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‘Supernatural’ Review: “The Great Escapist”

Supernatural Review The Great Escapist
The CW

Supernatural’ season 8 scares up its twenty-first episode of the season in “The Great Escapist,” as Sam and Dean encounter the angel Metatron (Curtis Armstrong) in their effort to pick up where Kevin Tran left off, while Castiel finds himself on the run from both angels and demons alike..

Previous ‘Supernatural’ episode “Pac-Man Fever” saw hacker-LARPer Charlie (Felicia Day) return to the Winchester brothers looking to participate in a case of her own, while Dean worried about Sam’s worsening health in the wake of the second trial, so what does the latest season 8 episode bring?  Will the Winchesters finally be able to rid the world of Crowley and his fellow demons?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Supernatural’ season 8 episode 21, “The Great Escapist!”

Kevin Tran awakens back on the boat, quickly interrupted by a knock at the door from Sam and Dean. Despite forgetting the “secret knock,” a curiously chipper Sam and Dean present Kevin with the second half of the demon tablet, and leave him to translate. Outside the boat, Sam and Dean walk through a barrier that reveals their true identities as shape-shifting demons, finding Crowley in a director’s chair with cameras watching the boat, having orchestrated the entire situation.

Back in the Men of Letters base, Dean continues to attempt treating a weakened Sam, though Sam reminds him the illness is mystical in nature. An e-mail from Kevin Tran arrives, revealed to be a video file that Kevin programmed to send in the event of his disappearance, declaring himself most likely dead with instructions to recover his research. The boys soon find that Garth can’t confirm the finding, nor does it appear a new prophet has been activated.

At a Santa Fe “Biggerson’s” restaurant, Castiel chats with a waitress, but soon realizes that more angels are on the way to track him. Castiel disappears, stunning the staff, as we see two well-dressed angels disappointed to have missed him. The angel Ian reports back to Naomi that Castiel seems to be evading them by setting up shop in the identical Biggersons’ around the country. Castiel finally returns to the Santa Fe branch to find all the customers dead, save for his waitress, whose eyes have burned out of her skull as the two angels finally catch Castiel.

Looking over Kevin’s notes, Sam recognizes a repeated symbol from his Stanford days, and uses the library to identify it as a territorial Native American marker related to the messenger of God, Metatron. Sam presses Dean to visit the modern-day grounds to find any clues that Kevin Tran couldn’t, but upon arriving at the hotel in Colorado occupying the space, the location seems bizarrely empty.

While Kevin tasks the fake Sam and Dean with going on a lunch run, the real Dean notices Sam’s increasing wooziness, and sharpened memory of their childhood. Dean investigates the local Native American museum, observing that the Two Rivers’ tribe leader asked of the people an offering of “stories,” while Sam awakens and woozily explores the hotel hallways, seeing the desk clerk deliver packages filled with books to a nearby room.

Back at Biggersons’, Naomi tortures Castiel and tasks Ian with searching the other restaurants for where Castiel might have hidden the tablet, to no avail. Crowley suddenly appears and shoots down Naomi’s subordinates, having melted down angel daggers into bullets. Naomi departs before Crowley can kill her as well, while Ian rises and reveals himself to be in Crowley’s employ. Meanwhile, Dean finds a passed-out Sam back in the room, before Sam stirs and exclaims he can feel Metatron’s presence in the hotel.

Castiel finds himself bleeding from a bullet wound in Crowley’s office, wherein Crowley realizes that Castiel’s possession of the tablet broke Naomi’s hold over him. As such, he wouldn’t have let the tablet off his person, and Crowley reaches into Castiel’s wound and painfully removes the tablet from within the angel’s body. Just then, Crowley’s demon Sam and Dean call to reveal that Kevin tricked them into walking under a devil’s trap, forcing Hell’s king to depart.

Sam hazily leads Dean toward the mysterious hotel room, remembering a comic Dean had read him as a child, and that from a young age Sam must have known he could never be as good as the knight from the comic. Sam suggests that the trial’s effects might be purifying him, before the brothers enter room 366, finding it stacked with books, and a mysterious man holding a shotgun to them. The brothers identify him as Metatron, though he professes to have no knowledge of any Winchesters, or the fate of any of his fallen angel brethren.

While Castiel argues with Ian for his betrayal and forcibly removes the bullet from his own abdomen, Crowley kicks in the door to the boat and finds a smirking Kevin, having realized the deception from the fake Winchesters’ politeness. Meanwhile, Metatron realizes that Sam’s current state stems from his “resonance,” or proximity to the word of God, and near-completion of the trials. The angel explains that he went into hiding after God himself disappeared, and the archangels began mismanaging the universe in His absence. Instead, as scribe of the Word, Metatron kept himself occupied by reveling in the various stories and books of humanity, watching man create universe unto his own right, though Dean argues that real-life tragedies like Kevin Tran’s death happen while Metatron did nothing.

Castiel manages to overpower his captivity by planting the bullet in Ian’s eye, while Kevin Tran defiantly asserts to Crowley that the Winchesters have the advantage in the trials, and Crowley has lost his leverage. Crowley threatens Kevin into obedience, until Kevin suddenly glows with angelic light and knocks Crowley back, singeing the demon’s skin as he disappears.

Having rescued Kevin, Metatron questions Dean if he understands the consequences of the trials, and closing the gates of Hell, though Kevin wakes before the discussion goes further. Kevin reveals that he managed to recover Crowley’s half of the demon tablet, as Metatron explains the third trial, the curing of a demon. Unsure of what that means, Sam and Dean drive off again, before finding a bloodied Castiel in the middle of the road begging for their help.

As surprised as we were that last week’s “Pac-Man Fever” effectively carried the narrative through a lighter gimmick episode, “The Great Escapist” added much-needed progress to the eighth season endgame. We’re still a bit fuzzy on Kevin Tran’s kidnapping from “Taxi Driver,” though the episode did well to return control of his faculties to the character, even as the angel and demon tablets apparently change hands.

It certainly didn’t hurt to have Castiel back in the fold either, offering up a bit of clarification on both Crowley and Naomi’s respective positions within the ongoing conflict. The introduction of Metatron certainly served to illuminate a few aspects of the convoluted theological history as well, providing a direction for the final episodes of the the season to tackle the third trial.

“The Great Escapist” may have been light on the consequence that ‘Supernatural’ does so well in latter episodes of a given season, but gave much-needed catharsis to an arc that has all-around offered some much-needed direction for the long-running series. Onto the third trial!

Did you get your fill of spooky ‘Supernatural’ action?  What did you think about “The Great Escapist?” Join us again next week for an all-new recap of ‘Supernatural’ episode “Clip Show” on The CW!

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