Supernatural meta, reviews & fic recs

SPN 10.20: “Angel Heart” Review

Sam, Claire, Castiel and Dean

After three relatively well-written, entertaining episodes, “Angel Heart” couldn’t have been much more of a letdown. A Monster of the Week episode that focused on Castiel’s relationship with the Novak family, it broke the pace of the build up to the season finale.

Claire Novak returned looking for her mother, Amelia, who she believed had abandoned her. To give credit where due, Claire was played more subtly in this episode and was more sympathetic. She was hot on Amelia’s tail when she was assaulted in an alley, and Castiel was called in as her emergency contact. He called Sam and Dean for help because they were once “troubled teens,” as he put it.

Amelia, it turned out, had been abducted by a rogue angel, one of the Gregori, which Castiel believed had been wiped out eons ago. Instead, this Gregori, who was going by the name Peter Holloway, was bleeding the soul of humans for the high, I guess. It’s not as though angels need to ingest human souls to live. The MO is suspiciously like that of the djinn. Logically, one might wonder why writer Robbie Thompson felt the need to create a new category of angel when the djinn are already part of the show’s mythology, but the answer is connected to Claire’s relationship with angels.

Castiel possessed her father and failed to protect him as promised, and rather than have Claire take her anger out on him, she is given this surrogate angel – a truly evil angel – to take out her vengeance on after he kills her mother. The fight scene in which Holloway was beating Castiel, Sam, and Dean, but gets a surprise blade in the back from Claire is inexcusably contrived. It’s reminiscent of Donna killing the vampire in “Hibbing 911” or Charlie killing the witch in “Slumber Party.” It’s kind of become a pattern. Who needs professional hunters when any amateur can kill the monster? It’s sad how inept the Winchesters have become.

Speaking of which, Sam got knocked out and tied up again. I’m beginning to suspect that there’s a standard outline for Supernatural episodes and that Sam being tied up is already filled in on multiple copies that showrunner Jeremy Carver hands out to the writers. At least, Sam was able to extricate himself from handcuffs this time instead of needing to be saved like a damsel in distress.

“Angel Heart” did little to progress the Mark of Cain narrative. Castiel seemed to think that Dean bouncing a man’s head off a table a couple of times was evidence that he “snapped.” I wonder what he’d have said about Sam doing the same to a bartender in “About a Boy.” The problem with the idea that Dean is going dark is that he appears in control. There’s just so little evidence shown that he is slipping into dangerous territory despite what Sam and Castiel keep saying. If they want viewers to believe Dean is going dark, they need to show it happening otherwise we have to question Sam and Castiel’s judgment.

One of the issues that vexes many Supernatural fans is the way Sam is continuously reminded of his mistakes while being ignored for saving the world. “Angel Heart” continues this dubious tradition with Dean telling Claire that Castiel saved the world. In fact, Castiel played his part as much as Dean or Sam in starting the apocalypse, and he certainly didn’t save the world alone. Somehow, Dean and Castiel never have to take the blame for the apocalypse, but are given credit for saving the world as Charlie did Dean in “Slumber Party.”

One would like to think that Carver has a long-term plan for making Sam the scapegoat, but it’s been three seasons, and nothing has come of it. There are just three episodes left of season ten in which Castiel and Dean could exhibit some self-awareness on the issue, but it’s unlikely to happen as the season builds to the finale which will focus on the Mark of Cain.

Charlie Bradbury will return in the next episode, “Dark Dynasty.” For the first time her character will be written by someone other than creator Robbie Thompson. Instead, Carver is taking a gamble with writing team Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming who have been taken to task for their writing of female characters in any number of episodes. See promo below for minor spoilers…

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