Then:  A small grate in a door slides back.  Ketch and Asmodeus peer in at Gabriel.  We see glimpses of Mary in Alt World as well as a reminder that an archangel is needed to create a spell to get into that world.  We see Dean and Ketch step through the rift and Sam watching worriedly.

Now:  A black and white world, barren branches, a snow-laden woods - suddenly, a narrow, glowing rift appears.  Dean and Ketch come through.  "Where are we?"  Dean admits to not knowing where they are; it's different from where they were before.  He expects Ketch to leave, but Ketch wants to help him find Jack and Mary.  Mary will probably kill you when she sees you, says Dean, and Ketch agrees but says that Dean needs backup. 

They walk along a stream and under a wide bridge past a blackened body tied to a tree, a grim reminder of the war-torn world which they've entered.  They hide when soldiers begin to cross the bridge.  The soldiers have three people bound with hoods over their heads.  They stop on the bridge, and a soldier announces that they are guilty of fomenting rebellion against Michael.  One by one, each human has his or her hood removed, and a soldier lays his hand on their head, burning out their eyes and killing them with a touch.  They are angels!  Dean immediately reaches for a weapon, but Ketch reminds him that that would not be wise.  The third prisoner is revealed - it's Charlie Bradbury or, more accurately, Alt!Charlie.  The angel pauses before destroying her:  "You're not the usual human scum."  They decide to take her back to base for questioning; they want to find the nephilim and Mary.  But before Dean and Ketch can react to this, the group disappears.

Cas and Sam are walking down a corridor in the bunker.  Cas is angry that Dean is in the other world, especially with Ketch as backup, and wonders why Sam let him.  Sam says that Dean was right - it's wiser to leave them behind - but also that he didn't have much choice.  They open a door into one of the bunker's bedrooms,  Sam holding a covered dish, to find Gabriel huddled up against the wall, knees drawn up to his chest protectively.  He flinches wildly when Sam touches him.  Cas and Sam get him to the bed, but he is still huddled up, staring fixedly in front of him.  Sam tells him who he is and reminds him of how he'd helped them and of the video he'd made, but Gabriel doesn't react, just hunches and stares as if they're not there.  His lips aren't sewn together anymore, but his face is still bruised and bloody.  Sam lifts the cover off the plate to reveal, not food, but a vial of grace that Asmodeus had taken from Gabriel, but Gabriel won't take it.  Cas is willing to use coercion, but Gabriel flails out at them, then flings himself off the bed into a corner.  Sam and Cas are stymied:  Gabriel won't let himself be helped.

The scene changes to show someone playing solitaire on a pristine floor - it's Lucifer!  Sister Jo flounces in with lots of attitude which he doesn't appreciate; he wants her to keep him happy.  Jo, however, wants him to behave like a king.  She wants him to change things, make heaven better, and help the angels, but Lucifer is more interested in what Jo could or should be doing to please him.  Another angel enters; she has no advice for the squabbling "couple" nor does she have news on Jack's whereabouts.  "He's a priority," emphasizes Lucifer, eyes glowing red.  The angel promises to keep looking and leaves, but Lucifer isn't satisfied:  he knows the angels would have responded to God's commands with a lot more alacrity.  If you want to be treated like God, you have to act like God.  Your dad created; you only inherited, goads Jo.  She's disrespectful which displeases Lucifer though he doesn't do anything to her.

A close-up shot of marbles being rolled in someone's hand:  it's Asmodeus, upset that he's lost Gabriel.

We leave the demon's throne room for Alt World again.  Dean and Ketch are walking through the snowy woods.  Suddenly, Ketch is gone.  When Dean questions him, he says he was being stealthy which is a wise thing to do in this dangerous world.  They argue about their purpose.  Dean wants to find Charlie because she's seen Jack and Mary; she'll be able to give them much-needed information.  Ketch, however, thinks this may be more personal for Dean.  Dean refuses to answer.  He continues to stride purposefully through the snowy landscape; Ketch once again fades stealthily into the landscape.  When Dean turns to look for him, an armed man steps from behind a tree, firing directly at Dean.  Dean is hit, spinning back and sprawling on the ground.  He tries to crawl away, but his assailant leaps on him, wresting his arms behind his back trying to tie him up.  From out of nowhere, Ketch flings himself at the stranger.  They struggle, and Ketch finds himself on his back in the snow with a knife threatening him.  Then, a gunshot!  Dean has gotten to his feet and now has the upper hand.  The stranger won't answer their questions about where the soldiers were taking Charlie, so Dean shoots him in the leg.  The injured man tells him that they're taking her to the silo. Having the information he needs, Dean slugs the guy, knocking him out.

Back in the bunker, Cas enters the bedroom and is shocked to see Enochian letters inscribed all over the wall.  It's Gabriel's story, starting with his death - or, rather, his apparent death.  He'd allowed Lucifer - who has double his brawn but half hs brains - to impale a copy of himself, leaving him now completely free with no obligation to God, heaven, or humanity.  So he disappeared, choosing to shack up with some porn stars in Monte Carlo.  But then he was captured and delivered to Asmodeus who grew strong from stealing his grace.  Cas and Sam realize that Gabriel's intellect is intact, so they wonder why he won't communicate with them. Is it that he can't or that he won't?

There is a sudden incongruous burst of music.  We see dressy black shoes and a hand adjusting a tie.  It's Lucifer in a black suit with a white shirt ready to do God's job.  He puts on a pair of sunglasses and sits back on the throne, listening to the prayers of humans, but he barely makes it for half a minute before he grows annoyed.  He has no patience for this whining, but then he hears something interesting - a Latin incantation.  It's an exorcism;  two priests are trying to drive out a demon from a teenage girl who's tied to a bed.  Lucifer appears casually in a corner of the room.  "Oh, crap!" realizes the demon inside the girl.  Lucifer snaps his fingers and the demon leaves.  "You're welcome," he says to the priests, but they are horrified to hear his proclamation that he is Lucifer.  They don't buy his explanation that he was just God's scapegoat, and they begin chanting Latin at him and spattering him with holy water.  Impatiently, Lucifer explodes them both - poof!  

Ketch and Dean are examining the weapons they took off the man who'd attacked them.  It's cutting-edge technology and the bullets can kill angels.  Ketch wants to check Dean's wound, but Dean refuses.  He keeps going until he collapses in the snow.  Ketch, worried, pulls back the collar of Dean's shirt showing the bullet hole with scary black lines running out from it across his skin.  Ketch mixes a concoction, saying that the Men of Letters had developed a poison that he believes coated the bullet.  As if a bullet wound isn't bad enough, a bullet coated in this poison will first incapacitate and later horribly kill anyone hit by it.  Dean says that the Men of Letters are dicks.  Ketch says, "Yeah."  With a brief warning, he rubs the antidote into the wound while Dean stifles his pained reaction.  

Back in the bunker,  Cas has his hands on Gabriel's head.  He cannot heal an archangel, but he hopes to be able to jolt his mind, but Gabriel just stares blankly ahead.  Cas is afraid that Gabriel might be lost.  Sam is about to leave the room, then turns to speak earnestly to the wounded archangel.  He tells Gabriel that he has to dig himself out and that he understands what it's like to try to get away.  He'd thought he'd gotten out of a life he didn't want only to realize that his family needed him.  "This is my life," Sam says.  "This is where I make the world a better place.  Your family needs you.  Jack, your nephew, needs you.  I need you."  It might be appealing to shack up with hookers, but they need him to help!  " Help us!"  Gabriel just stares, no response to Sam pouring out his heart.  Sam turns away.  Then suddenly Gabriel speaks:  "Porn stars.  They were porn stars."  His eyes glow blue.  

Dean and Ketch are walking through the snowy woods, Dean staggering a bit.  Ketch wants him to rest, but Dean won't, until he falls flat on his face.  OK, so maybe he will rest for just a minute.  Ketch wants to talk about Charlie; Dean doesn't. Ketch wants to go back through the rift.  Instead of trying to find this woman, they should return to the bunker, regroup, and get reinforcements.  Then they can come back to find Mary and Jack.  Dean pushes himself up.  "They're going to kill her, and I'm not - " he breaks off before finishing his sentence, then adds that Charlie was family.  She was a sister, and she was butchered.  He failed her.  There's a quick flashback, intensely colorful in contrast with this black and white world, of Dean hugging Charlie and then of Charlie's bloody body in the motel bathroom where she died.  Ketch understands Dean's feelings of failure and loss; he had lost many people too, only he'd never even tried to save them.  He'd been too focused on "duty" - "rubbish!" he adds.  "Well, you do suck," agrees Dean.  Ketch says he'll help Dean rescue Charlie and reaches out a hand to pull him to his feet.  

Charlie does need help.  The angels have been interrogating her.  She's on her knees on the floor, refusing to answer their questions beyond a defiant "Bite me!" They're not going to get anything from her.  They might as well kill her. 

Gabriel willingly ingests his grace, but they don't get a moment's respite:  Sam's phone immediately rings.  It's Asmodeus; he wants what belongs to him.  He says that Gabriel is of no use to them anyway.  He'll give them ten minutes to turn Gabriel over to him before he comes into the bunker to get him himself.  

In Heaven, Satan is suffering from a severe case of ennui.  Nothing is worth his time or his talent.  Everything is flawed beyond redemption.  He's going to refocus on fatherhood.  He'll remake the world in HIS image, full of people willing to worship him.  Jo, however, is not sympathetic.  She demands that he make angels and give the remaining ones their wings.  Well, admits Lucifer, he actually can't do that; he lied.  Jo is outraged.  She calls him a failure.  She's says he's afraid.  Still sitting in the throne, Lucifer reaches up and chokes her before throwing her aside.  But his power doesn't phase her.  She tells him that he's lost her now too and walks out in anger.  

Dean and Ketch have found the silo.  They see a ragged group of humans marched out by a couple soldiers, then Charlie is dragged out and tied to a pole.  They're about to execute her - "All hail, Michael!"  - when Dean throws a grenade into the compound.  Then he and Ketch go in, guns blazing.  The angel-killing bullets take out several of them, but one slips into a shed, watching for a moment before disappearing.  Dean unties Charlie; "Who are you?"  she asks.

Back in the bunker, Gabriel is upset by Asmodeus's threat.  He keeps rubbing his temples.  Sam has checked the warding, but suddenly the lights go out and the red warning lights go on.  Sigils in the hallway are flashing in warning.  Cas and Sam, weapons drawn, head down the bunker hallways and enter the war room where they're suddenly jumped by two men in black suits - demon henchmen.  They kill them both to no avail, however, because Asmodeus is in the bunker.  With nothing more than a flick of his fingers, he sends Cas and Sam flying through the air to land on the floor against the wall.  Two more goons drag Gabriel into the room, and Asmodeus gloats at recovering his prisoner and threatens punishment.  Then he turns to Sam and Cas and twists his wrist in the air; they begin to writhe in pain.  He has complete control.  Gabriel is being forcibly escorted up the bunker stairs, but then his eyes begin to glow.  He throws the demons over the banister.  Asmodeus scoffs:  "I broke you!  You're weak!"  Gabriel straightens; his eyes glow, his wounds disappear, and the shadow of his wings appears on the wall behind him.  Asmodeus throws a burst of power at him; Gabriel easily deflects it.  "I hate your suit!" he declares, then sets Asmodeus on fire.  The erstwhile demon king begins to scream before bursting completely into flame and burning away to nothing.  

Back in AU world, Dean has been trying to explain everything to Charlie who wonders exactly how close this alternate version of herself and Dean had been.  "You like girls," says Dean.  That makes Charlie happy.  She's amazed that Mary is his mother; she's not sure she believes him.  Dean says she should believe her because of that - and he points to the rift, the glowing rip in time and space that glimmers warmly in the snowy woods.  Ketch tells Dean that Dean should go through the rift and get help, but he will stay and find Jack and Mary.  Charlie wants to stay too; this is her home and her friends.  Dean doesn't want to lose her, but she says that's not his call.  The twenty-four hours are almost up, and several angels are approaching.  With barely any time to spare, Dean jumps through the rift as Ketch and Charlie start firing at the angels.  

In the bunker, with the demon bodies still on the floor, Sam and Cas have been trying to catch up Gabriel on everything that has happened, but it's all too much.  He is not receptive to their story.  He is not interested in being part of their team.  He doesn't care for the "redemption arc" that he's been on and plans to leave.  Sam can't believe he'd leave, but Gabriel says that he trusted Sam before and he did manage to save the world from the apocalypse.  Cas says that Gabriel can't turn his back on their father's creation, but Gabriel says that God turned his back first; he's just following in their father's footsteps.  He's being like God.  "Please!" pleads Sam, but Gabriel disappears.

Dean suddenly comes through the rift.  "You're hurt!" notices Sam, then adds, "Where Mom?  Where's Jack?"  Dean is concerned about what's happened while he's gone:  Asmodeus was in the bunker?  Gabriel is back?  Sam has to admit that Gabriel left; he's not going to help them.  "He doesn't get to say no!" declares Dean desperately.  But at least they have his grace, right?  Sam admits that they used the Gabriel's grace to heal him.  It's gone.  "If we can't open the door, I should have never come back!" exclaims Dean.  In a burst of anger, he strikes out at the the items on the tabletop which go flying.  "Every time!" he rages.  "We get so close, and then it falls apart - every time!!!"  He's shaking with anger and despair and frustration.  "We will find Gabriel!" Cas insists.  "We'd better!" Dean replies.

THE END

I can't wait to discuss some of the things that have happened, so here are a few questions to get the discussion started:

  1. Why is Lucifer putting up with Sister Jo and her demands?
  2. Will Ketch remain a true ally or will he turn on them at some point?
  3. Why does Sam specify not just that Gabriel's family needs him, that Jack his nephew needs him, but that specifically he, Sam, needs him?
  4. Lucifer says that everything is flawed beyond redemption.  Contrast this common attitude among supernatural beings with the Winchesters' determination to keep fighting to save people. 
  5. Both Lucifer and Gabriel say that they are attempting to be like God. How do you evaluate their efforts?  
  6. How will they reopen the rift to try to rescue Jack and Mary?