NOW: A white sign – Road Closed – is part of the barricade blocking off a neighborhood, silent in the darkness. A blonde woman in a green coat with a scarf muffling the bottom half of her face, skulks nearby, peering about suspiciously, eyes cautious. She pulls our her keys and then drops them. With a sound of annoyance, she bends to retrieve them. Straightening up, she is startled by the tall dark silhouette of a man looming nearby, but her apprehension is soon quelled. “Oh, Rob!” she exclaims, lowering her scarf. The neighbor stares at her intently, face impassive. She prattles on about two days having passed with the benzine scare, but how she needed to get back home to get her daughter’s medication. Her child is concerned about school being closed because she’ll miss the spelling bee. Suddenly the man knifes her, and she collapses, bleeding profusely. A black cloud exits the man, who falls to the ground near his neighbor. A ghost is revealed, a dignified man in an old-timey suit. “Disemboweled,” he says. “D-I-S-E-M-B-O-W-E-L-E-D.”
Title: Raising Hell
The townsfolk who have evacuated to the high school aren’t totally buying the benzine story, and they’re concerned about the missing woman. Sam nervously calls for attention, but no one hears him. He is very uncomfortable but tries again until people turn toward him. He explains how more authorities are on their way and that they need to stay in the school to be safe. When he asks if their are any questions, everyone raises a hand.
That night, Dean is walking the deserted streets of the town with Belphegor who is still wearing the white sunglasses. Dean holds up the EMF meter which is lighting up. He’s not pleased to be working with a demon again. Belphegor downplays his role as torturer by saying, “It’s hell,” then adds that he was just a good soldier. An explosion like a small reddish firework lights up nearby, ghosts trying to escape the warding. Dean shoots his rock-salt loaded gun at the empty air and there’s a gray puff of smoke. Belphagor warns that the wall won’t last. Plus, these aren’t just regular ghosts. These are escapees from hell. The one Dean just shot was Frances Tumblety whom he identifies as Jack the Ripper. “Cool,” Dean says calmly.
Some of the disgruntled citizens are quietly conferring. One man’s wife, Nan, never returned after she snuck out. They want to go back to the town and find her.
In the town, a grim-visaged, pale-faced woman peers from behind a curtain, then descends the stairs to join some other hell spirits on the main floor. The distinguished older gentleman from before, Dr. Tumblety, calls for order, though the motley crew of sepia-toned, archaically dressed beings, many bearing wounds, ignore him until he yells, “Shut up!” Then they give him their attention. He tells them that they’ve been liberated by a cataclysm at the hands of God Himself. They’ve been trapped in this town by hunters accompanied by a demon, but, if they band together, they can surely burst through. If there’s warding, there’s a door. If’s there’s a door, there’s a lock, and if there’s a lock, there’s a key. Or they can force the door. Meanwhile, they need to make it as ugly as possible for those guarding the perimeter.
Two hunters walk by a barricade but never notice two townspeople, a man and a woman, who sneak past the hunters to go into their neighborhood. They hear some shouts and gunshots in the distance and glance back; when they turn back around, two ghosts are staring at them, a bald man in overalls and a woman with a veiled hat and fur. The hell spirits look at the hapless citizens with hunger in their eyes.
Cas and Sam are talking in a school office. They’ve found the missing woman’s dead body; Cas wants to let the townsfolk know more about what is going on, but Sam disagrees. Just then, Rowena perkily arrives in the doorway, cheerful and superior and sure of herself. Sam reminds her of the soul bomb she’d made when they were trying to trap Amara; he wants to know if she can make another one so they can trap the escaped souls from hell. A hunter sticks her head in: “We’ve got a sich.”
Dean, Sam, and Belphegor face the two runaway townspeople who stand in front of them, blankly staring. Then black tears begin to leak from their eyes, a sure sign of ghost possession. Dr. Tumblety appears. He demands they lower the wards or he’ll kill his hostages. He tightens his fist, and his two captives hunch forward in pain. The Winchesters look on, brows furrowed with concern and helpless anger. They don’t want to see these people die, but they can’t let the hell ghosts out of the trap. Just then, there’s a burst of gunfire; the citizens fall bonelessly to the ground as a ghost flees from each body, disappearing along with the doctor. The man approaching, wearing a tan suitcoat and a large gun on a strap across his chest, is Ketch.
Back at the school, the Winchesters are conferring with their former antagonist. Dean hands him a beer. Ketch explains that his gun fires iron flakes which disperses ghosts without hurting the hapless humans the ghosts were possessing. It’s something he took from the British Men of Letters. He eyes Rowena with interest, hoping she has no bad feelings toward him from when she was held prisoner by the BMoL. “You helped me escape,” she smiles. They share a long stare, obviously attracted to one another. Ketch is surprised to see Jack, so Sam has to bluntly state that Jack is dead; the demon explains that he’s just gotten “under Jack’s skin.” Ketch is surprised that the demon Belphegor is helping the Winchesters. “This is awkward,” he says, revealing that he’d been hired to assassinate Belphegor. “Ardet!” says Belphegor in a knowing tone. Ketch thinks perhaps the demon isn’t as bad as he’s heard if he’s helping the Winchesters. “We need him,” Sam assures him. “For now,” Dean amends brusquely.
Reno, Nevada. A luxurious apartment. A woman is getting a face massage. It’s Amara, completely relaxed until she feels different hands kneading her face. Her eyes fly open, and she sits up, holding her towel over her. “Did you just smite my masseuse?” Chuck is standing there, glancing a bit shame-facedly at the floor where the unlucky masseusse must be now lying. He tells her he just wanted to check in and wonder what she thought of the Game of Thrones finale. “Small talk? Really?” she asks, completely not taken in by his casual demeanor. Chuck mentions that she’s darkness and he’s light, but he wants to be with her.
An angry citizen tells Castiel that people are missing. “You said you’d keep us safe!”
Dean and Rowena are planning the soul trap, but Rowena’s a little distracted, asking Dean what he knows about Ketch. He’s not particularly pleased by this. After she leaves, Dean turns his focus to a map of the town. Castiel enters the room. “I dropped teh puck,” he admits. “Ball, Cas. It’s ball,” Dean tells him shortly, without looking his way. “I didn’t tell you about Jack, and now Mary’s dead,” Castiel admits. “Don’t!” Dean demands shortly with a slight curl of anger to his lip. Castiel remarks that he’s angry, and Dean admits that he is; he’s angry at all of it. They’ve been nothing more than hamsters running on a wheel. Everything has been a scam. “You don’t think I’m angry?” asks Cas. “It doesn’t mean it’s all a lie.” “Everything we did is for nothing,” responds Dean. but that is LIFE, Castiel tells him. It’s an obstacle course, and, even if God was the one who set up the obstacles, they ran their own race, and mostly they did well. “Nothing about our lives is REAL,” insists Dean. “It’s all because of Chuck.” He starts to leave the room but is stopped by Cas’s question. “What is real? WE are!” Dean doesn’t respond; he turns and leaves.
Dark shadows stretch across the pavement. Ketch and Dean are patrolling the town at night. Dean gives Ketch a long necklace made of large iron links to ward of ghost possession. Initially hesitant, Ketch realizes the practicality of it and puts it on. “So, our enemy is God,” says Ketch. Dean doesn’t suppose the BMoL have any cool weapon to fight God. God was always more theoretical to us, replies Ketch, then changes the subject. “Tell me about the witch.” Dean reveals that she’d been asking about Ketch but is interrupted by a phone call. Two hunters are missing.
Ketch and Dean enter a meat packing plant, the narrow beams of their flashlights playing across dangling chains as they enter the building with guns drawn. A door slams in the distance. They stand, tensely at the ready, but there’s nothing to see until Dean’s breath can be seen in a sudden burst of cold air. Before they can respond, Ketch flies through the air and hits the ground hard. Lizzie Borden flickers into sight, hurling Dean across the room. She raises her ax and approaches him, only to stopped by a harsh, commanding voice: “Stop – get out! Now!” On the side of the room, a menacing shadow is silhouetted against a heavy plastic dividing curtain. Then the figure moves the plastic strips out of the way and steps out. It’s Kevin Tran.
Dean, staring, slowly gets to his feet. “I don’t believe it!” Kevin introduces himself to Ketch, but Dean interjects that Chuck said he’d taken Kevin to heaven. “Chuck lied,” Kevin tells him. Dean tells him that they will get him into heaven after they send the ghosts back down. Kevin warns hi that the warding is fading, that he can feel it. That means the other ghosts can probably feel it too. He’s been holding his own against the other spirits by yelling at them, playing on his reputation as a bad boy because God Himself sent him to hell. He is willing to be their eyes among the ghosts, letting them know what the escapees from hell are planning next.
Chuck seems bored, watching a nature documentary about elephants. On the other side of the richly-appointed room, Amara is calmly doing yoga. Chuck says he values their relationship and wants to know if she wants to go do something together — perhaps they could create a new species — but Amara is fine. She is not interested, but then she pauses, looking at him suspiciously. “It’s so not you,” she states. “What is it?” She walks closer, finally saying, ‘You NEED me!” “Of course!” Chuck deflects. “You’re my sister.” “You’ve never needed me,” counters Amara, still eyeing him carefully. “Oh! Your shoulder!” She pokes him. “Ow!” Chuck exclaims. “You’re not at full strength,” his sister observes. “And you’re afraid.”
Sam is not sure about the plan to handle the ghosts. Dean admits it isn’t safe, but it’s not like they have other alternatives. Just then, they’re startled by Belphegor. “Stop sneaking up on us!” commands Dean. They discuss the failing wards. “I assumed you’d have wrapped it up by now,” the demon tells them. He knows about “whiny Kevin Tran” and says there’s no way he’ll ever get into Heaven. Sam says that other souls once sent to hell made it to heaven, but Belphegor says that that was with God’s assistance. If God isn’t helping, Kevin won’t get in to heaven. “Dem’s da rules.”
Chuck eyes himself in a mirror. Pulling his collar down, he frowns at the bullet hole, then pokes at it, flinching at the contact. Back in the town, Sam suddenly flinches as well. Dean is concerned, but Sam says it’s nothing.
Dr. Tumblety is rousing the ghosts to seize the moment since the warding is faltering. Eleven ghosts stand in the living room, ready for his orders. Kevin comes in, but the ghost doctor is suspicious. After all, hell spawn constantly talked about Sam and Dean, and they’d said Kevin was with the Winchesters. Kevin turns to leave, but a gigantic ghosts looms in his way.
Rowena and Ketch are in a science lab where she is whipping up a potion with brightly colored liquids in beaker and describing the type of man she finds appealing. She likes a strong man whose dominating personality counters the pulsating firebrand of herself. In the spirit of coupling, Ketch tells her, he’s got a short cut from the Men of Letters. He grabs an electrical cord, flashes out a blade to strip the insulation, and applies the current to her potion as Rowena watches with breathless enjoyment. Electricity sparks in her potion. “The power of science,” Ketch says. Rowena tells him that that, when combined with the power of magic, will be highly explosive, but their intense flirting is interrupted by the ringing of a phone. Dean is checking in. She’s working on it, she reassures him.
Rowena has entered the town, ostensibly to get the soul trap to the Winchesters, when she is confronted by Dr. Tumblety. “You’re an unfaithful dog,” she spits at him. They’d dated a long, long time ago. He’s surprised she’s working with hunters. He has a message for the Winchesters: he has their boy. He gives her an address where they can meet. Ketch appears behind him, tells Rowena to run, and shoots him, but the ghost rematerializes behind the assassin and clonks him on the head. Ketch falls unconscious to the ground. The ghost doctor turns to look for the witch, but she’s already a block away, running.
Under the bright sun that lights up her hair to a fiery glow, Rowena delivers the ghost’s message to the Winchesters. Her soul catcher — sure, it’s a silly name, but Dean likes it — is ready, but it might not work.
Dean and Sam enter the door of the house where the ghost directed them, empty hands held out so the ghosts know they’re unarmed. The doctor repeats his ultimatum: take down the warding. “Go to hell!” responds Dean. The doctor shoves his hand into Kevin’s chest, burning him with an unholy fire. Kevin yells in pain while the Winchesters can do nothing but stand their helplessly. They’ve been the distraction, however: Rowena enters at another door, holding the soul catcher, like a large pink lump of coal. Several ghosts get sucked into it while others flicker out and disappear. Kevin is OK, though he admits his bad boy days are now over. He tells them that the ghosts plan to combine forces and try to break through where the warding is the weakest.
Bursts of red light explode against the invisible wall. Belphegor, Rowena, Cas, Sam, and Dean watch. There are hundreds, says the demon, and more keep coming. Ketch joins them. Dean starts shooting at the invisible ghosts. Grey puffs of smoke appear when the salt hits them, but there are too many for him to shoot. Rowena holds out the soul trap; souls get sucked in in purple waves. Suddenly, Ketch strikes her to the ground and grabs the magic stone. Black ectoplasm runs from his eyes.
“Son of a bitch!” exclaims Dean. He tries to shoot at Ketch, but his gun is empty. Other ghosts who’d evaded the trap appear beside Ketch. “Thank you,” says the ghost possessing Ketch and holding up the glowing container of souls. “Souls are pure power!” Just then, Dean grabs out a handgun and shoots Ketch who falls. Dean snatches the soul catcher which begins to suck up all the nearby souls, including Dr. Tumblety’s. Rowena gasps in triumph as their plan has succeeded, but Ketch is still lying face-down in the grass.
Paramedics are loading a bandaged-up Ketch into the back of an ambulance. Cas had tried to heal him and isn’t sure why he was unable to. Dean apologizes for shooting him, and Ketch laughingly tells him that, after killing him once, he’s been itching to do it again. Rowena is eyeing Ketch. Dean is watching her. She smiles, but he looks serious.
Dean and Sam are talking to Kevin who wants to leave because heaven won’t let him in. The brothers, both in FBI blue, tower over his slight frame as Sam tells him that being an unattached ghost is a terrible existence, but Kevin replies that he’d take going crazy over being tortured in hell. He asks them to dip the warding a little so they can let him out. Sam is sad, but Kevin tells him that he’ll have to accept that he can’t get in to Heaven. “Come on already,” huffs Belphegor. “Love you guys,” Kevin states. He walks toward the hole Belphegor has created in the wall, then turns back with a small wave goodbye. Sam and Dean slowly wave back. Kevin turns, steps through the rift, and disappears.
Back in Amara’s luxurious suite, Chuck asks if she’s going somewhere. Amara, in a bright yellow suit and sunglasses, tells him that she’s willing to coexist, but she wants space between them. When he tries to disagree, she commands, “Don’t! You can’t take me on your best day, and this is far from your best day! You can’t do much of anything.” She adds with growing realization, “You’re trapped in this world.” She says that she’s changed; she’s grown; “I’m the better me.” Chuck, on the other hand, has remained the same: petulant, narcissistic. “So I’m leaving you,” she says. “Once you sealed me away. Now I’m doing the same to you. You’re trapped, diminished, abandoned. You’ve got what you’ve wanted: you’re on your own.” Chuck looks at her, face still, eyes sad.
More souls are flying through the air. “We need another way,” Rowena tells the brothers. Her soul trap isn’t strong enough to contain them all. “Then that’s what we’ll do,” says Sam. More spirits fly about like glowing blobs of pinkish light. One flies straight toward the camera, appearing as the pale, pink outline of a skull.
Here are a few questions to get us started talking about this episode:
- Do you ship Ketch and Rowena?
- Why did Chuck send Kevin to Hell?
- Who is Ardet and why does she want Belphegor dead?
- What is the point of Chuck being the light in opposition to Amara’s darkness if he is destructive, deceitful, and untrustworthy?
- Supernatural has questioned what is real many times: when the wall in Sam’s mind broke, releasing his Cage memories, he was confused as to what was real. Later, when Gadreel was tricking him, he was trapped in his mind, working a case involving cheerleaders, unaware that is wasn’t real. More recently, Dean was caught in a time loop in his mind, thinking he was the owner of a bar and not realizing that it wasn’t real. When the angels were trying to manipulate him in earlier seasons, they created the world of the Sandover Company which seemed real but wasn’t, sent Dean to an Apocalypse World in which Sam had said yes to Lucifer, and used Mary’s form to cruelly taunt Dean in heaven. Sam’s hallucinations when he was detoxing in the bunker weren’t real, nor was the harsh voice mail Dean supposedly left him, saying he’d hunt him because he was a monster. The world in which the Djinn trapped Dean wasn’t real either. Can you think of other instances throughout the years where the Winchesters struggled with comprehending what was real and what wasn’t? How effective do you think Cas’s rejoinder was, that one thing had been real all along – THEY ARE?
- Chuck appeared to be the primary villain; now it seems as if he is trapped himself. What do you think his next move will be?