We open with a classic Western scene set in 1861: two men face off across a dusty street, hands at their sides, guns at the ready. One of them is Elias Finch, the other is Sheriff Dean Winchester. The clock strikes twelve, both men draw, and shots echo.
Back in the present time – although 48 hours earlier – Sam manages to lead Dean and Bobby to the underground Campbell family library. No one seems concerned that Sam’s ability to do so is probably a result of him remembering the location from when he was soulless, which is odd since Dean is so concerned about him dragging up those memories for fear they would crack the wall.
After some searching, Bobby finds some crucial information: a phoenix’s ashes can burn Eve. Dean finds the next piece of the puzzle: a phoenix was recorded to have been killed in Sunrise, Wyoming, by none other than Samuel Colt. Dean immediately comes up with a plan: since they know exactly where – and when – a phoenix was located, they should simply travel back in time to 1861 using Castiel’s help and retrieve the ashes.
Dean calls for Cas, but his angel friend Rachel appears instead. She offers her help, but when Dean presses for Castiel to come down, Rachel puts the Winchesters in their place. She thinks they and their cause is far less important than the war she and Cas are fighting in Heaven. Before she berates them too much, Cas comes and dismisses her.
The boys all head back to Bobby’s, where Castiel tells Sam that he can only send them back in time for 24 hours. Any longer and he could lose the boys in history. Dean, meanwhile, returns from picking up some Western clothes, which Sam adamantly does not want to wear. He accuses Dean of having a fetish for old Western movies – including the Clint Eastwood movies with the monkey named Clyde. Poor Dean defends his obsession and finally convinces Sam to put on the shirt.
The boys return from getting changed, and Dean is dressed head to toe in a fairly ridiculous outfit. Bobby hands them some of the dragon gold from an earlier episode and Cas sends them back, with instructions for Bobby to pray for him in exactly 24 hours.
In 1861 Wyoming, the brothers stumble across a public hanging. A judge is reading out the sentence of Elias Finch, who vows to make three men pay: the judge, the sheriff and the executioner/deputy. Dean gets sad when a local insults the ‘blanket’that he’s wearing.
The boys head to the jail/police station, where Dean introduces them as Eastwood and Walker (as in, Texas Ranger). After Sam says they’re looking for ‘a man’, I’m fairly certain the locals think the boys are gay. The Sheriff says Samuel Colt isn’t in town, but they should ask the saloon owner: Elkins.
The saloon is not the hopping place Dean thought it would be. It’s full of one passed out drunk and two pretty unattractive wenches. Elkins says that Colt isn’t in town, but is nearby, building a railroad stop (ie. the Devil’s Gate that was first mentioned in season 2). After Dean is accosted by a saloon girl who has sores around her mouth, the judge comes in and takes her upstairs.
She screams when Finch – who was supposed to be dead – returns and burns the judge to a crisp. The Sheriff comes to investigate and thinks that Finch didn’t die in the hanging. He wants Sam and Dean to join his posse in the morning to hunt him down.
That night, the boys discover that Finch’s grave is empty, and think that Finch might actually be the phoenix. Dean wants Sam to go get the Colt and make sure that Samuel Colt comes to town. Sam shakingly mounts one of the horses in town and rides off, gripping the reigns, while promising to return at 11 a.m.
Later, while the Sheriff is tending to his own horse, Finch returns. The Sheriff’s bullets don’t affect him and he gets burned to ash.
Back in present time, Rachel meets Castiel in a warehouse. She confronts him about his recent reprehensible actions (which I assume relate to the souls as we learned in the previous episode, but could be something even worse). She thinks he’s turning into something ‘bad’and attacks him. She manages to wound him with the special angel sword, but he eventually kills her.
Wounded and weak, Castiel travels to Bobby’s house, puts up a protective sigil, and then promptly faints.
Back in 1861, Dean enters the saloon the next morning, now clad in an authentic – and hot! – Western outfit. Elkins says he’s probably the only guy stupid enough to go chasing after a ghost, but Dean thinks the Sheriff will show. Until a minute later when they hear the Sheriff is dead. Elkins immediately puts the Sheriff’s pin on Dean’s chest, giving him a big new promotion.
Two demons enter Samuel Colt’s shack and want him to open his newly built Devil’s Gate. Colt’s reputation is justly earned, as he quickly draws on the two demons and kills them with his magic gun.
Back in Sunrise, Dean confronts the executioner/deputy – the third man Finch is looking for. The deputy wants to leave, but Dean wants to use him as bait.
Sam, meanwhile, arrives at Colt’s cabin and introduces himself as a hunter from the future. Colt accepts his story after Sam shows him his smartphone. Sam wants his help killing the phoenix, but Colt insists that he’s retired. Sam says that if Colt doesn’t want to help him, he at least wants the gun. Sam’s also very disappointed in Colt’s behavior and his willingness to just give up the life of hunting.
The Power of the Soul
In the present, Castiel finally wakes up and tells Bobby that Rachel betrayed him because Raphael corrupted her. But Bobby is brought up short when Castiel announces that he doesn’t have enough angel juice to bring the Winchesters back to the present. There’s only one thing he can do: use the power of Bobby’s soul to power up his batteries. Since it’s the only way to save Sam and Dean, Bobby agrees to let Cas touch his soul.
In 1861, Dean’s waiting in the jail for Sam while the deputy is locked in the jail cell. Finch appears and Dean quickly points out how Finch can’t get through the iron bars. Finch says he used to be married to a human woman. One day he came into town to go to the bank and when he came outside, the deputy had her pinned in the alley. When Finch tried to stop him, the deputy shot the both of them and Finch’s wife died. The deputy then framed Finch for the murder of his wife. The deputy can’t deny it. Finch quickly grabs a nearby gun and kills the deputy, so Dean escapes. A moment later, he meets up with Sam while evading Finch and his gun. Sam hands him the Colt and Dean decides to draw Finch out.
And we’re back at the original high-noon shoot-out. We flash back and forth between 1861 and the present. While Dean and Finch draw against each other, Castiel reaches inside Bobby’s chest to draw on the power of his soul. After Finch is shot and killed by the Colt, Dean and Sam rush for his ashes. But Castiel pulls them back to the present before they can grab them.
Back at Bobby’s house, in the present, Dean asks Cas to send them back, but he doesn’t have enough power to do it. Sam admits they clearly failed in their task. A moment later, a delivery man knocks on the door. And it’s the Back to the Future 2 ending: Samuel Colt had left a delivery for Sam Winchester to be delivered on a specific date – today’s date. Inside the box is Sam’s now dusty smartphone and the phoenix ashes. With the ashes, Dean vows that they’ll take the fight to Eve.
Ashes, Banter and the Back to the Future Ending
Before we talk about the episode as a whole, did everyone notice how Dean dropped the Colt before trying to get the phoenix ashes and the camera deliberately panned to it for a moment? I wonder whether Dean dropping it will come back to bite them in the ass. How long has it been since we’ve seen the Colt in the present? I honestly cannot remember what happened to it. If someone can fill me in in the comments, I would appreciate it. (Update: It wasn’t until @lolualmom pointed it out that I realized this episode explains how Daniel Elkins had the Colt back in season 1. I recognized that the saloon owner was named Elkins, so he obviously picked up the gun when Dean dropped it and gave it to his descendents. I’m still curious as to what happened to the gun in present time, though).
Now, onto the episode. I loved it. I loved the return of brotherly banter between Sam and Dean, which was a welcome relief after so much angst between them. I loved how excited Dean was about traveling back in time and his ‘woe is me’little boy faces when the locals insulted what he thought was a cool Western outfit. And he was so disappointed with the lack of posse (his use of that word in the graveyard had me in stitches), as well as the extremely germy saloon girl. I adored that Samuel Colt turned out to be a pretty good guy, even if he didn’t really want to help Sam.
Yes, the ending was a bit of an easy fix. If you don’t like Back to the Future, you were probably thinking it turned out too easy. But the whole episode was a nod to a lot of Western films and shows, along with various other pop culture references that are too numerous to mention, so the ending actually fit.
The boys were like fishes out of water, despite Dean’s knowledge of the Old West, which made everything incredibly humorous. But everything about 1861 looked authentic and dusty, so props should be given to the crew who made that possible.
As for bringing the fight to Eve, I’m eager to have it happen, as there’s only two more episodes before the two hour finale on May 20. The whole storyline concerning Eve isn’t a very big focus, which is unfortunate. And the solution to killing her seemed kind of easy to find (assuming the ashes work), so I’m hoping the whole danger surrounding her will be flushed out more as the season concludes.
But what really holds my attention now is the business with Castiel. I was surprised how quickly we lost Rachel, although I suspect we’ll learn more about her and her role as Cas’lieutenant in the Cas-centric episode on May 6. She didn’t specifically mention what Cas was doing that was so bad. Was she only referring to his gathering and the creation of souls as we learned in ‘My Heart Will Go On’? Or is he up to something more? We also learned more about the power of souls when Castiel obviously used Bobby’s to recharge his batteries. So it’s confirmed now that souls are definitely a power source. But is Castiel collecting souls to increase his personal power, or is there another use for them?
It’s clear that Castiel’s deceit towards Bobby and the brothers continues. I don’t know the reasons for this. Perhaps he believes they wouldn’t approve of his plans or has simply chosen not to tell him, but I am sad that what we thought was a noble character is now acting out of character (for lack of a better term) in light of his present circumstances.
There are still so many loose ends for the writers to tie up in the four remaining hours of season 6 of Supernatural. It boggles my mind how they will manage to tie everything together, from Eve to Purgatory to the war in Heaven. Earlier today I did a slide-show (view it here) of season 6 questions that I believe still need answers, and many questions brought up in this review are among them.
In a sense, this was a very sentimental episode, as my editor mentioned to me after we watched the screener. It revisited the past mythology of the show, with mentions of the Colt and the Devil’s Gate, both of which we met very early on in the series. It was, in a sense, a sequel to last week’s episode, which also touched on many earlier themes and characters of the show. We also discussed the conundrum of Castiel. Although he’s clearly keeping secrets, he did obviously help the boys, and both he and Bobby went to great lengths to save Sam and Dean from being stuck in the past. So he is still on the side of the Winchesters, even if he’s probably doing something they won’t approve of. The fact that Rachel turned on Castiel and didn’t specify exactly what she meant about Cas’transgressions led both of us to suspect that he’s up to something more than just creating and gathering souls. When Castiel’s secret comes to light, I think it will be explosive.
Looking forward, you can view promo photos for the April 29 episode of Supernatural (here), where the boys come face-to-face with Eve, and the May 6 episode (here), where we learn more about Castiel and the war in Heaven.
You can also view a promo here for the April 29 episode “Mommy Dearest”. And if you’re not afraid of spoilers, you can read our article (here) about spoilers for the remaining episodes of season 6. Each week we’ll remove the old spoilers for episodes that have aired and add in information for future episodes as it becomes known.