In desperation, Dean resorts to a last resort of dying for a few minutes in order to make a deal with Death in bringing Sam's soul back from Lucifer's cage. Death agrees, but on the condition that Dean wears his ring and does the duty of "death" for a day. Reluctantly, Dean agrees to these terms. Sam is rather displeased in learning that his soul is gonna rejoin him, so he calls upon Balthazar to help him find a solution in not allowing his soul to return to him. Balthazar recalls a spell ritual that requires the blood of a father, leading Sam to Bobby and in the means of killing him for it to work. Meanwhile, Dean partners with Tessa in a Dead Like Me-type style of taking the lives of those whose time is up. Dean then learns the difficulties of having to do the required work of playing Death, and comes to the painful realization of changing the rules of the natural order of things and seeing the chain reactions that occur, and none for the better. Leading to -- gasp! -- character growth and development for once this season!
Dean stops Sam just in time from killing Bobby, and reports back to Death about his failures however also learns another lesson from him, and despite everything Death agrees to go retrieve Sam's soul and building the wall that wouldn't destroy him, giving Dean a cryptic message about souls in the process.
This episode had interesting factors were involved; the concept of natural order and souls and the roles the brothers are playing, and the lessons Dean learned over the course of the episode. While as a whole underwhelming, it gave us something to ponder about.
The Natural Order Of Things: Grander Significance to the Seasonal Arc?
Throughout the episode there was constant talk about the "natural order of things", how if one disrupts it there is an interruption and a new chain of events will start and screw everything up from how they were supposed to have gone. This struck me as being something rather significant, not to mention it furthers my theories about what has been happening this season concerning the mytharc.
What if after averting the apocalypse they shifted the natural order of the universe?
Think about it for a second. The angels and demons were completely gung-ho about this apocalypse being taken place, it was foretold and destined that the Winchesters play their parts in becoming Michael and Lucifer for this huge showdown. They wouldn't have made such a huge deal out of it, through resurrection and manipulation and screwing with their heads, for this entire thing to not have been such importance in the grander scheme of things. When the fight didn't happen on the battlefield and when both Lucifer and Michael got trapped in the cage, something must have shifted in the universe because that's not how things were supposed to have gone. They averted one crisis only to have something else happen, a chain reaction. Perhaps even worse and more chaotic than they anticipated. In this episode Dean thinks that saving a 12-year-old girl who has been suffering from a weak heart would be merciful since he cannot bear having to take the life of a young child. However by doing that he inadvertently set course another person to have their life taken away, through a more painful and unexpected turn of events. Something more destructive since the woman who had been unfortunately chosen was expected to live a longer, healthier life. She died an untimely death and her husband was suffering terribly, all based on the decision Dean made on saving the life of a little girl who was prepared for the worse and although sad, it was meant to happen.
Granted, there is a constant debate back and forth on this show between destiny and freedom of choice, that had they not stopped the apocalypse either Heaven or Hell would have won and controlled the world as their own personal kingdom. Nonetheless for every action there is a reaction, no matter how positive or negative it may be. It's been my speculation that since averting the apocalypse Sam and Dean unknowingly set off another chain of events that is still unfinished and it's creating chaos in Heaven, Hell and on Earth.
I'm not entirely sure that's what the show is getting at, but I felt the message was very clear in importance to that theme that it makes sense that they would head in that direction. At least in my opinion anyway they should, it would explain a lot of things that's been happening.
Just some food for thought.
Purgatory: The Cryptic Message Death Gave Dean
Obviously things are leaning more towards Purgatory, considering that is gonna be a main focus point in the second half of the season, so Death's cryptic words to Dean weren't necessarily about Purgatory itself but rather what he means about them figuring things out for themselves once they reach that point.
Death made it pretty clear that the Winchesters have a greater purpose despite them continually breaking the laws of the universe with their constant meddling, however this meddling in particular is of use -- for what and why, we're not entirely sure. Though I have a feeling that once they figure out the importance about "it's all about the souls" which Death told Dean, it would definitely be more about life and death and some Earth-shattering revelations. Again, I'm not entirely sure where they are going with this, it seems rather interesting (more interesting than what we've been dealing with lately earlier this season at least) that I'm looking forward in seeing how they handle it. Or not, depending on how far they plan on going.
Theory Time: I mentioned before earlier to someone that perhaps this could be a hidden link to where John and Mary's spirits have been. They aren't in Heaven as revealed last season, so where else could they be? Purgatory seems to be the most likely answer.
Memorable Moments of the Episode:
++ FREDDY MOTHERFUCKING KRUEGER LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! I knew that Robert Englund was to be guest-starring, I just didn't know when and lo and behold there he is, being all creeptastic in his pseudo-doctor ways. \O/
++ Tessa. ♥ I love Tessa so, so fucking much. It was such a surprise seeing her again, but a pleasant surprise because where there's Tessa there's bound to be amazing shit going down, at least characterization-wise because Tessa is just as much of a stern hardass without being condescending which sometimes certain characters on the show can be. Also, did I mention I love her so much? Because I do. ♥ ♥ ♥
++ Death too, I love him. It's nice to see both Death and Tessa together in the same episode, working side-by-side together even. Hell, I think what I love most is seeing Dean around these two since they have absolutely no problem telling Dean straightforward how things are and see directly through his bullshit and call out on it. Tessa has done so in the past, and Dean is far too terrified shitless of Death to even dare say anything to challenge him (although he did briefly in this episode, but immediately regretted it).
++ Seriously, how hardcore and badass is Death anyway? He literally went into Lucifer's cage and brought Sam's soul seconds after saying he was gonna do so. Motherfucker cannot be messed with because, well, he's fucking Death, yo.
++ Dean wearing the ring and being "death" for a day: the highlight of the episode for me. Mostly because the boy actually learned a lesson for once this season and stopped being an asshole to consider what is happening around with others behind that curtain that doesn't always revolve around the Winchesters. It reminded me of Dead Like Me, the touching and retrieving of souls. Interesting....
++ BALTHAZAR, YOU'RE A SEXY BEAST. ;D Minimal screentime was minimal and really fucking short, however he worked it. Though I'm sure he's all jealous that his
++ Question: You can call upon angels through rituals like that now? Has that always been the case? I know that Castiel does angelical rituals to locate before, but I never thought particular angels had different calling signals (aside from praying, that is)
++ Bobby is a badass. His house is filled with booby-traps! :D
++ Despite missing the fun entertainment soulless!Sam brought us, I found this entire plot of him being soulless rather pointless if all Dean had to do was bargain with Death. I mean seriously, it took them this long to get to this point? I know it was for ~~dramatic effect~~ or whatever but seriously, come on. They could have saved us the burden of the horrendous episodes in the beginning of this season if they'd only gotten this far ahead. I'm just saying, instead of rehashing all the manpain and ignoring it until this solution, they could have dealt with it more seriously, or something.
++ THEY MENTIONED ADAM! \O/ Unfortunately, he got the short end of the stick. Again. :( At least they remembered, but of course Dean was gonna choose Sam. Still, I hope there's at least something of tell in that Adam's soul is alright and placed back in Heaven, not damaged, and at peace. He deserves that much.
++ I'm still rather "....huh?" at the entire soul situation thingie going on. All this time I'm trying to wrap my head around how it all works. Though I've got to say, I feel rather cheated that Sam is gonna get out of this without a scratch (for now) while Dean had to, and probably still does, suffer with the memories and everything from his forty years in Hell; tortured and doing the torturing, all the horrible things that happened to him. And this is entirely different from what Sam probably went through because the cage is solitary confinement where as with Dean....yeah, we know. I guess I'm more angered that they could do that with Sam but not with Dean. Granted Dean had some character growth and dealing during seasons four and five, and even now. But yeah, I'm not certain this was the direction they should have gone. Or, rather, the explanation they should have gone concerning Sam, unless there is a valid reason for it (aka Purgatory, finding out the significance of souls, etc).
Overall: It was rather an underwhelming and "meh" kind of an episode, nothing super exciting happened; we knew Sam was gonna get his soul back eventually regardless of what anyone said or how much Sam fought it, and we knew that Bobby wasn't gonna die this episode anyway. I mean, come on. However I did enjoy Dean playing the role of "death" for a day while learning something in the process. Something he should have already know, considering everything he's been through. However it's like what Tessa said, he refuses to accept it but knows deep down. He just has to admit it openly to himself, and I think that's the main lesson here for Dean. Not just with the "everything happens for a reason" and the "natural order of things" concepts, but just realizing that there are other things that matter besides his own problems.
Oh, and having three of my favorite supporting characters (Balthazar, Tessa and Death) plus a surprise guest-star made this episode worthwhile for me. I approve. :)
I actually had thinky-thoughts instead of raging capslocks, and that's a good sign. Step up from the previous episode that we can all pretend never fucking existed
Also, yes, thanks to kaiyote for that plotbunny suggestion, I want Tessa and Death to appear more often as Dean (and Castiel's) sassy gay friends. It's perfect, and there needs to be fic of this stat. ;p