So what’s that line about making a deal with the devil? While we all know that it’s a bad move, Sam, trusting that God’s been directing his visions decides that the only way to nip this Darkness thing in the bud is to tap the greatest liar in the history of this planet.

Speaking of the Darkness, Amara is having her own crisis of faith, if you will. She pays two separate visits to religious gatherings searching for answers on how to find God. The first is a street preacher taking the fire and brimstone approach with his congregation.  His diatribe is on God’s wrath and a person’s need to repent and be forgiven. “His wrath comes in many forms,” he says at one point and Amara ends up showing him and his flock that God “ain’t the only game in town.”

Her second experience is with a more subdued Father in a church that explains to her the mysteries and—in Amara’s eyes—fallacies of faith. Again, her inability to make contact with her brother exacerbates Amara’s frustration and she takes it out on the congregation. It’s only a matter of time before her actions are picked up by the Winchester radar.

Lucifer returns–and proves that he’s still the most devious and cunning Adversary

In regards to Sam and Dean, after Sam’s constant harping on the visions pointing towards Lucifer, Dean relents. They ring up Crowley in an effort to brainstorm on how to make the meeting with Lucifer happen on their terms. The reigning King of Hell has an idea: the Book of the Damned. Enter Rowena. Once the uneasy allies have the witch in custody, she works on a spell that will temporarily nullify the Morningstar’s power and keep Sam relatively safe. When Rowena finally gets everything she needs, she, Sam and Crowley take a trip downstairs to have a tete-a-tete with the First of All Angels.

It’s been several years since we’ve seen Lucifer grace the Supernatural small screen but never has he been this unsettling. His first reaction to seeing Sam is surprise and when the latter fills him in on the Darkness, you can see the wheels turning in his head. He’s all for putting the Darkness back in the box, so to speak but needs a change of scenery to truly get into the fight. What does that mean? He simply needs a host “who’s strong enough to hold me. Handy…and available now. Catch my drift?” For a second, it looks as if Sam is thinking about offering himself up but sanity (of a sort) returns and he declines Lucifer’s offer.

And that’s when the Rowena’s protection spell fails.

Before he can click his heels and book it out of Dodge, Sam finds himself in the Cage, a familiar position prophesized by his visions from God. But they were never his  visions, now were they? Lucifer breaks it down; the releasing of the Darkness created fissures in the Cage, fissures just large enough for Lucifer to transmit to Sam what he wanted the hunter to see. “It wasn’t God inside your head, Sam. It was me. So you see, he’s not with you; he’s never been with you. It was always just me.”

The bond between Dean and Amara continues to grow…in the most unexpected of ways

While Sam is finding himself up a creek with no semblance of any paddle, Dean’s investigating Amara’s two murder fests and eventually comes across her in a park. The two are inextricably drawn towards one another and, after transporting them to their original meeting spot, Amara converses with Dean on the nature of God, on the farce of an institution He’s created. Her anger is palpable but not without cause. At one point she tells him that she deserves all of this: “I was the Beginning and I will be the End.” Dean likens her spiel of becoming “all that there is” to becoming God. She scoffs at the notion. “God was the Light. I am the Dark.” Of course, Dean still tries to kill her but it’s like spitting in a hurricane. Amara gets his resistance to the head-spinning idea of their bond. When she makes the surprising admission that those souls she’s taken in are not dead, but they have become a part of her it changes how he sees her.

“I can’t be resisted,” she continues and, when it looks as if she’s ready to take his soul into her, she kisses him instead. Dean is floored by their kiss and the lingering feelings it filters. She tells him it was the future, their future. “You and I will be together.” Before he’s able to respond, three angels appear with an ultimatum for the Original Mark: submit to judgment by the heavenly host or be smited—or is it smote?—down where she stands. She makes short work of all three and, when the Heavens open, ready to smack her down with the universe’s largest Spirit Bomb, she whisks Dean away and out of danger as the concentrated will of Heaven slams into her…

The Good

  • Every time I think Supernatural has hit the apex of storytelling, the writers throw us another gem. First off, welcome back Mark Pelligrino. He’s always been brilliant in his portrayal of the Morningstar, but he dialed up another gear in this one. All throughout the back and forth between Lucifer and Sam, despite my fascinated glee with his performance, the reptile aspect of my mind was terrified as the master manipulator tried to pull Sam in. When he literally shazamed Sam into the Cage, my heart dropped as Sam was placed back into the worst nightmares of any person, living or dead.
  • Hats off to Jared Padalecki’s performance as well. The abject fear of facing the devil after being tormented in unimaginable ways for so long was written over his face. And then the hopelessness when he realized just how badly Lucifer duped him, having him dead to rights in the Cage, said it all.
  • And then there’s Amara. Her journey towards understanding her brother’s creation is a parallel to many people’s own search for a higher power, understanding the differences between faith and religion. Sure, some people will be turned off by the idea of God having a sister but, from a storytelling perspective, it makes sense. As she says, “God was the Light. I am the Dark.” Without darkness, light would have no meaning for us. Amara’s outright defiance of her brother almost assures us that, after years on the sidelines, we’ll be seeing God before the season ends.

The Bad

  • The biggest detraction for me is that this episode didn’t last long enough. The one-on-ones between Dean/Amara and Sam/Lucifer was some of the most intriguing and craftily written interactions I’ve seen all year (more in The Good section).
  • The atmosphere surrounding the Cage was less than impressive and the special effects were meh at best. But that could’ve also been the point of it.
  • Another small gripe is there is no mention of Michael. Remember, he, along with Sam and Lucifer, was trapped in the Cage at the end of season 5. I find it a bit odd that he garners no conversation during Sam’s discussions on speaking to Lucifer.

The Supernatural

Great lines abound once more and, despite each character having two to three gems, here are some of the top lines for the mid-season finale:

  • Dean (after Sam tells him about the burning bush): “You were in the forest. There are bushes there…and sometimes they burn!”
  • Rowena regarding plans: “I promised Lincoln a fun night at the theater—things change.”
  • Lucifer (to Sam denying his insanity): “You’ve been working with Crowley. You passed certifiable three off-ramps ago.”
  • Dean (after hearing Amara’s disdain for God’s set up): “While your brother was going all Kanye, blowing his own horn.”