Back from hiatus!
Then – Dean mentions impossible odds and walking into a trap. We see Michael possessing Dean and doing some of his take-over-the-world activities, Gadreel possessing Sam and Sam able to break free from the mind-control when Crowley said, “Poughkeepsie!”, Jack collapsing and dying but being restored by Cas who speaks of the power of the human soul. Finally, there is Dean attacking Michael with the spear but then being retaken over and Michael gloating in front of the window, declaring his power.
Now – The scene opens on an array of bottles in a bar bathed in a warm, reddish-golden light. Country music is playing in the background, and a red and blue sign proclaims “Rocky’s Bar.” A large moose head is mounted on the wall. At the bar, a guy with his hood over his head slumps, apparently passed out drunk. There’s a lighted up jukebox; the bar is dim but not dark; welcoming but, except for the comatose customer, empty. Outside thunder and lightning rumble and flash in the night. A slim woman with long dark hair enters cheerfully, shaking out her umbrella. She’s in jeans and a black tank top with the words "To Hell and Back" on it. It’s the psychic Pamela, blinded by Castiel and later killed by a demon years ago, but now she is alive and well, joking with the bartender who is none other than Dean, looking calm and happy behind the counter. Pamela tosses down a bag of limes that she’s bravely battled the elements to get, and Dean starts slicing them. Pamela asks him where Sam and Cas are, and Dean responds that they’re hunting a ghoul in Wichita. A woman in a business suit enters, shaking the rain from her blond hair, and lays her briefcase down on the bar. She brings out papers, but Dean, unperturbed, states that the bar is not for sale. The real estate agent points out that it’s a good offer and that the bar is dead. There is a long view of the bar, the camera angled from behind a pool table. Dean, still unruffled, says that he’s never had anything this nice. Rocky’s Bar is not for sale.
Dean sits in a back room looking at invoices and bills. Pamela enters and they share a drink, joking about how he only wants what he can’t have and how he just likes to flirt. He says that the bar is his dream. Later, he takes a case of beer from a back storage area, but soon Pamela is warning of trouble. The door opens and a hooded man enters, backlit by the storm. His mouth is filled with jagged teeth. “Dean Winchester!” he roars, “You destroyed my nest!” Suddenly, the passed-out drunk springs to life, hurling himself over the bar at Dean. Dean punches him down and tosses a sawed-off to Pamela. Then, with a machete in his hand, he goes after the monster in the doorway. Pamela fires, but it doesn’t put the vampire out of commission for long. The fight is fierce but brief, and with a deadly swipe of the blade, Dean decapitates first one monster and then the other. Pamela wipes some of the spattered blood off his face: “The worst thing about working here is cleaning up monster blood afterwards!” she teases. “I’m famous,” Dean admits with a grin.
FLASH OF WINGS – TITLE CARD
We are back in the office In the highrise as Michael declares, “Now this just feels right!” No longer in Dean’s jeans and flannel shirt, he’s back in suit and tie. The title “Nihilism” appears across the bottom of the screen. Sam, Jack, and Cas stand helplessly on the other side of the room, with no options to fight back. “I heard everything,” Michael claims, and we see a glimpse of Team Free Will 2.0 strategizing. With nothing but a movement of his hand, Michael sends the other three to their knees in pain, but they’re not out yet. Sam suddenly douses him with liquid and ignites it. Michael yells as the holy fire burns him, and Cas steps up boldly to snap specially-inscribed handcuffs around his wrists. Michael has doused the fire, and he assuredly asks, “You think these can hold me?” “Yes, we do,” is the answer, and, though his eyes glow blue, he cannot break free. From the streets below sirens sound. Michael reminds them that his monsters are out there attacking the city. Sam tries to talk to Dean, but Michael mockingly says that Dean isn’t available. Sam’s phone rings; it’s Maggie with a car-full of the AU hunters. They’re on their way toward the office building. Monsters are attacking people, but only biting and scratching, not killing. They’re turning the populace into monsters. “Save as many people as you can,” instructs Sam. “We’ve got Michael.” “Do you?” asks Michael, unbothered and superior despite the shackles. Sam tells Jack and Cas to get Michael in the trunk of the Impala. “Garth’s already there,” he’s told. Sam pauses for a moment, then says that it’s a big trunk. But before Michael can get his suit wrinkled by being stuffed into a car trunk, roars and snarls sound from outside the office. Some of Michael’s monsters are coming to the rescue. Cas holds out his hand, angelically keeping the door shut, but he’s not sure he can hold it. “Are we going to die here?” questions Jack. Sam’s brow is creased with worry, but then he calls out for Jessica, the reaper. At first there’s no response, then a woman appears in the office. It’s not Jessica. “I’m Violet; we have shifts now,” she explains. Castiel and Jack can’t see her, but Sam and Michael can. In his world, Michael says, they locked Death away and enslaved the reapers. “Lovely,” counters Violet. Sam begs for help as Castiel struggles to hold the door against the monsters. “OK,” she says, and suddenly, they’re in the bunker. They’re thankful for her help, but she says that wasn’t her. “Have fun” are her last words as she disappears.
Michael sits at the end of one of the bunker tables, handcuffed to one of the pillars in the room. Jack wonders if he should be in the dungeon, but Sam says if the cuffs won’t hold him, the dungeon wouldn’t either. Michael reminds them that he can hear them, so they step away to confer. Sam reminds them of when Gadreel was possessing him. The angel had created a dream world for him, a scenario to convince him that he was not possessed but experiencing the real world. It took Crowley to break into his mind and make him aware of the trick so he could cast out the angel. They need to get into Dean’s mind, except they don’t have Crowley.
Maggie calls, saying that the monsters are leaving the city, heading west, so the hunters are on their way back. “The bunker is WEST of Des Moines, right?” Michael asks, tone light, calm, and smoothly confident. He tells them that try as they might, nothing has changed. The last thing that Sam will see is “this pretty smile as I rip you apart.”
Sam rolls a cart into the room with the machine the British Men of Letters had that had enabled Dean to get into their mother’s head when she was brainwashed. Sam is earnest and desperate: “Cas, this is all we got.”
Pamela and Dean are in the bar, cutting limes, doing shots. It’s raining outside. The business woman enters, soaking wet, with an offer to buy the bar. Dean refuses. He tells Pamela that Cas and Sam are on a ghoul hunt in Wichita. He gets a case of beer from the storage room. He slices limes. “Any word from Sam?” “He’s on a ghoul hunt in Wichita with Cas.” He gets a case of beer from the storage room. The same scenes are cycling again and again, but suddenly a slight frown crosses Dean’s face. “I’ve got déjà vu!” he remarks.
In the bunker, Jack is watching Michael, who thinks it’s a little insulting that the young nephilim has been left with him. “You’re nothing,” insults Michael in an even tone. Whatever interest he showed in him before was nothing but a familial weakness, and he’s over that. Sam is in so far over his head that he’s drowning. Jack verbally defies him, telling him that Dean is strong. “He’s a gnat,” scoffs Michael. “I’m a god.” Then he adds, “I know everything. I know how sad he was when you died, but on the inside, he didn’t care. You’re not Sam. You’re not Cas. You’re just a burden, a job none of them wanted.” As he speaks these devastating words, the camera focuses on Jack’s face; he appears still. Cas enters: “Don’t believe him. He’s lying.” Jack’s face is like a stone.
The hunters have set up a roadblock waiting for a black van of monsters that’s on the way. The Winchesters have given them a second chance; they can’t let the monsters get to the bunker!
Now Cas is sitting near Michael so the suave archangel starts in on him, questioning how he feels playing nursemaid to a nephilim. Michael believes that loyalty and compassion are weaknesses. “Why do you love this world?” he asks. “Why do you hate it?” replies Castiel. “Because I CAN,” states Michael, “because . . .” He breaks off then begins to explain that when he fought Lucifer, his brother, in his world, they both thought that their father would come back, would return and give them answers – but there was NOTHING! No God.” And now that he’s in Dean’s mind, he knows why. God – Chuck – is a writer. He churns out draft after draft. This world, Michael’s world – nothing but failed drafts. God gives up, moves on, and tries again. “No!” denies Cas, adding, “Why?” Why would God do such a thing? Suddenly, Michael flashes with anger: “Because he doesn’t care!” but then he shuts down his passion, returning to the slightly amused superiority he usually displays. He’d thought that he could do it better, show God that he would make a better God, but now, he just wants to move from universe to universe, burning all his little worlds until he catches up to the old man. And then? Even God can die.
A van has approached the barricade. The hunters come toward it, guns at the ready, but it is empty. Tracks lead into the woods. One man heads into the underbrush. “Don’t go alone!” Maggie calls out. He returns saying the monsters are gone but are headed toward the bunker, so the hunters jump back in their vehicles to beat them back to the bunker.
Sam is preparing to enter Dean’s mind. Jack wonders if it will work, and Sam doesn’t know. Jack offers the power of his soul, but Sam tells him that Dean wouldn’t want that. Jack worries that Sam doesn’t know what he’s walking into. Cas attaches sensors and wires to Michael’s head. Chains are now wrapped around Michael’s upper body, securing him to the chair. He seems unruffled and undisturbed. Sam is on the other side of the table from him, connectors on his head too. Jack wonders what he should do while Cas and Sam venture into Dean’s mind. “Pray,” instructs Castiel. Michael isn’t worried about the impending intrusion. “In there, you’re all mine,” he states confidently. Cas grabs Sam’s shoulder and turns a dial. The machine lights up.
Sam and Cas are standing in total darkness. They’re in Dean’s mind, but where is Dean? Cas holds up his hand, and suddenly the blackness around them is filled with Dean’s voice – panicked, yelling out in pain or fear. “We had a deal!” he shouts in angry panic, then “SAM!”, his anguished cry from hell. Cas says that there is so much trauma, so many scars; if he knew what he was looking for, he could find where Michael has put Dean. Sam suddenly asks whether Michael would bury Dean in trauma. Michael had told him that he’d left temporarily because Dean had been fighting him so hard. Dean thrives on trauma. Instead, Michael would give him something he’s never had before. “Contentment!” states Castiel. The angel holds up his hand again, and the voices change, no longer tormented but now calmer, happier. Among the sentences, the word “pie” can be heard. Then Sam hears, “The bar isn’t for sale,” and he identifies that as something that has never happened. Cas’s eyes glow blue, and in a moment, Cas and Sam are standing in Rocky’s Bar. Dean, cleaning glasses behind the bar, greets them happily: “Kill a ghoul: get a beer!” He’s got a great new IPA from Austin – Cosmic Cowboy. Pamela enters and greets them enthusiastically. “None of this is REAL!” Sam asserts. “I feel real,” teases Pamela. “You’re just a complex manifestation of Dean’s memories designed to distract him,” intones Castiel. “You’ve got to remember!” pleads Sam. “Michael!” Suddenly, they disappear; then they’re back, but the monsters are attacking the bar. Dean fights back, slices off the monsters’ heads, covering Sam and Cas in blood. Dean looks at them and remarks that their ghoul hunt must have been bloody, as if he doesn’t remember the fight that just occurred. “Michael is possessing you!” insists Sam. “This isn’t real!” He reminds him that Pamela was blinded in a séance trying to reach Castiel, and we see the scene where Pamela’s eyes are burnt out. Dean stares at her, realizing that she’s blind, and she smiles from behind the bar next to him, her eyes a white blank. Yes, she’s blind. No, it’s more, Sam continues. She’s dead. Another flashback to a much younger Sam and Dean and Pamela bleeding out. Pamela disappears. “This is my life,” says Dean. “This is the dream!” His job in the bar – that’s his life. Castiel pleads with him to remember: “We need you to come back.” Suddenly, Sam remembers the code word that had gotten him out of Gadreel’s control. “Poughkeepsie!” he says. “What’d you say?” responds Dean. Suddenly, flashes of everything Michael has been doing on their world flashes through his mind. “I remember everything!” he exclaims, but there is an interruption – a slow hand clap from the doorway. They turn to see Michael inside the bar, with coat and cap. “Hey, fellas.”
“This is fun!” says Michael. “Get out of my head!” Dean demands angrily from behind the bar, hands clenched at his sides. Michael turns his condescending persuasion toward Dean. Why would he want to go back to them? “You only tolerate the angel because he’s the one who ‘gripped you tight and raised you from perdition’,” he mocks in faux serious tones. All Castiel has done is make mistakes. Then Michael turns to Sam. “He was happiest when you left and he could hunt alone with your dad. He’s waiting for you to leave him again.” Turning back to Dean, he asserts, “You don’t even like them. They’re not your family. They’re your responsibility.” Abruptly, Castiel realizes something: “You’re STALLING!”
In the bunker, the front door creaks and the hunters stampede down the metal stairs. “Lock the front door!” Maggie calls to one of them.
Michael looks smug. “In here, you’re all talk,” states Sam. “I could crush you with my bare hands,” asserts Michael. Dean lunges toward him, but Michael punches him several times, sending him to the floor. Sam and Castiel’s attacks are likewise futile, as Michael blocks, parries, and strikes, his coat flaring behind him. In the bunker, sitting upright in the chair, wires attached to his head, Michael smiles.
Inside the bunker, one of the hunters admits that he shouldn’t have gone into the woods alone. He’s no longer the hunter they knew. And he didn’t lock the door. Suddenly, the bunker’s door bursts opens and monsters stream in, plunging down the stairs, leaping over the railing, hurling themselves at the hunters and overwhelming them. They try to fight back to no avail. Jack stands watching, frozen, then yells, “NO!” and throws out his arm. Powerful orange light streams out, freezing and disintegrating the monsters with a burst of power. Jack staggers.
Back inside Dean’s mind, Dean, Cas, and Sam surround Michael at a safe distance. Michael is confident that they cannot beat him. They can’t make him leave. Then they’ll make him stay, declares Dean, grabbing him and shoving him into the storage room. The heavy door is slammed on the angry archangel and wedged shut. Michael bangs on the door, then roars in impotent rage.
The hunters have been cleaning up the bunker after the monster attack. The other monsters have apparently all dispersed, Maggie reports to Sam who thanks her. “It wasn’t me,” she says. It was Jack. She didn’t know he could still do that. “I didn’t either,” admits Sam.
Castiel and Jack are sitting at the kitchen table, Jack in a white teeshirt looking very young as Cas lectures him about using his soul power. “You need that!” reminds Castiel, not just to stay alive, but to stay human. “It’s about you staying you.” “It won’t happen again,” replies Jack woodenly. Castiel reassures him that he’s not angry, just concerned, and he leaves with a comforting touch to Jack’s shoulder. Jack sits quietly, staring ahead.
In his room, Dean leans over the sink, staring down instead of at his reflection in the mirror. “It’s just you,” he reassures himself. In his mind, the barroom door shudders under Michael’s unrelenting blows. Michael picks up a barrel of wine and smashes it again and again into the door, denting its metal surface. Dean looks up at the mirror: “It’s all you.” “Dean!” says a voice from behind him. It’s Billie. “You could have knocked,” he snarks. He knows that it was she who removed them from the high rise office. “I warned you about the dangers of jumping from world to world,” Billie says, eyebrows raised and with the same calm condescension that otherworldly beings often display toward humans. “I’d say it was worth it,” Dean asserts,” saving Mom and Jack and the others.” Billie reminds him of his visit to her records room, and the countless shelves filled with books of all the possible ways that Dean could die. We see a flashback of Dean standing surrounded by those endless rows of books. “Now they all end the same way,” she states, “with Michael escaping and using you to burn down this world.” All of the books? “All but one,” replies Billie, handing him over a slender black volume. He opens it and a concerned look fills his eyes. “What am I supposed to do with this?” he asks. “That’s up to you,” Billie says before disappearing. Dean looks down at the book again, eyes filled with desolation.
- What is in Billie's book? What is the one and only possible alternate to Michael using Dean to destroy the world?
- What do you think of the reality that Michael created to trap Dean - Rocky's Bar with Pamela as barmaid?
- Out of all the cruel things Michael said, do you think any of his barbs were effective? If so, which ones and why?
- Is Michael right, that our world (and his) are only failed drafts that God has given up on, moving on to something else?
- This episode contained many flashbacks. Did they help or hinder the story?
- How awesome did Michael look in those fight scenes?
- Why is Maggie being portrayed in a leadership role among the hunters?
- How often has Dean stood in front of a mirror, confronting nightmares about himself?