Sam faces off against Lucifer, but it's Castiel who makes a shocking decision
Credit: Katie Yu/The CW
Devil's Bargain
S11 E10
  • TV Show

When a show is on the air for 11 years, some seasons are going to be better than others. That’s just how it works. And I know I’ve written before about how much I’m enjoying this season, but seriously, can we talk about how consistently great it’s been?

Returning from hiatus, I was a little worried that Supernatural wouldn’t be as strong as I said it was way back in 2015. But I’m happy to report that my worry was misplaced. Thanks largely in part to the return of Lucifer, this hour was highly reminiscent of the show’s glory days in season 5, not to mention that it was filled with humor and the sort of last-minute twists we crave.

Let’s recap!

We start in what might be one of the weirdest scenes we’ve ever seen on this show — and that says a lot. It’s Christmas morning for Crowley, who’s not only excited about receiving a Funko doll of Sam — you knew something was wrong when he didn’t call him “Moose” — and Rowena is walking around looking like Rudolph. Moments later, Lucifer, who’s dressed as Santa, busts down the door, stabs Crowley, and gives Rowena the sort of smirk that you know is bad news.

Translation: Much like Lucifer was able to get inside Sam’s head, he’d been visiting Rowena in her dreams. And that’s why she messed up the spell on purpose so that Lucifer could trap Sam inside the cage. As Lucifer puts is, “Groupies, they’re always so eager.” But don’t worry. Lucifer claims that he’s not going to torture Sam. After all, “That was so five years ago.” Instead, Lucifer will refrain from harming any “glorious little hair on that glorious little head” and opt for giving Sam an offer he can’t refuse.

And step one of that offer includes taking Sam back through a number of memories, starting with teenage Sam enjoying a study date with a cute girl. Sam, adorably thinking that study dates are for studying, is informing his female friend about Aztec priests when she’s all, “Sam, you know I didn’t bring you here to study, right?” With that, Sam acts fast, kissing her before he can say anything else about Aztecs. And THAT is the kind of action that Lucifer loves.

As Lucifer explains, that’s the Sam he remembers: “Bold, decisive, solid B on the tongue action.” Sam used to be a hero. Heck, he beat Lucifer. Now, Lucy doesn’t even recognize him anymore.

Elsewhere in hell, Crowley is pissed that his mother chose Lucifer over him, which leads us to this.

Crowley: “He’s the devil.”

Rowena: “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

For Rowena, her plan is simple: Let Lucifer beat the Darkness, and then join him on heaven’s throne. So with the image of his mother as the queen of heaven in his head, Crowley decides it’s probably time to get a plan of his own.

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But before we get to that, we catch up with Dean, who’s currently enjoying a tour of the world’s greatest voicemails. First, there’s Sam’s phone, where Dean has recorded a greeting about how Sam can’t talk because he “waxing, like, everything.” And then there’s Crowley’s phone, where you can press one for demon deals or press two to report a sighting of “that ginger whore Rowena.” Yes, that’s his mother.

However, Dean can’t quite enjoy the greatness because he has to pull over to the side of the road to vomit. (In this moment, it hit me that we’ve hardly ever watched the guys vomit on this show. And I’m not complaining.) Anyway, when Castiel shows up, he explains that Dean is too close to the location where Amara was smited. Apparently, “smiting sickness” is a thing created by all of the energy released. If Dean gets too close, well, he could turn into salt (which wouldn’t NOT be useful in this line of work).

NEXT: The return of Amelia…sort of

With that in mind, Dean goes to find Sam while Cas checks to see if Amara survived the great smiting event of 2015. Back at the bunker, Dean gets a call from 666 — Do we think Lucifer’s going to want that number back? — when Crowley informs him that his brother is in hell…with Lucifer.

Speaking of which, Sam and Lucifer are currently reliving the great showdown of “Swan Song,” in which Sam beat Lucifer and jumped into hell. And yes, we get to relive Cas yelling “Hey, assbutt,” because this show loves us. And no, Lucifer still doesn’t get that reference.

Once again pointing to the man Sam used to be, Lucifer explains that it was that day, when Sam beat him, that Sam gained his respect. He had balls back then…and now he’s gone soft.

And that leads us to the final stop on the Sam tour. The house Sam shared with Amelia after Dean was sent to purgatory. In Lucifer’s humble opinion, this was the worst thing Sam’s ever done: His brother was trapped in purgatory, and Sam started a new life without even trying to find him. Sam reminds the devil that he had made a promise to his brother, but Lucifer wants to know what happened to the bold, decisive Sam who was ready to sacrifice for the greater good.

Lucifer then calls Sam out on letting Dean talk him out of closing the gates of hell. Cutting straight to the great central conflict (and arguably strong point) of the show, Lucifer says, “Instead of choosing the world, you choose each other, no matter how many innocent people die.” And as he explains, to beat the Darkness, you not only have to be willing to die, but you have to be willing to watch the ones you love die. So if Sam’s not strong enough, Lucifer-Sam can be. After all, “Snapping necks and cashing checks is what I do.” (How have we gone so long without Lucifer?)

Jumping back to the woods, Castiel runs into a number cruncher of an angel named Ambriel — I think? — sent by heaven to see if Amara’s still alive. Personally, she doesn’t notice anything weird about the site…except for the fact that it’s the middle of the day and it’s pitch black out.

Journeying together to find Amara, Ambriel tries to cheer Cas up by telling him that she doesn’t hate him, but unfortunately, on her list of “things they have in common” is the idea that they’re both clearly expendable. “You help, but Sam and Dean Winchester are the real heroes.” Wow, Ambriel. Have you seen every episode??

She wasn’t trying to be mean, but it sets Cas back on his heels…just long enough for Ambriel to get to Amara first. And it’s a good thing, too, because Amara consumes her real fast.

With the light returning to the day, Castiel prepares to face Amara with an angel blade, but she isn’t exactly worried. As she says, “Heaven brought the thunder, and it barely even scratched my paint job, but you and a shiny knife — sure, that’s gonna work.” Spoiler: She’s right. It doesn’t work.

Instead, Amara gets to be the second woman to judge Castiel this episode. She claims he smells of “fear and self-loathing.” As to why God loved him so much, she utters my favorite line of the night: “My brother always did have horrible taste in men.” But she doesn’t kill him. Instead, she gives him a job. What that job is, we’re not sure, but she zapped him somewhere (and then nearly collapsed herself).

NEXT: Dean goes to hell (again)

With Cas handling Amara, Dean earns his way into Crowley’s secret hiding spot by singing a few lines of “Camptown Races,” because #Crowley. Once inside, Dean meets Billie, the reaper who promises to make sure he and Sam stay dead the next time they bite the dust. But for now, she hands him a fancy box and sends him to hell.

Meeting up with Crowley, Dean learns that the box holds something called a witch catcher, and they’re going to use it to force Rowena to put Lucifer back in the hole. Also, a special shout-out to this interaction:

Crowley: “Don’t worry about Sam.”

Dean: “I’m sorry, have you met me?”

Back inside, Crowley uses tea to weaken Rowena while Dean puts the witch catcher on like a collar. And if you’re wondering if it works, she’s now hopping on one leg on demand, so I’d say, yeah, it works.

So while Rowena works her spell to send Lucifer back into the hole, Lucifer and Sam are in the cage for Lucifer’s closing arguments. With Gabriel and Raphael dead — and the little problem of “God went out for a pack of smokes and never came back” — that only leaves Michael, who Lucifer says can’t handle prison life. As Lucifer puts it, Michael’s probably “sitting in a corner singing showtunes and touching himself.” So for those of you who’ve been dying to know what happened to Michael, there’s an image you’ll never forget.

All of this is to say that Lucifer is the only option when it comes to defeating the Darkness. But Sam’s closing argument is equally as convincing: No. Sam knows that Lucifer needed help to defeat the Darkness the first time, not to mention that if Lucifer were to win, he’d restart the apocalypse the first chance he got. “Whoever wins, everyone else losses,” Sam says of Lucifer and the Darkness. For him, this about having faith in his friends and in his family. As he says, “We will find a way. I’m ready to die, and I’m ready to watch people I love die, but I’m not ready to be your bitch.” #boom

The bad news? Lucifer’s plan B is torture. But thankfully, when Amara zapped Cas, she sent him to Billie, who gets him into hell. Sure, she also burned the words “I am coming” into his chest, but let’s worry about that later. First up, Dean and Cas needs to save Sam long enough for Rowena to complete her spell. And that means we’re getting a cage fight, y’all!

(We’re also getting our second “Hey, assbutt” of the series, so it’s really a great day.)

But because Lucifer is Lucifer and no fight can be just simply that, he turns on a little music to set the mood. Lucifer cues up “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel”, and then the fighting begins. (Can someone please get me a GIF of Lucifer’s dance moves?)

Just as Lucifer looks like he might end Castiel, Rowena finishes her spell, and Lucifer turns back into a bright ball of light before he disappears. But something’s not right.

When Cas, Sam, and Dean finally get the “hell out of hell,” Cas seems a bit off. Although, to be fair, it could have to do with the fact that two women told him he was “expendable” and “reeked of fear and self-loathing,” so he hasn’t had the best day.

In fact, nobody’s had a great day (other than us viewers). Back in hell, Crowley takes advantage of the witch catcher and asks his mother why she hates him. Her reason is threefold: When she looks into this eyes, she sees the pathetic woman she was before magic; when he was born, his father went back to his wife, leaving her on her own; and most importantly, if she didn’t hate him, she’d love him, and love is a weakness she can’t afford.

Sorry if you were enjoying that moment because Castiel has just returned to hell…except IT’S NOT CAS. It seems just before Rowena finished her spell, Cas asked Lucifer if he could really beat the Darkness, and when Lucifer said yes, so did Cas. So LUCIFER IS IN CASTIEL’S BODY. I guess, technically, he’s in Jimmy’s body? Whatever, you get it.

And to thank Rowena for all her work, Lucifer-Cas teases her with an almost-kiss before confirming that she’s the only person capable of opening the cage. And when she says yes, he snaps her neck. The lesson: Don’t be a groupie.

So we’re kicking off 2016 with a very strong hour of Supernatural. I’m bummed to see Mark Pellegrino go, and I also have no idea what this means for Castiel. But the stakes are high, and I’m into it. What did you think of the episode? Hit the comments with your thoughts, or find me on Twitter @samhighfill.

Episode Recaps

Devil's Bargain

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki star as the Winchester brothers, hellbent on battling the paranormal forces of evil.

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