The "Then" reminds us that the Winchesters have unorthodox ways of spending the holidays, and that Dean is still bound to Amara. And that Sam looks awfully damn good in a dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Awfully damn good, my friends.
A couple is getting ready for date night. The wife, Melissa, kisses her husband and leaves a trace of red lipstick. The doorbell rings and Melissa snarls that Stacy should know to knock, she's going wake the baby. Melissa kind of seems like a shrew at this point, but who knows. Maybe she's got a reason to dislike that babysitter. I'm not gonna judge. The husband, Dan, goes downstairs to let her in, and then, oh dear. Melissa was right. Stacy is a bad, bad babysitter. Stacy kisses Dan and complains that she can taste Melissa's "mom lipstick" and okay, you little strumpet, some of us have outgrown cherry flavored lip gloss. (Says the person who's currently wearing Dr. Pepper flavored Lip Smackers. Don't judge.) Stacy tells Dan he needs to tell Melissa the truth tonight but Dan's all, oh, we've been together so long, we have a baby and a house, blah blah blah, and really, Dan. Shame on you. Yes, I'm judging. Melissa and Dan leave, and Stacy watches TV on the couch. Dan and Melissa's house has a really weird furniture arrangement, with a couch in front of the TV facing away from it. As a little tidbit of meta, whatever show she's watching informs us that what people call love is just a chemical reaction. Someone whose arms and hands look suspiciously like Dan's sneaks up behind her and rubs her shoulders and then yanks her heart out, witnessed by a teddy bear that I knew was a nannycam as soon as I saw it. Aren't those things supposed to be a little more subtle? What's the point if anyone can immediately tell what it is? Anyway. Big old bloody mess on Dan and Melissa's white couch.
Swirly title card of darkness!
In the bunker, Sam's in the kitchen reading about Stacy's death ("girl dies of broken heart?" worst headline ever) when Dean stumbles in, either hungover or still drunk. And hungover/drunk Dean probably shouldn't be adorable but oh, dear lord, it is. Except for the eating part. Ew. He's sporting a giant hickey. ("It was Valentine's Day. Can't help it if I'm a hopeless romantic.") When Sam tells him about Stacy's heart being ripped out on Valentine's Day, he wonders if it was "an ironic werewolf." Heh. Sam sends him to take a shower. Through this whole scene, Sam just seems full of fond appreciation of Dean's ridiculousness. I love it.
I like you, Phil. Lots of nice shots here.
When they get to Dan and Melissa's house, a forensic clean-up crew is rolling up the bloodstained rug and damn, I'd prefer a slightly more low-key van to pull up in front of my house. It's bad enough to have someone murdered all over your white couch without a van that basically says "Someone was murdered here" parked out front. Discretion. It's a good thing. Melissa insists that no one would want to kill Stacy because she was so sweet and pretty and popular. Yeah, those girls never get murdered. Dan, looking lost and teary-eyed, says everyone who met her fell in love with her. Discretion, Dan. It's a good thing. Nothing is missing except the really obvious nanny cam. The brothers both notice that something is off with Dan, so Sam goes to the morgue while Dean goes to Dan's office to question him without the wife.
Aw. Where are the longer coats?
MURDER CLEANUP VAN. NOTHING TO SEE HERE. RETURN TO YOUR HOMES AND PLACES OF BUSINESS.
At the morgue, the coroner tells Sam it looks like an animal did it, except that it doesn't. And Dan sits in his office and sadly peruses Stacy's Facebook until "Agent Weller" arrives to see him (Peter Weller? Robocop?) He eventually admits that he was, in fact, "shtupping the babysitter." Dan tells Dean that the nannycam caught him kissing said babysitter, so he was planning to erase the video when they got home. But when they got home, they found the babysitter's body and the bloody white couch and so, while Melissa ran upstairs to see if their baby was okay , Dan went straight for the nannycam to dispose of the evidence that he'd kissed the babysitter. Jesus Christ, Dan. You suck. I hope you die before the end of this episode. Dan was going to turn the video over to the police as soon as he erased the whole kissing the babysitter part, except it actually shows Dan killing her. While he was at the restaurant with witness. This doesn't freak Dean out to the extent Dan assumes it will, of course. He brings the video back to Sam at the oddest car-themed motel room ever, where they see the traditional flashy-eyes and determine it must be a shapeshifter.
OH HI SAM I MISSED YOU. SO MUCH.
Meanwhile, back at the office, Dan is still forlornly mourning the babysitter he was shtupping. You're in luck, Dan! She's getting off the elevator right now! And I get my wish, as the shtuppable babysitter rips his heart out. The next morning, Agents Weller and Whoever Sam Is interview an employee who says she saw nothing weird, but there was this rude girl getting off the elevator. They show her Shtuppable Stacy's picture and she confirms it was her. Now, I don't know about your workplace, but where I work? If we heard the boss's babysitter was murdered in his house? We would have been all over that chick's Facebook long ago. Anyway. The boys decided the shapeshifter has "upped its game" since it's impersonating dead people now, but didn't the shifter in Nightshifter kill hostages before impersonating them? They figure Melissa must be the shifter.
However, when they visit her at home, Dean slyly hands her a silver pen to write down her phone number, and she doesn't react to it. And I love this. Not only that Dean did it, but that Show didn't feel like they had to explain it to us. I guess I'd be confused if I were a new viewer, but I'm not. So. Sorry, new viewers. Netflix is your friend. They tell her they're staying at "the hotel on Main Street" (You know, that weird one? The one that no government employee would ever stay at? Yeah, that one) and that she should contact them if anything weird happens. She watches them leave and then goes into a panic, digging out a box of very suspicious-looking shit. She sends the suspicious shit down the drain, including a small skull, and all I can think of it this:
Then she gets on the phone and tells someone she messed up, and uh oh. Looks like Melissa did a bad thing. Then time passes and she gets drunk and Dan shows up and tries to kill her.
Back at the Too Tired Motel (get it? Tired? Tires? Car theme?), Dean announces he did not get lucky (due to dad bod, oh, poor Dean, I'm sure there are many of us here who would be happy to embrace your dad bod) and then Melissa shows up. She tells them her hairdresser, who is also a witch, gave her a spell to make Dan fall back in love with her. (I had one of those once. It's the only possible explanation why she could make my hair do things that no one else can.) She gives Sam a copy of the spell, which he translates and discovers it's not a spell. It's a curse. They determine that the curse is passed on when you kiss someone, and once the kissee is dead, it goes back to Melissa, and it eventually wants to kill her, but until then she can pass it around like a hot potato. As Dean says, "it's freaking confusing."
Things I love about this scene:
Sam and Dean's reactions when Melissa talks about her witch hairdresser and says "I don't know if you believe in these things."
Sam earnestly emphasizing that Melissa didn't kill either Dan or Stacy; this is all on the witch.
Dean saying "riddle me this."
And Sam and Dean working together and being all cute and figuring it out.
Just as Dean tells Melissa they're not going to let her get killed, Dan tosses a concrete block through the window. Dean shoots him and is surprised it has no effect, so he does the next best thing and kisses Melissa. Dan stops and looks confused, and then Sam hits him with a chair and brings him down, and I'm not going to quibble about why the chair impacts him more than a few bullets because I get post-exertion-huff Sam and what-the-hell-did-you-do Sam, and that's a gift.
Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, guys. Or a gift moose.
They get in the car and flee, and Sam lectures Dean about being a martyr. Melissa notices the stash of weapons and Dean explains that he thought the thing was a shapeshifter but it's not, because he pumped it full of silver (oh, that's why he was confused that the bullets didn't stop it!) and it didn't flinch, and she's all, what kind of FBI agents are you? "The fake kind." Hee!
Even I recognize this review is pretty Sam-heavy, so here's one for the Dean!girls.
Off to the salon of Sonia the witch hairdresser. It's called the Art of Dyeing. For those of you not in the U.S., there actually is a thing where salon owners choose the stupidest, punniest name possible. So this is sadly realistic. The brothers leave Melissa in the car and give her a knife to use if Sonia shows up, and that seems like a bad idea to me, but what do I know.
Inside the salon, Sam announces his gun has witch-killing bullets, which must be the ones he made to kill Rowena. And just like the silver pen, I really like that they're not falling all over themselves to awkwardly explain it. He finds a book that Sonia the witch hairdresser has conveniently annotated and determines they're dealing with a qarean. The person who controls the qarean pronounces a curse on someone, then it seduces and kills them in the form of their "deepest, darkest desire." Dean decides this means he's going to meet Daisy Duke. Oh, Dean. You still don't recognize foreshadowing when you see it. Start watching the "Then" so you know what's going to happen to you.
The controller of the qarean has to possess its heart, so they've got to find that and stab it. Dean insists on playing rock-paper-scissors to see who stays downstairs and to my disbelief and delight, he actually wins. Sam shares my disbelief and Dean shares my delight, and this is at least the third time the writers have assumed we're all long-time watchers of the show who remember things like Dean always throwing scissors.
Or maybe this is supposed to be a sign that Dean's not really Dean. Check him with silver, Sam.
Upstairs, Sam finds the heart-in-a-box but before he can stab it, Sonia shows up and witchily hurls him around, getting his hair in his face and gluing him to a chair. Aw. Thanks, Sonia. She says she believes Sam's a hunter, not an FBI agent, which is odd because when would have have told her he was an FBI agent? She tells him she wants to punish not only the cheating men, but the idiot women who want them back. So her curse kills them both. And Sam's next. She does something that makes him choke, because, well, I guess that's what you do to Sam.
Meanwhile, Amara shows up downstairs. Dean recognizes that it's not really Amara, but faux Amara says she can feel the love in his heart, the love that's cloaked in shame. Oh, Dean. There's no shame in your dad bod. There's some scuffling as faux Amara goes for his heart, punching through various things.
Upstairs, Melissa bursts in and distracts Sonia long enough for her to release Sam, who kills her with the witch-killing bullets. He then stabs the qarean's heart just in time to save Dean. Dean doesn't say anything about what happened, but Sam sees the holes punched in things and knows he had a run-in with the qarean.
Back at the hotel, Sam asks if Dean's version of the qarean was Bach or Simpson. And Dean admits it was Amara, and I'm all, WTF? Really, Sam, test this guy to see if he's a shifter. Dean's surprised that Sam's not surprised, and Sam gives him this wonderful supportive speech. He knows it's beyond Dean's control, because she's God's sister and she picked him, and it sucks but he's not going to blame or judge Dean, and excuse me, I need to sit here and process this. And watch it a few more times.
You boys are killing me.
Dean confesses that when he's near Amara, he can't kill her, and Sam's all, that's cool. I got it. And after Dean leaves, Supportive Sam turns into Concerned Sam and kindly gives me a profile and a worried look because he knows I live for that shit.
So much to love here, guys. Honest, frightened Dean. Supportive, concerned Sam. Blatant continuity. Brothers working together. I'm in my happy place. I hope you were, too.
No spoilers in the comments, please!