“Family don’t start or end with blood…” and the whole Supernatural fandom couldn’t agree with Bobby or Dean more. Crowley and Rowena are blood, but despise one another, Castiel and Dean are not related at all, but the bond seems unbreakable. Charlie had Dean’s back…no matter the personal cost.
Charlie’s funeral pyre is handled with enough somberness and flashbacks to remind us of how much the fans and the brothers love Charlie, but it’s not a good enough farewell to my favorite redhead. Sam and Dean’s visible grief, memories and mournful expressions sort of make up for it – at least they share our pain. Jensen Ackles really deserves accolades and awards for his portrayal of Dean. His anguish and anger and gradual submersion into the dark world of The Mark is expertly and faultlessly portrayed. Jared doesn’t do a bad job either. Sam is visibly upset about the loss of Charlie, earnest about his intentions to help his brother and heartbreakingly honest when he gives his reasons for going ahead with his plan to save his brother, despite Dean’s instructions to the contrary and Sam’s own better judgement. Sam loves Dean, Dean has always been there for him, and he desperately wants to save Dean from becoming the monster Castiel predicts he will become. Is there a second throughout this whole episode where we did not want to reach out and give these Boys a reassuring hug? They both look so determined and so lost and lonely at the same time…
Dean is angered by Charlie’s death, and by Sam’s defiance and ‘disobedience.’ In his anger, he says hurtful things. His chilling “it should be you up there, not her,” sets the tone for the episode and this is what really upset me. The whole season 9 ‘distance’ between the two brothers left me unhappy and full of dread. The separation between them for season 10 starts with this sentence of Dean’s, and is reiterated and final when Dean instructs Sam and Cas to stay away from him. This is going to be a very long hiatus, and who knows how long it will take in season 11 for them to get together again. Really, I can’t stand the brothers away from one another! They have acknowledged themselves, numerous times, that they are better together! Remember when Sam cured Deanmon and they started hunting together again in “Fan Fiction” and “Ask Jeeves”? We all just felt better and knew that all was well with our world. And now, it’s all WRONG again!
Sam blames himself for Charlie’s death, and, at first, wanted to shut the process down. Charlie, reliable, super-minx that she was, had cracked the code and protected it with her life. She pulled through for Dean and her belated email convinces Sam that he has to do what he can to save Dean. Rowena’s smirk (while she listens to Sam’s rationale to Cas) seems out of place: is she happy that Dean will not be able to harm her if he is cured; is she that excited about getting Crowley killed; or does she have other tricks up her sleeve? We’ll have to wait and see…
The Styne boy, Cyrus, plays a convincing, intelligent, non-willing Styne. Kudos to this actor who captures his role from the very first moment and has our sympathy all along. The plastic bag-over-the-head moves of the Stynes really seems cowardly, vicious and mean. Despite the expensive cars and apparent fortunes of the family, they have no apparent class. Cyrus doesn’t fit in, and knows he will be killed for not wanting to “be like them”. He really seems to be decent folk, and fearing for his life. The Stynes are all just nasty and repulsive. I feel very little sympathy for them when Dean hands out punishment. We all feel sympathy for young Cyrus, we don’t want Dean to kill him, but in the end, I’m happy Dean does. No loose ends. Castiel is upset about it though, and it does imply that Dean is losing some of his compassion/humanity, as he has always been ‘kind’ to kids.
Fortunately the episode featured some well-timed if short-lived, comic relief: Dean’s aliases, him hitting the cop for damaging Baby, and Rowena calling Castiel a fish. Some other aspects that hit the mark spot-on: Dean’s shorter haircut and Jay Gruska’s impeccable background music.
This episode has me convinced that Jensen Ackles should be the next James Bond. He’s cool, calm and collected, funny, fights well and rocks a suit! His stealth and resourcefulness in this episode is overshadowed only by his determination and quiet rage. Dean is brazen on the Styne’s property. He uses more excessive force than ever before (it’s the first time in ten years of Supernatural that I see a silencer on a gun), and kills people without blinking an eye. There are some remnants of our quirky Dean left in his comments to Monroe and Eldon Styne respectively. His threats are not idle, but the Stynes are not scared. Monroe Stynes’ one-liners are annoying. I don’t know if they are deliberately scripted so that we would like him even less. I love the fact that Dean kills him the way he does, bare-handed and with just a little bit of suffering and time for Styne to realize his death is imminent.
Crowley calling for Dean could have been funny if we had not known that it was really Sam calling him, but he is correct when he says Sam shows poor form shooting him in the back, even for Moose. It becomes clear why Sam is so keen to kill Crowley: he is angry at Crowley, as it is Crowley’s fault that Dean has the Mark of Cain. Everything bad that has happened to Dean lately, is Crowley’s fault.
Suddenly, the lame Crowley of the past season makes sense. The writers (and Crowley) had a purpose to him being so weak and tame. It seems he really wanted to do good, perhaps to be a friend of Dean’s, but that is over now - Crowley’s back! He is red-eyed, furious and strong. Finger-snapping, disappearing Crowley is menacing and back to full, evil strength. Hooray, we have a challenge for Rowena and Dean – and for season eleven!
How dare the Stynes mess with the bunker? At least they didn’t burn it! Eldon’s comments about Dean’s mom and choice of music sort of made me wish his death was slow and painful. Dean doesn’t seem to be upset about the state of the bunker, but Charlie’s death still really burns him.
Castiel has been in this season too little. His role in Dean’s life and his faith in Dean’s humanity and their friendship make him want to fight for Dean. He believes that Dean will turn, and does not want to watch him becoming a monster. Dean is angry with Cas for going behind his back, not convinced that the book would be able to remove the Mark. At this stage, Dean still believes that he is doing The Job, taking down and killing monsters. He beats Cas up, properly, but it is to be noted that Cas doesn’t fight back for a second. Dean clearly threatens to kill Castiel the next time he sees him. My world is falling apart.
Castiel will not let Dean walk away with the Mark on his arm. He doesn’t want to see Dean lose his humanity, to become the killer of humanity. Dean chooses to live with the Mark; for fear that it will come at too high a price – someone’s blood. And he knows it will not be his own. Dean seems to be in a catch 22 – if he tries to get rid of the Mark, the cure might come at too high a cost (the lives of an innocent, or Sam’s, Cas’?) If Dean leaves the mark, he might kill Castiel and Sam himself, like Cain predicted. Dean knows the mark won’t let him die, but does he feel he is strong enough to control the urges? Does he order Cas and Sam to stay away from him because he is so angry with them, or because he wants to protect them against the Mark? Is he forecasting when he says that the bad in Cyrus’ blood will always win against the good, or does he believe the good in him will be able to overcome the Mark of Cain?
From the first second of the episode I could feel the pace had increased. It was a tense, nerve wracking episode the whole way through. “Why do they not write ALL episodes like this?” was my first thought, but I knew the answer: none of us fans would survive a series if all episodes were as thrilling, scary, tense and frightening as this one was.