Osric Chau finally gets to show what Kevin Tran is made of, something I’ve been waiting on since season seven of Supernatural. The episode begins when the Winchesters visit Kevin, giving him the second half of the demon tablet to decode. Something seems off about them, and of course, once they exit, we see them turn into demons, reporting to Crowley. “I was born to direct,” he gloats, after giving them some key insights into the boys’ characters.
The real Sam and Dean are holed up in their bunker, with Sam too ill to eat and Dean in a panic trying to figure out how to take care of him. Sam says the trials are changing him, but we don’t know why or what just yet. Their argument is interrupted by a video message from Kevin, who has managed to send them all his notes and translations in hopes that they can figure out the Third Trial.
While the boys are busy puzzling over the tablet findings, Castiel has latched onto a clever plan to keep himself hidden from angels: he visits Biggerson’s, the chain restaurant used by leviathans in their dastardly plot (a clever nod to season seven). The sameness of each restaurant allows Castiel to pop into any location at a moment’s notice, making it nigh impossible to predict where he’ll be next. To halt Castiel’s journey, Naomi resorts to slaughter. When Castiel arrives, he is confronted by Naomi and her goons, but Crowley appears. One of the angels is on his payroll.
Elsewhere, the re-occurrence of a Native American symbol in Kevin’s notes leads Sam and Dean to find the Metatron, an angel tasked with keeping the Word of God safe. Sam seems to be even more shaken the closer they get, with blurry vision, a high temperature, and loud noise ringing in his ears. He confides to Dean that he thinks the trials are actually purifying him, ridding him of the demon blood that’s been inside him since they were children. They find and confront Metatron, learning that he has hunkered down in this place for years, simply reading. He has piles of books in his room, marveling at the fact that humans have become gods of their own tiny, intricate dimensions in the worlds of their stories. Storytelling, he says, “is the true flower of free will”.
Crowley takes a severely wounded Castiel to his lair, insinuating that he has guessed what Naomi could not; the tablet has never left Castiel’s care. He reaches into Castiel and pulls out the tablet. Just as he begins to gloat, he gets a call from the Winchester lookalikes. Kevin has figured out their game and managed to set a Devil’s Trap. Castiel is able to talk to Crowley’s angel henchman, a nihilistic fellow flier named Ion, who is torn apart by the knowledge he has been reprogrammed by the archangles. “Nothing matters,” he mumbles. “You are so wrong, brother,” says Castiel, “everything matters.” He pulls out a piece of the tablet still left inside him and vanishes.
Crowley rages at Kevin, angry that he not only knew the demons were cheap knockoffs of the Winchesters, but that Kevin is unflinching in the face of torture. Metatron manages to rescue Kevin before Crowley chokes the life out of him. Dean asks if he’s on their side, and Metatron tells Dean that there is free will; it is their choice what they do. If they close the Gates of Hell, however, they must weigh the choice carefully. “What will the world be like after it is done?” he asks. The boys are left with trying to complete the third trial, which is “curing a demon,” and as they drive away, Sam says cryptically, “We’re heading somewhere…the End.” The episode closes as they almost run over a bloody Castiel, who is lying in the middle of the road.
This episode was, above all, sobering. Not as many jokes, though there was plenty of cleverness. Sam is slowly evolving into something other, Dean is on the edge trying to hold it all together, and Castiel is being hunted by angels and demons. There is something very bad coming, and everything is made worse by the fact that we don’t quite know what it is. Will Sam be able to complete the Third Trial? Will the tablets all fall back into Crowley’s hands? If the Gates of Hell are closed, what will have to be sacrificed in order to do so?