Sometimes, story issues must be tackled head on in order to progress growth, further develop an idea, or allow for a more organic understanding of the motivations behind the actions that take place. And sometimes, Supernatural wants to torture it’s characters just a little bit more.
The show starts with a scene that is becoming more familiar: Sam sneaking out as Dean sleeps. Ruby picks him up and they take off. And that’s all we see of them for the episode. Back inside the hotel room, Castiel wakes Dean to tell him "You have to stop it". Dean asks him to clarify what he means, but all Castiel does is touch his forehead. Next thing we know, Dean is waking up again, only this time it’s on a bus stop bench with a police officer telling him he can’t sleep there.
Dean tries to make a call but has no cell signal, so he stumbles across the street to a diner. Which is when we get our first clue that something is seriously amiss, since the back of the bench is advertising Sugar-Free Tab. In he diner, Dean a fellow patron where he is and finds out he’s in Lawrence, Kansas. Oh, and it’s 1973. And one more thing, the other patron is John Winchester. His dad.
Dean follows his dad out of the diner, but as he rounds a corner he comes face to face with Castiel, who assures him this is all real. And then he helpfully repeats "You have to stop it" before disappearing again. Dean follows John to a car dealership, where he introduces himself as Dean Van Halen and talks his dad out of buying a VW van and into a certain 1967 Chevy, and then follows him some more. To his girlfriend’s house. That would be Mary, who will go on to give birth to the Winchester boys we know and love.
He follows his parents on a date, smiling as he watches them through the window of a restaurant, laughing and talking to each other. Mary excuses herself from the table and while she is gone, John nervously peers into a ring box at an engagement diamond. However, Mary wasn’t going to use the bathroom. She comes up behind Dean and begins to soundly kick his butt, demanding to know why he’s been following them. It’s during the fight that Dean catches sight of Mary’s bracelet and its collection of religious symbol charms and realizes she’s a hunter.
John and Mary end their date with a chaste kiss and as she steps out of the car, Dean comes out from behind some bushes. She warns him that her dad is not easy to get along with, but Dean says he wants to meet him. His grandfather is less than interested in meeting him, however, a fact which he makes abundantly clear. Until his wife comes out and says "Knock it off Samuel." Guess who Sam was named after? And Grandma’s name is Deana.
Over dinner, Dean and Samuel discuss, or rather do not discuss, whether or not they are working on cases. After a few terse exchanges, Dean says he thought something was after John Winchester. In the spirit of quid quo pro, Samuel says he is tracking something on a local farm. Dean suggests that they are after the same thing, but Samuel squashes the idea of them working together faster than Dean can actually ask. The next day, Samuel and Mary approach a farm house with him dressed as a priest. Mary goes off to talk to a fore lorn teen boy in the front yard while her father knocks on the door. When it opens, he is greeted by Dean. Dressed as a priest. The Lord works in mysterious ways?
The newly windowed woman in the house doesn’t tell Dean or Samuel much, but the boy outside tells Mary plenty. Mainly about how his dad was a bit of a drunken jerk who liked to beat up his mom. He just wanted the beatings to stop, so when a stranger showed up and offered to help, he agreed. The stranger claimed not to want anything in return but said he might come back in 10 years needing something. Dean surmises that the kid inadvertently sold his soul and asks what the stranger looked like. The kid describes his a pretty average, except for his yellow eyes.
So, to review the recap: John Winchester. Yellow Eyed Demon. For reals.
Dean, of course, loses his mind. Back at his grandparents house, he tells them that they have to kill the YED and so he’s going to get the Colt from the hunter who has it. Samuel doesn’t even believe the colt is real and points out that even if it were, how are they going to find the YED? Well, Dean just happens to have his dad’s notebook, where he recorded each YED appearance he was aware of. And he’ll be appearing again in just a few days, not far from where they are.
Before leaving, Dean has a pretty wrenching talk with his mom. He tells her that she and John are meant to be and she joyfully describes his father to him, as a sweet and kind individual who will take her away from the hunting life. She talks about how she wants to have a family and feel safe, adding that the worst thing she can imagine is for her children to be raised into the life she has led. Teary eyed, Dean asks her to make him a promise, even if it sounds crazy. And then he begs her to stay in bed on November 2, 1983.
Dean goes to retrieve the colt, having another run in with Castiel in the car. Castiel points out that if Dean succeeds, all the hundreds of people they’ve saved will die. Dean says he knows that and care about it very much, but that he can’t let his family die again. He breaks into a home and cracks a safe to get the colt with only a minor run in with its owner. He promises to get it back to him in a few days time, explaining that he needs it to save his family from being killed.
Speaking of his family, Mary asks her father what Deans plan is. When Samuel reveals to his daughter that Dean is going to attempt to kill a demon at the Walsh home in Haleyville, Mary freaks out. It seems Libby Walsh is a friend of Mary’s and she demands that they go over to help. At the Walsh’s, Libby is talking to a man about her father, who is apparently on death’s door. The man says he can help and it won’t cost anything…but he might come back in 10 years.
Which is when Samuel charges in a shoots the man. But, it’s not the colt, so no dice. The YED pins Samuel to the wall while battling with Mary, whom he decides he likes, until Dean shows up. When the YED gets a glimpse of the colt, he vaporizes. After making sure Libby is OK, they all head home, with Dean demanding to talk to Samuel alone while Mary takes off with John. Back at the house, Dean lays it all out. Who he is, where he’s from and that if they don’t get the YED, Mary will die. Samuel takes it all rather well, considering. But he does ask to get a look at the colt. Dean declines, saying "it’s nothing personal", but Samuel replies "Yes it is. Especially when you are trying to kill me". And then his eyes flash yellow. So, we’ve gone from bad, to worse.
The YED pins Dean to his seat and says he knows only one thing that’s got the juice to bring someone through time, so Dean has friends in high places. He asks is Dean is one of his psychic kids, but quickly deduces it’s Dean’s sibling that has that gift. Dean asks if he is just going to use the kids to lead his demon army, a claim the YED scoffs at while refusing to reveal his true motives. Dean tells the demon that he is the one who will kill him but the YED decides to take action first, plunging a knife into Samuel’s gut. Which is when Deana screams from where she was trying to sneak up and reach the colt. A moment later, the YED has snapped her neck and disappeared.
In a secluded parking spot, John is about to ask Mary to be his wife when her dad pulls her out of the car. John gets out and tries to talk sense to who he thinks may be his future father in law and he gets his neck snapped for the trouble. Mary cries "You killed him!" only to receive the answer "Not just John, sweetie pie. Mommy and daddy too". The YED reveals the blood soaking his shirt and flashes his eyes at her. She promises to kill him, but he offers her a deal. He’ll bring back John and not allow any monsters to after her if she promises to let him come visit in 10 years. Otherwise, she can spend the rest of her life alone and hunted. Dean drives up to see Mary kissing the YED, sealing the deal.
He jumps out of the car just in time for the YED to go up in smoke, leaving Samuel’s lifeless body behind as John gasps his first revived breath. Castiel appears at his side and a moment later, they are gone, with Dean waking up back in the hotel room. Which is when Castiel reveals that he never had a chance of saving his family, but now he knows everything they know. Man, couldn’t he have just told Dean rather than having him witness his grandparents deaths?
Castiel looks over at the empty bed and Dean asks where Sam is. Castiel replies that they know what the YED did to Sam, but they don’t know why. He gives Dean an address and ominously tells him that his brother is headed down a dangerous road and they are not sure where it leads. He then charges Dean with stopping Sam, adding "or we will".
There really wasn’t a whole lot of funny this week, Van Halen and Delorian jokes aside. But there was more than enough angst and anger to go around. What did you think of Castiel’s manipulation of time? Useful object lesson or celestial cruelty? I mean, come on, the guy did just get back from hell!