Last week, after Castiel’s short romp as God, he expelled all the spirits within him back to Purgatory when he could no longer control them. But the Leviathan stayed in him and declared that Castiel was gone. What to do now?

[Be warned, this recap does contain spoilers]

With the Leviathan eating up Castiel’s body from the inside, they drag Cas down to the local reservoir and explode out of him, releasing themselves into the water system. Castiel seems to be gone. Only his trench coat remains, washing up at Dean’s feet. The big problem now is how do you hunt something that hasn’t been on Earth since before the time of humans? There is no playbook for this one, and all the rules have to be written as they go.

It doesn’t help that Sam’s hallucinations are getting worse. Lucifer, toying with him in the most sinister way, has him questioning whether or not the world around him is even real. He finally confesses everything to Dean and Bobby, and Dean has no choice but to sideline him. Sam, weakened and unsure of himself, agrees. He can stay at Bobby’s and monitor the phones and do whatever minuscule research there is on Leviathan, but he is essentially out of the game until he is able to put the Lucifer genie back in the bottle.

Leviathan, spreading through the water system, begins to inhabit people as they expose themselves to water. Four people (that we see) succumb: a girl who drinks some Leviathan out of a water fountain at a park, a man whose sink explodes on him while working on his car, and two members of a local high school swim team. Leviathan is hungry, and they proceed to devouring the people around them while attempting to learn as much as they can about the human world. Watching a medical drama, the girl hatches a plan to impersonate hospital staff and use that environment to feast on humans under the pretense of operating on them.

After the swimmer-inhabited Leviathan attack their entire swim team in a brutal and grisly encounter, Dean is off to hunt them down. Bobby is left to watch over Sam, but is soon called by an old sheriff friend of his who has witnessed the Leviathan, now in the guise of the head of surgery at the hospital where she just had her appendix removed, devour her hospital roommate. Bobby has no choice but to leave Sam on his own to face down Lucifer.

Shortly after Bobby leaves, Dean arrives and takes Sam to an abandoned warehouse, saying that they’ve traced the Leviathan to that location. In case you aren’t able to figure it out right away, this isn’t Dean. It’s Lucifer pulling another one of his dastardly illusions. The walls between fantasy and reality are breaking down for Sam. The real Dean, coming back to an empty house, takes off after Sam and tracks him to the warehouse. Sam can no longer trust his own eyes, and is quickly losing all grip on reality. Dean shows Sam the wound he got on his hand when he fell on broken glass last week, and uses the pain from it to prove what is real and what isn’t. Pressing down on the wound with all of his might, Sam is finally able to see reality, and Lucifer disappears.

All seems as well as it can be – which, let’s face it, isn’t much at this point. Bobby, having a face to face confrontation with Leviathan at the hospital and escaping just by the skin of his teeth, calls up Dean to let him know where Leviathan is building its fortress. Sam and Dean leave to regroup at Bobby’s, but when they arrive, Bobby’s house has been burned down and Bobby is nowhere to be seen. They confront Leviathan in the junkyard behind the house. He tells them that they have been given orders to take out the Winchesters, thus revealing that, as powerful and old as Leviathan may be, they’re still taking their marching orders from some as-yet-unseen entity. In the fight, both Sam and Dean sustain serious injuries before Dean finally drops a car on Leviathan.

An ambulance is called, and they are whisked away to – you guessed it – the same hospital that Leviathan has just taken over. While in the ambulance, a concussed Sam sees Lucifer return. Add to that the fact that Castiel seems to be gone, and Bobby is nowhere to be found, and Sam and Dean are in a position they find themselves all too often: completely screwed.

This season of ‘Supernatural’ has started off at a sprint and not let up for a second. Sam, Dean and Bobby are now fighting against enemies that they have no playbook for, and the stakes are as high as they’ve ever been. And the stakes have been pretty high for these guys already. What I like most about this is the depiction of Sam. Last season, we had Robo-Sam who was soulless and merciless, and then we had restored Sam who was overcome with guilt over what Robo-Sam had done. Now, we are finally seeing the Sam that should have come straight out of the pit: a broken and shaken man who is riddled with debilitating PTSD. This is the post-Pit Sam that I was hoping to see last season.

Sam isn’t the only one who is on the ropes, though. Dean, while trying to put up a strong front, is so close to throwing in the towel himself. In a desperate phone call to Bobby, Dean confesses to just how hard it is for him to hold on, and that if Bobby is really gone, then there might just be no hope for him. Bobby has always been a cool customer who takes the apocalypse in stride better than anybody. He’s been the anchor for the Winchesters when they’ve desperately needed it.

While I don’t believe that either Bobby or Cas are truly gone, it will definitely be interesting to see how Sam and Dean fare in at least a few episodes without them. Personally, I’m expecting Bobby to storm the hospital next week. Because he’s awesome like that. If they are able to keep this pace, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next week.

If you missed last week’s episode be sure to read ‘Supernatural: Meet The New Boss’ recap to catch up.