Supernatural used to be a show with a pretty clear line between humans and monsters. The Winchesters and other Hunters protected humans and killed monsters. But now, not only are the Winchesters best buds with the one-time King of Hell, they're also bonding with him over an addiction to murdering their own kind.
On the surface, last night's Supernatural was all about addiction. The first half of the episode deals with Crowley going cold-turkey on the injections of human blood that he's gotten hooked on, which have made him vulnerable to the machinations of Hell's new ruling power, Abaddon. The second half deals with Dean finding the First Blade and falling afoul of Magnus, the Blade's current owner who's addicted to collecting rare objects and creatures and wants to turn Dean into part of his collection (and part of his arsenal, too.)
But really, the thread running through all of this is that it's fun to kill humans. That's what Crowley is reveling in, at the start of the episode — paradoxically, the Winchesters' attempt to "cure" Crowley of being a demon only left him with a weakness for killing humans and shooting up with their blood. It seems to make Crowley more emotional and sensitive, but at the same time he's killing tons of them without any compunction.
And then in the end, Dean kills his second human in as many episodes, without even batting an eye — and it's obvious the First Blade is reacting with the Mark of Cain on Dean's arm to do something weird to him. Dean is becoming a "killing machine" as Crowley puts it, and he's not going todistinguish between monsters and people when he gets his murder spree on.
Really, at this point, only certain human lives are valuable — like Sam, for whose life Dean was willing to trade thousands (or maybe millions) of others, who will die at the hands of demons because Dean stopped Sam closing the gates of Hell. Other people who seem to be innocent victims still deserve saving — but Dean is no longer going to be giving a free pass to regular humans who turn evil. If they're evil enough.
The best parts of the episode, natch, involve Crowley's blood binge at the start and his confrontation of his traitorous personal assistant Lola, who snitched on him to Abaddon. And his taunting of Sam while they try to find a way to rescue Dean from Magnus. As always, Mark Sheppard effortlessly stole the show, while managing to show a few new sides of one of his longest-running characters.
But meanwhile, the episode left me wondering what Abaddon's big game plan is. At one point, Sam mentions that Abaddon wants to turn the world into "Hell on Earth" — and I realized that it's been about a dozen episodes since we've heard what Abaddon has in mind. If that's supposed to be the looming stakes for this season — Abaddon taking over Hell and then turning the Earth into another Hell — it might be a good idea if we saw some hints of how exactly she's doing that.
In retrospect, Supernatural hasn't had a fully coherent season-long arc since its original storyline concluded at the end of season five — but the twin arcs of the Fallen Angels and the Civil War in Hell have felt even more disconnected and peripatetic than the Purgatory and Tablets storylines did in previous seasons. By this point in the season, it would be good if we actually had a sense of the over-arching storyline building towards a climax.