Wow…well…that’s a humdinger. So much to take in. The further I dug into this review, the more my head started to hurt! But then I accepted that I should be thrilled that we all have something big to talk about. The plots have been so superficial of late and this was anything but.
“Unity” was exciting for sure, but to me anyway, it felt a little off. You know, like “Heroes’ Journey” off. Unlike that episode though, this wasn’t surrealism. It’s almost like we were watching our favorite characters and our favorite story through someone else’s eyeballs. Someone else’s perceived view. Once I accepted that skewed reality, suddenly the story made sense in an offbeat way.
Work With Me on This
How so? Remember “Tall Tales?” Remember how the story was different depending on who told it, Sam or Dean? Here it felt like we were walking through Chuck’s latest book, the one that he wrote when he was at Becky’s house, from his direct narrative. He did what Becky goaded him into doing, he upped the stakes, a lot. He created an unstoppable, larger than life villain. He exaggerated greatly how our heroes responded to the situation.
Not sure where I’m going? How about this perspective. In “The Monster at the End of This Book,” when you heard Chuck’s version of events from the pages, they had a bit more gravitas in the writing. What he wrote did happen, but how it played out in real life was a bit different than what the words described. For example, when we were watching Sam do laundry, we probably weren’t thinking he was putting his “gigantic darks” in the wash. You saw him washing his jeans. So, it becomes all about perception.
Chuck dictated a setup here that would have Dean going one way and Sam going another. He told Amara as much.
“You hear that, Dean, brought to the edge of doubt, his sense of duty, rage winning out in the end.”
“Poor Sam, always got to know everything, can’t leave well enough alone.”
His interpretation of Dean’s actions ended up skewing way out of character, but he had to go that way in order for the climactic event that he wanted to play out. After all, writers lie. This was not the real Dean Winchester. This was a cartoon imitation, a victim of hack writing. You know, I actually could have accepted that Dean would pull a gun on Sam. He was depicted as freaking desperate, in a fit of rage, and felt as though there was no other choice. He was a scared animal backed into a corner. Rational actions go out the window when someone is in that state. But would Dean really allow himself to get into that state, going that far off the rails, totally throwing out all he’s become? What I couldn’t buy was his words that Jack wasn’t family and him trying to pep talk Jack into dying so he and Sam could live a normal life. What?? There’s nothing in prior episodes to support that. That is not Dean. That is unfavorable writing though.
Then, there’s Sam. I couldn’t be more proud of Sam, but you think he got the hero’s edit here a bit much? Look, he’s earned it, he’s really earned it, and in his case the exaggeration was a bit more slight, but there were some things that happened that made you wonder where they came from. Why would Sam or Castiel remember Sergei looking for the key to Death’s library right at that moment? That episode happened a while ago. They should have been looking for that key the moment Sergei left the bunker. Was it Sam that thought of that key, or was it Chuck planting that thought?
Also, don’t you think it was a big coincidence that the Empty Entity just happened to be there right at that moment Sam arrived, and with Chuck’s death book? Not to mention spilling the beans about the whole plan? Chuck knew Sam would know how to work that situation, and he did brilliantly. Now the book is in Sam’s possession at the bunker. That sounds like something Chuck would want, keep the book from Billie. In this case, he manipulated the situation.
Chuck supported this theory with these words:
“This is my ending, my real ending.” “What part of omniscient to you not understand? So I can’t read my death book, so what? I control space and time. Just plant a few visions, goad death a little, mess with a few outcomes and…bada bing! They think they can kill me?”
What about Castiel? He was there just at the right moment to tell Sam he was doing the right thing? That sounds like Chuck, pushing Castiel to a supportive friend role rather than giving him something real to do. He was afraid if he gave Castiel more than that, he’d screw up the ending. That’s why he admonished Castiel at the end when the plan didn’t go the way he wanted. Castiel has screwed up quite a few of his endings in the past. There he is again, caring for Jack, not supporting Dean’s plan.
Chuck's Amara story was also riddled with inconsistencies. Theirs is balance, light and dark. Yet here’s Amara in the park, embracing the beauty of the earth, holding rare and exotic flowers symbolizing that beauty and innocence, becoming the defender of earth. Suddenly she is the light and Chuck is the dark. Chuck used that contrast to show just how much of a villain he is. He knew about her connection with Dean and that she would help him. As he said (and I believe him), he didn’t create that. Why would Amara ask that he did? She would know that. It’s another thing that seems off. It’s all about drama.
The entire one brother killing another still doesn’t make sense, something a hack writer would try. If Dean had shot Sam, Castiel and Jack were right there, right? One healing coming up! It didn’t satisfy in the other worlds, why would it here? We did get a nice brotherly bonding scene out of it I guess.
So, Billie is the villain huh? Is she really though, or did Chuck frame her to be the villain? One consistency is she has been bothered ever since her introduction by the failures in following natural order. Sam and Dean have ruined all that in so many ways. Her plan sounds right. But tell me, when did she start conceiving this plan? After she became death, or even before? When did she hook up with Adam? She hasn’t been Death that long.
Would the old Death have done something like this? The old Death wanted Sam to die and move on to the next world back in season ten. Why? Did he, just like Billie, know that Sam would be the one to thwart the plan? But then again, why would the old Death want Dean to kill Sam at the end of season ten? He had to know in his death book that Dean would end him, right? Or can they not read their own death books. Yeah, um, something plot wise isn’t adding up.
I think the parts featuring Chuck’s POV were the Amara, Dean and Sam sections. Everything else was what happened around it. I’m still trying to figure out at what point the story shifted from Chuck’s POV back to Sam and Dean’s, but I’m thinking it was Sam’s speech to Dean. Once he got Dean’s attention and calmed him down, everything went off script. And that’s where Chuck in his anger confirmed, he doesn’t have total control of the situation. There is free will in the hamster wheel. Of course, if I'm right, then that means Dean actually said that Jack wasn't family, which doesn't sit right with me. At least he felt guilty after saying that, so who knows, maybe that's the grieving Dean over Mary still talking.
Smoke and Mirrors
Everything in Chuck’s story has been smoke and mirrors, aka deflection from the real plan, whatever that may be. There is one very important line in this episode that explains everything and will lead to the end result, despite Chuck’s actions. It came from Seraphina:
“Just think of everything that had to happen for you to get Jack to this place, to this moment. Baby, it was meant to be.”
That is why Chuck is getting everything wrong. He thinks he can manipulate. He thinks he can control. He thinks he can destroy. However, through the world he has created, something evolved with it all, the natural order. A lot of what happens in this world happens because it was meant to be. You can fight, resist, manipulate outcomes, but in the end the natural order cannot be denied. There’s been plenty of evidence about this in the show:
“All roads lead to the same destination.” - Castiel, “In The Beginning.”
“Think of a million random acts of chance that let John and Mary be born, to meet, to fall in love, to have the two of you. Think of the million random choices that you make, and yet how each and every one of them brings you closer to your destiny. Do you know why that is? Because it's not random. It's not chance. It's a plan that is playing itself out perfectly.” - Michael, “The Song Remains the Same.”
“Or maybe it was a miracle. Maybe – maybe everything that I've been through, everything that I still have to go through, is happening for a reason. Maybe it's part of some plan.” - Kelly Kline, “The Future”
‘That's right. Because God doesn't decide. I don't decide. You do, each of you, your individual choices all tallied up at the precise moment of your death.” - Anubis, “Byzantium”
I think Chuck wants to reset because he doesn’t like how things were meant to be. He wants total control, but he’s lost control. Just look at his main story. He’s got Sam and Dean, who have constantly cheated death and changed the rules of natural order through their actions, who will never turn on each other no matter what scenario he creates. He’s got a wayward angel in Castiel, one of his first born, who constantly defies the rules. He’s got the empty entity, who’s entire existence has been disrupted by God indirectly because Castiel and the Winchesters allowed Jack to be born. (Remember it was Jack who woke up Cas, creating this whole Empty mess.) There’s Rowena running Hell, who herself used powerful magic for years to change the rules that were handed to her. She’s not going to stay quiet. On top of all this, there’s a defiant Death that wants him dead.
By manipulating the Sam and Dean Winchester story, by allowing them to change the rules, even helping them in the process, Chuck has destroyed the natural order that has kept the balance of his creation for a good number of years. Everything the Winchesters have done just keeps multiplying the chaos. Now it’s all coming to a head. The empty entity is awake and wreaking havoc, Heaven is not multitudes of angels blindly following orders and is under threat of collapse, Demons in Hell are biding their time, waiting to strike when the moment suits them. It’s all coming back to bite him. That’s why he wants it all gone.
He thinks absorbing Amara’s power will let him do what he wants, but that’s going to bite him too. Now that she’s in him, creating balance, it ain’t going to be all dark. That’s not how the world works. He’s not going to be able to destroy this world because it doesn’t want to be destroyed. That is not meant to be. The question is, who will be in control? God, Death, or Humanity, or some sort of perfect balance? I vote for a perfect balance.
Ugh, now my head really hurts.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the amazing score in this episode. The music really helped those emotional scenes pack a punch. Congrats Chris Lennertz.
Overall grade, an A-. The complexity of this script is staggering and Meredith Glynn deserves huge credit for pulling this off. I might even elevate this to an A if it proves to be relevant after the coming episodes. This episode was not predictable by any means, and that itself deserves huge kudos. If the implications that I see come true though, we might be in for a hell of an ending after all. But, then again, writers lie, so who knows what we'll get?
Once again, thanks so much to Raloria for the screen caps. If you want to see some of the amazing screen caps she's done, I especially added several this week to our "Unity" gallery . Check it out!
Read more of Alice's insights on Supernatural! Reviews on every episode of the series are on Alice's Writer's Page and in WFB's Episode Guides!