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Well, even before I saw this episode between the preview and the excited, emotional tweets exploding my phone 24 hours before I was able to watch it, I just knew it was going to be one of those gut-wrenching, heart bursting installments that would take days to recover from. In hindsight, the watered down version of Supernatural that was last week almost makes sense in lieu of "Inside Man" - our emotional drives needed to be fully stocked and loaded to handle this journey, and so did those of our writers.

So, no more stalling – let’s begin the tearful assault on the heart and look back at 10.17.

Mothers and Sons and Kings
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This episode was the triumph I’ve been awaiting for all season in the relationship with Crowley and Rowena. When Rowena first joined us and was revealed to be Crowley’s mother, she certainly carried potential – she was an incredibly powerful witch and a masterful manipulator in every sense of the word. However; as we moved along she quickly became nothing more than sidebar whiney flash throughout the episodes, endeavoring to rile up the King but to no true avail and without an honest plot taking true shape either.
At last, "Inside Man" took Rowena out of Hell for the first time in forever and saw her interact with Dean briefly and took Crowley out of the grey zone where his character has been lingering for months – that is, lacking clarity when it came to understanding whether or not he knew Rowena was using him. The interaction between Rowena and Dean was great to watch for a couple reasons.

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First, it took her down a peg or two when her super-duper spell simple left Dean blinking at her and she was at a loss because he was untouchable. Secondly, it was evident that she had not at all been informed to any extent about the MoC situation by Crowley or done her homework when it came to those pesky Men of Letters.  Finally, it was a great way to cure the hustle “Abercrombie” crowd and not have to have Dean hurt anyone fatally as a result of the spell she’d cast.
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Let’s discuss Crowley in this episode. Were it not totally ironic, Hallelujah could have played for him during the dawning realizations in his conversation with Dean. This conversation at the bar is one of my favourite moments in the episode (to be fair, there are several). It was a moment of hard reality, but humorous and encompassed the frienemiship that is their relationship so very well. Not to mention, while Dean had no information about what was happening with Bobby, he dropped that Bobby wisdom on Crowley in a wholly appropriate moment. Further to that, Dean reminded Crowley that back in the day, a trip to the surface to confront a Winchester would have involved a hellhound, not a cocktail (but wasn’t that a great moment?), and it was a truth Crowley needed to hear.
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 This scene at the bar was excellent: it was well written, had some great visuals and overall, just a perfect Dean and Crowley moment, including the acting. The conversation between the two men was so genuine and significant – although they aren’t friends, they play fundamental roles in each other’s lives including disclosing the hard truths. There’s such passion in Dean as he explains the true way family works to Crowley – Jensen puts such conviction into it – and you can see Crowley really listening too.

Part of me wondered if Crowley would run off and do what Rowena wanted, to some extent and it was so much better the chips didn’t fall that way. Crowley rediscovered himself by the end of this episode.  Maybe it was his chat with Dean – “family doesn’t start with blood” – or maybe it was absolute, in his face truth about his mother’s lies. Either way, nothing was a greater King of Hell moment than him yelling “I’m bloody Crowley!” Goodbye, Queen Mother!

Prankster, Hustler and Therapist Too
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Dean, Dean, Dean. We open on a nightmare of Cain’s ominous warning about slaughtering Sam being inevitable and it’s all downhill from there. The boys, as we know, are both deceiving each other for each other’s sake. Or attempting to, since Sam knows about Dean’s nightmares. Dean is trying to stay low and carry on as normal until he can’t anymore and for the most part, he was nearly successful. Dean struggled to maintain a distraction without a job or Sam around – we saw him call Rudy while laying pranks in Sam’s bedroom (which Sam must’ve known he would do by baiting him with “stay out of my room.”) until he finally went to the neighbourhood bar, where he’s well known seemingly, and found some amusements.
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Watching Dean hustle pool will never tire. And this was the first time we’ve been lucky enough to witness it from start to finish, so it was especially delightful. But aside from that treat, let’s talk about the sexy demon eyes: were those black eyes a result of his imagination or a true, honest to goodness physical manifestation of the Mark beginning to burn through? The former and I’m having flashbacks to season three; but personally I’m leaning towards the latter given how much the Mark seems to be burning through of late. Dean had a remarkable sense of self control all that considered though. The number of flashbacks helped him regain a sense of self and stop from killing the boys in the pool hall and he was not nearly as enraged as he could have been over Rowena, even holding the knife to her throat. As he said to Crowley – he wanted to slice her, but he didn’t. Could it be that Dean is gaining some power over the Mark?
Overall, it was interesting to watch Dean’s day solo. We’ve done it before with both boys of course, and then as now, it gives a unique perspective on the headspace of the solo brother, just trying to keep moving. We know that Dean is struggling with his own fears about the Mark, about being a killer again and especially about killing Sam. Maybe Crowley’s words gave him a new glimmer of hope?

Friends and Family Forever

Sam’s journey with Cas opened the episode and it was emotional from the jump. And of course, "then" threw us back 24 hours. These two are a dangerous pair and I love them together – I don’t know where to begin.
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After being ripped out of bed with his trusty handgun to find Dean in the throes of a nightmare – about his wellbeing – Sam realizes it’s desperate measures time and loses Dean by inviting him to a French foreign flick about a mime (oh Sammy) while heading off to meet Castiel. It’s such a great plan Dean would probably be pissed he was that easy to ditch actually.  Obviously Plan A to get Metatron out – again – doesn’t go well, to Castiel’s rage and they’re left with Plan Bobby.
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Let’s discuss the park scene for just a moment. It was a good exchange with Castiel and Hannah to give closure to their relationship, and to end any romantic notions that may have lingered from her last incarnation. This time, the friendship and loyalty rang through clear but also it was evident nobody was going to bring over Metatron, regardless of who or what was involved. My favourite moment in this exchange was when Hannah said, very sadly, that she couldn’t do it because Castiel was simply too desperate. She’s exactly right – they are desperate and will do anything as the end proved. It left Castiel as angry as could be and both Sam and the angel with even stronger conviction to getting Metatron.  

Learn It, Live It, Love It

Castiel and Sam will do whatever they need to do for Dean: family doesn’t end with blood and when it includes Winchester blood - beware the vengeance level. Throughout this episode I was concerned about what would come of breaking Metatron out, again. He’s a slimy, scheming character and, as he so aptly phrased it – he holds the leverage. Or, so he said. Ultimately, this was one of the greatest moments all season – largely because Metatron was comeuppanced so wonderfully and Castiel and Sam wore their bad-ass hats very well.
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When Cas so unexpectedly and coldly cut Metatron’s Grace from him and Sam shot him without hesitation, it was a lovely new twist on the negotiations. Particularly when Castiel added that: “You’re mortal will answer our questions or Sam will, what’s the phrase? Blow your freakin’ brains out.” Truly exceptional choice of words. 
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Aside from the revenge fantasy that this moment fulfilled, it also succinctly answered the question regarding the Mark of Cain and Metatron’s true knowledge about removal: he has none. Where Metatron was an irritating taunt of a character before, he now lacks power in many ways and it was an excellent way to bring him to his knees, figuratively and literally.

Plan B: Bobby Singer
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The best part of the episode, of course, is for the end of the review and here’s where it gets emotional: Bobby Singer. It was incredible to see Bobby again.  Jim Beaver was just exactly as we remember him, wasn’t he? Bobby’s Heaven was perfect – from the old radio, to the easy chair, to the Tori Spelling literature; it was just exactly right.
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There were a few touching moments between Bobby and boys of course, starting with Sam gingerly placing Bobby’s hat on the table so they could reach him psychically. I am curious to know how they came up with the idea, but that aside I loved every second.  Everything about Bobby’s involvement in this episode was just right because Bobby wasn’t overplayed (though, the various “Bobby’s” escaping and all being surly was exceptional!) and the escape task was not overcomplicated.
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Bobby engaged the task exactly as he would have had Sam turned up on his doorstep at Singer Salvage Yard: got the information he needed and away he went to hunt the solution for his boys, with just the right amount of gruff commentary along the way.

Finally, Bobby’s letter to Sam was absolutely touching:

“I know it’s the life, doin’ a little bad so you can do a lot of good. But sometimes the bad’s real bad. And the good, it can come at one hell of a price….You’re a good man Sam Winchester and I’m damn proud of you son…stay safe, keep fighting and kick it in the ass.”

Bobby always dropped the truths on those boys exactly as they needed it – sometimes it was hard to hear, but it was real, true and good for them one way or another. You are so missed Bobby, and never forgotten.
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Sam’s tears reading the letter say it all – and such incredible acting by Jared, he didn’t have to speak and he truly melted my heart. Bobby means so very much to the Winchester boys, and his words to carry forward have such value to Sam when he’s struggling to save his brother. 

Final Thoughts
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"Inside Man" was a brilliant episode, plain and simple. It was a rich, full installment from opening scene to end credit. The writing was a treat – funny, sharp and classic Supernatural in style- with potent visuals and superb acting to match. The hanging threads that have felt flat or dreary for parts of the season have suddenly been addressed in significant ways including Rowena and Metatron, advancing plots in new and intriguing ways. Our main characters are left in emotional and unstable states while smiling assuring to one another: this promises excitement when the levee breaks as it inevitably will - the stakes have been racked! Overall, it was strong episode in every sense and promises great things to come!

Share your thoughts below.


# YellowEyedSam 2015-04-03 19:15
I'm surprised you didn't touch upon Metatron's words involving Lucifer. It may or may not happen with Sam contacting Lucifer but its an interesting discussion no?
# elle 2015-04-03 19:41
Hi YESam,
Metatron's words could prove noteworthy - but in my opinion, at this point, there are several threads of potential solutions to the MoC and I just don't know if any of them are fleshed enough to focus on. Also - it would end up being it's own article rather than a review commentary to do it properly I think. Metatron likes to tease - neither Sam nor Castiel reacted in any major way to his statement. The reference to Lucifer could just have easily have been a point about the age of the magic surrounding the curse as well as anything. To that end - there was also clear statements this episode made (reinforced twice) about the Mark being simply a curse that the right witch could tackle with the right knowledge. Maybe combining Rowena's discovery about the Men of Letter's having old world Grand Coven power books within their libraries and the reiteration about the curse magic and this will prove significant for the MoC in the future when they're brought together.

To answer your question simply - Cas and Sam's lack of reaction and Metatron's known and on-going deceptive nature made the statement too vague at this point to devote grand analysis to in an already too long review. It could be significant, but it could be a red herring; or neither.

Just my ramblings - :-) As I said, these may need a devoted exploration piece to fully discuss and analyze.
# YellowEyedSam 2015-04-04 17:05
I understand. Just a mention without a reaction usually means it wont be touched on again. That would greatly disappoint me as it was a series finale I would be most excited about. I swear if Dean kills Sam that would annoy me more than any other ending. I feel the show is walking a thin line here with Dean and Sam dying. Any more and it would be a joke..
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-04-04 08:40
I agree that the scene where Sam and Cas stole Metatron's grace was one of the best scenes all season. Not just because we got a delightful look at smart, badass Sam and Cas, but because it was so unexpected, at least to me. I was floored and thrilled by that scene. I cannot remember the last time I was so completely surprised by something on SPN. I think there's been a lack of clever, creative plotting of late, and this episode, and that scene in particular, reminded me that SPN at the top of its game is head and shoulders above other shows.
# elle 2015-04-04 22:34
I agree - it was very unexpected direction. It was delightful. I fully anticipated that Sam and Cas would be tricked and Metatron would let loose somehow, fully powered. The mortalization of him instead and total lack of engaging his verbal games? So. Much. Better! Love.
# Lynn 2015-04-04 15:13
I loved this episode and enjoyed reading your review. That's a good point you've made about last weeks episode Paint It Black, which I felt was rather a let down with not enough Winchester but Inside Man made up for it and was just something special and had me at the edge of my seat. My particular highlights were Sam and Castiel working together and kicking ass and ofcourse seeing Bobby back in action oh and all scenes with Dean, and the emotional scene with Sam at the end, I just loved everything about it and I'm so excited to see what happens next.
# elle 2015-04-04 22:35
Thanks Lynn! It was a great episode, just engaging and fulfilling to watch for all our favourite characters.
# BookLady 2015-04-05 22:50
I agree! Excellent episode and just like that, I'm pulled in again, just like Alice. Looking forward to the next one!
# Lilah_Kane 2015-04-06 04:20
I am one that loved this episode from start to finish. Every scene felt in place and also the new stuff we found out and the story heading forward was a huge plus.

Sam running to check on Dean while he was having nightmares gave me flashback from last season when Dean yelled his name when the bunker was haunted. (Captives) And Sam did it again here and with fast running. Actually it is quite a shock to be waken up from a nightmare and also Sam knew why Dean was having it and how Dean would react if Sam would wake him up. So, as it stopped Sam let it be. The important thing is Sam knows and Dean can't hide it.

When Rowena's spell backfired that you know should have blown Dean up I actually gasped. That is definitely not good. Ruth also talked about in an interview that the spell was very old and the paint was actually virgin blood. It is not first spell level but pretty powerful. So that, and the flash of demon eyes and the quite "ruthless" pool hustling made me shiver. The money was one thing but taking that watch... Like many I saw it not as a good thing.

Loved Crowley and loved Bobby times billion. It was good to see that old man again.

Last mention actually goes to the actor that played Hannah renewed. It was short but like with young Dean it really felt like it was Hannah. And Cas reacting to "her" like he would the other vessel helped that. Anyway, male Hannah was great and so was Cas. It was good to see he in action again and Sam and him working together works.

I am glad also that Rowena and Metatron both got what they deserved and was coming to and most of all the characters that gave the punishment deserved that retribution.

- Lilah