On the same night that President Obama delivered the State of the Union, Supernatural fans got a reassuring update on the status of Season 10 during “The Hunter Games.” Sam and Dean returned in a tight hour of storytelling that utilized the show’s best characters in refreshing ways. A light was also shone down the path we’re sure to take during these final 13 episodes, and perhaps into Season 11. (Let that sink in – 11 seasons!!!) Metatron’s warning to Dean about things only getting worse with the Mark of Cain reminded me of Season 3 and the countdown clock that seemed to hang over Dean’s head.

Sam is going to scrape and claw to save his brother just like he did when Dean’s soul was at stake; the main difference between now and then is that death no longer matters on Supernatural. That feels weird to say after the gut punch of Dean’s death last season. But Dean was dead for five minutes and a demon for three episodes. Either the writers love the Sam/Dean status quo too much to change it longterm, or they truly believe the show couldn’t exist any other way. This series has suffered a bit regardless of the reasoning. With that ultimate threat of death removed, the stakes don’t feel as high anymore.

That’s not to say Supernatural now lacks drama. The scenes between Dean and Metatron crackled with an exciting energy we need to see more often. The way Metatron was reintroduced to help Sam and Dean remove the Mark of Cain was a logical extension of his storyline. As the Scribe of God, he has knowledge that predates the lore. He’s also a conniving weasel who has caused more damage than almost any other character on this show. Dean’s recap was a sobering reminder of just how much personal torment Metatron has rained down on the Winchesters. Curtis Armstrong does a great job pushing his character right up to the line between maniacal and over-the-top behavior. I know he said he would rather die than help the Winchesters again, but I’m hoping that’s not truly the case.

Down in Hell, Rowena is already plotting against her son. She spied on Crowley during his meeting with the Winchesters, then manipulated poor Guthrie into retrieving the First Blade from its hiding place. It’s clear she’s trying to undermine her son’s confidence and his reign as King. We don’t know her endgame yet but we can rest assured it will work out to her benefit. Maybe she wants to control Hell? Escaping Crowley’s clutches can’t be her only goal. She would surely get caught at some point if Crowley was still alive to track her down. I also don’t think she wants to kill her son. So we’ll see. I just hope her shtick with the thick accent and out of control vocal volume doesn’t grow tiresome as we go forward.

Finally: kudos to the writers for knowing when to write Claire off the show for a while. It’s nice to stash another female character on the shelf for later, but Claire was proving to be a major buzzkill for Castiel the past couple of episodes. Our favorite angel desperately needs to get his groove back, and dealing with a broken girl’s daddy issues isn’t the way to do it. I appreciate the show harkening back its past with Castiel’s vessel Jimmy after all this time. I also appreciate putting that storyline on ice for the time being. There are more important issues to attend to if this season wants to continue its road to improvement.

Line of the week

“Because you’re a dickwad.” – Sam
“But I’m your dickwad.” – Metatron

Next week on Supernatural

Charlie and her shorter hair kick Dean’s ass.

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