Well, it's finale episode minus 1, which means it's time for everything to fall apart—plans must rattle, psyches must be hollow, and bad guys must be revving and jockeying for position. Supernatural? On schedule. A cakewalk in the making, or was the cake left out in the rain? We'll need to talk about spoilers to be sure.
Well, for Clip Show, it wasn't that clippy. There are many things this show won't stumble into with their eyes closed, and for the most part, clips were chosen for illustration, not patent "let's get the actors some rest time".
Dean's in fine fettle tonight. He's the proud big brother, the betrayed friend, inspired improviser and movie connoisseur, shocked to the core with the machinations of the bad guy, but he is determined to kick it in the ass.
Sam is...Sam is weaker, and with something broken an angel can't fix, it's hard to judge him. He's throwing himself at the problems, trying to temper his brother, but he's being hit on a very personal level.
Castiel is back! And he's fired up, remorseful, and as always working madly for ways to atone and repair the damage he's caused, and do the best for his families, which most angels don't get more than one of. More on that later.
We're thrust right back to season 1, Wendigo, with the horrible death of Tommy, the camper rescued by baby Winchesters packing flare guns and M&Ms. I like to imagine that Sam and Dean leave behind them a trail of...the awoken. Not every rescued person, but some—those who came face to face with the existence of the supernatural, admit it, and can't live life like before any more. They know too much. Maybe some of them become hunters—but the idea that Tommy's been taking a blowtorch with him every time he goes into the woods is nothing but sad. And now his brother and sister have lost him again, but more finally this time, since his HEAD damned well exploded.
Dean is doing two things he does well—trying to make it okay for Sam, and being offended by people making choices he might well have. He's furious to the point of ignoring Cas, and solicitous about Sam. But Sam wants to finish all this, so faced with a meal of half a beer, jerky, and peanut butter cups, he chases a lead that takes them to a new file room and a handy dungeon that Dean's Nancy Drew reflexes find in short order.
It's not a panic room—it's a demon holding unit, and its like is seen in the cases they investigate where two priests who try to cure demons—exactly what they need for the third trial.
They end up tracing this case back through Josie Sands—our abortive Woman of Letters, now a dismembered meatsuit for Abaddon, Knight of Hell, and find a living priest that had been there when this Father Thompson tried to not exorcise but to heal demons.
There's video (oh, youtube, you don't know what you're missing) and audio that helps them work out how to cure a demon, leaving a repentant person, soul even, perhaps, living in the meatsuit. No word on what happens to the person that was shoved aside to fit them in—this works better for recycled bodies like Ruby's last, or “enh, they're dead anyway” ones like Meg rode for a while.
A quick visit to the surviving priest (who got out of the game just in time—the successful priest died two days after his breakthrough) confirms this, and gives us a chance to see how deeply Dean is putting his faith in Sam.
But with this information, Dean bets that they have a demon to hand (pun intentionally intended) they can do this to—and unlike my assumption at the end of last week, they're not trying to do anything stupid with Crowley, they're being lax with Abaddon instead. They stitch her back together (Dean wouldn't be Dean without using Young Frankenstein as a playbook), but just as she's telling him Hell knew of these curing plans and sent her topside to end them, killing the older priest two days after his first success with a cure, get distracted by a call from the man Abaddon derisively refers to as a salesman, and is very surprised to find out that Crowley is now the major power in Hell.
In the meanwhile, Cas is destructively determined to get Dean's forgiveness. For all of his speech over Rufus' grave, Dean is not that good at accepting even the most heartfelt apologies—he doesn't face up particularly well to the truth that there are certain...calls he'll make over and over no matter what, and best intentions don't count for much with him if he gets left out of the picture—if you attack his trust issues.
Since talk isn't doing it, we're treated to an adorable sequence as Cas goes to stock up the Batcave with the things that are most important to the brother who won't give him a kind glance, and laser-focusses on what fuels Dean—alcohol, porn, and pie (him and Charlie won't make the mistakes that Sam did), even to the point of roughing up the store attendant when denied his due desserts.
But there is something more important than Dean to Cas right now—it's Heaven, and his guilt at having razed so much of it in an attempt to fix the archangel power vacuum/power-maddened decimation of the host. And Metatron shows up with information Cas doesn't have—Naomi isn't in charge, no one is, and it's a realm-wide power struggle, and he wants Cas to do the Heavenly trials so they can lock everyone away upstairs until they learn to get along.
It seems ludicrously simplistic, and just as the Hell trials have costs that Meta (call him Marv in public, please) has not spelt out, in order to slam the emergency doors shut on upstairs difficult things will have to be done. By Cas. Starting with cutting out the heart of a “good” (Castiel's words) nephilim—the single abomination bred of grace and humanity. Unfortunately, they show punks out by having her not just (badassedly) defend herself, but also seem menacing enough that killing her doesn't hurt near as much as say, the idea of killing the virgin Nancy in Jus In Bello to protect them from Lilith. It ends up being self-defence, as the secretarial pool denizen Metatron is being choked out by the erstwhile waitress when Cas stabs her through the neck from behind. Man, angels sure are fast and loose with the term “abomination”. Do you worship your Daddy with that mouth?
During the distracting call from Crowley, Abaddon pulls off a joint Iron Giant + Addams Family move, and walks her dismembered hands over to herself. I guess if they'd consecrated the ground like they planned, this might have been more difficult? Or maybe they would have failed anyway, as she walks her dismembered hand over and pulls out the devil's trap bullet from her skull, freeing her to disappear (from the episode entirely, but not from the previews for next week).
Sam and Dean find the reports of Tommy's death Crowley hinted at, and are led to the death of Jenny Klein (she was a great gal, I'm assuming, because she was named after a staff writer), who they'd saved from witchcraft last season while battling the Leviathan. Since they need a new demon to heal, they're more than happy to keep chasing Crowley's leads, but he's trying to blackmail them into stopping their plan and giving up the tablets.
Which leads them to Sarah Blake, survivor of a kiss with Sam who has moved on with her life (No! I loved them together so much! Pine for him!)—marriage, new child, but she deals very well with the news that she's up for being iced just because she didn't die six seasons ago. The boys bust out every sigil and weapon and trick they know (another call back to Jus In Bello with reference to the recorded exorcism) and hunker down for midnight.
Sarah has enough time to sadden Sam that she has normal life things, and all he's gained is adulthood and focus, and Dean's sadness is written all over his face as he watches his little bro process this, no doubt with Amelia on his mind.
But Crowley really has done his (Carver Edlund-inspired) research, and instead of putting anything Hell-related near guys looking to do Hell trials, he uses witchcraft he learnt from his mother and bespells Sarah, killing her right on time, and the writers once again show us once again how to plead “no” over a corpse without the cliched cry unto the heavens (for starters, they'd never aim the plea upstairs). Jared's acting is on fire again this week, as we imagine the clips of his life he's replaying himself, and abject desperation is evident on both brothers as Crowley cackles and taints their motto of “saving people, hunting things, the family business” as he calls and explains in a vituperative and exciting villainous monologue (I still want him deader, but he was great tonight) that he will kill every person they ever saved, remove what allows them to sleep at night (which means he's not up to speed on Dean's addiction, clearly, but even we haven't seen as much of that recently) and what makes them able to do this job unless they cough up the tablet and stop the pesky trials.
Sam, appropriately angered, saddened, and almost cowed, suggests a deal when they get back home (they haven't seen Cas since Dean made him stay behind when they left to investigate the priests). Maybe they don't win this one, he wonders.
Dean, on the other hand, invokes both the late departed fictional Ellen Harvelle and the very real, very mourned Kim Manners when he says they'll “kick it in the ass the way they always do.”
You're with him, right, Sam?
Technically speaking they wouldn't be losing "this one time" and they don't "kick it in the ass" every time—they're remarkably season-ending fallible—the first season's mission to avenge Mary didn't get accomplished for another 22 episodes, they didn't get Dean out of his deal, Ruby and Lilith played them perfectly and got Lucifer free...this is what my sister means by "they do the difficult things". When the world has been on the line, they've pulled it out, but the world is not in explicit, one-time, danger here. Dean and Sam are trying to be proactive and protective. It would be within character of the show for them not to succeed, or to kick off something worse in the attempt.
Next week is our bonus ep, which has more Abaddon, power plays, Crowley in the cure chair (purified blood injections, exorcism chants changed to say “cleanse” instead of “cast out”, and a lot of talking about feelings), and Metatron and Cas “riding to the rescue” as the Heavenly scribe says everything Castiel needs to hear, and fixing Heaven probably seems more possible than fixing his relationship to Dean, no matter what Sam asks Dean to accept.
Do they shut the door? What does that mean to souls, if they can't go up or down? Is this one of the costs that Metatron mentioned last week? He's been pretty shy with Cas on what that'd mean for Earth, and Castiel is characteristically monomaniacal that he hasn't asked about collateral and long term impact.
And if Misha Collins is on the cast next season (which he is) what side of the door is Cas when the door shuts? Where does he want to be? And can you still be an angel if the pearly gates are drawn shut?
Chuck, where are you? That would be a guest appearance surprise, but he'd better bring Mrs. Tran with him when he comes.
Cue up your Kansas, boys and girls. It's going to be a bumpy ride.