Marked by cataclysmic upheaval, Supernatural season nine culminated in massive earthquakes. Each one has reshaped the landscape forever. We saw it in the finale on every level---and now we're seeing its aftershocks in the season ten opener. As the earthquakes reverberate from the center, we see them ripple through each and every character on Supernatural. None have been left unscathed. The aftershocks we witness in “Black” focus on Castiel and Heaven, Dean and Crowley, and Sam. Each one has its own effect on the world---big and small---and each are to shape the remainder of the season in their own ways.

First, let's look at the first ripple from the epicenter: Castiel and Heaven.

At the end of season nine, Castiel was left with wanning and stolen grace. That grace is slowly burning out, taking the angel with it. He's not given an expiration date, but with every use of it and with each day that passes, that grace only wans more. This earthquake has left the once powerful angel weak. The aftershocks of it are apparent the moment we see him appear in “Black.” Sprawled over a bed in a bath robe, Castiel is sleeping when the phone rings. In his attempt to answer, he ends up breathless from coughing, unable to hold back the sickness that his body is fighting. Looking at him, it's evident that the grace inside him is flaming out even faster than we saw him last in Heaven.

Even so, the angel wants to help Sam find Dean. He wants to help any way that he can. It matters not to him what it should cost him. If it can help someone else, Castiel is willing to try. Unfortunately for the weakened angel, Sam doesn't agree, telling him to take care of himself---something that he's later told by Hannah.

Castiel's mood isn't much different than the one he had in Purgatory. He may feel he deserves this and that it is another penance. After all, he finds himself in this predicament because he stole another angel's grace. He knows it's another crime that he will face punishment for---and so he is willing to take it without complaint. We see this clearly when he tells Hannah that he feels like a “million dollars,” something we and she can tell is nothing but a lie.

Hannah. The angel that became his second in command in the mission against Metatron is there to ask for his help. It would seem that the reverberations from the earthquake that took Metatron down---shown physically in the smashing of the Angel Tablet---are starting to sound throughout the celestial realm. Now that the door to Heaven is permanent, angels can now move between Heaven and Earth once more. Heaven may not be fully back in business evidenced by Castiel and Hannah's need to drive places, but there's progress being made. The rubble left in the quake's wake is slowly being cleaned up---but is it for the better?

On some level, this progress is good. They are forming councils, holding discussions and debates, and trying to work together as a group to determine what should happen moving forward. It would seem---after Metatron especially---that the angels are tired of having one single leader dictate everything. But that's surface. Dig deeper, and we learn that Heaven is still rife with the solider code of doing as one is told. Hannah has been sent to acquire Castiel's assistance in persuading some “rogue” angels to return to Heaven. It is where they belong and it has been decided by the rest that they must come home or face the punishment for disobeying.

Just as it was when Anna disobeyed, that sentence is none other than death. Return to Heaven as commanded or die on an angel blade. It's evidence that this aftershock is still rippling through the ranks of angels now able to pass into and out of Heaven. On one side, there is the drive to fall back into old and familiar patterns: do your job and follow orders. On the other, it is to take this experience with free will found in the aftermath of the Fall and explore it to its full potential. Why return to Heaven when one can make their own paradise here, on earth? There's no angelic command, no orders, no directives, no top angel to make one fall in line. There's simply exploring the freedom that comes with being on earth.

Castiel and Hannah track down two dissidents that had already fought back once. They are there to put the screws to Daniel and Adina.

Daniel and Adina have chosen to stay on earth and to pursue their found freedom. To illustrate how passionate they are about this, Daniel tells them that he's fishing for trout and the method he's found works best to capture the biggest and smartest of fish. It's a brilliant analogy for himself and other angels wanting to escape Heaven's rigid net. He tells them, after Castiel asks if the fish struggle, “The ones that truly want to be free---they do.”

It's clear that the debate is now about fate as understood in Heaven and free will found on earth.

This aftershock divides Hannah and Castiel in this mission. Hannah is rigid, following the orders of the angelic council---or a yet to be named leader perhaps. Castiel is fluid, willing to at least listen to them explain why they're doing this. He, having been on earth for so long, understands. He says, his voice weary, “And then what? We kill him or he kills us?”

Hannah, on the other hand, finds all of this talk of freedom as disobedience. If angels are to be allowed to live on their own, they must do so at the behest of the angelic council. And yet, Castiel has another human insight to share with her. He tells Hannah, “Perhaps I've been down here with them for too long. There is seemingly nothing but chaos, not all bad comes from it. Art, hope, love, dreams.” He's been with humans---and in particular the Winchesters---for a number of years, witnessing their struggles and fighting with and against them enough to know that perhaps Daniel isn't so wrong.

Hannah, on the other hand, finds any human wisdom to be beneath angelic wisdom. What could a human hope to teach an angel? It's clear, in the aftershocks of Metatron's defeat, that angels are trying to rebuild Heaven anew---and yet they want it to go back to the way it was before. This may go back even further. They may still yearn for the steady and iron fisted control Michael surely once had over the Host. Since then, it has been chaos.

This is what really drives Hannah to follow her orders. It's easy to see why she abhors chaos. Chaos scares her. It is rife with problems. At any time, another Metatron, another Naomi---and yes, even another Castiel---could rise to power and start to squeeze everyone into their new found version of the angelic Host. To prevent that, Hannah turns to something she understands: order.

Not only does she want order, she wants Castiel to rise to be a leader again. She feels that he was just as invaluable to stopping Metatron---and she's not wrong. With his wanning grace, however, she knows there's not much time before he's gone for good. Why not replenish his grace now and return to Heaven with her so they can take his valuable input into the rebuild? Why not give him back time and power so he can rise once more as the leader she found him to truly be when he exposed Metatron's vicious lies?

Again, Hannah doesn't understand Castiel's reluctance. She is so smitten with the concept of rebuilding Heaven in the aftermath of the earthquake as it was once was that she can't see the pitfalls that lead to the problem in the first place. Castiel tells her, “And another angel should die so that I can be saved? Is this really that hard to understand?” When they confront Daniel and Adina, he begs her to stop. And he sees what this will lead to: more of the same angelic faction fighting and more angelic death. Killing them won't fix anything---it will only continue the same problem they've had since the Apocalypse was averted---if not before.

But Hannah---and the rogue angels---fall into the same trap, the aftershocks rocking them into old patterns once more. Adina attacks Hannah, Daniel jumps in, and before it's over, both are dead. Castiel had delivered the killing blow to Daniel, leaving yet another angel's blood on his hands. As we see him in the aftermath, we see the weariness etch across his face. He had wanted to show Hannah a new way. He had preached not killing when in command of his angelic army---before it was taken away. He wanted angels to stop with the massacring other angels that didn't agree with them.

It's clear that the aftershocks that rock the angelic Host are still working their way through. How will the debate about free will vs. order shape them in season ten? We're left to wonder just how Castiel will find a way to recharge his grace---or perhaps reclaim his own. What other aftershocks lie in wait to rock Heaven's boat? A new leader perhaps? Or will the angels finally learn that the old way is no longer valid?

But that is not the only earthquake the shake Supernatural in the season nine finale.

The most catastrophic earthquake was the one that rocked Dean Winchester. Its building tension and tremors indicated the devastation to come---and yet left us gasping in shock at their reverberations. This earthquake didn't simply leave one Winchester dead and one grieving. It fundamentally changed Dean in ways that aren't entirely known just yet even now. In the moment that Metatron's angel blade sunk into Dean's chest, the fault line snapped. Dean was mortally wounded and died---only to be reborn anew as something dark, twisted, and sinister. We saw it the moment his eyes opened to pitch black. This earthquake didn't simple crack things---it shattered them.

To understand the aftershocks of this quake, we must address the tremors that lead up to it. Needing a method to eliminate the threat Abaddon posed, Dean needed a weapon that would kill the Queen. That weapon emerged at Crowley's nudging in the form of the First Blade and Mark of Cain. The King of Hell led the elder Winchester straight to Cain's front door---and allowed him to be marked by the original Knight of Hell.

To get it, Dean had to prove his worth to Cain. Was he a killer worthy of this Mark? In a stunning dance of death that belied both grace and horror, Dean singlehandedly killed every demon Cain let in. In its terrifying elegance, Cain witnessed another man that reminded him of himself---and thus worthy of the Mark needed to operate the First Blade. Before he could warn Dean of the consequences, Dean simply wanted to know if it would help him achieve his goal. Would it help him kill Abaddon? Yes. That's all that mattered.

Upon accepting the Mark, nothing seemed to change aside from the raised skin. It wouldn't be until Dean grasped the First Blade for the first time that the true change brewing---the tremors in the fault lines starting to build---would be evident. The brothers managed to find the First Blade hidden in a rogue Men of Letters hidden home. Magnus didn't want to give Dean the weapon. Instead, he wanted to keep it---and Dean. He wanted to make sure the Mark was genuine and see just how the two functioned together. And so, he caused the first fault line to snap.

Magnus shoved the First Blade into Dean's hand, activating the Mark. Instantly, we can see it overwhelm the elder Winchester. Magnus makes a mistake when he uses Sam against him. It leads to Dean using the Blade for the first time, hacking the spell master's head clean off. It causes another tremor to shake loose---a foreboding of the earthquake to violently come.

After making his first kill with Mark and Blade, Dean is a ball of pure rage ready to snap. He teeters on the edge of becoming feral. If not for Sam breaking through, he may very well have done so. After, he is separated from the Blade by Crowley. The King will hold onto it until he can locate Abaddon. If tCrowley had simply kept the weapon, it may have prevented the earthquake---but he needed Dean to use it, and so instead temporarily put off the inevitable.

Killing Abaddon is the next massive tremor to shake loose. He may have achieved his goal, but it has come with a great cost. Dean is cold and calm as he takes on the Queen. The Mark and Blade work together, calling to him and taking possession of him. It's a hint at what fate it has in mind for the elder Winchester. The Mark and Blade want him to be nothing more than a brutal killer, lusting for blood. As he finally manages to deliver the killing blow, it consumes him completely for the first time. He is unable to stop the mutilating of her body in the aftermath, violently stabbing and beating it. He's no longer Dean in this moment. Instead, he's something far darker.

We see it again in how he interacts with everyone from Tessa to the other angels to even Sam. Cruelly, he informs his brother that this is a dictatorship. He may mean that he's in charge and calling the shots---that he is the dictator, but it is clear in this building fault line that the Mark and Blade are really the ones in charge. They are the ones calling the shots and they are the ones that will get ultimately what they want from Dean.

It isn't until we see him brutally stabbed by Metatron that we realize just much control the Mark and Blade had. In his dying moments, Dean realized that they were turning him into something he doesn't want to be. It's best that he die now before he fall further under its spell. He doesn't want to be like Cain. He doesn't want to be the violent killer.

If only that was the end for its control.

Dean dies in Sam's arms and is taken back to the Bunker. No, he won't be revived by something Sam does. He won't be resurrected by an angel. He won't be granted a hunter's funeral. Instead, he will endure the greatest earthquake season nine generates. The Mark and Blade had begun to possess him---to change him---and now we learn just how much.

We learn it the moment Dean's eyes open pitch black. He may have died, but they weren't ready to let him go.

It is now, in “Black” that we see the aftershocks of this quake. He has left with Crowley to “howl at the moon.” On one hand, Dean is a sad barfly partying all day and night. On the other, he's a brutal killer, almost bored when he makes his kills. And yet, he's addicted to the rush, fueling the need for more violence in a vicious circle.

We open the season to find Dean in a bar, singing bad karaoke---“I'm Too Sexy”---and sleeping with anyone that will have him. For the first time in his life, Dean has no responsibilities---and he's indulging in his downtime. There's no fire for him to rush towards. There's no crisis to call his attention. He doesn't have to do anything for anyone else if he doesn't want to. It's rather liberating for the elder Winchester. He can't help but have fun after a lifetime of heavy burdens and hard responsibility.

And yet we can tell that he's gone perhaps too far---indulging just a bit too much.

It's as if the change has amplified his lesser qualities even more. Dean can't quite see just how far its caused him to tumble yet. He's become the very loser he's always feared being. Rather than doing grand things or fighting monsters---or pursuing the family business of “saving people, hunting things” Dean has become stuck in a rut. He's idling in the bar, repeating the same routine each day. It's a facade he's used on cases or retreated into to nurse wounds in the past---but now he's actually become that person he's feared being. He's becoming---rather quickly---a joke.

It doesn't seem like it at first, but we realize he's more aware of this fact than we think. It comes out in his scathing conversation with Anne Marie. Finally bored---and perhaps a little wary of seeing his in pursuit little brother---Dean tries to convince her to go with him. Why not run off together and continue the party they started here? She turns him down, telling him gently, “We barely know each other.” It's clear that while so much of Dean has changed, so much remains the same. He wanted someone to let him know that he's not the loser, that he hasn't fallen this far. Instead, she's confirmed what he's been hiding from all this time. To deflect his inner pain onto her, Dean retorts, “The kind of guy who sleeps with every skank in every small town dive that he passes through? Boy, you really do know how to read people, cause that sure as hell sounds like me.”

It stabs deep at Anne Marie, and yet it's not about her at all. He knows he's becoming an even bigger loser the longer he lingers at the Black Spur. He hears it every time someone boos his karaoke or throws something at him. He can feel it every time he takes another drink. While he's having a great time howling at the moon, he's still not happy with himself.

Crowley, steadfast at his side, plays an important role in Dean's current predicament. The earthquake that changed Dean has had a rippling effect. It's turned Dean into this barfly, allowing all his inhibitions to fall away. Crowley intends to use that to his advantage. He knows that Dean will eventually learn his true power---or become a full demon before too long---and when that time comes he may challenge the King of Hell.

And so, Crowley rises to a part of Shakespearean proportions to prevent that particular aftershock. He will play the role of Falstaff for Dean. He will encourage Dean to sleep with whomever, drink as much as he likes, and engage in any bar game he likes. He'll be that “partner in crime” having a great time “howling at the moon.” It'll keep Dean distracted and sated---all the better for him and his plans to use Dean as a weapon against possible Abaddon hold outs. What fear should he have for any challenger to his throne if he has Dean in his back pocket, Mark, Blade and all?

He can feed a demon to Dean when he's not busy drinking or sleeping around---and it keeps the Mark sated so Dean won't totally turn or turn on him.

It's this that reveals the darker and more frightening aftershock of the quake that took Dean's life---and soul. Dean has always seemed to enjoy the hunt and the kill on some level. It's what makes him good at his job---gives him an edge in executing the family business. Just as he's feared being that joke barfly, he's feared being just a killer far more. Here, however, that guilt has fallen away. Violence makes him immensely happy. He wants to fight and to kill and he has no problem doing it anywhere. He wants “challenges.”

He brutally kills a demon in a gas station---in full view of cameras. At first, this fight is in self defense---but not for long. Too quickly the tables turn and we can see him go far overboard, stabbing ruthlessly, beating senselessly into his victims body. Once sated and bored with the latest kill, he simply returns to the porn magazine he had to abandon in the attack. We see him go too far in his violence against Anne Marie's ex-boyfriend, beating him with an unbridled glee. He thinks he should be worthy of praise for his brutality. It's written all over his face when he turns to look at her and the crowd that's formed.

As he faces the demon in the alley---another of Abaddon's supporters and one Crowley fed his way---Dean seems almost bored. He attacks and fights and kills the demon quickly, and as we see him drop the body off the blade, a nonchalant bored expression crosses his face.

It's clear another aftershock is brewing in the aftermath of the earthquake that may have forever changed Dean. He already has expressed anger at Crowley for lying to him about the demons attacking him---and then for talking to Sam and chasing him from his favorite bar. Sooner or later, Dean will learn the strength of his claws. When he does, we shall see one of the biggest aftershocks yet.

With the mysterious Cole---who holds a grievance against Dean for unknown reasons---putting chum in the waters, we may find out very soon just how bad it'll be.

But there's far more fallout for this earthquake.

The earthquakes of season nine claimed their greatest casualty not in Dean Winchester---but in Sam. He spent the second half of season nine watching his brother transform, the tremors preceding the coming quake all too frightening. And yet, he could not stop what was to come. When the quake finally hit and all its upheaval began to reverberate, Sam Winchester was forced yet again to watch his brother die. And yet, it is the aftershocks that are far worse for Sam.

The earthquake that claimed Dean's life---Metatron's angel blade---was devastating. Just as he was rebuilding the fragile and tenuous relationship with his brother, he loses him. It is a hard blow, one that shatters him in the moment the earth cracks. He watches the blade sink into Dean's chest and knows that he will have to endure once more what he has so many times before. He is watching his greatest failure happen again. He has watched it hundreds of times in the Mystery Spot and in countless ways. Heartbreakingly, he had to watch his brother torn to shreds by hell-hounds---the failure he's never quite recovered from and what has driven him ever since.

But the aftershock of this terrible quake could forever tilt Sam Winchester's world on a new axis. This aftershock is a nightmare he's never had to fear before: that Dean isn't Dean anymore.

For all of Sam's life, Dean has been his north star. Whenever he is lost, if he can find that point in the sky, he can find his way home. Dean has been the one constant. He has always been the same: stubborn, over protective, domineering, and strong. When the rest of the world would fall apart or explode, Sam knew he could turn to Dean. Dean would remain as he always has been: his brother. It's why Dean is his “stone number one” throughout all of season seven. It's why, even when he has no soul, he finds himself pulling Dean back into his orbit. Dean steadies him, anchoring him to their strange reality in a way nothing else ever has or will.

Even when Sam is his angriest with his brother, he knows he can rely on this truth. Dean is and always has been Dean. It's a security blanket that Sam has always returned to. He may have run after their father, ditching Dean in season one. He may have sided with Ruby in season four. He may have been rudderless without his soul. Sam may have been lost at times to his hallucinations in season seven. In every case, Sam has found a way to find that guiding star point and make his way home.

Now, however, the earthquake that took place at the end of season nine has dimmed it to black.

Sam could see the tremors building. They were tell tale and at every turn. Each one jolted him. Each one made him fear that he could finally lose the brother he's always known---the one true constant in his life. He saw it the very first moment that Dean picked up the First Blade and used it to strike Magnus down. The cruel snarl, the iron grip, and the blood lust in Dean's eyes made him seem like a different person. Thankfully, he was able to pull Dean back from the brink---but not for long.

There's always been an aggression in Dean. Sam has known this side of his brother, too. Dean has admitted to torturing---and has tortured in front of Sam. He's ruthlessly killed monsters, demons, angels, and men with efficiency. But what the First Blade and Mark of Cain did to Dean was wholly different. He became harder edged and his fuse shortened considerably. Little things could set Dean off and make him strike out. The changes in his brother made Sam's concern ratchet up. He watched for any new development, fearing what version of Dean would result. Frantically, Sam scrutinized each and every new crack as they formed, fearing for the earthquake to come.

Sam knows this personally having been addicted to the demon blood. He could see these signs so well because he had experienced them first hand. The good traits that formed Dean's character---love, loyalty, compassion, and honor---seemed to be submerged by some of his bad---anger, being too controlling, and impatience. Each time Dean held or used the Blade, it only seemed to get worse. Sam could see the tremors of the coming quake jolt through his brother more each day.

It wasn't until Sam saw Dean kill Abaddon that he realized how much the Blade had changed him. It wasn't the actual triumph over the Knight of Hell that gripped Sam's heart with fear. It was the aftermath. Dean turned vicious---going far overboard in his brutal stabbing and beating of the now dead Queen. He turned animalistic and cruel in that moment. Sam couldn't see Dean in that man in that moment---not anymore. It took him pleading to coax Dean back from the brink---but barely.

He saw the tremors shake harder when Gadreel made an appearance at the Bunker---there to switch sides and help them against Metatron. Dean deceptively steps forward to shake the angel's hand, only to slash him across the chest with the First Blade. His rage upon behind held back from making the kill is terrifying for Sam. His brother is losing ground fast to the growing fault lines ready to snap.

In the moment that Dean is stabbed by Metatron, the earthquake hits. Dean is dying but that's not the end. Grieving and heartbroken, Sam gently takes his dead brother home to the Bunker, lying him on his bed and preparing to do whatever it takes to fix him.

We know that Sam wants to save Dean in this moment---but before he can either find a way to resurrect Dean again or give him a proper hunter's funeral, Dean disappears. It is here that the aftershocks start to hit, churning the already devastated ground that is Sam's world into rubble.

In his despair and desperation, Sam tortures a demon named Dar. He needs information to find Crowley and by proxy his brother. The demon won't talk. She taunts him, telling him that he's now “one of us.” As Sam pushes her harder for information, she cracks, crying out that Crowley won't answer and that she doesn't know where he or Dean is. Beyond his breaking point already, Sam shouts, “Where is my brother!”

This aftershock isn't simply about Sam. It's also about the audience. We may watch Dean's antics in the bar. We may know the where, who, what, and how when it comes to Dean's movements, but we're also Sam. Sam is our avatar here, the aftershock of season nine's ending coming to full fruition. We watched a role reversal unfold in the back half of season nine---and now we see it bloom. Sam is searching for his brother and we are hoping to see him find him before it is truly too late.

Gathering his emotions, we later see him reach out to other hunters, trying to patch quilt any leads together that may help him find Dean. He seems almost hopeful. There's a task at hand to be met and he knows how to research and to hunt. As he searches for possible demonic possessions, he strikes something. A man that had been missing for years turns up murdered in Wisconsin. In his elation, he calls Castiel to tell him that they finally have a lead---their first to tracking down Dean.

It is as if a weight is lifted from his shoulders for but a brief moment. Up until now, he only knew that Dean had been taken by Crowley---leaving only a note etched with, “Sammy, let me go” on it. It meant that Crowley had found a way to take his brother's body---and perhaps have some demon possess it.

Eagerly, Sam tracks this lead and finds a cop willing to show him the footage of the murder. The moment he sees the video, he is knocked on his heels by another powerful aftershock. In it, unmistakably, is Dean. He knows that face anywhere. Allowed to peruse the footage alone, he slows it down to watch carefully anything that might tell him what Crowley is doing with his dead brother's body.

It is here that the next aftershock rockets through Sam's world. In the image, he sees the horrifying truth. Dean is indeed possessed. The black eyes don't lie to him. It's not something the cops would be looking for, but now that he knows, Sam is driven even more to save Dean.

As much as it hurts Sam to see Dean this way, he knows that his brother---his real brother---would be devastated by this turn of events. He had died, telling Sam that he didn't like what the Mark was doing to him. He had died wanting to remain human. Sam understands this feeling all too well---and now he will find a way to honor Dean's dying wish. Whatever is parading around and looking at porn---isn't Dean. Dean is dead.

He visits the murder scene, meeting the witness. He's a clerk and he happens to have the phone the victim had. Once alone with it, Sam makes a call to Crowley with it. The King of Hell is eager to add to the jolting pain the aftershocks have already inflicted. Sam tells him that he'll pay for stuffing a demon into his brother's “meat suit,” to which Crowley crows, “Moose, I'm afraid you haven't allowed yourself to dream quite big enough here. Your brother is very much alive, courtesy of the Mark. The only demonized soul inside of Dean is his and his alone. Wee bit more twisted, a little more mangled beyond human recognition, but I can assure you all his. There now. Feel better?”

This is the worst aftershock yet. It was one thing to see his brother with black eyes and believe him to be possessed by one of Crowley's henchmen. It's another to find out the truth: that it is your brother. The north star that Sam has always relied upon---always turned to when his world has gone topsy turvy---has flickered and gone out.

And yet, in true Sam fashion, he becomes steely in his resolve to save Dean. He states firmly, “I am going to find you. I am going to save my brother, and then I am going to kill you, dead.”

Unfortunately, on his way to the very site his brother's holed up in, Sam is jumped by the mysterious Cole. The man has some grudge against Dean, and now he's using Sam as bait. Sam knows that it's useless to think this twisted version of his brother will save him---but he does know that Dean may show up anyways if just to kill Cole for fun. It's better than nothing.

We're now left to wonder what other aftershocks remain to rock Sam's world going forward. Just what will Dean do when he sees Sam? Is there any shred of the real Dean left in there for Sam to reach?

Or will Sam die trying?

Erica Carrol returns to Supernatural season ten as the angel, Hannah. As an angel, she seems distant and detached from the world around her. Carrol captures that well in her body language, showing us Hannah's wariness about being on earth. She conveys the angel's unease and distress with subtlety after the car ride---her gestures and facial expressions capturing her nausea are telling. It isn't until we see them confront Daniel and Adina that we see Hannah's first passionate emotions. Carrol puts all of Hannah's anger and impatience in her remark, “To hear more of this?” Once the bottle is uncorked, Carrol gives us all of Hannah's disdain for human emotions and ideas just by the look on her face and the way she scoffs. She also captures all of Hannah's confusion well in the conversation shared with Castiel, asking, “But those are human things.” Now that Hannah has experienced both sides of the new heavenly argument, we're left to wonder exactly where the angel will fall---and how Carrol will show that to us.

Mark Sheppard, now a series regular in Supernatural season ten, reprises the role of the witty Crowley. He seems as suave as ever, following Dean around as a wing man, helping his new “best friend” indulge. Sheppard plays Crowley with complexity in “Black.” He's not entirely the humanized King of Hell we saw throughout season nine, but he's not the completely evil King of Hell we've known for years, either. There's a subtle softness to how he's dealing with Dean here. He coaxes Dean into considering that it's time to move on for instance. The way Sheppard delivers the line, “We're not ending the party, we're simply moving the party” captures that element best. There also seems to be a lighter side to Crowley. Sheppard captures all of the demon's comedic timing when we watch them play foosball in the bar. Considering who he is and what he is, this moment can't come off as anything but funny. It's in how Sheppard conveys Crowley's urgency that Dean keep his focus and to win. That being said, Sheppard also shows us why Crowley's been the adversary for years now in his conversation with Sam. The way he taunts Sam about Dean's true new nature captures why the King of Hell is so hard to beat. Sheppard puts it all in an almost too cheerful voice, gloating in glee over his victory over both Winchesters. One he has in his back pocket, the other he has chasing after and unable to stop what's happening. Sheppard conveys all of Crowley's glee at that with facial expressions and vocal tones. Now that they've had to “move the party” anyways, what else will Crowley do and how will he handle Dean going forward? How will Sheppard show us all the layers that make up the King of Hell in this new found situation? We have the rest of the season to find out.

Misha Collins returns as Castiel---albeit one that is unwell---in the season opener, “Black.” He captures all of Castiel's weariness just by how he carries himself. It's evident the moment we see him in that bed---to how he gets dressed and washed up in the mirror---and in the discussions he has with Hannah. Collins captures all of Castiel's fatigue with the never ending angel wars. It's in his body language and tired face. Collins shows us Castiel's wisdom, too, in how he gently delivers his lines about chaos. He also shows us Castiel's frustration, too. It's in his exasperated line, “And then what? We kill him or he kills us?” Castiel may have joined Hannah in her efforts to rein in rogue angels---but we can tell through his performance that Collins wants us to see Castiel's need to be needed. If he can't help Sam---even though he desperately wants to, he will help wherever they'll let him. It's clear the moment we see him say the word, “Yes” to Hannah's demand. Now that Castiel has once again joined in the angelic battle for Heaven, we're left to wonder just what side he will end up on---and how much time he has left before that grace burns completely out.

Jensen Ackles gives us an altogether horrific and tragic Dean Winchester in “Black.” We open to see Dean singing the bad karaoke---and on one hand we laugh at how silly this situation seems, on the other we can see how sad it is. Ackles knows how to tug on the comedic moment by how he stands---and by how Dean dances drunkenly. But underneath that comedic performance, Ackles also gives us the subtle tragedy. We can see it in his bored or drunken expressions. And while Dean has been forever altered perhaps by the Mark and Blade, Ackles manages to pull out that little boy that's hidden in Dean all the time. We see that best when Dean is stopped by Anne Marie mid drink---an open expression crosses his face and we can see what's trapped inside this new Dean. He's in there---somewhere. Ackles does this brilliantly, and all with facial expressions. Even so, Ackles also captures all of the darker elements of Dean's new transformation. He's horrific in his attack on the gas station attacker. He's frightening in his attack in the alley. Ackles shows us all of Dean's brutality wonderfully in the way he fights Anne Marie's ex, showing that Dean has lost much of his self control. This is a terrifying new Dean, and Ackles makes us fear him---and for him---when he's his most violent. We're left to wonder just how far he'll go in the rest of the season---and just how bad it'll get.

Jared Padalecki breaks our hearts with his performance as Sam Winchester in the season opener---making us feel everything Sam does from start to finish. His body language betrayed Sam's inner turmoil at every turn. When he was frustrated, we felt it. When he was hopeful, we felt it. When Sam was heartbroken, so were we. When Sam was pushed to the brink by his desperation, we were, too. It was clear in the opener when we watched Sam torture Dar. In every facial expression and gesture Padalecki used, we could see Sam tense to the point of breaking. Sam, through Padalecki's skillful acting, is an open book to us. All of the younger Winchester's emotions---and ours---was captured by Padalecki's delivery of the line, “Where is my brother!” We see his hope when he shares the new lead on Dean with Castiel---followed by the guilt at not being considerate of his angel friend's problems. Padalecki uses all of his subtlety to convey Sam's devastation when he finally sees Dean on the camera---and the black eyes that mark the truth about what has happened to his brother. He doesn't have to be overt in this reaction. It is far more heartbreaking when we see the realization and horror flicker across his face as he learns what we as the audience already know. It's a reflection of our own reactions during the season nine finale come to life in the season ten opener. And yet, Padalecki conveys all of Sam's determination brilliantly, too. He does this best in his speech on the phone with Crowley, telling him firmly, “I will save my brother or die trying.” Now that Dean has heard his voice, knows he is in danger, and has been taunted by someone who he's decided to kill anyways, will we see Sam reach his brother? We're left to wonder just how Padalecki will convey Sam's struggle going forward.

Best Lines of the Week:

Castiel: I'm sensing awkwardness.

Castiel: Perhaps I've been down here with them for too long. There is seemingly nothing but chaos, not all bad comes from it. Art, hope, love, dreams.

Crowley: Who do you think you are talking to here? Does the Tin Man have a sheet metal willy? Of course I lied.

Sam: I am going to find you. I am going to save my brother, and then I am going to kill you, dead.

Dean: Now you listen to me; there's no trade, there's no meet up, there's no nothing. Except the 100% guarantee, somewhere down the road I will find you and I will kill you.

Sam: So some guy comes in, kills another guy in your store on your watch, and you just -- you what? Just keep on keepin' on?

Next week, will Dean take that final step and succumb fully to the Mark of Cain?


# cheryl42 2014-10-12 19:34
Yay FarAwayEyes...I loved this review. I think you captured each character perfectly. I agree with you that Dean may be playing at a carefree life but it's just playing the role. His life has no purpose or importance and he has turned into a barfly joke. But all throughout the episode Dean showed tiny glimpses that he was still maybe Dean. He did seem sad when he said those cruel words to Ann Marie, a woman who genuinely cared for him. He did ask Cole if his brother was still alive and that he wanted proof. My theory of why he left the bar was he didn't want to hurt Sam. He didn't want a confrontation. Time may be running out but if Sam saves/cures Dean in time there is hope that Dean won't hurt an innocent.
And Sam...he just about broke my heart for the entire 42 minutes. When he picked up that note that I am sure he looked at a hundred times and carefully put back that same hundred times I was just about in tears. He was so excited when he finally got a lead and wanted to share that with Castiel only to realize that Cas was too weak to help. He tried to cover up his disappointment but it didn't work very well. The look on Sam's face when he saw Dean's black eyes, when Crowley told him the truth of what Dean had become, it really was a nightmare come true. I had a slightly different take on his kidnapping. When Cole held out the phone and ordered Sam to speak I think that Sam kept quiet because he knew what Dean had become. I think it took everything he had not to say something to his brother that he had been looking for for weeks if not months, but he knew that Cole would be no match for Dean. I think Sam was trying to protect Cole.
Cas is dying and if he doesn't get what he needs soon it is going to be over for him. I didn't really understand the angel story line. It seemed to me that Daniel and Adina were just trying to live in peace, expressing free will. Something that Castiel should have great sympathy for. Since Hannah allowed Metatron to live who had killed countless thousands of angels I didn't understand why they had to die. I hope there is more clarification on this story coming.
Crowley....things aren't really going as he had planned with Dean. It will be interesting to see how he either manages or doesn't manage to bring Dean back under control. And what happens when and if Sam does manage to cure Dean what will the King of Hell do to set things back on his track. To be continued....
Thank you again for your lovely review
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-10-12 20:03
Thanks for the comment.

I think that it is key that Crowley points out to Dean that he's feeding him demons to kill in order to prevent the Mark from making Dean into a demon. Sure, he's been turned on some level already, but it's clear that this might not be complete and total yet. I think it's why we see that real Dean in many ways peek out at various intervals. We can tell that it impacts him emotionally when Crowley informs him about his conversation with Sam. I think you're right. He's running from Sam to keep Sam safe on some level. I also think he knows that the "party" will end if Sam catches him, too. I think it's going to be interesting to see how Dean handles that eventual meet up.

I agree with you about Sam. I felt so badly for him all ep and wanted to hug him. That look of pure joy on his face when he gets that first lead, shares it with Cas, and then deflates instantly when he realizes he's being considerate enough of Cas's situation was heartbreaking. I think you're onto something when it comes to Sam and Cole. I don't think Sam believes Dean will come to his rescue here, but he does know that Dean will show up to kill this guy just to kill him. Why pile on why his brother might do that? It's very interesting that Dean asks to know if Sam is alive or not. I take that to be a part of the real Dean under the "that's his problem" attitude. I just figure Cole realized he's in far over his head when he hung up and the look on Sam's face kinda said, "I told you not to do that."

As for the angels, I think they're just scratching the surface of where they're going with them. It's interesting that Hannah is so bent on bringing in these angels or killing them if they refuse, but I sense she's not really in control. Someone else has to be pulling strings, I bet. I don't know how they'll fix Cas, but I can't help but think about his remark that if his grace was key to shutting down Heaven perhaps it's the very thing that might fix it. If they can figure out where it is and how to get back out of that spell, perhaps he'll be whole again. Will we see that? I don't know. There's so many questions and so few answers so far.

Thanks again. I'm glad you enjoyed my take on the opener!
# nappi815 2014-10-12 19:58
the only other thing I've waited all hellatus for besides the return of our boys is the return of your reviews.....;) thank you once again for such an in depth review. I agree with everything you've said. Jared and Jensen were simply amazing in this ep as they have been in every ep prior. I look forward to the next 22 eps and your next 22 reviews. I"m very excited to see where the story takes us. I look forward to sam saving dean and the boys beginning to heal ea. other. It's going to be an amazing ride....and so far it started off with a bang....

I love your analogy of the earthquake....i t's very fitting.....and after all, those boys rock my world as well. ;):D
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-10-12 20:06
Thanks for the comment.

I'm glad you looked forward to my reviews!

I was blown away by how Jared and Jensen showed all the changes in the boys in this opener. It's going to be fascinating to see how we see them interact once they finally see each other again. I agree, this season started off with a bang. The ride is going to be wild and emotional and full of ups and downs. I can't wait for it! I can't wait to see how Sam saves Dean and how they deal with that fallout. It's gonna be a great ride going forward!

Thank you. I'm glad you liked the quake analogy. It's what made sense to me as I thought about the opener and how we got to it.

Is it Tuesday yet?

Thanks again.
# E 2014-10-12 22:31
Really nice and detailed review! I loved the earthquake analogy. I am not totally on board yet with the whole demon Dean thing. I find it troublesome or inconsistent that before Dean died that the Mark and using the blade was turning him into a demon and now that he's died (and apparently been resurrected) killing people is apparently keeping him from becoming a demon. This seems incredibly contrived to me and nonsensical. It also bothers me on some level that Dean is still in many ways the same old Dean. No other demon we've seen is like that and neither was Cain for the first 2,000 years of his life, so why is Dean still so human? To me is smacks of lack of commitment to the story in the writing. Dean should be a true demon like they set him up to be at the end of season 9; a MoC demon the most fearsome demon to ever walk the earth, just like Cain before him. Instead is still basically Dean; he only beats up (not kills) assholes who deserve is and the only people he's killed are other demons, something he did on a regular basis before he got "turned." He hasn't done one truly demonic thing since becoming a demon. To me this is a cop out and lame. Why turn Dean into a demon at all if he wasn't going to truly act in any way demonic or truly challenge our perception of what makes Dean Dean? Too much Dean IMO and not enough demon.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-10-12 22:59
Thanks for the comment.

I don't think Dean was fully turned by the Mark of Cain and First Blade when he died. I found myself focusing on why Crowley wanted Dean to be content with his existence, but the more I think about it, I think the reason we haven't seen Dean completely flip into full demonic mode is perhaps he needs to kill more demons in particular to fully turn. Crowley's already had to admit he lied. He didn't tell Dean that he was feeding him these Abaddon supporters. When it came out, he admitted that he lied---and then he quickly told Dean that it was to keep him from turning. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that's a lie, too. I think about what Abaddon was doing with the souls in her demonic army factories. We learn that she was stealing souls in order to turn them into demons on earth---which would take time. I think the more demons Dean kills---or men for that matter---the more demonic he'll become and not the other way around. NOT killing would keep him more human in this transition phase. I'm hopeful we'll see these questions about Dean's current state answered as we go deeper into the season.

Thanks again.
# nappi815 2014-10-12 23:22
I think I agree. Crowley is not to be trusted and I didn't really buy into the sating the moc bologna he was feeding dean. ruby did something similar when she convinced sam that db would make him more powerful, when all it really did was prepare his body to become Lucifer's vessel. (which this has nothing to do with this conversation... .but as I was watching the mag 7 it dawned on me why they referred to sam as the boy king. not that the demons were aware, but I think ruby was...I don't think it meant that sam would've ruled the demons..i think it meant that Lucifer would inhabit sam, so sam would thus be the king...the boy king...Lucifer in sam's boy body...though he's far from a boy, but you get what I mean).....sorry just had to get that back to our current program:D...wou ldn't that have been the reason for cain to throw the blade in the ocean....becaus e of collette, he didn't want to kill, he didn't want to become a full on demon himself, so he separated himself from e blade with the moc calls for blood, so if cain doesn't have the he able to exhibit control? didn't cain stop feeding the moc when he stopped the killing...the cain we saw when dean met him....didn't he say he hasn't killed in a really long time due to a promise....he only started killing demons again, once he gave dean the general location of the blade and after he transferred the mark. isn't that why he made dean promise to kill him when he came back? I wonder if killing cain with the first blade will be the way for dean to transfer the mark back?
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-10-12 23:33
Interesting take. I think Cain is fully a demon, but I do think that not having the First Blade makes a difference at how high his bloodlust is. He was devastated that he had to kill those demons that invaded his house. That's why he wanted Dean to answer his call someday. He was using some heavy duty demon mojo without the Blade, but I think the Blade totally makes one far worse and far more evil the longer they use it. When we first learn Cain's story, we learn that he's killed thousands. That's a lot of blood to make him uber powerful and took time to build. Dean's just starting, and I think Crowley knows it'll take time for Dean to fully make the switch. I think, though, Crowley is also afraid of making Dean totally demonic. Why would Dean need him around anymore? Why not simply kill Crowley then and become King himself? Crowley knows he'd have another Abaddon on his hands in no time---and no Dean to stop him necessarily. I think it's why he's only feeding Dean a couple of demons here and there and letting them linger at that bar. Easier to make sure Dean is loyal to him and stay fairly demonic on the road to full blown demon hood. I think your Ruby analogy is spot on for that, too. I don't think that killing Cain will cure Dean of the Mark, though. It might make him even worse for having killed the Father of Murder. I'm thinking the more blood---in this case demonic---soaks into that Blade, the more it twists Dean's soul. What demonic blood could be stronger than Cain's?? I just can't wait to see how we see this transformation escalates and how Sam will find a way to stop it and save Dean.
# Lilah_Kane 2014-10-13 05:04
This is what I was waiting. Welcome back Far Away Eyes. I liked your take on the characters and the use of earthquake to describe the situation. I liked the episode a lot and the stories it prepared for rest of the season. I liked Jensen's take on DD because it wasn't usual and as we can admit the story is just starting. People have had trouble to like the way DD is because it is not how they want it to be. Even I had my own view of a bad demon Dean! But I was actually gladly surprised it was totally different and it is just not an easy story "Dean is a demon now hurr durr". I think the evilness comes from the opposite characteristics that are really against what Dean is.

If we take for example Death. He is so powerful and he could kill all if he wanted to. But he doesn't because where is the effort and it would be boring? And it would be pretty boring if Dean would have been same as Cain as a demon, or Abaddon, or Meg or any other demon. Hell, even those demons were not the same. All had different agenda. So, Dean as a demon is different too. And as it is Dean turned there needs to be subtle hints that it is Dean.

Also, I loved how Sam's grief was shown. His search for his brother and the sling makes him seem so vulnerable. Can't wait for the next episode and your next review!

- Lilah
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-10-13 17:23
Thanks for the comment.

I'm glad you enjoyed my take on this episode and my use of earthquakes. As I sat down to think about this opener, it's just something that I found myself returning towards.

I agree. This story is just starting. I like the fact that we're seeing Dean turn into a demon slowly in the story rather than having him just slitting throats and killing people and acting like an evil unrecognizable version of himself. Do I think we may see that emerge at some point? Possibly. I keep thinking about how long it must take for someone on Hell to be turned into a demon and how long it takes for that demon to become powerful enough to do some of the things we've seen some of them do. Alistair probably took a very very long time to turn into that torture master. We saw Meg grow as she went from being helpless in that Demon's Trap to breaking it while possessing Sam. It reasons to me that Dean is going to have to transition into the total monster that his demonic self may become. If he had simply started that way, I think it would have gotten hard to sustain and we would need Sam saving him a lot faster. As we're just starting, I don't know where theyr'e going with this or what the plan is. So far, I like that we see a good amount of Dean---and yet we can tell he's NOT at all.

I was absolutely floored by Sam in this episode and how much I connected with him. I admit it, I lean Sam. I don't think it's a secret. I love both brothers a lot and I try to see both their stories and places in it,b but I do lean Sam. I was in tears when he shouted "Where's my brother!" I was cheering when he gave his speech to Crowley. I was so sad for him when he was caught by Cole and knew that this time Dean wouldn't necessarily show up to save him. And that sling! It's so hard to see it on Sam knowing that Jared was hurt for real, but I like that it's included in the story and not ignored.

I'm just glad the show is back and I can't wait to write more about it. I hope you'll enjoy my takes the rest of the season.

Thanks again.
# kaj 2014-10-13 05:52
So, Crowley lied when he said he'd sent Demon after DD just to feed the Mark or Dean will turn into a demon. Of course DD caught on to that lie because hellooo, he's already a demon. What more the MOC can do?

Then Crowley said that he needed DD to stay sharp. So, he sent demons after him for practice. For practice in ruling Hell together. But DemonDean didn't want to rule Hell. He didn't want to have a responsibility anymore now that he's free of that burden. So, he took off, leaving Crowley behind.

So, the real reason why Crowley send demons after DD is still unclear. I don't buy his reason that the demons were for practice, to keep DD sharp to sate the MOC. Dean was already a demon, what more can the Mark do to him?
I think your review here makes sense, Far Away Eyes. Perhaps, Crowley is a wee bit afraid that Demon Dean will turn on him and kill him. He knew that the Mark and the Blade needs to kill. Just like a pet tiger that needs to eat meat everyday so they don't attack their owner out of hunger. Crowley fed Demondean demons after demons so Dean didn't attack him out of hunger and blood lust. Keep him sated, keep the Mark and the Blade sated and keep Dean happy and loose, in hoping that he could persuade Dean to do as he planned, ruling Hell together, using Dean as his ultimate weapon and attack dog.

But DemonDean refused to be controlled. Once he knew about Crowley's scheme behind his back he became suspicious and finally leaving the King of Hell behind.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-10-13 17:33
Thanks for the comment.

I don't think the Mark of Cain or the First Blade are done changing Dean yet. He's already demonic, yes, but I don't think he's completely turned yet either. It's perhaps one reason why Crowley is feeding him these demons. I agree, Crowley does want Dean to help him rule Hell. I think it's an emotional thing for Crowley. Somewhere, that near cure is still affecting Crowley and he wants Dean to be his friend. I think it's one reason---beside s he knew it'd punch Sam in the gut---that he said what he did to Sam about Dean being his best friend. On the other, I don't think we have any idea exactly what Crowley's actual agenda is for Dean just yet.

I do like your analogy that Dean is like a pet tiger. Feed him and he lets you live, don't and you're now supper. Crowley's made it this far by looking out for Crowley. He's not stupid. He can tell that Dean would easily decide it's way better to be King than a Knight and take him down if he wants. It's one reason why he tries to keep him happy and why he stayed with Dean in that bar for so long.

As for DemonDean and his refusal to get with the program on ruling Hell, I think he knows he doesn't have to really do anything anyone says. Including Crowley. It's clear that he's not blindly following the King of Hell around, either. Either he'll get bored and leave him or he'll kill him. The real Dean hated to be controlled. It's why he refused to go with the Apocalypse plan of saying yes to Michael. This Dean is no different and if Crowley keeps withholding info from him or lying or yanking him around, Dean will figure it out. If Dean should figure out Crowley's real agenda and not like it, I think we could totally see that relationship come to an abrupt end.

Thanks again.
# mary9930 2014-10-13 10:03
Be still my angel loving heart. I'm positively giddy from all your angel discussion. I was a little thrown by Hannah in this episode but you clarified that perfectly for me. She hates &/or is terrified by chaos. I would even compare her to Castiel in season 6. She wants to bring order back to heaven to prevent any further warring among angel factions. I'm hopeful that Castiel will get through to her: been there, done that. I think the whole free will theme is part of why I love the angel story lines.

Your characterizatio n of each brother broke my heart. The audience seeing Dean as a loser and a joke is one thing but Dean seeing himself that way is too much. Then thinking about Sam losing his north star....
Thanks for your article Far Away Eyes. You are always insightful and creative. I fully enjoyed the earthquake analogy.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-10-13 17:39
Thanks for the comment.

I'm glad you liked my look at Hannah and the brewing angel turmoil. It just made sense to me that the reason she was so gungho about tracking these "rogue" agents down is she knows they could easily start to build power bases and become a new Metatron. After all, that's how the Scribe hide for centuries on earth before swooping in and kicking everyone out on their butt. Leave angels alone and that's the consequences. And yet, I think Castiel's right about free will absolutely 100%. Without it, we're not alive in many ways. We're nothing more than cogs in a grand machine following a plan laid down before we were even born and that's just not living in my book. I'll be curious to see how these two opposing sides play out in the remainder of the season. Glad you liked my analysis so much of it!

I'm sorry I broke your heart! I kinda broke mine, too. I picked up on Dean's mood about himself in the second watch. It just became clearer to me---in the way Ackles played Dean---that Dean wasn't as happy or carefree as he pretended to be. He knew what he was becoming and hated himself for it---but couldn't stop the spiral. It's super sad.

As for the north star thought on Sam, I couldn't shake it. The more I thought about Sam's story through the years, the more it became obvious that Dean has always been that one constant for Sam. No matter what, Dean stayed Dean. That's changed now. I hope we get to see him find that north star light back in Dean and fix this mess! I can't wait to see how they approach that for the season.

Thanks again. I'm so glad you enjoyed this review so much!
# LEAH 2014-10-15 14:50
Hi Far Away Eyes, a little late to the party here but I wanted to say thanks for the lovely review. I always look forward to and enjoy your reviews, sometimes I fall behind on my posting but I always read them. We have similar ways of viewing the characters and the show. Thanks again.:)