Ben Edlund writes a good episode, yes? Perfect for hurt/comfort fans anywhere. He had a lot of story lines that he had to bring together and it came off pretty well. Robert Duncan McNeill directed the episode. The only other SPN episode he's done was Skin. He's done a lot of directing for other shows though. He's also an actor and the role I recognized was Tom Paris on Star Trek: Voyager. The surprise face for me was Metatron who partied a lot in the 80s as a nerd named Booger and showed up in Risky Business as Miles. That probably dates me pretty well. Risky Business was the first R rated movie I saw. I was pretty sheltered and it was educational. Now I hang out here. It's educational. O_o
The director made some interesting choices for shots and I particularly liked the acting done in a couple of the scenes. As for the colors of this episode, some of the red and blue was back but it wasn't as prevalent as last week. The blue tended to be focused on Sam and Dean or tied in with Kevin and Metatron. Red and yellow are all over the Biggerson's and demons.
The episode starts with a couple of great shots of Kevin. I'm glad to see that Crowley left him his limbs.
We get to see what Kevin sees. His world has been upside down for a while now.
Kevin still has blue even though there's some red and yellow in there.
From what Osric has mentioned, it sounds like Jared deserved whatever soaking he got here.
This next shot should be a pretty good indication that something is kind of hinky. When was the last time we saw dimples?
It's a testament to Jared's acting that he can go from that to this in the same episode.
Back to fake!Sam who looks like he's at Disney.
You'd trust them, wouldn't you? They have the blue on right now but there's yellow thrown in there and we don't really know that they are demons yet.
Blue and red here.
So has Kevin been back on the boat all this time or did Crowley create the boat in another place or in Kevin's mind?
And there's Crowley with red flame-like light on the wall. He's directing his drama from an abandoned theater. Did Crowley suddenly become a lot more powerful than he's been or have we been underestimating him?
The next time we see the fake!boys, there's a lot of red, even though Dean still has blue on.
In the end, they end up where they should be, stuck in a trap, behind cage bars. All to the tune from The Dating Game.
Now to the batcave and real!Sam. There's a part of the batcave that we've seen before.
The batcave even has cool tilework at the top of the stairs as you go from the war room to the library.
They've also got a map of part of New England around Massachusetts and New York on the wall above more vinyl albums.
Then from an entry straight out of the ohsam community, we got Dean making "John Winchester's famous cure-all kitchen sink stew".
Then he threatens the airplane spoon.
Sam is putting out heat waves, according to Dean. Sam delirious from a fever has got to be one of the top hurts in fan fic, right up there with hypothermia.
He's in green.
Then we find out the trials are changing Sam. He looks awful.
The boys get a video from Kevin. He's in green. He looks awful. I thought Osric did a good job with this.
Dean's reaction to this requires a gif but that's beyond me. I thought his reaction to Kevin's message was really well done.
The other time I remember seeing Dean with his hands on his head like that was when Lucifer disappeared wearing Sam in Swan Song.
Even fever!Sam can be politically correct. That fever has to be going up from the way Sam is acting.
Off to Colorado. It looks like a flag over the door.
Coyote is usually a trickster character and he has a lounge here.
Sam's in blue now and stoned from the fever.
The art in the motel room was also used in Chronos' house in Time After Time.
Dean heads off to get more info. He's helped by a gentleman in blue while Dean's got red, white and blue. Great bear in the corner. Buffalo head on the wall because buffalo are so plentiful in the Rocky Mountains....?
Sam wakes up and finds a pile of books. With as long as Metatron has been around, you'd think he would have knocked Dickens off his list a bit ago.
Sam's not on his feet for long.
While Sam's out, let's check in on the other member of Team Free Will. Cas is jumping from Biggerson's to Biggerson's. I like how this restaurant chain has continued to be a part of the SPN plot over the seasons. Plenty of red and yellow as a warning. Then we get Cas's waitress, a sweetheart named Kara, wearing a flashing red heart pin. Danger, danger.
He orders something yummy from the smart-heart menu.
ION: Now, we try to orient ourselves, but it's as if we're in every Biggerson's at once—trapped in a quantum superposition.
Cas stops for Kara. We should have seen her death coming. This is why we don't have nice waitresses (or many living friends), Sam.
SAMANDRIEL: I think too much heart was always Castiel's problem.
I wonder if the poster below is a nod to dialog from The End.
DEAN: Let me see those.
2014!CASTIEL: You want some?
2014!CASTIEL: It's the perfect antidote to that absinthe.
I like Naomi's quote "You're the famous spanner in the works. Honestly, you came off the line with a crack in your chassis. You have never done what you were told. Not completely. You don't even die right, do you?" There's a whole TV Tropes page dedicated to the spanner. Naomi continues to be nasty, Ion has the loose lips that sink ships, and Crowley has an angel blaster now which he uses to wound and snatch Cas. He also has a laughing Buddha.
If Cas didn't have a cracked chassis before, he does now.
Crowley proves to be more of a smarty-pants than Naomi. How did Cas even get that in there? It probably doesn't bear thinking about.
Then we get a series of shots that I really like. I wish I knew what was written on the window. So much red with bars and the image is obscured like so much of the operation of heaven. Some of the leafy greenery from early in the season is reflected in the window.
Crowley finds out his fake!Winchesters are stuck and goes to find Kevin. I like these shots too.
Kevin proves to be more of a smarty-pants than Crowley. Hah.
Crowley is back under that red light.
Kevin succeeded in his own trials.
We'll head back to Sam, who is still working on his. Real ice or not, it looks cold. It hurts to leave a hand in ice water after a certain point. Going from a high fever to an ice bath is probably a good way to send someone into shock.
Father Curtis: Kill or cure.
How is Sam supposed to breathe?
How did Dean even get Sam into that tub enough to get his head under water.
Real ice or not, Sam looks frozen.
They change clothes and head back out to find the books. Dean's so careful. You get a sense of what Dean must have been like as a younger kid looking after Sam.
I thought Jared did a good job with this scene. In light of Sam's whole story arc, the realization that he felt contaminated from the time he was a little kid adds a lot to the understanding of Sam's motivations for a lot of what he's done over the seasons. What happens if Sam is purified? Does he lose some essential Sam-ness? Does he survive it?
The realization that Sam has carried that feeling all this time must be heartbreaking for Dean to hear. Even being reassured that it's not your fault doesn't make the initial injury go away or the repercussions that run through a lifetime either.
Dean takes point.
Cool overhead shot of the guys and towers of books.
And then we meet Metatron. I get a bad feeling about him.
Sam's just feeling bad.
And FED UP!
Metatron imparts some of his own meta. "But really... really, it was your storytelling. That is the true flower of free will. At least as you've mastered it so far. When you create stories, you become gods, of tiny, intricate dimensions unto themselves. So many worlds!" I wonder what use that little nugget could be for Sam and Dean. From here, the three characters that have been directly working with the trials are in similar color clothes.
Kevin, after he's rescued, ends up next to a copy of the Pied Piper. Who's being led where?
The question of the season, "Are you in or are you out?"
The third trial turns out to be curing a demon. What is the nature a demon and what does it mean to cure one? Are they supposed to redeem a demon or restore a demon to perfect demonic health? (Oh, that demon over there has a nasty case of boils. We can clear that up.) Sam and Dean don't know either.
Looks like they're going to have to patch up an angel before they get to that.
So after all that, I was left with a bunch of questions. Most of them got tucked in with the caps up above. Is closing the gates of Hell the right thing to do if angels still have access to the earth or does that leave things seriously out of balance? Is it worth the cost?
Caps from homeofthenutty, screencapped.net and me.