SPN 10.18: “Book of the Damned” Review
“Book of the Damned” was season ten’s second episode starring writer Robbie Thompson’s inimitable Charlie Bradbury. Not only is Charlie smarter than Sam and as brave as Dean, she’s a crack shot, fights like a ninja, sews up her own gunshot wounds, and “friends” like a pro. She’s amazing – to an unrealistic degree. One of the things that has made Sam and Dean’s story believable is that they were raised to be hunters. John raised them as soldiers, but Charlie learned it all mostly on her own in just three years or so – I guess it was the all that guerrilla warfare in Oz.
Thompson also introduced a new element in the mythos – a family that is also searching for the Book of the Damned. Charlie first encountered Jacob Styne a cold-blooded Southerner with a Nazi-esque tattoo who we may speculate is connected to the Thule, who were first introduced in “Everybody Hates Hitler.” Styne confirmed how dangerous the book was in the wrong hands. Rowena’s interrogation of Olivette brought the Men of Letters back into the picture, and Styne may be the first clue that the Men of Letters’ nemeses are returning.
Whether one enjoyed the Castiel and Metatron road trip depends upon how much one hates Metatron’s gloating v. watching Cas punch him in the face. I liked it. Throughout the encounter, Metatron tried to play friendly with Cas, even saving Castiel’s life when attacked by a cupid, but Cas mulishly continued to say he was going to kill Metatron – not very strategic. Unsurprisingly, Cas was again duped by Metatron. Castiel apparently never learns from past experience. We should keep that in mind. One can hardly blame Metatron for taking advantage of Castiel’s credulity given Cas’s vow to kill him. In the end, Cas got his grace, and Metatron got the demon tablet, which no doubt has information regarding the Mark of Cain.
Styne and his crew tracked Dean back to Sam, Charlie and the Book of the Damned. Having realized earlier that the book had an unnatural influence on him, Dean ordered Sam to burn it. While Charlie and Dean fought off the attackers, Sam switched the real book for another. It appeared to me that Styne saw Sam wasn’t burning the book as Dean ordered and called Sam a “stupid boy” for it. Again, the suggestion is that Sam will be unleashing some catastrophically bad mojo if he uses it to remove the curse from Dean.
After two seasons of fans complaining that Sam never gets to talk to anyone, he had a heart-to-heart with Charlie that revealed little we didn’t know. It confirmed that Sam has accepted that hunting is his life. We knew that back in season six. And that he doesn’t want to do it without Dean. Isn’t that what running away and hooking up with Amelia was all about? One interesting point about the brothers’ that came up was Dean asserting that dealing with the Mark of Cain is his cross to bear and then Sam not destroying the book as Dean demanded. It’s very much like Sam negotiating to die at the beginning of season nine and Dean taking that decision away from him.
In the end, Sam sought to make a deal with Rowena to use the book and save Dean, but what will she want in return? Rowena is wily and treacherous. Not only does using the book have a negative effect, but dealing with her is a devil’s deal. The level of bad resulting from this deal could be catastrophic, but as Sam said, they’ll deal with the consequences after they save Dean. It’s reassuring to know that Sam is still willing to let the world burn for his brother.
One thing can be said for “Book of the Damned” – every character behaved in character. I’m reminded of Metatron’s closing statement in “Meta Fiction” regarding characters – “My job is to set up interesting characters and see where they lead me. The by-product of having well-drawn characters is…They may surprise you. But I know something they don’t know…the ending. How I get there doesn’t matter as long as everybody plays their part.” I can’t say anyone did anything surprising in “Book of the Damned.”