Let's get started.
First, we see Kevin, who really HAS been taken by Crowley, but Crowley has erased Kevin’s short term memory a bit so that he doesn’t remember it.
Into this picture, Crowley inserts two demons looking like Sam and Dean - just like he did to Bobby in Hell - see? Because this was not a usual occurrence until now - demons were only known to take over people’s bodies, not be able to change skins - the writers gave us an instance beforehand so that the idea would come naturally to us in this ep. In that sense, maybe Kevin is actually in a Hell Hallucination World - because even in last ep, demons could only change skins within Hell, and it would be easier for Crowley to make such a world in Hell than on Earth I would think. But of course it could be a little room in a warehouse somewhere on earth as well, like the angels did for the waiting room in Season 5.
ANYWAY, Kevin is super cautious and when the “Winchesters” don’t remember the password, an alarm goes off in his head - even though he sprays “holy water” all over them and it doesn’t affect them. Crowley has obviously exchanged the holy water for something safer. Demon Sam and Dean bring the half of the tablet Crowley had and try to get the location of the other half of the tablet, but he doesn’t tell them where it is, saying he has all his notes so he doesn’t need it.
The demons warp into Crowley’s director’s room and this is where we find out as first viewers that these are not really Sam and Dean.
CROWLEY:You. Fake Sam. If you're gonna tip our hand, I'll have to scrub Kevin's short-term memory again. And that's risky, so watch the patois in there.
CROWLEY:Your slang. Special K, nose to the God-stone, that's the way Dean speaks. Sam is... more basic, more sincere. Remember, I want two distinct, authentic characterisations.
DEMON #1:Yes, sir.
When they go back to Kevin later, he asks them for a nice barbecue dinner, which they agree to.
He then knows that this is not really Sam and Dean. Sam and Dean were not that nice. Does that remind you of how Dean knew YED was possessing dad? Like father, like sons aye? He tells them that he now wants them to get the tablet and tells them a location which is maybe one of John’s storage facilities that is full of devil’s traps. The demons are trapped and phone Crowley to tell him they have been had.
CROWLEY:This is the king.
Let’s go now to Cas. He has been hiding from the Angels by moving between various Biggersons around the country. Because they are so much alike, the Angels can’t figure out which Biggersons he is at. He is always one step ahead of them.
I love how Biggersons is used here, still the major chain restaurant. Finally, Naomi makes him stop by killing all the people in one of the Biggersons and leaving a message for him.
He finally stops, and they catch up to him. They try to torture him to get the location of the tablet but he doesn’t tell them. Interesting part of this scene is that Cas says that the tablet is not for the angels.
CASTIEL:We were supposed to be their shepherds, not their murderers.
NAOMI:Not always, angel. There was that day, back in Egypt, not so long ago, where we slew every first-born infant whose door wasn't splashed with lamb's blood. And that was just PR.
CASTIEL:Well, I wasn't there.
NAOMI:Oh, you were there. You just don't remember it.
CASTIEL:How— how many times have you torn into my head and washed it clean?
NAOMI:Frankly? Too damn many. You're the famous spanner in the works. Honestly, I think you came off the line with a crack in your chassis. You have never done what you were told. Not completely. You don't even die right, do you? Where is the angel tablet, Castiel?
CASTIEL:In the words of a— good friend... bite me.
(Cas looks very handsome there... I had to make a gif.)
I take issue with Naomi talking about this Biblical event as if it was "just PR" but let's say in this world, maybe it was, and not to convince the Pharaoh to free the Israelites from slavery. We do get the idea (if we hadn't already) that Cas has been used by the bureaucratic angels to do their bidding for many thousands of years and that each time he had reason to resist - most probably out of sympathy for those humans he had sworn to protect.
NAOMI: Why? Why are you doing this? Let us put the tablet back where it should be.
CASTIEL:I need to protect it.
NAOMI:From the angels?
CASTIEL:From all of us.
This I think is the most important part of the conversation. Cas has been protecting the tablet from everyone, including Sam and Dean. Didn't someone say earlier that the tablets were written for humans? (Kevin Tran reads from it in A Little Slice of Kevin: "So ends the transcription of the sacred word for the defense of mankind. Into the hands of God's children thus passes the compendium of tablets.") If the tablet was for humans, then why should it be protected from them? There must be some reason it needed to be protected from everyone. As the situation stands, there is only one who knows what is on the tablet, and that is Metatron. If Cas had given the tablet to Sam and Dean earlier, they may possibly have been able to prevent Metatron from tricking the angels and making them fall (although they were quite busy translating the trials so it is also unlikely they'd even look at it carefully until they found it necessary).
Anyway, just as the angels are about to torture him, Crowley comes to the rescue, sort of. He has a gun with bullets made from angel sword. He hurts one of the angels for show - because that angel is actually one of his spies. Then he and Naomi have a showdown, which is kind of cool.
CROWLEY:Naomi, darling. Miss me?
CROWLEY:Do you like it? I had my R&D people melt down one of your angel blades, cast it into bullets. Seems to do the trick.
NAOMI:How dare you.
CROWLEY:I'm the daringest devil you've ever met, love.
CROWLEY:We've been here before, haven't we? Let's see who blinks first.
She leaves, Crowley shoots Cas in the gut so he can’t leave and the spy and Crowley take Cas to another place, which looks like a Chinese restaurant. There Crowley tells Cas that he figured out that Cas still is touching the tablet - which is how he was able to withstand Naomi’s power over him.
CASTIEL:The tablets weren't meant for the angels, and they weren't meant for you.
Crowley pokes his hand into the wounded gut and pulls out the tablet. Ew.
Then he leaves Cas in the hands of the spy angel to go free the demons (possibly) and talk with Kevin. While trying to convince the angel to help the humans and stop being a demon spy, Cas pokes his hand into his wound and pulls out the angel blade bullet.
He then pushes it into the angel’s eye, probably killing him. He is free but wounded and Crowley has the angel tablet.
Now to Sam and Dean. Sam has not eaten for three days. Dean tries to get him to eat.
He also tries to get him to take his temperature because he has been emitting heat waves. Sam tells Dean, this is not a cold. This is all part of the trials. They are changing him. Dean feels he can’t let Sam go on with the trials before he gets well, but Sam tells him that working on the trials is what will make him better.
DEAN: ...You gotta let me take care of you, man.
SAM:This isn't a cold. Or a fever, or whatever it is you're supposed to feed. This is part of it all. Those first two trials... they're not just things I did. They're doing something to me. They're changing me, Dean.
Dean trying to take care of Sam is AWWwwww <3 As is the soup that he makes.
They then get a message from Kevin. It is a prerecorded message telling them that he was most probably dead. He sort of blames them for that but also is sorry that he couldn’t finish his job. It’s a really sad message and Dean can’t take it.
He pushes a bunch of stuff off the table and stalks off in grief. Sam starts printing out all of Kevin’s notes he had uploaded. He finds a signature of Metatron that was also a native american hieroglyph and tells Dean excitedly that he learned hieroglyphs in College, and this was the symbol for Word of God. This must be where Metatron was. They could go straight to the source to get the third trial.
Dean is not sure and also doesn’t want Sam to be out and about while he is feeling so bad, but Sam insists, and they go to Colorado where they find a dead hotel with a creepy native american guy.
The name of the hotel is the Two Rivers Hotel, which reminds me of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. Sam is delirious, but senses that Metatron is near. They go up to their room and Sam starts talking about the farting donkey that Dean rode when they went to the Grand Canyon when he was four. Dean is surprised he remembers it because he had been so young. And we are surprised he remembered it because according to Dean in Croatoan, they had NEVER BEEN to the Grand Canyon. (Ben Edlund apologized for that according to Wiki LOL) Dean tells him that he’s going to go down to the gift shop and ask around about Metatron.
Sam wants to go do some research too, but Dean tells him he should rest, and Sam just collapses onto the bed and falls asleep.
At the gift shop, Dean finds out that Metatron had asked the Native Americans for stories in return for long life. Meanwhile, Sam wakes up and wanders the halls.
He finds that the receptionist creepy guy is taking a load of books to one of the rooms and leaving them in front of the room. He gets back to their own room and calls Dean just before he collapses.
When he wakes up he is being doused in an ice bath. Seems he had a really high fever that Dean felt needed to be cooled - otherwise, Sam could have died.
Sam tells Dean about the room and they go to check it out. Again Sam is delirious and talks about how Dean used to read to him from a comic about the knights of the round table, and how Sam used to think that he couldn’t go on quests like that because he was unclean. This reinforces the idea put forth in previous eps that Sam had actually felt unclean/different because of the demon blood inside of him. Dean tells him that wasn’t his fault, but Sam is not really worried about that now - only that the trials were purifying him.
SAM:Knights of the Round Table. Had all of King Arthur's knights, and they were all on the quest for the Holy Grail. And I remember looking at this picture of Sir Galahad, and, and, and he was kneeling, and— and light streaming over his face, and— I remember... thinking, uh, I could never go on a quest like that.
Because I'm not clean. I mean, I w— I was just a little kid. You think... maybe I knew? I mean, deep down, that— I had... demon blood in me, and about the evil of it, and that I'm— wasn't pure?
DEAN:Sam, it's not your fault.
SAM:It doesn't matter anymore. Because these trials... they're purifying me.
So, ultimately, the trials would kill Sam, but what reason could there be to purify him beforehand? So that he would be worthy of the trials? So that he could successfully cure a demon? Maybe this is just the “spirit of the trials” giving Sam what he wants so that he will want to continue the trials. Maybe it’s using Sam’s feelings of being the freak to get what it wants - namely to get Sam to kill himself in the end. It is essentially telling him - you are evil and need redemption. You must kill yourself in order to save everyone/yourself. Interesting questions that I wish could have been answered and one could address in a fic :)
They get to the room that had had the books in front, but the books are gone. Someone has moved them. Sam and Dean go inside and find a room full of books. They also find Metatron cocking a gun at them.
Then a little conversation about how Metatron doesn’t know the most famous humans among angel/demon/monster kind.
METATRON:You work for Michael? Or Lucifer?
SAM:What, you really haven't heard of us? What kind of angel are you, we're— we're the freaking Winchesters.
Metatron is making Sam resonate and Metatron figures out here that Sam is working the trials. He then goes on and on about the awesome stories written by the “apes,” and there is an interesting bit in there about humans becoming gods of their own little universes, which reminds us of that fourth wall, Chuck and the God of the Supernatural universe etc. but Sam and Dean get fed up and tell Metatron to pull the trigger already.
SAM:You know what? Pull the frigging tigger.
SAM: All the time you've been hiding here, how much suffering have you read over? Humanity's suffering! And how much of it has been at the hands of your kind?!
DEAN: You want a story? Try Kevin Tran's story. He was just a kid. He was a good, straight-A kid, and then he got sucked in to all of this— this angel crap. He became a prophet, of the Word of God. Your prophet. Now, you should've been looking out for him, but no! Instead, you're here, holed up, reading books.
SAM:He's dead now. Because of you.
They have just lost a friend, Kevin, who had been sucked into Angel business through no fault of his own and forced to be a prophet. It is all Metraton’s fault.
Metatron decides it’s in his interest to save Kevin here. This is actually really interesting because he is the one that kills him later. The only reason he would have to save him now would be to gain the trust of the Winchesters.
Meanwhile, Crowley has gone to see Kevin.
Kevin is on the brink of being killed by Crowley but Kevin is so done.
Metatron erases all the angel wardings made by Crowley and burns Crowley as he saves Kevin. This is a pretty nice scene.
Dean and Metatron also have a very interesting conversation about the trials. Dean asks Metatron if he is on “their side” with regard to closing the gates of Hell and Metatron kind of says, well, there are consequences to every decision… if you want to do it, go ahead.
I think most of us who didn’t like the idea to begin with are slapping our knees going, SEE?!
DEAN:But are you in? With us, I mean.
METATRON:You really intend on closing the doors of Hell?
DEAN:Seems like the thing to do, don't it?
METATRON:It's your choice. And that's what this has all been about, the choices your kind make. But you're gonna have to weigh that choice. Ask yourself: what is it going to take to do this, and what will the world be like after it's done?
Did anyone think Metatron was a baddy here? I grew to really hate him, but at this point, he was just a scared Angel to me, much like Gabriel in a sense. He told the Winchesters that he was scared of the archangels and what they would make him do, or do to him because he was the only one who knew where the Word of God was so he went into hiding. Come to think of it, he was in a very similar situation to Kevin. But, this season, after the Winchesters come to see him, he all of a sudden decides he is going to take over Heaven - much like the arch angels would have if he had given them the world. Why didn’t he just do that first? He had the Word which was stronger than any angel... . The Winchester's visit must have given him the courage - now he knows the archangels are gone, and these humans are blaming him for not acting... it's time for revenge. The revenge Season where everyone is plotting revenge, aye? Wow... I'm just thinking back on all those eps and people of the season that were planning revenge and boy are there a lot.
But at least, Kevin is saved and also has the other half of the demon tablet. He knows what the next trial is - as Metatron also does.
So, at the end of the ep, Kevin is safe with Sam and Dean, who are on their way home from Metatron’s (He IS in the back of that car?) and then suddenly Cas is in the middle of the road, wounded and needing help. They are all together again.
CAS: A little help here?
How did they say good-bye to Metatron? I wish they had included a scene there to make sense of how Metatron decided to do what he did.