“Blade Runners” showed me the pairing I want more of: Sam Winchester and Crowley, King of Hell. It’s not the pairing I was expecting to love, but it exceeded expectations and I’m thirsting for more. Crowley has developed from a slyly grinning antagonist to a character of great depth, one that I feel sympathy for, especially in this latest episode. It’s the first time we begin to see the effects from the season 8 finale and it’s powerful stuff.
Mark Sheppard is, of course, one of the most exciting actors for me to watch. He pops up in just about every great sci-fi/fantasy show (including Firefly, The X-Files, and Battlestar Galactica), and it’s always a delight to see him. The pathos of Crowley, however, is deeper than I’ve ever seen Mark Sheppard allowed to go. I am ecstatic that he is finally able to show how incredibly talented he is and I hope to see more “Blade Runners” style storylines this season and next.
The Winchesters are searching for The First Blade to accompany Dean’s Mark of Cain with which they hope to destroy Abaddon. Sending Crowley to retrieve the blade from the deepest part of the ocean might have been a bad idea as they haven’t heard from him in weeks. Although Sam seems hardly concerned Dean is worried, especially after receiving a drunk dial from The King of Hell.
When Crowley calls for help the boys run to the rescue, but Sam and Crowley have some issues to work out. When Dean is separated from the group, Sam and Crowley must work together to rescue him. Crowley maintains that he’s looking out for the boys and that he’s done a good job helping them out, but nary a word of praise does he receive from Sam who seems bent on getting rid of him once and for all.
I think I realized how cold-hearted Sam has become this season. Dean, on the other hand, has turned into a more merciful person than he used to be. He genuinely seems to have a grudging “we need to take care of him” attitude toward Crowley. Unfortunately, it seems Crowley prefers “Moose” (his affectionate pet name for Sam) over Dean and when Sam doesn’t take the time to thank Crowley for his efforts or even notice that the King is trying to be better all bets are off and the King of Hell decides it’s time to look out for number one again. “You can’t trust me, boys,” he cautions, but with a sad look, he adds, “but I can’t trust you either.”
There’s an interesting connection to the late seasons of the first story arc as well as to earlier episodes of this season in “Blade Runners.” We see Crowley addicted to (human) blood which links back to Sam being addicted to demon blood. Their shared moment in the season 8 finale has not gone unnoticed, especially by Crowley, who declares their shared moment has created a sort of “bond” between them.
Sam’s lack of control while hopped up on demon blood can also now be linked to the effect the First Blade has on Dean. Only time will tell how dark Dean will go and who will be able to save him. I don’t think it’ll be Sam. I wonder if they’re going to reference dark Castiel by having him reappear when Dean goes berserk as the only person who can speak to Dean on a level that will snap him out of the darkness.
It’s an interesting look at the brothers as once again we see the parallels between Cain and Abel, Gabriel and Lucifer, and Castiel and Crowley. In seasons 1-5 we see Sam eventually accepting that he is Lucifer’s chosen vessel. He’s the Abel to Dean’s Cain (according to this mythology). He’s the Crowley to Dean’s Castiel. Crowley even prefers “Moose” over “Squirrel”. Dean, on the other hand, is Cain, the righteous older brother, the one trying his hardest to please his father and do the right thing, as Gabriel and Castiel attempted to do.
What does this ultimately say about the brothers? Does it spell out the endgame the writers have in mind? Does it affect their life choices and personalities to such a degree as to be embedded in their DNA, or is there really free will? I’ve always preferred Dean over Sam. I empathize with the older sibling just trying to do the right thing and keep the family together. I’ve been in Dean’s shoes. But I know he wouldn’t want to keep fighting without his brother. It’s the black-and-white, yin and yang, opposites rule that has to happen to create conflict and ultimately a balanced resolution.
Some fans have pointed out that it would be an interesting twist to have the brothers ultimately separated as one goes to corral hell and the other holds the reins over heaven. What if the King of Hell and Abaddon perish by the First Blade and the brothers can close the gates of heaven and hell for good? Or, what if there’s no way to keep the gates closed except to rule over them?
This season has surprised me with its further deepening of characters, its twists and turns, and its careful additions and references to the first five seasons. “Blade Runners” is a surprisingly complex episode in its exploration of humanity, both of those who were born human and those who have come to humanity through other means. I just really hope that a Crowley with a more human side isn’t going to be killed any time soon.