caranfindel (caranfindel) wrote,

Initial reaction 16.04: “Take the Long Way Home”

What's this, you're asking... season 16? Well, some folks have formed a group called Frontierland Productions and plotted out a 16th season of Supernatural, taking place in the years (yes, YEARS) between 15.19 and 15.20. When I read the most recent episode, "Take the Long Way Home," I expressed my love and writer ameliacareful suggested I recap it like a filmed episode. And then quickreaver basically double-dog-dared me, so here it is. A retelling of someone's fic. Will anybody care? Let's find out! But go read the fic first. Seriously, it's amazing.

And remember, any snark is written with the utmost love and respect...

THEN: Chuck. Jack. Sam and Dean are the subjects of a podcast. They went to Vegas and killed a minotaur. Same shit, different day, right?

NOW: We see the Winchesters in the Impala, staking out an apartment complex. Apparently they're waiting for a witch who is magicking up a career as a fashion designer, despite a lack of talent so appalling that even Sam Winchester recognizes it. I wonder what Tofer the witch would think about Sam's orange jacket? (I'm quite sure Tim Gunn would be disappointed, but kind.) Two women are dead, but (spoiler alert) we never find out if Tofer is killing his competition, or if his ugly-ass clothes are killing his models.

A cute little purple car shows up and the guys follow Tofer inside, using the building keys they stole earlier. Oh, wait, this guy's full name is Christopher Listofler? That's. Um. Unfortunate. Okay. Moving on. The door opens on its own before they have a chance to break in. Tofer is sitting there in his living room with a lit candle, for that nice witchy ambience. {Sidebar: I need to point out how pleased I am that Sam changed his hair a little bit after 15.19 and has long, face-framing bangs again, kind of like the back half of season 8. And no evidence of hairspray. I approve.}

Tofer immediately pegs them as Not FBI, but Sam, for some reason, is mesmerized by whatever is draped over a clothes dummy in the corner. He can't seem to look away from it. Dean is also distracted by it, but not to the same extent. Tofer gets out a spell that makes Sam hit the floor, so naturally Dean shoots him in the head. The candle sputters out but the room is brightly lit by a brilliant glowing cloud swirling near the ceiling.

Sam's eyes are open but he looks dazed and unfocused. Dean goes into full-on panic mode (nice!) and checks for a pulse. Sam suddenly comes back online with a gasp. Dean is still panicky, buzzing around Sam asking if he's okay and telling him not to move. Sam calmly touches his chest, gazes up at the glowy cloud swirling above him, and says "I think that's my soul."

Duh duh duh!!! Soulless Sam is in the house!

Title card!

{Sidebar: I also have to say I appreciate that season 16's title card is just shirtless Sam with wet hair, lying on his bed with his hands behind his head, staring sadly through the blades of his ceiling fan. It's a bold choice and I respect that.}

Bunker. Soulless is in the library, doing research. Dean is trying to convince himself that the guy really is Sam, and failing. He compares Sam's soulless state to Eileen being deaf, but decides it's not a good analogy because she was born deaf and didn't have her hearing stripped away by a hipster douchebag witch. And I can only presume Dean did not see the THEN when he watched "Into the Mystic," or else he clearly would have seen little baby Eileen's ears bleeding after the harpy attack, which is when she lost her hearing. Ahem. Hand waving it. Moving on!

Miracle stays glued to Dean's side because he hates Soulless. That's one. (One what? Stay tuned.) There is some snarking about coffee and Dean calls Soulless a dick, not realizing that in the grand tradition of s15 he is standing right behind him and heard it. Soulless is all, you're the one who shot the witch, dumbass. He also says "poor guy grew up named Christopher Listofler; of course he was gonna break bad." (No, he doesn't say that but I do.)

Soulless thinks he's found a spell that will reattach his soul. He prattles on about ingredients, and for once it's not stuff you could find at Kroger. The only one that will be tricky is the blood of a twisted soul. Soulless theorizes this refers to demon blood. He quickly assures Dean that he won't drink it, and Dean's all, thanks, I wasn't even thinking about that, I was thinking about torturing and twisting souls in Hell and the implications of applying physical torture to nonphysical subjects but yeah, now I'm worrying about you and demon blood, dammit.

{Sidebar: Can I just say that Dean remembering what he did in Hell is something we really don't get enough of? Ever?}

Time jump. The guys are in the dungeon. Soulless is painting a devil's trap on the floor (although there already is one? I guess they need a special version for summoning?) and Dean is quietly wondering how far he can trust Soulless's spell, given his reluctance to being re-souled the last time this happened. He's also somewhat less quietly annoyed by Soulless's inability to think and act like Sam does, so he distracts himself by thinking about beheading vamps, which reminds me, have you read "The Real Thing"? You must. I just re-read it recently and it is spectaculacular.

Anyway. Soulless wonders if they should talk to Rowena, now that she's in charge of demons and all, and I can't help wondering if he's really concerned about pissing her off or if he just wants to see her now that he's soul-free and not bound by Sam's morals and inhibitions and you know what, I just need to sit here and think about what Soulless and Rowena would get up to. Give me a moment. Or two.

I think it would go something like this. Images borrowed from totally-correct-fandoms on Tumblr.

Okay then. Dean pulls out his phone to call her (because we all know Sam would be the one to call her normally, but Dean doesn't trust Soulless), and muses on her ability to get phone service in Hell. Soulless casually leaks that, while Rowena's phone service is magic, his own ability to get wifi anywhere is just him tethering his computer to his phone. Dean is disturbed because this isn't something Sam would have told him. (That's two. Stay tuned.)

Rowena! I covered the guest credits at the beginning, as I always do, so I wasn't sure we'd actually see her. She looks fantastic. I like that she's once again surrounded by guys wearing tight black t-shirts, and I particularly like that one of them has longish brown hair and is wearing a red and black flannel over his black t-shirt. Someone's doing a little role playing. You go, girl. She obligingly sends them a demon who has worn out his usefulness and they prepare to make him useful one last time. Dean tells Soulless to check the vessel to see if it could possibly be alive, and thinks about how Soulless does what Dean tells him to do, and that's three.

Three what, you ask?

(No, none of us asked, but apparently you're going to tell us anyway.)

So, when I wrote a Soulless Sam story some time ago, three things I felt were true about him were (1) dogs hate him, (2) he has no problem casually spilling Real Sam's secrets, and (3) he's generally happy to follow Dean's directions, except when he's suddenly not. Am I saying someone copied me? No, I'm saying, is any of this canon, or did we all just come up with the same ideas? If it is canon, I've forgotten it. I just hope we all spontaneously assigned these qualities to Soulless Sam because they should be true. It's like we created a tulpa. I love it.

(But if this was an actual aired episode, I'd be pointing out that obviously the writers are reading my LJ.)

{Sidebar: I desperately want someone to tell me I was the first one to use Dean's Red Shirt of Bad Decisions. It comes up on Tumblr occasionally and I don't know if that's another tulpa, but I'd really, really love to think I invented it. And yes, I know tulpa isn't the right word. I'm gonna use it anyway.}

Carrying on. The guys get their demon blood, and Dean asks Soulless if he's going to try to stop him from doing the spell. He says no, because now he's not worried it will kill him, although it will still suck.

But having a soul hurts. You know.

No, I don't. I don't think having a soul hurts. Does it hurt Sam?
<- note that Dean calls Real Sam Sam when he's talking to Soulless, as in, they are two separate people. Love it.

You're soul marked in so many ways. You drink, you get violent. Who can blame you; so many things have had their hooks in you. John, Alastair, Amara, the Mark of Cain.

Oh, wait. John is on this list? I mean, yes, he should be, but still. Daaaaamn. Dean is disturbed, once again, and wonders if this is what Sam thinks about him. I bet Soulless will tell you if you ask, Dean.

Dean goes into his room, where Sam's soul is sitting Pinterest-ready in a mason jar. He watches it swirl for a while, noting that it doesn't have any blackness like the souls he tortured in Hell. He tells the soul that the soulless version of him is an asshole, and I love Dean just quietly talking to his brother in a jar and need a lot more of it. He also touches the jar and Sam's soul swirls over to touch the glass, just like one of those things you used to poke at Sharper Image if you're old enough, and y'all, Dean looks so pretty in the light of his brother's soul. He promises Sam that he'll get him back.

Also, it didn't occur to me until just now that the last time we saw souls removed from people and stored in mason jars, no spell was required to put them back in their bodies. I guess whatever this witch did was different.

Dean goes back to the dungeon, and the dead demon is gone but so is Soulless. There's a moment of panic, because what if he made a run for it, but he's just reading in the library. Dean sends him into the kitchen to get a beer because he doesn't want him hanging around in case he plans to sabotage the spell, although he could have easily done that when getting the demon blood or when finding the actual spell, Dean. I mean, for all you know this list of ingredients is actually a cake recipe.

Dean performs the spell, but the soul just swirls around Soulless and then pours itself back into the jar. Uh oh. Maybe it was a cake recipe. Dean is furious, and suspicious, and Soulless is all casual, guess a demon isn't a twisted soul after all, think I'll have a beer.

Later. Dean spends some time looking for Plan B. Soulless finds a hunt.

Next we see the guys in the Impala, heading for Frozen Head State Park, which the Internet tells me is in Wartburg, Tennessee. We are informed that it's a 15-hour drive from Lebanon, and I have mixed feelings about this, because (1) I do appreciate Show actually accepting that not every location in the U.S. is 15 minutes away from Lebanon, but (b) this is my thing. What am I supposed to do now? This is what we do, Show. You pretend to be completely ignorant of geographical facts, and I point them out. Don't take it away from me.

Anyway. It's a quiet drive, because Dean doesn't feel like joking around with Soulless, and he obviously doesn't have the same buttons to push that Sam does. He brought Sam-in-a-jar, because I guess he thinks bringing him on a hunt is safer than leaving him at home? Or he just misses him. I think he just misses him. More than he misses Miracle, since the dog doesn't come with them. Sam-in-a-jar is bright enough that Dean ends up wrapping him in a flannel shirt and stuffing him in his duffel.

{Sidebar: I need the scene where Dean puts a week's supply of food in Miracle's automatic feeder, and attaches the hose from the kitchen faucet to his automated water dispenser, and checks the transponder on his collar that opens the doggie door which leads to a safely fenced area outside the bunker, and checks the demon trap under the doggie door, and then Soulless says hold on, let me set up the email and Dean is pleasantly surprised that Soulless was thoughtful enough to remember the email Sam sets up before every hunt, the one that will automatically go to Jody in a week unless he cancels it, asking her to come take care of the dog. And Soulless shrugs and says it's bad enough the place smells like a live dog, don't want to come back and have to smell a dead one, and Dean is just. Oh. Yeah. Okay. I need it.}

Dean awkwardly brings up the phone tethering secret (it's only awkward because he's trying not to make it obvious that he considers Soulless a completely separate person, even though he's already blown that) and Soulless explains that there are things he won't tell Dean - things about the cage and college and Amelia - because he agrees with Sam that they shouldn't be shared with Dean. But there are other things that he thinks it's "kind of whack" for Sam to keep secret. Dean can't explain that it was their thing - him being the Luddite who is awed by Sam's superpower. It was their private joke. Like me, when I didn't have a reason to look up the travel time from Lebanon to Wartburg. I feel your pain, Dean.

Soulless offers to entertain any questions Dean might have about what's going on in Sam's mind, and promises not to reveal anything that would hurt either of them. At first Dean refuses, kind of horrified, but eventually he asks about what Soulless said earlier, about things having their hooks in him. "Was that you or him?" Soulless says he'll answer that if Dean answers one of his questions, and Dean foolishly agrees.

Then Soulless says he doesn't ever remember Sam thinking that, which is kind of an evasive answer if you ask me, but then clarifies that if Sam ever did think it, he'd remember that things have had their hooks in him too, so it's not like he has the moral high ground. "And the moral high ground is very important to him." Dean's all, yeah, this is not the newsflash you might think it is. Which is true and I love this little bit of insight into what Sam thinks about himself and what Dean knows Sam thinks about himself.

But then Soulless asks his question, which is "what really happened to Cas?" Uh oh. Dean just says "he's gone," and when Soulless hints that he knows exactly what happened, Dean blows him off and I'm not going to get into this because I've put 15.18 behind me and I kind of hoped we all had a gentleman's agreement to pretend it didn't happen but okay, some of you obviously feel otherwise. I hope it doesn't become a Big Thing in season 16 {gives the showrunners a pointed look.}

Let's move on to something more pleasant, which is that Soulless hasn't shaved in a while. Dean doesn't like it (memories of Sam's beard of despair, maybe?) but you know who does? This chick right here.

I mean. Come on.

The guys arrive at Frozen Head State Park, where a race called the Barkley Marathon is being set up. {Sidebar: Which is a more unfortunate name, Frozen Head or Wartburg? Discuss.} Soulless says they're looking for Lazarus Lake, who organizes the race. Soulless has a license plate he took off one of the cars in the bunker garage, since it's required as his entry fee. Dean is surprised to learn that Soulless intends to run the 100-mile ultramarathon as his cover. Soulless bitches that he sent all of this information in an email, which Dean proudly didn't read, and points out that Dean doesn't talk to him either, and in fact hasn't called him Sam until just now. Dean's all, you don't run this much and we don't split up. Soulless is all, I'm not going to run the whole thing, and I ran twenty miles last Tuesday (Why? Because Tuesdays suck and oh crap, Dean doesn't expect that and doesn't know why it would bother this version of Sam and this, Dean, this is something you should have asked him about when you had the chance) and yes, we do split up, all the time. "Not when you're like this," Dean says, and then Soulless gives him a look that is so Not Sam that it sets him back.

Sam finds Lazarus and pays his entry fee. His race number is 1, which means he's not expected to finish. Or survive, apparently. Well, I'm pretty sure that part is a joke. A guy named Garrett shows them where to pitch their tent and I know he's been on the show before but I can't think of who he played.

{Sidebar: I'm sure Soulless's email explained that the Barkley Marathon is absolutely batshit crazy. It was inspired by James Earl Ray's route after escaping from a nearby prison in 1967 (if those chuckleheads could have kept their hands on him, he wouldn't have assassinated MLK). The marathon course consists of a 20-mile loop of rugged terrain that runners cover five times. At least two of them are run in the dark. Many years, no one finishes the race at all. The entry fee varies from year to year, but it's always something Lazarus needs, like t-shirts, and first-timers have to provide a license plate from their state. There are waypoints where you have to rip a specific page out of a book to prove you were there. It's crazy.}

After setting up their tent, the guys hike out to the part of the course where the weird stuff is happening, appropriately called Little Hell. I wouldn't even want to walk up this hill, let alone run up it. And that's without considering the damage caused by the MotW - trees have been uprooted, holes are gouged in the ground, grass is turned under. It smells like "volatile organic compounds,” according to Soulless. They go back to camp and meet with Lazarus, who it turns out knows who they are and what they do. He tells them the monster only comes out at night, and the only thing he saw looked more like a deer than the type of monster that uproots trees. And there's actually a creature called a Not a Deer out there, which must cause Dean some pain, because you know he would have come up with a better name. Lazarus suggests calling the race off, but Soulless points out many of the runners would run anyway. Since the race can start at any time, Soulless tells him to start it just before dawn, to maximize the amount of time everyone is running in daylight.

The guys return to their tent. Dean wants to sleep, but Soulless wants to do some recon, and Dean won't let him go alone. They run into Garrett, and learn he's from Tennessee. He actually grew up about 10 miles from Wartburg, with his disabled brother. Aw. Brothers. Garrett's brother Clayton isn't here - he's not good with people. Neither is this version of my brother, thinks Dean. Probably. They ask Garrett if he's ever seen a Not a Deer, and he says "no" and gets flustered. Dean thinks Soulless is flustering him, because he's sure as hell flustering Dean.

Very early morning. Dean wakes up and sees Soulless working on his laptop. Sam-in-a-jar is tucked into the sleeping bag with Dean, and Soulless comments that sleeping with your brother is illegal in most states. But not Ohio. Well, that's random. (And true? I don't know. But why does Soulless know this? Why did he look it up?) Soulless is wearing runner's tights which make his legs look even longer and skinnier and he's just adorable. Dean's feeling bold for some reason, so he asks Soulless why Donatello baked cookies when he lost his soul, but Soulless banged anything in a skirt. "Skirt?" says Soulless, in a way that suggests he banged people who didn't wear skirts as well, which, well, could be chicks in pants, but could be not. But that's all he's going to say. He heads outside.

By the time Dean catches up, all the runners are gathered. It's cold and he's anxious and unhappy about the whole thing. He spots Soulless, who has added a knit hat with a white pompom, which is also kind of adorable and will make it easier to see him in the dark (this is the voice of experience, having watched a dog with a white-tipped tail wander around in the yard in the wee dark hours of the morning.) Dean keeps reminding himself that Soulless is a good hunter, except for the "keep all the civilians alive" part, which he's less good at.

Soulless in his running gear

Later. Dean hikes up to Little Hell, loaded for bear Not a Deer. He finds the book the runners are supposed to tear pages from, and confirms that Soulless's page is still there, which means he hasn’t been there yet. He digs Sam-in-a-jar out of his bag and talks to him, which is sweet and also kind of heartbreaking. Dean’s worried about the soul just going to Heaven instead of cramming itself back into the body, and he's also worried that he should actually let it do just that. Eventually he falls asleep, and is startled awake by a couple of runners. Neither of them is Soulless, but the big guy does eventually show up. He looks tired. He says he hasn't seen anything. Dean's surprised that he plans to continue the loop instead of stopping here to wait for the monster. But he's even more surprised when the Not a Deer, which is not the monster they're looking for since it's in no way capable of this amount of damage, actually appears. They both pull out their guns, but it disappears. Another runner shows up, so Dean hides while Soulless goes to make sure the runner finds the book and gets out of there. Oh, look. The runner is Garrett. Soulless tells Garrett he thinks he saw a Not a Deer, which Garrett doesn't believe, and I'm not sure why Soulless told him anyway. They wander off down the course, while Dean gathers Sam-in-a-jar, puts him inside his jacket, and makes sure he can see. Aw.

Dean gets back to the Impala and uses Sam's tethered laptop (sniff) to look up something called the White Screamer, which according to legend is a monster child who was hidden in the basement by its parents. It escaped, killed and ate everyone in the family except one sibling, and ran into the woods. However, it's supposed to live in a different part of Tennessee. Coincidentally, the part of Tennessee that Garrett is from. Garrett who is out there on the course with Sam's body. Oh, crap. Dean panics and runs back to the trail, but Soulless soon shows up. In his relief, Dean calls out "Sam!" Aw.

Later. Back at the camp, Dean is waiting when Soulless arrives. Everyone is impressed that he completed the loop, and you know Dean would be so proud of him if he actually considered this guy his brother (sniff). Soulless looks completely worn out, and says he's going to rest for an hour and then go back on the course, so he can return to Little Hell before it gets dark. Dean pulls his shoes off for him, which is strangely intimate. His feet are wet and blistered, his arms are all scratched up, and he looks like crap. Is Dean feeling sentimental now that Soulless actually seems like he needs him? Got a little affection for the unsouled version after all? He heats up some soup and gets him Gatorade and some clean socks and suggests that he's not really in good shape to go back out and kill a monster, but Soulless just grins and says "watch me," which is so much like Sam telling Dean in "Faith" that he's not going to let him die at all. Except, you know, it's out of sheer single-minded hunting instinct and not love, but other than that.

Dean eats his own soup and drinks some whiskey and misses Sam. Soulless sits quietly for a while, then goes to get socks out of the Impala (which is odd, because Dean brought him clean socks earlier, but okay). He's walking like he's in a lot of pain, and Dean tries to convince him to drive up to Little Hell instead of running the whole way.

You just want to be a badass. Well, you're a fucking badass.

I know you don't like me. I know what I'm like. I remember what he thought of me.

Oh. Ouch. Soulless tells Dean "it's better if your brother gets his soul in his body," as if he's not Sam, but he's also not the body, like he's a disinterested third party. "I don't like it, but I get it." Dean's still trying to convince him to stay in the camp, telling him they can get back-up, but Soulless points out that Garrett isn't back yet. Dean doesn't give a crap about Garrett. He just doesn't want Soulless to get Sam's body killed, and he's furious at the risks he's taking with it. Soulless, who always knows just where to stick the knife, says Dean likes Sam "because he's all sympathetic. Like he hasn't been possessed and you've had it worse than anyone." {Sidebar: This, of course, means Sam always knows just where to stick the knife, but chooses not to.} Dean counters that he likes Sam because he's a good person, and because he's his brother. He doesn't say "and you are neither," but we know that's what he's thinking. And then Soulless admits that Michael was worse than Gadreel, which is… him apologizing for bringing it up? I don't know.

Anyway. Soulless goes off for loop #2, and Dean and Lazarus drink and Lazarus talks about John and I guess somewhere back there we learned that Lazarus knew John, but I've forgotten about it. What can I say, I was distracted by Soulless and that late season eight hair and that beard. I am only human.

After some time, Dean decides he better head up to Little Hell. He goes to get Sam-in-a-jar out of his duffel but oh. Oh no. The jar is gone. Soulless took it.

Dean realizing Soulless took Sam-in-a-jar out of the Impala

Next we see Dean arriving in Little Hell. It's almost dark, and he doesn't have his own personal flashlight/brother, but we can see Garrett waiting there. Garrett is surprised and not particularly pleased to see him, and claims he's still out on the route because he rolled his ankle. But Dean knows he's (1) full of shit, and (b) waiting for the monster. Garrett keeps denying it, but then Soulless shows up, looking even worse than he did earlier. And those of you who know me know this is a good look on him - I mean, it's basically Trials!Sam. With a beard. (Hi, I'm caranfindel and I have a problem).

Garrett asks him "who are you?" {Sidebar: a lot of people tend to ask Sam what are you, and when I say "a lot" I mean Ava and at least one other person, and it would have been cool for Garrett to say that since Soulless is just barely a who and is closer to a what at this point.}

Soulless says "I'm a hunter of things like whatever is out there, and your worst nightmare if you don't start talking," which is just fucking awesome. Garrett believes him, and admits that the White Screamer is his half brother. It's not the original screamer, but apparently it runs in the family? I don't know. It killed Garrett's father and probably others too, and then there's a bunch of noise and trees are being shoved out of the ground and shit and Garrett yells at the White Screamer, whose actual name is Doyle, to go back. Trying to protect his brother, who isn't quite human, and at the same time stop him from killing anyone. Remind you of anybody?

{Sidebar: Doyle is certainly a good Tennessee name, but I thought his name was Clayton earlier?}

Meanwhile, another runner shows up, ignoring Soulless yelling at him to go away, and things are not going well. Soulless tackles Garrett to stop him while Dean shoots the White Screamer, which, true to its name, screams like hell. Then it bites Garrett's head off. Literally. Boy, the special effects on this show are a lot better than they used to be. Dean shoots at the Screamer again, but it's not going down, and things don't look good, but suddenly there is light. He turns to see Soulless brandishing Sam-in-a-jar, just before he hurls it against a tree. The jar shatters and the entire clearing is lit up. In the bright light of Sam's soul, the Screamer is even more nasty than it was in the dark. It's transfixed by the sight of Sam's soul, as all things should be, and as it stares at the light, Dean and Soulless team up with machetes to cut through its neck. {Sidebar: this machete-to-the-neck scene also reminds me a lot of The Real Thing. Go read it.}

As the Screamer goes down thrashing, Dean watches Sam-out-of-a-jar float above the scene. He's sure Sam is going to leave him and go to Heaven where he belongs, because life down here on Earth is way too crappy, and Jack is up there and Sam misses him. Dean lets loose with a perfect tear or two, and just kind of begs Sam to stay with him. The soul comes back down to him and swirls around him, probably convinced by those perfect tears. Dean is all, "oh Jack, I'm sorry, I know you love him, but I need him" and I'm DEAD you guys, okay? Absolutely freaking DEAD from this line. Excuse me while I lie down and flop around on the ground for a minute.

Okay. Soulless is also watching, kind of curious. Dean notes that Sam's soul doesn't have black parts, the way souls are after some time in Hell, and Soulless explains that Sam's soul was a craft project for Lucifer. "I guess you could kind of describe it like forging metal... no heat, and no metal, but think of doing terrible things to something to make something beautiful out of it." Well. Fuck. That's just utterly horrifying. Soulless also tells Dean to get some of the goop leftover from the Screamer, thinking it might count as blood of a twisted soul. Which strongly suggests Soulless is still willing to be re-souled. Dean finally thinks of him as Sam, because he is part of Sam. (Worst part or best part? Because he doesn't have the the kindness or empathy, but he does have the sass and the pecs, so... it's up for debate, is all I'm saying.)

Then Soulless suggests they shoot the other runner who came upon them, and I had even forgotten that guy had existed, let alone considered they should shoot him. Dean too. But Soulless says he's a shifter? Who has been following him all day? And he brought the Not a Deer earlier? Or he was the Not a Deer? Eh. Whatever. He gets away. Dean scoops up some Screamer goop (where does he put it? in his pocket?) and then helps a completely worn-out Soulless hike back to the car, as Sam's soul lights the way. It's so pretty, y'all. When they get to the car, Dean tells the soul he's too bright, and puts him in an empty water bottle. I don't know why he can't just hide under the car seat or slip into Dean's duffel on his own, but okay.

Bunker. A couple of days later. Sam's soul, freed from the water bottle, follows Dean around. Dean offers to make Soulless some eggs, and plans to make himself some bacon, and Soulless says he wants bacon too. Because he likes bacon. Sam doesn't like it because "it smells sort of like smoked human flesh" and WE KNEW IT, WE KNEW THIS, DIDN'T WE? We knew Sam's aversion to bacon had to be something like that. Soulless, of course, has no such aversion, but Dean is furious that Soulless would inflict it on Sam's body and yells that he is not getting bacon. Soulless is pretty calm about this, like he is about most things, and requests cheesy scrambled eggs instead.

When Dean comes back with their baconless breakfasts, he asks Soulless why he took the soul. Soulless claims "it's brighter than a flashlight and doesn't weigh as much," but I think that mason jar actually would have weighed more than a flashlight, and also would have been awkward to carry, so. Hmm. Possible shenanigans here. Dean asks if Soulless thought the soul would stay after he smashed the jar, and Soulless is kind of cagey. He wasn't sure, but going to Heaven wouldn't have been the worse thing, right? Oh, no, Soulless, you're wrong. So wrong. (But also, why did Soulless have to smash the jar? Couldn't he have just opened it? Was it important to destroy the container? Did he think that would make Sam's soul more likely to just go to Heaven?)

Anyway. Apparently they decided to let Soulless rest for a couple of days before performing the spell again, but Dean is getting a bad feeling about his willingness to go through with it, and wants to do it today. Soulless isn't really a fan of that suggestion and Dean pretends to agree. He secretly gathers the ingredients for the spell (and talks to Sam's soul, which continues to follow him around). He hides the ingredients in the garage, says he's going to work on the car, and asks Soulless to come get him at 11:00. And he does work on the car, talking to Sam's soul the whole time (which I continue to love), but he also prepares the spell. When Soulless shows up, Dean asks him to sit in the car and give it some gas while he completes the spell. The car's radio is playing the rather ominous beginning of Supertramp's "Take the Long Way Home." When Soulless realizes what's going on, he runs around to try to stop Dean from doing the spell, which I guess proves he had cold feet after all, but it's too late - Dean completes the spell, the soul gets sucked right into Sam, and Sam passes out. Wham bam thank you ma’am!

Soulless realizing what Dean is doing

We know it worked because Miracle runs over and licks Sam's face. Awwww!!!! The music gets to a more cheerful part of the song and becomes the soundtrack rather than the ambient sound, and I know there's a technical term for this but I don't know what it is. They also did it at the end of "Goodbye Stranger," which is another good Supertramp song.

So, for the next scene, we get to hear these lyrics:

So you think your life's become a catastrophe
Well, it has to be
For you to grow, boy
So when you look through the years and see what you could have been
Oh, what you might have been
If you had had more time
Well when the day comes to settle down
Who's to blame if you're not around?
You took the long way home
Long way home...

Which fits, doesn’t it?

As this song plays, we see Sam unconscious in his bed. Miracle lies down next to him (awwww!!!! again!!!) and Dean watches and waits anxiously for him to wake up. Sam finally does regain consciousness, sees Dean, and then goes to sleep. So Dean climbs into bed next to him to drink and watch TV and fall asleep leaning over on Sam and if you think I'm dead again, you are correct.

Later, the guys are awake, Miracle lying between them, and Sam apologizes for what he said as Soulless. He says he remembers all of it, and apologizes some more, and then they get up and Sam grabs Dean and turns him around and engulfs him in one of those wonderful Sam hugs, like at the end of Mystery Spot, where he wraps his arms all the way around Dean and smooshes his nose right up against him. And that sound is me flopping dead onto the floor one more time. And that’s it!

Unanswered questions:

- When did Soulless decide he didn't want to be re-souled after all, and how far would he have gone to prevent it? Or was he really just wanting one more day of rest?

- What's the deal with the Not a Deer and the shifter?

- What would Dean have named the Not a Deer? I'm voting for Weredeer.

So! That was just wonderful. I didn't watch the previews, so I don't know what's happening in the next episode, but I'm interested in what you thought about this one! (Assuming you made it all the way through a probably boring re-telling of someone else's fic...)
Tags: dean's red shirt of bad decisions, fandom, pimping, rec, sam's beard, supernatural

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