In the twentieth episode of the tenth season of Supernatural, Castiel seeks help from Sam and Dean when Claire sets out to find her mother. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.
This was… okay? While I appreciated the scenes with Dean and Claire bonding, I kind of felt like Supernatural was, once again, going through the motions. The Gregori is a neat addition to the angel mythology, though it’s rushed and wasted, as far as I am concerned. How do you introduce the original band of angels who were tasked with watching and protecting humanity and reduce them to nothing more than rogue serial killers? Which… okay, if the Gregori evolved to hate humanity and use them as a food/energy source, give us some sort of reason for that to happen. Give us some element of a backstory. Build it up! Instead, Tamiel feels superficial. He’s got no single defining feature of his character except that he’s evil, which isn’t a personality trait at all. I can’t even say that he’s a one-note antagonist because there isn’t even a note here to refer to.
The entirety of the characterization in “Angel Heart” belongs to Dean and Claire, who are the sole bright spot in a muted, mediocre story. This isn’t awful by any means, I should note. It just… happens? Well, then there’s that one thing, which I’ll get to! But the real joy here is watching Dean and Claire, forced to spend time together, bond. It’s a totally common trope, and I don’t care because it’s a lot of fun. Watching them chide each other over classic golf comedies, sinking hole in ones, and offer each other insight into their lives… it’s entertaining. Dean is a mentor to Claire without being condescending about it; she helps him rethink his desire to be alone. That’s not to suggest that some huge change overcomes Dean after this episode; I’d say that Claire is the one who gets almost all of the character development in “Angel Heart.”
But there’s a clear juxtaposition between how Dean views his duty to family and how Sam does, and that’s represented in the Cas/Claire relationship. Cas still feels obligated to help Claire out after failing to fulfill the promise he made to Amelia Novak all those years ago, but does that obligation mean anything anymore? Is this situation too far gone for any significant help to be made? See, it’s TOTALLY a metaphor for Sam and Dean if you ask those same questions but change the context to the Mark of Cain. Can Sam do anything to genuinely help anymore, or is Dean best on his own?
I wouldn’t say that “Angel Heart” advances that plot at all, though. Again, the bulk of the episode is devoted to the mystery of Amelia. Where did she go all those years ago? Why hasn’t she sought out her daughter? The answer that Supernatural provides us is bleak, cruel, and ultimately supremely fucked up. It’s bad enough that the Gregori angel feels so underused, but then we find out that Amelia has spent years having her soul farmed through illusions of Heaven. She didn’t abandon the search for her daughter; she was in captivity. How does this affect Amelia’s characterization? What about Claire’s? And that’s what feels horribly exploitative about this to me. I don’t understand the need to do this. Does Claire get to grow closer to her mother? Understand why she left? Anything?
That might have been the case, but the two are reunited for an honest-to-god TEN WHOLE MINUTES before she’s killed by Tamiel in front of Claire, and we’re just supposed to accept that Claire can move on from something like this? It’s horrifying, traumatizing, and treated like nothing more than an unfortunate plot twist. And for what reason? Does it serve the story? Does it change Claire? Is she a better person after her mother got fridged in front of her eyes?
I don’t get it, and I don’t get what I was supposed to take away from this. Claire’s fine now that her mother is dead? She forgives everyone? Sort of? What’s going on? Blah, I wish this were better than it was.
The video for “Angel Heart” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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