‘Supernatural’s ‘Free to Be You and Me’: Giving the Devil his due?

The post below discusses "Free to Be You and Me," the third episode of "Supernatural's" fifth season.

UPDATE: At the end of this post, there are now three video clips from the Oct. 1 episode of "Supernatural," "The End."

Our father, who art in heaven…

Or maybe not.

There's a possibility that God is kicking back at the divine version of Club Med, enjoying some celestial mai tais, leaving a huge mess for the angels to sort out.

As Dean pointed out to Castiel, the Winchesters have some experience in the absent-father department. And let's face it, if John Winchester hadn't been absent, if he hadn't died, in fact, Sam and Dean wouldn't have started down the road they're on. They wouldn't have been started the process of changing from boys to men. That process is far from over — in some ways, it's just getting started — but at least they've begun that journey.

Maybe that's the message for the angels this season. Dad's gone, wah wah wah — sorry, but the pity party needs to end. Man up, angels (though hey, are we ever going to meet some female angels?). Whatever their gender, the angels just need to get over the fact that Dad left town and only left them $20 for pizza and not a whole lot else in the way of guidance.

And honestly, Lucifer needs to get over the fact that he and his dad had a disagreement. All the stuff that Lucifer told Nick, that Lucifer-as-Jessica told Sam — it's all based on resentment. People can't change, it's all God's fault, let's go kick around whoever hurt you, let's let the dark side win.

Of course it sounds good — Lucifer has that calm way of talking, that soothing line of B.S.

But really, Lucifer and Rafael are in the same boat — they're just angry children. Angry, very powerful children who want someone to pay for everything that's gone wrong.

And of course it'll be the Winchesters who have to knock some sense into these chuckleheads — while the brothers are fighting their own internal demons and figuring out how to relate to each other in a way that doesn't leave them angry or mentally exhausted.

"Free to Be You and Me" was another solid episode, although I'm a little afraid it'll set the message boards on fire (though again, I've been really impressed with the level of commenting here. Thank you, "Supernatural" fans, for not engaging in old fandom wars and grudges here — let's keep it that way).

That final revelation — that Sam is supposed to be Lucifer's true vessel — I think it is verrrry interesting. Though there was some divine comedy in this episode (more on that in a bit), as well as some heavy-duty drama, I have to say that this episode left me with a lot of questions, which I think was partly the point. I think we'll see these questions answered as the season progresses (or at least, I hope we do).

When Raphael said "We're tired. We just want it to be over," was he saying he doesn't much care which side wins? That he just wants this whole experiment with humans/earth/etc to be over? Then again, he was seen skirmishing with demons, so presumably the angel want his side to win (sidebar: Could "winning" still mean that much or all of humanity dies? Are the angels troubled by that though? I'm guessing no.) Zach said the point of starting the Apocalypse was to be able to slay Lucifer so I'm assuming that's Raphael's overall goal too, though he's not the most motivated employee, is he?

One of the biggest mythology questions right now: Why are the Winchesters so vessel-icious? What is it about that clan that makes them so attractive to angels? In last week's comment area, many mentioned the necklace that Cas took from Dean — a necklace that originally was in the possession of Bobby, then it was given by Bobby to Sam, and Sam intended to give the amulet to John. Perhaps that ties into the fact that John was, according to Alastair, meant to be the person who broke the first seal in Hell, but Dean did that instead, just as Dean was given the amulet by Sam as a Christmas present when the boys were children (the SuperWiki has more on the amulet here).

Are we going to find out what exactly has made the Winchester clan so important to all these powerful entities? Are we going to get more of a backstory on how John and the amulet play into that whole story line? Hope so.

One question the episode didn't answer — and this was a bit of a dodge, though not an unforgivable one — was this: OK, let's assume for the sake of argument that Cas was brought back from the dead by Lucifer (I don't necessarily believe that, but let's just say, hypothetically, it's true). That still doesn't explain why Sam and Dean ended up on a plane, relatively far away from the convent where Lucifer emerged. Why would Lucifer bring Sam, his vessel, to that location then send him away? It's fairly convenient that Sam didn't ask Lucifer that question, eh? Dean didn't lay that fact on Raphael either.

I think "Free to Be You and Me" was trying to explore this idea of what the kids do when the parents are away, so it wanted to drive home the idea that maybe God really is dead. But the whole plane incident could have come about because God wanted to save the brothers. I hope the question of who did that gets answered too.

In any case, there's an interesting idea at work here about whether we have free will or whether our lives are fated to go in certain directions, about whether we need to rely on the guidance of authority figures, parents or even siblings, or whether we can make choices on our own.

It's funny how Sam almost literally experienced the classic "angel on one shoulder and devil on the other" situation — Lindsay was telling him he could change and "Jess" was telling him changing one's basic nature wasn't an option. But by not killing that hunter and spitting out the blood, he's taken an important step — it doesn't matter what others (i.e. Dean) think, he's started to convince himself that he can make his own choices. And I don't think he could have done that had he been with Dean at that point in time.

I think the episode balanced the comedy and the drama pretty well. Though they were action-packed and witty, the first two episodes of the season were also pretty dark. You can only make the Funpocalypse so fun, and then it reverts to being kind of terrifying.

I think "Free" was a chance for the writers to examine Sam's guilt, start his transformation  into a full adult who can forgive himself, and set up an interesting endgame for Sam and Dean — possibly as competing vessels. Full kudos to Jared Padalecki, who's always done such a great job of showing Sam's pain and guilt. Sam's one of those characters who beats up on himself so much that you want the world — the universe, God, Satan, whoever — to give the guy a break.

Another question: Are we heading toward a situation where brother vs brother meatsuits — one containing Lucifer, one containing Michael — have an epic showdown? Interesting idea but to look at Raphael's meatsuit, the post-vessel lifestyle is no party.

But the show is clearly continuing to pursue themes that have been consistently pretty interesting — free will, determinism, addiction, self-esteem, redemption, isolation vs connection, etc. All that plus Dean-Cas comedy! Which was pretty great.

There were a lot of funny lines in the episode ("It was his idea." "And you're not that much fun." "Personal space!" "I just thought I'd sit here quietly." Cas, with a look: "St. Pete's.")  And they mined the Dean-Cas comedy just about as well as they could have. I think the scenes in the police HQ were my favorites one in the whole episode. Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins don't just have great dramatic chemistry, they are a great comedy duo as well. (Sidebar: Bert and Ernie are no gayer than Dean and Cas. I'm just sayin'.)

But two thoughts: Really? Dean knows where a whorehouse is in Maine, and gets Cas there at a moment's notice? Um, sure. But the whole idea of Cas being terrified of the place and the women and the very idea of sex was so funny that I didn't mind that it was the most conveniently located brothel in TV history.

Second thought: I do love the Cas comedy, but I think the show needs to dole it out sparingly. The lines about flatbread and so forth are so funny because they're so not what Cas is usually like. So far I have no complaints about Cas this season, but it's worth recalling that he wasn't in every episode of Season 4 — and I would hate to start thinking he was being overused this season.

But there are interesting things to be dramatized there, I fully realize that. Just as Dean is testing out life on his own and Sam is examining his next step, Castiel himself is on a journey of self-discovery. Did he want to find Raphael in order to kick his angelic butt or in order to find God? One of the most subtly effective parts of the episode was Dean's slow realization that maybe this angel was driven by a very human desire to get revenge. Maybe Cas is actually angry. He complained about always being worried about Dean, but perhaps he'll have cause to worry about Cas.

That's part of what love is: Worrying about people. But perhaps being apart from Sam will make Dean back off on his big-brother, "I have to protect Sammy" trip. Perhaps absence will make the heart grow fonder, and he'll start to respect Sam as an adult with his own beliefs, worldview and choices and not always assume that he (Dean) knows better. Part of the reason their relationship wasn't working, I think, was Dean's constant need to be Sam's father and mother and protector. Personal space, Dean!

If I have one complaint about "Free" (aside from the instances of, shall we say, "convenience" mentioned above) it's that the soundtrack was obtrusive in some places, and the storm sound effects in the Raphael scene seemed a bit overdone. He's a powerful angelic dude, I get it. Not sure I needed the stormy storminess set to 11.

All in all, "Free" was a another good episode, and like "Good God, Y'all," told a solid story while setting up some interesting things for later in the season. I'm especially jazzed about next week's episode. Not only is it a Ben Edlund script, the pictures from the episode, which are below along with an episode summary, just rock. (Any "Battlestar Galactica" fans in the house? Is it me or do two of these pictures have a "Baltar's harem" vibe?)

Is it next Thursday yet?

This next part has been updated as of the evening of Sept. 25 updated again Sept. 29:

Here's what's on the last part of this post. This next section contains spoilers. Stop reading now if you don't want to be aware of spoilers.

1. First is the episode summary from the CW for "The End," the Oct. 1 episode of "Supernatural."

2. Next up are three clips from "The End."

3. Next are photos from "The End."

4. Below the photos from "The End," there's a summary for "Fallen Idol," the Oct. 8 episode, which has a guest appearance by Paris Hilton.

5. Update as of Sept. 29: The final thing on this post is a summary of "I Believe the Children Are Our Future," the Oct. 15 episode of "Supernatural."

"The End": "Sam (Jared Padalecki) tells Dean (Jensen Ackles) he wants to rejoin
Dean in the battle of the Apocalypse, but Dean tells Sam that they are
better off apart. Later, Dean awakens five years in the future in an
abandoned city and is attacked by humans who have been infected with a
demonic virus that turns humans into Zombies. Zachariah (guest star
Kurt Fuller) appears to Dean and explains that this is the world that
exists as a result of Dean saying no to helping the angels fight
Lucifer. Dean meets up with Future Dean, who tells him that the virus
is the Devil's endgame for destroying mankind. Misha Collins also
stars. Steve Boyum directed the episode written by Ben Edlund."

Clip 1

Clip 2

Clip 3













"Fallen Idol" summary from the CW: "Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) decide to start hunting together again and their first case leads them to a small town whose inhabitants are being killed by famous dead icons like Abraham Lincoln and James Dean's car. However, after two teenage girls come forward and claim their friend was kidnapped by Paris Hilton (in a cameo role as herself), the brothers aren't sure what they are hunting anymore. Jim Conway directed the episode written by Julie Siege."

"I Believe the Children Are Our Future" summary from the CW: "Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) investigate a series of odd murders that strangely resemble fairytales and urban legends.  The brothers track down an 11-year-old boy named Jesse (guest star Gattlin Griffith) and realize that whatever Jesse believes is coming true.  Castiel (Misha Collins) tells Sam and Dean that Jesse is a serious threat and needs to be eliminated.  Charles Beeson directed the episode written by Andrew Dabb
& Daniel Loflin

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