“Why give me hope then give me up just to be the death of me? Save the rest of me. ‘Cause I see you, but I can’t feel you anymore. So go away. I need you but I can’t need you anymore….”
- Hesitate, by Stone Sour
Sorry. Melodramatic, I know. But it felt like it fit both of the guys, depending on how you chose to tilt your head.
I do this thing once in awhile with these rambles where before I can break down the story, I have to look at the characters for a moment. I think I need to do that now. Because, the way I see it, The Powers That Be are really asking us to go on a whole lotta faith that they’ve got this. That there’s a plan for our heroes. And that we’re still going to have them when this is all over.
I don’t mean to sound down; I’m not upset at all. In fact, I thought this was one of the best episode of the season so far. No squee harshing intended, I assure you. But, I’m growing a little wary of where it's all going and I want to know that my faith will be rewarded. Y’know… without being spoiled.
*laughs* Yes, I’d like to have my cake and eat it, too. What?
I’ll start with the enigma.
I’ve just about given up trying to figure out the way they’re writing a person without a soul. When I’d review the show in previous seasons, I’d look through Sam’s eyes and think about things he’d had to deal with—like having to live a life he never really wanted because others told him he had to. I knew what it was like to want to break free of my past, of my family. I knew what it was like to live with my heart on my sleeve. There were ways I could find to relate to Sam and connect with his choices. Even when I didn’t understand them. Even when they scared me. I could see his path and sympathize with him.
But this season, it’s been pretty much impossible for me to employ my usual “understand Sam” tactics. It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to be the hollow man surrounded by those who care. He said he remembered what he was like before, but he no longer feels any of that. I ended up likening it to childbirth. Go with me for a minute. I remember that it hurt—a lot. I had an emergency C-section, but had gone into labor. NONE of that was fun. But…I don’t remember exactly how it felt. I just know that I did feel it.
That helped me go with it for a few episodes. But that analogy only works in retrospect because even though I know how bad it felt, if I were able to, I wouldn’t let the remembered pain of it stop me from having another baby. Because I know I’d forget it. Sam…he doesn’t have that reassurance. His pain will be constant because it’s the pain that comes with being human. We are conditioned to live with it because we always have. But he’s been without it for quite some time now. And whether or not he currently cares about anyone or anything, going back to that pain—and the new promise of being squashed by an irrevocably damaged soul—is understandably unappealing.
What I can’t get around is how he fluctuates so widely. He’s not consistent in my eyes, as I personally interpret one who doesn’t care would act. The cold, heartless actions like allowing Dean to be turned by a vamp and bedding the hippie chic while Dean was missing clash harshly against his frantic search for Dean in Monster GITMO and beating the vamps off of him as well as the quiet look of betrayal when his Grandfather wouldn’t help them. I just struggle with giving Sam the benefit of the doubt for any reason other than he’s Dean’s brother. And…he was someone I used to know.
If he doesn’t get his soul back, who will he continue to evolve into? Will he be someone I can like? Will he be someone I care about? Will he be someone whose very presence around my hero hurts my heart? And…if he does get his soul back, will he really be Sam? Even if they can figure out a way to heal the damage, will his soul “remember” it and how will those memories mesh with the ones he’s currently creating as a hollow man?
The bottom line is, for me, the Sam I knew, the Sam I cared about, and the Sam I found reasons to love is gone. And he’s not coming back. He can’t, not the way they’ve set it up. Unless they actually pull God into the mix and wave a magic miracle wand to make it all better.
And I honestly don’t know how I feel about all that yet. I’ll figure it out, but I have to process a bit. One thing I’m wondering, though…if someone who doesn’t have a soul dies…would they go to Purgatory? And if so…do you think TPTB would dare go there? *hopes not*
And now, for the constant.
He’s always had a very special way of breaking my heart. Either through bravado and brashness or submission and a quiet folding inside himself. But this whole situation is making me ache for him. And perhaps I’m being overly dramatic. It is what it is. I am just honestly amazed that he’s keeping it together as well as he is.
Because he’s always had his soul, he’s always cared. Too much. And yeah, he was never locked in a cage with Michael and Lucifer to take out their frustrations on, so his soul wasn’t damaged to that extent—not even close, because he came back a fully functioning, caring human. And obviously I was mistaken in my thinking that it was because Castiel pulled him out since Cas said he wouldn’t begin to know how to fix Sam’s soul.
But now, after years of fighting and surviving and protecting…after dying and experiencing multiple levels of torture…after being thrust back into life to find a new balance…after standing next to his brother through addiction and betrayal…after being beaten nearly to death and watching with a shattered heart as his brother made the ultimate sacrifice…after living an entire year thinking his brother was going through the unthinkable and learning a lifestyle he’d never known before…after getting his brother back from the dead—only, not really…Dean finds himself faced with an impossible situation.
Part of Sam is here, with him. But the part that made Sam his brother, the part that gave Sam his heart and his life and his humanity is still trapped in Hell and what that part is going through is…unimaginable. And Dean can’t fix this—he can’t protect his brother and he can’t shield himself. Sam’s soul has to suffer because putting it back into the hollow Sam could destroy them both and then Dean will have lost everything and Sam—all of him, this time—will truly experience Hell. And Dean has to find a way to survive that or fight it and what kind of a choice is that?
Either way, it sure looks like he’s not going to be able to ever heal. Hell still chases him—that much was evident tonight with that dead-eyed, stone-face stare he gave Meg when she referenced Alistair. And Sam has made it abundantly clear that he will not be forced into doing something he hasn’t decided he wants to do for his own reasons.
There’s only so much Dean can do at this point, and I really don’t know how I feel about that, either. The worst part is…Dean’s alone. Sam might be riding around in the car with him, and Bobby might be a phone call away, and Cas might want to be there, but the reality is, Dean’s utterly alone in this and that is the one thing he’s worked so hard to avoid all of his life. *rubs heart*
Okay, I think I’m ready to ramble now. I’ll try not to bore you.
We start with Crowley torturing himself. No, seriously. It’s the Alpha Shifter and he’s made himself into Crowley, which I have to admit would be a wonderfully effective deterrent to torture, were you not dealing with The King Of Hell. The Alpha Shifter continues to assert that he doesn’t know where Purgatory is. Crowley wants him to appreciate how hard he worked to find something that would actually hurt the shifter: iridium (is that right?).
Crowley: You start talking, or I start chopping off the bits that stick out.
The shifter continues to resist. Crowley holds up a baby monitor and says that the prison has a nursery. You can hear babies crying on the monitor. Crowley uses them as leverage and says he’ll fillet them as the shifter watches.
Shifter: Kill them all. We’ll make more.
Weary of the whole thing, Crowley chops off the shifter’s head with a snarky, “Guess I kinda lost my head.”
Okay, so what I want to know is…did he really have those babies?? And if so, what happened to them?? I know they were monsters and all, but…they were babies. Even Dean couldn’t kill the shifter baby. When Cas 86’d the monsters at the end…were the babies included?? *bites lip* Did I use enough question marks????
Next thing you know, the Impala pulls up outside what looks like a big power plant. A large, black SUV and two mobster-wannabe demons are waiting for them. Dean hauls a guy wearing a black hood out of the back seat and hands him over to one of the demons.
Dean: Traffic was a bitch.
Sam: One rugaru.
I can’t remember right off—isn’t that the homicidal clown?
It’s unclear to me if that was the Alpha rugaru or just a worker-bee rugaru. It’s quickly obvious, though, that the guys have been hauling in Bad Guys and handing them over to Crowley’s henchmen without seeing hide nor hair of the King for quite some time. Dean asks where Crowley is.
Demon: Banging a hooker in a sweet spot called none of your business.
Dean: Lookit that, Sam! A demon trying to be funny.
Dean wants to know if they’re ever going to see Crowley again, but the demon is all taunty and claims to not understand him because he doesn’t “speak bitch.” Dean’s face sasses back, but he doesn’t say anything as the demons leave.
So, while Crowley might’ve said he’d give them Sam’s soul in exchange for a fiddle of gold—er, sorry, I mean an Alpha, it’s evident he knew how hard it would be to get an Alpha and happily kept the boys in indentured servitude bringing in baddies. Which, on one hand, they’re getting the baddies off the streets. But…on the other hand….
Dean: Remember when we used to gank demons?
Yeah. There is that.
They head to where they’re staying—and this time it looks like it could be an abandoned house or something. It’s really dark in there, so it’s hard to really tell, but the walls look rough and worn down and it just has this “abandoned house” feel to it. However, there is TV and electricity, so I don’t know. Maybe it was just a skanky motel. Either way, they’re there and Dean’s worked up because he’s just done. They’ve been going on Crowley runs for months and the only thing that’s changed is that he needs a daily rape shower.
Sam is trying to calm him down, but then get a “screw it” tone and says they have no Plan B, so stock up on soap on a rope.
Sam: If you want to get my soul back, that’s what we gotta do.
Hmm…if you want to….
Dean: You even want it back?
He’s pushing, challenging, testing, tired of this whole gig. He wants his brother back. Like Hollow Sam said a few months ago.
Sam: I’m working for Crowley aren’t I?
Yeah, that’s not an answer.
Dean: Who says Crowley’s going to hold up his end?
He turns away to pour some whiskey into a random ceramic cup and when he turns back, Sam is gone.
Dean: Guess the moment’s over, that what you’re saying? Sam? Sam?
When he doesn’t get an answer, he puts his cup down, pulls out his gun and goes to investigate. He sees Sam in the other room, out cold on the floor. He moves toward him and gets clocked by a demon holding a…crowbar or big stick or something. Anyway, Dean’s awake first, watching Sam come around. They’re tied to chairs, facing each other.
Dean: What now?
Sam: I think I know who to ask.
Dean half-glances over his shoulder.
Dean: E-vol bitch. (He really does stretch it out like that.)
Meg (wearing the dark-haired girl from last season and making me miss Nikki Aycox): Keep sweet talkin’ and this could go in a whole new direction.
Long story short(er), she wants to know where Crowley is, but they say they don’t know.
Meg: You’ve been working his beat for months.
Sam: Doesn’t mean we get face time.
I found it a little interesting how they gave us a timeline of sorts here. I mean, we only found out, what, two episodes ago that they were going to have to work for Crowley? And now it’s been months.
Meg straddles Dean’s lap and asks him where Crowley takes all the baddies they bring in. Dean just stares at her, his eyes blank, his face impassive, but somehow still managing to radiate hatred in her direction. It’s impressive. And…kinda hot, actually. She gets irritated quickly and pulls the demon-killing knife out and presses it against his throat, saying that the foreplay was over.
Meg: Satisfy me or I please myself.
Sam chuckles. And he has very white teeth, I noticed.
Dean: Something funny, Sam?
Sam: Yeah. Meg. She’s totally screwed.
Meg presses the knife in a bit and Dean’s all, “Not. Helping.”
Bridging the exposition gap, Sam rather accurately surmises that Meg’s running. If she could kill them, she’d have done it by now. She’s running from Crowley, which makes sense, Sam thinks, because Crowley would want to hunt down all the Lucifer loyalists now that he’s BMOC. Sam knows it because that’s what he would do. Which is…oddly disturbing and reassuring at the same time. Anyway, Meg can’t kill them, he says, because she needs them to get to Crowley so that she can kill him. It’s him or her.
Dean: I hope you both lose. So, g’luck.
Sam (to Meg, who is still straddling Dean): Work with us.
Dean: Whoa, what?
Sam: We’ll give you Crowley, but you have to get him to give something up first. Can you do that?
Meg stands, listening to Sam, then tosses a saucy look over her shoulder at Dean and says, “I apprenticed under Alistair just like your brother. So, Dean, can I make Crowley do what I want?”
Dean’s eyes go flat and memories turn his face to stone as he pushes out, “Yeah, she can,” on a thin breath. pickamix I thought of your fic in that part. Even though you had Ruby, not Meg. It still fit.
Bouncing her head a bit, Meg says brightly, “It’s a deal, then. Hugs and puppies all around.”
Okay, total aside…I wonder why she still goes by ‘Meg’? I mean, that was the name of the girl she possessed when we first met her—Meg Masters from Andover. And that Meg is dead, so…I wonder why we never got her real demon name? I guess I kinda figured Ruby was the name of the demon, not the blonde she wore when we first met her—mainly because she’d been human once. So, what’s the deal, Meg?
Anyway. Dean asks if she’s going to untie them and she says something I missed, but apparently it had something to do with them being able to do it themselves, because the demons leave and they boys are suddenly untied (although, not before one demon pauses long enough next to Dean to prompt him to say, “You gonna kiss me?” Hee).
Dean’s all, what the hell, Sam?
Sam: You wanted to screw over Crowley. Merry Christmas.
Dean: You want to work with a demon again?
Sam: We’re working with demons now. I’m doing this because I want to stop.
Dean: She killed Ellen and Jo!
Not to mention Caleb and Pastor Jim. And she almost killed Dean while inside Sam. Meg needs to die. I really hope she has a significant role coming up because, seriously? Why is she still alive?
Sam: You can’t look at this emotionally, Dean. We need her.
Dean: That little bitch is gonna screw us over so fast….
Sam: We’ll screw her first. We’re bringing insurance.
At this point, I thought he meant they’d bring her bones—hold them hostage. But, no. While Dean is inside…researching or something…Sam goes outside and calls for Castiel. Hilariously, he claims that they’ve found a gold box that the Nazi’s wanted back in the day, only when they opened it, it melted their faces off. I was grinning at that, even before Cas showed up asking for the box and Sam revealed that it was the plot to Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
This exchange between Sam and Cas had me really feeling for Cas and irritated with Sam—soul or no soul. I’m starting to get over the whole not being able to blame him for being a jerk simply because he has no soul thing. He has a brain. He’s able to reason. And he knew exactly what he was doing and saying to Castiel—a soldier in the middle of a bloody Civil War that just because Sam and Dean can’t see it, is no less real.
Sam: I can’t believe you fell for that.
Cas: I’m mid-battle.
Sam: I don’t care—you owe me.
Which, yeah, I would concede that point. Dean said the same thing the first time they were able to pull Cas down to pay attention to them. Sam made the ultimate sacrifice and stopped Armageddon. However, that didn’t result in utopia and a war was now raging. Cas owes him, but his reward may have to wait.
Cas: You may not care—
Sam: Do you really think you’re here to talk this out? If you don’t help us, I will hunt you down and kill you.
At that, Cas’ whole demeanor changes. He shifts from a weary plea for understanding to the squared shouldered Being who reminded Dean that he’d be wise to not cross him as he was the one who’d pulled him from Hell and he could put him back there. He steps up to Sam (and dude, I never realized how short Castiel was in comparison to Sam—he and Dean always seemed evenly matched, but Sam just towered over him).
Cas: Will you, boy? How?
Sam: I don’t know yet, but I will look until I find out. And I don’t sleep.
Cas: You need help, Sam.
Sam: I need your help.
*takes big breath*
So…I think that’s going to come into play again. Sam threatening to kill Cas? I don’t think that was said lightly. It wasn’t some temper tantrum. It was a serious threat. And something in me says that Sam wouldn’t hesitate to do so if he were able to gain something out of it. Even if that gain was a twisted sense of retribution.
They head inside the room where the guys are staying and Dean comes around the corner with papers in his hands, totally surprised to see Cas behind Sam.
Dean: You actually showed. Well, Sam, I owe you a chicken dinner. What happened?
Sam: No big. This is what friends do for each other.
Dean kinda nods with a slightly uncertain half-smile on his face. Cas does his summoning/scrying thing but he can’t find Crowley. Dean says they have to do it the hard way, which evidently means going to Gramps’ office and poking around until they get caught. Dean tells Gramps they want to know where Crowley is, but Gramps won’t tell them.
Sam: I’m going to get my soul back.
Gramps: Who says you can get it back?
Almost in a, don’t you dare tell me I can’t, tone of voice.
Dean (to Gramps): What’s wrong with you? Do you want to work for Crowley?
He asks Cas to leave for some reason I didn’t understand and then steps closer to Gramps. The look on Dean’s face in this whole part is arresting. It shifts from confrontation to disbelief to remembered pain to desperation to anger and finally betrayal. It’s a journey of what he’s been through and what he’s survived. Watching him and listening to him, I could hear echoes of what’s dead should stay dead and I couldn’t let him die…he’s m’brother.
Dean: We’re your blood, and if you don’t want to help, I can’t make you. But I just want to know why. What’s Crowley holding over you? You owe us that.
Gramps takes out a pic of Mary and I think I said out loud, “I knew it!” Apparently, Crowley has promised to bring her back to life if Gramps does his bidding.
Gramps: The one difference between us is that you know how to live without her.
I have to say…I felt a tug of sympathy toward Gramps for the first time with that statement. I’ve been forced to contemplate my husband’s mortality and I know that while half of me would be gone, I would be able to live without him. I’ve nearly lost parents and a couple siblings and their loss would gut me, but I would be able to move on.
But if I lost Mo Chuisle, I don’t know that I could survive it. I know readers of this ramble have survived such a loss and have found a way to build a life around that hole inside of them. And they have my admiration and my respect. I don’t know if I’d have that strength. I don’t ever want to find out. I could see why the promise of something like that would drive Gramps to follow Crowley’s orders.
Especially if he somehow found out the whole story. If he’d found out that she died because of him, really. Because he wasn’t strong enough to overcome the YED’s hold on him—as John did to save Dean’s life—and stop YED from forcing Mary to make the deal for John’s life. And that the result of that deal was that his daughter was gutted and burned on the ceiling of her youngest son’s nursery.
Dean: I know how you feel….
Gramps: No, you don’t. She’s my daughter and she’s dead.
Dean: You really think he’s gonna make good?
Gramps: He brought Sam back! And me!
Dean pleads with him, his whole being coiled, his eyes hot. Sam stands off to the side, silent the whole time. Unable or unwilling to break in. What could he say, really? He’s never made a deal for another’s life. Mary did for John. John did for Dean. Dean did for Sam. And now their Grandfather was.
Dean: Don’t go down that road; it’s gonna go nowhere good. I’m your grandson and I’m saying this is wrong for so many reasons.
Gramps: You hypocrite.
Dean: I’m asking you to learn from our mistakes! This is how the bad guys get us every time. It’s our Achilles heel. Apparently, it runs in the family.
Gramps still says no, he won’t help.
Dean: Fine! But what are you going to tell her? That you made a deal with a demon? That you wouldn’t help out her sons?
Gramps tells them to get out and Dean turns and exits without another word. Sam, however, pauses long enough to let his Grandfather see the weight of his betrayal.
Back at the Possibly Abandoned House That Could Also Be A Skanky Motel Room, Cas is staring at the TV while the guys are at the table looking at some papers.
Cas: This is very complex.
Guys (in unison, not looking up): Mmmhmm.
Cas: If the pizza man truly loves this babysitter—
Guys look up, confused, at each other, surprised, then over at Cas, troubled. The sound of porn can be heard from the TV.
Cas: --why does he keep slapping her rear? Perhaps she’s done something wrong.
Dean: You’re watching porn? Why?
Cas: It was there.
Dean: You don’t…watch porn in a room full of dudes. And you don’t talk about it.
Cas looks down.
Dean (to Sam): Now he’s got a boner.
Okay, I’m pretty much over the idea that angels are honestly Heavenly beings in this ‘verse. Especially Castiel. He’s the most human angel we’ve seen. And I liked this whole exchange because it was a lighter moment in a heavier episode and it clicked Dean and Cas as friends while Sam and Cas were quietly at odds. It also set up a funny one-liner coming up and Castiel’s behavior with Meg.
But…that said? I don’t get why they chose to write that scene. Y’know? Like what are they trying to do with Cas? Is he to be a conflicted-character angel who becomes weary of war and wants to “fall” so that he can experience all that humanity has to offer—ala Anna? Is he just supposed to be comic relief? Am I over thinking it and it’s just this particular writer’s way of giving the guys something more real-life and less fight-related?
Anyway, there’s a knock at the door and Dean pulls his gun and goes to answer it. It’s Gramps. Dean lets him in and Gramps sees the TV.
Gramps: This is what you boys do? Sit around watching pornos with angels?
Cas: We’re not supposed to talk about it.
Sam turns off the TV.
Gramps apparently decided to help them, he says, because it’s what Mary would want. But, remember, Gramps is a lying liar who lies. I never trusted him—tug of sympathy or not. He gives Dean a map with the location of the place where Crowley is storing the baddies they bring in, but warns them that it’s a death trap. Dean’s all, “thanks, buh-bye.”
Sam: Come with us.
Gramps: I may be soft, but I’m not suicidal.
Nice. Anyway, they call Meg and her crew and Meg and Castiel face off in a supernatural pissing match.
Meg: Remember me? I remember you, Clarice.
Cas: Why are we working with these…abominations?
Dean: Simmer down.
Then, it’s Sam and Meg’s turn to face off about trust and stupidity and Sam manages to convince her to give him the demon-killing knife which he promptly thrusts into the belly of one of her henchmen saying that the demon was more interested in killing them than working together—although the dude hadn’t so much as blinked wrong in their direction.
Dean and Cas stare at Sam all, holy theatrics, Batman.
Sam, though, manages to keep the demon-killing knife that Meg had stolen from them that they had rightfully stolen from Ruby. So there. They split up to gear up and Sam’s at the Impala’s trunk stuffing things into the back looking Serious and Thoughtful. Dean is inside stuffing things into a bag and Cas is…just sitting there.
Dean: You could help.
Cas: I’m ambivalent about what we’re attempting.
Dean: Breaking into Monster GITMO isn’t exactly two-for-one in the Champaign room.
Cas: I’m not sure retrieving Sam’s soul is wise.
Dean: Wait, what?
Cas had to have known the minute he told them that the reason for Sam’s behavior was that his soul was missing they would seek out a way to get it back. He couldn’t have mentioned before that it wasn’t such a good idea? This is just…weird timing. Sam goes from, huh, my soul’s gone, to I was that other Sam for a long time and I want to get him back, to I’m willing to work for a demon to get my soul back even though having a soul equals suffering, and now after we’ve seen the Carside Furrowed Brow Of Doubt…now is when Cas says maybe this isn’t such a good idea?
Cas: I want him to survive. Sam’s soul has been locked in the cage with Michael and Lucifer and they’ve got nothing to do but take their frustrations out on him. If we were to try to force that mutilated thing down Sam’s gullet we have no idea what will happen. It could be catastrophic.
Dean: You mean he dies?
Cas: I mean he doesn’t. Paralysis. Insanity. Psychic pain so profound he could be locked inside himself for life.
Dean: But he could be fine.
His voice conveys what every parent, guardian, or caretaker would feel when confronted with a potentially negative prognosis: please tell me that what you’re saying isn’t the only truth…please tell me there could be another way…please tell me my loved one will come back to me.
Cas: It’s doubtful.
Dean: If he’s not fine, you fix him.
Cas: I wouldn’t know where to begin.
Dean’s voice is shaking. I couldn’t pull my hand from my chest in this moment. He needs his brother back so badly—and until this moment he’d thought it was just about finding a way to wrestle the soul from a demon’s control and keep Sam convinced that this is a good idea—which was daunting enough—but now he’s being told that returning the one thing that would also return Sam to him very likely will destroy Sam—soul Sam and body Sam.
It’s almost too much. He can’t wrap his mind around it. So, he does what he’s always done: he ducks his head and squares his shoulders and pushes his way through the chaos, swinging the whole time.
Dean: Then you figure it out, Cas. The guy’s a [field relic? I didn’t catch it]. He needs his soul. We get him back and if there are complications, we figure out a way to deal with those, too.
Cas: Or…we fail. And Sam suffers horrifically.
Dean looks away and we see Sam standing quietly in the shadows—having heard the whole thing. *gulp*
I’m going to go to the Hell is Hell conversation for a brief second. I’d been worried about them comparing experiences—whose was worse. I think this is their way around it. Yes, Sam’s soul is getting squashed in the cage—but we’re not seeing the ramifications of that inside this Sam yet. And the way they’re setting it up…it could be that the only way to save Sam—body and soul—is to erase that damage. Somehow. Sparing him the trauma of Hell. But that could mean Sam remains soulless for…well, who knows how long.
That doesn’t detract (in my mind) from the pain Dean endured and remembered. It doesn’t lessen the tragedy of his nightmares and the fact that those experiences haunt him still. And it doesn’t diminish the strength of character and stalwartness of will that Dean exhibits on a daily basis simply pushing forward and fighting the good fight the only way he knows how when we’ve seen how very close to the surface his fears and weaknesses are hiding.
And it shows (in my mind) that the threat of The Cage was real and horrible and the sacrifice Sam made by willingly falling into it was huge and valid and necessary. And if his soul is still intact even a little bit after more than a year of being kicked around by disgruntled, warring angels, it shows how strong it was to begin with. If this is the way they work around keeping both tours in the Pit relevant to the individual characters, I can get on board.
Anyway, the unlikely group of Winchesters, Cas, Meg, and two demonic henchmen are standing outside Monster GITMO. Cas has them meet him at the side door and he’s able to poof in and open it from the inside. Way. Too. Easy. The place looks like an old jail—in one cell is a dead, mutilated body of some baddie, in another, a vamp crashes against a shadowed window, in a third the female djinn—looking much worse for the wear—pleads with them to let her out. Dean looks disturbed by her begging, but Sam urges him on.
Cas calls them all to a stop, sensing the Hellhounds (some guards they are) and Dean looks terrified for one brief moment before barking at them, no pun intended, to run. The Hellhounds take out the two henchmen Meg had brought with her and Sam and Dean are able to bolt a door and spread out a line of salt, but it won’t hold them off for long.
Meg tries to leave, saying she’ll let the HH nosh on her meat suit, but there’s some spell on the place and she’s trapped inside her body. Heh.
Dean: Karma’s a bitch, Bitch.
Sam hands Meg the demon-killing knife because she can see the HHs, but in a really unlikely and slightly bizarre turn, Meg says no, that’s the best thing they have to kill Crowley, so she’ll hold the HHs off while they go after him. And as great as that was for her to say and all…had that worked, it wouldn’t have gotten them what they wanted: namely, Meg torturing Crowley for Sam’s soul. Oh well.
Dean’s asking how the hell she plans on holding them off if they have the knife, and Meg suddenly kisses Cas, slipping her hand inside his trench coat to lift his Angel Sword. The actual sword. Before anyone can say “bleach my eyes,” Cas grabs Meg close, turns her, and presses her against the wall, kissing her hard.
Sam’s eyebrows go up, but Dean is all, uhhh…kissing…hellhounds just outside…brain…short…circuiting….
Meg: What was that?
Cas steps back, slightly breathless, and says, “I learned that from the pizza man.”
Dean’s expression is hilarious, and the moment is quirky and grin-worthy, but writing-wise, I wasn’t really sure of the point of it. Even with my “go with it” hat on. Anyway, my neon question mark aside, Meg reveals that she now has Cas’ Angel Sword—and come to think of it…did he get it back?? The three guys run and she faces the now-rattling doors as the HHs blow the salt-line free and break through. She starts slashing with the Angel Sword.
The guys are making their way down a staircase, Dean griping that he can’t see jack, when suddenly a brilliant light flashes and Cas is gone. It’s Gramps. At the bottom of the stairs. His hand on the Angel-Be-Gone sigil. Grrrr….
Dean’s all, “You sold us out?!”
Crowley appears behind Gramps and calmly says that it’s the best purchase he ever made. Grrrr! Demons haul the brothers away and lock them in adjoining cells.
Meanwhile, Meg finishes off the last of the HHs and is covered in gray blood (weird). She starts to head down the hall in the direction the guys ran off to only to be knocked down by Demon!Christian who takes the Angel Sword.
The guys are pacing around in their cells.
Dean: Sam? I’m standing in pee.
Sam: Consider yourself lucky.
Gramps opens the little window in Dean’s cell.
Dean: You want forgiveness find a priest.
Gramps: I just want you to understand.
Okay, so in retrospect, I do have to wonder what he was going to say here. I can understand the choice to bring your child back rather than your spouce, I can. And I also can understand the selfish need to not live with out them--it's part of what drove Dean to make his deal. But it just seems like there might be something...more. Not sure what, exactly. Maybe I'm looking too deep. Again.
Dean: I understand that you’re a liar.
I’ve been SAYING!
Dean: You talk about putting blood first? You sound like my Dad. Difference is? He actually did.
You know that’s right.
Gramps: I am putting blood first. Mary’s my daughter. You sold out your own mother! It was her or Sam and you chose Sam, plain and simple.
How does he figure that, I wonder? What event is he talking about, exactly? Dean was never in a position to save Mary, not once. He was either four years old, or prevented by angel interference.
Dean: That is such crap. You want to know what happened? You chose a demon over your own grandsons.
Guess choosing demons over family runs in the family, too.
Gramps: I don’t even know what Sam is. And you’re a stranger. Tell me, who are you supposed to be to me?
Oh, that’s rich! Coming from the man who cornered Dean in Lisa’s kitchen and slathered on the “family comes first” guilt 14 layers thick.
And if I might have a shallow moment? Dean’s face framed in that cell window, with his jaw pulled tight and his eyes lit up with righteous fury looked four kinds of gorgeous.
Dean: I’ll tell you who I am. I’m the guy you never want to see again. ‘Cause I’ll make it out of here, trust me. Next time you see me, I’ll be there to kill you.
Gramps: Don’t think there’s gonna be a next time.
Dean: Whatever gets you through the night.
I couldn’t help but think about the fact that Sam can hear all of this. I wonder what he was thinking as he listened to his Grandfather accuse his brother of putting him first—over everyone, even their mother—and his brother promise (not threaten, promise) to kill his Grandfather. No amount of therapy would be enough were these real guys.
Gramps steps away and in moments two demons show up and haul Dean out of his cell, past Gramps, and down the hall. Elsewhere, Meg is strapped down, naked (with prudently placed leather straps) to a cross-shaped metal torture table and Demon!Christian is working her over, though he never really asks her any questions and she doesn’t tell him anything. The main thing we get is that she’s scared.
Sam is pacing in his cell, then he crouches against a wall, thinking…next thing you know, he bites his own wrist and I have to say I was totally confused as to what he was up to. Also? OUCH.
Dean gets tossed into what looks like a communal shower room for the eternally damned: bathtub filled with browned, dried blood and leftover intestines, blood all over the walls, a half-eaten body on the shower floor. Two vamps are thrown in there with him and he makes a Shawshank Redemption quip before his face falls as he realizes he’s in Really Big Trouble.
Back in Sam’s cell, the two demons come in after him. He’s cowering across the room on the floor and asks what they did to his brother. They cross the room saying he’ll be joining his brother soon when suddenly they can’t move. They look up—Sam’s painted a Devil’s Trap with his own blood on the ceiling. He grins slightly maniacally—his teeth bloody— and I think the half-crazed look in his eye might've actually scared the demons a bit. He heads out in search of Dean.
I did have to wonder, though, how much blood that actually took—and how come he wasn’t weak from blood loss. Also…how did he bandage the wound? I didn’t think super healing was a byproduct of being soulless. *wink*
Dean is fighting tooth and nail against the two vamps (at least, I think they were vamps...they didn't sprout teeth, so, hmmm). He’s getting his butt kicked, but he’s not giving an inch. Sam finds him by following the grunts and cries and literally rips a pipe off the wall to beat the vamps off of Dean.
Back in the torture room, Demon!Christian is apparently raping Meg with a knife. It’s just…a horrifying concept all together. And I know it might sound cruel, but…that didn't make me feel sorry for her. The moment he stopped, she was all cocky and bad-ass and saying it was just the body she was wearing, some poor Midwest girl who came to LA to be an actress. Regardless of the method of torture, I just couldn’t get past the fact that this was Meg. She’d wiped out about half of the only family Sam and Dean had. The only reason I could come up with for why we were seeing how she was being tortured wasn't so that we'd have sympathy for her, but that we'd know what torture for Dean could have been like. At least...that's where I went with it.
The best part was that mid-torture, she started to laugh. Confused, Demon!Christian stood up and is all, why are you laughing? Suddenly, the tip of the demon-killing knife is protruding from his chest and she’s like, “Dean Winchester is behind you.”
And…Christian is dead. That was…kinda fast and not as satisfying as I’d wanted it to be. Still, Dean got to kill him, and I suppose that under the circumstances, that’s something. Dean releases Meg from the rack and as he turns to her, something like sympathy crosses his face. I can only imagine the memories seeing that rack and those weapons of torture must have resurrected inside of him. *pets him*
Crowley goes into the female djinn’s cell and is all set and ready for a nice long chat when suddenly, the fire alarm goes off. He leaves her and goes to investigate, finding dead Demon!Christian on the floor next to the torture rack. Dean turns off the alarm and as Crowley turns to face him, Sam swings that pipe like he’s stretching for a home run, knocking Crowley for a loop.
Crowley staggers back, then realizes that he stumbled directly into another Devil’s Trap (only this one looks like it was spray painted).
Crowley: To what do I owe the reach around?
Meg lifts her fist and Crowley bows with pain. Sam demands his soul back and Crowley says no. Meg does the fist thing again and Crowley says he can’t get it. He was doing good to get Sam out—the bits left behind, well…. Then he asks Sam why he wants it back. He basically reiterates what Cas said about it being obliterated by Michael and Lucifer.
Sam hands Meg the knife to let her kill Crowley.
Dean: But he’s our only hope.
Sam: He can’t get it. He’s useless.
Meg steps into the Devil’s Trap and is all, “This is for Lucifer….” Of course it’s not going to be that easy to kill the King Of Hell. He sweeps her legs, knocks her down, grabs the knife, and throws it up into the ceiling and breaks the Devil’s Trap. Stepping free, he grabs the knife and points it at Meg.
Crowley: You don’t know torture you little insect.
Suddenly, Cas shows up carrying a bag that Sam put in the trunk of the Impala. “Leave them alone.”
Crowley: Castiel. I haven’t seen you all season.
BWAHH!!! Now, that was funny.
Crowley: You the cavalry now?
Cas: Put the knife down.
Crowley: You’re losing to Raphael. The whole affair makes Vietnam look like a roller derby. What’s in the gift bag?
Cas (holding up a very weathered human skull): You are.
Crowley (looking genuinely afraid): Not possible.
Cas: Didn’t hide your bones as well as you should have.
So…did Sam find them? Or is that why he needed Cas, really? To find Crowley’s bones? *is curious*
Cas: Can you restore Sam’s soul or not?
He drops the bag to the floor.
Crowley: I can’t.
And then, Cas lights the bones on fire. Just like that, Crowley begins to burn and within moments, he’s a pile of ash. Honestly? I can’t believe he’s gone. It was so fast. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’m going to miss him.
And now what happens in a Hell that has no King? Anarchy? Chaos? I mean, it’s Hell. I wouldn’t expect it to be very ordered anyway. I wonder how a ruler-less Hell will impact the war in Heaven. Or the surplus of baddies on Earth. And what of the whole Alpha surge? That’s not going anywhere.
Oh! Just thought of something…would Crowley have gone back to Hell since he’s dead? Or…is he in Purgatory? Wouldn’t that be ironic? But I guess now the guys are no longer beholden to a demon…. They still have baddies running amuck, but in a way, they kinda…lost their compass. They’re not missionless, but they no longer have clear orders to accomplish the mission.
Sam bends to pick up the demon-killing knife from the pile of Crowley ashes and Meg vanishes.
Dean: She’s smart. I was going to kill her, too. (glances at Cas) I would have given you an hour with her, first.
Cas: Why would I want that?
Dean lets his small sigh be his answer.
Back at the car, Dean gives Cas a genuine thank you for his help in keeping them in one piece, again. Looking just this side of desperate, Cas says that Crowley was right—things are not going well for him upstairs.
Dean: Is there anything we can do?
Cas: No. I wish circumstances were different. I’d rather be here.
He looks so…earnest and sad that I felt bad for him. And the lines around his eyes echoed Dean’s in mutual weariness and fear. He looked very human in that moment.
Dean: Cas, we know you’ve got a steaming pile on your plate. No apologies. We’re your friends.
Awww! I take back what I said in an earlier ramble about Dean showing Cas more respect. He knows Cas is his friend and what’s more, he is Cas’. And that’s invaluable to Dean. ‘Course, he doesn’t know that Sam threatened to kill Cas if the angel didn’t help…but I think it’s best that he not know that just yet.
Cas: Listen, Sam. We’ll find another way.
Sam: You really want to help? We have a prison full of monsters. Can’t leave ‘em, can’t let ‘em go.
Cas: I understand. *poof*
*whispers: but what about the baby shifters??*
Dean: He’s right. About your soul. We’ll figure something out.
Sam: No we won’t. Putting it back in would squash me to bits.
Dean: We don’t know that.
Sam: When angels and demons agree, I pay attention.
Dean: You say this now after we practically died trying to get it back?
Sam: Exactly! How many times are we going to risk our asses for this? I don’t think I want it back.
Dean: You don’t know what you’re saying.
Sam: No, I’m saying something you don’t like. You obviously care a lot, but I’m better off without it.
Dean: You’re wrong.
Sam: I’m not sure about that.
He turns his back on Dean and walks away.
Dean: Sam, don’t walk away.
His voice is pleading, not ordering. He wants so badly to convince Sam otherwise, and the certainty in Sam’s voice is terrifying to him. I can imagine that he can relate to Sam’s resistance on some level—after all, when he came back from Hell he wished he couldn’t feel anything, he hurt so bad. Sam has to remember that, too. The hollow man next to Dean is not his brother, and yet, the ruined soul in the cage isn’t his brother, either. Not in the way Dean remembers him. Not in the way he used to be.
Dean calls after Sam, over and over, but Sam continues to walk away.
We have one more episode before the Holiday Hiatus, and the previews look to be a doozy. I have a feeling, though, that we’re going to be left breathless and pressing a hand to our hearts to keep them in place. I just hope that in the second half of the season, our heroes are rewarded for their valiant struggle to find a way out of this mess.
And we’re rewarded for sticking with them through it all.
Thanks for reading.