Thursday, March 20, 2014

Supernatural: Season 9, Episode 16: Blade Runners

After a quick reminder that Dean now has the Mark of Cain so he can use the First Blade to kill Abaddon as part of an extremely fun but likely very inadvisable alliance with Crowley, we have Dean fretting that said King of Hell isn’t answering his phone.

It’s especially worrying because, playing Dean’s voicemail, it’s apparent that Crowley drunk dialled Dean. I’m not sure what it means to be drunk dialled by the King of Hell but no good can come from it. Crowley’s not currently answering the phone (Dean’s name on his phone is “Not Moose”. I may give the whole episode 5 Fangs for that alone) because he’s enjoying the intimate (and fully clothed – c’mon CW) attention of Lola. He’s also injecting himself with human blood (and keeps a man tied up in the cupboard for just that purpose). The human blood has some strange effects on Crowley – including making him all weepy over old movies. Lola isn’t put off by this – in fact she seems quite cunningly pleased.

Lola is working for Abaddon (though through a minion that she doesn’t appreciate) and is not only keeping Crowley rather incapacitated, but she’s learned of the First Blade.

The Winchesters are done calling so summon a crossroads demon. Who is possessing Snooki – yes the reality TV celebrity. And yes, demonic possession would explain a lot about reality TV. She doesn’t really know where Crowley is – but she does know Abaddon is winning over Hell with his inattention.

But Crowley isn’t entirely gone – sure he’s hooked on human blood but he knows when he’s being played. He confronts Lola and after a quickly aborted attempt at begging she sneers at him and how far he’s fallen. Crowley stabs her with a demon-killing blade. Afterwards he crumples a little…

He calls the Winchesters to help and they come see him – and the place he’s crashing and catch him with a bag of blood (Crowley’s face is a perfect expression of guilt, shame and anger). They chain him to a chair – they’re staging an intervention. Which involves taking him back to the Winchester Cave and chaining him up again.

Crowley tells them the long convoluted trail of the blade he found and poor Crowley is all sentimental from the human blood and tries to dig up a possible friendship with Sam. Nope, not happening.

The go to meet someone about the blade (and Dean and Sam are both embarrassed by Crowley stealing candy from a vending machine, c’mon Crowley you’re better – or worse – than that). When the man arrives they start to question him but Crowley facilitates things with a rapid possession.

But Abaddon’s demons get there first and leave 3 dead bodies in their wake – but the blade was already gone. They speak to a professor who sees Dean and is veeerrrryyy interested and she reveals that she’d already sold the blade on the hush hush because it was nearly impossible to authenticate. And all she got from the buyer is a code name – Magnus. Yes she’s don’t a lot of ethical checking on this guy

Of course Albert Magnus is the name the Men of Letters (previous owners of the Winchester Cave) use as an alias. Time to consult Crowley on whether there’s any still alive – which also means letting him out because he blames everything on them (they injected him with human blood first and kept him locked up from his kingdom). At Crowley’s prompting they check for a member who was kicked out of the Men of Letters before the slaughter (he seemed to have been a brilliant, but eccentric, maverick).

They go to the last place Crowley knew the man to be and try to get in touch relying on the legacy of their Men of Letters grandfather. Magnus responds by portalling them to his lair where they’re promptly attacked by – and kill – 2 vampires (just a test – creatures from his zoo).

He’s looking good for someone in their 90s – and the ethical questions the Men of Letters apparently had become a lot less confusing. Magnus is also an avid collector as well as zoo keeper. He has the First Blade but he has to inform them it doesn’t work without the Mark of Cain… which Dean has. Magnus considers this – then makes Sam disappear back to the woods with Crowley. Who just wants to help! But Sam’s not having it.

Magnus wants to collect Dean – or his Mark rather – to be part of his collection along with the blade; Sam is just too ordinary. And Magnus’s magic makes him hard to just kill with weapons. They do test the First Blade though – lots of shiny overwhelming magic when Dean grabs it and it leaves him quite shaken. Worse, Magnus has a will-draining spell he intends to keep using on Dean to make him a malleable tool.

In between bickering, Sam and Crowley find Magnus’s notes on hiding the Men of Letters’s Bunker – clearly the same spell he has used on his own lair (Crowley desperately trying to please). They sneak in, but the man Sam holds at knifepoint is just a shapeshifter and he ends up at gun point to the real Magnus. When Magnus starts slicing and dicing Sam, Crowley sneaks in and frees Dean. Magnus gets beheaded.

Beheading usually kills anything. Beheading with the First Blade is probably overkill. The Blade then has its scary effect on Dean who phases out, focusing on the Blade and its weirdness – watched by a curious and knowing Crowley until Sam manages to talk him down.

Crowley is, of course, smug – but when they return to the car they find Abaddon’s demons have KEYED DEAN’S CAR.

Oh, they just want to die.

Time for Crowley’s double cross (c’mon, you had to see this coming? It’s Crowley!) Not being a fool, he realises the Dean with the First Blade is Scary in the extreme – and there’s no way they’re going to stop at Abaddon, so he knocks them against the car and steals the knife; so he can control when the Blade is used. He doesn’t trust them to leave the Blade in their possession.

So we had a stab at addiction with Crowley – it consuming his life, it distracting him, his well presented anger and shame and even helplessness… And it all magically disappeared. To be honest, I don’t even know why the storyline was there at all, it was barely touched, barely used and completely undeveloped, why bother?

I’m not sure about Crowley’s sudden eagerness to please and to ingratiate himself with Sam – where did it come from, what is it? Is it just the writers deciding Dean has Castiel so Sam needs Crowley? (I find Dean has a habit of eclipsing Sam in general partly because of that) While I’m interested where it is going, I still want some more concrete foundation for this connection.

Sam nd Dean spent an episode without soulfully whimpering at each other – this is a step up. And we’re back on track with the First Blade – does this mean we’re returning to one of the metas? I hope so because this season has been a little confused with its meta – with Sam and Dean angst, the angels and Abaddon all being separate threads. They need to be brought together or addressed.