This episode was pretty awesome! I really enjoyed everything and there were quite a few scenes I laughed out loud.
This ep deals a lot wiith Sam’s head. Half of the ep is in there! And this has to be super important to understanding his reaction when he finds out about what Dean did later. I do remember going back to this episode many times to try to understand it.
In this ep, he goes through the same sort of emotions he did in Season 8 when he started the trials. First he wants to live, then he starts to think that maybe he’s not supposed to live. Then finally he decides that it would be better to die if he could make sure no one got hurt for his sake ever again. I’m trying to figure out where he got that desire, since I don’t remember him hurting anyone personally, but maybe this has to do with Crowley killing Sarah? Maybe he blames himself for that. Sam must blame himself for Dean going to Purgatory as well, and of course for not bringing him back. Maybe even for Benny sacrificing himself for Sam. Maybe he also feels bad for stopping the trials, which means that people will still be hurt by demons. He really doesn’t want anyone, including Dean, to suffer in order to save him.
And yet he trusts Dean without questioning his methods when he says yes: not questioning whether Dean has sold his soul or done anything shady, even knowing what Dean would do for him. Sam is just relieved that Dean has a way to save him which means there is reason that he is not “supposed to” die. Again, this seems like a parallel situation to our Season finale.
There is also the issue of Dean lying to Sam, or keeping the truth from him as the case may be. And this is a very difficult issue, as Sam finds out for himself in Season 10. I can’t shake the feeling that Sam may have gone along with the plan if Dean and Gadreel had explained it to him, and this may have prevented Gadreel from using Sam while switching sides and killing Kevin even, but in the emotional state he was in at that time, he may also have very well decided to evict Gadreel without really considering it fully. So it was definitely risky from Dean’s point of view because he could not lose Sam, whatever happened.
I am personally so relieved this ep when Sam says yes and Dean is able to save him that the issue of personal choice comes second despite the ugly feeling in my gut which I suppose is Dean’s feeling too. Sam is angry with Dean later because Kevin was killed but Kevin still would have been killed by Gadreel if not in Sam’s body because Metatron didn’t want him alive.
But, I’d better start on the recap :)
First, we see Sam and Dean driving in the car. Sam wakes up and he’s like, dude - no one notices that these are angels falling. The news says that it is a meteor shower! (We can assume that the reason why Sam knows this is he is unconsciously taking in the news from the TV in his hospital room, which we see later.) Sam says they have work to do, but Dean stops him and tells him that they have more serious things to think about. Sam. Sam is dying.
So we then find out that this Dean is not really Dean, and that they are both in his head. We experience the conversations Sam has with himself as Sam, Dean, and later on Bobby and maybe even Death. Which is super confusing but really interesting to contemplate! And the banter at the beginning is just hilarious! Dean is the part of Sam that wants to fight, Bobby is a part of Sam that is ok with dying, and then there is a part of Sam, the main part? that is pretty much confused.
Dean-Sam, whom I will call D-Sam from here on in to emphasize that this is indeed Sam talking, tells confused Sam that he is dying and in a coma. He tells Sam that he is not really Dean but just a part of Sam and they are not in the car, they are in his head. When finally Sam believes D-Sam, he is sorely disappointed.
SAM :The whole reason I stopped doing the trials was not to die.
D-SAM :And the next time we see Naomi or Metatron or whoever is to blame for this, we will get some justice, but for right now, we got to fight this, man.
SAM:Okay. All right, what's the plan?
D-SAM:I'm working on it.
Which is a very Dean-like thing to say and usually means he has no idea what to do.
SAM: But if you don't have any idea how I'm supposed to fight, then am I supposed to be fighting at all?
We know that the psychological fight to live is what often pulls people through in near death situations, and giving up, well, leads to death. And the idea that he should or should not be fighting… doesn’t make any sense to me. Is there some higher order saying, Sam it’s your time to die so stop fighting? And if there was, is he supposed to give in to this? Who is giving the order? If he was supposed to stop fighting, there should be a reaper telling him not to.
D-SAM : Sam wants to die, and you think he's got a point?
SAM :Okay, I don't want to die. I asked if maybe I was supposed to –
Where does this “supposed to” come from? And important to note that Sam clarifies he doesn’t “want” to die.
D-SAM:Shut it, Sam. [to Bobby-Sam] You – go. Oh, and, uh, before you throw me under the bus, you're welcome for the hell rescue.
BOBBY-SAM (henceforth B-Sam):Hey, first of all, you didn't rescue jack, half-wit. Sam did. Second of all, Sam, you're in a coma. Now, suck as that may, sometimes that's just the way things go.
OK, a bit confusing, seeing as the Dean and Bobby here are both Sam and… D-Sam is not saying Dean saved Bobby. He is saying that the Sam that wants to fight for life, the one who while doing the trials believed that he could show Dean the light at the end of the tunnel. THAT Sam saved Bobby. So Bobby-Sam reacting in that way is very weird.
But, it also poses an interesting question about who actually rescued Bobby. Yes, Sam did get Bobby out of Hell, but Dean sacrificed his friend to get them both out of Purgatory… Does Sam resent that he couldn’t do it himself and Dean had to help him? It kind of makes sense, since Sam has such a low opinion of himself. Maybe just the fact he couldn’t do it alone without Dean’s help made him feel worth less? Especially since Benny sacrificed himself for them?? Is that one of his people getting hurt for his sake things that is bothering him? It could be.
D-SAM:What are you talking about? There's always a way. You taught us that.
B-SAM:Oh, you mean like the way one of you idjits does some "bass-ackwards" crazy thing to beat death, like sell your soul?
D-SAM:Exactly like selling my soul.
B-SAM:Yeah, like that worked so well the last time.
This is possibly where Sam starts thinking that Dean in the outside world may be thinking of something drastic like selling his soul to save Sam. And I can see how Sam would want to stop that for sure. I think that is what makes him want to give up in the end.
Also as B-Sam and D-Sam argue,
SAM:Enough! Both of you! I can't hear myself think!
That is funny because that is exactly what he is hearing - himself thinking LOL They all realize it too - there is a moment where they just kind of look at Sam like, hello. What do you think you are hearing then?
B-SAM :Excuse me. Are you dead? Because I am, and maybe I'm here because I'm the part of Sam that actually knows what the hell he's talking about.
That makes no sense whatsoever LOL
D-SAM :Well, I'm in the front seat because Sam put me here because he wants to fight. Right?
That does make sense, but just as he says so, Bobby appears in the front too...meaning that Sam is suddenly unsure.
B-SAM :Well... that just got real uncomfortable.
But then B-Sam takes Sam away from the car setting, into the mountains and leads him toward the cabin where Death awaits.
SAM :Honestly, Bobby, I – I don't know what's right.
SAM:I want to fight. I do. But I just feel like...
B-SAM :Like you got nothing to swing at? Like you're punching at shadows? You got to let go of fightin' and scratchin' and lookin' for loopholes, 'cause that ain't happenin'.
No, Sam. the Bobby part of you is just wrong. Because a real reaper is not there to take you to the veil. If it really was Sam’s time to die, a reaper would have been there, just as there was for Bobby, and as there was for Dean in In My Time of Dying. I had felt there were some parallels between Tessa’s speech to Dean and Bobby’s to Sam, but then realized… the fact that Tessa was a real Reaper, while Bobby was just a part of Sam, made these two situations so different. Dean would have died anyway, even if he didn’t give in to Tessa. He would have become a vengeful spirit. Bobby actually did. But their Reapers were urging them to accept the death and move on. At this point, there is no indication that Sam is doomed to die. Death or Reaper, neither is coming to Sam to convince him to go with them to the veil. Even later when we see Death, it is because Sam sought him out. And it was Sam’s decision.
SAM :So – so, what? I - I - I just die?
B-SAM :Just die? All the good you've done, all the people you've saved, all the sacrifices you've made? You've saved the world, son. How many people can say that? How many people can say that they have left this godforsaken hunk of dirt that much a better place? What you call dyin' I call leavin' a legacy.
Now, when you think of this Bobby as being Sam, this little speech is very interesting. He is basically trying to convince himself of the good he has done for the world so that he’d give up and stop fighting.
As they are talking, D-Sam comes up and knifes Bobby. Sam gets pretty angry at D-Sam because it all seems so pointless now.
D-SAM :Come on, Sammy. Bobby was the part of you that wants to die. I know it stings, but he had to go.
SAM :No. You have to go. When are you gonna realize it's over?! There's nothing to fight for!
DEAN :No, see, I know you don't believe that.
SAM :Really? Then what's your plan, Dean?
DEAN :My plan?My plan is to fight!My plan is to try! My plan is to give a damn!Are you telling me there's nothing? Huh? You telling me there's nothing to fight for, that there's nothing to hope for?!
D-Sam starts beating Sam.
SAM:No. I'm telling you there is. You might not like it. You might not accept it, but it's in there. It's in that house.
DEAN :You know what's in that house! Now, I can't help you if you ain't willing to fight for yourself!
SAM: It’s OK. It’s what I want.
I just realized how similar this scene is with Sam trying to convince Dean to fight in Season 14. Sam seems to have a side that resorts to physical contact when he wants to make a point, just like Dean does (and Cas!) :D
Something changes within Sam. Despite all his talk about not wanting to die previously. Why? Why is there nothing to fight for, Sam? How about Dean? He convinced you not to die with the trials because he needs you! But, another side of him has convinced him to give up.
Sam touches his cheek gently and D-Sam disappears. Then he goes into the cabin to meet Death.
Let’s go to real Dean now, who is keeping vigil over Sam. I love this scene.
The doctor comes in and tells him that Sam is not getting better, and that he is in God’s hands, which is just the wrong thing to say.
DEAN : No, God has nothing to do with this equation at all.
And he’s right in a sense… Chuck isn’t there, or not where Dean can see him anyway, but he is also wrong because God is the writer, even though he says he is not going to interfere. He may not be interfering as a character but he is the one that is writing the story.
As Dean comes out of Sam’s room, he sees the sign for the chapel. This reminds me of another scene in Season 11 where Sam actually prays to God (and gets Lucifer instead) but Dean goes to the chapel and prays to Cas.
DEAN :Cas, are you there? Sammy's hurt. He's hurt, uh – he's hurt pretty bad. And, um... I know you think that I'm pissed at you, okay? But I don't care that the angels fell. So whatever you did or didn't do, it doesn't matter, okay? We'll work it out. Please, man, I need you here.
Last ep he was pretty upset at Cas for not trusting him, but at this point, he has forgiven Cas for whatever he did or didn’t do. We see later too that he is more concerned for Cas’ welfare than about what happened.
When the prayer doesn’t produce results right away, Dean sends out an open prayer to anyone listening, in desperation. All of a sudden we see a ton of angels hearing Dean’s prayer and most of them are not heading over to help Dean but to kill him or get the location of Cas whom they want to kill because of what he did. Only one angel goes to actually help, and that is Gadreel, seriously wounded by the fall, and an escaped “criminal.” We can look back and think that maybe he just wanted Sam’s body in order to cure himself, but however often I watch this, I can’t find evidence that he is lying about doing his best to cure Sam. His methods weren’t very honest but his reason was to clear his name, or attone for what he had done.
Dean goes back to Sam’s room, where a grief counselor visits him to talk about the “inevitable.” Dean first thinks she might be an angel and asks her point blank if she is but she isn’t, at this time anyway. Dean has experience with a grief counselor before with Bobby and he was much more in angry denial that time. This time, he is more sad and desperate.
DEAN :Look, I'm sure you're a nice person and that you mean well, but "inevitable" – that's a fightin' word where I come from. There's always a way.
KIM :And I am a prayerful woman who believes in miracles as much as the next, but I also know how to read an EEG. And unless you're telling me you have a direct line to those angels that you were looking for –
DEAN :Yeah, no, I, uh... Guess I don't. But I might have something better. I got the King of Hell in my trunk.
LOL!!! I love the irony of these two people talking about the same thing, but yet something so different! Dean is much more in a sharing mood than he usually is, probably because he is so desperate. He’s not really talking to her, he’s talking to himself. I’m sure the counselor thinks he’s lost it.
DEAN :Crowley, listen up, you son of a bitch. One for yes, two for no. You alive?
(There is no response.)
DEAN:Come on, don't be a pouter.
(CROWLEY, inside the trunk, hits it once.)
DEAN:There we go.
I love this! But he ends up keeping Crowley in the trunk because angels start appearing. I wonder if Crowley would have given him a better choice? Somehow I think not.
Gadreel gets to Dean just in time to stop another Angel from hurting him but the fight tires him out because he is so weak from the fall.
DEAN :Who are you?
GADREEL :Never mind me. You're Dean Winchester. I heard your prayer, and I am here to help.
Gadreel: lights out LOL I love this scene and Dean’s reaction!
Dean quickly puts Gadreel in a circle of Holy Fire. At first Gadreel is reluctant to tell Dean his name, asking him to trust him because he only wants to help.
GADREEL :Believe it or not, some of us still do believe in our mission. And that means we believe in Castiel...and you.
This is interesting. How did Gadreel know about Castiel or about the Winchesters? Did he glean all the information from angel radio after the fall? Or did he hear things even as he was imprisoned?
When Dean insists, Gadreel uses the name Ezekiel. They then go to Sam’s room and Gadreel checks Sam’s vitals the angel way. He tells Dean that Sam is very weak and it might be hard for him to cure him as he is wounded and weak himself. Telling Gadreel to do everything he can, Dean goes out into the hall to take a call from Cas, who is stuck in… the Colorado mountains somewhere.
We have a couple of scenes before this of Cas wandering the road up in the mountains, trying to shut out all the shouts and cries of the angels in his head - he can still hear angel radio, although it seems he cannot hear prayer, which is strange.
He almost gets hit by a truck driver and experiences pain as he gets scratched up bloody hands, then the driver telling him to drink some water because dehydration is a bitch and Cas going I don’t drink water (because I’m an angel), give me a phone.
The nice truck driver gives him a lift instead because the phone signals are out where they are. When he finally gets to the phone there is a scene with a biker-like guy who is hogging the phone.
Cas tries to use his powers on him and of course can’t which is not the greatest scene for me. When he finally gets to use the phone, he calls Dean. From what he says to Dean, it is obvious that he has not heard Dean.
Dean tells him that Ezekiel is helping Sam and Cas tells Dean that Ezekiel is a good soldier and Dean is reassured as to his choice to ask for Gadreel’s help. We know on a rewatch that Ezekiel has died in the fall.
Cas tells Dean on the phone that he wants to help the angels. After the biker incident, Cas has met an angel, Hael, who doesn’t seem angry at him, just confused and needing help. He is in the middle of trying to help Hael come to terms with the fall. We find out later that she actually just wants his body because her human can’t contain her. Dean warns Cas not to try to help the angels because that is what got him into this mess in the first place and the angels don’t want his help. Cas doesn’t believe him until Hael tries to take him with her by force later. We can really hear Dean’s worry for Cas here as he urges Cas not to do anything but go back to the bunker and stay safe. It is obvious that what he said in his prayer is true and not just because he wants Cas’ help.
Dean goes back to Sam’s room and then they hear other angels coming. Gadreel is afraid of course that the other angels would recognize him and insists they have to get out of there, but Dean tells him Sam would die if they did. He puts sigils up and goes out to fight the angels while Gadreel saves Sam.
The fight scene is awesome. Dean is very pretty bloody and I love the action. I just realized that the grief councellor said yes to an angel possessing her after that little talk with Dean. Significant.
DEAN :Anybody ever tell you you hit like an angel?
DEAN :Okay, wait, wait, wait, wait. I'll tell you where Cas is. I just have one question.
DEAN :If Heaven is locked, then where do you go when I do this?
Bam… the angels are blown away.
Dean goes back to Sam’s room and finds out that Gadreel has given up on healing Sam from the outside.He tells Dean that there are other ways but they are not good. Dean wants to hear the bad ones too. Gadreel suggests that possession could work. But Dean knows Sam would never say yes. But when Gadreel makes to leave, Dean can’t let him go. He wants to really see how bad it is for Sam. Gadreel takes Dean into Sam’s head so he can see what is happening there and they see Death himself with Sam.
DEATH : I consider it to be quite the honor to be collecting the likes of Sam Winchester. I try so hard not to pass judgment at times like this – not my bag, you see, but you... Well played, my boy.
SAM :I need to know one thing.
SAM :If I go with you... can you promise that this time it will be final? That if I'm dead, I stay dead. Nobody can reverse it, nobody can deal it away... and nobody else can get hurt because of me.
DEATH :I can promise that.
The actor, Julian Richings, has said that this is not really Death but again a part of Sam. And this is plausible. However, I personally like to believe that this Death is really Death and not a part of Sam - whatever the actor or the writers say. First of all, here Sam has finally decided he wants to give up. He wants to die. By giving up, Sam has made death a real possibility. We know that as Sam enters the cabin, Gadreel tells Dean that they don’t have much time left. Sam is really about to die. Why wouldn’t a reaper or death appear at this point? Both Dean and Bobby saw a reaper when they were about to die, and Bobby was in a coma just as Sam is now. Why wouldn’t a reaper/Death come to Sam? Also, both D-Sam and B-Sam admit that they are a part of Sam in the episode, but Death doesn’t. He also makes a promise that couldn’t be made by a part of Sam. If D-Sam and B-Sam knew they were parts of Sam, then Death would too and wouldn’t lie about it. So, to me, this is not a figment of his imagination but truely Death.
Dean now understands how dire the situation is and is even more desperate than before. He also hears this conversation so he knows that once he loses Sam, he’s not going to get him back :’( I think that might make him more desperate to save him, even through “bad” methods.
DEAN :Even if I said yes, it doesn't mean squat. Sam will never say yes – not to you.
GADREEL :But he would say yes to you.
There was a question by someone recently about whether the Dean that appears to Sam here is Dean or Gadreel and there is no clear answer. We know that angels can put people in other people’s heads. Gadreel just did it the scene before when he showed Dean what was happening. In that case, they were invisible. Cas did it for Sam in Season 14, putting him in Deans head, where they were both visible to Dean. From this, I am sure it would also be possible for one to be visible, and another not to be. I also think that only Dean could come up with the conversation that follows and it is not something he could have thought up beforehand to tell Gadreel. He must have been talking through Gadreel somehow.
DEAN:It's okay, Sam. I, uh, would have brought cronuts, but time is short, so...
DEATH:By all means.
I love Dean talking about food with Death :)
SAM:Why are you even here? I'm not fighting this anymore!
Sam here thinks that this is still D-Sam that is him that disappeared when he gave up.
DEAN:You have to fight this! I can fix this, okay? But not if you shut me out. (to Death) It's not his time.
DEATH:That's for Sam to decide.
That is quite a different situation from Bobby and Dean with the Reapers. They didn’t have a choice. They would die anyway. The issue was whether they would enter the veil and go to the other side with their Reaper or not. But here, it is up to Sam.
DEAN: Sam, listen to me. I made you a promise in that church. You and me, come whatever. Well, hell, if this ain't whatever... But you got to let me in, man. You got to let me help. There ain't no me if there ain't no you.
SAM: What do I do?
DEAN:Is that a yes?
DEAN: Come on.
Sam’s expression here is of relief. He is glad he doesn’t have to die and that Dean has found a way to save him. As I said previously, there is no doubt as to how Dean is going to save him. It is possible that Sam still thinks this is D-Sam, but he is reacting in the same way he did at the church so either way, he would have done the same.
We next see Gadreel in Sam’s form talking with Dean outside as they walk away from the hospital.
Dean at first tells Gadreel that he intends to tell Sam what is up, but Gadreel tells him that if Sam finds out and refuses to be the vessel of Gadreel, then Gadreel will be evicted and Sam would die. Dean can’t take that chance. Gadreel also promises to erase Sam’s memory of what happened. And we the viewers are facepalming because that’s super shady Dean...but he is so scared that Sam would rather die than be possessed. If he could just keep this a secret for a bit until Sam was strong enough…
I do believe Gadreel means to be of help to Sam and in that sense he has good intentions. But he’s hurt from the fall too and scared of being found and killed by other angels and by using Sam’s awesome Lucifer vessel body, he can recover and stay hidden until he has his powers back. He really doesn’t want to be evicted. So he makes Dean lie to Sam. His methods are super shady because of his fear, just like Dean’s.
Meanwhile, Cas is killing Hael. There is a parallel situation to Gadreel and Sam here - with Hael wanting to possess Cas (now that he is “human”). She believes he owes her for all he has done in Heaven and she really needs a new body because hers is not a good fit. Cas refuses, however, and kills her.
There is a cute scene of Cas at the laundromat, trying to decide between cleaning his clothes and getting something to drink. He ends up stealing someone else’s clothes and buying water instead. His vulnerable face here tickles the mother instinct :)
Sam wakes up in the car just like he did in his dream at the beginning of the ep, which is totally cool. Dean looks so vulnerable here. So much worry and love for Sam. He tells him that he had been driving around for a day
DEAN:Oh, I mean, I stopped, you know, let a few Japanese tourists take some pictures. Nobody got too handsy. I knew you'd pull through. I meant what I said at the church. You're capable of anything, Sam, and hell if you didn't prove me right.
I love that line about Japanese tourists and their cameras :D But, Dean does this little gasp and expression which seems to be holding back tears, of relief at seeing his brother back, alive, and also desperation of not wanting to lose him.
SAM:Good. 'Cause we got work to do.