Edlund put a lot of shout outs into this script, harkening often to season 1 itself in its construct. Tran is a reflection of Sam’s season 1 self. He is bound for college, has a dream of living a normal life, and is ambitious about his goals. Much like Sam, the supernatural has another plan in mind, and all of these dreams are shattered much like the tablet is when Castiel drops it onto the floor.
Meg, sitting at Castiel’s bedside wearing headphones and reading a magazine, is yet another harken back to season 1. It is in this position that Sam first encountered the only demon that has been working against—or with them—since nearly the beginning.
The truck drivers that Meg encounters reflect the possessed driver that had smashed into the Impala to close the first season. Even their semi has the same style cab.
Edlund also sprinkles in other shout outs. Castiel “boops” Tran’s nose, much like a drugged out Sam had Dean’s in season 5’s “Sam Interrupted.” Tran being a prophet—and his subsequent reaction—recall Chuck’s presence in season’s 4 and 5. Chuck didn’t want to be a prophet, either, and often reacted with a level of nervous hysterics. Ruby’s manipulation of Sam is brought up as a sore spot when the angels arrive and find him with Meg. They assert that the two of them are an item, and Meg quickly moves to refute the claim. Castiel’s state in the mental hospital isn’t much different than the hunter they encountered in “Sam Interrupted,” more interested in playing board games than getting involved in fighting. Sam spotting the news report reflects him spotting the news about their Leviathan doubles committing crimes and being “made” by the clerk.
This episode laid the ground work for what the Winchesters need to do to stop the Leviathan. They have the tools, now it’s a matter of executing it. Judging by the preview, that might be easier said than done.
Osric Chau played Tran, and showed an ambitious teenager thrust reluctantly into the world of the supernatural well. He made us sympathize with him as it became revealed that he was as much a pawn in this as Sam and Dean. Unlike the brothers, he had not been equipped to handle this. Even so, Chau showed how Tran dug deep in himself to do what needed to be done. He also showed Tran’s naivety in trusting the angels to protect him. An open expression crosses his face as he explains to his mother that they are there to keep him safe, only to morph into one of horror as Edgar kills them.
Rachel Miner returns as snarky Meg. She is as self serving as ever, covering her butt as she goes so she doesn’t end up on the losing side—again. Even so, Miner gives Meg a different tone in this episode. She seems to actually care for Castiel, knowing his new ticks and talking to him in a patient manner. Miner shows that while Meg hasn’t lost any bite, she’s mellowed in some ways, too. Of course, it could be a cover for an elaborate double cross, but Miner makes us want to trust Meg—even when we know we shouldn’t. After all, she knows how the Winchesters operate and knows the majority of their weaknesses. Yet, she knows that she also needs them to defeat Crowley. Miner makes us curious to see just what Meg’s endgame is and how her survival might affect the rest with high stakes.
Misha Collins returns as a very different Castiel. He is not the awkward nerd angel of the past, nor is he the warrior from before. This Castiel has childlike remorse for what he has done, yet strange insight into the world around him. He can see what is around him with awe and wonder and is easily distracted. Collins showed Castiel’s remorse in the childlike gesture of playing Sorry well, even if it didn’t sway Dean. His state is tragic, yet brought on by his own actions. Collins takes the character in a new direction without losing the mannerisms. He still tilts his head when he doesn’t understand. He still casts his eyes down when he is at a loss. Collins managed to repackage the character in yet another transition that is a total 180 from his stint as a replacement God at the beginning of the season. Not only did Castiel take on these new qualities, the presentation of the character here reflected a very “Flowers for Algernon” style. Castiel knew things, was aware of mistakes, and yet just couldn’t put everything together to manufacture a true remorse for those actions. It seemed that he would gravitate between his old self and this new childlike state—much as he expresses his knowledge on the topic and then hear him talk to Meg over the phone about the “unhappy dogs.”If anything, it is a true testament to Collins’s ability.
Ackles expressed Dean’s longing to forgive—-even if he couldn’t. When Castiel invites Dean to play Sorry, we see Ackles put patience in his features and voice, as he coaxes the fallen angel to fight with them. It isn’t until he realizes that there is no chance that Castiel will join them that Ackles uncorks Dean’s temper beautifully by swiping the boardgame to the floor. Ackles then shows Dean’s patience again with Tran, helping him through his meltdown upon having this thrust upon his shoulders. He demonstrates Dean’s determination to do what needs to be done when confronted with the angels demanding they follow orders. His grim expression as he banishes them says it all: there is too much work to be done to have them stand in the way yet again. Ackles also shows Dean’s ability to sympathize, as he helps Tran with his meltdown. He is matter of fact and calm, not getting into the boy’s face about getting worked up, rather, we see a marked patience about Dean through Ackles. His voice is soft, albeit firm. His line about being chosen is said in such a way that we know that Dean has a profound understanding and empathy for Tran, as he has been in that very spot himself. It is right that Dean guide him here, and Ackles shows just how Dean can help Tran get from upset to focused. As he sits back down to watch over Tran, Ackles makes Dean a comforting presence, just simply by being there.
Jared Padalecki shows Sam’s frustration upon learning that Castiel can’t simply give them the answers well. It is in his exchange about “Megatron. A transformer wrote this?” Jared makes Sam’s face reflect his inner frustration in knotted brows and pursed lips. He then shows his ability to empathize with Tran, knowing how he feels about having his world turned upside down. He is frustrated at having to chase him, but Padalecki shows Sam’s sympathy for him when Tran begs him not to kill him. Padalecki shows Sam’s gentleness best when he simply asks Tran to open the bag, to see what it is he refuses to let go. He is not judging or demanding. His facial expression becomes soft and open as he gives Tran space, showing that Padalecki knows how to convey with simple body language his character’s intentions. He shows his willingness to trust, albeit cautiously, when he allows Meg back out of the Devil’s Trap—and Sam’s ability to forgive in the soft manner in which he speaks to Castiel about seeing Lucifer. Sam understands what havoc this can wreak, and Padalecki schools his features into a mask of sympathy. As Castiel reveals how it has changed him, ever the one extending the olive branch to help, Sam insists that they will find a way to fix him. Padalecki puts into his body language and his voice all the opposite things than Ackles did into Dean. Sam understands Castiel’s predicament, and he puts it best through Padalecki’s soft and adamant voice, “I know you never did anything but try to help.”
Judging by the preview, it would seem that the brothers need to gather all the components for their spell—including blood from Crowley—and the Alpha Vampire?