Preface: I was WRONG! Completely, thoroughly, absolutely wrong! I said there was no way that Sam gets his soul back this episode. I knew for sure that they would keep us hanging over the hiatus. I was prepared to be Kripked for over a month. But I was wrong. And I really hate that.
Previously - Death was scarily awesome and helped stop the Apocalypse, Tessa was a pretty reaper, Balthazar collected souls, Cas warned Dean about Sam's soul, and RoboSam was happy being soulless.
In a back room of a Chinatown??? (please bring the place cards back) butcher shop, Freddy Krueger, M.D. needs a refresher on sterilization and appropriate interpersonal relations. He may have stitched up John but Dean wants his personal space back and some maid service. Blade Runner Babe has no bedside manner and Dean is okay with a 75% survival rate. Awww, he has a note for Ben if he dies. (Nice handwriting, Dean.) Dr. Freddy wonders why not Sam, but Dean responds, "If I don't make it back, nothing I say is going to mean a damn thing to him." The doc gives Dean 3 minutes death time and I flashback to Flatliners. I love that movie! "Good times."
Dean spouts Latin and Tessa appears. Good to see you. She prefers Sudan and is ticked Dean summoned her. "You're kidding me. You died to ask for a favor." I think that's extreme too. Tessa won't give up Death's location but Death comes to them. "Hello Dean." Death's scary even in two words. Great job casting Julian Richings because he combines the power and creepiness of Death and his voice is perfect. Dean tries bargaining for Sam's soul but Death knows the ring's location. Dean has "hubris but no leverage." He squawks but Death calls him out. "Quit shuffling and deal." Dean wants Sam's soul and all of Adam out of the cage. "As a rule I don't bring people back." Death says he can have one brother, so Dean of course picks Sam. I would too. I can't stand the concept of Adam. Death knows that Sam's soul is "filleted to the raw nerve" and Dean wants him to "hack the hell part off" but it doesn't work like that. Death can do mind construction to keep Sam from remembering hell. Tessa tells Dean it's not permanent, but Dean wants the "spiritual dry wall".
Yet not so fast - Dean must be Death for 24 hours, wearing his ring without taking it off. Death takes a holiday. I don't blame him, being Death must suck out loud. Death is about to explain why when Dr. Freddy and Sean Young bring Dean back. "You couldn't have given me 5 more seconds?" "Son, you were gone for 7 minutes." Nelson was under 12 minutes in Flatliners. Great scene between Dean and Death. I love how Dean is nervous and deferential (well as much as he can be) with Death. However, the Things That Confuse Me list pokes me and I wonder about Death's ring. Presumably it holds Death's power to kill people but if Dean has had the ring for over a year, he obviously doesn't need it. People have died that year. But if he already has the power, why make the ring? Does Death like accessories? Speaking of which, if you were one the most powerful creatures in the universe, would you wear a tie? I'd be in sweats, a t-shirt, and flip flops. Screw appearance!
RoboSam is unhappy with the plan, especially since the wall "could last a lifetime." Way to spin that one Dean! RoboSam's right to worry over the fine details. "It's my life, it's my soul and it sure as hell ain't your head that's going to explode when this whole scheme of yours goes sideways." Bobby breaks it up, asking for the bottom line but Dean doesn't want to say. "I'm sorry I didn't get that." Dean comes clean about Death's dare and RoboSam heads to where they buried Death's ring. Nice hiding space by the way. "Sam, I'm your brother. I'm not going to let you get hurt. I know what I'm doing here." Really? Dean reassures RoboSam that he won’t let it go wrong and RoboSam says he trusts Dean. Dean walks off but tells Bobby to watch RoboSam. I love that brief exchange. RoboSam and Bobby go inside. RoboSam: "So is this the part where you pull a gun on me and lock me in the panic room?" Bobby: "Do I have to?" RoboSam says no and Bobby breathes that they all have to do what they have to do. There is a lot of tension. Creepy RoboSam is visiting today instead of Funny RoboSam. I get ready to grip my pillow.
Back in the yard, Death's bling gets a close-up. "Here goes everything." Dean is transported…somewhere…to be blasted by Tessa. "Wow, just let any slack-jawed haircut be Death these days." Tessa doesn't like the idea or Dean, since he screws things up. Tessa grabs the exposition fairy's wand and explains the job. She has a list of people to die. Dean touches them; she reaps them; they move on. Meanwhile RoboSam bakes angel stew and Balthazar is equally happy to be summoned by a Winchester. "Sam Winchester…this had better be good." Balthy thinks RoboSam's an idiot, being that he wants to kill the Winchesters, but RoboSam cries "desperate times." Balthy's not near as intimidating as Death. He is irate since "the last time we met you wanted to fry my wings extra crispy." RoboSam claims misunderstanding, but that's pretty hard to get wrong and Balthy's not buying it. He is interested when RoboSam asks advice for keeping a soul out forever. He guesses Sam's soul is still in hell and agrees RoboSam shouldn't want it back. Suspiciously, he chooses to help out. "You seem like a capable young man. I'd love to have you in my debt. And I have to say that I'm not a fan of your brother's so screwing him would delight me." Balthy knows a spell. I wonder about that. And Balthy goes from smart, devil-may-care Playangel to sinister dark dealer in my eyes. I liked you better last time, Balthy. The spell requires an act to scar the vessel "that so pollutes it, it renders it uninhabitable." Coincidentally, that means patricide. In Harry Potter it was murder of any kind. Since John's dead, any father figure will do. Just fabulous! I guess RoboSam's lucky it wasn't matricide; there's no females left.
Tessa warns Dean that people have questions. "Like how did Betty White outlast me?" Not quite. They walk in on a robbery and the robber gets shot. Tessa tells Dean to touch him, but Dean likes his agonizing pain. I do not. The robber wants to know why he's dead and Dean snarks "mostly because you're a d**k." Next comes heart attack guy and Dean says "You think maybe it was the extra cheese?" The guy agrees and they talk pizza. Still, the guy wants to know what "it all means", and all Dean has is Kansas' most overrated song. I'd be ticked too if that was the answer. Tessa: "Sorry, he's new." Bwah! However, things get unfunny fast as we cut to a hospital. A 12-year-old girl is next and we all know Dean's reaction. It doesn't help that the dad will be family-less and the girl is Ben's age. Tessa and Dean argue about fate and who creates the list. "There's no such thing as destiny just like there was no Apocalypse." If you're talking about that mess that was supposed to be the big event last season, then I totally agree Dean. Who knew the Apocalypse would be so lame! Tessa calls "bull" citing all the times Dean and Sam have messed with death, but Dean retorts, "Well I know this much. I'm Death, she's 12, and she's not dying today." Apparently, this means the girl gets a free pass since the doctor says her heart has miraculously healed itself. Add another thing to the Things That Confuse Me list. The nurse happy though as she walks through Tess; she gets to go home early.
This episode's editing is weird; I don't get the 10-second clips of RoboSam and Bobby interspersed with Dean scenes. RoboSam contemplates patricide while drinking and playing poker with Bobby. Souls may not be dice-able, but you could serve the tension in this scene on a plate. Bobby goes for beer; RoboSam goes for a wrench. Bobby's quicker though and smashes him upside the head with a club he keeps in the fridge. "I might have been born at night boy, but it wasn't last night." Bobby goes to tie RoboSam up but he disappears. I first rolled my eyes when Bobby looks for RoboSam instead of immediately leaving, but he didn't know about the deal. Then I rolled my eyes because he locks himself in a closet which RoboSam takes out with an axe. "Don't say here's Johnny." But Bobby has a booby trapped floor. I should know not to question Bobby. RoboSam drops to the basement and tries to take out the door but it's reinforced. Bobby rocks but he wants to know what's up. RoboSam doesn't want to kill Bobby since he's always been good to him but the spell comes first. Love this delivery! He knows Dean will kill him to get Sammy back. I concur. He can't take that chance. RoboSam goes silent and Bobby opens the door to check it out. I will not question Bobby. "Ain't nobody killing me in my house but me." It's supposed to be poignant but I'm laughing since it sounds like Fiona in Burn Notice saying, "Dammit Michael. I am not letting some psycho be the first person to bring explosives into my new place." Fiona and Bobby would get along well. Music of Bobby's creepy basement swells and I grab my pillow. There's blood on the panic room handle.
Not fair! We cut to the hospital. This editing drives me crazy. Previous nurse is in a car crash, a domino from Dean not killing the girl. (Note - never drive when "Bad Moon Rising" is on; always be careful when you get off early.) Tessa says take her but Dean protests she's not on the list. No Mercy Tessa tells Dean to "do your damn job." Dean does and the hospital gives up immediately. What's up with that? She flat lines 3 seconds and you call time of death. What a crummy hospital! Ouch! Tessa doesn't pull punches. She tells the nurse she should have lived for decades and have grandchildren but Dean screwed up. Dean apologizes but it's too late. Apparently the town's police are on the ball though because the nurse's husband comes in seconds later. Wooby Dean can't stand his grief. Tessa demands Dean kill the girl because her life disrupts the natural order. "Chaos and sadness will follow her for the rest of her life." Umm, why? I don't get this reasoning. Dean sees nurse's husband at a bar and tells Tessa to wait.
Back at Bobby's Fun House, Bobby follows RoboSam's trail of blood. He knows RoboSam wants to kill him but he keeps going. I will not question Bobby….I should have questioned Bobby. RoboSam takes Bobby down with a pipe in an obvious trap. This is going nowhere good. But we can't find out because we are back with Dean. Nurse's husband tries to kill himself in an accident. Dean's Death routine allows him to go along for the ride but he can't do anything as Death. To assuage his guilt and save the man, Dean takes off the ring, grabs the steering wheel, and avoids a bus wreck. Dean is ticked at himself and rails to Tessa. He wants zapped home since "Sam is screwed." Dean for reasons I don't get puts the ring back on and Tessa shows. He has unfinished business and I learn not to question Dean too. "No one really skates by do they?" Aww Dean, my heart breaks when you feel hopeless. The girl watches her death and Dean kneels down to try to explain (love it). They agree that natural order sucks and I feel for everyone. OK, moment's over -call me heartless but my concern's for Bobby.
In Bobby's creepy basement, Bobby is tied up. He appeals to Sammy, but Creepy RoboSam is in full-control tonight. RoboSam sharpened the knife and starts to plunge it into Bobby's heart. The knife goes down and Hallelujah! There will be no stabbing today! Dean: "Hi Sam. I'm back." Punch! RoboSam is down. Gotta say one thing for Tessa. She has impeccable timing. I like "Now you don't see him, now you do" Dean. Bobby and Dean handcuff Sam in the panic room. Dean: "Can't keep doing this Bobby. I mean what? Am I going to tie him up every time he tries to kill someone? And that's not going to hold him. I mean he's.." Bobby: "Capable of anything." Dean doesn't know what to do and I feel worse for him as the show goes on. He watches RoboSam wake up and the two look at each other as the tension grows. RoboSam sees something in Dean's eyes, but Dean closes the view space.
Because Dean's day isn't bad enough, Death drops by with hotdogs. I guess Las Vegas has good bacon dogs. "What's with you and cheap food?" Dean, the pot's calling you a hypocrite. Death wants "a treat" before putting the ring on. Again with the ring. Why put it back on? He did well enough without it. Plus, he had pizza last year with the ring on and it didn't interfere with his meal. I say head to Mordor, toss the ring into Mount Doom and be done with it. Dean takes the ring out of his pocket. Death: "Heavier than it looks, isn't it? Sometimes you just want to get that thing off." Dean admits failure. "I sucked at being you. I screwed up the whole natural order thing." Death: "So if you could go back, would you simply kill the little girl? No fuss. No stomping your feet." Dean says yes and Death is surprised but happy. I am surprised but not happy. Dean looks like a chastised school boy as Death goes into lecture mode, and I wonder if he's training Dean as his apprentice. Ooo, Tessa will be ticked. Every time Dean and Sam mess with life's balance, Death cleans up and he's tired of playing maid. Death channels his inner Dumbledore: "This is hard for you Dean. You throw away your life because you've come to assume that it will bounce right back into your lap. The human soul is not a rubber ball. It's vulnerable, impermanent, but stronger than you know, and more valuable than you can imagine. So I think you've learned something today." And Dean's back - he calls Death out for rigging the game. But Death isn't just anybody and Dean quickly backs off. Good thing because Death will get Sam's soul. Dean questions why but Death is vague. "I wouldn't do it for you. You and your brother keep coming back. You're an affront to the balance of the universe and you cause disruption on a global scale." Dean: "I apologize for that." Bwah! Sometimes it's fun watching humble Dean. Death wants the Winchesters to keep digging at this soul business. Dean's useful now. "You'll understand when you need to." Great! How's now!
Death rings out and Dean flies to the panic room. RoboSam freaks out as Death has his soul in a doctor's bag. By the light of Sam's soul, Death explains that it's better not to scratch an itch. RoboSam pleads but Death goes forward. We fade out to RoboSam's screams. Goodbye, RoboSam. I really enjoyed you this season.
I leave the winter finale puzzled but not on tenterhooks for what happens next. Sam will be fine so I feel no tension there. The soul issue is too mysterious so I'm more ambivalent about it. The Alphas weren't mentioned. Bobby's out of danger. I don't feel cliffhangered and I'm more surprised by that than the rest of this episode.
Next week - The Vampire Diaries marathon. Come on, CW. The hellatus is bad enough.