In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya…I hate waiting. The road so far has been a good one, but it feels as if so much is still to happen. *bites lip*
So THEN there were curse boxes and coordinates and Sam let Hallucifer in. NOW, though, we seem to be slowly getting somewhere with the Leviathans. Only that didn't appear to be the case at first. This is the interesting thing about how this season is rolling out. For awhile there, I couldn’t figure out if there was really a path or if we were just…in the Wild West with our boys, going up against baddies, one town after another.
But it looks like there may actually be an end game. The interesting thing is, the Winchester brothers might not have stumbled across it at all if the Leviathans hadn’t been so arrogant. Basically, here’s the gist of the episode – though it took the full hour to figure this all out.
The Dick Roman Empire is world-wide. According to Frank’s intel, they’re opening fisheries in Jakarta and a factory in Saudi Arabia, and funding some kind of architectural dig somewhere else. Annnddd…they’re buying up all the buildings in downtown Portland, OR, so that they can build a research center. Researching what? Well, I’ll get to that. It’s this real estate strafing maneuver that gets the boys involved.
One of the buildings involved in this juggernaught is an antique store called Out With the Old. My mom owns an antique store back in my hometown; it’s a pretty clever name for such a business. Right after the owner of the antique store sold her business, she was killed in a car accident and her son began to sell off all her stuff…including the items inside boxes marked with protection symbols stored inside a safe also marked with protection symbols.
Enter our boys picking up on the lead and what they think is just a simple job turns out to be much, much more and (finally) leads us a bit deeper into the Leviathan angle of the story arch. I may be in the minority here, but…the Leviathans just aren’t doing it for me. It’s not that they’re not bad or that their evil doesn’t have layered meaning or political implications about our world today. I get all of that.
But…the cursed object deaths in this episode were more hard-hitting, frightening, and impacting than the Leviathan threat has been since they pulled their Aliens reenactment against Castiel’s torso. This is escapism television for me and the reason I’ve stayed invested for seven years (and I do mean invested) has been because of the story of our heroes, their struggles and their salvation. But aside from that, I want something really worth their pain.
The YED was worth it. The threat of Hell in payment of a crossroads deal was worth it. Defeating Lilith was worth it. Even aborting the Apocalypse was worth it. The Mother of All? Meh. I want the Leviathans to be worth it. I’m waffling a bit now that we’re past the half-way point. I do see the course of the Levi story picking up a bit after this episode, but right now? Dean getting retribution for his sacrifices over the years, vengeance for what was taken from him, and finally being able to truly save Sam is what keeps me watching. Sam overcoming this debilitating break in his psyche and being whole again is what keeps me watching.
Not so much the war against the Leviathans. But…maybe that will change once the boys are able to clear a couple of hurdles closer to home.
So how did all of this Leviathan Plot Discovery go down, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. It all begins with a snobbish ballerina named Norina who prefers to practice alone. She puts on a pair of pristine-looking ballet slippers, turns on some Swan Lake (of course), and pirouettes herself to death. She literally dances until her feet blow up. Blood everywhere.
Sam is the one to get wind of the weird. They’re in Oregon (outside at a snow-covered lake, Dean on the phone with Frank, pacing along a very cold-looking pier) and coming up with bupkiss as far as getting a lead on Dick Roman. Frank is busy being sarcastic; Dean is frustrated and pushing for intel on Bobby’s numbers. Frank wants to know when Dean became the boss of him and Dean tries to calm him down…right before Frank hangs up on him.
Whoops. Dean comments, and I agree, that having someone as paranoid as Frank as your go-to guy was not really all that great. Sam walks up carrying a newspaper and a cup of coffee and Dean’s face shifts from irritation to worry in a flash.
Dean: You going for the Guinness record of caffeine consumption? That’s your 5th cup this morning.
Sam tells him that every time he closes his eyes Lucifer is yelling in his head. So right there we know two things: Sam’s not sleeping and he told Dean about letting Lucifer in. More or less. We don’t know if he gave him the details, but at least Dean knows it’s getting worse. He reminds Sam that Lucifer’s not actually there, which Sam knows. But, as he tells his brother, even the ‘hand thing’ isn’t working right now.
Sam tells him about the article he found on the ballerina dancing her feet off.
Dean: Dancers. They are toe-shoes full of crazy.
He knows this because he saw Black Swan. Twice. Sam gives him the classic little-brother, how are we even related look and Dean fires back with a, “Tutu-on-tutu action? C’mon, Sammy, what’s wrong with you?”
Sam doesn’t have the energy to give Dean crap about his lack of culture (either that or he agrees that it was, indeed, pretty hot) and waves it off. Hey, I saw Black Swan. Watching Natalie Portman losing touch with reality was bizarre. But even I’ll admit there were some rather…intriguing…scenes.
They decide to head to Portland, Dean hoping that Sam manages to get some sleep along the way. Aside from his basic worry about Sam’s well-being, it has to be a bit disconcerting to have the guy who is supposed to be watching your back running on straight caffeine to keep him alert.
Soooo the boys head to Portland where they find the police to be less than cooperative, making them wait, dragging their heels in retrieving the case files, your basic PITA.
Dean: If there aren’t any more dancers to interview this trip could be a bust. Although, I hear they have good coffee in Portland.
While the boys are looking at the bloody, footless body of the dancer – noting that the shoes in question were oddly devoid of blood – the cop in the evidence locker has his little girl in there with him doing her homework. She has the telltale bun indicating she’s into dance and eyes the bagged ballet slippers hungrily. He tells her not to touch them because they’re evidence and she sighs, then says she has to go to the bathroom.
Once in there, she’s delighted to see the shoes are sitting on the floor practically waiting for her. I need to train my kid to be more suspicious. Twice in this episode, something totally weird happens to and/or around a kid and they are drawn to it. They don’t back away thinking this is totally weird and I should be cautious. No, they are basically like whoa, this is totally awesome and I must be really special because it’s happening to me. Kids. *facepalm*
She sits down and starts to put on the shoes and as she pulls the ribbons tight, the shoes shrink to fit her foot. She looks thrilled. I pulled my pillow up closer to my chest, saying out loud to my TV, “Show, if you kill this kid, I will not be happy.”
Meanwhile, the boys have figured out that the fact that the slippers weren’t bloody was odd, so they’re at the evidence locker asking to see them. The cop turns to get them, realizes they’re gone and guesses that his little girl – who loves ballet – took them. Dean gets insta-worried-face and the boys burst into the bathroom (without the little girl’s dad, which I thought was weird…he knew she was in the bathroom, suspected she took the shoes, and just let two FBI agents go after her??).
Sam tells her to take off the shoes, but before she can do anything, the shoes go up on point and make her start dancing. I was instantly reminded of the cautionary fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, “The Red Shoes,” where ultimately a little girl dances herself to death. That’s some wicked curse, ya’ll.
Sam goes for the little girl, holding her, while Dean tries to get the shoes off – getting kicked in the face twice for his efforts. It’s not easy, but Dean finally gets them off. They’re all panting from the effort.
Sam: Ok, I’m going with cursed object.
Dean: Ya think?
And he’s holding them in his hands…. I will admit that I wanted the fact that Dean touched the cursed object to be a bit more of a bigger deal then it ended up being. Now that you all have had a chance to process, this is going to sound like an impulsive and emotional reaction, but…sometimes I feel like we’re often teased about things happening to/with Dean when the focus was always going to be on Sam. When Sam touched a cursed object, it was a bit more drawn out. And I do understand that the focus of the episode was not to be on the cursed objects, but on the Leviathans and Sam’s gradual decent into losing it. That’s the story, and that’s okay. I just…wanted more. *shrugs* Here endeth the complaining.
Sam carries the slippers out using what looks like maybe…scissors? He’s holding them out in front of him like they’re a bomb (which isn’t too far off, considering) and he can see inside the sole of the shoe to the place where they were purchased: Out With the Old. Here’s what I want to know. The dude who sold them had to touch them to put the price tag on them. Why didn’t he end up dancing himself to death?
Dean’s dabbing at his poor nose, trotting to keep up with his long-legged brother.
Sam: Suppose it’s too much to hope that these shoes are the only thing that’s cursed?
Dean: Oh, what a dreamer you are.
Sam = bitchface (hee!)
I forgot to mention – they’re driving an old-school TransAm/Camero looking thing. I could never tell those apart. Black, though. I think it’s cute that, for the most part, the cars they boost end up being ‘70’s model muscle cars or some other badassery. They do have a rep to uphold after all.
They pull up to the neighborhood where the antique store is and Dean has a total WTH look on his face. He turns slightly to look in the backseat – and the shoes are there.
Dean: Didn’t you put those in the trunk?
Sam (horrified): How…how did they…?
Dean: Cursed object, Sam.
Sam: Do they look like they’re your size?
Dean (tightly): Shut up, Sam.
Sam (worried): Are you…?
Dean (scared/guilty-looking): Getting a strong urge to Prince Sigfried myself into oblivion? Yes.
Sam (worried anger): You had to see Black Swan.
Dean half shrugs, half nods, helplessly, his expression sheepish.
Then we go to a seemingly unconnected scene – which actually is the glue that holds the whole episode together – of Joyce Bicklesbee and her long-suffering assistant, George, trying to get the hardware store owner to sell his store. Basically the most I got out of this scene was that Joyce is a witch with a ‘b’ and that I was not going to like her. At all.
Boys head into the antique store with the slippers held out before Sam, bomb-style. Sam asks the owner – a young guy – if he sold the slippers. Guys says yeah – his mom had them in a box. Sam sets the shoes down (dude! WTH!) and goes to get the box. Dean, unable to help himself apparently, goes over to the shoes and picks them up, entranced. Sam sees him, yells at him, and comes over with the curse box, using Dean’s hands to shove the shoes into the box and close the lid. Dean blinks a bit, coming out of it.
Sam: You okay there, Baryshnikov?
Dean: Yeah…I’m…pas de “done”.
Okay, so maybe he paid attention to the dancing in Black Swan the second time around. Heh. The antique owner – Scott Freeman – is like WTF? So the guys kinda break it down for him. Stuff in safe? Was there for a reason. Sam feels a smidge bad about raking him over the coals, though, when he finds out that the guy’s mom died last week. Plus, why would Scott assume that the weird symbols actually meant something, y’know? Anyone who doesn’t live the life probably just thought his mom was a little…’off’. Made total sense to me that he’d starts selling off the stuff.
Dean’s in the back, finding a bunch of empty curse boxes. Not good.
And then the death that actually had me exclaiming “omgeww” out loud. One of the cursed objects is a teapot. And a woman is getting dinner ready, cutting, chopping, mixing, etc. Out of the blue, the teapot goes off. The woman picks it up with her bare hands – burning them – and (gah, I don’t even want to write it) proceeds to pour the boiling water down her throat, face, and chest. GAAAAH.
*total aside: preview for Hunger Games! Awesome!*
The boys tell Scott they’re going to ‘fix the mess he started’ and track down all the people who bought cursed objects. They head to teakettle lady’s house first and just…walk right in. (?!) They find the dead woman and the teapot. Dean picks up the teapot with a rubber glove and Sam calls 911 to report the accident, identifying himself as Bruce Hornsby. *laugh*
Next up is a gramophone and a vintage gentleman’s magazine sold to a “Peter Yankit.” Okay, the lack of sleep has to be getting to me or I’m channeling my inner 14 year-old-boy because I cracked up at that one more than I should have.
They split up and Sam goes after the gramophone while Dean “handles” the “old rag” – only without actually ‘handling’ it.
Dean: I wonder how old porn kills you.
Sam: Pretty sure you don’t want to know.
Freaky (almost) death number three – mom and kid are in a living room and the mom starts playing the gramophone while the kid plays on his iPad. Or something. Mom takes laundry upstairs and the kid hears the gramophone whisper, “Timmy. I have a secret for you.” Totally creepy, right? And yet? Timmy goes closer. *facepalm*
Meanwhile, Sam’s walking along the sidewalk toward the house looking totally exhausted. Stick a fork in him, he’s done. I can relate. I’ve not had Lucifer yelling at me when I close my eyes, but I haven’t slept more than 4 hours a night in a long while and this traveling…oy. I’ve discovered the day after the day after I return from international travel is when the jet lag really hits. Omgsotired.
Anyway, whatever the gramophone whispers to Timmy has him going to the kitchen, pulling out a knife, and creeping up behind his mom. Just before the kid stabs his mom to death, Sam bursts in (does no one lock their doors in this town?!) and stops him, scaring the bejeezus out of the mom. Sam demands to know where the gramophone is and the mom, completely gobsmacked at this suited giant man who just stopped her beloved baby boy from filleting her, points toward the cursed object.
Sam goes to the thing and starts to collect it using rubber gloves when Timmy breaks in all, hey, that’s mine.
Sam: Kid. This would be a really good time for a lesson in gratitude. Lucky for you, I’m too tired.
*has thought that exact thing before*
Dean calls him, has the porn – got it just in time and, yeah, apparently, we don’t want to know – and tells him that they’ll put everything back in the safe. Dean heads to the antique store and finds out that Scott is feeling pretty guilty about pushing his mom to sell the store. She resisted and resisted, then this real estate agent comes by and mom changes her mind and then the very next day she dies in a car accident. Didn’t even get to enjoy the money.
Scott: I keep thinking if I hadn’t pushed her….
Dean: A little tip. Feeling guilty ain’t gonna bring her back. Best you can do is live your life the way you think would make her proud. Or at least not embarrass the crap out of her.
*rubs heart* If anyone knows about loss and guilt, it’s him. But…it’s a lot easier to give advice than take it. Says me.
Dean tells him not to touch anything he's not supposed to, then heads out. Once outside, he sees real estate signs with Bicklesbee’s face all over the block. Not good.
Next we see Bicklesbee and George trying once more to convince the hardware store man to sell – which he continues to resist because his store is his life. So, Bicklesbee kills him, revealing to us that they’re Levis and making George create a “died when his cigar set his bed on fire” scenario to cover up the man's murder and not draw attention to them. Also we find out that she went through four assistants before George. She’s even awful for a Levi. It’s that bad.
She makes George go across town to get a very specific coffee order and he looks like he’s about to have an aneurism as he agrees.
Elsewhere, Dean is in a café looking up the real estate agency online and Sam is driving a pick-up across town toward him. Sam is not doing well at all. He is fighting falling asleep at the wheel, doing all the usual things -- cold air, loud music. Dean calls him and tells him about the real estate deal and Sam’s out of it. Dean is like, dude…. Sam tells him that sleep deprivation is torture, then hangs up. Uh-oh. And also? I agree.
Dean – helpless to help Sam when he has no idea where he is – tries to get into the real estate website but is blocked by a firewall…so, he calls Frank.
Dean: Don’t mean to double-dip in your crazy sauce, but I think I found something.
Frank: My silence is your cue, Dean.
Me: *eyeroll* Really, Frank? Is it that important to be cantankerous about everything?
Dean tells him about the site and asks him to crack it. Meanwhile, Sam is falling asleep at the wheel, drifting across the dividing line, and almost getting himself smushed by another semi. Not cool. I mean, I’m all for pushing on and doing the job when you don’t have any other choice, but let’s not be stupid about it. When you haven’t slept for umpteen hours/days, driving at night alone is not a smart idea!
Meanwhile, George the put-upon Levi is trying to get Bicklesbitch her coffee at the Java hut and the barista puts two pumps in when he asked for one. He wants a new one cup. Barista says, “why don’t you eat me,” and George looks all-too intrigued by that idea. As he’s walking away, though, he hears Sam step up and order a “triple red-eye.”
So, he recognizes Sam by his voice. That’s…interesting.
George calls Bicklesbee and is all ‘yay, I get to eat a Winchester!’ She tells him to get back to the office where she lectures him on chain of command and says he’s one move away from a bibbing. Meanwhile, Frank calls Dean – giving Dean the chance to be sarcastic right back at him (touche!) – and tells him that the website, GeoThrive, is part of Dick Roman’s Empire.
Frank warns Dean to get the hell outta Dodge, but Dean’s like, people are dying here and can’t just leave, letting that happen. Sam pulls up and stumbles inside the café (literally, stumbles) where Dean is working. Dean tells him about the Leviathan problem and Sam’s vaguely like, man that sucks. He’s totally not engaged. *feels sorry for him*
Dean: You hearing me?
Sam (shaking himself): Yeah. Yeah, sorry.
Dean (worry bridging the gap between getting the job done and taking care of Sam): Enough of this insomnia crap. You need to crash. I’ll keep working. You find a motel and sleep.
Sam: Doesn’t matter where I go. Lucifer will not shut up.
Dean (frowning): Even now?
Sam: He’s singing “Stairway to Heaven” right now.
Dean (after a pause): Good song.
Sam (shaking his head, eyes looking bruised): Not 50 times in a row.
Just then Scott calls Sam, all panicked, saying he looked into one of his mom’s mirrors and now he wants to rip his face off. The boys are like, okay, okay, calm down, we’re on our way. Back at the antique store, though, we see that the evil real estate duo are with Scott, have forced him to make that call, and are now duct taping him to a chair while talking about exactly how to kill him. Bicklesbee decides that George should become Scott so that no one is the wiser and Dick Roman doesn’t get upset that they’re drawing attention to themselves.
The boys pull up in front of the antique store in the pick-up-pulling-a-Uhaul that Sam had – and here’s where I have to say what are you thinking?! SAM was driving. Use some sense, boys. Even if he does have to feel in control and even if Dean was in the car with him this time, having Sam drive when he nearly killed himself earlier and was admittedly barely coherent was just…stupid. Sorry, but it was.
They burst into the store and skid to a stop when they see Scott tied up and the red-coated real estate pair flanking him.
Dean: So much for the cursed mirror.
Joyce Bicklesbee is all smarm and it’s such a pleasure and I’m going to enjoy picking you out of my teeth. And then they attack. Joyce is kicking Dean’s ass all over the antique store – crashing him through display cases and against bookshelves. He’s trying to get up, to rally and return her attack, but he’s rattled, working just to get his breath.
Sam, meanwhile, gets thrown behind the counter by George who has a plan of his own. He tells Sam that there’s a bucket of Borax next to the counter (and at first I was all, riiiiiight, because everyone just has a bucket of Borax nearby, until I remember that when they first met Scott, he was mopping the floor, so maybe he used Borax to mop…?). Sam shoves George’s face into the Borax bucket where part of it burns off and George gasps out, “Sword!”
Bicklesbee has thrown Dean through another display case and he’s down, shaking a bit, and she’s going Big Mouth, ready for the kill when – BAM! Sam lops her head off with the sword.
Dean (gasping, on the ground, looking up at his brother): Thanks.
This is getting to be a definite pattern for them this season: Sam saving Dean when the fight gets the best of him. Even when Sam is worn out from sleep deprivation. I hope that coming up (since it appears from the previews that Sam’s cracked wall is going to get the best of him) we have some distinct opportunities for Dean to be the savior.
I think he needs it. He hasn’t gotten his “straw moment” as I am calling it. He doesn’t get to break down because they can’t both be mentally fragile at the same time. But he also doesn’t get the satisfaction of being the one to ultimately take out the bad guy – and we all know he needs that. I think it’s one of the reasons he’s so gung-ho about going after Dick Roman. Apart from his killing Bobby and leading the Big Mouths, Dean needs to take him out so that he can once more feel like all his suffering is worth it. That he’s truly saved Sam.
He told Scott that guilt won’t bring back the dead, but there is a level of guilt Dean is living with for not saving Sam from Hell soon enough that he doesn’t have anywhere to put, compartmentalize. He was warned what it would do to return Sam’s soul, but he couldn’t leave his brother in Hell – not even part of him. So he did the only thing he could and now Sam is suffering endless mental torment – torment that’s not being controlled anymore by “that hand thing.” If Dean isn’t able to save Sam from himself, then he needs to at least be able to kill the bad guy.
And as yet this season, he hasn’t been able to do that.
In the aftermath of the fight, Dean is moving slow, Sam’s still holding the sword, and George is healing form his Borax facial. Dean puts Bicklesbee’s head in a bag and puts the bag in the safe. Sam holds George at sword point. They tell Scott that Big Mouths don’t like to leave loose ends and caution him to run and not look back until he gets somewhere he doesn’t understand the language.
Poor Scott. All he did was open a safe.
The boys want to know why the heck George helped them. George? Wants to eat Bicklesbee. Um…eww. But also, let this be a lesson to all those bitchy bosses out there – karma may come back and eat you.
Dean: You want to…eat…your boss?
George: You got a better way to make her stay dead?
Good point, but…yeah, no. Not happening.
George (with an oh, by the way tone): You’re welcome for saving you. (looks at Dean) ‘Course she ripped into your ass like a Christmas present.
Dean just looks at him with what I call his “try it and see what happens” look. Where his face is blank and his eyes appear emotionless, but all around him danger is shimmering. *toe curl*
He demands to know what Dick is doing in Wisconsin (where Bobby’s coordinates were) and George tells him they’re freaking out about the wrong stuff. They need to look at the Big Picture. Tells them to get their heads down and stay down.
Dean: Listen to me you gooey son of a bitch. You’re gonne tell us what you’re building here, or I’m gonna wash your mouth out with soap.
George (nervous): I was hoping we could play nice. But if you must know, this is going to be a research center. We’re going to cure cancer. Because we’re only here to help.
Now, for dramatic effect and to allow the impact of what George just said to hit us, I get why we cut to commercial at that point. BUT. They never show us what the boys did with George. One has to assume they beheaded him – why leave a Big Mouth standing? But it was…loose. *frowns*
Next thing we see, Dean’s finishing packing up all the cursed stuff into the Uhaul muttering about monsters curing cancer.
And why is that? Well, we’re a food supply to them, right? Who wants to eat bad food? This is why (good) farmers and ranchers take care of the cows, pigs, and chickens. The Levis want to find out how to take care of us, heal us, keep us healthy, so they can eat us. Seems simple enough. Totally creepy and horrific, but simple.
They are heading to Frank’s and Dean tells Sam he’s going to sleep the whole way there. Sam’s doubtful, of course, but Dean says (with this adorable, big brother half-grin) that they’ll find a soft rock station; that always knocks Sam right out.
The song that comes on, though, is CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising,” and I don’t know about you, but I can no longer hear that song and not think about the semi-truck vs Impala crash. At first I was thinking, bad choice, guys, but when they pulled up to Frank’s RV and the song is blaring from inside the RV, my feeling changed to I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
Dean bangs on the door, hollering Frank’s name, looking worried. He frowns, then bellows, “Don’t shoot! We’re coming in!”
They enter Frank’s RV and it’s completely destroyed. There’s blood everywhere. The boys look around, expressions shell-shocked, and Dean’s like, “Not. Good.”
So…either Frank poked behind the wrong firewall, or he staged his ‘death’ to go further off the grid. Either way, it looks like they don’t have their paranoid research resource to go to anymore. Leaving them further up the creek, paddling with toothpicks. And with Sam unable to block out Lucifer, his mental state is hanging on by a hair which puts Dean in a Really Bad Place.
Previews for next week look awesome. And without spoiling it for those of you who don’t watch previews, I am hopeful that in the next episode or two, we’re able to find a way to fix Sam’s mental breakdown. Right now, he’s making me tired. And I don’t need any help in that area. *laugh*
Thanks for reading! I shouldn’t be late next week.
Ya'll -- I tried to post this yesterday (Sunday) as promised, but ElJay had other ideas. My apologies! I look forward to your thoughts!