Plopping down in my chair with a cup of hot apple cider, I anxiously click on the newest episode of Supernatural. This one, entitled, “Soul Survivor”, is a battle between the brothers. And, bonus, it’s directed by one of them: Jensen Ackles (a.k.a. Dean Winchester). Previously in Supernatural, demon!Dean has been causing a heap load of trouble. Bar fights, strip club conflicts, and alleyway battles. I’m happy with how the season has progressed thus far, but I miss the good ol’ days. The storyline that has always been the foundation of Supernatural: two brothers saving people, hunting things, and taking on the “family business”. Would we ever get back to it? Or would Dean remain a demon for the rest of time?
The episode opens with a priest reciting from a book. He looks, concerned, at whatever is off screen, and then to a person standing in the doorway of the room: Sam Winchester, in a doctor’s outfit. The priest leaves, the exorcism unsuccessful, nodding to Sam. “Doctor.” “Father.” They both acknowledge each other. And I smile as I recall Dr. Sexy, MD.
The scene then shifts to Sam driving the Impala to the bunker. When inside, he carries a cooler marked “Human Blood” into a room where Dean is restrained. He’s in a chair, placed in the middle of a devil trap. “Sammy, you know I hate shots.” He taunts Sam, who only tosses back “I hate demons.” Sam injects Dean with the first dose of human blood. Dean winces and lets out an inhuman growl. And I wonder if something is going wrong.
Meanwhile, Castiel and Hannah making the trip to the Bunker. Hannah brings up the issue of Cas’s grace. She asks Cas why Sam would still want him to make the trip, even though he knows that Cas is sick. From the expression that Cas gives her, she surmises that Sam doesn’t know Cas’s borrowed grace is fading. Cas instructs that if Sam cannot heal Dean, then the demon must be taken care of. Hannah admits that she worries about Cas.
Back to Dean who is still in a severe amount of pain. Okay, so that actually doesn’t sound good. My ears aren’t playing with me. Part of me is wanting Sam to stop the treatment, another part wants Sam to keep going – to save Dean. And that is exactly what Sam is going through himself. But Sam will never give up on his brother. Never. Not even when said brother taunts him, mocks the Winchester cause. Asks “which one of us is really a monster?”
Flashback: Sam meets a man sitting at a bar, who is none other than Lester from last episode. Lester tells Sam about his wife having an affair. All he thinks about is revenge, payback. But he says it won’t ever happen. And then what comes out of Sammy’s mouth? That revenge is possible. Dean reveals that Sam did less-than-honorable things while he was hunting for Dean and Crowley. Sam made Lester call a crossroads demon and trade his soul. And we know the rest: Sam tortures the crossroads demon, Dean kills Lester.
Finally the question is brought to the table: does Sam have the stomach to kill Dean if he remains demon?
We meet up with Crowley in his throne, signing paperwork, and issuing punishments. A man comes to tell him that Castiel’s grace is fading. Crowley orders for the demon to follow the angel and keep him informed as to his decline. Crowley zones out, seeing memories of him and Dean together. He is still mourning the loss of Dean. A demon offers to be Crowley’s “wingman”, while insulting Dean and the adventures the two had. And Crowley kills said demon.
Castiel and Hannah are stranded at the side of the road. Hannah complains about how her vessel is confining and, again, brings up Castiel’s waning grace. (“Please, please don’t let Cas die!” I pray.) Castiel says that she is enough to be a leader. But Hannah wants Cas to lead them. They brush their hands together and have a moment. Which is interrupted as Sam calls Cas. He and Cas talk about Dean and the treatment. Sam is concerned that he might be killing Dean. That it’s not the same as it was with Crowley. That Dean is in bad pain. But Cas says the treatment is the only way he knows how to heal Dean. Otherwise they might have to kill him.
Sam finds Dean unconscious, and wakes him. More badgering and taunting ensues from the demon. He takes the low shot: “Maybe my mother would still be alive if it wasn’t for you.” But Sam holds his head high. Dean wants to quit, Sam refuses. Then comes the jab at John Winchester. Sam, in turn, jabs another needle of human blood in Dean’s skin, walks out of the room, and closes the door. When he’s gone, we see Dean cough weakly.
Oh this is not going to end well.
It turns out that Crowley is cleaning up from Abaddon’s short rule. That he is killing and punishing the demons that sided with her last season. Another demon steps up to Crowley and mentions the King of Hell’s absence and the shame his relationship with Dean brought upon their kind. The demon lights himself on fire.
Cas warns Hannah that she must not stray, get lost, or take detours. That the mission is everything. He warns that she must not be distracted. By anything or anyone. And again we have another allusion that Hannah is feeling something for Cas. But Cas puts a stop to it. He says their priorities are with Dean and hunting the rogues. Not with distractions or human emotions. Hannah turns away from Cas and goes into the convenient store where they are stopped. She pauses, sensing that something is not right. Cas rushes in to the store, hearing commotion. There he finds Adina holding an angel blade to Hannah’s neck. Cas pleads for her to kill him but spare Hannah. She throws him through a window.
Sam enters Dean’s room and looks around. He spies a half-eaten pie sitting on the table, along with pictures. He looks at pictures of the Winchester family. Of John and Mary. Of him, Dean, and Bobby. Of what looks like first season or pre-first season Sam and Dean.
Back at the gas station, Crowley is standing over Castiel.
At the bunker, Sam turns a corner, and Dean is gone.
Adina is taking her time with Hannah. She drags the angel blade over Hannah’s collar bone, creating a white gash. Crowley kills Adina, and steals her grace.
Sam looks for Dean, who is also hunting for Sam. It’s a game of hide and seek between the two brothers. Sam rifles through a drawer, finding a ring of keys. There’s a clatter in the distance. Sam follows it. Dean rifles through a drawer, puts aside the butcher knife, and picks up a hammer. He calls out to Sam. Challenges him.
Crowley stands over Castiel, convincing him to take in Adina’s grace. Crowley explains that he wants Castiel to solve Dean’s problem. To make him human again.
Sam uses the keys he grabbed to go into a random room. Dean kicks down a door to another room. Sam flips a switch and locks down the building. Dean proclaims that he doesn’t want to leave until he finds Sam. He reveals all the human blood made the cuffs and devil’s trap not work anymore. Dean restores the power. Sam locks him in that room. Dean heckles, Sam pleads with Dean to let him finish the treatment. I think of The Shining as Dean is hammering down the door. He proclaims that he doesn’t want to be cured, that there’s enough demon in him to relish killing his brother. Sam runs and hides. It’s now become a game of cat and mouse.
Sam dodges a blow to the head from Dean, and puts the demon blade against his brother’s throat. After a moment, though, Sam takes down the blade. And Dean charges Sam. He’s stopped by Castiel as he wraps his arms around Dean, using his new grace to hold the demon at bay.
Castiel muses that humans can feel such joy, but also such pain. And that’s why Dean doesn’t want to become human again. Dean wakes up. Sam throws holy water on him. And it doesn’t burn. Dean is back. The Dean we love. Yes! But how much of him is back? Is the demon still inside? Does the Mark of Cain still exist?
Cas asks Sam how Dean is doing. Sam reports that he’s a little out of it, but he’s good. He’s ok. Castiel warns that Dean is no longer a demon, but the Mark of Cain is still an issue. That it will become an issue again. Sam says just to enjoy the moment. That they solved one issue.
Castiel has a private moment with Dean, checks on him. Dean thanks Castiel for stepping in. Dean holds in guilt about trying to kill Sam. And he says that he’s glad Cas is back. (Cue an “Aww!” from me) Cas instructs Dean to relax. That Heaven and Hell are reasonably quiet. He doesn’t need to get back to work right away.
In the last scene, we see a woman reading calmly in a chair. As the camera pans around to her face, blood drips on her hand. Above her, two bodies are attached to the ceiling. Very, very dead.
Or, at least, we hope.