Let me start with the music as usual - I missed that last episode...
"Hellhound on My Trail" by Robert Johnson
(played by Robert Johnson in the first flashback scene of the episode)
"Crossroad Blues" by Robert Johnson
(plays during the flashback scene with Johnson at the Crossroads)
"Downhearted Blues" by Son House
(playing in George's apartment, when Sam and Dean question him)
"Key to the Highway" by Big Bill Broonzy
(plays on the radio in the Impala as Sam talks to Dean about John)
"Chaos Surrounds You" by Brian Tichy
(Dean turns up the radio to end further discussion on whether or not he considered making the deal)
"Hair of the Dog" by Nazareth
(plays during the "Soon" preview for upcoming episodes)
The episode itself starts in Greenwood Mississippi with some wonderful guitar music by Robert Johnson (the actor looks very much like him on the record jacket) which ends abruptly as he hears howling of "dogs" outside, runs ... back home?... and dies of what looks like a seizure. The trivia in Supernatural Wiki notes that he made the deal in 1930 and died in 1938... so I guess he could have gone crazy from the horror of what was to come before his 10 years was up.
Sam and Dean are sitting at a diner, Sam is finding that Dean is now officially in FBI data base and wanted in St. Louis. Dean is making silly remarks and is quite cheerful - teasing Sam that he must be jealous.
What do you got on the case there, you innocent, harmless young man, you?
Sam tells Dean of a possible "black dog" case and they are on their way to investigate. First they go by a colleague of the architect(Sean Boyden) who threw himself off of his own building, posing as journalists. The colleague tells them of how sudden the success of the said architect was - ten years ago.
There was a time where he couldn't even design a pup tent.
When they go to ANIMAL PROTECTION AGENCY to get a list of others who had seen this "black dog," we have a cute scene showing Dean who has successfully used his charms to get the necessary information (as well as some other extra information) as usual.
It seems they have checked out quite a few houses before they finally get to Dr. Pearlman's house and find the connection between her and the architect - Lloyds Bar.
She's gotta be what, forty two, forty three? That's pretty young for that job.
After seeing the picture of the pretty young doctor, we see her half-crazed face wild with fear (I seriously can't tell that it is the same woman) as she hears a loud banging at the motel where she is hiding. That motel clerk has a rather scary face already so it's very scary when his face changes shape from the doctor's hallucinations.
Back to Sam and Dean as they arrive at Lloyds, Dean figures out what the crossroads has been used for from the flowers planted on each side and they dig up the box of spell ingredients.
I'm willing to bet that's graveyard dirt.
These people are actually making deals with the damn thing. You know, 'cause that always ends good.
We see the hell hounds have caught up with the doctor and she dies a gruesome death. *shudder*
We also get a flashback to Robert Johnson sealing the deal with a beautiful woman/demon(actress happens to be the same as Lori's roommate in Hookman) in 1930 - The point being, I guess, to educate Sam and us on the lyrics of Robert Johnson's songs:
Sam, there's, there's occult references all over his lyrics...
...and show that the demon would seal the deal with a kiss?
Now that they know that it is really people making crossroad deals with a demon and it is hell hounds that are after them, Dean gets flippant, telling Sam they had no need to try to help these people who have dug their own graves. Sam can't believe what he's hearing - it's not like Dean. He tells Dean that they have to try to help them but Dean is reluctant. He is already thinking of the possibility that dad had made a deal with the YED just as these people were making deals with the crossroads demon. Maybe he is not only feeling disgust for these people but also anger toward dad. But finally, on Sam's urging, they go find the man whose picture was in the spell box they found-George Darrow.
We are introduced to goofer dust for the first time:
Usually if you want to keep something evil out, you go for the salt.
We have some interesting banter between George and Dean, that I've actually seen someone used in their signature banner to nice effect:
George: What, you boys think you know somethin' about somethin' but not Goofer dust?
Dean: Well, we know a little about a lot of things. Just enough to make us dangerous.
They find out that George feels so bad for calling the demon and allowing it to make deals with others at Lloyds that he's willing to go to hell to pay for what he's done. He's tired (remind you of John? or Dean later on?)...all he wants is a few more hours to finish his last painting. He doesn't let them help him - which is hard for Sam to accept. One interesting thing George says that I think is quite meaningful in this episode is that he wanted his life to mean something. We (and Dean maybe) are being given reason to understand why they did what they did - not money, not babes in Princess Leia bikinis but meaning to their lives. But, when they go to visit the last deal taker - Evan Hudson - they find someone whose reason for the deal comes too close to Dean's personal experience for comfort.
Evan had made a deal to save his wife, who would have died of cancer. He tells them, "I was desperate. I would have died for her on the spot." The word desperate reminds me of Faith - and we know how much Sam and Dean would do for each other. Dean, who has been thinking of his dad, reacts strongly to this and we have a similar outburst to what we saw in CSPWDT (and what Sam tells Dean a little later).
But what if she knew how much it cost? What if she knew it cost your soul? How do you think she'd feel?
Evan Hudson knows exactly what is going to happen and is facing it like a man - like George - but, he's got someone to live for so if Sam and Dean can help him, he's willing to let them. Dean has an idea and Sam, after the outburst, knows what Dean is thinking. Dean is also feeling desperate, and Sam is worried Dean is going to do something stupid.
I can trap it. I can exorcise it, and I can buy us time to figure out something more permanent.
You think Dad made a deal don't you?
He tries to stop Dean but the hell hounds are there and they don't have time to argue. Sam goes back to line the room with the goofer dust and Dean is on his way to the crossroads.
We see Dean putting his picture in the spell box and burying it in the dark (I wonder if he used the same box and ingredients except for his picture...). When the demon arrives, it is, of course, in the form of a beautiful woman. Here is a beautiful shot of Dean when he sees her.
I'm just glad it worked.
First he tries to trap her in his car with a devils trap under it (very original), but the demon sees the lines before she gets in.
I like the portrayal of this demon very much - her anger when she sees the devils traps (both times) is so fun to watch, her maneuvering and evil whispering to Dean are so sexy and evil. And we see all sorts of expressions on Dean, which remind me of the interrogation scene between Sam and Diana in the last episode - except it is so much harder on Dean and we know from the last scene that it is not all an act. She tells him what he already suspected - that dad had made a deal with YED and was in hell. She tells him exactly what he feels - that it is all his fault. She gives him a deal that is so hard to refuse - his life for dads with a 10 year bonus. (That's so much better than the one his dad got and the one he gets later...) . But somehow he is able to resist and as he traps her, asks cheekily if she can add a set of steak knives to the deal.
Now you're really trapped.
Back at Evan's, the hell hounds have almost got Evan but Dean gets the deal out of the demon just in time and we see the demon sealing the deal with a kiss ("I usually like to be warned before I'm violated with demon tongue").
As Dean and Sam drive away, Dean talks about how he had not wanted dad's legacy to be that of selling his soul and going to hell - that he wished dad had gone down fighting instead of making a deal with the demon he had been searching all his life. Sam counters that the people that Dad has saved through Sam and Dean - that is his legacy. That they have to keep going for his sake.
Sam has a question that's being bugging him-
"When you were trapping that demon, you weren't... I mean, it was all a trick, right? You never considered actually making that deal, right?"
When Dean does not answer, but instead turns the music up, we see the pain in Sam's face.
It is interesting to think of why the demon was willing to give him such a deal and why, in the end, Dean did not take it... I think maybe the demons were already seeing John to be hard to crack down there... and maybe Dean was looking to be more of a catch. It would have had to be a pretty good deal for Dean to even consider it. As to Dean not taking the deal, it could have been the fact that dad would not have been happy to come back and find out what Dean had done... it could have been that he didn't want to do what his father had... maybe he was thinking of what Sam would think... or the deal was too good to be true.
I've been thinking of how it was interesting that in Salvation, Dean did not try to stop dad from "buying them time" while he stopped Sam from going into the burning building - His not taking the deal for dad here, while taking it for Sam later... it is the same. It's all about his mission to "look out for Sammy."
What do you think?