Dean to join with her – literally join her; become a part of her. Dean’s not too hot on that. She figures out something’s up when she realises that he’s spoken with God.
- The rest of the team manage to spring Lucifer, but Amara knows they’re there. Metatron offers to stay behind, letting the others escape. In a bout of desperation, he tries a banishing sigil on Amara, but of course it doesn’t work, and instead, she banishes him.
- Amara goes after the boys, but before she can lay a hand on them, the Impala is teleported right into the middle of the Bunker. Chuck’s doing, of course.
- With immediate problems sorted, kind of, the boys send Donatello off in a taxi so he doesn’t have to deal with any of it anymore.
It’s never going to be an easy feat, following up a stellar Robbie T episode, but “All In The Family” does a decent job trying. There’s a whole lot going on, and whilst a lot of the episode is unfortunately marred by the of Buckleming writing team’s pacing issues, there’s some good stuff happening here.
Chuck in particular is one of those good things. We found out last episode that the Almighty himself has been kicking back and blogging for the past however-many-years, and he’s keeping up a similar lifestyle even with the next apocalypse looming over everyone’s heads. He fits right in to the Bunker (well, he thinks he does, in any case), making himself at home by wearing Dean’s robe, taking long showers, eating takeout noodles and stealing the boys’ laptops. God seems completely apathetic to everything serious that’s happening out in the world that he created.
It ties in with the speech Dean makes when he realises who he’s facing – the speech nigh-on everyone wants to make to a hypothetical higher being. Where’s Chuck been? Why has he been ignoring all the horrors going on in the world? Chuck’s answer is simple: even his intervention couldn’t stop humanity from tearing itself apart, so he just stopped. Now, his plan is to let himself be caged away by his sister rather than going on the offence and stopping her; almost the ultimate apathy. Sure, he says he would make sure he’s locked away in exchange for the safety of his creation, but as Dean points out, Amara’s hell-bent on destroying it all no matter what.
Speaking of Amara, this episode finally addresses an issue that’s been getting under our skin this whole series: Dean finally admits that although he is drawn to Amara, it “bothers the hell out of him”. It’s something he can’t fight, after all. Finally getting that acknowledgement that feelings of affection under mind control don’t count as the real deal is a cathartic moment. We can see the pain in Dean’s eyes – the burden that he’s been put under by Amara. He wants her gone as badly as the rest of them.
On the flip side, there’s one choice in particular that BuckLeming have made this episode that seems off-kilter: Donatello, the new prophet. He doesn’t make much sense. Dean even points out that Crowley gathered together all the potential prophets that would follow Kevin back in season eight, and Donatello wasn’t one of them. Waving it away as “maybe Crowley missed one” just seems like lazy writing. Not to mention, he has barely any function during the episode except to freak out about his new status, detect where Amara is and then be driven off in a taxi at the end of the episode. He may as well have not even been there at all!
Ignoring that, there’s a good set-up for the next episode. Lucifer’s about to confront his Father after being tortured and essentially ignored by him, so it’ll be interesting to see their family dynamic… if that’s what you can call it. It would be nice if Cas got more of a mention, though – Lucifer isn’t the only angel in that vessel! He gets a mention from Amara of all people, to try and bait Dean into coming and finding her. It makes sense; he’s been worrying about his friend constantly over the past series of episodes, and she knows it.
- Chuck in general. It’s difficult to say that God’s characterisation has been done right for obvious reasons, but in the context of Supernatural, it’s being handled very well. Rob Benedict acts the “blasé-but-knowing-just-how-much-is-at-stake” tone very well.
- Sam and Dean’s differing reactions to finding out just who Chuck is: Sam is barely able to get a proper sentence out, whilst Dean’s calmly restrained speech to him is heartbreakingly honest.
- Kevin’s cameo! His death still seems senseless, but it’s nice to see him back on the show every once in a while.
- Metatron’s helpless circling of the building and sending Dean hundreds of emoji text messages to try and get let into the bunker.
- After last episode you can’t help but feel for the guy.
- Dean finally admitting to Amara that no, he doesn’t like her, he’s drawn to her under mind control and he is not a fan.
- The pacing leaves a thing or two to be desired, with too much going on at once.
- Donatello could have been taken out entirely without any particular consequence.
- Metatron’s death. It’s a very Supernatural thing to do – just as you get to like a character, they take them away.
- Amara’s scripting in the forest with Dean sounds like something straight out of a cheese Harlequin romance. No thanks.
- Sam seemed awfully compliant in helping Lucifer, considering the horrors he’s put him through in the past.
And The Random:
- That said, Jared Padalecki has made mention of a deleted scene that goes towards explaining why Sam is okay with helping Lucifer. Would have been nice if that had made the final cut!
- Just as soon as the Samulet reappears, it’s gone again. Jensen Ackles has said that it’s because he used to hate wearing it – it would always swing up into his face during takes!