Supernatural

Season 4 Episode 16

On the Head of a Pin

6
Aired Tuesday 9:00 PM Mar 19, 2009 on The CW
AIRED:
9.1
out of 10
User Rating
975 votes
56

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

Someone has killed seven angels, and Castiel and Uriel recruit Dean to interrogate their prisoner, Alastair, to learn who the killer is.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Angels' Fight Club !

    9.5
    This episode was just great, funy how in Supernatural, awesome/badass episodes came out of nowhere. We moved from surprises to surprises (even though I knew who was behind the pipe trick right away !). Dean and Sam are really taking the bad road, and I can't stop feeling sorry for Dean, who hasn't got any self respect. I think he's awesome and noone can ever say that he/she would'nt have broken.



    I really REALLY liked how they showed Angels' bodies, with the black wings, that was so wonderful.



    But there's something I quite don't understand, something that already bothered me with Ruby in the previous season and that is just not cool with the Angels: WHY ON EARTH DO THEY FIGHT WITH THEIR FISTS ??? I thought Angels' fight would be more...epic: flashes of light, super effects, but not trades of blows and blood. I know they're using human bodies but still...

    moreless
  • OK! First of all? The score indicator is still slightly out of whack.

    10
    Venting over; now on to the review proper. I found this episode to be pivotal for many reasons. For starters? There was the plot twist about Uriel. Here, I thought Castiel might be the angel who was turning into Darth Vader. But, Uriel, himself?? Holy Chris Walken! Then, there's the Nietzchean aspect to what's been happening to the Winchesters. Sam, sucking demon blood from Ruby during sex? Dean, trying to give back to Alastair twice as bad as he got? Talk about becoming a bigger monster than the ones you fight. The biggest shock of all, though, had to be the confession made by Alastair (in that hilarious Marlon Brando-style voice of his). Dean was Broken Seal Number One? As the poor guy, himself, might say: "Whoa! Major Bummer!" I almost can't wait to see how the writers resolve this not-so-little dilemma. But, it looks like I'll have to; the previews indicate next week's episode is apparently going to be another "Ground Hog Day" pastiche.moreless
  • Supernatural is so far ahead of the game with this one, the competition needn't even show up.

    10
    What was I saying about it not getting any better? Jeez Supernatural, you're so far ahead of the game with this one, the competition needn't even show up. Where to begin? 'On the Head of a Pin' is probably just about as perfect a marriage of emotional investment and narrative progression as you are likely to get. The developments here are colossal, changing the face of the forthcoming battle considerably by exposing Uriel's betrayal, which is a shocker in itself, and opening Castiel to the possibility that blind obedience may not be the most optimum course of action. In this, Misha Collins gets a chance to step up and boy, does he. Every word, every nuance, is loaded with the pain of his struggle between head and heart, and the subsequent inclusion of the still-excellent Julie McNiven as Anna only accentuates matters. And then, of course, we have the other gargantuan revelation: that Dean initiated Lillith's plan, that his was the first step along the rocky road to Armageddon. This is an exceptionally clever plot device as not only is it a completely logical explanation for the angels' choice of the Winchester boy, but it also gives Jensen Ackles the opportunity to play some of the most complex emotional beats of his career. The scene at episode's end in which he rejects his destiny is so well written, it almost hurts to watch... which, it must be said, is something that characterises about 50% of the rest of the episode too. The torture sequences between Dean and Allister are positively horrific; so much so, in fact, that there are several incendiary critiques in reviews online from offended viewers who 'no longer have the stomach to watch the show'. This is a shame, of course, as the violence is never gratuitous. It almost always cuts away at the gory details, stopping short of showing the actual event, but then, it is the implication that we receive from agonising screams, short spurts of blood and facial expressions that makes it all the more harrowing. And, at the end of the day, it is completely necessary for the progression of the plot: when faced with the man that made him maim innocents for thirty years, would Dean really just sit down and chat? No, he'd gut the b*****d. It helps, of course, that the guy that plays Allister in his new form - Christopher Heyerdahl - is deliciously weird and eerie, giving the discourse between the two parties an extra lick of horror. All this and I haven't even mentioned Sam's little secret, his dirty demon blood fetish, which continues to linger in the background, threatening to explode into a game-changer the likes of which we have never seen, and is responsible for one of the best deaths we've seen all year in Allister's 'comeuppance'. Honestly, I thought Supernatural had reached its peak with that phenomenal season opener but this? This is actually better. In fact, 'On the Head of a Pin' is probably the best Supernatural episode yet produced. A near perfect example of what this show can be. Unrelenting, harrowing and f-ing brilliant.moreless
  • Death of an angel...or 2...or 3...

    10
    There have been some really great episodes this season, some may argue it contains some of the best in the series so far. But absolutely none (again, so far) have come close to this one. From the sheer brilliance of writing from the SN team, we get an episode so full of revelations (funny how that seems to really fit in this year) it’s not even funny. Hands down, this has to be one of - if not THE - best episode this season. Possibly the series, and I again stress the ‘so far’.



    The first revelation that got me was the stuff going on with Alastair. And it was the whole ordeal with him that gives us some very shocking facts about Dean, especially his time in Hell. We get an indirect glimpse of Dean’s torturing tactics from Hell as he is called in by the angels to torture Alastair in order to find out who is behind the murder of angels from Castiel’s garrison. And I have to say, that entire scene was quite disturbing. Dean’s demeanor here was so frightening and dark, while Alastair maintained that mega-creepiness about him that makes him so enjoyable as a supervillain. But other than the vile torture acts themselves, the real shocks came from what was revealed during this sequence. According to Alastair, and later Castiel himself, Dean actually started the breaking of the seals by shedding another soul’s blood in Hell. As if going through the very experience of Hell itself wasn’t bad enough, as well as all the stuff he has to deal with regarding Sam, now Dean has this new burden on him that is undoubtedly way too much for his own soul to bear. He even admitted this at the end in the hospital to Cas. Cas tells him it’s his fate to be the one to stop the apocalypse since he was the one to start it off, and Dean doesn’t want to hear of it. He finally breaks down, and rightfully so. And another thing to note was Alastair’s taunting Dean over John being tortured in Hell. Being compared to John has never set well with Dean, no matter how much he loved his dad. Whether he was lying just to get Dean’s goat or not, Alastair was really doing nothing more here than driving a nail into his own coffin by ribbing Dean about John and especially labeling him as inferior to John. That makes for a dangerous Dean.



    The second shocker of the ep had to be Sam. So no wonder he’s been getting stronger. He’s been doing more with Ruby than we thought - he’s been drinking her blood - demon blood - in order to strengthen his powers. And it was shocking enough to learn he was actually sleeping with her episodes back. This was truly a curve ball. And what’s more, Sam’s the one who kills Alastair. Even Cas looked shocked at this fact. But this is also gonna throw a HUGE monkey wrench into the already-fraying relationship between Dean and Sam. Just last ep Dean busted Sam on treating him like an idiot for keeping secrets and once more Sam denied it. Gonna be scary when this one comes out.....



    Next we have the angels. NOW comes some truly shocking stuff. First, Anna shows up again and has some really nice moments with Cas, who admits he is starting to have feelings of sorts, due to his attachment to Dean. The humanity is rearing its head inside him. It was interesting to see him go from still wanting to kill Anna to asking for her help. This shows monuments of change in the character’s progression through the season. Or, more to the point, descent. But Cas hasn’t lost sight of the good fight. Enter the final episode shocker: Uriel. No pun intended, but oh....my....god. There’s NO one that could’ve seen that coming. Turns out Ur had been in on the breaking of the seals all along, and was the one murdering the angels! His blasphemous reasoning was a severe slap in the face. He was a follower of Lucifer yet played the “good guy� to sheer brilliance in order to achieve this goal. And this betrayal will shed even more doubt for Cas and probably Anna as to who they can trust in the garrison. All the “angel� actors involved were above par in their performances here, strictly excellent. And, of course, Jared and Jensen, but that’s always the case with them. But somehow, I felt this ep belonged mostly to the angels. Robert, Julie and Misha were awesome in their roles.



    Bits and Pieces:

    - It’s interesting that Sam killed Alastair and Anna killed Uriel - the very ones you didn’t expect when it should’ve been Dean and Castiel, respectively. Just made it all the more better.

    - Ruby’s spell to find Dean was cool. Nothing close to meeting Willow Rosenberg standards, but still just nice to see her work a little mojo.



    Anyone who doesn’t rate this ep a 10 should really rewind their tape, tivo, or whatever they use and watch it again. Seriously. This was one of those beyond brilliance. Oh boy. Next ep looks as if the brothers have to deal with an alternate life or versions of themselves. Can’t wait...moreless
  • This episode has just reminded me why I love this show so much. It completely summed up everything that's great about it and it was probably the best episode of this season, if not the entire series.moreless

    10
    It really brought home the changes between the characters now and the first season, how Sam's becoming increasingly corrupted and Dean's becoming more and more worn down by all the responsibility and guilt. I love how they actually deal with incidents rather than just sweeping them under the carpet, such as Dean's time in hell. That's one of the great things about this show; they have a way of dealing with issues in a way that's interesting and develops the plot. On the whole this episode was just heart breaking. A lot of people have already said it, but Jensen was fantastic, especially in that final scene but throughout the whole episode. Everything he did and said just showed how much strain he was under and how close he was to breaking.



    This show has got some fantastic actors and Eric Kripke knows how to use them. It was a smart move to make Castiel the focus of this episode. Without showing too much emotion, in keeping with the character, Mischa was great at showing how much his character's evolving, having his faith tested by orders he doesn't completely agree with and trying to figure out what he should do. On the whole, just fantastic. I loved every minute and I'm looking forward to next week.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Castiel: You need to be more careful.
      Dean: You need to learn how to manage a damn devil's trap.

    • Alastair: You know, it was supposed to be your father. He was supposed to bring it on. But in the end, it was you.
      Dean: Bring what on?
      Alastair: Every night, same offer, remember? Same as your father, and finally you said sign me up. Oh, the first time you picked up my razor, the first time you sliced into that weeping bitch. That was the first seal.
      Dean: You're lying.
      Alastair: And it is written that the first seal shall be broken when a righteous man sheds blood in hell. As he breaks, so shall it break. We had to break the first seal before any others, only way to get the dominos to fall, right? Top of the one at the front of the line. When we win, when we bring on the Apocalypse and burn this earth down, we owe it all to you, Dean Winchester. Believe me, son, I wouldn't lie about that. It's kinda a religious sort of thing, I think.
      Dean: No, I don't think you are lying. But even if the demons do win, you won't be there to see it.

    • Alastair: I couldn't break him, pulled out all the stops, but John, he was made of something unique. The stuff of heroes. But then came Dean. Dean Winchester, I thought I was up against it again. But, daddy's little girl, he broke. He broke in thirty. Just not the man your daddy wanted you to be, huh, Dean?

    • Castiel: I know our fate rests with you.
      Dean: Then you guys are screwed. I can't do it, Cass, it's too big. Alastair was right. I'm not a hero, I'm not strong enough. Well I guess I'm not the man either of our dads wanted me to be. Find someone else. It's not me.

    • Dean: Home, crappy home.
      Uriel: Winchester and Winchester
      Dean: Oh, come on!
      Uriel: You are needed.
      Dean: Needed? We just got back from needed!
      Uriel: Now, you mind your tone with me.
      Dean: No, you mind your damn tone with us.
      Sam: We just got back from Pamela's funeral.
      Dean: Pamela, you know, psychic Pamela? You remember her. Cass, you remember her. You burned her eyes out. Remember that? Good times!

    • Dean: I want to talk to Cass alone.
      Uriel: I think I'll go seek... revelation. We might have some further orders.
      Dean: Well, get some doughnuts while you're out.
      Uriel: Ah, this one just won't quit. I think I'm starting to like you, boy.

    • (Uriel flies away)
      Dean: You guys don't walk enough. You're gonna get flabby. You know, I'm starting to think Junkless has a better sense of humor than you do.
      Castiel: Uriel's the funniest angel in the garrison. Ask anyone.

    • Alastair: They sent you to torture me?
      Dean: You got one chance. One. Tell me who is killing the angels. I want a name.
      Alastair: You think I'll see all your scary toys and spill my guts?
      Dean: Oh, you'll spill your guts, one way or another. I just didn't want to ruin my shoes.

    • Alastair: Sorry. Something caught in my throat. I think it's my throat.

    • Castiel: Lucifer is not God.
      Uriel: God isn't God any more.

    • Castiel: You can't win, Uriel. I still serve God.
      Uriel: You haven't even met the man. There is no will. No wrath. No God.
      Anna: (killing him) Maybe, maybe not. But there's still me.

  • NOTES (1)

    • International Airdates:
      Denmark: April 26, 2009 on TV3
      UK: May 3, 2009 on ITV2
      Australia: June 22, 2009 on Channel TEN
      Norway: July 9, 2009 on FEM
      Portugal: August 10, 2009 on AXN
      Sweden: September 27, 2009 on Kanal 5
      Spain: December 14, 2009 on AXN
      Germany: January 18, 2010 on Sky Cinema Hits
      Poland: May 28, 2010 on TVN7
      New Zealand: June 2, 2010 on TV2
      Czech Republic: August 27, 2010 on Prima COOL
      Finland: July 26, 2011 on Sub
      Slovakia: April 3, 2013 on Markiza

  • ALLUSIONS (4)

    • Alastair: It's your professionalism I respect.
      Alastair is using a quote from Little Shop of Horrors(1986). Arthur Denton (Bill Murray) says this when Orin Scrivello, DDS (Steve Martin) is using dental torture on him. Denton actually enjoys what is being done to him.

    • Alastair: Heaven... I'm in Heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak...
      Referencing the popular song Cheek to Cheek written by Irving Berlin and originally performed by Fred Astaire in the movie Top Hat (1935).

    • Alastair: Go directly to Hell. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
      References the popular board game Monopoly in which players buy property in an effort to make the other players lose all of their money. When you make it all the way around the board, you pass the "Go" square and collect $200 unless you get a card that sends you to "Jail."

    • Alastair: Grasshopper, you're going to have to get creative to impress me.
      Referencing the TV series Kung Fu (1972-1975), starring David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin priest who wandered America in the 19th century. "Grasshopper" was the nickname that his mentor, Master Po, referred to him as.

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