Supernatural: "It's Not Broken!"

Wow. If Ben Edlund's "The Man Who Would Be King" didn't prove to you that he's the most important member of the Supernatural team, I don't know what else he could possibly do. Should he take over as showrunner? Should he hold the camera and play all the parts at the same time? Maybe he could cook up the breakfast burritos at the catering truck for 5am calls? Edlund almost did all that more with Friday's episode, writing and directing the high point of the show's sixth season.

The season's questionable start is now well behind us (and let's face it, a tired topic). The last four episodes have been sequenced perfectly, but Friday's "The Man Who Would Be King" is by far the best of the bunch—and essential to understanding the events of "Mommy Dearest" and the series as a whole.

I saw flashes of the Lost classic "Ab Aeterno" in this episode, which opened the information floodgates and filled us in on the perspective of a character whose story was dying to be told (Richard Alpert's Lost episode was from a series-long perspective; Castiel's was only season-long, but nearly as effective). But "The Man Who Would Be King" revealed more than what has been kept from us all season, it contained grave consequences for the future.

I don't think any of us really thought that angel and Winchester buddy Castiel had gone completely to the dark side; every time we saw Castiel dodging questions he looked guilty, not sinister. And while his measures may be extreme, his heart is in the right place—he's trying to save the world. This comes at the cost of shaking hands with the King of Hell, the deliciously despicable demon Crowley (seriously, if you don't love Crowley, you simply don't appreciate the great work Mark Sheppard is doing with the role or the fantastic job the writers did in creating the character), because Castiel's options are extremely limited. The other angels don't share Cas' belief in the idea of "free will"—Archangel Raphael is heaven-bent on reigniting the Apocalypse because that's in the script and that's the only option. So I excuse Cas for working with Crowley, who told him that if they work together, they can stop Raphael by cracking open Purgatory and blasting their enemy with a nuke made out of monster souls. Welcome to civil war in Heaven.

The formation of Castiel & Crowley LLC obviously didn't fly with the Winchesters, and the emotional boulder shouldered by Castiel as a result of being less than truthful to Sam and Dean was the driving theme of "The Man Who Would Be King." He was an angel doing what he felt was right, even if that meant doing some things wrong. He let his friends down even though he saved their lives. He wrestled with the fear of making the wrong choices even though dire circumstances left him no other real option. This was the most human we've seen Castiel; even more so than when he was actually human in Season 5's "The End," where he smoked weed and hosted orgies.

But again, the real hero here was Edlund. His words, his shots, his pacing, his decision to flashback to the Season 5 finale... it all came together so well. When the episode felt like it was halfway over, only 15 minutes had passed. It was incredible storytelling that was more than just about dropping shocking revelations or sprinkling in action scenes. There was no looking away, not for a second.

Supernatural is off next week to make way for a two-hour Smallville series finale, and returning in two weeks for its own two-hour finale. What's in store? Dude, I have no idea. But I do expect Sam's mental drywall—as the mention of it at the end seemed to hint—to break down a bit and cause some problems.

Question of the day: Do you think we'll see God in the finale?

Notes:
... Bobby's demon counterpart was great! I only wish he stuck he around a bit longer.

... Holy Perfect Strangers reference! Comparing Castiel to Balki was ten types of ridiculous, in a good way.

... Ken Lay, former founder of Enron, getting into Heaven shows just how much upstairs is messed up. If that doesn't convince you to take Castiel's side, I don't know what will.

... How about Crowley's creepy underground medical station, where he was examining Eve's corpse? That's the kind of stuff Edlund dreams of.

... The new Hell? Waiting in line. Very nice.

... For the forever Tuesday afternoon Heaven of an autistic man seems like a pretty amazing place to spend eternity. Great choice, Castiel.

... I loved Castiel saying "It's Not Broken!" in reply to Dean insisting his plan needed to be fixed—so much so that I had to make the response the headline this article.


Follow/heckle TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (33)
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I'f God were to make an appearance, I hope It's chuck. The way he vanished in that last episode he appeared on was epic! He should reappear same way!
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Best and most underated show on TV. Granted...if people just started watching it would seem weird. Writers are genious! And lay off Sera people! She's written many of you favorites ya idjits. Cuz she's a girl I'm sure. Shame on you.
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If we do see God, I hope it's Morgan Freeman, that's all I have to say.
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Lol, best quote ever: "Cass, you love God. God loves you" - By Crowley.
Loooove Crowley!
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@MarkHanson1> It has my friend.
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Incredible episode. It really made me appreciate this season on a whole new level.// Lol, agree about demon Bobby....// I'm glad this article gave said episode the credit it deserved. Best of the season imo, and it could not have come at a better time!
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Great episode it was a finally done episode that really made up the sluggishness in the beginning of the seaon. Has anyone heard if supernatural has been renewqed for next season?
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Sooooooooo much love for this episode. Bravo to Ben Edlund and Misha Collins for shattering my heart into pieces. This episode ranks right up there with "Lazurus Rising," "In my Time of Dying," and "All Hell Breaks Loose" for me. So perfectly executed!
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I'm still flailing around, trying to catch my breath. This was incredible. Amazing. Painful. Glorious. And just f*ing Awesome.

I love Castiel. I love the relationship between Dean and Castiel. And I really loved the way Dean came right out and referred to Cas as his brother. They HAVE to work this out, somehow - I mean, Dean's got a history of brothers making bad choices and being forgiven, right? :)
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Great episode. I hope God does show up in the finale but how season finales now a days, he shows up right at the end.
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GREATEST episode this season, like it was awesome, I'm speechless, talked about it all week. It was tragic, heart breaking, and I felt the Supernatural spark back again. Other than guessing about the Sam storyline, no idea what the writers have in storage for us, and can't wait to know, two hours finale :D And Kripke wrote the finale, phew, seriously dying to watch. Longest two weeks ever :s
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its phenomenon
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I love this episode. Please don't kill off Castiel, Crowley, and Bobby. My favorite lines are "Castiel, Angel of Thursday" or "Sex Appeal" " Castiel has fans". It reflects Misha's sex appeal and minions on Twitter.
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R U there dad ? It s me Jesus
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This episode of Supernatural was BEAUTIFUL! HEARTBREAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL!!! I truly loved the way Castiel’s story was presented to us, with Cas himself narrating the events that led to this episode! That ending scene, with him asking for a sign, left me with tears in my eyes… And Crowley being Crowley is always awesome!!!! Mark Sheppard is FANTASTIC!!!! My favourite line was when Cas said “I’m an angel you ASS i don’t have a soul to sell”!!!! XD
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I had to laugh at the irony here--Dean was angry at Sam for taking up with demon Ruby; now he's furious to learn that his angelic "brother" (and what an insult to Sam) has taken up with a demon, too! Both Sam and Cas believed their plans would work to avoid worse catastrophes and ended up learning, to their detriment, that they were wrong. Sam had to make a huge sacrifice and, had it not been for Cas saving him from perdition (and where is his tell-tale hand tattoo?) could have ended up down in the cage, forever tortured by Michael and Lucifer. I believe that, despite Cas and Dean's parting of the ways at the moment, it will be Castiel who saves Sam from dying when his wall comes down. I also feel that Cas will use Crowley to win heaven from Raphael and dispense with the demon once and for all (which would be a shame, since I adore Crowley). Check out my reviews of this and all other SUPERNATURAL episodes at www.moogi.com
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whole episode about Castiel,love it
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I think the reason this episode was so good is because it had very little of Sam and Dean, who can't really compete on the celestial plane. If the Heaven civil war is the plot line for this season then get rid of the humans and have more angels.
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The new Hell scene with the long queue was just brilliant!
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i thought it was a very CRAPPY episode,
i found it so boring and bland. i do love castiel but it just didnt bring it home for me
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Good episode!
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"It's Not Broken!" was my favorite line of the entire episode!!!!!!!!
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great episode, raelly gave cas depth, loved it
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Last week, I was raging against the show (and Sera Gamble) for letting the fans down with the whole of the season. Now...I'm remembering why I fell in love with the show six years ago. Let's pray that the finale delivers what all the fans have been craving!
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amazing episode! love cas, love dean, love the fact that they're now against each other (though not really)!
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So, now even Cas has more of a storyline than Dean and Cas learned nothing from Sam's "good intentions" of the past. *sigh*
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I like the explaination that it was Cas that brought Sam back from hell and not Crowley. I also liked the reaction of Sam and how he actually thought Cas brought him back without a soul on purpose.
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I do agree with loving Crowley, he is just too much fun. The whole cast and crew are just incredible
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I agree with everything you wrote. Castiel's storyline makes sense, I knew he wouldn't just cross the line for nothing. And Hell's waiting line was just priceless. And who doesn't love Crowley? Yes, he's the king of Hell, but he never comes across as evil, but just deliciously naughty. Awesome work an all sides.
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I really feel for Castiel, he made some wrong choices, I just hope the guys haven't given up on him completely. I can't wait for the finale! This episode was so heartbreakingly brilliant, I can't even imagine what we are in for in the finale.
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the Winchesters hold everyone else to such a double standard its ridiculous. They have become so self-righteous and "superior" that its no wonder Castiel is the fan favorite. Funny they had no problem working with Crowley but if someone else does, they are stupid and evil; they try to sell their souls to solve any problem but they say anybody buying souls is pure evil. the writers really need to give the bros. an attitude adjustment, or at least hold themselves to the same standards they seem to hold everyone else
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I agree with you, I easily forgive Castiel. He is, as you say, trying to save earth. The Winchesters will most likely, in time, understand Castiel's chioces, they also once chose to work together with Crowley when trying to defeat the Devil. But one thing I've always said is that Crowley can't be trusted. He will try to screw Castiel, one way or another. Let's just hope he gets screwed right back.
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What, they postponed Supernatural to make way for Smallville? That's the biggest rip-off I've ever seen - that show is f*&^kng terrible.
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