The boys are back together again! This episode had a great overall atmosphere, offering a dark, directional creepy – though not entirely hopeless – plot advancement in several aspects of a delightfully burgeoning and unified story.
We took a much deeper look at what Amara brings to the table and what lies down that twisting, dark rabbit hole. Plus, we had a few minor…not wins so much as one less major loss while travelling the winding road of eerie and unknown.
Mega, Mega, Mega Bad News
In controlled doses, I do enjoy the mother of the King of Hell. What is most enjoyable about her is that her weaknesses are readily apparent – and not just that she can be physically overcome; rather that it burns her so deeply to discover Crowley survived and her mission to overtake the Grand Coven in reputation as much as form and power. Rowena’s sharp tongue and manipulating mind hold great appeal too – no so unlike her son in many respects.
Watching Rowena recruit two different parties from the Grand Coven was a treat. First, Regina never fails to amuse in one way or another: The Mega Coven? Really? It would be ridiculous and lame except for the entirely lackluster reception on each delivery. And of course, the staggering news of Crowley’s survival, well, that was quite the reaction (a person-to-dust spell would be useful against so many enemies!) of desperation and despair. My only wonder is what shattered her more: the news of his ongoing existence or the idea of his revenge campaign? I’m guessing it’s a tie at this point.
Regardless, Rowena proved a useful addition to the episode without being a time-suck. Only with the Rowena flare could she remove the Castiel/Attack-Dog spell, not without trying to stir drama between Sam and Dean first of course. Naturally, it’s too early to hold someone captive in the basement of the bunker, so goodbye red-headed witch for the time being, but I expect we’ll be seeing her shortly. After all, witches have tasty souls too, don’t they?
So here is how it’s looking for Rowena going forward: her soul is on the serving platter with, well, every other being out there, she loves power and by all accounts, living and enjoys doing it in the world at large too much to stand by idly while Amara slurped her soul back along with the rest of the known universe. Plus, Rowena’s not so casual mention of reading about the Mark and its impact of removal in the Book suggests we’ll need her yet. Anyone else get that feeling of an odd team assembling?
Heaven, Hell and a Bartender
Speaking of team-ups, let’s address our drinking buddies. How awesome was this scene? Just perfectly reinforcing the previously established notion of a corporate Heaven and Hell run by upper-management bosses completely disregarding of the “little guy.” Certainly we’ve heard this before – but nothing like watching a demon buy an angel a drink while comparing notes about the disasters of their respective organizations and the lack of action both have taken to address the looming threat. Particular highlights of the interaction? When they both acknowledge that their groups always “butt heads” but if this keeps up they’ll all be out of work; and of course mentioning the disregard for the little people – “well, not people.”
This scene was brief, but rich. The unusual meeting of minds isn’t restricted to the Winchester and friends gang these days. It’s happening across the layers of good and bad, and tells us one thing: Be Afraid.
School, Souls and Supper
Kids are creepy enough. And then they start cannibalizing souls, in-taking the blackest of information from the most devastating, dark nooks of the history of the universe AND talking adult reflections in a fairy tale-esque manner (with less Disney and more Grimm); well lets just say the creepy scale blew past season three Lilith and her birthday cake fetish. Can we also acknowledge the effect of hair-bows on the eeriness factor? It helps.
Crowley had the opportunity to confirm something I wondered about after last week’s episode - any old soul will do; young Amara doesn't have a discerning palate. Demons, after all, are just souls that have been twisted. So then the question is how long will "Uncle Crowley" continue serving? Even our ever-cool King seemed particularly unsettled by his "poppet" as the episode wore on.
Amara continues to be a mystery in the most wonderful way. I couldn't be more intrigued or disturbed by this character. Never mind the additional layer of creep glazed on when we're left with her icy gaze and hunger demands. If ever a villain had that insidious and psycho-disturbed genius feel (even so young) - it's Amara. She's the first to give that chill quite this way since young Lilith asked grandpa about talking to the neighbours. Speaking of Amara - what is the end game here? Will she only devour souls with such vigour until she's fully grown? So, if God screwed of the Grand Design and there is no use for this pesky good-evil thing, what is Amara's future looking like? It sounds a bit dim and empty and if she eats souls, well, without people and demons - those crops are a little slim come next harvest at the rate she goes. Especially if you plan to wipe out the world. Amara's conversation in the mirror was perhaps the most interesting thing in the episode. She isn't evil, as we know from her chat with Crowley - or not in the traditional sense. But certainly not good either. Rather, she predates all these concepts. What is she and where does she come from? Yup, my interest is peaked.
Crowley has without a doubt bitten off more than he can chew by taking in Amara - no pun intended. We know from the demon/angel rendezvous that there is already discontent among the minions - and it won't be winning him anymore fans as he continues to serve people to this little glutton. Crowley was hoping for an ally in Amara, but it doesn't appear she concerns herself with such things. Crowley's reaction is interesting and indicative of just how powerful this girl is. I suspect it won't be long before he acknowledges her as a threat to him and his operations and turns back to the Winchesters for help in some capacity or another.
Deals and Secrets
The darkness is looming, the Codex and the Book of the Damned are missing, Cas is under a seriously bad spell - yet somehow, the boys seemed better than they have in a long time. There are no impending discoveries to be made between them, no dark possessions, no illnesses. They are a unified front in a way we haven't seen in what seems like a long while - and it's refreshing to watch them work that way.
Even Rowena couldn't stir the pot the way she was hoping. Sure there was something, but it didn't exactly come to fruition. Maybe we'll see it down the line, but for now let's talk about how well we all worked in sync. This episode seemed to be more about getting the team back on track and in sync than anything else.
The brothers and Castiel together at the bunker with a goal moving forward, de-spelling Cas and taking away some of Rowena's power by reclaiming the Codex, and even acknowledgment and reparations to the relationship between Dean and Castiel since their last exchange in season ten - all reunification of the team and great to see after so long.
A few standout moments in the brothers plot:
Dean's...vision? Memory? of Amara is definitely something to be addressed in future days but nothing of real significance here. One thing I wonder - if he's in real trouble later down the line, because of their 'connection' - will she save him?
A funny moment: Castiel being hurt when Sam referred to his car as "crappy" and Dean assured him it was "eye of the beholder" - grant you it had no real bearing on the plot, but it was a good moment between them all - as was Dean backing away and Sam eyeing Cas warily at the mention of "the voices."
Sam and Dean had two goals: finding Rowena to remove the spell from Castiel and tracking down Metatron to get his information on the Darkness. One of two was partly successful. One particularly great brother moment was Sam and Dean interrogating our witch to track Rowena. Though we've witnessed many interrogations throughout the years, this was unique in their straightforward approach. Especially when the witch insisted they couldn't keep her against her rights and Dean happily commented on his fake badge while tossing Sam her purse to search.
It was a good, efficient episode that communicated a lot of information - particularly about our new - well villain just seems inaccurate, but we'll go with that for now.
The writing is clever and presents the unravelling mysteries in the way Supernatural is uniquely good with – while there is undoubtedly an edge in the atmosphere on whole, nothing has a forced air of tension about it. The cast doesn’t feel overpopulated with storylines, drama or villains and everything has a focus about it. The visuals are also something worth mentioning – from the sets themselves to the costuming. How much of a treat were the blonde Rowena and the Hawaiian-shirted Dean? And I’d be negligent not to mention Amara’s shadowy palace, the ideal headquarters for an up and coming evildoer but without a cartoonish quality it could have had in the wrong hands. Rather, it only served to enhance her unknown and ominous features.
We gained insight into the growing tensions in both Heaven and Hell over the Darkness issue plus a much deeper look at just what kind of risk Amara brings to the table for everyone and how she presents it. It was refreshing to see Sam and Dean in unison and at full capacity again where neither is at risk - though those have been great opportunities for storytelling in the past - sometimes original Winchester is great too. The episode left me feeling disturbed and dark - but positive for Sam and Dean and their relationship - just the right blend of flavours in my book. The season holds promise thus far, in particular Amara and the direction she seems to be taking our characters towards as a whole. New, interesting, refreshingly dark and deliciously disturbing.