Emily Dunbar ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
In a show like Supernatural, relationships and their consequential emotions impose martial law upon its viewers. This means an episode can’t truthfully be called “good” unless it tugs at your heartstrings a bit. “The Executioner’s Song” did just that, this week, using the leads’ acting chops to their full potential.
Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, respectively, have always brought their hunters’ A-game when it came to portraying the emotional arcs of Sam and Dean Winchester. However, it’s been quite a while since we’ve gotten the opportunity (and pleasure) to really see them working hard for their money, so to speak. In this week’s episode, Ackles came to work. Dean finally came face-to-face (again) with the man who gave him the Mark—Cain (Timothy Omundson)—and the way he handled it was above and beyond character development. We knew Dean was scared that he’d turn into the black-eyed beast he knows he could become at any moment, and we also knew how easy it was for that to happen if the First Blade was in his fist. To kill Cain and stop the Knight’s senseless killing, Dean had to use the Blade and throw his well-being completely to the wind. This type of self-sacrifice is quite literally the Winchester way, but for once, we saw a trickle of hesitance; Dean admits he’s scared to end it all. As he fought the Knight, he also fought himself, hoping to complete the task without finishing himself off, too.
In a heartbreaking moment, Dean begged Cain to tell him that he doesn’t have to kill him, that there’s another way, that murdering wasn’t going to be in his nature forever. Cain wouldn’t yield, and Dean was forced to finish the job. Ackles’ facial acting in this scene and the last five minutes of the episode really hit home why Supernatural has been able to run so long: these characters matter. It was absolutely tragic to watch Dean struggle under the weight of an entire life’s worth of kills, with no hope for penitence on the horizon. If that’s not enough to bring viewers back next week, not much will.
Another great thing we saw in this episode was the culmination of Rowena’s (Ruth Connell) dastardly manipulation of her son, King of Hell Crowley (Mark Sheppard). Now, despite the fact that Crowley’s been aware the whole time that Rowena absolutely must be staying in hell with an ulterior motive, he’s still, as Rowena put it so pleasantly, “a sad, bored, wee boy on the throne.” He brought Dean the First Blade, no questions asked, and the Winchesters deceived him. His ego was already bruised, but to come home to have his mother scoff at him and comment on how obvious their trickery was, how foolish and how so unlike royalty he was acting?
Well, that was just the icing on Rowena’s cake of deceit. We gasped and then groaned as the king grabbed his mother’s arm as she tried to leave; it’s all part of a bigger plot, and Crowley just dumped himself right into Rowena’s clutches. We’re going to see big things from the former MacLeods.
We’ve got some time to go before the next episode of Supernatural airs. So sit back, relax, and try to digest all that’s happened to our favorite brothers and their ragtag group of friends this season. And don’t forget to tune in to the CW on March 18 to catch “The Things They Carried.”
Overall Episode Grade: A-