Supernatural “Angel Heart” Review (Season 10, Episode 20)

Supernatural Angel Heart Season 10 Episode 20 (12)

T.S. Eliot once said that most of the evil in this world is done by people with good intentions. That seems to be a recurring theme in the world of Supernatural. Sometimes no matter how hard Sam, Dean and Cas try, their best intentions just end up causing more pain. It’s a burden each of them carries and deals with in their own way. I was trying to work out how I felt about this week’s Supernatural, and I guess the best way to describe my feeling is underwhelmed.

The first issue with this episode was its placement. This whole season, but especially the last half, has built up a pretty solid momentum surrounding Dean’s struggle against the Mark of Cain. This episode brought all of that positive momentum to a screeching halt. Not only did it barely make mention of the Mark, Dean’s struggle wasn’t even a central aspect of the episode. Dean’s fighting the Mark has been the only real story arc they’ve had this season, and for an episode to almost steer completely clear of it this close to the end of the season is baffling to say the least. Perhaps if this episode had happened closer to the mid-season finale it wouldn’t have felt so oddly placed. I don’t know. This just doesn’t seem like a good spot for it.

My primary issue with this episode, though, was how contrived it felt. Before I get too far into this, I feel that in the interest of full disclosure I must say I am not a fan of Claire Novak. Her re-introduction into the story was unnecessary and I find her character grating on a good day. That being said, it felt like every situation in this episode occurred solely so that something else could happen. For example, Claire’s search for her mother felt less like a natural character progression and more like a means to set up a situation for Cas to re-enter Claire’s life and save her again. It’s not that Claire didn’t care about her mother. Of course she did, but Claire seemingly had no desire to search for her mother prior to Cas showing up in her life again, so why now? What’s changed such that Claire would endanger herself to find someone who (according to her) went crazy and abandoned her? Arguably, Cas coming back and Dean killing Randy were major factors in Claire’s decision, but the last time we saw Claire, she was hanging out with a new couple of shady characters. She didn’t seem to have any interest in finding her mother, and for her to be so gung ho about it at this point felt forced.

It also felt like Claire’s situation was just a means to introduce Claire to the world of hunting. Sam and Dean have always tried to keep people out of hunting, but I’ve never agreed with that. I get that they don’t want other people to go through everything they’ve gone through and that’s perfectly valid. But at the same time, someone has to defend humanity against all the creepy crawlies that want to eat them. If there’s no new generation of hunters, then humanity is at risk. It seems that lately the Winchesters have been backing off of the ‘stay away from hunting at all costs’ bandwagon and that’s actually not a bad thing. It’s not that they don’t still try to keep most people out of it if they can, but they’ve stopped working so hard to deter people. Especially after that person’s eyes have been opened to what’s really out there. Everyone gets into hunting for a reason, and Claire is no different. Her life has been touched by (and in many respects destroyed by) the supernatural, so her choice to possibly pursue hunting isn’t exactly surprising. Hopefully, she’ll heed what Sam and Dean told her hunting should be about though. At different points in the episode, both Winchesters told Claire their reason for hunting is saving people. Maybe thinking about someone other than herself will help Claire find the direction and purpose she’s apparently been lacking in her life.

A lot of the choices Cas made were also contrivances. Cas calling Sam and Dean to help him deal with Claire makes sense I suppose. Cas obviously loves humanity, but at the end of the day, he is an angel. Understanding the complexities of human emotion isn’t something he was really able to do even as a human, so I suppose it makes sense that he’d want other humans to deal with another troubled human. However, Cas’s need to fix things for Claire, while admirable and even understandable, still felt like a contrivance to make Cas into a hero. I’m not saying that he’s not already a hero because he is. But Cas’s sudden and desperate need to be Claire’s knight in shining armor doesn’t ring true. Cas has been in Jimmy’s vessel for at least the last six years and he’s given no thought to Jimmy, Amelia or Claire. Why now? Why does he all of a sudden feel so deeply responsible for what’s happened to them? And just as an aside, it bothered me that Claire and Amelia kept blaming Cas for taking Jimmy away. The truth of the matter is, Jimmy sought out Castiel. He asked Castiel to use his vessel, and he made that choice twice. Was it everything he thought it would be? Not at all. Did it work out the way he thought it would? Of course not. But it’s not as if Jimmy had no agency in the situation. So Cas working this hard to put the Novak family back together, while noble, just doesn’t feel like it flows naturally from Cas’s journey as a character.

Then there’s Cas clutching his pearls about Dean’s treatment of Ronnie the Drunk. That seemed like a means to justify Cas’s later insistence that Dean be sidelined for the remainder of the hunt. Let’s be honest, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Dean be aggressive with someone when he’s trying to obtain information. Even without the Mark, Dean’s response is usually physical in nature. So why is it cause for alarm now? It would be one thing if he had been pounding the guy’s face and been unable to stop himself, but that wasn’t the case. It wasn’t any more violent than Dean is on a normal day. An argument could be made that anytime Dean is violent now that he’s got the Mark, it’s going to freak Cas and Sam out. If that’s the case, though, why bring him on the hunt in the first place? Not to mention that Dean’s not the only one whose method of interrogation sometimes seems to be slamming people’s faces into bar furniture. I seem to remember Sam getting the bartender’s face intimately familiar with the bar when the guy wouldn’t give up information in ‘About a Boy.’

Overall, I was underwhelmed and frustrated by this episode. I didn’t learn anything new about any of the characters. I already know that Sam and Dean are heroes. I already know that Cas has helped save the world. I already know that Dean is going to keep fighting the Mark until he can’t fight anymore. I already know Cas and Sam are worried about Dean’s ability to control himself with the Mark. There were no new revelations about any of those storylines, and the resolution (such as it is) to Claire’s storyline wasn’t all that original either. They did with Claire the same thing they did with Alex last season and Chrissy the season before that. This felt like another example of writing characters to fit the story instead of the other way around. This story required all of the characters to behave exactly as they did, whether it was out of character or not. Otherwise, the story wouldn’t have been able to move on to the next plot point. That’s problematic because it compromises what made me fall in love with this show in the first place. The wonderfully rich, character-driven stories the show was telling. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Dean’s evolution this season, and I am extremely anxious to see what happens to him. It has also been interesting to watch him walk a mile in Sam’s shoes in that he’s having to fight against the darkness he can feel slowly enveloping him. Despite my current frustration with Sam, I’ve still enjoyed watching him get a taste of what Dean went through when Dean was trying to save Sam from himself. I’ve also enjoyed watching the lengths Sam is willing to go to and the compromises he’s willing to make in order to save Dean. The problem with this episode was that none of that character was explored. It’s not that it was a completely horrible episode, because it wasn’t. It’s just that I know Supernatural is capable of delivering so much better.