“We’ll figure something else out, and if that doesn’t work, then we’ll move on to the next and then whatever’s after that. We just keep working, cuz that’s just what we do.”
In the world of Supernatural, one inviolable rule is to never trust a demon. Even if they give you the truth, you can guaran-damn-tee it’ll only be half the truth, if that. The Winchesters should know this better than they know each other…and yet they have to jump in bed with the newest Crossroads King—Bart—when he dangles a means for the brothers to track down Jack.
“After Crowley, I told myself ‘no more demons’.”
Contrary to his words, Sam and Dean find themselves working with Bart for a bit of an Ocean’s 4 heist with a snarky safecracker named Alice and the magical energy tracking demon Grab (his code name, obviously). From the start, there’s a lighter air to the hour, though the intended target, the sadistic recluse Luther Shrike, collector of all things supernatural, comes off as the darkest personality in the tale.
Created by King Solomon to keep tabs on the Queen of Sheba (who was a Nephilim in her own right), the spell works just like any other tracking spell, save for the fact that it’s attuned to Nephilim. Though not too thrilled to be working with Bart, they brothers really have no choice as the Crossroads demon promises to give the spell to Asmodeus if they don’t play ball. Leave it to a demon that makes deals for a living to have a backup plan. Of course, good hunters that they are, Sam and Dean aren’t about to let him get away with it and plan to double-cross and kill Bart once the job’s done.
All’s fair in love and Supernatural.
The plan itself is shaky, with Sam, the worst liar on the show, tasked with distracting Shrike with a deal for the demon blade while Dean, Alice, and Grab locate then open the safe. But we all know—thanks to Leonard Snart—the four parts of a heist:
- Make the plan
- Execute the plan
- Expect the plan to go off the rails
- Throw away the plan
It doesn’t take long for the plan to go careening off the rails. First Sam gets found out and KO’d by Shrike, then Alice and Dean discover the “dollar-store Indiana Jones” pressurized floor and poisonous darts that lead to the safe. Finally, Grab (the red shirt of the group) gets ganked by Luther using the demon blade. Though Shrike can take a demon blade to the gut and a dozen bullets, he can’t take a pistol-whipping.
So, with Luther in tow and a pressurized floor that will spit out darts to navigate, Sam throws away the plan (#4 on Snart’s list) and uses the trussed up Luther as a mobile pincushion. Watching a man wheeled down the hall and taking dart after dart to the body and face is funny…in an admittedly sadistic way. But the entire heist is framed in that easy-going feel Supernatural throws out here and there to break the tension of what, to this point, has been quite the morbid and depressing season. With that said, it doesn’t stay that way for long. Though the brothers (with Alice’s help) get into the safe and the item Bart requested, Luther Shrike isn’t about to let things go that easily.
“You’re on the wrong side of this, boys. You gotta ask yourselves if you can live with that.”
Remember what I said about trusting a demon’s word? Well, when the brothers come face-to-face with Shrike as they try to get off his land, he lays out the truth for them: he made a deal with Bart to save his sick son who, through Bart’s doing or a sick twist of fate, died a few years later. When the hellhounds dragged Shrike into hell, he got out by renegotiating the deal with Bart, thanks to having the Crossroads demon’s bones in his possession. Unfortunately for Luther, he’s off the lands that grant him immortality when Bart shows up and beheads him. Realizing their mistake, the Winchesters rethink the deal and, with Alice’s help, burn Bart’s bones, killing the demon for good. But slow of wit and hand, they can do nothing to save the second half of the spell.
While Sam and Dean have made a new friend in Alice, there’s still the problem of tracking Jack down. They may not have any clue on where to start but Dean has faith they will find a way, they always do.
- Once again Supernatural delivers compelling new characters. While Bart was fun, he was a poor man’s Crowley. Alice herself was a mishmash of Bela Talbot and Charlie, with a demon’s deal hanging over her head like the former and the quirkiness of the latter. Unlike Bela, Alice was able to make amends, using Dean’s planted lighter to burn Bart out of existence.
- The final moments where Dean reminds us that the win he got at Castiel’s return has truly inspired him. He’s still the bad-ass demon killer but that dark cloud over him has, for the most part, dispersed.
- Every television show at one time or another has a SMH moment when it comes to furthering the plot. This episode had two big ones: first, Sam’s shock at Luther taking a knife to the chest without blinking, allowing the man to get the drop on him. As many things as Sam has seen, it made no sense for him to be frozen into inaction…
- Just as, when Bart caught fire, it took them precious seconds to try and get the spell parchment out of his burning hands. Even then he tries to blow the fire out instead of using his jacket to kill the flames.
- Supernatural does such a great job using titles to get to the heart of an episode’s story. In this case, it’s about understanding someone’s nature. Even more so than people, demons have their personal interests at the forefront of any and all action. Trusting them is like the frog trusting the scorpion not to sting it for safe passage across the river. And we all know how that turned out.
Supernatural: “The Scorpion and the Frog