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I really enjoyed “Love Hurts”! In fact, it was another season 11 episode that actually scared me so much I had to close my eyes! The dead husband knocking on the door, the panic, the footfalls on the bare floor, feet shuffling as attackers approached and victims retreated – phenomenal directing by Phil Sgriccia!

Did you hear the train whistle as Dean entered the “Too Tired” motel and again when the car pulled up to the hairdressing salon? Does that symbolize impending doom as the weight and force of the engine barrels down the track? That background sound has been in so many episodes this season.

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The poor teddy bear! I was so hoping it wasn’t going to animate and give me nightmares for weeks. There are way too many teddy bears in my house for me to suddenly fear them (I still haven’t gotten over Dr. Who’s angels!).

Besides the old-fashioned scare, “Love Hurts” advanced the season’s myth arc and included a few unmistakable underlying themes. Let’s start with the one that surprised me the most.


I really thought the season 11 witchcraft theme might have died off with Rowena. Its return implies that a spell will be needed or used to rebind the Darkness and deal once and for all with the Mark of Cain curse that has plagued Dean for 2 years.
Mrs. Parker: She called herself a ‘white witch’.
Dean: Let me guess. She gave you a spell.
Mrs Parker: Yes, a return to love spell. All I had to do was chant it and seal it with a kiss.

Sam first found Rowena’s name in his research because she created a powerful spell from scratch and was the only one to ever use it. This positioned her as a creative, original master of the dark arts who could ‘home cook’ new spells. It is therefore intriguing that the witchcraft used in this case was also custom brewed.
Sam: As far as I can tell, there is no lore. My best guess is this was the white witch's home cooking.
For the past few years, the brothers have repeatedly discussed that there isn’t any lore concerning the Mark of Cain or the Darkness, and that the only information about the cage or Lucifer is in The Book of the Damned.  Resurrecting spell work in the mythology suggests that Rowena may yet be useful. If her soul is reanimated as a demon, she might be able to use her knowledge of the Book of the Damned to write a new spell that would bind Lucifer and/ or Amara. The implication is deepened with the reminder that she ‘loved’ Lucifer, but he betrayed her love. Instead of the tender kiss she thought she was receiving as a reward for her loyalty, his ‘kiss’ killed her. The hairdresser’s rant about stupid women and unfaithful men deserving to die could have been an entry in Rowena's diary, entitled "Loving the Wrong Man". For Rowena, love truly did hurt.

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Dean: You have to keep paying it forward. If you don’t you die.
Sam: Melissa, this curse started with you. And I think it wants to end with you.

The witch’s curse was also a veiled reminder of the Mark of Cain. Death once told Dean that the bearers can release themselves from the MoC’s power and eternal damnation by passing the curse forward to someone else. Dean refused to burden anyone else with its bloodlust, choosing instead to banish himself forever. Sam’s further explanation to Melissa that it “started with you and wants to end with you” could equally be applied to Dean and the Darkness.  Like Amara, this curse could change appearance. As Sam later reminded Dean, Amara saw Dean first, and for whatever reason, it wants him above all others. Her new life began with Dean and she is singularly obsessed with having him love her, or in metaphorical terms, stealing his heart. It seems that the only way out for Dean is to pass the curse forward to someone else.


Was that Dean's red DemonDean shirt, the one he wore when the Mark of Cain had complete control over him?

Heroes and Hostages

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Dean kissed Melissa in an instinctive move to exchange himself for the one who was in danger, the hostage of the curse. Dean’s continuing need to sacrifice himself didn’t go unnoticed by Sam:
Sam: Wait a second. Are you serious? You think it's a-a good idea to give yourself a fatal curse?
Dean: Well, target's off her back, ain't it?
Sam: I'm just saying you don't have to do this -- be the guinea pig. The martyr. Try and carry the weight by yourself -- do this.
Dean: I'm gonna be fine, okay? And as long as I'm good, she's good, and that's the important thing. Besides, it proved our theory, didn't it -- that this whole "kiss of death" curse is transmittable? I'm not asking for the Nobel here, but, uh, you know, thank you.

Ironic that Dean yet again gave himself a fatal curse! His heroic move to save Melissa added to the season’s repeated examples where victims were saved by substituting a new hostage. Happily, the replacement hostages have been able to talk or fight their way out of the stand-off, either redeeming or killing the threat in the process. That is a hopeful foreshadowing that some kind of substitution will save Castiel from Lucifer, and Dean from Amara.

Love vs Lore

Dean’s deepest, darkest desire was Amara.
Sam: Does that surprise you?
Dean: It doesn’t surprise you?

Like Sam, the audience was well aware of Dean’s obsession with Amara. What was a very welcome surprise was that Dean confessed his feelings to Sam. Their conversation was mature and honest. Hallelujah! Qareen said she could see inside Dean’s heart and it was cloaked in shame.

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Sam released Dean from this shame, though, with the forgiving, compassionate, non-judgmental recognition that sometimes humans have limitations, especially against the power of gods. Understanding a problem is the first step in solving it. The brothers are now working together again to combat Amara.


Knowing their weakness, they can plan and adapt to anticipated vulnerabilities. As a true strategist, Dean told Sam that he wasn’t going to be effective against Amara. He acknowledged that he is powerless in her presence, even though he can’t explain it as love or desire. This predicament will climax the theme of love being at odds with hunting. Again, it suggested that love will make Dean weaker as a hunter, even though time and time again it is the love of family that has gotten him through dire situations, and proven that they are stronger together.

That doesn't mean that we won't worry for the next 10 episodes, though.

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Did you see other symbolism in this week’s case? Were there more layers to uncover? Let’s figure this out together!

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Photos courtesy of :


# cheryl42 2016-02-16 13:24
By Dr. Who's angels did you mean Blink? That is probably my favorite episode of Dr. Who. Pretty terrifying.

The train was really loud when Dean was entering the hotel and again at the salon (I loved Dean telling Melissa to "stab her, shoot her..drop a freakin house on her". That cracked me up). But the sound of the train was soft and fading into the distance when Dean was opening up to Sam. Maybe the "train" barreling down was the final "confrontation" that Dean was obviously freaked out about and that Sam was able to softly diffuse by telling Dean "I got this". I'm sure it took some of the weight off Dean to be able to share that burden with Sam and get no judgment or anger just support. I still fear for Dean though. I think he is going to have a rough go of it before the end of the season.

I still go back to not-John and his words to Sam. It is up to the brothers. Only they can defeat the Darkness. If Rowena makes a comeback I'll bet she will be TFW if another spell needs to be cast (or improvised). But I think it is all going to boil down to the brothers. Whatever they have to do or sacrifice they will do it together to save everyone no matter the personal cost to themselves.

I really loved this episode. Thank you for your review. More food for thought now.
# Didi 2016-02-16 17:46
"...drop a freakin house on her" that line had me cracking up too. Ode to OZ. Hilarious.

Edit: removed reference to spoiler.
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2016-02-16 15:32
I really liked this episode as well, Nightsky, and I agree completely that we have not seen the end of Rowena or the BOTD. If using the book was the only way to free Amara, then it could well prove to be the best weapon for defeating her. And I thought Rowena's death was so unexpected that I've assumed we will be seeing her again, as spirit or a demon. Though I thought it took many years of torture to turn a human soul into a demon. Maybe the process occurs more quickly when the person was a witch!

I liked the parallel you pointed out between Rowena and the women in this ep who were betrayed by the ones they love. It hadn't occurred to me, but it really does fit in with the theme of betrayal that we have seen in so many episodes this season. One reason I'm loving this season so much (and there are many!) is because the plotting has been so multifaceted. So many interesting threads and themes are being woven through the episodes, often in a very subtle manner. Not like the one-note season that was S10 with the gigantic anvils that were dropped every few episodes.
# AlyCat22 2016-02-17 03:44
Are we forgetting a certain wheel running, necklace wearing hamster? Rowena was not the only witch who could read the BOTD/Codex and cast heavy-duty spells... I'm wondering if they might revisit the leader of the practically non existent Grand Coven? I hope Crowley hasn't forgotten to regularly feed her...

"Train, train, everywhere a train. Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind..." ;)
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2016-02-17 07:49
Are we forgetting a certain wheel running, necklace wearing hamster?
Well, I admit I've been trying my HARDEST to forget her. ;) I hated that ridiculous little development. I guess there are other witches, but the show seems to be presenting Rowena as the ultimate powerful witch, as evidenced by her reassurance to Lucifer that nobody but she could reopen the cage. And it seems unlikely that we will be seeing hamster witch again, or that they would introduce some NEW powerful witch. However, if we do see hamster witch again, I will write a heartfelt comment praising your amazing foresight! :D
# spnlit 2016-02-17 08:39
Generally speaking I see the foreshadow of the need for witchcraft and the Book of the Damned to solve the Amara problem. But I hope this wrong. I would hate to repeat the whole Rowena witchcraft story line and witchcraft is evil I would hate for it to be the reason for the save. Plus there is way too many players to predict. Billie- Is she Death? If not she is still dangerous as she is the first reaper to mention the big empty. We know she wants the Winchesters to stay dead. Does she want payback for Dean killing her boss? She seems to know more than she lets on. She was the gatekeeper to hell at the bequest of Crowley but then she let Cas waltz in. There is also Amara's score to settle with God along with her desire to be one with Dean and of course, who knows what Lucifer's end game is at this point- kill or use Amara?
# AlyCat22 2016-02-17 08:59
She let Casifer waltz out too if she were still at her safekeeping duties!

Yeah, I'm not saying I want it to be the hamster witch I'm just throwing it out as a possibility...
# spnlit 2016-02-17 09:47
She let Casifer waltz out too if she were still at her safekeeping duties!
Not sure what you mean. I meant that there is something suspicious about letting Cas in. There was this secret door she was gatekeeping for Crowley for the purpose of allowing Dean to go through to aid with the whole Lucifer/ Sam problem. Cas just zaps into the room looking disheveled and she lets him into hell. Problem is we did not see the exchange between them. Question is what does Billie know and why did she let him in.
# AlyCat22 2016-02-17 17:29
Sorry. I meant that they - Casifer, Dean and Sam came out the same way they went in. So if Billie were still at her post as gatekeeper (I'm making an assumption here) then are we to believe that she couldn't recognize that Cas was no longer Cas?
Maybe she did?

I was thinking last night about how maybe it was Billie/Death who appeared as John in that vision, except "he" said "I could never fool you" which doesn't track. The one being that fits the bill would be Gabriel - as in Mystery Spot when based on Deans words about "just desserts" or whatever - Sam clued in on who the man at the counter actually was. When Sam confronted him he didn't buy into the guys story and then later he didn't believe he was Bobby. So, not John, God, Lucifer or Death. The Trickster. Archangel Gabriel.
# sugarhi15 2016-02-16 17:21

This is the second episode in a row now that I've felt the presence of a fallen character. Last week it was Bobby and this week.....Mary Winchester. If one were to think Mary to be missing from Supernatural, I'd say the contrary, that she is ever present in Sam Winchester. I've always felt her presence in Sam, don't get me wrong, but I really felt it in this one. As I watched Dean finally come clean to Sam
# sugarhi15 2016-02-16 17:28
I don't know what happened....the computer I have to say the least is one that I will never buy again. I highly recommend staying away from HP's. Nightsky, all I meant to post was what was written under the word threads....and it was simply supposed to end after the paragraph regarding RPS. I don't know why there is like a triple post. I was trying to copy and paste and then delete the extras and stick with the threads....that was the top post....but then it copied my original post from another thread twice which I didn't want to do and tried to delete but was unable to.

So I apologize for the mess of a post....
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2016-02-16 17:42
Oh crap, sugarhi- my laptop is an HP. Am I doomed?:( BTW, I read your thinky thoughts on SOD and enjoyed it very much. So I can fill in some of the huge blanks here that your computer has created.:))
# spnlit 2016-02-16 20:45
Interesting and well thought out article Nightsky; thanks! Yes, that is Dean's 10.3 Soul Survivor demon shirt! I think it goes back to what you have stated- you are right: The kiss curse could be seen as alluding to the MOC. This is part three of the Dean story.... 9 MOC, 10 Demon and now 11 Amara connection. Again, Dean is in deep and in trouble. But this time it is different because the brothers are working together. In Soul Survivor Sam fixed Dean with a temporary forced blood cure. Now Sam is once again in the driver's seat helping Dean get back to himself with his acceptance, reassurance and comfort in regard to the Amara connection. (Epic, ground breaking conversation between the brothers.) Dean is not fighting him now as he did as a demon. Before, Dean took on the curse MOC to kill and in this episode he is took on the curse to save. When taking on the MOC, I think Dean did feel alone (Sam and Dean at odds) and now things are different because Sam is right there telling and showing Dean that "he does not have to carry the weight by himself." This time Dean is not feeling alone and he is sharing the weight with Sam. This dialogue, when Sam got real and wanted to assess the damage is powerful:
Sam: Just how bad is it?
Dean: Standing here right now? Every bone in my body wants to run her through, send her back to that hole she crawled out of. But when I'm near her... I don't know -- something happens. I can't explain it. But to call it desire, love -- it's not that. I'm screwed, man (how he felt when he had the MOC) We want to kill the Darkness. We need to kill the Darkness. And I don't think I can. I'm sorry to do that to you, you know? But when it comes down to it...
Here Dean is clearly sharing the weight to Sam... "do that to you" ... shifting the burden. And Sam is clearly accepting it: Sam: I got it Dean. You stated that "this predicament will climax the theme of love being at odds with hunting. Again, it suggested that love will make Dean weaker as a hunter" But Dean is not in love with Amara; she is corrupting his heart and soul as she said, she is "the original mark" and the mark corrupts. I think this episode foreshadowed how the current predicament of the Amara- Dean connection as defined by Sam will highlight that love between the brothers is the only way out. But, like you said we will be worried. In this episode the connection/ curse pay it forward all ended with the destruction of the Qareen's heart. Sam destroyed the heart and fake Amara did not kill Dean. Sam is somehow going to destroy the power (heart) of Amara to once again save Dean. How I do not know. And we do have something to worry about - someone being sacrificed to the big empty; it is too prevalent of a factor to ignore. I also do not trust Billie; she is a wild card. I think she knew about the Rowena and Lucifer deal because as the gatekeeper she let Cas right into hell. I think it may be Dean because Sam was already sacrificed when he took the swan dive into the cage in Season 5 and Dean averted Death's plan to put MOC Dean in a place he could exist and not hurt anyone. Maybe Billie wants to finish the job and she is Death.
I also commend you for the witchcraft/ curse Rowena connection. I see it now that you pointed it out. It may foreshadow the need for witchcraft and the Book of the Damned to solve the Amara problem. But I hope you are wrong. I would hate to repeat the whole Rowena witchcraft story line and witchcraft is evil it should be love that finally saves. But we still have to factor in what Amara wants not just with Dean but her brother (God) and how and why the mark was a lock and key and what is Lucifer's end game????
I did see the repeat of the destruction of the family and abused children theme being incorporated in this episode with emphasis on the baby and the milk bottles. There was a baby that was harmed in this episode- lost his father to deceit and witchcraft.
# nightsky 2016-02-17 08:45
I did see the repeat of the destruction of the family and abused children theme being incorporated in this episode with emphasis on the baby and the milk bottles. There was a baby that was harmed in this episode- lost his father to deceit and witchcraft
Oh very good! I looked for evidence of that thread and completely missed the future implication. Nice work.