Previously on Supernatural: Dean creeps closer to evil, Sam becomes a total worry wort, Cas tries to figure out what women want, Crowley goes full mama’s boy, Rowena cackles and stabs her way through Hell’s hierarchy, Hannah takes a timeout, and Claire has some issues.
S10 E6: Ask Jeeves
Things go Clue when a voicemail on Bobby’s old cell bring them to a mansion full of spoiled heirs and an increasing collection of dead bodies. Turns out, someone thought it was a good idea to hide a shapeshifter kid in an attic all her life, only letting her out when she was old enough to get hired as a maid in her own home. Olivia has problems, obvs, and sorts them out by slaughtering her relatives and coworkers. Dean gets a little overzealous in taking her out, and Sam once again frets about his brother going back to the dark side. It was actually funnier than it sounds; only Supernatural could make a joke out of a serial killer monster maid.
S10 E7: Girls, Girls, Girls
Sam and Dean get dragged into a case when a woman Dean hooks up with from a dating app turns out to be caught up in a demon-run prostitution ring. A Scottish witch named Rowena butchers the demon pimps in exchange for taking the hookers on as witch apprentices. Meanwhile, Dean once again has to deal with Cole’s whole vengeance thing. This time instead of beating him nearly to death, Dean lets Cole do the punching and wins him over with empathy. Surely this can’t be the last time we see Cole (otherwise, what a waste of a subplot), but he’s gone for now. Cas and Hannah are off being boring, with Hannah randomly deciding her hots for Cas were too overwhelming and she needed a break, ok? And she kinda felt guilty about hurting the feelings of her human host’s husband. Hannah poofs off to heaven and Castiel is alone again.
S10 E8: Hibbing 911
Jodie! I missed Jodie. When corpses turn up during a cop con she and Sheriff Donna Hanscum from season 9’s “The Purge” join forces. Vampires are getting their bite on, and no matter how many times Jodie says she’s got it, the Winchesters nose their way in anyway. One of the cops is a reformed bloodsucker whose former nest is none too pleased about his abdication. Dean dips his toe in the darkness pool, and Donna gets her first monster kill. Lucky for me, most of the episode is just Jodie and Donna being reluctant besties and taking down the patriarchy in a way that would make Peggy Carter proud.
S10 E9: The Things We Left Behind
After having a few weeks of alone time to ponder his situation, Castiel decides he finally feels bad about taking Jimmy Novak away from his family. You see, Lucifer turned his meatsuit into a slushy and God/Chuck reconstituted him way back in season 5, meaning Jimmy is no more. Jimmy’s daughter, Claire, hasn’t taken the whole absent father thing very well, and is caught up in a series of increasingly poor life choices involving the world’s worst father figure and a rapist. Good thing demon!Dean takes time out of his busy schedule to carnage up the joint. All those dreams Dean’s been having where he finds himself surrounded by bodies and covered in blood were only a prelude to the violence he wreaks rescuing Claire. Dean isn’t as in control of his urges as he pretends he is. Down in Hell, Rowena manipulates a couple of demons so she can convince her son, Crowley, to let her out of her prison cell. Fergus and mummy don’t get along, but there’ll be hell to pay for anyone who gets between them.
S10 E10: The Hunter Games
Butchering the crew of criminals was a crossing the Rubicon moment for Dean. Before, he could try to ignore the Mark of Cain, but now he wants to remove it before it consumes him again. In a last ditch effort, Cas pulls some strings to get Metatron into the Men of Letters bunker so they can pry him for clues. All he gets out before Dean nearly tortures him to death is that they’ll need the First Blade and the answer to the riddle “the river shall end at its source.” Apparently everyone forgot to tell Claire why Dean killed her fake friends and how gross those cockwaffles really were because she’s all kinds of pissed at Cas. Claire meets up with a murderous couple who offer to bump Dean off. Claire lures Dean in, then chickens out at the last minute. Dean, thanks to a heartfelt convo with Sam the night before in which his brother recalls that Cain kept the Mark in check through willpower alone so maybe Dean can to, smashes a park bench instead of the couple. She and Castiel come to an accord. Rowena hexes Crowley and gets the First Blade, her son’s trust, and a position as his closest advisor all in one fell swoop.
Ok, so you know how I said I was all for the return of the Monster of the Week episodes? I take it back. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to see more of Jodie and Donna, and it’s not like Claire is awful or anything. But right now we’re stuck in a structural sinkhole. Sleepy Hollow has spent too much of their rocky second season drowning themselves in serialization, sucking all the fun right out of it. Supernatural was down that road the last four seasons, but now they’ve swung too far in the opposite direction. As not-awful as the last few episodes of 2014 were, they didn’t actually add up to anything. They brought little to the Mark of Cain and were more interested in tying up old loose plotlines than in dealing with present quandaries. I’ve had it up to here with vampires and werewolves. If the writers are so determined to take endless walks down memory lane, the least they could do is bring some innovation to it. Remember when Supernatural had cool monsters like djinn, gods, and poltergeists? How cool would it be to see demon!Dean battle a wendigo? Or, even better, something they’ve never fought before.
At least the relationships are still solid. Truth be told, the main reason I tune in every week isn’t the monsters or the mythology but the characters themselves. Demon!Dean is at his most interesting when we see how it affects his connection with the people he cares about, just as demon!Sam and soulless!Sam only mattered when it put his relationship with Dean at risk. The Mark of Cain is not, in and of itself, a story, just the spark to get the story going. The Dean from the beginning of season 10 was fascinating precisely because of how he both changed and didn’t change, and even with the Mark subdued, this new-old Dean is still shattering all the good things around him. The Mark makes Dean more bloodthirsty, but it also makes him a purer form of himself—the man Dean would be without the crippling self-doubt, abandonment and commitment issues, or deep-seated inhibitions. The Mark is somewhat subdued, but you can’t close Pandora’s box. The curse will never go away until it’s physically removed, and even then Dean will still have to carry the memories and guilt for the rest of his life.
The subplots aren’t doing so well, either. That thing with Hannah went nowhere, and ultimately undid what minor value she had by turning her into a prop for Cas’ personal development. I assume she’ll be back eventually, but at the moment, her arc didn’t so much crash and burn as fizzle out. Claire hasn’t been well-served either. Like Hannah, her character exists to add dimension to Castiel (and Dean, to a lesser extent) rather than to expand the cast roster. Hannah and Claire give Cas something to do while Sam and Dean are busy with the main plot, but other than that? Nada.
Crowley and Rowena are another story altogether. Not only is their subplot directly related to the main plot, but both are interesting outside the Winchesters. I just wish the writers didn’t feel the need to rewrite Crowley’s whole personality. I suspect they’re using the dead man’s blood and partial re-humanifying last season as an excuse for why he’s so vulnerable to his mother’s scheming, but all it does is make him look like a total idiot. She’s so obvious about her backstabbing that Crowley’s inability to recognize her for what she is undercuts him as a villain. It’s hard to take him seriously as a Big Bad when he’s practically clutching at her hem.
The final eps of 2014 showed cracks in the foundation, but “The Hunter Games” is a promising step in the right direction. We’re still less than halfway through season 10, and I don’t think there’s enough material in the Mark to stretch that long. Wherever the show is headed, next season will have to sort out the ramifications of this one. IGN has a good interview with showrunner Jeremy Carver about the future of the show, and none of it has me trembling with anticipation. I’m willing to put up with a lot of nonsense in a show like Supernatural, and I’m nowhere near ready to throw in the towel, but it feels like they’re writing to fill airtime rather than to tell a story about two demon-hunting brothers struggling to hold onto their morality in an immoral world.
- “Actually, I’m lactose intolerant.”
- “An emergency is a dead body, ok? Or a wigged-out angel, or the apocalypse take three. Some chick bolting on you is no emergency. That’s every Friday night for Sam.”
- “Of course you had a father. You were just conceived during a winter solstice orgy, and I wasn’t taking names.”
- “We know John Winchester isn’t going to win any Number 1 Dad awards, but damn if he wasn’t there when we needed him.”—Ah, the denial is strong with this one.
Dean: “Whoa, hey, Miley Cyrus, settle.”
Claire: “Eat me, Hasselhoff.”
Rowena: “What can I do?”
Crowley: “Not a thing, you evil bitch.”
Rowena: “Not a thing, you evil bitch mother”
- “But I’m your dickwad.”
- “I’m settling a score that’s taken way too long to settle. Oh, and while I do that I’m gonna get some information. And I’m gonna enjoy every minute of it. Because you’re gonna tell me everything. All of it. And it ain’t gonna cost me a damn dime, slugger.”
- Really, Crowley? You let your evil mother have free run of Hell? Not even a guard to follow her around? And where is she getting spell ingredients? Some king you are.
- Apologies for failing to deliver this before the midseason finale. Finals were kicking my ass.
Alex Brown is an archivist, research librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter and Instagram, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.