Anytime you start off in the woods, especially in Supernatural, you know something bad is about to go down. In this week, it’s Ramsey, a rogue hellhound on the loose, doing what it does best: mauling people to death. It doesn’t take long for the Winchesters to get involved and, before they know it, the pair and the target they’re trying to save—Gwen—are paired up with Crowley.
On the whole hellhound bit, nothing much really happens. Sure, Gwen’s boyfriend is mauled, we get an oral history of the genus hellhound from Crowley and that invisible monstrosity does some damage to the Impala but, other than that, it’s another one of those monster-of-the-week story bumps. That doesn’t mean “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” doesn’t jumpstart things for the back half of the season (if only Grimm had taken a few pages out of the Supernatural playbook on ‘How to Make One-Shot Episodes Useful to the Season Story Arc’).
To start things off, Crowley is in a near perpetual state of glee now that he has Lucifer trussed up. Prior to getting a call from Dean on the loose hellhound, the King of Hell has really taken to the taunting of his former boss. We all know Lucifer’s only biding his time, knowing that, sooner or later, he’ll get out. Crowley doesn’t even bat as much as an eyelash to that prospect, gloating that he’s at least ten steps ahead of Lucifer. But we’ve heard Crowley and other baddies throughout television history spout the same overconfident spiel only to be dragged down by their sinful pride. So when Lucifer does get out—thanks to Thomas and Victor, two Hell Court flunkies—and comes face to face with Crowley, I was waiting for a biblical smack down on Supernatural’s king of one-liners. No way was Crowley expecting that.
Well, to quote Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns: “WRONG!!!”
Turns out, Crowley’s genius is on full display. After absorbing a punch from Lucifer, he brings the Lightbringer to his knees, making good on his promise of “you hit me, I hit you back…twice as hard”. The ‘Cage Project’, as it was dubbed, was never about the chains; Lucifer’s true cage was his new vessel. Each molecule had been etched with the runes from the original Cage, and Crowley has complete control. His promise to hunt Kelly Kline down and kill Lucifer’s sprog is a reminder that, despite how much we may love Crowley and his grudging affinity for the Winchesters, he’s still an evil son of a bitch.
On the same Kelly Kline highway but in a different lane is Cas. He’s trying to track her down as well, investigating the murder of two angels at a diner. He gets footage of Dagon taking down his brethren before running into Kelvin, another angel who’s on Kelly’s tail. The smooth talking Kelvin offers up working together (“all hands on deck”) and if Cas comes through, there’s a spot up in Heaven for him. Now, we know there aren’t many things that can push Cas to go off book or lie to Sam and Dean, but the prospect of returning to Heaven, to his home, is something that he can’t pass up. Yes, he and the Winchesters have become family but, whereas he and the boys have been buddied up for less than a decade, Heaven has been Castiel’s home for eons. Add to the inexorable guilt he carries for the angelic lives lost when Metatron cast angels from Heaven a few years back and it’s not a surprise that Cas wishes to make things right in the eyes of his former Heavenly Host.
Finally we have the elephant in the room, specifically Sam working with the British Men of Letters behind Dean’s back. Moments before confronting and then killing the hellhound, Sam listens to Gwen’s guilt at not being honest with her boyfriend. “I lied to make things easier,” she says and Sam can relate, hell, we all can. How often have we lied or, at the very least, shaded the truth because we didn’t want to hurt someone? Sometimes it is difficult to look someone you love in the eye and deliver unfortunate news, especially knowing it will hurt them. But truth, so long as it comes from an honorable place, is always the best bet. Sam finally gets that and comes clean with Dean in that he’s working with the British Men of Letters (BMoL). Dean’s none too happy with it but he takes a surprising turn, admitting that BMoL is doing good work. In this, I have to say congrats to the Brits; they have all three Winchesters on board.
Now, how long before they screen things up and have the fury of Sam, Dean, Mary, and Cas rain down on them?
- The star of the show has to be Crowley. Too often bad guys are taken down by their hubris, failing to work in contingencies into the plans. Well, not only does Crowley break that particular mold, he recasts said mold, quite literally. Throwing Lucifer into a vessel that IS the Cage is brilliant and puts Lucifer in a corner. His “in there, I own you” was probably the second most bitter pill Lucifer’s had to swallow; outside of, you know, being kicked out of Heaven.
- We are moving forward with the British Men of Letters arc: now that Dean is aboard, prepare yourself for some good old fashioned snark fests between him and Mick. Also, this may be the extra push for Dean and Mary to continue to mend their relationship.
- Though Crowley’s oral history into the creation of the hell hounds was a welcome addition to Supernatural lore, Ramsey, for all her hell houndish glory, really doesn’t do much. Sure, she wrecks Gwen’s boyfriend but that’s it. Considering the hound is a denizen of Hell that only answers to Lucifer, one mauling to her credit before getting skewered by Sam is definitely what I’d call going out with a whimper.
- It was good to see Crowley and Dean have some one-on-one time but it was so short that we didn’t a chance to enjoy the moment.
- A few of the pop reference meta topics this week included Dean channeling his inner Negan with the barbed wire bat (off-screen action, sadly), Mick listed as ‘Frodo’ in Sam’s phone, Dean’s “Liam Neesoning” with Crowley.
- Once again, let me toot the horn of Mark Pellegrino’s amazing Lucifer. Such a calm demeanor that hints at the terrifying wrath beneath. And his “Now you just made it weird” line just before smiting Thomas was classic.
- Also classic: Dean’s protectiveness over his girl, the Impala. Probably my favorite line of the episode is, after Sam realizes Dean means take care of the car and not Gwen, he reiterates his worry to Sam: “You tend to ride the brakes.” Little gems like this often make even bland Supernatural hours a treat.