As the ep starts, we see Cas killing Dean in the training room created by Naomi. Cold, calculated, efficient, no mercy. He breaks Dean’s arm, then pierces him through with the blade. Gahhhh...We get shots of Dean that we don’t get often. Dead, on the ground.
Such lovely closeups!
Then a whole bunch of Deans dead all over a warehouse-like room.
So we get the idea that Cas has practiced this a lot. But we also may be reminded of that scene of Cas having killed a whole bunch of Angels at the end of Season 6. We find out from Naomi later this ep that she is making Cas do this mission as atonement for what he had done to the angels previously, so this is very fitting - that Cas would be made to kill the person he loved over and over again, just as he killed so many angels.
Naomi is delighted. From this point, we know when we next see Cas, he may kill Dean. The suspense/excitement is pretty intense even on rewatch - even knowing what is going to happen, because Misha plays this so well. He did really well with switching to that rebooted Cas. But what Naomi didn’t do was erase his memory - she couldn’t, I guess, because he could not do his mission otherwise. And by remembering the past, Cas is able to withstand Naomi’s control over him enough that he can't kill Dean when the actual moment comes. The angel theme here is that Naomi believes the tablet is worth killing Dean over. She thinks it is the right thing to do, to protect the angels and heaven from the Winchesters and maybe use the tablet for something else. She may very well blame the Winchesters for what Cas did to the other angels.
Second scene is of the boys in the study. Sam is on the computer finding a case. Dean is checking out the various gadgets in the filing cabinets. Knives/swords and golden eggs with foul smelling stuff inside. (NEVER smell stuff like that Dean, you could be overcome with some ancient spell or even a deadly chemical!) Sam is coughing, and Dean is a bit worried.
DEAN:Hey, Doc Holliday, you all right over there?
SAM:Uh, yeah. Um... I'm fine. Just, uh, wrong pipe.
Sam says he is ok, but he coughs up blood. He hides it and throws the tissue away in the wastebasket. Dean knows there is something wrong and he has an exasperated expression here, like, "yeah, sure."
THEN Dean comes across an old first issue of Asian Beauties - which look mostly like Japanese girls. Wohoo! Dean’s eyes light up! These MoL aren’t so boring after all!
Gah… Love this scene. I love all the scenes in this ep. As I said, one of the best eps of the season for me. AWESOME.
Dean says, look at this! And Sam says, Dude, what's wrong with you?!
That reaction by Sam is totally weird. The line just doesn't work for me. Dean is as he is always is. There is nothing "wrong" with him having a bit of fun. But maybe that is the point. Sam is so intent on the trials that it frustrates him that Dean is seemingly just playing around. But Dean talks excitedly about how expensive the first edition would be on Ebay and it's a cute, and Sam can't help laughing at him.
Sam then says that there has been some killings and it looks like something they should look into.
SAM:Because each of the victims had severe burns around their eyes, hands, and feet, puncture wounds through the backs of their hands, eyes and internal organs liquefied.
DEAN: That sounds like us.
SAM:Yeah. Also, no link between any of the victims. Uh, one was a real-estate agent. Another was a local historian. Woman killed last night was a teacher.
DEAN:So, chupacabra. (Sam chuckles)
DEAN: What do we got? Power tools gone rogue? Wait -- are we talking a-a "Maximum Overdrive" situation here?
SAM:I don't know. Worth a shot, though. I'll grab my gear. We should probably leave in five.
SAM:'Less, of course, you need some more time with Miss October.
DEAN::What? Oh. Yeah. Yeah, make it 10.
Sam does get a little grin in here and Dean grins back and it is totally cute!!!
As Sam goes off, Dean glances down at the wastebasket and sees the blood. Huh. He waits for the best time to bring it up.
Next scene is of them asking questions on location. They find out from one of the victims husbands that the woman had been acting weird for a while before she was killed. She had made a scale model of the town as it used to be and collected dirt all around the town - from deep down in the ground - and we know on rewatch that she was trying to find Lucifer’s crypt where the angel tablet was hidden, and that she was possessed by a demon, because her husband saw her eyes turn black.
All the people killed seemed to be acting strange like this lady, so they must be demons too, and someone is going around killing demons. Is that good or bad? they wonder, which points us to the theme I mentioned before.
DEAN:So, somebody's killing demons. Well, that is awesome. I feel like we should send a card or flowers. What kind of flower says "thanks for killing demons"?
SAM:Yeah, but who's killing demons? And why? And, by the way, since when does a demon possess someone, then go all "Beautiful Mind" and -- and start digging in the dirt? Does any of this seem right to you?
DEAN:I like the part about killing demons. That sounds right.
They next go to the house of a woman that saw this demon last. The woman has curlers in her hair. She is a PhD candidate and is studying about the history of the town. It seems that the town was wiped away in a flood a long time ago, she was trying to recreate the map of the old town. Pretty neat stuff. Love archaeology. But also the fact that the town was destroyed in a flood, sounds like some force was at work - probably God’s or Lucifer's if the purpose was to hide the tablet. And I’m wondering why Lucifer HAD the tablet. Did he steal it from the original place? Was he planning to use it to destroy the angels? Maybe in the last battle? A real cool story behind this that I wish they could someday go into.
As they are talking, some people ring the doorbell. When the woman opens it thinking it's the killed woman's assistan she talked to on the phone, she finds two demons - well, she doesn’t know they are, but they show their black eyes and she screams and there is a little battle and Sam is almost overcome. All of a sudden there's Cas, killing the demon with an angel blade and saving Sam. Then the poor girl in curlers gets to swallow a demon and Cas catches her before she bolts, but Sam and Dean are just open-mouthed. CAS?!
SAM:Wait a second. Cas. How about you answer some questions first? Like, where the hell have you been?
DEAN:You heard me, didn't you?
SAM:You prayed to him?
CASTIEL:Yes, I heard you. But that's not why I'm here. I've been hunting demons.
We had a similar case before didn't we? When Dean prayed to Cas about Soulless Sam and Cas came - not because of Dean praying but because they were on to some weapons. So the fact that he does the same here alerts us that he is obviously not himself - it alerts Dean and Sam too.
Then there is this weird scene in which Cas goes back and forth between Naomi and the boys because he doesn’t know what he should and should not tell them. He wants to tell them everything but Naomi says tell them as much truth as he can and then lie, and Cas tries that. He tells them that he was looking for a map to the demon tablet in the crypt. The boys know he is acting hedgey. He then goes to interrogate the "strange haired" demon in the other room and Sam and Dean talk about how hedgey he is and he can here them. It’s quite a funny scene.
DEAN:Well, he puts the "ass" in "Cas," huh?
SAM:He's definitely off.
DEAN:Off? He hasn't been right since he got back from Purgatory. We still don't know how he got out of there.
SAM:I don't know, Dean. If he's so sketchy, then why were you praying to him?
CASTIEL (V O): You know, I can hear you both. I am a celestial being.
Then they go help Cas, but the demon almost lets on what Cas is really looking for:
CASTIEL:Who told you about the crypts?
WENDY RICE:I thought angels were supposed to be the good cops. [CASTIEL impales her other hand.] Aah! Wait! Stop! Stop!! We have a hostage! It's one of Crowley's pets. She's at the Murray Hotel, down by the interstate. She knows the towns where all the crypts are buried. She saw them all back in the day.
This is interesting... again the mention of angels are supposed to be the "good" cops.
Cas kills the demon before it can reveal more. Sam and Dean now know Cas is trying to hide something. Cas quickly disappears to the hotel that the demon mentioned Crowley’s pet is being held at. Sam and Dean go after him in the Impala. They get there quite quickly. (It reminds me of a scene in season 13 where the same sort of thing happens.)
Meg is the hostage!
MEG:Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?
That's funny LOL And as they get her out of there and on to the bed,
DEAN:So, I got to ask. Um... What's up with the hair?
She is all bloody and beat up and Dean’s first words are “What’s up with the hair?” LOL! Funny that hair is such an issue this ep.
Again as they are talking Cas is in conflict whether to let Meg tell the boys about the angel tablet or not. Deep inside, he has feelings for Meg. He doesn’t want to kill her. He convinces Naomi that Meg is useful and they shouldn’t kill her. And he lets her tell Sam and Dean the truth, pretending that he was just as surprised as the boys, but Sam and Dean know he is lying. They take her out of there to the first house of the strange model town and dirt (since the dead woman's husband has moved out and the house is empty).
Sam and Dean are studying the model while Cas is taking care of Meg. I find it interesting that Cas is dressing her wounds here instead of just healing her. I wonder why? He heals Dean with a touch later. But, also significant maybe that Cas tries to kill Dean twice (many times if you count the many bodies at the beginning), while he also gives healing twice, to Dean and to Meg. And the first time he kills "Dean," he is coldhearted and ruthless, while the second time, he is in conflict and trying to stop himself. He never does it with a touch as he did the demons - he beats Dean up, as if after every blow he is giving Dean a chance to servive or give himself a chance to stop doing what he was doing. So maybe this dressing of Meg's wounds is his indecision too - the turmoil inside. Or it could be just that he wants to touch her longer :D Here is a nice gif set including Cas' healing hands.
Then they have this talk about how Cas doesn't even know who Clarence is, Meg asks him would it kill him to read a book or watch a movie? Cas answers well a book with the proper spells...
And Cas' face is quite hot here XD Pretty lashes and nice hair too. Hehehe
Meg asks him about his "noodle" and if it is back in order, Cas answers he has a pretty good noodle and he remembers everything.
Let's talk about what "everything" might include here. Meg and Cas first meet in Abandon All Hope when they have a little talk about putting her trust in Lucifer. There are sparks there from the start imo, but Cas ends up throwing her into the holy fire and using her body to escape. (My version of what Cas was thinking at that time here) Then of course the interaction and kiss in Caged Heat - the title of which has so many meanings! The next time they meet, Cas has forgotten who he is and is on his way to heal Sam with Dean. He is scared by Meg's demon face but believes Dean that he is not in danger from her. When he does remember who he is and takes on Sam's illness, Meg stays with him as his "nurse." During his illness, Cas gets especially attached to Meg and when Sam and Dean treat her cruelly, he leaves, and when she is hurt, he worries. He also says she is "My caretaker. All of that thorny pain. So beautiful." Wiki points out how this is strange because Cas can see through the human body and her demon face must be very ugly. It is unfortunate the writers can't see deeper and realize that Cas is actually talking about her heart. An angel who can see into the heart of a demon and love her for it. He's one special angel.
Meanwhile, Sam and Dean talk about how Cas had been lying to them about the angel tablet, and Sam reminds Dean that they can't blame him because look at what they are doing with the demon tablet. Cas is just protecting his own. Sam gets it. I wonder why Dean can't. Why does he ask for the tablet like that later without giving any assurances - why test Cas' alliances in such a difficult situation? And all I can come up with is that Cas had been acting weird and Dean wants to get to the bottom of it using the tablet as leverage. And we have to also remember that if they had not had that struggle, then the tablet would not have been broken free of it's casing, Dean would not have been able to jolt him sufficiently and Cas would have just taken the tablet back to Naomi for whatever purpose she had.
Important scene here, though, is where we find out that Meg is not that evil being that we saw at the beginning of the series in Season 1.
MEG:You ever miss the Apocalypse?
CASTIEL:No. Why would I miss the end of times?
MEG:I miss the simplicity. I was bad. You were good. Life was easier. Now it's all so messy. I'm kind of good, which sucks. And you're kind of bad -- which is actually all manner of hot. We survive this... I'm gonna order some pizza and we're gonna move some furniture around. You understand?
CASTIEL:No, I-I -- wait -- actually... Yes, I --
She says the reason she became "kind of good" is because the apocalypse didn't happen. Up until that point good was good and bad was clearly bad (whether half the angels wanted the apocalypse and were working with demons was beside the point in this case). They all had their "roles" in a sense. But once destiny was done away with then demons and angels (Meg and Cas) both had a choice. It made things complicated. All of a sudden there was no destiny. Just chaos. And Meg realized maybe that she needed a cause to replace Lucifer in order to make sense of her world. I think Cas can relate to that with his confusion in Season 6 and the fact that many of the other angels even then tried to make the apocalypse happen just so they could have something to work toward. In that sense, these trials of Sam and Dean are a bit similar. Dean, at least, is clinging to this cause as something to work for after coming back from Purgatory. Since they got rid of the Leviathan and Dean came back this season they have been finally free of outside sources threatening them. They need a cause to work toward. These trials are their unicorn. Sam so he can live a normal life at the end of it, and Dean because it would give Sam a normal life and of course revenge for mom, dad and all the people who died because of the demons on Earth.
Going back to Meg, who has decided that Cas is her cause/her unicorn...she is attracted to Cas physically but also has put her hopes and dreams in him since the end of the apocalypse as she also says in 7-12 Reading is Fundamental.
MEG:Look, I'm simpler than you think. I've figured one thing out about this world – just one, pretty much. You find a cause, and you serve it. Give yourself over, and it orders your life. Lucifer and Yellow Eyes – their mission was it for me.
DEAN:So, what? We should trust you because you wanted to free Satan from Hell?
MEG:I'm talking "cause," douchebag, as in reason to get up in the morning. Obviously, these things shift over time. We learn, we grow. Now, for me currently, the cause is bringing down the King. And I know we'll need help to do it.
DEAN:Crowley ain't the problem this year.
MEG:When are you gonna get it? Crowley's always the problem. He's just waiting for the right moment to strike. I know what I'm supposed to do. And it isn't screw with Sam and Dean or lose the only angel who'd go to bat for me.
itsnotmymind and I started an interesting conversation at her post about this and how it seems to be contradictory to what Meg 1 says in Born Under a Bad Sign: "You really think that's what this is about? The master plan? I don't give a rat's ass about the master plan." It seems there that she wasn't really the type to "serve a cause."
When Meg first shows herself to Sam in Scarecrow, there is a scene where she just wants to kill him... but is stopped by "her father" on the blood phone. Azazel is keeping her in check and making her do what he wants. At this point she does look like she is serving Azazel's cause. Actually her devotion here reminds me of Dean's devotion to his dad. I don't think Azazel explains very much to her. This actually fits perfectly with the episode doesn't it. However, in Devil's Trap, she is sent back to Hell by the boys. This changes things. She suffers so much that when she crawls out somehow, she comes back in Born Under a Bad Sign to have her revenge - not caring anymore about the Master Plan. Again, this is reminiscent of Sam and Dean going after Lilith for revenge. But let's get back to Meg's pain.
SAM-MEG: Hell is like, um ...Well, it's like hell. Even for demons. It's a prison, made of bone and flesh and blood and fear. And you sent me back there.
SAM-MEG: By the way. I saw your Dad there - he says "howdy".
All that I had to hold onto, was that I would climb out one day, and that I was going to torture you. Nice and slow. Like pulling the wings off an insect.
Her cause changes from Azazel's direction to her own revenge. I doubt that she even knows Azazel's real Master Plan in BUABS. She may think, like us, that her father just wants to use Sam to open the Hell Gates. And when she is sent to Hell for helping him, she just doesn't care anymore.
When Lucifer is released, she really believes that Lucifer can save the demons and deliver them from Hell, that awful place. She tells Cas in Abandon All Hope:
We're gonna win. Can you feel it? You cloud-hopping pansies lost the whole damn universe. Lucifer's gonna take over heaven. We're going to heaven, Clarence So she clings to Lucifer. The one power that can save her and take her to Heaven.
Then the apocalypse is stopped by Sam and Dean and Heaven and Hell go into chaos - a free-for-all. Crowley takes over in Hell, and goes after all the demons that were loyal to Lucifer - Meg included. Cas tries to take over in Heaven. During that time is the kiss in Caged Heat. I often wonder how it affected her. If purified human blood can cure a demon, can angel body fluids also cure a demon? Meg does mention that she feels "clean" after the kiss. Can a demon get addicted to something like that? Interesting right?
Even that is not all. All they have been through… Cas from the obedient soldier to a rebell, to a god, to repentant angel, all because of his love for Sam and Dean and for humanity. Meg from being an obedient demon to Lucifer to being on her own as Crowley gains power, staying with Cas through his illness and then going with them as they go to attack the Leviathan… somewhere there, something changes. She becomes a little good and he becomes a little bad.
What does she expect of Cas? I think she wants to be saved - from Crowley for starters, but maybe she has a hope that this one angel who purifies her with his kiss and can see into her soul and call her beautiful will save her from her pain and bring happiness. That dream alone is worth dying for.
Anyway, they have a moment, and almost kiss… but are interrupted by Dean. The boys have found the place and they have to go. They get to the warehouse and Dean says, Cas and I are going in - and we’re thinking ah… Dean… that’s dangerous. Cas might kill you… And Sam also is like, why am I being left behind with Meg? But Dean brings up the blood in the wastebasket here, surprising and wilting Sam.
DEAN:Sam, I saw your bloody rag in the trash can, okay?
SAM:That wasn't --
DEAN:Stop. Just stop. Sam, we don't know what's in there, okay? And you almost let a demon get the best of you back there.I'm fine.
DEAN:No, you're not fine. You haven't been fine since the first trial. That's why I called Cas.
SAM and DEAN:Shut up, Meg.
SAM:Dean, I'm telling you -- I'm okay.
Then Cas pitches in and says that Sam is beyond even his healing powers which sounds quite serious and worrisome and Sam is left speechless. I just had the thought that Cas obviously doesn't want Sam in there with them...
CASTIEL:No, you're not. Sam... You're damaged in ways even I can't heal. Dean's right. You should stay here and protect Meg.
MEG:Since when do I need protecting?
CASTIEL:Since you were held captive and tortured for over a year.
DEAN:All right, we'll be back.
Oooo this is so cute... Cas is telling Sam to protect Meg :D Dean giving Sam the demon knife was a pretty cool moment as well.
Sam is totally grumpy though, and that is kinda cute too.
So Sam and Meg are stuck outside, I think they are making sigils to protect the building from demons, while Dean and Cas go in.
Dean asks Cas about Sam and it’s more of the same. Cas doesn’t know what is wrong but there is something seriously wrong with Sam. We know that it is because of the trials of course. Cas is probably not lying but, this is a convenient situation for him. They get to the crypt, and the one thing that is warded against angels… that is where the tablet is. Cas gets Dean to open it and get the tablet, then he asks for it - his true motive being to take it back to Naomi.
CASTIEL:I can't let you take that, Dean.
DEAN:Can't or won't?
DEAN:How did you get out of Purgatory, Cas?
Dean doesn’t want to give it to him because he can’t trust that Cas is being himself from all the secrets he has been keeping. His refusal though, makes Naomi tell Cas to kill Dean for the tablet.
CASTIEL:There has to be another way.
NAOMI:You have done this a thousand times, Castiel. You're ready. Kill him. Then take the tablet and bring it home, where it belongs.
But Naomi doesn't give him a chance to explain to Dean. Maybe if Cas could have done so… well we will never know.
DEAN:Just tell me how you got out of Purgatory. Be honest with me -- for the first time since you've been back --and this is yours.
CASTIEL: What have you done to me, Naomi?!
NAOMI:What have I done to you?! Do you have any idea what it's like out there? There's blood everywhere, and it's on your hands. After everything you did -- to us, to heaven. I fixed you, Castiel. I fixed you!
So here we finally find out what Naomi had done and why. Cas is struggling within himself, and Dean goes up to him to see if he can snap him out of it.
Cas almost kills Dean but Dean continues to call to Cas to try to awaken the Cas that used to be. It reminds me of Season 1 with Dad/Azazel and Season 5 with Samifer. It's touching and oh so painful and also beautiful. Gah...
Finally Cas is able to withstand Naomi and stops, but the tablet falls and the casing around it breaks open. When Cas picks up the tablet, all of a sudden he and the tablet shine with a bright light.
According to Wiki this is what breaks him free from Naomi’s programming. And I guess that is right. It enables him to make his own decisions and not be taken back to heaven. The tablet also tells Cas something. That it needed to be protected not only from angels but from Sam and Dean as well. Why? We will never know. But seeing what they are doing with the demon tablet, it makes sense. Sam and Dean seem to be a danger to all creatures at this point, doing the trials without understanding the full implications, just for the sake of revenge, a cause that sounds sweet to the ear but is it truly what they should be doing? In a way, Sam and Dean are very similar to Cas did back in Season 6 - trying to close the Gates of Hell without understanding what will happen if they do - just as Cas opened Purgatory without understanding what would happen if he did. We will never know what would have happened if they had closed the gates, but I can’t help but think it would have really screwed with the natural order and caused problems.
DEAN:So, this "Naomi" has been controlling you since she got you out of Purgatory?
DEAN:Well, w-what broke the connection?
CASTIEL:I don't know. I just know that I have to protect this tablet now.
CASTIEL:Yes. And from you.
DEAN:From me? What are you talking about?
Meanwhile Sam and Meg are talking about Sam finding a girl he loved and wanted to have a normal life with.
MEG:Here's what I remember. Deep down, in parts you never let see the light of day, you want to live a long, normal life away from creepy old things like me.
SAM:I do. [Scoffs.] You know, I spent last year with... someone, and, um... ...now I know that's actually possible.
MEG:Wait -- that's how you spent your last year? With a chick? Lame.
SAM:You know, how about we just wait quietly?
MEG:What was her name? You don't even trust me with a name? Cut me, do I not bleed, Sam? So, some chick actually got you off hunting, huh? That's one rare creature. Tell me -- how'd you meet this unicorn?
That normal life was his unicorn - something he could fight for. Meg asks him, “was it important enough to die for?” He never answers. I think by the end of the season he believes it is worth dying for - he is no better than anyone else, and he should sacrifice his life for the cause. What he said to Dean in Trial and Error though, was that he believed in the light at the end of the tunnel. He believed that he could make it through alive and that is why he was doing the trials not Dean.
MEG:Oh, I heard the rest. You fell in love with a unicorn. It was beautiful, then sad, then sadder. I laughed, I cried, I puked in my mouth a little. And honestly, I kind of get it.
So - the way Meg thinks is kind of similar to Dean. Dean wanted to do the trials and was willing to die trying. But that probably would have led to him dying even before the trials were over - he was so intent on sacrificing himself. Sam at that point wanted to do the trials to prove they could get through it without dying. No sacrifice. This is what helps him pass the first trial. That says something about sacrificial love. It says even more about how Dean and Meg see themselves. Neither of them think much of themselves do they? I mean, it’s terribly romantic to put your hope in something so much that you are willing to die for it but - what is it that Dean said back in Season 1 and says again at the end of the Season?
“If hunting this demon means getting yourself killed, then I hope we never find the damn thing.”
Back at you a thousand times, Dean, and Meg... I think Cas would have appreciated you more alive :(
Anyway, Crowley arrives and Meg engages him, knowing that she might die, to protect Cas - because he is her hope. She will do anything to protect him and her dream. She tells Sam to go to Dean and Cas to protect him.
MEG:Go. Save your brother... and my unicorn.
Sam runs in to help Dean and finds him alone.
They rush to the car and Meg, seeing them knows that Cas is safe.
She has done her job and is satisfied. Crowley kills her as Sam and Dean watch. Just… Gahhhh…. :’’’’(
In the car, Dean tells Sam that he doesn’t want any more secrets. Sam says, you're right. No more secrets.
Then CHICKFLICK ALERT :D
He can’t carry the burden of the trials but he can surely carry Sam and he intends to do all he can to help Sam get through the trials. Because Sam is Dean’s unicorn and Dean will do anything to protect him and see him become old and needing viagra.
Sam hears this and … does he really understand? SAMMMM! Dean loves you! He changes the subject by telling Dean he just quoted LoR.
Dean answers, "Rudy Hobbit always gets a pass." I agree :’)<3 And then goes to turn on the music. I love this side view of Sam laughing and Dean with that "OK, no more chickflicks" expression on his face.
Meanwhile, Cas is on a bus to nowhere with the precious tablet.
And Crowley and Naomi are both in the crypt, looking for something. They have a short conversation about meeting again. Obviously, Crowley is trying to protect himself and hell, and Naomi is trying to protect the angels and Heaven from the Winchesters. The Winchesters (and the angel tablet) are their cause. I'm not sure what they think about dying for it.
Lots of love for this ep.