Friday, March 27, 2015

Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 16: Paint it Black

A man, Terry leaves church when something comes over him and he commits a rather unpleasant suicide with a candle stick. It was actually pretty unbloody for the traditional opening murder

The Winchesters are on the case of the candlestick-disembowelling suicide, apparently one of three – and Sam is distracted probably by the Mark of Cain. The only connection they find is that they’re all Catholic.

Nun intermission! Nuns and guy talk. Yes, that’s rather random

Time for the next victim – only with a twisty. This time the guy’s wife is possessed by a gaseous spirit when they leave church and she stabs him in the stomach rather than him committing suicide. The Winchesters go to the church to question the priest and establish that all of the dead have recently gone to confession though not what they confessed because of that whole confidentiality thing. Instead one of the guy-talk nuns, Sister Matthias, acts as tour guide. She has the gossip about the latest victim cheating on his wife and some insight on why she became a nun – because life was bad and she needed a change (somewhat simplified) which resonates with Mark of Cain bound Dean. Or maybe because she’s pretty and he’s Dean. Yes Dean is interested in the “hot nun”

Brief run down of the case has Dean deciding that all the men have, in some ways, wronged the women in their lives which links to them all going to confession. So Dean goes to confession...  he doesn’t exactly take it all that seriously, though the call to soul searching gets through to Dean and he opens up about a teeny tiny fraction of his vast, eternal angst. He touches on his constant expectation of death, how that has become very real rather than an abstract and how, facing that death, he wishes he had lived differently, experienced things differently. Dean also says he believes in a god – but he doesn’t think god believes in them

Back to Sister Matthias talking guys with an Italian nun, Isabella – the guy in question being a great artist called Pierro who she posed for. In 1520. She became so mopey over the guy not living her back that her dad threw her in a convent which seems like an overly harsh (and, of course, partriarchal) response even if unrequited love angst is so very very annoying.

As Dean leaves confession, a ghostly Isabella appears outside – looking like the same gassy ghost that killed the others. She doesn’t go for Dean – she goes for the priest. Sister Matthias finds Isabella’s old journal which describes leaving the nunnery to find Pierro – and find him having sex with a woman. She stabs him repeatedly.

Sister Matthias calls in the Winchesters – it seems she’s quite used to restless spirits in the church and not all that bothered by them, but then most of them aren’t murderous. Isabella was burned for witchcraft so her bones don’t need burning. They spend a really ridiculous amount of time wondering what her tether could be while waving around her precious journal.

Dean wants to burn everything but Sam does more reading and discovers Piero mixed Isabella’s blood with his paint because Creepy. Isabella takes it to the next level and actually cut off a finger tip to add to his paint, grinding it up. Uckies (and it seems to horrify Piero as well).

Dean and Sister Matthias go ghost hunting only to find the priest dead and Sister Matthias becomes possessed. Sam burns the painting before Dean gets stabbed

Alas we must return to the trainwreck of family drama that is hell with Rowena being all stroppy and bad tempered in her continued manipulation of Crowley. She’s annoyed that Crowley won’t intervene with the grand coven for her and willing to throw many tantrums until he does.

Crowley folds and he has Olivette leader of the Grand Coven brought to Rowena in chains. Rowena and Olivette are not fans of each other. Apparently of all the many things Olivette doesn’t like about Rowena, her sleeping with a non-magical man and having Crowley is top of the list. Rowena wants something from the coven – but the Coven has apparently been much reduced after the Men of Letters pretty much destroyed them by using the church and mob to hunt them down before stealing and hoarding all their shiny treasures. Olivette also knows that Sam and Dean are (technically) Men of Letters. How convenient.

Of course, now that Olivette has confessed that the Grand Coven is pretty powerless, Rowena realises she doesn’t have to hide from them or fear them any more.

Now Rowena has something else to manipulate Crowley with.

Time for the wrap up with Sam offering to help Dean if he wants – since Dean is the master of burying his pain and, again, saying that he refuses to accept the inevitability of Dean’s death like he does. Dean isn’t convincing in his agreement

So we’re back on Dean’s angst train again. And it’s a good train, the seats are comfy, it has great views – but we’ve kind of done this journey 100 times before and it’s becoming more over extended than this metaphor.

There are interesting new elements – like the idea of Dean always having accepted his inevitable death, but kind of as an abstract or immediate. He always knew he would die violently some day and he’s had plenty of occasions where he had every reason to expect to die in the next hour or so (and even some occasions where he DID die). But this is different – it’s accepting his death as a concrete, approaching reality but with enough time for him to actually dwell on it and reflect. It’s a nuance but an important one. But still what on any other show I would praise for nuance, on Supernatural it has happened just a bit too much

Dean and faith is a tricky one – and, when examined, a pretty hopeless one. After all, Dean can’t say he doesn’t know about god because he’s met several. Ok, Supernatural is an extremely Judeo-Christian focused show and those gods are generally, and dismissively, presented as faking to various degrees, but he has met several angels who have confirmed the existence of god. He has fought the Metatron, he has held the Angel tablet… but he has done all that without god. There has been no divine intervention, even the angels say god is missing (and are hardly benevolent beings) and he has faced all kinds of apocalyptic evil and not had any divine help (though quite a lot of hindrance). Dean believes – but doesn’t get any comfort from it because what he believes in is absent. Is there any hope in believing in a divine that is supposed to care but doesn’t?

On Isabella – I am glad to see that Isabella blamed the man she considered to have wronged her rather than the woman as is too often the case in fiction. What I also found interesting was the ambiguousness of her story… was she a woman shamefully used, exploited and led on by a man who cheated on her? Or a woman who became dangerously obsessed with a man who didn’t like her romantically and made that clear?

And, at last, Rowena's endless meandering storyline seems to be finally reaching something resembling a point