Back at the motel room, Ruby joins Sam and whines about smelly angels. Sam, however, is only concerned about finding Dean. Ruby doesn’t see a problem with the situation – Dean gets his revenge on Alistair and the angels get their intel. “He can’t do it,” Sam insists cryptically. “Look, I get it. You don’t want him going all Torture Master again –” Ruby lisps, but Sam cuts her off, revealing, “No. I mean he can’t. do. it. He can’t get the job done. Something happened to him downstairs, Ruby. He’s not what he used to be, he’s not strong enough.” This argument bugged me in “Sex and Violence,” and it continues to baffle me here. We’ve seen virtually nothing to indicate that Dean came back from Hell “weaker.” I mean, if that’s what we were supposed to get from the weekly “Sam and Dean pull off the road, sit on the car and Dean tearfully spills his guts to Sam” endings, then something got lost in translation. “And you are?” Ruby asks. “I will be,” Sam responds with his Super Special Puppy Dog Eyes of Pleeeeease Can I Have S’more, Honey?
In the torture room, Dean is messing with his toys. “I had your Pop on my rack for close to a century,” Alistair admits, “John Winchester made a good name for himself. A hundred years. After each session, I’d make him the same offer I made you — I’d put down my blade if he picked one up.” Dean asks for the name again instead of shoving a dirty sock in the demon’s mouth, so Alistair continues. “But, he said ‘Nein,’ each and every time. Ooooh, damned if I couldn’t break him. Pulled out all the stops, but John, he was made of something unique. The stuff of heroes. And then came Dean. Mmmm, Dean Winchester. Oh, I was up against it again. But Daddy’s little girl” — aaaand Dean takes a long swig of whiskey — “he broke. He broke in thirty. Oh, just not the man your Daddy wanted you to be, huh, Dean?” Dean starts slamming crap around because he STILL has Daddy Issues. “No. Now we’re getting somewhere,” Alistair muses. Dean pours a thing of Holy Water into a gold chalice, eliciting a “Holy Water? Come ON grasshopper you’re gonna have to get creative to impress me,” from Alistai. Dean, who’s been avoiding eye contact throughout this exchange, finally looks Alistair in the eye. “You know something, Alistair? I could still dream, even in Hell. And over and over and over, and you know what I dreamt? I dreamt of this moment. And believe me, I got a few ideas,” he says with a a shadow of a grin. Dean fills up syringe with holy water and Alistair twitches. Oh, c’mon. If Ruby’s Knife o’ Demon killing elicited a “That tickles,” from Alistair in “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” I can’t imagine a little holy water in the bloodstream is gonna make this demon break. Dean squirts the syringe, walks over to Alistair, eyes moving over his torso. “Let’s get started,” Dean smirks. Outside, Castiel listens to Alistair’s screams and looks concerned. Alistair groans. Dean puts down his syringe, eyes dead and cold. “Lemme know if you want some water. There’s plenty left,” Dean offers. “Go directly to Hell, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars,” Alistair rasps and — really? God, that’s lame.
At the motel, Ruby, eyes black, slurs some Latin and sets fire to a map on the table. Hrm. Do you really want to let fire loose in a motel room with Sam? I’m just sayin’. Sam looks at the flaming table, rather concerend (as he should be), but Ruby explains that the fire will consume all of the map except Dean’s location. “Out,” she orders, and the fire disappears, leaving a tiny circle of the map unscathed. “Ruby, it’s been weeks. I need it,” Sam says quietly. “You don’t seem too happy about it,” Ruby huffs. “You think I wanna do this?” Sam asks, sitting down on the bed. Oh, god. They’re gonna have sex again. I don’t know much more corpse I can take this season. Nggh. Just think about Padalecki’s back, Julia. Happy thoughts. “This is the last thing thing I… but I need to be strong enough,” Sam finishes. ZOMG, Sex with Ruby makes Sammy extra-strong? Ewww! (Okay, I know, I know. But I think that would have been a rather hilarious twist on the whole “addiction” problem.) Ruby sits on his lap. “You can have it,” she says reassuringly. They kiss (gack) and Ruby removes a knife from her boot, seductively slicing her arm. Sam looks up at her for permission (No, Sammy! Don’t do it!) and Ruby’s eyes give him the go-ahead. Sam starts chomping down on her arm as she pets his head, soothing, “It’s okay, Sam.” And then she shoots the camera the most Eeeevil of Evil Glares and damn it, Kripke, if you don’t turn her into the Evil by the end of the season, I’m going to throw something at my TV. I feel so used.
Meanwhile, back in the torture room: Dean’s got Ruby’s Knife of Demon Killing and he’s running Holy Water over it. “There’s that little pig-poker — I wondered where that went,” Alistair observes. I wondered too, Al. “Do you really think this is gonna fix you?” Alistair he continues, “Give you closure? Oh. That is… sad. That’s really sad. Sad, sad.” Dean sticks him with the knife and Alistair grunts, “I… carved you… into a new… animal, Dean. There is no… going back.” As he twists the knife, Dean says, “Maybe you’re right, but now it’s my turn to carve.” The horror! Off in the shadows of the room, the wheel of a faucet handle squeaks as it turns, allowing water to drip down onto the chalk lines of the Devil’s Trap. DUN DUN DUN!
Outside, Castiel is still listening to the groaning. An overhead light shatters as Anna. The two greet each other coolly and I make grabby hands at Anna’s trenchcoat (it’s ridiculously cute). Castiel makes note that she’s returned in her old human body, despite the fact it was destroyed in “Heaven and Hell.” Hrm. Yeah. What about that? She’s sentimental, it seems, called in some old favors and got it back. That’s a handwave if I’ve ever seen one. Castiel still has orders to kill her, but she doesn’t think he’ll try. Please, Castiel. I’m begging you. Send Kool-Aid far, far away. Please.
Back in the torture room — okay, I really need to get this off my chest. I was expecting to be really disturbed by Post-Hell Torturing!Dean, but it’s kinda blasÃ©. I thought the torture of Meg in “Devil’s Trap” and of Meg!Sam in “Born Under a Bad Sign” were more intense. Ackles is doing his best with material, but I’m still not convinced that Dean left half himself into Hell, or that he returned as some sort of animal. Plus? Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by Dexter, but the torture itself is meh. I understand it’s network TV and all, but crank it up a notch, Kripke and Co.! You seem to love the gore in every other venue. Shock me! Anyway, Dean removes the knife as a bloody Alistair wheezes. Dean grabs Alistair’s chin in his hand and and lifts it up to meet his eyes. Alistair laughs, teeth bloody, “You know, it’s your professionalism I respect.” Whatever, Al. Dean gives him the Death Glare.
Meanwhile, Anna wants to know why Castiel is letting Dean torture Alistair. Castiel insists he’s doing God’s work, but Anna begs him, “Stop this Cas, please. Before you ruin the one good weapon you have.” Good weapon? Hee. Castiel doesn’t think they should be questioning the Will of God, but Anna implies that it’s not His will. Something’s fishy! DUN DUN… okay, that one didn’t deserve it. In the torture room Dean splashes Holy Water on Alistair’s face, prompting him to gurgle blood. Outside, Anna continues to plant seeds of doubt with Cas. More splashing on Dean’s part. Anna touches Castiel’s hand, playing the “You’re afraid; I was too” card. Castiel jerks his hand away “I am nothing like you,” he insists, leading me to wonder if Anna is Heaven’s Town Bicycle, if you know what I mean, “You FELL. Go,” Castiel orders. She leaves, amidst Alistair’s screams.
It seems the Holy Water isn’t doing much good on Alistair, as he complains “It’s just not getting deep enough. You lack the resources. Reality is just — too concrete up here. Honestly, Dean. You have no idea how bad it really was.” Dean pours salt into what looks like a pastry bag. “And what you really did for us.” Dean tells Alistair to shut up. Dirty sock! Dirty sock! “The whole bloody thing, Dean,” Alistair continues, “The reason Lilith wanted you there in the first place–” Dean cuts him off, FINALLY taking my advice to put a lid on this guy. “Well, then I’ll just make you shut up,” Dean says before he pours salt into Alistair’s mouth. Yay!
Cut to Sam driving in the rain, very reminiscent of “Mystery Spot,” wired and locked-in like woah. Don’t mess with Sammy!
Alistair’s gasping bloody salt. “Something’s caught in my throat — I think it’s my throat,” he quips. “Well strap in,” Dean replies grimly, “because I’m just startin’ to have fun.” “Y’know, it was supposed to be your father,” Alistair explains, indicating that Dean did a piss-poor job with the ‘shut up’ part of the plan. “He was supposed to bring it on. But in the end, it was you.” Dean asks what Alistair’s talking about. Ignore him, you idiot! “Every time, the same offer, remember? Same as your father. And finally, you said ‘sign me up.’ Oh, the first time you picked up my razor, the first time you sliced into that weeping whiner, that was the first seal.” Hrm. In my mind’s eye, the “weeping whiner” was Bela, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. Dean’s attention becomes rapt, and he considers Alistair for a moment before insisting, “You’re lying,” with a smile. “And it is written that the first seal shall be broken,” Alistair says with his Serious Voice, “when a righteous man sheds blood in Hell. As he breaks, so shall it break.” Dean turns away, a look of guilty panic crossing his face, and Alistair’s pretty much won this bout. “We had to break the first seal before any others, only way you can get the dominoes to fall right. Topple the one at the front of the line…. when we win, when we bring on the Apocalypse and burn this earth down, we’ll owe it all to you, Dean Winchester.” Ackles’s throat and jaw are working overtime as Dean closes his eyes, trying to contain himself. “Believe me son, I wouldn’t lie about that. It’s kind of a religious sort of thing, but… uh,” Alistair trails off as he sees the pipe dripping onto the chalk lines of the Devil’s Trap. Dean stares off into the room before he admits, “No, I don’t think you are lying. But even if the demons do win, you won’t be there to see it.” He whips around to finish Alistair off, but the demon has gotten free of his restraints. “You should talk to your plumber about the pipes,”Alistair suggests before slugging Dean in the face. Dean goes down hard and — commercial!
Alistair hauls Dean back up, his pretty face beat to a pulp. Wait! I feel like I missed something. Did Dean fight back? Did he just let Alistair beat him up? WHAT HAPPENED, DAMN IT!? That was a lousy cut. Alistair picks Dean up by the throat and presses him up against the Star of David, slowly strangling him. “You gotta lot to learn, boy, so I’ll see you back in class, bright and early Monday morning,” Alistair says, answering my question about what happens to Dean if he dies again. As Dean’s about to expire, Castiel comes up behind Alistair and… slaps him on the back. Hee! There was quite a bit of wrist in that one. Alistair turns around, dropping Dean, and Castiel stabs him with the pig poker. It doesn’t hit him square in the heart, though so Castiel uses his angel voodoo powers to twist the knife, eliciting some grunts from Alistair, but the demon just pulls the knife out and tosses it away before charging Castiel. Dean’s still on the floor, passed out. Alistair and Castiel beat each other up until Alistair rams Castiel’s back into a steel hook in the wall. Huh. I don’t think Alistiar understands that you’re supposed to take the coat off the person before you hang it up. Alistair gets his hand around Castiel’s neck and sneers, “Y’know, like roaches, you celestials. I really wish I knew how to kill you, but all I can do is… send you back to Heaven” Alistair starts with the Latining and Castiel starts glowing on the inside. Before Alistair can finish the job, however, he’s flung back against a wall by none other than Sam Winchester. Oh, my. As Sam has become more morally ambiguous this season, Padalecki’s hair has gotten increasingly fabulous. Evil’s a good look on him.
Castiel slumps to the ground as Sam keeps Alistair pinned, asking who’s killing the angels, and how they’re doing it. “You think I’m gonna tell you?” Alistair asks. “Yeah, I do,” Sam replies cockily and he starts twisting. Alistair’s eyes film over as Sam shouts, “HOW are the demons killing angels?” He starts strangling or pulling or something and Alistair gurgles that the demons aren’t doing it. See, Dean? You’re not supposed to let them talk. Oh, wait. Darth Dean’s passed out on the floor because Sith Lord Alistair did a crappy job training him. Guess he can’t hear me! “Lilith is not behind it — she wouldn’t kill seven angels, she’d kill 100,000,” Alistiar laughs and Sam releases the choking. “Go ahead, send me back. If you can,” Alistair challenges. “I’m stronger than that, now. Now I can kill,” Sam says, a sadistic expression plastered on his face that makes me giggle with glee as Alistiar gets all flashy and glowy and eventually flops down as a wide-eyed corpse. Castiel looks at Sam like, “WTF?” What the heck indeed. Say what you will about Sam’s powers leading him to the DARKSIDE or whatever, but they’ve literally saved the boys’ lives and a number of seals this season, so it would be utterly stupid of him not to use them. Uriel may have called them an “abomination,” but he’s not exactly the most reliable source. What’s the drawback, exactly? Sucking on a little demon blood? Eh. Sammy’s a rough one in bed anyway — it was bound to happen. Point being, I might be a little more concerned about Sam’s descent to the Darkside if it were made clear that there was a downside to using these powers. But Kripke’s got his cards so close to his chest, and so much of Sam’s journey is tied up in Ruby’s ambiguous characterization that I don’t know what the hell is supposed to be going on with this arc. This simple little recapper is quite confused, which tends to drive her to drink. So please, Kripke, think of my liver.
Aaaand we’re in the hospital. Dean’s beat up, unconscious, sensors on his head, and on a ventilation tube, very reminiscent of “In My Time of Dying.” Except, yet again, I feel like we’ve missed a scene. Sam charged into the torture room without so much as a glance at his brother’s unmoving body on the floor. a) That’s messed up, and b) what the hell happened when Sam realized what happened to his brother?! And what on EARTH would have prompted Sam to take him to the hospital? The boys get in fistfights all the time and, as we were shown in “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” it usually ends up with the two of them returning to the motel room to patch up. Because credit card fraud is hard enough — medical insurance fraud? Not easy at all. Okay, ANYWAY, my point is that I have no idea what Alistair could have possibly done to Dean to warrant not only a trip to the hospital, but also sticking him on a ventilator. Oooooh, poor woobie! Overkill, much? Gah. Sam sits by Dean’s bedside, worried. Castiel shows up in the hallway and Sam goes outside to insist, “Get in there and heal him. Miracle. Now.” Hee. “I can’t,” Castiel says. Whyyyyyy? “You and Uriel PUT HIM IN THERE because you can’t keep a simple Devil’s Trap together,” Sam growls. Castiel insists that he doesn’t know what happened. “This whole thing was pointless,” Sam says, continuing his role as my stand-in for this episode, “You understand that? The demons aren’t doing the hits. Something else is killing your soldiers.” Alistair wasn’t lying, it would seem. Sam gets something hard in the back his throat and goes back into Dean’s room.
Uriel sits on a snowy playground bench (Seriously, what is it about angels hanging out around playgrounds? It’s ‘ creepy.) and when Castiel approaches, he says their superiors want them to stop hunting the demon responsible for the angel deaths. Castiel wonders if the murders aren’t demonic, maybe they’re, “the will of heaven. We are failing, Uriel, we are losing the war. Perhaps the garrison is being punished… I think maybe our Father isn’t giving the orders anymore. Maybe there IS something wrong.” Uriel stands up and announces, “I won’t wait to be gutted” before fluttering off.
On the snowy walkway in front of some ancient, random house, Castiel calls for Anna. Cue flicky lights. “Decided to kill me after all?” She of the Awesomely Cute Trenchcoat asks. Nope. Castiel is considering disobedience. Anna is pleased, but Castiel is not. He muses, “For the first time I feel…” “…like it’s worse?” Anna finishes for Castiel, “Choosing your own course of action, it’s confusing. Terrifying. But it’s right. You’re too good for my help. I’m just trash. A walking blasphemy.” Snerk. Trash indeed. Get off my screen if you’re not getting Dean naked! Castiel says he doesn’t know what to do, and that she needs to tell him “like the old days.” So a) she was his commanding officer, or b) these two angels were gettin’ it awwwwwn. “No. I’m sorry. It’s time to think for yourself,” Anna says and — flappy! Castiel’s eyes come to rest on the faucet of a water fountain and…
… he goes to investigate the Devil’s Trap back at the torture room, discovering the leaky pipe. Uriel appears, asking Castiel to go and fight with him because, “He called.” Castiel gets very still and says, “Strange, strange how a leaky pipe can undo the work of angels when we ourselves are supposed to be the agents of Fate.” See, I can work with that. It’s kind of a cool concept, and very Winchesterian. And then the writers decided to be all clever and mess with it. Blah blah, the two fought together, brothers, pay me that respect and tell me the truth. Uriel finally admits, “Truth is, the only thing that can kill an angel,” — he slides a shiny, shiny sword out from his sleeve — “is another angel.” DUN DUN — okay, that reveal didn’t really deserve it either. (So, what exactly was all of this stuff in the beginning of the season about Castiel’s “brothers and sisters” being slaughtered by the demons in battle, if the only thing that can kill an angel is another angel? Hrm, show? And if Uriel was the traitor all along, why didn’t he send Dean back to Hell the moment he laid eyes on him?)
So Uriel was behind it all. Alistair should have killed Dean and escaped and Castiel would have gone on thinking it was the angels. The two argue about faith and Uriel exclaims, “Our father? He stopped being that, if he ever was, the moment He created them. Humanity… whining, puking larva.” Castiel wants to know if Uriel is trying to convert him. “I wanted you to join me, and I still do,” Uriel says, “With you we can be powerful enough to… raise our brother.” “Lucifer?” Castiel asks. “You do remember him,” Uriel says, “How strong he was, how beautiful, and he didn’t bow to humanity. He was punished for defending us. Now, if you wanna believe in something, Cas, believe in him.” Hrm. Admittedly, my theology isn’t the sharpest at the moment, but I thought Lucifer was banished from Heaven for refusing to bow to God, not humanity. But I have no idea what source material the show seems to be working with — at times, all I think they’ve got is the SparkNotes to Paradise Lost. Castiel insists that Lucifer is not God, but Uriel counters that God isn’t God anymore, because he doesn’t care what they do. Like, oh, killing the angels in the garrison that wouldn’t join Uriel. “All you have to do is be unafraid,” Uriel assures. “For the first time in a long time, I AM,” Castiel says, and then they fight and… I guess I had expected a battle between angels to be something more than a sloppy fistfight. Uriel gets Castiel down on his knees (snerk), and Castiel says, “I still serve God.” Uriel goes off, though. “You haven’t’ even met the man! There is no will, no wrath, no God.” DUN DUN DUN. Deux ex Anna appears and stabs Uriel from behind with the sword. “Maybe, maybe not,” she says, “But there’s still me.” Ugh. Cringeworthy line. As if I needed any more reason to wish Kool-Aid would go far, far away, now her dialog sucks even more. There’s a sonic boom, leaving Uriel’s big black wings charred on the floor.
We end this week’s little adventure back at the hospital. I’ve seen some interesting speculation that this scene happens in Dean’s unconscious brain, which is why Sam isn’t there, and that scenario is the only way I can forgive Kripke and Co. for excluding the scene where Dean wakes up and he and Sam have to figure out what the hell happened. But no. We’re apparently more concerned with the Adventures of Castiel and Co. this week than, oh, say… the Winchesters. Sorry. What was that I said about my liver, Kripke? See what you’ve driven me to?? Castiel asks Dean, who is now sans-tube and sensors, if he’s okay. “No thanks to you,” he croaks and jeebus. He sounds like crap. “You need to be more careful,” Castiel advises. “You need to learn how to manage a damn Devil’s Trap,” Dean lobs back. Castiel explains Uriel’s betrayal. “Is it true?” Dean asks, “Did I break the first seal? Did I start all this?” “Yes,” Castiel responds, not bothering to sugar-coat it, “When we discovered Lilith’s plan for you, we laid siege to Hell, and we fought our way to get to you before you –” “Jump-started the apocalypse,” Dean finishes. “We were too late,” Castiel laments. “Why didn’t you just leave me there, then?” Dean asks. Well, sweetie, because then we wouldn’t have had a show. I mean, Castiel soothes, “It’s not blame that falls on you, Dean. It’s Fate. The righteous man who begins it is the only one who can finish it. You have to stop it.” Dean starts losing it. “Lucifer… the Apocalypse? What does that mean?” When he gets no response from Castiel, he insists, “Hey. Don’t you go disappearing one me, you son of a. What does that mean?” Heh. It means exactly what it sounds like, Dean! You have to stop the Apocalypse! Details? Psssh. Castiel plays the ignorant card, but he knows that, “our fate rests with you.” Cue the Winchester Waterworks. “Well, then you guys are screwed. I can’t do it, Cas. It’s too big. [Snerk… sorry. Took me right out of the scene.] Alistair was right. I’m not all here, I’m not strong enough.” What does that MEAN, Dean!!!?? Ackles starts wibbling like there’s no tomorrow. “But I guess I’m not the man that either of our dads wanted me to be. Find someone else. It’s not me,” he whimpers as the Emo Tears of Manly Angst stream down his face (okay, there were, like, three) and we fade into credits.
Well, I think one’s enjoyment of this episode is strongly linked to whether or not you’re digging the Angels and Apocalypse storyline this season. I know some people totally love it, and I respect that choice, but I’m not a fan. The fact that a good chunk of the episode was Castiel and Co.’s Issues with Faith and Loyalty says a lot about where the focus was. I simply find the show’s attempts to be “deep” with this religious storyline to be tedious and uncompelling — the writers are much better at dealing with Sam and Dean than Castiel, Uriel, and Anna. The Sam and Dean interaction was almost entirely cut from the episode, and that is what bothers me the most. I’m okay with the boys’ relationship being strained, or whatever the writers seem to be working towards with that (I mean, I’d be happier if they showed us, rather than told us, but that’s a recurring problem with the season). But the fact that I know interaction had to have occurred (Sam finding Dean after vanquishing Alistair, and Dean waking up in the hospital), and said interaction could have said something about how the two are relating to each other now makes it all the more frustrating that so much time was spent on the angel storyline. I keep reading interviews where the writers are like, “Oh no no no. It’s not about the Apocalypse! It’s about what this war is doing to Sam and Dean’s relationship,” (Sera Gamble, I’m looking at you) but I have a hard time buying that argument in lieu of this episode.
The other major issue I’m having with the episode is the reveal about the First Seal. It’s like the opposite of retcon. Instead of being able to look at past events in the series and go, “Ooooh! That makes sense now,” I’m even more confused about how all of this is supposed to fit together, especially when you throw the Yellow-Eyed-Demon’s “plans” into the mix. So John, whose Deal with the Yellow-Eyed-Demon was pure serendipity, yes? No one knew he was going to offer that Deal. So he just happens to be in Hell and is the first man in a long long time to fit the definition of “righteous” (Whatever that means. How can one be damned and righteous?), so Alistair puts him up on the rack to break the First Seal. But the Crossroads Demon in “Crossroad Blues” offers to Bring Daddy Back if Dean will trade places. Okay, I could see where one might argue that the demons weren’t having much luck with Daddy, so they decided to go with Junior. But would they really go out of their way to get the son of the guy they couldn’t break? I’d think there’d be better candidates like, oh, say… Evan Hudson? They shouldn’t have let that one go. So then Dean makes a deal at the end of Season 2, before the Damned Door to Hell gets opened. At that point, John Winchester has been Down South for almost 100 years. No one can hold out forever. Why take Dean’s soul as well? Especially if it means bringing Sam back from… wherever he was (speaking of which, if it takes an angelic siege on Hell to get a soul out of the Pit, how on earth did Sam get back in his body? If he was in heaven… oh, dear. Sticky, yes?). Lilith spends much of Season 3 trying to take Sam out, so why broker the deal that puts him back in play, just to get the son of the guy who didn’t break in 100 years? This sounds like a dumb plan. Not to mention the fact that John Winchester just… walked right out of the Damned Door. Hell’s best chance for an Apocalypse, strung up on the rack for 100 years and he just… walks right out. See? It doesn’t make sense! I mean, if you squint really really really hard, then maybe. But Kripke’s job is to make me go, “Oh!” Not, “Uhhhh, oh?”
Anyway, I’ll get off the soapbox now. Next week on Supernatural: The boys enjoy the perks of a white-collar lifestyle, complete with foamy milk drinks and fancy ties. And they don’t know each other! Oh noes! Whatever will they do? Stay tuned.