Thursday, December 11, 2014

Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 9: The Things We Left Behind

Dean has a dream about slicing and dicing people until he’s covered in blood. That’s bad Mark news. On the plus side he does wake up as if it were a nightmare so, hope!

he seems better later watching the three stooges and eating cholesterol in its most solid form – but Sam is leery of his Mark.

And to a girl, Claire Novak, who is clearly very troubled and often in trouble at that. She is visited in her cell by… Castiel. Jimmy Novak, her father, is the body Castiel is possessing. Alone things are… tense, Claire is not thrilled. Castiel tells her (to my great relief) that Jimmy’s soul isn’t in residence any more because the body has been so badly mangled. Claire doesn’t particularly want a visit from the guy who took her dad from her; especially since after her dad was taken, her mother took off and she’s ended up in a group home. But that’s exactly why Castiel wants to help – a somewhat belated attack of conscience.

She wants him to get her out – which means putting on a tie (which Cas isn’t good at) and trying to get custody of “his” daughter and having a very very very awkward interview. Sandy, the nice social services woman, is not that impressed and says no.

Unable to get her out through legitimate means, Castiel stages a gaolbreak in the middle of the night, complete with unconscious guard.

He takes her to a diner and Claire notes the change in Castiel and Castiel nicely sums it up with him used to be so assured of righteousness and now he doesn’t think there is such a thing just “people trying to do their best in a world where it’s far too easy to do your worst.” Castiel thinks they should stick together – Claire’s not so sure. So she steals his wallet and ditches him. She hitchhikes away

And Castiel calls Dean and Sam and Dean is very much doubting that this constitutes an emergency (unlike apocalypse #3, and yes this show has had numerous apocalypses) nor does Dean especially see why Castiel feels responsible. Sam goes off to check the Group Home while Dean and Castiel stay in case she comes back, ostensibly, but really so Dean can question what’s going on with Castiel (and assert that ketchup is a vegetable.) Castiel lays out his motives and Dean points out that to keep going and manage life you have to move on and not think about those you fail or those you can’t save. In an equal moment of self-awareness, he agrees that he doesn’t actually do that but also points out that he’s not exactly in an ideal state because of that.

Castiel takes the chance to turn it round and inquire as to how Dean is handling things (and Castiel’s sad eyes won’t accept “fine” as an answer). After much worry about the mark, Dean has Castiel promise to kill him of the Mark turns him evil.

To the actual hunt for Claire, Sam hear at the Group Home about a friend Claire had at the home called Dustin who now works at the Wiener Hut.

Claire is with Dustin now – and Randy the old man who Dustin is placed with who happily takes the wallet Claire stole from Castiel. Randy is in debt to someone called Salinger who doesn’t sound like a nice guy. Randy guilts Claire for not stealing enough to pay off the debt and on the back of that guilt they convince her to do an armed robbery for him.

Dustin goes to work and is intercepted by Sam, Dean and Castiel who starts throttling him. Oooh, flashback Castiel. Which means they’re in time to stop Claire going through with the robbery. Claire is not willing to listen to moral lectures from the guy who effectively killed her dad nor Sam and Dean who were happy to let it happen – she points a gun at the Winchesters (since bullets tend not to be that effective against angels). They talk about Randy, but, even if he’s using her he was there for her – which is more than any of them were

They guys go to a bar where Castiel feels guilty, Sam tries to be comforting and Dean does his uncomfortable truth thing where he admits that Claire kind of has a point. Castiel also has difficulty empathising with close and loving fathers because he’s an angel and… yeah. He asks the Winchesters about their dad which is a great big put full of angry demon snakes so they tell a cute little anecdote of their dad and his ability to, basically, intimidate anyone. At the end they resolve that Claire is in trouble and the parental thing is to look out for her.

Claire has returned to Randy and is passionate in her defence of him in the face of his creditor, Salinger. Randy is, unsurprisingly, less in Claire’s corner and is willing to sell her to Salinger. Claire tries to fight her way free, accurately placing a kick, which is also when the Winchesters arrive with Castiel throwing around angel-mojo. Claire gets her hits in with the distraction provided until Castiel stops her kicking the guy.

As they leave, Dean covers their exit and one of them hits him in the head. He staggers, goes down and the Mark flares. He warns them to back off – and Salinger kicks him

Outside, Sam and Castiel hear chaos back in the house. Inside Dean is replaying his dream – he’s covered in blood, has a knife and is surrounded by bodies. Sam grabs Dean in a panic and begs Dean to tell him that Dean had to kill them, especially when Dean says “I didn’t mean to”. Castiel hurries Claire away from the carnage

Over to Hell where the witch Rowena is the prisoner of her son, Crowley, the king of Hell. She’s apparently been locked in there for weeks, or so she tells her guard as another woman is locked in the same cell (and degraded as a dog). Rowena’s cellmate is there because she was smuggled to Earth when apparently she wasn’t on the list to be allowed up there. And Rowena admits to being a horrible mother

Which is what Crowley is now ranting about to a completely uninterested underling, Gerald, who has a far more traumatic story. Really, we’re doing Crowley mummy issues now? Though I do like Gerald blatantly puncturing Crowley’s self-pity. Gerald also suggests just killing Rowena but Crowley thinks they can get a few more episodes out of this.

Crowley decides to bring Rowena to him so he can shout his mummy issues at her. She does her very best to flip the script and tell him what a loving caring mother she is.

They return her to her prison and when it looks like they’ll leave her there, Rowena reveals it is Gerald who has been smuggling souls (like her cellmate) up from Hell – Gerald tries to kill Rowena which is pretty much taken as a confession and Crowley kills him – and releases Rowena. It’s apparent the cell mate lied for Rowena’s sake to get her out – but Rowena doesn’t seem especially invested in that.

So, mid-season finale and we’ve managed to recover some of the meta which has kind of being lurking around but not going anywhere for much of the season. The Mark of Cain was revolved rather stunningly quickly and then we didn’t really get anything. Castiel topped up his grace and Hannah decided to go back to Heaven... it left the whole series kind of drifting without a clear direction. We fretted about Dean but didn’t do all that much. I’m hoping that Dean’s mark and Rowena (not a storyline I’m looking forward to since Crowley seems to have lost a lot of the cunning awesomeness that made him such a good character before. He used to be believable as King of Hell… now? Not so much) will get the season back on track.

I have liked the little look backs at what has past – sometimes just a small element like mentioning Adam in the silly play (and lampshading how everyone had forgotten there was a third Winchester brother), but Hannah recognising they were possessing people and Castiel remembering Jimmy had a family are nice call backs to some of the casualties they’ve scattered behind them on the way and how many of these people really deserved better than that.

On marginalised issues, Supernatural is always a hot mess. In terms of gender I think this season has tried to be less so – but it has been a case of not being as bad as it could have been (or I feared it would be) than actually being good at anything. Several episodes have had some pretty decent female characters or, at least, have avoided the misogynist tropes I’ve come to expect from this show – including the barmaid in Black, the Lester murder in Reichenbach, Kate the werewolf in Paper Moon, Rowena and the sex workers in Girls, Girls, Girls and, of course, Jody Mills and Donna in Hidding 911. it’s not flawless by any means (the hot mess “cougars” of Ask Jeeves for example) but Supernatural has sufficiently lowered my expectations that I was surprised to see this.

In terms of POC we’ve had virtually nothing, bit parts and non-characters (such as one of the characters in the Fanfiction episode) that are largely disposable as well (like Gerald). The only LGBT inclusion all season has been a teeny tiny part of two lesbians in Fanfiction which was largely used for Supernatural’s ongoing offensive slashbaiting – also added to with the cringeworthy Dean/Crowley thing that infested the beginning of this series. Supernatural continues to push this homophobic game with no intention of following through with respectful inclusion.

On the whole, I haven’t hated this season but I have been decidedly underwhelmed, and even Castiel hasn’t enthralled me. There’s no particular meat, Crowley’s gone all floppy, Sam and Dean seem to be circling without purpose  - Castiel is the only one acting with any kind of direction and that’s usually alone and, again, lots of mini-spurts. The monster-of-the-week episodes have been largely blah as well. I haven’t hated it, but “blah” kind of sums it all up. I’m giving this episode 3 fangs and the season so far gets a solid 2.5 fang Meh.