To me, this episode addresses two themes. One would be a life worth living, I guess. Both Bobby and the woman witch in this episode are struggling with this because of their present situation and, their decisions at the end ultimately come down to family. Another theme is aging, especially with regard to hunters, and Sam and Dean. I found it reminded me a lot of Criss Angel is a Douchebag because of the change in the way Sam views their lives now, and we also see Dean's admiration for a certain way of growing old... I'll think about that a bit more as I write.
"I Want All My Money Back" by Lonnie Brooks(plays when Dean asks the bartender about the poker game)
"Early Blues" by Bear Cat Philips (CPM / Carlin)(plays when Dean finds Patrick)
OK, so here I go again *crosses fingers*
We start with the MoTW scene - a man comes home to his wife and runs up the stairs to the bathroom without a word. Wife, reading a tabloid with headlines The Apocalypse Is Here! thinks that he's just in a bad mood until she goes up to see and finds him dead of old age at the age of 25.
Next, Sam and Dean introduce themselves at the morgue as CDC and the doctor has a hard time believing it. O-oh... but no, it's just because they are one day early - and since when is a government agency one day early?? Dean explains.
DEAN:New administration. A change you can believe in.
Dean calls Bobby and we find out that Sam and Dean are checking out the case for Bobby. When Dean mentions that it is definitely a case, Bobby suggests they look into the missing persons to find a clue. We also have this telling conversation at the end.
DEAN:By the way, how you doing?
DEAN:Yeah. You know, just...in general?
BOBBY:Oh, you mean my legs. Well, I'm just weepin' in my Haagen-Dazs. Idjit.
And we see Bobby in despair - pretty much like we found him in the hospital in Sympathy for the Devil. And I feel a bit guilty for having forgotten what he is going through at this point. Dean also hears a bit of the obvious discontent in Bobby's voice. It's obvious they are worried about him but don't really know how to address it.
Back with the case, they go visit an old lady who filed a missing persons for her husband who didn't come home on Tuesday night. He supposedly always comes straight home after work and is only late on Tuesdays when he stays to work a bit more. As Sam keeps talking with the lady, Dean goes to investigate, using the washroom as an excuse as usual. He looks in the man's jacket pocket and finds a receipt from a "questionable" establishment.
DEAN:'Working late' my ass.
Dean of course recognizes the kind of establishment it is and they are on their way to check it out.
We have an interesting conversation here as they walk down the hall toward the room that this husband, Clif Whitmore, had gotten that Tuesday.
SAM:Well, at least he's consistent. Same room every Tuesday, hourly rates.
DEAN:Hope I got that kind of kick when I'm his age.
SAM:Yeah, like either of us will live that long.
Interesting because it reminds me of the similar type of conversation they had about aging in Criss Angel. Here is a quote from that ep.
DEAN: Man...hope I die before I get old. Whole thing seems brutal, don't it?
SAM: You think we will?
SAM: Die before we get old.
DEAN: Haven't we both already?
SAM: You know what I mean, Dean. I mean, do you think we'll still be chasing demons when we're 60?
DEAN: No, I think we'll be dead...for good. What? You want to end up like -- Like travis? Huh?Or Gordon, maybe?
SAM: There's Bobby.
DEAN: Oh, yeah, there's a poster child for growing old gracefully.
SAM: Maybe we'll be different, Dean.
DEAN: What kind of Kool-Aid you drinking, man? Sammy, it ends bloody or sad. That's just the life.
We know that in that episode, Sam is still wanting the goal of a normal life after everything is finished. He needs something to work toward. Dean, on the other hand, may just be seeing the negative side of growing old in those three magicians and hoping he is dead by then so that he doesn't have to go through the suffering of not being able to hunt like he can while he is young. Which is actually what Bobby is going through now, isn't it.
In this scene though, Dean sees a man who is growing old with style (to him anyway ;)) and he likes the idea. Sam, on the other hand, is given up the normal life he wanted in Criss Angel completely. He is pretty sure that they won't live through the apocalypse now, whatever they do.
The boys walk up to the room and speculate...
SAM:So...what do you think's in there?
DEAN:A wrinkly, gooey corpse.
But then suddenly hear shouting that seems to indicate danger, so they barge in instead of picking the lock and find a different sort of scene than they had imagined.
(love Sam's expression there!)
They are about to leave when Sam notices the tattoo on the guy's arm and realizes that this is Cliff - the missing guy. He goes in and checks the wallet, and Dean goes over and peeks under the covers for the birthmark. Yes, it's definitely him.
DEAN:Your wife told us about your, uh, birthmark there. That's nice. Well, you look great. Cliff. Did you get some work done?
Cliff tells the girls to give them some privacy and we have Dean winking to the girls as they leave - really not necessary but ...
(hee! of course it is!)
Sam and Dean threaten Cliff into telling them about the poker game played for years,
CLIFF:Okay! Okay! It was a game.
(we have to include Sam's expression here...)
CLIFF: No. Poker. High stakes. Instead of cash, you play for years.
and they are leaving when Dean turns around -
DEAN:Oh, and, uh...stay classy.
Again some admiration for the guy's style.
So now they call Bobby and tell him about what they've found and Bobby just has to get into his car and beat them to the game. Sam and Dean split up to cover all the bars etc., but still can't find it before Bobby. When Dean finally finds a bartender that's a bit shifty, pays him off with a hundred dollar bill and finds the spot where Patrick is, he bumps into Bobby coming out - having lost the game.
DEAN:Are you kidding me? You played some—some he-witch?
BOBBY:Don't you take that tone with me.
BOBBY:They're my years! I can do what I want!
DEAN:How many did you lose?
DEAN:We're not done.
So Dean goes down to save Bobby's ass because that's what he does for family, of course. He threatens Patrick into talking with him, with a gun, but it doesn't work so well when he asks Patrick to give Bobby back his years. You'd think Dean'd learn by now that witches are pretty powerful. Patrick is like, you can shoot me, sure. It'd tickle and it might be fun, but if you want the years back you have to play for them. So Dean agrees. Bobby's come back to see what's going on.
PATRICK: You want years? Great. Play me for 'em.
DEAN:They're my years. I can do what I want.
Dean throws Bobby's words back at him. Then he proceeds to buy 50 years and give Bobby back his 25 in case he loses. Bobby is now back to normal. (I am assuming Sam doesn't do this for Dean because it would shorten the game...?)
We have a neat scene with the chips catching fire here.
And we have a couple of awesome expressions. I love that dark expression of Dean's, Patrick's playful one and Bobby of worry which I put together for the poll banner.
DEAN:Shuffle up and deal.
PATRICK:This is gonna be fun.
The next scene is of Sam coming back from his milk run. He's got the extra bacon hamburger that Dean requested and drinks. But a strange old man comes out of the bathroom and Sam's taking out his gun.
He soon realizes it's Dean but Dean's like, what are you doing pointing a gun at an old man! Dean and Bobby explain the situation to Sam.
BOBBY:I see you met John McCain there.
SAM:Yeah. Either of you want to tell me what happened?
DEAN:Bobby's an idiot. That's what happened.
BOBBY:Hey, nobody asked you to play.
DEAN:Right. I should have just let you die.
BOBBY:And for damn sure, nobody asked you to lose!
And that's cute. I love how Sam is getting a kick out of this, even though it's a serious situation. They go through these situations so much that they don't panic right away do they?!
I've been thinking of the similarities with Criss Angel though, and wondering what this witch is sacrificing in order to live forever. Remember in CAIAD, we had the witch killing other people in order to allow his friend to survive when he could have died, right? So this witch must be sacrificing something too, and it occurred to me that the years that he takes from these people are what he is adding on to his own life to live forever. That's why he does these games, in order to gain more years. Just a thought.
Anyway, we have another funny conversation about heart-burn and how old people can't digest hamburgers with extra bacon (I think it depends on the person... my dad loved fried food :P) and then they start talking about the chips and how they must be magical and how Bobby remembers the whole incantation so let's go get those chips to see if we can reverse the spell.
As they are talking, a cute maid comes to change the towels and Old!Dean of course tries to hit on her and utterly fails and Sam has a laugh...
MAID:Ready for housekeeping, sir?
MAID:You're just like my grandfather.He hits on anything that moves, too. You're adorable.
And off to Patrick's hotel room. They are watching for him to leave the building and when he does, he does a stint by getting hit by a car and using that to steal the car under the owner's nose. The three watching from the impala are impressed.
So first off they have trouble with the elevator being out of order so Bobby obviously cannot do anything (he's not happy) and Old!Dean has a hard time going up the stairs -
Then when they find the cheap safe which Dean could have easily opened if his eyes weren't so bad and Sam ends up opening for him - Patrick's apprentice/lover finds them and almost kills them before Patrick stops her.
Patrick suggests he would play poker with Sam if he wants to try to win the years back for Dean but Dean refuses, giving Patrick the impression that Sam is not good at poker - which comes to Sam's advantage later I guess aye? Patrick gives Sam the clap and they are back to square one. We have an unnecessary scene where Bobby has to get pushed up the hill to the hotel - and then a discussion of who will play Patrick. Bobby suggests that he will but Sam refuses.
SAM:No, you'll die if you lose, Bobby.
BOBBY:So what if I do, huh? What exactly am I living for, huh? The damn apocalypse? Watching men die bloody while I sit in this chair, can't take a step to help 'em?
BOBBY:No, no. It's the facts. I'm old...and broke down...and I can't...I ain't a hunter no more. I'm useless. And if I wasn't such a coward, I'd have stuck a gun in my mouth day I got home from the hospital.
So finally Bobby is able to tell the boys his true feelings. Until he's just been crabby and snappy and Sam and Dean knew Bobby was taking it all badly, but they didn't know how much, did they. It sort of reminds me of the scene in The End where Dean finds Bobby's wheelchair. Not necessarily because Bobby may have killed himself, although that is also possible considering how cold Dean became. You'd have to wonder why Bobby came back to his home and was shot there. But more because it is true that he is disabled because of being confined to the wheelchair. There are things he could do before that he can't anymore and whoever shot him had the advantage. It also reminds me of a future zombie episode where Bobby really needs Dean to have his back.
Anyway, Dean and Bobby go back to the motel (while Sam tries to find another way) and Lia comes to visit with an incantation to reverse everything Patrick did, including her age and his.
It is hard for Dean and Bobby to believe that she would give them something like that. There doesn't seem to be any merit for her, but she tells them that she has her reasons. On a rewatch we know that she has truly lived a very long life and has seen her daughter both as a baby and die of old age. Lia misses her family and is ready to move on. So this is very interesting. The difference between Lia, who is accepting and ready to die and Bobby, who is fighting the fact that he is growing old, the fact that he is not the hunter he once was (sort of like the guy in Criss Angel). Of course there is the big difference where Lia has lived an unnatural number of years and Bobby's life as a hunter has been shortened by his injury rather than just natural aging but the reason Bobby decides that he will not end his life, and the reason Lia decides to end her life are both family, showing how important family (family is not blood of course) is in retaining (or not) the will to live.
The next scene is of Sam watching Patrick let Hesh, an old man, win 13 years from him in order to see his granddaughter's bat mitzvah.
Sam remarks "that was nice" and Patrick stresses again that he is not a murderer. Now, he may have been doing this for Sam's benefit, but we can tell from various other scenes that he is telling the truth (to a point) here. He does seem to have his own set of standards he holds to - he might take 50 years from a young man but he does give back years to old men he deems worthy of them. He did refuse to play Dean again, while he did not mind asking Sam to play. He may see himself as a Robin Hood of life years (LOL). On first watch, we are not sure if Sam has come with the knowledge of the incantation and as part of a plan with Dean and Bobby or not. Patrick may have thought at the beginning that Sam may have come on his own, although he is careful with his darn toothpick isn't he? Sam plays safe too, making sure the game continues for a long time and that may have told Patrick something. He somehow switches toothpicks so that the one Sam takes to Dean does not have any DNA on it. Patrick talks a lot to try to glean something about Sam...and he gets really close with what he says.
PATRICK:You're not the little brother anymore, Sam. Then again, maybe you are. You're in over your head here, Sam. I mean, you can keep making these moves—you know, playing it cautious, playing the percentages. But I'm still gonna kick your ass into the nursing home.
That kind of hits the mark doesn't it. The fact that Sam just finished telling Dean that he wasn't the little brother anymore and they had to be on equal footing? Patrick's assertion that Sam is in over his head and he is going to lose actually sounds a lot like what Lucifer says too.
Bobby and Dean are in the graveyard, with Dean digging for the jawbone of a murderer. This is again quite a cute scene with Dean complaining of pains and Bobby rolling his eyes at him.
Then, they go pick up the toothpick from Sam (when Patrick conveniently calls for a break...) and throw it in with everything else that's burning in the bowl, but it doesn't make any impact on the mix. No sound or light or anything, and we are all wondering if Sam really got the DNA or not.
Meanwhile Sam is still playing, but Patrick has realized that Sam had taken his toothpick for some purpose that necessitated his "bodily fluids" and gets pretty angry at Sam "for cheating." He is about to kill Sam when Lia comes up and stops Patrick saying that she put Sam up to it. Patrick is hurt, but when Lia shows him her locket, he understands why she did what she did. He is not forgiving of Sam though. He makes Sam sit down and play the game.
LIA:I did it! I gave him the spell!
PATRICK: Keep. Playing.
Meanwhile Bobby and Dean are on their way to Patrick's apartment again to find some DNA (what they should have done first actually). Dean somehow gets up the stairs again and looks for anything that might have DNA on it, but Patrick is really careful not to leave anything.
Patrick is remarking on Sam's skills and telling him that if they had time, he would't mind teaching Sam a few tricks. When Sam remarks that he has plenty of time, Patrick tells him that actually no, Dean will die in just a few minutes. I don't know how Patrick could control Dean or know of his death like that but Dean, who's just found a wine glass with possible DNA, falls with what looks like a heart attack. Bobby, who is on the phone with Dean, keeps calling to him and he cannot answer. Can you imagine being in a car like that next to a building that your family member is having a heart attack in and not able to help at all? All he can do is continue to call to Dean.
Sam tries to quit but Patrick won't let him.
(PATRICK slaps down three cards and spreads them out: the ace of spades and fours of hearts and clubs. SAM eyes the cards.)
PATRICK:When it's about your brother, you get so emotional, your brain just flies right out the window. Good to know.
Patrick sees his panic, which I am sure is real, and thinks that Sam is unable to function properly when he is worried for his brother... which is not actually true. He is able to keep a level head and do what is necessary, all the while knowing that showing his panic will actually aid him. When he knows he will win, he puts all his remaining chips in the middle. Patrick thinks he is just giving up in order to go to his brother - Lia is looking on with trepidation.
PATRICK:Don't do that, Sam.
SAM:I can't leave until it's over? Fine. It's over. Now, where's my brother?
PATRICK:Look, there's poker and then there's suicide.
SAM:Just play the hand.
(PATRICK turns over his face-down cards: aces of clubs and diamonds.)
PATRICK:I'm sorry, kid. Aces full.
Then Sam notices that Lia is crying, thinking that Sam has lost.
SAM:You're crying. For a witch, you're so nice, it's actually kind of creepy. It's okay. It was a great hand. Just—not as great as—as four fours.
This is an amazing scene - wonderful acting by Sam... and Jared and Lia being emotional, Patrick being duped and then impressed enough that he is willing to give Dean back his years.
While Bobby is still calling to Dean on the phone, he sees Dean, young again, walk out of the building and do his little dance.
The next scene is of Patrick and Lia. Lia has asked him to play her and although he has agreed, he is fighting it all the way.
LIA:I buried my daughter.
The right-hand photo is clearly decades old, of a very small child. The left-hand photo is much more recent, of an elderly woman.
LIA:And she looked like this. It's not natural.
PATRICK:You knew. When you decided to come with me. This is what you wanted. You're still young. You're so beautiful. You have me.
LIA:I miss my family. I'm sorry, Patrick.
PATRICK:I thought you loved me.
LIA:I do. Sweetheart, of course I do. I thought I was cut out for this, but I'm not.
This is a very touching scene for me. Patrick and Lia's love for eachother is very clear, but it is not enough to stay Lia. Her words, "It's not natural" are maybe also important to remember for future episodes.
Sam, Dean and Bobby are getting ready to move out and they are remarking on Sam being able to win against Patrick -
BOBBY:No tricks—you actually beat the guy?
BOBBY:How the hell?
And as Sam goes out to get his booster shot, Dean has his little talk with Bobby -
DEAN:I shouldn't have called you an idiot.
DEAN:I'm sorry. I mean, I actually—I, I—I get it. Getting old ain't a bachelor party. And dealing with the crap you got to deal with—
BOBBY:Don't you go on pity patrol.
DEAN:I'm not. I'm not. I'm just...I'm saying, you know, if I was in your shoes...
BOBBY:You'd never stop complaining.
DEAN:Fair enough. You're not useless, Bobby.
BOBBY:Okay. Good talk.
DEAN:No, wait a minute. Listen to me. You don't stop being a soldier 'cause you got wounded in battle. Okay? No matter what shape you're in, bottom line is, you're family. I don't know if you've noticed, but me and Sam, we don't have much left. I can't do this without you. I can't. So don't you dare think about checking out. I don't want to hear that again.
BOBBY:Thanks. Now, we done feeling our feelings? 'Cause I'd like to get out of this room before we both start growing lady parts.
DEAN:Yeah, we're done.
(Dean leaves his burger half eaten - maybe remembering the heart burn he had recently...)
DEAN:Let's go, Ironsides.
BOBBY:Oh, that one's sticking, huh?
That face by Dean would totally make me want to cry if I was Bobby (with lady parts LOL) It totally reminds me of Dean in that last scene of Mystery Spot.
Bobby decides to keep fighting because Dean tells him that he is needed. That they can't do it without him - that he is family. Just as Lia decides she's had enough because she misses her family, so Bobby decides to persevere because of his family.