Picture it, Vitsyebsk, 1944. The Nazi Germans are partying it up in the then Soviet Union, but their lighthearted fun is interrupted by an attack, broken glass, a Nazi book in need of protection, the sounds of gunfire and shouts that whatever is taking them out just won’t go down no matter how much lead they pump into in. The commandant orders them to keep fighting, fight to the death. And they do. Even as a giant comes crashing through the doors and decimates them while their bullets just absorb into him.
Meanwhile, the commandant is chanting in Latin. He casts a spell that makes him disappear and sets the room on fire.
Wait. Nazi magicians?
We’ll get back to that later.
Back in the present time the boys are pulling up to the chamber of secrets in Lebanon, Kansas (by the way, did anyone else notice that the car’s tags last week were for 2013? Shouldn’t it be 2015 in Winchester World? Anyway…), they use the key their grandfather left to the to open the door. It’s dark, it’s dank, it’s technologically Amish by today’s standards and it’s clear that the last people there bailed in a not so fun hurry. Dean flips the circuits and not only do the lights actually come on, but a doorway opens. Sam is stunned. He’s staring into the hub of the Watcher’s Council in all its dapper glory.
The next morning Dean waltzes in, complete in his regulation Men of Letters robe and slippers, refreshed after a wonderful steam shower. Sam, on the other hand, is wondering about the logic of them even having water for showers and lights to read by. Dean isn’t worried about something that’s actually a plus for them and those are way too few and far between to start asking questions. Sam’s in the midst of a dusty old bookgasm and not really buying what Dean’s selling.
Up in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania an old man heads into a university library and it seems he’s a regular because the librarian isn’t surprised to see him, just surprised to see him so late. The man tells him it took him a lot of maneuvering to lose the guy that was following and rattles off the book number he needs. The librarian is well aware that the man thinks he has a stalker, but since he’s harmless he lets him at the book. The book is oddly not from the shelves, but stored away carefully in a Rubbermaid bin, he leafs through it and sure enough it’s the ledger from 1944 that he Nazis were protecting. The librarian reminds the man that not only is that book not available for checkout due to its status and the library is closing in exactly 8 minutes. The man reminds the librarian that life is nicer without a reindeer up your butt. Too bad the librarian doesn’t speak Yiddish.
The man finally leaves the library and crosses over to the campus pub to use the payphone. Which is odd in and of itself. Odder still is that the man was right, as he leaves message for someone unknown to us, someone else unknown to us, a clean-cut young man in glasses, is watching him through the windows. The man, not one to be shy, tells the figure in the darkness to join him, taunts him calling him Nazi rubbish and a Nazi pig. The patrons of the bar seem pretty used to the man’s antics. Though they’re quickly sobered when the man bursts into flames right before their eyes. Seems Nazi pigs are easily offended and highly temperamental.
Sam and Dean are doing their usual check-ins and catch-ups; same old, same old with Kevin and Garth. Both brothers have tried calling Castiel, but all they get is angel voicemail, never a good sign. Sam has been spending his time going through the M.O.L. archives, Dean doesn’t seem to think that 55 year-old files are of the utmost urgency and Sam tells him he’s right… for the most part. However, there is one file on what’s called the Judah Initiative, a group of war sabotaging Rabbis. Sounds kinda like a Sabbath morning cartoon plot. The M.O.L. had little info on the JI, but Sam was able to find out that there was one member left that just died two weeks ago. That’s right, our campus pub firework.
Spontaneous human combustion is totally their area.
The boys split up; Dean drops Sam off at the library while he heads off work his FBI angle.
Sam, wearing the latest in research assistant chic, tells the librarian that he was an associate of Rabbi Bass and only wants to complete the work. Publish or perish. The librarian shows Sam the last research the Rabbi was doing. In the Rubbermaid container is not the ledger we’re familiar with, but instead a book on bird watching. That confuses Sam far more than it helps him.
Dean’s interviewing two girls at the pub; they’re being as helpful as they can be, but they seem to be giving Dean a bit of a migraine with their Bobbsey twins act. Over at the bar a man sits down to get girl drink drunk. He toys with the umbrella in his beverage while giving Dean the eye. The guy’s been following Dean around a bit and Dean’s no stranger to a potential lead so he ditches the girls to question the guy. Only the guy doesn’t have info, he just cruising Dean. It’s understandable, Dean’s a good-looking guy, the suit is working for him and FBI authority is often very attractive. Dean’s flattered, but flustered. Thankfully, Sam calls him at that moment allowing Dean to escape, though not very gracefully.
Sam tells Dean what he knows, which is nothing. Dean tells Sam a bit about his day, glossing over some of it. Sam also tells Dean in not so subtle code that someone’s following him, Dean tells Sam he thought he had the same problem, but it turned out he’s just a man-magnet of sexiness. The boys make plans to meet up and smoke out Sam’s stalker.
It doesn’t end up working that way.
Remember the giant from 1944? Yeah, he’s there, watching Sam from the bushes. Dean sneaks up behind him and is dwarfed by the giant. He has just enough time to be stunned by Fezzik’s size before he’s thrown into a window. Sam, hearing the commotion, grabs a knife from the trunk fend off the attacker, but it does no good, the knife sinks in like he’s made of bread dough. They only thing that saves Sam from being a victim of Monday Night Raw is Dean’s friend from the bar calling off the giant.
Meet Aaron Bass. That’s right, he’s Rabbi Bass’ grandson. And the giant? That’s his golem. Dean’s confused; so Aaron wasn’t overcome with attraction to Dean earlier? Nope. Aaron was staking him out. He tells them that he inherited the golem from his grandfather, which is cooler than Depression glass frankly. He’s there for protection; y’know, golem, golem, golem, they made him out of clay and when he’s dry and ready destruction he will lay. Aaron explains that he’s the last of the Judah Initiative line; unfortunately the golem doesn’t really feel that the Winchesters are worthy of insight into the Men of Judah. The descendants of the Men of Letters pacify the golem by telling them they’re on his side. Good enough for now.
Unlike Sam and Dean, Aaron didn’t grow up in the life. Yeah, his grandpa told them stories, but the family thought he was crazy in the face. The golem, for his part, is less than impressed with Aaron. Haftorah means nothing to the boy, cheder was wasted on him and he’s not above hoovering a Baconator. The golem is way disappointed in his owner. One of the stories his grandfather told him that stuck was the Thule Society, a group of real dickhead dominator wannabes with a penchant for necromancy that were on the side of the Nazis back during WWII. The golem is just itching to take the Thule out. As frustrated as Aaron is with his golem’s temperament, he pretty sure his golem ain’t wrong, but all he has to go on is a string of letters and numbers that his grandfather left him on his voicemail. Dean and Aaron are stumped, but Sam recognizes it for what it is: a library call number. Aaron obviously doesn’t spend much time at the university library. He’s also not super keen on the fact that they’re breaking and entering after library hours. Sam pays him no mind and shoots up the stares to find the book that matches the call number. Just as he finds the ledger he’s shot in the next like an elephant in Phuket by the super clean-cut necromancing Nazi asshat that fire danced Rabbi Bass. He’s going down fast, but he manages to make it part way down the stairs with the ledger. Sam is dying, Dean is frantic, Aaron gets a tranquilizer of death in the gut, golem stands. Dean rouses the golem and sends him off to take down the necromancer.
He does. Apparently, snapping a necromancer’s neck breaks their spell. Good to know.
As the boys bury and burn the necromancer they wonder about whether or not there’s a way to stop the golem if they had to. Just in case. After all, he did practically grind the necromancer’s bones to make his bread. They ponder this as they warm themselves by the Thule fire. Aaron is suitably freaked out.
Back in the motel room they continue to research. Aaron knows that the book is the Red Ledger; it details all the torturous experiments the Nazis performed on his people. Not the ones you’ve read about, these are magical atrocities. Including, but not limited to, killing off all non-Thule’s and reanimating them to crack the cold on how to bring their own dead back successfully. Lovely. They were successful according the Red Ledger; it has a list of all re-animated Thules. The undead can only be re-killed with a headshot within. Miss that deadline and they re-reanimate. The golem remembers it clearly. They try to talk to Aaron about taking charge of the golem, but the golem tells them Aaron needs to consult the pages in order to do so.
Where are the pages?
Turns out ancient Jewish traditions are written on zig-zags that burn bud up like butter. Who knew? Most desperate people just peel the foil off a gum wrapper, they don’t smoke-up their ancestry. Golem is disappointed in the youth of today.
Meanwhile, at the library, the commandant is trying to discern what happened to his main man, Torvald. The security tapes are a bust, the Winchesters are not new to this, but the commandant says that Torvald told him enough before his soul was burned. They find no clues, save for a bit of clay on a bent and battered bookshelf. That’s enough for the commandant to piece things together.
The boys are still trying to dig up info on taking out Thule and, if necessary, the golem. Aaron is okay with only 50% of that conversation. His pissing contest with Sam and Dean is cut short by a Nazi invasion. The golem comes to the rescue, but unfortunately Commandant Eckhart knows how to Latinate the golem into stony submission and forces him to cough up his scroll. He’s also nice enough to tell Aaron that what he was supposed to do to claim his golem was write his name on the scroll.
The Thules hold the three men at gunpoint while they ransack for the Red Ledger. All except Commandant Eckhart. He’s got that cool, calm, black-clad bad guy thing down to a magical science. Like Torvald, Eckhart isn’t a reanimated dead Nazi, he’s a never died, never grow old, be a dick forever Nazi. Commandant Eckhart’s henchmen find the ledger, but instead of absconding with it like a smart murderous racist immortal, he blathers on with overconfidence.
Leaving himself wide open to getting smacked in the head with a 2×4 by Aaron and getting his brains blown out by Sam and Dean. Four Thule walk into a Winchester run safe house, only one comes out.
Aaron finally gets it. His grandfather left him something that matters, something of grand importance.
His grandfather left him a legacy.
I see what you did there, Ben Edlund.
Sam is an M.O,L, Aaron is J.I. Jew and Dean? Dean’s all good with it.