"Good morning, Vietnam!"

The recap takes us straight into the episode, thrusting Sam into the after effects of his sacrifice in "Repo Man." He is running, plagued by his hallucinations of Lucifer, and has not slept in days. Those he encounters are unsympathetic and chase him away. As he stumbles, Sam bumps into a man, and that man shouts after him, "Hey! Dick!" He eventually encounters a drug dealer who offers some sedatives that will allow him to sleep, but they fail to produce the results he desires.

A hunk of metal is thrust through the windshield on the side of the car Sam has crashed in, and he jumps out in a panic, running away after he realizes that it was in his head. Not paying attention to his surroundings, Sam is then struck and tossed by a car. It injures his ribs, and he ends up in the hospital. Unfortunately, because of his mental state, they also lock him away in the psychiatric ward.


Dean is beside himself with worry over his mentally fractured brother. He will not and cannot accept that Sam will die this time, and in a reflection of "Faith," he starts to put out feelers to find another faith healer. Sam doesn't have much confidence, certain that it will only be a matter of time before he dies. He says to Dean, "We know better than most. It's all snake oil. Last faith healer we hooked up with had a reaper on a leash. Remember?"

Finding another one to heal him without consequences is next to nil. And yet, Dean must try and do everything in his power---just as Sam had so long ago when he had originally found Roy.

Dean burns through numerous contacts that he knows through Bobby. All of them but one reject his pleas. It would seem that Dean is also not alone in his search---another hint that Bobby is somehow without them emerges just when the elder Winchester needs it most. The contacts book falls on the floor and out falls a business card for Mackey. At the end of his rope and with nothing left to lose, Dean leaves him a message. Mackey gives him a call back and tells him about a healer he found in Colorado, a faith healer that goes by the name of Emmanuel---translated into meaning "God is with us." Mackey informs Dean that the man seems legitimate and passes all the tests. He is no demon, no magic user, no pagan god. Dean, in his desperation, goes to seek him out, only to find demons waiting at the door. When he finally looks behind him, he spots the last person he thought he'd ever see again: Castiel.


Meanwhile, Sam is taking his licks from Lucifer. There is the endless noise, taunting, and visions. Lucifer brings out all his bags of tricks, from putting maggots into Sam's food to blaring at him with a megaphone or shooting off fireworks. He blares "Wake up little Susie," and endlessly keeps Sam awake despite all the sedatives and medications concocted to knock him out. If the taunts and noise Lucifer inflicts isn't enough, the sheer exhaustion is also taking its toll. He is wavering on tired feet, yawning extensively, and looks about ready to pass out into oblivion---if only he could. Lucifer's worst tortures aren't making Sam see or hear things. It is his refusing to let Sam rest.

And yet, Sam isn't totally shutdown. Despite his extreme sleep deprivation, he manages to help another patient there because of her own supernatural problem. Marin is hearing her brother's voice"”and has ever since he passed away a year earlier. At first it had started off as comforting, but over time as her brother became an angry spirit he became more and more violent. He burned their house down around her and forced her to make an attempt on her life. She is scared and desperately needs help. Her mental state is not medical---and mirroring Sam, no medication will cure her of the voice. No psychological treatment will cure Marin of this haunting. Stuck in the institution now "Five weeks and counting. Going for the record," Marin just wants it to be over and to end.


With all of his issues, Sam takes the time to listen to her story and her reason for why she is in the ward. It doesn't take long for him to put all the clues together and realize that she is being haunted.  He starts going into hunter mode. On one hand, it is an attempt to outrun and outgun Lucifer---even while trapped in a psych ward room with no escape---something that Lucifer points ot with glee. "Is it just me, or is this just like the Cage?" On the other, it is a testament to Sam's inner character and strength to put others first and want to help.

Once he has all of the clues together and the necessary tools to put Marin's brother to rest, he puts together a salt circle and takes the bracelet from her---the thing that is keeping her brother here and tying him to her. Unfortunately, Lucifer is nonplussed about being ignored and makes it seem to Sam that he's blowing the salt circle apart. He has to instruct Marin on what to do until he regains enough of his wits to manage lighting it on fire.

Afterward, he forces her to flee. Before she leaves, she expresses her gratitude for Sam's help with a soft, "Thank you." It is a small gesture, one that Sam needed to hear. In its utterance is the hope that Sam must somehow cling to as time ticks down on how long his physical body can last without sleep. Resigned at this point that he most likely will not survive, Sam made a difference in another's life, and that is all the gratitude he needed.

Soon after the hospital staff puts Sam on tie down to prevent him from using a banned item. If this isn't bad enough, the staff he's been placed in the care of does not have his or anyone's best interests at heart. It would seem that Crowley has grown impatient and has sent his horde back after the Winchesters---right when their chips are down. A demon proves as much to Dean when he says, "Please. What have you done for him lately? Roman's head on a plate? No? Whatever Emmanuel is, Crowley's gonna want him "“ a lot more than he wants you these days."

It is a race against the clock, and while Dean has found the least likely person to be Sam's healer in a mysteriously resurrected Cas, it is the only option on the table. That, too, comes with it's own problems---namely in the form of Meg. The only demon to have been on the brother's tails since season 1, she once again inserts herself into their situation, all because of Castiel. She is still trying to unseat Crowley as the King of Hell, and as any good demon knows, make the best of any opportunity. Castiel is being pursued by Crowley---all because of his healing.


The other problem? Castiel has no idea who he is---or what he is. He has all of his angelic abilities as before, but no memory. In mirror to his vessel, Jimmy Novak, Castiel has married a woman named Daphne. Much like Jimmy, Cas will have to make the heartbreaking decision to leave her behind and resume his angelic role. They arrive at the hospital, just as Sam is being "medicated" via electro-shock at the hands of a demon doctor. Castiel, uncertain and yet the same as he was before the deal with Crowley, manages to regain his memory by smiting the demons waiting outside the hospital.

He is remorseful and heartbroken at his actions---and tries to walk away. He says, "Because of me. Everything. All these people. I shouldn't be here." Dean chases after him, and says, "If you remember, then you know you did the best you could at the time." Castiel retorts back, "I deserved to die. Now, I can't possibly fix it... So why did I even walk out of that river?" Dean replies, "Maybe to fix it. Wait." To complete the gesture, he takes out the trenchcoat he's been toting from vehicle to vehicle, returning it to its rightful owner. It is a gesture of forgiveness and acceptance that the past is best left in the past. There is too much at stake---mostly Sam---to remain angry over it any longer.

Just as Sam can't take anymore, the angel smites the demon---but it is too late. Sam is too far gone, too far beyond Castiel's limited angelic help. All he sees is Lucifer. All he hears is Lucifer. He confirms as much when he rasps out, "You're not real," to Castiel. The remorseful angel tries to heal him anyways, only to find what was left of the wall is gone. He informs Dean that he can't fix it "Because it crumbled. The pieces got crushed to dust by whatever's happening inside his head right now."

Comments  

KELLY
# KELLY 2012-03-26 12:34
Sam broke my heart this episode. He was being so strong, despite the utter weariness in his every movement. I loved that he seemed so worried about Cas at the end. Despite what Cas did to him he seemed to hold no grudges and moved directly to concern about a friend.

Misha and Jensen performances were fantastic as well. I thought Miner was a little off this episode, but normally like her.
Can't wait for the aftermath this week. To see what Sam is like now that it is not Satan-vision 24/7. And how Dean is now that Sam is off the crazy-train and Cas has redeem himself for breaking Sam.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-03-26 15:41
Sam really showed his character here in more ways than one and that's probably why it was so powerful for me, too. He gave and gave even when he had nothing left in the tank. I agree that he seemed to also put what Cas did behind him and felt concern for him instead. That's powerful.

I think it'll be very interesting to see what Dean does now, too. He's been watching, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It did. Now Sam's been "fixed." Something tells me that he'll still be waiting for something bad for Sam.

Thanks for the comments!
Beverly
# Beverly 2012-03-26 12:35
After having a few days to digest this episode, a few things stick out to me.

I don't think Crowley cancelled the "do not harm" on the Winchesters. I got the impression that this batch of demons found out about Emmanuel and decided on their own that his capture was more important than keeping Winchesters alive. I don't think Crowley knew about Emmanuel. I think Dean was the one that said - all the demons that knew were dead. I think like the demon in "Time for a Wedding" they were trying to get ahead in the hierarchy. If they had succeeded in killing the Winchesters, it would have been an "Oops, we're sorry but look who we found." Crowley has implied more than once that his control of the demons is not the best.

Makes me wonder also how many days Sam was awake. In the alley, Lucifer said it had been 5 days. Now when Dean went to find help, there was at least a night and day when he was calling people. Then when he was driving home with Cas, they started out in daylight - nighttime with Meg in car - daylight to get to the hospital. Assuming that the trip out was the same distance :D Sam had to have been close to the 11 day mark referred to by Lucifer or then some. And if Dean and Sam left immediately after the "shift", how did they explain Cas being there and not Sam? I am surprised that Sam did not immediately pass out for days once Luci-vision got disconnected.

Overall LOVED this episode!!! Can't wait for the rest of the season.
percysowner
# percysowner 2012-03-26 13:09
I agree with you that Crowley may not have canceled his protection of Sam and Dean. Meg may not even be "an army of one". The demons could have been her allies used to convince Dean that she is on their side. Or, as you stated, they may have their own agenda. Demons lie.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-03-26 15:47
I think, in hindsight, you're absolutely right. I wouldn't be surprised if some of those demons (ie the ones that attacked at Cas's house or the gas station) weren't in Meg's group. Those at the hospital were simply looking to get a leg up in Crowley's eyes by eliminating the Winchesters and capturing Cas. I think you're onto something most certainly.

I think Sam was reaching that 11 day limit, yes. It is a specific number to throw out and until Cas showed up to smite the demon torturing him and then "heal" his physical condition, I think he was reaching that limit.

Thanks for the comments! I love seeing what others pull out from an episode.
Beverly
# Beverly 2012-03-26 15:54
I don't know why I didn't pick it up before but just now reading your reply. When you put "heal" in quotes, it jumped out at me. I have a feeling that is part of what Cas did when he shifted Lucifer. He healed Sam's exhaustion that was caused by sleep deprivation, which in turn explains why he did not immediately pass out. At least that question is answered well enough for me . . . as for the rest of the questions running through my mind - the answers are hopefully coming.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-03-26 17:14
It would make sense. If Cas healed Sam from the electroshock, why not restore his body to fully rested, too? He healed THAT first, then admitted he couldn't fix the broken wall.

I think there's a few more things that will have to be answered as we go along. I'd think, judging by the last scene with Meg, that it might have been a day or so after the healing that Sam and Dean left and she went in for the interview, but that's my best guess.
TeresaPezzino
# TeresaPezzino 2012-03-27 12:55
I agree with you, Beverly, I think Cas healed most of the internal damage already caused by his condition or he would have still been very weak. He still had the contusions on his face and bruises under his eyes, so my guess - he chowed down and then slept for a week!
MetamorphicRocks
# MetamorphicRocks 2012-03-26 23:11
Nice review on a great episode. I think the performances were outstanding in this one. It always impresses me how these actors have so embraced all the aspects of their characters, and how consistent the mannerisms of each of them are (which you alluded to above, I believe). Jensen and Jared always impress, but I was particularly struck at the level of poignancy Misha brought onscreen as Cas remembered, and was then filled with regret, over his past actions.

The one disapointment I had in this episode was the lack of a brotherly moment. While Dean of course showed deep concern over what was happening to Sam, there wasn't a real moment between the boys, which really would have delivered an emotional punch, especially when Sam's hallucinations finally stopped. For me, it would have made the whole episode that much more memorable.

Actually, in my opinion, this season has been short on the brotherly moments (with the exception of 7.02). Not that the stories haven't been good, but I miss those scenes that really showed in a blatant way how bonded Sam and Dean are.

I still loved this episode, though!
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-03-26 23:46
Glad you liked my take on this episode.

I really loved the moment between Sam and Dean as they talked about Dean getting Sam a healer. I felt that was a strong moment, but I agree with you that it would have been nice to see something post Lucifer scrambling Sam's brain. I am hoping we'll see that in future episodes.

What I love about the relationship this season is---once the Amy thing had been put to rest---is how comfortable they seem around each other. They're not hiding too much from one another--even if I think they're trying to a degree at different points---and they seem much more on a level playing field as partners. Dean doesn't simply lead and Sam follow. They seem to make decisions together and that's a great dynamic shift I've noticed throughout this season.

This episode really hit home the beauty of Sam and Dean as people and how despite all their difficulties they don't give up on hope. That's impressive.

As for the acting, it blew me away. The littlest gesture or facial expression meant something. I wish I knew more about the craft of acting than I do to really give it justice. It's a shame that episodes such as this don't get recognized for Emmys and such when they rightfully should.
TeresaPezzino
# TeresaPezzino 2012-03-27 13:08
I want to state for the record that I find your review to be the best out of all of the ones I have read (and I have read a lot of them). You catch all of the nuances and focus on the details of the episode and do a fantastic job connecting the dots. Kudos! I noticed some reviews talked about Sam out seeking drugs - I do not think he was, I think he was just desperately trying to run from Lucifer (fight or flight response) and happened to run into the dealer, who offered him a sliver of hope. Referencing the acting craft - I spent years in drama and started out a college theater student, so I have a high appreciation of the work these actors are doing. Memory skills must be very strong, not only for lines but body memory. How they move and hold their bodies in regards to the technical end (i.e. lighting and camera positions) must be in the back of their minds even while digging into the emotions of their character and letting their bodies respond to that emotion. A true actor doesn't decide how their face will look in accordance with a certain emotion, they connect with that emotion as the character and allow their bodies to react to that feeling. It is a real juggling act and a testament as to how good these actors are at what they do. The complexity of the focus needed just leaves me in awe of their abilities. They will go far in this business.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-03-27 18:28
Thank you. I am so glad you liked my review. The bulk of what you read here is first impression, spit out upon the end of watching the episode and then refined after a rewatch. I just try to let the story speak to me. So I'm glad you got something out of my take.

I agree. Sam isn't a druggie. He ended up in the bad part of town and ran into that dealer who just happened to offer something that MIGHT shush Lucifer. It also foreshadowed that the medications the psych ward provided would fail, too.

I loved reading you snippet on what an actor goes through to perform in a scene. Jared told me a little when I asked him in NJ. I just know I'm a writer and really wouldn't know where to begin in acting. I was in one play and didn't even get to say my ONE line (long story). I'd have to think it's a lot more work than anyone imagines---and those who do it well make it look damn easy!

Thanks again!