THEN:  Sam's vision from last week - the bunker in red light, Dean battling his way through the halls until he reaches Sam who kills him; Sam jolting awake; "God's gone; it's just us and the ghosts"; the ghosts and Belphegor; Rowena's death; Dean and Cas arguing.

NOW:  In Black Forest, CO, three young woman sit around a lantern in a tent.  They're all blonde and all dressed in a safari-style camping gear.  Although they're celebrating graduating college, this is their last trip together.  Two of them have jobs, but one is sad because her future doesn't look so promising.  She was a philosophy major and, instead of having a career, she's driving an Uber.  One friend callously remarks that it's her own fault, but the other steps in to explain that she's chosen the more challenging path.  They encourage her to drink rum:  it'll help.  They freeze at the sound of crackling and rustling outside, then begin giggling.  It must be a deer, and a deer can't kill you.  "There's nothing out there!" insists one girl.  She's going to prove it by unzipping the tent and going out to get more rum.  Her friends wait, then are startled by a distant scream followed by crunching sounds.  "Julie?  You OK?" they question nervously.  One of them stands and timidly approaches the tent's opening.  With painstaking slowness, she reaches out toward the zipper and begins to pull it down when she's suddenly snatched out into the night.  The final girl screams in horror.

TITLE CARD - SUPERNATURAL.  Episode title:  "Proverbs 17:3"

Sam enters the main room of the bunker.  He checks his phone:  he's been texting Castiel, but there's been nothing in reply.  His iPad, open on the table, displays a news article titled "Cat Attack in Woods."  Dean comes down the metal stairway: he's been out on a supply run and is excited about the ghost pepper jerky he's bought.  When Sam warns him that he won't like it, Dean insists that he will and pops some in his mouth.  Almost immediately he has to turn away to hide his reaction - it's obviously burning hot, but he doesn't want to admit it.  Sam is quiet but amused.  He slowly opens a bottle of water and acts as if he can't understand Dean's gesturing for it before handing it to him.  Dean drinks more than half the bottle in one gulp but refuses to give in.  He tries to talk but is unintelligible, to Sam's quiet enjoyment.  It takes several tries before Dean can get out his question about the mountain lion attacks.  Sam sadly says that there were three deaths but now there are five.  Giving in, Dean pours the rest of the water all over his face and spits out the jerky.

The camera moves through the empty, well-lighted halls of the bunker before entering the map room where Sam sits at the table, his back to the camera.  He is dressed in an immaculate white suit like the one Lucifer wore in The End.  Dean enters from behind him; he holds the Colt aimed resolutely at the back of Sam's head.  "Please forgive me," he says earnestly before pulling the trigger.  The exit wound blooms in the center of Sam's forehead, and he slumps forward onto the table, but, moments later, he sits back up.  The wound heals, and his eyes glow red.  "Poor, faithful Dean," he remarks without turning.  "We both knew it had to end this way."  He turns his head slightly to where Dean is standing behind him; flames begin to lick at Dean's body, moving upward relentless until he is screaming, burning alive.  Sam startles awake in the passenger seat of the Impala.  Dean is driving, passing cars lighting his face with an orange glow.  Hearing that Sam has had a pretty intense nightmare, Dean offers to "Freud" him, but Sam doesn't want to talk about it.

Daylight.  They've arrived in Colorado.  Standing at their open trunk, they've decided to go in, not as FBI, but as Fish and Wildlife officers.  All Sam needs is a vest over his plaid shirt while Dean dons an olive green windbreaker.  There are ball caps with an emblem of a leaping trout and fake IDs from years ago identifying them as Hamill and Ford.  Observing the pic of a younger Sam with heavy bangs across his forehead, Dean teases Sam, "Look at you.  You look like a baby."  When Sam points at Dean's ID, the older brother insists that he still looks the same.  

Entering the sheriff's office, they approach a middle-aged blonde officer at the desk and ask if she's the sheriff.  She points out that her mug, emblazoned with "I'm the Sheriff," declares that she is.  She takes an extra long look at Dean's ID, questioning if it's really him.  Dean is put-out while Sam secretly smirks.  Regarding the recent attacks, she's not sure it was a mountain lion.  It could be a psychotic bear, but the scenes have been a little too clean.  If it's a person that's been doing the killings, she says, "he's a monster."  She informs them that there is one survivor:  her name is Ashley; she's recuperating in the hospital, in shock at having her friends' hearts ripped out.  

The Winchesters head to the hospital to talk to Ashley, the philosophy major.  Her hair is disheveled, and one long red gash runs down one cheek like the path of a bloody tear.  There are brief flashbacks of her running through the woods with a dark-haired man chasing her, reaching out with grasping arms as if swimming through the underbrush.  To ensure privacy, Sam asks the attending nurse to talk to him in the hallway, leaving Dean with the victim.  "Whatever you saw, we'll believe you," he tells her sincerely.  "We've heard worse; we've heard weirder."  Breathing in, she says, "It was a man. . . but it wasn't a man."  He had claws and fangs.  Calmly, Dean tells her it was a werewolf.  "There's no such thing!" Ashley replies.  "I was hallucinating!"  Dean reaches out to take her hand reassuringly.  "They're reral.  We hunt them, and we kill them.  It's what we do."  She remembers the attack, being grabbed by the fanged man who clawed the line slowly down her face with an elongated fingernail, threatening her not to tell anyone "what we did."  She gives Dean a name and begs him to protect her, and he promises her that they will.  Joining Sam in the hallway, Dean tells his brother what Ashley has shared.  Before they leave, he takes a last look at her through the blinds in the hallway window.  She sits alone in her hospital bed, then covers her face with her hands and begins to cry.    

A rumble disturbs the quiet of the woods as the Impala approaches a secluded cabin where their suspects, Andy and Josh live.  A bearded man opens the door to their knock.  He too doubts the picture on Dean's badge.  He's recalcitrant but is soon joined by another man, a little shorter but also bearded with dark hair.  Sam shows them Ashley's picture, saying that she recently survived an attack nearby.  The second man offers that they often go into the woods at night - trapping rabbits, interjects the older brother - and would be willing to help if there's anything they could do.  Sam requests their phone number, but, when he holds out a pad and paper, the brothers refuse to take it, saying they don't have a phone and closing the door.  "Shoot them now!" Dean insists as they step off the porch.  Just then, his phone rings.  Ashley wants them.

Inside the cabin, the two men watch the Impala drive away.  The older one is angry, especially that his brother volunteered that they go out in the woods at night.  "You let her live?" he asks angrily.  "I made her promise not to tell!" his brother answers.  When his brother tells him that that's what they do - hunt humans - the other says that he never wanted to.  It doesn't matter what Dad would think -- Dad is dead.  "If you don't want to hunt," says the oldest with compassion, "we'll stop."  "You're lying!" says the younger brother.  "I don't lie to you; I look out for you!" He reaches out to hold his brother's face between his two hands.  "We'll stop!  But first, that Ashley girl's got to go."  The younger one nods, but his eyes seem troubled.

Dean and Sam escort Ashley into a room at the Sleepy Bear Inn. It's wallpapered with various types of deer and elk.  She's meticulously dressed in a dark skirt with a crisp white shirt, a tan scarf like a Boy Scout's, and a tan beret atop her long blonde hair.  Dean wants to go back and take out the lumberjack twins, but Sam is afraid that it's too easy.  "I like easy!" declares Dean.  Ashley asks someone to stay with her until she falls asleep.  

Outside the motel, the two werewolf brothers wait in their pickup.  Andy can smell her but can also smell the men with her.  "Don't worry," Josh assures him.  "We're good at quick and quiet."  

Sam has gone out.  In the motel bathroom, Dean is splashing water on his face to stay awake, then comes back into the main room where Ashley is propped up in bed, scarf still neatly pinned.  "Do you like your job?" she asks.  "Monsters?"  Dean takes his time responding before saying, "I do.  There's bad - a lot of bad.  Still feels good to help people."  "Ever want to be anything else?" she queries.  "Jimi Hendrix," Dean jokes before amending, "No, not really.  I'm where I'm supposed to be."  "That's nice," Ashley says as she wistfully describes how she has no job, no friends, and no idea what to do with her life.  "You've got plenty of time," Dean reassures her with compassion.  "It's so random and awful," says Ashley.  "Wouldn't it be great if everything was planned out for you?  Already decided?"  "No, not really," Dean replies.

The small bed-side clock shows that it's near midnight.  Then it reveals that over an hour has gone by.  Dean is slumped over, sound asleep.  Sam enters, shakes him awake.  Ashley is gone.  They rush out.

In a steel-lined, blood-spattered room, Ashley, eyes wide with terror, is bound and gagged.  "This isn't who we are!" says Andy.  "This is exactly who we are . . . and I want to eat her heart!" replies his brother fiercely.  The Winchesters drive up in the Impala.  "No way they took her with me sleeping," Dean insists.  Hearing a scream, they burst into the cabin.  The brothers stiffen, then rapidly exit their execution chamber.  Sam and Dean enter, Sam watching their back while Dean frees Ashley.  As they start to cross the living room, however, the werewolves leap up, fangs extended, attacking the Winchesters.  Ashley shrinks back against a cabinet as the men grapple, smashing into furniture.  Slammed against a wall, Dean reaches up to pull down a set of mounted antlers and slash it at Josh.  Andy throws Sam to the floor, then snatches his gun from where it had fallen.  Sam raises his hands as the younger werewolf brother holds him at gunpoint.  On the other side of the cabin, Josh is choking Dean.  There's a sudden gunshot.  Andy has shot his brother.  

The frantic werewolf points his gun back at Sam.  "You don't have to do this!" Sam tells him.  "He was my brother, and he promised, but he was never going to stop.  He turned into a monster, and I'm a monster too!" he declares.  Pointing the gun at himself, he pulls the trigger.  Sam and Dean are flummoxed at the unexpected turn of events, but when they reach for Ashley, she jerks back:  "Don't touch me!" She trips, falls backwards, and impales herself on the antlers.  The girl they'd just saved is dead. The Winchesters stare at her prone body, the sharp points of the antlers protruding through her white blouse.  Then,  she turns her head.  "Well, this is a bitch."  She sits up, then stands, giving an exaggerated sigh.  'And I was doing so well too."  She arches her back like a kitten, and the antlers pop out of her and crash to the floor.  "What are you?" asks Sam.  Ashley gives a sweet smile.  "You don't remember little old me?"  Her eyes turn white, and we see flashbacks of the deserted convent in Illchester, Maryland and the blonde woman being killed by Sam's demon power.  "Lilith?" says Dean.

The camera gives us an overhead shot of the cabin with Lilith, the Winchesters, and the dead bodies of the werewolf brothers.  "No!  You're dead!" says Sam.  Lilith tells them she was asleep in the Empty, but the boss brought her back.  The boss?  God.  She was supposed to be rescued and then seduce Dean, but it's obvious that's not happening now.  Sam asks if she's going to kill them, but she says that's not how this story goes.  She explains that she had put Dean to sleep back at the motel, allowing the werewolves to abduct her.  When Sam asks what she wants, she says, "The magic gun."  "The Equalizer?" he questions.  "I'm not calling it that!" she replies.  They're not going to tell her so she says they'll have to do it the hard way.  She notices that Sam has the demon knife and Dean an angel blade, but in a moment, she has hurled them across the room.  Sam is knocked unconscious.  Seeing Lilith approach his helpless brother, Dean rises:  "No!  Don't touch him!  I'll show you where it is."  "You'd promise a girl the moon," teases Lilith.  "What if you're lying?"  "Then kill me," Dean states.  "I can't," she replies, but a girl has needs.  By the time she's through with him, he'll be begging to die.  Is he sure?  "I am," Dean says.  "Deal," replies Lilith.

Still lying on the floor, Sam has another vision:  Dean and he are exchanging punches at the top of the bunker stairs, then Dean hurls him through the railing to the floor below.  Rolling up his sleeves, Dean reveals the Mark of Cain on his arm.  Slowly and methodically, Dean approaches, hits Sam, and throws him across the room.  "Stop!" says Sam.  "It isn't you!"  But Dean doesn't stop.  With his right hand, he grabs Sam around the throat and lifts him off the ground, then pulls out the First Blade with his left.  He eyes turn black as he drives the blade deeply into Sam's side.  He watches carefully until Sam slumps, then lets him collapse to the ground.  Sam wakes up on the floor in the empty cabin.  He goes outside to find the Impala gone but sees the pickup truck.

Dean drives the Impala while Lilith watches him with a cheerful look from the passenger seat.  She remembers how she had to die for what she wanted most - Lucifer to rise.  She admits that she can't hurt God, but she can hurt Dean.  She says that God isn't Shakespeare but more like a low-rent Dean Koontz with a pervy obsession with the Winchesters.  Every ending he's written has one brother killing the other.  He could have chosen so many other options, but he likes it that way.  

Reentering the motel room, she asks for the gun.  Dean laughs and says he didn't bring it.  Lilith slashes the air, and a line of blood crosses one cheek.  She threatens him with death by a thousand cuts and slashes his other cheek.  "Go to hell," he responds so she slashes his torso.  Suddenly, Sam bursts in and shoots her between the eyes.   She's not worried until she realizes she can't move - Sam has used a devil's trap bullet to hold her temporarily.  Dean reassures Sam that he's not badly hurt; it's nothing a box of bandaids can't fix.  Sam asks Lilith where Chuck is and says that he killed her once; he can kill her again.  "I let you!" she tells him.  Her eyes turn white and the room begins to shake.  The brothers run out, but suddenly are frozen in place.  Lilith appears in front of them.  "Sucks doesn't it?"  she asks.  "You're not getting that gun," Dean tells her, but she deduces that it's not in the motel room and not in the bunker so it must be in their car.  Leaning in the open window, she pops open the glove compartment and removes the gun with a laugh.  Sam tells her that they'll get it back, but she proceeds to melt it into a molten puddle on the ground.  "Thank you!  See you soon!" she trills and disappears.  

Back in the bunker, Sam is on the phone.  "Cas?" inquires Dean.  "Straight to voicemail again," Sam replies.  He leans against the end of a table while Dean sits down on a nearby chair.  "What else are we supposed to do?  God was supposed to be gone!" says Dean.  "So we're stuck here in his maze?"  "Why doesn't he just kill us already?" wonders Sam.  "Chuck only likes one kind of ending," Dean tells him.  "You kill me or I kill you."  "What?" says Sam.  "That's not happening!" declares Dean.  Sam sits down on the other side of the table, facing Dean.  "My dreams all end the same way:  with us killing each other!" he tells Dean.  "You're telling me this now?" Dean says; his tone could be worried or frustrated.  "I thought it was just messed up PTSD," says Sam, "but I'm seeing Chuck's different endings."  "How?"  "Because of this," Sam points to the bullet wound.  It's a link between himself and Chuck.  "What if I'm in his head?"  

Dean looks down.  "This was supposed to be over.  We were done.  We were free.  What are we supposed to do now?"  Do they just keep running in this freaking hamster wheel until they die or until they get boring and God decides to end them.  "We fight!"  declares Sam.  Dean laughs.  "Fight God?  It's God and he's coming for US!"  How are they supposed to fight God?  Sam has no answer, though his eyes look determined.  The camera withdraws, leaving the brothers sitting on either side of the table.  The quiet scene is framed by a pair of red velvet curtains.

THE END

  1. What is the significance of the title, "Proverbs 17:3"?  "The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts" (KJV).  "The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart" (NIV).  
  1. Were you surprised at who Ashley really was?
  1. Which of the three visions - red-lit Demon Blood Sam, white-suited Sam, or MoC Dean - do you think is scariest and why?
  1. Why would one brother killing the other be the end of the world? 
  1. What recurring themes or motifs did you notice in this episode?
  1. Do you ever feel like Ashley, wishing everything were decided for you?
  1. Both brothers were unexpectedly truthful tonight, Dean to Ashley about the reality of monsters and Sam to Dean about the content of his dreams.  Will this openness continue?

Let's speculate!