Supernatural, S10 Ep09 – The Things We Left Behind

supernatural s10 ep09--Castiel sitting next to Claire Novak and pretending to be Jimmy

Supernatural doesn’t always make its mid-season finales big action shows. They can tend toward more emotional episodes that deal with a major theme of the season, like when Sam and Amelia finally meet again in person. But they also quite often feature death, whether it was Benny killing a hunter to save his granddaughter, or Gadreel killing Kevin, much to fandom’s displeasure and immediate denial. This mid-season finale played on a theme that isn’t just present in this season, but in the entire show: terrible parents.

supernatural s10 ep09--Claire Novak being dragged back to a group home by a cop

How do you explain “angels ruined my family” to your therapist?

This episode reintroduced Claire Novak, the teenage daughter of Jimmy Novak, the vessel of Castiel. Claire was even once the vessel of Castiel, very briefly, so she knows Castiel well. And she has good reason to hate him. In the years since we last saw the Novaks, Claire’s mother ran away to “find herself” and left Claire with a grandmother who later died. Considering that Claire’s mother witnessed both her husband and daughter possessed by an angel, her husband disappearing twice thanks to said angel, and she herself was possessed by a demon, it’s understandable that she would need some time to work things out. Abandoning her daughter, though, and not even checking up on her puts her in the running for worst mom of the year. Claire has since become a troubled child, fallen far away from her Christian upbringing, going in and out of group homes, stealing, and getting involved with people named Randy.

After Hannah left her vessel because she could no longer take the guilt of keeping her vessel away from her family, Castiel went to find Jimmy’s family to assuage his own guilt. Jimmy, we finally had confirmed this episode, is long gone. After Castiel and his vessel exploded the first time at the end of season four, Jimmy died and went to Heaven. Though his body was reassembled, Jimmy’s not at home, so we can assume it’s purely Castiel’s now. Though that does beg the question, what happens to his vessel when Castiel is in his pure angel form in Heaven? But anyway, Castiel found Claire, and she wanted nothing to do with him. Again, understandable. He took away her father, is responsible for Jimmy’s death, and essentially destroyed Claire’s family. It’s thanks to Castiel that Claire is the way she is now. But Cas wants to make amends. He wants to be like the father he took away from her, guiding her back to the right path. But how can he do that when he never knew his own father, God being a figure in his life so distant that many angels think God left or died or never existed?

Why not ask advice from people who had a father just as bad?

Castiel consulted Sam and Dean about what to do with Claire. Dean admitted that John Winchester wasn’t “number one dad,” the greatest understatement of the century, but that John still knew how to parent. This is one of the first times in the past several seasons that John has been spoken of in a good light. Ever since he stopped appearing on screen, John’s character has been revealed to be worse and worse with each new flashback or childhood story. But here Dean remembers fondly a moment when John came to the rescue and acted like a good dad, even though young Dean hadn’t appreciated it at the time. John Winchester is a pretty messed up character and father, to say the least, and fandom especially loves to demonize him—he did, after all, raise his sons to be killers so as to feed into his obsessive drive for revenge—but Sam and Dean still loved him, so he couldn’t have been all bad. But definitely no one should be looking to him for fathering tips. Just, no.

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