Recap and Review of Supernatural 11:3 “The Bad Seed”
The Nepotism Duo’s “The Bad Seed” is no “Gigi,” in other words no masterpiece; yet it manages to continue the mythic and character beats established in the first two episodes in a big way. This is in no small part due to Jensen Ackles’ masterful directing and the excellent performances he elicits from all of our mainstays. And this is no small feat given the script which frankly meanders all over the place.
In summary, we see the Winchesters desperate enough to start looking for Metatron and full throttle frantic to find Rowena to cure a Castiel who is likening himself to a tomato inside a blender making salsa, a metaphor that our TexMex cooking Dean appreciates. Elsewhere, Crowley very, very slowly realizes that he cannot control Amara or her appetite.
Of course The Winchesters find Rowena who cures an out of control Castiel, but not before he beats Dean to a pulp. She gets away, but not before driving a wedge between the brothers. They get Katya’s codex but not the powerful Book of the Damned.
The best parts of the episode are the set design, succinct character beats and direction. Crowley’s home away from Hell is the dungeon of our dreams after a lifetime of watching Hammer House of Horror. The fabulous and centrally positioned stained glass window is tantalizing subtext. Does it reference the Winchesters stopping attack dog Castiel from attacking and killing an innocent woman per the episode’s plot; or is it a reference to how Supernatural’s God and his angelic goons subdued and imprisoned the intrinsically female Darkness to create their misogynistic hyper masculine hierarchy or the world as women have always known it.
As tone deaf as the Nepotism Duo can be, this time there are no missteps, even as Castiel and Dean are being cast as male sexual predators pursuing women in dark alleys. Even the weird insertion of a pornographic website catering to Dean’s Asian fetish is part of the story.
The writers are continuing subtext established in the premiere that illustrates the subjugation of women in general and sexual subjugation in particular. “In Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire” in addition to the field of flowers representing creation and life, we were shown a series of images relating to women’s sexuality and/or the control of female sexuality by men, including a bloody vaginal shaped wound crudely stitched together by Dean (signifying menstruation and male control of female sexuality), a description of Amara’s bloody birth which was fatal to the mother, and a menopausal woman presented with a birthday orgy that she clearly had not agreed to based on her husband’s nervous babbling. For visual documentation of the references to female sexuality I highly recommend Wednesday’s excellent review of the season 11 premiere on the The Winchester Family Business.
These references, taken in context with Amara’s dialogue about God, paint an alarming picture of a female deity hunted down, as depicted in the stained glass, used to further God’s desire to create, and locked away forever when she was no longer needed. This is the ugliest of feminist nightmares, a cautionary tale about trusting men. He tricked her and locked her away. What remains unsaid has been clearly told in visual subtext. He raped her too, used her and locked her away. Whatever constitutes rape amongst deities… he did it but for now it’s too ugly to say. For those familiar with Greek mythology portraying male God’s as rapists is common theme, as are the virgin goddesses whose powers have nothing to do with hearth, home or harlotry.
What else do women fear when walking alone on darkened streets, suddenly confronted by a man who they don’t know expressing interest. What else would engender such anger in the Darkness. Her trust was betrayed in a way that no woman can forgive. It’s “I Spit on Your Grave” – the Supernatural version. The young Amara wears a dress she has chosen for herself. It is a washed out bloody red hue. The hue of bloodstains on white cloth. It’s a color all woman are familiar with and one that never completely washes out whether it’s menstrual blood, the blood associated with deflowering and the blood bodily assault. The dress alone tells her story which makes her rejection of a murdered girl’s dress all the more interesting.
I get the sense that God the Father, the son and the holy usurper was driven mad by his actions and the sight of the blood, like Lady Macbeth, that always stained his hands. God is now the mad Wizard behind the curtain. My pet theory is that God has been hiding amongst us, and he’s Metatron however I will save that tale for another review.
Folks season 11 is dark horror and darker revenge. In a series that started out with a maternal figure in white dying to protect her young, it’s about time we were given a strongly feminist storyline. Thus far God the Father, sexist according to Metatron, and his progeny of archangel have been cast as the big bars. The abuse and subjugation of women ain’t no love story and it isn’t a story involving heroic acts. It’s ugly, fugly, heinous, evil… especially when the victim trusts you because you are family.
Suddenly the emphasis on Rowena and Crowley’s relationship comes into focus. Mother and Son. Even Crowley the demon King of Hell refrained from forcing himself on his ever so comely mother. Her nude body embarrassed him. The Darkness tells her younger self that they are stronger than God. In the SPNverse stronger means older. If the Darkness was first and there was nothing else in the universe but her enveloping darkness, then logic dictates that God came from her.
No wonder the Darkness is smitten with Dean Winchester. He’s a brother, son and steadfast friend who has never betrayed his family. How many times has God’s universe told Dean that he has to kill his brother to save the world, and every time Dean has fought against the suggestion. Dean formed Team Free Will to fight the Archangels and Heaven’s plans. If anyone on Earth would gladly dispatch the Archangels on his way to banking the SPNverse’s God it would be Dean Winchester.
I can’t help but wonder if Amara, the Darkness’ human form on Earth, may be a daughter as well. Did anyone else notice those lovely Dean green eyes…. or that chemistry in the swirling must… that closeness… The feral protectiveness he reserves for family. The way he saves her as a baby mirrors his taking Sam to safety in the “Pilot”. This is a huge hint that she is his family.
I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow the last Mark holder provides the essential matter for the Darkness to be born on this Earth like a female Jesus wearing a Mark of creation on her chest like a badge of honor (Recap and Review of Form and Void by P.S. Griffin, TVFTROU).
There are some lovely character beats in this episode. Dean remembering his timeless encounter with the Darkness succinctly shows us that he’s overwhelmed by their bond. A beaten Dean refuses to be healed by Castiel in penance for beating Castiel last season. Dean puts a blanket around Castiel signifying their profound bond. The repeating cage motif throughout the episode is proof positive that Sam’s visions are leading him to Lucifer in the Cage. Rowena having the power to magic an angel yet all she wants is to sit at the cool witch table. Crowley trying to sweet talk Amara even as he knows it’s hopeless. The Winchesters refusing Rowena’s requests in tandem indicating that they are truly together in their hatred of her. The emergence of dark Dean when he’s alone with Rowena suggests that the changes that bearing the Mark wrought in Dean are permanent.
Team Free Will fears the Darkness and wants to stop her. Most of Hell and Heaven do too apparently, based on a throwaway scene stolen from Neil Gaiman’s “Good Omens” and washed and rinsed of all its creativity, Like Crowley they can feel the female power that is so much more powerful than their own, a female power that scares them. Is this the reason that the female Hannah was murdered by an angel who was a colossal dick with the ego to match; a demonstration of the brutal male destructive force destroying the caring, feminine, compassionate selfless energy that Hannah represented.
All I know is that things are dire if you’re actively looking for the gutter snake Metatron.
And Amara… she’s hard on God but compassionate towards the plight of humans. She feels the pain and emptiness in the souls that she has consumed which she blames on God’s imperfect design; nor is she interested in a world of evil designed to Crowley’s specifications. The choices she makes to exercise her wrath against God and his archangels will define her as heroine or villain. Season 11 is her story.