After a season that started off pretty rocky for the Winchester brothers, tonight’s episode of Supernatural proved that they’re more bonded together than ever — and reaffirmed everything I love about these two crazy dudes.
As has been the trend with Supernatural lately, this episode saw yet another big mythology development: After weeks of headaches, nosebleeds, sleepless nights, and a diet of “ground-up hooves and pig anuses” (hot dogs), Kevin finally finished decoding the tablet. So Dean and Sam interrupted their homemade dinner (courtesy of Chef Dean!) to rush over and learn the details he’d uncovered.
Unfortunately for Sam and Dean, the instructions were a little complicated. But what else would you expect? We’re closing the gates of Hell, people, not cooking a Hot Pocket. Their new goal, as Kevin explained, was to pass a series of dangerous tests and earn the ability to close the gates. The catch? He’d only decoded one of three tests so far — and this couldn’t be a team effort. One person must complete all the tasks, he said.
With that, the boys set out to complete test one: Kill a hellhound and bathe in its blood. So they tracked down a family that seemed to be suspiciously lucky — in this case, a dysfunctional Ewing-like family who got rich by striking oil — in hopes of finding someone whose crossroads deal was nearing its end.
Upon taking jobs at the ranch owned by the crazy family, Dean and Sam began trying to figure out who’d made a deal but doing so became a lot more complicated when they realized there were multiple deal makers. Moreover, the soul-sellers hadn’t made their deals with any ole demon; they’d made the pacts with Crowley.
But even before realizing this, the boys took Crowley, reigning King of Hell, into account. After they failed to capture the first hellhound that descended upon the ranch, Dean wanted to summon the crossroads demon and force him or her to produce a hellhound for them to kill. But Sam pointed out that if Crowley got word, “he won’t send one hellhound, he’ll send 100.”
Dean agreed to do it Sam’s way (aka: wait) for two days. If they failed, it was on to plan D — for Dean. Luckily, they set off on their newly refocused mission with a new trick: They learned that Hellhounds could be seen through “an object scorched with Holy fire,” which translated to Dean and Sam got to wear glasses! (Happy Valentine’s Day, gang! Rar!)
Anyway, as Sam and Dean continued to wonder about the hellhound’s next target, Dean decided it was best if Sam guarded the family while he went in pursuit. Sam protested, naturally, but Dean took the opportunity to level with him. “I need you to be safe, Sam,” he said. “We’ve been down roads like this before, man…we both know where this ends. One of us dies or worse.” Sam countered, “So what? You just decided that’s you?”
Well, actually, Sammy, yes; that’s exactly it. Dean told his brother that he wanted Sam to have the future he always envisioned. If Sam could see a light at the end of the tunnel, he wanted him to reach it. “I’m a grunt,” Dean said. “You’ve always been the brains of this operation….I’m going to die with a gun in my hand. That’s all I have waiting for me.”
I was stunned watching that scene — and by the looks of it, so was Sam. In fact, Sam was stunned into silence as his brother walked off to battle the hounds alone.
The rest unfolded a little bit how any Supernatural superfan, who has seen many of these stories play out, might expect. I had figured that the pretty ranch hand, Ellie, played by Danay García, had something to do with the deal. (The pretty ones are never innocent bystanders.) And sure enough, she eventually confessed to Dean that she’d made a deal with a demon to heal her mother.
With that, Dean secured Ellie and set out to find the hellhound, but it ended up slashing him, causing Dean to lose his weapon. When the situation looked bleak, Sam popped out of no where and slashed that dog wide open, soaking his clothes in its dark blood.
After realizing Sam had stole his test (hehe!), Dean was determined to find another hellhound, but Sam wouldn’t hear it. “Closing the gates is a suicide mission for you,” he told Dean. “I want to slam Hell shut, too, but I want to survive it.” But this is Supernatural, Sam! The only thing people do less infrequently than survive is shoot unicorns out of their butts. I don’t like where this is headed….
Well, except I really do! What an episode, people! It was soaked in the sincerity and humor that made this series a favorite of mine almost nine years ago, and I’m pleased as Dean-approved pie that it can still move me like this all these years later. I’m eager to hear your thoughts.
Burning questions: How cool was Dean’s room?! Do you hope we get to see Sam’s room, too? Do you think Kevin is headed for a pill addiction? (Hope not!) Did anyone else mentally applaud Ellie’s efforts to make Dean Winchester her last hook-up on earth?
QUOTEABLES (Send your faves to me via Twitter after every new episode. @EWSandraG):
“Hey, mom.” — Dean, to a picture of mini-Dean and mom
“Memory foam; it remembers me” — Dean, re: his mattress (submitted by @joybellar)
“Really?!” — Dean, after Sam threw trash on the floor IN HIS NEW ROOM!
“I’m nesting.” — Dean, after cooking for Sam (submitted by @Corrinith)
“I miss my room.” — Dean, upon seeing their humble digs at the ranch
“I hate you.” — Dean, to a horse
J.R.-ish old man: “You know anything about hunting, boy?”
Sam: “A little bit, yeah.”
“I want you to have a life — become a Men of Letters, whatever. You, with a wife and kids and grandkids, living until you’re fat and bald and chugging Viagra. That is my perfect ending and that’s the only one I’m going to get. So I’m going to do these trials, and I’m going to do them alone. End of story.” — Dean
Sam: “I see light at the end of this tunnel and I’m sorry you don’t. I am. But it’s there. And if you come with me, I can take you to it.”
Dean: “Sam, be smart.”
Sam: “I am smart, Dean, and so are you. You’re not a grunt, Dean; you’re a genius — when it comes to lore, to– You’re the best damn hunter I’ve ever seen — better than me, better than Dad. I believe in you, Dean. So please, please believe in me, too.”