Supernatural Review S10E15
After a month without our favourite brooding bros to grace our screens, Supernatural is back with one of the most squirm-inducing monsters of the series.
The episode featured one of the most entertaining ‘Previously on…’ sequences that Supernatural has ever graced us with: a super-cut of all the times that Sam and Dean had no clue of what the hell was happening and were floundering in their attempts to solve the mystery and save the day. After all the dark and depression of Season Ten and their struggles with the Mark of Cain, it’s refreshing to see some good old-fashioned cluelessness.
Of course, the episode jumps straight from adorable super-cut of inability-to-can into a lovely image of a woman being strung up like a ham and bled like a pig, which gives a pretty good indication about the pure yuck to follow. The monster of the week is a variation on the Khan worm – that disgusting little predator that skitters around and slides down throats – and, for all the great advantages of technology’s improvements, I really, really didn’t need to see that. Thankfully, the return of Travis Aaron Wade’s Cole is a nice distraction from all the sliminess and gag-inducing gross.
Cole comes across Sam and Dean while they investigate the death and consumption of the aforementioned woman. The killer – a soldier – has already been identified by the time they arrive into the army town, but the plot thickens when they discover he has died and Kit, a fellow soldier, is suffering from the same illness. Sam and Dean’s attempts to find – and eliminate – Kit are hindered by Cole – Kit’s best friend – who wants to keep Kit alive, and safe from the Winchesters.
The changes in attitudes that this episode brings about are interesting. Sam has become much more gung-ho about killing, trying to convince Dean that it is the right course of action instead of, y’know, curing Cole when the worm of death slithers down his gullet. Dean, on the flipside, tries multiple treatments to get Cole back in the land of humans – an interesting contrast when you consider that Dean has all but given up on himself. Cole, for his part, hasn’t entirely embraced the life of the hunter, which is nice, and prioritises cure over quick fix, but eventually is swayed around to the brothers’ way of thinking when he himself is turned. It’s refreshing to see the switch up in the standard positions that the brothers take, even if Sam’s change doesn’t entirely ring true with his established character.
The Mark of Cain gets a few mentions throughout the episode. The episode opens up with Sam continuing to investigate the Mark, much to Dean’s dismay. Dean is quick to tell Sam to move on; there is no cure, and the sooner they accept that, the better off they will be. Indeed, acceptance seems to be the underlying theme for this episode – Cole comes to accept the Winchesters and their line of work, and Sam needs to accept that nothing can be done about the Mark. Dean’s last words of the episode – that sometimes you can do everything, but the guy still dies – is a raw appraisal of their situation, and Sam’s expression is heartbreaking.
All in all, although the episode had its weak points – I really, really didn’t grow to care about Kit or his wife, very much, and the constant jumping between Sam and Kit, and Dean and Cole got a little exhausting after a while -, it was an enjoyable marriage of villain of the week and Mark of Cain storylines. Given this episode was the first after a month long break, it could’ve been stronger, but the last few minutes definitely made up for any flaws earlier on.
Supernatural Review S10E16
Supernatural fails to get the heart racing in this week’s filler episode, with Sam and Dean being pushed back to secondary character status and the monster-of-the-week and Rowena given the chance to shine.
‘Paint It Black’ sees Sam and Dean investigating a string of deaths involving Christians who have recently been to confession, and who have been playing up on their women. However, while Sam and Dean investigate the deaths (read: Dean goes to confession, and they both kind of just stand around waiting for something to happen), the writers of this episode take a chance by interspersing the current day with flashbacks to the sordid past of a Nun and her infatuation with a man who was merely using her as a muse. It’s a risky move on the part of the show-runners to experiment with the form of the episodes and one that, while it may have looked good on paper, wasn’t exactly pulled off particularly well in reality.
The sordid past Nun as the ghost who was exacting revenge on men was not a surprise twist or reveal, and her flashbacks took up too much time in the episode. In filler episodes such as this, it is more important than ever to have original and engaging content in order to distract the viewer from their questions about the main storyline (Where is Cas? What’s up with the Mark? Where’s Castiel? When are we going to see some movement on the big conspiracy unfolding? And most importantly, where is Cas??). Unfortunately, this episode proved to be far too clichéd and not exciting enough for such an episode.
Meanwhile, Rowena continues to run around Hell, proving that underneath that cold, harsh exterior, she really is just a frat-boy at heart. Her disagreement with her little baby Fergus means that she is taking out all her frustrations on everyone and everything in Hell, including a lower ranking demon who ends up with a second face plastered on the back of his head. When Crowley attempts to appease her by presenting her with the High Priestess of the Coven, she tortures the other witch and then gives her a ‘fate worse than death’ – by turning her into a guinea pig and making her run on a wheel. Although we get movement on Rowena’s storyline – she’s now dead-set against the Men of Letters and knows the Winchesters are connected to the Men of Letters (and kudos to the writer who provided us with the beyond-done line “Again, with the Winchesters!”) -, it isn’t nearly enough movement to make up for the rest of the episode.
Although watching Crowley’s inability to cope with his mother is entertaining, Rowena has started to overstay her welcome. Her character is a confusing – and boring – mix of contradictory traits – evil and hell-bent on revenge, but also almost childlike and petulant -, and while the guinea pig and two-faced demon were little laughter moments, they are not enough to make her interesting. I’m keen for the showdown between Rowena and the brothers, and to see what side Crowley takes, but it needed to happen, like, yesterday.
All in all, this is a filler episode through and through, and not a particularly good one. The Winchester boys are pushed to the background for this instalment, and far too much time is spent on secondary characters such as the Nuns and Rowena. Rowena’s character continues to outstay her welcome, while Castiel continues to be AWOL. There just isn’t enough substance, or characters that we truly care about, in this episode to deem it worthy.
Review by Hannah Fitzpatrick.