Let's get right to business!
"Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas(plays during "The Road So Far" recap of events)
"Play with Fire" by The Rolling Stones(plays at Bobby's, and on the car radio when Dream!Sam drives)
We start the episode with Sam running through the streets - away from a police car that seems to be trailing him. The scene reminds me a bit of Yellow Fever and hell hound hallucinations. He goes into an alley and hides as the car goes past, then lets himself through the back door of a bar where a woman bartender, Robin, is closing up shop.
On a rewatch, we know Sam is running through his memories, or inside his head, and that Robin herself is a woman from his past... but also part of his mind, half trying to influence him into staying oblivious, to protect him from the fate that would surely await him then.
When he barges into the store, at first she acts alarmed, and then wary of him, telling him to please leave after she sees that the police are after him. Sam appeals to her kind-hearted nature - telling her that he doesn't remember who he is, or why the police are after him, and she urges him to go to the doctor. But Sam needs to get somewhere quickly.
SAM: No. I don't have time.
ROBIN: Time for what?
SAM: Look, it's hard to explain, I just feel like I - I have to be somewhere. There's something I gotta stop.
ROBIN: Oh, like a wedding? A train?
SAM: No, something important. Something like life or death, like -
Even without memory of who he is or why he is there, he still remembers that someone (his brother) needs his help. I imagine that he must be able to sense if not hear the words of urgency that Dean is whispering into his ear.
As he looks through the bookshelf to find something that might trigger a memory, he finds THE book they had been talking of last episode, by H.P. Lovecraft. It's interesting to think of part of his mind throwing hints at him so he can remember, while other parts, like this girl are trying hard to stop him from remembering. Sam has a vision/hallucination in which he sees Bobby, Ben, Balthazar... (so many Bs!:D) and remembers the motel called The Night Owl.
He tells Robin thanks for everything and is about to leave to go to the Night Owl but Robin insists that she is going with him. His head is scrambled and he needs a driver that's sane. They go to the hotel and with Sam's memory that he always gets the room on the first floor closest to the fire escape (a rule we've seen in Season 2), then the memory of how to open locked doors with a credit card, they get into Sam's room. We, at least, know that it is Sam's room at first glance when we see the wall map of various memories including that of Eleanor, the Purgatory resident Bobby had tried to protect. Robin finds his various IDs which don't do much to tell them what his name is or improve his image. Sam goes to the sink to wash his face and stare at himself in the mirror -
then has another vision. This time the vision is clearer. He remembers walking through the alley with Dean and Bobby, looking for Eleanor, who'd phoned them and asked them to meet her there.
When Bobby rings her again, they find her crumpled up by the dumpster. She tells them that Crowley she could have handled, but when Cas stepped in, she couldn't take it any more and she told them everything about how to get into Purgatory. As she dies, Castiel appears -
CASTIEL: I'm sorry this had to happen. Crowley got carried away.
BOBBY: Yeah, I bet it was all Crowley you son of a bitch!
DEAN: You don't even see it, do you? How totally off the rails you are!
CASTIEL: Enough! I don't care what you think. I've tried to make you understand. You won't listen. So let me make this simple. Please, go home and let me stop Raphael. I won't ask again.
DEAN: Well, good, 'cause I think you already know the answer.
CASTIEL I wish it hadn't come to this. Well rest assured, when this is all over, I will save Sam, but only if you stand down.
DEAN: Save Sam from what?
First, Cas is lying about what happened with Eleanor, trying to pretend that he is not the person he has become. He also cannot listen to Dean's accusations - even if they are true. All he hears is Dean going against him despite how "reasonable" he has been. He is definitely feeling self righteous and cannot accept any kind of warning or disagreement. And then he goes and breaks Sam's wall to slow Dean down.
Now this is quite a serious crime in itself from our point of view but, why didn't he just kill them all? He's been killing his angel brothers and sisters right and left. He could have killed his three friends too and I guess the thing that is still stopping him from doing so is his "programming" as protector of these particular humans. He is also very sure of himself and thinks that if everything goes as planned, and Dean stands down like he asks, he will be able to put Sam together again so in his mind he's still being nice.
Thinking of this episode, I can't help but be reminded of First Born in Season 9.[Spoiler (click to open)]Cas talking about all the terrible mistakes he has made, and telling Sam that if he can change, Sam can too. Cas refusing to help Sam kill himself because nothing is worth Sam's life. Sam hugging Sam over the spell bowl. Just thinking of that scene while considering the terrible mistakes Cas made here makes me tear up because it just seems to me that with that hug, Sam showed Cas that he forgave him for these mistakes which made Sam suffer for so long after this and almost killed him.
But let's go back to Sam because Sam still doesn't remember who this Bobby character is, or Dean, or Eleanor, or Cas for that matter. He just catches his own name, Sam, and Bobby's name, and finding him in his address book, he decides to make his way to Bobby's to get his memory back. Robin, at first, is like - hey this is where I get off. Multiple identities and knowledge of breaking into hotel rooms, a spooky looking map of notes and articles on the wall etc., etc. She suggests that maybe he doesn't want to know what he really is either, but when Sam insists he is going to Bobby's to find out, she again gives in and decides to go with him.
They go out to the parking and Sam immediately recognizes the impala as "his car," but just as they are arguing about whether Sam should go or not, Soulless Sam comes up on the steps of the motel behind them. Sam senses him even before he shoots and the shot goes through the impala window.
But we do have a panic room scene in between, with Dean worriedly watching Sam, and then arguing with Bobby over wanting to help him somehow. Bobby reminds Dean that this is just what Cas wants - for him to be distracted and not be able to stop him from opening the gate.
BOBBY: You know, this is exactly what Cas wants. For you to fall to pieces. Just try to think of what Sam would want.
I had forgotten until now that there was a scene here of Sam driving the impala at night with that intent look on his face and his hand gripping the wheel at the top - reminiscent of Mystery Spot and of numerous times that Dean has done the same. The window is fixed here. We don't know what happened to soulless Sam either - whether he just disappeared, or Sam drove away to get away from him... most likely, Sam just jumps from the last scene to this one in his dream and doesn't notice. He does notice though that it smells like whiskey all of a sudden.
In the panic room, Dean is flashing a flashlight into Sam's eye.
With the light in his eye, the sky suddenly turns to day. Sam's driving goes wild and he screeches to a stop at the side of the road. Robin is spooked and Sam tries to explain -
SAM: It was night, and now it's day.
(Winchester logic :D)
Robin can't take it any more and decides to leave when Sam again senses something in the woods. He tells her to get in the car where it is safe and then goes to open the trunk. We can imagine the thoughts running through his head as he sees all those crazy weapons in the back. He picks out a shotgun and starts into the woods.
It's never a good idea to go into the woods looking for someone who's hunting you. In any horror film we'd be screaming at the screen and telling the person not to go in. Somehow that never occurs in the case of Sam, since of course he's not going to get killed. Instead he gets knocked on the head with a pistol. It seems soulless Sam cannot resist telling Sam where they are, how much more superior he is and how he is going to take over. Typical bad guy.
But let me think about these pieces of Sam for a bit. I've always thought of them as similar to the different personalities a person with multiple personality disorder would have. As far as I know of the disorder, such a situation comes from various traumatic experiences - often starting when they are young. Maybe they were abused and they dealt with the horror of it by letting a part of them - one personality that is particularly strong and protective - shoulder the memory of it while the other parts could be oblivious and thus still be able to function despite the trauma. In this case, the memories of soulless Sam and Hell that were locked behind the wall are personified as two separate personalities. The soulless Sam personality I guess could be the protective personality, trying to kill the Sam with no memories so that he would not go and ruin their chances by remembering everything, while hell-remembering Sam is the personality that actually should be pretty similar to what Sam becomes in Season 7. Shouldering all the worst memories of hell, worn out from hallucinations of Lucifer and remembrance of the pain he suffered in the cage. Literally asking Sam to kill him and let him out of his misery.
Also similar to multiple personality disorder is the way Sam has to incorporate all the pieces of himself in order to move on. One of the ways people with the disorder are "healed" or evolve and truly move beyond the trauma - is by incorporating all the personalities into one new personality who remembers everything. The difference of course is that while a person with multiple personality disorder can actually function without incorporating all the personalities into one, Sam can only wake up by incorporating all the personalities. I often think it is a bit strange that Sam HAD to choose to remember hell in order to wake up. I think it should have been possible for him to keep hell-remembering Sam in his mind to deal with these memories until such a time when he could be healed without extreme trauma. But this is where Sam's experience is different from a natural protective mechanism - first, that the wall was put up by Death and not naturally - and second, that it was broken by Cas and this again through unnatural means. He was forced to choose between incorporating all the personalities, and staying asleep. I sense that Robin might have been trying to urge Sam to stay asleep just a while longer until outside sources could help him heal without the trauma (like Cas coming to heal him, for example). But Sam feels the urgency of having to help Dean stop Cas from opening Purgatory and he can't wait.
I'm going a bit further into the story here so let's go back to where we were for a bit.
Once Sam finds out that soulless Sam intends to kill him, he's on the run. He finds a log to pretend he is hiding behind, leaves his jacket there and creeps up behind soulless Sam. Just as soulless Sam is figuring out that the jacket he shot is just that, a jacket, Sam shoots him from behind. I do think it is kind of neat that before soulless Sam gives up his part of Sam's memories, he realizes that Sam is not as weak as he thought he was. But then he has a warning - that there is someone more scary waiting for him.
Soulless Sam: You think I'm bad? Wait 'til you meet the other one.
As soulless Sam dies, a flow of light from soulless Sam enters Sam and Sam remembers everything from that year as soulless Sam as well as everything else except hell, it seems. Sleeping Sam has a seizure as this happens and Dean comes and tries to wake Sam.
Now, I thought for an instant that the light was part of Sam's soul, but it doesn't really make sense that soulless Sam would have part of Sam's soul because ... well... he's soulless. So the flow of light I guess should be seen as a personality and it's memories being incorporated into the "new" Sam.
As Sam gets back to the car and sees Robin, he tells her that now he remembers who she is. She was an innocent victim of a crossroads demon (ok... maybe not so innocent?) who soulless Sam had killed so that the demon didn't have any leverage against him. (Which totally reminds me of a scene with MoC Dean in Season 10...)
ROBIN: Didn't I tell you to turn back, that you wouldn't like what you found?
SAM: I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.
ROBIN: Not as sorry as you're gonna be.
I'm just imagining Sam remembering other instances as well, where he was ruthless in his hunting as soulless Sam and had killed people without any thought. The show doesn't really go into these memories, maybe because Sam had a taste of them right after he got his soul back and knew a bit of what to expect. These are memories that can be dealt with despite how awful he might feel about them - and he does feel bad about them, even though it may not be his fault. But Soulless Sam and Robin and even hell-remembering Sam are right when they say that Sam is not strong enough to deal with his hell memories. Not for long anyway.
If Soulless Sam had won back there in the woods, I don't think he would have gone to Bobby's to remember hell and reclaim Sam's body. The reason he didn't want his soul back was because he thought the memories of hell might break him mentally. It doesn't seem logical that he would go and retrieve memories of hell to take charge of Sam's body now that Sam has his soul. It would actually make more sense if the reason why he wanted to kill soulled Sam would be to stop himself from remembering hell and continue to do what he wants inside Sam's head as he sleeps.
Anyway, while that's happening, Dean has been having another shot of whiskey when Balthazar comes to visit Bobby and Dean. He tells them that they've got the angel proofing right this time in the panic room, so that's good news. Dean chastises Balthazar for being late, however, and Balthazar tells them that honestly, he had been wondering if he was doing the right thing by being a spy for them. Maybe he should be killing them instead? But he had decided to help them in the end and came bearing the address of where Cas and Crowley were hiding out. Dean again assumes that Balthazar will zap them there, but Balthazar refuses, telling them that they are going against someone really powerful and he's stuck his neck out quite enough already - which unfortunately is true. I don't know how Cas finds out that Balthazar told Dean or that Dean was on his way to the location, but he does, and he's not happy.
Here's a nice little moment where Dean looks back at Sam -
Jumping to Cas and Crowley -
Cas is telling Crowley that he is changing the terms of the agreement. He is now going to get 100 percent of the souls while Crowley gets none.
CASTIEL: Here are your options. You either flee, or you die.
CROWLEY: We made a pact. Even I don't break contracts like this.
CASTIEL: Flee, or die.
CROWLEY: (scoffs) Boy, just can't trust anyone these days. (Crowley disappears.)
This is the kind of thing the Winchesters would also have done without remorse and, if they had been in on the whole plan, they would definitely have suggested it.
And the awesome thing is finding out later that, while it looks like Cas is underestimating Crowley, he really is not. He's got an extra bottle of dog blood ready just in case things go sour. The not so great thing is that Crowley is totally underestimating Cas. Crowley is bound by his honor and the rules he lives by and believes that Cas would also be living by those same rules. He has forgotten that Cas believes that Dean and Sam stopping the apocalypse means that he is free of all rules. Maybe this is why I love Crowley so much. He understands the importance of rules for himself, and not just for others. He's evil, but he has pride in his honor. I always have a bad taste in my mouth when Sam and Dean deceive demons like Cas does here. It doesn't seem right that the "good guys" should be the ones going back on their word while the "evil monsters" are the ones keeping their word and having to be prepared to be deceived by the good guys.
Sorry, back to the story -
We have a quick scene of Sam finding hell-remembering Sam(from here on addressed as HR-Sam) and then we see Bobby and Dean in the panic room.
Bobby is telling Dean that they can't wait any longer. They have to go and stop Cas and Crowley from opening Purgatory. Dean turns to Sam.
DEAN: Alright, this is where we're gonna be, Sam. You get your lazy ass out of bed and come and meet us. Sammy, please.
This is the desperation that Sam feels, I think, as he goes through his trials in his mind. I really don't know if that was a good thing or bad. I wonder if Sam could have still come out of dreamland later. If it would have been better to have stayed a bit... especially considering he could not do anything to stop Cas.
In any case, Dean reluctantly leaves the address of where they will be and his gun by Sam's side and leaves with Bobby.
Sam meanwhile is dealing with hell-remembering Sam at Bobby's.
HR-SAM: Humpty Dumpty has to put himself back together again, before he can wake up. And I'm the last piece.
SAM: Which means, I have to know what you know. What happened in the cage?
HR-SAM: Trust me, you don't wanna know it.
SAM: You're right. But I still have to.
HR-SAM: Sam, you can't imagine. Stay here, go back, find that bartender, go find Jess, but don't do this. I know you. You're not strong enough.
SAM: We'll just have to see.
HR-SAM: Why is this so important to you?
SAM: You know me. You know why. I'm not leaving my brother alone out there.
HR-SAM: I'm not gonna fight you. But this is your last chance.
HR-Sam does not try to fight Sam. But he does tell Sam that 1) he has to incorporate all the pieces in order to be able to wake up, and 2)he can decide not to remember hell and go back and be with Jess or with Robin and live happily in the dream world.
This is the part that totally reminds me of WIAWSNB - actually the whole dream is very similar in the aspect that it is not the real world, but Sam and Dean both have the choice to stay there and live happily until they of course die in the outside world. And most probably, Sam would be able to live quite a long time, since he would be kept alive by Dean and Bobby for forever. It never hit me quite as much before, the fact that he could have been with Jess and lived a normal life if he wanted. And another big similarity is the reason Sam decides not to stay but instead take the risk of knowing what happened in hell. Because that is the reason why Dean left his dream world too - not because he wanted to save people (although of course he did) but because he couldn't leave Sam out in the real world to face everything by himself.
Out of order a bit, but I also love the part where Sam explains to HR-Sam why he knows that he is sleeping somewhere at Bobby's.
SAM: I had to. I'm here, right? Out there in the real world, I'm at Bobby's, aren't I?
HR-SAM: How do you know?
SAM: This whole time, I've smelt nothing but Old Spice and whisky.
Is it also symbolic that Sam puts down his gun and kills HR-Sam with the knife HR-Sam gives him? I guess it is much more personal than a gun and shows more resolve. Sam takes in all the memories of hell. Somehow he wakes up after that, sees the address and the gun and goes to find Dean and Bobby. How did he get there though? By taxi? He didn't drive did he?
But, let's get back to Cas now. Seems he has figured out that Dean is on his way and Balthazar is the traitor.
CASTIEL: First Sam and Dean, and now this. I'm doing my best in impossible circumstances. My friends, they abandon me, plot against me. It's difficult to understand.
And he stabs Balthazar in the back with an angel blade. I do love Balthazar's eyes shining as he dies. He looks like he is tearing up with emotion.
It's also interesting to think of all the back stabbing we have in this episode - both physical and metaphorical. Just counting the physical ones - they start with Sam shooting soulless Sam in the back, then Cas killing Balthazar, Dean trying to kill Raphael and then Sam trying to kill Cas. Metaphorically - Cas breaking Sam's wall? and going against his contract with Crowley, Balthazar being a double agent, and Crowley working with Raphael against Cas.... Let me know if you think of any others LOL
Dean and Bobby get to the location and find the place to be full of angel guards - but no demons. And just as they are talking about sneaking in, they hear a thudding that shakes the ground.
DEAN: T-rex, maybe?
I love this scene very much, from the puddle vibrating to the demon cloud swooping in from the direction of the full moon and the impala being flipped over. The way we see the impala being flipped with the headlights on is very cool.
Inside, Crowley is back and Cas is unable to burn him up as he usually does with demons because Crowley is being protected by Raphael. I love Crowley getting back at Cas here!
CROWLEY: Sweaty hands, mate.
CASTIEL: I don't understand.
CROWLEY: You can palm me all you want. I'm safe and sound under the wing of my new partner.
He tells Cas that they made a deal that Raphael would get the souls if he/she kept Crowley safe from all-comers.
CASTIEL: You fool. Raphael will deceive and destroy you at the speed of thought.
CROWLEY: Right, right, 'cause you're such a straight shooter. She, he, has offered me protection against all comers.
RAPHAEL: Castiel, you really think I would let you open that door? Take in that much power? If anyone is going to be the new God, it's me.
CASTIEL: He's gonna bring the Apocalypse, and worse.
CROWLEY: Hey, this is your doing, mate. I'm merely grabbing the best offer on the table. Now, you have two options. Flee, or die.
Crowley noting that Cas has gone back on his word just as he said Raphael would and throwing Cas' words "flee or die" back at him is awesome!
Cas throws the dog blood at Crowley and vanishes and Crowley and Raphael start on the ritual for opening Purgatory.
Dean and Bobby wake up upside down in the impala and somehow get out and go to stop Cas... and find that Cas is not there. Only Crowley and Raphael. I wonder what Dean and Bobby thought then. All sorts of ideas must have gone through their heads, ending with "Crowley must have screwed Cas over... we have to stop them in any case." I don't know if Dean would have thrown the angel knife if Cas had been the one there, but with Raphael, he doesn't hesitate. Unfortunately, Raphael is even stronger than Cas at this point. He senses the angel blade coming at him and catches it. Crowley then turns around and flings Bobby down the stairs, and Dean straight down from the top of the stairs to a table below the stairs and on to the floor.
And the two new partners go on with the ritual. (Here is the translation for what Crowley is saying) I loooove Raphael's triumphant little smile as he/she anticipates the gate opening, I love the puzzlement when it doesn't. And that goes for Crowley as well. Awesome moment.
CROWLEY: Mm-hmmm. Maybe I said it wrong.
CASTIEL: You said it perfectly. All you needed was this.
And Crowley figures out that the reason it didn't work was because they didn't use the blood from the container Cas had, which is now empty - because Cas has already done the ritual somewhere else. Raphael is a bit more dense. Cas then shows them his new power.
CASTIEL: You can't imagine what it's like. They're all inside me. Millions upon millions of souls.
CROWLEY: Sounds sexy. Exit stage Crowley.
Cas lets him go, because he thinks he can use Crowley to control hell. Raphael, on the other hand, he snaps his fingers and Raphael explodes into nothing - which is how he was killed both by Lucifer and by Raphael in Season 5.
Now that Raphael is dead, Dean urges Cas to please put the souls back into Purgatory. Cas doesn't need that kind of power any more. But Cas is drunk with power and can think of so much more he can do - like punish all those angels that were against him. Be an awesome GOD.
CASTIEL: Oh no, they belong with me.
DEAN: No, Cas, it's it-it's scrambling your brain.
I like the parallels between what Dean says here, and Sam's brain being scrambled by his wall being torn down.
As they are talking, Sam comes up behind Cas and pushes an angel sword into Cas, but Cas pulls it out of his back without any problem. He again doesn't kill Sam but instead tells him calmly that he is glad that Sam is back but he is not an angel so he can't be killed with an angel blade any more.
CAS: I'm your new God. A better one. So you will bow down and profess your love unto me, your Lord. Or I shall destroy you.
And everyone just stands there with horror on their faces.