Another thing I will be thinking about this episode is Cas and Crowley and their business partnership as opposed to Cas' friendship with the boys and conflicting interests. What Cas is thinking in this episode is a rather interesting study don't you think?
Other than all these brain twisters, the episode starts out with both boys on the same track - getting Sam's soul back - and ends with Sam pretty convinced that it's better not to try. It starts with Sam convincing Dean that the only way is to work for Crowley and ends with them being free of him. And we finally find out what Crowley had over Samuel. So it's a very pivotal episode.
The episode starts with Crowley interrogating himself... which is probably the alpha shapeshifter now in Crowley form. The scene is great just because we can see a defiant Crowley and an evil Crowley at once! Lovely facial expressions. And of course the "Guess I kinda lost my head" at the end.
The impala is driving up for a rendezvous with a couple of low ranking demons. Dean gives over a monster with a sack over his head and they ask where Crowley is and if they are ever going to see him again, but the demon is very rude and Dean is not happy. Well, neither is Sam, but Sam is resigned to having to work for Crowley until they have another plan. The boys have another argument similar to what they had in Family Matters, back at the run down house they are using as a base.
DEAN: Remember when we used to gank monsters?
DEAN: We’ve been going on these freaking Crowley runs and it’s not getting us anywhere.
SAM: Dean –
DEAN: I mean, the only thing that’s really changed, is now I need a daily rape shower.
SAM: OK, you’re right. Let’s go with Plan B. Oh yeah, we don’t have one. So till we do, sorry dude, stock up on soap-on-a-rope. Dean, if you wanna get my soul back, that’s what we gotta do, OK?
DEAN: Yeah… You even want it back?
SAM: I’m working for Crowley, aren’t I?
Which is another reason why I believe that Sam hasn't yet given up on getting his soul back at the end of last episode. First of all, he is still with Dean. And secondly, he is doing Crowley's dirty work. And he wouldn't be doing either unless he wanted his soul back.
Dean is put in a tight spot. He knows they don't have any other plan at the moment and he knows Sam is right. I love these expressions he makes. I guess we could tentatively say that this is one of Dean's "caged heat." He is suppressing his dislike for demons and working for them in order to get Sam's soul back.
But when Dean turns around to talk to Sam again, Sam is gone. He's vanished. Dean thinks Sam just left the room at first but he can't find him in the hall and so he starts to think that something happened to Sam and gets his gun out to investigate. When he goes into another room, he finds Sam on the floor, hurt. Now, he acts rather stupidly. I mean with so many years of hunting under their belt... really? He goes in to check Sam, and of course a demon comes up behind him and knocks him out. When Sam and Dean wake up, they are tied up in chairs in the middle of the room and guess who shows up? Meg.
This scene so reminds me of the scene in Shadow! Meg with her face up against Dean's is pretty damn awesome. She threatens to kill them if they don't tell her where Crowley is, but of course they don't know and Dean thinks he's done for when suddenly Sam begins to laugh. Um, what's funny Sam? And Sam tells him with his superior brain that Meg can't do anything to them because she needs them to find Crowley. She's on the run.
(Sorry, I just had to make this <3<3<3)
SAM: Look at her, Dean. She’s furious. If she could kill you, she’d’ve done it by now. She’s running.
MEG: Am I?
SAM: Judging by the level of flop sweat on all of you, yeah. Which means you’re running from Crowley. Which makes sense. Crowley would want to hunt down all the Lucifer loyalists now that he’s the big man on campus.
MEG: How would you know?
SAM: It’s what I’d do. [to Dean] She can’t kill us. She needs us to get her to Crowley so she can stick that knife in his neck. It’s him or her.
I like that little reference to the fact that Sam knows exactly what Meg is thinking because that is what HE would do. I'm reminded of that scene in Clap Your Hands if You Believe where he admits that he might sell his family for what he needs because he is soulless, but what's Brennan's excuse? His way of thinking is very similar to a demon's in the sense that he doesn't have any conscience or morals.
So Sam makes a deal. We help you find Crowley if you take us with you and help us wring something out of him before killing him. That sounds fine to Meg. She tells Dean to verify to Sam that she can make Crowley do anything she wants, since she's apprenticed under Alistair just like Dean. Dean agrees that she can, and Meg and her goons are off but not before a cute little scene that I just had to gif - you understand ;)
And Dean does some arguing about how this is just dumping one demon for another and what's going to stop Meg from screwing them over, but Sam has a plan. They are going to bring insurance. And who's their insurance? Cas, of course. Dean, I imagine(since we don't have a scene) says at this point that there is no way Cas will come and help them. He's been ignoring them except for when it has to do with angels recently. Why would he come now just to help them get Sam's soul back? And he is right. Cas wouldn't have come. But Sam lies. He pretends that they've found the Arc of the Covenant and lo and behold Cas is there. After that though, Sam convinces Cas to help in a different way, appealing to Cas' sense of loyalty to them... and well, the fact that Sam would hunt Cas down and kill him if he doesn't help.
SAM: No, you listen! I don’t care what you’re dealing with up in Heaven. You owe me.
CASTIEL: You may not care, but believe me –
SAM: I’m sorry, do you think we’re here to talk this out?
CASTIEL: Sam, I can’t just –
SAM: If you don’t help us, I will hunt you down and kill you.
CASTIEL: Will you, boy? How?
SAM: I don’t know yet. But I will look until I find out, and I don’t sleep.
CASTIEL: You need help, Sam.
SAM: I need your help.
The interesting thing about this dialogue is the phrase, "You owe me." Which would have stabbed Cas in the heart like a knife if he had any conscience at all, because he really does owe Sam that soul. He's the one that couldn't get it out. I don't know why Sam thinks Cas owes him, but he sure found the right word. Cas also admits here that Sam does need help. Well, he needs his soul - that's what he needs.
Cas decides it would be better to help than to have Sam find and kill him later, so he comes in to talk and we have a funny scene here:
DEAN: You actually showed. Wow, Sam, I owe you a chicken dinner. What happened?
SAM: No big. This is what friends do for each other.
Sarcastic! Love that.
The first thing they do is go to search through Samuel's things to find out where Crowley is. They don't find anything and instead are caught by Samuel. Samuel refuses to help them and Dean has to know why. What is Crowley holding against Samuel that he won't help even his blood? He asks Cas to leave for a bit and asks Samuel. Samuel shows Dean Mary's picture and tells them that Crowley promised to bring her back.
DEAN: Crowley’s gonna bring mom back from the dead?
SAMUEL: You tell me you don’t want her back.
SAMUEL: You know, the one difference between us: you know how to live without her.
DEAN: Look, I know how you feel.
SAMUEL: No, you don’t. She’s my daughter, and she’s dead, and I can do something about it.
It would be a lie to say that Dean didn't want Mary back, and he can't answer Samuel when he asks whether he wouldn't want her back, but here he does choose Sam and he chooses a method where he is not depending on a demon to make good on a promise. Samuel holds this against Dean later and maybe we can talk about it then. But Dean warns Samuel that it's not going to work - that Crowley will screw him over. He also warns Samuel not to go down the road that Sam and he have traveled - making deals with demons to get each other back - and to learn from their mistakes. Samuel doesn't listen. He tells Dean that he doesn't know how to live without Mary. The way he died was quite traumatic, I guess, and he's still trying to deal with that, as well as the fact that his daughter died of the very same demon that killed him. It's true that Dean has learned to live without Mary of necessity and over a long time - almost his whole life, while Samuel has trying to deal with her death for only a year. I guess we can understand why he is taking it so hard. There is definitely some caged heat here in Samuel.
DEAN: Fine. Bring her back. But what are you gonna tell her? You gonna tell her you made a deal with a demon? That you wouldn’t help out her sons?
SAMUEL: That’s enough! Just get out.
Here is another good point. Mary, from what we know of her, would surely not be happy with her dad at all if she found out what he had done to get her back - especially if he got Sam and Dean killed like he almost does later.
It's interesting to think of the different way in which Sam and Samuel act in this episode because they are both in a similar situation. You could say it is because of the knowledge Sam has, but it is probably also because Sam is not acting on his emotions. Sam has the knowledge of when he had a soul. He knows as well as Dean that demons do not keep their promises. And when he finds a way to screw Crowley and get his soul back anyway, he takes it. Samuel, on the other hand, takes Crowley over another way to get Mary back like Dean and Sam suggest. He cannot trust Dean (let alone Soulless Sam) and decides to do things his own way. This suddenly reminded of another person who couldn't trust the boys to help her - Bela - and how she tried to do things herself and failed.
Anyway, Dean and Sam go home empty handed and are reduced to doing research on the computer and in documents (I wonder what kind of documents would give hints on Crowley's whereabouts?). Cas comes with them despite being in the middle of a battle (Why doesn't he just go back for a bit until the Winchesters call him? Maybe he was lying about being in the middle of a battle?).
Oh, can I stop here and speculate? Cas needs Crowley to get to Purgatory, right? and so technically, Cas doesn't want Sam and Dean to be going after Crowley. And, he also doesn't want Crowley to hurt Sam and Dean. This whole idea that Sam has of going after Crowley is not good for Cas. So maybe he is already thinking of a way to get Crowley out of harms way? How did he work that trick of burning Crowley up, but not really burning him up?! Did he have an agreement with Crowley that when he burned the bones Crowley would pretend to burn up and leave? I wonder if Crowley was the one that came up with the spell, or if it was Cas. Could Cas have warned Crowley about Sam and Dean coming instead of Samuel? The part where he was blown away by Samuel might have been planned as well. Well, we will never know, but such thoughts may have been circling his brain while he watched porn in Sam and Dean's motel room.
He notices something curious about the porn though and I can't help but think that the situation may have some significance LOL Actually... ok hear me out. Meg seems to be particularly stimulated by bad talk, aye? She acts as if Dean and Cas' words toward her (which could be compared to a spanking aye?) are sexually stimulating. To Dean when he tells her he'll carve her up, she tells him she likes that kink. To Cas when he calls her an abomination, she says keep talking dirty to me. Does this little pizza man porn story open Cas' eyes on the possibility that Meg likes being spanked? That she has some sort of feelings for guys who talk like that to her? Maybe it releases some kind of "caged heat" within Cas - and in turn, within Meg? Hee! Sorry, interesting how it kind of ties together here.
Anyway, Samuel comes for a visit and tells them exactly where Crowley is. But he also refuses to come with them.
DEAN: Why are you here, Samuel?
SAMUEL: It’s what Mary would want. Now, this is what I know. Whatever we bag ends up there. [He shows them a map with a location marked.] That’s where he tortures ’em, interrogates ’em, I don’t really know. Only been outside the places, but it’s a death trap. Nothing gets in that Crowley doesn’t want in and nothing gets out, period.
DEAN: Well, thanks.
SAMUEL: I wish you wouldn’t do this.
(Does that sound like a warning to you? Like if you do, I'll have to stop you?)
SAM: Come with us.
SAMUEL: I may be soft, but I’m not suicidal.
This actually made sense to me. I could understand Samuel thinking over their talk later and thinking that Mary wouldn't be happy with him if he brought her back and didn't help her sons. I just wonder what happened either before or after this to make him turn on them. Why would he think, for one, that leading them into a trap and getting rid of them would help his cause? Unless... he thought that one way or another they would find out where Crowley was and kill him and then he wouldn't get Mary back, so he might as well get rid of them...? Anyway it was a pretty good surprise when he turned up with Crowley.
Now that they know the location, they meet with Meg. Here Sam takes the initiative and it is interesting to see. Dean doesn't do anything but watch while Sam takes back the knife from Meg, proceeds to kill one of the demons to test Meg's determination possibly, or just to take advantage of the fact that she can do nothing, and then tells her that he's keeping the knife because she took it from them in the first place, tells her when they are going to go and that's that.
Before that though is that talk between Cas and Meg that I mentioned previously.
MEG: Remember me? I sure remember you, Clarence.
CASTIEL: Why are we working with these abominations?
MEG: Keep talking dirty. Makes my meatsuit all dewy.
So a lot of us think that that scene with the porn is funny but it does raise a question about what it has taught Cas about Meg, and also about himself because well, it did give him a boner, right? LOL
OK, I've had my fun. Going on. Dean and Cas are inside the old house they are holing up in and Cas decides to tell Dean how worried he is about retrieving Sam's soul. Now, this sounds pretty obvious and logical. Yes, Sam's soul has been in the cage for a year, which is actually 40 years, and there is no certainty that it is in tact. But I want to stop for a minute and remind us that Cas doesn't want Sam and Dean to be going in to get Crowley. But he hasn't found a good reason why until now. I can't help but think that Cas would have been able to heal Sam's soul if they had got it back - or at least make a wall like death did. He told Dean later that he could put up the wall again didn't he? So this seems like an excuse and a way to stop Sam and Dean from going in. The fact that Crowley says the same thing later makes this even more possible.
Whether or not Cas had planned it, Sam hears what Cas said to Dean and it gets him thinking - but not enough to decide not to go through with it.
They get to the location where Crowley has his Hell on Earth - and it is actually just like the Hell we see in Season 8 - and find that the door is open. Or at least Cas can get in and let them in. As rewatchers, we know that Cas is in cahoots with Crowley so of course the place is not angel proofed aye? and Cas can get in easily. I wonder why Dean and Sam did not think that this was odd. They did think that it was a trap because it was too easy to get in, but they obviously did not think that Cas or any angel had anything to do with this operation.
As they walk along the prison hall, they come to a cell with the Djinn from Exile on Main Street. I think Dean recognizes her and realizes what Samuel had done even then. It seems like he almost feels sorry for her. Then they hear hellhounds. They run to another block and close the doors in the corridor, lining the bottom with salt so the hellhounds are delayed. And then they stop to talk about what to do. Meg is ready to bolt, but she can't because it's demon proofed. She can't use her powers - which reminds me of how Cas can't use his powers in that diner with Eve later. Huh... I guess that's a kind of caged heat too - Meg's soul locked inside the meatsuit. Sam decides to give Meg the knife to fight the hellhounds while they get away because she can see the hellhounds.
MEG: At Crowley. Take it and go. You kill the smarmy dick. I’ll hold off the dogs.
Interesting that Sam does this, trusting Meg to hold the hell hounds off. Also interesting that Meg is willing to stay behind and take the chance and, not only that, lets Sam keep the knife and steals Cas' sword to use instead. It wouldn't have made a difference if Cas had kept his sword and Meg had used the knife, so all I can say is, Meg wanted to be dramatic. And maybe... just maybe there is the idea that she is truly interested in the angel and has been since their first meeting. Maybe there's been fireworks between them since their last meeting ;) She kisses him and steals the sword. Cas then turns her around and kisses her back. Maybe because he recognizes some sort of spark between them as with the pizza man, and also maybe because he is trying to show appreciation for her "sacrifice."
CASTIEL: I learned that from the pizza man.
CASTIEL: I learned that from the pizza man.
MEG: Well, A plus for you. I feel so … clean. Okay, gotta go.
LOVE Sam and Dean here, eyebrows raised, going "um... hellhounds??" as well as Meg speechless after Cas kisses her. Also her line, "I feel so... clean." Very interesting. I've often wondered if Meg's transformation to "half-good" was gradual or sudden, and I like to think that it was because of her feelings for Cas, but it could in a way also be attributed to this kiss.
DEAN: Whoa, whoa, is that gonna work on a hellhound?
MEG: Well, we’re about to find out. Run.
(That last moment as she leans on the wall is very pretty)
It's after the kiss when Meg takes out Cas' sword that Cas realizes Meg stole his sword but he doesn't act shocked or disappointed. He just leaves with the boys and Meg shows how brave and heroic (and hot) she is by fighting and killing all of the hell hounds. Unfortunately, our demon Christian arrives after the hell hounds are dead and takes her in to custody.
(loooooove this little smirk!)
Sam, Dean and Cas, meanwhile are going down some stairs when they see Crowley at the bottom and Samuel with his hand on the sigil. Cas is blown away and now Sam and Dean know that Samuel has betrayed them. They are taken to separate cells. While they wait, Samuel comes up to talk with Dean. Possibly to ask for his forgiveness or explain why he did what he did and we do have a very hot scene here.
DEAN: Oh, I understand… that you’re a liar. You talk about putting blood first, which is funny ’cause you sound just like my dad. The difference is, he actually did.
SAMUEL: I am putting blood first.
DEAN: Oh, gimme a break!
SAMUEL: Mary’s my blood! My daughter! Don’t come at me like I sold you out, Dean. You sold out your own mother. It was her or Sam, and you chose Sam, plain and simple.
DEAN: Oh, that is such crap! You wanna know what really happened? You chose a demon over your own grandsons!
SAMUEL: See it how you want. I don’t even know what Sam is. And you want me to protect him? And you? You’re a stranger. No, really, tell me: what exactly are you supposed to be to me?
DEAN: I’ll tell you who I am. I’m the guy you never wanna see again. ’Cause I’ll make it out of here, trust me. And the next time you see me, I’ll be there to kill you.
SAMUEL: Don’t think there’s gonna be a next time.
DEAN: Whatever gets you through the night.
Love this reference to John, and how he was true to his word while Samuel is a lying dick. Also interesting that Samuel tells Dean that by choosing to get Sam's soul back he sold out his own mother - which really doesn't make sense because Dean had suggested they get her back another way. And he tells Samuel that by reminding him that he actually chose a demon instead of his grandsons - in other words, he trusted a demon to get Mary back over Dean's promise that they would help him get her back. We also find out that Samuel had strong misgivings about soulless Sam, and Dean was just a stranger to him. Blood, basically, means nothing.
Dean threatens to kill Samuel when (because he will) he gets out - which of course reminds us of that hot scene back in Dark Side of the Moon, and also reminds me now of how Sam threatened Cas that he would find and kill him if HE didn't help. It's truly (Soulless) Sam and Dean against the world here. Absolutely no one besides Dean is willing to help Sam get his soul back unless threatened into it. Dean remains with Sam despite soullessness, on the hope that some day he will get his soul back and be who he used to be. He could have just left Sam. He could have gone back to Lisa and Ben and tried to fix things with them. Lisa would probably have taken him back if he left Sam. But he doesn't. He doesn't give up. Which kind of reminds me of the scene in Swan Song.
Anyway, back to the cells. Samuel looks a bit worried after Dean's threat. If he's heard about how Sam and Dean sold their souls to save eachother, then he has also heard how they have gotten through some really dangerous situations too. I don't know if he decides to get the demons to take Dean first or not, but we do see him watching Dean in the corridor as the demons take Dean to another room and then proceed to throw two monsters in with him to finish him off.
While that's happening, Sam is wondering how he can get out of his cell. He sits down in the corner of his cell and bites his arm. We know that he is sucking blood in order to make a devil's trap. What I want to know is HOW ON EARTH did he get that devil's trap on the ceiling without any resources. IS HE SECRETLY SPIDERMAN? DID HE CLIMB THE WALLS??
Dean is fighting the monsters as Sam gets out of his cage - yeah, there you go with the caged heat reference. He's doing good but there are two and Sam gets there just in time to spike the last with a pipe, which we must assume is iron. Note Sam's lovely hair as he runs ;)
DEMON: What are you laughing at?
Dean appears behind him, grabs the knife out of his hand and stabs him in the back.
MEG: Dean Winchester’s behind you, meatsack.
Next they are off to find Meg. I have a question... how did demon Christian get the demon knife? Meg had Cas' sword right? Did Christian get the knife from Crowley when he apprehended Sam and Dean? We do have an awesome scene where Dean comes up and kills Christian. He didn't really have to save Meg here. He could have just taken the knife, I'd think. Meg told them to kill Crowley. But they are living up to their word to let her kill him, and they do owe her for holding off the hell hounds. I like Dean's angry face as he helps her get free. They then proceed to draw a devil's trap for Crowley and pull the alarm to get him to come. I can understand that it would be possible to make a devil's trap on the ceiling in this room, since there's a lot of equipment.
Meanwhile, Crowley is going into the Djinn's cell to interrogate her, but when he hears the alarm, he goes to investigate.
Crowley is caught. After Meg tortures him for a bit, Crowley tells them that no, he cannot get Sam's soul from Hell. He just barely got Sam's body out, let alone his soul. Now this is the story we hear from Cas later too, so I'm assuming that Cas told Crowley this. Then Crowley also tells Sam and Dean what he thinks of getting Sam's soul back:
CROWLEY: You don’t. But it doesn’t change anything. I’m telling you. Sam, why do you want the thing back? Satan’s got one juicy source of entertainment in there. I’d swallow a rag off a bathhouse floor before I took that soul. Unless you want to be a drooling mess.
MEG: Sam, I hate to say it, but he’s right.
What does Crowley care if Sam becomes a drooling mess anyway, but I guess Crowley is hoping they will let him go and thinks they will give up on the soul if he tells them this. And this just really bothers me because Cas told Dean this too. It makes me think that there is a reason why both are saying the same thing to dissuade Sam for some reason.
Sam tells Meg she can kill Crowley and Meg - after just saying that the best torturer doesn't get his hands dirty - goes into the devil's trap to do just that and dumb, dumb.
(love this and the following cap of Meg!!)
She is overpowered and Crowley has the demon knife, slams it into the devil's trap on the ceiling to be free, flings Sam and Dean to the walls and is just ready to kill Meg when Cas reappears, this time with Crowley's bones (supposedly).
May I remark on the perfect timing for Cas to save Meg and the boys, and also preparedness with regard to the bones? All the more reason to think that him being blown away in the previous scene was a setup as well. Also, Meg's expression! Is she in love?! <3<3
Cas confirms one last time with Crowley that he cannot restore Sam's soul and then burns the bones. Lovely fire :P Then Meg skedaddles before Dean can kill her and they are done.
DEAN: Well, she’s smart, I’ll give her that. I was gonna kill her, too. ’Course, I’d have given you an hour with her first.
CASTIEL: Why would I want that?
Why indeed? :DDD
Sam, Dean and Cas are outside by the car.
CASTIEL: Crowley was right. It’s not going well for me upstairs.
DEAN: If there’s anything we can do –
CASTIEL: There isn’t. I wish circumstances were different. Much of the time I’d rather be here.
DEAN: Look, Cas, we know you got a steaming pile on your plate. There’s no need for apologies. We’re your friends.
CASTIEL: Listen, Sam, we’ll find another way.
Interesting that Dean finally asks Cas if they can help and tells him there's no need for apologies that he can't be there for them all the time. Possibly the fact that Cas saved their lives has something to do with that, since until now, he's been a tad bitter about Cas not being there for them.
SAM: You really wanna help? Prison full of monsters. Can’t just leave ’em, can’t let ’em go.
CASTIEL: I understand.
(Yay! more souls for purgatory!)
DEAN: He’s right, you know?
DEAN: About your soul. We’ll figure something else out.
SAM: No, we won’t.
DEAN: Why, because Crowley said –
SAM: You heard what Crowley said. And I heard what Cas said. Putting this thing back in would smash me to bits.
DEAN: We don’t know that for sure.
SAM: You know what? When angels and demons agree on something, call me nuts, I pay attention.
Soulless Sam is logical at all times, and it seems pretty logical to him that he is better off without his soul at this point.
SAM: I don’t think I want it back.
DEAN: You don’t even know what you’re saying.
He doesn't really know what he is missing does he. He can only think logically at this point. It was pretty amazing he wanted his soul back to start with.
SAM: No, I’m saying something you don’t like. You obviously care, a lot. But I think maybe I’m better off without it.
DEAN: You’re wrong. You don’t know how wrong you are.
Dean does care. And Sam's soul would care as well. But soulless Sam cannot.
DEAN: Sam, don’t walk away. Sam! Sam!
Sam has no use for Dean anymore now that he doesn't want his soul back. He leaves, but Dean still doesn't give up.