Paint It Black
Original Air Date: 03/25/2015
Who would wish to seek revenge against a person who has committed an unforgivable offense against them? A sixteenth century spurned muse and lover, for one, and a pissed off, banished witch forbidden from doing magic, for another. And what a bloody mess they make!
After receiving absolution by confessing to their priest, three men from the same church commit suicide by disemboweling themselves. While Sam is skeptical there is anything paranormal about the events, Dean can’t believe self-evisceration is normal, even for someone suicidal. As they go through their usual investigative process as fake FBI agents, another member of the church dies violently, but this time, at the hands of his wife and a pair of scissors. This leads Sam and Dean (aka Agents Betts and Allman) to St. Philomena’s Church for further investigation.
Father Delaney expresses his shock at the gruesome murder, believing it be out of character for the woman (Lisa McCarthy) he knew. The “agents” press him for any details that might help make sense of the murder, including what the victim said during his confession. The priest doesn’t divulge anything, and passes them off to Sister Mathias for any further questions they might have. Dean immediately gives her a once over.
We know from earlier scenes that Sister Mathias is a confidant to another nun at the church, and has a comforting quality about her. She makes profound observations about why some people choose a life of religious service, and is willing to share her own story. When Dean asks how she wound up a nun, she explains that she needed a greater purpose to stifle her despair. Dean relates to this; hunting keeps him from obsessing about the Mark of Cain, and gives him an objective that will likely have a successful outcome.
But Sister Mathias is more than just a pious reflection of Dean in this story; she knows things about the parishioners. She tells Dean that the last victim was having an affair and, since his wife did not know about it, there was no obvious motive for her to kill him. Now, the three suicides and the murder victim have more in common: not only did they all go to confession on the day of their deaths, they were also all cheating on their wives. Dun-Dun-Duuuun!!!
Meanwhile, we get a glimpse into Crowley’s personal hell, and the literal one, which looks like a medieval dungeon (a far cry from his original digs in season 5). His mother, Rowena, partakes in some melodramatic sulking, intermittently tormenting demons, who’ve had enough of it. She’s still über pissed that Crowley, who was supposed to help her deal with the Grand Coven, ditched her at the last minute to help the Winchesters. Though proud of her son for claiming the throne of Hell, she still thinks he’s an utter twit for always teaming up with those hunters. To make it up to Rowena, he captures the High Priestess of the Grand Coven, Olivette, and delivers her in magic suppressing shackles. And the fun begins!
Rowena physically beats Olivette into submission for preventing her from doing magic and forcing her to live like a fugitive for centuries. However, she discovers that her life in exile was unnecessary; the Men of Letters had destroyed the Grand Coven’s power, and secreted away their spells and potions to bunkers throughout the world. (This makes me wonder…since the Men of Letters were an international organization, could there be more members still out there? Could these other bunkers hold information on the Mark? Can we please have a Men of Letters spin-off starring Felicia Day?)
Rowena doesn’t need to fear retribution from the Grand Coven; they don’t have enough power to stand against her. However, she does need all of the knowledge stolen by the Men of Letters, but the only known living members are Sam and Dean. As Rowena says, “The Winchesters? Again with the Winchesters. Perpetually the Winchesters.” All things paranormal come back to them, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Instead of outright killing Olivette, Rowena opts to turn her into a hamster and keep her as a pet.
Sam and Dean are still trying to get to the bottom of the dead philandering husbands. They decide it must be some thing hanging around the confessional, so Dean decides to draw it out by confessing his infidelities, which was funny to watch since he doesn’t do contrite very well.
Dean does have a real interaction with the priest when he reveals that he doesn’t want to die—there is more he wants to do, and relationships he wants to explore. The most important revelation in this scene is that Dean doesn’t think God believes in them anymore. It’s a “why have you forsaken me, Chuck?” moment. (And yes, I am on board with the idea that the character Chuck is, in fact, God.) It suggests a possible source of Dean’s despondency over the Mark of Cain; God could fix this, but he doesn’t – as though the Winchesters have finally gone too far in their attempts to save the world, and God has no intention of helping them out of this pickle. The even more depressing possibility is that God always intended for one brother to kill the other, and he’s just letting this one play itself out.
Regardless of Dean’s genuine moment, the murderous entity manifests in a grey fog, and it’s Isabella, the nun that was confiding earlier in Sister Mathias. Her ghost was possessing men, and then slicing them open to kill them. Her only exception was the McCarthys, but they never explain why she possessed the wife to kill the husband in that instance.
Throughout the episode, we see Isabella’s story unfold through flashbacks: she had fallen in love with Piero, a young artist in the sixteenth-century Florence whom she had modeled for, but he did not share her sentiment. She took the rejection hard, and succumbed to some epic-level moroseness that had her father shipping her off to the convent. But Isabella, in her retelling to Sister Mathias, left out the part of her story where she stabbed Piero to death when she caught him in bed with another woman. Sister Mathias had to do some journal snooping to find out that little detail.
She brings Sam and Dean into the loop, and it seems pretty evident that Isabella is tethered to the location because her journal and several family heirlooms are now located at the church. Man-of-action Dean decides to take Sister Mathias and a shotgun full of rock salt to prevent Isabella from killing another person, while Sam is left to burn the ghost’s things, but they’re too late. Isabella kills the priest for offering two-timing men forgiveness, and she intends to kill Dean as well, while possessing Sister Mathias.
Bookworm Sam decides reading Isabella’s journal might shed more light on why her spirit is trapped in the church, which means, on top of speaking Spanish, he can also read Italian.
Following his instinct works. While Dean is getting choked out and trying to prevent a knife from sliding into his belly, Sam learns that Isabella had cut off the tip of her finger so that Piero could grind it up and add it to the paint he was using for her portrait.
Sam finds the painting, burns it, and saves the day! But Lisa McCarthy is definitely going to jail for the murder of her husband. You can’t save them all, right?
The episode wraps up with some boy melodrama: Sam tells Dean that he refuses to believe there is no way to reverse the Mark of Cain. He won’t give up, and he doesn’t want Dean to either. I think this ending might have worked better had they ended The Things They Carried with Sam making a decision on whether or not to follow his brother’s wishes, but overall, it feels like they forced this plot point over two episodes without effectively moving the story along.