To catch you up — in case you forgot any nail-biting moment from the midwinter finale, "The Things We Left Behind" — Crowley (Mark Sheppard) is catching up with his witch mother (no really, she's a witch) Rowena, and we left Dean Winchester kneeling in a pool of blood with the brutally murdered bodies around him.
Similar to other midseason episodes, "The Hunter Games" sets the tone for the rest of the season and heavily leans on the two plotlines that will carry us to the end:
As much as I'd like to assume it'll be easy to see where the first story line is going, nothing is ever that simple. Rowena is devious, sharp and power hungry. While Crowley appears to trust her (after five seasons, I sincerely hope he doesn't choose now to be sentimental), she absolutely uses it to her advantage. The episode opens with what turns out to be a dream sequence, Crowley getting an Angel Blade to the chest by his adviser (I wasn't kidding) and Rowena coming to his rescue.
Until she reaches into his throne, where he'd fallen asleep, and pulls out a hex bag. Because she planted the dream sequence! Throughout the episode, she spends a lot of time fawning over, and sweet-talking, her son. It's painfully obvious what she's doing: She's plotting to overthrow him and take her place as the Queen of Hell. She's setting it up rather well, though, and while I don't believe she knows of Crowley's affinity for human blood and how that got him a little in tune with human emotions, she's successfully planting seeds of doubt, which affects him more than it should. He's a demon with an unfortunate glimpse into the human psyche, and by the end of the episode, his trusted adviser is dead and paranoia is setting in.
Can I just say that despite the mind games, manipulation and the deep fear I have that Crowley will end up dead by the end of the season, she's got the best accent ever.
That leaves us with Team Free Will and the Mark of Cain. Season 10 is very much about fighting the demons inside and where the line is between humanity and being a monster. Every episode so far has touched on it: from Cole, to the werewolf siblings and to the greedy family, they're a direct and unmistakable mirror for the path both Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam are on.
Unlike Sam (Jared Padalecki), Dean has struggled with that side of him for years. He was raised as a hunter, trained as a soldier to kill anything evil — monsters, demons, angels, humans — and his scale of morality was based on that understanding. Now the demon is him, the lines are blurring, and the Mark, ever thirsting for blood and death, has got to go.
I'm glad I didn't have anything in my hands because after seeing Castiel's (Misha Collins) idea of figuring out how to remove the Mark, it would have ended up in my TV screen. Metatron, whom I love to hate, was snuck out of Heaven since the Mark of Cain has no written steps as to how to remove it, and the only one that might know would be the Scribe of Heaven.
Charming as ever and imprisoned in the Bunker, Metatron scoffs at Dean's attack on the Angel's morality and throws that back at the Winchester; purposefully picking at issues and igniting the rage inside Dean. Metatron lets Dean know that not only is the First Blade needed (awesome), it's a multi-step process and he's more than happy to tell Dean what those are but for a price. A very heavy price.
Dean chooses to torture the Angel instead. And while I was rooting for his eyes to go black (I 100 percent believe the Demon! Dean is still in there), Sam and Castiel manage to stop Dean from killing Metatron, the Scribe is taken back to Heaven and leaves the trio with a clue as to the next step: "The river ends at the source." Really? What does that even mean?!
The brothers have a "Boy Melodrama" scene (finally): Encouraging Dean not to give up, Sam tells him to own the power he has, fight against the Mark and not give in. In the end, we're left with more questions, few answers and a cool preview of the next episode where Charlie comes back from Oz.
Dean: "There was a time I was a hunter, not a stone-cold killer."
Crowley: "Mummy. Bored? Suicidal? Both?"
Rowena: "I will not apologize for being a career woman!"
Metatron: "My morality is being judged by Dean Winchester?"
Sam: "Look, Cain still has the Mark, right? And he's lived with it. For years, he's lived with it. So yeah, the Mark is strong. But Dean, maybe there's a part of you that wants to give into it. And maybe you have to fight that. Maybe a part of the powerful force has to be you."
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