"Houses of the Holy"
--Robin's Rambles by Robin Vogel
This was another episode that left me in tears. In Providence, Rhode Island, Sam and Dean find a group of people killing citizens who either have or are going to commit evil acts upon others. Here Sam reveals to Dean that he does believe in angels and prays every day. "The things you learn about a guy," says Dean, taken aback. Since he's never seen an angel, he refuses to believe they exist. They're like unicorns, who have silver moonbeams flying out their asses. "There's no such thing as unicorns?" demands Sam, deadpan.
Although there is one before her, the second is Gloria, a chain-smoking hooker who is sitting in her squalid apartment when it begins to shake as if caught in an earthquake. She's unable to turn off her TV, which is stuck on religious programming. When she sees a bright light, an angel urges her to go to a man's house, look for a special sign, and stab the man who lives there to death. Gloria does so and is promptly sent to an asylum, where Sam, looking yummy in orderly whites, questions her. Gloria is at peace and happy.
Dean must remain out of sight because of his being wanted by the FBI and the asylum being a city building, so Dean stays behind at the hotel and becomes addicted to the Magic Fingers machine. He's very disappointed to find himself out of quarters and annoyed that Sam refuses to help his sick habit. Dean is going stir-crazy, so Sam brings him along to check out the dead man's porch, where Gloria said she saw her signâ€”an angel Christmas decoration that the deceased man neglected to put away.
Another remark Gloria heard from the angel about the dead man, a librarian, was that he was evil "down to his foundations," so Sam and Dean head down to his basement and find a fingernail wedged in the wall. They dig up a skeleton. They later tie in the corpse they discovered man with a couple of other missing college students who were last seen in the library.
Meantime, another citizen, Zack Smith, gets a visit from the bright light angel, takes a walk, knocks at a stranger's door and stabs the man who answers directly in the heart, leaving him dead. Sam and Dean enter this man's home through a window, where Sam easily hacks into his computer and discovers he was going to meet a 13-year-old girl...today. It appears this is an avenging angel who prevents bad things from happening by having evil men killed before they strike. Dean still refuses to believe in angels.
The brothers pay a visit to the church the last two victims belonged to, Our Lady of Angels Church. They tell Father Reynolds they are new in town and want to become members. Dean says they're from Fremont, TX, but incorrectly names the priest there. They discuss the tragic murders, and Michael, the Archangel, who was a demon fighter who fought evil, fierce, vigilant, God's warrior. Dean notices a memorial on the church steps; Father Reynolds explains that Father Gregory was shot for his car keys two months ago and never got Last Rites. "I've been praying for divine intervention ever since." Dean picks up a small photo of Father Gregory from the memorial and says the priest must be the avenging spirit. Sam doesn't want to believe that, he stubbornly holds onto the idea of an angel, and this is when he confesses to Dean he prays everyday. Dean goes to Father Gregory's crypt, leaving Sam alone, and that's when the latter gets a visit from the bright light angel. Finding Sam passed out, Dean anxiously rouses him. The first thing Sam sees is the angel statueâ€”his sign to kill someone! Realizing what has happened, Dean offers Sam a sip of booze from his flask, but Sam refuses. Dean takes a drink.
Sam feels peace, grace, he has to smite a sinner! This man hasn't sinned yet, but he's going to. The brothers argue vehemently over this. Their mother felt the same, says Dean bitterly, that angels were watching over them, but she was wrong! There is no God, there's just chaos, random violence and unpredictable evil that rips you to shreds! Dean wants to prove to Sam that they're dealing with the spirit of the murdered priest, so they're going to hold a seance in the church. The angel won't show, that they know for sure. They go to round up the needed supplies, substituting a Spongebob Squarepants placemat for an altarcloth. They can just turn it over, says Dean. Sam spots the man he's supposed to murder, standing bathed in light. Dean sees the same man, without the light, and insists that HE will follow him, not Sam. Sam must hold the sÃ©ance.
Dean takes off after the guy in the Impala. Sam performs the seance ritual, but is caught by Father Reynolds, who is horrified at such a ritual being done in a church. Father Thomas Gregory appears, a very mixed-up spirit. "I've come in answer to your prayers," he says softly. When Father Reynolds tells Thomas he is only a man, a spirit, the ghost explains, "I could see everything, I saw you crying and came to help. I could smite the wicked, offer redemption to the innocents." Father Reynolds tells the Father Gregory's ghost that the rules of God and man are different - this is not God's will--thou shalt not kill. People who kill are being locked away. You are lost, misguided--men cannot be angels." As Sam looks on sadly, Father Reynolds tells Father Gregory it's time for him to rest. He gives him Last Rites, and mentions Raphael, Master of Air. Father Gregory disappears in one last burst of light and is gone.
Dean has followed the young man, who picks up a young woman, takes her to a desolate place, parks, smacks her, and tries to rape her. Dean smashes the driver's side window, roughs the guy up, makes sure the woman is out of the car and safe, and takes off after the guy when he drives away. There's a wild car chase that ends when the bad guy gets into an accident with a truck carrying long metal rods. One of them crashes through the windshield, impaling the bad guy through the heart, pinning him through his seat. Dean observes this, stunned.
The Winchester brothers meet up at their hotel, each anxious to discuss what has happened. "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" begins to play and I start to cry. Sam is disappointed; there was no angel, it was Father Gregory as Dean insisted. When Dean offers him a sip from the flask, Sam accepts, and passes it back to Dean, who takes a gulp, too. "I wanted to believe so badly," says Sam, "doing what we do all the time, there's so much evil, I think I'll drown in it. I wanted to feel we weren't alone." When Dean assures Sam he's got HIM, Sam adds, "You're just one person, I mean a higher power, a greater good, so maybe I can be saved. I guess you're right - we've got to go with what we know." Dean explains to Sam that the guy he tailed WAS bad news. He didn't kill him, though, but the way he died was perhaps. . .God's will.
- This was Sam's episode. While Dean may have been told angels were watching over him, Sam was the one who prayed. I wonder how that came to be?
- I felt sorry for Father Gregory. How could a man of the cloth become so confused in death that he believed setting one set of humans to kill another, even bad ones, was acceptable? Strange. But intriguing.
- Knowing what we do now, what do you think of Dean's feelings about angels?
- How did you feel about the death of the attempted rapist? Did God clean that one up Himself? It sure changed Dean's mind about the whole thing, didn't it?
- Those who were set up to do the killing were derelicts in one form or other, or at least those with unhappy lives. They ended up in an asylumâ€”but at peace. What do you think about this? Sam wouldn't have wanted this, would he? Or WOULD he?
- This episode is thought by some to be too preachy. Do you think it is?