I gave up breathing halfway through “Road Trip” and just held my breath while the story unraveled. It was one of the most intense episodes in terms of plot development and stake-raising, and I’m honestly not sure where this season is going with it, but I’m along for the ride.
In “Road Trip” Dean is dealing with the aftermath of his choices from the beginning of the season. When he chose to save Sam by allowing an angel to possess his brother, he couldn’t see the far-reaching consequences. And now Kevin’s blood is on his hands. Seeing Dean break down at what happened to Kevin was difficult. Knowing the guilt and rage pent up inside Dean, and knowing that he would have had to make the same choice between Sam and Kevin brought the emotions to an all-time high.
Meanwhile, Castiel is dealing with his own problems, and Crowley‘s attempting to finagle a way out of his situation. The unlikely trio must band together in order to stop Gadriel, the angel using Sam as a vessel. Of course, this means making a deal with the former King of Hell, and while neither Castiel nor Dean is happy with the arrangement, Crowley is, as he says, “the goodest guy you’ve got.”
It’s a rather chilling scenario that unfolds during “Road Trip”. Gadriel is not an angel to be trifled with; locked up and tortured in heaven’s prison for centuries, he’s become a warning to other angels. He’s the laughingstock of the entire brood and yet there’s something menacing in him from all the years of built up pain and anguish.
With Gadriel on the move in the Impala, the boys bundle into Castiel’s car (which he likes but Dean and Crowley make fun of him for) and head out to meet up with one of Crowley’s plants at the NSA. What follows is rather interesting. Instead of double-crossing the boys, Crowley helps them find the Impala, root out the angel, alert Sam to his presence, and, rather than running, helps Sam cast the angel out.
What’s in this for Crowley? Is there still a human part of him? Does he have a long-range plan that we don’t see yet? Does he care for the boys after all? Despite the Winchesters’ and Castiel’s lack of trust in him, the King of Hell performs admirably, providing them an escape and setting the stage for a confrontation with his rival, Abaddon.
At the end of “Road Trip” we see decisions playing out. Crowley is free; Castiel and Sam say goodbye to Dean, who is on the hunt for Gadriel; and Metatron, Gadriel and Abaddon are looking at war. Where is this going?
I feel like Dean’s character development this season has had him dealing with confronting the fact that people close to him die. He takes that on himself, finding problems internally, and I wonder if we’ll see him grapple with the idea of finally breaking out of the life of a hunter. I doubt that’s possible, but if he can’t find a way out, what other choices does he have?
Sam, on the other hand, must deal with secondary guilt. Gadriel murdered Kevin with Sam’s hands. How will Sam be able to forgive Dean for making him an accomplice? Sam was ready to die. He was tired. But Dean can’t let him go.
Castiel is learning how to be human. He has done what he needed to do, and it isn’t good. He and Dean have a moment where they admit that they’ve done the best they can with what they have, but it still isn’t good enough.
Things are dark for our heroes. They’ve all made mistakes. They’ve trusted the wrong people. And now because of the choices they’ve made, they’re separated. The Winchesters are on their own, once again. This time, I’m not sure if there’s a definite way back.
I’m curious about what this means for the rest of the season. I hope things don’t get patched up quickly only because the writers need the boys to be together for ease of writing sake. I think this is an evolution of their relationship and it might be better for them to be apart for a while and think about what they really mean to each other. Dean has a problem with letting go. Sam is almost always on the run. Sam always leaves.
But this time, Dean leaves. Sam doesn’t have as big a problem of letting go. I wonder if all along Sam has been the healthier brother, able to take things in stride. His attachment to Dean hasn’t reached the overwhelming codependency of Dean’s attachment to him. I find myself sympathizing with Dean. There are people I want so badly to be in my life. I would do almost anything to keep them beside me. But it never works. You can’t force people to stay with you.