Workin' on mysteries without any clues
Supernatural 11x03 - The Bad Seed, 11x04 - Baby
Let’s start with The Bad Seed, or as I like to call it, The Case of the Irritating No-Homos.
I didn’t like this episode much, which I’ll get to in a moment. But let’s start with the highlights.
I love her so. That dress was spectacular, and I love her “Mega Coven” and how she doggedly keeps calling it that in the face of eye-rolling. *smishes her*
That was the upside. Now the downside. The first three eps of a season tend to lay out the major themes and myth-arc, which means this was the final introductory episode in which Rowena could be given a major plot. She wasn’t. She was used to create friction between the brothers by reminding us of Sam’s lying, and conveniently cured Castiel before skipping off. Her Mega-Coven wasn’t given a major goal and wasn’t linked to Amara. In short, she’s now irrelevant to the plot. Ugh. I suppose it was too much to ask that there be two major women characters at the same time, but if they kill Rowena off I’m going to be so fucking pissed.
Another highlight was the bar scene between The Two White Grunts In Suits. It gave us some needed background on how the supernatural community is responding to the darkness, brought up Lucifer again, and was generally amusing. It also painted a picture of the current status quo being made up of smug white “men” bemoaning their privilege being threatened by a possible (female) change in management. Are we meant to be sympathetic to these dudebros? I wasn’t, but I did find them and their whinging funny. Frankly, Amara could snack on an infinite number of these white dudes and I would find it hard to care. I’m also now expecting Lucifer to appear, probably around the mid-season cliffy.
Finally, Crowley and Amara. I really do like Mark Sheppard, and he’s at his most hilarious when he’s being smarmy and avuncular. Uncle Crowley indeed. These scenes were gold. Oddly, though, given that Amara spent a bunch of these scenes eating people, I’m still not entirely sure she’s “evil”. She comes across as amoral to me so far, largely because she doesn’t understand the conventions of the world and has no ties to it. I like that. It’s scarier than the scenery chewing villains, because it’s possible she might just decide to click her fingers and undo everything God made. You can see that’s what Crowley is worried about - lovely acting by Sheppard. I’m pretty sure this means that our major theme of love/emptiness is going to come into play here, because the thing that stops that kind of finger snap is connection. Hmmm. Interesting when you consider how that might link to the themes the Winchesters are facing this season.
Anyway, they were the good things. The rest was mostly not actively terrible, it just wasn’t particularly interesting.
Castiel was still infected with the Mad Dog curse, so even though he was in the bunker, he got no real quality scenes with either Sam or Dean. It feels like a really long time since that’s happened, and I’m tired of it. But there’s no break in sight, as he was sidelined in the next ep too, with just phone calls, and especially that phone call that Dean mostly didn’t even hear. Very symbolic blah blah, but I’m just not interested. I want character interaction.
Which brings me to the two things I found really annoying about this episode: The Case of the Irritating No-Homos, and the lack of Sam plot.
Sam looked like he was going to get a proper plot this season, as Dean’s Mark of Cain plot was winding up last season. So far, we’ve had one sketchy vision and the Reaper’s promise, and not much else. I just want more for Sam at this point. How can the brothers resolve their shit if Sam gets no myth-arc stuff? Grrr.
And then there’s Dean and the no-homos. While Dean is chasing down Castiel, he stops and gawps at the random blonde walking by, who tells him to “Get a life”. And before Castiel does a runner, he stumbles across “Fortune Nookie,” a busty Asian beauties website on Dean’s computer.
Both of these things feel tired and unfunny. What I can’t decide is whether they are meant to feel tired and unfunny. I’m leaning towards yes, mostly due to the next episode which I’ll discuss shortly. But even if so, I find the whole no-homo thing super irritating.
My problem is that even if this is meant to be a tired and unfunny set of no homos, it comes back to the writers still not being ready to actually have the courage of their queer choices. If we had an actual friendly scene between Dean and Castiel that wasn’t mediated by Mad Dog curses or half-heard phone calls, I’d be more willing to cut some slack on the no-homos and see them as serving a thematic purpose. But as it is, it still seems like the writers are wanting their cake and eating it. They want to imply Dean’s queerness, without giving us any actual queerness. And because of that, the terrible tired no-homos still actually serve as no-homos, even if they also have a larger thematic purpose of reminding us of Dean’s emptiness and unsatisfied desires (for women).
Putting aside my irritation and lack of surety about how to read the no-homos, what I think they are meant to be doing is telling us that Dean’s heteronormative choices are tired and unfunny and going nowhere. They are all dead ends. “Get a life,” indeed, which is also, of course, one of the major themes of this season. What kind of life will Dean be getting, though? That is the question, and a central concern of the next episode, Baby, which was a complete delight!
I loved this episode. It combined so many of the great things about Supernatural. The Impala; the road; the working class, hand-to-mouth itinerant lifestyle that has made up so much of Sam and Dean’s lives; and the really clever ways the car was used to both forward the plot and tie in some major myth-arc elements. We even got a harking back to the Roadhouse and the Harvelles, people who were both hunters and had a life. Nice.
The episode was very much focused around this issue of what kind of life Sam and Dean could have which is a life more than hunting - they can’t even envision it right now and don’t know how to get it or escape their current toxic co-dependency even though they see the need. Sam has his one-night-stand who doesn’t want his number. Dean tells us “mistakes were made”, but didn’t overtly hook up as far as we know. In other words, he’s still empty, and his desires (for “Heather” I think her name was, in yet another tired no-homo – definitely seems like a theme at this point) are still unmet.
We see a toxic family who will do anything for each other. We get Sam’s vision (is it Lucifer? Michael? God?) and a reminder of John’s terrible parenting. And we get Castiel trying to connect with Dean and failing, and Dean not even realising it.
But we also get the brothers actually talking, connecting, sharing some of their secrets. We’re reminded of why they’re like this – the hothouse closeness of the Impala and the way everything else flashes past as the eat up the road.
This ep really hit all the bases, and if it had been bookended by a more character driven episode in 11x03, so that the miscommunication between Dean and Castiel had more pathos, and Sam had a bigger plot coming into the ep, it would have been perfect both in terms of monster of the week and myth-arc. Even so, it was damn fine.
I just really wish the writers would pull their finger out and either give us an actual Destiel will-they-won’t-they plot with actual character interaction, or give Dean a developed female love interest, or stop giving Dean myth-arc stuff about being empty and needing to be loved. The way they’re stretching out even confirming there’s a will-they-won’t-they plot, mainly by limiting the scenes between Castiel and Dean, is just beyond tiring. Season 8 didn’t feel like queerbaiting, but the way they’ve streeeeeeetched this pre-romance plot out so they don’t have to resolve it before a fade to black at the end of the show’s run does feel like queerbaiting. I’m not sure why it’s irritating me so much this season, but it really is.
Do Dean and Cas even like each other? Does anyone know? I honestly can’t remember any more.
All of that said, maybe they are going to go there with Dean and Amara, given what Bob Seger’s song Night Moves is about - a younger man falling for an older woman and getting his heart broken when she goes back to her soldier lover when he returns from the war.
Gotta say, though, I’d really rather not see any more of Dean’s failed romances. Over it. Like him, I want something new and different. It would be really nice if the show actually went there instead of just talking about it.
…and God divided the light from the darkness (11x01, 11x02)