With just five episodes left in its final season, Supernatural is giving space for some valid discussions on religion. When your main villain is God, it’s a no brainer. Even though the concept of God was introduced in season four alongside the more prominent angels, the heavenly aspects of the universe were just another part of the supernatural world. “Gimme Shelter” does a fairly decent job in making room for faith in the absence of God.
I’m not religious myself, but I appreciated this distinction. Pastor Joe emphasizes a faith in community and service, where everyone is welcome, no matter their background. Appropriately, Cas and Jack take the lead on this case, where members of Pastor Joe’s church group are going missing in what basically ends up being the television version of Seven. Cas broke his heavenly ranks in season five and has since recognized the shortcomings of heaven and his former heavenly duties. Jack, however, has not been confronted with the human side of religion, despite existing as a living embodiment of how real that religion is. He never seems to make that connection, more concerned with how forgiveness works in the eyes of the members of the church group, but it’s still an interesting dynamic Jack has with the events of this episode. During a breakthrough at the church group’s meeting, Cas doubles down Supernatural‘s family theme, likening those bonds as their faith — a nod to how this last season may go down.
Meanwhile, Sam and Dean are on a road trip to find Amara; instead, she finds them. On the outs with her brother, Amara is still enjoying and exploring the world Chuck created, but reluctant to help the Winchesters out of familial duty to her brother. Help from her seems like a lost cause, even though Sam and Dean also have the back up play of just killing her as a way to balance out the scales. Instead, Dean goes back inside the diner where Amara is waiting to pay, leading to one of the most poignant moments of Supernatural.
At the end of season 11, as a thank you for sparing her life, Amara leaves Dean with a gift — a resurrected Mary. But just a few seasons later, Mary was dead again. Dean asks the inevitable question of those living with grief: why? Why did Amara bring Mary back only to have her die again? In a show that often treats death as cavalier, with its many resurrections of characters, these are the questions the show sometimes skips over and absolutely never asked so bluntly to someone who can actually give an answer. Mary’s resurrection itself felt greatly earned and Dean and Amara’s conversation gives the right weight to Mary’s second death. In short, for years, Dean held his mother on a pedestal, the only thing he really could do. Amara wanted to shatter that myth and show Dean that Mary was a real person.
For the three seasons we got of Mary, she felt more real to us and to Dean. She made mistakes, she went rogue, aligned herself with questionable characters, but she also learned to navigate a brave new world, and how to live again. The second reason that Amara resurrected Mary really was meant as a gift, and a chance for Dean to get rid of his anger, at himself, and at the world. This wasn’t really successful, except for all the new memories Sam, Dean, and Mary got to share. In real life, we don’t get literal second lives to explore and thrive in, but we do get second chances. Sometimes, those chances don’t work out the way we want them to. Amara’s reasoning for bringing back Mary speaks to a larger underlying point to this season and the end of the show. Perhaps, behind the wall of apocalyptic nonsense, there will be a chance to live again, and how they choose to live it is what really matters.
Some Wayward Thoughts:
This episode was directed by Matt Cohen!
The actual case that Cas and Jack work on isn’t all well thought out. At some point, there’s a talking bear that is just not explained at all.
“Especially after the whole Mrs. Butters thing.” “Mrs. What’s?”
“There were too many cats.”
Re: Jack’s social media: “It says I need a parent or guardian’s permission to join.” “You have my permission.”
“Are angels solving people crimes now?”
“It matters how we live.”
“You see Chuck as a squirrelly weirdo.”