Okay, there's SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT, and I have to be up early tomorrow, so let's see if I can do this in any sort of succint manner.
Standard Disclaimer: I have only watched the episode once. I was drinking at the time. I will get things out of order and I may get things slightly wrong, especially quotes, unless it is a major plot or character point, please don't bother correcting me.
To the episode...
So, we start an indeterminate time in the future... I'm guessing four months, which will make timelining easier (I'll timeline this episode later this week).
I love the opening with the demon chained up being tortured, talking about how she hadn't believed that one of the Winchesters was a demon, but now she's convinced because the person torturing her is "soulless" and then the camera pans and it's...SAM! SO AWESOME. I love the parallel between evil and the things we do for love. There's an amazing a softer world "comic" about it that is oft remixed in many a fandom. (And I've said it before, and I'll say it again, if you like beautiful words, love, queerness, and horror, you should really check out Joey Comeau's writing).
Then we cut to 4 weeks later, and Sam's still trying to find Dean... and we learn that Dean left a note, "Sammy, let me go" and that's all Sam knows... and then Sam gets a lead and calls Cas... and we find out that Cas is somewhere else, slowly dying. :(
The phone call is pretty heartbreaking for a lot of reasons. 1) We find out that Sam's shoulder is in a sling because Cas WAS helping Sam look for Dean (and my god, I wish we could have seen that - you know how I love my Sassy), and because Cas is not doing so great, I guess he wasn't the best backup and some demon ended up breaking Sam's shoulder...and Cas can't heal anymore, and yeah... sad times forever. 2) Sam's so excited about the lead, but then realizes that Cas is in no shape to go hunting, and so he pretends like it wasn't a lead, because he doesn't want Cas to feel bad. 3) Cas misses Dean. 4) I guess there's nothing really that Sam can do for Cas, but it makes me kind of sad that Cas is somewhere ELSE slowly dying instead of in the bunker... like, why isn't Sam looking after him? Maybe that was Cas' decision, but it's still sad that he's all alone and Sam is too worried about finding Dean to look after the "family" he still has. Though, again, Cas is probably the type that wouldn't want Sam to put his needs ahead of Dean's anyway.
Meanwhile, elsewhere, Dean is living it up in a scuzzy bar, singing karaoke, getting drunk, having sex with the waitress... and at first you think that Dean's decended into a life of hedonism, like all the previews suggested, but then we soon learn that there IS actually a bit of Dean still in there... because we find out that the only people he seems to be killing are demons, he beats a guy bloody, but at least the guy is a sleaze who seems to be mistreating Dean's waitress girlfriend... and for the most part, Dean's "howling at the moon" really is just REGULAR "howling at the moon" - he's playing foosball, he's singing bad karaoke, and he's getting stupidly drunk, but that's about it.
While we're learning all this, Sam follows his lead to the source and sees footage of Dean killing the dude in the convience store. I think this is the first time Sam's SEEN Dean since he died.... and also, once he gets the police guy to leave the office, the first time he confirms that Dean has black eyes.
He follows-up at the Gas'n'Sip (and did I mention how much I love the fact that Supernatural has it's own chains? Because I do), and the clerk at first comes across as an idiot, but then he majorly sasses Sam and is actually pretty awesome. The clerk's name was Mickey, and we decided that we liked him. I also loved how he had dubbed Dean "porn guy" because when he walked in he said "where's the porn?" and that's just... I mean, that's what you do when you have that sort of job. Your customers are named after whatever stands out about them first.
On the topic of fake chains though - there was actually some real (unintentional) product placement in the episode, because Sam had Avalon milk on his cereal... which is, as you may have guess by now, a milk company out here that sells their milk in old fashioned glass bottles.
We find out that dead-demon-dude was in touch with Crowley, who Sam calls... and threatens, and it's an another awesome scene. There were so many things I liked about it.
1) The misadventures of Crowley and Squirrel. HA! I'm looking forward to seeing the fan mock-ups for the cover of the graphic novels.
2) As cruel as it was, I liked that Crowley said that he and Dean were beginning to think that Sam "hit another dog." Mainly because on the surface it sounds horrible, but if you think about it, Dean could ACTUALLY be HOPING that's what Sam chooses to do - let him go and get a normal life. Again, I don't have MUCH to go on in this episode, but Dean doesn't SEEM evil - if he wanted Sam dead, he'd just kill him, I think - I think he left and has been laying low for a reason. But I'll get to that later.
3) Sam thinking that Crowley had a demon possess Dean's dead body, and then being told that DEAN'S the demon was heartbreaking to watch, but very cool to see happen. I liked the fact that we got that moment.
4) The fact that the whole time Sam was tracing the call, that he was making those threats slowly and deliberately for a reason. That he didn't lose his cool at any point and give up the game - YES, we find out that Crowley knew the whole time what Sam was doing and LET him do it in order to get Dean to get a move on, but it's still really awesome that Sam still the smart guy he's always been.
Anyway, while all this is going on, we see some military dude get faxed Dean's picture and then load up all his guns and stuff and hit the road. And then I promptly forgot about him.
And yes, I know Cas is doing stuff all throughout this, but I'll talk about him in a block at the end, for now, I'll just stick to Sam and Dean.
What I also loved about the phone call to Sam was the fact that Crowley talked about how much fun he and Dean are having, and then he goes to talk to Dean and we find out that Crowley has HAD IT. He can't take it anymore. This is where we find out that Dean basically decided to "howl at the moon" by becoming a more depressing version of Ash. He found a roadhouse and he just stayed - not only that, but he found a roadhouse with a BLOND WAITRESS and he just stayed... I mean, there are so many psychological things happening here, I can't help but feel.
And Dean's response to Crowley telling him that Sam's on his way? Get completely plastered. And when the waitress confronts him with the truth? That she thought he was a good guy pretending to be bad, but that she's basically realized that whatever he's doing at that roadhouse it's all about HIS issues and it has nothing to do with her, because he is majorly messed up... well, she's so spot on that Dean's vicious to her while agreeing, that he's just a guy who sleeps with every "skank" he finds along the way... and it's SUCH a defensive insult, I mean, *I've* done that before. It basically is just a cutting version of Dean's usual comebacks of "I'm not stupid, you're stupid!" And the thing with defensive insults is that you tend to use them when you have something to defend, which is another tally mark in the "Dean still has Dean's feelings" scoreboard. I mean, Dean has always had horrible self-esteem, I think as a demon, we're basically just seeing him at the absolute bottom of that self-esteem.
Also, there's the phrasing Crowley used when telling Dean why he was sending guys after him. Dean has to use the blade occasionally or he "becomes a demon" which...what? I thought Dean WAS a demon. So, maybe Cain ISN'T a demon? And Dean is the new Cain? Maybe the black eyes are something that are temporary? And only occur around first-blade kills? I'm super confused about the relationship between Dean's demonhood and the first blade, I gotta say.
Meanwhile, Sam's on the road and his car breaks down in the most suspicious way possible, and a dude pulls over and walks up in the most creeptastic suspicious way possible, and Sam DOESN'T SEEM TO BE SUSPICIOUS?!? What the hell Sam?! And I asked my friends if I was just being overly sensitive because I'm a woman so I've been trained my whole life to be extremely cautious of any and all men who approach me while I'm alone anywhere at all times of day... but my friend's husband said "Oh yeah, because Sam's lived a charmed life without any evil in it whatsoever. It's not like the car breaking down has happened numourous times before and every time it's been becaue of a demon or a ghost..." so, yeah, Sam, YOU DUMMY!
Anyway, it's at that point that I remembered the military dude from earlier and realized it was the same dude! So, I was slow on the uptake on that one. Also, we had to rewind and watch his last quip to Sam after he nocked him out SEVERAL times before we realized he was saying "I guess you're a righty" because Sam was so easy to take down now that he's only got one arm... man, ENUNCIATE! Geez.
So, while Dean actually does get the hell out of dodge before Sam catches up to him, military dude brings Sam to a warehouse (it's always a warehouse) and ties him to a chair and explains that he's after Dean. Sam guesses that the guy's a hunter, and the guy says "sure, let's say that" which to me means that he's not?! Also, he says that Dean's a monster who did SOMETHING "many moons ago" - which makes me wonder if maybe military dude actually has a beef with Dean from BEFORE Dean was a demon and that military dude might not even know what he's getting into here? Like, maybe military dude doesn't even know about the supernatural?! I don't know... it's just seemed interesting, the language he used.
I loved Sam warning him away though. I love that Sam doesn't make any bones about it (is that the phrase?) that he says Dean's a monster and the guy is better off not going after him - I love that Sam KNOWS Dean. Demon or no. No one hunts Dean or Dean's family and comes out alive.
Sure enough, dude calls Dean and tries to use Sam as a bartering chip or, better said, a lure. Dean has to come, or dude will kill Sam. I like how Sam refuses to give proof of life willingly, but once he's punched and grunts, he DOES call out "Dean!" when the phone has already been taken away. I love how you can see there's so much racing through Sam's head in that moment - the fact that his missing brother is ON THE PHONE, the fact that Dean's a demon and might not even be his brother anymore... ugh... so good. I also love that Dean basically levels the same threat that he leveled at Walt and Roy - he's not coming for Sam, but Dean WILL promise that Dean will kill the dude if they ever cross paths, which is basically the same as saying "go home now, leave my brother alone, or you have my word that I will kill you." And I LOVE love that Dean tells him that Sam knows that at the very least, Dean is a man of his word.
Ugh, so good.
Okay, let's talk about Cas now.
Hannah shows up, and I thought the little open-robe scene was cute. "I'm sensing awkwardness." Hahaha... the funny thing is that you'd think angels wouldn't care about nudity of their vessels at all, but apparently they do.
Heaven is calm, they've made the doorway permanent... I'm guessing maybe the angels are slowly healing their broken wings? There is no ruler in heaven, but they seem to be running it more like a commune or something... things seem to be done by concensus among the angels, which, wow, if you want a super slow government, that's the way to do it. However, the stipulation for all of this seems to be that all angels MUST return to heaven. Except, apparently, Castiel... I guess because he's dying? Or maybe he's agreed to be under heavens command? Maybe it's that all angels have to return to being under heaven's command.
There are apparently two angels refusing, Daniel and Isa... and Hannah wants Castiel's help in going to retrieve them and bring them to justice for killing the angels that had previously gone to retrieve them. On the way there, because they drive.... I guess Hannah can't teleport? I am super confused as to the state of angels at the moment. Do they all still have broken wings even though they're back in heaven? Also, Cas still has his anti-angel warding, so Hannah must have known where he was because he told her.
I liked Hannah getting carsick and Cas apologizing and saying that he'll try to take the turns quicker. Hahaha.
And Hannah, of course, realizes that Cas is dying - but what are they going to do about it? As Cas points out, he'd have to kill another angel to live - and living by killing other people is no way to live. And I guess Hannah can't heal him. I guess once you steal an angel's grace you kNOW You have a limited lifespan, so if we figure that Cas KNEW this when he took Theo's (was that guy's name Theo?) then YIKES, that decision becomes all the more powerful.
So, they catch up with Daniel by a river - and Daniel has basically discovered his own little paradise on earth, and free will, and he doesn't want to loose that - but Hannah is all like "No, that's against the rules" which means that Hannah, and I can't say I blame her, seems to want to restore Heaven to it's S4 days, when there was only order and obedience and lack of faith was a death sentence.
And I find it very interesting that Cas doesn't argue MORE with Hannah here. Because he SHOULD be agreeing wholeheartedly with Daniel - because Cas CHOSE free will himself in S4. He may have chosen it in order to help Dean, but he still chose it. He still championed it and fought to bring it to heaven, only to have it blow up in his face when the other angels only understood obedience. Cas should be super happy that there's FINALLY another angel who GETS IT. I mean, he does do his best to keep Hannah from attacking Daniel out of the gate - he does his best to get them to talk instead - but still, I was surprised that he wasn't more supportive of Daniel. That being said, though, maybe he was playing the long-game... make sure Hannah still believes Cas is on her side, so that he can try to convince her without making her feel attacked.
Sadly, when it comes down to it, Cas chooses to kill Daniel rather than let Daniel kill Hannah. Maybe becauese Hannah is the closest thing that Heaven has to an administrator? Maybe because Cas was unsure about his own future without Hannah around? Maybe because Cas has decided never to rebel from Heaven again? Who knows...
But on the trip back to Cas' dying cabin, or whatever, after convincing Hannah to let Isa stay on the run, Cas and Hannah do talk about free will vs. obedience somemore. Hannah doesn't understand how anyone could like chaos, that chaos is what led to the factions of heaven and the more immoral and murderous angels among them gaining power... and Cas points out that there are other things that come from the chaos - hope and love and suchlike... and Hannah says, "but those are human things!" and Cas is like "well damn." Because what is Cas right now? A dying angel? A once-human? An angel that rebelled FOR HUMANITY?! He's all those things. Cas chose humanity in S4, because he believed in it, because he DID see those things and he understood that they were GOOD. Hannah and I guess most angels in general, see those things and they see them as...nothing... they see them as "human things" that have nothing to do with angels, that angels can't enjoy. And we circle back to Anna all over again. In Cas' ideal heaven, there would be no more Annas, because angels would be able to feel hope and love too, but in Hannah's perfect heaven, well... it'd go back to the way it was - eons and eons of simply living on orders... (I keep wanting to say "to protect and serve" which is the motto of some police department somewhere, but I sort of think it fits with the original mandate given to angels way back when - "don't step on that fish.")
Oh! And on a purely superficial note: I love Dean's longer hair, and I love Sam's stubble. So nice to look at. I wish they would keep those looks, but judging by their more recent Con appearances, I know that they don't.
So, INTERESTING STUFF!
As always, let me know what you thought in comments. Let me know if I missed anything huge that you want to talk about! It was a jam-packed episode, so I'm sure there is plenty that I didn't even touch on.
*and yes, the cut text is a U2 song, so sue me. I know people don't like them these days, but back when Actung Baby first came out, they were the bees knees, and I'm pretty sentimental about that album so it's still on iPod. Also, I really think the line fits, because I feel like Dean, Sam, and Cas, are all outcasts from the communities to which they used to belong.