Some Thoughts on Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 3, “I’m No Angel”

by sketchyfeminist

This post is my SPOILERTASTIC reaction to “I’m No Angel,ā€ Supernatural Season 9, Episode 3. (Directed by Kevin Hooks; Written by Brad Buckner & Eugenie Ross-Leming.) The following is full of SPOILERS.

The Title

So, Castiel’s theme is a Dido song, huh? Is that more or less ‘manly’ than a song from the Broadway musical Annie? I’m gonna go with “tie.”

Just kidding! This being Supernatural, the home of classic rock and classic cars, “I’m No Angel” is more likely a reference to the 1980s Gregg Allman Band recording of a song by the same name.

But, honestly, if you pay attention to the lyrics, both songs work pretty well as Castiel themes this episode.

The Dido song has lovely lyrics like “I know, I’m not around each night / And I know, I always think I’m right”–and that’s a conversation that Dean and Castiel have actually had. Literally. In “Clip Show” (Season 8, Episode 22). And then there’s the whole “I’m no angel, but does that mean that I won’t fly?” thing going on in the chorus. (And the answer to that question is “yes.”)

In the Gregg Allman song, a lot of the lyrics seem too specific to the singer/persona (“I’ve got my label,” etc.) to apply to this episode of Supernatural. However! Throughout the song, there are individual moments that are echoed or evoked in the episode. Check out the following lyrics selection (with my ‘commentary’ in brackets), and see what I mean:

No I’m no angel [Not anymore, anyway.]
No I’m no stranger to the street [Because he’s homeless.]

And I’m half crazy [Another character calls Cas a “madman.”]
Come on and love me baby [As Dean will say, he’s “giving it up” this episode.]

No I’m no angel [Still accurate.]
No I’m no stranger to the dark [It’s dark and rainy when April takes him in.]

Come and let me show you my tattoo [Cas gets a tattoo!]

So you don’t give a darn about me [She really doesn’t.]

I won’t ever lift a hand to hurt you [His arms will be tied to a chair.]

Well, that was a fun exercise. So, this is one of those episode titles that seems painfully on-the-nose at first glance, but is actually moderately interesting when you look into it. I love stuff like that.

Oh, and just to cover all our bases? There’s also a 2013 “I’m No Angel” by some group called The Winery Dogs.

Castiel

Aww, Castiel’s going by “Clarence,” which is the nickname Meg gave him. That’s kinda sweet in a twisted way. It’s nice to know that Meg is not forgotten.

I like the way this episode delves into the physical aspects of being human. Because one of the things about angels and demons (and sometimes ghosts and now Reapers), is that they don’t generally give a single damn about what happens to their human hosts. That’s what makes them so scary. That and the killing. It’s refreshing to see Cas have to care about–and take care of–his human body, for once.

Sidebar: Wow, Jimmy’s body has taken so much abuse since Castiel’s introduction. I mean, it’s exploded three times. Good thing the Powers That Be like resurrecting Cas.

So, Cas is a little put out by stuff like urinating and passing gas, but seems to view these issues as mild inconveniences more than anything else. (And, having the gutter-mind that I do, I can’t help but wonder if he’s had a chance to react to defecation yet. Hey, if I had spent most of my existence as a wavelength of celestial intent, the need to take the occasional dump would probably be the thing I found most disturbing about existing in a human body. Just saying.)

More important bodily concerns for Castiel are hunger and the need for warmth–or, perhaps more accurately, the need to escape cold. (We don’t revisit the issue of thirst. I guess because he drank that water in the season premiere?) He also seems a bit confused as to how teeth-brushing works. Oh, well. I’m sure he’ll get the hang of it eventually.

My feelings for Castiel this episode are pretty warm and fuzzy, mostly because he doesn’t act like he feels entitled to anything. (By contrast, in “I’m Gonna Like It Here,” he did seem to think that he was owed some kind of regard by his fellow fallen angels as their resident Human Studies expert.) In “I’m No Angel,” Cas just kind of accepts that he’s human, broke and homeless, and if that means working in exchange for a meal and a place to stay at shelters or rooting through garbage pails for food, well okay, then.

And then he ruins it a little by having his “So much is wasted when so many are hungry. I never knew.” moment, which is just–you watched Earth for how many millenia, Castiel? Man, you can’t have been paying very much attention.

Castiel also gets his first tattoo! I find this very exciting, because this is the first time that Cas has made a deliberate, permanent change to Jimmy’s body. Cas getting his angel-warding tattoo, which will hide him from all of his angelic brothers and sisters, seems like a visceral way for Cas to acknowledge his difference from the angels. It suggests an implicit acceptance of the fact that he’s human, and that his body is a human body.

As far as his costume goes: I do miss the trench coat, but I’m also liking his new clothes. It’s easier to think of him as ‘human’ without the signature Castiel look. Now, his wardrobe hasn’t changed much since he stole from that laundromat hamper, but … does anybody else get the feeling that the writers are going to go to town playing Castiel Dress Up this season? It’s just a feeling …

And the rest of my response is under the cut:

Samzekiel

Poor Sam. He’s really overshadowed by his body-snatcher this episode. Uh … it’s sweet that he buys Dean breakfast? (Go bromance.) Yeah, that’s all I’ve got.

So, how evil is Ezekiel? The smart money’s on pretty evil.

Or at least, he seems to be lying. Since Ezekiel supposedly “believes in” Castiel and the Winchesters, you’d think he’d at least talk to Cas once Cas shows up. But nope. My best guess: Ezekiel is not quite who he says he is, and he’s afraid Cas will recognize him. (Or maybe her?)

On the other hand, Zeke does rescue Cas this episode. Which is hard not to appreciate. And now Dean owes Zeke another hugenormous favor. This should be interesting.

Dean

Oh, the tangled web you’re weaving, Dean.

So, now that Zeke’s in Sam and Dean wants him to stay there, Dean spends his days lying to and manipulating his little brother. And lying to and manipulating Cas, pretty much as soon as they are reunited.

The only person Dean is being straightforward with right now is Zeke. And Zeke is probably evil, and is definitely ‘borrowing’ Sam’s body without Sam’s permission. Borrowing without permission is called stealing, and ‘borrowing’ a body without permission is something very much worse than stealing.

Dean needs to start picking better friends.

New Faces

This episode has three whole female speaking parts, all of them new! And one of them even survives the episode! Hey, one out of three’s not–OK, it’s bad. (And I think all of the speaking parts, male and female, are white this episode, so there’s that, too.)

So, there’s one new female angel introduced this episode. We don’t learn her name, but she seems to work for this new bad-dude angel, Bartholomew, who is organizing his brethren in the Great Castiel Manhunt. I find New Female Angel significant only because she survives the episode. I wonder if we’ll ever learn her name.

The first female character to bite it this episode is some young woman who signs up to become an angel’s vessel, because she’s very devout and because another new character, the human Reverend Buddy Boyle, told her to. Bart signals a wafty stream of light that is apparently an angel into said young woman, and the young woman explodes. (Since nobody’s eyes start burning when the wafty light first appears, I’m going to assume that both the devout girl and the good reverend are members of the “special” breed of human who can see and talk to angels without incident. Apparently that doesn’t guarantee that one is a good vessel, though.)

Now let’s talk about April Kelly! Or at least, let’s talk about the Reaper possessing April Kelly, because Reapers apparently possess people now. (Did they even take physical form before Season 8?)

Seriously. ABCs of Possession handbook, showrunners. Stat.

Not April Kelly sees a homeless dude rooting through the trash, feels sorry for him and gives him a sandwich. So far so normal. Decent people occasionally do things like this. Then, after her shift, she sees him shivering in the rain like an abandoned puppy, and takes him back to her place. Behavior which seems slightly more atypical, sure, but decent people who are also cool with taking risks probably do this kind of thing, too.

Then, once Cas is back at her apartment, they talk and she doctors him up a little. So far so Good Samaritan. Then, really quickly, she starts getting really intimate with Cas. Who is, apparently, game for it, because he has hormones now and he’s all touched by April’s sweetness and generosity. But Not April putting the moves on Cas the very same night she takes him in like some kind of stray makes me just a little bit uncomfortable. Because it’s cold and raining outside and, if he weren’t game, it would seem like Not April was asking for sex as some kind of compensation for her good deed.

Of course, in a way, it’s actually much creepier than that, because Not April is actually a Reaper inside April Kelly’s body, and Castiel is a former angel in Jimmy Novak’s body (though at this point, admittedly, Cas no longer has a choice about that), and April Kelly and Jimmy Novak never agreed to have sex with each other. And maybe April Kelly and Jimmy Novak are both dead by now, and therefore not in a position to care very much, but that’s still some serious desecration of their bodies going on. Yikes.

But anyway. Castiel and his new friend are both into the sex having and everything is pretty adorable and domestic until Not April turns Cas’s own angel blade on him and starts torturing him with it. Well technically, I think it was Hale’s angel blade first, which Castiel acquired through the process of taking in the season premiere.

My sketch of Shannon Lucio as a Reaper in Supernatural Season 9, Episode 3, "I'm No Angel"

Not April, having just revealed that she has Cas’s blade. Also: this scene is probably the first time in human/angel history that an angel blade has been used on grapefruit.

Yeah, the phallic power of angel blades and the significance of how/when they change hands should probably be a post all by itself. I mean, look at that handle! It’s like the props crew is asking for the Freudian analysis.

Is it my imagination, or is Cas now two for two with a) trusting a woman, b) being threatened by her and c) getting her killed? I know that two isn’t much of a sample set, but wow. Cas has only been in two of this season’s three episodes! I’m starting to think Castiel might be dangerous to women.

Hey, I guess Cas really is part of the Winchester family now.

Missing in Action

1. Kevin. Presumably in the dungeon with Crowley.
2. Crowley. Presumably in the dungeon with Kevin.
3. Jody Mills exists in a Schrödinger’s Cat-like state of being, both alive and dead until the show conclusively reveals her fate.
4. Abaddon. Must be out gathering new recruits.

Final Thoughts

This is the fourth time Castiel has died, but only the first time we’ve known how he was brought back. Something to think about.

When Dean kicked Cas out of the bunker, the Boyfriend turned to me and asked, “Why did they kick the puppy?” Because Castiel was making that face, and yeah. It’s interesting how protective this show can make its audience feel towards a guy who once declared himself God and killed a bunch of people, huh? (Of course, the real problem was how protective I felt of the character while he was doing all that.)

I felt a little sorry for Misha Collins (but only as sorry as one generally ever feels for celebrities who appear to enjoy their work and to live happy, stable lives) when he had to deliver the actual line, “I’m no angel.” Because no one wants the line that is the name of the episode and also a really famous song title. Especially when your character is supposed to be all ignorant of pop culture, and you can’t get away with the ironic delivery. Yeah, that line kinda smashed right through my suspension of disbelief.

I hope New Female Angel comes back. Just because. It would be nice to at least learn her name.

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