Um, okay…well.  That’s one way to kick off a season ending arc.  
 
I’m going to admit, my level of engagement in this season has been casual at best.  For me to try and chase down all the violations of continuity and character behavior that are being done to service stories that aren’t adding up would be too much of an exercise at this point.  It’s also completely futile.  It boils down to are you enjoying the story or not?  Put me in the “not” camp. 
 
What I Did Like
 
How about I point out some of the things I did like about “Beat the Devil”?  I only started screaming at my TV about 30 minutes in so it wasn’t a total waste.  
 
I appreciated Sam’s dream in the beginning, because it was the perfect way to start with Sam’s mindset.  We so rarely get his POV and it was important going into this knowing that the thought of rescuing Mary and Jack as dominating his dreams at night.  It made me understand why he would be so reckless to take innocents through a vamp filled tunnel.  Sam has hit a desperation point and I can only imagine that Dean is having those dreams as well.  It gave me great context for the mission. 
 
I thought the hookup of Gabriel and Rowena was cute.  If anything, it adds some fodder for the banter at the Supernatural conventions.  I could have gone with not hearing their internal voices, but hey, it was harmless fun as far as I was concerned.  It chewed up way too much valuable time, but it was still an attempt at humor.  That falls in the “What Would Edlund Do?” realm that I often like to explore when evaluating episodes.  He would do exactly that, phallic references and all, just better.  
 
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I loved the conversation between Gabriel and Castiel.  It’s interesting that Gabriel even entertained the notion of being the one to save Heaven, even if it’s plausibility was questioned.  He didn’t think it was that crazy an idea, but he’s rightly questioning if he can be redeemed after all this time.  Perhaps the coming events will be the kick in the pants he needs to step up once and for all.  Of course, as soon as that conversation happened it was rendered useless by the entire cave incident, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  I also loved his devastation at the camp after Sam was lost.  It felt genuine.  He does love these boys after all, especially Sam.  Moose  does have a way of rubbing off on people.  
 
The cave scenes were creepy and classic Supernatural.  They were at least well shot and the cinematography superb.  It looked like they went back to the old set of “Wendigo,” which was filmed at the Britannia Mine in Britannia Beach, British Columbia.  Nightsky, Bardicvoice, Tigershire and I have toured that mine, inside and out!   It’s a place that TV shows in the area love to film.  
 
The Rest
 
Warning, for all you happy fans looking for positivity and love of show, it’s best to sashay away right now.  The rest is going to be as bloody as Sam’s demise.  Thank you.  
 
For the first time since we binge watched the first six seasons of “Supernatural” together a couple of years ago, my 16 year old son watched an episode with me.  This was the conversation:
 
My son:  Why is this writing so bad?
Me:  Welcome to my world.  
 
Let’s start with the uselessness of Gabriel and Castiel.  These guys are angels.  Hell, Gabriel is an archangel!  I know Gabriel is having some grace issues and might be lacking in the power department, but last I looked he wasn’t totally powerless.  Castiel definitely isn’t powerless and I’m wracking my brain trying to find a part in the story that explained he’s running on low power.  Maybe it happened when I was painting my nails during one of the recent episodes. Or using the bathroom.  
 
In what I remember from the lore, angels fought monsters by giving them a good old fashioned smiting.   Not to mention angels jumping into a vamps nest wouldn’t be a problem if they were bitten or mauled, no matter how powerless.  They kind of can’t die from monster bites, right?  I mean, Gabriel took a bad beating last week and recovered.  He was strong enough to move giant rocks blocking the path, right?  Why didn’t Sam and Dean just send the angels in first, have them take care of vamps and then they walk on through?  I know, too easy.  It does make you wonder though, why were Castiel and Gabriel even there then? 
 
Since we’re on the subject of Castiel, I do believe Mr. Berens has forgotten that the reason Lucifer is out of the cage is because of Castiel and Crowley, not Sam.  He’s the one that said yes to Lucifer and Crowley thanks to his out of character petty act for payback let the Prince of Darkness loose on the world in a healthy Nick vessel.  No matter who shoulders that blame though, the last person who has responsibility is Sam.  Why does he even carry any of this guilt?  Perhaps he shouldn’t have visited Lucifer in the first place, but it was hardly his magic and will that went all wrong.  He did give Lucifer a vehement “no” and was willing to die rather than let Lucifer loose until Castiel caved.  
 
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Sure, the cave scenes were shot very well with the right amout of tension and suspense, but plot was as flimsy as Sam’s jugular (sorry, too soon?)  Everything that happened was twisted and contrived just to move Lucifer’s plot forward, a plot that has been failing for quite a long time.  How many times can we stomach watching Lucifer walk all over Sam Winchester?  It’s this constant failure with plotting that has utterly ruined my faith in “Supernatural.”   All these dumb, often out of character choices, ones that secondary characters keep making, means Lucifer is still a presence and Sam has to suffer because of it.  That even happened again this episode when Lucifer once again pushed Rowena's buttons.  Ugh, not again.  How is that remotely interesting?  It’s become more than repetitive.  It’s become downright infuriating.  
 
I have to give TV guide credit for raising another nagging question that I had while watching.  How was Sam’s death here necessary?  Why show another death when we have a whole bunch of resurrected characters?  Every single major player in this week’s story has died at least once, in most cases more than once.  We knew it wasn’t going to stick.  Sam’s demise meant nothing this week other than a ploy to evoke another Dean Winchester single man tear.  Going there diminished everything and stunk of desperation.  
 
I absolutely hate the “Damn if he does, damn if he doesn’t” world in which Sam lives.  There are no wins.  Yes, it happens to Dean too, but Sam especially gets hit hard.  He does the right thing and always gets screwed, like letting Lucifer possess him so he can toss Lucifer back in the cage, only to spend 180 years in the cage suffering extreme torture for his sacrificial act.  He gets sprung, with no soul, then gets his soul back and has a mental breakdown until Castiel conveniently takes that all away.  Does he persevere?  Nope, any chance at a normal life, like with Amelia, gets snatched away.  Any hope we had with the Men of Letters has been thrown away.  Then he does the wrong thing because he doesn’t want to let Dean down and unleashes The Darkness on the Earth.  Then he gets to fetch water for God without having a real meaningful conversation while having his act of hitting a damn dog thrown in his face all the time.  No matter what happens though, he goes on like a lifeless robot, taking hit after impossible hit with little to no reaction, because, well why does he?  The greater good?  He should go back home, never leave and tell the greater good to suck it.  
 
These are the questions Sam started asking himself earlier this season and I was actually thrilled they were explored.  That’s why it’s so heartbreaking to see what he had to endure in this episode.  He had been given this brief respite of hope, a chance to save Mary and Jack, and it goes tragic, in the worst possible way.  How many times does he have to help his former tormentor, the one who basically damaged him for life? As njspnfan so well put, it’s another Kobayashi Maru scenario for Sam.  When dying bloody turned out to be the best case scenario for Sam, you know something has gone off the rails in the plotting.  
 
Of course, my rant here shouldn’t be limited to just Sam.  Dean’s character hit a new low too and he’s another victim to this contrived, poor-decisions-made-for-the-sake-of-driving-some-sensational-story, plotting.  You know, I’m going to let an old friend handle Dean’s issue though.  I’m a little spent.  
 
The Red Headed Monster
 
Hey everyone!  Miss me?  
 
Ahem.  Repeat after me…DEAN WOULD HAVE NEVER LEFT SAM BEHIND!!!  I know it happened in “Red Meat” but he was there, staring at an actual dead body.  There was an imminent threat outside the doors and they had to go.  In this episode Castiel ran into the cave following Sam, comes out a few seconds later and tells Dean he’s gone and they don’t have time.  DEAN LISTENS TO HIM??? WTF???  There were so many better options than leaving Sam behind.  Like, if they found him, maybe they could find another angel or perhaps Jack could heal him if he was dead.  Sure, it didn’t look good, but his death was not confirmed at the time.  Or, Dean could have sent Castiel and Gabriel in there to get him, since you know, they can’t be eaten by vamps.  Or, Dean could have sent Castiel and Gabriel to the camp with the girl and he could have joined them later.  That would have been more consistent with the speech from Sam last week where they die together.  
 
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I’ll tell you why I like the latter choice, because it ruined a setup for a great scene.  Dean could have found Sam’s mangled and lifeless body, shed a few tears, found himself ready to unleash his overwhelming anger on some vamps, only to find out that they can’t enter because Lucifer was there and holding them back.  Then Dean and Lucifer have the conversation, Sam’s life for safe return to the camp.  There’s no reason it should have only been Sam’s burden!  They should have been there together.  
 
But yeah, how about he leaves Sam behind, who if he wasn’t rescued by Lucifer would have his body eaten and picked clean, thus giving Dean nothing to find, just so he could shed a single man tear to Mary, who BTW showed almost no remorse in the fact that one of her sons just died bloody and horrible.  At least Jack was tore up.  His was about the only genuine reaction out of the entire ordeal.  
 
OR, since Dean did leave Sam behind (WTF????), couldn’t they have spread out the whole Sam is dead thing a little longer than five minutes?  How about making it really hurt?  This could have easily been spread over two or three episodes, but I know that this show hates doing multiple parters because it means that writers actually have to compare notes and follow each other’s creative choices.  So yeah, Dean dying with Sam is really the better choice here since Sam would have wanted it that way.  That way, Lucifer would have resurrected them both. 
 
I just wonder if Billie had “alternate universe” in her death scenario library.  Shouldn’t Death cover the many realms and not just one?  I already hate the idea that there are multiple Heavens and Hells as well as Earths.  Why didn’t we see a reaper immediately visit Sam?  Are there no reapers in the alternate universe?  Food for thought, knowing the script didn’t have that sort of time to cover it because more was needed for dick jokes.  
 
Whew, this really is exhausting.  I send it back to my partner, who has some closing words. 
 
Final Thoughts
 
I hate being this harsh, I really do.  To be honest, this is the first episode in a very long time that I’ve actually watched same day it aired (in fairness though, I couldn’t watch “Scoobynatural” same day because my local TV was malfunctioning that evening).  I heard great things about “Beat The Devil” and thought I should try it.  I had high hopes.  I ended up not only being disappointed, but very angry that I was so duped by the “joyous” fans out there that couldn’t stop praising it.  So yeah, I don’t get it.  I’m sorry for that.  I know I won’t be watching next week, because I swore off Brad and Eugenie episodes for sake of my blood pressure.  I might have to start swearing off this series in general at this rate. I can always hope that all of this will end up meaning something in the last two episodes of the season, but I’ve been fooled way too many times before.  I believe in creative license, but I also don’t have to like what I see if it’s completely illogical and out of character.  
 
Overall grade, a D+.  I think Gabriel was the one that actually saved it from being an F for me, despite his uselessness.  That and Jared for his phenomenal acting despite being given that total crap.  He is a true professional.