What to say about "Angel Heart"? As villains and devious concepts go, this episode fell considerably short in the grand Supernatural scheme. Evil beings feeding on a humans while the human lives in a utopia mentally? Well, it’s wholly similar to the idea of a Djinn, first presented much more significantly in "What Is and What Should Never Be". Measured against that standard, an emotionally gripping episode on every level that catches you by surprise and uses the dead parents in unexpected ways to bring the audience to its knees? "Angel Heart" could never hope to compare and certainly didn’t. Having said that, the episode wasn’t a letdown or total write-off on a character level, so that’s where we begin from today.


What Worked:

The Novaks Get Some Resolution

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Finally, the situation has some resolution. It’s a teeny-tiny thread tangling for years and no, it wasn’t essential to anything major overall but it’s still nice to have it addressed here once and for all in a way that feels satisfactory finally. Jimmy and Amelia are deceased – the answer is absolute. It’s sad, but unquestionable. The reunion of Jimmy and Amelia in Heaven and the final conversation about their daughter was necessarily stirring with the right dose of finality. Sweet, touching send off for a couple that was minor but noteworthy in their own way.
AH 1Claire, all her trauma and upheaval thrived in true hunter style. If ever a spinoff is born or a next-gen show, Claire could easily fit the bill. She’s a self-sufficient character, but not a complete natural as evidenced by what the boys were able to teach her – so there is room to grow and develop in this world. Further, Claire recognizes the value in accepting this information despite her dislike of both the source and the fact that she needs this information in the first place. All of these qualities make her a likeable character: Claire is a survivor but smart enough to reach for a helping hand when the situation demands it.

Loving Castiel


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Castiel is very fatherly with Claire, in the limited time he spends with her. His birthday gift to her is very sweet, in particular when she later has it in her bag. Though the two don’t spend much screen time together, they discuss their relationship at different points and a noteworthy moment is when Dean offers some insight to Claire about what exactly her father died for – that his sacrifice did save the world. Of course, Castiel’s ongoing concern for Claire throughout the episode is evident (wanting “back up” to talk to her in the hospital, asking both Sam and Dean what to do after they deal with this case, etc.) but the most poignant is the end when the two hug and he sees her off in the cab, asking for reassurances that she’ll be okay.
Dean Being Dean
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A number of moments throughout the episode nodded to the Mark of Cain and it’s growing influence on Dean, some overtly and outright; some more a subtle look at his head space. To the latter, Dean’s conversation in the car with Castiel about letting Claire go on her own because some people are better on their own: personally, I was unclear whether he was speaking of himself or Sam being alone here, but either way he seemed to be talking to himself rather than Cas. Perhaps Dean was referencing himself being alone, getting to the point where Cain isolated himself and was alone to control the Mark and violent urges.

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Dean’s entire interaction with Claire from top to bottom of the episode was a great thing to witness. Since the show’s inception, Dean has been a character who handles youth well. Yes, he and Claire do not have positive history but he recognizes right from the start that she will not have a warm response to him and responds to her appropriately. At times, he’s wholly himself in the childish mimicking and other times, he recognizes her need to be involved and have control by giving her the gun. By the end, he knows she took the blade, calls her out on it but doesn’t take it from her. Dean handled Claire exceptionally well in this episode and this includes letting her off the hook before she can get too far in with the uncomfortable apology. Dean understands what she’s going through, what she needs in terms of control and understanding, restraint and freedoms and grants her these things just so. It is great to watch this relationship evolve through the course of the episode.

Softer Sides of Sam

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Sam’s relationship with Claire was refreshing even if it was brief – it seems it’s been a while since Sam’s been in educator mode quite like he was when demonstrating credit card hacking and talking about his relationship with mother after she was dead. As scenes go in the episode, this was one of my favourites for a number of reasons including watching Sam talk trade secrets and watching the warm way he talks about his family, rather than any lingering pain such as would have been the case early in time.
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We also watched Sam offer a pep talk of sorts to Castiel – explaining that Claire is family and he shouldn’t let her just go. Through this speech, Sam offered his explanation, or justification, of what he’s doing with the Book for Dean: “going it alone that’s no way to live… you being there…even if she thinks she doesn’t want you to be there for her, that’s good, for both of you….in the end.” Sam is being there for Dean, whether Dean thinks he should be or not, because it’s what’s right for both of them and will be the best thing for both of them, ultimately. Or so Sam believes as he endeavors on this project in secret.
What Didn’t Work:


Violence and Bar Fights

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One aspect of this episode that bothered, probably more than it should have, was the reaction everyone had towards Dean’s behaviour in the bar. He didn’t feel overtly aggressive – in fact, blood wasn’t even drawn – so the high level of concern from Castiel seems overblown. At most, maybe Dean seemed overeager on interrogation, but the Winchesters have approached situations more assertively before to get needed details in the past.  Understandably, Castiel may have been worried about Dean engaging in any forceful physical behaviour when not 100% needed at this point, but never the less his relay to Sam later seemed overdone.
To that end when relaying the situation to Sam, details aren’t shared (at least not that we’re privy to – Castiel simply says “Dean snapped”) so it leads this viewer to feel Sam and Castiel overreacted by and large and it felt almost as though it was done for the sake of forcing a plot point – Dean and Claire golfing and researching. What makes it feel that way is how easily Dean agreed to it. He doesn’t attempt to counter Cas by stating what he did at the bar, or didn’t do which seems unusual given that, as stated, Sam didn’t have the details from the bar situation but was arguing Dean was acting over the line, etc.

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Do Sam and Castiel have reason to be concerned when Dean and violence are in the same room? Yes. Was there payoff to the golf and research scenes? Yes. But the bridge to get there was awkward and out of step overall, at least in my opinion and didn’t work properly, to say the least. Your thoughts?

Odds and Ends

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The entire plot involving Amelia and this angel feeding on her soul was weak, overall. As I mentioned above it felt far too reminiscent of the first days of the djinn but with none of the necessary spark and emotional punch, at least as far as witnessing Amelia’s little fantasy world. Beyond that, a number of questions and gaps were left open with our angelic villain that didn’t sit quite right overall. For example, could Castiel not sense this angel at all? Are these angels super low power now because they’re near extinction is that why he couldn’t sense the angel?  All of these things could have seemed reasonable, if stated somewhere, but for the fact that Castiel then couldn’t heal damage from the angel. Also, how did Sam get away from the angel? He picked the lock on the handcuffs, and then what? I nitpick these things because they are conflicting ideas about his level of power, in particular in relationship to Castiel. Naturally, these are very minor things and as I said, the action plot was an insignificant thread overall in this episode.

Final Thoughts

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It was an enjoyable episode and I would absolutely watch it again – the writing was good, it didn’t entirely ignore the main plot and fundamentally, the characters, despite not having a great plot to play in, offered a substantial amount in their interactions. So, despite its plot issues, the episode worked for me on a human level. Each of the major characters were very much present and significant in their effect on one another and the relationships that were established and/or reinforced very genuinely by the end of "Angel Heart".  
What did you think? Share your thoughts below!

Comments  

Lisa
# Lisa 2015-05-02 19:53
It's probably because this episode was so character-drive n rather than plot-driven that I enjoyed all of it--including the Amelia storyline. I was really bothered by the recasting at first, but Leisha Hailey did a good job and her performance was really affecting. I guess I was too caught up in Novak feelings to worry about exactly what kind of angel they were dealing with, how did Sam escape, etc. Which, those usually do bother me, but didn't this time. Also, I kind of feel like Cas had a right to overreact about Dean at the bar. He's been very watchful now, especially since he has at least more ability to stop Dean if he gets out of control--even though he obviously doesn't want to use that ability. Dean's volatility turns on a dime, and I don't think Cas was being unreasonable in telling Sam that Dean was violent at the bar. Who knows how quickly that interrogation could have gotten out of hand?

One surprise for me was how much I liked Claire's story here, and I agree that her scenes with Dean were fantastic. I've seen chatter online about a spinoff with Claire, headed up by our Jody Mills (which, seriously, couldn't they have brought her in for that last scene? come on!). I will tell you that I would watch the hell out of that!

Anyway, I loved just about everything about this episode. I think it's one of the best this season. Does it compare to "What Is and What Should Never Be"? I'm not sure it's a fair comparison to make. Much has happened between these two episodes, and of course the writers are setting things in motion for the season 10 finale. I think "Angel Heart" worked really well throughout, as have the last couple of episodes, and I'm anxious to see how the rest of this season plays out.
Arlette
# Arlette 2015-05-02 20:00
I thought the storyline was on the weak side. But please correct me if I'm wrong...last we saw Amelia was several seasons ago and I thought she had been possessed by a demon when Castiel had used Claire as temporary vessel. Her searching for Jimmy when she knew that the angel has used and possess Jimmy confused me...Or did I miss something along the way?
I did not think Dean was overly violent in the bar but could have been. The chit chat between characters were charming and believable in relation to Claire being a young adult/teenager. I think Dean and Sam know how to handle the psychology of Claire well. Castiel is not sure of how much protection and support he really needs to give Claire, but that can be said of many parents (or step parent ).
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2015-05-02 20:22
Do you mean that she should have known that Jimmy was dead? Sam expelled the demon in Amelia and she saw Castiel repossess Jimmy so she knew that her husband was out there somewhere as a vessel. She knew that the angel could be expelled so I suppose she was going to try and find Jimmy and coerce Castiel to leave his body.
NOLANOLA
# NOLANOLA 2015-05-02 20:26
Arlette, you missed Claire last year obviously. :)
Ginger
# Ginger 2015-05-02 23:13
If the writers felt an absolute need to tie up the Jimmy/Amelia thing, they could have done it in one episode and not shown a 3-episode teen drama about a five-minute character a half a decade ago. I could care less about Claire, Amelia, or the Novaks. I did not enjoy anything at all about Claire or this episode.
spnlit
# spnlit 2015-05-03 20:59
I agree with Ginger. In addition, I found this whole episode absurd. Hunter school 101 for an immature teenager with a vibe of a ABC family teen drama and the hallmark channel happily ever after, in the midst of the MOC crisis that is soul damaging to both Sam and Dean was just plain beyond my ability to think this show is on the right path.