In the ninth episode of the tenth season of Supernatural, Castiel seeks out his vessel’s daughter, and Dean must cope with the Mark. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.
Trigger Warning: For sexual assault, consent,
I think I wanted to like this episode more than I did because it feels like something that’s drastically different for the show. It’s not really about anything supernatural, you know? This is a very human tale, even if it is between a human girl and the angel who inhabits her father’s body. In the end, the conflict here is one of guilt, shame, and rage.
My problem is that somehow, a tapestry as rich and complicated as this falls incredibly flat. This episode felt overly long, and the pacing is utterly bizarre. I’m fine with Supernatural devoting entire scenes to nothing but conversations. I actually think that a few of them are some of the better parts of “The Things We Left Behind,” such as the bar scene between Cas and the Winchesters. I appreciate how emotional this journey is.
So why didn’t this episode carry the dramatic impact that I wanted from it? Castiel’s late-life crisis is understandable, sure, but it comes on the heels of a largely unsatisfying stretch of story between him and Hannah. So, right from the start, this felt like it was forced into the season. It’s also hard to feel any connection to Claire because we’ve only seen her once, and a different actress portrayed her. (Actually, I was horribly distracted by those awful faux-cornrow things she had on one quarter of her head. White people, don’t do that. Like… at all. Ever.) It’s not that I don’t sympathize with her either; I was a teenage runaway from a terribly messed up family! I get it. I think that Supernatural’s depiction of that existence, however, was only superficially represented. We see that Claire is lonely, angry, and desperate for affection, but it’s not until the end of the episode that we discover why that’s the case.
And even that seems like a huge mess. So, Randy bet money on… stuff? Things? Horses? What sort of gambling did he do? How complicit was Dustin in all of this? Was Dustin also giving money he earned from his job to pay off his father’s debts? The entire situation is so poorly defined that it ends up coming off as nothing but a comical last-minute addition, something the writers came up with so that they could set up Dean’s… thing. (We’ll get to that.) How long had she been staying with these people? What had they ever done to make her feel like they were family to her? That’s the problem with telling rather than showing, y’all. It makes it all too easy for a story to coast on stereotypes and tropes instead of allowing us to immerse ourselves in the story. I couldn’t believe the story or sympathize with it because it felt so wooden.
Which is a shame because there are some dynamic performances and interesting story choices within this episode, and I don’t want to make it seem like this was a bad episode or that Claire’s story wasn’t important. I know it was, but that’s because the show told us that. The writing is far more subtle and insidious for Rowena, however, and I wish I could say the same for Claire’s plot. Like, I love that we don’t quite know what she’s doing here. Yet she offers us that sly smile of hers, signaling that she’s set a plan in motion, one that involves the manipulation of her son again. What for? Her own plans? It’s not like the show ignores what a horrible mother she was. (Which is fascinating if you consider “The Things We Left Behind” as one giant rumination on family and the ways family can hurt us.) So, how can she convince her son to keep her close? Well, she gives him something – Gerald, in this case – which shows us that she understands exactly how Crowley works.
I am actually rather excited to see what the show does with Rowena next because I find her to be a fascinating character. I could say the exact same thing about Dean at this point because Y’ALL. THE SHOW WENT WAY FURTHER THAN I EXPECTED THEM TO. Look, I’m not exactly surprised that the Mark of Cain is still affecting Dean. It’s been heavily foreshadowed that he’s not done with it, nor is it done with him. But I did not expect Dean’s relapse into murder to come IN ONE OF THE MOST DISTURBING SCENES OF THE WHOLE SHOW. It’s clear that Dean has crossed a line that’s… what? Unforgivable? Undoubtedly fucked up? HE KILLED RANDY, Y’ALL. Not that I’m a fan of Randy because anyone who offers up a teenage girl as payment for a debt is a disgusting individual. But we know Dean kills monsters and he kills in self defense. Does he gut and slice up an entire group of people in a matter of seconds? NOW HE DOES. That’s why Sam begged Dean to tell him that he did this out of necessity.
AND DEAN’S REPLY IS SO HAUNTING. He didn’t mean to do it, y’all, but he still did it.
Well, this got fucked up.
The video for “The Things We Left Behind” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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