It’s a lovely day at the park; the sun is shining, kids are playing and a demon possessed preschool teacher creepily lures a small child into the restroom while the sky swirls angrily, then the child and demon disappear. Same old, same old.
It’s a lovely day for Dean Winchester as well; the sun is shining, his tunes are playing, he’s got snacks to stuff in his face. All good things. Until he catches a glimpse of a filthy, scraggly Castiel walking along the roadside. Dean screeches his beloved Impala to a halt and throws her into reverse, eyes glued to the rearview mirror, but Castiel is nowhere to be seen.
Sam sits safely in Rufus’ cabin cruising the internet and sipping his beer, when Dean walks in with fistful of six-pack and a lost, distracted look on his face. Sam knows it’s something really bad, because if it were something awesome like a ghost, ghoul or demon Dean would be bouncing off the walls with the glee of a kid who’d been snorting Fun-Dip. Sam asks Dean if he’s okay, Dean says he’s okay, Sam accepts that Dean’s okay.
Sam’s got some interesting news for Dean. Not only has he found the news report of the missing preschooler and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it tornado, but also a few other abductions mixed with freak of nature weather occurrences and prophecy-like markers. The Winchesters do love a good pattern.
Off in a lair located somewhere undisclosed we find Samandriel being tortured grotesquely by none other than the beloved King of Hell, Crowley. Crowley wants names and he’ll use all his most favorite torture toys to get them. Except, Samandriel has already given him all the names he can at present; there’s no one left to list. No worries, Crowley doesn’t mind keeping Samandriel around for non-informative torturous funsies. For the moment, however, Crowley leaves Samandriel to check on his other captives, a group of diverse individuals that are thoroughly confused about where they are and why they’re there.
Remember Kevin Tran? You may not recognize him because he’s soaking wet from the holy water booby trap his mom set up to keep their current abandoned, salt-encrusted hideout safe and sound. Kevin is dripping wet and displeased. He tells his mother that she doesn’t have to douse him every time he goes out for provisions because he’s got his protection hexes and hoodoo tats; precautions have been taken. Mrs. Tran is a mother and that means nothing is every too safe. In fact, in an effort to make sure they’re even safer she’s gotten proactive and procured a legitimate witch, Delta Mendoza, from Craigslist to help them with the next phase of their plan: demon bombs.
Kevin joins his mother for a quick Skype check-in with Delta. Delta is cute and curious; she wants to know how to whip up the demon bombs she’s grocery shopping to make. Mrs. Tran isn’t having that, she’s not giving Delta any more information than she needs to have. After all, a good chef makes sure to keep the important parts of their prized recipe a secret.
Back to Sam and Dean. They’ve tracked down the formerly possessed preschool teacher and go a-knockin’ on her door. She’s cooperative but cautious; not letting them into her house, speaking to them with the door cracked slightly, safety chain firmly in placed. Sam fakes a call and mumbles an exorcism into his cell just to make sure the teacher isn’t still possessed. She’s not, but she is a little weirded out by Sam latinating into the phone and the “agents” knowing about the sulfur smell she scented out after she recovered from her possession.
Back in their motel room, Sam sleeps soundly while Dean researches online. The lightening flashes and Dean sees Castiel staring at him through the window. Dean gets up to look out the window, but all he sees is more lightening and rain. Sam, somehow sensing Dean’s distress in his sleep, wakes up and asks Dean what’s wrong. Dean breaks Winchester trend and comes right out with it, he tells Sam that he saw Castiel. Sam finds this to be ludicrous. An impossibility. Scoff-worthy in its absurdity. Because they’ve never known anyone to come back from the dead, or another plane of existence. Nope. Never. Dean might have argued Sam’s lack of logic, but he’s very busy being extremely guilty about what happened in Purgatory.
Over in his lair, Crowley is dealing with his band of frightfully dozy abductees. Hoping upon hope that at least one of them will be of benefit, he holds up the Word of God for them to see and asks if it has any meaning to any of them. Alas, he’s met with annoyingly vacant stares. Finally, one man has had enough of this and gets blustery. Crowley crushes his insides with a flick of his hand. Out of fright one woman attempts to fake her way through reading the tablet. Crowley is clearly exasperated.
The Trans are finally getting somewhere it seems; Delta has just shown up at their hollowed out diner cum refuge and she’s already passed Mrs. Tran’s demon test, which consisted of a turkey baster full of holy water straight to the face. Delta plops down the goods and asks Kevin to point her toward the powder room so she can freshen up. Mrs. Tran starts digging through the ingredients and realizes that Delta has brought them everything, but in fractions of the amounts requested. Delta says she’s not coughing up full quantities til she gets paid. She learned to get money upfront from her hooker sibling. Smart broads.
Mrs. Tran sends Kevin for her purse and that’s when Kevin notices once of their thick salt lines has a swath swept away from it. Delta, it turns out is an opportunistic turncoat and ratted them out to Crowley, who strolls in with a henchman in tow. Delta is very proud of herself and simpers sycophantically to Crowley. He snaps his fingers and she’s gone, Crowley has no time for her. Dumb broad.
Crowley orders the ingredients destroyed, tells the demon to kill Mrs. Tran and flaps away with Kevin. The demon bodyguard rounds on Mrs. Tran and gets nothing more than a face full of holy water from Mrs. Tran’s Super Soaker and while the demon is Wicked Witch of the West’ing in pain, Mrs. Tran makes her escape.
Over in their motel Sam’s research leads him to the interesting fact that the missing people are not just Americans; no, no, it seems that bad stuff happens to other countries as well, including a princess-saving plumber from Italy. Not the shorter, stockier one, the other one, the tall one with the longish hair. Wait, wrong source material, wrong mission.
Anyway, Dean washing his face, because if you haven’t noticed over the years the Winchester brothers spend a serious amount of time splashing their faces with water and staring at themselves in the bathroom mirror. Which is, y’know, valid.
Dean gazes up and sees Castiel standing stoically behind him, but this time Castiel doesn’t disappear, he stays put for a chat. Sam is blown away by Castiel’s return, 100% flabbergasted, again, because no one in the Winchesters’ lives ever comes back. This is not brand new to you, Sam; roll with this punch already.
Dean on the other hand isn’t shocked, but he does have a healthy dose of trepidation about it. He’s not so much surprised at the fact, he’s more concerned with the how. Castiel says he doesn’t remember, Dean’s not buying it. Castiel looks down at his sodden clothing and says he’s dirty, Dean agrees that Purgatory can leave a stain on you for sure. I mean look at Dean, all the face washings in the world will never make him feel clean again. Castiel excuses himself to the bathroom, leaving Sam and Dean to themselves.
Dean flashes back to the moment they found the portal out of Purgatory. A single leaf floats up from the ground and through the air to lead them to the seam that separates the planes, reacting to Dean’s unbearably human existence. Dean and Benny get ready for the ride, slicing their flesh and gripping the other’s forearm before Dean chants his learned Latin. Benny’s essence flows into Dean’s arm, trapped and glowing. Castiel, on the other hand, is still unsure about his chances for getting out of this. Just then a couple of Leviathan torpedoes hit the Purgatory floor and it’s on.
Sam brings Dean back to the present, once again wanting to know if Dean is okay. Dean’s not. He doesn’t feel good about this; he has some very traumatic sense memories about fighting his way out of Purgatory and refuses to believe that Castiel did it alone with no recollection. Their theorizing is cut short by Castiel emerging from the bathroom, clean-shaven and fresh to death. Castiel gets reacquainted with infomercials while Sam researches and Dean buys more beer. Sam hasn’t come across any new information, Dean asks if all they’ve got is the list of seven abductees’ names, Sam confirms and starts rattling off the names. Castiel, without taking his pulls a Sky Silvestry and rambles the names along with Sam. The brothers are intrigued, how could Castiel possibly know those names. Easy, he’s an angel, they’re potential future prophets, ergo the names are already etched on the inside of his forehead. Into every generation a prophet is born: one lucky schmuck in all the world, a chosen one. They alone will have the enormous burden of knowing the fates of major players and reading ancient tablets. But, y’know, it’s a dangerous gig, so there’s a whole gaggle of potentials per generation available to be tapped for the job just in case the prophet bites the dust. Translation: Prophet comma The.
Other translation: Chuck’s officially dead, according to Castiel.
All the bricks are forming a beautiful wall as the boys figure out that it’s Crowley scooping up the people and collecting them. Just then they get a phone call from Mrs. Tran letting them know that Crowley has Kevin.
Speaking of Crowley, he and Kevin are having a fine old catch-up. Crowley explains that the new rules are either Kevin helps Crowley or Crowley kills Kevin, which will activate one of the fear-filled potentials. Kevin, bitter over the fact that Crowley ordered his mother’s murder, is hesitant. Between the Winchesters and Crowley, Kevin has developed some serious trust issues. To hammer his point home Crowley levitates and explodes a potential. Kevin’s ready to read now. He tells Crowley about the instructions for closing the gate to hell that are detailed in the tablet. He also finds a neat little footnote added in by Metatron, God’s archangel scribe and errand boy. The new twist? There’s a whole Britannica of tablets scattered around just waiting to be found.
Dean, Sam and Castiel wait patiently at Mrs. Tran’s designating meeting point. Dean uses this time to flashback to his last fight in Purgatory, vividly remembering Castiel’s near death at the hands of the Leviathan and his own heroic rescue of his Angel buddy. He also remembers how he clutched to Castiel’s arm as he attempted to pull him through the closing portal, losing his grip on Castiel, remembers watching Castiel slide down the ravine as he screamed Dean’s name. Back in the present, Dean demands that he and Castiel have a heart to heart about what happened. Dean is upset that Castiel never seemed to have faith in Dean back in Purgatory. Castiel picks up on the guilt Dean is putting down and nearly rolls his eyes at it.
In that moment, Mrs. Tran pulls up and fills them in. The boys are scolding her for hiring a witch, but she redeems herself by revealing the demon she has bound in her trunk. The demon leads them to Crowley’s place, but before they go in to handle business Sam handcuffs Mrs. Tran to the steering wheel for her own protection and Dean shanks the demon. Sam, Dean and Castiel navigate and fight their way to Kevin, Dean using his hand to hand combat, Castiel using his angelic light of demon undoing and Sam using his newly baked demon molotov cocktail.
Castiel summons all he remaining energy and decides to take on Crowley. Crowley doesn’t think Castiel has the stones, but it seems that Castiel is all man and his wings are bigger than anyone else’s. With that, Castiel splits the tablet, Crowley bails with his half to lick his wounds.
Safe and sound, Sam calls Garth to babysit the Trans. Kevin is still upset over his missing finger and all the trauma of his life. Sam scolds Mrs. Tran for outsourcing and tells Kevin that Castiel can probably fix his finger.
Of course, Castiel and Dean have to hash out their relationship issues first. Castiel tells Dean that his memories are more than a little jumbled. In fact, Dean’s remembering things they way he wants to, whether to keep his motivating guilt at the fore or because the truth just sucks. Truth is, Dean didn’t lose his grip on Castiel, no, Castiel flung Dean’s hand away and sent him off alone. Castiel made the choice to remain in Purgatory and suffer the punishments he felt he deserved. Martyrs, the whole lot of them. Sam walks up, interrupting Dean and Castiel with news of Garth and the Trans, just then the scene changes and Castiel isn’t with the Winchesters anymore. He’s in a bright, white, Spartan office in Heaven. There he meets a woman? Angel? CEO? named Naomi who tells him that a band of angels rescued him from Purgatory and as payment he is ordered to continue helping the Winchesters, report into her for debriefing and never even know he’s doing so. Castiel declines. Naomi says his cooperation is nonnegotiable and sends him back to the brothers, who didn’t even know he was gone at all.