I’ve written before about the unenviable task Supernatural has this far into its run. Cranking out more than 20 episodes every year after you hit double-digit seasons means certain stories are going to feel rehashed. After all, there’s only so many “supernatural” storylines to go around, especially when your episodes are all basically structured the same way. What you look for as a fan with these standalone episodes is one memorable scene that will serve as a lasting memory when you look back at the season. I won’t remember any details of “Paint It Black” after Season 10 concludes (perhaps even when this week finishes) save for one scene that earned its place among great Supernatural moments.

Dean’s confession was Jensen Ackles’ most masterful performance in quite some time. I was riveted by the pain etched into every line of Dean’s face in that moment. His proximity to death, something he’d skirted and outmaneuvered for so long, left the eldest Winchester scared and vulnerable. What made this scene so special was that it started out as a joke. But much like Dean’s other encounters with religion throughout the series, this moment served as a peek behind the mask that Dean always wears. I always think back to “Faith” in Season 1 as a turning point for Dean’s character in those early days. It’s telling the writers chose after 11 episodes to deal with the issue of Dean’s faith. Perhaps they know the rich material than could be mined from such a complicated issue.

Dean’s confession that he believes in God and his fear that God doesn’t believe in “us” – whether that be him and Sam or humanity in general – hearkens back to the underdog mentality Dean has carried throughout the show. This is the same character who once remarked, “What I do have is a GED and a give-'em-hell attitude and I'll figure it out.” For someone with all the confidence and bravado in the world, Dean still desires to have someone in his corner. He’s lost so many people, and those who are still around have betrayed his trust. (Looking at you, Season 7 Castiel.) For Dean, I think the idea of God represents a source of comfort and unshakable security. He wants to believe in a God who has his back, but now that the Mark of Cain has pushed up to the precipice of death, he’s finding it hard to believe that anyone or anything can come to his rescue.

Elsewhere in this episode, Rowena exacted her revenge against the head of the Grand Coven. All it took was a little emotional manipulation of Crowley for him to round up Olivette, now the leader of the group whose power has been sapped by the Men of Letters. With that big reveal from Olivette, the puzzle piece for the end of this season snapped into place. These 16 episodes (and the many that came before) established the sticky love-hate relationship between Crowley and the Winchesters. When Rowena steps between her son and the object of his perpetual fascination, will the King of Hell raise a finger to stop his mother from burning the last two Men of Letters to the ground? When you add Metatron and the Mark of Cain into the mix, you have the blueprint for an exciting finish.

One more note worth mentioning about tonight’s episode: Sister Mathias, the hot nun, was feisty and incredibly likable. She was obviously possessed by Isabella’s ghost while searching the church with Dean, which dampened my enjoyment of her character, but I still appreciated how the actress managed to elevate a bit part into something memorable. The writers have a knack for creating these fleshed-out female characters that don’t need to be rescued or have a man validate their existence. Given the show’s tendency to kill of these wonderful women, I’m always nervous when one gets introduced. But then someone like Sister Mathias comes along and reminds me that this show would be much better off with more strong ladies on Sam and Dean’s side.

Line of the week

“Tell me you didn’t think that nun was hot. I think she had a little thing for me.” – Dean
“Dean, she was married to Jesus.” – Sam

Next week on Supernatural

Bobby is back!

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