Gadreel and a possible Heel-Face Turn



I was thinking about that scene with Gadreel and Metatron at the end of “Meta Fiction,” and this expression of Gadreel’s in particular, which was in response to Metatron’s remark about people playing their parts:


and about this exchange at the beginning of that…

Can we also laugh at the fact that Gadreel has already opened a door he was guarding in the past? Because he thought it was the right thing? Metatron really is a dumbass to let this guy guard his door…


8x17 // 9x18

Both Goodbye Stranger and Meta Fiction were written by Robbie Thompson, and directed by Thomas J. Wright. It’s no coincidence then that were were several common themes shared by these two episodes.

They were stark contrasts to one another in many ways, with Dean and Cas seemingly having switched places at this stage. In Goodbye Stranger, it is Cas who is being controlled by Naomi; in Meta Fiction, Dean is being changed by the Mark of Cain. In Goodbye Stranger, Cas leaves Dean standing in a crypt; in Meta Fiction, Dean leaves Cas standing in a parking lot.

Throughout season 8, and the first half of season 9, it was Dean who showed great concern for Cas and his wellbeing. Now, it is Cas who is showing great concern for Dean. They know each other so well, and they can sense when something is not right. Dean knew Cas wasn’t right when he got back from Purgatory, and Cas sensed right away that there was something different about Dean after seeing him for the first time since he took on the Mark of Cain.

Both episodes end with music being switched on, followed by somber car rides with Sam looking concerned after he knows Dean has had incredibly emotionally draining moments with Cas.

The song that plays at the end of Goodbye Stranger is the episode’s namesake:

Goodbye stranger it’s been nice
Hope you find your paradise
Tried to see your point of view
Hope your dreams will all come true
Goodbye Mary, Goodbye Jane
Will we ever meet again
Feel no sorrow, feel no shame
Come tomorrow, feel no pain

In Meta Fiction, the song The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore plays as the episode comes to a conclusion:

Loneliness is the coat you wear
A deep shade of blue is always there
The sun ain’t gonna shine anymore
The moon ain’t gonna rise in the sky
Tears are always clouding your eyes
When you’re without love

Both incredibly fitting songs, the first about a wayward lover, the second about deep abiding loneliness. It’s also interesting that the song playing in Meta Fiction contains the lyrics “I need you”, which as we all know is something Dean said to Cas in Goodbye Stranger. I know many of us have been wanting a reverse crypt scene, and I think last night we at least got part of one, in a way. Only this time, with a lot less violence, and far more love and concern on Cas’ part. Perhaps this is an indicator of things to come. Perhaps this is an indicator that the angel who knows Dean so well will be the one to break the connection next time.

So basically the abiding message here is - Dean and Cas hate being apart, and their parting is equated to being separated from love (or a lover), and gosh that makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside!

Themes and Variations, or How 9x18 Is Meta Even in Its Music


Meta Fiction opens to the tune of classical music and finishes with a classic pop song and the two pieces of music frame the episode beautifully, reinforcing both the themes, the structure and the character development of seasons 8 and 9.

We start in Metatron’s study to the notes of Mouret’s Fanfare Rondeau. The piece is used as an introductary theme song to PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre. How fitting that is. Metatron is, at least in his eyes, writing his master piece, his version of the Bible, the new word of God. Yet, he approaches it as a puppetmaster writing a script for his puppets on strings. Gadreel even asks him towards the end of the episode how his play is coming along, rather than his gospel. In fact, this tweet:


reinforces the notion that this is the way Metatron looks at the creatures he so benevolently plays god over. Let alone the theatrical manner in which he acts when he is “caught” in a circle of holy oil.

The use of this piece of Baroque music is also interesting because of the word Fanfare. In an episode that references subtext and is a clear wink to all of us analysing the shit out of each episode, I feel okay interpreting as a light-hearted pun: Fan Fare, as in the stuff that fans live off on Tumblr, and message boards. Also interesting is that in its original French fanfare can mean a hunting signal given before the start of running down a deer. Much like the sound & sign Metatron uses to start the hunt of the rebel angels.


Then there is the fact that the musical form rondo has

a principal theme  (sometimes called the “refrain”) [which] alternates with one or more contrasting themes, generally called “episodes,” but also occasionally referred to as “digressions” or “couplets. (x)

which suits the way Supernatural seasons are written: themes explored through variations on this theme in its various episodes. This episode included.

The main theme of this season is who are you & what defines you. How fitting then that the episode finishes with the Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons version The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore. The wonderful crossroadscastiel already commented on the “I need you” and loneliness expressed in the song this in this sublime post. I’ll just add that it seems like each member of TFW seems to have come to some sort of a decision for themselves this episode and all end up in a lonelier place because of it. The lyrics

Loneliness is the coat you wear
A deep shade of blue is always there

apply to Cas, Dean and Sam each.

Dean has taken over the metaphorical mantle of the burden of Cain and it has cut him off from everything but revenge.He has been wearing a blue coat all season and is often hued in shades of blue, symbolic for his ever growing depression.

Cas has once more donned a trenchcoat symbolising his return to being an angel, trading in his deep blue gas-n-sip uniform of humanity. Moreover, with his summons at the end of the episode he seems to have put hiself in a leadership position once more; the most lonely place to be in these circumstances.

Sam has chosen to forego revenge for now, but as his many concerned looks at his revenge-driven brother show, his decision to not follow Dean down this path has widened the emotional gap between the brother’s even more, all framed in blue.


As this is Supernatural, themes and character development is explored through pain and dark roads. The variation it presented to us in Meta Fiction was one of loneliness and “without love”.

And further into the abyss we go, but we’ve got wonderful music to accompany us on the way down.


"You’re not the hero in this masterpiece, you’re the villain."

Do you know how much I love the fact that they touched on how every villain thinks they are the hero of their story?

Because I really, really love it. Talk to any bad guy and they will rationalize their choices, tell you that their goals are just. Every villain thinks they are a hero and the hero is their foil. 

The fact that Cas has such complex emotions about his purpose in this world anyway…

He know’s he’s messed up BIG TIME in the past and everything he does, he does in an effort to atone for his mistakes. This must have struck him especially hard because, deep down, maybe Cas believes he is villainous? And he thinks he has to make a conscious effort to curb his villainous instincts/nature? 

In contrast he views the Winchesters (especially Dean) as inherently good people who sometimes make poor choices but always with righteous intentions. Cas makes allowances for the people he loves (much like Dean) that he won’t afford himself.

And the parallels between Cas and Dean on this….I can’t even begin to articulate how intrigued I am.

Metatron said the stolen grace is burning Cas out. Do you think we'll see Cas' vessel showing damage like Lucifer's?

I honestly have no idea, hon! Using stolen grace is unprecedented for the show - I figure the writers have free reign to make the effects whatever they like.

Could be damage like Lucifer had as you say. Hael showed the same kind of damage at the start of the season, so it’s sort of already been put out there as something that happens to angels this season, keeping it in the audience’s mind/memory, so the show may want to just run with that tried and tested way of showing an angel ‘burning out’ for simplicity’s sake (since they know they can easily do the make-up and stuff and it’s already established in the canon).

But then again - Carver could decide he wants to make this a completely NEW thing that has completely new effects. 

Misha mentioned at a con that the grace was going to be rejected similar to how transplanted organs in humans are rejected - so could be we will see Cas start to look and act like someone terminally ill, maybe? Thin, tired, weak… hmmm, kinda like Sam when he was plagued by Hallucifer.

All I can do is speculate along with everyone else! :)



So the mark of Cain is a thing we should talk about

Maaaybe… but let’s not forget that Sam hit him too:

AND when Sam walks into the bunker to find Dean, we can see this sigil painted on the wall:

That’s the same one we saw at the warehouse where Cas killed Samandriel (sobs) - the angel-depowering doohickey that left Cas unable to help the boys.

So yeah, I think it’s clear that the MoC is changing Dean, but I don’t think that this necessarily has anything to do with it.


This scene was golden, because we had Dean and his season long mirror finally looking each other in the face again. And I find it so very telling that in the middle of this torture session Dean needed to step away for a bit, look in the mirror, assess himself as to find out who he is. If he is what Gadreel mirrors of him. The fun house mirror line was as much about Dean as it was about Sam. And this whole dialogue is kind of everything I ever hoped we’d get, because in a way it is like S3 over again when Demon!Dean told Dean what Dean deep inside feared or S1 when Shifter!Dean gave us much info on the way Dean feels inside. Gadreel used everything Dean thinks about himself and struggles with and puts it on the table, makes Dean confront himself with his inner demons, puts the words Dean has screaming in his head and shouts them at him. And you know what the worst and most telling part was? The part about Dean realizing Gadreel wanted him to kill him - his mirror - and if that doesn’t speak for itself and how Dean really doesn’t expect to come out of this alive, but rather runs towards the abyss with arms wide open, then I don’t know what is…

The highlight is the way this scene evokes Dean’s experiences in Hell. Dean’s always had a very special relationship to torture: since Hell, where torturing others threatened his own humanity, his talent for causing pain has been one of his most bitter secrets. Deep down, he has a capacity to hurt and to take pleasure in pain, and it’s a darkness he’s forever fighting in himself. And this scene – well, it serves as a reminder that the Mark of Cain isn’t so much turning Dean evil as letting out a darkness that Hell awoke in him and that he’s never been able to put away since. The fourth season brushed aside the inevitable trauma Hell had to have caused, but this time Dean’s potential for evil is turning into a damn good storyline, and all I can say is finally.

Review of ‘Meta Fiction’ from DenofGeek

(via jensenacklespl)

Jensen Ackles has transformed himself into an utterly bone-weary, helpless, despairing Dean Winchester, with death in his dead eyes. Particularly striking is the one scene in which Dean wipes a completely clean mirror off with his hand, as if he’s hoping that the darkness he sees in his face can simply be erased like that – but only seeing the same deathly expression again. It lasts no more than a minute, but that’s what’s called packing a punch.

Review of ‘Meta Fiction’ from DenofGeek

(via spnjensenlove)

I'm glad to see so many others thought Gabe acted weird in the beginning. At first I thought Richard was a bit rusty or something, it bothered me so much! But then when Cas realized it wasn't real, he acted a little more like he used to. I agree though, I don't think Gabe wld side w/ Metatron, I think it was part of the script. Maybe second deaft but still. I saw it as kind of what they did in Inception (if you've seen it).... (cont)

(Cont) Maybe Metatron didn’t expect it all to go as scripted. He just needed to plant the idea in Cas’s head. For this he needed a rebel angel, someone different from the rest. Lucifer wldn’t work, obviously, so he used Gabriel. It’s kinda sweet actually that Gabe was someone that Cas wld trust, at least on a subconscious level bc, like in Inception, the idea had to come from someone the person cared about, someone they trusted deep down.

Gabriel being ‘off’ bugged me too and I ALSO wondered if it was Richard having trouble acting the part again after so long! I didn’t wanna say while I was liveblogging, because I didn’t want to sound like I was being overly critical of Richard’s performance, and I wondered if it was just that he’d ALWAYS played Gabriel a bit, uh, awkward and I was remembering wrong (because it’s been years since I’ve watched the Gabriel episodes now).

The weirdness of Richard’s performance now makes all the sense though, of course - pretty impressive really :)

Your Inception comparison sounds fair, yes, good thinking :) Metatron does say at the end of the episode that he doesn’t matter how they get to his ‘ending’ as long they get there, so yes, I figure too that he was just using Gabriel any which way he could to push Cas towards being the angelic leader Metatron wanted him as. So when the main ‘script’ failed Gabriel was still kinda ‘programmed’ to be supportive of the ‘Cas should be leader’ idea, yeah.

Gosh, it’s FUN isn’t it? :)

Gadreel: Dean’s toxic mirror


Just a few more thoughts on this post, because I can’t stop thinking about the scene between Dean and Gadreel, and how this was essentially Dean talking directly to himself. This was Dean talking directly to that dark, poisonous thing inside of himself that he refuses to let die.

Charlie asked Dean last season if he would ever let it go, and we see now that he was being truthful in his answer when he told her that he never would.

He thinks that you are just a scared little boy who is afraid to be on his own because daddy never loved him enough.

This line was important, this is really getting to the heart of the matter in a way the show really has not thus far this season. There have been numerous mentions of John, but no acknowledgment from Dean that his father is truly the one responsible for his mindset. It’s canon fact that Dean was conditioned to put Sam’s life and wellbeing above his own, that is the reason he sold his soul for him all those years ago, after all. But what that lead to, other than toxic co-dependency, was Dean concluding that his father simply did not love him as much as he loved Sam.

And he is right, isn’t he? Right to think that you are a coward. A sad, clingy, needy, pathetic, bottom feeder who can not even take care of himself.

I find that last part to be particularly interesting, because all things considered, Dean has always been the caretaker in his relationship with his brother. What I think this really means, is that Dean can’t take care of himself inside, because he doesn’t even know who he is. He doesn’t allow himself time to consider his own wants and needs, because he is too busy taking care of Sam. So while Dean may be in the stereotypical caretaker role, he has neglected himself in every way that counts.

Who would rather drag everyone through the mud than be alone, who would let everyone around him die—

This is a powerful moment, especially considering what Dean said to Sam on that bridge in Road Trip. He told him he refused to drag anyone else through the mud with him. It’s that last part I find most interesting, however, considering all the sacrifices Dean has made to keep Sam safe. So many bonds broken, so many people pushed aside in favor of taking care of his brother above all else. All literal deaths aside, there have been so many relationships killed in Dean’s life due to the sense of duty he feels that it’s hard to keep track of them all.

You’re not afraid to die are you, you’re afraid to be left in these chains forever.

This is the moment that gave me goosebumps, because this is Dean’s greatest fear right here. Dean is not so much afraid of letting go of the toxic bond with his brother as he is afraid of being trapped inside of it forever. He feels incapable of letting go, has known nothing more than this his entire life and he doesn’t know how to be anything but Sam’s caretaker. He is not afraid of being alone, or letting go…he is afraid of himself because he thinks he can’t let go. He believes himself to be so incapable of changing that he is welcoming of death, and an end to it all. In his eyes, death is the only thing that can free those that he loves from his toxic grasp.


I actually find it very interesting at the end of Meta fiction that he tears the angel related research materials off the wall (his hunter style approach to his Angel related problems)  and  then he takes off the trenchcoat (his angelic identity) and puts up the sigil in his suit  - which is a very deliberate adoption not of a hunters technique but of hunter’s ATTIRE, perhaps with his human objectives as his new priority.

So technically he didn’t reject either world entirely.  Instead he blended them…taking from each world as he needed to in reevaluating and planning out his new objective.  Because what he now knows require a massive change in strategy.

Cas isn’t choosing to be just an Angel or a just hunter, he’s making himself into BOTH.  He’s establishing his own distinct identity in a time of great need.

Also important to note: while he began blending his various aspects/selves he started by casting off his angelic signature in favor of the garb of humanity, perhaps indicating what he is most comfortable as or what he most wants to be.  (Or perhaps who he really is when no one else can see.  I’d be saying Nephalim here, but we know he’s not one in the technical sense of the word.)

 The scene cuts away with him still in the suit and we don’t see him in the trenchcoat again until the next morning, when he’s going out to greet his siblings, with whom he’ll need that aspect of his identity.

There is a wealth to be said about EVERY MOVE HE MAKES in that scene.

YES YES about Cas blending his identities!

Also about the trench - I thought taking it off was an indication of him shedding his angelic identity at first as well. But as yarnyfan pointed out here, the suit underneath, while also being hunter attire (aside: oh OH attire traditionally used by hunters for establishing FALSE IDENTITIES btw - perhaps an indication that Cas’ apparent donning of the ‘angelic leader’ identity is FALSE, like when hunters don FBI identities?) is also typical angel attire/uniform. So being in the suit can actually be symbolic of angelic identity.

Whereas this current version of the trenchcoat can, in fact, itself be taken as a BLEND of angelic and human identities - it is a trench like he typically wore as an angel and discarded as a human, thus representing his angelic Self, but it has plaid under the collar to represent Winchesters/hunters/humanity, and it’s a slightly different style to Jimmy’s old one, different buttons etc. I think, suggesting even the angelic identity it represents has been individualised, Cas is being an angel on his terms, crafting his own way of being one.

So keeping the coat potentially reinforces the BLEND of identities Cas is balancing within himself.

Basically there are lots and LOTS of ways to interpret the potential symbolism here :D



Dean took the angel who he’d allowed to possess his brother, because he couldn’t fathom a world where Sam was dead, and tortured that angel until Gadreel was unconscious.

Unconscious.  What kind of trauma would an angel have to endure before they blacked out?  Especially considering that in the past we’ve seen that hitting an angel causes more pain to the fist than the angel.  Can Dean cause that kind of damage because of the Mark, because somehow it burns strength into his arm?  Or is his pain, his anger, his addiction so strong that he has to let it out in a violent, bloody outburst?

Dean took the angel who possessed his brother, chained him up, tortured him, and listened to him beg to die.  He took the angel who reflected back to him all the worst parts of himself, the parts that are scared of abandonment, scared of doing the wrong thing and facing Dad’s retribution, scared of losing his place in the world and so he possesses Sam against his will; he took that angel and tortured him, and when that angel begged to die, Dean didn’t let him.

Dean didn’t kill Gadreel because he wanted to punish the angel, punish himself, punish them both.  Gadreel tells him all the things that he’s already telling himself, that Sam doesn’t love him, has never loved him, that he isn’t worth loving, and Dean uses the wrath of Cain to torture him until they’re both lying on the ground, beaten into shells of what they were just a few hours before.  Dean doesn’t kill Gadreel because Gadreel wants to die.  What he fears is living trapped for an eternity in chains.

Dean wants to die, but what he’s done to himself instead has condemned him to an eternity trapped in Hell.

It just occurred to me that by Dean refusing to kill Gadreel, he is also refusing to let his own toxic bond with Sam die. Gadreel, when he was possessing Sam, became this literal manifestation of the toxic bond of co-dependency, and while we have seen Sam express a desire for this dynamic to change, we have seen Dean unable to cope with the reality of the situation.

So he chains up his co-dependency, and refuses to let it die. He tells it that it can stay that way forever, in this lonely little existence. It wants to die, it is the right thing for it to die, but Dean knows no other way but to wallow in it. He knows no other way than to chain it up, hold it hostage, and allow it to speak his worst fears aloud, again and again, until he is forced to beat it to a bloody pulp. Forced to shut it up the only way he knows how.

Cool readings!

And yet it seems to me that by the time we get to the aftermath of the beating Dean really actually WANTED to kill Gadreel, WANTED to give him the death he desired - perhaps indicative of Dean WANTING to ‘kill’ the toxic parts of his bond with Sam, and yet struggling to do so?

(not sure about the Mark having given Dean extra power for the beating - I figure Dean getting extra strength due to the Mark is gonna happen eventually, but I think in this case it was just that Gadreel was trapped and weakened, since Sam punched him successfully as well… but, eh, open to interpretation!) 


"Ohhh?" Metatron mused, flipping through the pages of a novel. "I think I understand you better than you’d think. Sorry you didn’t like the script though," he waved the Winchester Gospel into the Holy Fire. "A bit over-the-top."

"You probably could have consulted some older scripts. You seem pretty oblivious to what I’m capable of, Meta-douche." Gabriel grumbled, clenching his fists tighter.

so i did a whole meta write-up on gabe and my urge to be all things gabriel was so strong i had to transform it into the visual equivalent too i wANT HIM BACK