On the D/L – Supernatural
Season 10 Episode 14 – “The Executioner’s Song”
As readers will know I have found this season of Supernatural so far pretty hit and miss with more of a lean towards miss. One of the strongest elements of this season has been the constant looming threat of The Mark of Cain so I tend to enjoy episodes that focus on this plot thread a lot more.
This episode was definitely more in line with what I’ve been looking for. The past two episodes have focused on the brothers doing early seasons style stuff and that’s been fine but it’s nice to see that Supernatural can still handle a plot episode well.
I really enjoyed seeing Timothy Omudsman’s Cain return after making such a strong impression in his last appearance. His introduction here was perfect with lights going out as he traveled along the corridor seeking his prey and the ominous atmosphere the scene gave off. It’s clear from those opening seconds that Cain is on a mission and nothing will get in his way. There was something eerie about the way he conducted himself as his demeanor was calm and focused with no real obvious signs of insanity. Omudsman plays him with just the right level of menace without being cartoonish. It’s a wonderfully nuanced performance that consistently seems magnetic.
Cain’s mission is to hunt down and kill every one of his descendants out of some personal debt to humanity. Given that he was pretty early in the cycle of humanity he has a lot of them but as he said, he has plenty of time. In some ways his sudden urge to kill didn’t make a lot of sense because it was poorly explained. He no longer has the mark or the first blade so his sudden urge to kill doesn’t seem to be motivated by anything concrete. He does tell Castiel that having to battle Abaddon’s army was something that he really enjoyed but how does that extend to deciding to slaughter humans in their droves? The connection is a little weak. It might have something to do with having the mark for so long and it’s really poisoned him or maybe it’s just his demonic nature really liking causing harm to others. Either way it wasn’t really explained.
This was the confrontation Dean -and the audience- have been waiting for since Dean was given the mark. I like how terrified Dean was throughout the episode and the moments of vulnerability that he had. He even admits that he never thought he’d have to face this so soon. His moment with Castiel and Sam where he told them to be ready for whatever comes out with emphasis on the fact that it could be him they have to take down was nothing short of fantastic. Dean didn’t feel ready for this and it showed. Jensen Ackles plays Dean as a vulnerable man so well that it’s nice to see it when it rarely happens.
It was also nice to be reminded that Dean can be really manipulative when he wants to be. Managing to get Crowley involved by lying to him about being on Cain’s hit list was a nice touch that shows Dean knows what will get Crowley afraid and make him more malleable.
Dean’s fight with Cain was great on a visual level and was important on a narrative level. Cain mentions that Dean is holding back but that much is obvious from watching him. Ackles conveys a lot with simple looks that show how much he is struggling with his urges. He needs to defeat Cain but doesn’t want to lose himself to it. Cain’s point about their being no cure and boiling it down to either remission or relapse was an obvious metaphor but effective nonetheless. It has so far been played like an addiction so it does make sense that sometimes he seems fine and others he is really struggling. It could be that Dean will never get rid of the mark and maybe that’s the best thing for his character if the show is going to continue for another 10 seasons (for instance) then this constant struggle could be something that continues to make Dean interesting as time goes on.
Cain said some other interesting things throughout the fight. His prophecy -for want of a better word- that Dean will end up killing Sam, Crowley and Castiel could be a harbinger of things to come. It would make sense given that’s how Cain got started and all it takes is one brief lapse for Dean to go crazy. Maybe he won’t permanently kill Sam but it would be interesting to see. Perhaps Dean’s journey to the Dark Side has some mileage left in it.
I thought it was a shame that Cain was killed in this episode. It’s an important step for Dean and should have some damaging effects over the next few episodes but it’s a shame to lose such a great character. Maybe he’ll come back as a spirit or something.
Bringing the episode down as usual was this painful Crowley/Rowena story. I understand that Rowena is supposed to be manipulative and is playing her long game well but it’s completely ridiculous that Crowley would buy into what she’s saying. I don’t care how distracted and vulnerable he’s supposed to be, he’s just not that stupid and never has been. The sooner they off Rowena the better.
I know I say this every episode but when is Sam going to get some character development. He’s practically a background character at this point and he deserves to have more to do. I’d like to see more of his reaction to Dean’s downward spiral and maybe him taking some steps of his own to find a cure for Dean. I’m sure this will come in time but giving Sam a storyline of his own is really needed right now.
A really engaging episode of this show that manages to dial up the threat level presented by the Mark of Cain really well.
The return of Cain to the story was something that was badly needed and his appearance brought in some interesting twists and turns. His crusade to kill every single one of his descendants was an interesting mission and his menacing demeanor was just perfect to make him feel like a real threat to whoever he was facing.
His conflict with Dean gave us some interesting things to think about. The suggestion that Dean’s battle with the mark would never end and comparing it to drug addiction with the remission or relapse metaphor was obvious yet effective. His prophetic words about what the mark would bring Dean to do in time will clearly resonate with Dean over the course of the rest of the season.
Crowley’s story with Rowena needs to go away. It’s adding nothing and just an irritant whenever it appears. I don’t feel like Crowley is that gullible and he’s just coming across as stupid most of the time.
As always, when is Sam going to get his own storyline to play with? There’s certainly room for it and it’s something I’d like to see happen. Having said that this largely feels like a return to form for the series. It’ll be off air for a while so no reviews of this show until it returns. I’m actually looking forward to the return after this episode.