Then! Sam: In Hell with Lucifer. Dean: Bound to Amara. Cas: Lucifer's plan B.
Now! Actually, the now happens 30 years ago in Ireland. And apparently every house in Ireland looks like Shaun Thornton's house in The Quiet Man. An adorable young couple is killed by a screeching monster, leaving their adorable baby girl bleeding from the ears in her crib. I'm not sure at this point that the mom is actually dead - she manages to dispell the monster, and doesn't bash her head repeatedly against the wall like her husband did, but I'm going to go ahead and spoil it for you: she's good and dead. (Also, who puts a necklace on an infant?)
Title card of swirly darkness!
Sam's in bed (so this is already a good episode), tossing and turning and remembering/dreaming his trip down memory lane, particularly Lucifer chastising him for not looking for Dean when he was in Purgatory. And that he has to be ready to watch the people he loves die. And the shadows form the bars of a cage over his pretty, pretty face. By the way, I'll warn you right now, Sam is so damn pretty in this episode that I'm going to have a hard time talking about anything else.
He finally gives up on sleep and decides to clean guns instead. Dean shows up in the dead guy robe and asks him if he's okay, pointing out that he hasn't left the bunker in days. Sam lies that he's fine. Dean's found a case - a retiree founded with his head bashed in, in his room that was locked from the inside. And it's only 15 minutes from the bunker, which is bullshit because I don't think there's anything 15 minutes from Lebanon, Kansas, let alone a city large enough to have the really nice senior living center we're about to see. But I'mma let that slide because. Well.
Exhibit B, for those of us with a hand fetish.
Sam's not enthused about the idea of a hunt when they should be working on the Darkness, and he's concerned they haven't heard from Cas, but Dean says "Cas will be fine. He always is." (Oh, Dean.)
Cut to Casifer, feeding geese or something at a park. Misha has, thankfully, dialed it back a little bit, but his portrayal of Lucifer is just never going to come close to Jared's. But if I pretend that Lucifer is just extra enthusiastic about getting out of the cage, I can make it work. A guy in a suit shows up and The Husband assumes he's a demon, but I'm sure he's an angel, which is confirmed when an angel blade drops into his hand. (Oh, and also, this is a Robbie Thompson episode. I'm trying to pay more attention to the writers now. We like him, right? Don't want to get too hopeful about this episode just yet.) As Casifer whistles "Shall We Gather At the River," (ha, it's funny because he's at a river, and he's the devil, get it?) and appreciates nature, the angel tries to kill him and ends up getting exploded.
These are not Canada geese, which they should be, considering.
Back to Sam and Dean, arriving at the really, really nice Oak Park Retirement Living. The brothers both notice that it's really, really nice, and Dean suggests making a reservation to retire there themselves, to which Sam scoffs that they "should be so lucky to live long enough." This surprises Dean, which is really odd, since he's expressed more than once that he doesn't expect to live a long life. Ah, continuity.
Arthur, the facility manager, describes what happened to Dean as Sam breaks into the victim's room and shows us the result. Harold was found on his back with his skull smashed in. A random resident walks by and we know she's not really random because she has a name and she's played by Elliot's mom from E.T. And I'd happily call her Elliot's Mom from E.T. for the rest of this review but that's a lot to type, so let's call her Mildred. Mildred is immediately attracted to Dean, because she's only human (and because Sam's not there) and she stops to admire him as she walks away. This is a pretty shot. And once again Dean is standing inside a grid. A cage, if you will.
I see you over there, Elliot's mom, checking out that ass.
It turns out Arthur is staying at the facility because his wife left him. He's a little distraught about it, and he regrets sending her the poop emoji. But sometimes that's the only one that will do, Arthur. He tells Dean that the dead guy had quite a few enemies. Meanwhile, Sam's still in the dead guy's room with the wailing EMF meter, and he opens a drawer full of prescription pill bottles. Harold was stealing Viagra from the other residents. Oh, Harold, you bad boy. Or, as Dean says, "It was a real dick move." Heh.
Dean has the files for every resident who has "passed" at the facility, and it's an oddly delicate thing for Dean to say. It seems like he'd say "kicked it" or even just "died." One of the residents, Jake, had accused Harold of stealing his pension checks, which makes him a possible vengeful spirit, so they set out to salt and burn his corpse. Which is a little less than a year old, so ew, that's gonna be nasty.
As Sam digs, Dean questions him about his feelings on retirement, and just as I did earlier, Sam points out that Dean's the one who always planned to die young in a blaze of glory. But Dean senses that Sam sees the blaze of glory happening soon, and asks him again if he's okay, and this time Sam admits he's not.
Being so close to Lucifer again, brought stuff up. Stuff I thought I forgot about.
You wanna talk about it?
Well, look, Lucifer's never getting out of that cage, ever. And you are never going back, period. So. Case closed.
Hmmm. The last time Dean was so sure about anything, it was that Sam was not getting back in the cage in the first place. So, yeah. Take that with a grain of salt, Sam. (Not that salt will do you any good against an archangel.)
Dean suggests it must be nice to be back on a case to get his mind off things, and Sam shuts that right down - he wants to burn the bones, go home, and maybe clean his guns again.
This was really a lovely scene. Physically lovely, with the lighting, and the camera angles, and Sam shaking his hair out of his eyes, and also emotionally lovely, with the guys actually talking, and with Sam being so honest and sad, and Dean being so concerned.
However, back at Oak Park, Arthur hears screaming that no one else can hear, and Mildred witnesses him bashing his head against the wall, and then sees the creaure we saw in Ireland as she consumes his brain. Sorry, Sam, doesn't look like you're going home after all.
Mildred tells the brothers about the power going out, and that she saw something, but she doesn't expect them to believe her. And this isn't her first time to the rodeo, because she saw a ghost ten years ago. (And an alien too, Mildred. Don't forget the alien.) But Dean takes her hand and she gets all hot and bothered and tells him about the creature she saw, a woman with long flowing hair and red robes, feeding on Arthur's head. And way off in the corner, someone else is curious about what Mildred saw as well.
Yes, young lady, I would notice them too. I'd notice them a lot.
Sam notices the staffer noticing them, and goes to talk to her, and it turns out she's hearing-impaired, and oh snap!!! She's the little Irish baby with the bleeding ears!!! She has to be! Her name is Marlene, and she tells Sam she wasn't working last night, or the night Harold died. Sam thanks her using sign language (OF COURSE HE DOES) and she politely corrects him.
Sam and Dean discuss that it's obviously not a ghost, and Dean's eye-roll about feeding on busted heads and excitement about possible zombies are completely adorable. Across the room, Marlene is staring at his lips. Because she's only human. Oh, and because she's lip-reading. Marlene's kind of a badass. I think I love her.
I provide this as a community service, since you were probably too distracted to notice there were actual words there.
The brothers discover they're dealing with a banshee, which uses its debilitating scream to force victims to smash their own heads open, allowing it to devour the brain. And they only prey on vulnerable people. Vulnerability is not defined, though they say Harold just had surgery and Arthur had a broken heart, so apparently emotional vulnerability works. Good thing no one on this show is emotionally vulnerable. They need a gold blade to kill it, and they left theirs at the bunker (I do that all the time. So frustrating.), so Dean instructs Sam to figure out who's vulnerable while he goes to get their blades. Marlene watches him leave, in a completely non-suspicious manner. Or maybe she's just watching the pretty car.
In the bunker, Dean hears noises and stalks awesomely through the halls with his gun out (no, not like that, get your mind out of the gutter) and discovers Casifer rooting through the contents of a storeroom.
He's clearly annoyed to be interrupted. Lucifer imitating Cas is actually pretty good. His "hello, Dean" and "I'm sorry" are perfect examples of I think this is what Cas sounds like. So, while I don't really care for Misha playing Pellegrino, I do enjoy Misha playing how he thinks Pellegrino would play Misha. Yeah, it's getting weird up in here.
Am I doing this head-tilt right?
Back at Oak Park, Mildred is disappointed to get a visit from Sam without Dean. Because she's a fucking lunatic.
Look at this smile, Mildred. LOOK AT IT.
Sam explains that they are actually monster-hunting brothers, not FBI agents, and she's not surprised. Because once you've seen a ghost (and an alien) you're predisposed to believe these things. He shows her a drawing of a banshee, which looks nothing like the one she saw, but she confirms that's it. He explains that banshees go after the vulnerable, and according to her medical records, she's vulnerable. But, come on, Sam. Everyone in this retirement village is going to be vulnerable, aren't they? He tells her to get some rest, since banshees hunt at night and they're going to need her ready to fight, and damn, woman, you are missing the perfect opportunity to say "Oh, Agent Butler, I just can't sleep. Is there anything you could to do help relax me?" Stupid Mildred.
He also asks about Marlene for some reason - is he still suspicious of her? Or just recognizing that she's awesome and trying to find out more about her? But Mildred says Marlene isn't hearing-impaired, and isn't even working this week, and oh, you know what that means. Someone stole Marlene's uniform. Mildred tells Sam (calling him Agent Butler, even though he just told her he's not an agent) that she has a deaf grandchild, so if he does figure out who the staffer is, she'd love to know, so she can practice her sign language. Well. Isn't that convenient.
(If you'll excuse me for a minute, I'm going to think about practicing sign language with Sam Winchester. Oh, Sam. I could tell you so many things without using words at all.)
Sam roams the halls looking for Not!Marlene and finds her cart in front of a laundry room, so he goes inside and sees it's been marked with sigils. Not!Marlene is in there - she cuts her hand and slaps her bloody palm on one sigil, and Sam ends up stuck to its copy. And I'm going to have to talk about this sigil trap thing later, but right now we're just going to sit back and enjoy the view.
Sorry, but I really feel it's important to show you all of these caps.
Not!Marlene approaches Sam with a gold knife, thinking he's the banshee. Oh, god, Not!Marlene is a hunter. I love her so much. Sam gets her to cut his hand to try to convince her that he's a hunter, not a banshee. For a second it looks like she's going to cut his throat anyway, but she just scratches through the sigil and releases him. She tells him her name is Aileen, and I'm sure there's some really cool Gaelic spelling of that, but I'm an Amurrican so I don't know the really cool Gaelic spelling. The banshee killed her parents (see, I told you) and she was rescued by a hunter who'd been tracking it. The hunter raised Aileen to be a hunter herself, and she's been hunting on her own since she was 15. Sam asks if Aileen's mom was a hunter or a witch (I don't know why; maybe he saw the scene at the beginning of the show where she cast a spell) but Aileen says no, her mother's father was part of a now-defunct secret organization. Which Sam immediately recognizes as the Men of Letters, and he explains that he and Dean are legacies.
Invite her to the clubhouse, Sam. She's awesome.
At the bunker, Dean confesses to Casifer that he was in a position to kill Amara twice, but couldn't make himself do it. Which is not actually correct. The first time, he couldn't do it until Teen!Amara went after Sam, and then it was too late. The second time, he actually did try to stab her, but the knife shattered. So I'm not sure what he's getting at, other than his free-floating guilt that attaches itself to everything that goes bad. Casifer says Dean and Amara are connected by the Mark, and Dean says it's more than that (and is it? it never was before) and Casifer suggests "attraction?" Dean looks guilty and doesn't deny it. Okay then. He's scared, and doesn't know if he can resist it. Casifer puts his hand on Dean's shoulder, and Dean gives it the side-eye at first, but then accepts it. Watching Dean confess to Lucifer, watching Casifer pretend to be Cas comforting him, it's just heartbreaking.
And kind of pretty.
Something I didn't notice until rewatch... do you see what's missing here? Castiel's trench coat and suit jacket.
Sam calls and gives Dean the name of Aileen's grandfather to look up in the MoL records. While they discuss the death of her parents, Mildred stakes her claim on Dean, telling Aileen she can have Sam. THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, MILDRED? It's worth breaking a hip.
Their plan is to wait for the banshee to come for Mildred, trap it, and kill it. Casifer, listening in the background, is very interested. Dean doesn't like using Mildred as bait, and I don't like the assumption that it's going to go for Mildred next, but there's only 14 minutes left in the show so they've got to do something. There's some really unnecessary banter about The Golden Girls, and then Dean tells Casifer to keep his confession about Amara between them (translation: don't tell Sam). Casifer reluctantly agrees, as Cas would, and tells Dean he won't face Amara alone again. And then Misha slips out of Lucifer-playing-Cas and into Misha-as-Lucifer and loses me.
At Oak Park, Sam paints sigils on the wall in Mildred's apartment, which Aileen judges as "not bad," even though they were painted by the same props people and look exactly like hers. Also, Sam has changed out of his suit. Maybe Dean brought him a change of clothes. Maybe he found something to fit him in Harold's room. Maybe he and Aileen had sexytimes and he needed to freshen up. They talk about revenge and Aileen shows him a photo of her with her parents. She says "I never met them. They're just pictures to me. But they're family. My family." Oh, who does that sound like? (sniff). She doesn't know what she'll do after she kills the banshee, but she might follow in her mother's footsteps and become a lawyer, and the parallels are just flying all over the place. And then Sam says "I wouldn't do this without my brother. He's had my back every step of the way, even when I let him down." Oh hell no, do not go there. Dammit. They're going there.
Dean shows up, so I guess Dean didn't bring him a change of clothes after all. Mildred comes out of her room and immediately gets her hands on him, dragging him to a window to watch the sunset. She's relentlessly flirty, and he's a little uncomfortable but also kind of enjoying it maybe. She asks when he last watched a sunset "without waiting for something to go bump in the night" and of course the answer is "never," and I'm going to forgive her non-stop flirting because damn, he looks nice in this light. Can't blame her.
But I really wish she'd dragged Sam over here too.
Mildred hopes this isn't her last sunset, and maybe that's why she decided not to go after Sam? Dean assures her it won't be, and I'm pretty sure that means Mildred's going to die. She tells him the secret to living a long and happy life is to follow your heart. But what if the Darkness is what your heart wants? And suddenly Dean hears the banshee. The lights go out, the banshee shows up, and Dean starts bashing his head against the wall. Aileen and Sam get tossed around, and you can tell this is a classy place, because the doors break into perfectly smooth chunks; no splinters at all. I bet you have to pay extra for breakaway doors, just like the west-facing windows. In the end, Mildred is the one who cuts her hand and slaps it onto the sigil, pinning the banshee to the wall. And Aileen gets to kill it, so that's cool.
And we get bloody Dean and concerned Sam, so that's cool too.
Sam and Aileen leave the facility, and Aileen's dressed like a proper hunter now, with her henley and her barn jacket with all the pockets. She says killing the banshee didn't feel any different and didn't bring her parents back, and she's not going to law school, she's going to keep hunting because that's what she does and oh, another parallel. Sam tells her to drop a line if she needs something or just wants to hang out, and she jokes that he can't call her, and I love her, Sam. Invite her to the bunker. Introduce her to Jody. Do something to keep her in our lives. Please.
Then Mildred and Dean walk out, and Mildred tells him she can tell he's "pining for somebody else." And a million Destiel shippers scream "It's Cas! It's Cas!"
Look at tiny little Aileen next to Sam. Oh, my heart.
Can we just skip the next scene and pretend it didn't happen? No? Okay. :-/
Dean comes into the kitchen and Sam deftly tosses a beer over his shoulder, without even looking at him. And Dean just as deftly catches it. I really love this shit. Dean tells Sam that Cas was in the bunker looking for lore, and that something seemed a little off about him.
Sam's not worried, because something's always a little off about Cas. He also tells Dean that he was right about getting back on the job being helpful. And then he tells him about Lucifer trolling through his memories, and apologizes for not looking for him while he was in Purgatory. And Dean says "that's okay, you thought I was dead." Oh, no, wait. He doesn't do that. He forgives him.
But there is one good thing about this scene, and that's Sam's goddamn face.
Sam asks why the banshee went after Dean, since they go for the vulnerable, and Dean tells him it went after Mildred first and then went to him when it saw his gold blade. And Sam acts like this might not be complete bullshit. But we know it is, Dean.
Sam goes to his room and opens his box of treasures to put the Oak Park brochure inside, because it looks like he thinks he might get to retire after all, and WAIT. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK. WHAT IS THIS WONDROUS PHOTO. Have we seen this before????? I think not!!!!!!!!
And as Sam gets comfy and cuddles with his pillow, Dean lays on his back like a corpse, arms crossed over his chest, and doesn't sleep.
This was nice, really nice. A good MoTW, Misha was reined in, the guest stars were great, I loved Aileen (as if you couldn't tell), the boys (especially Sam) were absofreakinglutely gorgeous, it was full of Sammy goodness (sadly, any episode that features the brothers equally probably feels Sam-heavy in comparison), and THIS.
Really, the only thing I didn't like was Casifer when he wasn't pretending to be Cas, and Sam apologizing for something he has no reason to apologize for. And Dean accepting it.
What about that Celtic sigil Aileen used. Does it trap anybody? It trapped Sam, so it works on humans. This seems really, really useful. Are they going to use it again? On Casifer, maybe? Or are they going to forget it like they forgot christo?
Why is Dean "vulnerable" because he's bound to the Darkness? It seems like it might actually make him stronger. Or at least, less likely to have his soul eaten any time soon.
Since when is Dean looking forward to a happy retirement?
What the hell is wrong with Mildred? Climb that mountain, woman!
Banshees don't have a human form, do they? Why would Aileen think Sam was a banshee?
Are the writers keeping Sam and Cas separated on purpose? Is Sam going to recognize Lucifer as soon as he sees him? I assume not, because he's already seen Casifer. But that would be awesome.
What did you think? And remember, no spoilers in the comments, please!