Let's see how much I remember and how long this takes me to type up. Set your watches, NOW!
We begin, in media res - or what we think is media res... with Dean stalking through a warehouse, only to be beat up and killed by CASTIEL?! (And geez, Jensen makes a pretty corpse... *cough* ANYWAY...) The lights come up and apparently it's Naomi running simulations, testing Castiel's new programming (reprogramming?) The ultimate test is whether he can kill his best friend on command, and as the camera pans out and we see thousands upon thousands of dead Deans... we're guessing that he passed... and yeah, that's not disturbing at all. NOT AT ALL.
Cut to Dean, who is perfectly fine, thanks, in the bunker... going through old boxes, while Sam typity types on his laptop. You know, Dean, uh, I'm not sure you should be touching a whole bunch of unidentified artifacts kept in boxes with writing that you can't read.... it just, um, seems like a bad idea to me.
Meanwhile, Sam is coughing up blood. Seriously, Sam, I think you might have TB... you should see a doctor, that doesn't have to be fatal anymore. Modern medicine has come a long way.
Dean finds vintage porn! I kind of love the conversation between Dean and Sam about how Dean knows how much a first edition would go for on ebay. I just love their faces through that whole thing. Sam's found a hunt though, so it's off to wherever! But first, the JIG IS UP! Because Dean actually looks in the trashcan and sees Sam's blood covered tissue.
Anyway, despite Sam bleeding and obviously under the weather... they run off to wherever (I seriously forgot where they were this time) and investigate the strange deaths. Sam's suit looks purple in the first guy's house. I think it was a combination of grey suit with purple tie and the lighting, but it seriously looked like Sam was walking around in a purple suit. It made me smile.
Turns out that it's someone killing demons, which is a good thing... but Sam still wants to investigate, because what the heck?
They go to meet a woman who's got her curlers in.. she also knows what the demons are looking for, or at least we're they're looking. And then DEMONS ATTACK! Curler-woman is possessed and Sam is down! And then CAS TO THE RESCUE! BAMF Cas is awesome. I love him.
They sit down with Cas to get some answers before going into question the woman - Dean reveals that he prayed to Cas. Cas tells them he's looking for the other half of the demon tablet... all through the conversation Naomi is giving him step by step instructions... and we see that Cas is still not a very good liar. I'm not sure if it was the "um" or the shifty eyes... or just the body language/tone of voice in general, but damn... not a good liar at all.
Cas leaves to interrogate the demon and Sam and Dean both agree that he's shady... and I love how Cas' just tells them from the other room "I can still hear you, you know. I'm a celestial being." Hahaha, awkward. But before that, I like how Sam asks Dean directly why he prayed for Cas, and Dean doesn't want to tell him - because he would have to admit that he was doubting Sam's ability to look after himself, which, as we know from the last seven seasons, makes Sam very angry.
Interrogation time! Oh, I should also say that I love how Cas calls her the "strange haired demon" before he leaves the room. Curlers are never not funny. Anyway... the demon spills the beans that they've got a hostage who knows where Lucifer's crypts are - and then starts to spill the beans about what Cas is really looking for, and then BAM Cas kills it - because if there's one thing Cas knows, it's that Dean hates being lied to.
And then Cas takes off without them to go to the hotel to get the hostage - and I loved the sequence with Dean and Sam racing across town to join him... it really was a nice subtle way to once again emphasize the power imbalance between them.
And the hostage...is MEG!
I love love LOVE that she used the "Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?" line... I'm not sure about the rest of you, but personally, that line was seared into my brain as a child... mind you, I'm a huge Star Wars fan (original three only though... yeah, I'm a hipster Star Wars fan, and I'm not apologizing.)
Man, can we just take a moment to appreciate the make-up department in this episode? I mean, here, and later - the beat-up look was SO well done, and disturbing.
Anyway, it turns out that being Yellow-Eyes daughter/lieutenant and then being Lucifer's gofer really gives Meg a knowledge advantage over other demons... even Crowley. Good job, Meg.
She's been sending Crowley's people on fake digs to try to buy herself time... I love Sam getting all indignant and saying "you've been killing people to buy yourself TIME?!" and Meg is just like "I'm a DEMON" Oh man, I laughed. It's right up there with Gabriel's "Hellooo! Trickster!" line... come on, boys, remember who you're talking to!
Cas is reluctant to kill Meg, and convinces Naomi that they could use her... and Naomi agrees, because she wants that angel tablet just as much as Crowley does. So, Meg gets a pass, for now.
So, it's off to irgendwo to tend to Meg's wounds and come up with a plan or something... oh! I remember, irgendwo is that dude's house with the model of the town - ala Betelgeuse.
Cas actually uses bandages on Meg... why can't he just heal her? I'm not sure. Anyway, it makes for good conversation... which I liked a lot. I'll say it again, as I said it in S6, I think Meg represents freedom for Castiel. She's a symbol. I think it's why he kissed her in S6 and I think it's why he still has a soft spot for her - she was a test of his boundaries. If he could kiss a demon, then he could do anything - being "friendly" with a demon goes against the very nature of being an angel, and it's the ultimate symbol of Castiel's free will. Now, before destiel shippers get mad at me - I'm not saying it means that he wants to be with her, what I'm saying is that he wants to be ABLE to be with her... it's an important difference. And really, I think Castiel represents something similar for Meg... "I feel so clean" she said after he kissed her the first time... and Meg has probably been a demon for a very long time, but part of me wonders if there's still a part of her that might thrill a little at the thought of redemption...or maybe Cas just represents freedom for her too, or possibly the only frontier left.
I loved their dialogue too. Cas still hasn't seen It's a Wonderful Life. Reading a book could kill him if it was a book of the right spells... seeing a movie would be okay though. And yes, Cas DOES know how to make lady parts go a quiver... good to know, good to know. ;)
And Cas isn't crazy and he's not back to what he was before... He's just himself. I liked that too.
Meanwhile, Sam and Dean are chatting, wondering if they can trust "Megstiel"... hehehe, oh Sammy, you've been brushing up on your ship names. And they decide they pretty much have to...
When they get to the abandoned warehouse (and why is it always an abandoned warehouse?) Dean makes Sam stay outside with Meg while he and Cas go in. I really can't say enough about the dialogue in this episode - I loved Sam implying that Cas doesn't count as backup, and then both Sam and Dean saying "Shut-up, Meg!" (Family Guy reference, I'm guessing... and one that I got, even though I haven't watched Family Guy in years.)
And finally, Dean just comes out with the fact that he knows Sam's got TB... and Cas confirms. Or well... it's not TB, OBVIOUSLY... but that something is happening to Sam that Cas can't heal. Part of me is really pulling for the idea that Sam's body is actually just finally purging itself of the demon blood fed to him as a baby... but I guess we'll have to wait and see. Anyway, it wins Dean the argument, because it makes Sam feel all guilty about not telling him - and if there's anything I've learned from my father, the best way to get your way is to use emotional manipulation!
But that means we get to spend time with just Dean and Cas, and time with just Sam and Meg... and that's always fun. Sam spray paints the warehouse while reluctantly telling Meg about the past year with Amelia. And Meg understands, because she was once inside of Sam and knows him pretty well... and I LOVE the fact that they acknowledged this!!! Meg DOES know Sam on a level that other people don't, actually, I'd argue that (possibly besides Dean) there's actually no one on earth that knows him better than Meg does.
I have to admit though that when Meg asked him why he stopped when he hit the dog, I was REALLY hoping that she was going to point out some shady clue that maybe he was acting against his will or something supernatural was going on with his life... because I really think that unless Sam had a mental break, the whole Amelia storyline was out of character. I mean, I've seen some great meta on how it makes sense if you start with the premise that Sam was suffering from a rad case of PTSD, but until the show TELLS us something like that, I think I'm going to continue to be a little POed at that storyline. Also, Meg pretty much hit the nail on the head about how Amelia would have had to have been some special unicorn, and the way she was written, I'm just not seeing that she was. I never did understand what the hell they saw in each other.
(Also, did anyone else get distracted by the fact that "unicorn" is a term in threesome circles?... no? Just me? I'm the only one that knows this? You are now inferring things about my sex life, aren't you.... you are probably not incorrect.)
Meanwhile, Cas and Dean are searching the warehouse, and Dean's trying to figure out what's wrong with Sam, but Cas gets distracted by the task at hand and we don't get any answers besides the fact that something is happening to Sam on a subatomic level.
They find the crypt and Cas zeroes in on the tablet... and then the true test happens! Because Dean opens the angel warded box and takes the tablet out, and Naomi orders Cas to take the tablet. I loved both Jensen's and Misha's performances here. But man, I love that when Dean realizes that Cas is acting weird, he just zeroes in on the first lie that he was told "Tell me how you got back from purgatory and I'll give you the tablet"... and at this point, both Dean and Naomi are testing Cas. If Cas can tell Dean the truth, then Dean can trust him... and if Cas can kill the actual Dean then Naomi knows she has him... and Cas fails both tests really, though he passes Dean's more than Naomi's.
At first though, I must admit I was sitting there yelling "PUT IT BACK IN THE BOX!" as though that would fix everything... but then it occurred to me that it was too late for that. Cas knew where the tablet was and he'd just get someone else to open the box for him eventually.
The fight between Cas and Dean was really well done... Cas had his sword out, but he was actually just using it as a bludgeoning weapon, which to me was a symbol, even when he was beating the shit out of Dean, that he was constantly resisting Naomi... because it would have been over in a flash if he had stabbed Dean the way he had done in the simulations. Instead, he gives Dean time to use his superpower.
And YES, after eight seasons, Dean still has his superpower... the ability to break his friends and family out of mind-control scenarios through the power of their love for him. John, Bobby, Sam, and now Cas! No one is immune!! Cas really is family. :)
And Cas DOES break out of the mind-control and apologize.. and man, the way Dean cringed and started begging when Castiel reached for him was heartbreaking and so well done... but Cas just heals Dean up. He picks up the tablet and GLOWS... and then he decides, or perhaps is influenced by the tablet itself, to keep the tablet away from EVERYONE - Dean included. Because it's true, if the demon tablet can lock the demons away forever... then the angel tablet can probably lock the angels away, and I don't doubt that despite their love for Cas, the Winchesters would want to do that. Cas is really the only angel that they like, and even he's wrought destruction on earth the likes of which they shouldn't be able to forgive (but they do, because, you know, good intentions?)
But, MEANWHILE OUTSIDE - Demons and Crowley attack! Meg holds them off and tells Sam to run, when it's obvious that he sucks at fighting due to his weakened state. I mean, besides the whole Cas thing, I think sticking with Dean and Cas would have been the safer option for Sam. Meg tells Sam to run and save her unicorn...which was kind of adorable, even though I really do think that Meg and Cas just like each other as symbols.
So, Sam runs in and gets Dean, and then they run out and jump in the car...and part of me kind of thought that they should MAYBE try to rescue Meg from Crowley's clutches... and judging from the way Sam looked back, I think he was thinking the same thing... but on the other hand it's Crowley, and they've never really ever been able to get the jump on him before (though they've come damn close a few times.) Anyway, Meg stabs Crowley's arm and Crowley stabs Meg's... Meg.
And is Meg dead? There's no demon equivalent of burned-angel wings to give us an answer. I know it kind of seemed obviously, but maybe I'm just in the denial stage. She's been the longest surviving villain on the show (really, the recurring character with the longest lifespan since point of introduction)... it seems kind of crazy that this was the end, that Crowley killed her just like that. Part of me wonders if maybe she's like Abbadon and can survive such things somehow... but perhaps the more likely scenario is that really was the end of her. :(
Sam and Dean drive off into the night... and Dean calls Sam out for lying to him. Sam agrees and promises that he won't anymore. Dean quotes the Lord of the Rings at him... and Sam makes fun of him for it. Dean justifies it by saying that it was a Rudy-Hobbit (Sean Astin) quote and "Rudy gets a pass" - but come on, this is hardly the first time Dean's made a LotR reference. "Pit stop at Mount Doom" springs to mind immediately. Dean's a geek.
Meanwhile, Cas is reliving S5 memories and traveling by bus to who knows where.
So, my ONLY quibble with the episode is that when the demon tablet was discovered, Kevin knew it immediately and was compelled to track it down - not only that, he was like a human compass that was pulled right to it... so part of me wonders why we didn't get a phone call from Kevin... or why Kevin can't be used to track down the other half of the demon tablet for that matter.
Other than that MINOR thing, I really loved this episode. The dialogue was fantastic, all the characters had great interactions and relationships... and there was SO MUCH from the rich history of Supernatural that was actually talked about, referenced, and HAD AN EFFECT on the episode. When long-running shows get to their later seasons, there's always going to be more of a danger to cover ground you've already covered as though you haven't covered it before... or have characters interact as though one of them hadn't been inside the other person before (and I mean that in every sense of the word)... and the writers managed to avoid that with this one, and I loved it. (I mean, yes, Dean and Sam are still working on their lying/trust issues - but seriously, when have those issues ever been solved overnight? For instance, I fully recognize all my own psychological issues and ensuing detrimental habits, but do I stop them? Nope.)
In short: Awesome episode was awesome. Can't wait for more!