Contrary to my assertion that Dean wasn’t really back in the driving seat, and that Michael had lured Sam into a trap, it seemed Dean’s time as Michael’s vessel was disappointingly short-lived. Just three episodes into the season, and “The Scar” saw Sam and Dean reunited and hunting together again. But things felt a little off. There was no relieved hug. No tests to make sure Dean was really back in control. No explanation for why Dean was suddenly vacated. Sam might have been speaking for the viewers when he told Dean he needed time to catch up after his brother’s sudden return.
There was an amazing opening gag in which Dean recounted being traumatised by something which turned out to be Sam’s beard, and this was almost enough to make me forgive the fact Dean’s possession was hurried and over before it started, much like him being a demon. Almost. After fourteen years, I guess we’ve stopped questioning why a man would be so invested in his brother’s personal grooming habits, but let’s pause for a second to register how odd that is…
Okay, so Sam’s facial hair wasn’t the only thing bothering Dean. He wasn’t thrilled with the bunker having been turned into some kind of army base either, and he was a little ruffled that strangers were calling his brother ‘Chief’. Understandably, Dean took the first available opportunity he could to get out on the road, and that chance came courtesy of Sheriff Mills. Jody had three headless John Does on her turf, but while the murders looked like a potential serial killer was loose in Sioux Falls, each one bore a scar the same as one on Dean’s newly-reclaimed arm.
With no memory of what made Michael vacate, Dean calls on Cas to do his angel thing and extract the visuals from his brain. At this point in time, I’m utterly confused as to what Castiel can and can’t do with his powers, but it seems he can still read minds a little bit, because he managed to coax the image of Apocalypse World Kaia stabbing Michael with her strange meat fork thingy out of Dean’s noodle. And when Jody confirmed her dead bodies had received similar wounds, the Winchesters set out after Alt Kaia.
After teaming up with Jody, the boys stumbled across three heads on spikes, all with fangs, and encountered the cloaked figure of Kaia’s double. After tracking her and taking her hostage, Bad Kaia revealed to Sam, Dean, and Jody that she is also a dreamwalker, and that she and Kaia were soul bonded somehow. She confessed she hadn’t intended to kill her doppelganger, but was actually aiming for Claire, and also told Dean a few home truths about how like Michael he is, using force to get what he wants. It was good to see Dean called out on his treatment of Kaia, although I’ve always thought him waving a gun in a teenage girl’s face was out of character. He’s impetuous, but he’s always been careful with civilians unless the stakes are incredibly high (i.e. Sam’s life is in danger).
Kaia quickly realised that Dean was after the same thing Michael’s pimped vamps were – her weapon. When the group were attacked by a group of super-strong vampires, it looked like the boys and Jody were in big trouble when Kaia fled, but she came back and dispatched the blood-suckers, leaving Jody with a dilemma. Would she tell Claire that the creature that killed her first love was roaming their world? This story felt like something from the Wayward Sisters show that never made it past the pilot, and while Kaia’s spear is pertinent to the story insofar as we know it can damage Michael, it all feels a bit shoe-horned in. Between Michael tinkering with familiar monsters, angelic powers waxing and waning, and new weapons being introduced, it seems like the lore which Supernatural has been crafting over more than a decade is largely meaningless now.
Back at the bunker, Jack, smarting from Dean’s implication that he was a runt and no good for the hunt without his powers, helped Cas solve the mystery of a young girl hexed with an ageing spell by a witch. Despite Castiel’s best efforts and some advice from Rowena, the kid died, but was brought back to life when Jack realised her life forced was encased in a necklace the dead witch was wearing. While this plot strand was clearly meant to be a win for Jack, it only highlighted just how ineffectual Cas has become. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to his powers now – he can read Dean’s buried memories, but he can’t undo a witch’s hex. And Jack’s elation at having saved a life with his wits alone was brief, as by the end of the episode he’d turned into a Victorian lady, coughing blood delicately into a hanky, while Cas made him soup for his ‘cold’.
While there was a lot to love in this episode, overall it felt like a plot meant for Wayward Sisters masquerading as a Supernatural episode, and Dean wasn’t given enough space to explore the whys and wherefores of his saying yes to Michael before the whole ordeal was over.
Final Grade: C
+ Jack calling Cas ‘one of’ his dads was precious.
+ I liked the detail about angel possession feeling like drowning. The show used to deal a lot more with the horror associated with being a vessel, and it’s nice to have a nod to that again.
+ It was good that Dean opened up to Sam in the car on that way back from the hunt, although his desire to ‘skip to the end’ might as well have been a metaphor for the way the show rushes through pivotal arcs.
– Jody’s speech about losing before she’d even started was clearly a pointed dig at the network for refusing to commission the spin-off and it was a tad heavy-handed.
– This series – very much like poor Dean’s bunker – feels too crowded. Call me a purist, but a big ensemble cast is not what this show was about in the early days, and I think it’s weaker for it.
– It seemed weird that no one was overly concerned about Nick disappearing, given that he was off bashing in someone’s head with a hammer.
Extra Thought: I’m hoping there is going to be more to the Michael and Dean story-line, otherwise it seems kind of anti-climactic. After all these years, for Dean to say ‘yes’, only for Michael to ditch him after getting poked in the arm by a kid seems pretty weak.
What did you think? Did “The Scar” leave a lasting impression, or has it faded already? Sound off in the comments or over on Twitter.