When you have ten years and nearly two hundred episodes under your belt, it’s difficult not to rehash old topics or use filler material that doesn’t touch upon a particular season’s primary theme. Of course, some shows do this better than others and I can say with certainty that ‘Supernatural’ pulls this off as well as any show to grace the small screen. ‘Paper Moon’ is the perfect example of this supposition.

Sam and Dean talk about the last few months

For the first time in a while, the Winchesters are taking it easy. Taking heart Castiel’s advice after Dean was cured of his demonhood, the brothers are relaxing by the lake, taking in nature. They throw some brotherly banter back and forth though avoid any real discussions of that big shadowy albatross dangling around both their necks, mainly Dean’s actions as a demon and Sam’s own questionable choices in his search for his demonized big brother. Despite both needing some R&R, they are chomping at the bit to get back in the swing of things and finally give in to temptation, taking on a case in Durham, Washington that hints at werewolves roaming the streets. It doesn’t take long for them to gather the information and track down the primary suspect; Kate.

For those that may not remember, Kate was a college student who first appeared in season 8’s “Bitten” where she was turned into a werewolf by her boyfriend Michael’s best friend, Brian. The two had become werewolves after being attacked during a film project they were doing. The video she left chronicled the events leading up to her turning and a plea for the Winchesters not to track her down. Trussing her up, they are ready to do her in when Sam suggests that Dean’s not ready to jump back into the killing suit just yet. The hesitation allows Kate to escape but using her phone they track her down to the out of the way Lincoln Motel.

As they wait for the young woman to appear, Dean asks Sam about the “not being ready” comment. Sam skirts around the subject but Dean turns the tables, bringing up Sam damning Lester to hell in order to summon a crossroads demon in order to find Dean. The back and forth which ultimately accomplishes nothing, is interrupted when Kate leaves the motel room. Only it’s not Kate though she’s still a werewolf, who surprises the brothers and is pulled off the two by Kate. She delays the boys long enough for Tasha to escape and does enough talking to save herself and tell them her story. Tasha’s serious car accident—one which she may not have recovered from—prompted Kate to turn her younger sister. The problem is Tasha’s not hunting hens and rabbits for food, but instead splurging on the goodness of human flesh. The brothers let it be known what needs to be done but Kate hits a note when she says “She’s family. And yeah, worth eating a bullet for.” The sentiment and Kate’s promise to eliminate her sister if nothing else work causes Dean to tell Kate about the werewolf cure; all they need are directions to Tasha, something Kate willingly gives. Only there is no cure and when Sam corners Dean about the ruse, the elder Winchester makes it clear this is the only.

On the ride to Tasha’s cabin hideaway, Sam admits to others victims (not humans) being a part of his ‘Find Dean at all costs’ mission. “I carried you,” he says, “I carried your corpse.”

The Winchesters take out the B-team

The emotion behind Sam’s confession hits Dean and he tells his brother he’s yet to say thank you. “You don’t ever have to say that to me” is Sam’s only reply. When they arrive at the cabin, Dean double crosses Kate, cuffing her to the steering wheel and it’s then she understands Dean was lying about the cure. “Tasha’s in too deep,” he tells her. You don’t ever come back from that. Ever.” With Kate out of the way, the boys head in ready to do what needs to be done. Only they aren’t ready for Tasha’s secret weapons, a B-team werewolf duet composed of Brandon and Travis, her new pack.

If there was any doubt before, two newbie wolves getting the jump on the veteran hunters is all the proof one needs to see how much the Sam and Dean connection is off their game. Kate saves their bacon a second time, though the boys have to kill the newbies themselves, she puts an end to her blood lusting sister just like she’d promised. When the boys come back into the room, they find Tasha’s body but Kate’s nowhere to be found. On their out of town, their discussion turns right back to them laying low and whether or not Dean’s ready. They are interrupted by Kate calling in a final goodbye but return to the subject almost immediately. “Maybe I’m not ready to hunt,” Dean admits. “But I am just trying to do the right thing, man. Cuz I’m so sick and tired of doing the wrong one.”

Sam has no response to his brother’s honest assessment and they ride out the rest of the way in silence.

Cross Road Moon

  • Though it was, by the Winchesters experience, a light and easy case, the werewolf hunt was the perfect venue to allow the brothers reflection on the last few months and the ramifications still following them around. Dean has been through Hell and back in the most literal sense. His presumption that he can just hop back into the game, though understanding, is asking for too much. We’ve seen only a part of his exploits with the demon-driven Mark of Cain, so there’s no telling what he’s done behind the scenes, things Sam may not even know. Similar to the Avenger Black Widow, he’s got a whole helluva lot of red in his ledger and he wants nothing more than to square it away and but himself back into the black. If only it was that easy…
  • No other genre show does such a good job bringing in blasts from the past. The “Bitten” episode in season 8 where we learned of Kate’s werewolf fate was another filler/one-shot episode. To bring the character back and have her remind the Winchesters what family means to them at the exact right time, given their current situation, was a brilliant move. As in life, sometimes those passing relationships, those chance encounters, are the remedy we need precisely when we need it. We’ll have to see how Kate’s lesson to Sam and Dean plays out over the next few episodes.