Clever, clever show. Love how it lets us just enjoy what’s on the surface while simultaneously offering a peek just a few layers deeper, if we want to look.
I have a good friend who just recently got back into our Show. She missed seasons 6 and 7 and I was gushing a bit about season 8 in a very omgtheperfectionthatisDean way, so she caved and Hulu’d it. I just had to catch her up on a few tidbits, really. Y’know, Bobby, Kevin, Sam not having a soul, Grandpa Campbell, Cas being God…. Gosh, okay so there were more than a few. But the bottom line? Season 8 is fantastic so far – enough to bring some people back into the fold.
I know there’s still discontent. It’s our fandom. That’s kind of the norm. Always seems to be someone somewhere not satisfied with something. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We’re a very passionate group and (as long as no one is getting hurt), that’s the beauty of being part of fandom. But over here on Gaelic’s journal? You’ll find one rather satisfied viewer who is happy to see her hero and his brother on her TV look mighty fine and being entertaining as all get out.
Tonight’s episode seemed like it would be a filler. A light-hearted ‘bridge’ episode to get us from Castiel’s angst-filled return to the inevitable gut-dropping did they really just do that moment that will come in the mid-season finale next week. And, for the most part, it was. But there was a clever layer of meaning that I think I really needed – having primarily to do with Sam, but also with Castiel and as a by-product Dean.
Last week I said that they are nicely distributing the balance of focus thus far this season, and they seem to be keeping it up. The thing I’m enjoying about that is that while one brother or character might be the center point of the episode, no one feels short-changed. Everyone has something to do and contributes meaningfully to the storyline.
Tonight was no different, with Castiel’s fear of Heaven, Sam’s epiphany of escape, and Dean working a little bit at a time to find his center of balance and strengthen his bridges. The more connections he is able to strengthen, the easier it will be for him to find his way back to his brother (emotionally speaking) when the time is right. But, on that note, I have to say the boys’ rhythm in this one was smooth. The shared looks and telepathy was in full swing – I think partly because they had a shared focus and buffer with Castiel there.
That feels natural to me. The last time we saw just them, things were tense and words were said that made impacts but haven’t been smoothed out since then. Castiel’s return softened the way they dealt with each other and having him with them for a hunt seemed to help keep them in that easy cadence of give and take.
So, I was entertained, I laughed, I aww’d. I like that they went for humor in Castiel’s dialogue and the boys’ – especially Dean’s – expressive reactions than by breaking down the 4th wall. Again. The cartoon aspect of the storyline was believable in the sense that we basically have to suspend reality when entering into almost any plotline with our show.
We had a human baddie this time, which always disturbs me a bit more than the supernatural kind – basically because it’s very, very rare that the bad guy lives. I know, I’m weird. Kill a zombie, vanquish a witch, gank a ghost, I’m good. Shoot a human and I get all squirmy, regardless of what that human did. Still…it’s not as if they could take him to jail. And it’s also not as if they’ve not killed dozens of humans along the way when they use that Demon Killing Knife on the possessed. So, like I said – I’m weird.
The layers were where I really got caught up, though.
First, Castiel’s vehement refusal to return to Heaven – not because he was scared of what the angels would do to him, but because he was scared of what he’d do to himself when faced by the wreckage and ruin he’d wrought as ‘God.’ My heart hurt for him; it’s an awful thing to not be able to return home – to not want to go back. And he’s punished himself for a year in Purgatory…he deserves to be able to find some peace with the ramifications of his actions.
But upon witnessing Sam’s epiphany that you can only run for so long before you circle back to have what you were running from crash into you, Castiel had one of his own – he had to make it better. Except he can’t. Naomi owns him. She refuses to let him into anywhere except the Heavenly Office Space. I know what he did was terrible – some might even say unforgivable. If he’d been human and had come into my down and wiped out thousands, I wouldn’t be keen on giving him a shot at community services to make amends.
The fact that it’s Cas, though, has me hurting for him. He is always trying to do the right thing. But much like the way he’d tried to handle Dean in Purgatory by saying it wouldn’t work to get him out, he went about so many other attempts to do the right thing the wrong way. And apparently he’s not done paying the price. I’ll be interested to see how that rolls out for him.
Speaking of Sam’s epiphany - that was the other layer that caught me. I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around Sam’s explanation for not looking for Dean. I even wrote a one-shot to try to help me accept the idea that Sam truly thought Dean was dead. I couldn’t really help but think there had to be something else, something more. When Dean disappeared before his eyes before, Sam turned himself inside out to find him – calling on Sheriff Mills (I <3 Sherriff Mills) and finally figuring out that Dean had gone back in time.
I couldn’t help but think – how did he not know something similar happened this time? Or, barring that, he knew they were sending Dick Roman to Purgatory, why wouldn’t he have thought Dean might be sucked into that vortex? I know, I know, even if he had, what would he have done about it, right? But it still…troubled me. A lot, honestly.
But…I’m starting to think I might’ve been mistaken about there being more. Based on his memory of dinner with Amelia’s dad and his subsequent impassioned speech to Fred about not running anymore, I think it might be just what he said: he thought Dean was dead. He “lost” him. And he ran.
Sam: “Living in a dream is nice. You can hide, pretend the real world doesn’t exist. But eventually, whatever it is you’re running from? It’ll find you. It’ll come along and punch you in the gut and then you gotta wake up. Because if you don’t, trying to keep that dream alive will destroy you. It’ll destroy everything.”
This opened my eyes a bit wider. Just like Amelia told her father – she and Sam were both a mess. And yet when they were together, they were happy. She wanted her dad to let them be messes together, even though her dad warned that it wouldn’t last. For all the reasons we’ve all talked about for the last 7 episodes, Sam left hunting, found something else, and hung onto it. For as long as he could, he stayed on the side of the wall that hid reality from him, ignoring the fact that there was anything else out there other than what he could deal with.
Until that phone call Amelia received pushed the wall over, and the realization that the reality he’d created for himself was disappearing punched him in the gut. He couldn’t play pretend anymore. He had to go back, find a new center, one without the anchor he’d found in Amelia after the one he’d always had in Dean was taken from him. And aside from the Impala, the only place he had to go to was Rufus’ cabin.
So…I may not be happy with Sam’s decision. I can still hear the pain in Dean’s voice when he realized that Sam hadn’t looked for him. I’m still having a hard time with the juxtaposed situations of a year spent fighting for one’s life and a year spent taking a break from it all. But despite that, I think I can understand Sam a bit more.
Though, I’m not the one who needs to understand. His brother does. And there needs to be some talking at some point to get each bother to understand the other. And something tells me we’re not going to get that before the mid-season hiatus.
Okay, now one other thing I’ll toss out there – and since we’re talking ‘cartoon world’ here, don’t drop an anvil on my head for saying it, but…there is one other possible scenario that this episode triggered for me. The idea of perception and reality – like with the escape from Purgatory – has me thinking. Sam talking about keeping the dream alive…all of his random memories about Amelia looking so soft and fuzzy in comparison to memories of Purgatory…what if we’re meant to take that ‘dream’ thing a bit more literally?
I don’t know how I’d feel about that – Sam creating this imaginary world where he met a girl (and her dad) who was as messed up as he was, who was like Dean with her guardedness and need to not be vulnerable but incredible fragility all the same, and who could drink Sam under the table. I mean, maybe it might flow with the fact that Lucifer had only recently been evicted from Sam’s mind, and maybe it might flow with Dean’s disappearance totally cracking Sam’s psyche…but I don’t know that I’d like it, to be honest.
We’ve already had the ‘Sam’s mind is messed up’ storyline, and as much as I don’t like that Sam didn’t look for Dean and as much as I don’t like the tension that is there (primarily because of that reason) between the brothers, I would prefer that what Sam did was a conscious decision he has to live with rather than just something in his head.
Things I loved:
- This exchange: “What’s the word, Cas?” “It’s a shortened version of my name.”
- Sam and Dean saying “NO!” in unison when Cas asks to ride in the front.
- Dean telling Cas to listen to Sam in order to see how an interrogation should go.
- Dean’s grin when he says “friggin’ suburbs” (*bites lip*).
- Dean’s face when he says, “Talk to me.”
- Sam washing dishes. Don’t judge me.
- This line: “I’ll watch over you.”
Things I liked:
- The anvil. Do not ask me why.
- Castiel’s interpretation of the Road Runner cartoon.
- Dean listening to Cas’ confession about Heaven, and his subsequent gutted expression.
- Sam calling Amelia “baby.”
- Fred Jones. What? It’s BJ Hunnicutt! (Pretty sure my parents made me watch every episode of M.A.S.H. Ever.)
- The black and white, then Technicolor “signal lost” background in Fred’s mind – clever, that.
- Agents Crosby, Stills, and Nash (Graham Nash was always my favorite).
Things that were meh:
- I decided to buy it, but the fact that Fred Jones gave both boys their first beer before they were double-digits, and both of them knew he was psychokinetic (well, Dean knew, anyway) had my head tilting. I didn’t think about it too long, but it messed with my head-canon timeline for some reason.
- Even though he’d technically killed three people and tried to kill the orderly, I still wasn’t keen on Dr. Mahoney being forced to shoot himself. Not sure what they’d tell the cops, though, so…it’s pretty much the only way they could have stopped him. So I went with it.
Things to add to my list of questions:
- Since most of my questions swirl around Dean, Benny, Cas, and Purgatory, the only one I think I have tonight is: how long did Sam stay with Amelia and try to “keep the dream alive” before he left to go to Rufus’ cabin?
- Okay, just kidding, I have another one, but it’s totally obvious: what’s the endgame for Naomi and the Angels (sounds like a girl rock band)?
- And then there's the lingering question of who was watching Sam outside of the house when he left Amelia? Her dad? Don? Angel? Demon? Crowley? Dean? Okay, now I'm really done with questions.
THEN: Sam & Amelia, Cas is back, Dean’s perception of Purgatory escape vs Cas’ reality, Naomi using Cas.
NOW: Young, 30-something (Gary) is sitting at a picnic table in Oklahoma City, OK, texting someone. The object of his texfections comes up (Olivia) and they have a sweet exchange. Just as they’re about to embrace, she realizes she can hear his heartbeat. Really loudly. He staggers back in pain, then rips open his shirt to expose his heart beating out of his chest, pushing up through is skin like in a Looney-Tunes cartoon.
Unfortunately, it’s not so funny when it literally explodes from his chest in a mess of red gore all over Olivia.Yuck.
Elsewhere at a Gas & Sip, Sam is outside at the car on the phone with, apparently, Mrs. Tran. Dean is returning from the gas station mini mart with what looks like two beers. Though, I couldn’t read the label, so it could have been rootbeer, or bottled pop. He hands one to Sam, takes the phone when Sam hands it over, fakes the call breaking up and hangs up on Mrs. Tran. Not in the mood, apparently.
Sam tells him that Garth has a safe house boat. Dean’s like, WTH, but Sam says he doesn’t even ask questions anymore. Sam starts to gas up the Impala and Dean heads to the hood where Cas is leaning, reading a map. I think. It looked like a map.
Dean: “What’s the word, Cas?”
Cas: “It’s a shortened version of my name.”
Dean (pause, slowly nods): Yes. It is. I mean what’s the word on The Word. Any tablet chatter on angel radio?
Aside – I love how Dean rolls with Cas’ idiosyncrasies. He visibly has to restrain or control his knee-jerk reactions which would more than likely be sarcastic retorts that Cas wouldn’t get and would just make things more complicated. He doesn’t lose his patience unless things are dire. He just breathes and re-phrases. Hee.
Cas tells Dean that he ‘turned off’ his connection to the angel frequencies (or whatever they are). Dean’s like, you can do that? And Cas says it’s simple and offers to draw him a diagram.
Dean: No, that’s…we’re good.
He tells Dean that he turned it off because it’s a direct line to Heaven and he doesn’t want anything to do with “that place.” Can’t help wonder if he turned it off or if Naomi did and just made him believe he had. *ponders*
Dean: So, what now? Move to Vermont? Open up a charming B&B?
Cas, though, still needs to help people. He grins – totally cheery, completely disarming – and says he wants to become a hunter.
Sam’s automatic you’re kidding right smile isn’t seen by Dean – Dean is busy staring at Cas like he’s just spoken in Greek. Cas says cheerfully that he could be their 3rd wheel.
Dean: You know that’s not a good thing, right?
Cas tells him that of course it is – helps with stability and gripping power. I think he might have something there…at least for the moment. Anyway, he says he found a case (the heart guy) and says it’s “our kind of thing.” Dean glances back at Sam and an entire conversation happens in those few seconds. They agree to go, and Cas says he’ll meet them there, but Dean calls to him to stop and says he’s sticking with them – none of that zapping around crap.
I found that interesting. As if it were too soon for Dean to let Cas out of his sight after just getting him back from Purgatory. Of course he couldn’t come out and say that. He had to mask it under a gruff, this is our deal, you’re along for the ride exterior.
Cas asks if he can ride in the front seat and in unison the boys reply, “NO!” while Sam jostles Cas out of the way to get to the front seat. Hee.
At the OKC morgue, Sam is standing across the Gary’s body, talking to a black female detective, Dean and Cas standing off to the side. The detective calls Sam Agent Nash and I chuckled, saying to the hubs that it would be funny if Dean and Cas were Crosby and Stills. Imagine my delight…. *grins*
The going theory for how Gary’s heart was literally ejected 10 feet from his body is "drugs," but no narcotics were found in his system. As she’s leaving, Dean gives her a business card and asks her to call them if she finds anything…weird. She calls him Scully as she leaves. Hee.
Cas gets into Angel Detective Mode and says he can’t sense EMF or sulfur and that Gary’s arterial health was excellent, though he did have a recent bladder infection (ew). The look Dean gives Sam across the body as Cas begins to sniff it is priceless.
Dean: Cas. Stop smelling the dead guy.
Cas says that now he knows everything about the man.
Sam: Did you know he was having an affair?
Cas’ flummoxed look is clearly a no and I loved Dean’s smug grin as Sam continues to postulate how Olivia’s witness report had too much detail and how the restaurant she claims they meet at is right next to a hotel – which they noticed on the drive over – thus, equaling affair. Cas’s head bops back and forth between the two as they seem to read each other’s minds, finishing each other’s sentences and quite neatly pointing out the things that Cas missed.
Dean: Nice job on that bladder infection, though.
Both Sam and Dean agree that this sounds ‘witchy’ which for some reason causes Sam to flash to a memory of Amelia.
That’s one ‘meh’ I didn’t list – Dean’s Purgatory flashbacks seem much more in sync with whatever is going on in the episode/moment than Sam’s of Amelia. His just feel…oddly shoved in so that we can get this part of his story. I’m not sure what it is, but whenever I see one, I’m like, how did that remind you of this? Just made things feel disjointed somehow.
ANYway, in this flashback, Sam is unpacking boxes – Amelia’s, apparently, as he comes across a picture album of wedding photos for Amelia and Dan (though he doesn’t open it). Amelia is a coil of nervous energy because her dad is on his way over for dinner and she’s worried he’ll think they’re moving too fast. When he finally knocks on the door, she warns Sam: no politics, no bad talk about the Cowboys, and avoid saying the words ‘moist’ and ‘irregardless.’
Sam: There goes my opener.
Also? So with you on the ‘irregardless.’ Pet. Peeve.
So, Dad is predictably doting on Amelia, affectionate toward the dog, and condescending toward Sam. Especially when he finds out he went to Stanford and yet is working as a maintenance man at a local motel. Dad says that’s fitting as Sam looks like a fixer-upper. I’ve run into a few people like him. I either chew off my tongue, leave the room, or get in trouble.
Back in the now, Crosby, Stills, and Nash are interviewing Gary’s widow. Cas steps forward, telling Dean, “I’ll handle this; I’ve done research. I can crack her.”
I literally said, Oh, God, out loud. This was not going to go well.
Cas, channeling a little Columbo, a little Al Pacino, pounds on the table and in a deep, scary voice demands to know why she killed her husband. The widow jumps, understandably startled, and Dean pulls Cas away to have a word while Sam swoops in to patch things up.
Cas: I was being bad cop.
Dean: You were being bad everything. Listen to Sam.
Sam, with his trademark it’s all gonna be okay voice is asking the widow if Gary had any secrets…right as Oliva walks in and the widow goes over and gives her a tearful hug. Cas is like, This is awkward.
The widow wants to know what they thought Gary was hiding.
Cas (pointing at Olivia): That he was sleeping with her.
Sam and Dean shoot him a silent DUDE! look. The widow says she knows and puts her arm around Oliva. Sam and Dean both raise their eyesbrows, a totally different kind of dude look on their faces. Apparently Gary and his wife had an…open marriage. He was with Oliva, the wife was with some neighbor down the street. The women head into the kitchen as the men stare after them in a bit of shock.
Dean: Friggin’ suburbs, man.
Cas: So…she’s not a witch.
Dean: She’s the best wife ever.
Sam = grin.
Cas: What killed her husband?
Dean (turning to watch the women): Who gives a f—
Cut immediately to a high-rise and a car horn. Hee. Oh, Dean, you make me chuckle.
We have another death, this one a suicide, only as the man steps off the high-rise, he stands on air for long enough that he has the opportunity to cry out, “God wants me to live,” just before he plummets to his death. That bothered me, too. Suicide is always awful, but changing your mind at the last minute and then dying anyway? *shudder* Turns out this guy lost all his money when Roman Industries collapsed last year. Oops. The detective called Crosby, Stills, and Nash because they asked for weird and witnesses saw him hovering in mid-air before he fell like something out of a cartoon.
When the detective walks away, Dean tells Sam that it really sounds like something straight out of Bugs Bunny.
Cas: So…we’re looking for an insect-rabbit hybrid? How do we kill it?
HA! I never took apart Bugs’ name like that before. That made me laugh. The boys try to explain cartoons to Cas and end up just taking him back to the hotel and turning them on for him while they research. He’s on the bed – still in his trench coat – watching Road Runner while the boys – in white shirts, sans suit coats *bites lip* (WHY is that suddenly so sexy??) -- are at the table.
Cas looks over suddenly and says he gets it. The bird is God, the coyote is Man, and the cartoon represents man’s endless pursuit of the divine yet never able to catch him. Hilarious.
The boys just stare at him a moment, then look at each other with twin bafflement as to how to answer that one. Dean’s looking at John’s journal and says he doesn’t know if they’re dealing with a tulpa or a god who watched too much Robot Chicken. They can’t find a link between “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Free Falling” so he’s calling it a night and wants to know if Cas is going to book a room.
Cas: I’ll stay here.
Dean (sarcastic): Great. We’ll have a slumber party. Braid Sam’s hair. (Sam grins. I do, too, because I could do a kick-ass braid in that hair.) Where are you going to sleep?
Cas: I don’t sleep.
Dean: Well, I need my 4 hours, so….
Cas (looking at Dean): I’ll watch over you.
He says it so matter-of-factly. So innocently. Like it’s not even a question. Like it’s something he’s done all of Dean’s life – something he did while they survived Purgatory together. And there’s this flash of reaction on Dean’s face like he remembers, he knows, even if he doesn’t want to.
Dean (softly): Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.
Before they can do rock/paper/scissors on who gets the bed and who gets the floor, Cas “hears” a wave from a police radio about a bank robbery that sounds, and I quote, looney. Turns out, that description is dead-on, no pun intended. An anvil was dropped on a security guard and there is…gunk…fanning out from beneath the anvil.
The detective – who was going to call them, anyway – asks them if they chase the crazy, or if the crazy chases them.
Sam: Depends on the day.
She tells them about a criminal they’re calling “the black hole” because of the…well, black holes he leaves behind. No fingerprints, no forced entry, just these black circles on the wall. Kooky.
Sam asks if he can take a look at the files from those other crime scenes and the detective takes him with her while Dean and Cas continue to investigate the scene. Dean asks Cas to move the anvil – which he does – and beneath it (and the gunk from the security guard) they see a black “X”.
Dean says that “X” marks the spot and starts telling Cas the rules about ‘Toon Town’ and how if you had a black hole, you could stroll right through it. Hmmm.
Back at the hotel, Dean is on the laptop – and was it me, or did you guys notice the shadow on his jaw from the cut of his cheek bone? – and Cas is on the bed looking through John’s journal.
Cas: Your father had beautiful handwriting.
I liked that statement and sentiment. It’s not something you hear about a man very often.
Dean (pausing what he’s looking up to turn in his chair and face Cas): How you feelin’ Cas?
Dean: When I got back from Purgatory, it took me a few weeks to find my sea legs.
Cas: I’m fine.
Dean: I’m happy you’re back. Freakin’ thrilled. Just this whole…mysterious resurrection thing has a mother of a downside.
And he should know.
Cas (closes the journal and finally looks at Dean): What do you want me to do?
Dean wants him to go up to Heaven and see if the “God squad” can tell them how he got out. Cas gives him a flat-out, unequivocal ‘no.’ Dean doesn’t take him seriously -- probably because half the time the guy's doing things like comparing the Road Runner to God -- and keeps on pressing.
Dean: Look, I hate those flying ass monkey’s just as much as you do, but—
Cas (shouting): Dean! I said no!
He’s so forceful about it, he made me jump. Instead of snapping at him, though – which, honestly was what I expected Dean to do, getting shut down like that – Dean closes the laptop, stands up and walks over to the adjoining bed and sits down opposite Cas, his face open, eyes soft, and says, “Talk to me.”
I love that while he might misinterpret Cas’ motivation, he knows his friend well enough to know that he’s hurting. It’s hard to read Cas – especially since Dean’s been confronted with so many versions of him. The childlike innocence with human earnestness and a touch of ‘Warrior of the Lord’ passion is the one I like the best – that’s the one that we see in this episode. But it has to be hard for Dean to know which direction to bounce with all the versions there have been. And yet, even with that, he was able to get Cas to find a way to express his feelings. I love that about him.
Now we just need the brothers to get to that point.
Cas: When I was bad and I had all those Leviathans inside me, I caused a lot of suffering on Earth, but I devastated Heaven. I vaporized thousands of my own kind and I can’t go back.
Dean (trying to understand): Because if you do, the angels’ll kill you.
Cas: Because if I see what Heaven has become because of what I…made of it, I’m afraid I might kill myself.
This hits Dean, hard. He has that can't get a breath face listening to those words, and it lingers as Sam walks in and Cas gets up to go over to him. He has to shake himself a bit to get back in the game. Sam tells them about the other sites where there were robberies – smash and grabs – and that some of those robberies occurred in the same vicinity and at the same time as the deaths. And 50 yards around each robbery, people were living in a cartoon.
So, the security guard at the bank might have been on purpose, but the other two deaths were just “collateral weird.” Dean says that some Animaniac is warping reality. Sam finds out that all of the places hit belong to someone at the Sunset retirement home. So…off they go.
Dean: Let’s gear up. It’s wabbit season.
Sam = grin.
Cas: I don’t think you pronounced that correctly.
At the retirement home, Dean is a bit…rattled by being there. This is a mortality that he’d much rather not be confronted with, thank you very much. They run into Dr. Mahoney, the guy who runs the place. They say they need to question the residents, and he’s basically like, have at it.
Dean: All right. Let’s do this. No flirting, you two.
Dean and Cas are talking with a sweet little old lady, Mrs. Tate, who thinks that Castiel is her third husband, Charles. Dean is amused by this, but also alert enough to notice a pretty nurse walk by. Mrs. Tate tells them that someone stole the diamonds she hid in the floorboards of her house, and apologizes to “Charles” for not trusting him. Cas’ face is so earnest here, it’s adorable. Dean asks her if she’s seen anything else odd and she points to a yellow cat, saying he talks sometimes. And he really hates that mouse.
Cas: I’ll interrogate the cat.
You do that, Cas. Call him Tom. I’m betting it’s his name.
Elsewhere, Sam is staring at a picture board and watches as an orderly gathers a tray of untouched food from an elderly man who is just staring at the table. The orderly stops by Sam and says that most of the residents just tune out – they’re living in their own head because reality is too harsh. This makes Sam think back to that dinner with Amelia’s dad.
Her dad was in the Army so they moved around a lot – spaghetti and hot dogs was a tradition for the first meal in a new house, so that’s what she made them all for dinner. Bleck. Sam tells her dad that his dad was a Marine.
Sam: 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, Echo Company.
I kinda loved how quickly it rolled off of his tongue, even after all this time. The dad says he always thought the Marines were a little “puffed up.” Amelia goes into the kitchen to get the salad and the dad says Amelia told him Sam hadn’t served.
Dad: You got the look. The one that a lot of guys get after they’ve been through the meat grinder, seen a lot of crap they can’t forget. They hit solid ground and start running and don’t stop until they find something to hold on to.
Sam (slightly angry): You think that’s what I’m doing here? Just holding on?
Dad: I think the two of you are holding on to each other.
He says he gets what Amelia is running from, but isn’t sure about Sam.
About then, Dean walks up in the now and breaks Sam out of his memory. Neither of them have found anything, but Cas is still interviewing the cat, so…. Just then, Sam sees a picture on the wall and asks Dean if he remembers Fred Jones. I was immediately like, Fred Jones! Scooby-Doo! Hey, what do you want from me? I have a six-year-old.
Turns out Fred was a friend of John’s who knew the boys when they were young – gave them each their first beer before they were double-digits and was psychokinetic. *hand waves* Sam’s like, he’s in room 114.
They head to 114, only to find Fred in a wheelchair, staring at cartoons on a TV, totally checked out. They can’t rouse him, but figure if he’s the one causing the coo-coo that there would be a ‘circle of crazy’ around him, so…Dean takes a book and bashes himself in the face, hard enough to stagger him and they all hear little birdies (I kind of expected to see them, too).
They tell Cas that Fred is a powerful enough psychokinetic person that he can reshape reality. Dr. Mahoney walks in just as Cas asks if they should kill Fred. Whoops.
They boys leave and Dean tells Cas to go invisible and keep an eye on Fried. So, a bit later, there’s a birthday party for Mrs. Tate. Everyone is in the great room. Fred is there, too, changing channels on the TV by tapping his finger. Handy, that. Just as the sparkly candle on the BIG red cake is lit, Fred lands on a Woody Woodpecker cartoon with a big stick of dynamite and...well, you can guess what happens.
Though, I have to admit, when I saw all that red splattered on the wall, my first thought was, nooooo they wouldn’t! They didn’t. It was, as Cas put it, “A pastry mishap.”
The boys show up, Sam realizes that Fred’s gone, and the pretty nurse Dean noticed before is wheeling Mrs. Tate back to her room when Mrs. Tate alerts them to the fact that the nurse is wearing her diamond bracelet. The nurse confesses that her boyfriend (who is also the same male orderly who spoke to Sam earlier) gave it to her, so the trio heads to the bf’s house. They immediately see things he stole from the residents, but then find him on the floor, gut-shot. Whoops.
Dean asks Cas to heal him, and apparently it’s not exactly a painless process, but he’s healed. He tells the guys that Dr. Mahoney took Fred – that he’s been skimming off the residents for years and that he was on his way back to the bank for one last score and then he was going to kill Fred, tie up that loose end. The orderly said he liked Fred and tried to stop him, but didn’t know Mahoney had a gun and got himself shot for his efforts.
Now, I’m not sure, really, what Mahoney was doing at the orderly’s house in the first place. Did you guys get that? *hand wave*
So! The boys head out to the car and Cas wonders if Fred Jones knows what’s going on. Dean mutters that he’s living in a dream world and this gives Sam a second’s pause as he remembers back to that dinner and eavesdropping on Amelia and her dad talking about both of them being messes together while he washes the dishes. The dad comes in to dry and asks Sam about the Impala.
Sam says it was his Dad’s – which is true, of course, but for a moment I expected him to say it was his brother's. The dad offers Sam an olive branch by saying, “Guy had good taste…for a Jarhead.”
In the now, a variation of the brother’s guitar theme (which is my ringtone, by the way) is playing while Dean, Cas, and Sam are heading down an alley. Dean tells them to look for Fred while he checks out the bank. Moments later, Dean finds a black hole and sticks his arm in. He thinks it’s awesome. All I could think was – ack! You don’t know what will happen when you go in there!
I would be no fun on a treasure hunt.
Cas can sense Fred’s power and he and Sam are able to find him in a van near the bank, watching cartoons on a portable TV. Sam tries to get him to snap out of it, just needing to talk to him for a second, but can’t. Cas puts his hands on Sam and Fred and though Sam calls out, “Wait! Wait!” Cas does something and a bright light fills the interior of the van.
Next thing you know, Cas and Sam are inside a cartoon…which just so happens to be inside of Fred’s mind. In there, Fred is a regular guy – clear headed and strong.
In the bank, Dean pulls his gun on Dr. Mahoney, stopping him from clearing out the safety deposit boxes.
Dean: What’s up doc?
In Fred’s mind, Sam’s trying to get Fred to get back into the real world, saying he spent too much time “in here.” The cartoon has shifted to TV fuzz around them.
Fred: You want to know what’s the worst thing that can happen to a guy who’s got a mind like mine? Losing it!
Especially when no one around you knows how powerful it is except the one person who wants to take advantage of it. Poor Fred.
In the bank, Dr. Mahoney is offering Dean half of his haul. Dean’s like, yeah, no. Mahoney jumps Dean, slamming him against the safety deposit boxes. As he turns to flee, Dean fires at him, but only a flag with the word ‘bang’ comes out of the gun. I get that they were going for the cartoon gag, but I was still glad Dean didn’t shoot the guy. For Dean’s sake.
In Fred’s mind, the background has turned to that Technicolor bars that used to come on TV when programming ran out at midnight. I haven’t seen that since I was in middle school, though. Sam is sympathizing with Fred’s need for the cartoons – they were something to hold onto as he felt his mind slipping out of his control.
In the bank, Dean grabs Mahoney in a running tackle and the screen pauses and we see:
Dean Winchester (Hunterus Heroicus)
Dr. Mohoney (Grotesques Villainus)
Mahoney whips out a frying pan (from…?) and bashes Dean in the head with it a few times, the last time leaving a facial imprint in the bottom of the pan, and knocking Dean off his feet. He’s groggy and hearing birdies and Mahoney thinks he’s won, but Dean brought spray paint and says, “X marks the spot.” They both look at the ‘X’ on the ground then up, both rolling out of the way just in time to avoid a falling anvil.
Don’t mess with someone who grew up on cartoons, man.
Meanwhile, Sam’s in Fred’s head giving his speech about waking up from the dream and not running anymore and Cas is watching him, listening closely. I missed the relevance at first. I was thinking that Cas hearing this would be a way for Sam to find a way to talk to Dean about this – I missed how important hearing those words would be to Cas’ own story until he said as much.
Fred listens to Sam, too, and as he does, the Technicolor world goes white.
Dean gets up on shaky legs after avoiding the anvil and Mahoney tries to escape through a black hole, but it’s solid. The cartoon world has been shut down. Mahoney’s like, good, I can use this, pulls out a revolver and aims it at Dean.
However, Fred, Cas, and Sam have arrived – this bank has a terrible security system, seriously – and he stops Mahoney from shooting Dean, saying he’s not going to hurt anyone ever again and forces Mahoney to turn the gun on himself. Dean flinches when the gun goes off, but then says dryly, “That’s all folks.”
Fred is a bit in shock about everything. He’s okay now, he says, but what about in a month? A year?
Fred: Nobody gets sharper with age.
Dean looks pained as he listens to Fred talk about how he’s afraid of what will happen if he loses control again and someone gets hurt again. He asks them to make it stop. Awww.
Cas says there’s a way, but that it will be painful and he’s not sure how much of Fred will be left. Fred’s like, Well, what are you waiting for? Aww, again.
Later in the nursing home, Cas has done his thing and says that Fred – who looks like he’s checked out, but peaceful this time – is happily listening to Ode to Joy. Dean says they can go and that Cas can ride shotgun; he’s earned it.
Cas says he can’t go with them and is about to tell them why – I’m surmising that he was going to say that he’s going up to Heaven to fix things – when Naomi grabs him to her Heavenly Office Space and tells him no.
He can’t go back to Heaven unless she calls him. Period. *grumbles on behalf of Cas*
Then he’s back with the boys, feeling puzzled and unbalanced, and trying to answer Sam’s question of, why can’t you come with us? He says he wants to stay with Mr. Jones for a bit, but he knows he can’t run anymore. Sam blinks and pulls his head back a bit at that. Apparently he didn’t realize how much his words would affect Cas either.
Sam tumbles back into memory land and is at the dinner table, several bottles of beer between himself and Amelia’s dad, listening to a story about Amelia as a kid. The phone rings and she goes to answer it. The dad offers Sam one, and pops the tops off two, handing one to Sam.
Sam: My brother used to do that.
Dad: Yeah? He a good guy?
Sam (eyes soft and sad): Yeah. He was. The best. I lost him. And…then I ran.
Before the dad can say anything to that, Amelia exclaims from the kitchen, then hangs up the phone and comes in the room looking shell shocked. Sam calls her ‘baby’ and asks what’s wrong. She says that Don is alive. I literally breathed out an Oooh, that explains a lot. Like how there was a girl, and then there wasn’t. And how Amelia lay there and watched him walk out. And how he could meet a girl, move in with a girl, and leave a girl in the matter of months. He wouldn’t stay with her if she was technically still married – and she’d been so in love with Don, I could see her wanting to make it work with him.
I bet 'memory' is not the last we see of Amelia, though. Like Benny, like Cas, what happened in that missing year is going to bleed into their reality at some point.
The boys leave the nursing home while Cas sits quietly next to Fred, listening to Ode to Joy.
Have to say, I hope the tablet thing and Naomi using Cas doesn’t put Cas back into the betrayal light. We’ve done that, too, so I really want that to lead someplace else.
Also, thinking about Sam’s reaction to Cas’ “can’t run anymore” comment…I wonder if Sam’s just starting to get that he doesn’t have to look for something else to hang onto. Like all this time – this kind of “checked out” way he’s been behaving, how (with the exception of last week) he hasn’t really even been engaging with Dean – he doesn’t ask about Purgatory, he’s not talking about Amelia – maybe all of that has been him trying to “hang onto the dream” and it’s just coming to him that he can’t do that anymore. That’s killing any chance he has of reconnecting with the only person he has left in the world – his brother. I hope so anyway.
So, nothing earth-shattering, but still entertaining. Based on the previews that I got to see before my DVR switched off, they’re saving the earth-shattering for the mid-season finale.
With that, just a note. I’ll be late with next week’s ramble. I have to go to California for work and it’s a week-long meeting with long-assed days, so I probably won’t be able to watch and ramble until Saturday the 8th. I hope ya’ll will come back – don’t leave me hanging!
Thanks for reading.