A ghost story can have different layers of storytelling ranging from the psycho-vengeful to the forgetful-longing, though all are usually met with gruesome killings and always something burning at the end. Our filler tale takes us into a realm where a 16th century ghost exported to America begins murdering catholic men who confess their infidelity. The Winchesters investigate leading Dean to confess to a priest that he’s essentially afraid of dying. Meanwhile, after more ridicule, Crowley captures the leader of the grand coven for Rowena, who tortures her leading to the discovery that the coven isn’t the powerhouse it used to be. The Men of Letters have decimated their power leaving Rowena to once more deal with the Winchesters as enemies.
The ghost in question is Isabella, who befriends a local nun who learns of her tragic love regarding a young male artist who is dedicated to his craft so much that he denies Isabella true love even after she sacrifice a piece of her finger so he might draw her the perfect portrait. Her journal entries reveal that the man had given himself to another woman leading Isabella to murder him and be tried and burned as a witch. At first I thought the tale was a little out of left field considering the tone of cultural romance in a supernatural setting. Though as the story unfolded I rather liked the morbid fascination Isabella possessed even though her efforts to keep Piero close were rather overzealous. It was a simple story of mixed up love versus the pursuit of art which can be the one-off this show provides. I imagine if Dean read Isabella’s journal he’d have more colorful commentary on the subject.
This plot was also a classic case that virtually all of the ghost stories in Supernatural are geared toward two kinds of twists, the nature of the ghost and what ties it to the world of the living. Without a pension for switching that up, the ghost story becomes super bland and pales in comparison to a good old-fashioned creature hunt which has a much broader scope of possibilities. In this case, the portrait served as a clever change to Dean’s obvious “burn the journal” approach, only though Sam was the one who questioned if that was the right call. These stories aren’t made for the audience to figure it out before hand. Clues just don’t work like that in this show a lot.
Rowena’s fiesty personality cuts loose again as she dispenses with torturing Olivette, the leader of the coven. What seemed strange was just how much physical effort she exerted to beat down on Olivette. For a witch, it seemed odd she’d place so much force from her fists. The thing about witches is they can possess sadistic natures that can manifest many different worlds of hurt and Rowena chose the masculine approach. I get that she’s angry and has a lot of frustration built up, but still, seemed like an odd choice. Beyond that, there wasn’t very much interest in watching Olivette’s fate play out. I was hoping for more of an epic encounter with the grand coven, but maybe that wasn’t meant to be.
Regarding Dean’s confession to the priest. It was an honest approach but I think at this stage in the game his attitude may be futile. We’ve seen this side of Dean before, too ashamed to admit he might be weak against what’s inevitably coming. This echoes his run in season 3 when his time to pay up the cross-roads demon was nearing its conclusion. The dilemma is that he won’t tell Sam which easily boggles Sam because he knows his brother well enough to see that he’s holding back some emotional pouring. After all they’ve been through, the tough act between brothers isn’t the greatest sell anymore and in a tragic way stunts Dean’s growth as a character. That’s why after ten seasons the brothers still wear the same clothes, act the same way (what are they in their mid 30’s now) and even keep their hair the same style, give or take Sam’s narrow states of length. Watching Dean keep his fear close to heart is the aspect any lone hero walking the earth has to shoulder, but as brothers, he shouldn’t be acting like that anymore even at the cost of worrying his little brother.
When Isabella cut part of her finger off, I was surprised. That’s not an easy thing to do but it really settled on that exclamation point between his love for art and her love for him. Why Piero decided to make it with another woman seemed off but then again, maybe the whole “finger-cutting” segment was his idea of a red flag and decided that was too much crazy to contend with.
What did work for Dean was that at least the audience got to hear about his honest fear of death. And it likely isn’t some cheap death he’s been through before but the real long haul that comes with finality. Dean gave us the insight we already figured on and finished it with a belief that god doesn’t believe in them anymore, humanity being the focus group I imagine.
LONG TERM THOUGHTS
How will Rowena convince Crowley to go on the offensive against Sam and Dean? Or will she work behind his back to get her revenge and all the witch trinkets locked up in their vault?
This is off topic, but I wonder if they’ll be making a trip back to Chicago any time soon and if they did what that would mean for the unresolved blood feud that was the horrible back-door spinoff attempt.
I wonder why Dean didn’t mention during his confession the fear that he might end up killing his brother. That was clearly insinuated before Cain was put down and more than anything I have to believe Dean would be more fearful of that than his own demise.
It seemed rather strange that Olivette knew about the Winchesters and their status as Men of Letters. You’d think with that kind of intel she might have used the rest of her resources to deal with them.
I also found it humorous that Rowena had time to change outfits before resuming her act of face-punching Olivette. What she wore at the end was hardly befitting of someone who wanted to strange, punch, kick, and maim her old enemy. But she wanted to look her best, so there’s that.
I always tend to compare all ghost stories with my favorite (Season 02×16) starring Tricia Helfer. This one had a nice ring, but was too love sappy during an age that Supernatural doesn’t normally step into. It was a little more unique and for that I’m giving it a 7 out of 10. Dean’s confession was a small step toward character development, but he still refuses to talk to his brother about it, so in a way he’s still stalemating himself. With Crowley’s hesitance to acquiesce to Rowena’s demands regarding the brothers, I expect Rowena to further manipulate him into the act or to go behind his back and handle it herself. Perhaps soon hell won’t be big enough for the both of them.
No more words