Supernatural fans know the importance of Dean’s Impala, and they also know the show’s history of taking unorthodox ideas and somehow making them work within the show’s universe, whether it be “Changing Channels,” “The French Mistake,” “Fan Fiction,” or any number of episodes. But what we didn’t know until tonight was how well those two things would go together.
There are very few shows on television that can have as much fun with format as Supernatural, and tonight was another example — one of the best, in my opinion — of the great storytelling that can come out of such rule-bending. I mean, seriously, how good was this episode?
With the entire hour operating from the perspective of the Impala, we begin with a mini flashforward. There’s blood on the window, there’s a knife on the floorboards, and Dean is passed out and handcuffed in the back seat (and not in the way he likes).
Jumping back 48 hours, Dean is keeping himself busy by washing Baby while Sam gives him the world’s least-helpful update: There’s no news on Metatron or the Darkness. And that’s the last straw for Dean. He’s got a serious case of cabin fever and needs to get out and chase a case, no matter how thin the lead might be. So it looks like the boys are headed to Oregon to investigate the mauling — werewolf? — of a local sheriff.
And cue amazing road trip interaction No. 1:
[Sam pulls a smoothie out of the cooler in the back seat.]
Dean: “What’s that?”
Sam: “It’s a smoothie.”
Dean: “Where’s the beer?”
Sam: “Under the smoothies.”
Dean: “Where’s the rest of the beer?”
Thankfully, Sam is saved by the bell when Castiel calls hoping to help on the case. But Sam and Dean agree that Cas needs to be focused on one thing and one thing only, and that’s healing. So they tell him to read a book or watch some Netflix. Cas, of course, offers up this gem: “What’s a Netflix?” Surely, they have Netflix in heaven. Right?! (Spoiler: They will in my corner.)
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Stopping at a road house, Sam and Dean once again prove that they have very different ideas of fun. This gives us amazing road trip interaction No. 2:
Sam: “Even Swayze wouldn’t come to this road house.”
Dean: “First of all, never use Swayze’s name in vain. Ever.”
With that, Dean heads into the road house, Sam heads off to find a nearby diner, and we stay with Baby until the morning. The next day, as Dean climbs back into the car announcing that “mistakes were made,” he’s greeted by a naked blonde in the back seat. Looks like Sam made good use of the Impala last night. SAM. Who even knew he could fit back there?
Naturally, Dean is a proud, proud big brother and decides he knows what Sam needs next: To listen to Bob Seger’s “Night Moves.” Okay, real talk, guys: Watching them sing “Night Moves” together made me giddy. I literally giggled out loud to myself on my couch. HOW GOOD WAS THIS?!
NEXT: The return of John Winchester (sort of)
Leading into a classic road trip compilation, we end with amazing road trip interaction No. 3 (or 4, if you count singing, which I do):
Discussing how “classy and thoughful” Sam was to put a blanket down in the back seat, Sam tells Dean: “I tried to give her my number. You know what she said?”
Dean: “We got tonight; who needs tomorrow?”
Sam: “Is everything a Bob Seger song to you?”
I just love that Sam is not a “one-night wonder” kind of guy, even if the woman’s name is Piper. And because he’s not that kind of guy, of course Sam’s hookup leads to him asking Dean if he wants something more than the life they have now. As Dean puts it, “I’m sorry, have you met us?” It’s true. These two don’t have a great domestic record.
When Sam brings up a potential life with another hunter, I can’t help but think of Jo and how much I loved her and Dean. But that’s enough talk for now — Sam needs his sleep. And as Dean tells him, he earned it.
But when Sam drifts off, he wakes up to realize his father is driving the car. But it’s not just his father, it’s his young, 20-something father. And although John has a point when he asks Sam, “when has death ever stopped a Winchester?” Sam knows something’s off.
Whether it’s a dream or a vision, we don’t know, but John has a message for Sam: The Darkness is coming, and only Sam and Dean can stop it. Sam instantly makes the connection that the last time he had a “vision” it was right after he prayed. Could this be God? “God helps those who help themselves,” John tells Sam. Just then, Sam wakes up to be greeted at the front door of the Winchester Motel by Dean.
With each Winchester occupying a seat, Sam tells Dean about his vision and the fact that he thinks the visions are coming from God. Dean, of course, is less than willing to believe God has any part in all of this. At this point, Sam has to confess a few things: 1) that he prayed to God recently; and 2) that he prayed to God because he was infected.
But Dean still isn’t willing to believe. As he reminds Sam, “God helps those who help themselves” isn’t even from the Bible. It’s a proverb. (Guys, Dean reads!)
Dean then tells Sam about his recurring dream, where their dad is teaching Dean to drive while Sam’s in the back seat. In Dean’s dream world, they’re not hunters. They live a normal life. Sam then confesses that he has a similar dream, but it usually involves mom. But Sam knows that what he just experienced wasn’t a dream. As far as Dean’s concerned, the two of them have to defeat the Darkness. No one is going to help, especially not God. And for now, they keep hunting.
Amazing road trip interaction No. 5:
Sam: “Good night, jerk.”
Dean: “Good night, b—-.”
(Let’s pretend they say that every night. Also, no offense to Baby, but based purely on height, these two really need a wider car to sleep comfortably.)
NEXT: Working the case
Finally making their way to Oregon, they discover that the sheriff’s body was missing a heart and its blood. So as Dean likes to say, they’re clearly hunting a werepire. But the hunt will have to wait until Dean gets a good steak and reluctantly hands his car over to a young valet, who picks up her friend and takes it for a spin.
But Dean gets it back without a scratch, so what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
At this point, Cas calls the guys with this gem: “I’m not sure how orange correlates with black in a way that’s new.” So maybe Netflix isn’t for everyone. But Cas does have an update on the werepire. There is something that feeds on hearts and blood. It’s called a whisper, and it can be killed by silver.
While Cas goes on spilling fun facts about whispers — and realizes quickly that this thing couldn’t be one — Dean is attacked by the local deputy. And when silver only slows him down, Dean decapitates him. But even that doesn’t work. As Dean uses his windshield wipers to get rid of the snarling head, he tells Cas, “Turns out, I did shoot the deputy” just as they realize they’re facing something new entirely.
With that in mind, Dean puts the deputy’s decapitated head in his cooler in the back seat and heads to find Sam, who’s also been attacked while trying to talk to the victim’s wife.
By the time Dean gets Sam and the victim’s wife and Cas calls back, Cas informs them that they’re dealing with some sort of ghoul-vampire thing that Dean calls a ghoulpire. They travel in small packs and can be killed by putting a copper coin — read: a penny — in its mouth and severing its head. And good news: If you kill the alpha, everyone it ever turned will revert back to being human.
The bad news? While Sam heads into a gas station, Dean is attacked by the victim’s wife, who chokes him into the back seat (which is one way to get him back there, I suppose). Sadly, this is not the sort of back-seat attack Dean is used to. Instead, the woman gets in the driver’s seat, finds her maker, and reattaches his head. You can’t say that every day.
And now we’ve caught up to the flashforward that started the hour: Dean is handcuffed in the back seat while the deputy — who just so happens to be the pack alpha — explains that he’s making an army in order to face the Darkness. But when he makes the mistake of threatening Sam, Dean snaps into high gear. Finding a hair pin from Sam’s one-night wonder in the back seat, he gets out of his cuffs, and following a rather complex scuffle — which results in poor Baby being very, very beat up — Dean takes out the alpha, thereby saving everyone he’d ever turned.
(Can we talk about Dean using Baby’s door to decapitate the guy? This car hasn’t seen this much action in a while.)
Finally reunited, Sam and Dean discuss the fact that even monsters are so scared of the Darkness that they’re forming their own armies. And yet, Dean is confident that he and Sam will put an end to this
now tomorrow. First, they need some rest.
Sitting in the Impala about to head home to meet Cas, Sam proclaims, “We are home.” Just like that, Baby somehow sputters back to life. Ah, life on the road.
So basically, what this new perspective gave us was an hour of brother bonding, and it might be one of my favorite hours ever. What did you all think of the episode? Hit the comments with your thoughts, or find me on Twitter @samhighfill.