Supernatural: The Bad Seed
October 23, 2015 10:21 AM - Season 11, Episode 3 - Subscribe

While Rowena tries to consolidate her power to protect herself from the Winchesters, Sam and Dean search for a missing baby connected to the Darkness. Meanwhile, Castiel struggles to heal and Crowley tries to find a way to use the Darkness for his own personal gain.

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Sometimes the boys' incompetence perplexes me. They can come up with a great plan to capture Rowena, but you'd think Sam would be better at holding her at gunpoint even if he's mildly distracted.

Well at least now Cas is healed, I'm glad that was resolved quickly so it wouldn't be a distraction for another 3-4 episodes. The Darkness aka Amara is a much better focal point anyway. I'm waiting for that moment where the Winchesters save Crowley from her sucking his soul.

------- END SPOILERS -------
posted by numaner (11 comments total)
Crowley was the highlight of this episode. Loved his interaction with Amara and her ambiguous response to him. Mark Sheppard is always terrific when on screen because he's such a great actor.
posted by cfoxhi at 2:35 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am pretty much just watching this show for Crowley anymore, (and because even I am vulnerable to the sunk cost fallacy from time to time), and so this episode was actually a lot of fun. Amara's creepy, Crowley's clearly in over his head, that whole side of the story was entertaining.

I wish they would just forget about Rowena though - the 'mega coven' stuff was pure cringe humor, and witches are among the worst thought out baddies in the Supernatural universe.
posted by mordax at 4:32 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've always felt like Crowley would be around for the run of the show, but his interactions with Amara made me wonder if he'll make it through this season. The showrunners kill EVERYBODY eventually, and I can see them thinking that killing Crowley could be a way to shake things up and make the Darkness seem really scary. The leads (and Misha Collins) are probably there until the show ends, but I've had the feeling the writers are struggling with Crowley's character and I wouldn't be stunned if they'll take him out before long.

They seem to be working up a pretty good Big Bad, which is impressive when you consider how they have to keep topping themselves with these ancient threats. The angels are loose on Earth! The Leviathan are loose on Earth! The Darkness is loose on Earth! It should feel tired as hell by now, but so far the Darkness feels spooky in a way that the Leviathan didn't.

I know Rowena's not popular with the fans, but I like her fine. She hits a good balance between danger and camp. She can pivot between scary and silly in a scene, and it works.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:37 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I like Rowena, but I never liked her relationship with Crowley. It made them both seem weak. With them totally at odds now I'm a lot happier with her presence.

Here's hoping that last little bit of finger-wagging from Dean about keeping secrets will be the last of the Winchesters keeping secrets.
posted by brundlefly at 11:18 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I like Rowena, but I never liked her relationship with Crowley. It made them both seem weak. With them totally at odds now I'm a lot happier with her presence.

I don't have a problem with Rowena in theory, exactly. The actress is game, sells her cheesy lines with the best of them. She always seems like she's having some fun, and she's way less annoying without the horrible relationship with Crowley. Like you said, it was bad for both characters.

Despite that, I don't like what's going on now much. Witches are - from a narrative perspective - the worst antagonists on Supernatural because their abilities and hierarchy are the most poorly defined. Ever since the first witches we saw on the show, they seem to be able to do... whatever? And we've never really seen the Grand Coven, don't have a good idea of their resources, their membership, why we should like or dislike them.

Angels, demons, leviathan and other monsters all had more clearly defined strengths, weaknesses, motivation and so on, and considering how thin some of them have been, that's really saying something.

As a result, Rowena's current plot feels nebulous and lacking in stakes to me. Worse, it's playing opposite the whole Amara thing, where I agree with Ursula that things actually seem to be on track for a change: Amara is menacing, currently retains some mystery, and so on. I'm actually interested in what happens next there, which serves to make me even more frustrated when less well thought out stuff is hogging episode runtime.

(I would definitely like Rowena's presence more if she were a djinni, or a vampire, or pretty much anything but a witch. Or an angel, I have seen enough hopelessly stupid Supernatural angels - I'd be complaining just as much about that, just with different particular arguments.)

I've always felt like Crowley would be around for the run of the show, but his interactions with Amara made me wonder if he'll make it through this season.

I'm honestly hoping this is their last season anyway. We've now moved to an enemy that should pose a decent challenge to God himself - not only can they not top this, they really ought not try. I'll be disappointed if Crowley doesn't Crowley his way outta stuff either way though.

(I like Castiel quite well too, but my enjoyment of his stuff is definitely tainted with how much Idiot Ball angels are forced to carry. I really wish the whole 'become human' thing had stuck sometimes.)
posted by mordax at 12:38 AM on October 24, 2015

Apparently the show has already been renewed for next season, and the CW is saying they'll stick with it as long as the ratings hold. Which I'm fine with, as long as they stay at something like this level. This show doesn't thrill the way it once did, but it's nice to know the Winchesters aren't going away any time soon. My main complaint is that they need to back away from some of the really played out tropes, like the secrets between the brothers, and if they can do that I think they'll be a good solid show for a while yet.

(I do miss the Monster of the Week episodes, and if this show goes long enough I wouldn't be surprised if they do at least one season where they're like, "Screw it, no big arc this season! We're doing monsters of the week, like the old days!" That could be fun, actually.)

I'd say, give 'em a chance to define the witches a bit. The season's new, and presumably they'll dig into how witches work as we go along. I suspect Amara will be the Big Bad, with the witch stuff mainly there for spice. While Rowena can be wicked, she doesn't seem quite fearsome enough to build a whole big threat around. She's evil, but she's not Yellow Eyed Demon evil. She could have killed the boys this week, for instance, but she didn't.

I suspect we haven't seen the last of the witch who got turned into a mouse. I have a hunch she'll be the one who takes Rowena out in the end, or that she'll at least be the one who enables the Winchesters to do it. Or, maybe the writers will forget about her completely.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:42 AM on October 24, 2015

I'd say, give 'em a chance to define the witches a bit.

Mm. I doubt it very much. Spellcasters tend to be a particularly nebulous quantity in genre storytelling in general, not just here. I think it's because they don't have an easy to remember mythology to crib from. Like... everybody has a firm mental picture of how Dracula works, (even though it's typically not all that accurate). Gandalf or Dumbledore, less so. I mean, there's a reason for the whole 'a wizard did it' thing.

I'm in it for the rest of the season either way though, just to see. (Apart from the sunk cost thing, I also do partake in a lot of media I'm not necessarily into as a work related thing - like... how something fails feels as instructive to me as how something succeeds. Supernatural has always been intriguing from both angles, and I guess it'll carry me one more year.)

(I do miss the Monster of the Week episodes, and if this show goes long enough I wouldn't be surprised if they do at least one season where they're like, "Screw it, no big arc this season! We're doing monsters of the week, like the old days!" That could be fun, actually.)

Given they've already been renewed, I hope they switch back to that too. Apart from my annoyance at the thought of an even bigger bad than the bad who is bigger than God, I'd love to see them back to basics.

Like, Crowley doesn't really get a gold star from me because I'm Team Evil so much as he's the only character who seems to enjoy anything about his life anymore. I like watching him mostly because he's angst free. I miss Sam and Dean being more like that, just doing their thing and deriving any meaning from it. I could definitely go for a whole season of that.
posted by mordax at 10:04 PM on October 24, 2015

Sheppard is an awesome actor. I think I could watch him seated in a chair and reading the phone book and still find enjoyment in his delivery. He's done a lot to help some of the weaker seasons (and their weaker storylines) survive by simply being present.

In this case, the fact that he went from an attempt to become a friendly familial figure to Amara to pretty much realizing he's stuck in a cage with a lion that may or may not try to eat him, was quite enjoyable. He's a lion tamer who suddenly realized that the Lion really doesn't care about the whip at all.

Count me in as another hoping that Rowena's secrets conversation also serves the duty of destroying the secrets between brothers theme. I'd like to think, in a perfect world, the writers were sitting around and theorizing if there were any last secrets between them, and intentionally inserted this dialogue to clear the air. OF COURSE, Dean probably still doesn't know that Sam was infected with the Darkness bug - something which I'm afraid will come back to bite Sam and Dean in the rear later down the road.

I enjoy the actress and the idea of Rowena, but I'm not 100 percent on board with the execution. Rowena, I'm guessing, is on her way out. Her role was also partly carried over by the need to cure Castiel, in a similar manner to perhaps her secrets dialogue in the car. She's been flitted about to tie up loose ends.
posted by Atreides at 9:31 AM on October 27, 2015


Rowena: [to three unimpressed-looking witches] ...and they shall know us far and wide and fear us. And we shall be known as the... Mega Coven! Mega! Coven! See, because it's greater than Grand Coven. So it's not grand, it's mega! It's the Mega Coven!
Witch 1: ...
Witch 2: ...
Witch 3: ...
Rowena: I don't think you're followin'.

Dean: You know where you are? What's the date?
Castiel: Earth. Several billion years from the beginning.

Castiel: It was like I was... inside a blender. That was set to purée for a tomato salsa.
Dean: And you're the tomato?
Castiel: In this analogy, yes.

Crowley: So, here's the thing. Amara seems to be growing in leaps and bounds. Not just in maturity, but in strength and confidence, too. I don't want her to get out of hand before I'm sure of her loyalty. I need you to stop overfeeding her.
Demon Nanny: But you said to give her whatever she wants whenever she wants it.
Crowley: Well, now I'm saying something different, aren't I?
Demon Nanny: Yes.
Crowley: We don't want a generation of entitled, pudgy kids, do we? No, we do not. So simply inform her that we're cutting back on her soul food. It's, uh, it's the healthier choice.
Demon Nanny: You want me to tell her this?
Crowley: You are her nanny, aren't you?
Demon Nanny: Well --
Crowley: 'Cause if you're not the nanny, then what are you? Oh, I know -- roasting on a spit until the end of time.
Demon Nanny: I'll, uh, do my best.
Crowley: Good man. And you look wonderful in an apron.

Rowena: There's no trust. Are we not a team?
Dean & Sam: No!

Rowena: [in the back seat of the Impala] You wouldn't think a road trip with two such strapping lads could be this tedious. Shall we have a wee sing-song?
Sam & Dean: No!

Sam: Yeah. Again, not breaking news. Metatron is also off the grid. He stole your car in Blaine, Missouri, right?
Castiel: Yeah.
Sam: Yeah, uh, no accidents, incidents, violations, or anything remotely interesting involving a crappy '78 Continental Mark V.
Castiel: You think it's crappy?
Sam: ...
Dean: ... Eye of the beholder.
Sam: Yeah.

Castiel: No. Guys, I'm -- I'm hearing Angel radio. It's a lot of chatter. They're... They've been looking for me ever since I escaped, as well as scouring the earth for the perp.
Sam & Dean: ...
Castiel: It's slang for “perpetrator”.
Dean: Ah.
Sam: Yeah, thank you. Um, any...”perp” in particular?

Dean: [to a witch being held by the police while undercover as FBI] So, ladies lunch goes south when a waiter, who reeks of sulfur, attacks with a blade, killing one of you, while the redhead who invited you yells something in Latin, disappears and the furniture forms a pile. That about right?
Witch: Uh-huh.
Sam: Any idea why a demon would wanna attack three witches?
Witch: I -- I don't know what you're talking about.
Sam: Right. The waiter was possessed by a demon assassin who was gunning for Rowena, since she tried to kill her son Crowley, who just so happens to be the King of Hell.
Witch: Why do I think you're not FBI like the police said?
Dean: Let's cut to it. The cops say that you're so scared, you don't wanna leave here. Well, you should be, 'cause Crowley's not only going after Rowena, he's going after every witch that she hangs with.
Witch: I -- I'm no witch.
Dean: Sure, you are. And your pal Rowena, she's recruiting a new coven. Hmm?
Witch: You can't do this. I have rights.
Dean: And I have a fake badge.

Dean: [to an attractive blond woman walking by him in the alley] Hey!
Blond woman: [keeps walking] Get a life.
Dean: Hi! Ehhh.


This is the fifth episode directed by Jensen Ackles. He would direct just one more episode in 2019, for a total of six episodes.

Café Elta, where Rowena tries to recruit two witches, is named after Jensen Ackles wife Danneel Ackles, whose first given name was Elta.

The episode title could be a reference to a 1956 movie called The Bad Seed, which is about a mother who suspects her little girl is a serial killer.

Metatron abandons Castiel's Lincoln in Blaine, Missouri. Blaine is the setting for Christopher Guest's 1996 mockumentary Waiting for Guffman. The film is about a small town putting on a musical to celebrate the town's sesquicentennial and its director and cast hoping that a New York Broadway producer will attend, be impressed with the production, and make them all Broadway stars.

In the bar scene between the demon and angel, the Louden Swain song "Big One" is playing in the background. The lead singer of Louden Swain, Rob Benedict, played Chuck Shurley/Carver Edlund on Supernatural.

At the start of the episode, Rowena is trying to recruit 3 witches. There is a gray-haired older witch, a black haired middle-aged witch and a young goth witch. The Maiden, Mother, and Crone is common pagan iconology, often associated with the Triple (Moon) Goddess. That Rowena ends up killing the 3 witches who fit the iconography, could be seen as symbolic of her overthrowing the old order to assert her own agenda.

This is the first episode to show a reverse version of the attack dog spell (to cure an attack dog spell).

Dean taking the time to hit on a woman in a dark alley when he's trying to find an afflicted Castiel, save the young woman Castiel's preying on, and manage a wayward witch is very on point for him.
posted by orange swan at 11:00 AM on December 17, 2021

Sometimes the boys' incompetence perplexes me. They can come up with a great plan to capture Rowena, but you'd think Sam would be better at holding her at gunpoint even if he's mildly distracted.

Rowena can't practice magic if she's in witch handcuffs, which makes her essentially a very small human woman and therefore manageable, but the thing is Sam and Dean had to take the cuffs off so that she could cure Castiel. Even a gun loaded with witch-killing bullets and pointed at her head was not going to be that effective a restraint. I'm surprised Rowena even bothered to reverse the curse she'd put on Castiel before flouncing off into the night.

No one was buying into Rowena's Mega Coven branding. She may be a powerful witch, but she's not great at marketing or sales.

When the waiter demon attacks Rowena and the two witches, one is promptly dispatched and the other detained by police while Rowena commands the furniture to barricade her exit point behind her with a casual wave of her hand. She's goooood.

It's probably for the best that Crowley took over the care and feeding of Amara. What on earth would Sam and Dean have done with her?

Danneel Ackles' legal name at birth was Elta Danneel Graul. She went by Danneel Harris professionally until she married Jensen, and then took his last name. I don't know which I'd choose to go by if I had the given names Elta and Danneel, because they are both terrible names -- I think I'd have to flip a coin.

Speaking of names, the Ackles named their kids like they were naming puppies. Justice Jay Ackles, Zeppelin Bram Ackles, and Arrow Rhodes Ackles. Justice isn't a bad name at all, and they call her J.J., but Zeppelin and Arrow...? I actually like unusual names -- I like the name Jensen -- but don't think names that are given to actual human beings should sound made up or absurd. Jensen and Danneel must not have heard the baby naming guideline, "When your child is 40, they should be able to walk into a boardroom and introduce themselves, and not have everyone snicker."

The Padaleckis, by contrast, who both have ordinary names themselves, went with solid, classic names: Thomas Colton Padalecki, Austin Shepard Padalecki, and Odette Elliott Padalecki, and they call the kids Tom, Shep, and Odette.
posted by orange swan at 11:14 AM on December 17, 2021

"Mega," I thought, was a play on the "Stop trying to make Fetch happen." meme.
posted by porpoise at 9:01 PM on December 18, 2021

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