I have actually been keeping up, more or less, with this season of Supernatural, and despite everything… I’ve kind of… been enjoying myself? Don’t get me wrong; the show still fails on every feminist count: the only people of color are demons (and even then, they’re rare); there are dead women in almost every episode, and the queerbaiting is still outrageous. But Supernatural has been, well, somewhat entertaining. The 200th episode was excellent, and many of the other episodes were also pretty fun. Unfortunately, the writers don’t seem to know what they want to talk about in Season 10, and they seem to be using Season 8’s strategy of throwing every possible plot at a wall and seeing what sticks. This in turn has led to a lot of plotlines with good potential being left by the wayside.
Spoilers after the jump.
Sam and Dean Winchester are arguably the weakest part of this season thus far, but let’s check in with them first. I normally assume if there’s a plot to be found, it’ll be with the Winchesters, but there’s been a noticeable lack of direction with this season so far. Deanmon, as almost no one called him, was the main plot for the first couple of episodes. Crowley told Dean that Dean was now basically a murderholic—and graciously offered to let Dean do his killing for the King of Hell (a.k.a. Crowley). At first, Dean agrees, and his first victim is slated to be a beautiful woman who’s cheating on her husband—something that Dean might find morally acceptable. The husband, Lester, sold his soul to a demon in return for Dean killing his wife. Dean, however, talks to Lester for a couple minutes, figures out that Lester is an all-around douche, and kills Lester instead. Since he’s blatantly refused to follow Crowley’s orders and later makes a fool of Crowley in front of his own demons, Crowley gives Dean’s location to Sam in exchange for the First Blade, and Sam comes, gets Dean, and chains him back in the bunker for the blood cure.
Dean is easily cured, so Deanmon unfortunately was over before the writers really did anything interesting with it. They never used this as an opportunity to show that Dean is a fallible character—Deanmon even at one point tries to turn the tables on Sam by telling us that Sam was the one who told Lester how to summon a demon, because Sam wanted a demon to torture Dean’s location out of. “You might actually be worse than me,” Deanmon tells Sam. Now, this could have been an interesting plotline, pitting the literally-a-demon brother against the acting-like-a-demon human in the “evil alignment” category, so of course the writers never bring it up again.
Out of the many plotlines that Supernatural has thrown at us this season, Dean’s post-demon, still-Marked character arc seems to be the one that they’ll most likely use for the rest of the season. Although Dean is no longer a demon, he’s still haunted by the Mark of Cain, and has nightmares about killing bunches of people in an overly violent manner. When they start hunting again, Sam doesn’t want to let Dean kill anyone, for fear of aggravating the Mark, and in one episode, when Dean kills a shifter, he keeps firing into the body long after it was dead. In many of their cases-of-the-week, there’s a recurring theme of “being a monster is a choice”—the aforementioned shifter chooses to kill, a newly-turned werewolf chooses to kill, and a vampire who chose not to kill was captured by his ex-coven and killed by them. As the Mark is still exuding its killing influence over Dean, Dean can now presumably be termed “a monster”, and it’s no stretch to think that Dean, too, will have to deal with this, to bring the parallels to a logical conclusion. Supernatural has failed with parallels before, so we’ll see if that happens. It seems Dean himself is meant to be our Big Bad this season, and if so, it’ll be a fascinating reversal of Dean’s usual role as everything good—as long as Sam or Cas get to do some saving, and Dean doesn’t just save himself with his own righteousness.
The rest of the potential plotlines, however, did not make as much sense. What was all that about Cole, the guy who captured Sam in the first episode? In my review of the premiere, I mistakenly identified Cole as a hunter, because I figured only hunters would be stupid enough to hunt down a Winchester. But it turns out that Cole isn’t a hunter at all; he’s a guy who saw Dean Winchester kill his father as a kid. Cole’s been training his whole life to find Dean and kill him. He lets Sam escape, follows him to Dean, and Deanmon tells Cole that he’s a demon, beats him up, and lets him go, because Deanmon wants Cole to stew in his own uselessness. After Dean is cured, Cole comes back with a vengeance, having done all his research on demons. Dean again beats him up, and then hands Cole his gun and tells him the real story of what happened with Cole’s dad. Obviously, he was a monster, Dean killed him to save other people, yadda yadda yadda. Dean doesn’t want Cole to go down the path of killing people, because that’s the path of no return. Cole is really moved by all of this and leaves. Like, seriously, he leaves and is yet to make another appearance. Why even have him here at all?
Then there’s Rowena, a witch of incredible power. Contrary to other witches, she hasn’t sold her soul to a demon in exchange for her abilities; she tells a group of girls that she’s “born with the gift”, and her coven kicked her out because they “disapproved of her methods”. She’s also, somehow, three hundred years old, and has expensive taste. She’s shown killing demons and lounging around in five-star hotels for a couple episodes before she’s captured by demons and dragged down to meet Crowley. Guess what? Rowena is Crowley’s mother. Apparently, three hundred years ago, she told little Crowley she’d be back in a flash and then just disappeared. Now that she’s in Crowley’s clutches, though, she’s all about rebuilding the mother-son relationship, and Crowley seems willing to let her.
Crowley’s already been shown to be very sentimental over Dean, to the point where many of his demon lackeys think that Crowley’s gone off the rails. Crowley explicitly defines his and Dean’s thing in romantic terms, saying “crazy ones are good for a fling, but they’re not relationship material” and, later on in the same episode, stares at an old photo of him and Dean while “Hey There Lonely Girl” plays in the background. Immense queerbaiting aside, why on Earth is Crowley acting this, well, human? (Maybe he’s still a little bit human from the failed cure?) Rowena is probably here to expand a little on Crowley’s newfound sappiness. While it would be great to learn more about witches and their powers, and even better to learn about Rowena’s past, I don’t think they’ll go that route. She’ll most likely just push Crowley’s personal character arc forward a bit, but since when has someone other than a Winchester (and honorary Winchester Castiel) gotten a personal character arc on this show? She could also be here to be one of our main villains, which seems much more likely given Supernatural‘s past track record with women. I just wish I knew more about her, since we’re already at the midseason finale.
On Castiel’s side of things, Hannah would have made a fascinating character had she gotten more screentime. At first, she wasn’t romantically linked with Cas at all—she seemed more like a sister or a colleague, and as an angel new to Earth, she had some adorably clueless lines very reminiscent of Castiel in Season 5. But we can’t have nice things—Cas is shown to be clearly attracted to Hannah’s body, though he doesn’t act on it, and when Hannah’s vessel’s husband discovers the two of them, Hannah kisses Castiel to convince the husband that she left him for Cas. Sigh. Then, although she’s accompanied Castiel all this way, she tells Cas that their first duty should be to the humans they serve, and she feels guilty keeping her vessel when she could so clearly feel her vessel longing to be with her husband. She leaves her vessel (I hope not the show, though), and Cas returns her to her husband, who still welcomes her back with open arms without even discussing her presumed adultery.
All this leads to one good thing: Cas feels guilty about his own vessel. Cas has never felt guilty in the slightest about his vessel before, so here we have yet another case of a woman serving as moral compass for a man. But I can’t bring myself to care that much this time, because Castiel goes and looks up Claire Novak.
For those of you who have not desperately been waiting for Jimmy Novak’s family to come back into the picture for six years like I have, Claire is Jimmy’s daughter. Cas finds her in a group home and, posing as Jimmy, asks to talk to her. Claire tells him that after Cas last left them in Season 4, her mother Amelia dropped her off with her grandmother and went off to “find herself”. When the grandmother died, Claire was put into a terrible group home, which she runs away from as often as possible. She now gets in trouble for shoplifting and other such offenses. Claire demands that Cas get her out of the home, and although Cas tries to talk to the home supervisor, his request for custody is denied, in large part because Castiel still can’t lie worth a damn (and in other part because the supervisor is a terrible person who locks kids in solitary instead of talking to them about their problems). Not to be deterred, Cas breaks into the home after hours and sneaks Claire out. He tries to get Claire to stay with him, but Claire only steals his wallet and runs. It turns out that Claire’s been taken in by a manipulative bastard, Randy, who uses her to steal things for him. Randy’s in a lot of debt, and he wants Claire to stick up a gas station and get him some money. Claire’s about to do it, too, when Cas hunts her down with Sam and Dean and stops her before she can. (We never find out if Cas gets his wallet back, which I really want to know about because he’s had Jimmy’s stupid driver’s license for years.)
Claire runs away again, and when she arrives back at Randy’s house, she finds that the gang he owes money to is already there. She tries to stop them from hurting Randy, but the gang leader only laughs and locks her in a back room. However, he does like her spirit, and in an extraordinarily skeevy move, he says he’ll cut a deal with Randy if Randy gives him Claire. Randy, of course, agrees. One very uncomfortable scene later, Cas literally blows the door of the house off its hinges and rescues Claire. While he and Sam usher Claire out to the car, Dean brutally murders every single gang member, showing that he’s not as free of the Mark’s influence as he’d like everyone to think.
Earlier in the season, Cas’s borrowed grace is shown to be fading, and Cas tells Hannah he knows that he’s dying and has made his peace with it. Metatron, though, tells Hannah that there is still some of Cas’s grace left, somewhere out there, and if Hannah will only release him, he’ll tell her where it is. I’m desperately hoping for Claire to stay on the show a little longer, so I hope Claire is where that grace is—it would be an easy way to fold her into an already-existing plotline. But I’m also worried about what will happen to Claire, given Supernatural and women. Having Claire remain on the show would give Cas a very meaty plotline, and we already know that Misha Collins is a fan, but I don’t know if the writers will let the Cas and Claire Show take too much time away from Dean’s manpain. It’s too bad they chose to fit her into the midseason finale—Claire’s only definitely scheduled to be in the midseason premiere in January, and if we only get her for two or so episodes, I’d rather she not split her screentime with Dean’s bloody nightmares.
That’s about all the plotlines fit to print. What do you all think of the season so far, if you’re still watching? Let me know in the comments.