The first two seasons are very much so a monster-of-the-week formula, but that's okay because they're basically like mini horror movies each week. But around the end of season two, the show really begins to start shaping out season-long mysteries and story arcs that pay off in huge ways.
I'm currently in the middle of the fourth season, which is perfect timing since Supernatural: The Official Companion Season Four is going to hit book stores in about a week (that's August 31st). In promotion of the pending release, Titan Books was kind enough to send over an excerpt from the book. Fans of the show should dive right in, but if you're new to it or haven't made it to season four, you may consider the below a spoiler.
A Closer Look At: ANGELS
Lore on angels has been around since the dawn of man. Every culture that's ever believed in a divine creator has stories of supernatural entities that act as their lord's messengers and warriors.
Most accounts describe angels as having wings and being encompassed by bright light. In fact, their true forms are so fiery bright that if you look upon them it will likely burn your eyes out, as the psychic Pamela Barnes learned the hard way. And, as Dean discovered, angels' voices can shatter glass and hurt human ears. Which is why they usually choose to take on human form when they walk among us.
"The most unique element about angels that isn't in typical lore is the notion that they have to possess," comments executive producer Eric Kripke. "They control a human host in much the same way demons do. The only difference is that angels have to ask permission, and demons don't. That provided us with all sorts of useful morality plays to work through, because the angels are nominally good, but they are putting human victims through this horrific experience just because the humans were devout enough to give their will away. Demons and angels actually have more in common with each other than they do with humanity, so they play by the same rules, in a way."
DEAN: I thought angels were supposed to be guardians. Fluffy wings, halos... You know, Michael Landon. Not dicks.
CASTIEL: Read the Bible. Angels are warriors of God. I'm a soldier
Co-executive producer Ben Edlund elaborates. "The existence of non-corporeal entities possessing from both the demonic stripe and the angelic stripe indicates an underlying physical world that we don't know about, which is consistent with the supernatural physics of our universe. Lucifer, who was an angel, goes to Lilith, and using some of his angelic power, which comes from God, he twists her into a demon, so it's like using good for bad. Demons are linked to humanity, but they are different, and their difference comes from angelic intervention, so ultimately demons are a bit of a fusion between human stuff and angel stuff, therefore it makes sense to me that their ability become non-corporeal, and all the other things that are not normally the province of humanity, actually stem from the angelic perversion that came from Lucifer." That explains why angels have a particular enmity toward demons. According to Ruby, when an angel sees a demon, they smite first, ask questions later. Not that they wouldn't also smite innocent humans just as quickly. They've shown that they wouldn't think twice about smiting a whole town of humans to stop a single demon if that's their heavenly order. Then again, there is something to be said for the reasoning behind killing a thousand to save six billion. Still, it seems likely that the concept of angels showing mercy is just a myth... or at least a rarity.
"You'd think that angels would have a lot of freedom to do the right thing," muses director J. Miller Tobin, "but they have absolutely no freedom at all. They're soldiers, and they come down and do what they're told. It's not that they don't have any emotions, in the sense that they're robotic or don't react; it's just that they don't care how they're perceived by humans. There's a blind obedience on the side of the angels, where they do what they're told whether they think it's right or not...or whether they feel bad about it or not."
Of course, some angels do get fed up with having to suppress their emotions, like Anna, who removed her grace and became human. "She was envious of human emotions," confirms executive producer Bob Singer. "The ability to love, to cry, to have joy, and even to be hurt - all those things that we take for granted, angels don't have because they have to be perfect. Anna was longing for the imperfection of humans."
"Clearly Castiel does things that he doesn't want to do or doesn't enjoy," adds Tobin, "but he does it because he's an angel, and angels follow their orders from Heaven."
Castiel's loyalties tend to fluctuate, and Anna is up in Heaven's dungeon, so in case you cross paths with angels like Uriel, who thinks we're all mud monkeys, or Zachariah, who thinks our planet needs an Apocalyptic enema, keep in mind that there are ways to banish them - even kill them. Sure you have to know Enochian and not be squeamish about drawing sigils with your own blood, or have access to an angel-killing blade, but otherwise, it's just like defending yourself against any other supernatural threat. But be careful, because angels can teleport at will, and they can render you unconscious with just a touch of their hand.
The good news is that there are guardian angels as well. Granted, the only proven way to get one is by being a prophet of the Lord, though. So the next time you have a strange dream, you might want to write it down...