We’re back and rolling fellow SN fans. While the prospect of hunting down a ghoul who kills cheerleaders seems catchy and old school, this week’s episode “Road Trip” continues where the cliffhanger left us off. When dealing with secrets and a sense of omniscience over most characters on a show, it’s nice to have an episode that offers its version of full disclosure. Finally we can do away with an extra lie here and another secret there. Our “In the dark” characters, Sam, Castiel, and Crowley now understand everything that’s going on and we can push forward into the next arc involving home wrecking angels and campaigning demons.
There are parts I think worked extremely well and a few that appeared more hurried and cliche’d, even in SN standards, but the core of its message served to fulfill a necessary routine close to the mid-season mark. Once again the Winchesters are at odds with each other, but less out of anger and more out of long lasting guilt. Where will Sam and Dean end up, now that they’re once more separated? Hopefully not the lead on the spin-off due to air post haste.
After burning Kevin’s body and wrecking the bunker’s library section, Cas returns to help Dean find Sam, who has disappeared with the Impala. Dean strikes a deal with Crowley who knows how to hack into a possessed body. The plan is to capture Sam and bring his consciousness out so he can expel Gadriel from him. Crowley convinces Dean to take him to a secret NSA building where a demon, Cecily helps track down the Impala, which is in Somerset, Pennsylvania.
After Gadriel kills the angel, Thaddeus, the jailer who tortured him for centuries, Metatron gives Gadriel another name to kill. Metatron finds the man in Pennsylvania only to recognize him as Abner (sp?), a fellow angel who was also tortured alongside him. Abner claims he is happy as a family man in the body he’s possessed but Gadriel kills him anyway as loyal service to Metatron.
Dean and Cas find Gadriel at the house and Cas subdues the angel. They take him to an abandoned building as Crowley attempts to connect and manipulate several needle-like devices he implants in Sam’s head.
Meanwhile, Abaddon questions Cecily about Crowley’s whereabouts and then kills her for helping Crowley at all.
Crowley gains Gadriel’s identity which sends Cas into a tirade over Gadriel’s role in allowing Lucifer entry into Eden. Gadriel fights the tampering until Dean asks Cas to possess Sam’s body to reach him. Cas is unable due to Sam being unable to agree to the possession leaving Crowley as their last option. Crowley offers to possess and free Sam provided he is released after the deed. Dean agrees and allows Crowley to possess Sam.
Crowley finds Sam who thinks he’s researching a case in the bunker and is surprised to see Crowley free. Crowley uses a code word that Dean gave him to convince Sam that he’s in a dream state and that he’s possessed by an angel. Gadriel appears in the form of his old vessel a struggle ensues. Crowley and Sam are overpowered until Sam gets the upper hand and forces Gadriel out of his body.
Gadriel’s essence finds his original vessel and repossesses it at a bar where Metatron is waiting for him.
Sam, Dean, and Cas flee as Crowley stays behind to greet Abaddon who arrives for a fight. Crowley appeals to her demon followers and explains that they are now campaigning for the role as ruler of Hell and that all demons will have a choice on who that gets to be. He disappears before Abaddon can do anything.
Dean, Sam, and Cas stop at a pier as Dean awaits Sam’s angered responses. Even though upset, Sam relents that he was ready to die and mentions Kevin, who Dean says wasn’t Sam’s fault and he alone bears the blame for Kevin’s death. He plans to face Gadriel alone and won’t pull Sam through anymore of his messes. Dean leaves Sam in Cas’s care and drives off in the Impala.
There you have it. The brothers are pulled apart, this time, by Dean’s choice. I like that it’s Dean because he has a masochistic way of storing and suffering the guilt more than I think Sam does. That kind of self-loathing and disappointment can take Dean into dark territories that, even though shouldn’t anything new, can be fresh depending on how they explore it. I’m hoping they don’t abuse the tempo and insert a full-blown comedy plot in the next episode. I’m not sure Dean is ready for whacky antics just yet.
It’s clear that it’ll be Sam’s role to find and save Dean from doing anything truly crazy. I’m not expecting this brotherly split-up to last more than one or two episodes at most. This is still early in the season and they can use this time to begin a bit of soul searching for Dean, because quite frankly he needs it. I enjoyed Cas’s bit about relating his situation with Dean and that they’re both too trusting. Balancing social-awkward Cas humor isn’t always easy in serious episodes, but Misha continues to excel in the art of it.
Something I think didn’t work as well as maybe it appeared on paper was Gadriel’s continued reluctance to truly conform to Metatron’s plan that involves more angel deaths. After his murder of Kevin, it became clear that Gadriel was officially a villain, like Metatron. I don’t consider these two as “gray” characters. They’re bad guys. Metatron wants Dean dead and Gadriel killed his own friend who thought he was picking a safe plan to exist. Gadriel fought to keep Sam possessed and won’t be bargaining his way out of any dark fate once Cas and Dean settle their score. Some of the most notorious villains often think they are doing what’s right, if nothing else for themselves, and will do whatever it takes to see their plan unfold. There’s no more point if trying to convince us that Metatron is manipulating Gadriel. There might be room for a “last second burst of euphoric morality” that comes from Gadriel and he sacrifices himself to stop Metatron, but even then that kind of scene isn’t going to make me like his character any more. If anything, I’d rather see Gadriel fully commit to Metatron’s cause and then see what this angel is capable of.
The demon civil war has it’s perks and I think is the more interesting tale than the angel one. Watching Crowley work is definitely (how he said it) more art than science. His pride in honoring his bargains continues to shuffle him into an anti-hero role which I hope culminates into a fiery war with Abaddon and several hundred demons. Somewhere in the midst of all this I have to believe that are plans to resurrect Lucifer in the ruler of Hell plot, but that’s really just the fanboy in me wanting the big bad to show everyone who’s boss. Abaddon remains singularly fixed on one goal, which is fine. She’s a hurricane waiting to reach land, and soon she will.
Overall, “Road Trip” settled any doubts that Kevin was truly gone and finally brought Sam into full transparency with Dean’s choice to keep Sam alive at any cost. It’s saddening to hear that Sam was ready and willing to die, even after the fact, but hopefully his encounters pushing forward will help erase those thoughts. Even choosing not to stop Dean from leaving was a prime example that Sam is more than willing to hang up his coat in whatever capacity will end his streak with annihilating the Supernatural. Notable times in the past he tried to move on, guilt free. Dean promptly made sure to keep the grief of Kevin’s death, not allowing Sam to take any for himself, which lends to Dean’s sullen and fatalistic outlook. He has to know their paths will cross and cross too soon. Neither brother is designed to allow the other to be tortured, physically, or mentally. Sam’s struggle with accepting his fate feels more unique this time around because he’ll have to truly dig deep to understand why Dean saved him. The Winchesters will be destroying monsters and demons together again in no time, you can bet the pilot spin-off on that.
No more words