Time for the opening murder – a woman, Tiana, runs through some dark allies (woman, alleys, night, high heels – they just put out a casting call for a stereotypical victim) and runs into a sinister Raul (still keeping those stereotypes rolling). Their conversation suggests she is a sex worker trying to escape from him, an abusive pimp. He is sticking to that abusive part so she puts a high heel in his eye – nice shot, Tiana. Of course, being supernatural this doesn’t bother him that much and he snaps her neck
To the Winchesters and Sam teasing Dean for setting up an online dating profile and a woman who is interested in him (have I fallen in an alternate universe where Dean WOULDN’T have a large number of attractive women interested in him), raising the apparently horrifying possibility that the woman he’s emailing could actually be *gasp* A MAN! (quick get your smelling salts!). Shaylene then arrives and is, indeed, a very attractive woman and she and Dean leave together.
But when Dean and Shaylene are alone she starts discussing fees which is a road block for Dean since he doesn’t pay for sex. Especially since she doesn’t want money – she wants his soul. He also seems to realise Shaylene isn’t exactly enjoying her job.
When her boss arrives he finds Sam and Dean waiting for him with a demon trap– and he recognises them. Shaylene tells them she’s being exploited, held prisoner and controlled along with other women. The demon briefly tries to claim innocence before shaming Shaylene – so she stabs him with the Angel Blade.
+10 points Shaylene. Though the Winchesters would have liked to question him more. He does have business cards though.
To that brothel where we see a now 1-eyed Raul and his minion Gerald about to hurt another sex worker when a woman walks in. Hey, I recognise her – she was randomly floating hotel employees. She hands Raul a little package which causes him to vomit black goo and Gerald to de-possess and flee. She also does it with class and a Scottish accent and frees Raul’s enslaved sex workers.
I don’t care if she floats random employees, she’s kind of awesome
Sam and Dean arrive at the brothel in the aftermath and accurately diagnose a case of witchcraft. Going through some research they do find information about a spell that can kill demons – but only known by one witch, Rowena.
Rowena takes the two women to a fancy restaurant and spells the waiter when he tries to kick them out because of the dress code – ensuring they get to stay and get free booze. Naturally the women are interested in magic and Rowena expositions the three ways to become a witch 1) make a demonic pact, 2) be born with magic (like her) and 3) study, training and a mentor. She also talks about a Grand Coven that kicked Rowena out for being “too extreme”. We get a clue as to how “extreme” that magic is by the waiter she spelled collapsing rather unpleasantly
Gerald ghosts his way back to hell in a new body to report to Crowley who isn’t pleased. He demanded an uptick in soul acquisition but finds the idea of a demonic brothel to be tacky. Gerald also notes that Crowley has been… distracted again.
Bonus plot! Remember Cole who wants to kill Dean? He’s learned a bit and has now kidnapped a demon to question him about Dean.
Dean and Sam follow Rowena’s trail, also learning about the many brain-boiled hotel employees she’s impaled to ceilings.
Which means they get to be on scene when two demons succeed in taking Rowena, Elle and Catlin captive. Two dead demons later, but Rowena isn’t exactly eager to meet the Winchesters either – she casts a spell on Elle turning her into a dangerous beast and runs, taking Catlin with her. Rowena tries to manipulate Catlin into discarding and disissing Elle’s probable death – so Catlin punches her and makes a run for it.
Dean points a gun at her to stop her hexing Catlin – and, with the worst possible timing, Cole comes from nowhere to point a gun at Dean. Unfortunately, in the hotel, Sam manages to lock Elle in a cupboard but Rowena’s magic kills her
Rowena escapes and Cole throws holy water at Dean. Which does nothing – not a demon any more. Of course, Dean still murdered his father so they fight. It’s a moderately equal battle but Dean wins and Cole is held at gun point.
Dean decides against killing Cole and instead wants to explain things to him (and gives Cole a gun which doesn’t seem like the best choice). Dean reveals Cole’s dad was a monster that ate livers (he doesn’t know what kind of monster that is – and there are a few choices) and Dean probably saved his life. Sam arrives but Dean tells him to back off and talks to Cole about the stories they tell themselves, what they have to believe to keep going and how believing in them when they’re wrong can lead to bad places. It’s a decent message if a bit confused and forced. But it speaks nicely to the things hunters have to do to keep going – and the consequences of those things.
Dean adds his own assurance that one day he will die by violence – and he asks if it will be by Cole’s gun, with Dean adding that Cole has a family he needs to return to – to return “whole” too. Cole gives up the gun
Of course, Dean can’t say “I’m past saving” in earshot of Sam without Sam commenting on it – but Dean brushes it off.
Back in Hell, Gerald has managed to capture Rowena and delivers him to Crowley. She snarks perfectly because I think she may be awesome. Crowley is shocked into silence managing only one word: “mother”.
Over to the B plot, Castiel and Hannah are still hunting down rogue Angels to take them back to Heaven. And Hannah decides to randomly get naked making Castiel uncomfortable and her apparent confusion as to why Castiel is bothered by random nakedness.
When they leave the hotel there’s a problem – Caroline’s husband Joe has shown up wondering where his wife has disappeared to for a year. Who’s Caroline? That would be the woman Hannah is possessing as a vessel. Castiel arriving doesn’t make this any less awkward. Hannah decides the way out of this is to claim she left Joe for Castiel – and to kiss him to prove it.
Afterwards they talk about it and Castiel agrees it was a good thing to do – it hurt Joe but also gave him a concrete reason for Caroline leaving, one he can understand. He talks about his own experiences with Jimmy Novak – his vessel who he took from his family. Castiel goes with the line “the mission comes first.”
But later Hannah says she has to return to heaven. After all the time she’s spoken to Castiel she’s learned from him that humans should come first. More, though she revels in human sensations – she recognises they aren’t HER sensations, they’re Caroline’s – and she can still feel Caroline inside screaming out for her husband. It’s time for her to leave – and she does.
Caroline goes home to her husband – and Castiel checks out the missing person report for Jimmy Novak.
Can I insert some bemusement again at the idea that Dean attracting the interest of Shaylene is somehow… odd? Have I entered a bizarre alternate world where Dean is not considered extremely hot?
Remember back in season 1 and 2 when demons were like the most lethal thing that could possibly be faced? And how a new hunter like Cole would probably be nastily mangled by one?
Ok, I have to say when I first realised that Supernatural was going to do an episode about sex workers I cringed- after 10 seasons of watching this show I did not even remotely expect this to end well. And it was… surprisingly not terrible. Even though victimised they showed strength, intelligence and capability (Shaylene stabbing that guy, Catlin not falling for Rowena’s machinations). Even though she was willing to use them, Rowena showed them a level of respect and refused any element of shaming. Even Dean was nicely lacking in any misogynist commentary.
I really loved Hannah and Castiel – because there has been a long time in the whole angel conflict where we have kind of ignored that the angels are possessing people every bit as much as demons (not that we’ve exactly being assiduous in remember the demons are possessing people either. Remember when they used to exorcise demons to save the vessel?). In the past it kind of worked because there was the ongoing angel war and the angels were kicked out of Heaven so kind of NEEDED vessels (to a degree). And, before that, Castiel was a) a lot less human than he is now (his character growth has been epic) and b) they had the whole end-of-the-world issue to deal with. There’s also the fact that Jimmy is technically dead/mortally injured and possession is the only thing keeping him moving (though that’s a world building snafu in that all the magical healing out there can’t get them out of it)
But now? What exact mission justifies Hannah holding on to Caroline’s body? Especially with the “rogues” storyline ending (though it does add a new context to that line – Castiel was all for leaving the Rogues alone, but we have to remember that each Rogue who decides to stay on Earth is an enslaved human. And yes, you have to consent to possession by an angel – but given the nature of religion and angels on this show what chance did they have?).
I know we’ve done it a lot, but I always like the little speeches that address the cost of being a Hunter and how they manage to get by