Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 17: “Goodbye Stranger”
Written by Robbie Thompson
Directed by Thomas J. Wright
Airs Wednesdays at 9pm (ET) on CW
Since Kevin managed to finally decipher his half of the demon tablet, along with several other factors, the existence of an angel tablet, as revealed by Samandriel to Crowley, has remained a backburner piece of information, especially since the Winchesters continue to remain unaware of its existence. Its importance, however, has not been diminished as a result, and it was inconceivable to imagine that Crowley was not searching for it with fervour, especially since he has lost possession of both Kevin and the demon tablet. The presence of, and search for, the angel tablet thus roared back to the front of the line in this week’s episode, in a solid episode that brought back many key recurring players, and raised the stakes of the season once again.
Meg’s death presents a very interesting idea on the show. While she was very firmly on the Winchesters’ side since Crowley’s ascension to the throne of Hell, her past transgressions against the brothers and their allies cannot be forgotten; she, after all, was the one who drew Sam into the larger mystery once the burning of Jessica pulled him back into hunting, and she was an integral part in Azazel’s plan to bring Lucifer to Earth, not to mention she also released the hellhounds who fatally wounded Jo, and indirectly led to Ellen’s death. However, she has also saved Dean and Sam’s life on more than one occasion, and was a key part of the final showdown against Dick Roman and the Leviathans, and helped the Winchesters and Castiel get the Angel tablet. Her alliance with the Winchesters was one of convenience, and it was likely that, had she survived to see Crowley get vanquished, she’d have turned on the brothers once again. With all this in mind, how her death should be viewed is a legitimate question; should it be mourned as another fallen soldier who fought alongside the Winchesters, or celebrated as another foe vanquished?
Castiel finally breaking free of Naomi’s hold, and becoming a lone wolf who has the angel tablet in his possession, is also a fascinating development. His decision, which may have been tablet-influenced, opens up a new front in the fight between angels and demons that has raged on this season, and presents a very interestingly complex situation for Naomi, who has three options at this point; hunt down Castiel with the help of Heaven and forcefully retrieve the tablet from him, join forces with Crowley to track Castiel and protect against an inevitable double-cross, or help the Winchesters in shutting the gates of Hell before Crowley can get his hands on the angel tablet himself. What course of action she chooses to take will likely also influence how the other parties involved proceed, and if she chooses to work with Sam and Dean, how the two react to the idea of forming an alliance with her, particularly in light of what she did to Castiel, is worth looking out for. How Crowley chooses to proceed from this point onwards is also fascinating; if he were to go on the hunt for Castiel and the angel tablet, it would buy Kevin and the Winchesters some more time to decipher and complete the remaining tasks. If, on the other hand, Crowley were to go after the brothers, it might allow Naomi an opportunity to secure the angel tablet. THe decision he makes will tell a lot about where his priorities truly lie.
Overall, this was a thrilling episode that very effectively brought the focus back to the season’s major arcs. Rachel Miner was superb in her last appearance as Meg, managing to infuse the character with pathos in her final appearance without making her seem weak. The show’s sense of humour was also unmistakeably visible this week, despite the gravity of the situation, with the aforementioned Meg getting some of the episode’s best lines, though Castiel and Crowley were not left out of the loop. The struggle to free Castiel from the influence of Naomi bore some unmistakeable parallels to the attempt Dean made to free Sam from Lucifer’s possession in the season 5 finale “Swan Song”, from Dean taking a massive beating to appealing to family loyalty, to the struggle of Sam and Castiel to break free just as they were close to killing Dean. Castiel’s assertion that Sam was damaged beyond angel repair was also a worrisome statement, as it may be hinting towards a fatal sacrifice on the part of the younger Winchester to successfully seal the gates of Hell shut. Castiel’s struggle against Naomi’s influence was very well done, and how the ramifications of the angel tablet now being out in the world affect all the involved parties, as well as what this means for the Winchesters’ attempts to secure the other half of the demon tablet, as well as if and how Kevin gets affected by the uncovering of the angel tablet are all things to look out for next week.
– Deepayan Sengupta