Supernatural's raison d'etre this season has been its ability to tell traditional stories in intriguingly original ways: from the witty extremities of 'Wishful Thinking' through to the horrifying, yet logical, role-reversals in 'On the Head of a Pin', from 'Lazarus Rising's pointedly quiet execution of epic narrative beats to the mind-boggling metatextuality of 'The Monster at the End of this Book', year four has been characterised by its tendency to put a new spin on conventional plot elements and has greatly enriched the quality of the programme as a result. It's the sure fire sign of a show comfortable in its own skin, mature enough to take risks and treat its audience with the intelligence they deserve. In 'The Rapture', Jeremy Carver continues this process, constructing a fairly standard Supernatural conceit - human possession by demons or, as is more the case here, angels - with building blocks that we've never seen before. The writer flips the issue on its head, predicating the tale on the opposing side of the issue: that of the individual whose identity and soul is lost in the transformation. Too often, the effects of the dreaded black eye are cast aside in favour of the advancement of the plot; the victims are either ruthlessly murdered and then possessed or, once the demons are exorcised, they pick themselves up, dust themselves down and run off as fast as their legs can carry them. We never get to experience the trauma that such an experience would inevitably have on a human being, and that's what makes 'The Rapture's tale of confusion, familial breakdown and love lost and won again wholly engaging and even, at times, emboldening. What we witness here is all too human: from guest star Julie McNiven's well-reigned sorrow at the return of her husband to Jimmy's heartfelt plea to Castiel to use his body at hour's end, every emotional beat is painfully believable. Of course, it certainly helps that the vessel for this introspection is Misha Collins, probably the finest actor on the show. Next to the latest version of Allister, Castiel has been the best thing about a frankly stellar season and that's all down to Collins' delivery. In fact, so convincing is he as the questioning angel that when he turned up as the human host, I had a momentary lapse of concentration. It just... didn't seem right. But then, within a few minutes, I was sold; that, my friends, is talent. Carver also treats us to a significant advancement in Sam's story and Jared really hits a home run. The scene in which Dean learns the truth is absolutely spot on, fantastically framed to give the maximum level of 'oh s**t!'ness. And of course, there's that cliffhanger which hints at some palatable conflict for the final run. Really guys, I can't freaking wait.
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