High on my list of favorite episodes is Changing Channels (season 5, ep 8). This one isn’t super surprising—it’s a fan favorite, after all. And it’s all the things I love about Supernatural.
There’s humor (come one, genital herpes commercial) and there’s a hint of a mystery (although the monster of the week type hunt gets resolved quickly) and there’s all of the family dynamics in a big setting.
And there’s the Trickster.
I’m pretty open about the fact that I’m fond of minor characters and Gabriel is one of my favorites. He’s complicated and deep, which I adore.
But what makes Changing Channels work so well is that while it’s fun and light, it gets heavy without warning.
We go from Sam as the Impala, and Dean in a procedural cop show, to the angst of being a brother in the middle of a age old war.
Where Supernatural excels, where it has always been at the very best is with family relationships. Until this episode, we get to see how the apocalypse is effecting the Winchesters. They’re the family that the show has focused on.
But when Gabe gets involved, we get a glimpse of the Heavenly family dynamics. And it’s not about the apocalypse, not really—it’s about family. About a really shitty sibling rivalry.
What gets me about this episode—aside from Sam’s perpetual ‘I’m so done’ and Dean’s first cannon bisexual moment and Cas’s increasing irritation with his older brother—is that Gabriel is tired. The trickster has always been untouchable. In Changing Channels, we see how an eternal being who has watched his family from a distance really feels about the end of times.
It leaves me feeling sad for Gabriel. For everyone involved in the upcoming apocalypse. Gabriel makes you care about the family that is made up of archangels and devils.
Also? The small interactions between Castiel and Gabriel? Good lord, I want more of that.