Supernatural “The Bad Seed” Review (Season 11, Episode 3)

Supernatural "The Bad Seed" Season 11 Episode 3 (4)

My favorite Christmas movie of all time is Trading Places. If you haven’t seen it, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The plot centers on a bet between two very wealthy brothers who hold opposing views in the nature vs nurture argument. They switch the lives of two people from very different social and economic backgrounds so they can watch the results. Hilarity ensues. Sam and Dean Winchester didn’t make any bets in this week’s Supernatural, but there was certainly a nod toward the nature vs nurture argument.

Let me go ahead and get the unpleasant stuff out of the way. The primary function of this episode appears to have been laying out the path of the season. Much of this was done through exposition, and the only real problem solved here was Cas getting freed from Rowena’s spell. I rather appreciate that we didn’t do much more than that. In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I am not a fan of the writers of this episode. Their dialog is clunky on a good day and downright painful on a bad one. They don’t seem to have a good grasp of the characters voices, and they routinely write Sam and Dean doing very out of character things. This episode was no different. The writing was extremely heavy-handed and treated the audience as if they weren’t bright enough to catch on to what was happening. For example, after Amara consumes her first nanny’s soul, the nanny slumps to the floor dead. Amara turns to Crowley and says, “I killed her.” Anyone who has seen Supernatural knows that nine times out of ten, the host is already dead. Furthermore, if you’re watching the episode, it’s clear that Amara just killed her nanny. Why not assume that, as a viewer, I’m smart enough to figure that out and just move on? I really could go on for a while with several other scenes like that one. The problem with those types of scenes is that it turns an episode from something that could be pretty good into something that only has a few good things about it.

I’m not going to dwell on the writing, so let’s move on to something I did like. I enjoyed Team Free Will working together to figure out how to track down Rowena and compel her to cure Cas. It’s pretty clear that Cas was giving everything he’s got to fight whatever the spell was doing to him, but it’s a fight he clearly lost. There are some definite parallels to the struggle Dean faced with the Mark of Cain, but this felt more like a nature vs nurture issue. One of the reasons Cas has bonded so well with the Winchesters is the fact that Cas has always respected and admired humans where his brethren did not. Even when has thought he was God, he still tried to do what he felt he could to make humans better. So the fact that the spell took Cas to a place where he was about the murder an innocent human being was jarring coming from him. If Cas were in his right mind, he never would have hurt anyone. Because that’s just Cas’s nature. I’m actually glad the show didn’t spend too many episodes with Cas being burdened down by the spell. I’ve mentioned before that Cas hasn’t really had a purpose on the show for several seasons now, but this season gives him an opportunity to step back and question who he is and where he fits in the world. That journey was set up wonderfully in last week’s episode, and having Cas get cured this early hopefully means we can move on to more interesting things for Cas.

While Team Free Will was working on getting Cas cured, Crowely was trying to nurture a relationship with Amara. I must say it was kind of creepy and weird to see Crowley attempting to ply Amara with sweet treats and children’s books. It was also kind of odd considering the fact that Crowley knows Amara isn’t actually a six-year-old girl. I don’t know eactly what that aspect of the story was trying to convey other than the fact that Crowley seems to have lost his knack for reading people. Aside from that, Crowley’s ultimate goal is to get Amara to trust him so that she’ll be firmly on his side for whatever storm is brewing on the horizon. The thing is, did Crowley learn nothing from his misadventures with Demon Dean? Crowley navigated circumstances so that Dean could get the MoC with the expectation that he could turn Dean into his own good little soldier. I’m not sure what about Dean led Crowley to believe that would work out, and I’m having the same question about his attempt to control Amara. It also speaks to Crowley’s nature that his first thought is how to control whatever this power is so that he can use it to his advantage. That’s always been Crowley’s MO, so it’s not particularly surprising that that’s the route he goes this time around. However, just as Crowley underestimated Demon Dean, it appears Crowley is underestimating Amara. She already has a plan, and whatever Crowley is trying to do, he’s not a part of her plan and is thus expendable. Crowley may have begun to realize just how little control he actually has toward the end of this episode, but I get the feeling he’s going to keep trying to sway Amara to his side. I seriously doubt it’s going to work though. Especially since Crowley is surely going to be fighting a war on two fronts much sooner than he thinks.

Rowena has been hiding from the Winchesters, but she’s also been trying to establish the “Mega Coven” because, you know, it’s bigger than the “Grand Coven.” No. Just no. However, it sounds like the Winchesters, Crowley, and the Grand Coven aren’t the only enemies Rowena has made. None of the witches she spoke to were itching to join with her, and she seemed both displeased and shocked by their reluctance. I can’t say her response is a surprise though considering Rowena’s arrogance about witchcraft in general and her abilities in particular. I also don’t buy that she didn’t at least make a copy of the codex since the Book of the Damned is pretty much useless without the codex and translation. Rowena is a problem for another day though. The Winchesters have a lot on their plate, but they certainly need to keep an eye on Rowena.

Rowena’s attempts to create friction between the Boys weren’t entirely unsuccessful. It appears that Sam never told Dean the full extent of what he did to get the MoC off of Dean. The truth isn’t inherently evil, but the truth we conceal nearly always is. Over the years, Sam has become a master at concealing the truth. He’s certainly not solely to blame. Dean does it too. But this is supposed to be a new start for them, and you can’t start new when you start with a lie. It doesn’t appear that Sam ever told Dean he was infected with the weird plague thing nor did he completely fill Dean in on everything that happened with Rowena. Doing things the way they’ve always done them is going to provide the same results. It’s as simple as that. Dean is tired of Sam keeping secrets and so am I. Sam is the one who made the big speech about them needing to change, so how about actually changing? Some in the fandom make the argument that if Sam and Dean actually have a healthy relationship, then the show will become boring. Well, first of all, these Boys have been through entirely too much crap for them to ever have a truly healthy relationship. Second of all, the characters can grow up and move out of these cycles without killing the show. As a matter of fact, one way to re-energize the show is to have the characters grow and learn from their mistakes so they can make new one. Finally, and probably most importantly, there are enough external forces creating drama for the Boys that they don’t need to create drama between themselves.

Although I did not enjoy this episode nearly as much as I enjoyed last week’s episode, I appreciate some things about it. Jensen Ackles is becoming much more confident as a director, and it shows. He doesn’t go for tricky or overly complicated shots, and I appreciate his practical approach. Although I find the name “Mega Coven” completely ridiculous, Rowena’s attempts to have it catch on were pretty funny. In contrast, I wanted to give Dean a big old hug when he refused to let Cas heal him. Dean believes he deserves the pain and bruises because he feels like it’s fair trade for the beating he gave Cas at the end of last season. Cas doesn’t agree with that and neither do I, but good luck convincing Dean. Such guilt, Young Skywalker. Next week is Baby’s episode, and I’m really looking forward to it. She deserves the spotlight for a while. So what did y’all think of this week’s Supernatural?