The episode starts with a much-needed brotherly scene between Sam and Dean in which Dean in a very typical manner (that just screams Dean) reacts to Sam’s beard, providing pretty much the only light-hearted moment of the episode. At first, from the dramatic way he is talking about it, you imagine that Dean means something a lot more sinister, considering that he has been very recently possessed by an archangel, until Sam makes a face and says in exasperation, “Dean, it’s just a beard”. I loved that short but fun scene.
Of course, the tone changes almost immediately. Sam wants to ask if Dean is okay. Dean forestalls his queries by telling him that he doesn’t have to do that. Michael is gone. He doesn’t remember anything. He’s good. He’s just really, really happy to be… home… Except that it doesn’t look like home anymore, does it? Poor Dean. I feel for him. I wouldn’t want to come back to a place I consider home and instead of comfort and familiarity find it packed with strangers who don’t give a damn about you and make you feel like a stranger yourself.
His reaction to Sam’s new appellation is, of course, expected and hilarious. “Chief?” His offended facial expression says it all. Seriously, Sammy?! But he doesn’t say anything else. It looks like he’s barely holding it together. It’s obvious that he’s trying to act like his usual self, teasing his younger brother and all that, but you can see the strain and the pain in his eyes, you can hear it in his heavy sigh, it’s all too much. He wants to get away. He wants to be alone.
Jack slips out of the crowd and greets Dean – all innocence and genuine surprise. “Is that really you?” he asks with a childish smile and when Dean nods and exhales a painful “Yeah” (are those tears in his eyes?) he turns to Sam to confirm his words. Sam nods too. You wouldn’t even think, would you, that only five minutes ago Jack was saying that Dean doesn’t matter and that he must die if that means getting rid of Michael.
Castiel rushes forward next. As if on cue the music grows louder and becomes so romantic I almost expected them to jump into each other’s arms. However, they just look at each other, quite longingly (if you ask me), obviously restraining themselves from doing more, and it is Jack who gets to hug Dean instead. I’m not much of a shipper – but I’m not blind either. That scene filled with heavy sighs and tentative smiles and meaningful looks and unspoken words? It is a scene right out of a romantic novel. Instantly Jane Austen quotes began to pop up in my head.
“Had you seen his look, his manner, had you heard his voice at that moment!” I mean, seriously, isn’t it a perfect description of the aforementioned scene? Or this one: “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” Or how about the quote that I think accurately describes the show’s treatment of what is known as “destiel”: “It was every day implied, but never professedly declared. Sometimes I thought it had been – but it never was.” Personally, I think that it should be a truth universally acknowledged that if you can apply a Jane Austen quote to a scene, it must be true love.
However, I do have to wonder just how much of that scene was actually written out in the script and how much of it was the actors’ choice. If it were any other show, I would probably commend the writer’s way of underlining the (clearly present) romantic element of the scene. But, as far as I know, the show in question has never openly acknowledged this particular aspect of Dean and Castiel’s relationship – even though they never fail to remark on it in one way or another. The most recent mention was, memorably and explicitly enough, in the first episode of the season. So what is it? Why not cross that line? The show, after all, had no problem labeling that nanosecond connection and instant bond that sprang between Claire and Kaia as “first love”. So why not acknowledge and finally label the original bond – the profound one? It was curious to observe Sam’s expression in both scenes. It definitely reflected my own thoughts and reactions.
Dean takes the very first opportunity to leave, once again assuring Sam and the others (note the return of romantic notes as he looks and points at Castiel even though the latter is not shown) that he is “still okay”. He enters his room, looking around, familiarizing himself with his surroundings. Thankfully, his room is still his own. He starts shedding the clothes that Michael had put on him but, of course, it’s not just the clothes that he wants to shed. We see that he is not okay. “Dean, how is he really?” asks Castiel in the meantime, his expression worried, returning Sam’s focus from Nick (he actually starts asking about him the moment Dean is gone) back to his brother (where it should be!). “Why would Michael just give up his vessel like that?” “Why was Michael helping monsters?” Sam has no answers to any of that.
Dean is in a white tee, looking in the mirror when he notices a scar on his upper arm. He has no idea where it came from. The question is what could have hurt Michael like that? In order to find out Dean asks Castiel to get into his head and jolt his memory. But it is only when Castiel touches his scar that Dean sees a spear that managed to wound Michael and a hooded figure wielding it. “Dean, who was that?” asks Castiel. Dean identifies the figure as “the thing that killed Kaia in the Bad Place.” They call Jody. It turns out that three headless bodies with similar wounds were found in her area.
Dean, Sam and Castiel are getting ready to go when Jack shows up and asks them if they are leaving. Dean and Sam tell him that Kaia’s killer is in Sioux Falls and that he, she or it can hurt Michael. Jack intends to go with them. Castiel tells him that it might not be the best idea. Dean says that it’s not going to happen. Sam suggests that maybe Jack needs a little bit more training. Jack begins to bristle – another hissy fit alert. Dean is not the one to beat about the bush and tells it as it is – “C'mon, kid. Look at you. You're barely 100 pounds soaking wet” – there’s really no time for mollycoddling – and instantly gets reproachful looks from Castiel and Sam, which, of course, prompt him to apologize to Jack who storms off half-way through Dean’s saying that he didn’t mean to be a dick. Personally, I don’t see why Dean gets to be called a dick for being straightforward and yet it is all right for Jack to tell that Dean doesn’t matter and must die.
Dean is impatient to hit the road and when Castiel is delayed by the arrival of a rescued girl, who has been hexed by a witch, they decide that he should stay behind after he fails to heal her right away. Sam isn’t happy about it but prompted by Castiel he follows Dean. Dean’s face is set in a determined frown and his lips are pursed as his whole attention is focused on the road. Sam is watching the hand of the speedometer moving towards eighty, looking mildly concerned. His mind is struggling with questions they have no answers to. Moreover, he desperately needs to talk to his brother. “You said you let Michael in. Then, bang, you’re back in a blink. But for me you were gone for weeks. I didn’t know if you were alive. I just need you to talk to me, to slow down, so I can catch up.” But Dean – quite understandably – isn’t ready to talk about what happened to him – or slow down. He needs time to come to terms with the consequences of his choice and he needs to move as fast as he can so as not to go out of his mind dwelling on it.
I must say I really missed these brotherly moments in the car, even though all they do is argue, which is, when I think about it, kind of their thing.
Dean, Sam and Jody follow the trail, find the heads missing from the bodies that turn out to be vampires (with enhanced abilities) and discover (after a swift fight) that Michael’s attacker is Kaia’s doppelganger from the other world. She manages to overpower them and escape. Dean is determined to find her and get the answers out of her. He is quite obsessed. Sam tries to reason with him. He thinks that these vampires were hunting her because Michael sent them to finish what he started. Dean says that it doesn’t change the plan. He is focused, tense, intense, angry. Sam watches him, unable to do anything. He tells Jody that Dean is working something out and that he is doing it alone and believes that Dean isn’t ready for this case. Jody seems to understand Dean’s motive better. “Maybe he needs it,” she says. She is also the only one in this episode who tells him that he has nothing to apologize for. They finally catch up with Kaia at some abandoned hut and Dean knocks her out with the barrel of a gun – now earning shocked looks from Sam and Jody. Personally, I thought that it was a just payback. I mean, she did the same, didn’t she, using his shock at seeing her face to overpower him not so long ago?
Afterwards, we witness a long scene most of which is dedicated to verbal abuse of Dean. Just what he needs right now. Let’s kick him while he’s down. Boy, do they like to tell him that he is worthless and weak on this show, or what? At this point Dean just wants to get his hands on the other Kaia’s weapon, because, apparently, it’s the only thing that can hurt Michael. He has already worked himself up in a terrible rage. Robert Berens, in particular, seems to have a penchant for portraying Dean as completely unbalanced and ready to do whatever it takes to get what he wants. Remember “The Bad Place” where he had Dean point a gun in Kaia’s face and scream his head off for her to get into the car? That’s right. His job. By the way, he didn’t fail to mention this scene, that shocked and horrified everyone at the time, in this episode – I suppose as another point against Dean. I just love it when writers commit what I call “character murder” in order to show other characters in a better – more sympathetic – light. Well, of course, we know where this particular writer’s sympathies lie.
Finally, after all the talking and putting-Dean-down, we see a flashback of Michael!Dean fighting with Kaia – and it was riveting and beautiful to watch. Dean, however, could not stand the pain of remembering it. His eyes were growing more and more haunted, until they looked completely dead, hopeless. Now we know that Michael wants the spear, because he knows that it can hurt him. I wonder if that is why he left Dean’s body in the first place (and we know that to be true because the show-runner said as much in a recent interview) – because he discovered that he is not invincible when possessing his vessel. So where is he? What is he up to? How does he command his army of monsters without a body? Is he possessing someone else? Is he looking for a way to enhance his true vessel so that it can withstand the spear’s power? Or, perhaps, he has learnt that Lucifer’s vessel was patched up and rebooted by Crowley’s expert demons and decided that Nick (who is conveniently AWOL at this point) would serve him better now that he knows that he can be hurt while wearing Dean? Dear Lord, I hope not.
In the meantime, back at the bunker, Jack has solved the case of the cursed girl and brought her back to life after witnessing her death when the reverse spell didn’t work. We know that after he wasn’t taken on a hunt, he decided to leave the bunker (again), penning a letter and all that, but something about that girl stopped him and he changed his mind, instead keeping vigil at her bedside and listening to her tale of woe, which included her running away from her mother and its consequences – a powerful lesson for a runaway-wannabe here – while Castiel and the hunter from the au!world were working on the spell. Is it just me or is the show putting more and more focus on Jack with each new episode? Is it gradually becoming his show? Well, if this is the case, I suggest the show-runner and co adjust their focus. Supernatural is not about Jack.
Castiel is all impressed by how Jack solved the case (looking and talking about it like a proud father with tears of joy shining in his eyes). He tells Jack that he has proven that he has the mind and the heart of a hunter and that they should all go on a hunting trip together. He also, bizarrely enough, feels that he hasn’t been there for Jack and apologizes for that. Personally, I think it’s utter bull. He was there for him as much as anyone could be under the circumstances, while Jack was thinking only about himself. But… something is not right. Jack is not well. But what is it? What’s happening to him now? The consequences of the witch’s curse he helped to lift? Or, perhaps, something to do with his now human body? Well, whatever it is, I’m sure the writers will think it more important than Dean’s trauma or Dean and Sam's storyline and spend a lot of time exploring it. However, I would seriously question putting in charge of such a long-running show someone who cares so little about its iconic main characters.
Dean finally breaks down on their way home. He is ready to talk. “You were right,” he says to his brother. “I didn’t want to look at it, what Michael used me for. I just wanted to race ahead, you know, skip to the end of the story, the part where I get the weapon and I take out the bad guy – the part where I kill Michael. … You know, I said yes to him because I thought… It was stupid. I was stupid. … I don’t remember most of what Michael did with me because I was underwater, drowning, and that I remember. I felt every second of it – clawing, fighting for air. I thought I could make it out, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t strong enough. And now he’s gone and he’s out there putting an army of monsters together and he’s hurting people. And it’s all on me, man. I said yes.” It is heartbreaking to watch. Of course, it is not unexpected that Dean blames himself for everything that happened. Sam is gazing at him, his eyes filled with tears. I wish Sam could be a little bit more vocal in his comfort, reminding Dean that he did what he did in order to save him, Jack, and the rest of the world. But all we got from him was, “Dean, you did what you had to do.” “It’s my fault,” says Dean in the end – and there is nothing but silence to greet his words. Sam lets him think that it is so. Dean is on his own.
I wish the episode would end there – with such a poignant scene – but no. Dean and Sam are not the main characters or the main focus of the show any more. The last scene belongs to Jack. He is sitting in his room and coughing up blood.