Congratulations! It’s a girl! Jimmy Novak…I mean Castiel…heads for a family reunion, trying to save the daughter he forced Meatsuit Jimmy (which is totally my new band name, by the way) to leave behind. Also? Crowley’s got Oedipal issues, Dean’s eating his feelings, and Sam? He’s trying to pretend everything is fine, when, Mark of Cain my words, we all know it isn’t.
1. Recurring Knightmare
What an opening, eh? Dean Winchester. Pool of blood. Lots of dead beings around him. Been there, killed that. This time, though? It’s different. Dean looks scared. Panicky. Maybe even helpless. Fortunately, he is jerked awake, and we see that it isn’t real. As he rubs the Mark of Cain, still branded into his flesh, Dean looks worried—the last thing he wants is for a Knight of Hell’s dream to come true.
2. Cas Takes a Guilt Trip
After Hannah’s departure left him, almost literally, soul searching, Cas decides he must honor Jimmy Novak’s legacy by finding his daughter Claire. Which is sort of easy to do, since she is in lockdown in a group home for the crimes she committed while being the world’s angriest underage blond. Apparently, Jimmy’s ex, Amelia, abandoned Claire with her grandmother and went to go find herself. (What’s up with the Amelias on this show, huh? They all have personality crises due to absent husbands.) It turns out that Amelia never came back, Gran died and Claire has been shuffled around from group home to foster care to the streets ever since. Claire, bitter and all too wise for her years, remembers who Cas is, and that he took her father from her. In fact, he tells her, the tiny glimmer of hope going out in her eyes, when Jimmy was atomized at the end of Season Five his soul went to Heaven. He is truly gone, and, though she hides it well, Claire is crushed.
The only way Cas can help her, she says, is for him to break her out of “child prison” by posing as her dad. She helps Cas don his tie, Cas affects Jimmy’s voice, and they try to con Sandy the group home manager into letting Claire go. “Jimmy” has been on a business trip, Cas says, and now he has retuned to take Claire home. When asked what he does for a living he, like Dean in Season Six before him, poses as an exterminator. Sandy asks about what to do about bedbugs, and Cas gives her an adorable conspiratorial wink and replies, “You should sleep tight and not let them bite.” Unfortunately, Sandy finds this less than amusing and makes Claire stay. Later, Claire hears a noise in the hall and her face tenses with fear, making us wonder: what has she seen? Been through? Been forced to do? Fortunately, the imagined terror at the door is just Cas, setting her free. And thus begins their life on the lam.
3. That’s So Cheesey!
How wonderful is it when the Winchesters smile? It’s this wonderful, that’s what.
In the HuntCave, Dean is watching the Three Stooges and laughing, and Sam brings him an ooey gooey grilled cheese sandwich that makes him moan with joy, prompting Sam to ask him if he wants to be alone with it. Watching Dean plow through that sandwich is delightful, reminding me of all the times our favorite Squirrel has stuffed his cheeks.
Sam, watching his brother be, well, his brother again, smiles, settling in to enjoy the show. He is desperate to believe that the vicious, violent killer Dean was when his green eyes turned black is gone for good, but as he looks at the MoC on Dean’s arm we know he still worries. Thankfully, he’s a Winchester, and they’re pretty good at denial. Sam and Dean bond as brothers over some immature humor, and try to do something they are just plain lousy at—live in the moment.
4. Rowena Gets a Sell-Out Mate
It’s been weeks, and Rowena, aka Crowley’s mum, is still in shackles, paying for her sins. She tries everything to get out, even throwing herself a pity party of one and saying she’s sorry, but it’s no use—Crowley’s right hand demon Gerald has mama issues of his own and he ain’t having it. Rowena gets a neighbor in chains, a demon who went topside without permission, and Rowena confesses to her what a horrible mother she is. Crowley agrees. He can’t tell if he is more pissed that she tried to sell him for three pigs when he was a child when he was clearly worth five or that she gave him a name that sounds like the not-fun kind of venereal disease. This begs the question: is there a fun kind of venereal disease? Never mind. Forget I asked.
5. Family Dinner
Claire and Cas end up in a diner, trying to figure each other out. Claire pretty much sums up Castiel’s entire evolution over the last few years with the following exchange:
Claire: “You’ve changed. The Castiel I met? He was crappy. Like super-stuck up and a dick and you just wanted to punch him in his stupid angel face.”
Cas: “I don’t think I was that bad.”
Claire: “You totally were. And now you’re just…I don’t know… nicer. And kind of a doof. No offense.”
Cas tells her of his failed righteous path, and how he now believes there isn’t one. “It’s just people trying to do their best in a world where it is far too easy to do your worst.” “Wow. Deep,” Claire says. “Yeah,” says Cas, adorably. “For a doof.”
Claire tells Cas she appreciates the meal and the felony, but that she will be on her way. Cas wants them to stick together. Claire pretends to need to pee, snatching Cas’ wallet as she goes, heading out to what inevitably will be the wrong side of some tracks. Cas, much like he did for Dean in Season Eight when he was trying to win his favor, puts together the cutest road trip bundle ever, including snacks and a toothbrush and a teen fashion magazine. When he tries to pay the suspicious clerk, he realizes Claire’s a wild child, and, no matter what his guilt drives him to, that she won’t be so easy to tame.
6. I Say, Take Me Out
Who else is Cas gonna ask for help? Sam and Dean respond to his emergency call, leaving Dean irked. “Cas, an emergency is a dead body, okay? Or a wigged out angel. Or the apocalypse, take three. Some chick bolting on you is not an emergency,” Dean says. He smirks, then, adding, “That’s every Friday night for Sam.” “Dude,” Sam replies, unable to deny that his dating history has been a little…well… should we call it colorful? Yeah. Let’s go with that.
Cas is annoyed, and well he should be, considering he asks for almost nothing and has saved their asses more than once. He tells Sam and Dean that he needs to know Claire is safe. Cas is literally (and obviously) going to be her guardian angel.
Back in the diner, Dean is eating a hamburger, reminding us that he no longer pushes them aside like he used to do when dining with the King of Hell. He eats his vegetables—according to Ronald Regan anyway—and talks to Cas about his angelic midlife crisis. He advises Cas to let go of his failures and move on, acknowledging that it is the opposite of what he does. But then, Dean says, “I ain’t exactly a role model.” Cas, looks at his friend and replies what we all know. “That’s not true.”
They move on to matters more human, namely how Dean is doing since he still bears the mark. Dean bluffs, saying he’s fine, but Cas doesn’t need to be Pamela to know better. Dean remembers his horrific dream and asks Cas to live a nightmare of his own: if he sees Dean go bad he needs to take him out of play. Knife me, smite me, throw me into the sun, he demands. “I can’t be that thing again.” Cas says nothing, knowing it is an impossible request, but, at the same time, a duty too important to shirk.
7. Unanswered Prayers
Much as everyone does on Supernatural, Claire has a found family, though hers is less The Waltons and more The Grifters. Randy, her sleazy father figure (fun fact: Randy is played by Roark Critchlow who was also on Days of Our Lives at the same time Jensen Ackles was), makes Claire and her emotionally adopted brother Dustin con and steal to support Randy’s gambling habit, not realizing his “love” is nothing more than employment. Sam and Dean track Dustin down at Weiner Hut to ask about Claire. Dean, eating a hot dog in the background because…Dean, advises Dustin to give up the goods. It turns out? Claire just went to the store. To rob it. At gunpoint.
Cas manages to stop her just in time, dragging her to the boys. (Humorous exchange? Dean: “Hey Miley Cyrus. Settle.” Claire: “Eat me, Hasslehoff.” Sounds just like something Dean would have said at her age.) The boys try to introduce themselves to Claire, but she knows just who they are. “You stood there while this monster killed my dad.” She tells Cas she used to pray to him to bring her father home safe. Cas’ face falls as he tells her he knows she did. Claire says that Randy was the only one who was there when things got “real damned bad.” She runs back to the only home she has, and Cas knows that once again his good intentions led him straight down a hellish path.
8. Mommie Dearest
At long last, Rowena is brought to Crowley, deliciously greeting him. “Fergus,” she says. “Crowley!” he barks. Rowena pauses a moment and repeats, “Fergus” and I think I’m growing to love her. And maybe Crowley is, too, because he listens to her tales of woe and how she truly wants to be his mother again.
He sends her back to her cell, but the abandoned eight-year-old in him still wants to believe. So he rejects Gerald’s offer to waste her and sends her back to the clink where she hatches a plan with her cellmate to frame Gerald as the surfacer of demons. Of course the plan is a lie, but Gerald still pays for it.
Crowley leaves her cell, tossing a “Coming?” over his shoulder. Rowena follows, delighted, promising to be back for her co-conspirator of a cellmate. Don’t hold your breath, she-demon. The lady lies.
9. A wayward angel, a knight of hell and the brother formerly known as Gadreel walk into a bar…
…and talk about what it means to be a father. Cas has no idea—his dad was distant. (Damn it, Chuck!) He asks if Sam and Dean loved their Dad, and Dean replies, “With everything I had,” which chokes me up (and fills me with a likely hopeless wish the Jeffrey Dean Morgan will come back somehow and John Winchester will ride again.) And Sam? “It wasn’t always easy, but yeah.” Dean tells a story of a hunt in NYC, and John finally agreeing to take a break and see some sights. Dean snuck out to go to CBGB (which Cas, with his newfound pop culture knowledge, can place, much to Sam’s consternation.) Dean got powerful, not-fun drunk, and John found him, prompting an apology from the punks at Dean’s table. John took him home, listening to Dean gripe about how much he hated him for embarrassing him in front of everyone. “Son?” John had replied, “You don’t like me—that’s fine. It’s not my job to be liked.” “It’s my job to raise you right.,” Sam finishes. “And he did,” Dean says. There are more lovely, dreamy, wistful Winchester smiles, and I have to say, even if some of them were hollow, I think they’ve both smiled more this episode than they have in a couple of seasons.
Cas asks if Dean thinks Claire is in trouble. “She’s hanging out with a guy named Randy. She’s in trouble.” Dean says, and of course, he’s right.
10. Rescue Me
Claire goes home to find they have company in the form of Randy’s loan shark and his goons. Claire tries to hold them at gunpoint but is easily overcome. She spits in the bad guy’s face and ends up locked in a bedroom for it. The guy isn’t so much disgusted as turned on. “I married the last girl who spit in my face,” he says, all nostalgic, and he offers to let Randy off the hook in exchange for the girl. Randy, ever the scumbag, agrees. And Claire, hearing him come for her, knows what he wants, prompting us to again ask: what has this poor girl seen? She tries to defend herself with a kick to the crotch, but this just fires the guy up even more.
Fortunately for Claire, Cas is not in doof mode, and he and his band of brothers come to save her. “Where’s the girl?” he growls, and then Claire is screaming, filling Cas’ face with horror. He races up the stars and busts the door down with the power of his angel mojo, distracting the baddie. Claire kicks her attacker—not once, not twice, but over and over, her rage so loud she can’t even hear Cas calling her name. Dean tells Cas to get Claire out of there, and has Sam follow. Sam, Cas and Claire retreat to the Impala, Claire falling into Cas’ arms, leaving Dean behind to be jumped from behind and suddenly forced into a three on one. Dean sees flashbacks of his greatest murder hits. He tries to warn them. Tries to let them know they don’t want to take him on. Of course, they can’t know that their favored odds mean nothing in the face of the Mark of Cain.
Sam suddenly hears sounds of a violent struggle. Sam’s hair swings gloriously (it must be said) and he runs in slo-mo for the house, Cas and Claire behind him. Claire begins to scream once more, not because she is afraid of an attacker, but because she is afraid of her rescuer. Dean’s nightmare (premonition?), it seems, has come true. Everyone is dead, even Randy, brutally butchered, and Dean doesn’t even seem to know what happened.
Cas pulls Claire into his arms once more, instinctively being a dad more than ever as he shields her from what she should not see. Sam goes to Dean, angry and desperate all at once, and holds Dean’s face in his hands. “Tell me you had to do this,” he demands. Dean, still in a haze, says unconvincingly “I didn’t mean to…” he fumbles. “Tell me it was them or you!” Sam begs. And Dean can’t. Sam, sickened, finally releases him while Cas looks on, wondering if he will have to honor his word and kill his best friend in the world.
Whew! That last scene was intense! Fortunately I have the winter hiatus to recuperate, and you will have winter hiatus with plenty of Supernatural coverage to keep you entertained, including the long awaited 200th episode rewatch recap and interviews with Richard Speight, Julian Richings, Osric Chau, Lauren Tom, Mark Sheppard and Misha Collins! Catch your breath—I will see you next week!