On the D/L – Supernatural
Season 10 Episode 9 – “The Things We Left Behind”
Last Supernatural episode of the year and it was a very busy one. Lots going on here with all of the characters tapping into the ongoing stories that have been set up.
Castiel formed the main plot of the episode after taking some inspiration from Hannah and thinking about those related to the vessel he inhabits. He decides to track down Jimmy Novak’s daughter Claire (Kathryn Newton) in order to make some kind of amends for what he’s done to that family.
Conceptually it’s an interesting thing to explore and this was by far the strongest aspect of the episode. Claire’s characterisation was interesting and made dramatic sense. It’s completely acceptable that she would be full of anger and resentment. Also seeing Castiel wearing the face of the man who was once her father can’t be easy for anyone to deal with. I found it really interesting that Jimmy is dead and in heaven which is something I don’t think the show has actually addressed before. Having Jimmy’s body held together by Castiel’s possession is a pretty tragically grim idea but it essentially means that Castiel is wearing his guilt every day.
Castiel’s growing humanity has been a major theme for a while now and it’s a great place for the character to go. He is clearly having trouble dealing with the emotions that he is feeling since he is completely unable to put context to them for the most part. His development is pointed out to us by Claire who says that Cas is a lot nicer than the last time she saw him. It is something that became very apparent in how they interacted. Misha Collins showed a lot of subtlety in his performance in showing Castiel’s confusion, sadness and of course guilt. It’s clear that every truth Claire hits him with is a proverbial slap in the face to him as it reminds Cas of what he has done without considering the consequences. Back when he first possessed Jimmy he had a very “big picture” sort of outlook and “knew” that he was doing the right thing. There’s also the fact that Jimmy consented to Castiel using him as a vessel so it was all above board from that perspective.
That was before Castiel had been “infected” with humanity through his time spent with Sam and Dean who taught him the importance of the “small stuff”. It is a fairly recent realisation that he destroyed a family with what he did. At the time that would have been beneath his notice but seeing the direct consequences in the form of an emotionally damaged young woman gives him a very real picture of what he and the other Angels have done to a lot of people.
It was clear that Castiel was really trying to forge a connection with Claire. He feels protective which may come from a place of guilt but there were a couple of genuine moments that suggest otherwise. The most effective being the question about whether ketchup is a fruit or not, that alone suggests some kind of deeper sense of responsibility.
Castiel’s honesty was great as well, he puts the cards on the table and doesn’t hold back. Admitting to Claire that he ignored her prayers asking to bring her father back was a powerful moment that shows how much he has changed. Would Castiel at this stage of his development have ignored them? Probably not. I just loved how messed up this plot is and there’s lots of potential should they keep Claire around for a while.
Finally we get some movement on the Mark of Cain plot and it’s satisfying for the most part. Dean’s conversation with Cas where he asks to be killed if he goes off the reservation confirms something I’ve suspected for a while. The mark is really doing a number on him and he feels his control slipping away. For whatever reason he’s chosen not to confide in Sam which still infuriates me and I am confused as to why he’s chosen Cas to confide in here and what he thinks he’s gaining by hiding this issue from Sam. He knows that Sam will find out, we know that Sam will find out and every character in the show knows that Sam will find out so this is just needless extension of drama when they could be spending their time on other things.
That being said, it’s all out in the open now and there’s no turning back from it. I loved how they built up to him snapping with the gradual movement towards it culminating in an offscreen payoff. The fact that it was a group of humans that he massacred added a lot of weight to it as this isn’t stuff he was doing even when was a demon. As a lover of the character this was actually somewhat horrifying to witness but Ackles playing Dean as being nearly catatonic was a great decision. Having him undergo a rage blackout of sorts really reinforces his lack of control over the Mark of Cain and adds tension to future scenes with the character given that he could snap at any moment.
Sam’s reaction was great as well. Seeing him desperate to get Dean to admit that it was self defense was somewhat heartbreaking. Sam is clearly unable to accept that his brother is capable of killing in cold blood like this and needs to believe that his hand was forced in some way. Naturally the next thrust of the season will be trying to get rid of the mark but can it be removed? I guess we’ll find out. Side note, why did Cas bring Claire into the house when it was clear that a massacre had just happened? Shame on him!
The big problem with this episode is that there’s been so much apparent filler of late that everything felt crammed in. I think we could have entirely done without the Crowley plot for this week. Of course it’s the midseason finale and we need to give everything lip service but it was neither interesting or relevant.
Some of the scenes of him dealing with Rowena were pretty well done from an acting standpoint and I like the idea of Crowley’s past really catching up with him. I found the reasons behind his conception disgustingly amusing I have to admit and it does help reinforce how screwed up Fergus was prior to becoming a demon.
I’m a little confused by Crowley’s motivations here. There was something of a light switch moment where he picks his mother over a loyal follower and seems to start trusting her. Crowley usually has something of a wider agenda but at this point it’s unclear as well as seeming at odds with how resentful he is of his mother.
A fairly solid episode of Supernatural to cap off 2014 with a fair number of strong elements that were very watchable.
The strongest was Castiel attempting to bond with his vessel’s daughter in order to atone for tearing that family apart. It was a great way of showing how far Cas has come over the years and how much his humanity has grown since he entered the show. Claire’s lack of acceptance of his presence felt very real and the two had an interesting dynamic that has great potential.
Dean’s explosion that caused a massacre was great as well. It’s great to see the Mark of Cain back with a vengeance and it’s been a long time coming. Padalecki and Ackles knocked it out of the park with their performances here.
Crowley’s plot could have been cut entirely as it was neither interesting nor relevant. His motivations are too ill developed at this point to have any level of investment in this subplot and it could definitely have been left for later.
It’s a general problem with the show right now. There have been too many filler weeks lately which means that any return to the main story seems awkward and rushed.