'Supernatural': The Mark of Cain
But first, a few theological notes which appear to contribute to "Supernatural" mythology.
Angels have beheld their Creator directly, so if they then rebel, it's a big deal. The separation is permanent and unforgivable, but doesn't necessarily merit an immediate death sentence (unless, like fallen angel Lucifer in the show, you plan to take over the Earth and destroy humanity).
Tossed out of the happy place after an incident involving an apple, humans have free will, which means they can make choices, including whether to accept or reject the Almighty.
It's worth noting that a certain serpent used his silver forked tongue to get what he wanted, so apparently angels, whether righteous or fallen, rely more on the power of persuasion than the persuasion of power.
I don't want to get ahead of myself here, but when "Supernatural" angels prattle on about how the Winchesters have no free will and are merely pawns in a larger game plan, it is also instructive to remember that, in the show's mythology, humans cannot be forced to become angelic vessels. They must assent.
At least in the series thus far, demons have demonstrated no such niceties, merely possessing whatever body they want.
What this all means in the world of "Supernatural," only Kripke knows for sure.
Anyway, back to the story at hand.
Angel Anna has supposedly busted out of the heavenly hoosegow and makes a nocturnal visitation to Dean, invading his dream vision of scantily clad representations of Good and Evil. She wants him and Sam to come visit her, but when fellow angel Castiel gets wind of this, he shows up instead.
Turns out that Anna is just trying to be helpful, if by helpful you mean atomizing Sam and scattering his mortal remains across the vastness of space. She believes he can't say "No" to Lucifer in the end, but Castiel isn't buying it.
Next thing we know, Anna lands on the hood of a sweet detailed Pontiac Firebird, and oh, look, it's the late 1970s.
Castiel reports back to the boys and locates Anna in the way back when. He aims to head there and kill her before she can get to the boys' parents, Mary and John Winchester, beheading them at the pass and thereby preventing the births of Dean and Sam.
The boys insist on going along for the ride. Unfortunately, the group trip whips Cass' ass, and by the time they land in 1978, he's ready to be dumped in the nearest cheap motel to recuperate.
(Two questions: The boys usually pay with stolen credit cards, so how exactly did Dean pay for five nights of Cass' room in 1978? And, where DID they get that nice blue coupe they used to drive to the Winchesters'?)
Dean and Sam show up at Future Mom and Dad's door, and Mary -- a hunter, if you recall from season four -- has no good memories of the Dean she met before. After much awkward conversation among Sam, Dean, Mary and John (neither of whom Sam had seen before, which brings emotions bubbling up), Anna fakes a call to John and lures him out of the house.
Dean tries to explain things to Mary, but Sam blurts out "angel." Then they notice John has split.
(BTW, Matthew Cohen, who plays John, looks so much like Misha Collins, who plays Castiel. Really, they could be brothers. But they're not.)
John arrives to find a dead body and winds up in a fight with Anna, who does that pointless thing of throwing him through the air. Then Dean arrives, and she tosses him through a wall. Then Mary arrives, and she tosses her over a car and then stalks, very slowly, over to where she is.
Fer Pete's sake, there are ninjas that can kill with their eyebrows, why are angels so frakking slow about this? Just break someone's neck, willya?
Then Sam arrives, draws a sigil thingy on the wall in blood, zapping Anna and giving everyone time to escape to Mary's heavily fortified family country house. John's brought up to speed, and everyone starts preparing for battle. At one point, John has to draw the sigil thingy in human blood, so he slices his palm.
Fer Pete's sake, why do people always cut their palms? The Japanese hippie-leader guy in the temple in "Lost" last Tuesday cut his palm (OK, they were also rocking a '70s vibe, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence).
Anyway, imagine how long your palm would take to heal, how painful it would be in the meantime and how hard it would be to, like, you know, HOLD A WEAPON TO FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE. But I digress.
During the sigil-painting, Sam and John have a heart-to-heart in which Sam tells his dad-to-be everything he wished he'd said to his dad-that-was. It's a nice grace note, sweetly played by Jared Padalecki. And he sits for the whole thing, so Cohen doesn't have to get a crick in his neck.
Outside, Anna recruits the angel Uriel (who will one day grow up to be played by Robert Wisdom, but not today), and he's psyched to go smiting.
Inside, Dean and Mary have a heart-to-heart, in which he tells his mother-to-be that she's his mother-to-be, and she'll die and so on. He and Sam try to convince her to leave John so that they'll never be born (which Sam states is better than dying, and which Dean states they're fine with, so the Winchester death wish is alive and well).
She informs them that it's too late, as she's already with Dean.
Back in the country home, the sigil isn't working, and Uriel shows up with some pretty flashy smiting, and there's more with the slow walking and the tossing through walls, etc., along with some gratuitous kicks and punches. John winds up in the yard; Anna guts Sam, and all seems lost.
Behold, a light!
The end is nigh in the house, until John walks in, all cool and eternal looking, and Michael the Archangel has finally arrived. He turns Anna into charcoal and sends Uriel to bed without supper. He puts Mary to sleep, but before fixing Sam, he insists on chatting with Dean.
In a nutshell, Dean's problems stretch back to Cain and Abel, his distant ancestors, which is why he's Michael's true vessel (John is just a stopgap). Michael reveals how he raised little brother Lucifer, who betrayed him and their Father, and now, despite the persistence of brotherly love, Lucifer must die. It's all part of the plan.
Dean asserts his free will, and then Michael does the aforementioned prattling on about mechanistic predestination. He promises to wipe the elder Winchesters' minds, which Dean realizes will eventually lead to Mary's death in the nursery.
"You can't fight City Hall," says Michael, then he zaps Sammy back to the future, all healed, then it's Dean's turn.
Back in the future, Castiel shows up, a little worse for the additional time-traveling wear. He passes out on the bed, and Dean and Sam need a drink.
Sam wonders if everyone's right about them agreeing to be vessels, and Dean disagrees. Sam points out that John assented to Michael to save his wife and wonders if saving Mary would get Dean to agree.
Back in the past, pregnant Mary and John stand in the nursery, admiring a little angel statue that Mary bought for a quarter at a garage sale.
Dean kicks, and she says, "It's OK, baby, it's all OK. Angels are watching over you."
Next week, "My Bloody Valentine," with a rogue Cupid. Wasn't that on ABC twice already?
As for this episode, I just keep wondering when we're going to stop talking about the angels' Father and actually meet Him. Be hard to beat that for a season finale.
And just imagine the stunt casting.
Why We Laugh:
Dean: "So, she's gone all Glenn Close. That's awesome." Castiel: "Who's Glenn Close?" Dean: "No one. Just a psycho bitch who likes to boil rabbits."
Dean, upon learning he's descended from Cain and Abel: "Awesome, Six Degrees of Heaven Bacon."