Damsels in distress, long lost friends popping up out of nowhere, Winchesters refusing to allow each other to die, an ally seemingly lost forever. More crying, and this just might have been the most Supernatural episode of Supernatural ever created.
The episode opens with Sam running down an alley, obviously tired and desperate. He runs into a drug dealer, where it is revealed that Lucifer hasn’t let him sleep for five days. The dealer offers to give him something to knock him out, but it doesn’t work, and Sam ends up getting hit by a car trying to escape. He is brought to a hospital and placed under psychiatric care, because, well, Satan is talking to him inside his head and he hasn’t slept for five days. He needs MEDICAL ATTENTION.
Dean shows up and finds that Sam has accepted his imminent death. Dean is obviously less zen about the whole Sam-dying-thing, so he goes to make some calls and try to find a way out from underneath this thing. Something (Bobby? Bobby?!) knocks a business card loose and Dean makes a random desperate call for help. Meanwhile, Sam is deteriorating fast, with Lucifer now disturbing him at all hours, and even preventing him from eating.
Dean gets a call back from the number, and learns about a healer who is “the real deal” named Emmanuel. When Dean goes to meet him, he finds a demon (who he kills) and Castiel. It seems that Castiel has a wife, and no idea who he actually is. Dean plays along, probably because he doesn’t want to ruin any chance he has of saving Sam. As they drive together towards the hospital, Emmanuel!Cas reveals that his wife found him wandering naked in the woods, with no memory whatsoever.
Back at the hospital, Sam has been making a new friend in Maren, a troubled young girl who is thought to be suicidal. She confides in him over a candy bar, and tells him that she hears her brother’s voice in her head, telling her to kill herself to be with him, or he will do it for her.
In the car, Emmanuel!Cas and Dean talk about Sam, and how Dean’s friend Cas is the one who did this to him. Dean talks about how this is betrayal is the one thing he can’t get over.
They stop at a mini-mart, which happens to be crawling with demons that are after Emmanuel!Cas. Presumably, bringing him to Crowley would be their ticket to the big time. Dean takes them out pretty easily with the help of Meg, who has been following them for awhile. She is understandably curious about Castiel. She offers to help Dean keep the situation off of Crowley’s radar, because she needs friends, hates Crowley and would like her own little angel on a leash if possible. Dean agrees, if only for the added protection as they make their way to Sam.
Sam and Maren have been ghostbusting at the hospital. They get rid of her brother and Sam saves the girl, like he does.The three musketeers have arrived at the hospital, and it turns out that basically every doctor, nurse, and patient there is now a demon. While Meg and Dean have an obvious conversation about Emmanuel!Cas’ identity really close to him, he overhears and they explain that he is an angel.
Castiel goes down to take out the demons, and as he does, he remembers bits of what have happened since he came down to visit Dean. Remembering everything that he did and became, he tries to leave right away. Dean follows, to convince him that redemption is possible. It’s not until Dean pulls the trenchcoat out of the trunk of his car that Castiel decides to go and see what he can do.
Sam is being wheeled to receive electroshock therapy by a demon, who I’m fairly sure im.s not certified to perform that procedure. Castiel comes in and saves him from the demon but learns that he is too far gone to rebuild the wall in his mind.
After he tells Dean this, Castiel realizes that he can shift the problem from Sam to himself. He does this, and now Lucifer is in his mind the way he was in Sam’s. Sam and Dean leave him there, presumably because he’ll be safer there than on the road with them The episode ends with Meg getting a job as a nurse at the hospital, for no good reason I’m sure.
So much about this episode is highly symbolic. For starters, it’s interesting to me that they would choose to have Sam interact with a drug dealer directly at the beginning. For what seems like forever, Sam has been fighting against going dark side (while Dean is just plain fighting.) The metaphor of addiction was more directly played with the demon blood, but is just as relevant as Sam starts to slip away underneath the control of Lucifer.
The other big symbolic moment for me was Castiel killing the demons in front of the hospital. As hard as he might try, he can’t destroy or remove the things he has done (which he conveniently flashed back to after each demon he murdered.)
Anytime Castiel is portrayed as something more human and less android-angel, I love it, so that aspect totally worked for me.
I was left with some questions, though. What was the point of the Maren/ghost brother storyline? (It seemed like it was just to let me know that Lucifer and I have similar reactions to a lot of things.) Dean leaving Cas there seemed a little out of character, unless it is a reflection of how his betrayal has changed Dean’s feelings towards him. Plus, what the heck is Meg up to?