Original Air Date: 04/01/2015
The things we do for family…
The last few episodes had snippets of Sam worrying about Dean and the influence that the Mark of Cain was having on him. But recently, we haven’t really been seeing Dean’s struggle; he has been more of a sad panda about the whole thing. I’m not forgetting about the mass murder he committed in The Things We Left Behind or the beat down he gave Charlie in There’s No Place Like Home, but the storytellers haven’t been consistently showing Dean as barely keeping it together — we’ve been relying on Sam’s furrowed brows and his observations that his brother was getting worse to know that the mark was even still in play. Inside Man gave us a glimpse into how the mark is still messing with him, and it begins with Dean’s extremely vocal night terrors.
Even though Sam expressly told Dean he wasn’t giving up on finding a cure for the mark, he remains surreptitious in his tactics, but with good reason. There was no way Dean would have ever been onboard with Sam and Castiel’s desperate plan to involve Metatron. Yup, ask for help from the scribe of God—who tried to be God—and is currently in lockdown in Heaven’s jail. But the angels won’t even let Castiel through the portal into Heaven, which created a lot of hurt feelings for Cass.
Desperation turns to batshit crazy, and they opt to break Metatron out of jail. Solid plan, but the only way they can pull it off is by tapping an ally, who is already in Heaven, for help.
Meanwhile, Dean decides to take advantage of the hunter’s snow day and heads to a nearby watering hole for beers and nachos (he’s on a first name basis with the bartender). He is immediately annoyed by the college-aged dudes playing pool; this is where we see Dean and Deanmon start to overlap a smidgen. Dean hustles them out of a few hundred dollars and a watch, which he thinks is funny. Sure, we could argue that the kids had it coming; they took advantage of a guy they thought was too drunk to play pool, but they didn’t try to coerce him to play. In fact, it was Dean who approached them. Still, don’t you think he was out of line? Well, he was a big enough dick that his demon eyes made an appearance.
While Dean wrestles with his inner demon, Sam takes Castiel to see a psychic named Oliver Pryce. Back when he was still a child, the Men of Letters identified him as having a legit power and trained him to control his abilities, at least until the American chapter was wiped out by the demon knight Abaddon. (Apparently, the Men of Letters had instituted some early intervention programs for paranormally at-risk youth.) Pryce is now an old man but still rockin’ the mind reading and mediumship. He knows who Sam is and why he is there, but he’s perplexed by Castiel. He can’t read an angel’s mind and only gets colors from him.
Oliver doesn’t really have a choice as to whether he will help them or not, or at least, he doesn’t like the consequences if he doesn’t help them. They perform a seance, and we see that Castiel and Sam’s heavenly inside man is Bobby Singer. *Wipes away a happy tear*
Bobby, like Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is a killed-off character that had me on my knees screaming “Why?!” to the sky. Bobby was the hunters’ version of the Men of Letters; his home was an archive of ancient manuscripts and rare magical items, as well as a call center for hunters in need of information or back up. Basically, he was an important hub in the network, but he also represented stability within the series. He was a vital father-figure exemplar for Sam and Dean, who would cut through the bull to tell them when they were acting like damn fools, and I think we still feel the absence of this character in the series.
Bobby sits in his own private paradise in Heaven—which looks like a brighter, cleaner version of his old home—and enjoys reading a book, listening to Kenny Rogers, and drinking whiskey. That is, until Sam’s voice comes through the radio and gets him up to speed on the Mark of Cain situation.
Castiel lays out the plan: Bobby escapes his private paradise and opens door number 42, which is a portal to earth (and probably a nod to A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). Castiel will jump through the portal, and then he and Bobby will find God’s scribe. Bobby will just have to figure out how to keep the angels busy, since they “will not like a soul wandering free.” Bobby is a man who’s been retired for too long—he’s rusty and questions whether he’s really the right choice for this job. Sam says he’s their only choice. (Truthfully, Ash would have been a great option as well, but, if I had to choose only one for my viewing entertainment, I’d take Bobby.) The plan is in place, and Sam and Cass wait at the portal for Bobby to open the door.
But what’s been going on in Hell while all this scheming about Heaven is taking place?
Crowley is suspicious of his mother, since she has inexplicably stopped annoying him. This can mean only one thing: she’s up to something (much like having young children – quiet is nice, but too quiet means they’re destroying something of yours). His suspicion is not wrong. Rowena is trying to track down the Men of Letters’ bunker where the Winchesters had imprisoned Crowley. She seems to be planning something major too, since she painted symbols on her naked body using what looks like blood.
For whatever reason, Crowley only passively questions his mother’s motives, which leaves her with free rein to do whatever she wants, including trying to take on Dean. She has no idea what she’s getting herself into!
When Dean exits the bathroom, the bar is mostly cleared out, and Rowena is casually sipping a drink at the bar. She’s reused the same attack dog spell from Girls, Girls, Girls on the bartender and the college boys, and sicced them on Dean. They didn’t really stand a chance against someone supercharged by the Mark of Cain, and they were lucky to walk away with their lives—hoorah to Dean for controlling murderous impulses! Rowena observes his reluctance to kill them—the hero’s code is always an exploitable weakness. This forced her to move on to plan B, which was a nasty spell that should have obliterated Dean.
I fully enjoyed watching her reaction when Dean came out of her spell unscathed. Primarily because, she considers the magic she’s been doing over the last few centuries as merely parlor tricks, and, now that she has nothing to fear from the Grand Coven, she can really get nasty with it. However, her first real attempt to display her magical brilliance doesn’t work. How embarrassing! Even more humiliating – she finds herself at the mercy of Dean. The only thing that saves her is her ability to reverse the attack dog spell before it killed those men, but nothing would save her from the walk of shame back to Hell.
Back in Heaven, Bobby finds his escape hatch, and we see that the hereafter isn’t quite as we remember it from Dark Side of the Moon (Season 5, Episode 16). Instead of jumping through his memories, he’s in a hallway—specifically the Robert Singer wing.
Alarms go off, and Bobby needs to do something fast or else get stuffed back into his paradise. If you want to overwhelm a bunch of angels to keep them off your trail, then let loose as many Bobby Singers as you can in their path. And it works like a charm.
Meanwhile, Rowena returns to hell pissed off. Since she doesn’t have the juice to take out Dean, she decides to go back to manipulating her son. She goes all Fight Club on herself to convince Crowley that Dean had beaten his dear, sweet mother when all she was trying to do was protect her son.
Crowley shows her no sympathy for being foolish enough to go after him and explains to her why her spell didn’t work. Rowena learns that the Mark of Cain protects Dean from magic, and we learn that her new obsession will likely be figuring out how to undo the curse so she can kill him. But she wants Crowley to go after the Winchesters anyway, if not for her, then to protect his interests as the King of Hell. Her speech seems to stir him.
Dean anticipated that Crowley would show up at the bar. It seems like he might be finally doing something other than the minutiae of Hell’s day-to-day work (which involves a surprising amount of clipboards and paperwork). Instead, they chat over drinks, and Crowley learns his mom is a big fat liar—though Dean would have loved to slice her up, he didn’t do what Rowena claims he did. Crowley believes him, because really, he’s never had a reason to trust her.
If a reasonable conversation between a hunter and a very powerful demon isn’t weird enough, Dean and Crowley have a heart to heart about how the King of Hell has gone soft. If you think Crowley hasn’t gone soft, then just take a look at what he’s drinking.
They then switch to a surprisingly touching conversation about what family really is: they’re not necessarily someone who shares your bloodline, but it’s someone who always has your back. Dean makes Crowley face uncomfortable notions about his mother – she’s only interested in what Crowley can do for her, and her concern with how he runs Hell is really about what will benefit her in the long run. We also realize that Dean is probably the closest thing to a friend that Crowley has, which is pitiful, especially considering that the Winchesters have tried, and will likely try again, to kill him. The King of Hell has become a real sad case.
Back in Heaven, Bobby manages to open the portal, and Cass slips in, undetected.
Of course, Metatron is delighted to see Castiel; he always knew Cass would be back to spring him, because he knows how to restore his grace. Metatron’s hubris is he thinks he’s smarter than everyone else and is in control of the situation. Sam and Castiel make it clear that this is not the case by stealing his grace, and then shooting him in the leg.
With the fear of death as motivation, Metatron admits that he knows absolutely nothing about lifting the curse. When he had said “the river will end at its source” in The Hunter Games, they assumed it was angelic prophecy that needed decrypting, but in reality, he was just making shit up. He is useless in helping Dean, which means, Bobby stuck his neck out for next to nothing. The only thing preventing them from outright killing Metatron at this point is the chance—and it’s a slim chance—that there may still be a bit of Castiel’s grace left. Now Castiel has the burden of babysitting the obnoxious Metatron, all the while hiding from the angels that are likely searching for them. All in all, it sounds like Castiel is in for the shittiest road trip ever, but he’s not the only one who’s having a bad day.
At the end of their drinks and parley, Crowley returns to Hell and kicks out Rowena. She takes it about as well as can be expected.
This is actually some interesting character development for Rowena. She looks truly heartbroken that her son would choose the Winchesters over her. Yet, when he asked if she would have pretended she cared about him if he wasn’t the King of Hell, she doesn’t even try to answer. She was counting on unconditional love and loyalty from her son, but Crowley has neither sentiment for his mother. I’ve wondered if Rowena would attempt a coup in Hell this season. After this episode, she will likely redouble her efforts to reclaim the magic taken by the Men of Letters, and Crowley will probably have to deal with her wrath at some point.
Sam returns to the bunker, and in typical Winchester fashion, he and Dean pretend they had uneventful evenings with nothing interesting to share. Sam retires to his room for a “single man tear” moment.
Sam has a note from Bobby with what may be his final message to him: you’re better off being honest with your brother than trying to do things behind his back, because the decisions we make always have consequences. That is where we are left in this episode, wondering about the consequences of the decisions made by Sam and Dean, Crowley and Rowena, and Castiel and Metatron. The most upsetting cliffhanger of all is wondering what price Bobby paid for his relentless loyalty to the Winchesters.