For the last two seasons, Supernatural has danced around the notion of Purgatory. True to form, the show takes the notion of the oft neglected realm in a different direction. Rather than being the place where souls are purged—hence the name—of sins as found in Catholic tradition, we learned through the Alpha Vampire that this is the destination of monsters when they die. When the dragons performed a spell, we learned that it can be opened, and something can be let out. They let out the Mother of All, Eve, creator of all creatures that stalk the night. But when, in order to defeat Raphael, the last remaining Archangel, Castiel opened the door to Purgatory to swallow its souls, he swallowed another creature far more dangerous: the Leviathan.
Death told the Winchesters, “I personally found them entertaining, but he was concerned they’d chomp the entire petri dish, so he locked them away. Why do you think he created Purgatory? To keep those clever, poisonous things out. Now Castiel has swallowed them. He’s the one thin membrane between the old ones and your home.”
Once they escaped Castiel’s vessel and spread through the United States, it quickly became apparent that Death was not exaggerating by any means. Clever and efficient, the Leviathan set out to not only assert their power but to subjugate humanity as their food source.
But they have a problem to deal with first—the Winchesters.
In order to set up their feast, they must eliminate their threat. They start by marginalizing the brothers in “Slash Fiction,” as they send out their shapeshifted doubles to commit mass murder and broadcast their violence to the public at large. It slows the brothers down significantly, making them have to change their methods, habits, and attack plans. Rather than moving through the country anonymously amongst normal America, they are well-known for what their doubles did—as short lived as they were. It puts the brothers at a severe disadvantage.
Not only do the Leviathan take away their aliases, their safe houses, their simple understanding of the job itself, they also take away their preferred means of transportation. Painted more and more into a corner, the brothers have to make do, have to change their ways—adapt or die.
In “Survival of the Fittest,” we see the Winchesters yet again take the odds thrown their way and find a way to overcome them. Dick Roman may have single-handedly taken away most of what they had—and Bobby personally by his own hand—but this didn’t prevent the inevitable.
The brothers have everything they need to create the weapon described by the Word of God.
Well, almost everything. Crowley, afraid the brothers—or someone else—would double cross him, insists on providing his blood for the spell last.
Before he can return to give his donation, however, Dick Roman ensnares him in a Devil’s Trap. He isn’t there to kill Crowley—he is there to deal with Crowley. He isn’t foolish about making a deal—but even he should have realized there are different rules when dealing with the former King of the Crossroads. The sheer length of his contract should have been a tip off to that. After all, the deal terms on the surface seemed simple: Give Sam and Dean the wrong blood in exchange for Canada being demon territory.
Once Crowley answers the brother’s summons, he quickly shows that he’s reneging on his deal with the Leviathan Boss. He tells them that Dick knows about the weapon, knows they’re on their way, and that he wanted Crowley to give them the wrong blood. He holds a vial, and teases that it could possibly not be his—but gives it to them anyways. It is in the brother’s hands, as Dean says, “You’ve got to figure who he wants dead more ““ us or Dick.”
Crowley isn’t foolish, either. He knows that it’d be a matter of time before Dick Roman called in his chips and backed out of his deal—leaving him vulnerable to being killed. It also gives him a chance to make a move—as Meg had warned the brothers. He is waiting, patiently, and ready to pounce.
Once the brothers put the blood together with the bone they had unearthed from a nun’s crypt, they have what they need to eliminate Dick Roman.
Unfortunately, Bobby is hot on the trail of the Leviathan leader, and he is angrier than ever. Possessing the maid from the hotel, he has made his way straight to the headquarters of SucroCorp, armed with only a machete. Luckily for him, however, the boys are arriving to make their attack. Sam recognizes the maid and rushes to stop Bobby before he can take this too far.
In his anger, Bobby nearly kills Sam. He wants nothing more than to go after Dick Roman, to take the vengeance out on the man that had robbed him of his life with his boys. As he tries to strangle Sam, he spots his reflection—his real reflection—in the glass. He sees the anger lurking inside him and he releases Sam—and the maid. It is a pivotal moment.
Yet, Bobby is still trapped. The brothers still have the flask—retrieved by Sam from the maid. He informs them that they should have burnt it with him, that he is ready to let go this time. This sorrowful moment is met with great hope, however. In his farewell, able to communicate fully with his boys, he gives them the drive and reason they had all along to follow through on hunting Dick down. He tells them “Go get Dick, but don’t do it ’cause you think it’ll scratch the itch. Do it ’cause it’s the job.”
It’s exactly what they needed to hear.
Resolved to honor Bobby’s memory and advice, they make their way to kill Roman—but this time in style. Hidden and exiled since the Leviathan Sam and Dean murdered across the country, the Impala has sat waiting and ready to return. “Born to Be Wild” announces her grand entrance, and she gets the attention that she deserves. Baby is a decoy, a distraction in an elaborate scheme to trick the Leviathan. They may be clever, but this is not their home.
As she rolls up in all her black glory, she crashes through the glass SucroCorp logo, and a surprising figure emerges from the driver’s seat: Meg. The body guards stationed to lie in wait for the Winchesters immediately start to fire guns, striking Meg in the chest. As a demon, she is only slowed down. While the Leviathan guards mess with her, it gives the brothers their chance to infiltrate and find Dick Roman to finish the job they set out to do.
The problem here is that Dick Roman knew that Crowley would give them the blood necessary to create the weapon—and so he clones himself, a Dick Roman around every corner lurking, waiting, hoping that the brothers will be foolish enough to employ the weapon on the wrong one.
Castiel has the ability to spot the right one, as they had been inside his vessel. He knows them, so can tell them apart, no matter the body they wear.
While Castiel and Dean go in search of the real Roman, Sam comes across Kevin Tran, held prisoner. He has witnessed the next phase of the Leviathan plan. They intend to breed out undesirable humans—those who are too short, too skinny, too small for those that are fatter and provide more meat. He sees them prepare Polly, a woman souped up on their enhanced corn syrup, and then lead her like a lamb to slaughter. She is to demonstrate the chemical that will be used to weed out those like her. It is effective and potent, killing her in seconds.
Tran tells Sam this, and insists that they go down to the lab where this chemical is being developed. Sam reluctantly agrees, his instinct to take the civilian to safety strong. Yet, it is right where they need to be—and they arrive in time to see the big finish. Dean and Castiel have arrived, with weapon in tow. Dick is amused, smug, and unafraid. He tells Dean, “A+ for getting that prepared.”
Dean stabs him in the heart, only to watch Dick pull the weapon out without being affected. If “There Will Be Blood” taught us anything, it was to look out for the double cross. Dean provides no tells, keeping his face full of fear and horror as Dick advances on him. Castiel had made an advance, only to be thrown aside like a ragdoll. Here, he comes from behind, just as Dick Roman comes in for the kill. He bares the Leviathan’s neck, and with a swift motion, the elder Winchester stabs the real weapon through it.
It works. Dick Roman starts to die, slowly pulsing and losing power before them. He seems immobilized. In an instant, he explodes, disappearing from this realm. Sam protects Tran from the ensuing explosion as they huddle by the door. As they pull away and look around at the aftermath, no one is there—no Dick Roman, no Castiel, and most importantly no Dean.
Crowley appears, ready to inform Sam that he has his army dealing with the floundering Leviathan left behind in the wake of Dick Roman’s death. This matters not to the younger Winchester as he is in a panic over the whereabouts of his elder brother.
Callously, Crowley tells him that the weapon had a kick—as most weapons of God do—and that a warning should have been put on the box. The weapon killed Dick Roman, yes, but it sent him back to from whence he came: Purgatory. As such, it took Dean, too. Sam is “truly on his own,” and will have to find a way to get Dean back.
Much like the end of season 3’s “No Rest for the Wicked,” we are left with the image of Dean in another realm. Here, he is free moving—and he is not alone. Castiel has also been transported there, and he asserts that they best find a way out. As Dean takes in his new surroundings, when he turns back, Castiel is gone. We are left to wonder if the angel has left Dean on his own to find a way out—or if perhaps he had been nabbed by a monster.
He is in none other than Purgatory itself—the realm of monsters—where they go to die and “feed on each other for all eternity.”
Seasons 6 and 7 danced around Purgatory as a frightening place. Ellie, also from Purgatory, warned, “I didn’t ask those idiots to crack the door. I just happened to be the thing that fell through. And let me tell you something, you are lucky it was me.”
Edgar tells the vampire that tells him to go to Hell, “No. My neighborhood is worse than that.”
It looks like we’ll be seeing just how bad that neighborhood is when season 8 begins.
For the brothers, it is one of their biggest challenges yet. Separated by supernatural forces, Sam and Dean must both dig deep within themselves to get back to one another. It has the potential to show both brother’s strengths beautifully as Dean fights his way through the dangers and horrors of Purgatory and Sam struggles to find any tools he can to help Dean return. This will be about them, fighting to reunite, and that is something they’ve always fought hard for—so far they’ve always managed it. This time will be no different. The one tool they possess that makes it possible is the one they’ve had all along: love. It is their binding agent, thicker than the blood they share, and it is their driving force. This time, Sam and Dean’s situation is personal, about the two of them finding their way back to one another—to do so will certainly take everything they’ve got—and more.
Osric Chau continues to show how Tran is adapting to his new situation. He is smart—and therefore resourceful. Upon realizing that Polly is too out of it to be much help, he admits, “I’m on my own.” It is also a nice foreshadow of the final episode moments. He has to find a way out of this mess and try and stop the Leviathan plan—no matter how futile. Chau shows that Tran is afraid, but willing to take the risks, as he does by trying to sneak out of the building. Chau again shows his character’s strength when he tells Sam they must stop the lab, that they must blow it up. Chau makes Tran easy to like, and we root for him to help out Sam and Dean with the information he’s gleaned from being trapped in the lair of the monster. Judging by the fact that he is now Crowley’s hostage it is possible we might see him return to the show in the upcoming season in some manner.
Rachel Miner gave sass to Meg. She shows her desperation to get out of the way before she can be captured by Crowely, declaring in dramatic fashion upon sighting the summoning tools, “I’m outie.” Miner shows that Meg, ever the fighter, knows that she must help the brothers out to stop Roman, though, if she has a chance of giving Crowley the slip. Her emergence from the Impala is shocking. Miner gives us Meg’s strength as she takes the bullets and fights back against the Leviathan guards. Miner has Meg in her element as she stalks away from them, only to be attacked by new foes: demons sent by Crowley to collect her. The smugness and satisfaction slips from her face to be replaced by fear and horror. Miner shows that Meg’s been more or less cornered, and it’ll be interesting to see if the only demon to be around since season 1 will return in season 8—and in what capacity.
James Patrick Stuart provided us with a cocky and sinister Dick Roman right up until the end. He is savvy, smart, and resourceful. Dick Roman exemplified Death’s description of the Leviathan, and Stuart showed to what lengths his character would go—all in style. His smug smile indicated that the gears were in motion, ever ready to outfox his opponent. Stuart seems to relish portraying a dark and evil character, and we see him make the polish of the business man come off as creepy time and time again. We have to wonder, now that Dean is trapped in Purgatory—as is Roman himself—if we’ll see him again.
Mark Sheppard showed a conniving and cunning Crowley. He managed to craft a deal that sounded like he got the short end of the stick—but really he has set himself up in a position of high power. He has captured Meg, his biggest rival for the throne, and has set his armies on beheading the Leviathan gathered. Sheppard seems to enjoy playing a smug Crowley more, making his performance fun and entertaining. He is subtle and suave in his dealings and double crossings. Crowley seems to have no sympathy for nearly everyone involved, and Sheppard shows it well in his caviler way of telling Sam, “You’re truly on your own now.” Sheppard’s always managed to make Crowley equal parts ally and enemy, and here we’re left to wonder if he’s not attempting to set himself up as the potential big bad for season 8. After all, the Winchesters more or less did his dirty work for him—now he gets to reap the rewards.
Misha Collins continues to show how Castiel is evolving. He is flighty, easily distracted, and seems to have lost his ability to communicate effectively. Yet, in his lucid moments, Collins shows flashes of the old Castiel. It is a difficult balance, and Collins handles it well. He helps the brothers to clean up his mess, right there to hold Dick Roman as Dean goes in for the kill. Collins almost seems like the old Castiel in the final scene, looking around to find a way out. With his disappearance, however, it leaves us to wonder when we’ll see Collins reprise the role again in season 8. Will he return to help Dean find an exit, or, as he said might happen, been “torn to shreds?”
Jim Beaver gives us a wide range for Bobby in this episode. He is angry and unstoppable in his pursuit of Roman. Beaver shows us in the reflection images just how angry his character is with deep scowls and narrowed eyes. Later, when he attacks Sam, that reflection changes to one of sorrow and remorse. His speech to the boys is touching, and Beaver makes sure it has the tone of Bobby in pep talk mode. It is emotional without being too sentimental. Considering the elaborate ruse to hide Bobby’s status last time, however, it is premature to say this is his last hurrah.
Jensen Ackles showed a Dean right on target and determined to finish Dick Roman off for good. He had a lot of the old devil may care attitude, knowing that it might be a suicidal venture, but rather than being depressed or angry, he has turned that into fuel for the fight. Ackles puts it in determined facial expressions and body language. He also shows Dean’s cunning by keeping the shocked face upon the decoy weapon’s failure well. Ackles also pulls on the heart strings when he shows Dean’s acceptance and grief upon losing Bobby a second time—and yet we see some peace with that decision. When he awakens in Purgatory, Ackles shows Dean’s confusion well, glancing around the frightening landscape he has been dumped into. It’ll be interesting to see where he takes it in season 8.
Jared Padalecki showed a determined and steely Sam—all up until the very end when he realized that he was alone. He is with Dean on stopping Roman at all costs, but won’t allow Bobby to make the mistake of going in armed with only a knife. Padalecki shows Sam’s concern well for Bobby, even while he’s being attacked, and it is his soft pleading that aids Bobby to stop. We see Sam’s sorrow in his expression when it comes time to let him go. Padalecki best scene comes when Sam realizes that he is truly alone. His face crumbles , and despite his size, seems to shrink on screen into that of a little boy lost. Its in is his eyes and marked in his body language. He sells Sam’s pain well, and it’ll take the determination Padalecki displayed in Sam earlier in the episode to help bring Dean back.
After that cliffhanger, October seems oh so far away.