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I’ll also be simul-recapping on Wayward Children.
Recap of death, both little d and big D, including some of Dean’s greatest deaths hits and Dean killing Death, plus Billie from last season getting killed off.
So, we can expect something about death this episode.
Cut to Now in Grand Junction, CO, in the woods at night. I’m sure whatever is about to happen will end well.
Two Doomed Teaser Teens are about to jump a fence to get in somewhere. With video cameras. It’s an old mental hospital and the pretty, bigger boy (Evan) is far more into it – too into it – than the other. Evan recounts to the boy a story of a man there who used to slice open patients’ skulls. The other boy suggests that maybe the culprit should cut open Evan’s skull to make him shut up. Good idea.
Up the stairs they go, recording all the way. The other kid hesitates, but Evan shames him into going up. We also find out that another kid, Mike, wisely “punked out” and didn’t come.
Upstairs, they find hospital beds, lots of dust, and a small OR with plague masks on a shelf. Evan tells the other kid to take one and put it in his bag. They hear a creaking noise, but Evan dismisses it. Evan is brave until the creaking gets louder and they hear whispers. They both run downstairs, where Evan gets knocked down and drilled by a ghost in a plague mask and butcher’s apron. The other kid gets bloodied, but breaks free and runs out of the house, Evan’s screams in his ears. He loses is camera in the process, so so much for evidence.
Cut to Dean having a PB&J sandwich for breakfast as Sam walks in. Sam comments on this, opens the fridge, and hands Dean a beer. “Live a little,” he says. Dean, who had previously demurred, asks Sam what is going on with him. Sam deflects and starts relating this case he found, which is, of course, about the DTTs we just met.
By the way, Misha Collins is listed as third lead.
Sam gives the other kid a name – Sean Rader – and says he was found wandering down the road, incapable of saying anything but the single word, “monster.”
Sam suggests they go without Jack, since Jack is binge-watching Sam’s sword and sorcery movies, and says they should go work a case themselves. In case any fans were wondering about Jack’s longevity as a recurring character, he’s getting the Kevin-in-MOTWs treatment this week.
In daylight, they pull up to a house in suits. Dean is surprised when Sam hands him his favorite fake ID – Agent Page, but Sam just brushes it off. They’re interviewing Sean’s mother, who says the doctor says Sean is physically fine, but psychologically traumatized so he can’t speak.
Dean goes to talk to Sean, who is drawing pictures of a figure in a plague mask (shades of “Dead in the Water”), while Sam interviews the Mom (who, yes, Eva, was in “Trial and Error”). She says that Sean, Evan and Mike were “inseparable” and that Mike is insisting he doesn’t know anything about what happened.
Dean tries to get Sean to talk to him by saying he sees monsters in his dreams, but that he and his brother are the things that monsters fear. Alas, it doesn’t work.
As they get back the hotel, Sam suggests they go to a strip club, called the Clam Dive (ewwwwwwww), which he read reviews about online. Dean calls him on this, too, and how Sam has been nice to him all day, but doesn’t let Sam squirm out of it this time. Sam admits he’s very worried about Dean, that Dean is “in a dark place” and too depressed to care about people and saving them, anyway.
Dean insists he’s fine. As his hand hovers over the front desk call bell, he says will fight his way out of his funk the same way he always does – “with bullets, bacon and booze [ding!] a lot of booze.”
Sean later wakes up from a nightmare. His mom rushes in and comforts him. He actually says something besides “monster” – “okay” – and his mother is relieved at this breakthrough.
But it’s shortlived, as soon after, the ghost with the drill appears in his room and breaks through his skull (for some reason, Sean gets out of bed to meet the ghost).
Sam wakes up in the hotel to the alarm in the morning and is concerned to find Dean’s bed empty. But then he hears snoring and finds Dean passed out on the floor, a spilled beer next to him, his tie around his head, a pink bra around his neck, on top of one of his shoes. I so want a screencap of that.
Though concerned that this isn’t quite what he had in mind, Sam quietly gets dressed and leaves to interview the remaining kid, allowing Dean to sleep it off on peace.
Mike is working at a barn, moving some hay bales (sure don’t miss doing that). Mike is nervous and Sam works out of him that his friends went to “the old Meadows place” and he was too scared to go. Poor Mike is genuinely worried about them.
Back at the hotel, Dean, in dark glasses and still in his suit (sans tie) from the night before, is eating a ton of bacon at the complimentary breakfast. When Sam comes in and snarks about it, Dean says, “What happened to you being nice to me?”
Sam pulls out a large bottle of booze.
Dean [taking it]: “You are forgiven.”
Sam fills Dean in on the Dr. Meadows, who was a creepy psychiatrist who experimented on his patients back in the 1960s. He gave them lobotomies and continued to keep and experiment on those who survived. He was eventually caught and executed.
Dean notes that one of the photos has a mask similar to the one Sean drew. Sam calls it a “plague mask” (got it in one) and says Dr. Meadows was wearing one when he was arrested. They had to rip it off. Sam also later says that Meadows was cremated, so maybe he’s attached to an object Sean took from the house (you know, like the mask Evan stuck in his backpack).
Sam gets a call. It’s from Penny, Sean’s mother. She says Sean is missing. After she comforted him the night before, she went to bed. It then got very cold, so she went into his room to see if he needed a blanket. He had simply disappeared.
Both brothers immediately guess it’s a ghost, probably Meadows’. Dean feels guilty about not trying harder to get Sean to talk, though Sam says Sean might still be alive.
Sam guesses that since Meadows held his “patients” prisoner at his house, that might be where Sean is.
At the house (which looks remarkably like the one from “Regarding Dean” and “There Will Be Blood), Sam’s EMF goes off like crazy, but Dean spots the ghost first. Behind Sam. Sam gets knocked aside and then the ghost goes after Dean. Dean gets thrown up against a wall and the doc goes after him with his drill.
Sam dispels the ghost with iron before Dean can get trepanned and up the stairs they go, looking for Sean. They find the office. Dean notices the line of masks and correctly guesses they are Meadows’ tie to this world (the missing one is not mentioned). When he touches one, they hear the ghost scream in another part of the house.
Sam starts laying down a line of salt in front of the door while telling Dean to burn the masks. Dean does so as the ghost blasts away the line of salt and comes after Sam. Fortunately, it goes up before it can attack him (nice effect).
Problem is, as the Brothers are exiting down the hallway, their breath mists up again. Sam suggests one of Meadows’ patients is still trapped. Dean guesses a *lot* of them are still trapped. They run to the stairs as doors slam and lights burst. On the stairwell, Dean asks why the ghosts can’t become visible and Sam guesses they’re not strong enough to “pierce the Veil.” Dean grumps that they can kill the Brothers, though.
Dean decides he needs to take a shamanic soul trip to the Veil to lead the ghosts (as a psychopomp) out of this life after asking them what they still want. While Sam protests, Dean pulls out a case with two honking huge needs – one that will kill him and one that will bring him back (yes, this is medically stupid; let’s just roll with it) – and stabs himself with it, after telling Sam to give him three minutes and then bring him back.
As an upset Sam gently lays Dean’s body down, Dean reappears as a fetch nearby. He tries to attract the attention of a wandering spirit, but is ignored. He then sees a red-haired woman (apparently a Reaper) who tells him she can lead him out of this world. He introduces himself briefly as Dean and says he’s busy, then leaves. As he does, she looks horrified, recognizing the name.
Apparently, Reapers can fly again and aren’t really angels, anymore. Or something.
Sensibly, Sam lays a ring of salt around Dean’s body and holds vigil as thunder crashes. Meanwhile, the panicked Reaper is in some kind futuristic archive, calling out “Dean Winchester is in the Veil!”
Dean is following the ghost from before, but it vanishes into a wall, still ignoring him. Then he meets Sean. Sean is dead. He tells Dean what happened. The ghost appeared in his room and possessed him. He then took the mask and put it on, going back to the house. Then he took the mask off and put it back, and the ghost made him trepan himself with the drill. He says he misses his mom.
Dean apologizes. Sean says Evan is also there, but they can’t leave. Dean says he’s going to help Sean go “to a better place” and asks him where the doc put his body. Then he runs up the stairs to where Sam is trying to revive him. But it’s not working and Billie (you know, the Reaper Castiel killed last season) appears in a long coat, with a scythe. She says, “We need to talk.”
Dean asks her how she is “alive” after Castiel killed her. She says that when an “incarnation” of Death is killed, the next Reaper killed takes its place. Not sure how that works when the Winchesters were the ones who started the trend of killing Reapers, but okay. Anyhoo, she was the next Reaper killed, so she got promoted.
She then takes him to the archive (which she calls her “Reading Room”) and the archive is full of shelves with a W on them (one might even say they’re infinite). He asks if he’s dead – that is to say, if he’s permanently dead. She says that depends on him. He tries to leave, but she says she’s not giving him a choice, per se. She wants to know how he crossed over to an alternate reality. It turns out even she doesn’t know how.
Dean acts cagey and insists on a deal. His deal is to let the ghosts in the Meadows House move on. She agrees immediately and the red-haired Reaper who sounded the alarm on him appears in the house and leads all the ghosts (including Sean and Evan) to the other side. Billie says it’s done and Dean asks how he can know. She says he can’t, so he gives her what she wants to know. He tells her about Jack and the “little rip” and that yes, he and Sam went to the other reality and it sucked.
Billie explains that the entire “multiverse” they both live in is a “house of cards” that could easily be “knocked down by some big dumb Winchester.” Dean allows that “that sounds like us.”
But Billie’s not done. She says Dean’s changed. She asks why he didn’t throw being sent back into his deal. He says he figured that was already off the table and he wasn’t coming back this time (so he kinda lied to Sam back there). Billie says that no, it’s more. He’s lost his feeling invincibility, that he can win even the highest stakes. She also correctly susses out that he really wants to die (but hasn’t he for a long time now?).
Dean shrugs this off: “What do you want me to say? It doesn’t matter. *I* don’t matter.”
But he’s in for an unpleasant surprise as we finally get back to the season 11 storyline season 12 summarily dropped.
“Don’t you?” Billie says, the first shot off Dean’s bow.
It all comes pouring out. “I couldn’t save Mom. I couldn’t save Cas. I couldn’t even save a scared little kid. Sam keeps trying to fix it, but I just keep dragging him down.”
Dean says if it’s his “time,” he’s okay with that. He’s “not gonna beg.”
Billie then points out that everything “on this shelf” is a record of how Dean dies. She doesn’t say if any of those deaths will stick, just that his “choices” determine how he goes out. Eventually. Maybe. She affably, almost cruelly, dangles the possibility that someday, he might actually die a permanent death and then informs him that none of the deaths recorded in that enormous archive says he dies right then.
Billie says that since she got her promotion, her vistas have been expanded, as it were, and she realizes how important the Winchesters – how important *Dean* – are to the SPNverse, which does not thrill her at all, since they are humans and, well, Winchesters. Just like Chuck, she does say, “You and your brother.” But just like Chuck, there’s that little pause before “and your brother” (and the cold reality that Sam’s death has been dangled in front of Dean too many times as a motivator to indicate Sam’s importance is the same to Chuck and Death as Dean’s importance). It’s as though she knows that Dean can’t bear to hear he has to carry this load completely alone. He’s already lost too much. She then tells him that he’s got work to do, though she won’t give him any details. All she does, really, is impress on him that he is (or has somehow become) an indispensable cog in the operation of the SPNverse.
Dean says, “Hmm.” He says that a lot in this scene and each time … well … it’s an interesting reaction because it shows how he’s just taking it in and calmly assessing stuff that would put any other human in a corner, gibbering.
And then, Dean finally drops his cloak of indifference to his mother’s fate and tries to ask about her. But Billie snaps her fingers in the middle of his question and he wakes up to a very relieved Sam and a very quiet house.
The next morning, the coroner’s office brings out several dead bodies, including Sean, Evan and a bunch of skeletons. We see Sam comforting Penny and then he walks past the row of skeletons on a tarp to Dean, who is sitting on the trunk of the Impala. Dean asks out Penny is and Sam says, basically, about as you could expect. Sam then asks Dean about his spirit trip and why he came back after the drug didn’t work. Then he asks about the ghosts, which are all gone. Dean tries to duck it for “another time,” but Sam points out these generally don’t happen (this is not entirely fair, since Dean has opened up later on in the past, but Sam does deserve an explanation this instance, I think, and sooner than later).
So, Dean tells Sam he saw Death, who is now Billie, and that she sent him back because “we’re important” and “we have work to do.” He admits he has no idea what that means.
Sam then asks him if he’s okay. Dean decides to be honest. “No, Sam, I’m not okay. I’m pretty far from okay.” He admits that he’s losing faith in the Family Business, that the recent losses have become too much. “I just need a win. I just need a damned win.”
They get in the car and drive away as we get a montage of bodies coming out and Penny seeing her son one final time and weeping, to Dean driving as the Impala goes through a field of grain and Sam sleeps, and to Billie opening a book in Dean’s huge archive. Goodness, is that Steppenwolf? Why, yes, it is. “It’s Never Too Late.”
Oh, but there’s a coda, people.
In the car, Dean gets a call as Sam wakes up. Dean is so shocked that he’s speechless. We switch to the Impala coming down a city street, still at night, past a storefront church with a neon-blue cross, Steppenwolf still on the soundtrack. As the car stops and the Brothers get out, Dean looks shocked, almost shell-shocked, as someone by a payphone turns around. It’s Castiel, looking bewildered and then starting to smile as he sees Dean.