Another episode brought us another round of great performances. Let's take a moment to look at their contributions in this week's Performing the Story.

Teryl Rothery plays the Grand Coven leader, Olivette. From the moment we see her dragged into Crowley's throne room, we see Rothery put all the sass and determination into her character. She's forceful in her assessment of Connell's Rowena. The way Rothery delivers the line, “Bottom feeder!” says it all clearly. Olivette holds Rowena in utter contempt and isn't afraid to voice it. The more they confront one another, the more we see Rothery look down her nose at Connell, making the two witches play off one another beautifully and provide the tension for the building finish. We can hear the disdain drip in her words as Rothery delivers the line, “You lay with a non magic and hatched his spawn,” and “We initiated you despite your private transgressions because of your talents.” As Rowena starts to turn the tables, however, exposing that the King of Hell is none other than her son, we see Rothery show all of Olivette's fear well. She's frightened by what this means for her---and we see her go from being condescending to pleading quickly. Rothery puts all of that into her line, “Witch on witch murder is anathema against the Coven!” She tells Rowena that the world and the Coven she wants to take over no longer exists---and as she exposes the truth of their downfall at the Men of Letters hands, we see Rothery bring back her disdain as she delivers the line, “A society of do gooders---the Men of Letters.” She has no love for them---and we can hear Olivette's grief when she says, “They tried to destroy our world!” As Rowena absorbs this information and realizes that the group she's fled from for years is no longer relevant or powerful, we see Olivette realize just how much trouble she's in now. She becomes much more pleading, and Rothery makes us sympathize with Olivette as she realizes that Rowena will indeed kill her. She begs, telling her, “Please, Rowena, don't do this!” As Rowena changes her mind and starts to chant the spell to change Olivette into a hamster, Rothery puts all of the witch's fear into her pleading. Now that she's been transformed, we're left to wonder if she'll ever return to human form.


Catherine Michaud plays our spirit of the week, the nun Isabella. In her performance we find ourselves equally sympathetic and appalled by Isabella's actions and motivations. Michauad gives the character a beautiful grace that draws us in to her tragic story. When it begins, we can see how happy she was with Pierro---how vibrant she was when alive. Michaud shows it well in the flashbacks, her gestures wide and open, her expressions full of vivacious smiles. Each gesture and expression makes us believe that Isabella is truly devoted and deeply in love with Pierro. As she confesses her tragic story to Sister Mathias, we see sorrow tinge her delivery. Michaud makes her seem broken as she reveals the truth about Pierro's rejection and how devastating that moment was for her. As we see her go after her victims, however, Michaud shows just how vengeful Isabella has truly become. We see it in her expressions as makes her moves on the priest, angry and spiteful. We see it in her sly smile. We see it in the flashbacks to Pierro's murder, how gleeful that moment was in the way she averts her eyes and smiles pleased at her crime. Michaud shows us just how dark her heart had become after the rejection---and how that's continued into her afterlife. And when it comes time for them to finally put her to rest, we see her plead and beg---calling out to Sister Mathias in one last plea to her friend. Michaud made Isabella a fascinating spirit to watch, one that we wanted to sympathize with, even if we knew we really shouldn't for what she had done in life and then in death.


Rachel Keller portrays Sister Mathias, a nun they encounter on the case. When we first meet her, Keller plays the nun with confidence, as if Sister Mathias is assured of her place in the hierarchy within the Church. She's the social director for this parish, and is the one that will assist the Winchesters on their investigation. Keller makes us connect well with Sister Mathias when she is alone with Dean. The conversation these two characters share gives us a chance to see into her motivations---and as Keller delivers her lines with some hesitancy---making them seem rehearsed at the beginning of the conversation before becoming more emotionally rooted by its end---we can see just how adrift Sister Mathias perhaps still feels as she tries to find her way to spiritual peace. When we see her opposite Michaud's Isabella, Keller makes Sister Mathias empathetic and kind. It's in the open expression on her face as she listens intently to Isabella and in the gentle way she speaks to her. Keller makes it believable that this young woman that had chosen to dedicate her life to others and to her faith truly chose it to help others. It's this part of her performance that truly makes us connect with her. She also brings quiet humor to the role---especially when she is stunned to learn that Sam and Dean---posing as FBI agents---believe in ghosts. The way she says “Really?” draws a quiet chuckle. She brings it again when she tells Isabella, “Sweet Jesus, nothing in my love life was ever so magical.” When it comes time to tell Sam and Dean about Isabella and her true nature, we see her become serious and almost withdrawn somewhat. It's in how she seems to try and hide further into her grey habit and how she hunches her shoulders. She also shows us that Sister Mathias had no idea that the spirit she had befriended would be killing people attending her church. Keller gets to step it up even more, though, when Isabella possesses Sister Mathias to attack Dean. We can tell, just by how she questions Dean about the rock salt gun that there's something different. She's telegraphing that there's a change taking place---hiding it underneath the guise of being afraid or nervous as they go after the vengeful ghost. When she finally reveals that she's possessed, we see Keller make her expression cold and unreadable at first---only to turn angry and vicious as she moves to stab the elder Winchester. Once the spirit is burned and they've closed the case, we're left to wonder just what this experience might mean for Keller's character. How will this change Sister Mathias and her view on becoming a nun?


Ruth Connell returns as My Lady, the King's Mother in melodramatic flair. Summoned to the throne room to explain her latest “parlor trick” on a courtier, Connell puts everything into the walk and delivery of her lines. She makes the moment hilarious as she drops a slight curtsy and mousily says, “Yes, your royal highness?” And yet, Connell makes sure we see that Rowena is only doing the minimum, that she's mocking Crowley and his court, and that she has no qualms about actually expressing her opinion. Connell gives the centuries old witch flair and fun, making her a treat to watch on screen. This is seen best in her grand exit from the throne room as she gestures boldly, giving punch to her spell to break all the candelabras in her wake. Her Scottish lilt makes for great delivery of such lines---especially whenever she says the Winchester's names or when she asks Crowley if they're Men of Letters. Connell captures all of Rowena's petty joy, too, when faced with Olivette. She puts all of Rowena's spite into the line, “You utter bitch!” And as she joyfully prepares the spell to snuff out the witch, we can see her gleefully and gracefully arrange her supplies, all while humming a soft Scottish song. Connell also makes Rowena a delight to watch when she realizes that she's perhaps gone about punishing Olivette the wrong way. It's captured brilliantly in her shocked expression and tight gesture as she stops the spell in its tracks. As we see that Rowena's not having a mere change of heart, Connell shows us how devious and cruel Rowena can be---just by a simple smile. She adds the flair that we've come to know in the character since her inception as she delivers the spell's punch, her Scottish voice rising with the incantation. As we realize she's changed Olivette, we see a close up on Rowena, and Connell makes certain to convey all of the witch's pride at besting her long time rival. And yet, Connell also brought something new to Rowena. In earlier attempts to express any forms of affection, we've seen her play it as mocking or manipulative. There's been little actual warmth to the gestures, but as she is rewarded with Crowley's praise at her innovative and cruel answer to Olivette, we see Connell's Rowena reach up and brush her son's face, and gently state, “You see, we're not so very different.” It's as if we're seeing the witch be vulnerable with her son for the first time, and in it we're seeing there's perhaps another side to the witch Rowena---and Connell has made this character all the more intriguing for her performance here. Now we're left to wonder just how Rowena will meddle in Crowley's relationship with the Winchesters.


Mark Sheppard returns as Crowley, the King of Hell trying to juggle his mother and his throne. He has an air of the boredom we've seen come to mark Crowley this season---as if the minutiae of ruling Hell hasn't been quite enough, and yet we can also see some spark returning as he's annoyed at being interrupted by yet another courtier coming to complain about his mother. Sheppard puts all of that into his delivery of the line, “Mother!” In his confrontation with Rowena, we see Sheppard show Crowley's disinterest well at the start. She's as over dramatic and over the top as she's been since coming to his court, so he conveys his boredom with her antics with simple facial expressions. Alongside that, we can see Sheppard show us Crowley's annoyance by his tight body language. And as Rowena snaps at him that he's only causing her pain after everything that she's done for him, we see Sheppard show Crowley's shock brilliantly. He puts it in his facial expression and the way he says, “And what exactly would that be?” Upon being reminded that the only reason he exists at all is due to her, Sheppard telegraphs Crowley conceding the point to Rowena well, as if he's saying with just his facial expression, “Well, she has a point there.” As he hands over Olivette to Rowena, Sheppard shows Crowley's amusement well, especially when he says lines such as, “The storm before the storm,” and “You kids have fun now.” It captures so much of Crowley at his heart, how he enjoys the mayhem his mother surely brings to every situation, and how he can appreciate perhaps taking down one more witch. When we see him return to her, and see what's become of Olivette, Sheppard shows another layer to Crowley. He's truly honest in his appreciation for what she's done to the witch, and Sheppard puts it all in how he says his lines in this exchange. And yet, as the conversation shifts from this to the Winchesters, we see Sheppard show all of Crowley's firmness when it comes to them. Sheppard makes it clear here that Crowley isn't open to any suggestions, and he will not tolerate his mother interfering or judging his relationship with them. The way Sheppard delivers the line, “My relationship with the Winchesters is my business. I'll handle them. I'm not killing them,” captures that spirit well. It's a firm and decisive statement that lays out what Crowley will and will not do in relation to them. Sheppard also manages to put a layer of protectiveness into this delivery, as he labels Sam and Dean off limits to his mother, and it makes us wonder just what the King of Hell is up to in regards to them. As we go further into the season, will we see Crowley's dynamic shift with his mother---and will he have to go against her in time?


Jensen Ackles gives us a delightfully nuanced performance in “Paint It, Black.” He makes use of all of his comedic skills and his dramatic skills to flesh out Dean's story throughout the episode, giving us a layered and richer understanding of his character at this stage within the season. In the beginning, we can see Dean's determination in the way Ackles delivers his lines. He wants to “keep busy” and focus on the new case. And yet, Ackles also shows us just how frightened or agitated Dean may be as they start this case---that if he doesn't keep busy or focused on this, he'll find himself falling further to the Mark or the despair he feels surrounding it. This sentiment is punctuated with the way Ackles delivers the line, “I'm feeling good about this” after they find out the details of the first suicide shown in the episode.

When we see them approach the priest, Ackles shows us a Dean slipping easily back into hunter mode, getting the answers they need and laying the groundwork for getting more information. It isn't until we see Sister Mathias introduced to them that we see a shift in the way Ackles portrays Dean. At the start, we can see him adding in a smidgen of comedy as if Dean's trying to pick up a nun, catch her eye, or get her to flirt. On the other, we can see that Dean's slightly awkward at first. This comes out in how he pauses with her at the altar as she stops to genuflect and cross herself. It also shows another marked turn for Ackles and his performance as Dean.


As they start to talk about the details of the case---and then shift towards Dean's line of questioning once Sam has left, Ackles shows us how vulnerable Dean is at this stage. He's genuine when he asks Sister Mathias about choosing this life. This vulnerability shines best in the line, “I'm just wondering how somebody quits one life for something completely different, and then believe in it so much.” Ackles puts so much into the body language in this exchange, too. His facial expression softens, his gestures seem much more gentle, and his vocal tones seem to be smaller than the forceful Dean we've come to know through the years. Ackles captures that Dean's serious about this well.


We see this blend of comedy and tragedy emerge well in the confessional scene, too. Ackles shows how he can subtly drop some humor with body language and the airy way he drops his lines as Dean tries to set the bait for Isabella. We laugh at the surface level because of this delivery---and yet Ackles also makes us feel it deeper as we realize that the “Gina” Dean talks about is really his brother and his fears about the future. Little by little, in this scene, Ackles strips away the comedy more and more until we see Dean really laid bare. He hangs his head, closes his eyes, looks despondent, and puts so much feeling into the way he says, “What if I said I, I didn't want to die... yet. That I wasn't ready.” Ackles is showing us the inner mind of Dean here---not just with the scripted words, but with how he delivers them, giving us an understanding of just how truly frightened he is in the aftermath of his confrontation with Cain---and what he fears is yet to come.

When the brothers end up back working together to solve the case, we see Ackles make Dean into the protector again---ready to save Sister Mathias from the spirit that is killing so many. As he comes across the priest, while Dean isn't entirely shocked that the priest ended up dead on the altar, Ackles gives us that moment where we see him hesitate a moment, stunned momentarily that their vengeful spirit has upped the stakes that quickly. Ackles keeps himself in front of Keller's Sister Mathias, making sure Dean is the one that will take the lead. We see him hold the gun assuredly. And as she turns on him---possessed by Isabella---Ackles manages to show Dean tumbling to the ground, all while holding onto the salt gun. While she has him held aloft, Isabella's hurtful words flowing over him, Dean puts up a great struggle, and yet Ackles shows us that these words sting just by his facial expressions.


As they're in the car, leaving the case behind, Ackles shows us that Dean feels defeated. He's slumped in the passenger seat, almost listlessly. And as Dean tells Sam that they wouldn't have known how to stop Isabella if Sam had listened, it comes off as quiet. The more frustrated Sam gets, the more withdrawn Dean seems to become---and Ackles shows this well in how he draws in upon himself. The way he utters the soft, “Okay, Sammy” and “Okay” at the very end makes us worry for him. If anything, it may get darker for Dean before it gets better---and we can be assured that Ackles will show us all of it along the way.


Jared Padalecki plays a determined and forceful Sam in “Paint It, Black.” From the moment we see the brothers in the car together, we can see how driven he is. Padalecki shows Sam on his phone, keeping to it despite Dean's prodding to focus on the case. He conveys all of Sam's agitation and frustration upon working this case at the start through body language and tight facial expressions. We see it in the way they walk from the police station or the way they walk out of the church. Sam is exasperated here---and it shows in how he glances at his brother over the car.

As they investigate the second victim's case, however, we see Padalecki show Sam settling down---despite his fudging of their aliases. Sam takes out the EMF, canvasses the place, and when speaking with Sister Mathias shows her all of his characteristic empathy and courtesy. The more they dig into this case, the more invested Padalecki shows Sam becoming. He shows it well when they follow Sister Mathias back to the little study she's met Isabella in---where all of her artifacts are held for cataloging. He's stunned that this nun would be so willing to talk to ghosts---on one hand Padalecki shows Sam's disbelief, on the other he conveys so well his concern for her.


But as Dean starts to move fast to close the case, we see the same fire reemerge as Sam pushes back. He's not nearly as irritated in his body language as he was earlier, but we can tell that he's not willing to buy this journal as the easy and quick answer that his brother believes it to be. Padalecki shows that well in his facial expressions and the gestures he uses as his brother walks away. Left alone to peruse the journal he's told to burn, Padalecki shows us all of Sam's analytical mind at work as he pages through it, reading about Isabella's tragic life and her obsession with Pierro's art. He captures in one great facial expression the shock and realization about what he must do. Isabella isn't tied to the journal at all---she's tied to the painting.


Here, Padalecki shows Sam being frantic in his search for her portrait. And as we get a great close up on his face as he lights the match, we can see that Sam is trying to race the clock and set it on fire quickly.

His best moment, however, comes in the closing scene in the car. Padalecki shows Sam in control, driving them away. He conveys all of Sam's self assuredness that he's supposed to be in the driver's seat now with the way he sits behind the wheel. He also captures all of Sam's amusement at Dean's disbelief when he says, “Who mixes there blood and bones into paint? No womans ever done that for me.” The way he delivers the retort, “ Is this you thanking me for not doing what you told me to do?” makes us smile. Much like Ackles, however, Padalecki knows how to blend the comedy into the drama, using this is a springboard for Sam to say, “You know, you were in that confessional a long time... Look man I'm just saying, I'm your brother, Dean, if you ever need to talk about anything with anybody, you got someone right here next to you.” In a way, we can see that Padalecki's expressed this serious sentiment with his comedic line---adding so much punch to the soft and gentle delivery he uses here.


As Dean seems to pull further away, Padalecki gives Sam a beautiful fire as he says, “I heard what Sister Mathias was saying about you know, hiding pain by taking on a mission, and I know that's what you're doing, that's fine I get it I'm for it too. But I don't buy for one second that the Mark is a terminal diagnosis; so don't go making peace with that Idea, there has to be a way, there will be a way, and we will find it, that's what we do. So believe that.” To make it even a stronger moment for the episode, the brothers---and especially Sam, Padalecki adds punch to the delivery of the line, “You wanna try that again like you mean it.” He doesn't make it a question, and with the subtle jut out of his chin and nod of his head, he makes it seem as if the words are thrusting out, challenging Dean.

While the brothers drive away, we're left to wonder if Sam can possibly break through---and just how tough Sam will have to be going forward. No matter what happens in the remaining episodes, we know Padalecki will play Sam with strength and grace.

Best Lines of the Week:

Dean: Tell me you didn't think that nun was hot, I think she had a little thing for me too.
Sam: Dean, she was married to Jesus.

Dean: Hiya Father.

Father Delaney: Pardon me?

Dean: Pardon you? I thought it was the other way around. So uh, I'm here to clean house, need to get some things off my chest.

Sam: Is this you thanking me for not doing what you told me to do?

Sam:I heard what Sister Mathias was saying about you know, hiding pain by taking on a mission, and I know that's what you're doing, that's fine I get it I'm for it too. But I don't buy for one second that the Mark is a terminal diagnosis; so don't go making peace with that Idea, there has to be a way, there will be a way, and we will find it, that's what we do. So believe that

Dean:Now. Recent events made me think I might be closer to that than I really thought. And I don't know; there's things, there's people, feelings that I-I want to experience differently than I did before, or maybe even the first time.

Dean:I believe there is a God. But I'm not sure he believes in us.

Which performance stuck out to you the most? Which scenes made you cry? Laugh? What was your favorite line? Why?