Supernatural – Season 10 Episode 20
Supernatural returns to the story of Claire Novak and her troubled life following the loss of her father to Castiel’s possession.
This episode mostly focuses on Claire’s relentless search for her mother in an attempt to salvage what little she has left in her life. It’s something that the Winchester’s can easily relate to given that they have lost both parents to supernatural circumstances. When it comes down to it they’re all really screwed up people and ultimately they are possibly the best placed to help each other.
It’s been a while since Castiel dipped into the more human side of his personality and I like the consistency in it being only Claire that seems to bring that out of him. As always it comes across as a combination of regret and genuine affection which works really well. I like seeing the more vulnerable side of Castiel especially since it’s a very rare occurrence.
Misha Collins does a great job showing Castiel’s conflicted nature over what to do about Claire. There’s a distinct lack of humanity in how clueless he is but at the same time a lot of humanity in the level of concern he has. It’s an interesting dichotomy that Collins portrays really well. There weren’t many laughs from Cas this week but given the circumstances being serious was absolutely what was required here.
Kathryn Newton does probably her best work as Claire in this episode. It would have been so easy for her to come across as yet another stroppy teen and just be annoying but Newton’s performance moves around the teenage angst with skill and ease. She never seems whiny or entitled and is always believable in the way she comes across. Her emotions are very raw and relatable which helps to ground the episode in a sense of realism that is sometimes missing from Supernatural.
The fact that the story of Claire’s search for her mother is resolved in this episode rather than one of her earlier appearances adds a sense of depth and longevity to the character rather than her being a disposable story of the week to be resolved and forgotten. It’s clear Cas feels responsible for the mess that Claire’s life has become and it’s something that he can’t take back or even fix no matter how hard he tries. She has warmed to him slightly but not enough to listen to him or let him interfere in her life.
Bringing the Winchester’s in was a smart move on his part and I enjoyed the comment that Dean Claire’s emotional ages match. There’s a certain juvenile streak to Dean that doesn’t seem to come out to play very often any more so it’s good to see it here. The scenes where Dean had to babysit Claire were the most entertaining by far. I love that he’s find with giving her a gun on her 18th birthday but a beer is off limits. His rules are his rules I guess but I really hope the guy never becomes a parent.
The scene where they were playing mini golf was oddly charming as they share a hatred of the generation the other grew up with. Dean makes references to Caddyshack that are completely lost on Claire and generally rips her for her generation being messed up. The writers really missed a trick here by not referring to Dean’s recent reversion to being a teenager. There was a solid opportunity for him to draw on that experience to meet Claire halfway and have some fun talking about things that appeal to that age group. Granted Claire isn’t a typical example but she is still young.
I got the impression that Claire took her first step towards being a hunter and will probably turn up next season having followed in Dean’s footsteps. That should give Cas more to feel guilty about. I also wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a tragic death in her future as well.
Sam and Dean being on the opposite side of the argument of how much involvement they should have was a really nice touch. It reawakened an issue that hasn’t been raised in a while with their differing opinions on how they were raised by their father.
I really liked the new enemy used here. The Grigori Angels further expand the already massive mythology of Supernatural and are a really powerful enemy. It could quickly become stale but putting an enemy up against Dean in full Mark of Cain mode to show how powerful it is worked really well here. If this trope is relied on too much then it’ll become like how Worf was used on Star Trek: The Next Generation. For those uninitiated, to show how powerful an enemy is they would often casually throw Worf -the physically strong Klingon- across the room. It happened so often than the intended effect was lost and this could easily come to be the case there.
Claire’s introduction to the hunting skills being against an enemy that Sam and Dean have never faced before was a clever twist and really added some urgency to the scene. Sam and Dean had to figure out how to beat this thing as well as keep the rookie safe, it made for a nicely tense villain story and didn’t seem to matter that the villain wasn’t the focus of the episode. I dare say this enemy will return.
There were some really moving scenes in this episode such as Claire losing the last parent she has. There wasn’t really any time spent between them but Kathryn Newton played the devastation perfectly and made the pain of her loss work through the audience connection with her. Jimmy and his wife’s reunion in heaven was great to see though. I was noticeably affected by that genuinely sweet moment. Lastly Claire’s goodbye to Dean was excellently done. I like the mutual respect they have for one another and her asking him to take care of Cas was a nice coda to that relationship as well. Supernatural can really turn it on when it wants to.
A very emotionally affecting episode that managed to hit a lot of the right emotional notes at the right times.
Having Claire return in search of her mother worked really well in terms of developing Castiel’s character who still has the unresolved feelings of guilt over his actions directly causing Claire to turn out the way she is. It’s great to see Misha Collins show the more human side of Cas and how clueless he is when trying to deal with these sorts of things.
Sam and Dean’s reaction to the situation was interesting in how it brought back an old argument over how they were raised. Sam and Dean were on opposite sides in terms of how they feel about that so it was good to have that revisited.
Dean and Claire’s scenes together were really charming. Seeing Dean on babysitting duty was pretty funny even if his rules are a bit confusing. Beer is bad but a loaded weapon is fine for an 18 year old according to him. The scene where they played mini golf was really amusing but the opportunity to have Dean revisit his teenage days from earlier in the season is noticeable.
The Grigori Angels are a really cool new enemy and certainly powerful enough to be a legitimate threat to both Castiel and the Winchesters. The fact that Claire was cutting her teeth on an enemy never encountered by the Winchester’s added an element of tension to the whole thing that would otherwise not have been present.
From Claire losing her mother to Jimmy’s tearful heavenly reunion with his wife and Claire saying goodbye to Cas and the Winchesters this episode had no shortage of moving moments. Supernatural always manages to deliver in that respect.
Beyond some missed opportunities and the mini golf contrivance giving Dean an important clue to help solve the case it was all really solid character stuff this week.