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"Malleus Maleficarum"
--Robin's Rambles by Robin Vogel
I had early knowledge of this episode during my Vancouver visit when I learned they were filming a witch episode next, really, really scary and good, is what I was told. While this ep had its good points, it doesn't fall amongst my favorites. Meh.
Paul and Janet, an amorous married pair, return from a party; he unzips her dress and lets it fall to the floor. The wife retreats to the bathroom to brush her teeth. Somewhere, a woman begins to perform a ritual and chant in another language; all we can see are her lips, but one word we can understand clearly is "diabolic." While Janet brushes her teeth, the other woman unwraps a toothbrush on a table, slices the inside of her hand with a knife and lets the blood drip onto the toothbrush. Janet reaches into her mouth and, with a horrible snap, pulls out one of her own teeth. "Oh, God," she says, alarmed. The chanting and bleeding over the brush continue. Janet pulls out another tooth. Terrified, she calls, "Paul!" Her husband rushes toward the bathroom, but the door closes between them, and he can't get in. Bleeding heavily from her mouth, Janet begins spitting out more teeth while her husband bangs at the door. The chanting woman violently stabs the toothbrush. Paul is about to kick in the door, but it opens gently by itself. His wife lies dead on the floor, blood dribbling from her mouth. One of her teeth slides toward the drain in the sink.
Sam scans the house with a flashlight. She was so scared, Paul tells Dean, CDC agent, and I couldn't do anything to stop it. I've talked to the police, and no one can explain. Did Janet have any enemies? asks Dean. "Poison?" asks Paul, confused, "no one--everyone loved my wife." Sam finds a hex bag under sink, nods surreptitiously to Dean. We have everything they need and will get out of your way, Dean tells Paul, who looks like there's something he's hiding.
Was Paul was being evasive? wonders Dean. Sam wasn't paying much attention because he was busy finding the hex bag. Dean's face curls with disgust as he looks over the contents--bird bones, rabbit's teeth--old world black magic, warts and all. They climb into the Impala, Dean complaining about how he hates witches--always spewing their bodily fluids everywhere, downright unsanitary. They sure had it out for Janet, says Sam. Some craggy old Blair Bitch in the woods, says Dean. They're human, says Sam, could be anyone--someone in Janet's life had an ugly ax to grind. Find the motive, find the murderer. They take off.
Elizabeth, working in her garden, calls to her neighbor, Amanda, who has returned from shopping and seems hurried and preoccupied. "Amanda, you didn't show up to book club last night," says Elizabeth, concerned. "I just got busy," says Amanda, hurrying inside with her one bag of groceries. Amanda enters her house and sets down her bag. Her right hand is bandaged (the same one we saw cut by the mystery chanter involved in Janet's death). From the oven, she removes a plate of chicken which is boiling with flies, maggots, etc., and smiles with satisfaction.
Paul sits in his car, dejected. "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" plays on the radio as he eats a hamburger. Amanda brings out her rotting meat and sets it on the table. She picks up a knife. Paul checks his watch, which appears to be missing. Amanda has it, she's changed into sexy black lingerie (the men in this show just want to see scantily-clad chicks, I swear!), and she's chanting. She says, "Dinner was cooked for you, Paul Arthur Dutton," and she stabs the knife into the rotting chicken, "now you're going to eat it." In the car, Paul puts down his burger, which is now roiling with maggots. The tune on the radio has changed to "I Put a Spell on You Because You're Mine." He turns it off and takes another bite of his burger. He takes a close look at what he's eating, sees what's crawling on his food, moans with disgust (the music turns back on, same song that was playing before), and begins to choke. Dean and Sam come tearing around the corner in the Impala as Paul falls from his car. Sam locates the hex bag in the car and burns it, which sets Amanda's chicken aflame, too. Paul is saved. Someone murdered your wife and now they're trying to murder you, too, says Dean.  At first, Paul refuses to believe it, but when Dean presses, Paul confesses he was having an affair with Amanda and she was blackmailing him, but he ended that a week ago.
Frantic, Amanda pages through the Book of Shadows. A wind blows through, tamping out her candles. She's scared. Suddenly, long, deep cuts score her left arm, wrist to elbow, then her right. "NO!" she cries, bleeding heavily. She topples forward onto the coffee table and we see her bleeding out from underneath the glass.
Very artful and gross scene ending here. There is a LOT of blood in this episode. That and plenty of women in lingerie. I can't figure out why Amanda changed into a sexy outfit to perform her spell, except to titillate the audience. Hey, I begrudge no one!    
Dean breaks into Amanda's house. He and Sam, guns drawn, find her dead in her living room. "That's a curve ball," says Dean, noting the vertical cuts on her wrists. Sam finds the gross-smelling food and the book and says she was working heavyweight evil. Dean bumps face-first into a dead, hanging rabbit and cries out. "Friggin' witches! Seriously man, come on! Like fatal attraction all over again. . .poor little guy." Why did she do all this? wonders Sam. "She got Janet, thought she got Paul, decided to turn it into a spurned lover's hat trick," suggests Dean. Sam finds a hex bag under the coffee table. Witch on witch violence, says Dean, who opens his phone to report the murder, closing it just as he says, "My name is. . .." They don't know why witches are killing each other, but they believe they have a coven on their hands.
Determination poster - "All right, I'm going," says Ron. "I'm not fooled by your little book club, by the way, it's all dish and gossip. No one brought a book." He leaves to go to his fantasy ball game. Elizabeth enters. The three women discuss how unstable Amanda was as Tammy puts candles on the coffee table. Amanda killed Janet Dutton. Tammy: People don't just spit out their teeth all of a sudden. Elizabeth insists they stop book club, it's all gone too far. Renee tries to soothe Elizabeth--sure, Amanda killed Janet, then killed herself, but look at what good book club has brought us. . .your husband's promotion, your trip to Hawaii? My home pottery business taking off?" Elizabeth is convinced. They bring out the witchcraft paraphernalia, hold hands, and call to the Book of Shadows. (Death vs. home pottery. . .priority lessons needed here.)
Sam and Dean come across Elizabeth digging in wormy soil in her yard. You must have a green thumb, remarks Sam, getting these herbs to grow out of season like this. They show her their badges, Detectives Bachman and Turner. They want to discuss Amanda's death--did she know about her satanic practices? She was an Episcopalian, says Elizabeth. Then she was using the wrong bible, says Dean. The other two ladies join them. Mrs. Renee van Allen gets quite snooty and explains how hard "this Amanda business" has been on all of them. "Yes," agrees Tammy, "you think you know a person. . ." I guess we all have secrets, don't we? agrees Dean. The brothers bid farewell as the coven glares at them suspiciously.
Impala, Dean: "I'm sold on that Elizabeth chick and her victory garden," he says, "Belladona, wolfsbane, mandrake. not to mention that flinch she threw when we mentioned the supernatural." Sam: "She's gone up a few tax brackets, won too many raffles, kind of thing a little black magic always helps with. Mrs. Renee van Allen has won every craft contest she's entered in the last three months." Dean: "Regular Martha Stewart, except for the devil worship--I'm thinkin' that's the coven we met back there, minus one member." Sam: "Amanda was clearly going off the reservation--do you think they killed her to keep up appearances?" Dean: "If they killed the nut job, should we thank them or what?" Sam: "They're working black magic too, Dean and need to be stopped." Dean: "Stopped, like STOPPED? They're human, Sam." Sam: "They're murderers." Dean: "Well, then, burn, witch, burn." 
The car abruptly loses power, and they find themselves face to face with Ruby. Once out of the car, she warns Sam, "You must get out of town." Dean points the Colt at her. Sam is horrified. "Get in the car and don't look back, Sam!" orders Ruby. "I don't understand," says Sam, torn between her and his brother. "We can take care of a few kitchen witches ourselves," Dean assures Ruby. "I'm not talking about witches," says Ruby harshly, "but who they serve." "Demons," realizes Sam, "they get their power from demons. "There's one here, now," says Ruby, "it knows you're in town and it's way more than you can handle--put a leash on your brother, Sam, if you want to keep him!" "Chill out," Sam urges Dean. "No!" yells Dean, "she's messing with your head! Shut up, bitch!" "I'm sorry," says Ruby, advancing forward, "why are you even a part of this conversation?" "Because he's my brother, you black-eyed skank!" spits Dean. "Oh, you care about your brother SO much, that's why you are checkin' out in a few months, leavin' him all alone?" she demands. "Shut up," orders Dean. He fires, but Sam grabs his hand and the shot goes awry. Ruby disappears.
Conquistador Motel: "What the hell were you thinking?" Dean demands of Sam. "She's a demon--we want them dead, they want us dead." "I remember Casey, that demon chick in Ohio, you didn't want her dead," Sam reminds his brother. "She wasn't stringing me along like a fish on a hook," says Dean. "She's useful," says Sam. "We kill her before she kills us," says Dean. "Kill her with what?--the gun she fixed for us?" asks Sam pointedly. "If she wants us dead, all she has to do is stop saving our lives--we're not just hunting anymore, we're at war!" "Are you feeling OK?" asks Dean. "Why are you always asking me that?" asks Sam, exasperated. "Because you're taking advice from a demon, for starters," says Dean. "And by the way, you seem less and less worried about offing people." "And what has that gotten me?" asks Sam. "Nothing, but it's just what you're supposed to do," says Dean. "So you're mad because I'm agreeing with you?" asks Sam. "I'm worried because you're not acting like yourself," says Dean. "Yeah," says Sam, "because you're leaving, and I'm going to be stuck here in this craphole of a world, alone, so the way I see it, if I'm going to make it, fight this war after you're gone, I'm going to have to change into you, be more like you." 
Dean is suddenly struck by terrible pain; it feels like there are knives inside him. He's sure it's the coven. He falls back against the bed, gasping in agony, and begins to spit up blood. Sam wildly searches the room and rips apart the mattress with his knife, trying to find the hex bag. Dean, on the floor, continues to throw up blood. Realizing how close his brother is to death, Sam takes the Colt and heads for the door. "Sam, what are you doing? SAM!" screams Dean, hurling up more blood. Sam races away in the Impala on rain-soaked roads. He's going to force the coven to release his brother!
Sam bursts through Renee's door, where the three witches are holding hands around the coffee table, chanting. He aims the Colt at them. "Let him go!" he orders, out of breath. They have no idea what he's talking about. "If you know about me, you know about this gun," says Sam. "You're killing my brother--get away from the altar--now!" The three frightened women do as he says, mouths agape.
Ruby kicks in the hotel room door. Dean, on all fours on the floor, still spitting up blood, gasps "You want to kill me? Get in line, bitch!" She grabs him by his collar, hurls him onto the bed, straddles him, and pours something into his mouth. "Stop. . .calling me bitch," she orders.
The women tell Sam they don't know his brother and weren't hurting anyone. "Stop the spell--or die," offers Sam. "Five seconds." He cocks the gun. Terrified, Elizabeth explains they were just getting Renee a lower mortgage. Sam purses his lips, unsure.
"Maybe it's not you, or you," says Sam, passing the gun over first Elizabeth, then Renee, maybe it's you." He stops on Tammy, pointing out that she's the only one of the coven who hasn't benefited, or is it that she's getting what she wanted--these women's souls? Tammy tries to give a believable "it's not me" speech, but her eyes turn black and she admits, "Nice dick work, Magnum." Elizabeth and Renee, hands still up, gaze in horror at Tammy. "Let my brother go," demands Sam. "Couldn't find my hex bag?" taunts Tammy, "sorry, sweetheart, but your brother's lungs should be on the floor about now." Sam fires, but Tammy holds up her hand and the bullet stops and falls harmlessly to the floor. "You're in a lot of trouble, Sam," she says with a cruel grin.    
With a raise of her hand, Tammy pins Sam, grunting, against the wall. "Tammy, what's wrong with your eyes?" asks Elizabeth. "What are you doing?" demands the hoity-toity Renee. "Shut your painted hole, Renee!" commands Tammy. "Not in my house!" says Renee, insulted. Tammy waves her hand and breaks Renee's neck, killing her. Elizabeth screams in horror. Sam, still pressed to the wall, says, "Let the girl go, you have me." "Wait your turn, young man," advises Tammy, and turns to Elizabeth, who is quavering, in tears. "I had to break the ice with you girls somehow," she says, admitting she isn't really Tammy, that she, like Amanda and the REAL Tammy are what happens to witches "who get voted off the island"--who did you think you were praying to?--you sold yourself to me, you pig. All I had to do was bring one good book to book club and you ladies lined up to kiss my ass!" "No!" protests Elizabeth, sobbing. "Yes, you knew every step of the way," exults Tammy, "and your souls are mine." 
To Sam: "Comments? Questions? Sammy Winchester, right here in our little town! My friends and I have been looking for you. You're not our messiah, we don't believe in you--there's a new leader rising in the West, a real leader, the one who's going to tear this world apart; he doesn't like you very much, doesn't like the competition,"--she sends his body rising up the wall as he groans in pain--"nothing personal, it's a PR sort of thing, so, buh-bye. . ." She slams his body harder against the wall, the plaster cracking under his weight. Sam groans in agony. Elizabeth whimpers in fear. Dean runs in and is immediately whisked over a sofa to fall on the floor. Tammy presses him against the opposite wall. "Two for one," she says exultantly. "Lovely!" Ruby enters, both hands raised in supplication. "Wait, please," she says to Tammy. "I just. . .came to talk." You made it out of the gate," says Tammy, "impressive--it was a bitch of a fight, wasn't it?" "I've been lost without you," says Ruby, "that's why I brought the Winchesters here." Dean lip-syncs to Sam, I told you so!, shaking his head. "They're for you," says Ruby, stepping closer, "as a gift." "Really?" asks Tammy in disbelief. "I've wanted it--you--for so long," says Ruby reverently. Dean looks hopeful for demon-chick action. "You were one of my best," says Tammy softly and the two of them are near kissing distance. 
Ruby moves to thrust a knife between Tammy's eyes, and the latter adds, "but then again, you always were a lying whore." The two demons fight viciously, administering bruising punches and kicks to each other. Tammy gets the upper hand on Ruby, sending her on her back into a pile of debris. She gives Elizabeth a warning look, retrieves a fireplace poker and says to Ruby, "You really threw in your chips with Abbott and Costello here?   Ruby tries to rise, but Tammy strikes her hard in the head with the poker, sending her back down again. Elizabeth runs to the coffee table and empties out a dish of pins. "Get up!" Tammy orders Ruby, whose nose and lip are bleeding. "I said get up!" Tammy drags Ruby, who is breathing heavily, up from the floor. Tammy looks at Sam and says, "She was one of mine; pretty embarrassing, I turned her out a long, long time ago--Ruby, here, was a witch--of course, that was when you were human." Sam and Dean listen, taking this in. "Oh, continues Tammy," didn't want your friends to know, that all those centuries ago, you sold yourself to me? But don't worry, love, no secrets where you're heading, remember?" Tammy starts the ritual to return Ruby to hell. Smoke begins issuing from Ruby's mouth. Suddenly, Tammy falters and begins choking. Unknown to Tammy, Elizabeth has been quietly chanting at the coffee table. Ruby's essence returns to her meat suit. 
Tammy coughs and puts her hand to her mouth. Dean and Sam fall from the walls, released. Tammy looks at her hand, where she has spit up blood--and hatpins! She squeezes her hand and Elizabeth is instantly felled by a fatal heart attack, falling face first to the coffee table. Dean takes the opportunity of diversion and drives the demon-killing knife into Tammy's side, over and over. He drops her to the floor and gazes down at her, pleased. Dean and Ruby exchange stares. Sam looks over the entire scene, too weak to move. Dean helps Sam up; Ruby struggles to her feet. "Go," urges Ruby, "I'll clean up this mess." Dean pushes Sam along, but when they stop and turn around, Ruby exposes her dark demon eyes and says, threateningly, "GO!" They turn and leave. First thing Ruby does is pull her demon-killing knife from Tammy. Smoke issues from the wound.      
Ruby put on a great show for Tammy, can't deny that. It appeared she was fooling her old lover/boss/whatever when she tried to put the knife in her face, but that gave the game away, and the fight was on. Cool fight, too, gals battle so much more nastily than men do. Good thing Elizabeth interfered and helped save Ruby and the Winchesters (singing group)? She lost her own life in the process, however. I guess the moral here is, don't have book club with witches, or demons posing as witches.
At the hotel, Sam splashes water on his face. Outside, all the lights flash as Dean stands there. He stares around nervously until he sees Ruby walking toward him. "So the devil may care after all, is that what I'm supposed to believe?" he asks. "I don't believe in the devil,' she says. "Whacky night," opines Dean. "So you were human, died, went to hell, and came back. . ." He points to her. "Right," she says. "Back when the plague was big." "So all demons were human once?" asks Dean. "Every one I ever met," says Ruby. "They sure don't act like it," says Sam. "Most of them have forgotten what it means," she says, "or even that they were; that's what happens when you go to hell, Dean, that's what hell is, forgetting what you were. The same thing will happen to you--it might take centuries, but sooner or later, hell will burn away your humanity. Every hell bound soul turns into something else--turns into one of us, so yeah, you can count on it." "There's no way of saving me from the pit, is there?" Dean asks, after a long moment's thought. "No," she admits. "I only told Sam there was so he would talk to me; you Winchesters can be pretty bigoted--look at you, trying to be all stoic--my God, it's heartbreaking." "Why are you telling me all this?" demands Dean. "I need your help with Sam," she says, "I need you to help him get ready for a life without you, to fight this war on his own." She starts to walk away. He stops her with a question: "Ruby--why do you want us to win?" "Isn't it obvious?" she asks. "I'm not like them. I don't know why, I wish I was like them, but I'm not. I remember what it's like, being human." Dean looks up, he's alone in the parking lot with the Impala.
1.  This was more an ep about demons than witches.  Amanda used her powers to get rid of her rival (after the affair was already over, for some weird reason), then her ex-lover. She had issues, for sure, but apparently when someone finds and burns your hex bag, the spell reverses and kicks you in the ass. Oh, well, she was foolish for getting involved in the first place. None of the gals gave any thought to what they were getting—and what the much darker consequences were.
2.  The scene involving Ruby saving Dean was very sexy for me. She tossed him on the bed, jumped on top of him, forced him to down something he said tasted like ass. Did anyone beside me wonder how he knew what ass tasted like? Never mind. In this season, she was really a savior for Sam and Dean. The latter would have died without her here.
3.  Ruby finally admits—to Dean at least—that she can't save him from going to hell. Her REAL reason for what she's doing is to get him ready to fight this war when he is alone. Demons were all human once. She realizes how scared Dean is and that he's putting on a brave, stoic front. He's going to become a demon, too. None of that actually happened, perhaps he wasn't down there long enough?
4.  Sam feels the witches should die because they're committing murder. Your thoughts on this? Eye for an eye? 
5.  This episode rates around a 5 on my 1-10 scale. I enjoyed it when Dean and Sam were pinned to the wall and Dean was mouthing, “I told you so!” while Ruby was playing out her lesbian love scene for Tammy. Leave it to Dean to look for chick on chick action under the worst of circumstances! He so hoped Ruby and Tammy would get it on! I liked the scene when Ruby appeared before the Impala and poor Sam was caught between Dean and the demon. There really is more chemistry between Jensen and Katie than Katie and Jared, at least IMHO. What do you think?


# Sablegreen 2010-03-25 09:48
This episode wasn't high on my list either. At this point I still hadn't decided whether Ruby was a good or bad. When she admitted she was lying to Sam, I decided bad.

I always like Katie Cassidy as Ruby, better than Gwen Cortese. Katie just seemed more 'demonic' to me. I've always wondered what 'Ruby' would have been like if Cassidy had continued in the role.

Good review Robin
# Randal 2010-03-25 11:11
This episode tends to move up and down my list. I love the premise and overall vibe, but it's missing that joie de vivre (joie de morte?) that I can't quite put my finger on.

1. Just because the dirty deeds are done, doesn't mean the rage is dirt cheap. ;-)

2. I wish Ruby would toss me on the bed. Those phrases always get me; this takes like ass, that beer tastes like piss. Do tell, purveyor of decadence.

I did like the unspoken consistency. Azazel found Dean useful in 2.22 (and said as much, so it's partially spoken, ha) and Ruby finds use for him here.

3. I wonder how long it would take, given each individual's character and makeup, and of course, being Alastair's apt pupil would surely accelerate such proceedings.

4. Interesting point to ruminate on, given how Dean himself on at least one occasion was all about ending a human life. Unlike one of the psychic kids, one would assume a murderous witch/warlock/m anwitch (Xander!) would need his/her paraphernalia to conduct such a campaign, and I doubt John Law would allow access in the big house.

5. Definitely more chemistry between Jensen and Katie, which works because you want that tension between ostensible opposites, whereas Sam is willing to listen.
# Bevie 2010-03-25 15:44
I liked this one a lot.

Loved Dean's anti-witch pro-bunny rants.

Loved Dean and Ruby together and all that tension that provided.

Loved Ruby straddling Dean and saving his life with her ass-tasting witchy concoction. Made me like her a little bit for a while.

Loved the look on Dean's face at the prospect of a cat fight with Ruby and Tammy. Live in the moment Dean! :o

Loved the talk at the end with Ruby. Dean's disappointment that she lied to Sam and couldn't save him after all was palpable. That was a downer. :cry::

I know this is one that most don't care for, along with "Bugs", "Route 666" and "No Exit", but - ding dang it! -
I love all 4 of them! :-)