Supernatural: Black

"Whatever soul you had, whatever Boy Scout code you cuddled up to at night, it's all gone. Leaving what?"

Well, that was depressing.

Was I hoping for fun? I think I was. Dean unleashed. And some of it was indeed fun. Booze, sex, Crowley and Squirrel, and Jensen Ackles doing Karaoke was a joy, too.

But Dean doesn't seem to want Crowley's version of fun, even after sharing dingy motel rooms, playing foosball and doing Winchester brother exchanges ("Jerk." "Bitch"). Crowley has been fantasizing about making over Hell with Dean at his side, like redecorating a great big living room together, but Dean is just not interested. Dean was also drinking like a fish, and going straight for the porn section at the Gas 'n Sip.

Is our Dean deeply buried in the demon Dean, or is the demon Dean just going through the motions of what he used to enjoy as a human? The scene where Dean beat up Anne Marie's bad boyfriend made me think that my Dean was still in there somewhere. But he's not, is he? Not if he could hang up on Sam being killed as if it were nothing.

But they were careful to tell us that Dean was alive, not dead, and Dean did leave that note ("Sammy let me go"). Why would he call him "Sammy" if there wasn't something still there? Crowley has been setting Dean up with "demon chum" in the form of Abaddon groupies because the Mark of Cain must be sated, or Dean will… become a demon. I thought Dean was already a demon. Maybe there are gradations of demon-ness and Dean isn't quite there yet? Of course, Dean must be retrievable, or what's the point?

Sam was depressing, too. Eating cereal alone in the bunker, spending all of his time trying to find Dean through Crowley. Sam's arm was in a sling because of what a demon "did to his shoulder". But it was a prophet, not a demon. Apparently, Jared Padalecki was wrestling with Osric Chau awhile back and separated his shoulder, and lost a lot of weight because he couldn't work out as much. It did work character-wise because Sam looked pale and thin and a lot weaker than usual.

Get well soon, Jared. We love you.

I doubt somehow that Sam is about to be killed. Tenth season, you know. This Cole guy -- what's his story? He isn't a hunter, even though he certainly had a big enough stash of weapons. What did Dean do to him, and when, and why?

While Dean was self-destructive and Sam depressing, Castiel was outright pitiful and in need of a year's supply of Halls Mentho-lyptus, since dying from a lack of grace appears to resemble consumption. I noticed that Cas's new buddy Hannah is like the Castiel of the past -- way too rigid and trying too hard to follow the rules. Castiel has changed over the seasons. He's been on earth too long, and has started to see things more as a human. He wanted to just let Daniel and Adina go, and I wish they had.

(Note the parallel of Crowley telling Dean to put some pants on, and Hannah gesturing to Castiel about putting some pants on. Castiel was just exhausted. Dean honestly didn't care.)

To sum up… even though it was depressing, I enjoyed this episode a lot. Sometimes a descent into wallowing is a good thing for a series, and even though it's been done many times, re-setting the Winchester brothers' relationship has always been the prime directive of Supernatural as a series.

And Crowley was delightful, as Crowley often is. He had the best lines in the episode. It's just too bad he's going to have to redecorate Hell alone.

A Very Special Supernatural Special

There was a Supernatural retrospective on Monday night (The CW acknowledging that Supernatural exists, and has an audience!) and to my surprise, it was very good. Retrospectives usually skip all over the narrative and confuse the viewer, but this one didn't. They even limited the spoilers, possibly hoping that it might pull in some new viewers.

They started out right by acknowledging that it was all about the Winchesters and their relationship, and that the first season episode "Faith" was the turning point in the series. (I always tell new viewers to try to hang in until "Faith"). Then they talked about favorite supporting characters, best episodes and memorable arcs, especially the strange and wonderful meta episodes. Good job, guys. This is a special I might actually want to watch again, instead of deleting and trying to forget it.

Bits and pieces:

-- The new credit card, an exploding blue pentagram, is gorgeous and might be my favorite so far. (I got it from a terrific wiki page that has them all.)

-- "The Road So Far" was set to Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker". Dean is a heartbreaker, and Sam's heart is broken, so personally, I thought it was perfect.

-- Mark A. Sheppard is in the cast, along with Misha Collins! Yay!

-- Metatron is in Heaven's jail with the door welded shut until he's once again needed as a character. I'm sure he'll be back.

-- Did anyone else think that Anne Marie the barmaid looked like Mary Winchester? Both Mary Winchesters?

-- This week's Most Obvious Symbolism was Daniel the angel's description of older and smarter fish who hide and fight for their freedom. Some angels just don't wanna go home any more, and who can blame them?

-- This week: the MoL bunker; Portage County, Wisconsin; Beulah, North Dakota. Note the Mount Rushmore mural in the "The Black Spur". Although Mount Rushmore is in South Dakota.

-- In this season's hair report, Sam's was a bit shorter, and Dean's was a bit fuller. And did they dye it darker to match the episode title and his new personality? Everything was dark in this episode. Even the bunker looked dark.

Quotes, and guess who said most of them:

Sam: "So when 'Porn Guy' came in, did he say anything?"
Convenience store clerk: "Where's the porn…?"
I liked the convenience store clerk. Nice performance.

Crowley: "Moose! Took you long enough. Your brother and I were wondering if you'd hit another dog."

Crowley: "He's my best friend. My partner in crime. They'll write songs about us. Graphic novels. 'The Misadventures of Crowley and Squirrel'. Dean Winchester completes me. And that's what makes you lose your chickens."

Dean: "You lied."
Crowley: "Who do you think you're talking to here? Does the Tin Man have a sheet metal willy? Of course I lied."

Crowley: "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."

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 to accept what we are and come back to work."
Dean: "Pass."

Castiel: "There's seemingly nothing but chaos, but not all bad comes from it. Art. Hope. Love. Dreams."
Hannah: "But those are human things."
Yes, Castiel has definitely gone over to the human side. I like it.

Interesting set-up, and they win the good TV award for not resolving everything in the premiere. Three out of four misadventures of Crowley and Squirrel,

Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.


Bob Crowell said...

Thanks for a great review! I actually felt the same way about most of the points you raised, and it WAS a truly engaging episode!

Interesting that you gave a shout-out to the actor who played the convenience store clerk. On my second viewing of last night's episode, I actually said to myself, "Great acting, kid!" He did a really nice job. :-)

LaureMack said...

Poor Sam. Dean is always cheating on his with someone, and now Sam is all alone in the bunker eating generic corn flakes (If you're gonna be depressed, at least give yourself the sugary cereal). He did look much paler and thinner, and I guess that works. Dean better be a demon. Otherwise leaving Sam behind to get killed is the coolest thing we've seen from them yet.

And yes, Anne Marie looked a lot like Mary Winchester.

LaureMack said...

***coldest. NOT cool.

Juliette said...

(Hey, check me out, watching an episode of Supernatural at the same time as everyone else!)

I have no objection to the demon!Dean storyline in theory, but I was surprised how much I wanted regular Dean back by the end. I think it was because all three leads (excluding Crowley, as a lead he's new!) were separated off into their own storylines. The show lives on the chemistry between the actors, so at least two of them together would be nice. Why can't Cas stay in the bunker with Sam?

There seemed to be a bit of retconning going on as well. Losing his own grace originally just made Cas mortal, not consumptive (great description Billie!). Dean definitely died and resurrected as a demon, but now he's a kind of... half-demon? Not that it matters, if if makes their resolution work - we'll have to wait and see.

Thanks for the explanation re Jared's weight loss and sling Billie - I was wondering about both. At least an injury will hopefully heal. And if and when it does, maybe we'll get a flashback to whatever happened with Sam, Cas and a random demon - though possibly not if it's too awkward for him, which is fair enough.

And I want to know when Dean's angel-handprint scar faded. I feel intense research involving scenes in which Dean is topless may be involved...

Riley Helstad said...

I think that the blade needs to be sated in order to prevent Dean from going even further off the deep end. One of the writers said in an interview that he's already a full demon, but the mark can still make him homicidally insane.

b666d190-4f46-11e4-a937-c3427fd332a5 said...

Nice review. I was anxious to see what you thought. I personally thought the Sam and Dean and Crowley parts were great. What dragged it down for me was the angel subplot. I think Cas works best in relationship to Sam and or Dean. When he's all off by himself (and yes, I know he wasn't technically by himself) in something that has nothing to do with the brothers it just is flat. The angel storyline seems to repeat itself over and over. For someone who changed sides whenever the wind blew last season Hannah sure has a poker up her butt this time around.

Poor Crowley, went to all that trouble to get himself a Consort in Hell and Dean doesn't want the job!

I didn't get the remark about the Blade having to be sated or Dean would be a demon either, until one of the writers/producers explained it on another site. Think they maybe should have explained it better or maybe that will be in next week's episode,

Dean wasn't completely blind to his responsibilities as a brother: he did tell Cole if he killed Sam Dean would hunt him down and kill him.

To me, Deanmon seems almost like Soul-less Sam from season 6. He was bad, he was amoral, but he didn't really come off as evil, except maybe for the part about kidnapped Sam. Almost like Dean with the leash off. Maybe there is a part of him still fighting?

Where was Dean driving in the end? Crowley gave him an ultimatum about Hell but was Dean driving to join him or driving away from him?

sunbunny, whose blogger account is being weird said...

Demon Dean was basically Soulless Sam which is certainly better than Dean being evil. I'm 110% sure Dean hung up on Sam and potential killer to protect Sam somehow. If the demon world that is so anxious to kill Dean thought they get to him through Sam it would definitely be Moose season. Dean probably assumed Sam could get out of it; he doesn't know Sam's injured and they've certainly been in tougher spots.

Interesting about Jared and Osric. How did Jared get injured though? Osric is tiny and not. Why were they even wrestling in the first point? Boys.

Emily Ecrivaine said...

I really felt like Demon Dean (am I the only one who feels like 'Deanmon' is one of the lost Pokemon characters?) only threatened to hunt Cole down for the heck of it. He didn't sound particularly perturbed whenever Cole said that Sam was going to be killed and it sounded more like he was just going through the motions.

I pray that I am wrong...because if he really didn't care then that makes him worse than Soulless Sam...because at least that Sam went looking for his brother before larking off.

Also - was it just me or was there a startling lack of plot in this episode? It really felt like the first instalment of a two-parter because I don't ever recall another SPN premier containing so little actual story. Not that it was bad. The character set-up and interactions all were great, but I wonder...

sunbunny said...

Also, does anyone else think it was important that Dean said he was "a man of his word." Did he promise Sam anything really specific last season I've forgotten? (i.e. to keep him safe, a pet pony, etc.)

Juliette said...

sunbunny, thank you for the glorious mental image of Dean buying Sam a pet pony. With a pink bridle. A Shetland pony or something, that giant Sam can basically sit on and his feet still touch the ground. And Sam rides it around a field with his hair blowing in the wind. This is what I want the 200th episode to be, now.

Billie Doux said...

This is a mental picture that will not now go away.

b666d190-4f46-11e4-a937-c3427fd332a5 said...

The only thing I can remember Dean promising Sam last season was to keep saving him no matter what...

Anonymous said...

I've been watching reruns on TNT and all I hoped for was Cole was Amy Pond's son coming back for revenge.

Anonymous said...

For a season opener, I was a little disappointed by the lack of plot, as Emily Ecrivaine pointed out. I suppose it's a matter that I've just come to expect a very, very high standard from the writers, and perhaps this is just a slow start.

The actors are, as always, wonderful, and Crowley delivers his lines with a delivery that's drier than a good martini.

I was also enchanted by this season's logo -- I'm sure it's obvious, but the "X" indicating season 10 comes to light before the rest of the pentagram -- nice design!

I hope that the season picks up a little for me -- I am looking for the thrill of anticipation for some new disaster threatening our boys; Dean seems a little dispassionate, one way or the other, about being a demon and Sam just seems sad. I wish that they had been a little more explicit about *how* his arm wound up in a sling. It distracted me until Cas threw us a hint, and then it distracted me more as there wasn't much in the way of follow-up. However, thanks for the marvelous ride, O writers, and thank you, Billie, for supplying us with such a delightful forum to talk about the show.

ChrisB said...

The opening montage to Pat Benatar was simply fabulous. I know I say it often, but the music on this show is a highlight for me.

I have always loved Dean, but what he said to Anne Marie really upset me. He's never been one to treat women badly and seeing him resort to something so cruel was shocking. Odd, I know, but that is when I began to wonder just how far into his demon self he has gone.

And, the end was chilling. Jensen's eyes were blank and cold. Wow.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so Crowley lost some pounds. He looks good.