THEN: Rowena and Sam bond over their fear of Lucifer. Gabriel's grace. Mary and Jack. If we die, we'll do that together.
NOW: In what can only be a dream sequence, everyone is sitting around the map table - Dean, Sam, Mary, Jack, and Cas - eating pizza. Everyone's happy (which is another clue that it's a dream). Mary thanks Sam for rescuing her. "Somehow, I always knew that you - you and Dean - would come save us." Then she keeps repeating his name and it turns into an alarm clock and Sam gasps awake rather dramatically, almost like coming back from the not-quite-dead in "Red Meat." (Spoiler alert: if you like that kind of thing, stay tuned.) And already my heart is shattered into little pieces, because Sam, who earlier this season complained that he didn't get to have a relationship with his resurrected mother, who in the previous episode complained about Dean leaving him out of the earlier rescue mission... poor Sammy's dream is that Mary thanks him and had faith in him and Dean is the also-ran.
Sam wakes up wearing socks, and I don't know how much of my soul I'd have to sell for him to sleep barefoot (and maybe even in boxer briefs like Dean), but it's probably more than I can spare. I guess it's cold in the bowels of the bunker, even in May.
We do get pretty dream Sam and pretty sleepy rubbing-his-face Sam, so that's good.
Jump ahead in time. Rowena is assembling the ingredients for the rift spell as Sam and Dean pack their bags, so apparently Gabriel's grace has replenished enough to make the spell possible. She plucks a hair off Dean's head as "something from the other side." I would have gotten one of Sam's, not only as an excuse to run my hands through his hair, but also because Dean's little hairs are going to be harder to keep track of. (But mostly to run my hands through Sam's hair.) Cas enters and announces Gabriel wanted to extract his grace "in private," complete with air quotes. Sam makes an amused face and Dean is disgusted to find out this is happening in his room, and just prepare yourselves for more angel grace extraction = male ejaculation jokes, okay, because it's only going to get worse.
Rowena points out the glaring hole in the plan, the fact that the rift is only open for 24 hours. Because it still hasn't occurred to any of them that they can re-open the rift after it closes if they'd just leave some freaking hair behind. Sam and Dean are all, yeah, it might close on us, nothing we can do about that. And Rowena is wearing pants, for the second episode in a row. Did she wear pants in previous seasons?
For you Brits in the audience, I mean trousers.
Gabriel shows up with a teeny amount of archangel grace. Everyone gives it the side-eye, but he assures them it's more than enough to get the job done. He's wrong. Rowena casts the spell, and the rift appears, but it flickers out and then literally goes limp, completely with funny music and everyone tilting their heads in an amusing way and Gabriel's sword going limp in his hand. Then it fritzes out completely and Rowena makes a "premature" joke. So. Um. This is a humorous episode, I guess?
All signs point that way so far.
But things turn darker rather quickly when Cas says there's only one thing left to do. They need archangel grace, and there's exactly one other source on Earth. "No," says Sam, immediately. But there's no other way. They need Lucifer.
You know, Sam would have a pretty decent set of devil horns here if he just took one step to the left. But I'm sure that's a coincidence.
TFW is in the kitchen, with Sam freaking out about working with Lucifer again. Not working with, Dean corrects, they only need his grace, and they've trapped him before. "Yes, and every time it ends up the same way," Sam points out, "with the Devil being on the loose again."
"Look, Sam," Cas says. "I was used by Lucifer too. It was the worst possible violation." Um. No. No, it wasn't. You volunteered to be his vessel, and then he hid you in the recesses of your own mind. He didn't torture you and pretend to be your dead girlfriend. You were in the kitchen watching TV. You didn't even know what was happening most of the time. It doesn't even compare. Whatever. He brings this up to say he understands Sam's concerns, but Lucifer is already out in the world anyway, and they've been avoiding dealing with him out of fear. "We let Lucifer out of the cage." (Well, we didn't. Cas did.) "And he has never stopped being our responsibility." And Cas knows Sam well, doesn't he, because this is exactly how you suck him into a horrible plan. Guilt and blame and responsibility.
This scene is set up with Sam practically sitting on the floor, putting him well below Dean and Cas, who are both standing/leaning. He looks small and frightened and helpless and oh, my heart.
Sam and Dean are both wearing red and black. Does it mean anything? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Meanwhile, back in the library, things are heating up. Gabriel is defending his "performance" while literally flipping through a book called Laying Pipe, for fuck's sake. He suggests that maybe Rowena was the problem, not his grace, and she says "a drunk six-year-old could execute that magic." Hee. So we're back to comedy. They speculate on how long TFW will be sequestered in the kitchen, and then she notices Gabriel's "tidy wee tush," and I'm sorry, you've had both Sam and Dean Winchester in your grasp, and this? This is what does it for you? For his part, Gabriel notices that she's "so tiny, so angry," (which is true and that's why I love her, despite her egregious taste in men), with milky white skin and probably great flexibility, and then she's giving him the eye and asking how he'd like to fill the time and stroking a very phallic pestle -
And we abruptly cut back to the kitchen, with poor despairing Sam agreeing that they have no other choice. Dean says the "bright side" is that 24 hours most likely won't be enough time to save Mary and Jack anyway, but then Sam gets a thinky look and we know he's got an idea. Oooh, did he just remember that Cas still has Lucifer's grace in his nooks and crannies? Because I've been waiting for them to think of that.
The guys return to the library and a disheveled Rowena and Gabriel come out from behind a bookcase, where they've been... reading. Sam and Dean are shocked and appalled, and Cas can't even look. So, to the one person who voted in last week's poll that the most likely pairing in this bunker full of possibilities would be Gabriel and Rowena, come collect your prize.
Cut to Joe's Town Club, where Lucifer is whining and drinking something right out of the bottle and the background music is "Cat's in the Cradle," which is of course perfect for his monologue about losing Heaven and Hell and nothing matters because he's lost his son. He reminds us that he used to be able to sense his presence, but now he can't. The bartender is a friendly sort in a black shirt embroidered with red roses, and this shirt looks familiar for some reason. He assures Lucifer that Jack will come around, and Lucifer says he never told him his name was Jack, and I'm wondering what angel or demon this bartender could possibly be and what he's up to. But you know what? I should have guessed right away.
Because there's a FUCKING MOOSE on the door of this bar.
Lucifer's vision goes all funky and the bartender laughs that he spiked his drink, and then the bartender turns into Gabriel. Ah ha! "I killed you!" Lucifer says. "Surprise!" answers Gabriel. Lucifer lurches through the moose door but finds himself right back inside the bar. Rowena shows up, also wearing black and red, and tells him what's in the magical roofie, and he laughs "I killed you too!" He tries to leave, but Rowena activates a spell that gives him a set of magic handcuffs. Gabriel brandishes the real actual archangel blade, the one that suddenly showed up this season, accept no substitutes, and Lucifer starts crying and tells him to put him out of his misery. But Gabe just knocks him unconscious.
Other bar signs of note: Kingdom beer and Little Lucy's beer.
Back at the bunker, Rowena prepares the spell again. Lucifer wakes up on his knees. That must be a pretty powerful handcuff spell if it actually held him upright while he was unconscious. "Oh, hey, Sam," he says cheerfully. "Ah, look at this, all the people I love to torture in the same room. What's the occasion, guys?" Maybe I'm just seeing what I want to see, but it seems like Sam and Rowena are both projecting a very I'm not freaking out, I'm not freaking out vibe, while the others are just full of hate. Lucifer correctly deduces they need his grace to open the rift and rescue Mary, but he wonders why they didn't just drain him in the bar. "What's this really about? Humiliation? Revenge?"
"Nah, those are just bonuses," says Sam. Oooh, is Sam actually getting his revenge in this episode, guys? What do you think? Rowena casts the spell, and as Lucifer's grace continues to drip into the spell bowl, Sam explains they're using him to keep the rift open, and when they come back, they'll kill him. He kindly asks Rowena if she's going to be okay here, and wait, they're not leaving her alone, are they? With Lucifer? Is that really a good idea, guys? Sam goes through first, because goddammit, he's not going to be left behind this time. He's followed by Cas and Gabriel and then Dean, so I guess they are leaving Rowena alone with the Devil. I don't know, guys. This seems like a really bad idea.
(Also, you got some more of Dean's hair as backup, right? Right?)
AU Land. The members of the Fellowship tumble out of the rift and onto a slope, which they all fall down. Gabriel ends up with his head in Cas's crotch, and again, I'm wondering if this is supposed to be a comedy episode. It's a strange off note, IMHO. Dean says "I thought we'd get spit out in the same spot, but this isn't it." Which is funny, because knowing they always end up in a different spot is really the only reason to keep the rift open long-term. If they assumed it would always open to the same location, they would have thought they could simply re-open it after it closed, instead of believing they needed to keep the same rift open long-term.
Dean knows they need to get to Dayton, Ohio, and Cas tells them they're in northeast Kentucky, because he's a goddamn GPS as well as being a lie detector. Well, they're lucky the rift opened in a neighboring state. Would have been awkward to enter in Maine. (Seriously, guys. Motorcycles. Or even bicycles.) Dean determines they need to head north and it will take them about two days to walk there, and if he's correct, that puts them somewhere slightly northeast of Lexington, Kentucky. But that's a pretty big margin of error. Although I guess Cas can keep them on the right path, since he's an angelic Garmin. (Man, I hope Rowena is okay sitting there watching Lucifer for a minimum of four days, with no sleep or food or bathroom breaks.)
Well, she's not really okay, because Lucifer decides to taunt her. He says her babysitting responsibility is an insult, and when that doesn't work, starts loudly and badly singing "Camptown Races." And guys, I'm kind of ashamed to admit that this took me back to Cage 2.0, when Billie made Dean sing "Camptown Races" as the password to get in, and I wondered if he was up to something in that vein. Opening a door to Billie or something. But no, he's just being annoying. And now that damn song is stuck in my head.
In AU Land, Cas asks Gabriel if he's thought about what he'll do after this mission is over. Go to Disneyworld, maybe? Cas tells him Heaven is down to a very few angels, and in desperate need of help. Gabriel doesn't think they'll want him, since he's such as screwup, and Cas says "Heaven's been run into the ground by upstanding angels. Perhaps a screwup is just the change we need." Gabriel looks thoughtful. Maybe he'll get his own spinoff? Gabe running Heaven? With Cas? An Odd Couple kind of thing? Or an even better Odd Couple twist - he's in a relationship with Rowena, the new Queen of Hell?
Meanwhile, Dean and Sam have this conversation:
You seem different since we got here.
Yeah, like you're lighter, happier, more energetic.
I don't know. Maybe it's just, you know, Mom and Jack, I mean, we've been working so hard at this for so long, and we're finally here. We're close. Can't you feel it?
Now, I'm not one who normally talks to the people on the TV, but I threw up my hands at this and said "This is a BAD SIGN, SAM!" I mean, when has Sam EVER said he was happy and not had it immediately followed by something awful? But I guess there's a first time for everything. Maybe things will end just fine.
How sad is it that this looks more like Jared than Sam, because we NEVER SEE SAM SMILE LIKE THIS.
But I was right, because we immediately hear piercing screams. Gabriel tries to stop the Winchesters from going to the rescue - "not our world, not our problem, right?" - but they ignore him, and rescue a man and woman from a weird, Nosferatu-looking vampire. The guy is wearing a red knit cap and for a little bit I'm pretty sure he's one of Mary's crew from the previous episode, but apparently I'm wrong, as I am about almost everything in this episode. The guy says monsters are going crazy from starvation, because wiping out the humans wiped out their food sources. "Turns out that not eating makes them wild. Nothing but pure stupid appetite." I've had days like that.
Everyone looks good in AU Land. Except the vampires.
The two travelers - Maggie and Floyd - were also trying to go to Dayton, because they heard Jack and Mary had set up an outpost, but they turned back after everyone else in their group was killed by vampires in the Morehead Tunnel. The tunnel is the fastest way to Dayton; the other option is a mountain pass that takes several days. Gabriel suggests they take the safe way - I kinda like the way he's suggesting the safest version of everything on this little trip - but Sam says no, they don't have time for a lengthy detour. He tells Maggie and Floyd that they've faced a lot worse than a nest of vampires, so if they want to go to Dayton, they'll keep them safe. "As far as we're concerned," he says, "we're going through that tunnel." Dean nods in agreement, which is good, because otherwise, Sam would have to feel really, really guilty about being the only one who wanted to go through that tunnel. You know, if something awful happened in there.
Back in the bunker, Lucifer continues to be annoying, and then switches gears and fondly reminisces about killing Rowena. You know, this is the Lucifer I want. Not whiny, not annoying, not over-the-top, just calm subtle evil. Rowena takes it for a while, then decides to strike back with her own emotional torture. She tells him the guys are rescuing Jack in AU Land, and that he considers them his fathers, while Lucifer is nothing to him. Oddly enough, becoming angry makes him powerful enough to break the handcuff spell. Or maybe it's not that odd? Come to think of it, the same thing happened in Asmodeus's cell. He thanks her for giving him something to fight for, and for that, he will kill her quickly. She chokes out a spell that knocks him away and sends him flying - right into the rift. "Bollocks!"
Next we see her packing her bag, and I'm amused to see she found the Black Grimoire before fleeing. But she's not able to leave after all, knowing she's the only one who might be able to save them, and she sits down with the book to figure out a rescue.
AU Land. I assumed the Morehead Tunnel was going to be a road tunnel, but it looks like a mine. Which is creepier and more dangerous. Everybody gets a flashlight and a glow stick, and in they go. We get our first scare pretty quickly, but it's just Floyd tripping. His flashlight reveals a small slashed backpack and a pink shoe, and aw. That's sad. I bet it's the saddest thing that happens in this episode.
The trek continues. They come upon a vampire feeding on a victim, and I guess he's so "pure stupid appetite" that he doesn't even notice them. He looks like he's eating the victim, not just drinking blood. Dean decapitates him, as you do, and they go on their way. But someone whose profile looks a lot like Nosferatu is silently following them, and soon they're attacked. This one is dispatched as well, so, it looks like things are good, right?
(Sidebar: this tunnel is creepy as fuck and even on rewatch, when I know what's going to happen, it's making me anxious.)
They get to a large open area with a natural skylight. It looks like there are multiple openings, but Dean finds one that's full of rocks and orders Gabe and Cas to clear it.
And this isn't just a few rocks, it's a full-on cave-in. WTF?
Sam wanders around, as one does in a tunnel full of vampires, and Maggie freaks out at the various noises. Sam calls Dean over to look at something, and then Floyd is attacked. Then everyone is attacked. Sam is brought to his knees by two vampires, and as Dean screams his name, and he screams Dean's name, they go for his throat. And I'm thinking, they're spending a lot of time on this fight, when we know they're just going to kill the vampires and go on their way. Yeah, Floyd and/or Maggie are going to die, so that Sam and/or Dean can feel guilty, but that's the worst thing that will happen here.
And then I'm thinking, wow, that's a lot of blood.
The music gets super dramatic and Sam gets dragged down the tunnel and Cas runs after him, leaving Dean to kill his own vamps and then yell "Sammy!" And this music is really dramatic and sad considering that Sam is going to be JUST FINE. I mean, cool it, guys. Sam is fine.
Cas returns alone. Which is cool, it means that Dean will be the one to save him; he'll run down that tunnel and save Sam and he'll be fine. EVERYTHING. IS. FINE.
"He's gone," says Cas. Yes, we know, Cas. He's gone down that tunnel, and now Dean needs to go down there and save him, and you need to get the fuck out of Dean's way so he can go save his brother. Except the music gets sadder and sadder and more dramatic and Dean is freaking the fuck out and Cas holds him back and says "We don't have time! Dean, we can't save him."
Thing is, I know a lot of you were spoiled for this. I wasn't spoiled, per se, but I know something major was happening in this episode, because not all of my Tumblr buddies use spoiler tags as thoroughly as one would hope. Luckily, I've been glancing at Tumblr with one eye closed and the other one unfocused, trying to remain unsullied for both 13.21 and Infinity War, so I escaped only knowing "something big" was coming. And given what Billie said about seeing Dean soon, I assumed the something big would happen to Dean. After all, Billie said she'd see him soon. Yes, they teased me last week, with Dean talking about protecting Sam, but those little hints rarely come to fruition so I've been trying to ignore them. Which is why, at this point, I was still 50% sure that Sam was alive, in a "Red Meat" situation, and that the whole thing had been done to separate him from the rest of the group for some reason.
But now that I know what I know, I've got to talk about this scene. Yes, Jensen knocked it out of the park. But it really bothered me that Dean would just stand there and let Cas say no, you can't save your brother. One, they don't have time? Really? It's not like they're stuck with the original 24-hour window. As far as they know, the rift is going to remain open until they come back through. There's no reason Dean couldn't spend thirty minutes fighting for his brother (or retrieving his body, sob.) And B, they "can't save him?" Not "he's already dead," or "it's too late," but we're going to stand here still listening to the vampires and not knowing if he's alive or dead and decide we can't save him? No. It would NOT happen this way. I could see Cas getting a look at Sam's body and saying "he's definitely dead, and he's torn to shreds and I don't want Dean to see that," but I cannot see him saying "no, we don't have a few minutes to spare for you to see if your brother is still clinging to life, and to destroy the vamps that killed him."
Okay, I'm done.
No, wait, I'm not. Because couldn't Cas bring him back? Gabriel? Jack? Shouldn't they at least TRY?
(The scene we missed out on: Dean cradling his brother's body, saying "dammit, Sammy, you promised we'd die together.")
All right. Moving on. We see the remnants of the group, having made their way through the tunnel, so I guess they got Dean's rocks moved. (They shouldn't be walking, calm and sad, they should be running and sobbing like the Fellowship fleeing the mines of Moria after Gandalf fell with the Balrog, okay?) Dean is getting flashbacks of Sam's last moments (the last ones you KNOW of, anyway; you don't know what happened after he was dragged down that tunnel, how long he was alive, OKAY I'M DONE) and poor Maggie tells him she's sorry about his "friend," which means that in all their time together, he never said my brother. As in, "we're not gonna leave my brother here" or "I'm gonna go save my brother, Cas," or any other number of things that should have been said. (Maybe I'm not done.) Dean gives her a look that clearly says "It should have been you and not my brother, and also, I'm not particularly sorry that your buddy Floyd died," and silently marches on.
Cut to a room inside the tunnel. There's a fan slowly turning overhead, which is reminiscent of both the panic room and Sam's bedroom in the bunker, and that means... yep. Here's Sam.
The Husband: This isn't the last episode of the season, is it?
Me: No, this is just one of those mid-season death fake-outs.
Because I still thought it was. Except his eyes are wide open, which is never the case with the fake death, so at this point I kind of have to accept it. He's torn and bloody, with his glowstick still lit, so it couldn't have been too long.
Maybe he's just mostly dead?
The rest of the Fellowship comes to what Maggie says what must be the outskirts of Dayton. It doesn't look very outskirty. If there were still roads and bridges left in some places - and there were - there should be infrastructure around Dayton. Even roads that were destroyed by angels would leave rubble.
Cas says he can't go any further, and we see boards with painted wardings nailed to trees. Gabriel scrapes one with his blade, and then touches it with his hand and burns it away, because apparently angel warding isn't archangel warding, which makes it useless against Michael, doesn't it? The destruction of the wards apparently raises an alarm, because a guy runs out and aims a rifle at them. Luckily, Mary is right behind him. She's astonished to see Cas, and then Dean, and they hug. Then she asks "where's Sam" and oh, god.
Well, this is a hollow victory, isn't it?
Cut to a close-up of Sam, still looking pretty dead, when he suddenly gasps to life. And I'm all, see! He wasn't dead after all. Because I still didn't get it, guys. Even at this point. He paws at his neck and looks around in confusion and climbs painfully to his feet and turns around and then there's fucking Lucifer. "Hey Sammy." OH JESUS FUCK, LUCIFER DID IT. LUCIFER BROUGHT HIM BACK TO LIFE. HE REALLY DIED ALL THE WAY DEAD AND LUCIFER BROUGHT HIM BACK.
I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THIS.
Sam is, of course, horrified. Lucifer confirms that he brought Sam back, and explains that he drained a bunch of Michael's angels so now he's at full power again. Sam asks what he wants, and gets a snarky answer, so Sam says "okay, we're done here," and even though he's clearly terrified, he reaches by Lucifer's feet to get his bag, and it reminds me of when he was so afraid of Jack when they were in that jail cell together in 13.01. Oh, Sam. When he turns to leave, he sees a horde of slavering vampires at the door, being held back by Lucifer. "I didn't want them flooding back in here and eating you again," he says. "Not until we've finished our convo." And again, this is the Lucifer I want. Sam says "What do you want?" and oh, guys, I am SO here for Sam's angry shouty voice.
Sorry, these are not very sharp. I haven't seen a gif of this yet but I won't be happy until I do. It's obscenely good.
"I want what you already have. A relationship with my son."
Once again, I'm ashamed to admit how wrong I was about this, because I thought he wanted Sam to be his vessel again, so he could be close to Jack. But actually, Lucifer believes that if he shows up "bearing gifts," he can get Jack's love. And the gift is Sam. "Look, Sammy, I'm not asking that you like it, or like me. All I'm asking is that you acknowledge the truth. That I was the one who brought you back to life, and I was the one who lifted you from the darkness and into the light." Sam asks what happens if he says no, and Lucifer says he's getting to Jack, one way or another. "The only question is, you coming with? Or that?" as he points to the vampires. He holds up his hand, ready to snap his fingers and release them. "Your move, champ."
Jack and Mary's lovely camp. Nobody is happy. Jack is muttering "he can't be dead, he can't be dead," and yelling at Cas and Gabriel for not bringing Sam back, and oh, guys. It does my heart good to see how much Jack loves Sam. Dean fills his canteen and stalks off in full-on I don't care if I'm dead or alive mode, telling Mary "I have to go back. Get his body."
THIS DOES MY HEART NO GOOD AT ALL. DAMN YOU DEAN WINCHESTER. (Also, why didn't you just bring the body with you?)
Then an alarm sounds, and somebody walks into the camp. It's Sam, of course, and everybody's so amazed and so happy, and Sam is so happy and relieved to see his brother and his friends and Jack and his mom. Except, maybe not?
Because we've seen Sam happy and relieved before, and this isn't exactly it.
Then Lucifer pops up behind him, and the happy faces facing him turn to shocked and horrified, and Sam's little face is full of fear and shame.
Obviously Sam was going to accept Lucifer's offer. Because it's the only way to keep him on the show. And any normal human being would say "Yes, I'll absolutely go with you rather than be eaten by vampires again." But Sam isn't a normal human being, is he? If there's on person on earth (or AU earth) who would choose to be eaten by vampires rather than walk into that camp with Lucifer on his tail, it's Sam Winchester. So I wish they'd done that a little differently. I wish Lucifer had threatened the lives of others, not just Sam. I wish he'd said "I can feel Jack's presence. I know where he is. I'll get to him with you or without you. And if you're with me, if you cooperate, I'll let your friends and family live. But if you're not with me, they'll all die painfully. Jack will think they were killed by Michael's men - because believe me, I can make it look like that - but it will be me, Sam. Me and you."
Anyway. THIS EPISODE. Yes, there was some stupidity. Some silliness. Some Buckleming-level awkward nonsense. Some things that really could have been done so much better. But there was also some absolute fucking magic.
I don't know about you guys, but if 13.22 starts with s time jump? And we don't get Dean's I'm so glad you're alive, I don't care if the Devil himself is responsible hug? I'm literally going to scream.
And now let's see what you thought! Remember, no spoilers in the comments, please!