Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S10E22 – The Prisoner

In the twenty-second and penultimate episode of the tenth season of Supernatural, I wish the journey to this point justified the end result. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of gore/blood.

Seriously, I can’t come up with a more blatant example of fridging of a character. Charlie dies so that “The Prisoner” can happen, even though a million other outcomes could have sent Dean on a warpath. Injure Sam or Cas, for example! I don’t buy the explanation that in order for Dean to be pushed over the edge, Charlie had to die. We already understood the stakes, and we already understood the risk. We’d also already seen what Dean was capable of when his own anger issues combined with the power of the Mark of Cain. So why must Charlie become a part of this in a way that doesn’t give us new insight?

It’s unfortunate for a lot of reasons, and yet, if we can put the misogyny and homophobia aside (and we shouldn’t), there’s still another aspect of this that bothers me. All of the revenge acted out here in all its bloody glory is done in her name, and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t want any of it. I am hoping that this is the point, but I worry that at least until the death of Cyrus, we’re supposed to see Dean’s actions as heroic and necessary. I mean, the Stynes are created solely to be horrific antagonists. Aside from Cyrus, they serve no other role aside from being gross and terrifying. So why would anyone feel bad about them being exterminated?

The only reason I bring this up is because this episode spends a great deal of time, through Dean’s dialogue, telling Sam what an awful person he is. That is not me saying that this shouldn’t be said, as I’ve been pretty open about my thoughts on Sam’s deceitful behavior. I knew this was going to be a disaster, and I was pleased that the show wasn’t shying away from stating this. We’re supposed to dread the inevitable because we know it’s wrong. So why is there so much less time spent on the fact that Dean does something unbelievably horrific here? It could be a matter of time, and the finale might be where most of this is addressed. But I think that “The Prisoner” is yet another example of how the show’s narrative is biased in favor of Dean over Sam, and it’s distracting.

For now, I should say. This episode is both a set-up for the finale and a wild ride all on its own. But all the twists and shocks feel tainted, both by Charlie’s death and the bizarre characterization. For example: I cannot believe that Rowena would send Sam to her son with a hex bag that could be so easily defeated. This is a woman who is absurdly talented when it comes to magic. Yes, she’s limited in some ways, but this isn’t the explanation given to us when Sam fails. It’s just… Crowley is more powerful? Sort of? I don’t want to deny that his “transformation” to his demon self isn’t affective because it TOTALLY is. It’s a great moment, but I’m curious why the writers would take Crowley’s characterization and sacrifice it all in a single scene. If I read that moment correctly, the “human” version of Crowley is gone now, right? I think? I’m not exactly sure, but that’s where this story seems to be heading.

Honestly, I think that’s my issue with a majority of this. I have to think about the writing instead of just immersing myself in the story. I spent the opening of “The Prisoner” questioning the decision to kill off Charlie and coming up with no real answer. I then wondered why the show spent a great deal of time showing us inside the Styne family through Cyrus’s eyes, only to have him murdered by Dean. Like Charlie, does his character only exist so that Dean can get further character development? What kind of storytelling is it when a character’s growth relies so heavily on the deaths of those around them? We saw very little of Cyrus’s life, but we saw enough that he was at least interesting. (In hindsight, though, his confrontation with his bully and subsequent callout of his racism is tonally bizarre. We never see that version of Cyrus ever again.)

And then he’s gone, easily the worst victim of the Mark of Cain thus far. That’s a point of no return, y’all. It felt so much worse than Dean kicking the shit out of Cas, which was more confusing than anything else. Why didn’t Cas use a single angel power against Dean, at least to incapacitate him? Was he that committed to not hurting him? Certainly he realized he would have to be rough in order to get Dean to stay in the bunker so he and Sam could cure him of the Mark? Apparently not. But that ambiguity about motivation is part of a larger vagueness in terms of the season-long arc. We’re now about to each the finale, and we still don’t know what the spell is, how it is cast, what ingredients they’ll need, and what the cost will be. It’s a lot to pack into an episode, though I’m definitely interested to see how this is going to end. At the same time, this season has been a hot mess. It’s been wildly inconsistent and infuriating at times, so I don’t know that I have much faith in it to pull this all off at the last minute.

Here goes nothing.

The video for “The Prisoner” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S. this summer and fall Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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