They're certainly not pulling any punches. They weren't kidding when they said they would isolate Sam and Dean, strip them of their weapons, their allies, their safe havens--even their sanity. The writers have talked about this season having a Butch and Sundance feel, stranding the brothers in a new world where their old tools no longer work, and they have nothing but each other. I have to admire their willingness to push ever forward, to keep going further to keep things fresh, to break new ground rather than stay in their (and our) comfort zone.
The tough one here is losing Cas. And those who particularly loved Cas will understandably hate this loss. (And some seem to be expressing their grief through their rating of this episode...) I personally thought Cas was a great addition to the Supernatural world, and I can only hope we haven't seen the last of him. After all, he has been blown up twice before, and twice he came back.
On the other hand, I understand the writers' dilemma. The apocalypse story line has wrapped, and they kept the angel story going for an extra season. But how long do you keep dragging out an arc just to keep around a great character and actor? Considering that Cas was initially only supposed to appear in a handful of episodes, and that this turned into more than three seasons, I would say they have proven very willing to keep someone around who merits it. I hope they can find a way to bring him back in such a way that it doesn't irk those fans who are tired of the angel story line. I think the writers are in a bit of a damned-if-they-do-damned-if-they-don't dilemma; they're going to anger some fans either way.
As big a loss as Cas was, it didn't stop there. They've lost Bobby, Singer Salvage, any means of defense, and Sam's marbles.
Jared is doing an awesome job portraying Sam's insanity, his mental anguish was just so poignant and palpable. And I love how Supernatural will always add a note of humour, even in the direst of circumstances. Sam's hallucinations of Lucifer hanging around in the background reading the paper, cleaning his nails, putting a golf ball, were as funny as they were creepy.
Jensen of course also hit home with Dean's determination to deal with Sam's insanity while having only a tenuous grasp on his own. And they both delivered powerful performances in the scene in the warehouse, it felt like a big kick right to the gut. (And for a second there, I thought we were going to get the first ever nobody-died-and-came-back hug, right after Dean says: "Believe me! Believe in me, make that your stone number one, and build on it!" But alas! Bobby chose just that moment to call and ruined the mood.)
Speaking of Bobby, he'd better be okay! I can only deal with so much loss at one time! They have left us on a (evil!) cliffhanger two weeks in a row. I wonder if this is going to be a pattern, if they have decided to write season 7 as a serial. Well, it's new territory, I'm game. I'm along for the ride. And what an amazing, intense ride it is!
Is it next Friday yet?