This one left me thinking. It had entertaining moments, but I admittedly had to process a bit. I'm not sure why, either.
Also, I just want to say that these rambles are pretty much written to find the enjoyment, no matter the direction of the show. From yellow brick roads to talking dogs, I'm going to look for what I enjoy while waiting for there to be something that gets me in the gut. I know that for some, that's not being critical enough, or maybe being too easy to please, but that's what it is.
Plus...there's Dean. *smiles*
There were a couple of things with this one that caught me and had me thinking there were layers I was seeing without actually realizing I was seeing them. If that makes sense. Could've been my mood -- going into watching I wasn't quite as uncoiled from the work day as I'd like to be. Anyway, lists.
- Dean's face. Can I just put that here? I love this guy's face and his never-ending, storied expressions.
- Cas singing the theme to "The Greatest American Hero" to the baby. *serious love*
- Agent Lee Ermey.
- Dean giving Cas (actually decent) dating tips.
- Cas' bad-ass expression when he killed Ephraim.
- Dean knowing to give the baby Tylenol to bring down her fever.
- Crowley being put on hold via blood phone. Hee.
- Buddy Boyle not being a one-trick-pony storyline.
- Cas' argument that humans are doing the best they can.
- The boys still being effective and connected even when physically separated.
- Sam saying that Abbadon was scarier than Crowley had been in years.
- An entire episode without Zeke. Not that I don't like Zeke, but I DO like a break from the pattern.
- Not really a 'meh' so much as a 'sad' -- that one of the victims was a teenaged girl. Don't know why that bothered me, but it did.
- Also not really a 'meh' so much as a personal hang-up -- the fact that Cas had to leave a message on Nora's phone rather than her answering right away. I'm a total helicopter mom; Mo Chuisle is 7 and I would answer on the first ring if the babysitter called.
- What the heck was up with Crowley and the blood? And how did he get a hold of it? I mean, Kevin withdrew his own blood (without a tourniquet, but whatever), Sam set up the blood phone and cleaned it up after, so how the heck did Crowley snag that syringe? Was it when they both turned their backs to get the translations for him? Plus also, didn't injecting him with Sam's human blood trigger his humanity? Wonder what game he's playing now....
- Also, aside from getting to see Abbadon again, what was the point of Crowley calling her? Was he going to try to work out a deal? That seemed oddly random to me. Anyone else get a 'why' on that one?
THEN was a reminder of Buddy Boyle, finding vessels, Abbadon wanting to take over Hell, Cas being human and having to leave the bunker. The NOW starts in Rexford, Idaho, where a House look-alike is on the phone with a suicide hotline. He hangs up, pulls out a gun, crying, and points it to his head...except he sees a black and white picture of a woman and a baby (which, seriously, looked like circa 1950 -- his mom?) and doesn't pull the trigger.
Out of nowhere, a person appears behind him, in shadow. All we can see is that he has a cross earring. House Dude asks if the hotline sent him and Cross Man says, "No...you did." He puts his hand to House Dude's forehead and a pink light emanates from him right before BLAMMO. Blood spatter on the window. Eww.
Elsewhere, we see that Cas -- going by the cover name of "Steve" -- is working as a 'sales associate' at a convenience store. He's watching patrons, mimicking their mannerisms, fitting in. His manager, Nora, a pretty blonde lady, sweeps in apologizing for being late and says she had to drop the baby off at the sitters, got stuck in traffic, etc. She asks after what are clearly the daily tasks and Cas has them all done. She is much pleased, asking him where he's been all her life.
Cas watches her head to the back and cuts the plastic binding from a newspaper stack, seeing the headline about a local man's death -- the House Dude. So, Cas is in Idaho. I know, brilliant deduction, right? I could be a detective.
Back at the bunker, the boys are looking through papers that Kevin has given them with what he's been able to translate the angel tablet into...which sounded like cuneiform (or...doodles, according to Sam). Basically the gist of it is, Kev hit a wall trying to go from Angel Tablet to English, so he found some ancient codex and was able to get it into another language...but got stuck on that language. I honestly had to hand-wave this part because to me that would be like an English-speaker translating Russian into Spanish to try to understand it, but it's all good.
The only thing Kevin could get was one of Metatron's footnotes that referred to "falling angels." Which...duh. Sam's like, hooray! Research! Dean, however, is basically God, kill me now. They each get a volume of the Encyclopedia of Extinct Languages. There are 24 volumes, but hey, good news! They have all of them!
Dean is saved from Death By Encyclopedia with a ring from his cell. It's Cas. Without preamble, Cas dives into the fact that there is a case in his town he thinks Dean would be interested in. Dean moves away from Sam and Kevin, listening to Cas' rambling with a perplexed look on his face.
Dean: Hello to you, too, Cas. How are you?
Cas, unfortunately, is having issues with the ICEE machine and hangs up after telling Dean he just wanted to alert him to the case. Dean's like, mmmmmkay. That's all it takes, though, for Dean to pack a bag and head out...after deflecting Sam's it's barely even a case by saying it's not worth the extra manpower. He's just gonna have a look-see.
Meanwhile, Sam can help Kevin with the research...and simultaneously keep Zeke way the hell away from Cas. Dean's spinning so many plates he's going to have to resort to bowls soon.
Kevin (pouting): This is just an excuse to bail on research.
Dean (vocal eye-roll): You got me.
Back in Idaho, Nora brings Cas a ziplock with a tooth brush and tooth paste that she found in the supply closet and asks him if he knows whose it is. Cas says it's his, trying to mask his embarrassment that she found it. She also points out that she found a rolled up sleeping bag behind the supply locker. Cas -- who seems to have been taking lessons on How To Lie Quickly from Dean -- says he stayed late to inventory. Instead of seeing RIGHT THROUGH THIS, Nora chooses to play the "oh, you're so dedicated" card and takes him at his word.
It makes me sad that Cas doesn't have a home, but I'm encouraged that he has a job. He's not on the streets; he's earning money and with that can soon have a place to live. That was one of the layers I felt like I was seeing: Cas' acclimation as a human. He's been around humans for thousands of years, has been directly interacting with them for four(ish) years, and it's taken actually experiencing life as a human -- going through fear, pain, loss, regret...hunger, thirst, lust, satisfaction -- for him to truly grasp what it means for human beings to survive each day. To go through life and accomplish...well, anything, really. The very act of living is an achievement. I'm actually liking this exploration of Human!Cas much more than I expected to.
Anyway, Nora tells Cas that it's really hard for a working single mom to meet anyone, let alone an actually decent guy and she's off tomorrow night and knows he is, too, so would he like to come over? Okay, seriously. Raise your hand if you immediately went to that episode of Friends where Ross thought he was going out on a date and it turned out the hot chick just needed a babysitter? Yeah, me, too. Poor Cas.
Elsewhere at the House Dude's, um, house, Dean (aka Agent Lee Ermey) is talking to the local sheriff who is confirming that there are now four people dead; all four could be classified as the county's "saddest sacks." Dean asks if they've ruled out suicide on the latest victim and the sheriff hands him some gloves, leading him inside where the interior is basically painted pink.
Not just blood, though. Skin, hair, nails, clothes. The vic was, essentially, vaporized. Again, ewww.
A bit later, Sam and Dean are on the phone. Dean is outside the Impala, coffee in hand, leaning against the car with his arms on the roof. There is something about that stance...I don't know. He just looks damn good. Sam is telling him that he and Kevin are almost through the text, but they've got nothing. Even tried Professor Morrisy (?) and he's a no-go. On Sabbatical in New Guinea. They're pretty burnt.
So, Dean suggests they try Crowley, but warns Sam not to fall for any of Crowley's "quid pro quo." Sam's like, noted. Dean catches Sam up on the haps around Idaho and Sam wants to come help, but Dean says he's got this. He can't afford to get Sam and Cas too close, after all. And, as we see, he's spying on Cas at the convenience store.
Elsewhere around Rexford, a high school girl is walking out to stand behind a bus, talking to a friend on a cell phone about her bf breaking up with her in the middle of the cafeteria instead of on Facebook like a normal person. In typical teen-drama fashion, she says she is socially and romantically totaled, ending her statement with, "I could just die!"
Out of nowhere, Cross Dude (Ephraim) shows up and says, "I can help with that," and blammo! Vaporized. Guh.
In the convenience store, Cas is selling a lotto ticket to a lady, hilariously and awkwardly wishing her luck with a 'thumbs up' when he's caught off-guard by Dean suddenly standing behind her with that damn grin that makes my stomach all flippy. He quips that he'll take some beef jerky and a pack of menthol's, but Cas isn't in a joking mood. And who can blame the guy? Kinda smarts to be kicked out of a safe haven by your best friend, even if, ultimately, it was better for him. That's another layer I saw: Dean kicked Cas out because Zeke blackmailed him, but the result was Cas finding gainful employment, acclimating to human habits, and learning how to survive without powers or protection.
Which, considering what Sam and Kevin found out, is going to be an important skill.
Cas: What are you doing here, Dean?
Dean: Nice to see you, too, Cas.
Cas: It's Steve now. And you surprised me.
Dean: You, too. I knew you had to lay low, but this is some cover.
Cas: My grace is gone. What did you expect? When I fell to Earth, I didn't just lose my powers, I lost.... I had nothing. Now? I'm a sales associate.
He proudly lists his responsibilities as he signs for a package. Dean, who had never had a 'real job', just watches him, taking it all in.
Back at the bunker, Sam brings one of the sheets of the translation to Crowley who sneers at him.
Crowley: I've been politely asking for reading material for weeks and this is what you bring me? Pass.
Sam: Can you read it?
It's not his favorite, but yeah, he can. Sam wants him to help them but Crowley wants to know why. Sam tries that "I saw your human side" ploy again, but there's only so many times you can go to the same well.
Sam: The only reason you're alive is because my brother thought you'd be useful. So far you've done jack. Plan B, I guess: give you to Abbadon.
Crowley: You think you can threaten me with that hack? She's all fury; no finesse.
True...but she is effective.
Sam: Not so sure. Last encounter with her, she was pretty terrifying. Scarier than you've been in years.
Crowley says gimme and then proceeds to wad up the paper and throw it in Sam's face. Sam's all Fine. Bye. Bit of a stand-off, have we?
Back at the convenience store, Dean is still following Cas around.
Dean: This is not you, man; you're above this.
Gotta say, at first? I took exception to this. It was because of Dean that Cas was in this position in the first place (as opposed to not at the bunker) and this was a damn sight better than living on the streets like he was before. Plus, despite the obvious situational humor that played out a few minutes later, I agree with Cas that there is dignity in what he was doing -- not specifically being a sales associate at a convenience store, but earning his keep. Standing on his own. Making his way.
Then I started to look through Dean's eyes. Castiel saved him from Hell -- gripped him tight and pulled him from Perdition. He survived Purgatory with Cas. He's been through war with this guy, and while Cas' lost grace is no one's fault but his own, it has to be hard for Dean to see Cas as a mere mortal. Not just sans angelic powers, but...an everyday, workin' for a livin' guy. Add to that the guilt he feels for forcing Cas to leave the safety of the bunker and I could understand his statement better.
Cas: I failed at being an angel. Everything I attempted came out wrong. But here, I have a shot at getting things right. There's real dignity here -- human dignity.
Just then, Nora comes out and tells him a customer had an accident in the bathroom, and confirms that 7pm is okay for him to come over. Dean's like aha! It's about a girl! But Cas says it's not like that. Off of Dean's disbelieving expression he says that Nora is a nice woman, he's pretty sure she's not a Reaper looking to kill him, and she asked him out.
Cas: Going on dates is something that humans do, right?
Dean says something about dollar bills that I missed, but softly agrees that yeah, dating is something humans do. He gets a call from the sheriff just then informing him about the death at the high school and says he'll be right there. He wants Cas to come along.
Cas: Wouldn't be much use. I have no powers.
Dean: I've never had powers.
I don't know why, but I really liked that they pointed that out -- all he's done, all without powers. *likes*
Cas: You're a hunter.
Dean: You're a hunter in training...remember?
Cas: I remember. You said I sucked.
Dean: I didn't say that...I said there was...room for improvement.
Cas finally agrees to come along -- after he cleans the bathroom. They show up at the crime scene (Cas still in his blue convenience store vest thingy) and head over to the pink-painted bus. Cas looks horrified. Dean joins the sheriff who is questioning a weeping teenaged girl who can't believe that mess of...pink...is actually her friend. Dean asks if her friend was depressed or suicidal. She says that she was kinda bummed about her bf breaking up with her, but not suicidal. Dean's like kinda bummed?
Girl: More bummed than when she got a C on a quiz, less bummed than when her parents split. Kinda. Bummed.
Yeah, Dean. Duh. *smirks*
Dean realizes that he's lost sight of Cas and goes looking for him, finding him leaning against the trunk of the Impala, practically hyperventilating. He says that this is an angel -- but no ordinary angel. This was bad. Very bad. After the 'kinda bummed', I half expected Dean to ask Cas to define very bad, ala Ghostbusters. Hee.
A bit later, they're sitting in the Impala and Cas is telling him exactly what freaked him the hell out. He says that on the battlefields of Heaven, there were these special angels -- I think he called them Thoretezian? *shrug* -- who functioned like medics. They tended to the wounded, healed those who could be healed, and those who were past saving, these guys put down. They had a special ability: super-smiting. It was so quick and total it rendered death virtually painless.
Dean's like, yeah, but...he's vaporizing people, not angels.
Cas says that this angel hones in on pain; he's continuing his Heavenly work one suffering human at a time. Dean reminds him that the last vic wasn't suffering. She was just dramatic. Cas says that the ebb and flow of human emotion is too complex -- to this angel, pain is pain. And everyone's fair game.
I'll admit this to you guys: my first thought was that I knew someone who'd been through pain, who was in pain, and could have easily been a beacon for the Super-Smiter, especially with the burden of guilt and secrets he was carrying...but I also knew that the story wouldn't go that direction. Ah, well. Not my story.
Dean says they have to stop him.
Cas: You have to stop him.
Dean (dawning realization): You're scared.
Cas (sadly): Everything feels different now, Dean.
Dean (nodding, absorbing): I'll track down this Kevorkian wanna-be and put him down.
Dean (settled with the decision, sincere): You stay safe. Go on that date. Live a normal life.
He doesn't get out of the car. Dean stares at him, confused, until he admits he needs a ride.
Back at the bunker, Crowley has agreed to translate the text in exchange for one phone call. Gotta give Sam credit for conferring with Kevin rather than just making the decision. Of course Kevin is like no way in hell, but Sam talks him into it -- as long as Crowley proves he really can read the text. He rattles of the ingredients of the spell, which we knew: heart of a nephelim (sp?), Cupid's bow, grace of an angel. They agree to the phone call.
Back in Idaho, Dean is dropping Cas off at Nora's and stops him before he can get out of the car, making him take off his vest and unbutton his collar to be more presentable for his date. Cas looks nervous, so Dean gives him some pointers.
Dean: Listen, always open the door for her. Ask a lot of questions, they like that. If she says she's happy to go Dutch, she's lying. Go get 'em, Tiger!
Cas looks worried, but heads inside, pausing just outside of Nora's door to cut her a rose from her own rose bushes (where the heck did those scissors come from, though - his pocket??). Dean's all nice touch, then is realizes he actually needs to go. He starts to pull away, but a Ford pick-up parallel parks right in front of him, practically backing up on top of the Impala before Dean waves him off.
Yeah. It's the Ross scenario all right.
Nora opens the door for Cas and before he can give her the rose, she's rattling off instructions about the care of her baby, Tonya -- who she claims never cries. HA! Cas hides the rose as she hurries out the door with a, "You're the best!" His face falls as he says, dejectedly, "Babysitting." Annnddd....cue the baby crying.
Back at the bunker, Crowley says he doesn't want Sam's blood for the phone, he wants Kevin's. At first Kevin resists, but when Crowley is all good luck translating, he gives in, drawing his own blood (without a tourniquet, but whatever). Sam fixes the blood phone in a bowl thingy and Crowley Latinates, but after having to repeat his name a couple of times is put on hold after he demands to be connected to Abbadon. Heh.
Back at Nora's, Cas is staring with discomfort and not a little fear at the crib where Baby Tonya is crying her eyes out. After pleading, "Please, don't," he approaches cautiously, picks her up and cuddles her close, bouncing a bit -- a total natural -- as he starts to pace the floor a bit. Then, he starts to sing the theme song to The Greatest American Hero. *LOVE*
People, I kid you not, I know this song by heart. My sisters and I used to put on concerts when we were little -- singing into wooden-spoon microphones -- and this was one of our favorites. I got a huge kick out of this song choice, especially as the lyrics totally fit Cas' situation.
The baby calms, quiets, but as soon as he lays her back down, she starts crying again. Of course.
In the Impala, Dean gets a call from the sheriff who tells him the lab results were back from the first murder and it turns out only the wife painted the walls at that crime scene. The hubs is still on the loose; Dean heads to the police station.
Cas is still trying to comfort the baby, talking to her about how he totally gets how confusing everything is, being thrust into this cazy world, this crazy life and everything is a hair's breadth from terror or pain, especially when you're new at all of this. I swear that was the CUTEST baby. Such enigmatic eyes. Cas touches her head and realizes that she's quite warm.
At the police station, Dean is getting the low-down on the not-dead hubs, finding out that he was obsessed with Buddy Boyle, which explained a lot (to Dean, anyway). Then Dean comes across a pic of the hubs and the dead wife and we see that it's our angel Ephraim...standing in front of the same Ford pick-up that practically backed up on Dean. Immediately realizing Cas is in trouble, Dean heads out of the police station at a run.
A very worried Cas is leaving Nora voicemail saying if she didn't call him back soon, he was taking Tonya to the hospital. He tries to comfort the baby a moment longer, then says, "Okay, Tonya, we're taking a walk." I liked this worried, take-charge Cas.
He opens the door...and Ephraim is standing there. D'oh!
Now, here's the thing - until Dean saw that pic, I thought the truck was Nora's date. Since we know it was Ephraim, and he'd honed in on Cas' pain, what the heck was he doing out there that whole time? *hand wave*
Cas lays the baby in the crib and she quiets for a moment so that Cas and Ephraim can cover some exposition about how Ephraim knew Cas and wants to wash the planet clean of all suffering. The baby starts crying again and Cas steps between the crib and Ephraim to protect her only to find out he's there for Cas, not the baby. Whoopsie.
Meanwhile, Sam and Kevin are getting impatient and a little anxious and want to shut down the blood phone. Just then, Abbadon (yay!) comes online via some poor dude she killed for his blood (boo!).
Back at Nora's, Cas grabs the stem of his rose and uses the thorns to cut the palm of his hand while Ephraim is busy chattering on about following the sound of Cas' pain. Cas backs up to a door with glass dividers, trying to distract Ephraim.
Cas: Earth can be a hard place, but these humans can get better. They're just doing the best they can.
He uses the blood to paint a sigil on the glass while Ephraim says that if this is the best Cas can do, then he was worse off as a human than he thought.
E: [As an angel]...you failed more than you succeeded, but at least you played big.
Before Cas can banish the angel, E realizes what Cas is doing and pulls his hand away, doing that almost-but-not-quite-breaking-it maneuver.
Back on the blood phone, Abbadon says she's doubled Crowley's projected number of souls, meaning she's taking souls before their time, voiding his contracts. This totally pisses him off. He may be a sales man, but he's damn skilled one and having his contracts voided is a mark directly on him.
At Nora's, Ephraim is telling Cas that he'll take the pain away. Cas says he wants to live. E's like, as an angel, or as a man?
Before Cas can answer, Dean bursts in, angel sword drawn, but is immediately flung, hard, against a wall and knocked out. The baby starts crying again. Way to go, Dean. Can you get knocked unconscious a bit more quietly next time? *is kidding*
On the blood phone, Crowley is hurling insults at Abbadon I couldn't begin to jot down -- but they all sounded very British. He bellows that his way works, but Abbadon says that no one's seen him in weeks. Last she saw, Howdy and Doody had him all tied up.
A: You're the Winchester's Bitch. No real authority left.
Crowley: Your way will backfire. You. Will. Burn.
A: I. Can't. Wait.
The call is over and Sam's like, uh...Crowley? Crowley demands they bring him the translations.
Crowley: I keep my arrangements.
He rattles off the translation about obtaining the ingredients for the spell, mixing until the smoke rises from the ashes, casting the angels out of Heaven...and then gets to the critical part: it's irreversible. The spell can't be undone.
Duh duh duhhhhh. Not sure how that's going to play out. Literally nothing that the boys have done -- up to and including dying -- has been irreversible. I don't think Crowley's lying, but I don't know if I buy that there's no way to get the angels home. It's too early in the season for there to be certainties.
Back at Nora's, Dean is coming around just as Ephraim is all, "By choosing a human life, you've chosen death," and turns on his Super-Special Pink Smiting Light. Dean shoves the angel sword across the floor to Cas who grabs it up and does some smiting of his own, his expression one of grim determination as Ephraim's angel light flashes bright and then dies. Nicely done, guys.
I gotta say, though, I doubt Ephraim was the only Special Smiter who fell. This is done, but it ain't over.
Outside Nora's, Dean's leaning against the Impala talking on the phone to Sam and getting the skinny on the translation. He thinks Crowley's lying but Sam's like, not this time. He wants to know if Dean's going to tell Cas. Dean looks toward Nora's door as Cas is exiting and tells Sam he's gotta go.
Cas apologizes to Nora for overreacting. Says a friend gave him a tip about acetaminophen and it brought her fever right down. Aw, Dean. *rubs heart* I love that he knew that and was able to help Cas with the baby until Nora (finally) got home. Guess they had some cleaning up to do, too.
Nora tells Cas that her date was a bust anyway and says that the part of him that overreacted was what made him special: he cared.
Dean smiles at Cas as he approaches the car, asking where to? Cas just gets in the car.
Back at the bunker, Sam is cleaning up the blood phone and realizes there's a syringe missing from their little blood phone kit. He hurries back to Crowley and sees the King of Hell shooting up with human blood and ducks back out of sight a look of confused horror on his face. That's just...yeah. Weird. And intriguing. And weirdly intriguing.
The next morning, Dean is dropping Cas off at work. Now, where the heck did they go that it took the rest of the night? Did they just drive around? Sleep in the car? The passage of time and distance is so totally random on our show. *laugh*
Before Cas gets out, Dean stops him and apologizes for kicking him out of the bunker.
Dean (and his face...UNF): I know it's been hard on you. You're adapting. I'm proud of you.
Cas (sadly): Thank you, Dean. But...there's something Ephraim said. Can I really sit this out? Shouldn't I be looking for a way to get them home?
The truth slips across Dean's face so swiftly and subtly, only the fact that we know it allows us to see it pass by. He fixes his "always all right" mask in place and tells Cas the he and Sam willy take care of the angels.
Dean: You're human now. It's not your problem anymore.
Cas gets out, waves goodbye, and walks inside, not seeing the mask fall and the weight and worry find a home on Dean's face. Once more he's keeping the truth from someone he cares about in order to protect them. One could argue that Cas 'deserved' to know, but I can see Dean's rationalization: Cas couldn't change the situation. He would only beat himself up for the part he played in the creation of the current reality. And Dean knows a thing or two about guilt and how debilitating and painful it can be; he doesn't want that for his friend -- anymore than he already has.
Plus, I'm pretty sure Dean's not taking the "it's irreversible" declaration at face-value. We'll be revisiting that at some point, I'm betting.
But for now, Dean drives away cloaked in his burden of secrets and Cas returns to his life as Steve the Sales Associate, putting the convenience store in order for the day while the news rubs salt in his wounds by musing about the massive meteor shows (aka, falling angels) from a few weeks back still baffling scientists.
All in all, kind of a low-key episode, but one that had entertaining moments and gave us some ponder-worthy facts.
Now, next week's? Looks positively creepy. I officially can't wait for an episode...for like the first time since the premiere, honestly.
Thanks for reading!
PS ya'll. I'm so sorry I didn't get a reply to everyone's comments from last Ramble. This week totally got away from me. I'll make up for it before the next one. Pinkie swear.