Okay, so...confession. When I saw the title for this episode, "Reichenbach," my mind immediately went to the ink-blot-faced guy from The Watchmen, which, as those of you much more savvy than myself (which is to say, all of you) know, is actually Rorschach. So, I googled it. The only thing I came up with, aside from various geographical destinations across Europe, was a WWII-era German philosopher, Hans Reichenbach. I'm ashamed to say...I don't get it. *laughs at self* I am usually pretty quick on the uptake when it comes to the cleverness of the titles and references, but I'm missing something here.
Did you guys get it? Help a gal out.
From a preliminary S10 plot perspective, right now I see three main ones:
- Save Dean from being a demon (and all the possibilities that branch off of that, such as Crowley's Not-So-Secret Mancrush, Who's Running Hell Anyway, Losing the Mark, and First Blade Fever)
- Save Cas from angel flu (and all the angel-ness that lingers there, including Who's Running Heaven Anyway, Hannah and Her Sisters, and How Cas Got His Grace Back)
- Cole Trenton, Demon Hunter
I'm going to flip the Ramble around a bit tonight and start with my lists to get my thoughts in order. Because this show can still manage to spin me right 'round, baby. Right 'round.
- Dean quoting Princess Bride. I will <3 them forever for that.
- Sam correcting Cole's definition of 'monsters' and stalwartly standing by his "Dean had a reason" defense
- Defiant Sam being defiant: "Shove it up your ass." Atta boy.
- "That is a vast understatement."
- "Sam and Dean may be rough around the edges, but they're the best men I've known and they're my friends." *rubs heart*
- "I know what an alibi is; I watch Franklin & Bash." Prooooobably not the best resource for Murder 101.
- Dean's c'mon, I'm not buying it look at Lester The Murder Watcher. I mean...with that side-eyed glance, the smattering of tiny laugh-lines, the way his lips quirked up into the barest hint of a smile...evil or not, that was damn hot.
- The Freaking Dangerous look on Dean's face two seconds before he clocks Crowley. Do not EFF with him, man. Is it wrong that the look in his eyes had me biting my lip a bit? If it is, don't tell me. *fans self*
- "You don't know what you want. What are you? Demon? Then why isn't Lester's wife dead? Maybe you're human, but you got those black peepers and are working with me. Do everyone a favor and PICK A SIDE!" (Only, y'know...the non-demon one. kthxbye)
- Dean quoting Princess Bride. I know I said that already. I don't care. It was perfect and awesome.
- Sam holding his ground even though he looked scared to death as he faced down his brother. Also? Bonus points for remembering that they know how to cure a demon. I have to admit, I wasn't sure that would come up.
- Cole's eyes. Especially when he faced off with Dean. Very, very blue.
- Dean sitting at a piano, plucking keys. Took me back a moment to Dark Angel and The Berrisford Agenda.
- "Stop it, Samantha. Nobody likes a tease."
- Crowley separating the Mark of Cain from the First Blade and referring to the Blade as "the precious." A bit poetic, that. Since Crowley was the one to originally find and retrieve the First Blade.
- Sam's, "You really have gone dark," in response to Dean saying that the Impala was just a car. Just a car? JUST a CAR? I may need to go lie down for a moment....
- Cherry Pie. I'm okay with Warrant -- I belted out Heaven every stinking time it came on the radio -- but Pie is probably my least favorite hair band song.
- Sam being so easy to track. Okay, he's distracted with the whole omg my brother is a demon issue, but come on.
- Hannah. I just...I don't like her. I can't tell you why. Not like I can't tell you or I'd have to kill you can't tell you, but I can't put my finger on it. She's too mercurial with no reason behind it. And if they're working an angel love connection with Hannah and Castiel I may roll my eyes a bit.
- Seeing Metatron again. I know, I know. Unfinished business and all of that. But he's not a big enough bad for me to care about whether or not he gets out. Who knows if he even has any of Cas' grace left anyway. He's a lying liar who lies.
- Sick Cas. It's like watching Sam wear down slowly because of the trials, only not as riveting. I know I should be worried about him, but right now I'm not truly worried that they'll actually kill Cas off, so until they make me believe that's an actual threat, I'm just going to want him to be better already.
- Cole's whole build-up about spending half his life training for the moment he would take out the man (who, in 2003 would have only been 24 and had probably been hunting with John) who killed his father. All that talking just made him look weaker, less dangerous.
- I still don't get the whole "the Mark needs to be sated" angle. When Dean was human and used the combo of the blade + mark to kill, it made him more demonic. So, how does killing while a demon temper the effects of the Mark and make him less demonic?? I get that the Mark drives him to kill -- it did that on either side of the human/demon line. But I don't get why it affects him differently. What am I missing here?
- How did Cole find Sam so easily -- to the point where he was able to put a kill switch on his boosted car? And if he could get to Sam like that, why didn't he do it a long time ago rather than waiting until Dean had been ID'd after the Gas 'n Sip murder? And why oh why didn't Sam do something to insure he wasn't followed? Immobilize Cole's car, not head in a straight line to Dean...something?
- Will Crowley really send the First Blade far, far away? I get that Sam wants it away from Dean, but was trusting Crowley with it really the best idea? I have doubts. Many of them.
Okay, here it is. I spent 75% of the episode wondering where all of Sam's crack hunting skills had gone and the last 25% realizing that I was standing in his shoes. This was probably one of the first times I've truly identified with Sam. And it all has to do with the way that Jensen is portraying Demon!Dean (I can't bring myself to refer to him as "Deanmon" as I've seen on social media...). He is almost portraying a completely new character, super-imposed over a character that we all feel like we know...which actually makes him more dangerous. Like Sam, I want to believe, and I do believe, and I will believe, but boy, is that a scary line to tread. It's why after two episodes, I'm not sure who or what I'm seeing. Let me see if I can explain myself. *deep breath*
Even with the evidence piling up in the he's actually an evil sonuvabitch column, I can't help but see glimmers, glimpses, of our Dean. It's like that shadow you see out of the corner of your eye -- the one your mind convinces you is a person or an animal or something actual, real, tangible -- that disappears the moment you turn your head to see it more clearly. I can't honestly figure out if I'm seeing what I want to see because of who I know this character has been and could (will) be again...or if there's really something there.
On the one hand, we have him beating up a bouncer simply for doing his job, agreeing to kill a human for Crowley, killing a human because he thought he was a douche, coldly threatening Sam, and beating the crap out of Cole. On the other hand, we have him not killing the douche's wife, not killing Sam, and not killing Cole. Dean's whole "you call that mercy" speech aside, I can see why Sam is convinced that he can save his brother. I am, too. We are calling Dean a demon, but according to Crowley's impassioned, albeit frustrated, pick a side tantrum there is the possibility that he doesn't have to be.
It makes me think of vampires, in a way. At least in some lore. Until they drink their first human, they can be saved. Turned back. Dean was. Maybe because Dean didn't burn out his humanity in Hell over centuries but was instead Insta-Demon, just add First Blade, there is something tremendously terrible -- over and above killing a human who had already sold his soul to a Crossroads Demon -- that he would have to do in order to go fully over to the Dark Side. I feel like I'm standing with Sam saying, "There's still good in you; I feel it." (Sorry, but I can't not reference Star Wars with this whole scenario.)
Crowley seemed to get that sense as well -- at least until Dean snapped his leash -- when he asked him to complete a deal for him. Did Dean want to risk taking out the Mark's blood lust on a 'civilian' or would he prefer it be someone who 'deserved' it? Why would it matter if he were full-on demon? And when Sam confronts him, why does Dean bother saying, "Right now I'm doing everything I can to not come over there and rip your throat out with my teeth." If he were truly a demon, why spare Sam? Why not just kill him and be done with it?
It's that what if, that pause, that possibility. It's watching Dean be uninhibited and (quite frankly) full-on bad ass and then pulling up just short of all-out Mayhem.
He's cold with his words, yes, but I can still manage to see where the words are simply methods of keeping people at a distance. Even the fact that he killed Lester didn't have me bemoaning him as a lost cause; the man had sold his soul to a demon so that he could have his wife murdered for cheating on him -- when he cheated first! Heck, after what he said about it being different for men and all that "it's science" BS, I almost cheered when Dean killed him. Almost.
Sparing Cole could be a purposeful torture as Dean claimed, but I'm not so sure. Part of me thinks he thought of that later, and said what he did just to scare the bejeezus out of Sam. Because to my way of thinking, leaving Cole alive, though beaten, is a loose end. The man already revealed how far he was willing to go to prepare himself to fight a human monster. This is no gym rat who watched a lot of Chuck Norris and Rocky to pump himself up for the Big Fight. He's a soldier who has seen atrocities the likes of which only a certain ratio of people can understand. He spent years studying and perfecting his abilities and skill. And upon finding out Dean is a demon, he dragged his broken ass to a library (or something?) and started to study that adversary.
Much like Inigo, Cole's not going away until he's satisfied or dead, and Dean thinking that leaving him alive with his 'failure' was the worst thing he could have done to the guy is, I think, arrogance talking. Even though it certainly worked to spike fear through Sam. His look of worried terror just before the screen went black had my heartbeat picking up a notch or two.
This what am I really seeing here filter that I'm viewing Dean through is what had me realizing why Sam was blind to things I didn't think he should have been blind to, and had me sympathizing with the guy more than I honestly ever thought I would again. His was a single-minded focus on two things: find Dean and save Dean. Everything else just...disappeared into white noise. That's gotta be how he was able to be grabbed so easily and why he didn't criple Cole's ride when he escaped. I kept shaking my head at the screen muttering, Seriously, Sam? How do you not know he's following you....
But then when Sam was facing Dean in that bar, tension and terror erasing years from his face, not backing down even when confronted with Dean's coldness, his mocking laugh, his frighteningly possible threats, and instead saying, we know how to cure demons, whatever happens we'll fix it, you're my brother and I'm going to take you home, I realized I was right there with him. I need Dean to be saved. To be saveable. I need him back, just as much as Sam.
So, whatever Sam missed along the way, whatever cues he ignored...I forgave him for it. Even when he got his ass handed to him yet again by Cole and didn't anticipate that the soldier who had managed to find him once would probably be following him -- eager to confront Dean -- and would also probably have soldier-type weapons like smoke/gas bombs...I forgave him.
Because at the end of the day, he got the job done that mattered: Dean in demon-subduing cuffs, in the back of the Impala, heading back to the bunker. Nicely played, Sam. You really must have an angel on your shoulder.
Which, speaking of...I'd really like to have less On the Road-ness from Hannah and Cas and get to the point of Cas' angel-flu. Most I got out of that whole thing was that the stairway to Heaven is still in the middle of a park (with a sandbox that apparently no kid plays in ever), some of Cas' grace may or may not still be around, and Cas wasn't willing to deal with Metatron to get it back. Yet. The fact that they exposed dealing with Metatron as a possibility has me thinking we'll head back down that gold-paved road at least one more time. Of all the creatures on this show, angels seem the slowest to learn lessons. Even demons get the hint eventually.
Though, with some, it takes a strong right hook to get the point across. I knew that Crowley's mancrush would meet an ugly end, and I can't say I wasn't a little pleased when Dean decked him. In fact, I liked that whole scene, starting with Crowley flipping out because Dean killed the client, not the mark. No client, no soul. Tsk tsk, demon!Dean. This will not look good on a resume!
Crowley: "Don't turn your back on me!"
Dean: [turns around looking Very Dangerous and sends Crowley across the floor with one punch]
Crowley: "What do you think you're doing?"
Dean: "Whatever I want."
Crowley: "You don't know what you want. What are you? Demon? Then why isn't Lester's wife dead? Maybe you're human, but you got those black peepers and are working with me. Do everyone a favor and PICK A SIDE!"
Dean: "Or what? Make a move. See how it ends." (Ya'll...I actually shivered when he said that.)
Crowley = scared.
Dean: "I'm not your bestie and I'm not taking orders. When I want to kill something, I'll call. Until then, stay out of my way."
Crowley: [frantically trying to save face in front of his demon lackeys] "The crazy ones are good for a fling. Not relationship material. Dean, it's not me...it's you."
Dean = cold-as-ice half-smile
It really came as no surprise that once Crowley figured out he had lost control of his pet -- one he'd been grooming for months, really, ever since he brought Dean the First Blade -- that'd he'd seek out Sam (or "Bullwinkle"...heh). I mean, now that Dean isn't working for him, he's basically working against him, but in a bigger way. It was bad enough for Crowley to have Dean as a force of good taking out his demons and laying waste to baddies like a Knight of Hell. But, having Dean on the Dark Side where he could, if he wanted to, actually usurp Crowley's power via a coup (or a beheading)...well, that's all kinds of bad for the King of Hell.
My only hope is that Crowley does actually follow through with getting the Blade far, far away. At least for a while. I'm sure it'll come back into play at some point and the boys will have to destroy it somehow, but I'd really like to 1) see what happens to Dean as a demon when the Mark of Cain is separated from the Blade and 2) give Sam a fighting chance to save his brother from his demon side.
We all have darkness in us. It's how we are able to recognize light. Most of us are able to bury it so deep it only comes out when our walls are torn down, but for some of us, it's always lurking, peeking around our shields, poking at our good intentions, turning innocent words into knives and glancing away when the cuts appear. I'm fascinated at the moment by the way they're showing us the darkness and light within each of the characters right now -- even those we don't know enough to really care about.
Cole is a husband, father, and soldier who survived two tours in Iraq and saved who knows how many lives doing so, but his lust for vengeance has him turning dark corners, willing to knee-cap a guy just to get information.
Hannah is an angel who was willing to make a deal with Metatron (arguably the new Devil) just to get Cas' grace back.
Castiel has already shown us his darkness and is now dying as a result of his willingness to kill one of his own for power, his light shining through in his resistence to save himself at any cost.
Crowley is willing to make a deal with Sam to save his own skin, which, for him, is dark.
Doing what they've had to for the majority of their lives, Dean and Sam have not only had lurking darkness, they've used it. Consciously. They've had to pull it out to get a job done knowing each time it could take more strength than they have to put it away again. The thing I think is compelling about the darkness in these two characters is that the only times they couldn't put it away is when a supernatural element was introduced to their lives. For Sam, it was having no soul or being hopped up on demon blood. For Dean, it's dying as a good man and returning as a demon, thanks to a brand of dark power.
When they are human, the light inside our two heroes throws the darkness within them to shadow, shoving it to the edge and thinning it until it's powerless. That's what makes me believe that even though there will be battle scars and even though we may all feel battered when it's over, Sam is going to find a way to save his brother from this. And, if the writers do it "right," that act has the power to balance the scales between them more than they've ever been before. Because it won't simply be Sam knows dark and Dean knows sacrifice, or Sam knows sacrifice and Dean knows mistakes; it'll be Sam and Dean know dark and sacrifice and mistakes and, ultimately, forgiveness.
Besides, Sam really needs someone to watch his back.
Thanks for reading -- hope to see you next week for a Jensen-directed episode!