I’m so emotional after last night’s episode, you guys, SO EMOTIONAL. 12×10’s promo had promised that this would be Cas’ time to shine, and not only did we get that, but new writer Steve Yockey (who’s 2-for-2 when it comes to quality episodes, as far as I’m concerned) treated us to the fierce as hell Lily Sunder, more information about Cas’ past, and some massive emotional character development from Dean.
Really, could we ask for anything more?
“Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” starts out in a rad-looking video game bar, with a woman playing Rampage, something that according to the disgruntled bartender who just wants to close up shop and go home, she does every night. That tradition ends quickly, though, when the woman (who we learn is the angel Benjamin) is attacked and killed by a mysterious woman with an eyepatch and two angel blades, but not before Benjamin calls out for help to his angel friends, one of whom is our very own Castiel.
Jump cut to the bunker, where we learn that Dean and Cas aren’t talking, and haven’t been since Cas killed Billie last episode, despite her warning of “cosmic consequences” if the Winchesters’ latest deal had been broken. Dean isn’t happy with Cas’ rash decision-making, and he isn’t afraid to let Cas hear it. So on top of having Dean upset with him, one of the angels he used to fight with is dead; Sam offers for him and Dean to go with Cas to meet up with the other angels who fought with him and Benjamin to figure out who attacked Benjamin and why, and Dean goes along, albeit begrudgingly.
The next scene–Sam stuck in the middle of an awkward silence and snarky jabs at one another between Dean and Cas–is essentially the textbook definition of a bickering married couple. Sam tries to make things less awkward with suggestions of music or requests for more information about Benjamin, but Cas and Dean are having none of it, opting instead for snarky digs at each other and tension so palpable you could cut it with a demon knife.
There’s a brief interlude where the woman with the eyepatch is seen lying in bed, possibly communicating with someone or listening to angel radio; she gets up abruptly and leaves, but not before kissing two fingers and pressing them to a framed photo of a little girl.
Team Free Will arrives at a diner for Cas to meet the angels from his old flight, but Sam and Dean are told to wait outside because one of the angels, Ishim, hates humans. Dean is clearly unhappy about this, but Cas assures him, “If I plan to do anything else stupid, I’ll let you know.” Cas has a brief conversation with Ishim and Maribel, which is full of verbal abuse towards Cas, opposed to figuring out what happened to Benjamin, before Dean has had enough and leads the charge into the diner, cramming himself into the booth with Cas– Sam follows close behind.
Ishim is quick to decide that there are too many people in the diner–especially humans–and requests that they go to his safe house to continue the conversation. Mirabel had gone outside to make sure Cas hadn’t brought along any more humans, and when Ishim goes to get her, he finds her dead behind the building. Eyepatch appears out of nowhere and attacks Ishim and Cas, both of who recognize her, but when Sam and Dean approach, she claims that she doesn’t want to hurt humans, just angels, and disappears before the WInchesters can attack her.
Here’s where the episode delves into Cas’ backstory, and it shows just how much Castiel has evolved. Angels rarely came down to earth before the apocalypse, but in 1901, Cas (who had a female vessel back then) and his flight make an appearance in Maine to deal with an angel, Akobel, who took a human wife, Lily Sunder, and has a small nephilim daughter. They kill Akobel, and Ishim goes inside. kills their daughter, and decides to spare Lily.
Ishim explains that Lily is a professor of apocalyptic literature and made a demonic pact that keeps her young, strong, and immune to angel powers. It’s clear that she won’t stop until all the angels in the flight that killed her husband are dead, so Sam and Dean decide to go try and reason with her. When they find her, though, she’s shocked that they think her daughter was a nephilim, and tells them her own story, which is very different than Ishim’s.
According to Lily, she had had her daughter before she ever saw or met an angel. Ishim had gone down to earth to help her learn more about angels, and quickly became infatuated with her. He called it love, but he was obsessed with Lily and she asked Akobel to protect her and her daughter from him; Ishim killed her daughter out of revenge and to break her heart like she broke his. Ishim, Cas, and the rest of their flight killed a human child, her human child, and that’s why she wants revenge. She uses angel magic to fight, hear angel radio, and stay alive, but it comes with a price–every time she uses it, a piece of her soul burns away and she becomes less and less human.
Sam stays with Lily while Dean goes to talk to Cas and take care of Ishim, and Lily tells Sam that Ishim will kill Dean, and then she’ll have Sam on her side, too, to finish the job. Which, actually, is exactly what happens. Ishim beats up Cas, tells him, “I’m gonna cure you of your human weakness the same way I cured my own. By cutting it out,” then makes a beeline for Dean, angel blade out and ready. Which:
Dean’s hand is hovering over a sigil that, if he activates it, will send Ishim away, but Ishim reminds him that it’ll send all the angels away, including Cas, who’s hurt. Dean chooses Cas over his own life, dropping his hand away from the sigil, and prepares to try and defend himself when Lily swoops in to save the day. She kicks Ishim’s ass for a bit, then Cas steps in and kills Ishim with his angel blade.
After ensuring that Lily is all right and won’t be exacting anymore revenge, Sam, Dean, and Cas head back to the bunker, where, for the first time in what seems like ages–or maybe ever–Dean talks about his emotions. He tells Cas that he’s not mad at him, he’s worried. He’s worried about what will happen to them– to Cas– now that the deal has been broken. How Cas will react once they find Kelly and her unborn nephilim child, and if he’ll be able to get the job done.
Cas doesn’t have a specific answer, but his suggestion for now is good enough for all three of them: “Let’s drink, and hope we can find a better way.”
And thus ends the best episode of season 12 so far. “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” is another kickass offering from Yockey, who’s proven with this and “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” that he knows these characters well, and can write them even better; I’m really hoping that we see another episode from him sooner rather than later.