If there’s one thing we’ve all learned watching ‘Supernatural’ throughout the years, it’s there aren’t going to be many happy endings. This reminder was burned into our eyes (quite literally) when Kevin Tran, prophet, son, tool for the Winchesters before he became like family, became the latest victim of the harsh realities of the series. We pick things up with Dean watching over the Viking funeral of another fallen comrade, another friend gone too soon and, in this case, marked by the indelible scars of guilt.
Gadreel, Kevin’s murderer is on his own mission. He waits for Thaddeus, an angel who is in the guise of a teen idol. There is no love lost between the two as Thaddeus was the guard that watched over the imprisoned Gadreel and his best friend Abner. Based on Gadreel’s anger, Thaddeus was not the nicest of guards and relished on the perks of torture his position afforded. Gadreel gets his vengeance, using Thaddeus’s own angel sword against him.
While the fallen angel closes the book on a past, Dean readies for a future to hunt down Gadreel, still housed in his brother’s skin. When Castiel arrives, Dean fills him in on the situation and cannot hide the guilt he feels at letting this happen. Though Cas tells him that he heart was in the right place, Dean doesn’t think that matters. “It does,” Cas argues, “Sometimes that’s all that matters.” As it stands, they can’t sit around feeling bad about things; they need to act. Cas suggests they may be able to bypass the angel’s influence and talk directly to Sam but to do that they’ll have to partner up with Crowley. Despite his position as the King of Hell, Crowley seems affected by Kevin’s death, though it doesn’t surprise him. “People in your general vicinity don’t have much in the way of a lifespan,” he tells Dean. After some more barbs, he offers to help but only if they get out so he can stretch his legs. It’s time for a field trip, one that probably won’t end with hugs and puppies.
After killing Thaddeus, Gadreel meets up with Metatron at a bar where the bartender is none other than Gadreel’s original host. Metatron is pleased that Kevin’s no longer alive as, based on him pushing a few buttons, there will be no more prophets. Though disappointed Gadreel didn’t take the initiative and remove Dean from the playing field, Metatron adds another name to the hit list. When Gadreel openly questions yet another victim for him to snuff out Metatron puts the former Guardian of Eden in his place “It is not your place to ask questions,” he chastises, “It is your place to obey.”
Crowley leads Dean and Cas to an unassuming financial building that’s really an NSA listening post. More forward thinking that most of his brethren, Crowley planted Cecily there to gather any means of intelligence. She fills him in on Castiel’s current state (all angeled up but without the wings) as well as the fact that many of Hell’s minions aren’t openly following Abbadon, rather they are waiting for Crowley to make his move, and that includes her. Using Cecily’s NSA resources, he obtains Sam’s location—Somerset, Pennsylvania. Gadreel arrives there to take out the next name on Metatron’s list only to find out it’s his best friend Abner. The news throws Gadreel off and, when they talk, he realizes his best friend has taken responsibility for abandoning his post but also has used the Fall as a second chance. He tells Gadreel that “The key to happiness is getting the one thing you want most and never letting it go.” Though he doesn’t know it, Abner’s words sign his death warrant. Though they are too late to save Abner, they get what they came for: Gadreel.
While the trio carts Gadreel away to start Operation: Angel Hack, Abbadon pays Cecily a visit. She admits to helping Crowley and the Knight of Hell is not too happy about the
intelligence officer playing both sides and ends up removing Cecily from the equation. Back in Somerset, Gadreel wakes up and Dean gives Crowley the go-ahead to start with the hacking. Though he knows Crowley’s working over the angel, Dean still sees and hears his brother. He walks away and Cas follows. The chat a bit and Dean finally apologizes for kicking his brother from another mother out of the bunker. Crowley interrupts their heart to heart when he discovers Gadreel’s true name. Cas is shocked and angered by the revelation and rages at the trussed up angel. “It’s his fault, all of it,” he tells Dean. Gadreel allowed Lucifer into the Garden thus tainting humanity and necessitating the apocalypse. Crowley switches Gadreel back on and the angel is defiant, his torture at the hands of Thaddeus much worse than what they are putting him through now. They can’t reach Sam this way and the only recourse ends up making a literal deal with the devil. Crowley has to possess Sam, find him inside his own mind and give him the 4-1-1 on his current state. Crowley finds Sam and gives him the code word only Dean would know. Before Sam can make a decision, Gadreel arrives and starts working Crowley over. Sam interferes and, after a bit of a tussle, he’s able to boot Gadreel out of his body—the angel ends up returning to his original host, who’s still at the bar with Metatron.
They remove Sam from the restraints but time is not on their side when Abbadon arrives with some demonic muscle. Surprisingly, Crowley tells Cas and the Winchesters to get out of Dodge and he’ll handle Abbadon. They escape out the back and Crowley faces off with the Knight of Hell. But, as he reminds her, it’s not a fight, “It’s a campaign.” This is a battle of brains versus brawn and, based on the muscle accompanying Abbadon, quite a few demons will be willing to listen to the former crossroads demon and may check the box that says “Vote Crowley.”
Away from the verbal battle for Hell, Cas examines Sam and tells him they will have to heal him in stages. Sam and Dean have a much needed chat. Sam’s pissed that, once again, Dean took the choice out of his hands. “I was ready to die,” he tells Dean and though his older brother acknowledges that fact, Dean also admits that allowing that is not in him. Though Sam is hurt by Kevin’s death, Dean takes full blame for it and while it won’t bring Kevin back, he’s going to hunt down Gadreel. But he’s doing it alone. Dean reiterates to Sam what Crowley had said earlier, truly thinking he’s a cancer to those around him. Sam tells him to go “But don’t go thinking that’s the problem, cuz it’s not.” Dean’s not sure what that means and Sam offers no further explanation. With nothing left to say, he tells Dean to go once more. Dean doesn’t look back; he gets into the Impala and drives off.
- In many ways, ‘Road Trip’ was a continuation of the themes given in ‘Holy Terror’. We’ve often heard that the “Road to Hell is paved with good intentions” and there is no greater example than Gadreel. Responsible for the sin Lucifer introduced into the world by abandoning his post in Eden, Gadreel has teamed with Metatron to lead his people back to Heaven, even if it means killing innocents like Kevin or his best friend, Abner. On the one hand, I can understand wanting to make amends for such a cosmically bad decision. The problem arises where, unlike Abner, I’m not so sure Gadreel has ever truly taken responsibility for what he’s done.
- For his part in things, Dean harbors so much guilt for past actions and the collateral damage his friends have suffered because they’ve fought the good fight by his side. Where he can, Dean’s intervened against what would be their wishes to let things end. Despite knowing Sam was ready to end things, Dean interfered because, as he tells his little brother, it’s not in him to let Sam go. It’s this guilt and thoughts that he’s no more than a cancer that has Dean set out on his own to track down Gadreel.
- This brings us to the most unlikely of individuals who steps up to make amends: Crowley. Over the years, he’s been firmly on the side of Hell, trying his damnedest to take the Winchesters out but this season we’ve seen him in a different light. True, he still has the best lines, delivered with such zeal by the wonderful Mark A Sheppard. But Crowley has also shown more of a proclivity for, while not out and out goodness, firmly dancing in the gray-space. Not only does he volunteer to jump into Sam’s headspace but he also covers for the others when Abbadon comes knocking. My naïveté does not extend to proclaiming him a white hat but there’s no doubt that this is not the same Crowley that so callously killed Kevin’s girlfriend and mother. While I believe Crowley’s loyalties still remain firmly with himself, I have the feeling that he will continue to surprise Supernatural fans throughout the remainder of the season.