THEN:  Mary says, "I love you" to her boys, then fights Lucifer.  There are images of Alt World and a summary of the ingredients for the spell needed to open a rift.  If they can gather those things, they can "bring everybody home."

NOW:  A beautiful outside shot of a grand building in Malta; it's a monastery.  A holy and beautiful religious chant fills the air; nuns walk sedately through shadowy halls; but there is an intruder -- a suspicious figure peeking around the corner.  The black-garbed man enters a room; his flashlight reveals treasures, but he focuses on one:  a scull on a crimson velvet pillow inside a glass-sided case.  He smashes the glass, removes the scull and turns.  There's a nun standing sedately directly behind him.  He stares, then strikes her down.  He apologizes to her still figure on the floor before escaping with his purloined relic.

The title is displayed:  "A Most Holy Man."

Sam and Dean are in the bunker's kitchen, Sam on his laptop, Dean removing a pizza from the huge vintage freezers.  They discuss how the search for the ingredients to the spell is going, and they wonder who would be a most holy man?  A saint perhaps?  Sam finds a market for religious relics.  Dean thinks 1) it's gross and 2) where's the market?  Sam says it's online, and he's found a legit dealer - Margaret Aster.

The scene changes to San Francisco and a close up of a woman's red lips sipping a fancy drink.  She's a stylish young lady with a vintage air to her, sitting in a swanky restaurant.  This is Margaret Aster, the dealer in holy relics.  Sam and Dean approach and she flirts with Sam.  Sam flirts back, and Dean rolls his eyes.  "Why do you want the blood of a most holy man?" she wonders.  "It's important . . . to ME," replies Sam.  She directs them to Richard Greenstreet in Seattle, warning them that he appears to be a gentleman but they should be cautious.  

The scene changes to an expensive-looking study with a well-dressed and well-fed man stuffing his face with a powdery pastry.  Sam and Dean, now in suits, explain that they need the blood of a saint for a worthy cause, but Greenstreet doesn't care about that.  He mocks their Montgomery-Ward suits and cheap ties and says they can't afford what they want.  They turn to leave and he calls them back.  He has a deal:  Santino Carpetti, the local mob boss, had something stolen in Malta - the skull of St. Peter.  If they can get him the skull, he will give them the blood of St. Ignatius.  They're not sure they can do that, but Greenstreet tells them that he has faith.

As they leave, Sam is disgusted:  "This is what we've come to?  Thieves?"  Dean says it's not perfect, but they're not perfect, and they need to make the best of what they can.  The song "Accentuate the Positive" rises as they get in the Impala.  

Dean strikes up a conversation with a girl in an internet cafe; she's reading a book on demons and is interested in the supernatural, but just then Sam calls him over to his table:  he's been checking the names of people recently arriving by plane from Malta, and he thinks he has found the robber.  They track the man to an elegant, old-world-style hotel, where they bump into an intense man in a brown suit coat getting off the elevator.  He looks upset, even angry, but we don't know why.  Sam and Dean go up to their suspect's room only to find it trashed and the man himself lying on the floor, dead.  

An older middle-aged man in a suit enters with a gun and a badge, but instead of arresting them or calling for backup, he orders them to handcuff themselves to the radiator.  He rummages hurriedly and vainly through the room, ignoring their suspicions and thankfully not shooting them (because it's obvious he's not really a cop).  He'll probably call the cops though, so once he leaves, Sam gets out a lock pick and frees them both.  Dean calls him a Boy Scout because he's always prepared.  Sam says he doesn't know what Dean is.  As they leave the hotel, brown-suit man peeks at them from behind a newspaper.  They walk away as cops pulls up to the hotel, but as they approach the Impala, tough guys in suits and tailored coats with weapons tell them that their boss wants to talk with them - it's the mob.  Dean doesn't want to comply, but Sam says it's fine.  Dean with a glare hands over the Impala's keys and gets in the backseat while the mob minions drive them to meet with Carpetti.  Brown-suited mystery man watches.

Carpetti plays down the menace but plays up the stereotypes, patting a cat and listening to opera in a luxurious room.  He tells the Winchesters that he knows who they are and that they supposedly died six years ago, and he knows about their deal with Greenstreet.  According to Carpetti, Greenstreet is a scoundrel with no respect.  The mob boss on the other hand has pure motives; he appreciates the relics he has, and, as a devout Catholic, has given them a good home.  Dean points out that the skull already was in a good home - the nunnery in Malta - and Carpetti had stolen it.  The mob boss laughs and offers them what he calls a "devil's bargain."  Since his cat burglar has been murdered and the skull is missing, he wants Sam and Dean to find the skull and return what is rightfully his.  Dean challenges how "rightful" his claim on the skull is, and Carpetti marvels at his nerve, talking back to him like that in his home surrounded by henchmen.  Dean says it's a deal, but they might not be able to find the skull. "Failure is not an option," warns Carpetti.  

The Winchesters go back to the hotel, although it's crawling with cops, because Dean feels it's the place where they might pick up a clue.  The crime scene is guarded by an officer so Dean pulls some fire alarms.  As the guests and the police leave, Sam sneaks into the room, flipping through various belongings of the dead man but finding nothing.  Sure, Dean can "feel it," Sam mocks to himself, but then suddenly finds a paper with numbers. Before he can get a good look at him, he's hit in the head by the mystery man and is knocked out.  

Outside the hotel in the night, guests wait while firemen enter.  The mystery man in the brown suit walks away, but he's followed by the fake cop.  Their shadows fall on the alley wall; the second man pulls a gun.

Dean enters the hotel room and utters a panicked "Sammy!" when he sees him unconscious on the floor, but shortly afterward, they are walking away from the hotel, Sam moving a little woozily and Dean teasing him about how often he gets hit in the head and how his thick princess hair should be some kind of protection.  They hear a struggle and run down the alley to find the mystery man lying unconscious on the ground.  Sam and Dean take him to what looks like the hotel lobby (Have the firemen checked the whole place already?) The man says he is a priest from Malta searching for something that had been stolen from their monastery.  He tells them that he doesn't have the paper that he took from Sam; the man who struck him down must have it.  He is a priest from Malta, searching for something that had been stolen from his community - the skull of St. Peter.  He has money to buy it back.  The sisters have faith, he says.  "How's that working out?" says Dean drily.  

The priest describes how painful it is to lose something you love and revere so deeply; what would they do if something they loved was gone?  Sam understands him.  "I failed," says the priest sadly.  "The world's screwed up; what you gonna do?" says Dean.  "Change it?" asks the priest, not so much with optimism as determination.  He says that the world is imperfect, but you can't use that as an excuse.  You have to work to improve things in whatever way you can.  If people do good things, the world can get better; every day can get better.

Sam wants to get the skull back for him and his community in Malta, but Dean pulls him aside, disagreeing.  They were working for Greenstreet now Carpetti, now the priest?  Hoping to convince Dean, Sam asks him what he'd do if someone took the Impala.  "Murder," Dean calmly states.  Sam is a bit taken aback but, realizing he's made his point, starts explaining how they can get the skull for the priest, but Dean is still imagining what he'd do if someone took the Impala:  torture is mentioned.  He hasn't heard a word Sam is saying, still focused on his grim reaction to that horrible possibility.  

The brothers are driving with the priest in the back seat when he remembers the numbers.  It's a tracking number!  Sam searches the internet and finds out that it's for a package mailed from Malta five days ago.

The fake cop shows up at the shipping center to pick up the package, but the Winchesters are waiting outside.  They trail him in the car, surprised when he pulls into an alley.  Another vehicle pulls up.  Feet get out:  first a man, then a woman in a high heeled shoe.  It's Margaret Aster, Sam's "girlfriend."  "So much for simple!" realizes Sam.  The fake cop worked for HER!  She enters a deserted factory where Carpetti  and a couple of his goons are waiting; she now has the skull and he can have it if he's willing to pay.  "If he won't pay, I will," says a voice, and Greenstreet with a bodyguard of his own walks in.  There's a distinct noir feel to the whole scene.  Beautiful and mysterious mood music plays as Aster's "cop," who'd murdered the robber to get the tracking number to get the skull, opens the package to reveal the sacred bones.  "Ahhh!" Greenstreet and Carpetti both are filled with awe.  

Outside in the car, the priest and Dean are waiting.  "God will see us through," the priest says.  "No, he really won't," answers Dean.  God hasn't given a damn about humanity for a long time.  But the priest is steadfast in his faith:  God isn't going to swoop in with a rescue, but the priest believes that all good things are God things.  And Dean's brother has a good plan:  he has entered the factory with the priest's money.  He wants to buy the skull too.  "Let's make a deal!"  Dean hears what's happening on the phone:  "Let's go!"

Inside, both Greenstreet and the mob boss accuse Sam:  "I thought you were working for ME."  "I'm working for ME," states Sam.  "Money's money," shrugs Aster.  

Outside a mob heavy is guarding the door.  The priest approaches.  "What are you doing?" the enforcer asks.  "Creating a distraction," the priest honestly replies, but it's too late for the bad guy:  Dean is behind him and chokes him out.  "Creating a distraction?" he asks.  "Lying is a sin," responds the priest.  

Inside, Aster gives everyone a piece of paper; they are to write down their top offer.  She looks like she's from another era with her upswept hairdo, fur collar, and classic suit-style dress.  She still smiles at Sam.  Outside, several bodies are lined up on the ground; Dean has been taking out the guards one by one.  He's going in.  "I'll say a prayer," offers the priest.

Aster's henchman checks the offers:  "Lurch" (Sam) has written $634,000.02.  Carpetti scoffs; his offer is three million.  The last offer is Greenstreet's or "Fats":  it's a zero.  Instead, Greenstreet offers the henchman a million to kill Aster and give HIM the skull.  Aster doesn't believe he'll do it, but then he makes his decision and shoots her in the back.   A gunfight ensues with everyone shooting at each other, Carpetti and his men, Greenstreet's goon, Aster's ex-employee, and Sam and Dean.  Greenstreet huddles away from the bullets.  The soaring voices of a reverential Catholic choir fill the air in sharp contrast to the fighting men.  The priest prays.  The mob boss goes down; the turncoat is shot but not killed.  Some of the henchmen are shot.  The priest enters and struggles with the fake cop who suddenly shoots him.  The priest collapses.  Sam, horrified, shoots the killer.  Sam and Dean check out the priest; he's only been grazed.  "It's a miracle," he smiles.  

They're the last ones left alive, except for Greenstreet who is cowering.  He tells them he can't give them the blood because it doesn't exist.  "That was just a bit of chicanery."  "Chicane THIS," says Dean, punching him.

The cops arrest Greenstreet, and the Winchesters drop the priest off at the airport.  "We all have faith in something," he tells them.  He mentions a title that the pope has given him.  Translated into English?  A Most Holy Man.  There's a little something he can do for them, says Dean.

Back in the bunker, Dean has a vial of blood.  "One down, three to go," he says.  Sam sighs.  "We're playing defense."  There will always be more evil, more monsters.  Could there be a way for them to really change things, to stop all the bad?  He looks yearningly earnest.  Dean looks still and quiet.  "That'd be nice," he finally says. Will their plans work? wonders Sam.  "I have faith," smiles Dean.


Now, a few questions, from less serious to more: 

  1. Has their ever been a show where so many people have been in suits?
  2. How does Margaret Aster compare to Bella?
  3. Who was the baddest bad guy in this episode and why:  the thief, the conniving internet seller, her traitorous employee, the smug connoisseur, or the mob boss?
  4. Did the Winchesters need to hear the priest's challenge about how an imperfect world is no excuse for not trying to change things for the better?
  5. What does Dean have faith in?
  6. Are the writers setting up a potential ending for the show, in which the Winchesters sacrifice themselves to put an end to the supernatural monsters that have plagued their world?