Supernatural: Season 4, Episode 16

On the Head of a Pin (19 Mar. 2009)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama | Fantasy | Horror
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Ratings: 9.3/10 from 1,821 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 2 critic

Castiel and Uriel ask Dean to torture Alastair for information. But when Alastair breaks free, Castiel starts to believe that there is a traitor among the angels.



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Episode cast overview:
Ruby (as Genevieve Cortese)
Brent Woolsey ...
Crystell Hendricks ...


Uriel and Castiel forcibly recruit Dean to torture the captive Alastair. They need to find how, who or what is killing angels as one of another 66 Seals in which both Dean and his former captor play mind games against each other to break one another down. Sam is forced to call upon Ruby to help him find Dean before he emotionally cracks, while the rouge angel, Anna Milton, also returns to ask Castiel where he stands on his position as an angel of the Lord - does he obey all heavenly rules without question? Written by matt-282

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis






Release Date:

19 March 2009 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


At the L.A. Supernatural Convention in 2011, Jensen Ackles praised the performance of Christopher Heyerdahl (Alistair) in this episode, saying that during the torture scene Ackles was thinking "'Wow, I'm being totally out-acted here!' I mean, wasn't he good?" The audience replied with massive applause. See more »


Alastair: C'mon. You gotta want a little payback for everything I did to you. For all the... pokes and prods. Hmmm? No? Then... how about for all the things I did to your daddy? Had your pop on my rack for close to a century.
Dean Winchester: Can't stall forever.
Alastair: John Winchester. Made quite a name for himself. A hundred years. After each session, I'd make him the same offer I made you. I put down my blade if he picked one up.
Dean Winchester: Just give me the demon's name, Alistair.
Alastair: But... he said nein. Each and every time. Damned if I ...
See more »


References Little Shop of Horrors (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

The Formation of Damnation
31 July 2011 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

"Then": Lilith is trying to break 66 Seals to free Lucifer. Castiel rescued Dean from Hell, where he had broken under Alastair's torture and taken on the task of torturing other human souls – and he had *liked* it. The guilt has been eating him alive. While Dean was in Hell, Sam started drinking Ruby's blood to increase his demon-controlling powers, at the cost of slowly losing the feeling of his own humanity. Before Dean was returned to Earth, Castiel's superior Anna was cast down from the Heaven for disobedience and expressions of free will. She lost both her Grace and memory in the process, but regained both. After that, she vanished in a flash of light that consumed Alastair's host body. Alastair returned, but was captured by the angels, at the expense of psychic Pamela's life…

This episode grabs you from the first scene and never lets go before the end credits. The opening is a short, but impressive scene that starts the plot of the episode: Castiel finding one of her sisters dead among huge wreckage, without a clue as to how demons could possibly have killed her. And she wasn't the first. The angels' only source of information is Alastair, but they can't break him. Maybe someone else can… Any more info would be spoilers (though I see the plot outline already contains more information). Really, the episode is best experienced with knowledge of only the setup. Besides, to review this with the detail it deserves would exceed the 1,000 word limit.

There is so much going on they couldn't even fit all the scenes in. Some scenes, especially those between Alastair and Dean, are quite long, but they really are worth every single second. The intensity in these scenes is actually insane. We actually need intercut scenes of other characters – and from the opening credits we can see that Genevieve Cortese, Robert Wisdom and Julie McNiven are all here – to be able to catch a breath. And that is before the shocking twists and resulting ferocious action scenes start piling on! Several times, it seems that the episode cannot possibly get any better – and then it just switches to a higher gear. This is as massive a turning point to Supernatural as "Luke, I am your father" was to Star Wars. The script, the acting, the framing of the shots, the editing, the music – TV is rarely this good.

On the first viewing, it may appear that Christopher Heyerdahl at his most demonic best and the shifting Jensen Ackles own this episode, but others do their best as well, just more subtly. Jared Padalecki portraying Sam's inner turmoil, Julie McNiven making you consider Anna's deep theological and philosophical thoughts, Genevieve Cortese making you believe Ruby can be trusted while simultaneously giving you that unnerving feeling the she absolutely cannot be trusted, Misha Collins expressing Castiel's doubt and desire to get rid of it, Robert Wisdom revealing what motivates Uriel – all gripping stuff. This time, the 10/10 is the only possible choice. Utterly unmissable.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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