Sam and Dean confront the ghost in the Men of Letters bunker while Castiel is off following the trail of Metatron in “Captives”. The brothers are still working relationship only status, which is bothering Dean about as much as it doesn’t seem to bother Sam. Dean has retreated into headphones full of rock ‘n roll, dealing with his loneliness and his guilt over Kevin’s death as best he can.
Of course, the bunker is massively protected and the only way a ghost could be there is if the death happened recently, which means it’s Kevin. He manages to contact the brothers and let them know that he and everyone who has died since The Fall are caught in the Veil, unable to go to heaven. He wants them to find his mother, who was presumed dead. He berates Dean for having a pity party and goads the Winchesters into action.
Castiel follows a path he hopes will lead him to Metatron, but he accidentally bumps into a terrifying monster of an angel named Bartholomew. This is the angel responsible for torturing and killing hundreds of beings which is something Castiel abhors about himself much less Bartholomew. Bartholomew wants Castiel to join him in the hunt for Metatron, but Castiel isn’t convinced. They visit the angels’ new quarters where Bartholomew tells him, “Resistance is futile.” Are the angels becoming the new Borg? Quite a terrifying thought.
What’s really going on with the angels is that there are splintering factions and no one angel has the upper hand. Metatron has disappeared into thin air biding his time. Bartholomew is racing Malachi to find Metatron, and other factions are trying peace but keep getting caught in the crossfire. Bartholomew commands, “lay aside your qualms about methods” but Castiel is done being a murderer. “It’s not who I am,” he states.
While Castiel’s ideals are noble, he quickly finds out that it’s kill or be killed. “There is no peace without bloodshed,” taunts Bartholomew. He must make a choice. He can’t sit on the fence with his life in the balance. So once again he must pick up a blade. But this time, he chooses to do so. He isn’t quite an angel anymore. He can make a choice about his actions now where before he could only follow orders or get cast out. It’s too bad that most of his options are so heavy.
Sam and Dean find Mrs. Tran and rescue her from Crowley’s demon henchmen. Crowley is nowhere to be found, and the demon hints that Crowley had Mrs. Tran and the other prisoners there for their own protection. The boys bring Mrs. Tran back to the bunker so that Kevin can see her. He says goodbye to the boys, asking them, “Can you two get over it?”
Unfortunately, Dean and Sam are in such dire straights where their relationship is concerned that I’m not sure they know where to begin to repair it, if they even want that. Sam certainly doesn’t seem to want a familial relationship with Dean anymore. He pauses at his door, but checks himself and enters, leaving Dean to his rock ‘n roll tunes once again.
“Captives” fascinated me with its portrayal of choice. Every choice makes us a captive. A captive of our past, of the future, of the consequences of our choices. We don’t get to be free from the consequences of our actions, no matter how hard we try to avoid them. The Winchesters’ choices about Kevin have ended with this, his death. They have to break the news to his mother after they rescue her. Dean is a captive of his decision to bring Sam back to life, and Sam is a captive of that life. Castiel is another captive, forced to remember his past while pursuing a brighter future. No matter the changes, we still have to deal with our past mistakes.
What does this mean for the other characters? Metatron, Crowley, and the hordes of demons and angels? They’re all captives too. There was a line in a much older Supernatural episode where someone asked, “Do you want peace, or freedom?” The angels had peace until they had freedom. The Winchesters have fought for their freedom, but at a terrible cost. They will never know peace.
I’m intrigued by this idea, as well as saddened by it. We try so hard to be free. I’ve tried to free myself from a lot of things, some that have gone away and some that continue to plague me. No matter how much we want freedom it never looks like what we want it to. Freedom comes with a cost, and that cost is becoming captives to ourselves and the choices we make.
In reality, we are captives of other peoples’ choices. All the authorities in our lives, such as parents, police officers, government officials, have made choices that affect us. We just don’t always realize it. Is that the perk of being an adult? Realizing that we are captives and making the decisions we can in order to procure even a tiny sliver of freedom?
This episode disturbed me. I don’t know how to process this feeling that I have no control over my life. I can decide some things, like what I’m eating for dinner, but that’s determined for me in some ways by the job I have, how much my boss pays me, and what’s available at the store I go to. Someone orders the food that gets distributed, and someone decides how much money I get every month. All of our choices affect one another, and I guess what “Captives” is really saying is that we need to be extremely careful when making decisions because we never know how it will affect those around us as well as how it will affect our future.