Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S10E18 – Book of the Damned

In the eighteenth episode of the tenth season of Supernatural, Castiel and Sam’s desperation gets the best of them. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural

I don’t think you can separate the story here from the one in “Inside Man,” and I’d argue that this episode is a companion to that one. Together, they form a more complete look at desperation, guilt, and loyalty. It’s also the easiest way for me to understand the behaviors of both Sam and Cas, since they each do some fairly ridiculous things here. Let’s discuss!

Castiel and Metatron

I realize that most of the drama of this subplot comes from the audience constantly yelling at Cas not to let Metatron free. Despite that he’s now a mortal and human, this does not change his fundamental personality. He’s still manipulate and cunning, and I knew that he was plotting some way to escape. What’s the easiest way to distract from that? Well, Metatron acts like the fool, turning up his own strangeness to a level unseen prior to this. It’s entertaining because Curtis Armstrong is so much fun to watch, but I never felt like I could truly relax. I think that he really did enjoy certain aspects of being human, but by and large? He wanted Castiel to see him as non-threatening, so he acted like a child the entire time, all so that Castiel wouldn’t think twice about getting him out of his handcuffs.

Castiel is a fool here, plain and simple. He lets his guard down, and in an instant, Metatron is gone. Sure, he gets his grace back, which is an important development, but what exactly is Castiel doing with his life? This script almost feels meta in that sense because that exchange between Cas and Metatron feels like the show is asking itself a vital question: What the hell is Castiel doing this season? What’s his endgame? What’s his purpose? I do think that he’s been remarkably aimless this season and not necessarily in the best way. At times, I don’t think he’s been written well, and at others, I’m not even sure the writers had a plan for an arc this season. Is this how the show acknowledges that? I do hope that with his grace back, Castiel gets some direction within the narrative.

The Book of the Damned

GREAT. SO GREAT. I love that Charlie is here, I love that her contribution matters, I love that she helps Sam work through his issues with the Book of the Damned, I love how evil that book is (like the Necronomicon), and the Stynes introduced so far are the kind of one-note antagonists that can actually be FUN. Well, if by “fun,” I actually mean “significantly terrifying.” In one episode alone, the show has demonstrated how significant they are as villains. This family views evil as a power to be wielded, and it’s clear that they’ll do practically anything in order to get what they want. Well, what they want is… their property? They believe they are entitled to this book, despite that it’s not precisely theirs. So they’re like… basically Columbusing this book? Claiming it as their own simply because it gave the Styne family so much power and prestige over the years? I’m fine with that sort of explanation because it makes them out to be even worse people than they already are.

AND HOW AWFUL THEY ARE. From nearly killing Charlie to senselessly murdering everyone who even remotely gets in their way, Jacob Styne himself is a goddamn force. Which is why I like the idea that even though the group killed off the Stynes present in this episode, there’s still an untold number of other Stynes who will do absolutely anything to get the Book of the Damned back into the family. While these antagonists do feel like a last minute addition, I’m actually okay with it, given how this season’s Big Bad has shifted so frequently. It’s a lot more nebulous and undefined than ever before. Though I suppose you could easily make the argument that the Mark of Cain itself is this season’s villain, right??? Thus, everything happens in response to that.

Accepting that, then we can begin to understand Sam’s continued desperation to save his brother. It is clearly a huge change from his thoughts on the topic in the last season, and I really adored that Charlie was here to help Sam sort out why that was. She’s got this incredible affect on the Winchesters because they can’t seem to lie to her. At all! And so Sam admits that he’s going behind Dean’s back to save him – pretty much exactly what Dean did in season 9 – because of his need to have Dean by his side as a hunter. That kind of selfishness isn’t a terrible thing all by himself. It’s love, point blank. And I wouldn’t blame anyone trying to save someone because they loved them.

The complication here is that, as we saw in the last episode, Sam is increasingly pursuing a path that has a high probability of backfiring on him. Like his use of Bobby in “Inside Man,” Sam pursues the Book of the Damned recklessly. I think it’s incredibly significant that Dean is the one who wants to be cautious and careful with the Book and not Sam. Isn’t Sam often the one concerned about the cost of their actions? Isn’t he usually the one who warns off recklessness? This role reversal is so goddamn fascinating, and it’s also REALLY FRIGHTENING. I say that because I can only imagine at this point what sort of horrible cost there is to removing that Mark, and I bet it’s a billion times worse than Sam thinks it is. Y’all, Sam actually says that he’ll deal with the implications later, a quintessentially Dean-esque line. SAM. SAM IS THE ONE DOING THIS.

This is, of course, complicated even further by the final shot of “Book of the Damned.” It’s been a while since Supernatural genuinely shocked me, so bravo to Robbie Thompson’s script. I was certain that the camera would pan to reveal that Sam was making a deal with Crowley, the one character who the Winchesters frequently turn to in order to help them out of dire situations. But if this show was going to put Sam into one desperate nightmare after another, there was no better person for Sam to turn to than Rowena. LIKE… WHAT THE FUCK! And yet, the shock of it all is because it makes so much fucking sense. Here’s someone obsessed with old magic who could easily get access to the means to translate and decode this book. She’s also motivated to help because the Winchesters have something she needs. Goddamn, I love this development, y’all. I’m so excited!!!

The video for “Book of the Damned” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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