Every now and then, Supernatural has an episode that completely and utterly blows you away. “Road Trip” is one of those episodes. Season “Fine” is living up to its reputation–this is the easily the best season in several years–and this episode is the best one yet. We see old friends united in a mission, unlikely allies battling for control of a Winchester, the beginning of the campaign for hell, and the sad division of our favorite brothers. It’s a game changer. Let’s get right into it. This is gonna be a long one.
1. The Heartbreaking Opener
Confession: Bob Seger provided the soundtrack to my youth, and I’m a fan. The show has used his music before, very successfully, but this? Perfect. The beautiful track “The Famous Final Scene” plays over a devastating montage of Dean laying our beloved Kevin to rest in a hunter’s funeral like the one he gave his father. Dean returns to the bunker, seeing Kevin’s notes and mostly eaten PB&J and milk, looking lost. Particularly tear inducing? Dean finding Kevin’s phone and seeing that his lock screen is a lovely photo of Kevin and his beloved mother Linda, while Seger sings, “Everything must have an end. Like an ocean to a shore. Like a river to a stream.”
The Trans. Both dead. Both gone. And Dean knows–it’s his fault. Dean trashes the room in frustration and despair before hunching over the table, completely broken. Jensen Ackles’ incredible acting prowess makes us feel just that way too.
2. The True Belieber
It’s no secret that Jared Padalecki is *not* a Justin Bieber fan (he’s said as much on his @jarpad Twitter account and they are currently involved in an online dust-up.) How fun must it have been, then, to kill him? Okay, it wasn’t the Beebs exactly, but it certainly was his homage. Turns out that the singer of “Baby, My Baby”, “Babycakes”, and “Babymaker” (both the clean and dirty versions) is Thaddeus, the angel that tortured Gadreel for hundreds of years. Thaddeus, now “Corey”, has decided that the best way to be human is to be is a self-centered douche with a tacky pleather pantsuit and an annoying haircut that millions of twelve year olds think of as a god. Gadreel? Just as unimpressed as Padalecki. He runs Thaddeus through with an angel sword on the order of Metatron, who considers it a “signing bonus”.
3. And They Call Them Destiel
“Look at you,” Dean says with a little smile when he sees his best friend. “All suited up and back in the game.” Cas (in a streamlined version of his security blanket of a trenchcoat) has returned, simply because Dean needs him. Cas is loving. Gentle. Supportive. Telling Dean that sometimes having all the right reasons when making stupid mistakes is the only thing that matters. He spends the whole episode wishing he could make everything right for Dean, and hurting when he can’t. There are a lot of theories out there that these two are in love, and, while I don’t necessarily agree, I can certainly see why. Me? I’m impressed that this show has never shied away from showing men who love someone outside of wanting to sleep with them. That, of course, strong, masculine men have that depth of emotion. It’s one of the many reasons, I believe, that the show has gone on so long and is so necessary to pop culture as a whole.
4. The Three Amigos Meet Demon Charlie
Turns out that Crowley’s torture of Alfie, Heaven’s Most Adorable Angel, will come in handy. In exchange for a little time out of the shackles, he’s going to hack into Sam’s brain and set him free. Watching Dean roll his eyes at being the mediator of a cranky angel and a smarmy demon while sitting in a car that can best be described as a pimpmobile is the little bit of levity this episode needed.
Another sadly brief but bright spot? Crowley’s version of Charlie, the adorable info-finding tech wizard Cecily. Cecily, whose sassy genius is made clear when she calls Angel Castiel “Captain Sexy”.
She finds Gadreel for Crowley (or at least the Impala he stole.) Sadly, her decision to play both sides of Hell ’til a winner emerges causes her to end up on the wrong end of Abbadon’s blade. Too bad. I would have loved to see her and Charlie face off in the nerd girl battle of the ages.
5. People, Let Me Tell Ya ‘Bout My Best Friend
Gadreel doesn’t want to take lives. Though he relished killed his torturer, destroying Kevin Tran was “less easy”. So you can imagine how he felt when Metatron sent him to kill his fellow captive and longtime best friend, the angel Abner (played by the warm and wonderful Dan Payne).
Abner, to Gadreel’s consternation and dismay, delights in being human. He has let go of hate, and he has found what he wants most–love and comfort from a wife and child. He encourages Gadreel to pay any price for his path to happiness.
Sadly? Gadreel takes that advice and slits his throat, determined to become Heaven’s second in command. Fortunately, he will answer for that. Right after Cas, with a badass look on his face, punches him out cold.
6. “Really putting the S…A…M into S&M.”
Gadreel awakens, totally bound, complete with a leather chinstrap (Insider note? Padalecki said on Twitter that the strap was so tight it cut into his lip. He suffers for his art, people!) Padalecki is brilliant here, as usual, infusing his portrayal of Gadreel with a righteous danger that shows–this is no Sam we are dealing with.
Crowley begins digging into his brain, causing Samdreel to scream and gasp. Dean, in a scene reminiscent of Sam’s painful demon blood withdrawal from seasons four and five, can’t take hearing him suffer and retreats near tears. Cas follows, concerned.
In an effort to find distraction, they talk, and Dean apologizes to a forgiving Cas. “I got played,” Dean says. “I thought I was saving Heaven. I got played, too,” Cas reminds him. “So are you saying were both a couple of dumbasses?” Dean asks. “I prefer the word ‘trusting’. Less dumb. Less ass,” Cas says with a small smile. It is a touching scene, contrasting the torture of the body with the torture of the heart, and all the actors handle it deftly. Man. It’s a great time to be a fan of this show.
7. Clash of the Angels
Finally, Crowley’s science experiment works: he trips the nerve that causes Gadreel to speak Enochian, including revealing his name. While Crowley muses about the “celebrity” in their midst, angry Cas comes back. He blames Gadreel for his weakness–for allowing evil into the world of men and driving God away. “You RUINED the universe, you damned son-of-a-bitch!” he snarls, diving for Gadreel’s throat. Dean pulls him off, reminding him of the big picture, but Cas is gentle no more. The hatred and disgust colors his features and, though Gadreel sneers and stands his ground, it is clear: Cas wants in on anything that makes Gadreel pay.
8. Sam has a Three-Way
Crowley’s plan, alas, fails. It seems the battle needs to be fought from within. Plan B? Cas goes internal and fights Gadreel. Unfortunately, Cas, of course, can’t possess Sam without permission, so a devious Crowley raises his hand. “Call me plan C.” he says, and Dean reluctantly agrees to allow him to enter Sam and be his demon alarm clock, promising him he will free him and give the devil his due. Cas burns off Sam’s tattoo (nice continuity there) as Crowley prepares for his job. “I will destroy you,” Gadreel spits. “Eat me,” Crowley says, and, in a red swirl, he inhabits Sam, who is living in the illusion that he is hunting a cheerleader eating ghoul.
Crowley says Sam and Dean’s safe word, Poughkeepsie, to let him know he’s been sent, and shows Sam, with the pistol in his mind, that he is trapped in an illusion.
He forces Sam to remember everything Gadreel has done, including the devastating death of Kevin Tran. “Did I kill Kevin?” Sam asks, stunned. “No. YOU didn’t. HE did!” Crowley insists. Crowley then bellows, in his best faith healer voice, “You need to take control, Sam. Blow it up. And cast that PUNK-ASS HOLY ROLLER OUT!” Of course, Gadreel fights back, taunting Sam, reminding him of his fragility, and though Sam tries to demand he leave, Sam seems outmatched. Fortunately, he’s a Winchester, and they don’t go down easy. He overpowers Gadreel with the help of an imaginary lamp, puts his foot on his throat and hisses, “I said, get. The hell. OUT.” If you watched this scene and didn’t scream “AWESOME!!!!” I’m not sure we can be friends.
9. “Vote Crowley.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Mark Sheppard is a golden god. He sells Crowley as an honorable demon while maintaining the depth of his maliciousness, and it astounds me every time. As Sam comes to, Abbadon arrives, and Crowley offers to take her on–alone. “Oh, cause you’re such a good guy?” Dean asks. “Right now I’m the goodest guy you got.” Crowley replies, and he is, when you consider how lawful he is in his evil. “This don’t make us square,” Dean warns him. “I see you again…” “I’m dead. Yes, I know. I love you, too,” Crowley says deadpan, in another delightful case of snark. Abbadon demands her henchmen get her Crowley’s head, but much like poor, dead Cecily they’re waiting to see who’s on top. Crowley wisely assesses the situation and lets “the world’s angriest ginger” know: “You think this is a fight…it’s a campaign.” Before he disappears, he says with a smile, Vote Crowley,” and I’m lined up with my ballot in hand. Abbadon is intensely amazing, and she rocks my socks, but if I had my way? Off with her head. Long live the King.
10. Alone Again, Naturally
Cas, Sam and Dean end up on an extremely symbolic bridge, and Cas heals a pissed-off Sam. “I was ready to die, Dean,” Sam says. “I know,” Dean answers, summing up the whole show with his next sentence. “But I wouldn’t let you. Because that’s not in me.” Cas looks on the whole time, pained for his friends. Dean tells Sam that he will hunt for Gadreel (who has reinhabited his original vessel played by the amazing Tahmoh Penikett) and he will make him pay. But Dean will do it alone, because he knows he is poison to those around him. Sam, as Dean did to him in the past, lets him go.
“But don’t go thinking that’s the problem, ’cause it’s not,” he says to Dean with a choke in his voice, refusing to explain. As Sam looks away, Dean drives his baby off into the rain, leaving us all as hurt and frustrated as poor Cas is.
Well, that was exhaustingly brilliant. I hate when our boys are separated, I’m worried about Sam’s health and my heart breaks for Dean’s pain. I cannot wait to see where this is all going. Hopefully? It will involve some sort of magical mass resurrection, where Kevin and Cecily have an online hook up, Meg comes back to move Cas’ furniture around, Ellen and Jo kick Abbadon’s demon ass, Gabriel and Balthazar provide deliciously snarky play by plays, and Bobby watches the whole band of idjits with a whiskey in his hand. Hey, a girl can dream, right? Tell us your thoughts in the comments, and I’ll see you for next week’s episode, “First Born”.