One thing ‘Supernatural’ gets right that so many shows miss is referential continuity. Staying true to past events, seen onscreen or even casually mentioned—helps a show steeped in traditions of things that do not exist, keep an air of realism. The latest offering, “Repo Man” is a testament to that realism.
Four years ago during the Winchesters search for Lilith, they came across Jeffrey, a man possessed by a demon with the predilection for murdering women. With the help of Ms. Havlock, an occult specialist, they captured it. Using their considerable knowledge in the arts of violence against demons they get it to rat out Merrick, one of Lilith’s lieutenants, before sending the spawn back to hell. Dean takes a wrecked Jeffrey to the hospital and makes his way back to Sam, hot on the trail of Merrick.
Fast forward to the present and the brothers are back in the small Idaho town of Couer d’Arlene, but they’re not alone. While Dean takes a call from the enigmatic Frank, desperately waiting on information regarding Dick Roman’s whereabouts, Sam gets a visit from his buddy Lucifer. Mark Pellegrino is at his finest, having so much fun trying to gain a reaction from Sam. Naturally, the younger Winchester remains stoic, using the familiar bite of palm pressure to drive the apparition away. He focuses on their latest intel; the demon who they’d exorcised appears to be back as several women have been killed under the same MO. When they visit the recent crime scene and find sulfur, their suspicions are seemingly verified. Through all of Lucifer’s jibing, Sam remains poker faced, keeping his focus and Dean out of the loop.
Knowing the demon promised retribution, the brothers visit Ms. Havlock. Though safe for the moment (and doing particularly well for herself with her ‘Occult Online’ business) Havlock knows her best bet is to get out of dodge, though not before suggesting the brothers check in on Jeffrey.
In another nod to realism, the formerly traumatized Jeffrey is a part of a Support Group Home; who wouldn’t need support after a demon using your body like a puppet? He’s doing well enough in the Home, garnering the privilege of having a pet. He picks up his pup and is accosted by the Winchesters who end up filling him in on the demon’s return. During the conversation Lucifer, like a petulant child, tries to get Sam to say something, anything to him but Sam doesn’t bite. In a stroke of luck, Jeffrey remembers the list of pre-planned victims the demon had in mind. Sam takes off for the library to watch over the potential victim though his undesired co-pilot is tagging along hard. After each appearance, the hand trick that tethered Sam’s sanity and dissipated the Lucifer mirage is becoming less effective. Though he’s primarily focused on the task at hand, Sam can’t completely ignore Lucifer.
Back in his room Jeffrey catches Dean up on the last four years of his life. His medical injuries were the first in a line of troubles graduated to alcoholic and psych issues when he started spouting off about possession. Dean offers Jeffrey a bit of empathy and it springboards a memory of the demon’s penchant for keeping souvenirs and the nest where it kept them, Jeffrey and Dean take a ride to see what they can find. When they reach the nest, there’s an immediate “this doesn’t feel right” vibe in the air. Dean keeps Jeffrey behind him and after catching sigils written across the windows and walls, Dean sees a battered man chained to a chair. Dean tries to free the man, ignoring the man’s warnings when he gets stuck with a needle and the lights go out.
At the library the pressure is getting to Sam and Lucifer changes tactics. Instead of being the needed vision, he turns to Sam’s concern over the current case. He points out the presence of tranquilizers in each of the victims, something a demon wouldn’t need with its superior strength. Suspecting Jeffrey may be involved Sam calls Dean but gets no answer. He searches Jeffrey’s room, finding a summoning spell with very familiar handwriting hidden away in a secret lockbox. Backtracking to Ms. Havlock’s and consulting with Lucifer throughout, Sam confronts the occult specialist, threatening her for answers. The ‘helpless’ Jeffrey is anything but. He demanded Havlock provide him with the spell necessary to resurrect his once body co-habitant. To ensure her acquiescence, he kidnapped her son, the now one-eared sap tied up in the warehouse.
Not used to being the villain, Jeffrey does the cookie-cutter bad guy spiel of his needs and desires. He was never the good guy, harboring the sickened fantasies the demon carried out. Before the demon took him over Jeffrey was nothing more than a serial killer who hadn’t gotten the nerve to actually do any killing. Though he’s started back up, he still doesn’t feel quite whole without his body jacker. As the original summoning failed (as Sam mentioned this particular demon was a rat in the biggest way to its kind) Ms. Havlock provided Jeffrey with a seriously powerful casting. It uses the blood of the exorcist (Dean) to pull the demon from hell. In order to learn all of this, Sam goes dark in a way, bringing for the chiseled hunter nearly a decade on the road has crafted. Lucifer, whom Sam is actually going to for advice, smiles like a proud papa.
Using Dean’s blood and the heart of his own pooch (yep, Jeffrey’s a right bastard), Jeffrey summons the demon but instead of using its former host, it jumps into Havlock’s son. Miffed and a tad pissed, Jeffrey confronts the demon only to get the smack down. After batting Sam and Jeffrey around, the demon tries to escape but gets caught in a devil’s trap. An angry Jeffrey, demon blade in hand, readies to take his frustration out on the demon but Dean, freed of his bindings, shoots the murderer. With Jeffrey out the way, Ms. Havlock takes the forefront and exorcises the demon from her son and all is right in the town. Well, not quite.
An exhausted Sam and Dean return to their motel room. Dean crashes on the bed but not before the two chat about psychopaths and how they are always acting, as if they are normal when they are crazy. Dean falls into his lala land while Sam is hounded even more than Lucifer. An unintended consequence of accepting his ‘help’, Sam can’t get rid of the fallen angel. “You let me in,’ Lucifer jovially informs a panicked Sam, “You wanted me, partner.” Bathed in fire created by Lucifer, Sam can only take it, pain and all, as Lucifer gloats victoriously.
The fourth in a string of episodes where Dick Roman and his creatures have only been mentioned in passing, “Repo Man” still provides an extremely important element. I’d always thought the writers had glossed over the consequences of Sam’s wall blocking his memories of hell. Now, a year later, they’ve picked the story back up but Lucifer’s not going anywhere this time. Though Jeffrey’s machinations were, at first glance, the focal point of the episode, the resurgence of the Sam/Lucifer dichotomy is truly the gem of “Repo Man”. While Jeffrey will be forgotten, the effects of Lucifer weaving his way back into Sam’s fractured psyche will have ramifications for both Winchesters for their foreseeable future. With Sam’s imbalance, Dean’s depression and the intelligent and relentless brutality of the Leviathan, that future may be a very limited run.
If you missed the previous episode, be sure to read our ‘Supernatural: Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie’ recap.
- Though he’s not at the level of Mark Sheppard’s Crowley, Mark Pellegrino’s Lucifer’s return is quite the welcome treat. The casual joy Pellegrino infuses into his character is the most enjoyable part of this episode and the promise of him staying on board as the literal devil on Sam’s shoulder begs the question just where the “Road So Far” will have led us at the end of the season.
- As mentioned before, taking an off screen event during one of the more powerful story arcs and creating an episode from it was a reminder of how the ‘Supernatural’ world is connected. Kudos to the writers, Kripke, and Gamble.
- Though the twist of Jeffrey actually welcoming the possession was a nice change of pace, Jeffrey himself was an uninteresting villain. His bid for power, though it segues nicely with Sam’s impending breakdown, didn’t offer much of a wow factor. He will be a footnote in the ‘Supernatural’ book of villains not to be revisited.
- Lucifer’s broken down Sammy’s walls. Just how much will that play into an already ragged Sam and Dean as they search for Dickie Roman and his gang of Leviathan is fodder for some good television and some serious questions on how Sam will handle it. Has he learned to trust Dean or will he fall back into his secretive ways?