Maybe I can finish these rewatches before the show comes back on in March - that'd be cool.
PAINT IT BLACK
So, this episode is one from Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner, who... let's face it, aren't the best writing team on staff - to put is politely.
That being said, there's some interesting concepts in this episode - intentional or not, or explored or not. One, I think, is the commentary on the fact that society today seems less and less willing to forgive, even when penance has been served - which, might be a false observance, maybe society has never been forgiving, or, we're actually better than we've been in the past, but my view has been skewed by the fact that extreme opinions and sensationalism "sell" better on TV.
Still, there's the concept of forgiveness and penance - if a man kills another man, goes to prison for 25 years or so for it, goes to therapy in prison (one can dream), sees the error of his ways, is truly regretful, do we forgive him? If you're the dead-man's widow, maybe you don't, maybe you never can, and fair enough for you. If you're a random member of society, I think you should. Recently, HONY (Humans of New York) did photos of people in prison and conducted small interviews with the prisoners, and one of the prisoners had a great quote, which, paraphrased, was something along the lines of "We always want the ultimate punishment for the mistakes of others, but the ultimate forgiveness for our own."
Of course, forgiveness is only possible, in my opinion, if the person who has made the mistake is regretful. Now, I know Mandela is famous for forgiving those who imprisoned him, but I'm not Mandela. In my opinion, you don't deserve to be forgiven if you aren't sorry.
Crowley and Rowena in hell, and Rowena has been causing problems.
Rowena: "The Grand Coven is the supreme command of all witchcraft, without their sanction I'm forbidden to practice!"
Crowley: "Forgive me, I hadn't noticed you'd stopped."
Rowena: "That! Parlor trick! I'm capable of greatness. Given free reign I could be unstoppable."
- I'm with Crowley on this one. I think the only thing stopping Rowena from doing bigger things is the fact that the coven must be actively hunting her and she doesn't want to draw attention to herself. But, even if they weren't, if she did anything to big, she'd probably attract hunters attention too. I don't know, maybe not.... hunters (or at least Sam and Dean) are notoriously bad at killing witches.
Rowena: "...after all I've done for you."
Crowley: "And what would that be?"
Rowena: "I gave you life, sunshine, without me, you wouldn't exist."
- I always hate that guilt-trip from parents (on TV, my parents have the good sense not to be completely douchebags). I always feel like quoting Kahlil Gibran at them - "Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself."
Then we get Sam and Dean in the car...
Then we get the nuns. Lalala... I don't have much to say. We get the flashback to Italy. Anyway, let's talk more about forgiveness - in the religious sense this time. Are catholics truly repentent when they go to confession, or is it literally a "get our of jail free" card - say your Hail Mary's and have a clear conscience for a week before you sin again and repeat? How can you tell which it is? And, does it matter? If you're judging someone based on whether or not GOD should forgive them, well, that's not your call to make - it's not even the priest's. I don't believe in God, but I do know that if Sue is asking John to forgive her, I can't decide on behalf of John whether or not he does. So, what happens when John can't speak for himself and I have to guess? I'd probably say, "Well, apologize to John by telling him a whole bunch of times how sorry you are, then never do the thing again, and then John will probably forgive you - if, you know, he can tell that you really mean it." And that's basically all priests are doing... "God forgives you" is just their really short form of saying that (also, there's the whole theology thing with New Testament God being the forgiving sort - so it's sort of like saying, "John is super duper into forgiving people, so yeah, apologize, don't do the thing again, and I'm 99% sure that he'd put you back in his good books.") But even priests can't legit speak for God, in my opinion, anyway. They can just make guesses as to what they think God would or wouldn't be cool with - therefore, you're always free to disagree with them, though obviously, if you're going to do that confidently, you should at LEAST read the bible a few times and build up a good argument. You can't just walk around saying, "well I think God would be fine with me killing people." Because, I'm pretty sure that's not backed up anywhere... though, granted, it HAS been a while since I read the bible, so I could be forgetting something.
Good Nun: "We're supposed to enter the convent for some higher purpose - but many of us chose this because of the things that overwhelmed us."
- We also have the theme in this episode of how Dean can relate to this nun. Which, we'll get to later - but here, she talks about the nunnery (I just like that word, I know it's not called that these days) as an ESCAPE from life, rather than a calling to something greater. Which, she admits, isn't how you're supposed to see it. It's supposed to be a greater commitment and responsibility, not a hiding place. BUT, I know a fair number of people who have found religion to be a really great place to hide, in some form or another... both in a good sense (finding comfort in bad times) and a bad sense (refusing to face the reality of the world/adulthood or the plight of your fellow man, by effectively burying your head in the sand.)
Dean: "Okay, AGENT, why don't you get that cellphone back to the Bureau's crime lab, get it hacked, like you told those guys, and uh, we'll figure out what's going on..."
- I love how Dean actually still uses their FBI speak, even though there's no one around listening to them. They don't have a crimelab. Sam is going to take that cellphone back to their motel room and hack it himself. :P
- It kind of makes me want them to actually refer to parts of their motel rooms by different names. Like, the desk is the "crime lab" and the bed is the "agent quarters" and the coffee maker is the "cafeteria" etc. Haha... I amuse myself, but mainly you just have to understand that I live in a one room apartment and refer to my bookshelf as "the library" my desk as "the office", one of my kitchen counters is "the craft room" and my bed and nightstand are "the bedroom." I will actually use these terms too... like "man, I really need to dust the library" or "I should tidy up the bedroom" or "My office is a mess!" (Which literally just means my DESK is a mess).
Anyway... next victim. I like that his wife is of average weight for a woman, rather than a super duper skinny actress. Anyway, poor wife, she's going to be traumatized for life now.
The boys spend a LOT of time in suits in this episode. Makes my clothing cataloging easy peasy.
I like how the Good Nun is super into procedual murder shows, or at least, must be, because she's so into the investigation.
Dean: "I got a question. How does someone like you end up... you know"
Nun: "Cloistered away from the world? Are you making fun of me, Agent Olmond?"
Dean: "I guess I'm just wondering how somebody quits one life for something completely different and then believe in it so much."
Nun: "Well, in my case, I felt I had no choice - my life had become painful, there was hopelessness, I felt I had to find something larger than myself to focus on - a kind of mission, I guess. You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure."
Dean: "Don't be."
- I like Dean's response there. It's better than what my brother's would have been, because he gets SUPER OFFENDED if you suggest that he can't emphathize with you or has never experienced something. I mean, he's Canadian, so he'll be polite about it - but yeah, never assume that someone can't relate to you. It's insulting to that person, and also kind of arrogant to believe that your experiences are so unique that no one else has lived them or can relate. (Of course, this doesn't go for people who have lived trough super extreme things - like, I don't think Holocaust survivors are arrogant. More like, people who think you have no idea the pain they feel when their pet dies. We've all been there, and if we haven't, then I'm pretty sure we can imagine someone/thing we love dying and think "yes, that'd be horrible.")
- Anyway, I do like how, even though it's slightly inconsistent with post-Executioner's Song Dean, that Dean's still trying to figure out possibilities for escaping his fate - even if he's maybe doing it subconsciously. Dean's in a pretty hopeless place right now, and the fact that he can see that he's talking to someone who obviously left one path and chose another, and then asks about, and finds that they too were in a hopeless situtation and found comfort/escape from that situation by devoting themselves to a "mission", well - that's a good sign for Dean's mental state. Dean has said previously that he wanted to dedicate whatever time he had left to hunting/saving people ... and that DOES keep Dean focused, AND it, at least in some small way, satiates the hunger for blood that the Mark gives him, though, it also might just make that hunger worse. That's up for debate.
I've gotten side-tracked, back to the show...
Dean: "Sammy, how long's it been since my last confession?"
Sam: "You've never been to confession."
Dean: "Well that's too long."
- Cute, also, nice continuity in remembering that the boys aren't catholic. Not that it's a hard thing to do, but at this rate, I'm just happy whenever they keep any sort of continuity. :P
Back with Crowley and Rowena...
And Rowena finally has a chance to get her revenge on Olivette.
Olivette: "I do not grovel in front of she who lay with a non-magic and hatched his spawn."
Rowena: "My personal life was none of your business. I could have been your super star."
Olivette: "When we initiated you into the Coven we did overlook your private lapses because of your talent. We'd thought you'd outgrow your reckless selfish ways, but oh no, they just grew out of control. And now look at you, consorting with demons."
Rowena: "Quite the speech, considering your in my son's palace."
Rowena: "You see, my son, the spawn you speak of, is now the King of Hell - tall Cinderella story, I'd say."
- It's interesting, because at first it seems that Olivette is suggesting that it was Fergus|Crowley's existence that caused Rowena to get kicked out of the Coven - which would go to explain Rowena's hatred of him, I suppose. BUT, then Olivette undermines that by saying that they DID overlook Rowena's personal life in favour of her talent (and we know from S11 that Rowena was not yet powerful when she gave birth to Fergus, so Fergus is DEFINITELY the personal life that they were overlooking) - and instead, it was ROWENA that got HERSELF kicked out by being SELFISH and RECKLESS. IE: Probably drawing attention to the Coven in pursuit of her own power/wealth/self-interests, and not caring about what it meant for the other witches in the coven or any rules that the coven may have held. So, if Rowena DOES blame Crowley at all for her misfortunes, it's a misplaced blame - at least in this one respect.
- I like how despite the fact that Rowena is a horrible parent, she's fully taking advantage of the life her son has established for himself. And I say "like" because it's exactly what really crappy parents do - take credit for their children's accomplishments as though they had a hand in them, when in most cases, the child has succeeded completely on their own and despite being DISADVANTAGED by their craptastic parent.
Back to the Nuns... and we find out that the accented nun is from Italy. I wonder how the ghost learned English... or if there's a universal translator for the dead that will make you preceive their speech in your native language regardless of who you are or the ghost is.
And ghost!Nun is an example of someone who does not take rejection well. Usually, a result of entitlement.
Anyway... back to Rowena and Olivette.
Rowena tells us what I supposed before - that Rowena wasn't satisfied with staying in the shadows.
Olivette: "...the coven is pale relec of it's past power. Weakened by witchhunts, burning at the stake, endless persecution and all of it was engineered by them."
Olivette: "Oh, haha, not as quick as I'd have thought. It's a rabid group of sanctimonious do-gooders dedicated to our downfall".
- That's some nice alliteration.
Olivette: "...they then plundered our spells and secrets and shipped them to hidden bunkers all around the world."
Rowena: "It appears you hate them more than you do me."
Olivette: "They tried to destroy our world - hording unbelievable power for their own amusement.... the Men of Letters."
- Sounds like whatshisface, that guy who took the Magnus name. Horace? Hector? Damn, I forget his name - but he had the First Blade and the zoo. Anyway, he's the only one who did it for his own amusement, I think everyone else was just trying to save lives and/or get the upperhand on their enemies.
Dean in confession... and now we get the scene where a LOT of destiel shippers went mad. But, I'll try to take a step back and see what I can make of it.
Dean goes for the fake confession, making himself appear to be a cheater.
Father: "Is there anything else on your mind, Agent Olmond."
Dean: "What if I said I didn't want to die, yet, that I wasn't ready."
Father: "Are you expecting to?"
Dean: "Always. The life I live, the work I do, I pretty much just figured that that was all there was to me, you know? Tear around and jam the key in the ignition and haul ass 'til I ran out of gas. I guess I just thought, sooner or later, I'd go out the same way that I lived, pedal to the metal and that would be it."
Father: "But now?"
Dean: "Now, um, recent events - uh - made me think I might be closer to that then I really thought. And I don't know, I just- there's things, people, feelings, that I want to experience differently than I have before, or maybe even for the first time."
- So, yeah, people and feelings that you want to experience differently or for the first time, definitely sounds like you're talking about romance/love. And, given the dirth of people in Dean's life, I definitely do not blame anyone for reading a destiel slant to that.
- That being said, there's also the fact that, I think, no matter when you die (unless you're like 106 and just super tired of life), there's probably a part of you that is constantly thinking, "no, there's still so much that I want to do - that I haven't done - that I've done but want to do again, differently." One of my favourite poems by Jack Gilbert is about this. "I Imagine the Gods..." and basically it's the Gods offering someone a chance for wealth, power, etc, at the end of their life, and the person responds with the tiny things that they would do again,or differently, that have nothing to do with wealth or power, fame or influence, but instead, what they want is for the gods to is to "Teach me mortality, frighten me into the present. Help me find the heft of these days. That the nights will be full enough and my heart feral."
Father: "Go a little deeper perhaps, with Gina."
Dean: "Yeah, yeah, I'm just starting to think there's more to it all than I thought."
Father: "Learning that there's more to the universe than your tiny world can be a frightening discovery. Do you truly believe in God, Agent? Because, that can be a comfort."
Dean: "I believe there is a God. But I am not sure he still believes in us."
- I think "there's more to it" means something different to Dean than it does to the priest. To Dean, it means that despite his love of the road, his brother at his side, he wants to experience all life has to offer before he dies - like Jack Gilbert's poem, he wants to fall in love one last time - "let me at least fail at life." Dean's realizing that here, at the end of his life, there's still so much that he'd like to experience that he realizes that there was more to life THE WHOLE TIME.
- I also like (and don't like) Dean's response to the "do you believe in God?" question. Because Dean is my favourite Atheist living in a confirmed-existence-of-God universe, any response he gives to that question is going to be interesting. So, for one, he HAS to "believe" in God, because God is a fact for Dean, so it's no longer a question of faith to acknowledge his existence. What IS a question of faith is whether God cares about the world/will ever return, and I think that's what Dean means by his answer here - that yes, God exists, but God does not care about Dean and God is not going to save him. So, in that respect, Dean is still very much an atheist, where God brings him no comfort. Now, the problem I have with the line is that the way he phrases it, it leaves it open for the interpretation (equally valid) that what Dean is saying is that God isn't around because God has lost faith in humanity... that God doesn't care about them through some fault of HUMANITY rather than a fault of God. I don't like this interpretation, because Dean has always been a humanist at heart, and for me, that interpretation comes at humanity from a disgraced location - from a position of needing forgiveness from, or to prove oneself to, a higher power. Rather than the higher power needing forgiveness or to prove themselves to humanity/Dean - which has always been Dean's stance before.
- Now, this could all be because Dean is especially down on himself this season, that's valid. He DID get himself manipulated into getting the MoC, after betraying his brother's trust, and then became a demon, and will probably become one again, so, maybe Dean IS pretty goddamn sorry and feels the need to find forgiveness and prove himself worthy of a higher power to rescue him... but, I guess I just prefer my Dean to be the beautiful humanist atheist that he is. And I think he can be down on himself for all those things and still think that God's a piece of trash that Dean would gladly kill if given the opportunity. :P
And then the ghost goes after the priest for forgiving men (even though it's his job, like I already talked about) and the Good Nun learns that the ghost is an insane woman.
SEXY TIMES! Also apprently Good Nun reads Middle-Ages Italian.
Sam: "Wait a second, so you're just comfortable around ghosts?"
Nun: "As a spiratual person I've accepted many planes of existence. And as I've said, they've all been harmless."
- Lucky nun so far, just gets the sad/confused ghosts who need to talk it out.
And Dean tells Sam to burn the journal, assuming that's the teather. Thankfully, Sam never listens.
Back to Rowena...
Rowena: "How do I find the Men of Letters?"
Olivette: "I don't even think they exist anymore. I heard that the American chapter was extinguished in the 1950s, but apparently two of it's members survive. The hunters Sam and Dean, Winchester."
Rowena: "The Winchesters. Again with the Winchesters. Perpetually the Winchesters."
- I do love that last line, because yup, that pretty much sums up the show.
- Also, I love Famous Sam and Dean Winchester, because at this point, they would be famous among any sentient and connected supernatural being on earth.
- Olivette does beg the question though - what about the other chapters of the Men of Letters? Were they ALL extinguished Abaddon style? Or just the Americans? Are there Men of Letters in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific just sitting around being like "Let's just stay away from America, guys, it's so fucked there." "Word."
Olivette: "You better be careful Rowena, there's a line that cannot be crossed. Witch on witch murder is anethema to the community."
Rowena: "The community? Who needs them?"
- You know... I sort of feel like S10 was all about setting up Rowena to be an ACTUAL formidable enemy in S11, and then... they just decided to go a completely different direction once they actually sat down to write S11. So, there's all this great build up for Rowena to be what Crowley once was (someone that they couldn't pin down, manipulative, full of tricks, etc, and NOT an ally) and then it just didn't go anywhere. Her escape in 10x23 was the last cool thing she did. But, yeah, getting ahead of myself.
Back to Dean and Sam...
Oh yeah, the painter was also completely insane - because he wanted her blood to mix into the paint. I'd forgotten that bit. It'd have been cool if it was like A Picture of Dorian Gray. Oh hey, then she ups him again in the insane department and cuts off her finger... gross!
And Dean finds dead priest.
And Good!Nun is already possessed.
Sam burns everything and saves the day! Yay! Also, apparently Sam can also read Middle Ages Florencian Italian.
And Olivette is a hamster.
Crowley: "What is it that you want?"
Rowena: "Well, Fergus, since you asked. These friends of yours, the Winchesters, I hear they are - whatchu call it, Men of Letters?"
Rowena: "I see, well, about that..."
Crowley: "We've been through this, my relationship with the Winchesters is my business - I'll handle them. I'm not killing them."
Rowena: "Alright, deary, of course, whatever you say."
- So, does Crowley not kill the Winchesters out of sentiment or our of strategy? Personally, I think it's strategy. He's told us, why back in S6, that he's the only one that doesn't underestimate those "denim-clad nightmares." (or whatever the noun is that he uses). I think he knows that if he actively went against them, that he would be the one to die. He knows that as long as he's occassionally helpfull to them, they can strike a balance. The last time, it was, after all, the Winchesters who were actively going against Crowley - by trying to close the gates of Hell and/or standing in the way of Crowley getting power from the demon tablet, but even then, Crowley ended up on the losing side of the situation. I think that by now, he's learned his lesson.
- I'd also like to point out the SMALL parrallel here of Rowena and Crowley. Rowena, earlier, was definding her "personal life" against Olivette, saying it was none of her business - and here, Crowley is effectively doing the same thing with Rowena... much like Rowena didn't see how screwing a non-magic dude and having a son should mess with her chances of joining the coven (and it seemingly didn't, except to be used in insults against her), Crowley doesn't see how keeping a working relationship with Dean and Sam should affect his ability to run Hell or have a relationship with his mother.
Dean: "Who mixes their blood and bown into paint? No woman's ever done that for me."
Sam: "Is this you thanking me, for not doing what you told me to do?"
Dean: "You know, if you had burned the journal, then we wouldn't know how to kill her would we."
Sam: "Yeah, you're welcome!"
- And here we have the leeway Sam needs to justify what he does from 10x18-23, ie: Go behind Dean's back, expressly against his wishes, in order to save him. For better or for worse, it's worked well here in Sam's favour, and, well, if you believe that turnabout is fairplay, then it just gets back at Dean for the Gadreel incident. Trade Kevin for Charlie, and you get one Winchester wreeking mayham in order to save the other one, when it's exactly the opposite of what the other wanted. Of course, this being Supernatural, Sam's screw-ups affect the entire planet, while Dean's screw-ups only ever affect Sam and their immediate family.
Sam: "You know, you were in that confessional a long time. Look man, I'm just saying, I'm your brother, if you ever need to talk about anything with anybody - you got somebody right here next to you."
Sam: "I heard what Sister... was saying about hiding pain by taking on a mission, and I know that's what you're doing, a little bit, and it's fine, you know, I get it... but I don't buy for one second that the Mark is a terminal diagonsis, so don't go making peace with that idea. There has to be a way, there will be a way, and we will find it, that's what we do! So believe that!"
Dean: "Okay, Sammy."
Sam: "You wanna, you wanna try that again, like you mean it?"
- So, Sam starts off well here. "I'm hear if you need me" and then ruins it by basically saying "but if you don't agree with me, I will yell at you until you tell me what I want to hear - effectively making your problems about me."
- So, point won and then immediately lost.
And that's the end of disc 4! Woot!