Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 1: “Black”
Written by Jeremy Carver
Directed by Robert Singer
Airs Tuesdays at 9pm (ET) on The CW
It was inevitable that Dean would suffer lasting consequences from receiving the Mark of Cain last season, especially once he had killed Abaddon, and thus had no more need for the Mark or the First Blade. However, the ninth season finale’s final reveal that Dean had become a demon, a lifelong fear of his, drove home just how deep those consequences were. The tenth season opener takes a look at how Dean has changed as a result of his death last season, in a compelling episode that sets up a potentially fascinating Angel storyline as well.
The Angel issue raised in the season premiere is a promising storyline. As Hannah points out in this week’s episode, much of the Angels’ storylines have been about gaining control, be in Raphael and Castiel, or Metatron. Thus, it makes sense that the Angels would now try to self-govern, lest they fall prey to another power-hungry member of their own. However, as a group, autonomy remains a foreign concept to them, and the exploration of how Angels shakily go about rebuilding their entire purpose for existence can be fascinating to watch, in addition to providing a fresh perspective on the group. As the season continues, Angels are likely to clash over the best system of self-governance, particularly if they keep dying to enforce a particular style. In addition, the Angels who wish to stay out of Heaven could prove to be compelling themselves. The idea is not unprecedented, as Gabriel snuck away even before the Apocalypse was almost brought about, in large part because he no longer wanted to be involved in what was happening. If, however, Hannah insists on Angels falling in line, this would defeat the idea of self-governance, something Castiel is likely to realise and point out to her sooner or later. How the Angels adjust will be worth keeping an eye on over the course of the season.
Dean’s turn to the demonic side is also an intriguing aspect of the episode. While much of his behaviour, from the excessive drinking to the demon killing, seems to have carried over from his human days, his cold-hearted reaction to Sam’s kidnapper indicates that there has been a change. This particularly stands in contrast to Dean’s earlier behaviour with Sam, from pursuing the latter during his possession and time with Ruby, to berating Sam for not trying to get him out of purgatory. While the brothers have talked before about cutting the familial ties that remain their perceived Achilles heel, Dean’s disregard for Sam’s immediate condition is the strongest proof of the change in his personality brought about by becoming a demon. However, Dean’s disregard for the seat of power Crowley offers him this week also seems to indicate that the new Dean isn’t just an average demon either, which may mean some of his human characteristics are still in there. Combined with the Mark of Cain’s bloodlust, these factors seem to show a level of unpredictability to the new Dean that makes him a wild card in a way earlier seasons did not. With threats to Sam’s life now failing to faze him, it will be interesting to explore this new Dean more thoroughly, and see how he affects the season, especially if he sets his sights on a specific entity with the First Blade.
Overall, this is a promising start to the new season. Castiel’s diminishing grace, and his refusal to steal any more, puts an imminent expiration date on a major character. While it’s possible that is original grace may be found, the in-fighting amongst the Angels, combined with the uncertainty of whether Castiel’s grace has been corrupted by Metatron’s use, leaves the Angel in a somewhat precarious position. With the Winchesters having left Castiel alone, and his own insistence on trying to broker peace among the Angels, who eventually steps in to help Castiel will be worth keeping an eye on. It will be particularly nice to see, given the way many treated him last season, if the Angels put aside their differences to rally around saving Castiel, as it would also give the beings something new to believe in. Crowley’s disappointment over Dean’s refusal is also an interesting beat for the character, perhaps indicating that he’s not fully cured from the side effects of his addiction to human blood. How these characters and situations evolve over the course of the season will be worth watching out for.
– Deepayan Sengupta