Keep in mind when I say, “good job,” the episode was serviceable, but far from extraordinary. “Angel Heart” took a risky break from all the drama surrounding the Mark of Cain, coming when the mytharc should be in full action instead of devoting the 20th episode of the season to a momentum killer. While the story definitely added some needed closure to an open thread of the season, the pacing was too slow for my tastes (although it wasn’t as glacial as episodes earlier this season). This is the part of the season where we’re supposed to be energized and excited and that all that filler we endured up to now has come to pass. So yes, more filler, whether it was done well or not, is still a buzz kill. Despite all that, there were pluses to “Angel Heart,” and they mostly fell into the character study category.
Sam, Dean and Castiel
The part I liked the most was that BOTH Sam and Dean got to interact with Claire and have their bonding moments. That tactic has traditionally been reserved for one or the other (aka mostly Dean), so it was nice to see it happen on both sides. While both Sam and Dean were encouraging Claire to take on the hunting life, they were far from being on the same page on why that should be.
Claire was far more manageable this go around, and I attribute that to the writer knowing exactly how to write for a teenager. Claire seemed a little more wise to the world and willing to listen to reason. In fairness though, who could resist those Sammy puppy dog eyes and Dean’s “who cares” bravado? Heck, she was even nice to the crap angel wearing her dad. When a character is watchable, it does help in digesting the rest of the plot.
My favorite scene was Claire and Sam talking about of all things, mommy issues - as in Sam didn’t have any because his mother died when he was a baby. That stopped resentful Claire cold in her tracks, which meant she wasn’t a heartless bitch after all. I did have to take pause when Sam said he and his mother got along okay when he got to know her later in life. Sure, he did spend some time with her in both “The Song Remains The Same” and “Dark Side of the Moon,” not to mention the brief ghost encounter in “Home,” but those were hardly mother/son bonding moments. Even the big hug and tenderness he got in “When The Levee Breaks” was a heart crushing hallucination (and one of my favorite scenes of all time). I get the intent was to give Claire hope that death isn’t the end, but it was odd.
I digress though, because that observation isn’t important. For me, it solidified the fact that Claire will be a hunter, well before we got all the other hints. Her odd look to Sam’s statement was the right one, how do you get to know your mother AFTER she’s dead? Welcome to the Winchester world where death does not mean goodbye. That girl is going to cling to that sentiment like glue.
Sam, who by his conversation with Castiel was in the “Claire shouldn’t go it alone” camp, decided that teaching her how to hack into personal information, create fake credit cards, and go through the finer points of Alias Naming 101 was the type of training she needed to get started. This all adds to the dilemma I’ve had lately with Sam’s shaky moral ground. Remember last year’s awful disaster “Bloodlines?” Sammy was adamantly lecturing poor Ennis to avoid going down the road that he did, aka hunting. It would ruin his life. So, here’s an even younger girl, Jimmy Novak’s daughter nonetheless, and he’s going through a mini Hunter’s Boot Camp with her? What happened to things like “get a job” or “live on the straight-and-narrow?” Or better yet, “Don’t become a hunter, it’ll get you killed!”
This all extends my current beef about Sam “loving” hunting after hating it his whole life. This suddenly means he’s willing to mentor others to embracing the life as well? I remember him back in season four playing mentor with Adam in “Jump The Shark,” but that was because Adam was a Winchester and people would always come after him. Did he see that same situation with Claire? I think he’s currently in an all strategy mode and has cut off the human aspects of the situation, probably for the sake of his own sanity given what he’s doing for Dean. For anyone that doesn’t see how dark and scary Sammy gets when he goes into that mode, you just aren’t looking hard enough. He masks it well.
On the other side is Dean. He’s a little more blasé about the whole thing, which tells us he’s in bad MOC mode this week. After all, he grabbed a scumbag that wouldn’t give him info and banged his head on that table. He’s out of control! He’s getting worse! We’ve seen him massacre beings into a bloody pulp before but banging a guy’s head on the table is going too far! Dean isn’t getting worse. Look at the way he handled Claire. He’s far more together than his brother or angel friend.
My other favorite scene was Dean and Claire playing mini golf. Hey, I’m simple. Cross Winchester playing mini golf off the wish list! I don’t buy the Caddyshack vs. Happy Gilmore argument one bit. In my household, even my young son, we treasure both movies. Happy Gilmore isn’t that recent, so how would Claire know that one? Again, that’s nitpicking and missing the point. Claire has been missing positive influences since her Dad left and even with the Mark of Cain, Dean proved he can leave a positive and lasting impression on a wayward youth. It worked with Chrissy, so he’s a natural. He was wise enough to tell her that hunting was the fastest way to getting killed young, but he wasn’t going to stop her from choosing that life. She is after all an adult now. That’s not the sign of a brutal killer that lacks compassion and understanding. He truly wants to help but accepts others must choose their own path. This will stick with Claire when she becomes that hunter. It might even inspire her to save him someday.
What I don’t get though why Dean thought Claire should go it alone. I realize that it’s not realistic for Castiel to be saddled with the responsibilities of a teenager, but it doesn’t seem like Dean’s style to abandon a young girl out there on her own. It’s not like he was left on his own. He at least let her keep a weapon, but that hardly assures survival. She’s green. Is this really Dean thinking he’d be better off alone?
I liked his honesty with Claire when she asked if he’d be okay. He didn’t know, but he’s clearly accepted his fate. It sounded like he was reading from a script, tired of telling himself that he’ll go out swinging. It’s his go to line, and clearly shows that his internal reflection hasn’t figured it all out yet. It also sounded like he’s ready for all of this to be over, and he’ll probably be getting that wish soon. Dean’s resignation about the whole thing just makes me sad.
Castiel was between a rock and a hard place. He got two pieces of different advice from Sam and Dean as to what he should do and neither were really helpful. Cas hasn’t gotten his own life figured out yet, let alone what he should do with someone else’s. That’s why I found it interesting that in the end, Claire asked Dean to keep an eye on him. Uh oh. Does this mean Castiel is going to die? I mean geez, they’ve been taunting it since “The Executioner’s Song.” Or will her request be the thing that spares Castiel’s life since Dean is supposedly going to kill him? I’m not sure where all this recent soul searching is leading Castiel and the show has been horrible revealing what he’s thinking. Knowing that Claire is in the safe hands of Jody has to give him the comfort he needs, and there were tears to prove it. So what does this mean for Castiel? I’m worried.
BTW, how awesome was Castiel’s birthday gift from “Hot Topical?” A grumpy cat! Brilliant! I did love that Claire kept that gift along with the angel sword. Castiel gets to pick all the birthday gifts from now on.
If “Angel Heart” did one thing, it exposed itself to all sorts of little inconsistencies and errors that are just too hard to avoid. I do get that most of them were clearly victims of continuity errors that have been plaguing the season, but still, they’re there!
I do get why such attention was given to the whole Novak family story. In the numerous debates that happen among SPN fans on sites such as this one, the plight of Jimmy and his family has been a hot topic for a while now. So, from the perspective of a “Supernatural” writer, when you’re breaking a season and realize your mytharc doesn’t have enough meat to it to satisfy the appetite of a 23 episode season, you go for those unresolved side stories. This one was especially ripe because they had Misha Collins as a regular and they had no freaking idea what to do with him (where’s Ben Edlund when you need him the most?).
Still, I don’t feel like I learned anything from this arc, unlike the first time when we actually got to meet Jimmy Novak in season four. To me the lesson back then was clear, there were vessels behind these angels and they did have real families and real lives. There was a toll to an angel coming to earth. No doubt this whole thing has had a devastating effect on the Novaks, but the way the arc was presented this season was wasteful and useless. It sent the clear message from the producers, “We are out of ideas!” We would have been perfectly okay with this being done in one episode revisiting the story and giving it closure, and it happening right around episode 14 somewhere when we needed a breather.
To see Jimmy and Amelia reunite in Heaven was a sweet and touching scene, but didn’t we just have an episode in Heaven a few weeks ago with Bobby that shows the place is nothing but angel mind control? How it’s not the idyllic place it should be? Why did Jimmy get a perfect Heaven and Bobby got Kenny Rogers on the radio and a trashy Tori Spelling book? Weren’t Bobby’s contributions to the world more important that what Jimmy Novak did? I still resent the cynical view of Heaven and angels and the notion that everything is crappy, even in the afterlife. What we got here was pure and sweet and it goes against everything this show has told us so far. I really wish these writers read each other’s stuff, because after this I wish Andrew Dabb had kept his dour interpretation to himself. I’m guessing that at least half of you though are saying the same thing about Thompson’s interpretation!
Speaking of interpretation, there is one issue that came up that I shouldn’t gloss over, because I noticed it as well. How exactly did Castiel save the world? I read a lot of people on Twitter last night thinking that comment undermined, or worst yet totally took away the credit, of Sam’s sacrifice in “Swan Song” which actually did save the world. In reality, Castiel’s role in team free will was crucial and without him they wouldn’t have gotten all the horseman’s rings, and he did get Michael out of the way long enough for Dean to get through to Sam. Robbie Thompson defended that the line was changed at shooting time and I could see that “saved the world” was a cleaner line than “He was part of the team that essentially saved the world.” So, I’ll let it pass, even though we all know that Sam saved the world with Dean’s help.
In the revisiting a popular trope department, how nice was it to see Sam knocked out, handcuffed, and having to listen to the monologuing villain (yes, it’s that dripping sarcasm again). I did enjoy that they used the Grigori mythology. I’ve always thought this show has been missing opportunities tapping into the different kinds of angels and demons and the lore behind them (there’s a wealth of material in the Book of Enoch!). I wish that he had tried to suck a part of Sam’s soul and choke on its taint. After all, Sam was possessed by Lucifer himself, not to mention the whole trial thing and being possessed by an angel. His soul has to be changed by all that. Opportunity lost. Ah well, I’ll save that for the fan fiction.
I did have a big problem with the ending on pure logistics alone. Why or why was Claire being shipped off Sioux Falls in a cab? Sam and Dean in the Impala is incapable of delivering a teenage girl to Jody, especially when it’s not too far from Lebanon, Kansas? Google map alert, it’s a six hour drive, which is nothing when the Impala moves at light speed. :) It was all contrivance for dramatic effect and setup that way because “Jody Mills is not appearing in this episode.” It didn’t sell for me.
If you notice a theme in all my little digressions in this review, it’s that little of it is relevant to the overall arc for season ten, which is true of this episode in general. “Angel Heart” at its core as filler, finishing a mistake as cleanly as possible that was made several episodes ago. Kudos Mr. Thompson for your skill at damage control. For me, consider this one analyzed. I’m moving on. Next year for episode 20, be prepared for the Jodie Mills planted spinoff taking place at her home for teenage wayward hunters and ex-monsters. I’m on board. Overall grade, a B-.
Just for fun:
I came up last week with a couple of motivational posters based on a very interesting screencap in the promo photos. I'm not sure if I'll share either of these on the main page. Are either of these your favorites? Dare I share one or both of these in our collection?