Another six week Hellatus down, folks, and this time? They added insult to injury in the form of an extra day of waiting! In the case of a lesser show, bouncing time slots usually means the program is struggling to find an audience or is on its way out. Our little show that could? Is stronger than ever. So much so that the CW knows: the Winchesters lead and we will absolutely follow. Let’s dish about this episode, where an old (new) friend and a (new) old foe come back to (not quite literally) haunt our boys, and we are reminded of what they have in common with the U.S. military’s finest (hint: it’s PTSD.)
1. That Was “THEN”
I know I’ve said this before, but I mean it: I absolutely love when the show opens with old episode clips. These particular ones about mystery monsters and brothers befuddled remind us that despite their legacy (in both their experience as hunters and in their bunker full of books) there are occasions, rare though they may be, where Sam and Dean simply don’t know what they are up against. Some monsters are modern enough to avoid entry into the Men of Letters registry, and some are so ancient their stories are long lost. I kind of like it when Sam and Dean don’t know what they’re fighting. It adds a touch of realism to the fantastical, and allows us to discover what they face right along with them. Also? These recap clips happily remind us of how good the boys looked as doctors in the Season Five episode “Changing Channels”. Even if they, sadly, also make me miss Rufus and Bobby and their spinoff buddy cop show that exists only in my mind.
2. “That was scary!”
Water dripping. Long hair dangling. An upside down, blurry silhouette of a man. Panting muffled screams and bound hands. And then? A bucket. Oh God, he’s got a bucket. This opening, with its quick cuts to black and lack of dialogue, set the horrific tone for the entire episode. Jared Padalecki once said that making 200 episodes of Supernatural in essence meant they had made 100 feature length films. I’d argue that this opener was as tense and frightening as anything Hollywood is putting out these days.
Sometimes, in the midst of broments and mythological arcs, we forget how scary monsters are, and how frightening it should be to hunt and fight them. This season seems to have had more Monster of the Week episodes than the series has in a long time, and I think it’s been an excellent reminder of what this show is capable of as a thriller. Don’t get me wrong: I love a good bonding session, sitting on Baby, drinking beer from the green cooler. But it’s nice to see that after ten years this show is still able to freak me out a little.
3. The Internet is for Porn
(Recapper’s note: bonus points from me if you know what song that title came from.)
In the HuntCave, Sam is single minded—he is determined to find the answer to Dean’s Mark of Cain dilemma even if Dean wants him to give up trying. When Dean sees Sam slam his laptop shut to conceal his research he goes where only Dean can go, and asks Sam if he’s looking at porn.
Sam flusters a denial until Dean asks him to just not do it where they eat. May I say, Dean? I agree. And also? Yuck. Dean tells Sam to “zip it up and check this out”, bringing him the case of the dead Army private we saw in the opener. They calmly discuss whether it is a rugaru or a god, maybe, and it reminds me how casual they are about their work, when average civilians would see it as quite literally unbelievable. Sam, despite wanting to focus on healing his brother, agrees to hit the road and find out what’s going on with Buckethead. (Shudder.)
4. I Drove All Night
As they drive to the scene of the crime, Sam uses his eternally available hotspot and continues to view his version of porn: research. Dean knows what he is doing, and doesn’t want him to bother. They saw what happened to Cain, and Dean isn’t happy about it but he knows that’s his fate too. In the meantime? “…I’m gonna keep doing what we do. While I still I can,” Dean says. “And I’d like you to be there with me.”
It’s such a tiny moment but my heart still pings. There ain’t no Dean, if there ain’t no Sam. Even if it seems that Dean doesn’t understand that that goes both ways.
5. Let Him Eat Cake
The boys talk to the local Sheriff about the case. Apparently the murderer, Rick, was a soldier recently returned from Iraq, and, after leaving behind evidence that he committed the crime, he drank a boatload of gasoline and set himself on fire. All of which would be fascinating to Dean, were it not for what lies on the counter. Dean’s got his version of porn, too, (in addition to…well…porn) and it comes in the form of chocolate birthday cake. We all know from seasons past that cake isn’t pie, but seeing the longing look in his eyes and the distraction he faces, trying to focus on the local Sheriff’s recap of the case and being seduced, instead, by homemade baked goods, is adorable. Sadly, Sam says no, and a brother is denied. But not before Dean dips into some frosting and puts it between his lips and sadly? That is not a euphemism.
And dear Lord, can we just take a second to stare at Jensen Ackles’ overwhelming handsomeness? (Take your time. I’ll be here when you get back. Also? YOU’RE WELCOME.)
6. Soldiers of Horsemen
Interviews reveal that the case involves two enlisted men—war heroes, in fact. And thus begins an episode long comparison of Hunters to Soldiers that turns out to be thoroughly apt. The widow of the murderer reveals that her husband was not the same when he returned from his last tour, weirdly noting that he had an unquenchable thirst. (Guess we now know what the bucket was for.) The boys also interview Gemma, the wife of another soldier, Kit, who has come back wrong from the same mission. And Kit is nowhere to be found.
But you know who is found? And (GASP!) sitting on Baby? None other than another (former?) soldier, Cole. Turns out Kit is his best friend, and Gemma called him for help. He knows that the boys hunt monsters, and he knows they often behead first and ask questions later, but he believes that Kit can be saved. That he is a good and loving man who has dedicated his life to serving and protecting and he deserves another chance. Sound like anyone we know?
Sadly? The Winchester warning that Kit might not be Kit anymore rings true. The monster formerly known as Kit breaks into a Gas-n-Sip (nice continuity there) and tries to find something to satisfy his overpowering thirst. Water doesn’t do it. Not seltzer, either. What does work? Slashing a clerk’s throat and drinking his blood off the floor in a move that seems to surprise even him.
As the newfound trio eat (at Sammy’s Roadside Café, no less) Cole hands over the intel. Apparently Kit and Rick were sent to rescue a POW held in a cemetery in Iraq. He shows them footage of the attempted rescue and it looks an awful lot like some of the hunts our boys have done. Kit and Rick’s mission ultimately failed, not because the POW wasn’t there, but because he was, and he was infected with monster crazy and he had to be put down. Of course, just like post-hunting, there is an “official” story that is handed out for the masses to believe and the whole thing is covered up. Maybe Dean and Cole have more in common than they ever thought.
Anyway, their meal is interrupted by news of the Gas-n-Sip disaster, and Dean (grabbing his burger, natch) races them all to the scene of the crime in a very cool shot of his Baby’s sweet rims. (Again, not a euphemism. Except maybe to Dean.)
7. Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me, Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms
After they learn what Kit had for dinner, Cole goes back to Gemma’s house and leaves the boys to the hunt. OR DOES HE??? He doesn’t, actually. He goes searching for Kit at a cabin up north. Fortunately for him, our boys have trust issues and knew enough to stay behind and follow him, quietly getting out machetes (are they thinking vamp?) and blasting in just in time to keep Cole from getting infested with…well…a second Khan worm, anyway.
All the props in the world to Travis Aaron Wade whose spot-on, choking delivery of “Something went down my throat. Oh God, something moved,” had me GAGGING. The boys, whom he calls “Sammy” and “Deano” and “The Machete Brothers,” recount their history with the Khan worm and I miss Rufus and Bobby very, very badly. They warn Cole that they may have to kill him, but tell him they can try electrocuting him almost to death first. Yay? The only good news for Cole is that he believes if they can save him, they can save Kit too.
8. He Puts Me in a State…a State of Shock
Sam leaves to try to find Kit while Dean sets up the jumper cables. Cole muses on their daily lives of saving people from things they can’t wrap their minds around. “Nobody even notices,” Cole says. “At least I get a medal for my efforts. I almost took you off the map. Who’d be saving my ass now?” Dean doesn’t want him to get too sentimental about it. “You say that like it’s just another Tuesday,” Cole says. “Oh, buddy,” Dean reminds him with a smile. “It’s only Monday.” And you thought your Mondays sucked.
Dean electrocutes Cole, and Cole is a tough SOB. Again, massive props to Wade—he sells torture to the point where I’m wondering if someone shocked him in real life. Dean looks away as Cole demands that he try over and over, ultimately almost resulting in his death until Dean restarts his heart with a firm pound to the chest. Since the shock treatment is a bust, and they know about the deep need the worm has for fluids, they decide to make worm jerky via the rapid dehydration of Cole. “You’d be a hostile environment,” Dean says. “Well, more than you already are.” “Well, to be fair,” Cole replies, “You haven’t really seen my chiller side.” Wait a minute. Are these two becoming friends? I think they are. Guess Dean restarted his heart in more ways than one.
9. One of These Things is Not Like the Other
The horror movie pacing returns as Gemma, back at her place, slowly follows a trail of scattered flowers that leads her to Kit who is drinking water out of the vase. Kit attacks her with an apology and is about to kill her when Sam crashes that heavy vase over his head. Like a totally heroic badass.
Sam and Dean talk about the best course of action for their two POWs. Sam believes they should just end it, but Dean clearly can’t kill Cole. He does, however, drink a cold water in front of Cole with an apology and I can’t help but feel like he should have at least attempted to turn away or something. Meanie.
As Sam talks to Gemma, Cole and Dean have a conversation of their own. Cole, at last, makes peace. “I get why you did it, Dean. My Dad wasn’t my dad anymore.” Unfortunately, Cole feels like he is losing himself too. Dean refuses to let him quit. “You’re gonna fight,” Dean says. “Harder than you ever have. You understand?” It’s hard to tell if Dean is coaching Cole or himself. Either way, having been a monster, the clean kill isn’t so clear to Dean anymore. Cole sees Dean drinking his green cooler ice water, gets a murderous look in his eyes, and says “Deano? Will you do me the honor of tying me to this chair?” Before Dean can, Cole punches him and heads for the water bottle. Dean slaps it away and tells Cole to fight it. Fight it for his family. Cole says he can’t—that he wants to drink Dean like a fountain. “Guess that make me a monster, don’t it?”
Back at Gemma’s Sam tells her what he has said about being hunters is true. Of course, Kit gets away, cuts the power and goes after them. Kit attacks Gemma, Sam gets him off her with an accidental misfire of his gun (why don’t those happen more often on this show?) and struggles with Kit for his weapon. Which he gets, before we cut back to the cabin. Cole attacks Dean, with a ferocious leap into his arms (the fanfic writes itself) and Dean tells him ,“Don’t make me pull this trigger.” “I already did,” Cole replies. Then the worm starts to emerge and Dean makes a face like you make when a kid’s gonna puke. The worm tries to skitter away (barf) and Dean stomps it dead. “Thank God,” Cole says. Dean calls Sam. Unfortunately, Kit met a grimmer end, and Sam is devastated.
10. Semper Fidelis
After, Sam apologizes to Cole, telling him he wishes it hadn’t ended that way for Kit. “Yeah, me too, Sammy boy,” Cole says. He thinks that now he’s seen it all, which prompts a hearty laugh from all of us. Cole says goodbye as he goes back to his family, hoping he doesn’t see them again. “No offense,” he says with a smile. “None taken,” says Sam, meaning every word. Sam still looks sad, and Dean knows why. Sam admits it—it felt crappy, killing Kit. Dean acknowledges the truth of that but has a grim reminder for Sam. “You know, you can do everything right and even still, sometimes? The guy still dies.” And as Sam looks after his big brother we can see in his eyes the fear that next time “the guy” just might be Dean.
Dum dum DUM! The tension is no doubt just starting its slow, sweet build to the Season Ten finale. Join me next time as we visit my particular nightmare, mean nuns (twelve years of Catholic school will do that to a girl), in episode sixteen, “Paint it Black.” See you then!