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Before leaving Castiel, Hannah asked a very poignant question: “What of the humans, whose lives we sacrifice in the name of that mission, what of them?” She was discussing the angels and their endless abuses of human kind under the guise of the “mission,” but as we see in “The Things We Left Behind” this is an issue that touches each thread of season ten. What of the humans? What about those the angels have used---or their families left behind? What about their survival? Just what is a human being worth? And how much will we fight to keep our own humanity intact? The mid-season finale explored all of these questions in depth---and set the stage for the remainder of the season to answer them.



Let's look at the value placed upon a human life.

Crowley complains to his minion, Gerald, “Did I tell you the time that she almost traded me for three pigs, three! I was an attractive child, I could juggle. I was worth five pigs, at least.” Surely, a human life is worth more than a pig---or even five of them. Three pigs or five pigs, it's a lot like apples and oranges. One cannot possibly equal the other. And a human life is always going to be valued more than the pig's.

Later, as he's confronted by his mother, Crowley reminds her that she once told him, “You said I would die in a gutter covered in my own sick.” On top of it, she abandoned him when he was only eight years old. For Crowley, this is something that still bothers him. He may have been “motivated to do better,”---and he may have achieved the throne of Hell---but it's clear that he wants to understand just why his own mother didn't value him enough to stay around.

His underling, Gerald, asks Crowley point blank, “If you hate this Betty so much, why not end her?”

It's a good question. After all, Crowley, himself, is no longer human. He's a demon---and as a demon he values human life on a different level. He sees them as human souls ripe for Hell's harvest---and in that pursuit he's ended many human lives without regret. And yet we see him not only tolerate his mother, but he shows her mercy when he stops Gerald from killing her. It makes us wonder why the King of Hell would value his mother---one that abandoned him no less---enough to kill a demon in order to save her life. Her life is a human life despite the fact that she's a centuries old witch.

And it's clear, by Crowley's actions, that he finds value in having her alive---or at least her potential usefulness.

Usefulness. It's something that we also see in Claire's story.

Like Crowley, Claire has been abandoned by her parents, too. First, her father says yes to Castiel, taking Jimmy away from his family forever. In the aftermath of being possessed by the angel himself and her mother's possession by demons, the young girl is dumped on her grandmother until she passes away. This leaves Claire vulnerable and another statistic in the system. She's easily manipulated and preyed upon by people like Randy that promise to restore to her life the things Castiel took away: family and a place to belong. With those things comes purpose.

Her value is tied with Randy's. She's not frustrated that she was captured and tossed into solitary because she's a bad kid or selfish. Claire isn't doing this to act out for attention. She was trying to help provide for the “family” she feels obligated to help. Being locked away into the group home prevented this. And yet, as Claire finally manages to make her way back to Randy, we see another value placed on human life. Because she is a minor, Randy is willing to have Claire commit a felony. It's clear that he's led her to believe that this is the only way they can get out from under the loan shark he owes money to---but he's also willing to risk throwing her future and life away. There's no guarantee that if she had succeeded in committing this crime that she would have been charged as a juvenile, after all.

Rather Claire wants to see it or not, she's only accepted into Randy's family for as long as he sees her as being useful.

Furthermore, when Claire fails due to Castiel and the Winchester's interventions, we see the young woman's value change for Randy. She's not merely a girl he can send out on money raids---stealing from anyone and everyone she can. Claire, herself, becomes the bargaining chip in Randy's drive to wipe his debts clean. When his loan shark offers to erase them if he'll give him Claire, he hesitates. Randy calls her “family.” The loan shark, Salinger, calls Randy's bluff, retorting, “I know the con, alright. You find some kid with major league daddy issues and then you get her to steal for you.” Reassured that the deal will be a good one, Randy willingly trades Claire.

Claire's value, to Randy, was about $5000, a bit more than the three pigs Crowley's mother once asked for. But these are materialistic values; they're physical and tangible figures that we can use and see to place value upon these people. In many ways, this is the opposite of valuing a human life. Both the money and livestock devalue these human lives. It's the devauling that makes both examples shocking or heartbreaking. A human life isn't comparable to either thing---it isn't equal. It's worth more.

What of the intangible---why is a human life worth more than pigs or money? What makes a human life more valuable than the “mission?” Why is humanity itself worth fighting for?

Rowena has been locked inside Crowley's dungeon “for weeks” after her capture. She's been trying to get an audience with the King of Hell---her son---only to be ignored. And yet, we can see her valuing her life---a human one even if she is a centuries old witch. Rowena is clearly all about survival. She will say and do anything it takes in order to come out on top. It's clear that Crowley didn't only learn a few witchy skills from his mother---he learned to put his own skin first from her, too.

As another prisoner is dumped into the cell with Rowena, we can see the wheels start to click in her head. She quickly gets her cell mate to tell her why Crowley's locked her up. Trish tells her that she's “not supposed to be here,” which makes the witch raise her eyebrows. After all, she must have done something in order to be chained into Crowley's top side dungeon. Rowena gets her to explain it. The King of Hell only wants certain demons to be on earth---those not on the list don't make it out. Trish managed to make a deal under the table with another demon that allowed her to be on earth until she was caught. She knows she'll be questioned as to who helped her and how they managed it---and she knows Crowley isn't going to “ask nice.”

Rowena makes herself seem sympathetic to Trish---but we can see that she's storing this tidbit of information away for use later. Finally allowed to see her son, she quickly pushes all the buttons she can---telling him that she said the things she did to motivate him to “do better” and that “I'll always love you.” It's clear from Crowley's expressions that Rowena's words have touched a nerve---but in reality the witch is playing these cards to get what she wants most: her freedom.

Taken back to her cell, Rowena plays her cards. She tells Crowley that Gerald is the demon that helped Trish break out of Hell. It incenses the demon that she would out him---or falsely accuse him of doing something so shady behind the King's back. This gamble nearly costs Rowena her goal: her survival. Gerald starts to choke her---even if Crowley tells him “That's enough, Gerald,” several times. Unable to stop---or unwilling---Crowley's left with little recourse than to stab him through the head.

Now that Rowena's proven herself to be useful---outing the potential smuggler for instance---Crowley decides to grant her what she wants. She's free to join him in the throne room---and from there who knows what Crowley's mother has planned? It's clear that she values his potential usefulness just as much!

But these are only the most basic values of human life. She wants her freedom and her survival.

What of the question that Hannah posed to Castiel? How has the angel taken this and digested it? How does he put the human lives they sacrifice first? For Castiel, this is truly the first time he's ever actually considered this question head on. He's brushed against it in the past---faced with allowing Dean to determine the outcome of the town when Samhain rose for instance---but this is the first time he's looking closely at the issue and considering humanity's value at a micro level. After all, the Castiel of the past was annoyed by the Winchester's drive to save two orphan boys---despite the fact that one did turn out to be a monster. One human life was not worth sacrificing the overarching mission.

In his quest to answer Hannah's question, Castiel sets out to find Jimmy's daughter. He knows that it's pointless to try and make it up to Jimmy. When finally face to face with Claire, he confirms to her that Jimmy's no longer in his “vessel.” Castiel is alone in there. Jimmy went to Heaven after Raphael killed him, brutally ripping him apart at a “subatomic level.” All the physical appearance is a reassembled form granted to him from God.

Instead, Castiel will try and fix the implosion his interference in Jimmy's life caused for Claire. Much like Rowena, Claire wants nothing more than her freedom. She'll need the angel's help to bust out. They appear in front of the group home leader and plead their case. It doesn't go well as the leader is nonplussed by Castiel's evasive and odd answers about why he was gone for so long and what he does for a living. Protecting humanity from “deadly threats” just doesn't ring true---even if it is---and their claim is denied.

Castiel will have to find another way to help Claire achieve her goal. After all he's done to her---destroying her family and putting her in this situation---he feels he has little choice but to help her get out. He arrives later that night, using his grace to power past the guards and opens the door, leading the young woman out into the night.

And yet, Castiel has only begun to see what Claire's value is. He saw helping her get out as a first step to making right what he had done wrong to her. There's no way he can truly restore or replace what he's taken from her, either. It doesn't mean he won't try. After she bolts on him, Castiel calls Sam and Dean to help track her down. In his view, she's become his responsibility. After all, Hannah had charged him with the original mission: to protect humanity. Helping Claire, even if she is only one person, is the first step to doing that.

But Castiel doesn't understand why he was denied Claire's custody in the first place. The group leader told him that she understood that he wanted to be Claire's friend, but that was the problem. She tells him, “Claire doesn't need a friend---she needs a father.” It leads him to ask the brothers about their own father. Did they love him? Did they think he was a good father? Having his own father absent---and never having actually met him---Castiel isn't sure what exactly models good fatherly behavior. Dean tells him a story about sneaking into the legendary club, CBGB, and how John managed to track him down. In return, Dean confesses that he told his father that he hated him and that he had embarrassed him. Castiel isn't quite sure how this relates to his situation with Claire until Dean tells him that his father told him, “It's okay that you don't like me. It's not my job to be liked” and Sam finishes, “It's my job to raise you right.”

Castiel learns that he has to be the guiding force in protecting Claire's life. He's to stand up for her, to stand up to her, and to do what he must in order to keep her safe. It's the first step he'll truly take in transforming Hannah's words into actual action. It's one thing to give into Claire's demands---helping her get out of the group home---it's another to provide her with what she really needs.

As they track Claire back to Randy's, they arrive just as she's being traded to Randy's loan shark. The three break into the house, brandishing their weapons and Castiel using his grace to make his way to the room where Claire is fighting for her own survival. Castiel doesn't want the girl to remain here any longer than necessary and pulls her away from her assault on her attacker and escorts her outside.

Unfortunately, as they all try to extricate themselves from the house, Dean is the last to leave and is caught by the angry bookies looking to take at least one of these crashers out for intruding on their negotiations.

It is here that we see the deepest meaning of human life and of humanity itself.

Throughout the episode, the Mark of Cain has become more sentient and far more sinister. At the start of the episode, we see it taunt Dean with a horrific nightmare. It's a vision of what it will make the elder Winchester do. It is a warning that it is tired of biding its time---of killing mere demons or monsters. The Mark of Cain craves something sweeter and far more frightening. It values something higher than the blood of the creatures Dean's killed since his cure.

It craves the very thing it was created by: human blood.

The Mark of Cain values human life highly. No, it doesn't see it as something to save or something to treasure. It values it on a far different level. The Mark of Cain thirsts for its destruction. Since its power was first generated by the First Blade's use on Abel, the Mark wants only one thing more than killing in general. It wants its bearer to kill other human beings and fall to its disease. Like a cancer, its starting to slowly make its way through Dean, taunting him, cursing him, and reinfecting him little by little through the episode. We see it in the angrier than normal appearance of the Mark---its redness and puffiness shows that it is preparing a strike.

And, it comes in the flashes we see in his nightmares and visions. We can see its end game clear. The Mark of Cain has no qualms about showing Dean what it wants and that it will have its way no matter what. The Mark is pressing on Dean, telling him explicitly that it is in charge and that it will no longer be ignored.

But just as the Mark of Cain craves human blood, Dean's value on his humanity is just as strong. We see it clearly in the way he tries to hold the Mark's appetite for blood at bay by indulging in watching The Three Stooges or eating everything he can. They're coping mechanisms to fill the holes the Mark punches into his humanity, trying to push him to do something he fears most: becoming nothing more than a bloodthirsty killer.

This becomes most apparent when Dean sits down with Castiel, telling him that he “can't be that thing again.” He knows that a relapse is possible. He fears that it is inevitable. Dean is in the fight to retain his humanity---and he can feel himself failing little by little as they work to find Claire. We can see it in how he demands his friend throw him into the sun if he should turn demonic again. Dean is almost anticipating the worst---preparing for the fight to be lost.

He knows he has a tenuous grip at best. In his second clash with Cole, Dean showed extreme restraint. He handled himself well in the hand to hand combat, but it was clear that he held back, using far more defensive moves to block or derail Cole's wild attacks. Dean didn't want to hurt him---nor did he want to repeat what he had done to the young man in their first encounter while he was still a demon. He tells the ex-marine that the darkness that had touched him had led him to “beat the crap out of a good man, just for the fun of it ” The restraint we see exhibited in that second scuffle is slowly starting to chip away in “The Things Left Behind”---and Dean knows at any moment he might snap, giving into the Mark of Cain's brutal demands.

The front half of season ten has shown Dean what he may lose if he does become “that thing” again. He has been slowly building his relationship with Sam, making them an equal partnership and strengthening the bond that they share. We see it in how he's allowed Sam to direct their hunts or telling him how he feels after a kill or in sharing the simple moments like watching the Three Stooges or hanging up the “Samulet” from the Impala's mirror. Dean's been able to reconnect with new and old allies, too, gaining friends that are willing to listen to him when he needs to talk. He knows he's not alone in this. Dean has taken a new stock in his life and knows he wants to get back to doing what they do----saving people, hunting things, family business---so he can redeem himself for the time he was demonic. Through fans eyes, Dean learned that he's seen as a hero, someone that can and does fight for humanity.

Most of all, Dean learns that he should treasure that humanity and not take it for granted as he once might have---that if he truly wants to be more than the killer the Mark wants him to be, he'll have to fight back.

And yet, as we see him try to leave the house with his brother and Castiel, he starts to succumb to the Mark. He fights valiantly not to attack these men. Dean knows that these men are not good men. He knows they're shady and that they're criminals. He knows that they were about to ruin a young woman's life for their own pleasure---but they're still people. They are human. Unlike his usual foes, these men aren't demons or angels or monsters. Dean values their humanity.

He tries to ward them---and the nightmare vision the Mark keeps feeding him---away. They may only see one man they can easily overpower and kill---but Dean knows that they have no idea what he will do if cornered. It is the very internal explosion he's been trying to avoid all this time. As we see him take a blow to the face, we see the minute change in Dean---one that triggers the avalanche---and we know he has lost this round.

While they strike him and knock him to the floor, the Mark takes over, taking his value of humanity and twisting it to its own perverted view. It wants these men to die and it wants to taste their blood. It will manipulate and shape Dean into the brutal killer to accomplish it. Not only will it make Dean kill them, it will make him butcher them savagely. It is as if being pent up all this time has made it a far more vicious creature.

When Sam rushes in to see the horror that his brother has wrought, he kneels down and begs him, “Tell me you had to do this.”

Dean, shattered by his devastating loss to the Mark, tells him brokenly, “I did---I didn't mean to.”

He lost something here---a portion of his humanity has been tainted by this incident. The Mark has taken a stronger foothold than it has since the cure, and we know that there's one hell of a fight on for the Winchesters. If they are show the Mark and everyone else the true value of a human life and humanity they will have to face the darkness that is inside one of them---and overcome it together.

Otherwise they will only see the Mark destroy it all.

Kathryn Love Newton plays an older---and far more troubled---Claire Novak. From the moment we first see her, we can tell that she's a fighter. Newton has the young woman struggle all the way down the hall. As we see her locked away in the isolation room, we can see the truth shine through in Newton's performance. This angry young woman isn't all the bravado she shows to the world. She may be taking it out on the wall and the provided punching bag, but as her anger burns to a cinder, we see that she's really the little girl that Castiel left behind all those years ago. Newton slumps as she stands forlorn in that room, looking direction-less and lost. When we see her first encounter the angel, Newton puts all of Claire's heartbreak into her facial expressions, showing us that the last few years with her family shattered has also broken her in to pieces. Newton is harsh at first with Collins, giving Claire's anger real presence. It's in how she says, “Yay for him” upon being told that Jimmy has gone to heaven. As she helps Castiel try to ready for the interview with the group home leader, we see her turn gentle. Newton shows us that Claire misses her father as she musses with Castiel's tie. She knows this isn't her father, and yet the way she does these gestures conveys a sense of affection---as if she may have done something like this with her father in the past. After she's busted out, Newton shows a softened Claire, having a conversation with Castiel at Sharkey's. She teases the angel---recognizing that he's different now than he was then. The amusement in her voice as she says, “Kind of a doof,” is sweet. When Newton ends up ditching him to head home to Randy, we can see that sadness and sorrow roll off of Newton---and all her vulnerability emerge as she's pressured to commit armed robbery. There's a shakiness in her frame as she goes through with the crime---until she's stopped by Castiel. Confronted with the angel and the Winchesters, Newton shows us that Claire is broken as she shouts at Castiel, “My father was a good man, what messed up world does he die and you get to live? ” When she arrives to find the loan shark, and is hustled upstairs, we see her wound tight. Newton may convey that Claire is troubled and easily influenced, but as she's put into a dangerous situation with a strange older man, we see her play along only to position herself to make an escape. As she's ushered out, we see her shock and horror at Randy's decision to trade her for his debts. When she follows Castiel back into the house to see the horror Dean has wrought on the men, we see that she's still very much a little girl, shocked and horrified by this brutality. Now that Castiel has shaken her world again, how will Claire deal---and how will Newton show us her story?

Ruth Connell returns as Crowley's mysterious mother, Rowena. With her lilting Scottish accent, she gives the character great presence in every scene. Connell captures all of the character's smarts as she gathers information on Crowley's operation from her fellow prisoner. Even though she's chained to the wall, we can tell that she's not as helpless perhaps as we might be led to believe. She clearly isn't going to simply sit and wait---evidenced first by her begging to talk with Crowley and her prodding her fellow prisoner for information. Rowena has an agenda, and Connell conveys that through every line and every facial expression she uses. She has great chemistry with Shepard, especially when she's finally allowed an audience. Upon their first head to head clash, Connell shows us all of Rowena's stubbornness---captured exquisitely in the way her lilting voice says “Fergus” in answer to Crowley's insistence on not being called that. She also shows us that Crowley's mother knows just what buttons to push on her son, asking him pointed things like how he died and telling him that she was motivating him by telling him he'd die in a gutter. As we watch Rowena tell Crowley, “I'm your mother and I'll always love you,” we can't help wanting to believe her, even if we know she can't possibly be trusted. Rather than simply being thrown back into the cell, she springs her latest trap, snaring Gerald. She outs him craftily, fingering the demon as the one responsible for smuggling undesirables topside. Her cold face as she delivers the line, “Him,” shows us Rowena's steel. Connell makes us sit up and pay attention here, hinting that this mysterious witch has many secrets yet to be revealed---and that there's something sinister in her charisma. After Rowena's nearly choked by Gerald, only to be saved by the exasperated Crowley, we see her deliver the sweet line, “I'll be back in a flash,” to Trish, her fellow prisoner. Now that Rowena has gained her freedom, we're left to see what she'll do next---and how Connell will portray her.

Mark Sheppard portrays a conflicted Crowley. The King of Hell has always been a complex character, but we are shown just how much by his mother's appearance. On one hand, Sheppard conveys well all of Crowley's anger and frustration at the woman that abandoned him when he was merely eight years old. On the other, Sheppard shows us that Crowley might be softer on her than we might think. Crowley may have kept her chained up in his topside dungeon for a few weeks, but in that time we can see that Crowley's reached a crisis stage. He's confused, talking it out with his minion, Gerald, and pacing back and forth trying to determine the next move. Sheppard shows us that Crowley's not as confident here as he normally would be---he doesn't have a contingency plan on dealing with Rowena---or if he even considers her truly a threat just yet. There's great comedic timing in Sheppard's performance, too. The way he delivers the line, “She was a horrible mother,” and keeps retorting back to Rowena that his name is “Crowley,” makes us laugh. Sheppard also makes us sympathize with the King of Hell as we see him stagger emotionally after Rowena tells him that she'll always love him. He shows Crowley's vulnerability well as we see him close his eyes and lean towards her. The gesture conveys that he wants so badly to believe here---and yet the past tells him to know better. When he enters the room to hear how another demon manged to be topside without his consent, he seems patient with Gerald as the demon attacks Rowena---but when that demon won't stop we see him coldly kill Gerald. His nonchalant glance back towards Rowena as he offers to let her out to talk freely seems borderline affectionate in the way Sheppard says the line, “Coming?” Now that he's decided to accept his mother, we're left to wonder what that bodes---and we know it can't be good news for the Winchesters in the long run.

Misha Collins plays a layered Castiel in “The Things We Left Behind.” The humanity that has slowly changed him since the beginning of season nine is starting to firmly take hold here. The question Hannah asked before she left has clearly left the angel wondering about his vessel and the family Jimmy left behind. As Castiel visits Claire in the group home, Collins shows us all of the angel's guilt and sadness. It's in how he addresses Claire, trying to reach through to her and understand the pain she feels. Collins makes it clear that Castiel feels responsible for this girl considering that he had taken her father from her to do his work on earth with the Winchesters---and elsewhere. There's a gentle side revealed in the angel as he talks with her, saying in a much softer voice this time, “I'm not your father,” and his later admission, “Yes, well... before I was very self assured. I was convinced I was on this righteous path. Now I realize that there is no righteous path, it's just people trying to do their best in a world where is far to easy to do your worst.” Collins also makes use of the comedy given to him in the script when Claire convinces the angel to sign her out of the group home and to look the part of a dad. The way he fiddles with the tie, trying to get it right only to have the young woman adjust it reveals that the naïve angel we've known all these years is still there. When asked what his actual work is, Collins puts everything into Castiel's answer, making us laugh at how ridiculous such an important job sounds. He doesn't even try to hide the truth---stating in a deadpan voice, “I fight certain deadly threats to humanity.” After Claire tries to cover this up by providing Castiel with the idea of exterminator, Collins shows us that Castiel has no problem sticking his foot firmly in his mouth and awkwardly saying that the group leader shouldn't let the bed bugs bite. Collins connects well with Ackles and Padalecki respectively. We see him first share a scene with Ackles as he tries to understand what he should do about Claire now. Collins shows us that Castiel is frustrated in his body posture---and that he's taking Dean's advice with a grain of salt. His expression clearly reveals that he knows Dean is feeding him a line of bull considering his own track record. As Dean tells the angel that he wants Castiel to pitch him into the sun if he becomes the evil monster again, Collins conveys all of Castiel's sadness. There's a sorrowful expression on his face as he answers his friend's demand. As Castiel sits with Sam and Dean at the bar to listen to Dean's story, we can see him take all of it in, listening carefully and considering each word. And as they finally track Claire down first at the gas station and at Randy's house, Collins shows us that Castiel is still as commanding and powerful as we've always known. His presence easily fills the house as he makes his way to save Claire from the loan shark. When we see him enter the house again with Sam, we see horror flicker across his face as he sees his friend succumb to the Mark---and then protect Claire by leading her out. Now that Dean has done this, will Castiel be able to hold to his promise?

Jensen Ackles gives us a richly nuanced performance as Dean in “The Things We Left Behind.” He's boyish at the beginning, enjoying the simple pleasure of watching a clip from the Three Stooges. There's great joy in seeing Dean smile and laugh like this. The little boy shines through more when Ackles uses his great comedic timing to show us Dean's love for food. The cheesy sandwich Sam gives him is yet another simple pleasure that Dean has no problem indulging in fully. It's all in how Ackles conveys it here. Ackles also shows us that it's not all simple pleasures for Dean, either. We see him stir from an awful nightmare or vision of him surrounded by dead bodies and himself covered in blood. It's a startling and stark vision that leaves Dean haunted the moment he jars awake. Ackles shows us just how frightened Dean is by this moment as he glances down in horror at the Mark, knowing it had to have shown this to him. He continues to show us this when Dean talks with Castiel, asking the angel to “throw me into the sun” if and when he goes dark. All of Dean's guilt, fears, and anguish, however, is put into the line, “I can't be that thing again.” Ackles makes us feel all of Dean's pain---and there's an ache in the aftermath of this moment. Ackles draws us in when he tells Dean's story about sneaking into CBGB. We can't help but be drawn into the story, his voice painting the picture so well as he sets the stage. As an audience, we want to lean forward and hang on his words. It's all in how Ackles delivers this, making us believe and see a young Dean be busted at a club by John---and how everyone in the room was instantly intimidated by the larger than life eldest Winchester. Ackles also conveys all of Dean's growing aggression well in this episode. He is a bit harsher when he tells Castiel that Claire isn't a real emergency---and he seems tense and wound tight when having to deal with it. At Randy's house, Ackles brings this out to the forefront in how he carries his weapon and barks at Randy and his men. We can see him being pulled taut just in body language alone. As he backs away to follow Sam, we see him snap minutely in the way he shouts at them to back off, brandishing his weapon. It's the aftermath, however, that breaks our hearts. In near perfect mirror image of the visions that had plagued him throughout the episode, Ackles shows us just how broken Dean is here. He's covered in blood, surrounded by those he's brutally murdered---and yet underneath it he looks like the lost four year old he's always been. It's in his facial expressions and the slumped posture. When Sam asks him if he had to do it, Ackles makes his voice quiet and small as he says, “I did---I didn't mean to,”---and it shatters us as it shatters Sam. Now that the Mark of Cain has tasted human blood, will Dean still be Dean?

Jared Padalecki gives us an intimate performance as Sam in “The Things We Left Behind.” From the very first moment Sam joins his brother to watch the Three Stooges to the final emotional moment, we feel as if we are experiencing Sam's story through Padalecki's subtle portrayal. As Sam sits down to watch that video, Padalecki shows us how conflicted the younger Winchester is. On one hand, he's amused by his brother's antics---and perhaps more than a tad grossed out by his eating habits as Padalecki scrunches his nose to convey this---but on the other we can tell the moment is bittersweet for Sam. It's all in the way he glances at the angrier than normal Mark of Cain, reminded that this quiet and fun moment won't last forever. There's a sadness that flickers across Padalecki's face, giving us insight into how much this hurts Sam, as if he's merely waiting for that other shoe to drop. He quickly shakes himself, and Padalecki shows us that Sam's willing to set aside his fears as he tries to soak up every moment he has with Dean before it does get bad again. When it comes to helping Castiel with Claire, Padalecki shows us all of Sam's sympathy and patience. He understands why the angel would like to help the girl, and when we see him question the group home's leader, Padalecki shows us that Sam's empathy for Claire only grows. As Sam and Dean talk about fathers with Castiel, Padalecki shows us how much Sam does indeed miss his father---and there's a beautiful warmth in the way Sam shares in telling the story with Dean. It's in how Padalecki smiles and nods or how he delivers the line, “It's my job to raise you right.” It's no secret that the younger Winchester had far more scuffles with John Winchester, but Padalecki makes certain in this scene that we know Sam still loved the man and that he still means something to the brothers. When confronted with Claire after her failed robbery, we can see him try and diffuse the situation, keeping his large frame hunched slightly to make himself seem less threatening with his hands out. He's soft spoken, too. Padalecki's best moment, however, comes when we see him with Dean and Castiel at Randy's house. He's by his brother's side, trying to accomplish their goal of saving Claire---all while remembering that these are people and not their usual quarry. As they prepare to exit the house, Padalecki conveys with his body language and quick glances towards Ackles that Sam believes Dean to be right behind him on the way out. The longer it takes for Dean to join him in the Impala, however, the sooner we see the awful realization dawn on him. We get a great close up shot on his face as Sam understands that his brother is committing an atrocity---and his expression turns to one of absolute horror. Once inside, Padalecki breaks our hearts as he begs Dean, “Tell me you had to do this.” The timbre of his voice captures all of Sam's sorrow and horror at what has happened---and under it all we can hear guilt perhaps for not realizing Dean had been delayed. To put the final nail in the emotional coffin, Padalecki cups Ackles's shoulder, and delivers the line, “Tell me it was them or you!” with such anguish that we can't help but feel for both brothers. Now we're left to wonder how Sam will handle the aftermath of this horrific moment.

Best Lines of the Week:

Crowley: She was a horrible mother. Did I tell you the time that she almost traded me for three pigs, three! I was an attractive child, I could juggle. I was worth five pigs, at least.

Rowena: Of course you had a father. You were just conceived during a winter solstice orgy, and it's not like I was taking names.

Dean: I can't be that thing again.

Castiel: I fight deadly threats to humanity.

While in Vancouver for the Salute to Supernatural Convention, Bardicvoice lead a Fan Van around the beautiful city to various locations that the show has used to film. While on the tour, we looked for a place to eat. Not only were we hungry as a group, we were also lucky enough to be near a location site that happened to also be a restaurant. That restaurant featured prominently in “The Things We Left Behind,” but we were there because they had also used it in the past for the season six episode “Unforgiven.” When we arrived at Sharkeys, the hostess asked us if we were a party of four only to realize to her shock that were were a party of eleven. We were promptly seated at a long table---well many smaller tables smooshed together so we would all able to fit. Bardicvoice filled us in on the site itself, where the boys would have sat for their scenes and how this restaurant was the very same one that Soulless Sam was captured on film in someone's steak photo. Now, we can say that Sharkey's---with its name and canopy featured---also is a site for Dean and Castiel to discuss what will happen if Dean should become Demon Dean again. Here's some photos taken from our visit. The crab salad is highly recommended by me. It was very tasty.

Is it January 20th yet?   



# cheryl42 2014-12-20 21:09
Thank you for your detailed review. I really loved and understood what the writer was going for in this episode. I have the beginnings of a theory on Crowley and what he really is. Mark S said there is a reason why we have never seen his eyes turn black. I am curious to see in the second half of the season if I am on the right track. I really loved that Castiel's mission on earth is now focused on those he was supposed to protect. It will start with Claire and maybe Amelia but maybe expand to all the other people whose lives were destroyed by becoming vessels without knowing the consequences. And I agree that Cas gets to keep his current form as a sort of reward from God. It also helps the Winchesters (who I know God also favors) keep some continuity that Cas is always in the same looking vessel.
And then there is Dean. Poor Dean. Now what. How is Sam ever going to be able to trust him now. I agree that the Mark wants to be used in the way Lucifer intended. It was a weapon to empower the bearer to bring destruction to humans and possibly to one human in particular. How long before Dean is taken over by the Mark, is reunited with the Blade and needs to (not wants to) kill his younger brother.
I loved Rowena in this episode. I didn't think I would care for her at first but she was great here. I loved all the lighting in the cell. The fractured light looking like a spider web. Rowena dressed in black, a black widow ensnaring everyone who got too close. I can't wait to see Rowena and Crowley trying to out manipulate each other.
I am really looking forward to the second half. Thanks again for your review.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-12-20 21:23
Thanks for the comment.

I'm very curious by the direction they've taken with Crowley this season. We know he has a different colored smoke and that he's skilled in many things from languages to spells to being able to understand angels in a way no other demon can. It'll be intriguing to see how they handle Crowley in the second half.

I am fascinated by the notion that Castiel has to actually examine the original mission. We've seen him brush against it a few times as they argue in Heaven over who is in charge, but Castiel is actually taking the time to examine it for real and on a micro level. I think it'll be interesting to see how that exploration ripples through the other story lines. I have to agree that the returning of this particular appearance lends some stability to Sam and Dean---and to Castiel as well.

I fear what the Mark will do. I think Sam can trust Dean. I really do. Dean wasn't going to kill those men initially. He was about to follow Sam out that door but was charged by a couple of the men and then restrained himself from firing or outright attacking. He let them attack him first, I think, in hopes that he would be able to stop himself from killing them. He didn't want to engage them, and I think he figured Sam might come back to stop them before something happened. Sam didn't realize until too late, though. Now that the Mark has done this, I don't know how long before it does decide to try and make Dean kill his brother, but I think it clearly wants that at some point. It's not just due to the symmetry between Cain and Abel and Sam and Dean. Sam stands in its way. He's the Mark's greatest threat since he's already cured Dean once. It knows that it may have to remove him first if it will truly get Dean to do what it wants.

And Rowena? I love Connel's voice so much. She makes the character crafty, fun, and a treat to watch. I like how you pictured her in the lighting and costume as that black widow. I think that's fairly accurate. I think Rowena will certainly give Crowley a run for his money in terms of manipulating.

Thanks again.
# Lilah_Kane 2014-12-21 07:59
I always love how you do your reviews. You really take by heart what the episode was trying to tell and all the little nuances what it keeps in.
In your analyze you see it as a whole from every characters point of view that are the main focus in the episode. And you are not taking sides nor judge the episode what you want the episode be. I guess you could see it as a neutral point of view. That is a really rare trait and don't ever loose it. :)

To what Cheryl and you discussed about Crowley. He has red smoke like you said but also one time when he possessed Linda Tran his eyes flashed red. I think that has been the only time his eye color has been shown. It was the episode with the supernatural items auction.

I actually have nothing much to add on what you wrote. I just enjoyed to read it so so much. And waited for it like you saw when I asked about it. On one plog I saw they were talking about the cinematography about the episode and how prison and bars were recurring factor. It is pretty interesting article..

Cinematography 10.09 (The Things We Left Behind)

Castiel's story made sense and we also got closure with what Jimmy was concerned. And concerning Claire we know that angel when it takes up a vessel sees all the memories, feels the feelings and how people are. Metatron also turned Castiel to human and said to him that go enjoy human life and when you die come tell me the story. That was his real education to how to be a human and now his is moving even further and Hannah started that.

How Sam and Dean was in this episode I was with them. I actually wanted everything to be alright but still you know the feeling inside your gut you can't shake off. Like Dean eating all the time or trying to hitch a quick date and Sam worried but trying to be by his brothers side and enjoy the every day life with him. I was not a happy camper after the last scene I can tell you that. Also the house where Dean was left alone reminded me of First Blood. The scene where Cain was left in the house and locked in with all the demons. And he smite them. The scene was pretty similar. We didn't see the fight but it was heard with sound. In first born by the eerie light also.

How I see it was that both scenes happened simultaneously. Dean gave Sam an order to get out and he didn't notice until it was too late that Dean wasn't behind him. Many times before same situation has ended in success. Not this time though.

One thing that I thought about Claire's mother. I don't know if they come back to that story but from some interview I saw they said the mother is dead. But even if that was misinterpreted I got the thought that the mother might have left Claire to the Grandmother and then went to search for Jimmy, caught up with demons or demons caught up her when she was trying to make sense of it all. Maybe they were targeted now by demons/angels and she left to protect her? That she wouldn't be found and she end up dead? Anyway, before we know for sure those are my thoughts. The episode where Novak's were last together it was hinted that the family was in danger because of Castiel and well, later. Cas was tossed out of heaven so I think the "angelic protection" didn't work anymore.

Thanks again for the review!

- Lilah
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-12-21 12:20
Thanks for the great comment.

When I sit down to write one of these reviews, I always ask myself the question "what did this episode say to me?" And as I start to sift through the episode threads, I start to take them apart and then figure out why they fit together that way and then put it back together. I'm always pleased that people enjoy the results that come from that. I don't know if I would say I'm neutral, but I've never been able to sit down and write a review for this show that runs along the "I liked this" or "I didn't like that." It's just not how I think. I hope that I can keep writing reviews that bring insight to my readers as I try to understand the episodes remaining in the season.

I loved that the front half of season ten showed Dean how bad it can get and just what he is fighting for and we saw that in this episode brilliantly. He was sharing that moment with Sam, watching the Three Stooges, and I couldn't help but think a little bit about how he used "Wanted Dead or Alive" to distract Sam right before his deal was up. I think the brothers will have to fight hard to beat this. I look forward to seeing how they go about doing this and how their bond will be strengthened on the other side.

I had the same thought about Dean's slaughter of Randy and his "friends." It was very much like Cain killing the demons flooding his home as Crowley and Dean watched from the Impala. I think this was a deliberate method to shoot it to correlate with that scene and to hit the emotional triggers as we saw Sam realize that Dean wasn't right behind him. I think Dean may have directed everyone to get out of the house, but I think that was more to go along with Claire being rescued, not so much protecting Sam. I think he was just about to follow Sam out that door and then as he was only one man without back up right there, the loan sharks decided to try and take him down in retribution. It was the very opening the MoC needed and it took full advantage of it.

I believe you're right. Crowley did flash red eyes while possessing Linda Tran.

Oh, that's an interesting take. The cinematography of this episode was outstanding and I give a lot of credit to Guy Bee for how that turned out. I also think Serge should get huge props on how he lit this episode. I was really floored by how the mirroring worked between Dean's nightmare vision and that final moment we see him surrounded by Randy and his loan shark friends.

I am really enjoying Castiel's story. He's finally looking at human beings as something to protect and care for in a way he's never really truly done before. And I think he's even going beyond that by cherishing them. He wants the best for Claire and he wants the best for Sam and Dean. I think what Hannah said to him before leaving really stuck with him and will really shape his story going forward. As for Claire's mother, I don't know if she ran to protect Claire. I think it's possible she may have been possessed again and then split---be it by angel or demon---but I don't know if they'll bring her into the mix on this. I do think it's possible that the Novak family lost its protection after Castiel was weakened in season 5 and beyond. We'll just have to see if they bring that back into the mix.

Thanks again, and I hope you'll enjoy my reviews for the back half of the season!
# suenash19 2014-12-21 08:32
Just an aside: Wasn't it Lucifer (Samifer) that originally ended Jimmy? - when he exploded him at Stull Cemetry in Swan Song?

Crowley/ Rowena - leaning face into mother's touch: we have seen this motif before in a very sweet, moving moment between Dean and Mary in Dark Side of the Moon.

I wonder if there is more to Claire's Mum's story? - like - did she get possessed again before being able to get a charm or tattoo to ward it off? That would certainly examine the abandonment in a more satisfactory way. ***

Oh, and Allison, if you're up for a Location Tour article I will happily collaborate with a ton of photos!!! :-)

*** one more thing - how is Sam dealing with anti-possession these days? It's the Supernatural universe where everything is believed in except Jesus, so I guess they won't call on Him. We haven't had any evidence of Sam getting his tattoo renewed or taking any other precautions. He expelled Gadreel when Crowley went in to alert Sam, but is there any way Crowley could have forced Sam to let him(Crowley) stay? (I imagine once alert to his continued presence Sam would recite an exorcism!)
-the key here seems to be awareness....
# Lilah_Kane 2014-12-21 08:47
Cas!Jimmy died before that by Rafael. In Chuck's house when Cas sapped Dean to the monastery where Sam and Ruby was if I remember right.

- Lilah
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-12-21 12:28
Thanks for the comment.

Raphael killed Castiel first. Chuck actually was horrified to have to pick some of Castiel from his hair after he was turned into blood soup. Lucifer did it again at Stull, so Castiel's technically been exploded twice.

We've seen Dean and Mary do this a few times, actually. Mary does the same gesture in "What Is and What Should Never Be" And Dean leans into it the way Crowley did with Rowena here. It's a nice catch that I hadn't realized until you mentioned it!

I don't know if they'll touch on Claire's mom again. I think Claire was in pain when she told Castiel her story about what happened after Jimmy said Yes again. I don't think she wanted to really go into massive detail about it. I'll be curious if they'll explore more about what happened and how Castiel will try to make it up to her. I think it's part of his journey this season, though.

Give me an email and we'll see if we can get on something to do with the location tours after Christmas is over.

We haven't seen Sam get a new tattoo, no. I hope we do see something about that in the back half. I think, otherwise, Sam has been so focused on what has happened to Dean and keeping Dean Dean that he hasn't thought too much about it. He knows what Dean is going through in many ways. It may not be an exact match, but I think Sam understands this darkness that is threatening Dean from the inside as he's struggled with that throughout his life. I think that's what makes this season so powerful for me. They're able to understand one another in a way they haven't been able to before. Sam's learning how Dean felt to be a protector---and Dean's learning what it's like to be manipulated directly by a supernatural force. I look forward to how they're going to get through that together.

Thanks again.
# SanSummer1 2014-12-21 13:11
He expelled Gadreel when Crowley went in to alert Sam, but is there any way Crowley could have forced Sam to let him(Crowley) stay?
When Bobby had been possessed by a demon, he had been able to take control momentarily. Lucifer was stronger than Crowley so I think Sam would have been able to take control even if Crowley had tried to possess Sam. However, I’m not sure Sam could have cast Crowley out like he was able to cast Gadreel out. Sam had been tricked into being possessed by an angel, which might have made Gadreel more vulnerable. Maybe Sam would have had to destroy his own body in order to kill or eject Crowley.
# Elaine 2014-12-21 12:53
Most of all, Dean learns that he should treasure that humanity and not take it for granted as he once might have---that if he truly wants to be more than the killer the Mark wants him to be, he'll have to fight back.
Dean HAS NEVER taken human life for granted. He fought all manner of monsters and demons to save humans. Correct me if I'm wrong but Dean kiilled humans only after taking on the Mark. And YET, even with Dean killing humans he has only killed humans that have already murdered other humans or were threatening to rape and murder humans. As a demon he only killed other demons IIRC until he was ready to kill Sam which was really more about killing Sam than random humans because Sam captured him. So I find the idea that Dean doesn't respect human be well, a inapt reading of the situation.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-12-21 12:58
Thanks for the comment.

I think, perhaps, I should have clarified this statement. You're correct that Dean has never taken another human's life for granted. In terms of himself, however, this is the first time that he's been threatened this directly by a supernatural force that can and will corrupt his own humanity. That's something, I think, he's taken for granted. It's been a constant for him throughout his life. He's always been fighting to keep Sam human. This is the first time that Dean has to do the same for his own humanity. As for everyone else's humanity? Dean has always protected other human beings and valued that humanity they possess. It's why he hunts and why he's remained in the life all this time. I hope that helps with this section.

Thanks again.
# Sharon 2014-12-21 13:32
But is that not the problem with the whole MOC/Demon Dean idea?. Kill only those that are pretty horrible people anyway not much there to harm brand Dean.
# SanSummer1 2014-12-21 13:19
Jimmy went to Heaven after Raphael killed him
I think 5.14 My Bloody Valentine hinted strongly that Jimmy’s soul was still inside the vessel.

Sam: I thought famine meant starvation, like as in, you know, food.
Castiel: Yes. Absolutely. But not just food. I mean, everyone seems to be starving for something--Sex, attention, drugs, love...
Dean: Well, that explains the puppy-lovers that Cupid shot up.
Castiel: Right. The cherub made them crave love, and then Famine came, and made them rabid for it.
Dean: Okay, but what about you? I mean, since when do angels secretly hunger for White Castle?
Castiel: It's my vessel-- Jimmy. His, uh, appetite for red meat has been touched by Famine's effect.

Famine: --- And yet, you're all still starving because hunger doesn't just come from the body, it also comes from the soul.
Dean: It's funny, it doesn't seem to be coming from mine.
Famine: Yes. I noticed that. Have you wondered why that is? How you could even walk in my presence?
Dean: Well, I like to think it's because of my strength of character.
Famine: I disagree. (Famine moves closer to Dean and touches him) Yes. I see. That's one deep, dark nothing you got there, Dean. Can't fill it, can you? Not with food or drink. Not even with sex.
Dean: Oh, you're so full of crap.
Famine: Oh, you can smirk and joke and lie to your brother, lie to yourself, but not to me! I can see inside you, Dean. I can see how broken you are, how defeated. You can't win, and you know it. But you just keep fighting. Just... keep going through the motions. You're not hungry, Dean, because inside, you're already...dead.

Thus, Famine didn’t have an effect on people just based on the body’s biological needs.
# Lilah_Kane 2014-12-21 13:45
I don't know. How I see it Cas had possessed Jimmy for a year already until he got a hold of his body again for a moment. And then taken up again I don't see how the love for meat needs Jimmy to be present when Cas has known before that already over a year his vessel inside out. So he has known about the red meat thing if not immediately then from during that time. I see that as a good chance.

- Lilah
# SanSummer1 2014-12-21 14:44
Hmm, I’m not sure I understand what you mean Lilah_Kane. Are you saying that Jimmy had rubbed off on Castiel?

Dean was “dead” inside so Famine didn’t have an effect on him. If Jimmy’s soul was gone, there shouldn’t have been such a craving for red meat that it took over the angel.
# cheryl42 2014-12-21 15:28
I think Castiel's remark in this episode indicated that his vessel had lost it's integrity so many times it could no longer house Jimmy's soul. It wasn't the first explosion of his vessel that did it but an accumulation of several deaths that made it unusable for Jimmy. Probably the Leviathans did him in for good.
# SanSummer1 2014-12-21 16:28
10.09 The Things We Left Behind .

Claire: My Dad, is he still in there?
Castiel: No, the human soul it can only occupy a body while it retains a certain structural integrity, and this vessel it was, it was ripped apart on a sub-atomic level by an archangel.
Claire: Then how are you-
Castiel: I was reassembled, your father is in Heaven.

That rules out the Leviathans.

5.01 Sympathy for the Devil

Dean: Where's Cas?
Chuck: He's dead. Or gone. The archangel smote the crap out of him. I'm sorry.
Dean: You're sure? I mean, maybe he just vanished into the light or something.
Chuck: Oh, no. He, like, exploded. Like a water balloon of chunky soup.

Then Chuck found a molar in his hair. In 5.22 Swan Song, Lucifer snapped his fingers and Castiel exploded. Blood and chunks of flesh were still left. So it doesn’t make sense that Lucifer had ripped the body apart on a sub-atomic level but Raphael hadn’t.
# cheryl42 2014-12-21 17:17
My point was that the implication I took from Castiels statement was the vessel had been blown apart at the subatomic level one too many times. It was no longer able to contain a human soul.
# SanSummer1 2014-12-21 17:53
But Castiel said, “ --- the human soul it can only occupy a body while it retains a certain structural integrity, and this vessel it was, it was ripped apart on a sub-atomic level by an archangel.” He was referring to a single event. I don’t see anything in his statement that implies he was talking about some sort of cumulative effect.
# cheryl42 2014-12-21 20:42
Well which one Raphael or Lucifer? They are both archangels. I think the point is that Jimmy is gone and his soul now rests in heaven. How he got there was left a little ambiguous but there he is.
# SanSummer1 2014-12-21 21:24
It seems that Castiel was referring Raphael in 10.09 The Things We Left Behind.

5.01 Sympathy for the Devil

Zachariah: How are you...
Castiel: Alive? That's a good question. How did these two end up on that airplane? Another good question. 'Cause the angels didn't do it. I think we both know the answer, don't we?
Zachariah: No. That's not possible.
Castiel: It scares you. Well, it should. --- ---

Why would Lucifer blowing Castiel up have been the tipping point for Jimmy? Raphael had already killed Castiel and destroyed Jimmy’s body in a similar manner previously.

However, Castiel should have been able to control an empty vessel in 5.14 My Bloody Valentine.

“You're not hungry, Dean, because inside, you're already...dead. Dean was still human so he would have gotten hungry for food etc. but Famine didn’t work like that. Famine was able to have an effect on people because hunger also comes from the soul and people were starving for different things.

If Jimmy’s soul was gone, so was his awareness. Yet Castiel was overcome by hunger for red meat because of his vessel. The idea that mere flesh and bone could have an appetite for something specific seems pretty silly.
# cheryl42 2014-12-22 01:00
I guess it is in how you interpret the dialog. Evidently there are a couple of ways to go with it.
# SanSummer1 2014-12-22 01:18
I think the writers should commit to building canon and not dance around the issue.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t make much sense to me that Castiel continues to possess a vessel that doesn’t have a soul inside.
# Lilah_Kane 2014-12-22 05:30
I guess if you think of it still as a possession. If Jimmy was gone on that moment when Cas was blown up or later when Cas was turned human by Metatron I don't see Cas anymore "separated" with the vessel. It is only Cas now as you remember the other angel was going to use Cas as a vessel in s9e1. At least it works for me that it is only Cas as "God" build him back after the few explosions... :D

The last nail to the coffin was that Jimmy is truly out and in heaven with his soul. I guess this is the only possibility I see is possible. :)

- Lilah
# Lilah_Kane 2014-12-21 18:48
1. Castiel never said he had put Jimmy in Bahamas etc in his mind like Gadreel created illusion for Sam. I mean even if Jimmy didn't knew Castiel inside out Cas knew everything about his vessel so the liking for the red meat can also been a memory, and echo of sort that Cas "remembers" from Jimmy even if Jimmy wasn't there anymore. Because that was Jimmy's "famine" and well angels don't have anything like that. Don't know how else I would say what I mean. I hope it's clearer now anyway...

And call me just Lilah. No need to use Kane. :)

- Lilah