As a seasonal theme, this episode I think really makes us think about sacrifices made for vengeance, friendship and for family. In particular, it deals a lot with the sacrifice of human victims of demon possession for the sake of the cause and also for family.
I think from Bobby's speech and Dean's later in Season 10, the message is quite clear that vengeance is never a good idea. If you are going to go after the bad guy it should be because it is the job - to save people... for love in other words, not because you want to get back at them for what they did to you. I've already talked about how vengeance sidetracked Sam and Dean from the real problem in Season 6. And vengeance in this season leads to Sam and Dean having to sacrifice way too many lives, and almost one of their own. Our heros are not perfect. They are flawed. Just like we all are. Personally, that's a big reason why I love them.
The Devil's Chasing Me" by Reverend Horton Heat (plays when Kevin and Mrs. Tran are getting tattooed)
We start the episode with an old man picking up his valuable giant’s finger bone from a bank safe. (Huh… he sure uses a much safer safe than Kevin did LOL.) There he kills a virgin to get a part of her. Not quite sure if it was needed to use the bone, or he just thought ⅝ of a virgin was valuable and would add to his bid.
Sam, Dean and Kevin at a nice little cafe again. Dean, of course, is eating. Kevin is in a foul mood because he still feels very bad for getting his friend killed. Kevin basically let his friend get killed, who was still alive while possessed by the demon, in order to save himself and Sam and Dean - possibly with the thought that he had the key to banishing all demons off the face of the Earth so this one life was worth the sacrifice. I know this is something many fans are bothered about in the later seasons - Sam and Dean killing demons without thought for the humans possessing them. And it is so blatant in these two episodes that I can only conclude that this is something the writers wanted us to notice and think about.
Kevin wants to go and check on his mom to see that she is alright. Dean tells him that of course she is. The demons are keeping her safe and using her as bait to catch Kevin. Kevin tells them it’s his mother - FAMILY. He has to go and check on her. Sam agrees he has a point (Sam’s smiling here - enjoying Dean’s discomfort of having to take a break from his quest? Or he just likes listening to Dean arguing with someone else for a change? I get the feeling here that Sam is not as in the game as Dean is. He is not as desperate to get the tablet, or to go on their quest.
Dean reluctantly agrees to take Kevin before going to get the tablet. I have to mention that this situation is very similar to Dean’s situation with Benny in Purgatory. He tells Benny I’m not teaming up with you unless you help me find Cas, and Benny has no choice but to go. Kevin has the advantage over Sam and Dean because he’s the one that knows where the tablet is, and he’s not telling unless they take him to his mom.
They drive by the house and find Mrs. Tran worried but alive (as Dean had said), peeking out the window. They also find three demons guarding the place, and thus some badass Sam and Dean action.
They then go to the front door and Kevin says hi to mom before they squirt her with holy water (LOL). Just as they go in, they smell sulfer and find a demon escaping from Mrs Tran’s friend.
SAM: Do you smell that?
Sam quickly says the exorcism backwards and traps the demon in the body, and Dean runs her through.
I remember when I watched this live, we were all thrilled with Sam being able to do something like that, and I am especially impressed thinking about his one year away from hunting - unless he thought of that kind of thing during that time because he was so bored LOL
Despite their assurance that this was a demon, Mrs. Tran has to ask whether they had really had to kill her - because Eunis was HER FRIEND. Sam explains that the demons would have run back to Crowley if they hadn’t and that they will be getting the tablet so that this kind of thing never had to happen again, and Kevin nods in agreement. This is important. That Kevin also thought that this was necessary. Mrs Tran is finally convinced that this is what they had to do to keep Kevin safe. I will point out that if they had not gone to “save” Mrs Tran as Kevin insisted, they wouldn’t have had to kill anyone, but of course Mrs. Tran could have been used by Crowley later, and possibly even killed, so if Kevin wanted to save his mom, they probably had to sacrifice these people. When it comes to saving family, there is no sacrifice too big. Again, I'm not condoning this, but I do understand how matter-of-fact they can be about it.
This episode, Dean especially seems cold with regard to the sacrifice of people who are not his closest friends or family. That’s how he survived in Purgatory. Cold, and yet it’s not because he doesn’t care, it’s because he is still suffering from the thought that he let Cas down, and left him to die. Almost like he’s not letting himself feel at all. He’s acting very much like Soulless Sam except for in times when someone says something that reminds him of Cas and makes a crack in his wall.
Mrs. Tran does not listen to Sam and Dean telling her that she should stay in a safe place while they take care of things. She is adamant that she is going too and her talk about her soul and Kevin’s is a prophecy of what happens later on.
SAM:Ms. Tran, all due respect, Dean's right. Crowley – he's not just a killer. He trades in torment. And if he can find a way to separate your soul from you, he'll take that soul to Hell and – and roast it till there's nothing left but black smoke. Look, it's best if you let us handle this.
MRS TRAN:I understand. But it's not my soul I'm worried about. It's my son's.
I just love watching Sam show Kevin and his mom his tattoo. I also love Kevin’s mom, and Kevin, Sam and Dean not being able to sway her into staying where it was safe.
(Kevin's response to mom indicating this is not her first tattoo!)
They take her and Kevin to be tattooed… unfortunately totally meaningless *headdesk* But Mrs. Tran totally taking it while Kevin is heeing and huffing is pretty great. More important is Dean’s little comment here:
DEAN: Smell that Sammy?
SAM: What? Burning flesh?
DEAN: Revenge. So close.
This again takes us back to the reason they are doing this - revenge to get back at the demons that killed their mother, Jesse, and other people they loved.
Next stop the train station locker in which Kevin had put the tablet. The way Sam and Dean check the whole place for demons or other threat before opening the locker is rather cool but they open the locker and find only a diaper bag. The tablet has been stolen. Sam smirks (again) and Dean tells him to shut up - which is very interesting to me, along with Sam's smile while Dean argued with Kevin earier, like Sam is not as intent on the cause as Dean is. He's just kind of going along because Dean wants him to and making fun of Dean every time things don't go his way.
Talking with the manager, they find out that someone had been raiding those lockers for a while and we wonder if maybe Plutus had found out about Kevin and the tablet stored in the locker somehow and had been looking for it. But the person who had stolen it was now arrested and so they go talk with the guy.
So, maybe Plutus had brainwashed this guy into looking for it and then once he sold it to the pawn shop, he let the guy get caught… OR maybe the guy is Plutus’s man. This guy looks like a murderer or at least some sort of mafia guy LOL just like Plutus. Sam is trying to get him to talk by promising him a little “something something” with the locals, but his conditions are way too high for Sam to be able to say yes to, especially because Sam’s not a real Fed LOL.
Dean’s listening to them talk and watching this smarmy guy and he goes back to his purgatory days, when he was interrogating monsters to try to find Cas. In the interrogation room, he’s taking off his tie and suddenly he’s behind the guy, choking him with the tie and slamming him against the wall, a knife to his neck. And the whole time he’s asking the guy for the info, he’s still in his dream world in Purgatory as well.
Sam’s shouting at him to stop (or just being the good cop?) and the guy finally blabs that he sold it to a pawn shop. This scene was brilliant. HOT while furthering the purgatory storyline and reminding us of Dean’s PTSD.
It’s interesting to think of the parallels between the Purgatory scene and the scene at the precinct. The goal of finding Cas/finding the tablet, having Sam/Benny with him to do the first questioning, putting the knife to his victim’s throat to get some answers. What is different of course is that he kills the monster while he controls himself and doesn’t kill this guy. We see a similar scene later.
Next scene they are pulling up to the pawn shop where a nice red Ferrari is parked. Kevin likes what he’s seeing but Mrs. Tran pulls him away and they go inside.
Dean tries to threaten the guy into telling them who he sold it too, again Purgatory style, but there are cameras all over the place and that doesn’t work.
Then Mrs. Tran with her Tax threats on the car, to which Sam adds his two cents and impresses Mrs. Tran. This works like a charm, impressing Dean as well, and they get the address. This scene is pretty fun again. Love the badass music :D
The address is to a motel room but when they get there, there is no one there, until suddenly Plutus's Secretary (I don't even care to check his name LOL) suddenly appears and invites Kevin and his mother to the auction.
(Sam's L'OREAL HAIR scene!! THIS is where it's from :D)
Of course Sam and Dean can come along. It’s the safest place on earth and they will be able to protect their “profit” or “prophet” ? GODS y’all! How stupid? But Sam and Dean, and the Trans think there is no other choice and Dean starts trying to gather money etc. from everyone to put in their bid for the tablet. They obviously don’t have enough. Sam turns to Baby suggestively (Blasphemy!).
DEAN: Say it, and I will have to kill you, your children and your grandchildren.(Heee <3)
I just thought of something here... I wonder if Sam was kind of testing Dean in a way - to see how obsessed he was with this quest. Like I mentioned before, Sam himself doesn't seem so eager, plus he is a bit worried about Dean's PTSD probably, after the interrogation scene. So now he knows that Dean would never sell family for vengeance ;D
Figuring there is no way they can buy it, they decide they are going to find a way to read it, and so they go to the auction.
The auction scene… this is a scene that I didn't have a very good image of until now. Sam and Dean are so out of their league and at a disadvantage, and well, Hammer of the Gods was a similar situation but there, it was life or death while here, it’s about assets and money and… it’s rigged. They were totally tricked into going. They shouldn’t have. It’s only because they did that Kevin was put on auction as well. And all because they thought they could somehow win the tablet - or steal it. Arg. This rewatch though, I found the scene itself to be sprinkled with important moments as well as funny, and I could enjoy the embarrassing situation a bit more.
Going on, at the auction they find various “monsters” with their various treasures, in their bid for various objects of power. Crowley is no exception, and an angel is there as well, to try to get the tablet for themselves - Or protect the tablet as Samandriel (Alfie) says.
DEAN: I'm coming back for this.
As they go through a metal detector, Dean has to give up all his weapons, and this is a funny scene reminding me of a similar scene somewhere … Star Wars?
The tablet is in a glass case but surrounded by metal plating so it can’t be read.
CROWLEY:And what, pray tell, could possibly have been plan "A"? Bring the Prophet to the most dangerous place on Earth, memorize the tablet, and then vamoose? Hello, boys.
Crowley is totally making fun of Sam and Dean for coming, saying it’s the most dangerous place on earth - the opposite of what the Secretary guy said, and probably true.
We have an awesome scene where Mrs. Tran punches him in the face when he calls her a pretty young thing. :D It becomes dangerous between Crowley and Dean but Sam reminds Dean that they might be thrown out if they make a scene and he abstains.
SAM:He's right, Dean. It's not worth it.
CROWLEY:Listen to Moose, Squirrel.
We have an important and very touching scene here where Samandriel comes up to Dean and asks about Castiel.
SAMANDIRIEL: You know, there are some in Heaven who still believe, despite his mistakes, that Castiel's heart was always in the right place.
DEAN:Are you one of them?
SAMANDIRIEL: I think too much heart was always Castiel's problem.
And then Dean has another flashback,
remembering how he found Cas and Cas had told him and Benny that the reason why he ran was to protect Dean, and that Dean should leave him because he was a magnet. Dean doesn’t though. Despite Benny telling him that there was no guarantee an angel could get out and that Cas would be a liability, Dean tells Cas that there is no discussion. They are going together.
This flashback was triggered by the angel saying how much heart Cas has, but also shows Dean’s loyalty to his friends, which impresses Benny strongly as we will see in future episodes.
I’ve actually watched a few more eps of Season 8 with my son, and so I know that this - Dean and what he does for friendship - is also a theme. There is a sort of hierarchy of who is worth sacrificing, who is saved and who cannot be sacrificed ever. That doesn’t mean Dean doesn’t feel bad about it, as we see later. But with a world saving(??) quest where demons would be locked up forever (screams vengeance), Dean, Sam and even Kevin believe that sacrifice is necessary (as long as it’s not your family) - which actually reminds me of Crowley’s words last ep. “In order to bake a cake, you have to break a few eggs.”
The four are looking at the auction with open mouths as things like Dwarven Gold come up. We find out what the old guy wanted with his bone and ⅝ of a virgin - Thor’s Hammer. While this is happening, Crowley whispers to Sam, asking him why they want the tablet so much.
CROWLEY:Don't know why you're so keen on that hunk of dirt. So it tells you how to blast back a few demons? I'll just make more. Can't get rid of all of my black-eyed boys, Samantha.
SAM:Yeah, we'll see.
He doesn’t know that there is a way to close the gates of hell for ever, yet.
Getting discouraged by how impossible it seems to get the tablet, Dean tells Sam he’s going to go to the washroom. On the way he happens to see a servant taking the treasures to the safe room. He decides he’s going to go and see if he can sneak in. I loved seeing Dean pick the guy’s pocket for the key LOL He gets in, but there are guards inside and he has to go back to his seat. Funny scene there :D
DEAN:This isn't the men's room.
It’s time to bid for the tablet, and Crowley is pretty funny with all his bids against the angel Samandriel - the real Mona Lisa that was topless, the Moon, because the astronaut had sold his soul LOL (How could a man with a name like Buz go to the moon without selling his soul?) Plutus is not happy with any of the bids so Kevin is also put on auction along with the Tablet since he was necessary to read it. That puts Mrs. Tran in the picture. Desperate to save her son, the only thing she can think of that she can give is her soul, and that is deemed the most worth because it is her everything.
PLUTUS:It's not about the quantity, chief. It's about the sacrifice. This little lady's soul is the most valuable thing she has. It's everything. Are you willing to offer everything, Mr. Crowley?
PLUTUS:Mr. Crowley, you don't have a soul. Congrats, sweetheart.
And she successfully buys the tablet and Kevin back. This reminds me of what she said earlier - It’s not my soul I’m worried about, and also reinforces the family sacrifice theme very clearly. The boys obviously understand why she did it, although they feel very bad that she had to do it. Family is worth selling your soul over. And Dean especially thinks they got of easy. One life for closing the gates of Hell forever.
They talk a bit about losing your soul and what that is like with her (Sam sure knows a lot about that), then she asks them to leave her alone.
As she is about to leave the room, the angel Alfie comes and talks with her, telling her that if she will put Kevin into the Angel’s care, they will keep him safe. Mrs. Tran has seen those same angels killed while trying to protect Kevin, so she can’t trust Kevin to them.
MRS. TRAN: No offense, but I’m going to take my chances with them.
This is a bold statement and shows quite a bit of trust in the Winchesters, probably because they are the ones who brought Kevin back to her.
However, this is when Plutus’s secretary stops her from leaving the room and burns off her tattoo, selling out Plutus out for a little island in the South Pacific. Crowley, who has been taught a few loopholes, possesses Mrs. Tran.
Finally Mrs. Tran seems ready to give her soul to Plutus. Flanked by the Winchesters, she reaches out her arm to take Plutus’s thereby giving over her soul.
I don’t know what Crowley was planning to do - maybe let her give her soul and then possess the soulless body and take Kevin and the tablet, still pretending he was Mrs. Tran. Fortunately, Dean notices the burned skin where the tattoo used to be and Crowley comes to the forefront. First the secretary kills the god with some sort of spike, Crowley pulls the spike through the body, flings everyone around a bit and then runs out the door, saying that one is better than none - he’s given up on taking Kevin as well.
MRS TRAN!CROWLEY: One out of two ain't bad.
Dean goes after him, while the secretary starts shooting at them with his pistol.
Another important thing here is that Kevin tries to go after Dean when Dean rushes after Mrs. Tran!Crowley. And Sam shouts to him:
SAM: Kevin, don’t. Let Dean take care of it.
I wonder what Sam is thinking here. Maybe he is thinking it was possible Dean might kill Mrs. Tran and thought it best that Kevin not see it, or even get in the way… Very interesting. It makes me think a bit differently about his question to Dean later.
Sam sees the old man who successfully got his Thor Hammer and either the man gives it to Sam to use, or Sam takes it from him and kills the Secretary who is about to shoot Kevin talking about 2 islands instead of one.
then turns back to the old guy and is about to give it back when he gets stuck on where the old man might have obtained the ⅝ of a virgin. Realizing that he had killed an innocent girl (a virgin, god-forbid) to get it, he flings the hammer at the guy and kills him too - the old man disappears while a pile of clothes is left on the floor.
Dean has caught up to Crowley and somehow gets Crowley against the wall and has a knife to his throat, just like he did in his flashback and at the police station interrogation. (I’m curious as to why Crowley can’t just fling Dean away - he did before) There is a second there where Dean could have killed Kevin’s mom and Crowley together. It’s at that moment that Kevin comes in, and Dean hesitates. We wonder here, what he was thinking. I tend to think that he felt qualms about killing Kevin’s mom, even with the chance of killing Crowley and that is why he hesitated. Here’s another interesting thought - obviously Kevin would not have forgiven Dean for killing his mom, even if it killed Crowley, but I wonder what Mrs. Tran would have thought? If she had a chance, would she have told Dean to do it? We’ll never know, but it’s an interesting question to think about. Crowley takes the opportunity to get out of Mrs. Tran’s body and comes back in the door as himself, grabbing the tablet.
CROWLEY:Well, that was exciting. Good luck closing the gates to Hell...without this.
CROWLEY:I know we're not mates, Kevin, but one word of advice – run. Run far and run fast. 'Cause the Winchesters – well, they have a habit of using people up and watching them die bloody. Toodles.
Crowley now knows why they wanted the tablet from reading Mrs. Tran’s mind.
And Kevin, after seeing Dean try to kill his own mother, takes what Crowley said to heart.
Kevin could not think of killing his mom just to get rid of Crowley for good, even though he sacrificed his friend for the cause, because, family. And anyone who killed his mom for any reason would definitely not be his friend. Dean’s awkward little lectures on life seem meaningless and Kevin just wants some time alone with his mother, who is in shock and has not said a word since Crowley exited her.
Sam and Dean are waiting together in the other room and Sam asks Dean if he would have really killed Kevin’s mom.
SAM:Dean, were you really going to, uh...
DEAN:What? Slit soccer mom's throat? Yeah, I was. I wish I had.
DEAN:It was Crowley, Sam. No matter what meat suit he's in, I should have knifed him. I mean, yeah, it would have sucked, and I would have hated myself, but what's one more nightmare, right?
I get tears in my eyes looking at that expression on his face and remembering Defending your Life. Sam, I think, understands there at the end - or at least empathizes. But, I am curious as to what he was going to say after "Dean...." It's possible he is seeing Dean with his PTSD and wants to suggest that there is something wrong with him for thinking that way. But then, hearing the reason, he can't find an argument against it. I do think that just as Dean is suffering from the year away from earth (and letting go of Cas) and seems hardened, Sam is also less caring about the job or the cause because he has been away too.
Dean senses that it’s a bit too quiet in Kevin’s room and they go in to find that Kevin and Mrs. Tran are gone. A note says that now that the tablet is gone, they do not need him, so he is leaving. Sam is exasperated, saying that no, they might not need him but Crowley sure does and he is still in danger and better off with them than by himself. But Dean reads a bit more into that note - or maybe Kevin actually says this in the note.
DEAN: He thinks that the people I don’t need, they end up dead.
And Sam sees Dean in pain and tries to comfort him, but it’s here that Dean has another flashback, remembers how he had let go of Cas’ hand and let him go, when it had most mattered. He had let Cas go, and killed him.
That is what he has made himself believe had happened, as Cas tells him later. This scene just kills me. Tears are welling just thinking about it.
Well, this turned out to be quite long. So sorry. Hope it's worth the read.