Some Thoughts on Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 6, “Heaven Can’t Wait”
Wow, I haven’t posted a Supernatural response in a long time. So here’s one. Considering Episode 12 just aired, this is not exactly timely. But what can I say? I’m playing catch up.
I started drafting this response right after “Heaven Can’t Wait” aired (before putting it on a virtual shelf and allowing it to accumulate virtual dust), so the bulk of it was written without any knowledge of what comes to pass in the subsequent episodes.
“Heaven Can’t Wait” was directed by Rob Spera and written by Robert Berens.
Season 9. Episode 6 of Supernatural has four speaking roles played by women in it. Five if you count the disembodied voice on the suicide hotline. And six if you count the wailing infant. (All playing human or human-like parts, and not just voicing non-human animals.) Actually, I think this is a female-representation record for the season! [E/N: Until “Rock and a Hard Place,” anyway. I will share my … opinions … on that episode later.] Confetti and cookies for all!
Are they all roles that in some way feed into stereotypes about women? Yes, yes they are. Except for the infant. But infants get a pass for being dependent and vulnerable. What the hey, I’m still pleased. Because women! They exist!
Castiel’s New Job
Much like “I’m No Angel,” this is really Castiel’s episode.
When Cas first shows up, he is doing the most humiliating thing the showrunners could think of: working at the Gas N’ Sip. (Cue lightning and dissonant chords played on a pipe organ.) I wonder how many fans of this show work at gas stations, and how many of them threw things at the screen when this episode aired.
And this is … a pretty idealized version of working retail, actually. I mean, Castiel’s boss seems appreciative (at first anyway), the delivery guy is polite and we don’t see Cas encounter any whiny, invasive or verbally abusive customers. And the place is very clean. (Though that may just be because Cas himself is so good at cleaning it.) A customer service job without annoying customers? I don’t think any other “sales associate” in the world has experienced that.
Dean’s Reaction to Castiel’s New Job
As it turns out, Dean is kind of an elitist, which is weird considering how self-conscious he’s always been about his own relative lack of education (compared to Sam). When Dean first sees Cas at his new job, he’s all, “You’re too good for this.” Shut up, Dean. Some people work for a living. Also, for most of your life, your finances have come from pool hustling and credit card fraud. And since we never saw you set Cas up with sweet, sweet fake IDs or fraudulent credit cards or cash or even a short-term loan, I’d say he’s doing pretty well for a homeless dude with no ID, money, references or personal history. Just saying.
Also–in this episode and in earlier ones in the season–Sam keeps asking Dean about how Cas is doing (and I love that Sam is thoughtful like that), but he never brings up the money angle. Right now, I’m assuming that Sam is assuming that Dean has already thought of how Cas will need money to survive now that he’s human.
Yeah, Sam really should know better.
No, Wait, It’s Actually Babysitting That is the Most Humiliating Thing the Showrunners Can Think Of
While on the job, Castiel thinks he is being asked out by his attractive supervisor, Nora. Apparently, however, she just wants him to come to her house and babysit her small child, while she goes out bowling with someone else. The whole sequence–and most of the episode, really–seems intended to embarrass Cas, or to make us feel embarrassed for Cas, and Cas ending up having to care for a baby when he thought he was going to get sex (or at least stuff that would lead up to sex) is just oh-so-emasculating that we must all feel sorry for Cas and Cas’s sexual frustration. And I do feel sorry for Cas. Mostly because his boss is clearly taking advantage of him.
I’m a little annoyed with how the episode handles the miscommunication between Nora and Castiel. It would have been really easy to have Cas misunderstand Nora’s intentions simply because he’s still only newly human and he has a hard time picking up on social cues. Castiel’s boss could have asked him to babysit in such a way that the audience would understand what she meant, but Cas would not. Instead, Nora “delicately” phrases her request as follows:
NORA: I’ve been afraid to ask. I don’t wanna take advantage of you as my employee, and I certainly don’t wanna jeopardize our working relationship. But as a working, single mom, it’s hard enough to get a date, let alone meet a really great guy, and–Tomorrow’s my night off, and I know you’re off, too, and I was just wondering if there’s any chance you’re free tomorrow night?
CASTIEL: Um … yes? Yes.
NORA: [kisses him] You’re the best.
Yeah, the thing missing from this request for babysitting services is the actual request itself.
This means that it really, really seems like she’s asking Cas out. Which, in turn, makes it seem like she’s leading him on. And even though she doesn’t seem to realize that she’s leading Cas on, the whole thing still reads like a bait-and-switch in which Nora lures Castiel to her home with her feminine wiles, only to drop the (horribly emasculating) chore of babysitting in his lap.
Cas himself certainly seems to think babysitting is emasculating. When he learns of his night’s true occupation, he sighs out the word “babysitting” with an air of utter resignation. As if he associates some stigma with the task of caring for another person’s child. Where would he have even picked up on that? Did the topic of babysitting come up a lot in his garrison?
It just kind of irks me that the thing the show tells us is even more humiliating than the (presumed to be humiliating) occupation of customer service is the female-coded occupation of caring for a child.
And to add insult to, well, insult, Castiel’s supervisor never offers to pay him for his night of babysitting, even though, as his boss, she surely has some idea of how much he needs the money. Babysitting can be very difficult work, and even when it is not exceptionally difficult, it can still be stressful. It is something you ask family and maybe close friends to do for free. In the right circumstances. Everybody else, you reimburse for their time.
Also, getting your employees to do stuff for you, for free, outside of working hours? Yeah, that’s just tacky.
And the rest of the post is under the cut:
While (::lightning flash::) … babysitting … (::thunderclap::), Castiel attempts to comfort a crying infant by singing to her. He sings “Believe it or Not,” the theme song to the campy superhero TV series, The Greatest American Hero.
Uh … why does Castiel know all the lyrics to “Believe it or Not”? Is he watching The Greatest American Hero in his spare time? How would he have access? He’s still all homeless and such. I’m going to have to assume this song is on the Gas N’ Sip’s playlist for some reason, so Castiel hears it every day, over and over and over. And since the lyrics just happen to be poignantly relevant to his own situation as a fallen angel, listening to it is a daily, exquisite torture.
Or maybe he just heard it the once (and has a really good memory for song lyrics). I looked it up after watching the episode and it immediately got stuck in my head.
Anyway, this Cas-sings-an-80s-TV-theme-song moment breaks through my suspension of disbelief for a little bit. Also, I can’t help wondering what Misha Collins’s reaction was when he learned he was going to have to sing in his Castiel voice. I bet that was fun.
Frankly, I’m disappointed that Cas does not sing that baby an Enochian hymn.
The Destiel Moment
Perhaps because the creators knew that every other Dean/Cas scene in this episode would make the Destiel shippers cry, the audience is treated to Dean dropping Cas off on his first date (Well, they think it’s a date.) and prepping him for it like a proud papa.
What can I say? I eat this stuff up. With spoons and forks and a variety of other utensils. Am I being pandered to? Yes. Am I enjoying it? Also yes.
“Why Couldn’t He Break Up With Me on Facebook?” Girl
Yeah, I don’t remember her name. Not even a little.
This episode does have a plot, and is, sadly, not just forty-plus minutes of Cas doing random stuff as a human. This being Supernatural, a plot generally means victims.
One of the victims of the episode is a young lady whose boyfriend has just broken up with her At School. And breaking up with her At School is apparently the most humiliating thing she can imagine. On the phone to her friend, she bemoans the fact that her ex broke up with her in such a very public place, and not on Facebook. Isn’t Facebook pretty damn public? Eh, maybe she has one of those locked friends-only accounts. I do concede that it would be easier to hide her own emotional reaction to being dumped if she only got the message on Facebook, though. Then she could cry in the privacy of her own bedroom while coming up with a snarky retort that she could post on her ex-boyfriend’s Wall at her leisure.
At the same time, getting dumped on Facebook sounds absolutely terrible. Like, the worst combination of both public and impersonal.
Which kind of describes Facebook itself, now that I think about it.
I’m a little surprised Facebook exists in the Supernatural universe, since the Winbros’ go-to search engine is “Search the Web.” (At least they don’t have to “Bing” stuff like the characters in all those other CW shows.)
So, “I Can’t Believe He Didn’t Dump Me on Facebook” is mercy-killed by a rogue angel who specializes in mercy killings. Yes, I said mercy-killed. Because the rogue angel feels her pain. Was there really no one in the immediate vicinity going through more pain than this girl who just got dumped, but not on Facebook? No? OK, then.
I think the dead girl’s friend–whose name is apparently Jace–might win the episode, on account of the following exchange she has with Dean:
DEAN: Your friend, was she depressed?
DEAN: Any thoughts of suicide?
JACE: Ew, no. I mean, she was kinda bummed that dickbag Travis broke up with her in front of the whole school.
DEAN: Kinda bummed?
JACE: Yeah, like more bummed than when she got a C on a quiz, and less bummed than when her parents split up. Kinda. Bummed.
Dead girl’s friend, you’re awesome. That was also a surprisingly succinct and informative way of portraying the level of your friend’s distress.
I also love the look Jace gives Dean. It’s the look I’ve always wanted to give Dean.
Dean Lies to Everybody
Dean is a lying liar who lies to everyone he loves. He lies to Sam about Zeke. He lies to Castiel about Zeke. (Aaand the other people he loves are mostly dead. So that’s that, then.) Dean is expending so much effort lying to everyone but Ezekiel for Ezekiel that I’m legitimately worried about the fallout.
Sam, Kevin and Crowley
Meanwhile, back at the bunker, Crowley agrees to translate some angel tablet stuff in exchange for a “phone call” with Abaddon. It’s a demonic phone call, though, so it involves less phones and more blood. Crowley insists on using Kevin’s blood for this, and Kevin provides. Crowley later steals some of the leftover prophet blood and shoots up with it. Why Kevin’s blood and not Sam’s? No clue. Maybe he’s trying in his own way to “finish” the demon-healing ritual that Sam started at the end of last season, and Crowley is hoping Kevin’s blood is purer than Sam’s tainted, I-was-once-a-demon-blood-junkie-and-also-Lucifer’s-vessel blood. Or maybe Crowley just thinks variety is the spice of life.
Hey, Abaddon’s back. Being as sexy-evil as always.
Missing in Action
1. Well, Ezekiel is sure laying low in his Sam-suit.
2. No word on Sheriff Jody “I’ve been wondering if she survived the Season 8 Finale” Mills this episode. But not to worry! She returns in Episode 8, “Rock and a Hard Place.” Sheriff Mills is not dead! And there shall be much rejoicing. [Editor’s Note: I fully planned on rejoicing. Then I saw the episode.]
3. I don’t always mention Metatron in this section, (a) because we’re pretty sure he’s in Heaven and (b) because I figured the showrunners were saving him for a rainy day. However, in this episode, we learn from Crowley that the spell which cast the angels out of Heaven is irreversible. Does that mean that Metatron’s just kind of stuck in Heaven, alone, forever, tending to all the saved human souls and Joshua’s garden and whatever else is in Heaven that requires tending? (Of course, if the spell was for casting ALL the angels out of Heaven, maybe Metatron counted too, and he’s just laying really, really low.) [Editor’s Other Note: Well, as of “Holy Terror,” it looks like Metatron’s the only angel with freedom of movement. And he’s collecting minions. So maybe Heaven’s more like Metatron’s personal treehouse.]
Overall, I like this episode. I think it has some really sweet, poignant moments, even if the situations (::cough:: Cas’s lullaby ::cough::) seem contrived at times.
And hey, most of the female characters introduced this episode actually survive to the episode’s end. Even the one Castiel has a romantic interest in! In the Supernatural universe, that’s gotta be worth some bonus points or something.