By Stacey Gillard
“I can’t do it without my brother. I don’t wanna do it without my brother.”
Supernatural seems to have decided to go all out to end its 10th season, with the last couple of episodes taking viewers on a rollercoaster ride of emotions reminiscent of early seasons. After the heart wrenching return of Bobby in Inside Man it was going to take a lot for Book Of The Damned to keep fans engaged to the level of the last episode but writer Robbie Thompson managed to do just that.
The teaser starts with a hooded figure running along a dark alleyway and I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking for a moment I was mistakenly watching Arrow! It is soon revealed to be Winchester ally Charlie (Felicia Day) on the run from some unsavory characters. Charlie’s foray into the world of being a hunter seems to have paid off as she kicks some serious ass and evades capture, not before being nicked in the side by a bullet. Charlie calls Dean and explains how the men were after the book she had managed to find, the one that promised a cure for the Mark of Cain. She has traveled the world searching for it and finally has it in her possession. Sam and Dean point Charlie in the direction of a cabin Bobby set up for hunters’ use (I got a lump in my throat when Dean referred to Bobby in the present tense here) and, to the strains of “The Boys Are Back In Town”, the brothers hit the road to meet up with her.
In the car Sam points out that Dean is in a good mood and Dean confesses he feels positive about the book, that he feels they are due for a win. He decides if they can remove the Mark they should take a vacation. As Dean fantasizes about the amazing holiday they could take, the “sand between our toes”, it is touching that all his plans include Sam, highlighting how close they are once again becoming.
After a touching reunion where both Sam and Dean give Charlie the gentlest of hugs due to her injuries she reveals the Book of the Damned and its gruesome history. As she explains that the pages are made from strips of skin of the nun who wrote it Dean takes the book and before he realizes what’s happening it has started calling to the Mark of Cain and he is overwhelmed by the power it exudes. Once again, the only voice able to penetrate his fugue is that of his brother and he insists Sam and Charlie keep it away from him while they translate it.
With research material found in their bunker Dean identifies a tattoo Charlie had spotted on one of her attackers and discovers the men belong to a family called Styne. The Men of Letters had been investigating them for generations as they used the spells in the book to create disease and collaborate with some of the most evil organizations in history. The files also state that the magic used in the book comes at a price of biblical proportions. Dean insists they abandon the book as a means to remove the Mark and look for another solution. Charlie worries that he is giving up but Dean tells them that is far from the truth. He realizes he can’t die as long as the Mark is on him so he just wants to fight it but Sam says he can’t just wait until Dean becomes a demon again. He wants to deal with the consequences later and tells Dean he can’t lose him. Dean reminds Sam that when he found out the deal Dean had made on his behalf Sam had told his brother he would not have chosen to save him given similar circumstances.
Needing a break from the constant call of the book and the fighting about the book Dean offers to go to the store and pick up snacks. He runs into the Stynes who have been tracking the book, and consequently Charlie, using a device that looks suspiciously like Jack Sparrow’s compass. Jacob Styne (fantastic guest star Jeff Branson) seems to be excited that the man sporting the Mark has been delivered to him and tells Dean that there is a spell in the book that would remove the curse. He warns Dean about the evil that will be released into the world if he tries to use the book, confirming Dean’s worst fears. Fighting off the Stynes in true Dean Winchester fashion it becomes apparent that the family are not going to be easy to kill but after emptying a clip into one of the men he manages to escape and rushes back to the cabin.
Before Dean’s return Sam and Charlie have a heart-to-heart that will rank up there for me as one of the best scenes of the series. Serving almost as a voice for fandom, Charlie asks Sam what Dean meant when he questioned Sam’s commitment to saving Dean no matter the consequences. Charlie recognizes that Sam was angry then and had said whatever he knew would hurt Dean and Sam doesn’t deny this, causing a collective fandom cheer to erupt! As Charlie laments that she never expected hunting to be her life Sam confesses that he loves the life. He has accepted that he cannot fight who he is and as much as he tried to get back to normal, promising himself “one more job”, he now understands that this is the life he was supposed to lead. However, he quietly asserts that he can’t do it without his brother and, more importantly, he doesn’t want to. Jared Padalecki absolutely kills this scene. He plays it with a level of conviction and emotion that reminds us of why we started watching the show in the first place. From the moment he stumbles over his words as he mentions Jessica’s name, hinting at the grief he still feels even a decade after her loss, to the patented chewing of his lip as he tries to control his emotions about the possibility of losing his brother we finally get to see under the layers Sam has built up to protect himself.
Dean eventually returns from his errand, the Stynes hot on his tail, and he insists Sam destroy the book. He understands why Sam wants to protect it but no matter what, he is not willing to take that risk as he hears the call of the book getting stronger. As Dean and Charlie fight off the Stynes, Sam prepares the Book of the Damned to be thrown into a fire of holy oil. Jacob gets to him as he watches it burn and tells him he’s made a terrible mistake just before Sam stabs him.
Meanwhile Castiel and Metatron are on possibly the most awkward road trip ever as the former scribe takes the angel on a bit of a wild goose chase to find his grace. The chemistry between Misha Collins and Curtis Armstrong is fantastic and the injection of humor has an almost Odd Couple feel to it. They are accosted outside a diner by an angry Cupid who points out that Cas and Metatron are to blame for the corruption of Heaven before Metatron kills him, saving Cas in the process.
Eventually the duo make their way to a library that Metatron thinks could hold Cas’ grace but admits he had another angel hide it and not tell him where in case of situations just as this. Clues to the location are hidden in books in the form of riddles that Cas and Metatron struggle to decode. While searching, Metatron, in his typical verbose manner, questions who Cas is. He likens Cas to Caine from Kung Fu (an interesting parallel to make given the name!), wandering the earth trying to make amends but asks him what he will do once all the rogue angels have been found. Hannah has restored order to Heaven and asks Cas exactly what his “mission” now is. This hits a nerve with Cas but I can honestly say I have been wondering the same thing for some time.
Using a blood spell Metatron bests Castiel and continues following the clues to his prize: not Castiel’s grace, although that is also hidden in the library, but the demon tablet! I did not see that twist coming at all and I now wonder what Metatron’s end-game is. Does he intend on closing the gates of hell? Or maybe he will use it to defeat Crowley. There seems to be a number of directions this could take and it has definitely piqued my interest! While Metatron is patting himself on the back for his deception and leaving the library Castiel solves the last clue and finds his grace. As it re-enters him and his wings appear we see they are tattered and broken, much as Gadreel’s were when he first fell. We have Cas back in his truest form but I would hazard a guess he is not quite up to full strength.
Back in the bunker Cas admits to Sam that he fell for Metatron’s trap but Sam reminds him he’s back, he has his grace, and Cas tells him he did the right thing by destroying the book. We finally see a meeting between Castiel and Charlie and it feels like it was well overdue, there’s a great chemistry between Collins and Day and I think there could be some funny scenes between them.
The music cue over the final montage of the episode, “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who, was a perfect choice. A favorite song of mine, I’ve been saying for some time the words are a perfect fit for the Winchesters. As we see Dean, Cas and Charlie laughing over pizza, Sam’s concern is apparent and in flashbacks we see that he actually replaced the book and burned a decoy. Styne knew and had actually been warning him that the family will never stop looking. We finally see Sam pleading with someone to use the book to help remove the Mark and the episode finishes with his dinner companion, Rowena, asking to discuss terms.
The last two episodes are firmly entrenched in my top 10 of all time. While the boys have their secrets and we all know that will come back to bite them, their relationship is stronger than it has been in many years and to hear Sam finally admit he loves the life he is living and that his brother is a big part of that still has me smiling. Padalecki and Ackles are bringing their A-game every episode and the questions asked this week started to bring everything to a head. I get the feeling we are in for quite the ride as the season wraps up and I couldn’t be more excited! What did you all think? As always, we love to hear your thoughts!
*On the heels of Jared Padalecki’s successful “Always Keep Fighting” campaign he and Jensen Ackles have started a joint fundraiser. Details can be found here*