Episode 10×16 or “The One With The Nuns”
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. Cain has confirmed that there is no cure for the Mark. And Crowley has a mother? Spoilers ahead.
The episode lights up on a case of suspicious suicides that lead the Winchesters to investigating a Catholic Church. A nun, Sister Mathias, and a priest help them with their investigation. The ghost of a sixteenth century Italian nun, Isabella, haunts the church and is causing the suicides/homicides. Meanwhile, Crowley obtains the head of the Grand Coven, Olivette, for his mother, Rowena. Rowena tortures the witch until she finds out that the Grand Coven has been mostly destroyed, thanks mostly to the Men of Letters (cue the impending Rowena/Winchester standoff).
The Big Picture
This episode was not the most complicated, or dynamic, in terms of plot. In some ways, it was refreshing to see the Winchesters tackling a simple haunting that wasn’t overbearingly full of parallels to the larger myth arc. It was also nice to see some of the old gadgets, like an EMF detector.
There were a few things the episode left us to ponder, such as: Rowena’s desire to obtain the magical artifacts of the Men of Letters, aka the Winchesters.This undoubtedly sets Rowena up as the main aggressor that the boys will face at the end of the season. It also places Crowley in a precarious position: to choose between the boys and his mother. We’ve seen the King of Hell’s begrudging affection for the Winchesters grow over the past few seasons, and perhaps this turn of events will finally push him off the pot and into choosing whether or not to kill his “friends.” (I use that term loosely).
The real heart of the episode lies in Dean’s confession to the priest, however. While Tumblr was atwitter with Dean’s declaration that he was tired of chasing women, I think that the biggest soul-baring Dean does is when he talks to the priest about God. “I believe there is a God,” Dean says, “But I’m not sure he still believes in us.” Dean’s classically deistic attitude implies that he not only accepts an absent God, he expects God’s abandonment. For a man who has been cursed by the worst Evil, it shows a fairly low expectation of salvation if he won’t even chance praying to God–and a God may be the only way to save him from himself. The show has long hinted at the presence of a Higher Being–who the audience knows to be Chuck–that remains largely uninvolved with the trajectory of humanity’s fate. Castiel once went looking for his Father, but the search turned up nothing. In “The Executioner’s Song,” Cain confirmed that nothing Dean could do can save Dean from the Mark, yet the reappearance of Chuck in “Fan Fiction” indicates that there is someone who could save him. In Dean’s confession, he indicates that he wants to experience things that he’s never felt before. Perhaps the answer to Dean’s plight is something he’s never had in himself: faith.
Until next week, hunters, when Bobby returns.
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