This week’s episode starts with what’s becoming a bit of a theme with Supernatural: a timestamp moment from the past. Even if the screen hadn’t informed you of the four-year rewind Sam’s clothes and demeanor would have time warped you back to season 3 on their own.
We meet three new players in this scene: Nora, who was apparently helpful in some way, Jeffrey, who has a demon driving his skin around, and the demon hitchhiking inside of Jeffrey.
We also see two old friends in this flashback: the Impala and Dean’s amulet. I may be the only person who doesn’t miss the amulet, but I will admit that I do love attention to detail.
The demon threatens Nora and she books it. There’s a bloody body on the table, a trussed demon under a Devil’s Trap and two pissed off, desperate Winchesters. I’d run away too.
Or, y’know, I’d like to think I would at least.
We’re back to the time when Lilith was the one to find and the brothers are willing to beat it out of the demon, but the demon has someone he wants to formally introduce, the host of the house, Jeffrey. Jeffrey is seriously wigged by what the demon has made his body do, the things he’s seen, and gives the Winchesters carte blanche to do what the have to do to get what they need out of the demon and get the demon gone. This leads to an impressively written and shot torture scene worthy of putting “Stuck in the Middle With You” on in the background. Holy water, knives, fists… it’s gruesome actually. Sometimes, I think the show lets us forget that Sam and Dean are frightening when they are determined. This scene was definitely a reminder. And this is before Dean went to hell and studied under Alastair. No wonder he was the star pupil down there.
The demon tells them to find Merrick. I’m not sure what Buffy’s original Watcher has to do with Lilith, but okay.
After the exorcism Dean is nice enough to give a bleeding, broken Jeffrey a lift to the ER. He leaves him just outside the doors and orders him to say he was mugged. Then bails. Classy move there, Winchester.
I have a feeling this is going to bite them in the ass.
Back in the present it seems I was right, the demon’s MO. is back and on a roll. The boys are on it, it’s their unfinished business and they need to finish it, but they’re also still trying to get a lead on Dick Roman. From Dean’s end of the phone call it seems Frank Devereaux has been less than informative. While Dean struggles to get something usable out of Frank, Sam organizes. It’s been no secret that Sam isn’t dealing with a full deck, but while Sam tosses case info onto the bed we actually get to see what Sam sees. Sam sees Lucifer, and Lucifer is just… chillin’ and quippin’ away, but Sam pays him no mind and gives his fading palm scar a sharp squeeze. Just like that Lucifer is gone.
Soon after, the boys call it a night, but are awakened from an obviously peaceful slumber by their police scanner going off. New murder, same MO. They suit up and head to the scene of the crime. Dean notes that every time they do this he wonders if this is the day they flash their faux-badges to a team of Leviathans posing as law enforcers. The thought hadn’t occurred to me, but Dean’s right, especially considering that they are constantly suited up and flashing credentials these days.
The detective at the scene recognizes them as Agents Bonham and Watts; he was expecting them to show up given the circumstances. Good thing they didn’t have a chance to introduce themselves as Smith and Smith. Sam is struggling to remember the detective’s name, but no worries, Lucifer is there, lounging against the ambulance, helpfully stage whispering, “Sutton.” He repeats it several times, but Sam doesn’t acknowledge the assistance and lets Detective Sutton fill in the blank of his surname.
Lucifer is not happy about being ignored and sticks his deeply forked tongue out as Sam walks away.
They investigate the scene and their worries are not unfounded at all, the dead woman is definitely the demon’s type and the sulfur around her clinches it. They head off to find Nora and make sure she’s all right. Turns out Nora is a technopagan, a bona fide web Wicca. Nora is prepared, Devil’s Trap floor décor and a list banishment translations. Nora tells them that she’s just being cautious, she’s yet to meet back up with the demon and she’s fixing to leave town as soon as possible. “Where’s Jeffrey?” you may be wondering, well Nora has the same idea and tells Sam and Dean to search him out, make sure he’s safe.
We find Jeffrey in the middle of group session in with his group housemates. It seems Jeffrey may not have coped as well as hoped and landed himself in a halfway house situation. He’s making progress it appears, he’s given the privilege of adopting a rescue dog. The demon was right, Jeffrey is just a softie.
Jeffrey picks up his new puppy from the vet, freshly fixed and wearing every dog’s favorite cone neckwear. The pup is seriously adorable, so of course I’m nervous about its safety from the get go. As Jeffrey strolls along a noise from the alley piques his curiosity, he guides his puppy along with him and is startled by holy water to the face and a knife to the throat. Because the Winchesters haven’t terrorized this poor guy enough. There’s no sizzle to his skin, so Sam and Dean dutifully apologize and explain the situation.
Back at Jeffrey’s place Sam is trying to console Jeffrey, Lucifer mocks Sam, Jeffrey freaks out, and Dean is a dick about Jeffrey’s digs. Jeffrey tells them that the demon had a running list of future victims and Jeffrey couldn’t forget if he wanted to. Dean is a little confused at how methodically psychotic the demon was, Jeffrey mentions that the demon claimed it was his job. Sam decides to go watch over the next name on the list, Marjorie Wallace, while Dean stays to protect Jeffrey.
Marjorie Wallace is, well, what I’m assuming casting and wardrobe were going for was “anti-chic frumpy librarian,” but she just looks non-TV star normal in my opinion. Whatever. Sam sits at one of the library tables to watch her, but Lucifer is determined to block his view. Sam silently shows Lucifer that he’s annoyed with him. Apparently, Sam’s silent treatment is exactly what’s bugging Lucifer, he just wants Sam to talk to him. Sam doesn’t.
Dean and Jeffrey are catching up. The Winchesters left Jeffrey well and truly beaten, a host of injuries, one of which seems to have remained a problem judging by Jeffrey’s lingering limp. He lost everything after that and snapped. He drunkenly told the truth that no one ever believed and got himself institutionalized. Dean’s not surprised. Jeffrey isn’t holding a grudge though, that’s healthy, right? Jeff suddenly remembers that the demon had a nest that he squatted at when not actively ripping women to shreds. Dean, Jeffrey, and Jeffrey’s puppy are off to check it out. Have I mentioned I’m nervous for the dog?
Back at the library Lucifer is reading off weather facts, his exhausted tone tells me he’s been at it for a while. He tosses the book down and zips his trap. Sam is tracking Marjorie’s moves when suddenly the people sitting at the other tables begin violently banging their heads on the hard tabletops like possessed ragdolls. Bloody and bruised they continue until Sam jams his thumb into him palm. They all go back to normal, because it was all in Sam’s head. Lucifer is downright petulant by this point, he’s bored and Sam is not acknowledging his temper tantrums in a satisfactory manner. Sam doesn’t have time for this, a shady looking man heads into the stacks where Marjorie is sorting books. Sam’s stereotype radar goes off and he follows the guy. Except the guy isn’t a demon-possessed murderer, he’s just Marjorie’s bad-boy evening delight.
Dean and Jeffrey pull up to the demon’s former hideout, it’s dark, it’s dank, and I’m assuming it smells disgusting. The Pit of Despair is decorated with demonic symbols and for that added, homespun touch a bound, beaten, and gagged man tied to a chair. Dean rushes to free the guy, but the guy starts freaking out, Dean tries to calm him but the man is looking past Dean. At Jeffrey. Dean puts it all together just as he catches a tranq needle to the neck.
Sam and Lucifer are still staking out the library, but nothing’s biting. Sam is pouring over notes and reports while Lucifer makes witty asides. Lucifer is also astounded that Sam’s big brain hasn’t twigged to the fact that the coroner’s report states that the most recent victims had been drugged before they were killed. Considering demons are wicked strong, someone who is possessed wouldn’t need to cheat like that. But someone with a bum leg would…
Sam tries to call Dean, but there’s no answer. Lucifer taunts him, tells him Dean’s most likely dead, Sam snarls out a “shut up” and Lucifer is giddy as a girl with a crush that Sam spoke to him. And honestly, who can blame Lucifer? Sam heads back to Jeffrey’s and ransacks the place, finally turning up a summoning spell. Written in Nora’s handwriting. With Lucifer’s help, Sam works it all out, but Nora’s waiting for him, ready to attack. Sam dodges her swings and confronts her. Lucifer is tired of Sam trying the civil route and practically shouts, “Go on, M’Lynn, slap her!” Sam starts to see the benefit of Lucifer’s tactic and gets in Nora’s face. She’s intimidated. And honestly, who can blame Nora. She spills the info, Jeffrey wanted her to help him re-summon the demon and stole her son from campus as collateral.
The summoning spell requires Dean’s presence to work. Off to the squat they go.
Dean comes to and now he’s the one trussed up. Jeffrey confesses that he liked being possessed, he liked the power and the companionship. Jeffrey had spent years using his postal intel to track down all the women who caught his eye, the ones he fantasized about killing but never had the guts to. Until the demon took him over. Boom! Serial killer psychopath flood. At least I’m feeling more comfortable about the puppy. I mean, Buffalo Bill loved Precious.
Damn. I was wrong about that parallel, wasn’t I? I’m seriously not okay with the caninecide in this episode. Humans? Fodder. But hurting animals is not welcomed at all. Dean didn’t like it either. And I like that about Dean; torturing human bodies for info? A-ok! Animal sacrifice? Not redeemable.
Precious’ blood and some Latinating are all it seems to take to get this demonic show on the road. Except Jeffrey obviously wasn’t specific enough and the demon possesses Nora’s son instead. Jeffrey is beyond disappointed and demands the demon possess him. The demon waltzes Jeffrey around the room affectionately, but denies the request. He’s done with Jeffrey, Jeffrey doesn’t need him anymore, the demon’s creation is complete. He saw the potential in Jeffrey and brought it to light. Job well done in his book.
Nora and Sam arrive to save the day. The demon is trapped under a Devil’s Trap of unknown origin, Nora chants the exorcism chant and saves her son. Jeffrey, though, doesn’t fair so well. He made a move to save his demon and Dean shot him dead without even blinking. A human kill. Deserved or not.
The brothers head back to their hotel. Dean is exhausted, ready to crash out, as he does he and Sam discuss Jeffrey a bit. Sam wonders about how normal Jeffrey seemed, Dean counters that unstable people do that, they walk around with their crazy tucked in even though they’re twitching and frothing on the inside.
Sound familiar, Sam?
Dean passes out and Sam is left alone with a Chatty Cathy Lucifer, but Sam’s over it. He presses his scar and… nothing happens. Lucifer is still there, yapping away. Sam acknowledged him, let him back in, and now Lucifer has free reign to scratch around inside Sam’s headspace as much as he’d like. Imaginary flames lick up around Sam as his barely tethered sanity collapses.
This episode is going down as my favorite so far of this season, and is in my top 10, if not top 5, list of SPN episodes of all time. Good case, good dialogue, a return to the gritty darkness of seasons past, great continuity, etc, etc.
It wasn’t flawless though. I don’t get where the Devil’s Trap in the warehouse came from, Marjorie was not at all fat, and the obvious allusions to Silence of the Lamb were derivative enough that I found myself humming “Good-bye Horses.” That said, my quibbles were minor and are far outweighed by finally seeing what Sam’s been dealing with. Satan is his Tyler Durden motor.