Supernatural 10.21 Recap: One Hell of a Priceby Clarissa / May 6, 2015
We open this week’s Supernatural with a further introduction to the Styne family when Eldon Styne removes the eyes of a girl who thought she was coming for a research study interview and then is spotted jumping out of a third story window.
All of this unnecessary exposure has drawn the attention of the Styne family patriarch: Monroe. He believes that Eldon is far too egocentric and arrogant, thinking that he can behave how he likes in public without the risk of exposure. But Monroe reveals that the secret to the family’s continued success during “harvests” has been discretion. In order to get back into his father’s good graces, Eldon is ordered to find the Winchesters that killed his brother (Jacob, from episode 10.18 “Book of the Damned”).
Enter Eli Styne, who is clearing looking to fill the void in the family should Eldon fail at his task. But Monroe reminds him that he himself was tasked with finding Charlie and the book.
The Decrypting Duo….and Their Referee
Meanwhile, back in the abandoned distillery, Rowena is still chained up and Sam is growing increasingly frustrated about her lack of progress regarding Nadya’s codex and the Book of the Damned. She keeps angling to get out of her chains, but Sam doesn’t trust her as far as he can throw her (which may be pretty far, we’re not sure) and isn’t eager to see her double-cross him. She insists that the Grand Coven witch who wrote the codex was selfish and wanted to keep the book’s secrets for herself, making the codex hard to really understand.
Back in the Men of Letters bunker, Sam reappears to find Dean growing increasingly suspicious about all of the “alone time” Sam has been enjoying lately. As Sam brushes his brother off, Dean reveals that he’s been doing more research into the Styne family and he can’t find anything about them before the 1800s. Both brothers think that’s weird, but without more information there’s not much they can do. Instead, Dean suggests they work a case: which we learn just so happens to be the death that Eldon committed earlier in the episode.
Sam agrees, but he also calls on Charlie to see if she can help speed up Rowena’s research. He quickly gets her up to speed on the codex’s existence, the fact that he kept the Book of the Damned, and the fact that he’s keeping all of this secret from Dean. Because, you know, it’s Supernatural. That’s what the Winchester brothers do. Charlie isn’t happy about lying to Dean, but Sam is insistent. His lying about the situation is annoying, because you would think that the brothers would have learned that lying always backfires, but it’s also somewhat understandable. Dean is being as stubborn now as he was when he was trying to stop Sam from looking for a way out of his deal back in season 3 of Supernatural. But unlike the possibility of Dean going to Hell — which really only affected him and, by association, Sam and Bobby — his current state puts *everyone* at risk if he goes ballistic or becomes a demon again (although, God knows that the writers aren’t actually doing a terrific job showing how utterly off the rails Dean is supposedly going). In all honesty, Dean’s resistance to finding a dangerous solution makes sense, but he’s also being reckless by basically saying “I’ll meditate and try to chill out about the mark until it makes me snap”. Given the history of the Winchesters I understand why he wouldn’t want someone to make a deal or die to save him from his fate, but his reluctance to try another solution is also frustrating. So $20 says this whole lying thing ends badly (and does at the end of this very episode, in fact), but it makes sense given what we know. The better option going forward would be for the Supernatural writers not to keep putting the brothers in situations where they’re forced to lie to one another for the “greater good” or to save each other.
Manufactured drama aside, the fact that the writers are giving Sam more opportunities to express his feelings about Dean’s situation and is taking action about it — as dark as those actions may be — is a refreshing change from the rest of this season. After Sam’s initial quest to cure Dean from being a demon, he spent far too long being silent on the topic. Since 10.17 he’s been far more proactive and has spent time expressing his feelings to both Charlie and Castiel (and even Rowena).
But Charlie agrees with Sam and he brings her back to Rowena, who isn’t happy to have a coworker in this quest — especially one who isn’t an actual witch. Enter Castiel, who has been tasked with playing babysitter to the two women. He also cautions Sam against lying to Dean, but Sam believes it’s currently the lesser of 15 or so evils and they all agree to proceed.
Darts in Hell
As his mother works with Moose, Crowley is torturing demons for fun in Hell. But when a minion rushes in to announce that Rowena has gone missing, Crowley isn’t impressed, since he tasked them with keeping an eye on her. As he sends them back out to find her, Crowley pays a little visit to Olivette, who is still a hamster, to moan about his mother and see if he can discover a weakness for Rowena. Olivette reveals that Rowena had a demon lover, but then tells him something very juicy, which has Crowley sending a minion off to locate this mystery person.
Hot on the Trail….
Now at the scene of the murder from the beginning of the episode, Sam and Dean are on the case. They catch a break when one of the building’s surveillance cameras caught Eldon and his familiar looking Styne family tattoo, telling the boys exactly who they’re dealing with.
Back at the distillery, Rowena is taunting Charlie, who hasn’t come up with a solution yet either. Castiel tries to bring down the tense atmosphere with snacks, but Rowena tells Charlie more about Agnes, the woman who wrote the Book of the Damned. This gets Charlie thinking about how to spot patterns in the code so they can decrypt it. Rowena seems more eager to tell Charlie all the ways they’re alike and how aligning herself with the Winchesters will result in Charlie’s downfall.
Meanwhile, as Sam and Dean try to figure out more about the Stynes, we learn that Eldon is following them. Back at the bunker, Dean becomes suspicious when he intercepts a call from Cas to Sam’s phone and Cas reveals that he’s a terrible liar. Later, Dean goes to pick up some pizza and the Stynes catch up to him. Dean is once again surprised by the strength of this family, but manages to capture Eldon and brings him back to the bunker. Eldon sings like a canary, telling them how the Book has fed their power but that they don’t necessarily need it to wreak destruction.
Eldon also reveals a big secret about the family to the Winchesters: they’re into bioengineering. He apparently has two hearts and extra muscle and the family actually descends from the House of Frankenstein. Yikes!
Back at the distillery, Charlie tells Cas that she’s growing increasingly more frustrated with Rowena and wants to leave for a little while. When Cas calls Sam to ask him, Sam insists that Charlie can’t be alone because there are people after her. Bottom line: Cas needs to figure it out and handle the situation.
And while Sam is out of the room, Eldon drops a bomb on Dean: the Book wasn’t burned because it cannot be destroyed. Just as Dean is about to confront Sam about this fact, Eldon rips off part of his own arm and escapes.
The Family Business
At the distillery, Cas is shocked to learn that Rowena is Crowley’s mother. And while Cas and Rowena are chatting, Charlie escaped. As Eldon makes his way away from the bunker, Eli calls him to say he has found Charlie. Eldon convinces his cousin to give up Charlie’s location so he can take care of her.
Back at the bunker, Dean and Sam are trying to track Eldon, but stop so that Dean can confront his brother about the Book. And then Cas calls with bad news: Charlie has left.
At a motel, Charlie is frantically trying to find the decryption key for the codex and the Book. After a lot of frustration, she is successful! But then comes a knock on the door….Eldon.
Charlie makes her way to the bathroom with her computer and calls the Winchesters. Dean — who was laying into Sam about her disappearance after getting her involved in the situation — is scared for her. She gives up her location to the brothers and tells them that someone has come for her. As Eldon starts to break through the motel room door, Charlie tells the brothers they think she has the book. When they tell her to give the Stynes whatever it is they want, she refuses.
Instead, she’s uploading her decryption key to someone/something. She insists to Dean that she can’t give up what she’s discovered and the brothers race off towards her as she stands her ground against Eldon.
In the ensuing journey to Charlie, Dean is furious with Sam for lying, but Sam insists this was the only way to get rid of the Mark. That fight is soon forgotten when they arrive at Charlie’s motel to find her dead.
Death of the Fan Girl
I’m of two minds concerning Charlie’s death on Supernatural. I honestly didn’t think they would ever kill her, although this show kills everyone who doesn’t have a regular contract so it’s not all that surprising (and even the people with contracts die — although the difference is they generally come back). Even though Charlie was first introduced in a mytharc episode, she’s been stuck firmly in “monster of the week” episodes ever since. When they brought her back into the mythology I suspected they would get rid of her. Being involved in the mytharc story is the fastest way to get yourself killed on this show. Also, Supernatural tends to have at least one significant death of a recurring character each year. Last year it was Kevin, this year it’s Charlie (and in the past it’s been the Harvelles or Bobby). And, yes, it’s usually solely for manpain. Here, it’s likely that her death will make Sam feel incredibly guilty and start Dean down a path of revenge and destruction.
So much death on Supernatural is senseless, but some have really meant something (still not over Bobby over here). That said, I’m surprised they killed the show’s most recent take on the “fan girl” (with Becky previously occupying that role). Charlie was fun when she was first introduced and I enjoyed her more emotional moments in 10.18 and in this episode. But during her tenure on the show she also occasionally became a walking catchphrase. While the writers have given her depth as her tenure on the show progressed, she would occasionally be written as a caricature instead of a character (her dialogue, in particular, could grate — especially when it seemed like they were trying to fit every nerdy catchphrase they could into an individual episode). I know a lot of Supernatural fans may disagree with me and loved Charlie dearly and I appreciate those fans wanting to mourn her death. I feel that way about a great many Supernatural characters who have been sacrificed at the altar of this show.
Still, Day nailed the emotion in Charlie’s final scenes in this episode. Her quiet bravery and her reluctance to give up what could help Dean was extremely emotional. And while I may not be entirely broken up over her death, I can appreciate the emotion behind it.
Meanwhile, I’m sure Charlie’s death is going to lead to the “Blame Game”. As I said, Sam not doing anything to help save Dean is extremely dangerous. But I’m sure he’ll feel guilty for bringing Charlie into this situation. And, yet, let’s not dishonor Charlie’s memory by removing her agency. Charlie chose this life. She has had plenty of opportunities to walk away. Sam and Dean have repeatedly impressed upon her that being a hunter is not something she should choose. She read the story of their lives and knows what happens to hunters. Hunters die. All of them. All the time. And yet she chose to come help them when they called or — more importantly — to go off to Oz because she wanted an adventure. She chose to pursue the Book and she chose to help Sam in this episode and she chose to leave Castiel’s protection and go off on her own, even knowing that it was most likely not safe to do so.
Charlie made a sacrifice, which is something many hunters have done on this show. And she made a choice, knowing full well that it could lead to danger and death. Sam isn’t blameless in this situation, but it’s a case of desperation coupled with unexpected results (with a drop of manufactured drama from the writers). What happened to Charlie was a tragedy, but not an entirely preventable one had she not chosen this life. Still, you can’t help but wish you could go back to that IT girl in season 7 and say “get out while you can and don’t look back”.
Before we all depress ourselves, let’s turn to the penultimate episode of Supernatural, which airs on May 13 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on The CW. Watch a preview here.