Guys, I'm still in disbelief at how damn good this episode was. I haven't read anyone else's reaction yet, but I hope you all loved it as much as I did.
The "Then" repeats some of Chuck's loving history of the Impala and I'm already smitten. It also shows a bit of the boys' history with the Impala, including Dean talking John into buying it in the first place, and it reminds us that the Darkness is still out there and that Sam prayed for a sign of hope.
The camera moves over the Impala, showing us the Army men in the ashtray, the Legos in the vents, and Sam and Dean's initials carved into the bloody rear deck. Wait - bloody? Yes, bloody and strewn with bits of broken glass, from the broken rear window. There's more blood on the side windows, and on Dean's machete on the floor, and on Dean, who is handcuffed and unconscious in the back seat.
Looks promising, guys. Looks damn promising.
48 hours earlier. Dean's washing the car; Sam comes in and asks "what's with the shorts." Sadly, we cannot see said shorts, as our POV is from the inside of the Impala for this entire episode, because this is the ep that spoiled fans have been either dreading (gimmicky!) or gleefully anticipating since the summer. Dean's
bored and restless (spoiler alert: make that restless and bored) and has washed every car in the bunker, and once again, if there are so many cars in the bunker, why does Sam have to steal a car every time he needs one? Can't we see Sam in one of those gorgeous old cars? Or at least the crappy old truck from S10, which I loved? Sam picks up a sponge and helps, and this isn't exactly the way I would have filmed a Sam-Winchester-washes-a-car sequence. Mine would have involved more Sam and fewer clothes. But this is still a nice brotherly moment. They decide to go out on a "thin" case involving something that looks like it might be a werewolf but is probably nothing. Sam has filled half of the beloved green cooler with really nasty looking green smoothies, which is worth noting mostly because of this face and Sam's voice when he says the rest of the beer is "under the smoothies."
Innocent puppy is innocent.
He's saved by a phone call from Cas, who is doing research, even though the brothers tell him he needs to relax and work on healing and watch some Netflix ("What's a Netflix?").
Dean pulls into a roadhouse from their past. Sam's not up for it - he's "exhausted and starving," so he takes off for a diner to "dig into lore" instead. But "digging into the lore" is a apparently a euphemism for something else, because when Dean comes back out to the car at sunrise, he's surprised to find a cute naked waitress named Piper in the back seat. With Sam. Who I assume is naked as well but we don't get to see it. None of it. Not even an arm. (Shakes angry fist) Piper's hairpin is lost in the back seat. Why do they point this out? No particular reason.
We don't get naked Sam but we do get buttoning-his-shirt-Sam, which is still more than we get on a typical episode. He tells Dean he can explain what was going on, which is kind of unnecessary because it's obvious what was going on, and Dean is so adorably happy for Sam that it just makes me want to weep. Also, Dean listening to Bob Seger is precious.
Don't 'Night Moves' me.
Shhh. Just let it wash over you. Just take it in.
Dean gestures to Sam as he sings I was a little too tall, could have used a few pounds and his grin is just... I've already said adorable and precious. What can I use? Predorable. His grin is predorable. Sam makes it even better by singing along, changing out in the back seat of my '60 Chevy to out in the back seat of my brother's '67 Chevy \o/ and they just drive along, in the sun, singing Bob Seger together, and I'm going to die of happiness. Even if the rest of the episode sucked (spoiler alert: it didn't) this scene is worth it. (Dean also calls his brother "Samuel," which I think is a first. I like it, but Sam doesn't.)
(Also? I thought they were gorgeous last week, but wow. The pretty is dialed up to 11 this week.)
Look at this face. LOOK AT IT.
Later, after the sun goes down, Dean remembers what I said about euphemisms and says "Digging into the lore? Is that what the kids are calling it these days?" He teases Sam about finally losing his virginity, which seems pretty inappropriate, considering. But it doesn't bother Sam so I'm gonna let it go. Sam does have one misgiving.
I tried to give her my number. You know what she said?
We've got tonight, who needs tomorrow?
Is everything a Bob Seger song to you?
Dean says they're lucky to still get one-night stands, which I took to mean they're lucky anyone wants to sleep with them at all (and oh, Dean, you would be so wrong). But Sam knows Dean better than I do and knows he meant they're lucky they can have one-night stands instead of relationships. For some reason, Sam seems surprised that Dean doesn't have any hope of having a relationship in the future. Sam brings up the possibility of being with another hunter (and those of you who have your Wincest goggles on can read that any way you want, but I'm pretty sure it's because Dean mentioned a hunter named Heather earlier, and I also really hope this is foreshadowing, because I'd love to see one of the guys in a relationship with a nice hunter girl.)
(And when I say "one of the guys," I mean Sam.)
(Not that I have anything against Dean being in a relationship, but dammit, Sam needs someone. Sam needs a friend.)
Dean's response to all of this is "have you not heard a single word Bob's been singing about?" He then tells Sam he should take a nap in the back seat. Next thing we know, Sam's waking up from a nap and there's a country song on the radio (I desperately hoped it was from 1962, but the internets tell me it's a Suzy Bogguss song so it must be newer) and he looks over to see this.
WELL. THAT WAS UNEXPECTED.
I covered the credits when they showed the guest stars, so I was proud of myself for making that surprise happen, until I rewatched and saw they didn't even list Matt Cohen at the beginning. Which is fantastic, because I HATE guest-star spoilers.
Sam is understandably freaked out.
I am understandably freaked out here, Dad.
And Suzy Bogguss is "goin' with him someday soon" but I hope that doesn't mean anything, because I don't want Sam goin' anywhere with his dead father someday soon.
Sam asks if this is a vision, and doesn't want the spectre of young John to call him "son," but he does end up talking to him as if he were his father. They have a nice little chat, with Sam giving John a lot more credit for parenting than he deserves. Suddenly he says "this isn't real" and Not!John responds "I never could fool you, could I?" and what? Who is this?
I prayed when I was in that church, and I saw... something. And now here you are. Whoever you are. Whatever you are. What the hell is this?
Dream, vision, call it what you want. The message is still the same. The darkness is coming. Only you boys can stop it.
Okay, fine. How? We need help, not visions of dead people.
God helps those who help themselves.
Who are you?
So. This is intriguing. Who sent the message? And why use John's form? As Dean points out later, Sam doesn't exactly have a history of following his orders. And why young John? Just because JDM wasn't available? Or could this be Michael, sent by his own father?
Sam then wakes from his vision and is greeted by Dean, stretched out in the front seat, welcoming him to the Winchester Hotel. He informs Sam he was singing the Suzy Bogguss song in his sleep, and we hear thunder, and why did I want the song to be from 1962? Because this.
Woke last night to the sound of thunder
How far off, I sat and wondered
Started humming a song from 1962
Ain't it funny how the night moves
I mean, seriously, Bob Seger needs co-writing credit for this episode.
(Also, did I say the pretty was dialed up to 11? I meant 12.)
Something amazing happens here. The brothers have a conversation. Possibly the longest one of the entire series. Sam tells Dean he's having visions; Dean thinks they're just dreams. Sam suspects they're visions from God because the first one came after he prayed, which leads to him telling Dean he was infected (finally!!!). Dean's annoyed he didn't tell him, but not furious, and he decides the non-visions are a side effect of the infection. He also points out the quote about God helping those who help themselves isn't even from the Bible (although I don't know why an agent of God couldn't be familiar with Aesop's fables). He reveals his own recurring dream about Dad teaching him how to drive (at a normal age, because they're not hunters, sob). Turns out Sam's recurring normal-life dream is about Mom, which is interesting. Sam is still convinced it's a message from someone, and Dean's pretty sure it means nothing and they're on their own. This is really a lovely scene, not just because they have a real conversation, about real things, but the way they face each other in the car is particularly nice. (The lack of headrests concerns me from a safety standpoint, I have to admit.)
"Good night, jerk. Good night, bitch." Oh, my heart.
In the morning they're suited up and Dean learned the victim's heart was missing and his body was completely drained of blood. Sounds like a combination werewolf and vampire.
Say it with me. A werepire.
In the interest of saving time, I'm not going to talk a lot about the MoTW, because really the only entertaining thing about it is the way Dean keeps trying to name it. But I guess you need to know the deputy who comes out to the car to talk to them seems disappointed they're staying in town, for no particular reason. He sends the boys to the best steak restaurant in the state, which, oddly enough, has valet service. (No, Sam, I know you think it's pretty common, but not at a restaurant like this.)
The angel Hael the valet Jessie comes to collect the Impala.
Dude, don't you recognize this chick? She can't drive for shit!
No, I was in a coma, remember?
She picks up a friend and takes her for a joyride. The friend's purse gets lost in the car somewhere. Why do they point this out? No particular reason.
After lunch, Sam goes to talk to the victim's widow while Dean returns to the crime scene. Cas calls and is confused about how orange correlates with black in a way that's new (hee hee). He ignores Dean's desire to call the creature a werepire and says it's a whisperer, which can probably be killed with silver but should be decapitated just to be safe. The deputy pulls up behind Dean, and in a scene that's a lot funnier than it sounds, Cas (unaware that Dean has stepped away) goes on and on about whisperer lore, eventually deciding this isn't a whisperer at all, while Dean fights the deputy, who is the MoTW. Dean shoots the deputy with silver, resulting in the blood we saw on the window earlier, and then cuts the deputy's head off (and uses the windshield wipers to knock it off the hood, oh my god) and puts the still-growling head in the cooler. He tosses the bloody machete in the back and drives off to meet Sam, who tells him he got jumped while visiting the victim's wife.
(Did I say 12? I think we're up to 13.)
Thirteen, Sammy. And that's without you getting naked.
The wife is now unconscious in the back of the Impala, which is still coated in blood. Cas calls with the news that the monster is actually something similar to a ghoul and a vampire called a... nok something? I'm going to call it a ghoulpire, since that's what Dean calls it. They're already dead, so the way you kill them is to remind them that they're dead, by putting a copper coin in their mouths, and then cutting off their head. Smart!Sam knows that only pennies minted before 1982 are actually copper, and neither of the brothers have any pennies on them, so they stop at a Gas N Sip to get some. Sam, who has suddenly realized he's a different kind of ladykiller, spends some time flirting with the clerk, which allows the wife to wake up, find the head in the cooler, attack Dean, and drive off, but not before Sam shoots out the back window.
You're awfully cute, but why is there blood all over your car window?
Dean wakes up at the crime scene as the wife handcuffs him in the back of the Impala, and we're where we were at the beginning. She apparently sews the deputy's head back on, which brings him back to life. Or back to consciousness, I guess, since he was already dead. In the back seat, Dean sees Jessie's friend's Hello Kitty purse on the floor, next to his bloody machete. He then has a conversation with the two ghoulpires. The deputy is turning more ghoulpires because he needs help to fight the Darkness (duh duh duh!!! Even monsters are afraid of the Darkness!) He monologues that Sam's been sent into a trap and is going to make a fine ghoulpire. Dean's going to make a fine first meal. Sadly for the deputy's plans, Dean has found Piper's conveniently-lost hairclip and picked his handcuffs. He grabs the deputy and forces him to crash the Impala. Inside the conveniently-lost Hello Kitty purse, he finds some appropriately aged pennies, and uses them and his machete to permanently remind the deputy that he's dead. But first there's a brutal fight in the Impala that trashes it so badly, Dean apologizes. (Also, he uses the car door to hack the deputy's head off, which is almost as awesome as Sam sawing Gordon's head off with razor wire.)
Since the main ghoulpire is dead, everyone he turned goes back to their human state. After some difficulty getting poor damaged Baby to start, they head to the place where Sam was trapped, and where the wife's kids are also. (And if this isn't a special effect, Jensen Ackles does some really nice driving here. Really, really nice. I want someone to gif it.) Sam's limping when they arrive, so he gets something that's a cross between a hug and an assist, and lord knows I love either of those things. And now I have to say the pretty has reached 14.
Is this enough blood for you, Caranfindel, you sadistic freak?
It's all good.
Sam doesn't actually confirm that he turned, just says "they all turned back." And I don't know if it even matters, except that it's one more instance of Sam becoming a monster while Dean doesn't. But in the end, everyone's fine except the Impala. And my heart, because when Dean says "let's go home," Sam pats the car and says "You know what? We are home." And as Bob Seger sings us out, we get the first shot in the episode taken from outside the car.
I admit, I was a little apprehensive about this episode. Even those of us who try to remain unspoiled had a hard time not knowing there was going to be a Very Special Episode set entirely inside the Impala (which turned out to be not exactly accurate). And I turned out to be more than pleasantly surprised. This episode was simply wonderful. What did I love about it?
- Boys talking. About feelings and shit.
- The pretty.
- The gimmick of the Impala's POV, which was actually beautifully done.
- Bob Seger.
- Cas was a presence but it was All About The Brothers.
- Boys singing.
- The Not!John reveal.
- More mystery about Sam's visions.
- Some progress on the Darkness storyline.
- No angel drama.
- No demon drama.
What did I not love?
- It wasn't a 2-hour long special.
Also, after writing this I watched a video on Buddy TV where Jensen explained he was actually driving in all the driving scenes, with a camera mounted to the car that he had to peek around. So he's driving with the camera right in his face. Good job, sir.
Remember, I'm unspoiled, including the previews. Please help me stay that way, thanks!