The “Then” part goes by, riddles with scenes of Jess, Crowley, the Croatoan virus (which I think is the most ingenious thing ever, by the way), and the Horsemen. Now it’s “Now,” and two scientists in an animal testing lab (boooo) are arguing about the legitimacy of a vaccine they’ve never seen. The janitor offers them peace of mind: no worries, he’s seen the vaccine. Oh yeah, and he has a syringe filled with the Croatoan virus that he’s about to stab into Bill Nye #1 and a backhand that he’s going to use on Bill Nye #2. Then the science guys are both going to die, complete with a customary splatter of blood that had me shouting “Ben!” with delight. Even though other writers frequently have the blood splatter going on, there’s something about Edlund’s that just seem a little more awesome. The janitor, who’s a demon if we hadn’t picked up on that, seems satisfied with the outcome.
 
Bloody title scene and we’re in a hospital filled with more-than-usual sick people. The boys are following a doctor, wearing germ masks, an opportunity Dean seizes to make a crass, and slightly forced, MJ reference. The doctor is glad the CDC is here but she politely says to go away and get her a vaccine. They ask her, incredibly awkwardly, if the disease has made anyone…homicidal? Uh, no? Anything else…unusual? Uh, yeah, we went from 0 to 70 cases in a day and a half.
 
Sam: A day and a half?
Dean: Same time those statues started crying.
Doctor: I’m sorry, what was that?
Dean: What was what?
Doctor: Did you just say a bunch of statues started crying?
Sam: (alarmed) Uh, what? What? No—no—who—
Dean: Who would say that, huh? Crazy people! Uh, which we are not.
 
The boys are in their car, talking to Bobby via Sam’s phone. They’re wondering why Pestilence would do something as small fry as swine flu when he’s got the Croatoan virus up his sleeve. And they also can’t figure out where he’s going. Bobby squeakily wheels himself over to the maps he has lying on his desk and picks one up. Pesty’s still going east, as far as he can tell. “East? Bobby, we’re in west Nevada. East is practically all there is.”
 
They hang up and suddenly Crowley, my demon crush, is in their back seat. Dean breaks violently and Sam stabs the poor upholstery. No, the poor Impala! Crowley is gone—no, wait, he’s outside the window. They get out to confront him, rather upset. In case he, or the audience, didn’t remember why, it’s because he sent them on a suicide mission to kill Lucifer—which didn’t work—and Ellen and Jo got killed in the process. Crowley claims it isn’t his problem and Sam attempts to kill him again but he dodges. Dean asks him what he wants and Crowley says he can get them Pestilence. Dean considers it but Sam is pissed, he protests but Dean tells him to shut up. Crowley tells them both to shut up—nothing’s changed, except now he’s the most buggered son in all of Creation.
 
“They burned down my house! They ate my tailor! Two months under a rock, like a bloody salamander, every demon on Hell and Earth’s got his eyes out for me. And here I am, last place I should be, in the road, talking to Sam and Dean Winchester, under a friggin’ spotlight!”
 
He takes out his anger on said streetlamp and yeah, okay, they’ll go with him. Cut to a shitty house, his “life on the lam” with his single paned glass and used contraception in the fireplace. I feel a little sorry for him, but the boys still aren’t sympathetic. Does anyone else think that Crowley is the writers’ second shot at Bela as a guy? Their personalities and roles in the Winchesters’ lives are super similar, but we all love Crowley—even when he’s pulling one over on them— because he’s both male and more amusing. That’s what I’ve observed, anyway.
 
He explains to the Winchesters that his valet put a tracker-bug thing in their car, and he wants in on trapping the devil. How is he going to get them Pestilence? He knows the Horsemen’s stable boy. They get him here, they sell him. How are they going to do that? “Please, I’ve sold sin to saints for centuries.” (I want to commend that line—the alliteration, the rhythm, the execution, it’s pretty perfect.) “Think I can’t close one demon?”
 
Yeah, yeah, okay. Cut to a pharmaceutical company higher-up meeting with a douchey, but handsome, boss shouting at his subordinates. We can assume that’s the stable boy. He tells his people to “do the best of somebody better” and leaves in a huff. Then he’s in his office, and a poor guy—Mitchell—comes in wondering why his boss—Mr. Brady—called him in. Well, it’s not to get fired, dodged that bullet. Mr. B needs people like him, and he has a position in communications he’d be perfect for, if he’s ready to enter the cutthroat world of upper management. This being a rewatch, I get the joke and it’s really funny. So Mr. B slits his throat and uses it to fill a goblet in a way very reminiscent of Meg. Some demon drags the body away and I’m thinking if he does is as frequently as can be assumed, why hasn’t he gotten a darker carpet by now?
 
He talks into the blood in Latin (and I was delighted at his used of a personal pronoun, which we just learned in class—I also just spend a good half hour trying to discern the Latin to be cool and know what it meant but he was mumbling) and then spends some time talking to Pesty with a tense clicking in the background. I didn’t get the bugs, I thought they might be his questions? Or the more the angrier? If someone wants to explain that, I’d be obliged. We find out, in this conversation, if we hadn’t guessed before, that they plan to use the “vaccine” to spread the Croatoan. We also learn where Mr. B got his inspirational phrase from.
 
Back from commercial, the boys are in Crowley’s place. Crowley’s ready to go, yeah… but Sam can’t come. He says it’s because “I don’t like you, I don’t trust you, and, oh yes, you keep trying to kill me!” Sam is upset about this but Crowley isn’t asking him, he’s asking Dean. Dean is hesitant at first but when Crowley walks away he agrees to go without Sam—with much eye contact avoiding and shamefaced head-ducking. They drive away in the Impala and leave Sam at the house.
 
Not too much later, we see Sam has found himself some liquor and is chatting with Bobby via the phone. I liked how Singer kept it continuous by cutting between them even while one was talking by hearing them through the phone—most just cut between them when it’s the other’s turn to talk. Sam is complaining about Dean and Crowley and Bobby is lending a sympathetic ear. This whole conversation is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Then Sam changes the topic.
 
Sam: Hey Bobby, uh, remember that time you were possessed?
Bobby: Yeah, rings a bell.
 
Sam wants to know how he didn’t kill Dean. Bobby is suspicious… why’re you asking, Sam? Sam wants to zip up into Lucifer and then make him jump into the cage. Bobby is pissed—they just got Dean off the edge and now Sam is lining up? No, no, he wouldn’t do it unless they all agreed, they just have to consider their options. Bobby insists it isn’t an option—how could Sam control Lucifer when he can’t even control himself?
 
Cut to Dean and Crowley outside of the pharmaceutical company. The demons are on the 12th floor. Dean thinks they’ll have to find a way in the back, and Crowley rolls his eyes.
 
Crowley: You Winchesters make everything so complicated.
Dean: (seeing that Crowley has disappeared) Aww, crap. (he picks up the binoculars and looks at the building, he sees Crowley wave and slit the desk guy’s throat) Crap….crap, crap! 
 
They’ve already discussed the plan and Crowley sends him up the elevator by himself—he’s not coming because there’s demons up there, it’s not safe—with the advice to try and be convincing.
 
Dean kills the demon outside of Mr. Brady’s office and gets his attention. They sit down for a chat and though Mr. B wants to make small talk, Dean is all business. He heard some folks say Mr. B wanted the rings back, and was willing to pay. Well…
 
Mr. B: Who says I want them?
Dean: …what?
Mr. B: Who. Says. I want them?
Dean: (audible gulp) You know… folks.
Mr. B: See… War and Famine, even if I could cram the rings back on their bony fingers, I doubt it would do much good. They’re withered husks right now, fetal position on the floor, all thanks to… you.
Dean: (another audible gulp)
Mr. B: So I don’t want the rings… what I want is retribution. And I’m gonna rip it right out of your ass.
 
Mr. B beats up Dean pretty good, a few stomach kicks, he feels so. Much. Better.
 
Commercial, afterwards is an “O Death” promo for the rest of the season which is where we get our first look at Death, and it’s SO COOL. Death has this awesome beautiful white car with a “Buh-Bye” license plate (I’d hate to be the one who cuts him off). I literally fell in love when he just brushed his shoulder and the guy fell down dead. Whoever’s idea that was is my hero. But anyway.
 
Dean makes it to the elevator and can I say how much I love this shot? From him getting into the elevator, moving around the elevator, to getting out of the elevator was all one, continuous shot and it has such a good effect on building the tension. I haven’t seen that too much on this show—Singer is my favorite director for a reason. And the balance of the shot afterward, with Dean looking super out of place in this symmetrical, geometric office, mm I just eat it up. But anyway, of course Mr. B can poof, so he’s right behind Dean and he hits him one more time before Crowley grabs him, bags him, and beats him with a crowbar.
 
Dean: What the hell was that?
Crowley: That was perfect.
Dean: Perfect? He didn’t want the rings, he wanted me!
Crowley: Imagine the surprise on your face!
Dean: What?
Crowley: Your ignorance and misinformation were completely authentic, I mean, you can’t fake that! (Dean looks pissed) What? It went like clockwork!
Dean: Not for me you son of a bitch!
Crowley: That’s what you get, working with a demon.
 
Crowley is carving a symbol onto their captive to lock him into his meatsuit, and Dean is, understandably, concerned for his already-abused upholstery. “Up yours, mate.” Crowley gives him directions to go somewhere that isn’t back to Sam and Dean wonders why. Well, they can’t take this guy back to Sam. And why the hell not? Erm, well, kinda, maybe, sort of, they might have a bit of history. Dean breaks violently again and tells him to start talking.
 
Obviously, whatever Crowley said didn’t make a difference to Dean because they show up back at the house anyway. Dean ties up Mr. B in the other room while Crowley warns Sam that he’s against it and that he’s going to screw it up. Sam ignores him and goes in anyway.
 
He’s confused by the scene in front of him, and even more so when Dean starts telling him to stay on mission and that he trusts him. Uh, what’s going on? The guy in the bag addresses Sam by name and Dean tentatively lifts the bag off to reveal… Sam’s old friend from college, Brady! Sam is utterly confused, but that quickly shifts to alarm when he is informed that no, Brady hasn’t really been Brady in years. He’s a demon, has been since the middle of their sophomore year.
 
Thrown, Sam starts putting it together. “You son of a bitch….you son of a bitch, you introduced me to Jess!” He lunges for him but Dean intervenes, pushing him out of the room and telling him to calm down. Sam wants to kill Brady but Dean says they need him.
 
Crowley goes to talk to Brady and the gist of the conversation is, Brady doesn’t believe Lucifer would kill the demons. Crowley tries to explain that Lucifer is still an angel, he hates demons, but Brady turns it around and says he’s going to die whether he gives up Pestilence or not, so why wouldn’t he die on the winning side?
 
Crowley leaves and comes upon a stressed out Dean, who tells him his moose is cooling off and asks if Brady bought his Girl Scout cookies. No, and Crowley makes to leave—he’s going to go kick open a hive of demons.
 
So naturally, as soon as Crowley leaves and no one’s watching Brady, Dean gets up and splashes water on his face in the bathroom. I saw it coming a mile away: Sam locks him in. Wow, Dean, very smart of you.
 
Sam goes to confront Brady with the intent of killing him and yes, they are doing last words.
 
“Brady here, he was a good kid. Straight and narrow, I mean your best friend, really, perfect point of access. [Thanksgiving?] Yes sir! Remember how I came back from break all messed up? Dropped out of pre-med, the drugs, the bitches? That was the new Brady, that was me. Remember how much time you spent trying to get me back on the right track? You really were a good friend. But Ol’ Yellow Eyes didn’t send me back to be your friend, no, he could tell we were starting to lose you! You were becoming a mild-mannered worthless sack of piss! Now come on, we couldn’t have that! You were our favorite! So I hooked you up with a sweet, innocent piece of tail. And then I toasted her on the ceiling. That’s right, Azazel may have put the hit out on Jessica but man, I got to have all the fun. You know, she thought we were friends too. Let me right in—she was baking cookies. She was so surprised, so hurt when I started in on her.”
 
I love the actor playing Brady, his delivery was excellent even if his enunciation is sometimes a little weird. Sam lunges for him, practically frothing. But Bobby’s words ring in his mind and he manages to restrain himself. He walks away. My guess is that the thing with Lucifer is going to happen. I said this in a comment once , but I vaguely remember the writers assuring us that Sam got his redemption in this season, so I wonder if that’s it.
 
Commercial, then Dean is freaking out in the bathroom but Sam lets him out, he hurries to make sure Brady is alive, and is relieved to see he is. Crowley returns and tells Brady he’s going to live forever. Brady is irritated, and wonders what Crowley did. Massacred some demons, that’s what, and let one of them go with the impression that Brady and Crowley are, wait for it, lovers in league against Satan. Now Brady is also on the boss’s eternal torment list.
 
Oh, and also, one of them planted a tracking thingadoober on Crowley and a hellhound followed him.
 
Dean is completely and understandably terrified, the look on his face is reminiscent of “Yellow Fever.” He goes for the salt but it’s too late, the hellhound breaks the window and lunges for him. He books and gets a gun from a bag—no Sam, no salt—and the look on his face is…well, I’m not sure what it is. I’ve never seen it before.
 
Crowley is invested so he shows up again. He shouts “stay!” so Dean wonders if he can control the hounds. Well, not that one. Crowley brought his own…and his is bigger. There’s a totally perfect moment where he pats a huge invisible thing next to him before he tells it to sic him, boy!
 
The fighting hellhounds are about the destroy the place so they jet out to the Impala. Cut to them all parting ways… well, kind of. Sam looks pissed and Dean makes a ring of salt so Brady can’t run.
 
Dean: All those demons, all those angels, all those sons of bitches, they just don’t get it, do they, Sammy? (and it’s so nice to hear that again)
Sam: No they don’t, Dean.
Dean: See, Brady, we’re the ones you should be afraid of.
 
Sam slips into a fighting stance and approaches Brady like a crouching tiger, while Brady spews the “Sam is like a demon” speech at him, and then Sam kills him and tells him it’s an interesting theory. Dean looks concerned, and Sam walks past him with purpose, leaving Dean staring at the ground and over to the left a little.
 
Commercial, then Bobby and Crowley have words. Bobby is pissed because he hates Crowley as much as the boys, and shoots him even though it won’t kill him, just out of principle. When Crowley tells him he doesn’t know where Death is, Bobby tells him to get off his property before he blasts him so full of rock salt he craps margaritas. Crowley gets to the point: he can find Death, there’s just a little catch. He requires Bobby’s soul. Well, better to give the devil you know your soul than let the devil you don’t run free. Bobby thinks about it, and his counter is blasting Crowley full of rock salt. I thought Bobby might be the first one not to bargain away his soul at that point, but of course he starts to reconsider. “I’ll give it right back,” Crowley tells him. The episode ends with a close-up of Bobby’s face, looking mighty thoughtful.
 
It’s like no one in the Winchester World has read “The Devil and Tom Walker”! Deals with the devil ALWAYS GO BAD. There’s no way Bobby’s gonna get his soul back 100%, in fact there’s no way any of this is going to go as planned. I’m looking forward to seeing how all this goes down.