"Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison
(plays on the radio when Paul Dutton is in the car)
"I Put A Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
(plays right after the Poison song, when the radio goes wacky, and plays again when Paul Dutton starts choking)
We start the episode with a rather gross scene of a woman dying in her bathroom of I'm not quite sure what except that all her teeth fall out. Blood loss? Did she choke? What may be noteworthy is that the door shuts on her while this is going on so that her husband cannot get in. It never occurred to me before but that might already indicate the possibility of demon (or ghost) involvement aye? Not just a witch's curse.
Next we see, Sam and Dean are on the case, questioning the husband and checking the bathroom for possible causes.
PAUL: She was so scared. I couldn't help; I couldn't do anything to stop it. And I've talked to the police, and I've talked to the medical examiner and no one can explain it.
DEAN:Well that's why they put the call in to us Mr. Dutton.
Sam finds a hex bag under the sink while Dean finds that the husband is not being quite honest with them when he says "everyone loves Janette." They share their findings outside and Dean is not happy.
(I really like Sam's reaction there.)
But a witch isn't always a warty old woman who lives on the edge of the village. It could be anyone, says Sam. How are they going to find out who? Well, they already suspect the husband of lying so they decide to stalk him and see if they can find out more.
Meanwhile, Amanda is getting ready for her next curse. She's hurrying home from her shopping trip (wonder what's in the bag?) when she is seen by her neighbor and fellow "book club" member Elizabeth who thinks Amanda is acting a little strange but doesn't try to find out more (denial here?).
Amanda takes a lovely wormy dinner out of the oven and starts on her curse as her ex-lover(Paul Dutton) bites into his hamburger.
We hear the radio go funny and the music changes to "I put a curse on you screamin'" which also possibly indicates supernatural powers other than just a curse. The burger turns nasty and guy starts choking. Sam and Dean notice the change and rush over, get him out of the car, find the hex bag and save his life.
PAUL:What the hell is happening to me?!
DEAN:Someone murdered your wife and now they're trying to kill you, that's what's happening to you.
PAUL:That's impossible! There's no way-
DEAN:If we hadn't have been following you, you'd be a doornail right now. Now who wants you dead?
Amanda (this is a gross scene we skip over) gets a curse of her own and is dead when Sam and Dean arrive.
DEAN:And why does the rabbit always get screwed in the deal?! The poor little guy.
So they think its maybe witches killing each other with some serious dark magic/satanic ritual. Some kind of coven falling out. In the meantime, the book club is meeting again and Elizabeth is worried about what has happened to Janette and Amanda.
Renee tells her well, Amanda killed Janette and then killed herself, but it's all over now! Let's get back to getting awards for gardening and pottery!(wow, Renee is sure going to make an awesome demon...)
So Elizabeth agrees (Of course they can't stop now!) and they start their little ritual in which we hear words like Book of Shadows and Master... uh huh... not good.
The next day, Sam and Dean come to talk to Elizabeth.
SAM:Getting these herbs to grow out of season like this, quite impressive. I'm sorry; I should have introduced myself first. I'm uh, Detective Bachman, this is Detective Turner.
(I love their names - Bachman Turner Overdrive is used in the music as well aye?)
But they get interrupted by our two other members and they know right away that these are the other members of the "coven."
RENEE:I'm sorry detectives; you can tell that Elizabeth is a little bit upset.
DEAN:Of course, Miss ... ?
RENEE:Missus. Renee. Van Allen. (She says it slowly and emphatically, like it's significant and she's important.) Would you like me to spell it for you?
DEAN:I'll get by, thanks.
As they drive away, Dean suggests that hey, the coven killed off a nut job. Maybe we should just thank them and be on our way.
But Sam says, no. They practice satanic ritual too so they need to be stopped. Which surprises Dean. Usually, it's Sam that's talking about not killing humans. There's something wrong. And since Dean has been worried from the time YED suggested that Sam who came back from the dead was changed, this worries him even more. But it's when they decide to go after the witches that their car starts making funny noises and stops in the middle of the road and who should be there waiting for them but Ruby.
This trick of Ruby's we haven't seen any other demon be able to do have we? Except, maybe the demon in Phantom Traveler. I wonder if Ruby actually went through the car engine to stop it like the demon did there? Fun to think about!
As soon as Sam gets out of the car, Ruby urges him to go, leave town. Don't go after the witches. There is a badass demon behind them and the demon is not friendly toward Sam. Dean, his first encounter with this mysterious demon, is ready to kill her on the spot - much like Sam was before she suggested she could help Dean aye? It doesn't matter that Ruby sounds like she is trying to save their lives.
RUBY:I'm sorry, why are you even a part of this conversation?!
DEAN:Oh, I don't know maybe because he's my brother, you black eyed skank!
RUBY:Oh, right, right. You care about your brother so much. That's why you're checking out in a few months, leaving him all alone?
RUBY:At least let me try and save him, since you won't be here to do it any more.
DEAN:I said shut up!
He gets a bullet off but Sam prevents Dean and Ruby is ready for it and disappears. So we've got Sam and Dean back at their motel, Dean pissed that Sam is letting Ruby live and even listening to her and Sam is like, well you wanted to let Casey live. What's the difference? And Dean's like well she wasn't stringing me along like Ruby is you. And I feel like saying Sam... you shot Casey. So, what IS the difference?
SAM:Look, we have to start looking at the big picture Dean, start thinking in strategies and – and moves ahead. It's not so simple, we're not – we're not just hunting anymore. We're at war.
DEAN:Are you feeling okay?
SAM:Why are you always asking me that?
DEAN:Because you're taking advice from a demon for starters. And by the way, you seem less and less worried about offing people. You know, it used to eat you up inside.
SAM:Yeah, and what has that gotten me?
DEAN:Nothing, but it's just what you're supposed to do okay? We're supposed to drive in the freakin' car and freakin' argue about this stuff. You know, you go on about the sanctity of life and all that crap.
SAM:Wait, so – so you're mad because I'm starting to agree with you?
DEAN:No, I'm not mad, I'm- I'm- I'm worried, Sam – I'm worried because you're not acting like yourself.
SAM:Yeah, you're right, I'm not. I don't have a choice.
DEAN:What is that supposed to mean?
SAM:Look, Dean, you're leaving – right? And I gotta stay here in this craphole of a world. Alone. So the way I see it, if I'm gonna make it, if I'm gonna fight this war after you're gone, then I gotta change.
DEAN:Change into what?
SAM:Into you. I gotta be more like you.
Dean can't really say anything to that, but we know that this new idea that he has to get ready for a war, change in order to survive, it all comes from Ruby and YED. It was the YED who gave Sam (and Dean and other hunters like Gordon) the idea that there was a war and that Sam was supposed to have a large role in it. It is all a grand rouse to trick people into doing stuff they don't usually do, create confusion, fighting amongst themselves and generally forgetting who/what the real enemy is. Especially in the case of Sam, Ruby is trying to get him ready to accept evil as necessary - drink demon blood and fight Lilith to open the gates of Lucifer's cage. By blocking his conscience and trying to be "more like Dean," he is breaking the balance in their life, and their job - saving people, hunting things. They need the arguing in the car etc. for their team to function properly. Without it, there is not much difference between them and Gordon aye? Actually it sort of reminds me of future!Dean in the End as well. If you really want to fight forces of evil, you cannot become like them. That is just what they want you to do. And Sam - even here he doesn't think very much of himself does he. He feels like he can't save anyone. He has had these feelings that he isn't good enough. And Ruby is feeding those feelings and making them grow. We talk a lot about how Dean has self-image issues (and we'll see that again next episode) but Sam is just as messed up in this way. And we continue to see both struggle with this all the way to the end of Season 9.
But Dean has more urgent things on his mind all of a sudden... like a bunch of knives cutting up his insides.
(I love this scene in its parallel with nightmare!)
Sam looks all over for the hex bag but realizes he is losing valuable time. It would be faster just to get the demon/witches to reverse it right? And he decides to go and confront that demon that Ruby had warned him about. What else can he do?
We get another parallel with Sam looking determined as he drives the impala to the "book club." It actually looks a lot like Dean going to make his deal at the crossroads. He kicks open the door and barges in.
SAM:Let him go.
RENEE:Let who go? What are you doing? You're insane, get out!
SAM:Look, if you know about me, then you know about this gun. You're killing my brother. Now let him go. Get away from the altar.
When the "witches" tell him that they were just trying to get a lower mortgage rate for Renee, he finally stops to think rationally and figures out that it's the demon that he should be going after and finally figures out who it is. The woman who had not gotten anything out of it. No awards, money or anything. As he figures it out, and tells her to release Dean, she tells him that he is too late.
SAM:Let. My brother. Go.
TAMMI:What's wrong? Couldn't find my hex bag? Sorry, sweetheart, but your brother's lungs should be on the floor by now.
This reminds me so much of mystery spot (after Dean dies on Wed) and what Sam ends up doing later - going after Lilith. I guess it is the same rational as him killing the demon at the crossroads too aye? If Dean is dead, he's got nothing to lose. But the demon stops the bullet... which is pretty cool... and we're thinking wow. Is she stronger than Ruby? or even YED? They couldn't (didn't) do that! I don't know. But demons have their various ways of avoiding bullets, especially when they are ready for it. And maybe each demon has it's unique tricks. Ruby can stop a car, this one can stop a bullet. And Sam is in deep trouble.
In the meantime, Dean is dying until Ruby makes her amazing entrance.
RUBY:Next time you point that gun at me, I'm not gonna just disappear, understand?
DEAN:You ... saved my life.
RUBY:Don't mention it.
It looks very heroic, and it is interesting how she kicks in the door just like Sam did at the "book club" a few minutes ago! Dean by this time doesn't really care what she does. He's dying anyway. She pours yucky fluid into his mouth and from the looks of it, he soon feels better. So what is Dean supposed to think now aye? He starts to think that maybe Sam IS right. Ruby saving Dean's life? What does she have to gain from that? Is it really because she wants him to train Sam? Well, at this particular time, she needs him to go and try to save Sam, doesn't she?
The demon is just about to kill Sam when Dean comes barging in... and gets flung to the other side of the room. He provides a diversion at least and stops the demon from killing Sam for the time being.
Then comes Ruby. Oh Mistress... grovel grovel. But the demon's ready for Ruby's knife and soon gets the upper hand. All the while telling the boys who Ruby was really. This demon loves her monologues and it gives Elizabeth enough time to creep away to help them - basically giving them a nother diversion to save their lives. They would have been dead otherwise. All three of them maybe.
Poor girl. She is still going to hell regardless.
Dean recovers quickly, gets the knife and stabs the demon over and over.
It is quite brutal and reminds me of him stabbing Abaddon. When the demon is dead, Dean goes over to help Sam up (note he doesn't help Ruby - he is not THAT accepting of her) and as they walk out, they turn around and look questioningly at Ruby who demands they go (showing her black eyes) so she can clean up. Do you think maybe she is feeling awefully vulnerable at this point? Them knowing what she used to be, and also maybe not wanting them to see as she pulls the knife out of her former Mistress?
Ruby removes the knife from the demon and we see smoke on the knife, which is pretty cool.
Later, Sam is washing his face
(I had to included this one as a gif because we had one of Dean in Fresh Blood aye?!) and Dean is walking outside (getting a drink?) when the lights go funny and Dean knows that there is something supernatural near. Maybe he also suspects it is Ruby too.
Ruby confesses to Dean that she lied to Sam, that he cannot be saved. She also asks Dean to help her get Sam ready to fight on his own after Dean is gone, praising him for his ruthlessness toward the demon(never feel good about a demon praising you, Dean). When he asks her about the fact that she was a human once, she tells him that yes, all demons she knows have been human. Hell changes them. Makes them forget who they were. To his question, "Why do you want us to win?" she answers that she is different. She remembers. That doesn't really answer his question on why she wants them to win... but it seems to satisfy Dean. From her saving Dean before, and from the demon's monologue later, we also know that she was a human witch in times when the plague was big. Which means the Middle Ages aye? That time frame actually fits with our title as well, which is interesting to think about. Another point here, Ruby often twists the truth in what she tells the boys, but she says here to Dean, "I don't believe in the Devil," which we know to be a lie.
Dean is not that surprised that Ruby lied about saving him. A bigger, more shocking revelation is the fact that when he goes to hell he will become what he hunts, a demon. That knowledge is going to come back to torment him and changes the way he thinks about accepting death and hell.