Sunday, March 8, 2009

Angels in the Supernatural World

As likely as not, when someone mentions angels now, people immediately think of women with golden, flowing hair; long gowns; wings and harps in their hands. Sometimes little cherubs come to mind. You can find both versions in Hallmark stores, hospital gift shops and Christmas decor stores without fail. But for some reason, the angels that are actually portrayed in Revelations, fearsome warrior angels, aren't the image conjured by modern minds. So when Eric Kripke and friends brought angels into this season of Supernatural, and made them of the darker warrior breed, it startled some people. I didn't know how I would feel about this storyline at first, but so far I'm enjoying it. I'm intensely curious where it's going to go -- and how the angels Castiel and Uriel are going to react to whatever battle is coming.

From the moment Misha Collins appeared as the angel Castiel, I was intrigued. I love it when he appears in an episode. While he is undoubtedly powerful and not of the cherubic or "angelic" stripe, I do sense compassion in him. I think viewers can connect more with him because he's actually expressed doubt and he doesn't go around flounting his incredible power unless necessary or to get a point across. You get the sense that he believes what he is doing is for the greater good.

Uriel, on the other hand, just comes across as an arrogant jerk. From him, you get the sense that he views humanity as a bunch of bugs and perhaps he doesn't know why God bothers with us. To me, he's almost like an unthinking soldier who just does what he's told without too much self-inquiry. I also think he likes showcasing his power, like a bully.

No matter their differences, Castiel and Uriel are undoubtedly powerful, enough to scare demons like Ruby. Enough to blind someone who spies on them, and enough to nearly split eardrums when someone can hear their true voice. Enough to pull Dean right out of hell. The writers backed up this characterization of angels with dialogue such as when Dean asks Castiel who he is and Castiel replies, "I'm the one who gripped you tight and raised you from Perdition." They also use imagery like the raised-welt handprints on Dean's arms as well as this shot (which is one of my favorites from this season) that revealed the truth of Castiel's words.

I have lots of questions regarding these guys:

1. Why did they pull Dean from hell? Did they think he was the only one who could convince Sam to stop doing whatever it is they want him to stop doing? That seems odd considering how incredibly powerful they are? Does that mean that Sam, and some of the higher-level demons, could put up a good fight against them? Is it only the lower-level demons they scare the bejeebers out of?

2. Will Castiel end up seeing things from the boys' point of view, that everything isn't black and white and sometimes you have to fight evil in unconventional ways? Will Castiel (and Dean, for that matter) realize that the way Sam intends to fight the baddies is actually the way to go? The only way to win? How wild would it be to see Castiel and Ruby fighting side by side!

3. Will Castiel and Uriel end up fighting each other? And does that mean Castiel will fall?

When this season is over and the DVDs come out, I really need to go back and watch all the episodes again, especially ones that deal with the angels. There's so much going on there that we've yet to see or understand.

And then there's Anna, the fallen angel. She was introduced as a girl who could hear the angels' conversations. It's only later that we find out it's because she's one of them. I like how Sam and Dean protect her from all the forces wanting to get their hands on her -- angels and demons alike. What I was kind of squiggy about was Dean and her hooking up. To me, it seemed forced. Perhaps too much of an effort to polarize the brothers by having Dean with an angel while Sam was with a demon.

What are your thoughts? Do you like how the writers are portraying angels? What are your views of Castiel and Uriel and where their character journeys might take them? What do you think of the Anna/Dean hook-up?