And our opening splatter victim is in Idaho, hanging up on a suicide prevention helplines. He points the gun at his head but puts it down, crying, when he sees a picture of a woman and child. A live saved? Naaah, a man enters, shrouded in shadow with a cross earring, puts his hand on the man’s head and splatter happens. The power looked angelic, so he possibly tried to possess him.
To Castiel! Yes he’s back
And he’s working as a shop assistant (apparently doing a really good job) under the name Steve and desperately mimicking human behaviour. The newspaper reports 4 local disappearances or deaths – including the splatter in the opening credits
To the Winchester cave, where Kevin has successfully crawled out of the Plot Box where most television minorities find themselves banished to when they’re not needed by the protagonist. Kevin has translated the Angel Tablet – into Cuneform and then into a dead Ilemite language. This is not helpful. But Kevin gets enough off them to see reference to Fallen angels in Metatron’s footnotes so it’s possible they can reverse the whole banishing angels spell and send all of the “winged dicks” back to Heaven. Research time! Dean is just thrilled.
Dean is saved from the horrible scourge of reading by Castiel calling with info on the case – well some info. His hands are full with a machine that dispenses blue liquid. I don’t know what it is. I don’t want to know what it is. I think people drink it. I’d advise them not to.
Dean plans to go check it out despite the very limited information while Sam is bemused by the lack of knowledge and has to be kept in the dark anyway because Ezekiel, the angel possessing him, wants to be the only angel in the Winchester cave. Kevin provides the excuse – Dean just wants to duck research
At his work place, his boss is bemused by the sleeping bag in the back room and Castiel claims he just stayed late taking inventory and he totally has a home and bed. Honest. She also invites Castiel out on a date because, well, Castiel.
Dean, playing fake FBI agent, checks on the four missing – the four confirmed dead – people. All of them were depressed and suicidal – but it wasn’t suicide. How can he be sure? Well the crime scene is… messy. The body has been vaporised and a fine mist of blood and tissue has covered every single surface turning it all a rather nauseating shade of pink.
Dean contacts Sam who is having no luck with the research – of course one person who may know is Crowley (they don’t keep him chained up for the one-liners. Frankly, I think his one-liners are more than enough reason to keep him around).
Yes, Crowley can read it but is duly suspicious and unhelpful. Sam tries to appeal to his returning humanity when that, predictably, fails Sam points out they keep him around for his usefulness (and rapier wit) and he’s not being useful. They could always hand him over to Abaddon (who is out there. Somewhere. Doing Something) and adds a layer of praising Abaddon as a way scarier demon than Crowley. Crowley doesn’t fall for that either.
Dean dodges Sam coming down for the case because of Ezekiel’s issues. Meanwhile the next victim, a melodramatic angsting teenager, is splattered by the bad guy. Y’know, I can think of one or two times when this guy could have been handy to keep around.
At the store Dean is surprised to see Castiel’s cover and Castiel shows some rare irritation – he fell to Earth not only with no power, no Grace, but with absolutely nothing he’s quite proud of what he’s achieved and what he’s doing now. Dean continues to snark but Castiel insists that he’s getting things right and he’s finding dignity and strength in doing what he does (and it’s not like he had the best success rate as an angel). Of course the dignity is undercut by him having to clean the toilets and Dean assuming he’s staying for Nora, his boss who he has a date with. Castiel just puts it as part of his life – going on dates is what human’s do (Dean snarks back slightly sadly that his dates “end when he runs out of singles” which both says a lot about his attitude towards women and his rather sad summation of his love life).
Dean gets the call for the next victim and asks Castiel to come – he doesn’t see the point, he has no powers. Dean points out he’s never had powers and it didn’t stop him though he is a hunter and, as Castiel pointed out, when he tried to be a hunter Dean said he was very very bad at it (he was). Poor Dean practically begs Castiel to come with him (awwww, part “let me rescue you from this job” and part guilt I think)
At the crime scene Dean gets all the info and Castiel proves useful because he’s seen vaporising death before – in Heaven. There were special Hands of Mercy angels whose job was to heal the injured in battle and, if someone’s past saving, using their super special vaporisy power – because absolutely no-one thinks of the clean up in Heaven, it seems. While very very very very oh ye gods very messy, the vaporising is incredibly quick and painless. They home in on the desperately injured by sensing extreme pain; unfortunately he’s newly arrived on Earth and has little concept of the extent of extremity of human emotion and thinks he’s continuing his holy duty. Alas, angels do not understand the angst of humanity.
And Castiel still wants to opt out of monster hunting – everything’s too different to him. Dean gives him a lift to his date - and realises Castiel intends to go on his date in his work uniform. Oh Castiel. Dean gives him advice, some of it good, most of it… well, Dean’s. He does know enough to steal a single red rose from her flower pot and to wave Dean to get out of there.
Castiel goes in to find he isn’t on a date. Nora wants him to babysit her baby so she can go on a date. Awww. Castiel then ineptly tries to deal with a crying baby – I’m quite sure the collective “aww” and “squee” from fandom at this scene could only be heard by dogs.
Dean gets some more information on the case and it turns out the first victims (a husband and wife who were so very not happy with each other) was just one victim – the wife. And he’d just found god lately and started listening to the Angel’s televangelist – and he recognises his truck as the one that was waiting outside of Nora’s house.
And said angel greets Castiel who is trying to take the baby to the hospital because she’s hot. The angel is Ephraim, Castiel remembers him and tries to get him to see sense, but Ephraim wants to wash the planet clean of suffering. Including a crying baby – Castiel kiboshes that idea very firmly. But Ephraim isn’t there for the baby – he’s there for Castiel and he followed his pain. His super loud pain. While they talk, Castiel cuts his hand on the rose and tries to smear the angel banishing symbol – but Ephraim grabs him. Ephraim’s a bit pissed with Castiel – not for banishing them, but because he hero worshipped Castiel he always tried so hard and aimed so big even if he failed a lot of the time – and now when angels need him the most he’s opted out.
Castiel insists he wants to live and not have his pain ended – and Dean bursts in to be knocked aside. Ephraim accuses Castiel of wanting to die, of having given up by choosing a human life. Dean slides Castiel his angel blade and Ephraim is gone – consider this Castiel’s rebuttal
Back at the Winchester cave, Crowley agrees to help if he gets a phone call to Abaddon – Kevin thinks it’s a bad idea (because he’s the smart one) but Sam thinks it’s safe enough. That “phone” call of course involves blood and Crowley insists it be Kevin’s – just because he’s an arsehole like that. Crowley gets his blood ritual – and is put on hold.
He finally gets through to Abaddon and it seems she’s screwing things up. She’s got a lot more souls by voiding his contracts and taking the souls early. She’s destroying everything he built. He protests she can’t hold hell together with chaos alone and she just mocks him for being “the Winchester’s bitch”.
His call finished, Crowley asks for the translations. In the wake of Abaddon shredding all the agreements, Crowley makes it clear, he keeps his. But when he reads the notes it turns out the spell is irreversible
Sam calls Dean with the news while Castiel apologises to Nora for overreacting with the baby fever – she’s fine with it, she’s glad he cared enough to over-react. Dean apologises to Castiel for judging his life and kicking him out of the Winchester cave – but Castiel now doubts himself for standing aside and not getting involved in the angels new problems. He returns to work looking a lot less at peace.
As Sam is clearing up, he finds a phial of blood is missing. He rushes to check on Crowley then hides as he watches Crowley inject himself with Kevin’s blood.
I quite like Castiel’s quiet pride in his work and his borderline hostility at Dean for being so contemptuous of it. Considering he was stripped of all his powers, still has a relatively rudimental understanding of humanity and has zero possessions, he’s stepped up. He’s achieved something – yes he’s not fighting the legions of hell, but he’s built the beginnings of a life. This also has parallels of a considerable amount of classist commentary we have about certain people and certain jobs – ignoring them as people and their personal life stories in favour of setting arbitrary measures of “success.”
I also quite like Ephraim as a villain – this idea of angels who aren’t inherently evil or cruel or sadistic or even selfish – but honestly just don’t understand Earth.
Crowley injecting Kevin’s blood – the blood of a prophet. Perhaps holy blood – which is part of the ritual to exorcise a demon and restore him to humanity. Crowley looking to join the good guys?