Supernatural – Season 10 Episode 21
Supernatural marches toward the finale by developing a new antagonist that will likely be featured heavily in the next season while keeping the Mark of Cain firmly on the front line.
Firstly I am very glad that Castiel and Charlie are both saying exactly what I -and probably the entire audience- are thinking. Pointing out that lying to Dean is a really bad idea and never ends well is something Sam really should be listening to. It has happened back and forth on this show before this point and as I’ve said many times it’s something that needs to go. It has become a crutch that is leaned on in order to delay development of characters by a few episodes. It’s cheap, overplayed and really doesn’t work any more.
Another big problem with the lies is that Sam’s excuses are so painfully transparent that Dean should be picking up on them immediately. Given how well practiced Sam is at lying to his brother he should be really good at covering them up. Ditto on Dean picking up on them. It just has the brothers be written as stupid in order to advance the plot in a way that manufactures tension by drawing out a “will Dean find out?” eventuality.
I did like Sam’s desperation to have Rowena translate the book as quickly as possible and how difficult Rowena made that to achieve. Rowena and Charlie’s team up was a nice touch that actually worked really well. The contrast between their areas of expertise was an interesting thing to explore with Rowena being a magic based witch and Charlie basically being a tech witch. Their skill sets are very different but have points of comparison that is picked up on here. I also really liked the scene where Rowena explained about the witch who made the book so difficult to translate; it was a nice bit of mythology and gave a real example of how powerful a spiteful witch can be when she puts her mind to it. Is this foreshadowing of something Rowena has up her sleeve? I suspect so.
Charlie’s contribution to the episode was fairly sizable but I found it to be a little contrived. She begs Castiel to take her somewhere quiet to get away from the walking irritant that is Rowena which is something that I really can’t blame her for but I don’t see why she felt the need to run off to a motel room when Rowena was locked in another room to give her some space. There was no real story purpose for her to run off on her own, it’s not as if she really needed to get anything after all. It seems to simply exist to get her in trouble and ultimately killed.
I feel that Charlie’s death was done just for shock value. She’s a character that fans love played by an actress that fans love so an easy way to get an emotional reaction out of your audience is to kill off such a character. My problem with it is that it didn’t feel the least bit earned. Fair enough she got a heroic exit by making sure she finished the job before her attacker got to her but there was something about it that felt as if it was only there to get the audience reaction. As I said her reason for running off was really flimsy from a story point of view and the character deserved a much better exit than being killed off screen by a fairly anonymous villain.
Let’s talk a bit about the villains here. They are represented by the character Eldon Styne (David Hoflin) who supplies Dean and the audience with all the information they need about them at this point. They are a family who have been manipulating events over the past 1000 years to work to their advantage. For other examples think of the League of Shadows in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies or H.Y.D.R.A. in the Marvel movies. There are others but those are the notable two that come to my mind.
I’m always a bit wary of shadowy organisations who take credit for lots of historically awful things because it takes the onus away from the society supposedly responsible. Do I need Hitler to be influenced by some hidden power? No because I can accept that bad stuff happens and that it’s a big world full of terrible people who set out to do really terrible things.
What makes this even more ridiculous is that the Styne family turn out to be the Frankenstein family forced to change their names after Mary Shelley decided to out them. Supernatural has played with the notion of an author writing about reality before with Lovecraft but unlike that this is really laughable. Turns out they have enhanced themselves surgically to be as strong as demons and Shelley disagreed with them so much that she decided to write a book tangentially blowing the whistle on them. I found this whole thing really laughable as it was so profoundly unnecessary. There’s no reason that the Styne’s needed to be the Frankenstein family as it would have been so easy to flesh them out as an antagonist in their own right. For now all that makes them formidable is their numbers but it feels a little too similar to the Leviathans in terms of vast numbers and the ability to show up anywhere.
David Hoflin did a good job as Eldon and managed to hold his own against Jensen Ackles’ intensity plus his commitment to the cause was shown to be absolute when he ripped his own arm off in order to escape. He only really existed as an information dump but his performance was strong enough to somewhat overcome that.
Crowley seems to have at least some of his credibility back as king of hell. He’s yelling at his underlings, killing to prove a point and talking forcefully to a hamster. All things that I associate with the Crowley I like. He’s definitely better without his mother around so more of this please.
Now that Dean knows the truth and there should be complete transparency between the characters I hope the plot can really move along now with the Mark of Cain thing resolved one way or another by the season end. I’m not too impressed with the Styne family so far but sort of recognise some potential to tie it into the overall mythology of the Men of Letters and develop the two sides of a long war.
An uneven episode that seems to be killing time more than anything else with little in the way of significant development.
The Styne family seem to be here to set up the antagonist for next season with very little connection to the Mark of Cain story. I have my reservations about a single family influencing all sorts of horrible things in history as I think humanity are more than capable of doing all this without any help from external forces.
I found the revelation that the Styne family were once called Frankenstein and had to change their name when Mary Shelley wrote a book that betrayed them really laughable. Was this really necessary as an origin story for them? It really didn’t work for me and I think they could have easily been developed as something new without this nonsense.
Charlie and Rowena made a surprisingly fun pairing as they compared notes from their different forms of witchcraft. Rowena is a magic based witch and Charlie is basically a technology based one so they have some common ground to work on. Charlie running off was really flimsy though and seemed to only exist to make sure that she got herself killed to artificially raise the stakes.
I am glad that Sam’s secret is out and the lies can finally stop. I was so profoundly fed up with this old chestnut so it’s good that the story can finally move on with full transparency between the brothers.
At least Crowley has some of his credibility back as he yells and kills his minions as well as talking to a hamster. He’s definitely better without his mother around so I hope to see more of this Crowley.