Supernatural S10E01 Recap: Black

Damos Gracias (Wal-Muerto) by Dylan A.T. Miner. Relief print on recycled grocery bag. 2007

Damos Gracias (Wal-Muerto) by Dylan A.T. Miner. Relief print on recycled grocery bag. 2007

Season Ten of Supernatural—pretty impressive by any standard. By the tenth season, are our expectations higher than ever, or are we willing to accept whatever the boys will give us only because we are so grateful they continue to carry on? It’s likely a symbiotic interaction, with fans recognizing the immense potential of Supernatural, and the show responding in kind to the support and anticipation.

Though the Kansas song “Carry on Wayward Son” has been used as the soundtrack for most season finales, it’s still a disappointment to not hear it at the beginning of each new season. That having been said, S10 starts off with a bang, showing us “The Road so Far” against the fast-paced backdrop of Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker,” reminding us that Supernatural is not easily categorized. Action and violence led us here, but it’s the sentimental drama and comedy that keeps us coming back. It is Dean threatening to break our hearts again, just as he did when he died at the end of S9. Sure, Crowley could be the “heartbreaker,” but it seems unlikely. “The Road so Far” provides a little additional heartbreak, as we are reminded of just how much we miss Kevin (and not just because he is consistently fantastic at ComicCon).

Sam’s torturing of a beautiful young brunette demon to find out where Dean is gave the show both an excellent preview and opener. Black-haired demons are really the most compelling of demons, and this one delivered, giving us a glimpse of exactly where Sam is at, if not Dean. Sam is always at his best when on a mission, like finding the yellow-eyed demon, or jumping into the pit with Lucifer—or in this case, finding his brother. And what happened to Sam’s arm? Will we find out? His broken arm tells us that Sam has been on a hunt, and a lot of trouble has probably transpired since we last saw the brothers.

Each new season brings a new theme to the opening title card, and the show creators waited until Season 10 to use a pentagram—a powerful symbol, representing Dean’s dangerous transformation and immersion into Crowley’s world. Any indication that we will see a lot of Crowley and a lot of Crowley/Dean this season bodes well for us, since Crowley is fast becoming the best character on Supernatural.

Pentagram

We know Dean transformed into a demon, and we know Sam is looking for him. Right from the start, we are looking for clues about Dean’s degree of evil. Something that comes up right away is the question of why demon Dean (named in the previews “Deanmon”), assuming he is evil, would write his brother a note. Are some demons not quite so evil, as Ruby and Meg had led us (and Sam) to hope? Does Dean still retain some of his humanity? Or is the letter to Sam just left to torture his brother by forcing him to search for Dean, rather than get on with his own life (as we know Sam is wont to do when Dean dies).

The commercial break switches us from the “Serious Sam” story to Dean bringing the comedy gold by singing karaoke. Being that Jared Padalecki is such a funny guy, it makes one wonder if he pines to star in the hilarious scenes that the writers give to Dean. As expected, Dean is with Crowley. However, not quite as expected, Dean seems to just be out having a good time, and his behavior seems pretty consistent with pre-demon Dean’s.

Crow Dean bar 2

Somehow, although Crowley and Dean are “besties,” we still miss out on the old homoerotic references. Apparently, that shtick only works well when the two are enemies. (The “jerk” and “bitch” comments are great references for the fans, though.) Crowley and Dean are extremely entertaining together (“Pants?”). Just how evil Dean is remains unclear when he beats up “Matt.” (Though we only once hear the name of the woman Dean is presently sleeping with, somehow we hear the name of her boyfriend/brother/boss “Matt” several times through the episode.) Was Dean protecting her, just enjoying punching someone, or a little of both? There is a mystery man in the background—and we get super-excited that it might be Richard Alpert from Lost, though we know in our hearts it isn’t.

Castiel is losing his grace. Grace apparently works like Airborne® because Castiel has all the awful symptoms of a cold or flu. You would think he would have more interesting symptoms, like becoming increasingly transparent, or his wings popping out. Hannah comes to ask flu-ridden Castiel for help. Like most angels, Hannah really is a drag. Castiel reverts to his loyal soldier role, as he seems way too quick to accept Hannah’s conviction—all angels must immediately return to Heaven, whether they want to or not. There is little room for independent thought for our beloved Castiel—his only choices seem to be either groupthink or demagoguery. If all angels must return to Heaven, why doesn’t Castiel have to return as well? Apparently he can stay on Earth, serving as a private eye for Heaven.

black eyes

During an investigation, Sam gets a glimpse of Dean on a surveillance video. After looking through what we can only assume is a copy of Busty Asian Beauties, Dean kills Richard Alpert at the 7-11—using the First Blade! Not sure why him having the blade was shocking, but it kinda was. Not the killing itself so much, but killing with the First Blade. The Detective that Sam is consulting with keenly conveys our thoughts: “Problem is, we don’t know if this guy is a hero or a psychopath.” Can’t he be both? Sam sees Dean’s black eyes in the footage. Is this first he knows that Dean is a demon? Couldn’t it just be a problem with the footage, like red-eye? Like demon-eye?

When we return from commercial we see a mystery dude who is working out, making us think that we changed the channel accidentally (having a momentary post-traumatic flashback to the Bloodlines episode of Season 9). We meet his family, and see that he is kind to his son, and his wife seems to love him—we must surmise he is a good guy, at least some of the time. Not very impressed by the music for Mystery Dude—Supernatural has so many excellent music moments, like using Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages” when Dean goes to meet Luficer and Michael at the end of Season 5, it’s hard not to expect better.

Castiel and Hannah get out of Cas’s crappy Lincoln. Castiel comments, “I didn’t know angels could get nauseous.” It was a bit confusing as to who was sick. Hannah sure didn’t look sick, though she is an angel. Is losing your grace infectious, and is she now also getting flu symptoms? Once we realize that Cas is a bad driver, we understand that their conversation is about Castiel’s illness being due to his lack of grace, and he isn’t willing to kill another angel only to take their grace (not again, anyway).

Sam clerk

Sam has a pretty funny scene with the clerk from the Gas-n-Sip. The clerk describes the incident during which Dean, “like,” kills that guy. Not that Sam got to be funny, but the clerk was pretty hilarious. He refers to Dean as “porn guy,” which is awesome. The clerk gives Sam the dead guy’s phone. When Sam calls Crowley from a dead demon’s phone, he of course answers. If Crowley thinks the assassin is dead, why even answer the phone? Maybe it’s all part of his master plan to get all the best lines in Supernatural.

Crowley: “Your brother and I were beginning to wonder if you’d hit another dog.”

(A funny reference to Season 8, when Sam got involved with Amelia after hitting a dog with his car.)
Crowley tells Sam that Dean is a demon, not a “meatsuit” being worn by a demon. The whole difference between a person being possessed by a demon and an actual demon has always been a bit confusing. The writers try to cover it in early seasons, but later on it’s a mystery as to whether the boys are constantly killing humans who are possessed by demons, or killing standalone demons, or if they just don’t care which is which. In his most snarky tone, Crowley explains to Sam that Dean becoming a demon is caused by the Mark of Cain, to which Sam responds, “Hear me, I will save my brother, or die trying.” Sam is always so earnest! The writers love Crowley.

“You don’t care that he’s a demon. Heck, you’ve been a demon. We’ve all been demons!”

“He’s my best friend; my partner in crime. There’ll be songs about us—graphic novels.”

Let’s all pray that Crowley never goes away.

Castiel and boring administrative angel Hannah arrive at a riparian camp to find the rogue angels. The music is better here, sounding a bit like Barber’s Adagio for Strings—a surefire way to pull at our human heartstrings. Hannah and Castiel find the angel Daniel fishing in a river. Daniel is an odd character—one of those intense but awkward angels. Hannah tells Daniel, “All of us serve at Heaven’s command.” Who, exactly, commands? The democratically elected leader of Heaven? Hannah? The League of Extraordinary Angels? It seems like Daniel could have more quickly and effectively convinced Castiel that he and Adina should be left alone. And Castiel certainly would have been able to get Hannah on board—she is not much of a freethinker. Daniel forewarns us, “Nighttime around here is a [R]evelation.” Now would be a good time to know one’s Scripture.

We find Crowley ’fessing up to Dean that he has been sending demons after him so that Dean doesn’t go extra-demony for lack of bloody combat. Dean responds, “Otherwise I turn into a demon. Yeah, I got that six weeks ago.” Ahhhhh, so then Dean isn’t a demon, is he? Wait a second! We saw him turn into a demon—or was that just demon-eye? Still confused. We discover that Dean’s idea of “howling at the moon” is hanging out in a bar, drinking, and singing bad karaoke—which is awesome. Crowley tries to convince Dean to join him in some darker shenanigans, saying, “we create the perfect Hell.” What does the perfect Hell look like? I wonder what Crowley’s idea of “howling at the moon” is. It is starting to look like we will never know. Honestly, Dean doesn’t seem that bad for a demon (or almost-demon). It’s not clear how he feels about Sammy. Is he rejecting or protecting him? Seems like if Dean were really evil, he would have killed Crowley with the Blade when Crowley was giving that tiresome speech about doing Dean so many favors.

We see Sam as his car mysteriously dies. You would think Sam’s life experience would make him more suspicious, or at least make him better with cars.

Mystery Dude: “There’s your problem right there.”
Sam: “What is that?”
Mystery Dude: “It’s the kill-switch.”

Sam was pretty easily captured, for a hunter. He should be embarrassed. All hunters should be embarrassed.

Dean is back at the bar, doing karaoke and getting drunk. Seems like Dean got all sad and sentimental—not exceptionally evil traits—after Crowley’s speech. Later, Dean wakes up to the bar girl from earlier, whose name we’ve still only heard once, offering him water for his hangover. She tells a good story about recognizing that Dean seems to be a bad guy. We are still not convinced.

Angel camp

Meanwhile, back at Angel Camp … Castiel, Hannah, and Daniel are talking around a campfire. Daniel might be persuading them that angels should be allowed to make their own decisions (it really shouldn’t be this hard to convince Cas, at least), but then the angel Adina appears. Adina seems like a hothead. Did she not see that Daniel was making progress, or did she just get sick of waiting in the bushes? Adina runs away, after showing up just long enough to get Daniel killed. One of the mysteries of Angel Camp is why Castiel couldn’t have stopped Daniel without having to kill him. He could have grabbed his arm or something. An angel blade wounds Hannah, and we see her glowy insides for a second. Cool. Despite Castiel consistently being an interesting and funny character, sometimes the angel storylines in Supernatural are kinda lame. They have great potential, but have a hard time living up to the Lucifer-versus-Michael narrative. It seems like it’s been a long time since we had a really compelling angel plot—but perhaps four seasons isn’t very long when one is eternal.

After being captured by Mystery Dude, Sam is being held hostage. Sam’s broken arm is mentioned again. Love the writing for Mystery Dude: “How’s that chicken wing? First time I broke my arm, my brother Gaye had me riding on the handlebars of his three-speed. Decided to pop a wheelie to look real fancy for all the pretties outside of the DQ.” Here Sam sarcastically tells Mystery Dude to go back to his Army recruiting ad, and Mystery Dude becomes firmly ensconced as Military Dude. When Military Dude tells Sam he is looking for Dean, Sam tells him, “He’s a monster.” Acceptance —the last stage of grief.

Military Dude calls Dean from Sam’s phone. Why did Dean answer now? If he really doesn’t care, seems like he wouldn’t answer. Is this wishful thinking? Dean asks, “How do I know he’s still alive,” which also sounds kinda caring. Dean claims he is not going to rescue Sam, yet his death threats still feel like they have some brotherly love in them: the 100% guarantee that “somewhere down the road I will find you and I will kill you.” Do we think Dean will rescue Sam? Our head says no, while our heart still says yes. Will a rescue (or lack thereof) give us the answers we seek regarding just how evil Dean now is?

Black is an outstanding start to Season Ten. Great writing, compelling storylines, and some pretty good acting provide an excellent start to the new season. Why must a week be so long?

Supernatural S10 Episode 1 Gallery

7 thoughts on “Supernatural S10E01 Recap: Black

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