The Road So Far:
(to the tune of Pat Benetar’s ‘Heartbreaker’)
Thanks to Metatron and Castiel as his unwitting accomplice, Heaven is no longer open to the public, unless you’re Metatron. A dying Sam (thanks to the Trials) is tricked by Dean to allow the angel Ezekial into his body for a bit of personal healing. But Ezekial’s actually the infamous Gadreel, the once Guardian of Eden. With his Grace gone, Castiel is forced into some less than honorable tactics (for him, anyway) to gain enough angelic mojo in order to stay alive as he fights for humanity in the turf wars going on between factions of the heavenly host. Throw in Cain (yeah, that one), Abaddon, a sentimental and blood addicted Crowley, and Dean’s new Mark of Cain ensures that things end like they usual do for a Winchester season finale…
Sam wants some answers and he’s not above torture to get them. Ask the trussed up demon he’s gutting to find answers on Crowley and Dean. “We’re under orders,” she cries after her bravado evaporates when Sam puts her to the question. Four weeks later, he’s still not sure where his older brother is. He finally gets a lead on Drew Neely, a man that killed his family years ago and disappeared only to resurface long enough to get himself killed. Wanting to pursue the lead, he touches base with Castiel who is looking quite terrible nowadays. Realizing his friend is in bad shape, Sam backtracks and leaves Cas to his own devices but not before openly wondering if Dean is “even remotely Dean.”
As if to answer that question, we’re treated to some pretty terrible Karaoke led by the elder Winchester. While that may not be the Dean we all know and love, bedding a bar cutie surely is. But then there’s the fact that Crowley’s his roommate and none too pleased, I might add, that Dean and Ann-Marie played the beast with two backs in his bed. Strike number two in the ‘this isn’t our Dean’ score keeping. When he sees Ann-Marie’s ex and beats him senseless, enjoying every moment of it, we’re left with strike three. This ain’t our Dean. So if it’s not, who is he?
Following up on the lead, Sam visits the town where Drew Neely was murdered. He takes a look at the surveillance tape and is shocked to see his brother, killing Neely when the man attacked him. But he also gets let in on the secret last year’s finale left us with; there’s a demon in Dean Winchester.
Shaken by the news, Sam speaks to the cashier witness of the slaying who produces Neely’s phone. He throws a call to the number and Crowley answers it. Sam is furious that Crowley has one of his minions setting up shop in Dean’s meat suit but the King of Hell gleefully tells him, in a way that only Crowley can, that Dean is 100% alive and kicking but with a few fundamental differences thrown in, courtesy of the Mark of Cain. He admits to sending followers of Abaddon against his “best friend” and realizes this is what’s really got Sam discombobulated. Crowley and Dean are road dogs, and the King of Hell has taken Sam place by Dean’s side. While their chat is going on and Sam traces the call to Bealuh, ND, a place only the residents know exist, Dean happily takes out another overmatched demon outside the bar.
While Sam’s handling things on the Dean front, Hannah pays a visit to Castiel. She gives him the 411 on Metatron and the re-population of Heaven by most of the angels. There are a handful though that refuse to answer the call. Daniel and Edina are two that have killed one of their brethren and refuse to return. “They must be brought home,” Hannah proclaims, “and they must be punished for the sake of all.” She is singularly focused but does see her once commander is falling apart. Cas is dying. She knows it and so does he but what’s to be done? Drain another angel of their Grace to keep him going? No, he has to focus on the mission and they track down the peaceful Daniel who loves what he’s been granted. “For the first time in a thousand years, I have choices. And with each choice, I begin to discover who I am.” Hannah wants to force Daniel to comply but Castiel understands that force is the last thing they need and she reluctantly agrees for them to use a less violent way to convey their message.
While Sam is making his way to Bealuh, Crowley comes clean to Dean about sending marks to Dean. It’s to keep the Mark charged and sated, lest Dean becomes a full-fledged demon.
But that’s not all Crowley has to say. He’s also worried about their months of doing nothing productive. He tells Dean they have an opportunity to do big things together, to “create a perfect Hell.” He tells Dean that partaking in some Hell business isn’t about “ending the party,” rather it’s more like their “just moving the party.” He then casually throws out his chat with Sam and the fact that “Moose” will most likely be on his way to Bealuh. Dean knows he has to leave now but not without one more night of drunken debauchery. He wakes up the next morning to Ann-Marie calling a spade a spade—he may seem like a good guy but Dean’s the bad guy now, through and through.
On the angel front, Castiel and Hannah spend a night by the fire with Daniel. He talks about Heaven and how earth offers such opportunities. It’s a sentiment Castiel relates to but things escalate from talk to violence when Edina arrives. She and Hannah go after one another and Daniel steps in, reluctantly prepared to kill Hannah. It forces Castiel’s hand and he kills Daniel. With both Cas and Hannah injured in the fight, Edina’s able to get away.
On his ride to confront Dean, Sam has a bit of car trouble and gets help from a good Samaritan. Or someone harboring a serious grudge against Dean. He trusses Sam up and gives a call out to his “prey”, laying down the terms; meet him for payback or Sam’s dead. But this isn’t the Dean he believes it to be and the latter tells the mystery man he’s not coming but, make no mistake, he’ll find the stranger someday and when he does, you best believe there will be a reckoning. Fade to black as the stranger thinks on his next move and Dean drives on, a scowl etched on his face.
Off the Beaten Path
- Let’s start with the first of several points. Though he’s exhibiting demon-like behavior, Dean’s not quite one of Hell’s Own just yet. Even more curious is Crowley actually helping Dean NOT to go full tilt boogie. Well, based on their conversation, the King of Hell has his own interests at heart but is there also a residual bit of humanity left in the King, a sliver that likes Dean as he is and doesn’t want him to as a hapless minion. Everything he’s done for Dean “has been a favor, whether [he] sees it or not”. He may be a bureaucrat but Crowley knows how to plan and there’s no doubt he has big plans for Dean.
- Remember last season when Sam told Dean that, if roles were reversed, he’d let Dean go (after finding out how Dean enlisted the help of Gadreel to save him)? Well, Sam’s had quite a bit of time to let Dean go but he can’t. It’s further proof that, for better or worse, the Winchesters will move Heaven, Hell, and Earth to save one another. Even when the other doesn’t wish to be saved. It’s both the dedication and selfishness (along with selflessness) that’s part and parcel of this thing we call love.
- Though it will not be the focus of the season, there’s still fallout from Heaven’s reopening, namely Rogue angels who aren’t about answering the call from home. More to the point, Castiel’s mojo is running dangerously low and only topping off on another angel’s Grace will save him from a slow and uncomfortable death.