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Supernatural – Episode 9.16 – ‘Blade Runners’ Review

On a first watch, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this episode. Two thoughts stood out. One is that like unfortunately too many episodes, there was a sloppiness in the writing that was a distraction. The other was that if I didn’t think too hard about it, it was enjoyable.

On a second watch, a thought jumped out to me that had somehow slipped past on the first watch – probably because I’m so used to thinking of Crowley as always working an angle – and that is that I think Crowley was being sincere in trying to a friend with Sam, and that Sam hurt his feelings.

On a first watch, I was trying to wrap my head around what exactly was going on with Crowley. Was this addiction supposed to be a longing for the humanity that he had tasted when Sam attempted to “cure” him, or was this just an addiction to blood? Logic would say that Crowley had become addicted to the emotions, and longed to feel more human (who gets addicted to blood transfusions?). But then why was he so cavalier about his companion Lola piling up the bodies in the hotel room? In his scenes with Sam in Sacrifice, Crowley was wracked with guilt, but there were no signs of remorse in Blade Runners. Just a junkie trying to get a fix.

Was this supposed to be a mirror of Sam’s blood addiction in season 4? The problem with this theory is that Sam’s addiction wasn’t so much about the blood as it was about the power – the underlining psychological needs. On the one hand, I’m tempted to assume that this is just another example where the writers read the cliffs notes version of seasons past, rather than watching and coming to understand the full story, and assumed all they needed to know was that Sam was addicted to blood. But on the other hand, Crowley really did seem to be lonely and attempting to reach out. It would make some sense that he would focus on Sam since Sam had his demon-blood history and had been always had a deeper connection to demons than Dean, who only wanted to kill them, and because of the time they spent together in the church. So this might still be about Crowley becoming addicted to feelings of being human.

So I’m still not sure what to make of this episode. Not only in this episode, but in this whole season, the writing of Crowley has been too inconsistent that I can’t figure out exactly where he’s at, so I’ll just dig in with what worked for me and what didn’t.

The Highlights

The episode starts with search for The First Blade. Crowley has gone missing – is not returning Dean’s calls – but as we’re to learn, he’s shacked up with a hot demon who is feeding his blood addiction. Lola, Crowley’s demon friend who looks a bit like Ruby 2, has been informing on Crowley to Abbadon, but Crowley figures it out and kills Lola. The Winchesters eventually hook up with Crowley, recapture him, and with Crowley’s help trace the blade to the invisible home of a man of letters, who was exiled from the group some 50 years ago, specializes in magic, and collects creatures like vampires and shapeshifters. When he learns Dean has The Mark of Cain, he hopes to collect Dean as well. Meanwhile, we finally see what happens when Dean comes in contact with the blade. His mark gets glowy, and Dean starts to lose himself in the feeling of power. Sam, Dean, and Crowley, of course eventually get out of their predicament, and Crowley steals the blade after he hears Sam suggest killing him now that he’s no longer needed.

The Good

The effects of the blade on Dean – while brief – were pretty cool and promise more interesting developments ahead. Also, the casting of Sinclair (the reclusive, exiled man of letters) was very good, and he made an interesting guest. Too bad he was beheaded, so it’s unlikely we’ll see more of him unless it’s in the past. Also, although there were some eye-rolling moments in the way Crowley was written, Crowley is always fun to watch, and he got in few good lines. Finally, Sam and Dean weren’t noticeably glowering at each other, and both were contributing members of the team.

The Bad

I’ve been trying to stay open-minded about this whole Men of Letters introduction. New mythology isn’t necessarily bad, but it has to fit the tone of the series. This episode pushed those limits with magic that could stop a man from aging and make a house invisible. It’s true we’ve seen magic before on this show, especially in the later seasons, but it has traditionally been tied to demons, and this type of show of magic is so far from the roots of the series that sometimes it’s still hard for me to adjust.

Also, while I found parts of Crowley’s role amusing – for example his stunt with the candy machine and how he redeemed himself by saving Sam and Dean in the end – there were parts that were exaggerated a bit too much – the voice on the drunk phone message to Dean was one example.

The “Huh?”

So Sam and Dean can just summon a random demon into a devil’s trap with a simple spell any time they like? (Okay, Snooki doesn't seem that random, but that's beside the point.) This begs the question why they don’t plan to camp out for a couple of weeks, bring a lot of coffee, and make a marathon run at summoning and exorcising demons one after the other. Some would still slip out of Hell again, but they’d no doubt save lives, which I thought was the point. Frankly, they’re looking unmotivated at the moment.

The Speculation

So how far do you think Dean will go? Will the influence of the blade make him do something that will haunt him later?

I apologize for the lateness of this review. As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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