The Super Sleepy Dispatch

Recap and Review of Supernatural 10:16 “Paint It Black”

By P.S. Griffin

Frankly I am not thrilled about rewatching this episode which was tedious and predictable. To keep things more interesting for me I am going to focus on the B story first and finish with the A story.  Onwards!

So this episode heavily features more of Crowley and Rowena’s wee family drama which is seeming a lot like the song remains the same every darn time!  Rowena is a manipulative bwitch and Crowley is still bored with Hell, missing Dean and craving emotional connection.

Rowena is still peeved at Crowley putting her needs on the back burner to help Dean (“The Executioner’s Song”). She continues to cloak her anger as disappointment in her son for being weak and con sorting with hunters. Now she’s acting out by torturing his minions whilst still hinting that she’s the only person that he can trust. 

A beleaguered demon demands that Crowley deals with Mommy dearest because she’s gone too far and given him two faces, the second one on the back of his head; “Your mother remains … vexed with your highness and vents her frustration by abusing the court. No one dares retaliate, of course, and, yes, one expects to suffer in Hell, but I fear I’ve reached my limit.”

Actually this is old school Hell torture and I heartily approve.  So would Hieronymus Bosch judging by his “Damnation” panel in his masterwork “The Garden of Earthly Delights”.  Crowley’s Hell is so mundanely earthly and sooo boring. Rowena ’16!

Of course Rowena has her reasons… herself free to live in all her glory, “I’m capable of greatness. Given free reign, I’d be unstoppable.”  Yep. She still wants her wee sausage’s help in killing Olivette to free herself from the Grand Coven’s iron fist.  She is happy with her son as long as he’s useful.  Whatever… Yawn.  I  am so over this family and it’s eternal squawking over centuries old behavior. Get a life! 

Anyhow, eventually Crowley decides to make his mommy happy and presents her with a wee gift.  It’s her heart’s desire, Olivette in chains!  She can do whatever she wants to the witch. Yawn. First it’s verbal torture, then physical torture, and finally magical death which segues into magical torture.  Let’s just say that Rowena’s face lights up with joy as she’s inflicting pain and death. Hybrid Crowley deserves a better Queen Mum.

I will cut the torture short and cut to the chase.  She turns Olivette into a wee hamster complete with fabulous coral necklace.  Of course those that haven’t died of boredom learn a few interesting facts along the way as well as the obvious conclusion that Rowena is one sick bwitch.

First… Rowena’s problems with the Grand Coven began because she chose to have relations with a normal man.  This still disgusts Olivette and means that Rowena lied about Crowley’s daddy being an unknown spring solstice orgy tickle and wink. Who is Crowley’s daddy dearest?

Anyhow Rowena is pleased as punch to inform Olivette that her half-normal spawn is now the bloody King of Hell. She even seems proud, but I reckon she’s thrilled to have something to Lord over Olivette and her genetic small mindedness.

Second… the Grand Coven is pretty much kaput because they were interfered with centuries ago by a insidious organization of… men. According to Olivette,  “The coven is a pale relic of its past power, weakened by witch-hunts, burnings at the stake, endless persecution; all of it was engineered by them… a rabid group of sanctimonious do-gooders dedicated to our downfall… They whipped the church and the public into a panic. Our best were killed or driven underground. They then plundered our spells and secrets and shipped them to hidden bunkers all around the world… They tried to destroy our world! Hoarding unbelievable power for their own amusement. Smug, self-righteous bastards. The Men of Letters.”

Now who didn’t see that coming.  I knew as soon as she blurted “sanctimonious do-gooders”!

Rowena is truly peeved that the Grand Coven was stupid enough to lose all of that powerful magic. But then it makes sense because Olivette has called her reckless in her quest for power.  Rowena is a power hungry bwitch.  Good thing those MOL bunkers are heavily warded.

And good thing that the only two living Men of Letters that are known to Olivette are Dean and Sam Winchester.  The Winchesters are enemies with Rowena. They know she’s a big bad baddie that kills.  Whew!  All of that dangerous magic is safe and sound.

Rowena has a lovely rant before finishing her business with Olivette, “The Winchesters?  Again with the Winchesters. Perpetually, the Winchesters.”  She’s both incredulous and matter of fact.  Life and it’s eternal ironies…

With incredible evil relish, made all the more potent and portent by Olivette’s knowledge of spellcasting, Rowena grabs her creepy bowl of bird bones and starts to cast some death chant that makes Olivette bleed from her orifices. Olivette in her desperation reminds Rowena that witch on witch murder is anathema. Rowena doesn’t care. Instead she stops because death is too short a punishment.  She starts to cast another spell, and later enjoys the sight of hamster Olivette running in circles on her little wheel.  Sick, twisted Rowena is not a lady to trifle with.  God forbid that she gets her hands on more powerful magic.

So the A plot is obviously the Winchesters.  They’re in the Impala following up on a weird spate of grotesque and unusually slow and painful suicides.  The teaser sequence showed us a guy at confession who leaves and is presumably possessed in the church.  He grabs a large candlestick with a big spike to engage the candle, and once outside uses it to slowly and methodically disembowel himself.  Major yuck… and Dean is right to assume that this is no normal suicide.

So anyways it’s another week of Dean wanting to hunt until he can no longer control himself and concerned Sam who is worried that hunting will trigger Dean’s dark impulses.  When will Sammy learn that NOT killing is the trigger.

Sam also still has his head in his cell phone which annoys Dean mightily, who just wants to enjoy life in the moment. Sam wants to cure Dean… case closed.

While the brothers are in transit, we are privy to a an emotional encounter between two nuns.  A young brunette named Isabella appears to have lost her heart in the real world.  She tells Sister Mathias about her former love including the ominous line, “There is not much difference between madness and devotion. I was obsessed with him.”  This is sooo Winchester, n’est-ce pas?

We get a flashback as Isabella talks and Sister Mathias commiserates.  It’s obvious that Isabella and her inamorato Piero live in Renaissance Italy.  Therefore we immediately know that their relationship ended badly and Isabella is a vengeful ghost taking her anger towards her dead lover out on other men. Case closed.  Sigh.

So yeah… the A story is also yawn inducing except for some very pointed dialogue, and the themes of dangerous scorned women and the things folks do when they are unhinged by the power of their love for another.  Cough… Sam… cough. Oh and maybe we see demonic Dean peaking through.  I could really use some major Dean 2.0 right about now.

So the next death has an interesting twist because our ghost Isabella possesses the wife instead.  She’s in the church waiting for her husband to finish confession.  Back at home she does him in with a pair of large shears as he searches for a “midnight” snack.  Of course it’s a murder not a suicide and the wife is very distraught once Isabella departs.  Cue horrified screams.

This new trick doesn’t fool the brothers. Agents Allman and Betts are on the case!  They talk with Father Delaney who won’t disclose the contents of the victims’ confessions.  He palms the brothers off on Sister Mathias. She’s attractive enough for Dean to totally get his flirt on… meow!  Sam seems both offended and amused so he leaves them to it and checks for EMF readings elsewhere. We later learn that he eavesdrops on their pointed conversation full of character arc anvils.

At Dean’s prompting Sister Mathias admits that she’s heard credible gossip that the last victim was cheating on his wife. When  Dean is curious as to why she became a nun and asks, “I guess I’m just wondering how somebody quits one life for something completely different and… and then believe in it so much.”

OMG! I’m agog. Dean has been a hunter with Sam by his side since he was a kid.  Is he thinking of a different life now that he has the Mark!  Does Dean 2.0 want to howl at the moon, hang out with Crowley, do something that pleases him… Is the Mark helping Dean to see his potential by helping him focus on his needs gor a change and showing him different possibilities. Does he want out of the life that was chosen for him by John and nourished by their family trauma and his damaged self-worth.  

Let’s face it… a well satisfied man doesn’t pound back the booze the way our Dean has for… forever.   I have to admit that my hope for the demonic Dean (and angelic and whatever other mojo he has going) was for him to think more of himself and want more for himself.  I spelled this out clearly in my review of “Black”.

The Mark seems to augment the damaged human with some much needed positive reinforcement.  I liked demonic Dean’s sense of self-worth and the fact that he cared about his emotional and physical needs.  Dean 2.0 thought that he was important. It’s a character reboot that I can get behind.  

Oh well… back to our grinding story…

Sister Mathias replies, “In my case, I felt I had no choice. My life had become painful.  There was hopelessness. I felt I had to find something larger than myself to focus on. A kind of mission, I guess.”  She assumes that Dean has no idea about the feelings she has described.  She’s wrong.  Of course our Dean understands this mindset of selfless giving your own personal needs up to achieve something “greater”.

Sam returns from checking for EMF and asks if there’s a graveyard nearby.  Like many old churches, this one has subterranean burial crypts, hence loads of EMF I guess.  However Sister Mathias is dismissive when the Winchesters ask whether she’s seen or heard anything strange… like… um… cold spots or the feeling of someone else in the room. She replies,  “Rattling chains and teacups that fly across the room… Really? The FBI believes in ghosts? I’m afraid I don’t. If you’ll excuse me, Agents, I have to get back to work.”  She’s a very good liar because we know that she’s been talking to Isabella.

Dean and Sam leave the church and as soon as they’re out the door Dean comments that the nun is hot and into him. Sam reminds him that she’s married to Jesus with just the slightest eye roll verging on a bitchface. As they walk and talk they are oblivious to the heavy anvil painted on the sign outside the church: “He’s Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – The Hollies and Jesus.”  My turn for that eyeroll.  That’s some anvil.

So… the Winchesters aren’t sure exactly what they are dealing with, however Dean’s head is totally in the hunt. He has sussed that the victims were most likely men that did their ladies wrong, and they all confessed in church before they died.  Dean wonders when his last confession was. Sam knows that Dean has never been to confession.  There’s always a first time!

Meanwhile Sister Mathias is having another heart to heart with Isabella who is appearing increasingly unhinged.  Typically her romance ended with a broken heart.  She was so distraught that she stopped eating and sleeping.  So her father did what any father of means in Renaissance Italy would do. He got her to a nunnery pronto.  Isabella wasn’t thrilled, “Everything that was mine was lost to me … except my journal.”

We cut to Dean being clueless in the confessional as he pretends that he is suddenly bothered by his fake lothario lifestyle enjoying the Gina’s of this world and their copious lasagna whilst cheating on them with numerous other women.  It’s a sordid tale told in the bawdy manner of an unrepentant horndog.

The priest assigns the requisite “Our Father’s” and “Hail Mary’s” and says he hopes penance will bring about some self reflection.  Dean hesitates and then begins his true confession.  It’s a whopper.  

Dean has been thinking deeply about his life.  He’s always thought that he would die bloody and by the proverbial sword that he wields so well.  It’s just that now he sees that future coming at him fast and furious and he’s not ready.

In Dean’s words, “What if I said I… I didn’t want to die… yet, you know, that I wasn’t ready… Now, um… recent events, uh… make me think I might be closer to that than I really thought. And… I don’t know. I mean, you know, there’s… there’s things, there’s… people, feelings that I… I… I want to experience differently than I have before, or maybe even for the first time… I’m just starting to think that… maybe there’s more to it all than I thought.”

The Father suggests that believing in God can be a comfort.  Dean’s response is both wry and heartbreaking, “I believe there is a God. But I’m not sure he still believes in us.”

This time I am gobsmacked.  Not about Dean’s fatalism in regards to a disinterested diety. That’s pretty much expected considering what he knows and what he’s been through.  Although his sureness that God doesn’t care gives me the first and only glimmer that the Mark could be removed.

I’ve said previously that the only thing that should be able to remove it is a literal deus ex machina.  Well out of Dean’s mouth to God’s ears.  Not that I won’t still think it’s all too easy, or that an exploration of Dean’s inherent darkness and the Mark’s full effects don’t still have great legs.

We still don’t really know what Dean is or what Cain was (see my review of “The Executioner’s Song”).  When Metatron confronted Dean with the First Blade his take was what the hell are you and what can you do, “The First Blade. Nasty piece of work, isn’t she? Okay, let’s say you win, Dean, and I die. What’s the world left with then, hmm? A herd of panty-waisted angels and you? Half out of your mind with lord knows what pumping through those veins?” Dean echoes that thought in “Soul Survivor” when he tells Sam, “You don’t even know if this is gonna work, do you? You know, I got a hell of a lot more running through me than just demon juice.”  Of course Sam assumes that he’s talking about the Mark of Cain, however,  Dean’s response nor how it was delivered,  “That’s right.” isn’t exactly a definitive answer because whatever he is now is because of the Mark.

Anyhow… I think there’s a lot more to explore regarding Dean’s status and the Mark, and far too much to reveal before the end of the season in addition to any sort of “cure”. This tells me even if they deus ex machina the Mark away, Dean won’t be normal Dean. I tend to think the oh sh.. reveal we’ve been teased in the finale ( hinges on what Dean is and subsequently the cure not being the panacea that they hoped for.

Dean’s words about experiencing things differently also made me think of Crowley’s monologue in “Do You Believe in Miracles?”, “Listen to me, Dean Winchester, what you’re feeling right now… it’s not death. It’s life… a new kind of life. Open your eyes, Dean. See what I see. Feel what I feel. And let’s go take a howl at that moon.”  Is demonic/angelic/thingamaDean rearing his gorgeous head again, just wanting to howl at the moon?  As any frequent reader knows, I think he’s been waiting quietly all along for the right opportunity.

Dean exits the confessional and confers with Sam without knowing if his speech did the trick.  Meanwhile Isabella enters the Priest and kills him for absolving these adulterers. The implication is that she was unable to possess Dean because of the Mark.  Please note that we have seen a ghost possess Dean despite his tattoo to ward off demonic possession (“Southern Comfort”).

Meanwhile Sister Mathias has been reading Isabella’s journal and has finally cottoned onto the fact that her ghost friend is seriously psycho.  Isabella escaped the convent to destroy her portrait and found Piero in loud flagrante delicto with a hot blonde. She picks up a knife and brutally stabs Paolo to death.  There’s a lot of anger and sexual frustration behind those frenzied knife thrusts.  I am thinking that the nunnery was not the right place for Isabella.

So Sister Mathias brings the Winchesters up to speed regarding her extracurricular ghost whispering because there’s no bringing Isabella into the light. Isabella arrived with a trove of church artifacts from Tivoli. In other words exactly when the deaths started.

It is convenient that Isabella’s murder of Piero was so brutal that she was burned as a witch.  All they need to do is burn the artifacts associated with her.  Sister Mathias is upset that the journal might be burned and Sam looks hesitant to do so because it might contain useful information.  Oh Sammy you dedicated researcher you! However Dean practically orders Sam to burn it.  He’s not quite yet in dictator mode (“Stairway to Heaven”)… so close and  yet so far from the Deanatorship of Death.

Dean and Sister Mathias go out to find Isabella whilst Sam is left with ghost burning duties.  He’s putting things in the fireplace to burn but stops because he’s distracted by the lure of the journal. He starts reading more about Isabella’s twisted love and learns that her blood and part of her finger were ground into the paint used in her portrait.  Ding! Ding! Ding!  Sam realizes that the portrait has her DNA and must be the item that her spirit is attached to.  Now where is the darn thing…

Meanwhile Dean has found the dead priest and is being thrown about and throttled by the very possessed Sister Mathias.  She is holding him against a wall by his throat and brandishing a sharp blade which she has positioned against his belly.  Where is demonic Dean when you need him.  Well judging by the hardness in his face, and the intensity in his eyes which is reminiscent of his “LOOK AT ME, BITCH!” moment from “Alex Annie Alexis Ann” (all caps to convey the intensity), Dean 2.0 emerged to prevent Dean’s death.  I mean one would think a ghost strong enough to throw Dean across the room and lift him off the ground with one hand would be able to stab his tummy with ease.

Luckily Sam has finally found the crated painting and opens it with a handy crowbar.  I stop to marvel at the quaint, old-fashioned and out of date packing technology, that sort of thing being part of my former bailiwick.

Finally Sam douses the painting with lighter fluid to burn that beeyatch back to oblivion.  The ghost guilt trips Sister Mathias before she flames out.  Sister Mathias looks sympathetic but Dean and I are not. That girl was violently looney tunes well before her death.

Dean 2.0 really must be in the proverbial driver’s seat again because… wonders of wonders… Sam is driving the Impala, and being a bit smug and all too pleased with himself about being right about not burning the journal.  Dean concedes that Sam saved his life by not listening to him yet his face is tight despite his smile. Yikes! Dean seems sooo wrong right now. 

Dean just doesn’t look like himself.  He’s not talkative and flashing looks Sam’s way.  If looks could kill… So Mr. Mojo rising himself, Dean 2.0, is still walking and talking methinks.  I think Dean is so going to paint the town black and red and dead all over by the time the finale rolls around.

Sam, proud of his big win and suddenly hopeful, tries to talk Dean away from the dark side. He tells Dean that he noticed that he was in the confessional for a long time; he wants Dean to know that he can tell Sam anything.  But will Sam really hear what he is saying? 

At least Sam heard and understood something crucial today, “I heard what Sister Mathias was saying about, you know, hiding pain by taking on a mission, and I know that’s what you’re doing a little bit. And it’s okay. I mean, it’s fine. I get it. I’ve done it before, too. But… I don’t buy for one second that the Mark is a terminal diagnosis, so don’t go making peace with that idea. There has to be a way. There will be a way, and we will find it.”

Dean’s words agree with Sammy’s heartfelt hopes; however, his face speaks to his belief that his fate has been determined by his past choices (and demonic Dean is in the house! Respect!) There’s no dealer’s choice or a wildcard in his future, unless of course the Big Gun decides to step in, and Dean knows more than anyone that God has left the building. 

He also knows that he’s been permanently changed by the Mark into something other than what he once was. But to keep the peace he throws out a desultory “Okay, Sammy.” and then another “Okay.” when Sam insists on Dean’s agreement that they will find a way.  

Additional Thoughts:

It’s rather ironic that Dean leaves the church feeling less hopeful than when he entered it, and probably less human too.

The brothers are not on the same wavelength or page.  Fans know that this is a recipe for bad decisions with cosmic implications and mucho bloodshed.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and there is no woman more scornful, spiteful, evil than Rowena.  At this point it’s obvious how she intersects in this season’s endgame.  Well at least she’s smarter and more powerful than Ruby.  That’s a step up for Sam in my book. Of course she’s capable of wreaking so much more havoc all by her lonesome.

I am more convinced than ever that the Book of the Damned is a dark grimoire than I was after “There’s No Place Like Home” and “The Executioner’s Song”.  Sam’s dark arc is patently obvious except for the will he or won’t he in regards to the devil he knows all too well, heaven’s baddest and brightest… Lucifer dummies!

I loved the comparison of Dean’s restricted life serving others to that of a cloistered nun serving Christ.

I love Dean wanting more out of life and more for himself.  Do you agree that this is his enhanced self talking… the dude formerly known as demonic Dean.

Did you catch that Crowley reads his mother like a book and is tired of the hamster wheel that she has him on. She’s barely finished playing with the last present he got her before she asks for another. I also loved his loyalty to Dean by hedging his answer and flat out refusing to kill the Winchesters.

They are really being slow to parse out Dean’s human-supernatural hybrid status.  Come on… it’s obvious, especially after “The Executioner’s Song”. Cain acts like a human with roid rage, yet has the attributes and manifest powers that are both demonic and angelic in nature.  Folks! Demons don’t smite. Do you think he was demonic Dean adjacent in those later scenes.

Do you think “Paint It Black” wasted a perfectly nihilistic Rolling Stones anthem on (hopefully) the lamest episode of the season.  I sure do. I was jonesing for dark Dean antics galore.

Paint it Black

I see a red door and I want it painted black

No colors anymore, I want them to turn black

I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes

I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

I see a line of cars and they’re all painted black

With flowers and my love, both never to come back

I see people turn their heads and quickly look away

Like a newborn baby it just happens ev’ryday

I look inside myself and see my heart is black

I see my red door and I want it painted black

Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts

It’s not easy facing up when your whole world is black

No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue

I could not foresee this thing happening to you

If I look hard enough into the setting sun

My love will laugh with me before the morning comes


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