THEN: A random demon who I can’t precisely recall, but might be the first one we witnessed Sammy smoke, taunts Sammy about “all of the things you and this demon do in the dark”. I suspect the writers really wanted a reason to give us another view of Jared Padalecki’s arms, chest, and back of love. Again, wowza! The amount of time JPad and JAckles must spend working out to maintain their incredible bodies makes it criminal that they are constantly dressed in layers upon layers. Sorry about that, I got sidetracked, and completely forgot what I was here to do for a minute. However, drooling was not forbidden in the recapper contract I signed, so I reserve the right to do so when the occasion warrants it. ANYWAY, Sammy smokes the demon back to hell, while Dean’s voice over angrily asks, “Do you even know how far off the reservation you’ve gone? How far from normal? From Human?” More shots of Ruby, Sam, and Dean, while Dean asks Sammy why he trusts Ruby so much, and Sammy replies that “she saved my life”. Ruby taunts Sam for letting his abilities get “flabby”, and tells him he knows what he has to do. Sammy says he “won’t do that anymore”, and sternly cuts her off with a “NO!” when she tries to further press the subject. Am I the only one who is wondering if they aren’t just talking about the Psychic Kid thing, and the ability to smoke demons back to hell? I mean, he couldn’t smoke Alastair back to hell, and lord knows he was giving it all he had. Wouldn’t Lilith present an even bigger problem, since she is the biggest bad ass that ever bad assed; well, since YED? I am torn, because it wouldn’t upset me to see more shirtless Sammy, but if doing whatever he refuses to do has anything to do with having more sex with Ruby to “tone up”, so to speak, I might be okay with him just keeping his clothes on. I cannot believe I just typed that. I take it back, writers! I take it back! Make Sammy able to smoke Lilith, but only totally nude, that would ROCK!
NOW: We are in a bar that is inhabited by a number of magicians, apparently there is a convention in town. An older magician is trying to impress the bartender with a card trick, when another magician totally mocks him, and then ruins the trick. Apparently I am going to be the first one to say it, but, what a Douchebag! Closed Captioning capitalized “Douchebag”, so I’m sticking with it for the entire recap.
Blaring techno goth music is filling a theater while another magician, who looks so much like Criss Angel I am beginning to understand why Kripke doesn’t fear a lawsuit for the title of this episode, is whining about how nothing is up to his exacting standards for his stage show. Three older men, one of whom is our poor magician from the opening, are discussing how much eyeliner he is wearing. One of them is too blinded by all of the sterling silver to even notice the eyeliner. Two of the three, in unison, “What a Douchebag.” Our magician from the opening, Jay, tells them to “give it a rest” because they are giving him a headache.
One of them, Vernon, says, “Come on Jay, his misdirect is shakin’ its ass like a 8th Avenue hooker!” I’m just going to get this out of the way and tell you the third magician, who I recognized from a trillion things, but couldn’t pinpoint even one, is named Charlie. In order of importance to this episode, they are Jay, Charlie, and Vernon. Everyone with me? Fantastic! Because if you aren’t, you are a Douchebag.
The three bemoan the fact that magic used to be all about skill and substance, and now it is just about flash. Jay gets frustrated and says, “You know what, this Douchebag isn’t the joke, we are.” Charlie wants to know who the hell Jay is calling a joke. Um, Charlie, he just told you that. This recap is going to take forever if these three can’t learn to follow a conversation. Jay says that he is calling himself one, and “maybe [Criss Angel wannabe] is a Douchebag, but he’s playing the main stage, and we can’t even afford an assistant.”
Jay feels sorry for himself some more before announcing he is going to do the “Table of Death” tonight. He doesn’t care if it kills him, he’s just fine with going out with a bang.
The “Table of Death” involves Jay lying on a table with his wrists and ankles in iron shackles, while a lovely piece of equipment with ten very sharp metal pointy looking things hovers above. To add to the fun, there is a bit of pyrotechnics that slowly burns through the rope that is suspending the pointy things above Jay and the “Table of Death”.
Out on the street, original Douchebag magician is walking around in a top hat while he waits for his turn to come up on the stage.
A white curtain is drawn across the stage where the “Table of Death” is being performed, but the back lighting allows the audience to see what is occurring via shadows. The rope is finally burned through by the pyrotechnics, and it appears Jay has just impaled himself on purpose. The curtain is drawn back to reveal a very alive Jay, while out on the street, a very dead Douchebag 1.0 has ten pools of blood forming on his white shirt.
Finally, Sam and Dean! They are walking up to Jeb Dexter aka Criss Angel Wannabe, who is telling his captive street audience, “This isn’t a trick, I don’t do tricks. This is a demonstration about demons and angels, love and lust.” Wait a minute! That sounds familiar! If only I could place it. Maybe if I hadn’t turned this into a drinking game using the word Douchebag, I might be better prepared for deep thinky thoughts. Oh, well, better luck next time!
Dean says…wait for it…”What a Douchebag!” Sammy explains that Wannabe is famous, kind of, and Dean wonders if it is for “Douchebaggery”.
Wannabe fakes what looks like a seizure, but apparently is his version of a demon possession/exorcism, and successfully pulls off the card trick. Which…for some reason needed demon possession to work? I don’t know, I give up, Show. From here on out, you hold all the cards, think of me as your assistant. Dean wants to know “what part of that was not a steaming pile of crap?” I want to know why the writers used “crap” when “Douchebaggery” was free for the taking.
The Ginormatron defends magicians, which reminds Li’l Stumpy that Sam used to be into magic when he was a tyke. He even had his own deck of cards and a wand. First a mathlete, and now a magician. Oh, Sammy, you are too adorable for words.
The Boys go off to question Vance’s assistant to see if he had any enemies, if she noticed anything strange; you know, the usual stuff. Wonder of wonders, she did notice something strange in the form of a Tarot card in dead Vance’s cape. I will now take a moment to let you all know that the amount of time I spent researching Tarot cards, and their meaning, approached cramming for a mid-term levels. Thank you so much to my friends for pointing me in the right direction!
The Tarot card in Dead Vance’s cape is called the “Ten of Swords”, which makes sense since Dead Vance was stabbed ten times.
We’re back to Jay and Charlie, and suddenly Jay can shuffle cards like a pro, and if this magician thing doesn’t work out, he could easily find work in any Vegas casino. He impresses Charlie further when he performs some trick where he can “pull” three aces out of a deck of cards, when previously he couldn’t even “pull” one. Charlie points out that he is still missing the Ace of Hearts.
Jay wants to perform “The Executioner” at tonight’s show, and Charlie thinks he is out of his ever-loving mind because even the great Houdini didn’t attempt that one. Jay says it’s just a “simple rope trick”, and his confidence here is alarming in the complete 180 degree turn it is from yesterday. He doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life doing birthdays and Bar Mitzvahs, even if, as Charlie points out, doing this particular trick could result in his death. Poor Charlie is trying to tough love his best friend by telling him that if Jay is going to try “The Executioner”, he won’t be there to watch him die. Jay replies, “No, you’ll be there. You’re always there for me.” He then asks Charlie to check his coat pocket, and lo and behold, the Ace of Hearts is there. As if there was ever any doubt, Charlie agrees to be there for Jay.
Back at the magic convention, Wannabe is acting like a whiner because he thinks he is so great, “and freakin’ Angel’s in Vegas doing Cirque du Soleil.” He whines about the lighting, the fact that this is a lame “man of the people gig”, and probably some more stuff, but I quit listening to the Douchebag.
Charlie and Vernon are watching all of this when Dean shows up flashing his Agent Ulrich FBI badge, and tells them he is looking into the death of Patrick Vance. The three watch Wannabe interview Jay, getting his name wrong and making it generally apparent that he thinks he is too good for this. Vernon remarks, “What a Douchebag!”, to which Dean replies, “Couldn’t agree more!”
Agent Ulrich tries to steer the conversation back to Vance and the “Ten of Swords” Tarot card that was found on his body. Charlie and Vernon tell him there is a magician on Bleeker Street, named Chief, who is very much into playing with cards. They also say that Chief has had a bone to pick with Vance, because Vance “crossed him about a year ago, probably costing him fifty grand in royalties.” Damn, I clearly wasted my time in college when I should have been learning to be a magician.
Ah, Chief. This scene made my night. Granted, I was plowed from all the shots of vodka I had thrown back every time “Douchebag” was uttered, but still. Also, I may have continued to play the drinking game on the most recent re-watch, which occurred approximately two seconds before I started writing this recap. Whee!
Back to Dean. He is wandering down a sketchy alley, and comes upon a building with a Gatekeeper who Dean has to tell he is there to see the Chief before being allowed entrance. It should be mentioned that Dean is still looking mighty fine in his Agent Ulrich suit.
Inside, he is greeted with very loud techno music, an impressive light show, and a man emerging from a tunnel with all the lights behind him. It is exactly like watching WWE wrestling, and how they introduce the “wrestlers”. Once Chief comes into full view, we are treated to the sight of a very large, very muscular man, dressed in a sleeveless black leather vest, black leather pants, and a rather jaunty black leather cap. He is carrying a black leather flogger. During my internet research, while trying to find the correct name for this device, I discovered they retail for about $65, so shoot me an email if you’d like a link! Fair warning, there are some things you just cannot un-see.
Chief informs Dean that he, “is really going to get it tonight, Big Boy!” Dean stutters out a, “I think there has been a misunderstanding, I, uh, think I’ve been had.” This answer seems to excite Chief who says, “Oh, you ain’t been had…until you’ve been had by the Chief. Oh, and before we get started, what’s your safe word?” I am going to go out on a limb here and guess, for the first, and maybe only time in this episode, it is not Douchebag. Dean looks like a cross between ill and horrified, and beats a hasty retreat. I am amazed that I can even get on the internet to post my recap. I was prepared for all the fanfic that must be flying around crashing the entire World Wide Web.
Sammy is in a motel that has the usual decor of the motels The Boys always manage to find. I swear, is there a AAA guide to these places that I don’t know about? He’s researching on his laptop when a knock at the door comes. Oh, I wonder who the hell that could be? Ruby! I never would have guessed! Sam’s face when the knock came said that he knew exactly who was behind door number one, as well, and he really had to force himself walk over and open it.
To say that Ruby is pissed at our beloved Sammy would be an understatement. She whines, “The whole world’s about to be engulfed in hellfire, and you’re in Magic Town, USA?.” She reminds us that 34 of the seals have been broken, and that is over halfway to the point where Lucifer will rise. She continues berating him to quit “dicking around” telling Sammy he has “bigger fish to fry”. She wants him to “cut the head off the snake”, and reminds him that he is the only one who can stop Lilith, so “step up and kill her”. I somehow think the fangirls were all wishing at this point that he would step up and kill another, but I could be misreading things. Nah.
Ruby finishes up her diatribe by telling Sammy this “would all be so much easier if you’d just admit to yourself that you like it, that feeling it gives you.” I’m really hoping that she is talking about using his Super Psychic Kid Powers. She reminds him that if Lucifer rises, The Apocalypse is going to begin and “oceans of people are going to be dead.”
The Boys meet up to compare notes. Sam says he didn’t find anything, and Dean, well, poor Dean has “nothing [he] wants to talk about, or think about, ever again.” Dean has been to hell and back, and all that entailed, and he looks like he finds this to be the most disturbing thing he has ever faced.
Back at the magic convention, Agent Ulrich is telling Vernon and Charlie that he is going to arrest them for Obstruction of Justice if they don’t start talking. They both laugh in his face, and tell him “he is no fed”, and furthermore, he is going to have to do a lot better than a fake badge if he actually thinks he can successfully con the men who con for a living.
Sam and Dean both giggle awkwardly, and adorably, and Dean says, “you got us, yeah, we..we are actually aspiring magicians.” Sammy continues with, “we came to the convention because we thought we could learn something.” Dean helps out his little brother with, “yeah, get some ideas for our new show.” Vernon and Charlie both want to know what kind of show these two have, and Sammy says, “it’s a brother act.” Dean takes over with, “yeah, yeah, you know, with rings…and doves….and rings.” Oh my giddy aunt, one bit of fanfic writing itself in this episode wasn’t enough? Now we have Sammy and Dean in a brother act with doves and rings? Have fun, internet, you are going down!
The “Incredible Jay” is introduced and prepares to perform “The Executioner”. At the same time, Wannabe is checking himself out in a mirror in his house while goth rock plays. “The Executioner” involves Jay in a straitjacket, with a noose around his neck, standing on a platform with a trap door that will open if he does not get out in time. In a scene reminiscent of the Lamp Cord of Death that tried to kill our Dear Sammy in season one’s “Home”, a rope has formed a noose in Wannabe’s room and is stalking him. As with “The Table of Death”, Jay is behind a white curtain and is back lit. The audience, including Sam and Dean, can clearly see the trap door open and Jay drop, but of course when the curtain is pulled back, he is very much alive. The same cannot be said for Wannabe, who has the Rope of Death in a noose around his neck while he hangs from the ceiling fan, very much dead, a Tarot card of “The Hanging Man” is nearby.
The Boys are back to research mode, and they find out that Jay was a very big deal back in the 70s. They wonder if it is possible that Jay is using some kind of spell that works as a “death transference”. Dean says he hopes he dies before he gets old. Sam wonders if they will still be chasing demons when they are 60, and Dean replies that he thinks they’ll “be dead, for good” by then. Sam brings up Travis, Gordon, and Bobby as examples of Hunters that did not die young, and Dean scoffs and says that Bobby is not exactly “a poster child for growing old gracefully.” Dean, you know I love you, I really, really do, but you need to back off my Bobby, right now, Douchebag.
Sam continues to hope that they will be different, and Dean asks, “what kind of Kool-Aid you drinking man?” I can’t speak for Sammy, but my Kool-Aid has vodka in it, Douchebag.
Sammy asks his brother, “what if there was some way we could win?” He continues, saying, “I just wish there was a way we could…go after the source, that’s all. Cut off the head of the snake.” Oh, no, no, no. Sammy is quoting Ruby now, this cannot end well. Dean, oblivious to Sam’s internal struggle, points out that the “evil just keep piling out of the Volkswagen.” Poor Sammy is having a bad enough day without visions of clown cars dancing in his head, Dean.
Sam and Dean split up; Sammy to dig up dirt on Jay, and Dean to look into the Tarot cards. Dean makes the connection that both Vance and Wannabe were total Douchebags to Jay, and the result was death by Tarot card.
Meanwhile, Jay has slipped Sam. Dean wants to know how he lost a 60 year old man, and Sam points out the obvious; he is may be 60, but he is a magician.
Dean kicks down the door to Jay’s room, and, YAY, we are treated to some gun porn! They tie Jay to a chair and question him about the strange coincidence that everyone who is a Douchebag to Jay is ends up dead. Jay denies knowing anything about anything, and Sam and Dean walk a few steps away to conference and run down a list of potential suspects. Predictably, when they turn around, Jay has slipped the ropes and is not longer tied to the chair, or even in the room for that matter. Dean: Guess we should have seen that one coming. Yes, honey, you really, really should have.
Sam and Dean rush through the halls of the hotel, figuring a 60 year old man could not have gotten far, and when they reach the lobby, they are greeted by the police that Jay has called to turn in The Boys for breaking into his room.
Jay has found Charlie, and he is complaining about the fact that Sam and Dean think he had anything to do with all the dead magicians. Charlie offers no help in the trying to figure out what the hell is going on department; and worse yet, thinks Jay is slightly off his rocker for thinking that real magic might actually play a part in all of this.
Jay admits that he really meant to kill himself when he performed the “Table of Death” the other night. Charlie is giving his friend a pep-talk reminding him that Jay was the best magician he had ever seen when they met back in the day. Charlie finishes by saying, “This may be some manna from heaven, I don’t know, but whatever it is, you don’t throw it away.”
Jay, fully pepped, performs “The Table of Death”, and this time, it is Charlie that ends up dead, with the “Ten of Swords” Tarot card predictably nearby. I have to admit, that took me completely by surprise.
Sam and Dean walk up to a completely broken Jay, who has dropped the charges against Our Boys. He is deep in sorrow, remembering when he and Charlie were just kids and became friends. He recalls that he would have been dead by the time he was twenty if it had not been for Charlie. Jay then says, “he was more than just my friend, he was my brother.” The anvils keep trying to hit me, but by now I am so wasted and staggering around, they have no hope of actually making contact.
Jay tells Sam and Dean that he never should have doubted them, and The Boys try to steer Jay towards finding out who did this to his friend. They surmise that whoever is performing the black magic must like Jay a lot, and be very close to him. I may be drunk, but I can still count to three, and that leaves Vernon as the most likely suspect. Jay cannot believe that Vernon would ever do that, Charlie was his friend too, after all. Dean tries to explain to Jay that real magic is like crack, once you get a taste of it, no matter what kind of person you are; it is hard, if not impossible to turn away from it. OH MY GOD, SHOW, I GET IT! My Grandma who has never seen this show before gets it! I am going to pull something from trying to dodge all of these anvils!
Vernon receives a phone call, and leaves his hotel room. Sam and Dean break in, and find it is a veritable magic museum. Dean can’t resist making a dig about how Sammy “must be in heaven”.
Meanwhile, Vernon has met Jay at the magic theater, and Vernon is unbelievably pumped that Jay is now the headliner of the convention. He tries to convince Jay that Charlie would want the show to go on, and he calls it “our shot”. Jay is in the middle of accusing Vernon of killing Charlie when a very, very young and very, very alive Charlie appears! Long story short, Charlie is old enough “to have shilled for Barnum” and Barnum was kind enough to give him the Grimoire, a book of magic. Charlie used the spells to give Jay a gift, his life. He couldn’t stand to see his friend in so much pain, so he used black magic to ensure that Jay got his mojo back. Now he wants to give both Jay and Vernon the gift of youth, and immortality. He impressively fans out his Tarot cards, but when Vernon gets too close, he warns him not to touch them because, “they are still radioactive”.
Jay is heartbroken and believes the price for immortality is too high, and he wants no part of it. Charlie wants the three of them to start their lives over again, young and powerful. Vernon is buying what Charlie is selling, but Jay still refuses to have any part of it.
Sam and Dean rush into the theater, guns drawn. Dean says that immortality is a neat trick, but unfortunately they are going to have to stop Charlie. Dean is attacked by a Rope of Death, Sammy fires his gun at Charlie, who spits out the bullet. Sam ends up the on “The Table of Death”, a potential victim of the “Ten of Swords”, while Dean continues to be trapped and sputtering by “The Hanging Man”.
Jay stabs himself in the stomach, and Charlie falls to the floor, bleeding profusely from the exact same spot on his body that Jay stabbed himself in. Lying next to Charlie is “The Magician”, which Jay has used his gift of slight of hand to plant on him. Remember, the cards were still “radioactive” from Charlie’s Black Magic spells.
As soon as Charlie is dead, this time for good, Dean and Sammy are released. The heartbreak on Jay’s face is an echo of the heartbreak on Dean’s face when Jake stabbed Sam way back in season two’s “All Hell Breaks Loose”. I can’t help but cry for Jay and the sheer anguish and torture he is feeling.
Sam and Dean thank Jay for saving them. Jay reveals that Vernon is gone, and will never forgive him for killing Charlie. Dean tells Jay, “Charlie was never going to give up what he was doing, ever. You did the right thing.” Jay responds with doubt that he did the right thing and says, “Charlie was like my brother, and now he’s dead because I did the right thing. He offered me a gift, and I just threw it in his face. So now I have to spend the rest of my life, old and alone. What’s so right about that?”
Jay leaves utterly bereft and despondent, throwing his deck of playing cards away on the way out. Dean wants to know if Sam wants to get a beer, and Sam responds that he needs to take a walk…
To a car being driven by Ruby. He leans into the open window and says, “Okay, I’m in.” Ruby wants to know what changed his mind. Sam sadly replies, “I don’t want to be doing this when I am an old man.”
Well, except for the part where I explain the meaning behind the Tarot cards, and, I cannot stress this enough, I was blown away. On first viewing, I really thought this was a pretty vintage episode of Supernatural, complete with People in Peril being turned into Monster Chow, albeit in this case it was Black Magic Chow. Hell, there was the ridiculousness of the variations of Douchebag being littered throughout the entire episode. I am certain Eric Kripke and his writers intended for this to be seen as a potential drinking game. Come on, it was just too obvious not to be. When the count of the ridiculous term had reached five, and the show hadn’t even gotten rolling, what else was one to conclude? To say I feel Kripke’d would be the understatement of this recap, because “Criss Angel is a Douchebag” is one giant red-herring from the word go. It is classic misdirection, where Kripke waves his right hand so you don’t notice what he is doing with his left hand. Obviously, I picked up all of the threads that were weaving the story of Jay and Charlie into the story of Sam and Dean; brothers who would do anything for each other…almost. I was not watching it so superficially as to not pick up on that. Plus, this episode was like dodge ball, except instead of dodging balls, we were dodging anvils.
What follows is the result of my research on the three Tarot cards that appear in the episode, but I’m not going to offer my personal thoughts here, for the most part. I am far more interested in talking it out with all of you in the comments section, and seeing if we all agree on where this is most likely headed. All I will say, in the interest of getting the ball rolling, is the Tarot cards can each be used, in my opinion, to illustrate the journey that Sam, and ultimately Dean, are about to take; and the road, my friends, is going to be heartbreaking, I fear.
I will try to summarize the meaning of the Tarot cards in a somewhat concise and general manner, but you can see the length of this recap, I have already failed miserably at that task. This is just a very simple explanation of each card, many would say oversimplification, and my feelings would not be hurt by that at all! Much, much more can be interpreted and understood from each one, and I can’t wait to hear what you have to say! Also, this is the first time I have ever looked at anything to do with Tarot cards, so I could use a little help from any of you who actually know about them.
1. “10 of Swords”: This card is a sign of an impending change, which may initially be hard to accept. It is not a “bad” card, rather it symbolizes hope and an indication that our troubles will not be permanent.
2. “The Hanged Man”: This card represents the need to get in touch with your true self, and why you feel restricted or stuck. The main lesson of “The Hanged Man” is that we gain “control” by letting go, or we “win” by surrendering. It is the gift of prophecy, giving up something to gain something.
3. “The Magician”: This card is the bridge between the world of the spirit and the world of humanity. It is the transmitter of spiritual power, and the mediator between God and mankind. Basically, you have to use the abilities given to you to make your dreams reality. Difficult decisions are going to have to be made, as a situation has been presented that has all of the components to be the manifestation of your desires. However, you have to personally manipulate things to make these desires a reality.
Finally, “The Magician”, when reversed, represents greed, deceit, and using one’s skills and abilities for negative ends. The reverse “Magician” is the embodiment of trickery, cunning, maniupulation, and un-trustworthiness, manifesting itself by causing mental confusion…perhaps in others, for the sole purpose of absolute destruction.