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By Wednesday

Supernatural “Black”

Season 10, Episode 1

Airdate:  October 7, 2014

Written by Jeremy Carver

Directed by Robert Singer

Theme

“For nought so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give,
Nor aught so good but strain'd from that fair use
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse:
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;
And vice sometimes by action dignified.”
(Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 3)

Shakespeare noted that no one is entirely good, nor entirely evil and sometimes to do good, one must do evil; when doing evil, sometimes good may come of it. That is where we are in this Season 10 opener. Sam, Castiel, and a new character Cole (Travis Aaron Wade), are good trying to do good but performing terrible vile deeds. Dean transitions to a vile demon but is there any good left? A line has been crossed. There is no grey area here. We are in the black.


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PLOT/CHARACTERS

Time passed and in the interim Sam resorted to torturing demons. He wants Dean and he wants to talk to Crowley. Dar (Raquel Riskin), a tortured demon, rages, “Whatever soul you had, whatever Boy Scout codes you cuddled up to at night. It's all gone. Leaving what? Look at you!” Sam stabs her in the stomach and twists the knife. He stabs her throat filling a paper cup to create a bloodline phone to Crowley.

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The torture was pointless and unsuccessful. Sam sips coffee, tiredly researching. He splashes water on his face and does take a look at himself in the mirror. His anguish and fear are evident.

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He returns to his research and then on a wild hunch calls Castiel, who looks like hell in a rundown motel. Castiel is suffering, too. They both worry futilely over Dean. And, then we see Dean, looking carefree by contrast.

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Dean sings, “I’m Too Sexy” off key, drunk, and self-indulgent. Cut to Dean in bed with Ann- Marie (Emily Fonda), a bar waitress who looks eerily like Mary Winchester.

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The real showstopper is Dean, bare chested, after some great sex, teasing his partner. (I mean bare. Not even a little tuft of hair? Dean is a Ken doll? So disappointing.) Yet, this is our old Dean. Even his reminder that he’s just “passing through” sounds like an authentic Dean line. Crowley interrupts complaining about his soiled linens. They call each other “Bitch” and “Jerk” like Sam and Dean, but, this is Crowley and he’s on edge. No love is lost between Crowley and Ann-Marie. Dean dresses without a mirror; instead, he seeks Crowley’s appraisal. Crowley points out that he needs some pants.

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Crowley hustles Dean away but for what? Foosball? Crowley’s real concern surfaces, “Girl seemed nice. Slightly damaged. I could see the old you falling for that.” Dean assures him that, “She means nothing.” Crowley seems pleased by that. He’s checking to be sure old Dean hasn’t somehow resurfaced. However, when Ann-Marie’s irate and abusive boyfriend pulls her out of the barroom, Dean goes after him. Dean lays a bad beating on Matt. Still, it’s not entirely bad because Matt is a woman beater and probably deserves it. Perhaps Dean is doing some good while being a demon.

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A priggish Hannah (Erica Carroll) surprises Castiel who comes to the door half-unrobed creating an uncomfortable moment. Hannah needs his help rounding up wayward fallen angels. (Tweet: Jensen Ackles to Misha: close ur robe...seriously. Family show. Come on!)

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Castiel agrees and cleans up for their road trip. Exhausted before he starts, he stares into the mirror.

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Sam visits a police station to examine footage from a store surveillance camera that shows Dean stabbing a man to death.

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This  footage of Dean stabbing a man is juxtaposed with present time Dean taking care of another vengeance seeking demon.

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Sam rewinds to see Dean’s eyes turn to black. (Tweet: Jensen Ackles: #Deanmon goes back for the porn mag after the kill... Classic. Good call Bob Singer.) Sam’s face flushes with repulsed anger. He jumps to the conclusion that some demon possessed Dean’s meat suit and violated it.

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Cole, pumping iron, receives a photo of a man he has been hunting his whole life. His wife and child reveal that he is a good man but he puts them aside as he prepares for his vendetta.

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An essence weakened Castiel pulls over to allow a nauseous Hannah a moment to adjust to her new human form. Hannah insists Castiel should get more grace. Castiel is angered, “And another angel should die so that I can be saved?”

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Sam visits the Gas ‘n Sip to hear a hilarious recounting from the store clerk, Mickey (Zachary Gulka) of a man looking for porn, Dean. “Oh, yeah. Porn guy was an animal. Bro came at him like, ‘what?!’ and he was all like, ‘wh-a-a-at?’, ‘Say my name! Say my name! Say my name.’ And there was a lot of blood.” Mickey did however, turn over a phone lost in the scuffle.

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The phone belonged to the dead demon. Sam uses it to call Crowley while tracing it on his own phone. In the ensuing conversation, Crowley pleads his case. Another demon is not using Dean’s body. In fact, Dean’s in his own body, “twisted, a little more mangled beyond human recognition” but Dean. Sam asks why Crowley is double-crossing Dean by having Abaddon supporters try to kill him. Crowley denies this and taunts Sam by saying that he and Dean are best friends now, a team, “Growley and Squirrel.” Sam tracks the call to the Black Spur in North Dakota.

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Castiel and Hannah find the wayward angel, Daniel (Giacomo Baessato) fly-fishing and happy in “a land that, as it turns out, celebrates the free, the individual. For the first time in thousands of years, I have choices. And, with each choice... I begin to discover who I really am.” Hannah wants to kill him but Castiel tells her to wait and “to convince him to do the right thing.”

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Crowley explains to Dean that he’s been throwing “Demon Chum” his way to sate the Mark; otherwise, Dean will turn into a Demon. “You Lied.” Dean states. Crowley lied to Dean telling him  that he could hold off turning into a demon by venting and killing demons. Nothing could prevent Dean from turning to a demon. For six weeks, Crowley midwifed Dean’s transition from human to demon, entertaining him with triplets no less. Now the fun’s over. It’s time Dean began working by Crowley’s side. It’s time for, “Our professional future. How to put this? If I have to spend one more night in this fetid petri dish of broken dreams and B.O., I will cut off my own face.” We must accept what we are. Dean has the night to decide.

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Sam’s car suddenly dies. He pulls over while Cole pulls up. Black as Cole gets out and offers his assistance. Cole reveals the planted kill switch and knocks an unsuspecting Sam out.

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A montage shows Dean drowning in a lethal combination of whiskey shots and beer. (Great gif: http://rachelhaimowitz.tumblr.com/post/119479452713/littlehollyleaf-triss19-misswhizzy-dean )
(Tweet: Emily Fonda: It took a few takes to get that shot glass out of @JensenAckles hand without laughing!) Is he saying goodbye to Dean? He knows he’s full demon now. But, is he? Is a little Dean left? Karaoke and belligerence ends with Ann-Marie waking him with a glass of water. He asks her to leave with him. (Oh, see it’s still Dean. Maybe?) Ann-Marie has a different interpretation. At first, she thought Dean was “a good guy playing bad.” He protected her honor, but now… she begins to say that he is just another bad guy. Before she has time to finish her assessment, an unapologetic Dean calls her a “skank.” Dean is gone. Dean would never say that. This is Demon Dean and he doesn’t care. He protected her honour because Matt was a convenient person to beat on. Demon Dean watches guilt free as Ann-Marie, filled with self-hatred, leaves.

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Adina (Jud Tylor) interrupts Castiel’s effort to convince Daniel to return. Adina and Hannah attack each other. Hannah is wounded and Daniel leaps to stab her. Castiel intervenes to kill Daniel while Adina runs off. Castiel murdered another angel. Hannah sanctimoniously tells Castiel the killing was justified to stop chaos. Castiel disagrees. He finds human chaos is a not all bad. There is also “Art. Hope. Love. Dreams.”

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Cole ties Sam up telling Sam that he’s hunting his brother. Sam informs him that Dean is a monster. Cole says, no, “He’s prey. And I'm the monster now.” Cole calls Dean to make kidnapping arrangements.

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Cole wants to meet up with Dean or Sam dies. Demon Dean tells Cole, “No, you listen to me. There's no trade. There's no meet-up. There's no nothing -- except the 100% guarantee that, somewhere down the road, I will find you, and I will kill you.” When Cole tells Dean that he will slit his brother’s throat, Demon Dean replies, “I told him to let me go. So whatever jam he's in now,that is his problem… And he knows damn sure that if I am one thing, I am a man of my word.”    

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The Script

There is a lot to like about this script but one major drawback is the lost six weeks. I want that backstory. It covered a tremendous amount of ground perhaps too quickly. Granted Sam torturing many demons, and Castiel’s grace slowly deteriorating, may have been unexciting. It’s the Dean story that needs to be told: how Dean was misled, his slow fall, and his gradual loss of caring. Instead, we get Crowley’s lines about lies and a reference to “triplets.” The almost flashes of nudity were no doubt there to titillate fans but it actually seemed sad and embarrassing for the actors as  both Ackles and Collins carefully tried to keep covered with a sheet. Cringe. They both have exhibitionist moments providing juvenile humor. The song about masturbation, “Imaginary Lover” was too much. Cringe again. (Tweet: Erica Carroll “Fact: I had to look at Misha’s crotch for most of the day”). The script was face paced with motifs, symbols, backstory, and compelling plot lines for all characters. The theme of good doing evil/evil doing good was definitely conveyed. The idea that a good person can do monstrous things was demonstrated. Still, it felt like an abbreviated, bare bones version.

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Nice Touches

Songs: (selected by Asst. Editor Nancy) The lead in song “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar tied into Dean’s perspective of Crowley. “Drownin’ me in your promises, better left unsaid you’re the right kind of sinner to release my inner fantasy the invincible winner and you know that you were born to be… Visit YouTube for the rest of lyrics:

Bonjah – “Honey” plays when Sam and Crowley talk. Some of the lyrics reflect Dean’s state. “Now my blood don't bleed red no more. …You see all the dreams but they're broke”   

Sing along with Dean:

Right Said Fred –“I’m Too Sexy”

Atlanta Rhythm Section - Imaginary Lover

Director/Cinematography: (Tweet: Jim Michaels: The river! Photo)

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The quick interplay of scenes of the major characters and Cole. The use of mirrors, reflections, screens images. The juxtaposition and the montage of Dean’s last night in the Dark Spur.

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Symbols:  Black Spur- A spur covered in blood from digging into a horse to make it go fast.  
Riding a dying horse?
 
Motifs:  The mirrors and reflections.
 
Dean never looks in a mirror and uses Crowley’s perception instead. Singing Karaoke, he doesn’t look to see his image on the screen behind him. He looks into the store camera indifferent to his image being recorded. This demonstrates he does not care what he looks like, or does, nor does he care what other people think.

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Motif of chickens and wings:  CROWLEY: Dean Winchester completes me, and that's what makes you lose your chickens.
CROWLEY: How many suicide wings can you eat?
COLE: How's that chicken wing?  
      I have no idea how this ties into a theme. ????

Great Lines: (Besides the ones already mentioned)
 
CROWLEY: Who do you think you are talking to here? Does the Tin Man have a sheet metal willy? Of course I lied.
MICKEY: You mean when porn guy was stabbing the other guy to death 10 feet in front of me, and I was having a total code-brown moment in my favorite freakin' pants because I thought I was next, did I conduct a field interview?...No.
DANIEL You'll have to stay for sunset. Nighttime around here is a revelation.
CROWLEY:  We've howled. We've bayed. We've done extraordinary things to triplets, all of which have been massively entertaining. I will treasure our Flickr albums forever. But now it's time for us to accept what we are and go back to work.
ANNE-MARIE:  Now, see? I'm so screwed up myself I'm gonna walk out of here thinking I actually deserved that.

Relatable Moment:  COLE:  Ah...These new cars and their computerized brains, huh? One zero out of place, and the whole thing just goes kaput. (Not like our Baby!)

Horror Element: The hood over Sam. Horribly dehumanizing.

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Best Performance: Jensen Ackles singing off key, happy lover, drunk, deranged kickass
                                     animal, cold heartless …he does it all…. well.

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Cast from the past:  Raquel Riskin, Dar, played Amber Greer in 5.06 I Believe the Children Are Our Future.
Emily Fonda, Anne Marie, played Make-Up Girl #1 in 6.15 The French Mistake.
Giacomo Baessato, Daniel, played the Pizza Delivery Boy in 4.05 Monster Movie.
Jakob Davies, Cole's son, played Tyler in 7.14 Plucky Pennywhistle's Magical Menagerie.

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Comments  

NOLANOLA
# NOLANOLA 2015-06-02 15:09
Waiting for your bio on writers page, but you are still just a guest. :):)
nolanola9 on twitter.
Love your insights. BBL
sylvia37
# sylvia37 2015-06-03 08:37
Honestly, I watched it on TV after all these weeks, and it was worse. I found Dean even more obnoxious and ridiculous as a Demon, I hated that Cole got the drop on Sam by doing something we know Sam wouldn't fall for. And knowing this whole Cole thing more or less is pointless just makes me madder. And Castiel and Hannah's mission seems equally pointless now. I would have to say this is at the bottom of my list of season openers.

Nice writing and insight, though. Look forward to more.
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2015-06-03 10:21
Thank you your review. I watched this again just recently and it really did hold up for me. I was disappointed that Dean was pretty much a sleazy barfly but by the end of the episode (and interestingly after Sam was threatened) he was well on his way to full on demon. I understood Cole's role given the entirety of his story relating to the Winchesters and I do hope we haven't seen the last of him. Castiel and Hannah I also understood even though it seemed a meandering way to get there. Since the theme of the season was choosing family I thought the set up in retrospect worked pretty well.
debbab
# debbab 2015-06-05 11:00
When you watch Black with Reichenback back to back they make a great movie with a sequel in the next episode when Sam "cures" Dean. And in retrospect after watching the finale, they work.