Sam's imaginary friend needs help saving imaginary lives.
Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW
Devil's Bargain

With a big bad called the Darkness, I think it’s fair to say that many of us were worried about the overall tone of this season. And yet, once again, this week proved that this show knows what it means to create balanced programming. Because if tonight wasn’t fun, I don’t know what is.

We start off in Wisconsin, where some poor child comes home to find Sparkle, her man/unicorn of an imaginary best friend dead. He’s been murdered.

Cut to the bunker, where Sam is waking up at 6:30 a.m. — in case you ever wondered what the hours were for saving the world — and fixing coffee when he runs into a familiar snack: marshmallow nachos. Yes, they sound disgusting, but apparently they were Sam’s favorite when he was 9…or so says Sully, the imaginary friend Sam just punched in the face.

It (understandably) takes Sam a minute to wrap his head around the whole “my imaginary friend is real” thing, but when Dean comes walking in wearing a robe — a twist I did not see coming — he, well, he looks like I do at 6:30 in the morning: pissed. When Sam’s unable to explain what’s going on, Dean figures his brother is having a stroke, but then Sully “allows” Dean to see him. We then get Jensen Ackles’ favorite line of the season: “I’m gonna get my gun.”

Also, can we talk about how it’s 6:30 a.m., and already Sam has punched Sully and Dean has nearly karate chopped him? These boys should really do all of their fighting before 9 a.m. They’re feisty before coffee.

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After Sully explains that he’s less of a typical imaginary friend and more of a Xana (or is it Zana?), Sam heads to his favorite resource: his books. And there, he does discover that these creatures are meant to guide and protect children. However, Dean still can’t fathom why they should help Sully. After all, they save people and hunt things. They don’t save things.

This argument gives us this gem from Dean: “Fairy godmother can get capped. That ain’t our beat.” Yeah, I think it’s safe to say Dean just lost his right to play Prince Charming in anything ever. And yet, when Sam says “Sully helped me,” Dean gives in to his little brother.

And when I say that Dean gives in, I mean he gives in to the point of agreeing to wear a cardigan and pose as a trauma counselor in order to talk to a child and witness the “imaginary” crime scene. There, they find Sparkle, the “manicorn.” Of course, Dean and Sam can’t see him at first, which leads us to this:

Sully: “If I show you all we can see, you can’t tell a soul.”

Dean: “Yeah because chicks dig the whole imaginary-friend thing.”

Needless to say, Sully allows them to see the crime scene, which Dean rightfully claims will undoubtedly lead to that kid needing “all the shrinks.” Great exchange No. 2:

Sam: “His blood is glittery?”

Sully: “Even when he’s dead, Sparkle can’t stop shining.”

Don’t tell me this show isn’t fun.

NEXT: A mermaid murder

After Dean attempts to advise a family to shower together — it’s a long story — we get our second murder, and this time, it’s a mermaid. As Dean puts it, “What do you want to do, find a giant toilet and flush her?”

But putting all the fun aside, this episode is also really important for the brothers. Through flashbacks, we got to see how lonely Sam was when Dean and John were out on the road hunting things, back before John felt Sam was ready. That’s why Sam needed Sully in the first place. We also discover that the idea of college probably first entered Sam’s head during his days with Sully. As they played “ever think,” Sam says he’s thought about running away from the hunting life. And as Sully tells him, he’s not his brother or his dad, and he doesn’t have to become them. “You’re Sam. Sam is so awesome.” Preach, Sully.

Back in present day, it isn’t until the mermaid’s boyfriend — the Joe Dirt of imaginary friends — gets stabbed but survives that the boys get a lead. (Thankfully, this guy’s love handles saved him. As he puts it, “Fat is the best!”) Before Sam and Dean run off to find the girl who stabbed him, Dean has to ask what makes Joe Dirt so special. Turns out, he can play REAL air guitar. Yeah, Dean claims he’s no Clapton, but if Dean had an imaginary friend, you know it’d be this guy.

While Dean runs off and gets himself captured by the imaginary-friend killer, Sam finds out that he broke Sully’s heart all those years ago. In a flashback, we see the moment when Sam got the call to come hunting. It was time to join the family business. And when Sully mentioned that Sam might want to pursue a different path, Sam told his “pretend friend” that he didn’t need him anymore.

It was an awful way to end a friendship and one that Sam apologizes for now. But Sully’s okay. In fact, he’s proud of Sam. How could he not be? Sam saved the world!

In a moment of friendship, Sam tells Sully about his visions and how God wants him to go back to the cage. When Sully asks if Sam ever thinks about running anymore, he says he hasn’t in a while. In fact, right now, he’s thinking about hot-wiring a minivan so they can help Dean.

By the time Sam and Sully find Dean, Sully realizes that the killer is Reese. Reese and her twin sister, Audrey, were the first kids that Sully had post-Sam. Apparently, while playing tag, Audrey chased Sully into the street and was killed by a car. Reese has never forgiven Sully. So Sully does what he always does: What’s best for the kid. Sully offers for Reese to kill him if it will make her feel better, but it’s Dean who steps up and tells Reese that Sully was there for his little brother when he wasn’t — someone get me a tissue — and that Sully is anything but a monster.

Reese puts down her weapon and continues on with her life, leaving Sam to tell Sully, “Ever think maybe you’re a hero to me?” Seriously, where’s that tissue?

Sully then says the exact thing Sam needs to hear: Heroes aren’t perfect because maybe they’re scared…because maybe they’re facing something super important that no one else has the balls to face. Sound familiar?

Dean arrives just in time to call Sully a “good weird” — a high compliment, really — before they bid Sully farewell for now. On the drive home, Sam tries to bring up him going to the cage, but Dean insists that they’ll find another way. After all, there’s always another way.

Altogether, this was an extremely fun hour that still managed to connect emotionally in terms of the relationship between the brothers. I have no complaints. What did you think? 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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