So Sam’s Plan B involves visiting a former MOL medium to conduct a seance to communicate with Bobby.  The medium is a psychic too and he’s become a shut in for the peace of mind. 

It’s a cute meet and greet, with some funny bits about mind reading. Sam forces the psychic’s compliance by thinking about what he would do if the man says no to helping him (oh no!) and the man is horrified that Castiel is an angel because he’s an atheist. 

Very quickly we are in the teaser and they are communicating with Bobby through his radio.  This is a play on how Cas communicated with Dean in heaven in “Dark Side of the Moon” and I would put money on Dabb and Daniel Loflin getting that idea from Jean Cocteau’s “Orpheus” in which Death communicates to Orpheus using a car radio. See it… It’s sublime.

Castiel and Sam need Bobby’s help to free Metatron.  Bobby is the titular inside man. I think that Ash might be a better choice myself since he could jump around and hide from angels with his code mojo (“Dark Side of the Moon”).  Me… I’m missing the great Indian music from the Bollywood flick (“Dil Se”) that Spike Lee used in the movie “Inside Man”.  Seriously see “Dil Se” for the incredible dance sequence on a train as the song “”Chaiyya Chaiyya” plays.

Of course Bobby comes up with a sassy seat of your pants plan.  With coaching from Cas he finds the exit door from his personal heaven.  Instead of the road Dean saw in “Dark Side of the Moon” Bobby sees endless sterile hallways for some reason. His hall is full of doors marked Robert Singer with a Roberta and Roberto or two.  Thinking on the fly,  he starts opening does as soon as the alarm sounds.  He also says “Balls.”  Methinks that we will be hearing “Idjits” before too long.  These pandering to the fans moments write themselves.

When the angelic muscle appears to find a crowded hallway of Singers, our Bobby starts a riot and runs away in the chaos. The angels call for backup giving us a priceless bit of dialogue,  “All hands on deck. The Bobbys are surly. I repeat. The Bobbys are surly.”

Meanwhile whilst Dean is communing with his dark self in the bathroom,  Rowena has made he presence known to the college kids with a familiar “Hello boys.”  It seems oh so wrong and oh so right to hear her musical lilt repeat those infamous words.  I say this as someone who where’s the tee shirt with pride (  I attribute it to her feminine body language stolen from Mae West’s playbook.

Dean leaves the restroom to find the bar empty except for his three dupes who have all been majicked by Rowena’s watchdog spell which we saw in “Girls, Girls, Girls”.

Unfortunately they give us a flashback to remind us which I think is unnecessary. 

Of course I found the repetitive Bobby teaser unnecessary as well.  The dream sequence with Sam running to save Dean would have been a good teaser.  It’s not like the episode didn’t have enough material with the five bunker scenes; three playground scenes; Bobby’s heaven; Bobby roaming heaven; the surly Bobby’s; Bobby and Cas in heaven; Metatron’s cell; Dean in the bar; Dean in the bathroom; Dean’s fight sequence;  two scenes with Dean and Rowena;  three scenes of Crowley and Rowena; three scenes of Rowena in her bedroom;   Rowena and flunky; Dean and Crowley; Cas, Sam and Bobby’s letter.

Yes.  This was a very crowded episode and one dealing with the mytharc and other major character plotlines… and yet they appear to be twiddling thumbs and wasting time.  Better parsing of storylines please!

So Dean and Rowena exchange acid dripped barbs, and after she’s distracted him a bit with her boys she uses her powerful coup de grace, a spell that required ruins to be written all over her body. 

Light flashes out from her and something hits Dean; however he just looks a bit confused and then really mean.  Her estatic joy turns to confusion and she is utterly gobsmacked that her spell failed. We know it’s the Mark of Cain protecting Dean.  This is the biggest in-your-face example of how and why dark magic is so not the road to be on.

Oh Lord!  I do declare that I feel an attack of the vapors coming on… and extreme jealousy!  Dean stalks over and bends her backwards over a table with his shiny knife at her throat. It’s a, startling intimate embrace, much like Cain’s final embrace of Dean in preparation for executing him.  Dean’s body language in this scene is terrifying.  Note to self: don’t try to kill Dean in season 10.

I am so excited for the “Look at me bitch” moment until Rowena starts monologuing (“Alex, Annie, Alexis, Ann”).  She is such a yammering showboat.

Dean is surprised to learn that Rowena is Crowley’s mum.  She claims that she wants to kill him because he’s a good influence on Crowley because Dean is a hero.  Yes even with the Mark of Cain our Dean is a hero.  Even when he was demonic, and whatever other mojo that the Mark confers, Dean behaved like a hunter.  He only killed predators.

We suspect that Rowena is after Dean because he’s standing in her way.  Rowena is only interested in power and the MOL horde of magical mayhem galore.

Anyhow Rowena is delighted to tell Dean that he cannot kill her because he wants those boys to live.  The spell will kill them unless she removes it.  She saw him hesitate before the kill thrust of a broken pool stick. She knows the big hero doesn’t want them to die. 

We know that Dean stopped because he saw a series of Mark related kills in his mind including his murder of Lester. He doesn’t want to go back down that road because it means losing control and potentially becoming like the monsters that he has fought his entire life… potentially becoming Cain… potentially killing those he loves… Sammy!

So yeah. Rowena is smart, powerful and doesn’t care who she hurts, maims or kills.  Being the good hero can suck when it means evil goes free.

So Bobby’s distraction has pulled the guards off of the hallways in heaven and thinned the ranks to the lonelinest number at the magic sandbox, since all hands are needed to curtail the riot of the gaggle of   “surly Bobby’s”.  Therefore he is easily able to find Door “42”, the doorway to earth.  Sam tackles the lone playground guard and Cas jumps in and slides into the hall at Bobby’s feet. Of course “42” is the answer to the meaning of life in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. Cute reference… now where’s the mice.

Also did Sam just kill an innocent angel for selfish reasons. They should have shown the fallout to his tackle because I want to know when the body count starts. I am guessing that he did kill the angel because he’s no where to be seen later on.

Yawn.  More Rowena and her manipulative wiles and ways.  She’s plenty miffed that her grand plan failed.  So she takes a knife and roughs herself up and then stags her bedraggled and forlorn self to Crowley for vindication.  He orders all minions out and questions her closely.  

No wonder.   The cuts are useless and not Dean’s style. He cuts to torture for information or kill.  This looks like neither.  And he would have beaten her senseless if he was just having some Mark related fun. Crowley knows this better than anyone.  

It’s nice to see smart Crowley again.  It’s nice all of our main players written to be clever and smart as they went about their day.  In other words, there weren’t any inexplicably stupid moves by the characters just because the plot needed an easy fix.

Rowena comes clean about trying to kill Dean Winchester.  She says that she did it for Crowley and she used a spell that should have “ripped him apart”.  Her real yet ersatz son looks amused and tells her about the Mark of Cain, “Let me guess. It’s as if Dean’s protected from on high? The Mark of Cain never lets its host die easy.”

Strange wording that… host. Is the Mark like a parasite feeding off of Dean’s kills or is the Mark an entity living in Dean.  I wondered about this after Dean killed Cain in “The Executioner’s Song” because the look on Dean’s face was curious.  If it is more than a sigil that confers powers and enhances the natural tendency of the “host”… I want it off.  I want Dean to stay Dean.  That said I wouldn’t mind it being removed after he’s been irrevocably changed.  Please please please activate the Phoenix ash and inherent angelic mojo in Dean… pretty please Mr. Mark.  You have clearly activated the deeply buried demon interruptus!

No seriously.  I like the Mark storyline for many reasons. I don’t want it to be a permanent unwilling possession that destroys our Dean. Honestly it doesn’t seem to be anything more than a hungry power up coin.  Dean’s had it over a year and I still recognize him.  And Cain seemed crazy from not feeding the Mark at all for so long; he didn’t seem possessed.  We shall see…

Of course Crowley’s wording also implies that Dean has always been protected from on high.  I think that the show has demonstrated that.  In particular Dean’s favorite angel has been repeatedly resurrected because Dean needs him the way Dean needs Sam, and the Apocalypse was thwarted because Dean was allowed to rewrite the text as noted by Chuck in “The Monster at the End of this Book” and “Swan Song”… oh especially “Swan Song”. 

In my opinion this is also the reason that Metatron has been manipulating events since he was introduced. I think he’s jealous of Dean and wants to rewrite (unwrite) the, Winchester Gospels.  But I digress… and of course y’all know I have already said it all before…

Anyhow… this is the second time in two weeks that a potential deus ex machina has been implied as the only thing that might cure Dean.  Let’s say the Mark is pushing Dean to kill Sam really and truly.  Dean’s absolute reluctance to kill Sam and his abject despair as heaven and hell aligned to force him to do so triggered God to lend a spare helping hand.  Might Dean’s powerful angst and single tear of awesome manpain do so again? 

Writers please note that I am talking about a subtle helping hand along the lines of freeing and curing Dean’s VFF from Purgatory and vampirism because Dean needs unconditional friendship, love and acceptance to retain his connection to humanity.  We know Benny understands what Dean needs because his need for human anchors (“Citizen Fang”) and their close relationship was the meat of Benny’s story. Benny was there for him in Purgatory, died to rescue Sam, never let Dean down (“Southern Comfort”) and was a veritible brother.

Rowena is momentarily surprised that Dean has the Mark of Cain and then she brushes it off as no biggie in her book, “It’s just a curse, the first curse, but still, it can be removed.”  Yeah… right.  Methinks that she’s blustering or way too full of herself.

She assures her son that she will find a way to remove it. Crowley assures her that he has “Sam and Dean right where I want them. Keep your friends close and your enemy’s closer.”  This sounds like Crowley the villain that we love to hate; however,  I think it’s his turn to be a poser.  After all he and mommy dearest are a lot alike and he’s being entirely too affable.

Rowena can’t resist an opportunity to belittle her son.  She haranges him with the same old stuff.  He’s not good enough, “Show them how strong you really are. Be a bloody king.”  These words hurt Crowley who seems to have finally woken up from his post moon howling slumber. Ah… to sleep, perchance to dream of Dean. Oh yeah… that’s definitely the rub…

Man.  I would have called this episode “Knocking on Heaven’s Door Myself” but then I am pretty much over Bobby and his hunter jingoism and folk slang.  He’s three years dead. Please let the dude rest in peace.

Dean’s drinking in an empty bar waiting for his date with the King of Hell.  Now where have I seen that before… oh yeah… “Reichenbach”.  Yep it’s time for some dark bromance, human-demon hybrid bonding, drinking and deep conversation.  Even though I love their deep friendship, I think it’s sad that Crowley is the only one in Dean’s life that gets Dean really and truly.  

Dean must have mixed Crowley his favorite drink.  Have you noticed he’s only conformable enough with Dean to have his umbrella drink.  The rest of the time it’s high-end whiskey, neat.

So they quickly clear up the errors in Rowena’s story.  She lied. They chat like old friends who are “Still Crazy After All of These Years” (Paul Simon).  This scene is a nice bit of writing by Dabb.

When Crowley greets Dean as “Squirrel” he counters with, “Boris. Where’s Natasha?”. Crowley replies “Would it make a difference?” to which Dean responds, “Not really… so, we going to do this?” Of course he means drink and talk and you’re in the wrong season if you rhink that it will be anything else.  Stay away from most of season 9 too while you’re at it.

So back in heaven Cas is in a hurry, however Bobby needs answers starting with “Where’s Dean?”.  Cas tries to lie by telling Bobby that Dean is “resting” and “sick” but Bobby knows better and grabs Cas telling him to “Try again.” Cas must feel guilty about all of Sam’s lies and backdoor shenanigans because he tells Bobby the truth, that Dean doesn’t know what they’re doing. Bobby comments that this sounds, like a play from the “Winchester Handbook”.  Why yes it’s called Secrets and Lies and those pages, are dog-eared.

Cas sheepishly says that Dean has given up.  Has he?  He’s fighting the Mark without any support from anyone besides Crowley.  Which makes me sad. Now wait for it… Bobby surmises, “And you idjits haven’t.”  Now that’s Bobby.

Back at the bar the boys are back in town and chilling. Dean is fiddling with his shirt to hide the Mark which prompts Crowley to say, “Mother says that Mark is just a curse… can be removed. Of course she doesn’t know how.” Dean momentarily sheds his louche attitude to show honest surprise perhaps even hope, at the news; however he quickly replaces the mask, “Figures, but I’m good, thanks.” Crowley knows that he’s lying.

They then talk about Crowley having gone soft.  Dean agrees that he has, “Yeah, maybe it’s all the human blood that Sammy pumped into you, you know? Maybe it’s, uh… I don’t know. I don’t know. But the old Crowley, he would have come in here with hellhounds and demons, and he would have blown the roof off the joint. Now? You didn’t want to fight. You wanted to talk. And maybe I’ve changed, too. Here I am playing Dr. Phil to the King of Hell. Never saw that coming.”

Then they talk about Rowena.  Crowley explains that he puts up with her because she’s family… blood.  Dean educates him on family,  “That’s not the same thing. A wise man once told me, ‘family don’t end in blood,’ but it doesn’t start there, either. Family cares about you, not what you can do for them. Family’s there through the good, bad… all of it. They got your back… even when it hurts. That’s family. That sound like your mother?” Not even close.

To me this scene clearly frames Dean and Crowley’s relationship as finally one of friendship and deep understanding. It stands in stark contrast to their frenemy status in “Mother’s Little Helper”, and the tension between them in “Reichenbach” when they’re negotiating necessary boundaries despite Crowley’s crush.

Dakota60, a poster  on the Supernatural board on IMBD, believes that Dean is manipulating Crowley in this scene  ( I mention it here because Crowley’s attitude change later in the episode may reflect the end of their detente since it appears that the old Crowley is starting to peak through.  And sure Dean lied to Crowley in “The Executioner’s Song”, however I thought his honestly at the end speaks to his desire to distance himself from Crowley lest he starts the chain reaction of killing in Cain’s warning. 

Meanwhile in heaven the “B team” has made it to Metatron’s cell to his infernal delight.  Metatron agrees to come only when he hears that Dean is not involved because apparently he would rather die than be Dean’s punching bag again.  Different strokes I guess because I so want to see Metatron slowly beaten to eternal silence.

Castiel and Metatron arrive at the playground. Metatron greets Sam with a “Sammmtastic!  Miss me?”  He’s extremely comfortable without Dean and assumes that he’s in control.  Happily Metatron learns the hard way that Sam and Cas are playing rough. 

Metatron is annoyingly smug about his leverage (Cas’ grace, knowledge about the Mark of Cain) until Cas steals his grace and Sam shoots him in the leg as Metatron reacts in pain and shock.  Cas tells him that he’s mortal now and they will “blow (his) frickin’ brains out” if he doesn’t cooperate.  Both repeat Metatron’s smarmy line, “It’s called leverage, Metatron….” Sam finishes, “Learn it, live it, love it.”  Okay!  Metatron earned this in spades.

Metatron appears to be desperate as he blurts out the so-called truth about the Mark, Metatron really doesn’t know how to remove it and he was stringing them along before, “I…I don’t know. I don’t know! No, I…it’s old magic… God-level magic. Or Lucifer level, but you can’t ask him, exactly, can you?”  And there it is, another reference to God and finally somebody mentions Lucifer.

Cas believes him but I don’t.  He’s playing them.  He’s always playing them.  I have been expecting him to play the Lucifer card since “Do You Believe in Miracles” frankly. If my theory about Metatron targeting Dean and trying to undo the Winchester Gospels is true, then Lucifer is his ace in the hole and Sam Winchester is being primed to be the dupe that releases Lucifer once again.

He also claims to have made up “The river ends at the source.”  Cas tells Sam to shoot him causing Metatron to shout that he will take him to his grace.  Castiel grudgingly accepts.

Crowley goes to Rowena who is expecting Dean’s head on a platter.  Instead Crowley kicks her out, points out that she was never really his mother,  and that she stuck around only because he was useful.  He then goes full on Crowley to kick her out, “I’m bloody Crowley! I’m the King of Hell. I do what I want, when I want. And I don’t take orders from you.” The King is back baby!  Long live the King?

When her tears don’t work the claws come out.  Rowena vows to wreck havoc as vengeance,  “Everything you have. I will watch it burn.”  As she walks off alone she seems truly desolate, however I truly doubt that she feels pity or love for anyone besides herself.

Back at the bunker Sam arrives home.  Dean admits to having drinks and playing pool.  Sam is mum and heads to his room.  Neither can share what they learned today,  that Metatron lied about knowing how to cure it and the “demon” is back.

Apparently Bobby handed Cas a note for Sam, and it’s good advice, “… I just wanted to say Cas told me what you’re doing for Dean, and I’m not telling you to stop but maybe going behind his back isn’t a good idea. Your brother, he can be stubborn, but I think he’d understand. And I know it’s the life, doing a little bad so you can do a lot of good, but sometimes the bad’s real bad… and the good, it can come at one hell of a price. I ain’t there on the ground, and whatever what you do, I know you’ll make the right choice.  You’re a good man, Sam Winchester, one of the best, and I’m damn proud of you, son. I was content up here, but getting a call from you… It’s the happiest I’ve been in forever, no matter what it costs so stay safe, keep fighting, and kick it in the ass.”

It seems that the missing (murdered) playground angel was not the only casualty of Sam’s choice to fix Dean no matter what the cost.  We see Hannah and her posse come to Bobby in his heaven with serious faces.  There will be heaven to pay for the riot of the surly Bobby’s and Metatron’s escape.

Additional Thoughts:

It’s a season of choices and consequences.  Dean knows his fate for taking on the Mark of Cain in order to become a blunt instrument to kill Abaddon. For the moment at least he can still choose to be a hero and he can still choose family.

Unfortunately he cannot chose how his family reacts to him and what they will do to save him or fix him as the case may be.  The show has been so clear on what Dean needs to maintain his humanity and keep on fighting the good fight.  He needs acceptance and supportive family that remind him of what he will lose when and if he loses that humanity.

The show has also been patently clear that magic really won’t give Sam back his old brother.  Metatron won’t either. 

Sam, Castiel and Crowley all made major choices tonight and the consequences of their decisions will play out for better or worse.

Crowley has appeared to accept humanity with little if no consternation.  He’s struggled with aspects of it and struggled to build relationships.  I think he and Dean are friends if not family at this point in the game, a process that was made easy by the fact that both are seeking to balance their divided selves as they seek meaning and direction.

Crowley has chosen to trust Dean over Rowena.  More importantly, he’s decided to choose himself.  His rant at Rowena might have sounded like the old Crowley,  but somehow I don’t think he will choose Hell at least not without Dean at his side.  Like Castiel Crowley is in Dean’s orbit now.  He will always gravitate towards Dean.

Sam clearly has chosen a bad path for himself… but hey! He gets to tell himself that it’s all for Dean.  Let’s hope his road doesn’t lead to Lucifer.  I fear a bleak future in which Dean decides that the only way to save the world, and Sam this time around, is to kill him and that act of fatricide will create the new Dean 3.0 or crazypants Dean.

And now Castiel has betrayed heaven again for Dean and he will have to live with the guilt of those consequences, as well as the terrible results of Metatron’s machinations now that he’s been set free. 


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