Even when Supernatural is giving you a fun monster of the week scenario, the writers always manage to throw in a barb or two. On Thursday, we discovered where the devil truly fits into Christian fundamentalism. Spoilers ahead!
In "99 Problems," we begin with a serious bang. The brothers are careening down a street, pursued by demons, surrounded by explosions, and the air is filled with a hail of shattered glass. And then, out of nowhere, a band of Hunters shows up with a firetruck whose tanks are topped up with holy water. Fire hoses of demon doom! In a few seconds, we've got smoke barf everywhere and Sam and Dean are safe. But who are their rescuers?
Turns out they've accidentally stumbled across an entire town of Hunters. Led by a pastor and his gang of gun-toting pals, the little berg has come together to fight off a plague of demons. And luckily, the pastor's sweet, cute daughter is a prophet. She sees visions of where the demons will strike next, so the town is always prepared.
At first, it seems like Sam and Dean have come home. Here is an entire town devoted entirely to the practice of Hunting, and smack dab in the middle of it is a cute prophet who has already caught Dean's eye. The only downside is that prophet girl says the angels have asked the townspeople to follow Fundie rules, like not having sex and not drinking. Things start to get out of hand when the local barkeep refuses to close up shop and a demon-fearing mob tries to beat him into submission.
Dean is convinced that the angels are just fucking with everybody, but then an incredibly drunk Castiel shows up. Apparently he guzzled the contents of an entire liquor store (yes, we're seeing the beginnings of drugged-out, slutty Future Cas) but he's still able to slur out that he has the name of every prophet burned into his angelic mind - and cute girl is not on the list. In fact, cute girl is actually a false prophet known as the Whore of Babylon, and her goal is to drag the entire town down to Hell.
Unfortunately, the only person who can slay the Whore is a true servant of Heaven. As Cas points out, that wouldn't be the Michael-refuser Dean, nor would it be Sam who is "an abomination." So they have to turn to the Whore's dad, the town pastor. Awkward!
At this point, the Whore has gone into full Luciferian mode and is ordering her followers to round up "sinners," lock them in a closet, and burn them to death. And the true "faithful" are actually doing it. There's the inevitable scuffle, with demon Whore powers, and finally Dean has to step up to the plate. He stabs the Whore with a magical tree branch from Babylon and manages to slay her. Which means - yes - that despite all his doubt and name-calling, Dean is a true servant of Heaven.
I love the moment right after the Whore is killed, when her faithful follower (who looks awfully like Sarah Palin) asks with a straight face, "But how will we get to heaven now?" Like I said, Supernatural never fails to deliver some kind of pinch to the bum of organized religion. Though I would add that this scenario isn't anti-Christian so much as anti-false prophesy among Christians. Everything is just fine until the Whore tries to shut down the bars in the name of faith.
Speaking of faith, the episode ended in a very intense cliffhanger. We're heading into Supernatural's extra-awesome 100th episode next week, so I predict mega-confrontations (based on the previews, looks like Zach will be involved). At the end of "99 Problems," Dean has apparently changed his mind about becoming Michael's meatsack. His experience killing the Whore has perhaps given him something to think about - or maybe he reasons that if God isn't on their side, they're going to need the Michael Sword. Either way, he's zoomed off and left Sam behind to tend to Cas' hangover. And he makes one pitstop on his way: He visits Lisa, a woman he once loved, and whose kid he thinks is probably his (though I seem to recall this was left a question mark in the episode where he meets the kid). He tells Lisa that when he imagines having a happy life, it's with her and the kid. Then he leaves, all teary-eyed.
Let's just say that I don't think our prodigal meatsack is going to have an easy time of it.