“The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Supernatural is that, with unequivocal certainty, the last place you should be is out in the woods. Yes, another Supernatural episode, another pair of victims out enjoying a bit of camping. But the monster of the woods is nothing more than a diversion, with the true beast a familiar one, though the face she wears is much different.
Still keeping quiet on the continued nightmares he’s had of killing his brother, Sam and Dean head to Colorado where the death of two young women have upped the body count by a mysterious creature to five. Their only clue is the survivor, Ashley (Anna Grace Barlow) who points the hunters in the direction of a pair of brothers Andy and Josh, who just happen to be werewolves.
Though the tension between brothers—Josh reveling in the kill while Andy wants nothing to do with hunting people—is a decent enough conflict, it falls by the wayside when compared to the extended look at Ashley processing the horror of losing her friends and barely surviving. When there are only so many minutes to tell a story, an examination of the trauma victims must face in the aftermath of their attacks is often the less important part of the story. But Anna Grace Barlow is fantastic in drawing on the fractured spirit of someone who’s been through such a terrible ordeal; she even finds a connection with Dean that, for the first half of “Proverbs 17:3” the narrative’s emotional center.
And then the truth arrived like a bomb, leveling everything that happened before it, including Sam and Dean’s relief at Chuck’s departure. After quite literally tripping up, Ashley reveals herself to be Lilith, the long dead final seal that released Lucifer from his Cage all the way back in Season Four.
As a higher being, the mother of demons has spent the time in the Empty, until the newly inspired Chuck decided to get back into writing and, man, does he truly want to stick it to the boys. The Andy/Josh narrative is an ironic parallel to Sam and Dean, a foreshadowing to the fate he has planned for the Winchesters.
As Lilith tells it, the only way for the story to end is for one brother to kill the other. If that wasn’t bad enough, their only weapon against Chuck—the Equalizer gun he created—is slagged by Lilith, no doubt a part of Chuck’s plan to get any possible weapon that could harm him off the table. After playing her part Lilith vanishes, but not before promising Sam and Dean they’ll be seeing her soon enough.
In the weeks since the premiere, Sam and Dean have shut down Hell’s rupture, lost two frienemies, became estranged from their third brother Cas, and nearly died. And while some of this may be just another Thursday for them, the biggest relief (at least for Dean) was being back in control again, not having God pulling the strings, maneuvering the pieces to fit his all-mighty narratives. To have those hopes dashed, to be forced to deal with being in the crosshairs of the Creator Himself, if you want to talk about trauma, that’s a big stinking lot of it. Funnily enough, it’s like this news reinvigorates Sam and, combined with his dreams and potential connection to Chuck, takes the standard Winchester position: they’ll fight.
But Dean… it’s difficult to watch the elder Winchester who, just recently told Sam just how freeing it was to once again control their own destiny. To have that saving grace ripped away tears all hope from Dean who poses the question to his gung-ho brother: “How in the hell are we supposed to fight God?” Sam can only answer in silence because, right now, there are no such answers.
The Good, the Bad, the Supernatural
- It’s been a long time since I’ve examined the significance of an episode title to the narrative. But this week was too good to pass up. As quoted above, “Proverbs 17:3” speaks on the tempering of gold and silver, paralleling how those metals are broken down with how God tests man. In this case, the trials that Chuck has prepared for Sam and Dean will test the brothers in ways they haven’t experienced since Season Five as they were destined to become the vessels for Michael (Dean) and Lucifer (Sam). It was supposed to be the ultimate battle between brothers. But they didn’t because the unifying theme of the series has always been the brothers’ conviction to choose one another over anything else…no matter the cost. Will this be any different or will they be written into a corner, per se, and forced to kill the other? Even the thought of going down that path is a dreadful one.
- Once again, Supernatural pulls a past character off the bench and right back into the lineup in a way that’s seamless and sensible. The whole Ashley/Lilith thing was one of the better swerves in recent memory. She comes off as such a sweet girl who goes through some serious crap and when she’s seemingly impaled after Andy kills his brother and then himself; it was so jarring, I know I wasn’t the only one that yelled “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!” out loud. Yet, as shocking as that was, it was nothing compared to Lilith announcing her return. Though she may not be Katherine Boecher, Anna Grace Barlow holds her own, adding a different flavor to the character while retaining her ever-important menace.
- It looks like Chuck’s decision to let Sam shoot him with the Equalizer gun may be his downfall. Not only is he depowered since taking the bullet but now Sam may have a backstage pass to Chuck’s ideas for Supernatural’s ending that may (heavy emphasis) give them at least some sort of intel which they can use to prepare. But without a weapon to take on the Creator of the universe, it probably won’t matter if they see what’s coming if they have no prayer in stopping it.