The episode opens with the Impala pulling in front of a Chinese food market. Inside, Dean is directed to a back hallway where Freddy Kruger greets him by name! Okay, he’s actually Dr. Robert and he’s stitched up Dean’s daddy more times than he can count. Money changes hands and Dean is noticeably nervous. If something goes wrong he wants a letter mailed to Benjamin Braeden, not Sam. Okay, just what the heck is Dean there for? He looks perfectly fine. The doc’s assistant, Eva, who looks like someone out of Kat Von D’s tatt shop, unceremoniously shoves an IV into Dean’s arm. Biatch! Doc then administers an injection and tells Dean he’s got 3 minutes.______ Flatline_____. The doc freakin’ killed Dean! After peering at his lifeless body, Dean’s spirit walks down to the shop and calls out for Tessa, our favorite reaper. Dean wants to talk to her boss. Death promptly shows up. Hmm, he showed up awfully quick and willingly. Dean asks the creepy old dude to get both of his bros outta Hell. Death tells him to pick one. Naturally, Dean picks Sam. Death warns him Sammy’s soul will be “Flayed to the raw nerve.” Dean wants to know if Death can hack the hell part out. Back in Kruger’s clinic, paddles shock Dean’s heart. Death tells Dean he can’t erase Sam’s hell, but he can put it behind a wall in his memory. Tessa warns it’s not permanent. In exchange for retrieving Sam’s soul Death wants Dean to put his ring on and be him for one day. Take the ring off before the 24 hours is up and Dean won’t get back Sam’s soul. Why does Death want Dean to do take over for a spell? Because…GASP…Dean comes back to life and we don’t get the answer.
Dean tells Sam and Bobby his brilliant plan. Predictably, Sam isn’t happy and Bobby wants to know what the catch is. Sam says he doesn’t want to take the deal because it’s not a permanent solution and he could still end up as pudding. He takes off in a huff, presumably to wrap his head around things. Instead he goes looking for Death’s ring. Sneaky Sam. Dean catches him and swears he won’t let anything bad happen to him. Sam says fine, he’ll trust Dean. Big bro doesn’t buy it—neither do I— and tells Bobby to keep an eye on him.
Dean slips the ring on. Tessa pops in and lays out the rules for his new job. She’s got a list. Dean will touch those meant to die. She’ll reap them. Easy peasy. Don’t go getting any other ideas. Riiiight. This is Dean we’re talking about.
Elsewhere, Sam’s calling on Balthazar. Uh oh. This can’t be good. Sam wants to know what he can do to keep his soul out forever. Really, I can’t say I blame him. Who wants to cope with that kind of damage? But at the same time we all want our Sammy back. Balthazar says he’ll help Sam for free, just to screw with Dean and put Sam in his debt. To stay soulless Sam needs to scar his vessel by committing patricide. Since his dad is gone a father figure will do. Eep!
A punk robs a convenience store, threatening to kill the owner’s little boy. The father draws a gun from under the cash register and shoots the robber. Dean is all too happy to see the punk off to hell, even allowing for a little extra suffering. Next comes an overweight man chowing down on pizza. Heartattack hits. When he asks Dean “what it all means?” Dean responds with an unsatisfactory, but hilarious “everything is dust in the wind.” Next Dean faces down a 12-year-old girl with a heart condition. She’s in the hospital with her single father. Dean says there’s no way he’s killing her. Tessa argues with him, but he says he’s Death so it’s his choice. The girl’s heart then miraculously heals. How’s that going to backfire?
Meanwhile, Sam returns to Bobby’s. They play a poker game, but there’s some very tense subtext going on as they watch each other warily over the cards. Bobby offers Sam a beer and when he reaches into the fridge to get the bottle Sam grabs something out of a toolbox and tries to clobber Bobby who in turns grabs a pipe out of the fridge and clubs Sam. Ha! You gotta love that Bobby keeps a weapon in the fridge. Sam hits the floor. Bobby goes to get some rope and when he turns back Sam is gone. That’s not good. Shotgun loaded, Bobby searches for Sam, saying, “let’s not do anything hasty.” Then—WTH?—he locks himself in a closet. Sam starts to axe through the door like Jack Nicholson and—ROTFL—Bobby says, “Don’t say ‘here’s Johnny.’” Sam tells Bobby he’s got to do this and he shouldn’t have cornered himself. Bobby says he didn’t and pulls a trap door trigger that sends Sam dropping to the basement. Ah, that makes more sense. The surrogate father and his soulless son talk through a “reinforced steel core, titanium kick plates” door that Sam can’t break down no matter how hard he tries. Sam finally explains that he doesn’t want his thrashed soul back in him and a spell cast with Bobby’s blood will ensure that doesn’t happen. He believes Dean just wants his little brother Sammy back at all costs and he’ll kill “Sam” to get that other guy back. Bobby tries to reason with him, but it suddenly gets very quiet. Bobby bravely goes down to the basement to find that Sam’s escaped through a grate in the panic room. Why would there be an escape route like that?
Back at the hospital the butterfly effect kicks in. Because Dean let the young girl live her nurse was sent home early. She in turn got into a car accident being somewhere she wouldn’t have otherwise been and she needs the heart surgeon that’s no longer there. Dean takes the nurse so he won’t start another chain reaction, but she was meant to live for many more decades and have children and grandchildren. Tess then tells Dean he has to restore the natural order of things and also take the girl he spared, the girl who is now happily planning a vacation with her father. As Dean watches out a window he sees the dead nurse’s husband leaving a pub drunk and climbing behind the wheel.
Bobby goes searching for Sam in the junkyard. Geesh, psycho Sammy is making me jumpy. And thwack, the idjit knocks Bobby’s out.
Dean has hopped into the car with the grieving husband. The guy is clearly on a suicide mission, speeding up and trying to plow into a bus. Dean tries to shout warnings, but the guy can’t hear. Dean yanks off the ring and steers the guy clear of death, saving the guy’s life and costing Sam his chance at having a soul. Now Dean better hurry and help Bobby. But wait, he feels like he has to clear up unfinished business. He returns to the hospital with Tessa and kills the young girl. He figures no one really skates by and now agrees there’s a natural order to things, even if that is stupid.
Sam’s got Bobby bound to a chair in the basement. And even though Bobby pleads for his life, Sam is getting ready to stab him to death when Dean shows up and punches his lights out. Let me go on record now as saying that I officially hate soulless Sam.
An unconscious Sam’s now handcuffed to a cot in the panic room. As Dean looks at him through the peep hole he tells Bobby he can’t keep doing this anymore. What’s he going to do keep tying Sam up everytime he tries to kill someone? Poor guy doesn’t know what to do anymore. And neither does Bobby. So sad. Sam opens his eyes and I find myself hoping Death gave him back his soul because Dean went back and killed that young girl when he didn’t have to.
Nope. Dean goes back upstairs and Death’s waiting for him at the dining table. Guy really seems to like food. Dean confesses that he sucked at being Death. Death says Dean got a rare look behind the curtain. “The human soul is not irreparable. It’s vulnerable, impermanent, but stronger than you know. And more valuable than you can imagine.” Hmm, where are we going with this? Whoa! Death is going to retrieve Sam’s soul because, although he and Dean keep coming back and disrupting the natural order of things on a global scale, they’re on to something with their investigations…something having to do with souls. Dean asks him Death last question. Will the wall really work? About 75%, he answers.
Down in the panic room Death gets ready to reinstall Sam’s soul. He says he’s going to put a wall up and it’ll itch, but Sam shouldn’t scratch at it because he won’t like what happens if he does. As Dean and Bobby watch on, Sam begs not to have his soul replaced. It’s sad to watch, but the way he ignored Bobby’s pleas makes me less sympathetic. The episode ends with him screaming as we—fingers crossed—get our Sammy back.
Whew! I’m glad we’re going into the hellatus (Show returns Jan. 28) on a hopeful note. I thought this was a great episode, but missed the sharp one-liners. Weren’t too many of those. However, I won’t miss Soulless Sam. The moment he tried to kill Bobby he crossed an unforgiveable line. Are you glad to see Soulless Sam go and how long do you think it’ll be before Sammy scratches that itch?