Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 10: “Torn and Frayed”
Written by Jenny Klein
Directed by Robert Singer
Airs Wednesdays at 9pm (ET) on CW
Sacrifice has been a running theme in Supernatural since the first season. Over the years, the Winchester brothers have had to give up a lot, both in terms of people they’ve forged a bond with in the line of duty, and outsiders with whom they’ve developed an emotional attachment. With Sam and Dean last clashing over Benny, and the disparity between their level of trust with regards to him, another sacrifice from the Winchesters, in some form or another, was seemingly due as well, and with Castiel seemingly still not quite himself, things were bound to get worse for the brothers, and if history was any indication, that would happen sooner rather than later. This episode sees the Winchesters tackle the issue of making some necessary, yet painful, changes to gear up for the road ahead, delivering a superb episode in the process that opens up some significant new storylines for the season.
Perhaps the best aspect of this episode was that it allowed for a further expansion of present-day Heaven and Naomi. Naomi’s motivations with regards to Castiel and Heaven have been foggy ever since the latter’s seemingly magical return from Purgatory, and this episode went a long way towards shining a light on that. Naomi’s actions fall perfectly in line with what previous angels, such as Uriel, Raphael, and Zachariah have done under the declared excuse of “the greater good”, and she showed the clearest potential this week of joining the ranks of the aforementioned gallery, controlling Castiel into killing Samandriel to protect her secret, and having clearly tampered with Castiel the way Crowley did with Samandriel. It will be very interesting to observe how Castiel’s future interactions with Naomi go, and if he once again becomes an opposing force and beacon of hope to the dominant power in Heaven. What exactly Naomi has done to Castiel, and whether other angels are also under her influence the way he is, will also be avenues worth exploring, and hopefully the show goes down that route. The existence of an angel tablet also opens up some interesting possibilities for a power tussle between Crowley and Naomi, with Kevin Tran likely caught in the middle of two opposing forces, neither of whom have shown compassion so far.
Speaking of Kevin, his appearance spoke volumes despite its brevity. He has come a long way since his selection as the new prophet, and his actions and thoughts this episode were very reminiscent of the Dean Winchester we’d seen in early seasons, the weight of the world on his shoulders, looking forward because he cannot afford to look anywhere else. Kevin, however, is surrounded by a radically different set of individuals than Dean was; his mother and Garth are both calming influences who are aware of the bigger picture, and Dean himself is older and wiser, so it will be interesting to watch how these new factors affect Kevin’s development, particularly with the possibility that Naomi may be gunning for him as well.
Benny’s arc this season has also been unexpectedly compelling. Hopefully this episode, despite Dean saying a permanent goodbye to him, is not the last of Benny, as his story has perhaps been the most tragic out of the three musketeers who fought together in Purgatory. With his once-love, his granddaughter, and now Dean all exiting from his life for some reason or the other, Benny is stuck between a rock and a hard place, with a built-in existential crisis about why he returned from Purgatory already in place, meaning where he goes from here would make for one of the more gripping character arcs of this show. It may be a pipe dream, but the possibility of Benny and new werewolf Kate, from this season’s Bitten, finding each other and joining forces to keep each other on the good path sounds quite exciting, despite the lack of possibility of that occurring.
The subplot of Sam and Amelia was also quite fascinating. The latter came off more well-rounded this episode than she has in Sam’s prior flashbacks, and her re-connection with the younger Winchester brother, especially given what the writers have revealed about Sam’s desire to move away from hunting and start a family over the years, was particularly insightful. The relationship between the two was clearly an equal one, rather than Sam simply projecting his happiness at getting out on her, and this episode offered the strongest proof of that. Whether Amelia makes a return appearance or not remains to be seen, but Sam’s decision to stay with his brother and fight against the forces of evil, rather than go live a life with Amelia that he has clearly always wanted, is given its due weight, and illustrates the fundamental Winchester trait; to do good even if it leads down the path of no rewards. There’s an interesting parallel, however, in both times Sam has chosen to walk away from Amelia, as he has done so out of a sense of responsibility, rather than an internal desire. The first time, he felt a sense of responsibility towards Amelia and her husband, and this episode, he felt the responsibility of helping Dean and others in closing the gates of hell.
Overall, this was a wonderful episode, and a fine one to come back from the winter hiatus on. It was good to see the Winchester brothers communicating once again, and though both had to make major sacrifices this episode, it was good to see the familial bond was not severely damaged as a result. The fight between Heaven and Hell also got some interesting new stakes, with both parties now on the offensive as well as on the defensive, how both Naomi and Crowley proceed cannot really be predicted, particularly as the latter is now aware of how to effectively trap and torture an angel. How the Winchesters move forward with trying to determine what issue plagues Castiel, as well as what happens to Kevin and Benny, and how Castiel deals with this newly unlocked information of what Naomi did to him, are all solid reasons to tune back in to this show next week.
– Deepayan Sengupta