Previously on Supernatural, “Regarding Dean”
Before combing through this exceptional episode directed by Richard Speight Jr, here’s a pretty good tip you shouldn’t dismiss: When anyone says “Everything is going to be fine”, prepare for the remainder of your day to be jinxed up the ying yang.
It’s been a little over a year since Spreight’s SPN directorial debut with season 11’s “Just My Imagination”, and once more he lead his cast-mates through another memorable outing. This week, the gang – plus Wally from “Bad Blood” – scheme on the best way to take down a formidable demon. Unbeknownst to all, Mary (Samantha Smith) is playing them all to acquire an artifact for the devious Mr. Ketch (David Haydn-Jones). While killing a random demon is an excellent cover for Mary’s clandestine mission, she and the others underestimated the power of their mark and discovered the dichotomy between good and evil is lot more complicated than realized.
The Winchester’s new pal Wally (Donovan Stinson) received a hot tip about a demon with a penchant for fishing. Seeing as hunting high-grade targets isn’t his forte, he called in Mary and in turn she passed the intel along to Sam, Dean and Cas. In classic Tarantino style, what should have a simple ambush quickly devolved into a slaughter. Even in the presence of an intimidating enemy, the brothers aren’t quaking in their boots since practically every lead has conquered death multiple times in the series’ history. Nevertheless, the tension remained palpable as Castiel was slowly and painfully dying after a strike from the powerful Lance of Michael.
Fans may have a developed a tolerance towards any lead character on the verge of death, however Castiel’s latest near-miss could be of concern, given his violation of Dean and Billie’s deal. Since “First Blood” Cas has been more cavalier than usual and when he’s caught in the thick of a dire situation, the seraph proclaims his love for the Winchesters with increasingly poignant monologues. Now it’s not a certainty, and no really wants it to happen, but Cas’ foolhardy behavior could potentially signal the end for our fallen angel. Fortunately for all, Crowley popped up from his brimstone sanctum to save his featherless friend at the last possible second.
After all these years, Mark A. Sheppard‘s portrayal as the brackish King of Hell continues to be the highlight during every guest appearance. Granted, Crowley hasn’t been an imposing threat for some time; Ol’ Red Eyes still proves he has skills by sauntering through a scrap while throwing some shade, then gives Sam and Dean the juice they need to save the day… all without a ‘thank you’. In “Stuck in the Middle” we learned why Fergus tends to vanish quickly after a few witty retorts: The King has a lot on his plate. A mid-grade crossroads demon like himself didn’t become leader of the damned overnight. Apparently he received consent from a Prince of Hell, Ramiel (Jerry Trimble Jr.) to acquire absolute power (that he’s squandered on the regular). In a flashback that took place between seasons five and six, Crowley was granted an audience with Ramiel and informed his superior that Hell is now under his leadership by right. After Azazel’s death in season two, Ramiel and his ilk (three Princes remain) decided they don’t care for Hell and gave Crowley the keys to the kingdom. And like that, we now know how barely anyone questioned Crowley’s ascension among the ranks.
If Crowley’s subtle machinations weren’t impressive enough, there’s always Mary Winchester’s duplicity. Already entrenched in the Men of Letters as their lead American operative, Mary placed everyone in danger to recover the infamous Colt (last seen in season five) for Mr. Ketch. Lest we forget, this weapon is so powerful, there are only five things in all of creation it cannot kill. We know one is Lucifer… but the other four? Perhaps we’ll be acquainted with one or two of them fairly soon!
Oh yeah, let’s not forget that Satan is back in his old form… and being held captive by Crowley! What the what?!
An excellent episode throughout, “Stuck in the Middle” not only added much needed backstory to some old plot lines but was composed with an artistic flair seldom seen in the CW’s longstanding series. The distinctness of Speight’s vision coupled with a revealing script penned by Davy Perez not only strengthened the current narrative of this season but laid groundwork for season 13. Surely not everything they unloaded in this episode will be covered by the finale. Consequences will eventually be met by Castiel and Mary and neither shouldn’t expect Crowley or Rowena to save their butts (again). Hell, by the time everything is laid bare, Sam and Dean may not be able to trust any soul on earth.
"Stuck in the Middle (With You)"
Starring: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Mark A. Sheppard, Misha Collins, Ruth Connell | Writer: Davy Perez | Director: Richard Speight Jr.