Episode 10×12 or “Dean Likes Taylor Swift”
So far this season: Dean’s been cured from demonism; Crowley was his BFF; Cas was losing his grace until Crowley saved him; and Sam has done his best to reign in Dean’s homicidal tendencies. Claire Novak has also reappeared and swears she doesn’t need a father figure. And Crowley has a mother?
*Spoilers ahead, darling*
“About A Boy” lights up on a drunkard being evicted from a dive bar. After his ejection, the man disappears in a bright light, leaving behind no evidence but his pile of crumpled clothes. Sounds like a case for the Winchesters.
If the montage is anything to judge by, Dean and Sam have been reading every bit of material that might present a solution to the Mark of Cain. Dean hasn’t left the bunker in over a week, and Sam has to coax his brother into agreeing to investigate the case. A homeless man claimed to have seen the abduction occur, and after a few tired alien abduction jokes (green dudes, bucket of lube, etc), the only useful information that the boys are able to gain from him is that he smelled flowers, or “flowery flowers.” Sam leaves to check out the vic’s apartment and Dean heads to the dive bar. To investigate. So much for that short-lived 12-step program, Dean.
At the bar, Dean meets a woman named Tina. Like Charlie in “There’s No Place Like Home,” Tina is a stand-in for Dean. She’s led a life similar to Dean’s–emotionally unavailable father, too many years spent in shitty hotels, a coping mechanism of alcohol and bad decisions–and for a moment it seems like Dean’s going to be another of her bad decisions. Honestly, I was shocked when she left the bar without slipping Dean her motel room key (although if I ran into someone who looked like Jensen Ackles…well…that’s a whole other thing entirely). Dean notices a strange man following Tina as she leaves, and he trails him. Flash. Bam. Dean’s a teenager again because magic.
Yes, the reason we all tuned in on Tuesday (okay, Wednesday for those of us overseas) was to see Teen!Dean. Dylan Everett, who also played a younger Dean in “Bad Boys,” absolutely embodies Jensen Ackles’ mannerisms and enchants us with his “One Direction reject” swagger. After a short adjustment period and a strange cake eating sequence, Dean escapes the creepy serial killer basement they’re trapped in, promising to return for Tina. When Dean shows up at his and Sam’s motel room, there’s the obligatory puberty jokes (Dean’s unduly excited about having a ‘virgin liver’), a beautifully funny moment in which Dean admits to enjoying Taylor Swift’s music, and a moment when Sam is mistaken for Dean’s father. It’s been a long time since I’ve laughed so often, or so hard, while watching Supernatural. With all the sh*t the boys put us through, it’s about time we had a laugh! However, jokes aside, the upside to Dean’s newfound youth is that the Mark of Cain has disappeared, and Dean will get the chance to start over if he chooses not to reverse the spell.
The boys return to the creepy serial killer house to save Tina. The man who abducted Dean and Tina turns out to be Hansel…as in Hansel and Gretel. Having just watched Zoolander before watching this episode…I can’t refrain from including this gif. Hansel claims that he’s enslaved to the witch he works for, and that he’d kill her if he had a chance. Surprise, surprise, he’s lying. The witch (Downton Abbey’s Lesley Nicol) reveals that she was sent to America by the Grand Coven to get rid of Rowena, but apparently decided to stop along the way and cook up some spell-induced prepubescent snacks. Yum. An altercation ensues, during which Dean smashes the hexbag and he returns to his normal Jensen “McHottie Pants” Ackles incarnation. He pushes the witch in the oven, making sure the Grimm brothers’ fairytale remains accurate even several hundred years later.
In the end, it’s Tina and not Dean who gets the fresh start in a new town, and the Winchesters drive away in Baby, Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” a surprisingly apropos send off as they continue to look for a solution to the Mark of Cain.
What This Episode Reveals About The Winchesters
We learned one really big thing about Dean Winchester in “About A Boy”: he may not be as keen to get rid of the Mark as we are willing to believe. In “There’s No Place Like Home,” we had a parallel story in Charlie that reflected Dean’s need to embrace his inner darkness. In “About A Boy”, the parallel in Tina’s story foreshadows that perhaps a “clean slate” isn’t in the cards for the older Winchester. All signs point to Dean learning to accept, and forgive, himself in order to control the Mark. Acceptance? Forgiveness? Both are tall orders for the Winchester. Perhaps he should try growing a beard like Cain instead.
Is it just me, or was Sam a little OOC this episode? I’m thinking particularly of the bar scene in which he used physical force to obtain information about his brother. It seemed really unusual for Sam to use excessive force while in a crowded public setting. This, along with the flashbacks of Sam torturing a demon in the first episode of the season…what is going on with Sam? Is the Mark affecting him by proximity? Perhaps it’s just my desire for a quality subplot for the younger Winchester projecting itself into a regular MoTW episode, or perhaps Sam has a bigger role to play than “supportive brother of a recovering homicidal addict.”
The Big Picture
With the season more than half over, I’m not surprised that the writers inserted a mention of the Grand Coven into a MoTW episode. Aside from the Mark posing an ever-looming threat, Rowena is the closest thing to a villain in the tenth season, and, in a refreshing change, it looks like the Big Bad the boys will be facing off with in the season 10 finale will be of neither angelic nor demonic origin. Halle-friggin-lujah. If the Grand Coven is full of more powerful and snarky women like Rowena, well, Crowley better watch out because Mummy Dearest is in the game and she’s playing for keeps. She’d make a pretty Empress of Hell, don’t you think?
Supernatural returns February 10.