“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin
I love that our Show can push me through such a wide-spread emotional spectrum inside of 50 minutes.
We’re at the 7th episode and thus far I think we’ve gotten a great balance between the boys’ past year – some episodes, like last week, giving us more of a detailed look at Sam’s story and experiences with Amelia while this episode helped bridge the gap left with Dean’s escape from Purgatory sans Cas. We have some answers, but more questions and they’re parceling out the information at a deliciously slow cadence. What’s more, we’re getting an ebb and flow of emotions from the boys that falls just short of being explosive and leaves us wanting more.
Any story that leaves me wanting more is aces in my book. And I haven’t enjoyed a season this much since…well, Season 5, really.
I had a couple of people last Ramble comment that I was clearly a Dean girl so my reviews are somewhat biased – and I won’t argue that, I’ve never said any differently – but one thing I will say is that I’ve been talking an awful lot about Sam this season. I think because his drama is so understated, so subtle. Sometimes, I’d argue, too subtle because I’m left thinking wait, what? Why? But I’m starting to think now that it’s clever. They’re showing such a clear contrast not only of the boys’ experiences of the last year, but of their innate personalities it’s incredibly intriguing.
Dean’s story is in-your-face action and pain and angst and go-go-go-go and survival. It’s the kind of stuff I love to write and read about. It draws an immediate gasp and gut-level reaction from me. And it leaves the present Dean walking wounded. I don’t have to explain to you guys how appealing that is to me. His journey from then to now has been exciting and heart-wrenching and I’m wondering what’s going to happen next with his story and how he’ll regroup with his brother and if he’ll be able to keep these friends of his who are so incredibly important to him.
Sam’s story is softer, quieter. It’s an abrupt about-face from the life we’ve been watching him live and harkens back to Stanford-era Sam, only darker. Jess and Amelia are the sun and moon of his romantic history. It’s not the kind of story I gravitate toward, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an appeal – and mainly the appeal (for me) is in the questions it raises. And quite honestly, Sam is no less wounded; his scars are just in different places and not as clearly marked. I’ve spent an incredible amount of time thinking about Sam this season simply because I haven’t been able to figure out his story – his is a puzzle while Dean’s is a picture (to me).
The interesting thing about both story lines is that even when the flashbacks eventually cease to be a useful storytelling vehicle, the affects of those experiences can carry on through the rest of the season, coloring their hunt for the tablet compendium, their dealings with Cas, and how they cope with Benny.
I said before that I thought these two presented one of the most realistic sibling relationships I’ve seen on TV, and this episode helped prove that point to me. Last episode, we had Sam reacting to his brother’s gut-deep hurt with venom and anger – and justifiable or not, his words to Dean were harsh. Sam was hurt and angry and lashed out and Dean took it, recognizing that even if he couldn’t remember the words he used, he knew the sentiment of betrayal and pain he’d kept hidden. He could probably imagine the words. I think Dean took it because he remembered being on the receiving end of such a “truth under the influence” situation before, and I think Sam lashed out because, well, truth hurts and it’s the rare person who willingly accepts that their choices were wrong and left painful impressions on those they love.
With all of that, I expected lingering after effects of their by-the-car ‘fight’ to flow into this episode. Filming continuity aside (let me live within my fantasy for a bit), once I got into the episode, Sam’s calmer, more supportive attitude toward Dean started to make sense. My husband and I talk about this a lot – the difference between guy relationships with guys and girl relationships with girls.
Had Sam and Dean been my sister (pick any one of the three) and I, and we said those things to each other without any full resolution, we would have been somewhat passive-aggressive in our verbal exchanges for a bit because we have long memories. Forced into close proximity due to lifestyle, we may be civil with each other, but there would have been that underlying tension that lingers until we finally scream and cry and rip off all the band aids and then hug and cry some more and say we’re sorry and it won’t happen again.
Guys, though, they drop it. They don’t hang onto stuff that doesn’t really matter. They say what they need to say, assess if they want to walk away or stay connected, and then drop it. I’ve watched it in action and am awed by it, honestly.
Now – there’s guys, there’s girls…and then there are the Winchesters. And I swear these brothers mix the two approaches. They move on until whatever it is that they never resolved crashes into them again and colors everything they say to each other. Which is why I hope that by the end of this season, they’ve pulled down the walls completely and started rebuilding a structure that isn’t covered in the graffiti of their past.
It would be so refreshing to go into Season 9 (still living in my fantasy, here) with two adult sibling hunters who accept each other’s differences, discuss differences of opinion, and move forward in a way of a united front – a team, a partnership in the truest sense of the word. I would love to watch them go through the pain of the life of a hunter together, without lingering feelings of betrayal, fear of abandonment, or weight of resentment tangling them up.
In order to get there though, they have to walk through the fire of here. And that’s going to be painful for a bit. For all of us.
So, I liked Sam’s care toward Dean in this episode not only because that’s the version of Sam I like best and it felt good to see him care about his brother, but also because it displayed an easy give-and-take of how people act around each other. And it helped with the ebb and flow of which brother is the tighter focus of the current episode. I’ve been very pleased thus far with the balance of focus this season – I think the only thing I can really say about the overarching storyline at this point is that they are playing a great deal with our perception.
The Anais Nin quote was echoing in my head all throughout this episode. Not just in relation to what Dean remembered about his escape from Purgatory as opposed to what actually happened, but also in relation to every reaction both boys have had about each other’s year and choices. Sam’s perception that Dean blames him, Dean’s perception that he failed everyone. They both feel guilty and neither can quite yet clearly articulate it. Pain is so personal; it’s going to be really interesting to see how they finally are able to get on even footing with each other.
And that’s one of the reasons I was really glad to see Cas’ return. I mean, I like the character. I think he adds a layer to the storyline that has a unique appeal, just like Benny’s addition has me intrigued. But even without Cas or Benny, I would enjoy watching the show because for me it’s primarily about Sam and Dean. So, while I wasn’t exactly missing Cas before now, I still really enjoyed that he was back. How’s that for ambiguous? *smile*
For me, the most exciting thing about Cas’ return is that I feel like he’s a friend of both boys – both of them have a relationship with him (albeit at different levels of closeness) and they both trust him because they’ve been through the fire with them. Because of that, he can make them see things about themselves and their relationship that can help them pull their heads out of their asses and talk to each other. Forgive each other. Forgive themselves. Just his being around and making his Cas-like observations in his “observationally obvious” manner can shake loose some of the stubbornness and pride that’s getting in their way.
With Bobby gone, Cas is the only one with the history and power (and I don’t mean angelic smiting power, I mean the power of friendship…and yes, I know that sounds like something out of My Little Pony…hush, you) to get them to listen to themselves and each other. The forced sharing Dean did in this episode about Purgatory made huge progress to Sam understanding so much about Dean's reasons for reacting to things right now. Sam needs to tell him more about Amelia -- beyond her name and they had a place in Texas. He needs to tell him what compelled him to stay with her, why he left, how he felt. Talk, boys.
Plus also? Cas survived Purgatory with Benny. And if Sam isn’t willing to trust Dean’s judgment of the vampire, thinking it colored with survivor loyalty or what have you, perhaps he will trust Cas’. If nothing else, Cas can offer another viewpoint as to why Dean might have such strong feelings of friendship toward Benny. So, I’m excited about his return because of the way he can and always has enhanced the brothers’ relationship.
Okay, so with that, I will weave my other thinky thoughts into the ramble itself.
Things I loved:
- Dean’s face. While that should be a given over here, in this episode his facial expressions and moments of looking lost and hurt and confused just killed me dead.
- Three distinct moments of brotherliness:
- Dean casually smacking Sam on the shoulder at the beginning
- The boys standing next to each other in the frame of the rain-soaked window
- Sam clapping Dean on the shoulder as he steps away
- This line: “I’d say you look like you’ve seen a ghost, but you’d probably be stoked.”
- Mama Tran pulling out the Holy Water Super Soaker.
- Full-power Cas with the Shadow Wings of Doom.
- This line: “You can’t save everyone, my friend. Though, you try.”
Things I liked:
- The way Sam has of folding his eyebrows and manages to look sad, concerned, and sympathetic all at once.
- More Rock aliases.
- Mama Tran stuffing a demon in the trunk of her car.
- Crowley using the word “recalcitrant.”
- Another level of complexity added to the storyline with the Heavenly Spies.
- Sam throwing the demon bomb.
- Escape from Purgatory.
Things that were meh:
- Wait, Chuck is dead? Just like that? Does Rob know?
- Anyone else think Crowley’s interrogation table looked like a giant Simon game?
Things to add to my list of questions:
- Who is the ‘they’ who told Benny about the rift in Purgatory? I think I actually asked this before, so if anyone is keeping an actual list, just underline this one.
- How many tablets comprise a compendium?
- What – aside from access to the tablets – does Heaven want with the boys now?
- Where did Crowley get that fun little pinwheel? *grins*
THEN: Basically Kevin the Prophet, Tablet with Hell Gate Closure recipe, Mama Tran, Crowley, and Cas
NOW: Every mother’s worst nightmare.
No, seriously, this opening scene was more terrifying for me than anything thus far this season. Give me ghosts any day, but kids in peril has me almost in tears of fear. This kind of fear has me occasionally flirting with the idea of home school for Mo Chuisle. Yes, I’m a helicopter mom, but geeze!
Okay, so anyway, it’s a preschool playground and little Adam Webber is finger-painting with his whole hand, so a pretty teacher lady helpfully takes him to the bathroom to wash up. Only, just kidding, she’s not a teacher; she’s a demon and buzz-zap! Freak mini-tornado terrifies the other kiddies and teachers and little Adam and his demon teacher are gone. *Gaelic takes a breath*
Elsewhere, on the road up to Rufus’ cabin, Dean is driving while happily noshing on a bag of chips and listening to The Animals’ “We Gotta Get Outta This Place” (oh, the irony) when he sees a bedraggled figure walking down the side of the road. He glances at the figure and about chokes on his chips when he sees that it’s Castiel. He slams on his breaks, throws it in reverse, then stops where he thought he saw his friend, getting out and gaping confused when nothing but a large wooden bear holding a mile marker for Twin Pines Resort greets his eyes.
Back at Rufus’ cabin, he walks in with his bag of supplies and beer. Sam is sitting at the table in front of his laptop and glances over his shoulder at his brother. Dean looks stunned – actually a little shell-shocked, really. Sam does a double-take.
Sam: I was gonna say you look like you’ve seen a ghost, but you’d probably be stoked. You okay?
Dean (shaking himself slightly, sounding more resigned than ok): Yeah, I’m cool. What’s up?
Sam tells him about the preschool kid, surprise tornado, shazam back to perfect weather scenario. Aside – what the heck do they type into their search window to find these things?! Anyway, Sam says that similar wackiness is ensuing elsewhere with a bus drive in Tulsa and a river of frogs, a mailman in New Mexico and the Earth splitting open. While my family would be preparing for the end of the world upon learning these things, these guys have been there, done that so Dean’s like, demons?
Sam says that those taken have nothing in common, so he’s not sure what’s going on. Dean gives him a casual, brotherly smack on the shoulder (totally setting the stage for how they were going to relate to each other the rest of the episode) and says, we on this? Which, of course, the answer is always yes.
Elsewhere in some kind of panic room torture chamber, Crowley has the poor Hot Dog Vendor Angel whose name totally escapes me at the moment chained to a chair and he stabbing and cutting him with an angel sword. He wants names. Hot Dog Angel doesn’t have names. The biggest thing I got from this interrogation was that the “power grid” in Heaven is wacked out and Crowley doesn’t think the angels can keep track of their own. So he’s not afraid of Heavenly wrath coming down on him.
But, we know from the end of the episode that Heaven’s got it together enough to sacrifice a number of angels to rescue Cas from Purgatory and set up some kind of modern office thing for their spy ring set up, so perhaps The Powers That Be are just biding their time before going after Crowley.
ANYWAY, Crowley is his usual wonderfully snarky self (I can’t help it, I like him as a baddie – won’t be sad to see him defeated, but he amuses me) until Hot Dog Angel finally says that he doesn’t have any more names because the next generation hasn’t been born yet. *intrigued* He doesn’t kill Hot Dog Angel yet, though. He thinks he can use him for more information. Poor kid. *frowns*
In some other room, the kidnapped people are sitting around a glowing, round Simon table, all looking terrified.
Segue to Kevin walking into an abandoned bar, a bucket of holy water dropping on him from the doorway and washing away the salt line.
Kev: Mom! Stop drowning me in holy water every time I go out! I’m not possessed!
Mama Tran: Not yet.
Once bitten, twice shy that one. They have hex bags, sigils, tats, and they keep moving. Kevin thinks their protected. Mama Tran thinks they’re not really living a life. She wants to stop moving and take a stand. Which means building more of those demon bombs Kevin fooled Crowley’s henchdemons with, which means gathering all the ingredients from all over the place. So…she hired a witch. Off of Craig’s List.
*facepalm* Oh, Mama Tran.
They Skype with Delta – who, my hubs hilariously pointed out, is the ‘good friend’ on Good Luck Charlie. She wants more details.
Mama Tran: Casual encounters – that means no questions asked.
Kev: Uh, no, Mom. That’s another part of Craig’s List.
Apparently Delta, who looks about two seconds over twenty, has been a full witch “since the band broke up” and says she’s totally got this ingredient-retrieval thing. In fact it’s going to be “wicked awesome.” Yeah, that fills me with confidence. *gulp*
Suited up, the boys go to the home of the preschool teacher, flashing the badges of Agents Roth and Malloy (love me some Van Halen), and question her. The best part about this scene is Sam faking a cell phone call and muttering an exorcism. *laugh*
Dean: It’s, uh, code to protect you so you can’t reveal anything under enhanced interrogation.
The teacher apparently remembers getting Adam up to go wash his hands and then waking up a few miles away in a park. Since we saw her the whole time she was with Adam, I wonder when the demon jumped on board. There were no signs of a struggle when she came to, but when Sam asks her about smelling sulfur, she’s like how’d you know that? Bing!
They leave, trying to figure out what demons would want with a five year old.
Later that night, it’s storming outside. Sam’s asleep in his bed, and Dean’s awake on his, fully clothed, looking at the web page for Adam Webber. A flash of lighting and rumble of thunder has Dean glancing up and he sees Cas standing outside the window looking rough, dirty, and very wet. Dean gapes for a moment, then closes the laptop, gets up and goes to the window, but the next flash of lighting reveals just the wet outdoors – no Cas.
The storm – or Dean’s restlessness – wakes Sam and he rolls over and calls his brother’s name. Dean has that same shell-shocked expression, his body almost weaving slightly as he stares out of the window.
Sam: You all right?
Dean: I don’t know…. Think I just…saw something.
Sam (swinging his legs over the bed and sitting up): Saw what?
Dean (breathless): Cas….
Sam (gets up and comes over to stand next to Dean): Cas? Where?
Dean (still staring out of the window): Right there. And…and then earlier. On the road. I’m…seeing him.
Their size difference really struck me in this scene. Maybe it was the camera angle, but Sam just looked really tall and Dean, with all his muscle and strength, looked compact and slight. Almost vulnerable.
Sam: That’s…not possible. I mean, you said yourself. You made it out and he didn’t. Right?
Dean (face kinda melts, voice going quiet and breathless): I tried so damn hard to get us the hell outta there.
He turns away from the window and Sam.
Sam (with full conviction): I know you did.
*rubs heart at this whole scene*
Dean walks away from Sam, his back to his brother, his face a mask of confused misery and remembered pain as he closes his eyes and shakes his head.
Dean: Y’know, I coulda pulled him out. I just don’t understand why he didn’t <voice warbles> try harder.
Sam (coming over to stand close enough to Dean that his brother has to turn and face him): You did everything you could.
Dean: Yeah? <voice almost plaintive> Then why do I feel like crap?
Dean is doing that thing where he has to visibly work to breathe and swallows obvious emotion. Sam’s shoulders tighten and he rolls his lips against his teeth as he looks for the right words.
Sam: Survivor’s guilt.
Sam: If you let it, this is gonna keep messing with you. You gotta walk past it.
Dean is quiet, staring into the middle distance, thinking. Sam speaks from experience – both in the messing with you part and the walking past it part. He’s done both. Dean, though, has never really mastered the walking past it part. He just tries to cope every minute of every day.
Sam goes to walk away to the bathroom and claps Dean on the shoulder in a consoling, brotherly manner. Dean, though, is lost in memories, thinking of their last hours in Purgatory, struggling through the dense woods, bloody, worn out, and scared.
Benny: We’re getting close.
Dean: Really? I don’t see crap. What the hell is this escape hatch supposed to look like?
Cas: He doesn’t know.
Dean (to Benny): You just drug me through the fire. Please tell me you know.
Benny: It’s here. They promised.
Dean: They? That’s comforting.
Cas: Even if it doesn’t exist….
Benny: Broken record, Cas.
*Hee* Love how easy these three are with each other, and that Benny has Cas’ number.
Cas: Dean, it’s a human portal. There’s no proof that an angel can pass.
Dean: Stow it, Cas.
Cas: I’m just saying <grabs Dean’s shoulder and stops him> that if it doesn’t work, thank you. For everything.
Dean: Save the Hallmark. It’s gonna work. Nobody gets left behind.
In the now, Dean is standing in the hotel room looking utterly destroyed. *rubs heart*
Back at Crowley’s Round Table, Crowley’s talking with the group of people – who hilariously think they were abducted by aliens. The flabbergasted look on Crowley’s face at this news is priceless. He holds up the tablet and asks if it means anything to any of them. One guy speaks up and says he doesn’t read Chinese. So…I take that as a no.
Crowley asks if anyone else wants to give it a go; no takers. One guy who’s had enough steps up and says he has rights and demands his one phone call. With a wave of his fingers, Crowley uses the demon force to apparently crush the guys’ insides, killing him. Gah.
Fearfully, a woman stands up and takes the tablet, reciting the US Constitution. Crowley turns it over for her so it’s right side up. Whoops. This is not going well for our man Crowley.
In the abandoned bar, Delta shows up to meet the Trans and Mama Tran blasts her with a turkey baster full of holy water. Hee. With a bunch of Crowley-worthy snark, she gives them a bag of supplies and then asks for the ladies room. Mama Tran is upset that she’s only brought them enough supplies for one demon bomb, and Delta is like, pay me in full, get more. There’s a moderately witty exchange between Delta and Mama Tran while Kevin is busy appreciating Delta’s…assets. But then, a salt line is broken and Crowley and a henchdemon appear.
See, this is what you get when you shop for witches on Craig’s List.
Delta gets zapped somewhere – I’m guessing it’s hellish because Crowley had no more use for her – and Crowley takes Kevin and leaves the henchdemon to kill Mama Tran. Let this be a lesson to all demonkind – never underestimate an over-protective mother. She blasts him with a Super Soaker full of holy water and I actually cheered. Also? About time they used a Super Soaker! *grin*
Morning at the hotel and Sam is on the laptop saying that the missing people aren’t just in American. Dean is in the bathroom splashing water on his face as Sam says some guy disappeared in Rome.
Dean: We going to Rome? Not too shabby.
He grabs a towel and suddenly sees Cas behind him in the mirror. He turns around, shocked, uncertain that what he’s seeing is real, he face still wet when Cas (who has a full, scraggly beard) rumbles, “Hello, Dean.”
Moments later, Cas and Sam are sitting at the little table and Dean is standing off to the side, arms crossed over his chest, his entire being guarded. Sam, though, is happy and it was so good to see. One of their friends – when they’ve lost everyone – is back and Sam couldn’t seem to wipe the grin off his face at first.
Sam: Unbelievable, man. I can’t believe you’re actually here.
Cas (whose language and speech patterns actually felt more relaxed and human-like every so often): I’ve been trying to reach out, but wasn’t at full power so I couldn’t connect with you.
Sam (to Dean): That must’ve been why you kept seeing him. You think?
Dean (still guarded, using his Batman-like deep voice): Yeah. I just…I gotta be honest…I’m thinking how did you make it out? I mean…I was there and I know that place. I know how we had to scratch and claw…and kill and bleed to find that portal and make it through. And it almost finished me.
Sam has that concerned/curious/sympathetic expression as he listens to Dean, then he looks at Cas…who in turn is looking silently at Dean.
Dean (helpless, sad, almost pleading smile): So…uh…how exactly are you sitting here with us right now?
Cas (straightening up slowly): Dean, everything you just said is completely true. And that’s the strange part. I have no idea.
Aside – I love that Sam is hearing this and that Dean is talking about Purgatory with more detail than that ambiguous “it was pure” comment. I think the only way they are going to get beyond their pride and hurt feelings is if they talk details – both how much Purgatory hurt Dean and how much Sam loved/liked (not sure which yet) Amelia.
Cas: I remember mostly running and hiding from Leviathan and then I was on the side of the road in Illinois and that was it.
Dean: That was it?
Dean looks disbelieving. Sam just watches Cas.
Cas: I’m dirty.
Dean: Purgatory’ll do that do you.
Cas gets up to shower and Dean watches him leave, face a tangle of painful emotions. He doesn’t move, but suddenly he’s just gone, his eyes on the middle distance, his mind back in Purgatory, remembering.
Cas: Maybe you were lied to. Maybe there is no seam.
Benny: I lie. I don’t get lied to. Aren’t you guys all about faith?
Cas: Not particularly.
Dean looks exhausted. Completely worn out. But then a weird force kinda sweeps around them – like the feeling of electricity in the air just before a lightning strike. A leaf floats up, hovers, suspended for a moment, then gets sucked into a shimmering seam of light in the middle of the air.
Benny: Oh yea of friggin’ little faith.
Dean: What the hell?
Cas (to Dean): It’s reacting to you.
Dean looks at Benny, says, just like we talked about, then cuts his arm.
Benny: Putting a lot of trust in you, brother.
Dean cuts Benny’s arm, they clasp arms and become actual blood brothers.
Benny: See you on the other side.
Dean latinates, Benny jerks, then dissolves into fire and is absorbed into Dean’s arm. Looks like it hurts, too. Dean and Cas are stumbling forward, running along the edge of a ravine, and then Cas suddenly calls to Dean to wait just before two Leviathans black tar themselves directly in their path.
Back in the hotel, Dean still hasn’t moved.
Dean (voice so, so soft): Huh?
Sam: You all right?
Dean turns, hesitates, then sits down across from Sam.
Dean: Do you see something seriously wrong here? Sammy, I remember every second of leaving that place. I remember the heat, the pain, the fear….
The way Sam is listening to him…I just want to bottle that up. He is quiet because…seriously, what can he say in this moment? It reminded me of Dean talking about remembering Hell and how Sam just listened, was just there for him to be able to talk about it. I love that about them.
Dean: I have that whole ugly mess right here <points to his head> and he says he has no idea how he got out? I’m just not buying it.
Sam: You think he’s lying?
Dean (sounding lost and tangled up): I’m saying…something else happened. I saw the shape that he was in. There was no way he was fighting his ass out alone. No way.
Sam: All right. So who – or what – got him out?
Dean (looking young and scared and a little sick): Yeah. Exactly.
Cas comes back into the room, washed, shaved, with a new trench coat and his accountants suit back on. Dude, I want that shower. Can you image the time it would save?? He says he’s better and Dean gives him a sad, scared little smile.
A bit later, Cas is watching TV – sitting very, very close to it – and Sam is surfing the web. Dean comes back in from being on a beer run and Sam tells him that all the freak disappearances have stopped. He starts to read the list of names of those who have disappeared and Cas starts reciting them along with him (then hilariously announces that he missed TV).
So, long story short, it turns out those people are all future prophets. In a very Buffy-esque turn of events, there can only be one prophet at a time. So when one dies, another is called up. Leading Sam to ask the question that immediately came to my mind – what about Chuck.
Cas: Not sure what happened, but he must be dead.
What?? Not that I had great love for him, but that’s kind of a big deal since he, y’know, wrote their story and all. I hope that’s we find out what happened to him at some point. Especially since the arch angels protecting the prophets seem to be totally missing these days.
Speaking in those half-sentences of people who spend 80% of their lives in each other’s head space, Dean and Sam figure that Crowley grabbed them all for insurance. Cas steps up next to Dean – saying he has the feeling something is going on – and Dean flinches away. It’s subtle, but it’s there. He’s clearly uncomfortable being that close to Cas and shifts slightly.
Before they can draw any other conclusions, though, Mama Tran calls Sam and tells him that Crowley has Kevin.
Back at Crowley’s Simon table, the King of Hell is basically, help me or die because one of these guys will take your place. Kevin looks a bit roughed up. He says that Crowley will just kill him once he reads and Crowley calls him cynical. HA! Hello, pot. Meet kettle. He says he wants Kevin to help because these other guys are just plain dumb. Or, y’know five years old.
To prove his point, he blows up the woman who fake-read the tablet. Gah.
The boys are sitting in the Impala at Mile Marker 96 – the half-way point between them and Mama Tran. Cas is in the backseat. Dean is tense. His face is tight and he rolls back into the memory of his escape from Purgatory.
The Leviathans kick Dean, hard, sending him tumbling down the ravine edge, then proceed to beat the crap outta Cas. Just when they open their big mouths to nosh, Dean climbs back up and beheads each of them. He climbs into the portal, reaches back and grabs Cas’ hand, yelling at him to hang on, but Cas slips from his grasp and the portal closes.
With a shaky breath, Dean comes back to himself inside the Impala and asks to talk to Cas outside. I know this is a thing that happened to the two of them, but I really wanted Sam to hear this conversation. *sad*
Dean: What the hell happened?! Back there. Purgatory. I told you I would get you out. We were there. It’s like you…just gave up! You didn’t ever believe we could do it. Did you not trust me?
My heart hurt for him during this whole moment. *rubs it*
Dean: I did everything I could to get you out. Everything. <points at him> I did not leave you.
Cas (in wonder): You think…this was your fault?
Dean looks totally confused like, isn’t it??
But before they can get to the good stuff, Mama Tran pulls up. She’s ready to get down to business – all the you tried to kill me because I was possessed by the King of Hell stuff is a thing of the past because her kid is in trouble. She tells them that Crowley found them because the witch she hired betrayed them.
The look the other three exchange is a hilarious display of omgIcan’teven….
She tells them that she’s planning on making demon bombs and that she doesn’t know where Crowley went, but then opens her trunk with a flourish and says the this guy might. Dean steps up, sees the henchdemon trapped by a devil’s trap on the inside of the trunk and pulls out his Demon Killing Knife.
Dean: Let’s talk.
Back in Crowley’s Torture Chamber, Kevin’s taken up the seat formerly occupied by the Hot Dog Angel and Crowley is working on him to read the tablet. Then? He cuts off Kevin’s finger. And we see it happen – well, almost. *skeeves out* That was ucky. So…thinking his mom is dead and down one digit, Kevin gives in and says he’ll read the tablet.
It’s not really a page-turner from Crowley’s perspective. At least not at first.
But before we get there, we see the boys and Cas and Mama Tran pull up to an old factory in Atlantic, Iowa. Sam cuffs Mama Tran to the steering wheel of her car. Needless to say, she is not happy, but I was glad she wasn’t part of the end game in this one. They kill the demon in the trunk and then – off camera – make a plan for how they’ll break in, find Kevin, and kill Count Rugan.
Just kidding. Wanted to see if you were still paying attention.
Back in with Crowley and Kevin, Crowley is spinning a pinwheel – hee – while listening to Kevin read the trivial stuff…until Kev gets to the Gates of Hell bit.
Crowley: Clearly humans cannot possess this text. What was God thinking?! We’ll get back to that. You’re just getting to the sexy part.
His comment about ‘what was God thinking’ had me thinking. Obviously Crowley believes that there must be a balance to the good and bad in the universe. Either side gets too much power and no one lives happily ever after in his book. Which is why he was willing to work with Cas way back when and kept his demons off of Sam and Dean when they were fighting the Leviathans. The idea that God might give power to the humans to close all access to the demons seems to rattle him a bit. Interesting.
The boys and Cas silently sneak in (LOVE the slip-and-cover stealth maneuver they do in sync), killing a demon guard on the way while meanwhile Kevin reads a personal note from Metatron, the scribe. It’s basically a farewell note but in it he mentions a compendium of tablets…so there are more. We’ve heard the one about demons and the one about Leviathans…who knows what other topics might be out there. Angels? Humans? Heaven? Hell? God himself, maybe? *ponders*
Inside, Sam sees a group of people – and at first I thought it was the kidnapped people, but it turned out to be a group of henchdemons…who knew his name. Sam’s separated from Cas and Dean, so I had to figure they sent him in to look for the victims while they searched for Kevin as Cas would be able to ‘sense’ the prophet. The demons start to close in on Sam and he throws the one bomb they had enough ingredients to make, obliterating all of them. Whew.
He then stumbles into the Simon room, sees all the blood from the woman who blew up, and thinks the worst, but then slowly, the people poke their heads out from their hiding place and he says he’s there to help. Made me think about Star Wars: "I'm Sam Winchester. I'm here to rescue you." Hee.
In a different part of the factory, Cas and Dean head toward where Cas senses Kevin in, but Dean senses a demon behind him and slowly turns to face it, knife at the ready. I bet he was wishing he brought his Purgatory Axe. The demon raises its hand and throws Dean into a bunch of chains, sending Cas stumbling slightly back. But, Cas recovers and smites the demon, though it leaves him weak. Dean untangles himself from the chains and goes over to Cas, holding him up slightly and says, “You’re not all the way back, are you?”
The worry in his voice kind cut through me.
They get to a door and Dean tries to pick the lock, but it doesn’t work. Cas says he’s going in and Dean tries to stop him – worried that he’s not strong enough. Never underestimate an angel, folks.
Crowley is just wrapping his head around the idea of more tablets when Cas ‘whooshes’ in.
Crowley: Which Cas it is this time? Madman or megalomaniac?
It’s a fair question. *laughs*
Cas says he’s taking Kevin and pulls out his angle sword. Turns out Crowley has one of those, too. Kevin, wisely, backs up to the door.
Crowley: This is all very West Side Story, but let’s be logical. You look like hell and I should know. You’re not up for this.
Aside – would Cas be a Jet or a Shark, do you think?
Without saying a word, Cas starts glowing, his eyes getting really blue and lit from within.
Crowley (starting to panic): Maybe you can get it up, but you can’t keep it up.
Cas straightens and in a display of full-on-awesome angelic might, his shadow wings spread wide and he’s fully alight. WOW. Seriously. You kinda forget that the guy is a friggin’ Warrior for the Lord when he’s saying things like I missed TV and I’m not your Aunt. That was cool.
Crowley: You’re bluffing!
Cas (booming growl): You want to take that chance?
Apparently having second thoughts about a rumble, Crowley reaches for the tablet and Cas slams his hand down on the table at the same time and everything kinda blows up. Dean breaks in, sees Kevin okay standing against the wall, and heads right to Cas who is on the ground. Looks like they have half the tablet. Hope they have the half with the Hell Gate formula….
Later, outside the factory, Mama Tran is cleaning the blood off of a stunned-looking Kevin. Sam is with them saying that the cops are coming to pick up the people who were kidnapped. Wonder what that police report is going to look like. Demonic aliens and Chinese tablets.
Sam scolds them saying that they got into all this because of the witch. Mama Tran gives him a look, but I think she learned her lesson. Kevin is…mad. He’s lost a finger and half the tablet. Sam says Cas thinks he can fix Kevin’s finger – but maybe he shouldn’t. Maybe it’s a scar that should stay as a lesson that this life is no joke and they need help. They all do. Sam contacted Garth and says he’ll help the Trans lay low for awhile until they have a plan.
Over at the Impala, Dean’s using the “you scared me so I’m mad at you” voice as he puts weapons in the trunk and lecture’s Cas, saying he could have gotten killed.
Cas (pragmatic as always): I didn’t get killed. And it worked.
Dean: And if it didn’t?
Cas: It would have been my problem.
Dean: Not the way I see it.
Yeah, I gotta go with Dean on this one. Not that Dean is right but I’d feel exactly as he does if someone – child, sibling, friend – got hurt when I was with them and I wasn’t able to stop it or them. Doesn’t have anything to do with fault, it has to do with a misplaced or misguided sense of responsibility.
Cas: Everything isn’t your responsibility, Dean. Getting me out of Purgatory wasn’t your responsibility.
Dean: You didn’t get out, so who’s fault was it?
Cas: It’s not about fault. It’s about will. Do you really not remember?
Dean: I lived it! I know what happened.
Gah, his face, you guys. It was like…whisper-thin ice covering a churning river. The right tap on that ice and that river is coming through, spilling over everything. He was pain in this moment.
Cas: No. You think you know. You remember it the way you needed to.
Took me a minute to get why this might be true, but I think Cas meant this: Dean has such a deep seeded sense of obligation and responsibility for those he cares about and he’s so used to feeling abandoned that it was actually easier for him to feel like he’d failed Cas – that he wasn’t able to pull Cas free – than it was to face the fact that Cas purposely stayed behind. That he chose Purgatory over Dean.
Now, not that he actually chose Purgatory over Dean, but that was Dean’s perception and he couldn’t handle remembering that, so he needed to remember it the other way because even though it hurt like hell and he felt like crap…well, those are feelings he’s used to. He doesn’t consciously recognize it because who among us walks around proclaiming our innate weaknesses and faults with clarity and confidence? Nine times out of ten we don’t even see them and when we do, we have to look away.
Dean: I don’t need to feel like hell for failing you. Okay? For failing you like I fail every other godforsaken thing I care about. I don’t need it.
*cries* He had me tearing up in this moment.
Cas: Look at it. Really look at it.
He touches Dean’s forehead and Dean’s back in that moment, stepping through the portal, hanging on to Cas, only this time Cas pushes his hand away and says, “Dean. Go.”
Dean is shocked. He comes back to the present and can’t take a breath.
Cas: I pulled away. Nothing you did could have saved me because I didn’t want to be saved.
Dean (baffled): What the hell are you talking about?!
Cas: It’s where I belonged. Penance. I didn’t deserve to be out. I planned to stay all along, I just didn’t know how to tell you.
He actually tried, but he took the wrong tactic. By saying he didn’t know if it would work, he made Dean all the more determined to make it work. And then he couldn’t bear to let Dean know the truth because Dean needed to believe that no one would be left behind. Or he might’ve given up. Dean needed the mission to escape to be about more than him. He needed to fight for someone. And Cas knew this about his friend, so he let him believe until the end. It’s tragic and perfect at the same time.
Cas: You can’t save everyone, my friend. Though you try.
Dean is rocked. Breathless. Uncertain. Sad.
Sam walks up and looks at Dean.
Sam: You okay?
Cas: Yes. Just setting a few things straight.
Sam starts to tell them about the status of the Trans but mid-way through his sentence, Cas it suddenly in a modern office space, looking at a woman dressed in a business suit, sitting behind a desk. Whoa. She says her name is Naomi, he’s in Heaven, and several angels were lost rescuing Cas from Purgatory. These little “chats” are his repayment.
Here’s the rub: he has to “spy” on Sam and Dean and report back to her, and not only will he not be able to stop himself from talking (when he told her about the status of the tablet and the prophet it was like a scene from Jim Carrey’s Liar, Liar), he won’t remember ever talking to them. Heaven is using him like an angelic bug. He resists, but she’s basically like, resistance is futile. They own him. They saved him from Purgatory and now they are going to flex their power and use him however they want. *frowns*
The big question in my head is…why? What does Heaven want with Dean and Sam – just the tablets? Defeat of Crowley? Do they want the boys to close the Hell Gates, or are they worried about the consequences if they do?
She returns Cas to the boys in the exact moment he left reassuring him that the boys won’t now that he was gone. She’s right. Aside from Cas looking a little unsteady and momentarily confused, Sam didn’t miss a beat when he finishes his report and asks Cas if he’s with them on this.
Cas: I’m with you. <to Dean> If that’s all right.
Dean just nods, his face still tight. Cas walks off and Dean swallows, looking up and around, rattled.
Sam (watching his brother closely): It is, right? You two good?
Dean (slightly shaky nod): Yeah.
But I think it Dean’s not really all right with anything, least of all the bucket of self-awareness that Cas just dumped on his head. The fact that he didn’t fail Cas, but that Cas chose to stay is heavy enough. Add to that the fact that Cas is just…back…a fact that Dean is really worried about, then multiply it by his PTSD, worry about how to mesh his friendship with Benny and his devotion to his brother, and trying to get some kind of normal back into their lives…. He’s not really okay.
But that’s why I’m glad we have sixteen more episodes. *smile*
We have a hiatus next week due to US Thanksgiving holiday, then here are the next dates (sans episode title names as I know those could be spoilers):
8x08: (11/28/2012) – Ramble on time
8x09: (12/05/2012) – Ramble delayed due to work travel
8x10: (01/09/2013) – Ramble delayed due to work travel
8x11: (01/16/2013) – Ramble on time
8x12: (01/23/2013) – Ramble on time
8x13: (02/06/2013) – Ramble on time
8x14: (02/13/2013) – Ramble on time
8x15: (02/20/2013) – Ramble on time
8x16: (02/27/2013) – Ramble on time
Oh, and one quick favor. I love all comments – from those who align to my thinking and those who see it differently. If you post anonymously, though, would you please leave your name? I screen all anon comments because I get a ton of spam – seriously, it’s ridiculous – and I accidentally deleted a comment last week in the flurry of spam deletion. It was one of those delayed oh crap I didn’t mean to do that moments. So, if I see a name I will register that you’re not spamming me.
Thanks for reading, everyone! To all my US friends, have a Happy, safe Thanksgiving holiday!