Film Noir is defined as a “a style or genre of cinematographic film marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, and menace.” This episode? Was a true tribute to the term, as it was chock full of all three.
After a mysterious opening where someone steals a holy skull from a convent, we head to the HuntCave to find out where Sam and Dean stand on their quest for the spell components that will open the rift between ours and Apocalypse World. Cas is apparently dodging bullets in Syria to try to get fruit from the Tree of Life, and Sam is working on the Seal of Solomon. They’ll still need, you remember, the blood of a most holy man and Lucifer’s grace. Easy peasy. Except it totally isn’t. In a kind-of flashback to The French Mistake, Sam finds out there is a real black market for holy relics they can hit up for the blood of a saint. “Ah, the internet,” Dean sighs. “Not just for porn anymore.”
The boys approach Margaret Astor, a dealer in said holy relics. She is a total Sam girl, and I FEEL YOU, MARGARET, even if Dean looks a little fed up. Sam plays all flirty-like to get her to divulge her source, and she does—a Richard Greenstreet of Seattle, who apparently, beyond loving powdered baked goods (miss you, Donna Hanscum), is a collector of religious artifacts.
Greenstreet sniffs out right away that Sam and Dean are lying about their background and that they probably cannot afford to buy the blood of Saint Ignacious that he claims to possess. Before they slink out defeated, however, he proposes a “bit of chicanery”—the skull from the intro has been promised to mob boss Santino Scarpatti but if the boys get it for Greenstreet he will trade them the blood for it. Even though, as Dean says, Scarpatti kills people, the boys agree. Sam pshaws them being thieves, but Dean says this isn’t a perfect world he is trying to save, and he’s not perfect trying to save it. Reluctantly, Sam agrees and the heist is on.
No Tell Hotel
While Dean flirts with a pretty girl, Sam manages to find out the skull thief’s name and location. The go to the Patricia hotel and, after bumping into a mysterious figure (Mystery Man #1), they find the thief’s room trashed and the thief dead. Before they can figure it all out, yet another mysterious guy (Mystery Man #2) —a “cop” (totally faking it, and the boys would know)—takes them by surprise at gunpoint and makes them handcuff themselves to the radiator. Fortunately, Boy-Scout-like Sam has cuff keys and sets them free. As they leave, Mystery Man #1 watches them go. The plot thickens!
An Offer They Can’t Refuse
The boys are confronted in the alley they parked the Impala in by mob boss Scarpatti’s hired goons. When one insists he will drive the Impala to their appointment with the man, Dean is thoroughly UNAMUSED. Get between a man and his Baby? That’s an appointment with danger.
Scarpatti is listening to opera, stroking a cat in his lap, and I’m not sure I can take any more bad guy cliché’s but there you are. Scarpatti knows of their deal with Greenstreet, but he feels Greenstreet doesn’t deserve the skull. Dean sasses him, assuring his admiration, and Scarpatti informs the boys that they will be double-crossing Greenstreet and getting the skull for him. And “as they say at NASA”? ”Failure is not an option.”
As We Concussed
Sam and Dean go back to the hotel and Dean pulls the fire alarms. That gets Sam back into the room where the skull thief died. Sam finds a mysterious piece of paper with numbers on it, and it must be Thursday because before he can decipher it he is whacked unconscious by Mystery Man #1. Dean revives him, calling out the fact that Sam has taken a lot of shots to the head recently, and he worries, despite Sam’s “Disney Princess Hair padding” (ha!) They leave the hotel, hear a scuffle, and find Mystery Man #1 has also been clocked and the paper is missing. Are you still with me?
Mystery Man #1 is Father Lucca Camilleri, a priest from the nunnery in Malta, who is also looking for the skull. He has brought all the money that they have to try to buy it back, but is now embroiled in the mystery. He did hit Sam, but it was only in interest of trying to find the skull. His congregation holds the skull very dear, and he was desperate to get it back. He preaches to Sam and Dean about how they must change the world, with their goodness. With their faith. Sam is sold—touched. He wants to get the skull back for the church. Dean reminds him of their mission, but Sam appeals to Dean in the best way he knows how—he compares the skull to the Impala, resulting in the following hilarious exchange.
Sam: “If somebody stole the Impala, what would you do?”
Dean: “Murder. I’d murder ’em all.”
Sam: “Right. My point being I… I don’t want a dick like Greenstreet or Scarpatti to win. Not this time.”
Dean: “There’d be torture first. There’d be, like, a lot of torture, and then there’d — it would end up with death. If I can’t have it, nobody can.”
Ackles made me laugh out loud with his single-minded devotion to Baby, and his and Padalecki’s chemistry in that moment totally sold the scene. And apparently the comparison sold it to Dean, too, because they head, with Father Camilleri (who remembers the numbers on the paper) to a shipping center where the package containing the skull has been sent.
Mystery Man #2 has picked up the package, and Sam, Dean and Father Camilleri track him to where he brings it. And it looks like the person accepting delivery? Is none other than Sam’s “girlfriend” Margaret Astor. She has invited Scarpatti and Greenstreet in to bid on the skull. And Sam? Walks in with the money from the nunnery to bid, too. Of course he is totally outclassed, financially. Not that that matters because it is all part of a plan that brings Dean in to discover that Mystery Man #2 is also a double crosser and there is a massive gunfight set to the sound of religious chants and it lasts forever and pretty much everyone ends up dead. Father Camilleri ends up shot, too, when he rushes in to help Dean, but he is just grazed so he is okay, thank…well…you know.
Also alive? Greenstreet, who admits that there is no such thing as the blood of Ignatius and he played them. Of course, that doesn’t help him much as he takes the fall for the whole thing and ends up in the back of a squad car.
You Gotta Have Faith
Sam and Dean give the skull and presumably the money back to Father Camilleri to bring back to Malta. He is super grateful. And in a stunning coincidence, the Pope has given him a title and pronounced him a “most holy man”. So it turns out there is something he can do to say thank you.
Dean is pumped for their score, but Sam remains overwhelmed by the constant barrage of evil they are confronted with, and wonders if they’ll ever get ahead in their battle against it. He asks Dean if he thinks the blood will work for the spell and Dean smiles a little and says, “I have faith.”
Up next? The episode we have all been wondering about for months: “ScoobyNatural”! Alas, we have to wait three weeks to see it. DAMN YOU MINI-HELLATUSES! See you then.