The Tuesday, May 6 episode of "Supernatural," episode 9x21, "King of the Damned," is a very welcome return to the show we know and love after last week's "Bloodlines." Castiel brings Sam and Dean in for some help with the angel war, while Abaddon tracks down Crowley and has a bargaining chip that wouldn't have worked before now.
Going into this episode, the third to last one of the season, quite a lot still fit into the unfinished business category, but with one major move, that changed. We've seen how the First Blade and the Mark of Cain have been affecting Dean over recent episodes, ever since he held the Blade (and in case you didn't remember, there are always those helpful flashes), but nothing like what happens in "King of the Damned." Is this something Dean can come back from, or is it setting up the season finale cliffhanger to lead into season 10?
Whatever happens next, that showdown between Dean and Abaddon is a thing of beauty. Unfortunately (because Alaina Huffman has been so good as Abaddon), the outcome of this battle is not a surprise. In a way, it could very well be what Crowley had planned all along. Sure, he was kept down with a Devil's Trap bullet (just one of several callbacks, all helpfully set up in the "Then" at the beginning of the episode), but has he been manipulating everything all along to make sure Dean reached this point of darkness? He is Crowley, after all.
Meanwhile, Castiel doesn't make nearly as much progress in his own tasks, but he does set up the pieces for what could be a very interesting turn of events, depending on what exactly Metatron sees as the end to his "story." Depending on how things play out, Gadreel has the potential to be a very intriguing character and player in this war, given his past and his history with the Winchesters. Now let's get to the recap:
Welcome to Angel Headquarters Well, Castiel's Angel's HQ, at least. Upon their arrival, Sam and Dean are brought to Castiel, a.k.a. the "Commander," who explains that his angels have a prisoner, an angel from Metatron's inner circle who was bragging and bragging at a bar about being hand picked by Metatron himself. "You've had success at these situations before," Castiel says, explaining just why he called them.
Dean's a bit too eager to jump on board and start in with the torture, but Sam pulls him back and instead, they end up duping the angel into telling them everything he knows. No way could Ezra be one of the elite, they tell him. No way could he be a key player and not be in heaven with Metatron, they say. This angel may be stupid and really probably would've told them everything they needed to know the minute Dean even touched him, but he does have some crucial information. There's a private portal to heaven, one that moves around and is wherever Metatron wants it to be. He doesn't know anything else since the job he was just a finalist for was only give to a chosen few and only they now the exact nature of the mission, but that makes for quite the entertaining interrogation scene. It's always nice to see Sam and Dean working together on something (especially lately).
Then comes the problem: Ezra is found dead. There's someone on the inside in Castiel's camp. Castiel takes a moment to ask Sam about Gadreel and what he felt when the angel possessed him. He never felt threatened, but he felt like he had unfinished business, like he felt misunderstood. The thing is, Sam's not going to forget that Gadreel killed Kevin anytime soon.
Father/son reunion Abaddon travels back to Scotland in 1723 to retrieve her bargaining chip: Gavin, Crowley's son. Crowley may be trying to play off his "extended absence" doing very important business, but it was all the time Abaddon needed to get through to his demons. "You betrayed me? No one in the history of torture's been tortured with torture like the torture you'll be tortured with," he threatens them when Abaddon interrupts his strategy meeting.
Abaddon knows all about the First Blade and how he's helped the Winchesters, but she proposes that he join her and help her take out the Winchesters, then they deal with each other. Nope, sorry, not happening, Crowley's too busy picking out the song he'll be singing during her death scene. Well, that is until Abaddon brings in Gavin and begins inflicting pain because he may not have cared about him all those years ago, but she knows all about those human feelings he's been feeling.
After Gavin gets introduced to 2014 via a light bulb and the balcony, he takes a moment to yell at his father for selling his soul for an extra three inches. Crowley then tells him about what he's accomplished. He's no longer the alcoholic tailor who beat his son morning and night. He became the King of hell. Gavin wonders if that would then make him Prince and if he accepted him as his father, he wouldn't burn in hell for his sins? (Anyone else worried about that?)
When it's all said and done, Crowley whisks his son away and tells him what would have happened to him if he had returned to his time, despite Sam and Dean's warnings about changing the past. That has to come back to hurt him, right?
A new deal Castiel meets Gadreel to try to open his eyes up to how he's repeating history and making the same mistake, but Gadreel just brings up the garden again and isn't exactly on board with changing loyalties. Then assassin angels attack, and after Castiel deals with them, Gadreel's gone. Later, however, they meet again, and after Gadreel insists he had nothing to do with the attack, Castiel has a new proposal: be his spy. After all, Metatron has one in Castiel's ranks.
Worried for Dean Under Abaddon's watchful eye, Crowley calls Sam and Dean and sends them to get the First Blade, but they run into a problem when Crowley's hellhound shows up. Poor Crowley, he's lost so much cred in hell that no one does what he says anymore. Crowley has to call Juliet off before they can retrieve the Blade out of a corpse, something Sam insists on doing because of what the Blade does to Dean. During their next phone call, Crowley makes sure to say Poughkeepsie twice to warn Dean, but Dean doesn't tell his brother and instead sends Sam down to the basement with a lie about demons.
When it comes time for the battle, Abaddon pins Dean to the wall, but he fights through it, the Mark glowing very brightly on his arm. In fact, getting the Blade out of his hand doesn't even work because it flies right back into it. Sam joins the party in time to watch Dean walk through Abaddon's attempts to push him back and kill her – and then keep hitting her until he's bloody as Sam tells him to stop. Dean's gone dark, way dark.
In the Impala, Sam brings up Dean's lie, arguing he should've been at his side as his partner, but Dean explains that when he first touched the blade, he knew he would've be stopped. He'd take down Abaddon and anything else if he had to. Abaddon could've tried to use Sam as a bargaining chip, and he couldn't afford to screw it up. Sam tries to bring up his concerns about what the Blade is doing to Dean, suggesting they lock it up somewhere safe until they know for sure they're going to kill Crowley, but Dean just tells him, "No." It's great to see Sam expressing his concern for his brother, but is it too late?