I’m so excited to be writing this recap! Let’s jump right in!
“Then” – flashback scenes show us Donna and Doug, her nice cop friend. We see scenes of vampires followed by Dean in season 6 getting turned into a vampire and then drinking the cure. Donna beheads a vampire and hugs Sam and Dean.
“Now” – we see creepy bottles of red goo. Are those body parts in jars? There is a scary, rubber-suited man, a wall of missing-persons posters, and a display of axes and other weapons. All this time, cheerful oldies music is playing, mingled sometimes with the sounds of someone hollering in pain or fear. Something bad is going down, no matter how nostalgically positive the music is.
Scene Change – it’s nighttime outside a small truck stop with lighted letters saying “MANN ‘S.” A car pulls into the gas pumps. A glimpse of the bumper shows a couple stickers: “Think globally/Act locally” and a gun with a circle around it and a slash through it. A young girl tries to fill up her car, but it won’t read her credit card. She’ll have to go inside. Inside there’s a voice of someone quoting the Bible – “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me,” declares a voice, adding that the Psalms are more than just poetry. People are eating, and everyone turns to stare as the girl enters. The young cashier is reading a magazine article about aliens. He’s inappropriate with her, smiling creepily and then making personal comments about her name, but she just wants to pay and get back to her car. Outside at the car, we see her from a distance, as if someone’s spying on her. The girl is spooked; she looks around but sees only some trucks and a van with a Jesus Saves sticker on it. Suddenly, there’s a tall, bearded figure right next to her. He asks if he can wash her windows. She jumps in her car and drives away. The cadaverous face of the homeless guy stares after her.
Unfortunately, the car doesn’t get too far; the girl is pulling off on the side of the road, hopping our of her car, and staring at her tire in disgust. But headlights are coming down the road. She tries to wave down the oncoming vehicle, but the approaching truck goes right on by. Disappointed, the girl looks down at her tire, then looks more closely. Is that a spike in her tire? A figure looms up behind her. It grabs her. She fights desperately to get away. She falls to the ground, and her attacker kicks her, then grabs her leg. She screams as she’s pulled away.
Close up on the glowing numbers of a clock – 5:59. 6:00. It’s on Sam’s bedside table, and he’s awake. 8:22. We see Sam’s face again, eyes still open. He’s in bed but not sleeping, not relaxed. Dean’s voice is heard offering pancakes. 10:00. A cell phone is ringing. Sam slowly answers it.
We see Dean in the kitchen of the bunker. As Sam enters, Dean starts to tease him for getting up so late, but Sam puts the phone on speaker. It’s Donna. Her niece is missing. She’s upset and knows this isn’t really their thing, but there’s no question: they’re coming. We see Donna sitting in her vehicle. The title of the episode appears: Breakdown.
We see Donna again, but time has passed. She’s very still and quiet. The Impala pulls in, and Sam and Dean, dressed in suits, get out. We view them at a distance, seen through a doorway as state troopers walk into a building. Donna is very subdued as she explains how her niece was taking a gap year, taking a year off between high school and college for adventure. Because she’d told her about how much fun she herself had had doing the same thing, Donna now feels responsible that she’s missing, but they reassure her that it’s not her fault. Her cop friend Doug is also here.
Dean goes inside the building where Donna’s niece’s car has been towed. He looks at the car and sees the spike in the tire, but before he can do anything further, a gray-haired man in a suit approaches, aggressively questioning Dean’s presence there and belittlingly calling him “son.” “I’m not your son,” Dean says, but before things can intensify, Doug approaches, introducing them – “Agent Clay, Agent Savage.” Dean knows he can’t pull off being a fed with a real fed there so he says he’s there unofficially because Donna is family. Doug is surprised at that and questions Dean, who affirms he was at the recent family reunion. The real federal agent says that they’re tracking the Butterfly, a serial killer who preys on people traveling alone. Victims disappear and are never found. Doug tries to put a hopeful spin on the fact that bodies were never recovered: “Maybe they’re not GONE gone.” The fed says he’s been chasing this guy for twelve years and says he’d appreciate their help. Sam seems to be shaking his head no, but Dean says they’re in.
The scene changes to a motel room. Dean is on an old CB radio, identifying himself as “67 Midnight Rider” and saying he’s looking for a girl. He gets a little teasing over the airwaves but says that she’s family. Sam says that it’s stupid, that this is not their kind of case, and that there are real feds here which means danger for them. Dean dismisses that, saying that the feds think that the Winchesters are dead. He also defends using the CB radio, saying that their dad had used it before while hunting.
Dean accuses Sam of moping: he slept in and he turned down pancakes! He says they can’t let the bad stuff eat them up. They have to go through it. They’ll save Jack and Mom, but right now they’re going to help Donna.
A woman’s voice on the CB radio says she has seen the girl that 67 Midnight Rider was describing. She wants to meet in person with her clue. Dean says he’ll go while Sam meets back up with Donna. Sam verifies that he does want to help Donna.
The scene changes, and we hear more cheerful oldies music. There’s a girl blindfolded and tied to a chair. It’s Wendy, Donna’s niece. A man in bloody clothes approaches; he has a full hood over his head with goggles covering his eyes. He silently mocks her crying, then sets up a camera to film her. She looks at the camera and screams for help.
After the commercial, we’re at the police station. The federal agent is talking to Donna and Sam and gives Sam his file of information on the Butterfly saying he’s never had proof to hold him. But now they have a suspect. We see a guy with a creepy smile whose handcuffed hands are holding a Bible. It’s Pastor Diamond Don Hinky; he’d been at the truck stop that night. He’s been arrested prior to this for lewd behavior and drunk and disorderly, but this time, Wendy’s bloody t-shirt was found in his van.
Dean meets with the informant. She’s a trucker and had been there eating at the truck stop that night. She’d been the driver who’d gone by Wendy’s broken-down car and now she feels bad that she didn’t stop. She’s doesn’t like that place: “Manny’s Truck Stop Cafe.”
It’s Sam saying those words as the scene changes back to the police station. The federal agent is questioning the itinerant preacher with Sam in the room while Donna watches on the other side of the glass. The agent shows him pictures of missing people: first Wendy, then a Hispanic man. The preacher wants a lawyer; he knows his rights. He calls Sam a goon – ha! The agent aggressively grabs him; Sam intervenes, but then Donna enters. She wants to talk.
The scene changes to outside Manny’s at night. Doug is getting into the passenger side of the Impala. He’s been checking out the history of the place, but nothing much has happened there. He asks Dean if Donna is going to be OK. He says they always talk, but now she’s not talking. He’s worried; he thinks she’s hiding something. He says, “Anywhoo” and “you betcha.” Is Dean going to explain about monsters? Nope. He tells Doug that he should trust Donna.
Back in the interrogation room, Donna quotes the Bible about lawyers and says even the Bible makes lawyer jokes. She says it’s a small town, and they won’t be able to get a public defender until Monday which means the preacher will be in the cells for two days with people who’ll look at him like he’s Sunday dinner. If he wants to deal with that, that’s just “super,” but if he doesn’t, he should answer her questions. Outside the room, looking through the window, the agent and Sam agree that she’s good.
Dean and Doug talk to the bearded window-washing man. He says he saw the girl. Dean gives him money for more information. He says Marlin the cashier liked her, drove after her, and didn’t come back for hours.
Back in the interrogation room, Donna is going over the preacher’s shady past. He says, “I’m weak. I’m made of flesh.” But when confronted with the bloody shirt, he says he had nothing to do with it, insists he’s not lying, and begins to cry. Donna believes him. So does Sam. Anyway, the shirt doesn’t make sense; it’s too easy. It must have been planted. So if the bad guy isn’t skeezy preacher man, “who is it?”
On that question, our scene changes again. Dean is showing Wendy’s picture to the clerk with the bad attitude at Manny’s Truck Stop. When he doesn’t answer, Dean slams his head on the counter, twice. Doug protests, but Dean assures him that that’s how they do it in the FBI. The clerk says that they won’t believe him, but Dean replies, “Try me.” The clerk gets online and shows them a live auction. There’s a man strapped down in a scary room that reeks of serial-killer basement ambiance. It’s the missing man whose picture the federal agent had shown to the preacher. This poor guy is strapped down and is being auctioned off piece by piece. At the winning bid, a figure steps forward and starts cutting into the screaming victim. Helplessly watching the screen, Doug is horrified, Dean is repulsed, but the clerk has an odd smile.
We cut to commercial. My daughter, who’s watching with me, says there’s stuff like that on the Dark Web.
When the show returns, everyone is back together, watching the horrible auction. Sam turns it off. “You vegan?” the clerk asks cavalierly. Doug slaps his head, then explains that that’s how they do it in the FBI! They realize that this isn’t just torture porn; these people are being auctioned for food. The comments say things like “yummy!” When they call it “take-out for monsters,” though, Doug exclaims, “What?” “We’ll talk about it later,” says Donna. Strangely, the cashier admits that he keeps an eye out for lonely travelers and sends a message to the guys behind the video, letting them know that someone is available. He needs the money.
Suddenly, there’s a new victim on the screen – it’s Wendy, standing with hands tied above her head. She’s pleading for help. She’s going to be auctioned off next. They have just under an hour to save her.
The clerk has led them to a building; they enter with guns and flashlights. Doug is watching the cuffed cashier while Dean and Donna head further in. Sam has gone around the back. He’s surprised to see the federal agent approaching.
The clerk, handcuffed to a pipe, insults Doug. We hear music again. There’s the creepy killer, Wendy chained to the ceiling, and a knife being sharpened.
Dean and Donna check out the building. The music grows louder. They burst into a room, only to find a radio (or cassette player). No one is there. This is NOT the killer’s lair. They’ve been misled.
Doug isn’t so sure about this monster talk, but the clerk says it’s real and HE’S a vampire. As his teeth descend, he breaks the cuff, attacks Doug, and drips blood into his mouth. Now poor Doug is doomed to be a vampire himself!
At the back of the building, the federal agent unexpectedly and viciously hits Sam, knocking him out.
Donna and Dean discover Doug, his face bloody: “I don’t think I’m OK.”
After the commercial break, Doug says, “I’m hungry!” and attacks Donna. He has her on the floor, about to chomp into her, when Dean injects him with dead man’s blood. Dean reassures Donna that there’s a cure. One of the ingredients is the blood of the vampire that turned him – and, speak of the devil, there’s the clerk! “You never saw us coming!” he exults and tells Dean that Clay has his brother. Dean pulls out a machete, ready to throw down with the vamp, but then there’s a bang: Donna shoots the vampire clerk in the leg. As he lies in pain on the ground, she demands he tell her where the victims are. If he tells her, she’ll kill him fast; if not, she’ll kill him slow. . She’s intense and determined.
Sam wakes up strapped to a bloody, half-raised medical table. The suit takes off his suit coat and tie, explaining that he recognized the Winchesters right away. He wanted them to think the preacher was the killer; when they didn’t fall for that, he went with Plan B. He tells Sam that there are thousands of monsters masquerading as harmless next-door neighbors. They have to eat, so he provides them with food, unwanted, unnoticed people, people no one will miss (this reminds me of Kaia’s words from two episodes ago, that she’s the type of person no one comes for when they’re missing). The agent/monster says his actions are better than monsters hungrily attacking the general public. He sets up the video camera and puts on a pig mask. We see the faces of a few different monsters watching online as he announces the next item up for bid: “Mr. Sam Winchester!”
The scene shifts to the Impala. While Dean drives (the clerk has obviously spilled the beans), Donna feeds Doug the cure.
The agent/monster/auctioneer says that he’s offering Sam’s heart.
Baby pulls up outside a building. Doug is out in the backseat. Dean and Donna enter the deserted rooms, flashlights and guns at the ready.
We see gross body parts, chains, and Wendy – Donna enters, overjoyed to see her niece, but is attacked by the hooded man. There’s a brief fight. Donna is thrown to the ground but comes back with a huge knife which she drives into her assailant. He’s down. Wendy is amazed by her bad-ass aunt.
The auction is going strong: $60,000, $100,000, finally, $500,000 for Sam Winchester’s heart. The double agent says he’d normally do it slow, but, because Dean is out there, he’s going to kill him fast. He pulls out a gun. We hear a gun shot, and a red spot blooms on a white shirt. But it’s not Sam; it’s the agent. Dean has shown up in the doorway just in time to shoot him. “Show’s over.”
We’re at the Del Ray Motel. Doug is passed out and in handcuffs. As he wakes, Donna reassures him. The Winchesters ask him if he wants to eat anyone. When he says no, they say he’s cured, and Donna frees him. She explains that Wendy is fine and is recuperating in the hospital. Doug is flabbergasted by all that has happened. Dean says that now Doug knows about monsters, they could use another good guy on their side. But Doug just wants to go home. Donna is willing to go home too, but Doug doesn’t want to deal with the world of monsters. He acknowledges that Donna is a hero, but “that’s not me.” He knows she can’t walk away from this; he says he loves her and he walks out. Donna wants him to come back, but Sam says that in this business, anyone that loves a hunter only ends up hurt. She needs to let him go. Dean is bothered by his words as Donna’s face begins to crumple.
Later, as the brothers drive away in the Impala, Dean says Sam was tough on Donna. “Was I wrong?” challenges Sam. Dean says that they save people, but Sam asserts that the people they know die, people like Kaia. Sam’s says he’s in a dark place, that he’d tried to pretend otherwise, but there’s no denying that it ends bloody. It ends bad.
He turns his face toward the window and the darkness outside.
A few thoughts:
1) Are Sam’s words foreshadowing the end of Supernatural? The end of Sam and Dean?
2) What did you think of Donna? How did her portrayal in this episode contrast with how we’ve seen her before?
3). Did you expect Doug’s reaction? Did you want Donna and Doug to be a couple?
4) The British Men of Letters claimed to have wiped out monsters in England and were attempting the same thing in the USA, but the agent indicated that there are LOTS of monsters still here. Is this why Billie said that the Winchesters were still needed?
5) What are all the implications of the title?