Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S06E21 – Let It Bleed

In the twenty-first and penultimate episode of the sixth season of Supernatural, Crowley decides to go after someone close to Dean. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent and racism


H.P. Lovecraft

I like to take every opportunity imaginable to recommend folks read Daniel José Older’s “One Hundred Years of Weird Fear,” because it helps put Lovecraft into a necessary context, one that does not ignore the fact that he was an outspoken racist. I’m one of those people who grew up with Lovecraft, initially because of Cliff Burton’s obsession with him (SERIOUSLY, DEAN, YOU LISTEN TO METALLICA, YOU SHOULD KNOW WHO LOVECRAFT IS) and later because I learned how much other writers, like Stephen King and Clive Barker, were influenced by his work. I then found a full collection of his material in high school, which meant I read some of his more blatantly racist work, and I felt completely betrayed. I’d been tricked into liking him!!! HOW DARE HE.

Anyway, enough of my hatred of Lovecraft. ELEANOR. GOOD GOD. I had not a single suspicion. I didn’t even consider that she wasn’t human, but LO AND BEHOLD. So what is she? She’s some sort of creature who ended up in Purgatory, only to accidentally fall out of it after Lovecraft and his friends opened a portal to that world. I got the sense that she killed all of the people at that party? That wasn’t spelled out to me, but I assume that’s the case. Oh my god, I love the idea that she was thrown into this world, did a little bit of retributive murder, and then settled in as a collector of odd things, all so she could quietly prevent purgatory from ever being opened again. Of course, given the trend of this show and its writers, that means all this potential for story is going to be wasted because NO ONE COOL CAN EVER SURVIVE THIS SHOW, I SWEAR. Plus, she’s the last hope that Castiel and Crowley have of opening purgatory, and this episode makes it clear that neither one of them is willing to stop.


Castiel, Ben, and Lisa

Wow, way to further tear my heart to pieces. As if the heartbreak in “The Man Who Would Be King” wasn’t enough, “Let It Bleed” is just relentlessly cruel, particularly in its final moments. There’s no turning back here for any of these characters, despite that Castiel tries to minimize the damage caused here. And while that’s certainly worthy of recognition, it doesn’t excuse the fact that this is all just another ramification of his partnership with Crowley. Granted, he’s not surprised that Crowley found a loophole and immediately exploited it. I’m sure he knows this is par for the course working with the king of Hell.

However, if the last episode was a sign of Castiel’s desperation to win the war against Raphael, then this is clearly the point that demonstrates how far he’s willing to go. Knowing how precious Ben and Lisa are to Dean, he does what he can to save them, but he doesn’t let this deter him from his ultimate mission. And it’s so uncomfortable to watch! There’s an undeniable tension throughout this episode because of it, and not just between Dean and Castiel. Balthazar has a huge problem with Castiel’s plan, though his interest in this is largely due to self-preservation. While Castiel is undoubtedly a powerful angel (HE’S SUCH A BADASS IN THE LAST EPISODE), that doesn’t mean he can act as a vessel to like TWENTY MILLION SOULS. We find out from Balthazar that it’s entirely possible that Castiel might literally explode when he attempts to take in all those souls. Sweet! So now, there’s a chance that Castiel will bring on another kind of apocalypse, albeit one where a chunk of the earth floats off into space.

It’s important that so many of these risks are spelled out for us because it makes Castiel such a fascinating force within the narrative. Is he technically the antagonist now? He’s what Bobby, Sam, and Dean are up against, so… yes? I guess? But what kind of antagonist shows up to save the life of the protagonist because he cares about him? What kind of antagonist offers up concessions and gifts? Castiel blurs the line here, and that makes this a lot more challenging to talk about. And I haven’t even addressed the fact that Balthazar is now on the side of the Winchesters. THAT makes this even more ridiculous. (I just want Sebastian Roché to hang around every episode from here on out because he’s just so entertaining.) How could they ever stop the most powerful angel imaginable (Raphael) and Castiel/Crowley? Stopping the opening of purgatory only resolves one problem, y’all, and there’s another huge one looming over them all.

I imagine that this season’s finale will address that, so let me turn my attention to Lisa and Ben. It’s no secret anymore that I adore the hell out of them, so ABSOLUTELY NO ONE was likely surprised by how upset I was when it was revealed that Crowley stuck a demon inside Lisa as insurance against Dean’s inevitable attempt to save his loved ones. As he said in the last episode, every foe that the Winchesters have faced has consistently underestimated the boys, so it makes sense that Crowley would come up with a plan that didn’t do this. Plus, he fed right into Dean’s sense of loyalty and duty. He knew that Dean wouldn’t sit around and wait for someone else to save Lisa and Ben; he’d have to do it himself. So why not set the most heinous trap imaginable? Even if Dean fought his way successfully to the Braedens, he’d be met with his worst nightmare.

It was extremely agonizing to watch, and I was convinced that Lisa was destined to die. How was she ever going to survive this? And as much as that idea infuriated me given that this show cannot seem to allow women to survive, I didn’t realize that the writers would come up with something that is, in my opinion, a billion times worse. As I said on video, I am not more okay with what happens at the end of “Let It Bleed” because Sam directly calls out Dean for what he’s done. I am pleased that the show is not painting this as some sappy, romantic turn of events or some heroic sacrifice. No, Sam very plainly tells Dean that this was the shadiest thing he’s ever done, and I wholeheartedly agree. While it’s pretty obvious that wiping someone’s memory without their consent is super fucked up, it’s also gross to me because it completely deflates any and all character development for either character. The Braedens are no longer able to play a part in this narrative ever again because their experience with the supernatural (lol) is gone. Their growth – from Ben’s cynicism to Lisa’s quest for independence – is also erased. (Well, we should also acknowledge that her new romantic interest – a black man! – is fridged within ten seconds of being introduced, and that is so fucked up, y’all. WHY EVEN INTRODUCE HIM?) While I certainly would not have been pleased with Lisa’s death, at least she would have died with some sort of history to her life.

Instead, Castiel obliges Dean’s horrific request that he erase himself and the supernatural world from the Braeden’s minds. It’s a cowardly, lazy act on the part of Dean, and it is infuriating that he threatens to punch Sam in the nose for calling him on it. No, Dean, you don’t get to ruin lives like that and then threaten people for pointing it out. Just… GAH. WHY. WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS. How do ruin characterization like this??? I don’t like the ending of this episode at all. Please take it back? Oh, hell, that’s not going to happen. :: sheds a single tear for the Braedens’ character development ::

So, now I’ve got a finale left. Prediction: No.

The video for “Let It Bleed” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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