Sam and Dean get further on their Mark of Cain quest when Charlie returns with the Book of the Damned. The book can cure Dean, but it is hopelessly written in code and calls out to Dean with malign intent. Meanwhile, Charlie and the boys are pursued by the Stein Family, a group with nefarious ties to the book and black magic.
The return of Charlie gladdens my heart. Felicia Day’s character on the show has grown in leaps and bounds from the original IT nerd who grudgingly helped the boys. Now she’s an experienced hunter, fresh from inter-dimensional travels, and enjoying her new renegade life. She stitched a bullet wound with dental floss! The best part is that she keeps her geeky roots, quoting from nerdy franchises and fangirling over Cas.
The buddy comedy pairing of Castiel and Metatron was delightful. Metatron playfully suggested they should be besties, and gave in to every impulse to annoy our favorite angel. This all came to a head when they reached the library where Metatron had an angel hide Cas’s grace, traceable only through literary quotes as clues. A clever hiding system. Cas gets his grace, but Metatron gains the Demon Tablet. Whoops.
A few low-angle shots stood out as key moments in relation to the Book of the Damned. We see Sam putting the book away in its box in this extreme low-angle, actually from the point of view of the book. It’s like the book is looking at him, and we get a sense of that unease associated with this evil object. The next scene shows the Steins tracking the book. They are framed at this same extreme low-angle, mirroring how we last saw the book. Nice visual connection. We see the exteme-angle repeated when the flashback reveals Sam switching the book with an impostor, so it appears he destroyed the original. This was a great way to tie together all these key moments and lead to that last shocking reveal.
The music in the episode was key to the emotional state of the Winchesters. You could tell early on that Dean was in a more positive mood. He rocked out to “The Boys are Back in Town” in the Impala soon after hearing that Charlie had the book with the cure. Things were looking up for him. At the very end of the episode, we’re treated to the slow-motion gathering of the Winchesters, Cas, and Charlie, as they enjoy a meal after their victory against the Steins. The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” seemed to connect to Dean’s woes dealing with the Mark, so fresh after losing hope when the book was “destroyed.” Then the shots slowly shift from the happy interactions of this pseudo-family to Sam, looking stony faced and unsure.
Suddenly, we realize the lyrics in the song “No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the sad man” directly relate to Sam’s guilt. He reveals, in flashback, that he switched the book with another, saving the Book of the Damned. He couldn’t pass up a chance to save Dean, but he is also fully aware that he can’t figure out the code. So he turns to Rowena, who gladly accepts and teases that there will be “terms” to their agreement.
It was a great, action-y episode, that promised many more troubles for the Winchester boys and possibly a new set of antagonists with the rest of the super-hard-to-kill Stein Family. I love it when things get complicated. Isn’t it ironic?