Well… this is MUCH better than the mid-season finales we’ve had from at least the last 3 seasons.
But you know what the real problem with this episode was? Fundamentally it had several moments that needed to be a two-parter. Let’s run them down.
–The angels decide to get their shit together and unite against the DarknessTM! Great! Awesome idea! Where’s Castiel? No really, why hasn’t he been given this task to occupy himself for several episodes (off screen) of getting the angels together? Angels have been more trouble than they’re worth for quite awhile in SPN. That they are going to finally step up and be the warriors of God… this is undoing nearly 6 years of failures on their parts. This SHOULD be bigger. This should be Castiel’s crowning moment. This should be like Abandon All Hope… where the boys put together a plan, the angels come together… etc. At the very least it would have given Castiel something to do and a role in the plot.
–The walk to Limbo shouldn’t have been five minutes. Yes I’ve heard some people say, “but Crowley!” unfortunately this just makes the problem worse and the “because writers say so” issue more glaring. Why not into Limbo? Why only 5 minutes away and not an hour away? Why not a day away? Why is it so easy for the mortals to enter Hell in the first place? That just raises more questions. No, there should have been more implications of the journey being difficult, need preparation, etc. Yeah, I get it, budget issues, but work around it and use it to your advantage. Like… have a scene where they arrive on the EDGE of Limbo. (make a big fancy door!) Throw in a line where Crowley says it’s not in his realm so he can’t take them into it. Just SOMETHING that makes it all more epic and feel grander than “oh I packed some sandwiches for our visit with Satan.”
–Could we at least ADDRESS Michael being around? Have the characters acknowledge him or bring him up as a possibility or SOMETHING? Even ask if they could talk to him instead of Satan?
–Also, if you’re going to blaspheme… go whole hog. Just a church? Why not have Amara visit a mosque, a Hindu temple and an Orthodox Jewish temple? Heck forget a priest, why not just have Amara go straight to Vatican City and confront the Pope himself? Or to Jerusalem? Or Mecca? You have a nigh-all-powerful being searching for God, have it SEARCH for God.
But it wasn’t ALL bad. Lucifer!Mark is a treat to watch always as he really gives that “lord of temptation” air to his performances. I did like some of the effects in the episode from the subtle like Satan’s eyes glowing red in shadow to the grand like some of the looks of Limbo. Amara’s now fully grown so yay for less kids. Rowena actually was entertaining at times this episode and her banter with Crowley ended up not that bad. One kind of wishes we had seen more of THIS between them than the bickering. Heck if you want to create foes for the Winchesters (one of the most dysfunctional families ever) why not give them a pair which is a fully FUNCTIONAL family (only… evil)?
The rest, overall… strong enough. Just… couldn’t we have dropped an episode previously to have given this one the set up & depth it deserved?
3 out of 5 salt shells.