Supernatural 10.01 – Black

by Mieke Trudeau

Who is monster and who is prey?

When we last left the Winchesters, Dean (Jensen Ackles) had gotten himself into a bit of a pickle that left him dead, still marked by Cain’s curse and in full blown demon mode. Sam (Jared Padalecki) was grieving, Crowley (Mark Sheppard) wanted to howl at the moon and Castiel (Misha Collins) was in heaven cleaning up after a captured Metatron

Fast forward a few weeks and we find Sam Winchester desperately looking for his brother, torturing and bleeding a demon for information on the whereabouts of Crowley, whom Sam holds responsible for Dean’s fate.

I found it interesting that the demon Dar (Raquel Riskin), whom Sam was stabbing for intel, said something about how she couldn’t believe it; a Winchester, one of their own. Now I first assumed that she meant Dean, but it was pointed out to me by a clever friend, that at this point, Sam had not found out yet that Dean was indeed a demon. So, either this is a slip-up, or it indicates that perhaps Dar was not speaking of the oldest Winchester, but of the one who had captured her; Sam. We know some time has passed since Dean’s death and disappearance, and from trailers and show runner interviews we know that Sam goes very dark side in his quest to find his brother. In this show’s context a little demon torture is quite ho-hum, so what is it that Sam really did to locate Dean? Color me intrigued.

We get a “four weeks later” at the bunker where we see Sam researching weather patterns, perusing demonic possession books and wistfully going into Dean’s room where it appears he has not changed a thing, not even the “Let me go, Sammy” farewell note that was left on Dean’s pillow. Sam’s research eventually leads him to a case in a Gas-n-Sip where security footage shows him what he has feared to find; his brother, black eyed and violent. And apparently also reading porn.

I adore this Sam, the smart, capable, emotional Sam, who wants to find and save his brother at all cost. Of course Crowley is counting on that Sam. When they finally talk, it sure seems to me that the king of hell is baiting the younger Winchester, getting Sam to play his part in Crowley’s long-con game.

Crowley is eager to get Dean to move to the next square on his chessboard, but Demon Dean (sorry, I refuse to partake in making Deanmon a thing) is not quite as pliable, he’s too busy boozing it up at a karaoke bar. Dean is almost nesting, demon style. He is an interesting character. I’ve seen some compare him to Soulless Sam, but I think he is very different. Where SS was cold and calculatingly efficient, DD is full of unbridled aggression and lust. SS did not care, DD is mean. DD is all Id, while SS may be thought of as the rational Ego.

Sure, there were some humorous moments, with DD’s karaoke choices for example, but mostly I found DD terrifying in his ruthlessness. I give a lot of credit to Jensen Ackles here, for daring to go to these dark places. He is allowing Dean to truly be demonic and awful. It’s a risky move, skating right on the edge of irredeemability. This is the inhuman side of the Dean we have come to love; the womanizer, the drunk, the one who comes to the aide of someone being harassed by a former lover. It reminds us that this is still Dean, down to looking for a companion to replace Sam in Anne Marie, the waitress, played with great sass and effectiveness by Emily Fonda. Crowley would like it to be him, who replaces Sam in Dean’s life, but when it becomes clear that Sam is catching up with them, Dean takes off in the Impala on his own.

Our favorite trench coated angel has been on his own adventure. He is holed up in a seedy hotel somewhere and from the coughing and sleeping in a robe, we get the impression that he is very ill. He wants to help Sam find Dean, but Sam thinks the better of it. Seems that Castiel is not of much use with his fading stolen grace and from the conversation it appears that he is to blame for Sam hurting his shoulder (which we all know was ninja-ed by a certain Master Chau IRL). It seems a little odd to me then, that fellow angel and former Castiel follower Hannah (Erica Carroll) calls on Cas to help her catch a few rogue angels who refuse to return to the newly restored heaven. There is talk of reconciliation but also of no one being in charge, so who or what is this “heaven’s command” that Hannah keeps referencing in the need to bring the straying angels in line? Cas is on earth, free and making choices, but also weak and dying; not the most logical choice in rogue angel hunting companions. I can see the arc of Cas as a character. He has lived as a human and he has played god, not unlike Metatron. He has made some very bad choices and some great sacrifices. He has chosen the side of the human struggle over heaven’s command over and over, so I can see how his personal story could inform the coming season. However, I think the development of Castiel as a character is being weighed down by yet another round of power struggles over heaven and uninteresting disposable angels. Carver and co need to find a better way to use this storyline, because right now it is pretty boring and every time we cut away from Sam or Crowley and Dean, it feels like all momentum comes to a halt. That is unfair to the character of Castiel. I do like Hannah but the dynamic of heaven’s rules versus free choice has been examined often and much better before. I do have high hopes for the appearance of Claire, Jimmy Novak’s daughter. Besides the personal drama this will bring Cas, she may bring some insight into the moral and ethical issues surrounding vessels and possession, often glossed over on Supernatural.

Another new character is introduced in this episode. Although he doesn’t appear to be a hunter in the Supernatural sense, Cole (an impressive and menacing Travis Aaron Wade) has been trying to find and presumably kill Dean Winchester for a long time. He catches up with Sam and even manages to capture him, when he gets the same clues about the Gas-n-Sip murder. I’m going to blame Sam’s clipped wing and sleepless nights for the ease with which Cole bests him, because normally our Sammy is not so easily fooled. My guess is that Cole’s beef with Dean involves his older brother whom he mentions in a story about breaking his arm as a child. Anyone else catch the obvious parallel with the childhood story about the first time Sam broke his arm and Dean rode him to the hospital on the handlebars of his bike? Cole avenging his brother could prove to be a familiar theme to the Winchesters. Of course Cole does not realize that Demon Dean will not take the bait and come to Sam’s rescue. Sam knows it however, and he tries to warn Cole to not mess with his brother, whom he labels “a monster”. The show ends with a shot of Dean in the Impala, assuring Cole that he is “a man of his word” and that his brother knows it. Demon Dean or nor, we all know that when Dean Winchester says he will catch up and kill you, you better believe it.

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There was much to love in the 10th season opener of Supernatural. Some great lines and funny moments, mixed with emotional and downright chilling ones. Favorite lines of course involved Mark Sheppard’s Crowley. I laughed out loud and rewound to makes sure I didn’t hear wrong when Crowley asked Sam why it had taken so long to catch up: “Your brother and I thought perhaps you had hit another dog”. And I, for one, would watch a spinoff featuring “The Adventures of Growley and Squirrell”. Another favorite was Mickey the Gas-n-Sip clerk who as a witness gave Sam a hilarious account of the brutal killing. Zachary Gulka sure made the most of his moment and I wouldn’t mind seeing him pop up on the show again. I am very intrigued by Crowley’s long-term plans and how the Winchesters ultimately fit into them. He has been feeding the Mark of Cain with violent encounters that he has been setting up for Dean, supposedly to keep him off the full-out demon path. It was hinted at that Dean’s soul is not all together lost and the Mark of Cain is instrumental in keeping it so; that fact is sure to play a part in upcoming episodes. Overall a great start and for a show that has been on the air this long, a stellar achievement. What are your thoughts? Give us your comments below.

 

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