4) Do you think the three storylines in this episode: Sam and Dean and the Mark of Cain, Castiel and Claire, and Rowena and Crowley, all flowed together smoothly in this particular episode?
Bardicvoice: I didn't think the Crowley/Rowena storyline flowed at all. Oh, it resonated on the same theme, but to me it felt shoe-horned in, I think mostly because it didn't intersect at any point with either the Sam/Dean or Castiel/Claire stories, while the latter two braided around each other constantly. I'm sure the intent was to set up baseline understanding for future interactions by Hell's mother/son combo with the brothers, but in this episode, I found their story a distraction and thought the time needed could have been better used in developing the Sam/Dean/MoC line. On the other hand, I enjoyed the Castiel/Claire story because the connection to Sam and Dean made sense, it further developed the theme of Castiel seeking to discover the angel/human balance he needs to reconcile to select his future course, and we've so rarely revisited a non-hunter, non-monster to see the impact of supernatural trauma.
Pragmatic Dreamer: I thought they flowed quite well, although I wanted more brothers and less Randy. Like I said in a tweet "@pragdreamr: So tonight's theme is absent parents & the strength & weakness of the families we're born into & those we make #SupernaturaI". Families shape us, build us up, tear us down, they can support us or destroy us. The question for all the characters now is how their "family" (blood or not) is going to help or hurt them.
Nate: Cas-Dean, yes. The brothers have been aimless this season (hey, why not go seek out Cain? remember how you owe him a death?) so having them join in Castiel's quest make good narrative sense, especially when it involves someone they know. Crowley's... meh; even less tied in with the bros than Abaddon last season. Had Rowena appeared while he and Crowley were hanging out (and maybe she played a role in Dean escaping Crowley's "clutches" so she could have her boy to herself) maybe I would be more invested? At the moment my feelings towards his story is just curiosity, not investment.
Metamorphic Rocks: The episode obviously had family issues as its theme, just as many recent episodes have. However, the specific issues facing each of our central players - Castiel, Crowley, and of course, Sam and Dean, didn't necessarily gel together that well, or even that clearly. Castiel is facing the issue of how his actions tore a family apart; Sam and Dean are facing the issue of what might happen to what's left of their family (each other) because of the Mark of Cain; Crowley is facing the reality of his mother returning, and what that may mean for him and his kingdom. While all these storylines are of interest, putting them together in this episode didn't create effective parallels. Also, the crowding of several plots in the same hour relegated something as big as Dean's massacre of human beings to the last five minutes of the episode. It deserved a bigger spotlight than that.