Gaelicspirit (gaelicspirit) wrote,

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Stream of Consciousness, Episode 6.11

Seriously?!? Three words: I. Hate. Cliffhangers. Though this one was a wonderfully acted piece of the ongoing puzzle.


So, despite my never-ending attempts to avoid spoilerage (what? it’s a word), I never seem to be able to also avoid the episode titles prior to the actual viewing. I was lamenting a smidge about how much I missed the classic Led Zeppelin-inspired titles of shows, but this week’s piqued my interest because it wasn’t music, movie, or TV related. It’s a reference to an old story—one you’d tell someone to illustrate irony. Kinda like The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Appointment in Samarra, the story, is basically about a person who does everything they can to avoid Death, only to end up meeting him (Death) in Samarra—where he was meant to all along. They’ve made countless movies on this very premise. So, with that in mind, and having seen the previews last week, I sat down to watch wondering two things:

1)      Would Death’s ominous warning to Dean last season, that he can’t be cheated, come into play?

2)      Would Sam spend the episode trying to avoid his fate (being re-souled, so to speak) only to end up with it in the end?

As usual, our Show never ceases to find new and interesting ways to surprise me while at the same time confirming thing I already believed. Dean’s sacrificial nature, for example. He has illustrated multiple times over that he’s willing to give up everything personally important to him—love, security, freedom, his life—if it meant protecting Sam, saving Sam. Tonight’s episode is no exception.

The lengths Dean is voluntarily willing to go to for even the chance to save his brother—his brother, the one still trapped in Hell—had me watching almost this entire episode with my hand over my heart. On top of that, the subject matter that this episode dealt with—the natural order of things—had me hurting in a very real way. Show-related, it’s an angst-ridden thought. Real life-related…it can suck my breath from my lungs.

Not only did this episode illustrate Dean’s willingness to sacrifice himself for his brother, but it also touched upon his continued insistence that he knows best when it comes to Sam. As the older brother, and with this particular family dynamic, he’s been put into the position of parent rather than just a sibling and he’s never really been able to let that go. There are multiple levels one could argue here.

For example, Dean’s a domineering presence who seems to be unwilling to allow Sam to decide for himself and/or trust that Sam’s decisions about his own life are to be respected is one route you could go. Sam spoke emphatically on more than one occasion that this was his life. His soul. His body. It should be his decision as to what happened to him and his soul—not Dean’s. And if the guy had any sort of moral compass, I would have to agree with him.

But the bottom line is he doesn’t.

And that was illustrated tonight as well. Sam says he knows what he wants, self-preservation being rather high on that list, and he will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. Whether that’s infiltrating a vampire’s nest by way of his brother, or killing a father figure to complete a spell. It doesn’t matter to HollowSam right now.

And that’s why what Sam wanted for his own soul and his own body was disregarded by his brother, his father figure—and me.

The lesson of tipping the wrong dominoes, though, wasn’t one that just Dean should’ve had carry, in my opinion. It went back a lot further than that. To Mary for sure and perhaps further than that, for all we know. Following Death’s pattern, John shouldn’t have lived and Dean and Sam should never have been born. But yet…Dean and Sam were the chosen vessels for Armageddon even though the only reason they came into being at all was because of a demon.


A few parts of this episode were hard for me to watch—but not because of the gross factor. This was a rather ick-free episode. And it was, in my opinion, wonderfully acted and staged as yet another section of what’s becoming a 22-piece jigsaw puzzle. I really think I’m only going to truly appreciate this story in retrospect. Living through its agonizing play-by-play is like Chinese water torture.

Speaking of Chinese…we start off with Dean pulling up to a butcher shop in what looks like Chinatown…somewhere. It’s unclear. He exits the Impala, looks at a piece of paper, then up at the building address and his face screws up in a mixture of irritation and disbelief.

Dean: You gotta be kidding me.

He goes inside and starts to ask an Asian butcher where he can find someone…but he’s cut off (no pun intended) and told to go “all the way back.” Puzzled, he cautiously makes his way back as the Asian butcher hits a button under the counter.

Dean heads through a back door and up some stairs…

…and Freddie Kruger emerges from a room wearing a white lab coat.

Well, okay it wasn’t actually Freddie Kruger, it was Robert Englund. But still. I did think it was interesting that they had an actor of that notability to play such a small role. *shrug*

At first, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Freddie comes out and Dean’s like, “Dr. Robert?” Freddie greets him warmly by name and tells him that he stitched his dad up more times that he can count…back when he still had his medical license.

They go inside his slightly skanky procedure room and a pretty, but extremely bored-looking girl named Eva, who is Freddie’s assistant, is there looking…pretty and extremely bored.

Dean: You’ve done this a lot?

Freddie says indeed he has—in fact his success rate is 75%! And then I realized with a sinking oh, God, he isn’t feeling…Dean was going to pull a Flatliners and die on purpose here in this man’s office so that the doctor could zap him back to life.

In my ramble for Dark Side of the Moon, I quoted a Dylan Thomas poem, Death Shall Have No Dominion. I said then that I think death needs to have dominion over the brothers. They had died and come back so often that it wasn’t the threat of death that frightened them any longer, it was the threat of life—of living with circumstances they couldn’t reconcile. Like a brother without a soul, for example. Living had become their fear and that was just all kinds of backwards.

This episode drove that point home. Death himself drove that point home. I’m not sure what that means, if anything. I’m just reacting.

Dean hands Freddie an envelope of money (and how he got that much, I don’t think I want to know) and asks with a tight, hesitant voice if the good doctor would mail something for him should things go wrong.

He hands the doc an envelope with Benjamin Braeden’s name on it (in Battlecreek, MI, so I guess we know where Lisa and Ben moved to now). That sent my heart into a tiny little flutter right there. The doctor mentions that he’d have thought it would be something for his brother, Sam.

Dean: If I don’t make it back, nothing I say is going to mean a damn thing to him.

The really sad part is he’s right.

Eva pushes Dean down on the table and jabs a needle in his arm with a bored, “Don’t be a baby.” The doc tells him he’s got three minutes and the sound of the heart monitor speeds up as Dean’s anxiety skyrockets. The doc starts to push a clear fluid into Dean’s IV and the sound of the heartbeat is erratic. Dean’s lashes flutter, his eyes roll back, and then he collapses, the good doc and his bored assistant pronouncing him dead.


GhostDean walks in and looks down at himself, then heads out into the butcher shop, whispering, “This had better work.”

Now, I knew they weren’t going to kill off half of our dynamic duo mid-way through the season, of course, but all of the what ifs went through my head none-the-less. Had Dean truly thought this through or had he just been so wrecked by the thought of never getting Sam’s soul back he’d just grabbed onto this one desperate hope? I mean, what if Death had kept him? What if he’d told Dean to take a hike? What if the Dean Winchester charm and all of the fates of the universe that seemed to be conspiring to put him through the wringer before deciding to work in his favor actually hadn’t worked this time?

Had Dean truly accepted that if this didn’t work, he would be dead and Sam would be out there in the world soulless? I just…wondered.

Dean Latinates a bit and Tessa The Reaper shows up behind him all, dude, what the hell? Relieved, Dean’s like, “What do you know, it worked.”

At first, Tessa’s just caught up in the inconvenience of being summoned, but then she focuses and says, “Why are you dead?”

Heh. That’s actually kinda funny. In a sick, twisted, Supernatural way.

Dean demands to see her boss. She’s like, he summons us, it’s not the other way around. Dean insists, she says no.

And then, Death shows up.

He’s just as cool as he was before, if that doesn’t sound too bizarre. Just this thin, angular, unassuming figure of a man with a soft, clipped accent who speaks with measured tones as if he has all the time in the world—which, if you think about it…he basically does. He’s subtly bad ass because he doesn’t have to do anything to frighten you. He simply has to exist. There is no defeating him, there is no escaping him. He is The End of all we know for sure and that is frightening.

Dean reacts to that a little differently this go-round. Last time he met Death, the world was on the line. This time? It’s Sam. And interestingly enough, Dean has more bravado until Death quietly reminds Dean who and what he is. Having already done this dance once and survived, Dean blusters his way through their exchanges with his usual don’t bullshit me tone that he usually reserves for angels that have pissed him off or demons he needs to use instead of kill. He’s alone and desperate and he hasn’t been able to stay dead so far, so there are moments when he acts as if he really has nothing to lose.

But there are also moments—several of them—when his eyes flinch and his face tightens and his breath skates across his teeth as he remembers who he’s talking to.

Dean tries to barter using Death’s Ring, but Death is unimpressed—and says he knows where Dean hid it, so don’t bother, really. That was a little creepy, how much Death really knew. How little Dean was able to hide from him.

Death: You have hubris, but no leverage.

Sitting down at the butcher’s bar one stool down from Death, Dean tells him that he wants Death to break into Lucifer’s cage. That Sam’s soul is trapped down there—along with their other brother, Adam.

At that, my eyebrows went up. Am I wrong in thinking this is the first time anyone—Cas, Bobby, Dean, Sam—has mentioned Adam being trapped in the Cage? Because it was a little surprising to hear Dean mention him.

Death: Dean, quit shuffling and deal.

That was a great line. I’m gonna have to use that one. *writes it down*

Dean wants Death to get the two souls out (of course), but Death plays his wild card—he makes Dean choose, Sam’s soul or Adam’s. Like there was really ever going to be a choice—Dean didn’t go through all of this for his brothers. He went through it for Sam. It’s always been Sam. But, though you and I and Death knew Dean would choose Sam, it was (as I see it) Death’s first subtle lesson to Dean (in this episode) what it was like to play him. Proving to Dean that he could choose who was to live and who was to die.

And, like Gramps pointed out last episode, Dean always chooses Sam.

Dean: His soul has been there for a year and I understand its…damaged.

Death: Try filleted to the raw nerve.

Well, deangirl1  (and others)…there goes the idea that Michael or Lucifer were perhaps protecting it.

Dean: Is there any way you could…hack the Hell part off?

God love ‘im. He’s so obviously grasping at straws. *rubs heart*

Meanwhile, in the procedure room, Freddie and his assistant are trying to shock Dean back to life with no luck.

Death gets up and moves around Dean to stand in front of Tessa.

Death: What do you think the soul is? Some pie you can slice? It can be bludgeoned, tortured, but never broken, not even by me.

I kinda wish he’d said “broken into pieces” or “cut into pieces” or something to that effect because, for me, ‘broken’ has all kinds of different connotations. But, regardless of my semantics, I understood what he meant.

Dean (his voice desperate): There’s gotta be something.

Of course he’d think that—because there always has been. Whether it’s crossroad deals or angel intervention or perhaps even the ‘will of God’ (like in HOTH), he and Sam and for a time even John have been able to find a way to save a member of their family when the situation looked hopeless. Except once—when Sam fell into the Cage. Then, Dean thought they’d lost. But…once he realized he’d been wrong even then, there’s no reason for him not to push Death into giving up a way to rescue Sam’s soul.

But Death pulls a Merryweather (as in the Fairy of Happiness from Sleeping Beauty) and says he can’t erase Sam’s Hell…but he can put it behind a wall. A wall in Sam’s mind that would hold back the tide. Tessa interjects that it wouldn’t be permanent, and Death agrees—if the wall should ever fail, it would do all the bad things to Sam that both Cas and Crowley eluded to.

Okay, now, for just one tiny second I want to have a disgruntled moment. Where’s Dean’s wall? Y'know? He had to go through Hell—and no, it wasn’t in a Cage being kicked around by two angry angels, but it was still torture…by Alistair, on a rack of pain. And with all the insinuations we’re getting from examples of other torture and Dean’s reactive, too-casual remarks about and reactions to rape, it was invasive, dehumanizing, and all together destructive torture.

He survived it, was pulled out of that, and forced to re-enter life and still fight the bad guys and the only thing he was given to deal with his pain and nightmares was a constant supply of Jack Daniels, and a reminder that he had a place on the food chain and a job to do. kinda looks like we have two options: 1) consider Dean tougher than we thought because he was able to survive without a wall {which is unlikely}, or 2) accept that the Show is saying Sam’s Hell was so much worse he needs a (potentially fallible) wall to hold back the nightmares and utterly incapacitating psychic pain.

*takes breath*

Okay. I’ll deal with it, for the sake of the Show and the ongoing journey of my hero, I'll deal with it. I don’t like it, but it doesn’t make Dean any less of a hero in my eyes.

Dean still went through what he went through—he did it to save his brother, and it took it head-on. He survived it and he survived life after it and he survived life without Sam and he survived life with soulless Sam and now he’ll survive whatever comes next. He’ll be there for his brother, because he always has and it’s part of what made me fall for him in the first place. And maybe…just maybe…he’ll be able to end this latest journey through another version of Hell on Earth to find his own life. For good this time.

Plus…I can see potential for what that wall and the ever-threatening crumble of it could mean. For both characters. Okay, enough, Gaelic. Move on.

Dean recaps, saying that his choices are basically Sam with no soul or Sam with a drywall in his head. Death says yes and Dean’s like, “Do it.” He can’t leave his brother down there. He just can’t.

Death’s like, ah-ah, not so fast. This is all contingent upon Dean winning the wager. Dean sighs a very expressive it’s always something sigh and says, “What’s the bet?”

Death steps up close and says softly, “Don’t roll your eyes, Dean. It’s impolite.”

Dean pulls his head back in reaction and there is an utterly silent, but still very much there ‘gulp’ in his whole demeanor. Death tells him that he wants Dean to wear his ring. Be Death for a day.

Back in the procedure room, the heart monitor is still wailing a flat line and Freddie orders Eva to get the adrenaline.

Death tells Dean that if he takes the ring off before 24 hours are up, no soul for Sam. Dean, swallowing hard, half-nods, asking, “But…why?”

Death: Because—

And Freddie brings Dean back to life with a harsh, rough gasp for air. Dean laments that he wanted five more seconds but Freddie informs him that he was actually dead for seven minutes. Yikes.

We leave the good doctor and Dean and Sam are at Bobby’s house. The brothers are facing off in Bobby’s study and Bobby’s sitting on the couch, positioned kind of between them, watching the angry tennis match of words. Dean tells Sam about Death’s deal and the wall that Death would put in Sam’s mind and to say Sam is resistant would be an understatement.

Sam: You’re playing fast and loose with my life.

Dean: I’m trying to save your life!

Sam: It’s my life! My soul! And it’s not your head that’s going to explode when this whole scheme of yours goes sideways.

Sam may not care about anyone else, but he sure does care about self-preservation. Not that I blame him for that…just find it interesting how the Show is interpreting how one would act if the thing that made us us is ripped out and we recognize we have no moral compass and could care less about people who used to be as important to us as our own heartbeat.

Bobby speaks up, the voice of reason, and wants to know what Dean has to do in order to get Death to play ball. Dean tells them about having to wear Death’s ring for a day.

Aside—I wonder if the other rings held that same kind of power. If they put on Famine’s ring, would they be able to drive people crazy with want? How about making people sick by wearing Pestulance’s ring? Or is the fact that those other Horsemen are dead render the rings useless? Just…wondering.

Sam heads out, saying he needs to go for a walk and wrap his head around all of this. Next thing you know, Sam’s standing in the junkyard next to what looks like a small, dug-up hole and Dean and Bobby approach him, Dean holding Death’s ring. Sam continues to say he was just going for a walk; he wasn’t looking for the ring, no sir, uh-uh.

Dean: I’m your brother. I’m not gonna let you get hurt. I know what I’m doing here.

Sam: What if you’re wrong?

Dean: I won’t let it go wrong.

It’s a familiar promise, one that pulled Dean through so much just being able to say it; one that Sam used to believe…when he was still Sam.

Sam: Fine. I’m trusting you here. You’re the one with the compass, right? Just…don’t mess it up.

Dean turns to leave and as he walks past Bobby he says in a low voice, his lips barely moving, “Watch him.”

Sam and Bobby go into the house.

Sam: Is this the part where you pull a gun on me and lock me in the panic room?

Bobby: Do I have to?

Sam (tiredly): No. Dean’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.

He walks past Bobby and Bobby said sadly, “We all do, kid.”

It’s a really interesting question they bring up here. I mean, they’ve established that Sam can’t be trusted to not kill if he decides it serves a purpose, and yet he’s his own person. Dean—and by proxy, Bobby—has decided against Sam’s protestations that Sam needs to have his soul returned to him to restore him to humanity, if not the person he was before. Dean can’t bear the thought of that person suffering in Hell, nor can he bear the thought of a lifetime around this HollowSam.

But that’s all about Dean. It’s interesting to try to look at it from Sam’s perspective. Interesting, but not easy. Because I don’t like Sam’s perspective. I don’t want this Sam. I don’t trust this Sam. But that doesn’t stop it from being any less true that while what Dean wants in this situation feels right, it’s not the only game in town.

Standing in Bobby’s junkyard with the ring, though, Dean utters a breathless, heartfelt, “Here goes everything,” and slips the ring on.

That boy breaks my heart. He meant those three words with everything in him. He was going to play Death on a desperate gamble to save his brother and the complexities surrounding all of the ramifications of that roll of the dice are something that Dean will have to continue to deal with, no matter the outcome.

The moment the ring is on his finger, he’s elsewhere—I’m not sure where, but it’s a city street and Tessa is there, rather pissed off. She wants to get through the next 24 hours with a minimum of screw-ups.

Dean: This is your boss’s idea, not mine.

Tessa: You have a long history of throwing a wrench in the works, so stick to the rules.

And the rules are? Kill everyone whose number is up. Tessa has a list, but she won’t let Dean see. I found it interesting they said “kill” instead of take. But I guess the taking part is Tessa’s job. As Death, Dean has to kill them. Guh.

Tessa: You touch them, they die, I reap them. Remove the ring, you lose. Slack off, you lose.

This is going to be one of the suckiest days in Dean’s life.

Elsewhere, in some random, abandoned warehouse near Bobby’s, Sam is summoning… Balthazar. I gotta say I really dig this actor. He’s got such an interesting face. He’s how I picture Voldemort would look right before he finally went snake (and before you say it, I know Ralph Fiennes plays Voldy, I’m just saying, it looks like he could be the Dark Lord).

Balty is a little ticked that Sam summoned him, and is in his own way admiring Sam’s hubris for summoning the angel who wanted to kill him. After all, the last time they met, Sam said he wanted to deep-fry Balty’s wings. But now, Sam wants advice, and considering Balty traffics in souls, he seemed like the best Being to ask.

Balty: Go ask your boyfriend.

Sam: Cas can’t help me.

Heh. Boyfriend.

Sam wants to know if there’s a weapon or a spell that can keep a soul out—permanently. Balty realizes by Sam’s silence that his soul is still in the Cage and doesn’t blame him for not wanting it back since Michael and Luci (he actually says Luci) are “hate-banging” his soul as they speak.

You ask me? If Michael really has been up to that as everyone and their brother are claiming? He’s kinda lost his place in Heaven. Talk about natural order of things…the reason Lucifer ended up down there to begin with is because he didn’t like that God loved humans more than angels. Michael taking his anger out on a human soul? Not gonna be cool in God’s eyes should He return to Heaven. Just sayin’.

Balty says he’ll help Sam for free because he wants Sam to owe him (so mark that in your book of “what’s coming up for them to deal with in the 2nd half of the season”) and he also doesn’t like Dean one bit and would delight in screwing him. A statement that doesn’t get more than an eyebrow flicker out of HollowSam.

The ingredients to the spell are easy enough to get, but the trick is to scar the vessel (and it actually took me a minute to realize that by vessel, he meant Sam) so that it’s rendered inhabitable. Balty says the best way is patricide.

Sam doesn’t even balk at this idea; he simply says that his father died years ago. Gosh darnit.

Balty: You need the blood of your father, but your father needn’t be blood.

And we have the other side of desperation. Dean is so desperate to save Sam in his way—save the brother he knew from Hell, fill HollowSam with a soul and reunite them—he’s literally willing to die to find a solution. Sam is so desperate to retain his HollowSelf in his way, he’s willing to kill an innocent (yet again) to maintain the status quo.

It’s obvious (to me) which one is more right, but I had to admit that it was an intriguing conundrum they presented. I’m aware there will be those of you who don’t agree, but since the end of Season 4, I’ve written these rambles with an acute awareness of the gamut of preferences in those who read them and this is my way of attempting fair play. Off the record? I'd utter a heartfelt go, Dean, go.

Back on Death’s Holiday, Tessa is giving Dean a little Death 101.

Tessa: When people die, they’ll have questions for you. It’s part of the gig. Suck it up.

They come upon a robbery in progress at a little convenience store. A white man is holding a gun on an ethnic cashier and his son, demanding the cash in the drawer (which the cashier is shakily pulling out while trying to keep his son close to him and protected). The robber says he’ll shoot the kid if the cashier doesn’t hurry up.

Dean wants to know who they’re there for—instinctively wanting to interrupt and stop this. Tessa puts a hand on his arm and reminds him they can’t be seen or heard and tells him to just let it play out. The cashier takes advantage of the robber’s distraction at one point and grabs a gun, shooting him. Dean walks up to the man who is choking on his own blood.

Dean: He’s in agonizing pain, right?

Tessa (puzzled): Yes.

Dean: Give me a minute.

He pauses, then touches the guy. The man’s spirit is standing with them, looking down on himself.

Bad guy: Why?

Dean: Mostly because you’re a dick. Enjoy the ride down, pal. Trust me. Sauna gets hot.

Tessa takes him away. Next they come across a large man in a suit eating pizza.

Dean: Call me crazy, but this smells like a heart attack.

Which…is exactly what happens. Dean touches him and the man asks Dean why.

Dean: Think maybe it was the extra cheese?

Guy: Yeah. (pause) It was good, though.

Dean: Was it a local place?


Tessa (exasperated): Dean.

Dean (chagrined): Right. Sorry. Time to go, man.

Guy: Tell me…what does it all mean?

Dean, eyes darting slightly as he searches his mind for something plausible and non-morbid, says, “Everything is dust in the wind.”

Guy: That’s it? A Kansas song??

Dean kinda shrugs with his face.

Meanwhile, Sam returns to Bobby’s saying he’s just been driving around. Bobby offers him a drink. Annnnnd cue the most uncomfortable visit in the history of ever.

Dean and Tessa are at a hospital and enter a room where a 12 year old girl has a serious heart condition. She’s sitting on the bed, oxygen cannula in her nose, looking through a picture album with her father. The father-daughter connection just about did me in for multiple reasons. Dean’s eyes travel the room—pausing for a moment on the nurse and her name badge, which made me think something was going to happen to her right then—and asks who they’re there for. The girl.


Dean turns away. Tessa tells him that he has to take her. Death says so. Dean wants to know who tells Death. Tessa says it’s destiny.

Dean: I spent my whole life fighting that crap. There’s no such thing as destiny—just like there was no Apocalypse. It’s just a bunch of stuck-up mooks who didn’t want us human slaves asking questions. So I say, the little girl lives.

Tessa: You know what’s actually amazing is that you don’t buy a word you’re saying.

Dean (eyebrows folding in): Yes, I do.

Tessa: Oh, really? So all the times you messed with life and death it just worked out for you?

Dean’s eyes flash slightly and the expression in them jabbed me. A slew of memories crossed his face in the glimmer of a second.

Dean: I know this much. I’m Death. She’s 12 and she’s not dying today.

Back at Bobby’s, Sam and Bobby are playing poker. Thank goodness we didn’t stay there long, because their tension was sucking the air from the room.

As Dean and Tessa watch, we see that the little girl’s heart was miraculously healed. The nurse, Jolene, who was supposed to have assisted in her surgery, is calling home—and walks through Tessa, getting a chill.

Back with Sam and Bobby, Bobby goes to get something from the fridge and Sam moves to attack him. Bobby whacks Sam first, knocking him out.

Bobby: I may have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night.


He puts the thing he bludgeoned Sam with down and grabs up some rope, but when he turns around, Sam is gone.

Bobby (slowly, the words drawn out): Not. Good.

And we get a little game of cat and mouse in Bobby’s house with Bobby looking for Sam, locking the outside door, and then hiding in a closet—looked like the same closet he and Dean hid in during the zombie attack. Sam suddenly starts whacking the door, breaking through it with an…axe? Or something. Until his face is visible through the hole he created.

Bobby: Don’t say ‘here’s Johnny’….

Sam: I gotta do this, Bobby. I’m sorry. You shouldn’t have cornered yourself.

Bobby (in a very, thanks for the advice, psycho tone): I didn’t.

He pulls a lever inside the closet and a trap door opens up under Sam’s feet, dropping him into the basement and cutting his leg but good. Bobby must’ve added that little feature after the zombie attack—otherwise, he and Dean were rather remiss in not using it.

His head bleeding from Bobby’s hit, Sam gets up and grabs a crowbar, then heads up the basement steps to the locked door, but Bobby stops him from bashing that one in by saying something about titanium plates. They have an awkward heart-to-heart through the door, Bobby pretty much wanting to know what the hell.

Sam’s basically like, if Dean gets my soul back, it’s going to suck. He doesn’t want to kill Bobby. He’s been nothing but good to Sam. But…. Bobby guesses that it’s a demon deal (which is a logical conclusion considering) but Sam says it’s a spell.

Bobby: You’re making a mistake, Sam.

Sam: I’m trying to survive.

Bobby: Dean has a way to make it safe.

Sam (scoffing): Dean doesn’t care about me. He cares about his little brother, Sammy, burning in Hell. He’ll kill me to get that other guy back.

That was the most telling thing HollowSam has said yet. The only reason it matters to him whether or not Dean cares is that Dean’s care literally knows no bounds and HollowSam wants to survive. And, as he said before, he sees himself as a separate entity from the soul trapped in the Cage—not as someone missing a part of his whole.

The thing is, though—I don’t think Dean is able to look at it that way. This person is Sam to Dean…just not all of him. So HollowSam is partly wrong—Dean does care about him. But he cares because he’s the “vessel” for his “little brother, Sammy, burning in Hell.” He’s also partly right—Dean doesn’t want to preserve this version of Sam because he’s a replicate. Not whole.

Oh, the angst. The angst will kill me dead.

Bobby: I know it’s scary, but you’re scarier. You’re not giving us much of a choice here.


Bobby: Sam?


Bobby: Balls!

He opens the door and sees an empty staircase. My heart was literally hammering as Bobby went down the stairs and searched for Sam.

Bobby: Ain’t nobody killing me in my house but me.

Just…ugh. The whole thing. It’s been Sam v Bobby before—with the shotgun to the face in the junkyard back in Season 4—but this just felt more ominous. Sam was strung out from demon blood withdraw then. This time? He was completely in control of his faculties and lacked the inner guardian required to keep the killer inside him in check.

Bobby: I don’t want to blow your legs out, boy, but I will.

Bobby makes it to the panic room, peers in through the small window, and sees a ladder leading up through an escape hatch at the top.

Back at the hospital, Tessa is giving Dean the silent treatment. Then she stops dead still in the hallway and whispers, “Dammit, I knew it.”

The nurse who left early because she didn’t have to assist in the little girl’s surgery got into a car accident she shouldn’t have gotten in. And now, Dean has to kill her. He looks gut punched as he tries to assimilate what has all just transpired. Tessa tells him that everything he does has consequences. Dean does his job, despite the fact that she wasn’t on the list. The nurse looks down at her body, then looks from Dean to Tessa, confused, and wants to know why.

Tessa says she’s there because Dean screwed up. Which, was true from Tessa’s perspective, but guh, the look on Dean’s face as she says this. He tries to say he’s sorry, but Tessa is taking the nurse away. A minute later, the husband shows up and is bereft, weeping over the nurse’s bloody body.

Dean goes to the room of the 12 year old and she looks better—has color and is smiling as she and her dad continue to look through the picture album. Tessa tells Dean that the girl is destroying the natural order by being alive.

Which makes me wonder how messed up the natural order got back in 1973…and then again in 2005…and then again in 2006. How many people who weren’t on the list ended up dying because the Winchester’s lived? You know Dean was churning that over in his fly paper-like brain. We could see it on his face.

He’s looking out of the window as Tessa is talking and sees the nurse’s husband stumble out of a bar across the way and get into his car. He tells Tessa to give him a minute.

Back at Bobby’s, Bobby is out in the junk yard, a cocked shotgun in his hand, tracking Sam. He makes his way to what looks like a garage and opens the door. Just then, Sam clocks him from behind and hauls him into the garage.

Dean’s in the car with the drunk husband, trying ineffectually to get him to slow down, pull over, stop, but as Death, he can’t be seen or heard. The man is heading for an intersection and a red light—a bus approaching from the other direction. Unable to allow this death on top of the other death that wasn’t supposed to happen—and was his fault—Dean pulls off the ring, becomes corporeal and visible and grabs the steering wheel, plowing them into a parked car instead.

The airbags save them, though the husband is unconscious against the steering wheel. Dean looks down at the ring and whispers, “Dammit.” He climbs stiffly from the wrecked car, looking shaken and pale, and calls for Tessa. Says he lost.

Dean: Sam’s screwed. You happy? Least you could do is zap my ass back home.

Lacking any other ideas, he puts the ring back on and Tessa is behind him, watching him.

Dean: I lost the bet.

Tessa: I’m sorry about your brother.

Dean: Let’s just go.

He has unfinished business. Pain and regret shadowing his eyes, he returns to the little girl’s room.

Tessa: I thought you wanted the girl to skate by?

Dean: No one skates by.

Not even Winchesters who have a way of cheating the uncheatable. They each carry the burden of their deals and even when they win they feel a loss. He whispers to the sleeping dad to say his goodbyes and then…takes the girl. That just hurt me. Not that he did it, but that it happens. It all happens. *shakes self* Since I had Mo Chuisle (which was at the beginning of Season 2) child-related tragedies are simply harder handle. Which, I suppose, makes them that much more effective because of what they also do to our hero.

The girl stands at the foot of her bed with Dean and Tessa.

Girl: What about my dad?

*sniff* It killed me that for her it wasn’t about ‘why me’ but ‘what about my dad’…it just felt really real as far as how a kid would react. It’s how my kid would react.

Dean: He’ll be fine.

Girl: Really?

Dean: I have no idea.

Girl: I can’t just leave him. It’s not fair.

Dean: I know.

Girl: Then why?

Dean: Because…(he crouches down to her level, his face drawn) there’s a natural order to things.

Girl: The natural order is stupid.

Dean: I agree with you there.

Back at Bobby’s in the garage, Bobby is tied to a chair, his breath stuttering and anxious, trying to get Sam to not do this…he’s been like a father to him. Sam’s like, uh, duh, that’s the whole point. Sam pulls Bobby’s head back, exposing his throat and we see that the chair is set in the middle of some kind of sigil. Sam rears back a wicked large knife and just before he plunges it down, Dean is there, grabbing his arm, and slamming his other fist into Sam’s face, knocking him out.

Good Lord. *catches breath* I didn’t think they’d go through with it, really, but do they always have to cut these things so damn close?

Aside—I wonder how Dean knew to find them in the garage? And I guess we’re to assume that Tessa zapped him home again.

They put Sam in the panic room and tie him to the bed. Dean is wrecked, his eyes just…. He’s this side of the expression he had the last time Sam was in the panic room and Dean found himself praying in the junkyard.

Dean: I can’t keep doing this, Bobby. What am I gonna do? Tie him up every time he tries to kill someone? That’s not going to hold him. I mean he’s—

Bobby: Capable of anything.

I heard in Dean’s voice and his words both how being around HollowSam was wearing him down to nothing and how scared he was about the prospect of this truly being the only Sam they had left.

Dean looks at Death’s ring and says rather forlornly, “What am I supposed to do?”

That question, from that character, does painful things to my heart.

Sam wakes up and looks out through the little window in the door to the panic room, catching Dean’s eye. They just stare at each other a moment, Dean’s eyes in shadow, Sam’s eyes cold. Dean shuts the door and goes upstairs….

…to find Death sitting at Bobby’s table eating a hotdog. He says he brought Dean one—from a vendor in L.A.. Grey’s Papaya, I wonder? Dean sits down, carefully—instinctively holding himself in check, away from the other man at the table. He looks…weary. Worn out.

Dean: What’s with you and cheap food?

Death: I could ask you the same thing. Thought I’d have a treat before I put the ring back on. Heavier than it looks, isn’t it? Sometimes you just want the thing off.

Made me think of the ring Frodo and Samwise carried to Mount Doom. The weight of it. What it did to them.

Dean: I know you know I flunked. By the way, I sucked being you. But I’m sure you know that, too.

Death: If you could go back, would you simply kill the girl? No mess, no stomping your feet?

Dean: Knowing what I know now, yeah.

Death: I’m surprised to hear that.

Dean: I would have saved that nurse.

Death: Today you got a look behind the curtain. Wrecking the natural order’s not so fun when you’ve got to mop up the mess, is it? You throw away your life because you’ve come to assume it will bounce right back. The human soul is not a rubber ball. It’s vulnerable, impermanent, and more valuable than you can imagine. I think you’ve learned something today.

I agree…although, I’m not yet sure what we learned from this. That Dean values life? We knew that. That Dean would risk everything for Sam? We knew that. Maybe what Death was saying is that Dean risked it this time forgetting that he might not make it back. I don’t think Dean takes for granted the value of Sam’s soul—I think he feels that value very strongly. I think he’s learned a little more about what a soul is (because that’s confusing as hell in this ‘verse). Maybe…maybe he’s seen the value of his own soul? *ponders*

Dean: I think you knew I wouldn’t last a day. I lost, fine. But at least have the balls to admit that it was rigged from the jump.

Shallow moment? I loved how his mouth looked when he said the word ‘jump.’

Death: Most people speak to me with more respect.

Dean pulled back in, his face registering a reminder of who it was he was talking to once more.

Death: I’m going to Hell to get your brother’s soul.

Dean (totally taken by surprise): Why would you do that for me?

Death: I’m not. You and your brother keep coming back. You’re an affront to the balance of the universe and you caused disturbance on a global scale.

Dean: I apologize for that.

His eyes flinch as he says that—intimidated, I think, but Death’s literal proximity to him and reliving the abbreviated journey of standing in the Horseman’s shoes.

Death: Right now, you’re digging for something, Intrepid Detective. I want you to keep digging, Dean.

Ooo! Nice way to remind us of the noir-effect of this season. Dean’s role as the detective, seeing this through his eyes, discovering the mystery via the vehicle of his experiences, which is what grabbed me at the onset of this season and what holds me still.

Dean: You just gonna be cryptic?

Death: It’s about the souls. You’ll understand when you need to.

Add “value of souls” to your book of “what’s facing them in the 2nd half of the season.” One thing, though...if they are an affront to the balance of the universe, wouldn’t it have just been better to kill them? Unless Death is returning Sam’s soul to incent Dean (specifically) to keep digging into what the value of souls have to do with all of this ruckus…. There is something that the universe has to gain by Dean being alive and Sam getting his soul back. I’m just not sure what…yet.

Dean: Is this wall thing with Sam really gonna work?

Death: Call it…75%.


With that, Dean goes running down to the panic room—panicking Bobby in the process—and demands Bobby open the door, now! They stand in the doorway and as they watch, Death appears. Sam. Is. Flipping. Out. He can’t get loose from the ropes, can’t get away from Death and is telling the Horseman to get away from him, don’t touch him.

Death tells him that he’s going to put a wall in his head and that it may itch, but he must not scratch it because he guarantees Sam won’t like what happens. He pulls Sam’s soul from a bag and it’s brilliant and gleaming. I’d half expected it to be…gray…or something showing its damage.

Sam turns to look at Dean and is begging—literally begging—don’t do this, you don’t know what it’ll do…. Dean stares back at him and the pain in his eyes is heartbreaking. Death begins to put Sam’s soul in and Sam screams in pain—much like when Cas gave him the angel scan. Dean’s face tightens, his expression mirroring the sound Sam is making.

And we fade to black. I guess the answer to my episode title questions were yes and yes. Dean learned that he couldn’t cheat Death—only not in the way I was thinking. It wasn’t that he couldn’t cheat Death (meaning he was going to stay dead) but that Death would not be cheated (meaning, you deny me the girl, I take the nurse). And Sam? Well, he ended up with a soul after all.

So, what are we left with? Sam—our Sam—returned? But with a 75% solid wall in his mind holding back Hell? Will he retain the memories built up from HollowSam? Will he remember the time he stayed away from Dean, knowingly allowing his brother to think he was in Hell? Will he remember the innocents he killed? Oh, the thought of it—Hell wall or no—just makes my heart hurt for him.

And Dean, how will he be now with his brother out of Hell, but Hell kept at bay? He’s still left with no one to talk with about his own tour—he doesn’t want Sam to remember his time there because it would destroy him. And will he be able to compartmentalize the guilt of forcing the soul back into Sam, knowing the risk? What about all he went through to get the soul—dying, playing Death, seeing the consequences to his actions?

Meanwhile, there are still Alpha monsters running amuck, a Civil War in Heaven, Hell with no King, a rogue angel to whom Sam owes a favor (even if he didn’t get to follow through with the spell) and who really hates Dean, and Death’s cryptic “it’s about the souls…you’ll understand when you need to.” Not to mention Lisa and Ben out there living their normal life, their footprints still tracking across Dean’s heart.

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover in the next 11 episodes, folks. While I hate cliffhangers, I expected no less mid-season. And honestly? Season 2’s cliffy was a little worse for me. I think because I spent much of the first half of this season disconnected from Sam. This one didn’t settle me as much as it tripped my intrigue trigger a bit harder than it’s been tripped up to now.

For those of you who read these each week, I wanted to say a very sincere thank you. As someone recently pointed out to me, there are indeed a lot of fish in the sea and a good number of reviews/metas on this show for you to choose from. And they range from quick recaps to longer, thoughtful and often educational metas. I’ve been told by some that they enjoy this ‘stream of consciousness’ style and by others that they really don’t need to relive the episode, they just want my take on it so they can offer theirs.

No matter if you read 50 other reviews or just mine, or if you take in each word I put on paper or skim to hit on certain parts, I am glad you’re here. And I thank you for taking time to comment.

The next half of the season starts up on Friday, January 28th. Unfortunately for this ramble, that will be the first (and probably only) episode I’ll have to miss at first run. My husband and I are combining a our 10th wedding anniversary and my birthday (which is on January 30th) and taking our first “grown up” trip away from Mo Chuisle that weekend and I will be sans computer. He’s forcing a technology shut down for four days. *smiles*

So, I’ll watch the episode and post the ramble the following Tuesday the 1st. I hope I don’t lose you with that delay and that you’ll be back to read and share your thoughts.

Thanks again for reading, and have a happy hiatus everyone!


Tags: stream of consciousness
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