Let's get on with it!
no music :(
The episode starts with THE wonderful sequence of Dean in the most peaceful of moments. ... Actually, it doesn't. *is disappointed* We've got a totally gross MoTW scene which I totally want to skip overthankyouverymuch.
Basically a police man looks in the mirror in the changing room and finds out that his skin is falling off before he completely liquifies in front of his partner. Seriously, I cannot watch this scene - or the others - they are too disgusting. One of the main reasons why I do not like the plot of this episode all that much. Three gross deaths in one episode is way too much for me. One would have been quite enough. So... Let's start again.
The episode starts with THE wonderful sequence of Dean in the most peaceful of moments.
Dean's asleep in a comfy looking bed. The birds are chirping and the sun is shining through the window in that misty way it does in early morning. There's some rustling and then Lisa pops her head up from behind him and starts some nice lazy lovemaking. Suddenly Dean hears some unnatural noises and raises his head...
And wakes up by the side of the road in the impala. Being a Dean girl first and foremost - even though I totally appreciate some muscle and hot soulless Sam - this is actually my most favorite scene of the whole sequence. The only thing I'm not happy about is how dark the lighting is compared to the next Sam scenes because that makes it hard to make nice gifs :P So, we have a perfectly wonderful love scene at the beginning here, by a man who "was building something" as Sam said, and who now seems to have the best of both worlds.
And then we switch to Sam, who has the most gorgeous, hot body and seems to be maintaining it through a daily exercise routine which he conducts even with a prostitute still in his room. When she tells him not to stop on her account (and we totally agree!) he tells her that he is finished - indicating to those of us who recognize it, that he may have actually kept on going with no thought to her if he hadn't been. He also insists on paying the girl and throws away her number.
All during these clips of Sam, we also have the equivalent of Dean - stretching out his stiff muscles - which I am adding separately here so we can enjoy each scene better.
Dean, of course, is just adorable - I'm shaking my head and grinning the whole time. You know, it's interesting that they never show how these different routines affect their work. It would have been kind of fun to have Sam lifting stuff that Dean couldn't or having Dean puff from running too much, or something. But we don't have that. Maybe because the point is not how fit Sam is and how out of shape Dean is, but more on Sam having so much free time that he's bored and exercises just to have something to do.
I am also reminded of the sequence in Free to be You and Me, which is intentional on the part of the writers I'm sure. In that former episode, we saw Dean cutting off vamp heads and washing the impala while Sam cut lemons and washed counters. In that episode, we actually see Dean going to a brothel while Sam has a nice dinner with a girl, while in this episode we sort of see a role reversal - only Sam is much too cool for us to think of it as JUST that. I can't remember how I felt watching this episode for the first time, but it must have been pretty alarming to see Sam, that "only one" type guy, satisfying his needs in that way, insisting on paying money and looking so cool about it. On the other hand, it warms my soul to see Dean in that little peaceful scene - which he must have had many times during the year he was "building something." Maybe this is one reason why I'm glad Sam did make Dean promise and that Dean kept that promise. However, just as Lucifer tells Sam in Free to be You and Me, Dean cannot run from himself, and it is bound to catch up with him.
Another interesting thought I had while talking with milly_gal just the other day, is that this first scene showing Sam and Dean's different morning rituals is actually how Jared describes the differences in his and Jensen's morning routines to BuddyTV. It wouldn't be surprising if the writers actually were making fun of Jared and Jensen in this scene as well.
In any case, Sam gets a call from Dean, who is buying breakfast at a burger shop 8 hours out of the Campbell base, and tells him to meet him in Easter, Pennsylvania, because he's found a new job since they last talked the day before.
SAM:I like to work.
SAM:Glad we hashed that out. Call me when you roll into town.
DEAN:(to himself) Who died and made you boss?
Dean is surprised, first that Sam has already found a new job, and second, that he's already relocated. Sam tells him "I like to work" but we on a rewatch know that Sam basically does not sleep so he has plenty of time during the night to spend on things other than sex. Dean is also a bit surprised and riled by Sam being in charge and telling him what to do, which seems to start of a bit of cute competition that lasts through the episode.
When Dean gets to the morgue, he's on the phone with Ben.
DEAN:Ben...I know you're lying. Because I lie professionally, that's how. Now tell your mom that you broke the damn thing and take it like a man. Okay? Ok-- okay. [ Hangs up. ]
SAM:You -- molding the minds of tomorrow. Who knew?
DEAN:Yeah, tell me about it.
This is another really good scene - first as an indication of the relationship between Dean and Ben, Dean telling Ben he knows he's lying because he is a "professional liar" brings a grin AND reminds me of a future episode, and that little conversation between Sam and Dean at the end again reminds us of how much Dean has changed since he "became a father." I'll have to add that the visuals - first of Sam leaning against his little car waiting for Dean, Dean driving up and talking on the phone as he gets out of his car - all of those are just really pleasing to the eye.
Another piece of interesting conversation:
SAM:How'd it go?
SAM:You and Lisa. How'd she take it when you bailed?
DEAN:Shockingly cool, actually.
SAM:Better for everybody.
DEAN:Yeah, I suppose.
It almost sounds as if Dean is a bit unhappy by Lisa's response to him leaving - like he's being a bit clingy but Lisa is cool.
We then also have some great banter between Soulless Sam and Dean:
DEAN:Still driving the plastic piece of crap, huh?
SAM:What's your mileage, again?
I'm guessing Dean doesn't like it that they are traveling separately, and is still put out that Sam refused to take Baby in our previous episode. But I think Soulless Sam's actually enjoying this little exchange :P
Sam shows him the next victim of the boils, which of course I totally skipped over somewhere.... oh yes, that would have been during Dean's race to Sam's location. The policeman (Toby) is in his car at the side of the road. He's supposed to be giving people speeding tickets, but instead he is sneaking alcohol into his soda and talking to someone (who we know as the previous guy's partner and future victim of locusts in his brain who is probably already going crazy at this point) on the phone about how the previous death was not their fault and had nothing to do with them so stop calling. Something comes at him through the trees and gives him boils all over and he dies.
Sam is acting very competent and knowledgeable about the case at the morgue, which we can understand if he was researching all night. He's already found out about the partner who saw the first death
SAM:Yep. Uh... Officer Ed Colfax. Saw Hatch go from a solid to a liquid.
And they are on their way to his house. Dean decides to show Sam who's boss and cuts in in front of Sam's car as they park.
SAM:Were you, uh... were you racing me?
DEAN:No. I was kicking your ass.
It's quite immature and very very cute.
When Ed opens the door, he is already rather incoherent. He slams the door on them and here Sam surprises Dean a bit by kicking in the door. I don't think this is a muscle man strength thing, more of a soulless thing, although I don't know what alternative Dean was thinking of. And they go in to find Ed sitting at his desk drinking and scratching out people's faces because their victim, Christopher Birch, was "faceless." After telling them about the "faceless boy with a planted gun," he keels over on his desk. They hear the chirping of bugs coming from inside the police cap and when Sam opens it, they find locusts coming out of his head. Totally gross scene again and thank god we are finished with them, as Ed says.
Sam and Dean head back to a room to do some more research. Let me mention here that the rooms they use - first for Sam's exercise scene, and then this one - do not look like motel rooms. What kind of motel room has a bar you can do chin-ups on anyway? and this one is in an apartment building maybe 4 stories up, judging from how far Cas and the other angel fall later on. Maybe they are supposed to be open apartment rooms? It does remind me a bit of the room in No Exit. I wish they'd mentioned something. They are both very nice rooms.
Going back to the story, Sam figures out that the three deaths are like the three plagues of Egypt except that they are concentrated on one person and Dean suggests they call Cas. Sam tells him that that is the first, second and third thing he did when he got back from Hell. Cas had not answered. Dean tries anyway.
I do love Soulless Sam here. I love his sarcasm and these cute expressions.
Dean opening one eye to see if Cas might have appeared is hilarious!
DEAN: Well, let's give it a shot. Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray to Castiel to get his feathery ass down here.
SAM:You're an idiot.
SAM:Oh, I am positive.
DEAN:Come on, Cas! Don't be a dick. We got ourselves a... plague-like situation down here, and... do you...do you copy?
SAM:Like I said... son of a bitch doesn't answer --
SAM: he's right behind me, isn't he?
I love Dean's little shrug here. The little competition Dean has going pops up again. Soulless Sam, outraged, is hilarious as well.
DEAN:Cas, I think what he's trying to say is that... he went to Hell for us. I mean, he really took one for the team. You remember that? And then he comes back without a clue, and you can't take five friggin' minutes to give him some answers?
CASTIEL: If I had any answers, I might have responded. But I don't know, Sam. We have no idea who brought you back from the cage... or why.
Liar :P But I still don't know why he lied except maybe to avoid more questions.
DEAN:Cas, look, if Sam calls, you answer. Okay? You wing your ass down here, and you tell him, "I don't know." Just because we have some sort of a -- a bond or whatever...
CASTIEL:You think I came because you called? I came because of this.
Dean admonishes Cas and tells him that he should have answered Sam even if it was to say that he didn't know. It's almost like Dean thinks of Cas as his younger brother - like Sam - and expects Cas to obey him. Then they find out that Cas didn't answer because DEAN had called, he answered because it had to do with heaven's weapons and angel warfare - civil war. Cas and the other side already know that several of these weapons have gone missing - and they are both scrambling to find them first so that they can use them against the other.
DEAN:Wait, you -- you're saying your nukes are loose?
CASTIEL:Yeah, I'm afraid so. But you've stumbled onto one of them. We must find the weapon that did this. I need your help.
SAM: That's rich. Really.
After all this time ignoring Sam, Cas is asking for their help. But they can't really say no either because people will die if they don't help.
CASTIEL:Sam, Dean, my "people skills" are "rusty." Pardon me, but I have spent the last "year" as a multidimensional wavelength of celestial intent. But believe me, you do not want that weapon down here. Help me find it. Or more people will die.
The way Misha says Cas' lines here with the finger quotation marks is kind of weird to me. It doesn't feel like Cas. Real Cas without people skills wouldn't be using finger quotes and his exasperation is rather over done in my opinion. Reading it as a script doesn't sound so bad though and it maybe explains why Cas didn't come and check up on Sam all that time. He probably totally forgot about what was happening on earth after he went back to heaven because he was just too intent on being an angel and doing what he was doing there. Another thing about being intent on being an angel at war is, you don't care as much about the welfare of humans or casualties. We see how this affects Cas by how he acts, actually very similarly to how Sam acts without a soul.
They go to see Christopher Birch's dad, since he has the most motive to have used the staff of Moses on the police officers. Cas brings them all into the Burch's living room so that they appear out of nowhere in front of the dad, which was rather insensitive again. Sam and Cas are already in full wrath/accusation mode though and don't really care what dad thinks. Then Aaron comes in brandishing the staff of Moses, and it's Dean who talks to him kindly and using reason just like he did with Ben in the phone call. I always like to note Aaron's name here - the humor in naming the boy after Moses' brother and also his last name being "Birch." And of course he has to be African American, because Moses and Aaron are typical names used traditionally by the slaves brought to America in the hopes that they would be saved from slavery as were the Israelites.
Dean finds out from Aaron that he had sold his soul for part of the staff of Moses. Then, Cas puts Aaron to sleep, which is a bit disconcerting to Dean, and zaps all of them back to their room. He doesn't even touch them. They just all of a sudden just appear in the room again. Shows a bit of the power Cas had gained. Dean is shocked that Cas would bring Aaron and even more shocked when he learns how Cas intends to find out who took his soul. He looks to Sam for backup, but Sam's crossed his arms and is just looking like, let's do this. One thing that is interesting about Soulless Sam is his curiosity. I feel like it's one of his driving forces and from the expression he has on his face here, it looks like he just genuinely wants to know what happens if Cas pushes his hand inside Aaron's chest. Dean cannot believe it. Aaron's just a child and he is asleep, vulnerable. But Cas insists that there is no other way.
DEAN:You're gonna torture a kid?
CASTIEL:I can't care about that, Dean! I don't have the luxury.
With supposed bigger things to worry about, Cas has stopped caring for the individual, for people. Yeah, his people skills are rusty :P But in a way, that is what is needed in a leader of a war, and that is what Cas has become.
Dean's objections put aside, Cas checks out Aaron's soul and finds out that it is Balthazar, his friend whom he thought had died in the war. Which war? This one?
I do not think Cas is lying here. He would not have taken Dean and Sam or been wary of Balthazar (he takes out his sword when he sees Balthazar) if he had been in on the whole soul collecting bit. It is after this that I assume Cas gets together with Balthazar and they cook up that lovely way to get more souls and more power for their cause.
Cas makes the mistake of saying Balthazar's name out loud, and I guess the angel was there listening in. He all of a sudden appears and attacks Cas saying that they would make good use of the name, and that Raphael said hi. Sam and Dean step out of the way as the two angels fight it out, and finally Cas jumps out of the window with him. They crash land on Sam's car, and Cas seems to be ok, but the other angel I guess was hurt. He disappears.
Again funny scene as Sam looks upset and Dean looks happy!
DEAN:Okay. Silver lining.
Cas is back in the room getting ready the spell to see where Balthazar is because he knows Raphael and his minions would be searching for Balthazar too. While he does, on the insistence of Dean, he briefly explains what is going on with the civil war and how Raphael wants to put everything back on the rails and have the apocalypse. He grabs Dean's hand for some human blood and Dean's like, "Why don't you use your blood?"
And this seems strange to me because I remember when he did the searching spell in The Song Remains the Same he didn't ask for any human blood. But I guess they are still trying to show how unconcerned with human welfare Cas is at this point. He assumes they are willing to help and he goes ahead and takes what he needs. Once they find out where, they zap to Balthazar's palace. Cas zaps upstairs by himself and finds Balthazar there with some really weird interesting music playing - totally reminds me of 007. And there's that angel that Cas just jumped out the window with. Maybe he wasn't hurt. Maybe he just wanted to get to Balthazar first. Smart guy. But not so smart because now he has a frog in his throat. I don't know if the guy told Balthazar that they'd leaped out the window together or if Balthazar had actually seen the whole thing but he knows and makes a joke about it.
BALTHAZAR:It's so good to see you. He told me you were floating around.
BALTHAZAR:I believe you two have flown together.
CASTIEL:Why take them? Why run away?
BALTHAZAR:Because I could! What? What? I me-- you're the one who made it possible. The footsteps I'm following -- they're yours. What you did, stopping the big plan, the prize fight? You did more than rebel. You tore up the whole script and burned the pages for all of us. It's a new era. No rules, no destiny. Just utter and complete freedom.
CASTIEL:And this is what you do with it?
BALTHAZAR:Hey, screw it, right? I mean, dad's not coming back. You might as well blow coke and jump on the bed. You proved to me we could do anything, so I'm trying everything. What difference does it make?
CASTIEL:Of course it makes a diff-- it's civil war up there!
CASTIEL:If we can beat Raphael, we can end this! Just give me the weapons.
BALTHAZAR: Do you know what's funny about you? You actually believe that you can stop the fighting. It will never stop. My advice -- grab something valuable and fake your own death.
This little conversation is very interesting. And Balthazar's talk of coke and jumping on the bed reminds us of how a teenager would consider freedom. Balthazar has no feeling of responsibility or duty, not that he is free to make his own choices. Since he doesn't care about anything, it doesn't matter to him that he is stealing weapons and dealing in souls. Of course he has feelings for Cas from their days when they fought together and also because Cas "set him free," and so he wants to help, but at this point that is not giving up the weapons. Now I'm curious as to what made him change his mind in the long run. I guess we'll think about that when we get to it. This last line by Balthazar, about how Cas won't be able to stop the fighting is true of course, and totally reminds me of Gabriel and why he ran off.
In any case, when Cas tells him that Raphael knows he is alive, he disappears. Sam, Dean and Cas deal with the angels until Raphael himself comes and starts punching Cas down the stairs. Just as Cas is about to be killed, Balthazar arrives with the salt stone with which he turns Raphael's body to salt and disintegrates.
Balthazar is about to leave again when Dean captures him in a circle of holy oil and bargains for Aaron's soul back.
BALTHAZAR:Holy fire. You hairless ape! Release me!
DEAN:First you're taking your marker off of Aaron Birch's soul!
SAM:Unless you like your wings extra crispy -- [ uncorks a bottle of holy oil ] -- I'd think about it.
BALTHAZAR:Castiel, I stood for you in Heaven. Are you gonna let --
CASTIEL:I believe... the hairless ape has the floor.
I love how Cas makes Balthazar go through with it even though Balthazar had saved his life. But when I consider what happens later, it could just be seen as Cas keeping Dean happy. Sort of like Sam is pretending that he cares.
When Dean is about to leave Balthazar there, Cas gives Balthazar the courtesy of putting out the holy fire (I wonder if any angel can do that as long as they are outside the circle? or he just has super powers?
CASTIEL: My debt to you is cleared.
BALTHAZAR: Fair enough.
They both disappear, leaving Sam and Dean on their own.
And then we have our important little discussion by the car...
DEAN:Hey, so, uh... are you okay?
SAM:Me? [ Chuckling. ] Yeah, I'm great.
DEAN:Really? 'Cause there's been a few times that you got me wondering.
DEAN:Well, like where were you when Cas was, uh, giving the Holy Taser treatment to that kid?
SAM:I was right there.
DEAN:Really? 'Cause honestly, I felt like I was the only one raising a card.
SAM:Right. Uh, I mean, I was with you, but...I don't know. W-we needed the intel.
DEAN:Yeah, I know, but we tortured that kid to get it.
SAM:[ Sighs. ]
DEAN:I just didn't get the feeling that you -- that you even cared.
SAM:Y- you're wrong.
DEAN:Hey man, I'm just trying to figure this out because... something's different with you. You know that.
SAM:Yeah. Yeah, I know.
SAM:Yeah. I mean... I've been hunting non-stop for the past year, kind of... kind of on the wild, you know? So, yeah, I suppose I'm a little rough around the edges.
DEAN:Yeah, I get that. I just don't think I'm getting the whole scoop. You went to hell, Sam. And believe me, I know what that does to a guy.
SAM:You know what it does to you. It -- it tortured you. You know? I think it still does. But, Dean... I'm okay.
DEAN:So you're saying, what, that -- that you're stronger than me?
SAM: No. Just saying we're different.
We see Soulless Sam desperately trying to show Dean that he cares. But he goes on to say that memories of hell didn't torture him. So, isn't he just refuting his own point?