Thursday, October 9, 2014

Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 1: Black

A new season of Supernatural! Y’know, no matter how dubious some seasons are (the Leviathans ugh the Leviathans) or how many times it fails (ye gods the fails) few shows inspire as much anticipation as Supernatural

It also has the best sound track.

Last season after many shenanigans with the Mark of Cain and the First Blade, Dean ended up with demon-black eyes. And now we have a woman – a demon – chained up and sliced talking about a Winchester falling from grace: Sam, not Dean. He wants to find Crowley and Dean and is willing to torture demons to find them. Sam reduces the demon to a weeping mess

Then we skip forward 4 weeks and Sam still desperately continuing to search through every means he can. He does find, on Dean’s pillow, a note: “Sammy, let me go”. He doesn’t and continues searching until he finds a clue about a murder of a Drew Neely – he calls Castiel. Oh Castiel isn’t looking so good… the murder looks like the end of a possession but as he talks Castiel coughs and sounds generally awful and Sam changes his mind about bringing the angel in on the plan. They both worry about what they’ll find if they even find Dean.

And then the show ruins my previous point about the sound track. Dean and karaoke. Do not do not do not want. Then Dean sleeping with the barmaid in Crowley’s bed (Crowley’s not impressed) then playing table football. Dean and Crowley playing table football. Yes, this makes up for all the karaoke. Crowley worries about Dean sliding back into his old ways – and it looks like he is when he becomes all protective of the barmaid when a guy hassles her. Then he beats that guy pretty badly in the name of keeping him away from her. There’s someone following Dean as well – beyond Crowley

Sam follows up his lead but the cops don’t think Drew was murdered per se – they think it was self-defence. They watch cctv showing Drew attacking Dean – and dying as Dean kills him with the blade. The police still don’t know whether Dean is even a criminal since it was (rather excessive) self-defence. Sam, examining the CCTV footage, sees Dean’s eyes flare demon-black from edge to edge.

Over to Dean and the guy following him is one of Abaddon’s “groupies” (as Dean puts it – as was the demon possessing Drew) who keep popping up trying to kill Dean for killing her. In both cases Dean easily kills his opponents with the First Blade, the demons had no chance.

A man interrupts his morning routine with his family because he gets a fax – with a picture of Dean on it. He packs a large arsenal.

Sam follows up the investigation and finds the dead man’s phone, using it he manages to contact Crowley. Sam thinks Dean is dead and Crowley has someone wearing his body; Crowley offers the comforting thought that the only soul inside Dean is his own – albeit twisted beyond all recognition. Sam makes big dramatic threats and Crowley isn’t impressed and hits back at Sam being jealous because Dean is now Crowley’s best friend and they’re running around having immense fun.

The revelation out of this is that the demons attacking Dean have actually been sent by Crowley – which he justifies as “keeping Dean sharp.” Well, actually to sate the Mark of Cain – if Dean doesn’t kill things the mark turns him into a demon. Crowley’s also getting tired of Dean’s little holiday – it was fun, now it’s time for business – and he let Sam trace the call to light a fire under them. Dean gets all pouty and sulky and Crowly puts his foot down – he has arranged for Dean to get the Mark of Cain, got him his Blade and helped him into semi-demonhood and now has been managing that with sacrificial demons – get with the program Dean!

Dean has another night of drinking and awful karaoke and tries to impress the barmaid with his protecting her “honour” - she’s not impressed. While someone willing to fight for her may impress her, Dean beating that guy way above and beyond what was necessary was all about his issues and nothing about her, she isn’t a fool. He throws in some slut shaming in response.

Sam sets off after Dean when his car kicks out – the guy with the arsenal has put a kill switch in his car to stop it – he then attacks and kidnaps Sam. The man is an old enemy of Dean’s who is hunting him down which Sam thinks is a really bad idea at the moment.

The kidnapper calls Dean to arrange a meet up and Dean refuses to play. He won’t meet up, he won’t exchange for Sam, he won’t deal for Sam – and if the kidnapper kills Sam then go ahead because he told Sam to let him go – what he will do is kill the kidnapper, one day he will find him and kill him. Dean then hangs up.

Over to Castiel and he’s visited by the angel Hannah; the angels are sort of reorganising and aligning together and Metatron has been permanently locked up and they’re all happy in heaven. Except for a few who refuse – she calls them rogues and 2, Daniel and Edina, of them killed another angel who tried to bring them home. Castiel agrees to help, whatever he can do.

They set off (car sick angel – yes it amuses me) and Hannah notices Castiel’s declining health; it’s his Grace running out (he’s living on stolen Grace). She encourages him to take care of himself, to realise he has worth but he angrily refuses to kill another angel for their Grace

They find Daniel and he talks about freedom and choices – the Fall gave him choices which he has never had before and lets him be an individual. He doesn’t want to go back to Heaven – which Hannah considers not to be an option. Castiel isn’t fond of the idea of killing an angel for being disobedient and convinces Hannah to wait to convince Daniel – and to wait to see Edina as well.

Both Daniel and Castiel acknowledge there’s wisdom to be found from humans – something Hannah doesn’t accept – she also insists that for Daniel and Edina to be free, all angels must agree. Which kind of shows how little Hannah understands freedom. Edina arrives and she and Hannah both have blades – conversation takes a back seat. The two women fight then Daniel moves to finish off Hannah and Castiel kills him. Edina slashes Castiel in response – both of them injured, Hannah and Castiel can’t follow.

As they drive home, Castiel is not happy with hunting down angels who just want to be left alone. Hannah speaks for rules and order while Castiel thinks a little bit of chaos isn’t entirely a bad thing and all the wonderful things chaos brings for humans like art and hope and love (Hannah calls them all human things).

On an interesting meta-evolution note I wonder at Sam’s continued quest for Dean. After all, dean would never let Sam go, but we know from experience that Sam would and has let Dean go before (when he was stuck in Purgatory). Has Sam changed? Or is it because Dean is out there, in the real world, and therefore accessible? Or is it because Dean is dangerous and perhaps a monster himself?

And can there be a bigger proof of that worry than Dean not going all out to save Sam? For the first time ever? More than any deaths or eyes turning black, that’s proof of

The barmaid had a lot going on in a short time – recognising that Dean’s aggression is nothing about her (or any woman) and skewering the whole idea of a man “romantically” hitting over men for the sake of a woman when it’s just about their own aggression. Even when Dean slut shames her, her line “I’m so screwed up myself, I’m going to walk out of here thinking I actually deserved that.” So many layers in that – firstly the clarity that she DOESN’T deserve that (though it does leave the question unresolved as to whether any woman deserves that), that it’s only her own pain and fragility that would make her think that – and that Dean has viciously hurt her saying that and exploited her fragility. In that short scene there was a lot to convey how out of line Dean was.

Castiel’s storyline actually looks like it could be meaty – order vs freedom is an old trope and conflict but it has to mean something else in this context. Hannah brings up Bart and Naomi – the angels have had, what, 4 seasons now of constant chaos? Of slaughter and civil war, of Lucifer and Michael, of Archangels running amok and Leviathan possessed Castiel and Metratron manipulations. They’ve died in huge numbers, gone from the top of the food chain to being helplessly slaughtered, they’ve been forced out of heaven –banished with no warning or explanation – then thrust into a multi-sided civil war in a world they don’t come close to understand. When you take that context then the whole “order vs Freedom” thing must be affected – the idea that angels would CRAVE order after these experiences, let along their millennia long existence of rules and strict roles, must be part of it. I wonder how the show will do at conveying that.