There are just a few scenes in this episode that I really enjoyed. As with many others who commented in the poll entry, I thought the Hell scene was oversimplified and boring. Sam got through both Purgatory and Hell way too easily. The whole rouge reaper idea was a question mark as well. But this review did give me a good opportunity to look back at other references to Hell, Purgatory and reapers, the differences we see here in this ep, and possible reasons for it. And, I think I actually figured out why Bobby was in this type of Hell instead of what the Winchesters experienced respectively. The scene between Dean and Benny was heartbreaking, Sam/Bobby was pretty cute and of course Winchester hug!!!<3
We start the ep with Sam and Dean going to visit Kevin. Kevin is having terrible nightmares of getting his arms cut off and basically dying an excruciating death by Crowley. The visions are. Really. Terrible. Aren’t they? I mean Kevin is just FREAKING OUT, and I don’t blame him. Sam and Dean tell him it is just a nightmare, Crowley is not really on to him. The hallucinations totally remind me of Sam with the wall down and I would totally consider this a form of Hell torture. Now, don't quite remember where Crowley actually started being able to influence Kevin - but these hallucinations are way too painful for Kevin to have thought them up aren't they? I do think it's Crowley messing with him somehow. It is unfortunate that Sam and Dean don't take him seriously. If Metatron is responsible for Kevin almost getting killed as the boys say in a future episode, then surely Sam and Dean are also partly responsible.
Kevin then tells them that he translated the second trial. They need to go save a soul from Hell.
SAM:All right, where's Garth?
KEVIN:On a case or – or the dentist. I don't know. I haven't heard from him.
Interesting tidbit about Garth... Who may have been bitten by a werewolf around this time?
Sam and Dean go to find a crossroads demon, whom they torture with Holy Water until he tells them how to get a Reaper to take them to Hell.
CROSSROADS DEMON:Rogue reapers. They got secret ways, in and out. Not just Hell – the Veil, Heaven.
They then go to see one of these rogue reapers who seems to also work as a Taxi Driver?!
This reaper is scared of Crowley and can be killed by him. We see other reapers killed by demons in Season 4 (4-15 Death Takes a Holiday), but what is different here is that reapers in the early seasons were of the spirit world and could not be seen by humans unless the humans were dead. Sam and Dean had to die temporarily to save Tessa. And, the only time a demon could catch a reaper was at the scene of a death. So… that’s changed. We also did not know there could be such a thing as a rogue reaper. Maybe something happened to reapers at the end of Season 5, just as it did to Angels and Demons. There were no rules anymore so some started doing their own thing instead of just trying to uphold the natural order.
The reaper tells Sam and Dean that he knows who they are because he is the one who reaped Bobby. Bobby is in Hell because Crowley wanted him. The whole idea that demons and angels fight over souls and that occasionally an innocent soul - or soul that doesn't deserve to go to Hell - goes to Hell because the Kind of Hell has a grudge is very interesting. A reaper doesn’t really have any power in that regard because their job is only to lead the soul into the veil. But I guess they actually do see where the soul goes.
Until now, the boys didn’t really have a clear idea of who they were going to save from Hell, which is typical them - jumping into a situation without thinking it through. What a coincidence though that they find out about Bobby here. If they had not worked on these Trials they would have never found out about Bobby in Hell. At least one good thing came of the Trials, aye?
The rogue reaper says they are going to owe him one and it’s going to be expensive. (Unfortunately for the Reaper and fortunately for Sam and Dean, they never have to pay up LOL)
Dean wants to go together but Sam persuades Dean that he needs to do this alone because HE is doing the trials. Dean is worried because Sam seems sick (which of course irritates Sam), but he lets him go. The gate in the wall is one of the few things I like about this ep. It is totally cool.
But let’s think back and reminisce about some previous gates into Purgatory.
Back in Season 6, Crowley was searching for a way into Purgatory so that he could rule it. The opening they found ended up involving a spell. This opening released all the souls - Leviathan and other, who made their home in Cas and gave him power. I wonder if it also provided Crowley with a way in? Because that is what he wanted right? An entrance to that place Hell-adjacent?
A little bit before this, the Mother came out of Purgatory through a fiery crevice. The only way she could get out was through the sacrifice of a virgin.
The only gate into Purgatory that we have scene previously is through imploding Dick. If one kills the Head of the Leviathan, the force field created in the blast would send you straight to Purgatory.
Finally, there is a way out of Purgatory just for humans - in case of such an occurrence where they get into Purgatory by mistake.
Now, it is interesting to speculate when this Purgatory gate in the wall was created, since Crowley knows of it, or at least that a reaper can go in and out of Purgatory and Hell at a whim. He actually has a demon watching the gate or reaper full-time. When did Crowley find out about the entrance? If he can kill reapers, then he shouldn’t have had to torture monsters into finding out about Purgatory. A reaper would have sufficed. But as speculated previously, this may have been a new development at the end of Season 6.
In any case, it is a shock to Sam when the Reaper takes him to Purgatory instead of Hell. The Reaper tells Sam that if he took Sam to Hell, Crowley would kill him, so he was just going to take him part way to Purgatory and Sam could walk the rest of the way to the gate to Hell. He promises to pick Sam up in precisely 24 hours.
Purgatory itself has only ever been seen as a gray war zone where monsters with grudges kill each other. From Benny, I get the idea that in Purgatory, monsters don't feel the hunger - or they feel it only if there is a human around? Not quite sure how that goes. When Dean went to purgatory, there were many monsters coming after him. We got the image that he was perpetually in motion, because monsters kept coming after him - not only Leviathan but also other monsters, because he was human and they were attracted to him. Of course, he was also going after monsters - trying to find Castiel.
Sam meets precisely one monster in Purgatory and beheads it before going into Hell. This disappointed most viewers, I think. After seeing badass Dean and how hard he had it in Purgatory, of course Sammy girls would have wanted to see badass Sam, and Dean girls would also be disgruntled by the ease in which he got through. But… What if there a reason to this? What if something or someone is purposefully making it easy on Sam because they want him to get through the second trial? (Chuck? The Angels? The spirit of the Trial itself?)
Meanwhile, Dean is trying to help Kevin but he doesn’t do a very good job of it. He brings food offerings and even cooks eggs to make Kevin feel better. That’s Dean’s happiness after all. That’s how he deals with the crap, by enjoying the life as much as he can. But Kevin needs the light at the end of the tunnel, just like Sam. He needs to work toward an end. Dean tells him that it never ends, and that he just has to accept the fact. And that's just too much for Kevin. He goes to hide in the cabinet taking the hamburger and fries with him as well as Dean’s pie (awww)
KEVIN:Just tell me when this all ends, 'cause that's the only thing I want to hear.
DEAN:No, like I told you before, this isn't going to end. Look, man, other guys, they got it easy, you know? It's all backyard barbecues and... bowling teams, but you and me? We got to carry a little extra weight.
KEVIN:I can't take it.
DEAN:Yes, you can. Hey, look at me. Now, this whole thing sucks. I know. But you suck it up and you push through because that's what we do. And when you get on board with that, the ride is a lot smoother. French fry?
KEVIN:I'm gonna – I'm gonna be in my room. Let me know when there's a good day.
Sam finds the portal to Hell from Purgatory.
I wonder if this is a hole made by Crowley after finding Purgatory in Season 6… or if it is a portal that was there from the beginning and kept secret by the reapers. The portal itself is similar to the one to Earth - except the one to Earth is in the sky, while this one goes down into the ground, appropriate for Hell. You think it is especially for humans? just like the portal to Earth? Maybe neither demon nor monster can get through it and it is for humas who have wrongfully gotten into Hell.
Now, before we go on, let’s just stop and reminisce here again. The first image of Hell in Supernatural was at the end of Season 3. Hell that Dean was in was shown as a fiery pit with wires and hooks that kept it’s prisoners hanging in place. From what Dean says later, Alastair carved into him over and over. Since the dead are just spirits and not flesh and bone, it would make sense that this kind of torture would be just how the person saw/experienced it and not actually a physical room or real bodies.
The second vision of Hell is what we have of Sam’s hallucinations in Season 6. Endless badgering and torture, physical and psychological. Starting with Lucifer stabbing knives through Bobby, choke-chaining Sam up on the ceiling and ending with just not letting Sam sleep.
Any and all imaginings coming from these images of Hell are sorely disappointed by what we see this episode because we associate physical pain with Hell. But… if you remember a little further on in Season 6 we did see another version of Hell. Crowley’s Hell we saw with Castiel, when they were discussing their deal to open Purgatory. THAT Hell was not the hell that Dean went through. It wasn't painful to watch but it was entertaining I suppose. I also speculate that there are plenty of people that could be broken by having to perpetually stand in line.
Now back to the present. As I’ve heard others also complain, this Hell is boring as hell (LOL) and Sam finds Bobby way too easily. Bobby is not being physically tortured at all. All they are seemingly doing is teasing him by pretending to be Sam (and Dean too I suppose).
WHY? Why did they make it like this, this time around? I didn’t want to presume anything of the writers but I began to think of the reasons for the different Hells. People are tortured by different things. Some people can withstand physical torture but cannot handle psychological torture. If the King of Hell has an agenda, whether it be to break a seal, create a demon or hold someone hostage as leverage… then I guess the Hell is going to be different for those reasons too. There was a special purpose for Dean being in his Hell. He needed to be broken, so that the seal could be broken. So what was the reason Bobby was in Hell? What was Crowley's purpose?
The floor Sam stumbles upon in this episode is the “cell block” where each victim has his/her own cell. But the cells themselves are not protected overly much and the prisoners are left alone at least some of the time. It looks like the Hell version of the new Heaven in Season 9. I’m thinking Bobby’s block is for people who are held there for leverage. They are not trying to break Bobby and make him into a demon. The torture is half-hearted, because they just want to use him to blackmail Sam and/or Dean and probably to get information from him on the boys. The demons are pretending to be the boys... OMG... I just realized something that just made it all make perfect sense. The next ep is where the demon-actors go to Kevin and pretend to be the boys. So what if this is all in preparation for that? THEY ARE PRACTICING ON BOBBY to see if they can trick him! And they did a pretty good job because he couldn't tell the difference with the real Sam RIGHT? OMG. It, unfortunately, doesn't make it any less disappointing to the viewer that we don't see some really badass Sam, but there you go. I am now 95% sure that this is the secret reason for Bobby's torture not being physical.
Sam quickly persuades Bobby it is really him by relaying to him some secrets that only Dean would have known, and then they get out. Sam and Bobby only meet one demon as they are about to escape. The demon pretends to be Sam, and Bobby choses the right Sam out of luck. Again it's all about trying to trick Bobby into thinking a demon is the real Sam, and we see how that is relevant in the next episode.
In any case, this whole escape is way too easy. You think maybe the spirit of the trials is making it easy for him because they want him to succeed and die - like the werther project spelled box?
They get out of Hell and into Purgatory and Bobby lets out an expletive that they are there, which is kind of funny.
They also have a little talk here about how Dean was here and Sam had not looked for him. Sam argues that they had an “agreement” and Bobby tells him what Dean had said, that it was a “non-agreement” and, that he pretty much taught them. Now, this is really weird because we’ve never actually seen Bobby teaching them to continue to look for each other. He got angry at Dean for saving Sam in Season 2, right? And didn’t tell Dean that Sam was back, between Season 5 and 6. But anyway, we get the idea that even Bobby knew that it was a non-agreement and again wonder about Sam. All I can say is that Sam must have genuinely thought Dean was dead. Not because he is not intelligent, but because in the situation he was in at the time, that was the only thing he could think. He was psychologically and physically just wiped out. And if he believed Dean was dead… then he would have left him dead, because Dean would be in Heaven, at peace, and that is what he deserved. But Sam doesn’t say so, which again bugs me. He takes the scolding from Bobby without really explaining himself.
When they get to the rendezvous spot, the reaper is not there because Crowley found him and killed him. The Reaper told Crowley that Sam wanted to get into Hell. Why did he leave him in Purgatory if he was going to tell Crowley that Sam wanted to get into Hell anyway? Why didn’t he just say he took Sam to Purgatory?? Crowley tells his minion to find out what the boys are up to - what with killing his Hellhound, and now trying to get into Hell and Kevin is still translating the tablet. (Indication that Crowley knows something at least?)
Back to Dean and Kevin. Kevin is terribly worried. Finally in desperation he's gone to hide the tablet outside of the boat.
Now as Dean is alone, an angel appears to him - It’s Naomi.
They haven’t warded the boat against angels (on the hope that Cas would come back) so she gets in uninvited. She tells him a bunch of bullshit regarding how she tried to help Cas, and she didn’t mean he had to kill Dean, only that he should do all that was necessary to protect the tablet. She also drops a hint that the rogue reaper had taken Sam to Purgatory. Dean doesn’t believe all the crap about Cas, but he gets worried when he hears about Purgatory. He goes to see the rogue reaper and finds him dead in his cab. The only person who can help him now is Benny. So he calls in a favor.
Benny is living in a crappy old car and looks really miserable. He is overjoyed to get a call from Dean.
BENNY:Wow. When Dean Winchester asks for a favor, he's not screwing around.
DEAN:Benny, sending you back there is the last thing I ever wanted to do.
BENNY:I know. I know.
DEAN:But my little brother is stuck down there.
BENNY:This would be the little brother who wants to kill me, right?
DEAN:You got access to the place.
BENNY:By "access," you mean "getting beheaded"?
DEAN:Yeah, you're right – it's too much. It's not like I've exactly been there for you lately. [DEAN's voice shakes.]
BENNY:What? Oh, come on, Dean. You know I love a challenge.
BENNY:Hey, he's your brother. I say let's do this.
DEAN:I owe you.
BENNY:Oh, you don't owe me nothing. Truth is, uh... I could use a break from all this.
DEAN:It really been that tough?
BENNY:I'm not a good fit, Dean. Not with vampires and, for sure, not with the humans. I don't belong. And after a while... that starts to wear on you. Right? Cry me a river. Like you need to listen to this.
Benny is not happy on Earth, with no one to ground him - because he's lost his only family because of Sam's lousy choice in hunters and because Dean abandoned him. He agrees to be beheaded to help Sam get out of Purgatory through the human portal. Even though Sam hates him. This scene. This single scene is what makes this ep worth watching for me. Dean and Benny hug, and then Dean has to get up his nerve to do it.
Gah... :'( THE LOVE...
He takes Benny’s head clean off and if this were a book, it would emphasize that, he does it so quick and clean that Benny doesn’t feel a thing.
Meanwhile, surprise of surprises, Bobby and Sam get attacked by monsters in Purgatory. Four or five monsters all come at them at once. Finally LOL Just as Sam is in danger, Benny appears and saves him in old vamp fashion. Bobby sees Benny and tries to attack but Sam stops him. Sam explains that Benny was Dean’s friend and well, Bobby’s reaction is just as cruel as Sam’s was.
Come to think of it, we have never actually heard what Bobby thinks of monsters - whether he is of the black and white group of hunters or is a bit more understanding. Obviously he is not. He doesn’t trust Dean’s judgement in people either. Just as I hated Sam’s reaction, I also really dislike this reaction by Bobby. It’s more natural with him though. It sort of reminds me of how judgmental and discriminating people can be especially when they are old and set in their ways. We can also speculate that Bobby may be affected by his Hell and is not quite himself.
Benny is cool. He doesn’t get upset at Bobby’s reaction although he does act very vampy with his fangs. He tells them that he's REALLY good pals with Dean and that he’s there because Dean sent him and he will take them to the portal. He also suggests that he is going against all of his kind by doing this for Dean. We get the idea again that he just doesn't fit in with anyone because he is so different. It reminds me again of the witch in the previous ep who was a witch but also a cop and was misunderstood and disliked by everyone because he was different.
Anyway, they seem to get to the portal without a hitch and Sam does the spell for Bobby -
but at the end, Benny stays behind to fight the monsters who magically appear to stop them. Sam begs him to go through with the blood spell that he did with Bobby, to take his soul out from Purgatory but he refuses. He tells Sam that he doesn’t belong on Earth and to give his regards to Dean. *tears* There is a scene where Sam is looking back at Benny as he goes through the portal and I am all of a sudden reminded of how Cas refused Dean's offer in the same way a season ago.
Dean is waiting for Sam and Bobby in that woods where he all of a sudden appeared back on Earth at the beginning of the season, and we have a nice hug scene again.
Sam tells Dean about Benny not accepting the offer to hitch a ride back and Dean is heartbroken but understands. They are about to send Bobby off to heaven -
Then Crowley appears and tries to take Bobby back. He tells the boys that Bobby deserves this for the damage he inflicted on demons... which is very weird reasoning. It is because of the damage he inflicted that he deserves to go to Heaven. It is quite obvious that Crowley was taking advantage of his power and doing something that was against the rules. Naomi steps in and safely sends Bobby to Heaven to show good faith toward the boys. Of course she is not averse to Hell Gates being closed either.
Then Sam completes the second spell for the Trials and he is in much more pain, and even more damaged than before as we will see next episode.
In the car back to Kevin, Dean tells Sam that he didn't burn Benny's body - giving him a chance to come back if there is ever an opportunity. Sam tells Dean that he was wrong about Benny - wrong to think that he was evil just because he was a vampire I guess? - and that he doesn't mind Dean keeping that door open for Benny. And I just have to point out that Sam judging monsters for what they are instead of what they do is just not in character and I really hate that they (the writers) do this to him - unless of course it was all due to his insecurity toward Dean. I like though that this little tidbit also promises the viewers that there is a possibility we will see Benny again <3
When they get back to the boat, they find Kevin gone, and think he just bailed, when actually, he was taken by Crowley, who again appeared in Kevin's dream, then broke the glass in the windows, breaking the sigils, to get in and take Kevin.
So, to me, it seems that the ease at which Sam got through the trial may have been through the help of Naomi, or the spirit of the Trials itself or some other entity… Death?..., which wants Sam to die by completing it, and what we see of Hell here is for those held as leverage by Crowley. It is still terribly disappointing and rather boring though isn’t it? LOL