Welcome back, Supernatural fans!
Next week’s Supernatural episode “Heartache” marks star Jensen Ackles’ third turn as director (after season six’s “Weekend at Bobby’s” and season seven’s “The Girl Next Door”). The official description as per the CW Network :
JENSEN ACKLES DIRECTS — Sam and Dean investigate a string of unusual murders where the victims were all recipients of organs from the same donor. The killer is captured, but things become even more complicated when the brothers find their killer in a trance mumbling an ancient prayer. Jensen Ackles directed the episode written by Brad Buckner & Eugenie Ross-Leming.
We include the promotional trailer of “Heartache” below for your enjoyment courtesy of The CW!
What’s Up Tiger Mommy:
Last week saw the Winchester brothers Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) reunited following a year’s separation after the former was sucked into Purgatory with angel Castiel (Misha Collins).
They were able to find teenaged prophet Kevin (Osric Chau), who had informed them of another sacred tablet that contained instructions on banishing all demons from the face of the Earth and forcing them back into Hell permanently.
The ramifications are obvious : King of Hell Crowley (Mark A. Sheppard) made his displeasure at this plan quite clear when he attempted to re-abduct Kevin (Osric Chau), snapping his girlfriend’s neck when the prophet gave him the slip and fled with the Winchesters.
Meanwhile, Dean and Sam continued to keep secrets from each other – Sam was quiet about his lady love Amelia (Liane Balaban), while Dean was vague about his time in Purgatory (and about Castiel’s fate).
He especially said nothing about his Great Purgatory Escape traveling companion, vampire Benny (Ty Olsson, whose Twitter popularity skyrocketed this past week as he continuously chatted with fans – including me and several of my friends – and even engaged with a few of Twitter’s many SPN role players, actually playing Benny!).
This episode begins in a bank vault in Chicago, Illinois, where a creepily nice old man named Mr. Vili (Alex Diakun) wishes to get into his safety deposit box – which happens to be box number one. The clerk’s befuddlement turns to shock once she lays her eyes on the box’s contents : an ancient bone that glows when Mr. Vili touches it. (Mythology buffs immediately picked up that Vili was the name of a Norse god, one of Odin’s brothers.)
The clerk makes the lethal error of asking, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” Soon, she is nothing more than a blood spatter on the wall.
Back to the Winchester boys and the prophet. Kevin is adamant about taking a day’s drive off-course to check on his mother, especially after what happened to his girlfriend. “…I’d rather not see my mom twisted into a corkscrew!” he declares angrily, not pleased when Dean tries to reason with him – most likely, Crowley has got Mrs. Tran’s house under heavy surveillance in case Kevin should return. Dean simply wants to grab the tablet from where Kevin has stashed it and get on with the demon banishing.
Kevin finally makes a heartfelt appeal. “My mom’s all alone. She’s surrounded by demons. Can you really not understand why I wanna make sure she’s okay?” This seems to strike home somewhat with Dean, since his own mother was murdered by the demon Azazel, so he reluctantly relents.
The three drive to a quiet cul-de-sac in the benignly-named town of Neighbor, Michigan, where all seems to be well. Yes, Linda Tran (“Futurama” voice actress Lauren Tom) seems sad, but since her son has been missing for over a year, one can hardly blame her.
Dean, however, quickly notices that things are a bit off. The mailman making his third trip to the Tran’s box, for example, or the gardener over-watering the hydrangea bushes. The brothers make quick work of the demon postal worker and gardener, and Kevin is reunited with his mother – after she passes the holy water test.
Unfortunately, Linda’s friend Eunice is possessed as well, and black smoke starts to belch from her body. Sam knows the demon will report their whereabouts to Crowley, so he has no choice but to utter a reverse exorcism to keep it inside of the host, thus allowing Dean to kill it.
Mrs. Tran (after getting over her initial shock) takes the situation in stride. “Prophet of the Lord, huh?” she asks. “It does have a nice ring to it…” It is the first of several dazzling one-liners that episode writers Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin give Linda, and Lauren Tom plays the part with a “Steel Magnolias” sense of strength and complexity.
When the brothers strongly suggest that she head for a safe house, Linda refuses, insisting on going with them to retrieve the stashed tablet. Sam pleads with her to reconsider, warning her that Crowley’s specialty is souls.
“It’s not my soul I’m worried about,” she answers firmly. “It’s my son’s.” Dean finally agrees, on the conditions that Linda and Kevin wear hex bags to ward off demons, and that they get the possession-proof tattoos as well. “Fine,” says Linda. “…Like it’s my first tattoo?”
Linda handles her inking process with stoicism, offering a comforting hand to her son when he does not manage it with the same amount of poise and dignity. The quartet then heads to Laramie, Wyoming, where Kevin hid the tablet in a bus stop locker. Alas, the tablet has been nabbed, and the security guard informs them that his predecessor, one Clem Smedley, was arrested the previous day for continually breaking into the lockers in secret.
Sam tries to play “good cop” with Clem, offering incentives for information on the tablet’s current whereabouts; their exchange sends Dean into another flashback of Purgatory.
He and Benny tied an unidentified monster to a tree and interrogated him regarding Castiel’s location. In an alarming display of possible PTSD, the Dean of the present elects for a highly unorthodox “bad cop” move, pinning Clem to the wall and threatening him with a knife.
The present and the past bleed together. Clem gives up where he delivered the tablet (a pawn shop), just as the monster gave up Castiel’s location (a stream by a clearing). The two scenes have different endings, however – the Dean of the past rams his knife through the monster’s head, while present Dean eventually leaves Clem in peace.
The brothers get more information out of pawn shop scuzzball Lyle – assisted by a shake-down from Linda. (She figures out Lyle most likely has not paid the taxes on his hot red Ferrari parked outside and threatens to report him.) The tip leads them to the dapperly-dressed Beau (Jonathan Walker).
Beau presents Kevin with an invitation to a very exclusive auction, where the tablet will be up for sale. Beau thoughtfully adds Dean, Sam, and Linda to the invitation list after promising that “…We have a strict no casting, no cursing, no supernaturally-flicking-the-two-of-you-against-the-wall-just-for-the-fun-of-it policy … I am the right hand of a god, after all – Plutus, specifically.”
“Is that even a planet anymore?” scoffs Dean, only to be corrected by Beau. Not Pluto, but PlutUS, the god of greed. Furthermore, Beau points out that his boss’s auction house is warded against pretty much everything, and therefore an incredibly safe location for the prophet.
A new problem arises – if the tablet is up for sale, what do they have for payment? When Sam casts an eye towards Dean’s precious Impala, he snarls, “Say it, and I will kill you, your children, and your grandchildren!”
The younger Winchester then realizes that most auctions display their items before bidding…and since no one can translate it except for the prophet, they should just go, look it over, and have Kevin memorize the spell they need. No fuss, no muss, if Kevin can swing it.
“Of course he can swing it,” Linda proudly states, “if the bumper stickers on my Previa mean anything.”
Upon arrival at the auction house, Dean (naturally) sets off the metal detector and is forced to temporarily hand over all of his weaponry – and that constitutes a rather sizable arsenal of guns and knives. They then find themselves wandering among the artifacts, which include items like the Vitruvian Man manuscript, King Arthur’s sword Excalibur, what might be Hades’ helm of invisibility, and Mjölnir, the legendary hammer of Thor.
However, someone is a few steps ahead of the quartet – the tablet has been covered. “It’s okay,” says Sam, “we just gotta come up with a Plan B.” Things get worse when they find themselves facing Crowley yet again. Linda’s first reaction is to level a fist into his jaw, warning, “Stay away from my son!” (And if the rest of the fandom is anything like me, they reacted with a satisfied “OOOH!”)
The honored host Plutus (Gerard Plunkett) arrives, and Dean is unimpressed. “What is he, God of the Candy Aisle?” Sam, Linda, and Kevin make their way towards their seats, but Dean is stopped by a young man in a fast food uniform (Tyler Johnston) who identifies himself as the angel Samandiriel. (According to The Encyclopedia of Angels, by Richard Webster, Samandiriel is an angel of fertility that “can also be called upon on any matter involving imagination, visualization, and creativity”.) Dean decides to refer to him by his vessel’s name, emblazoned on his nametag – Alfie.
Alfie has been sent to acquire the tablet, but he also wishes to know what happened to Castiel; the news that his brother did not return from Purgatory saddens him greatly. “You know that there are some in Heaven that believe, despite his mistakes, that Castiel’s heart was always in the right place,” he says forlornly. “…I think too much heart was always Castiel’s problem.”
Dean flashes back to when he and Benny found Castiel in Purgatory. Cas looked awful – clothes filthy and torn, his dirty face sporting a scruffy beard. (Fans have wondered why Dean made it through the year clean-shaven while Cas grew so much facial hair, but perhaps we should let that one slide.)
Dean was extremely happy to see his friend, even embracing him warmly, but Cas seemed less enthused…and the tension between him and Benny was palpable from the moment they were introduced.
When Dean asked Cas about his mental condition, Cas answered, “…I’m perfectly sane. But then, 94% of psychotics think they’re perfectly sane, so I guess we have to ask ourselves, ‘What is sane?’…” Benny was harsher with the angel, demanding why he left Dean alone as soon as they found themselves below. Dean was certain Cas had been pulled away by some monster, but Cas confessed that he fled.
Dean was miffed, to say the least. “I prayed to you, Cas,”, he growled, “every night!” But Castiel had no choice. He was hunted from the second he touched down – mainly by the Leviathan – and he stayed far away from Dean in order to keep him safe. When he showed reluctance to accompany Dean and Benny to the escape portal, Dean replied, “Let me bottom line it for you – I’m not leaving here without you, understand?”
Back in the present, the quartet pool their meager resources in anticipation of the tablet’s auction, which consists of “…Hacked credit cards, about $2000, and a Cost-Co membership”. But when the first item out of the chute, an amulet, starts bidding at “three tons of dwarven gold”, they realize they are horrifically outmatched. “Plan C?” Sam asks helplessly.
Dean goes to implement “Plan C” – mainly, stealing the tablet outright – by lifting the vault key off one of the guards. But, of course, the tablet is still under heavy guard. He returns to his seat, reporting that Plan C is bust. “Maybe you should try Plan D for ‘Dumbass’,” Crowley suggests.
Crowley bids three billion dollars; Alfie counters with the Mona Lisa. Crowley ups the ante with “The REAL Mona Lisa – where she’s topless”. Alfie offers Vatican City, Crowley bids Alaska, which is rejected by Beau. Crowley then proposes the moon. “We claimed it for Hell…you think a man named Buzz gets to go into space without making a deal?”
Beau notes that the reserve price has not been met, so he adds Kevin as a companion piece to the tablet (since he is the only one who can translate it), and the prophet finds himself chained to the auction block. The horrified Linda offers up her own soul in exchange for her son, which intrigues Plutus.
When Crowley offers a million souls from Hell, the god admonishes him, “It’s not about the quantity, chief…it’s about the sacrifice. This little lady’s soul is the most valuable thing she has – it’s everything. Are you willing to offer everything, Mr. Crowley?” Needless to say, Linda wins the auction.
Dean and Sam try to console Linda, but since not many comforting words can be found, they leave her in peace. Alfie approaches and tells her that angels can look after Kevin better than the Winchesters can, but she answers, “The last time that angels tried to help my son, I watched them die…and Kevin went missing for a year.”
In the vault, Plutus prepares to take Linda’s soul when Dean notices that the anti-possession tattoo on her wrist has been burned away – and she has been possessed by Crowley himself. Her eyes flash red before she flings the brothers against opposite walls.
This marks a highly significant moment in Crowley’s mythology within Supernatural as a series, as we have never seen his eyes flicker to any sort of demonic color; the hierarchy, from least to most powerful, goes black, red, light blue, and white, red being the specialty color of crossroads demons.
Sheppard himself has fed fandom theories that perhaps Crowley is not a demon at all, since his eyes have never changed. The dumbfounded Plutus realizes that Beau helped Crowley find a loophole in the place’s wardings by marring Linda’s tattoo, and the underling finalizes his resignation by impaling Plutus with a wooden stake.
Crowley-in-Linda flees with the tablet (after deciding that trying to take Kevin as well would prove too dangerous), and Dean pursues, leaving Sam and prophet to deal with the gun-wielding Beau. Quick-thinking Sam borrows Mjölnir from Mr. Vili and uses its lightning-charged power to turn Beau into a bloody pulp. (Delighted fans have dubbed this moment “Sam WinchesThor”.) Mr. Vili wants the hammer back – but when Sam figures out where Vili got his five-eighths of a virgin, the Hunter wisely decides to slaughter him as well.
Crowley-in-Linda finds himself cornered by Dean and decides to abandon his host, spewing out of Linda’s mouth in a cloud of red smoke. (This marks another SPN mythology first – demon smoke has always been black, no matter what the demon’s eye color.)
Once he retakes residence in his old body, Crowley snags the tablet again and taunts Kevin about some of the information that he picked up while rummaging around in Linda’s mind. “Wanna know who your real father is…?” he asks. He also warns the prophet that those who hang around with the Winchesters mostly meet bloody ends.
Linda is left in a waking catatonic state, and Kevin is enraged that Dean was actually planning on killing her if it meant that he could take out Crowley as well. The brothers grant Kevin and Linda some privacy, and Sam also expresses his dismay that Dean would go to such lengths – even if it WAS the King of Hell. Dean has no regrets : “Yeah, it would’ve sucked, and I would’ve hated myself, but what’s one more nightmare, right?
They return to find Kevin and Linda have given them the slip; Kevin left a note saying that since the tablet is gone, the Winchesters have no need of him…and that people Dean no longer finds necessary end up dead. Dean flashes back to Purgatory once more – remembering how an utterly terrified Castiel lost his grip on Dean’s hand at what appears to be the escape portal, sliding away, calling his friend’s name in desperation and panic.
That last snippet in the very last sequence of “Tiger Mommy” takes up approximately eight seconds, and those eight seconds have caused a furor of emotion and frame-by-frame analysis among Castiel’s devoted fan base.
Did Dean let go? Did something (perhaps a Leviathan) drag Cas away? Did Benny pull Dean through the portal, and Castiel’s horror was a reaction to the vampire’s duplicity? Only time (and future episodes) will tell the whole story.
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