8) What did you *expect* from this episode, and why? If you were disappointed in the episode, how much of that was due to the episode not matching your expectations?
Metamorphic Rocks: I usually don't have any expectations regarding what the episode will be about, because I've learned over the years that promos and even sneak peeks can be very misleading. I still have expectations about the quality of each episode (whatever the storyline), but I have even changed those to a degree, because this show has changed quite a bit over the years, so I don't expect it will be like the Kripke era - which wasn't perfect but was generally of very good quality.
Having said that, it is still annoying when the quality of an episode dips below my (even lowered) expectations. I thought this was an average episode, but it could have been made better without the characters doing uncharacteristic things to serve the plot (which the show is very guilty of doing in recent seasons). For example, having Jimmy's wife Amelia take off and abandon Claire (not even returning when her daughter was bouncing around group homes - you think they would have learned from John Winchester in "Faith") was a sloppy way to serve the story; If they wanted to get Amelia out of the way they could have just as easily said she was dead.
Even worse, however, was having Sam get in the car and shut the door knowing Dean was alone with four criminals. Not only was it grossly out of character, but it was the extreme dumbing down of Sam in order to get Dean alone with those guys. Quite frankly, I would rather Sam have been knocked unconscious (for the billionth time) in order to take him out of the equation. Also, Castiel was made to do something inexplicable by returning to the house with Claire, just so he could react with horror at Dean's actions. It's these kind of glaring things - which happen way too often - that affect the quality of the overall story and still disappoint me.
Nate: I had actually forgotten that the mid-season finale was coming up since this season has been much like S1 & S2 in its structure of no real arc (normally I’d be mad at the lack of arc but given how badly the ones in S8 & S9 worked out, I’m forgiving). The obvious answer would be “advancing things with the MoC” which it... kind of did. Though in my opinion it is way past time for the show to return to Cain himself. Dean has a promise to keep and he’s the one that can give them answers so why isn’t finding him top priority? All he told Dean was that the “Mark came with a price” so it’s past time for him to arrive and spell out the details of said price.
Pragmatic Dreamer: I don't go into episodes with huge expectations. I want to be entertained or distracted from my real life and generally it delivers. There are some writers or concepts where I cross my fingers and hope for the best.
But I have to admit Supernatural is my only appointment TV show. It's the only show I have to watch - same time, same channel - every week. So my expectation is that it Be There!
Bardicvoice: I expected more focus on developing the story of Sam, Dean, and the Mark of Cain, both because that seemed appropriate to a mid-season finale, and because everything in the promo and sneak peek addressed the Mark. I was a bit disappointed because the expectations I'd formed didn't correlate with the episode as it aired. At the same time, I loved some of the unexpected things that emerged, especially gaining more insight into the brothers' maturing relationship with their memories of John and seeing Castiel learning about fatherhood from the Winchesters. Getting something other than what I expect often isn't a bad thing! Trying to manage my expectation bias is why I try to avoid most spoilers.