In this episode opening we learn that Dean lies on his bed listening to angsty classic rock through headphones like a teenager, Sam does… something in his own room, who even knows what, and that the bunker is haunted. Full-on flickering lights, EVP, spinny furniture haunted. We also learn that Sam somehow thinks a sword will protect him. I’m pretty sure it’s not made of iron. Thankfully Dean has rock salt shells at the ready for just this kind of predicament.
Shortly after, Dean makes coffee while Sam sits at the table packing salt rounds and they argue over who could be haunting the bunker. Sam decides it’s Kevin, Dean rejects his logic and inserts his own. He gave Kevin a hunter’s funeral, so it’s not possible.
Yes, Dean, because those are always foolproof.
Fortunately, Dean’s coffeemaker now responds to the name “Kevin”, so Dean quickly figures out that he was wrong.
Speaking of funerals, Castiel is semi-crashing one to harass a fellow angel, Eliah, but Eliah isn’t there to cause trouble, he just wants to pay his respects to his fallen, twice over, friend Rebecca. Castiel isn’t buying it, Rebecca and Metatron used to have teatime together, they were pals. “Were” is apparently the operative word. Nevertheless, Eliah asserts that he and Rebecca were pacifists and tried to stay under the radar. Specifically, Bartholomew’s radar.
Meanwhile, Sam and Dean try to make contact with the coffeemaker, but they aren’t really getting anywhere. Sam bails and Dean decides that talking to an appliance feels stupid, so he opts to talk to thin air. About himself. And how he feels about the Kevin situation. And also, and I can’t stress this enough, about himself. It’s enough to make a ghost manifest just to make it stop.
So Kevin does.
Turns out he and everyone else who has died since the angelic rain shower are stuck in the veil between life and enternal rest because the pearly gates are padlocked. Downer. On the upside, there’s nothing to do in line but gossip and a new arrival to the veil, Candy, told Kevin she just saw his mom, alive, a week ago. All the boys have to do is head up to Wichita, summon her, and interrogate her. No big.
So they do. Guilt is a fantastic road trip motivator.
Things we learn in the woods of Wichita:
- Candy the friendly ghost takes as much time to arrive as you’d assume a girl named Candy would.
- Dean’s a drunk dialer.
- Despite telling Dean they’re no longer brothers, Sam seems to think it’s okay to sullenly rib his brother about his drunk dialing tendencies.
- Dean is a litterer.
- Watching Sam and Dean be dicks to each other is the anti-fun.
When Candy finally makes contact through the radio, she tells them she was trapped in a box. So was Mama Tran. Candy describes it for Sam and it pretty much looks like they were auditioning for Saw VIII: The FINAL Final Chapter.
Over in Angelville, things are looking less passive for Castiel if the angelblade to his throat is any indication. The angel that’s threatening him with the sharp and pointy looks like he could be Justin Taylor’s younger, twinkier brother. Obviously, he’s my new favorite for this reason. The angry angels take Castiel to Bartholomew’s office.
What we learn hanging with the aviation impaired:
- Bart’s office looks like Naomi’s. Which looked like discarded first draft of the Wolfram and Hart white room.
- Turns out, Bart’s a hugger.
- Once he believed that you follow orders. You follow orders or angels die, it’s that simple.
- He was also part of Castiel’s faction during the great Raphael upheaval of ’09-‘11
- He obviously admires Castiel, but there’s a soupcon of bitter jealously there as well.
- He was a crazy torture murderer.
Castiel is wary of Bart and his operation, and considering the glares he’s receiving, that seems valid, though Bart assures him that he’s safe here, but free to leave if he so chooses. But why choose that? What’s out there for Castiel anyway? Bart’s got a point, Cas is kind of a lone wolf as a rule. Bart and Castiel are doing their Col. Jessup/Lt. Caffee impersonations so well, I half expect Bart recite the entire “you can’t handle the truth” monologue to Cas.
Bartholomew shows Cas his fancy CIA Metatron tracking map. Castiel is impressed. Bart is pleased. This relationship is escalating quickly… until Bart has Eliah dragged in to be tortured and killed. Castiel is less on board judging by the face he’s making.
Sam and Dean are investigating nearby storage lockers, each one blending into the last one. I’d like to take a moment here to acknowledge that Sam and Dean’s aliases in this ep are Nicks and McVie. As in Stevie and Christine. As in Fleetwood Mac. As in this is my most favorite of aliases ever.
Del, the ironically unironic employee offers to take Dean to a storage unit rented under Crowley’s alias “D. Webster” (oh, I see what you did there, tasteless, but the judges will allow it) and so he can search through it. Dean agrees to go with Del the Funkee Homosapien while Sam searches the other rooms rented under than name. Meaning Dean has just revealed himself to be a closet ‘90s semi-underground hip-hop fan. You think you know a guy.
Sam heads down the corridor and finds Mama Tran in the first unit he lock picks. Unfortunately, Del, aka Jigsaw, is watching the rooms and remotely slams the door shut before Sam can free her. He’s watching and controlling from his cell phone all while placating a suspicious Dean. Dean finally realizes he’s been had just in time for Del to turn out his lights with a blow to the head.
Meanwhile, Sam attempts to override the door of the unit by getting ready to snip the wiring, only his indecivnes about which wire has annoyed Mama Tran. She shoves him aside and goes all electrical engineer on his ass. She learned a thing or two from helping Kevin study. Speaking of Kevin, she’ll get to see him soon, right Sam? RIGHT? Sam makes a tight face and agrees that he left Kevin in a safe place. Which, technically, yeah, I mean aside from the fact that he was killed in the bunker it really is the safest place on Earth. Mama Tran gets busy on the wiring, intent on seeing her son. Sam stops her for a moment and conveys with his eyes what she doesn’t want to hear. She steamrolls his look o’ meaning and carries on with her bomb squad impersonation.
What’s even more heartbreaking about his is that Sam doesn’t really get it. Yes, he knows what it’s like to bury someone you love, multiple times in fact, but the mother-son bond? A mother’s ferocity? These are foreign concepts to Sam Winchester. The closest he has to a mom is his big brother. Oh wait…
Anyway, while that’s happening Dean is spending his time trussed up, listening to Del whine about the stress and boredom of his job. Crowley made him promises, double-talked, laid out a sweet 401k plan, then pranced off leaving Del to mind the store. Welcome to middle management, Del. All the while, Dean is actively listening, big ears on, as he tries to shimmy his knife out of his really freaking stylish boots. Actually, the whole outfit is snazzy. So is Sam’s, come to think of it. The MOL bunker has really upped their fashion savvy.
Speaking of fashion forward, Castiel and his Burberry jacket are busy having a crisis. Save Eliah or kill Eliah. On one hand, Bart wants proof that Castiel can be trusted. On the other hand, Castiel doesn’t see himself as a killer.
Really, Castiel? Really?
Bartholomew’s reaction pretty much mirrors mine. Castiel killed angels by the cloud-load, killed a man in Reno just to steal his grace. Castiel counters that his actions of the past do not make him who he is in the present.
Um… actually, yes. Yes, they do Cas. Our actions shape us, one glance to the left, one blade of grass you don’t trample upon and you may be an entirely different person. Or angel, in your current case. But Castiel maintains his stance, he won’t kill Eliah. Which doesn’t stop Bart from doing it. Result: Eliah is dead anyway and now you’ve royally offended your unstable war buddy. Castiel takes a blow to the chin from Bart like a champ, but refuses to swing back. Bart counters with an angelblade aimed at Castiel’s throat, but Cas is a bit better at hand to hand, gets out of the hold, and suddenly their positions are reversed. Of course, it’s enough for Cas that Bart knows he could have angel kabob’d him and drops his sword.
Thing is, according to Bartholomew, Castiel just doesn’t get it. Eliah and Rebecca’s deaths, while tragic, probably saved lives; and Bartholomew’s existence, while grotesque and incompressible to Castiel, probably saves lives. Castiel, however, has neither the time, nor the inclination to explain himself to an angel that rises and not-sleeps under the illusion of freedom he provides and then questions the manner in which he provides it. He would rather just say screw you and be on his way, but Bart lunges at Castiel’s retreating form. Castiel isn’t having that; he whips around, overpowers Bart and just like that Bart’s a sparkler.
Just when he was actually getting interesting.
I never thought I’d say this, because I never felt particularly attached to it, but I miss the trench coat. Castiel’s exit would have really benefited from the trench coat.
Back to Sam and Dean. Dean is still trying to subtly free himself, but Del has officially quit and he is going to do what everyone thinks he’s going to do and just flip out. And start to slice Dean’s throat. Unfortunately for Del, Sam’s timing is almost impeccable and he storms in just at that moment and punches Del’s clock. Really forcefully, in fact. But he doesn’t kill him. No, that honor is for Mama Tran. She is scarily stoic while knifing Del to death and now all she wants is for Sam and Dean to take her to Kevin.
So they do.
It’s tearful and gorgeous and heartbreaking when Kevin and Mama Tran reunite. Mama Tran rummages through Kevin’s things and figures that his deceased father’s old ring is what’s binding him directly to the bunker. Mama Tran decides to take the ring and Kevin home. Dean reminds her that spirits get meaner the longer they stay in the veil. She reminds Dean that Kevin is her son and it’s her job to keep him safe as long as she can. You’re preaching to the congregation, Mama Tran.
The Trans get ready to head out. How? Who knows? Not of import. As they’re leaving Kevin makes sure to tell Sam that he knows Sam wasn’t at fault for his death. Also, no one seems to blame Dean either, which is interesting. Kevin can’t leave without calling in one more favor. What does a deceased prophet of the lord want?
For Sam and Dean to get the hell over their issues. The middle school drama club antics and the mean-spirited bickering? Kevin thinks it’s stupid.
Man, Kevin you are not the only one.
Sam and Dean promise him they’ll respect his wishes, but as soon as the Trans leave Sam doesn’t even spare a moment to quietly judge Dean; he just walks off leaving Dean alone.
But he does hesitate at his bedroom door and one has to wonder why.
Narratively speaking, we have the brothers at odds. Sam is pissed and rightly so, but he’s not conveying it in a sympathetic or even accurate way. Which means Dean can’t actually understand the basic foundation of Sam’s anger. They’re fighting, but they aren’t really having the same argument with each other.
Add to that the fact that the most consistent theme of this juggling multiple balls of a season is the outsider point of view. Jody, Castiel, Crowley, Kevin, everyone, is constantly telling Sam and Dean how unique their relationship is, how strong and essential it is. The brother’s don’t seem to see it, especially Sam. Yet the brothers’ actions, especially Sam’s, seem to contradict their current state and scathing word. Or lack of words, as it also seems to be. The anvils are falling like Seattle rain.
So the question is: what the ‘eff is going on here?