THEN:  Cas and Dean argue in the bunker, Cas defending himself because plans change.  Cas kills Belephagor (in Jack's body).  Rowena talks Sam into killing her and falls into the pit to hell.  

NOW:  A young blonde woman in a black leather jacket and red plaid pants walks down the dark-walled hallway of a swanky apartment building.  Aradia Apts. is spelled out in black on the white floor tiles.  She approaches a set of double black doors and knocks, asking for Ms. MacLeod, saying she's concerned she hasn't seen her for a while.  Mail is scattered on the floor near the door.  The woman leans close to the door and whispers a spell to the keyhole.  The locks undo themselves, and she enters with a smile:  "Game on."  She begins to methodically ransack the apartment, sometimes sending a jar crashing to the floor.  An elegant oil painting of Rowena hangs on the dark walls.  The room is full but not cluttered, dark but not too spooky though there is a small animal skeleton on a bookshelf and a rams' head lamp on a stand.  The intruder grows angry:  "Where's the good stuff?" she snarls.  Unexpectedly, her nose begins to bleed.  Reaching for her nose, she begins to cough.  The room grows blurry.  Her eyes begin to bleed.  Despite being disoriented, she heads toward the doors, but can't make it, collapsing, eyes staring blindly, on the floor.

SUPERNATURAL.  Title:  "Golden Time"

Sam is at the table in the bunker's kitchen researching on the computer.  For a moment, the air near him seems to shimmer.  It catches his eye, but there's nothing there.  Then Dean comes in wearing a gray bathrobe (Is it the same dead-man's one from when they first found the bunker?  It seems longer.)  and holding a box of cereal.  He happily reads a joke off the box:  "What's round and bad-tempered?  A vicious circle!"  Sam can't believe that, while he's been trying to find evidence of where Chuck might be, Dean's been in his room eating an entire box of cereal.  "And marathoning Scooby-Doo," admits Dean blandly.  And, for all Sam's efforts, he's been unsuccessful.  Sam wonders if Dean has sensed anything.  Dean hasn't but is concerned that it's a vision, but Sam says it isn't.  Behind Dean's jokes, he's feeling grim about the future:  God is still planning on Winchester Bowl, Cain and Abel 2.0.  "We won't' have to find him.  He'll find us."

Cas approaches a bait and tackle shop in a small town only to find it closed.  However, the owner, a full-bearded man in a ball cap, soon arrives and lets him in, calling him "Clarence."  They discuss bait and Clarence's lack of success.  "I had a friend who praised fishing for its meditative qualities.  I wish I found it more relaxing," Cas says.  He notices that the owner has pulled out a flask of liquor and asks if everything is OK.  The man reveals that he's a volunteer firefighter; they just pulled the dead body of a missing kid out of the lake, a body that strangely had been "juiced," drained of blood.  Cas's eyes shine with concern.

Sam, wearing a black hoodie with the hood up, is jogging, though it looks a little wet and chilly out.  He begins to notice his breath misting in front of him, then sees the air shimmering nearby.  A figure glimmers, fades, then coalesces to reveal Eileen, the deaf hunter who'd been killed by a hell hound sent by Arthur Ketch after she accidentally shot a British Man of Letters.  "Hi, Sam," she says with a warm smile.

Back in the bunker, Eileen, a ghost, explains to Sam and Dean, still in his bathrobe, that she's been in hell.  If you're killed by a hell hound, that's where you go.  She was able to get out when Chuck opened hell, and she moved fast enough to get out of the town before Rowena put up the wall around it to contain the hell ghosts.  She doesn't know how all this ghost stuff works, but she does know how it ends:  "We go crazy, and we hurt people."  She doesn't want to go back to hell, but she doesn't want to be a vengeful spirit either.  She hopes the Winchesters can put a word in with the angels to perhaps get her soul into heaven.  Dean tells her, "Souls from hell can't go to heaven.  I'm sorry."

Alone in a hallway, Sam is angry at Dean's bluntness.  "You want me to sugar-coat it?" Dean asks.  Sam's plan is to make a soul catcher for Eileen.  It would be just for her.  It would keep her contained so she couldn't hurt anyone, and it would keep her out of hell. He can do it if he goes to Rowena's home and gets the spell.  Dean teases him about being a witch - Ginger Junior, Rowena's protege - but thinks it's a good plan, but he's not planning on going with Sam.  It's a milk run; Sam can handle it.  "You've been acting like nothing matters!" Sam accuses.  "This matters!"  "That's why you're going to kick it in the ass," says Dean.   

Cas is in the waiting room at the sheriff's office, annoyed that he can't see him yet.  The bored receptionist informs him that he's getting his hair cut; he always does at this day and time.  Cas sits back down with a scowl.  The woman next to him, who'd heard the receptionist call him "agent," asks if he's FBI.  "I thought you were renting a cabin."  Cas says he's on vacation but is concerned about the missing people.  "I think my son is missing too!"  The receptionist interrupts to say that her son is a teenager, and it hasn't even been a full day.  "He'll turn up!" she assures before returning to the book she's reading, but the mother is undeterred.  "Can you help me?" she asks Cas.  "Of course," he replies.

At a gas station, Sam is filling up the Impala.  He apologizes to Eileen, and earnestly reveals that he's been in hell too.  He tries to forget, but talking helps.  "I can't," admits Eileen.  'Not yet."  She's impressed that he can sign a little.

Walking past a van in the parking lot, Sam and Ghost Eileen walk into the apartment building and cautiously approach the doors to Rowena's apartment.  Carefully, they open the doors and walk in, noticing the dead woman sprawled on the floor on her stomach, blood pooling around her head.  A mirror on the wall shimmers.  It is serving as a conduit.  Someone is spying on the apartment from the van outside, emblazoned "Keep 'Er Moving."  Inside, a young woman with long black hair hanging half over her face peers into a mirror, watching Sam.  Another woman watches too, smiling in approval.  From under her hooded cape, her eyes glow purple.  

Inside the apartment, Sam surveys the body and notices a tattoo on her neck.  He recognizes it as a sign that she was a witch.  They need to get what they're looking for and get out.

Cas is talking with the sheriff, a smiling bald man who informs him that the worried mother is always complaining about something.  Cas asks him if he's not worried about the missing teenager.  The sheriff admits that sometimes they lose a hiker or someone drowns.  When Cas asks him about the most recent death, the sheriff says the kid ODed.  Cas wants to see the body, but it's already been sent off.  Then Cas wants to see the notes and pictures from the case.  At this point, the sheriff questions where he's from, but Cas isn't rattled.  He snaps that he's from D.C.  The sheriff wants to talk to his supervisor.

A phone rings in the bunker.  It rings and rings.  Dean scrabbles through a pile of cords and cell phones, finally grabbing the one which is ringing.  It's marked "FBI," and he answers, identifying himself as a director.  When the sheriff says he has Agent Worley there, Dean demands, "Put my agent on the phone."  "Hello," Cas says tightly.  "Cas," Dean replies, straightforwardly.  Cas's chin is set in anger or annoyance, but Dean can't see that.  Dean mentions that Sam has been leaving Cas messages which Cas knows.  Then he tells the angel, "Chuck is back on the board - so watch yourself.  And check your damn messages."  Then he hangs up.  Cas finishes a pretend conversation for the sheriff's benefit:  'Yes, sir.  Thank you, sir."

In Rowena's apartment, Sam declares, "It's just junk!  Where's her real stash?"  Eileen approaches the bookcase, then walks straight through.  "Sam!"  she calls.  He swings open the bookcase to reveal a hidden room lined with shelves containing jars and books.  "Tada!" she announces with a wave of her hand.  Sam notices her journals where she's written down all her spells through the years.  "You miss her," says Eileen.  "I killed her," responds Sam, adding, "Her idea. She sacrificed herself to save us, to save the world."  He muses how he feels like a punchline to some cosmic joke.  Eileen totally gets that.  Sam says that Rowena knew that the game was rigged so she used magic to keep control.  As he flips through another journal, a paper falls out, and he picks it up.  No way!  Going over to a desk in the main apartment, he spreads the paper out, saying that Rowena had been working on a way to make a spirit take on flesh.  She'd been doing it trying to bring Mary back to life, but they'd stopped because they'd learned she was happy in heaven.  But now they can bring back Eileen.  ("What about Kevin?" asks my daughter, watching it with me.)

Cas is busy at a table in the sheriff's department, looking at documents and crime scene photos.  He's marked several spots on a map; they all surround the south end of Jenny Lake.  

Sam puts the magical ingredients in the Impala's trunk and smiles at Eileen, then suddenly leans over, coughing up blood.  Falling to his knees, he scrabbles around the car.  He reaches under the chassis, then keeps going, undeterred by the pain or disorientation.  He makes it to the other wheel, reaching underneath the car again, and pulls out a hex bag, but it's too late.  Two female figures are approaching across the parking lot - a confident blonde woman and her smaller, paler companion, half hiding behind her waterfall of dark hair.  They cast a spell to banish Eileen, and Sam signs quickly, "My brother!"

Sam is tied up inside the van, his vision slowly returning to normal after the witches' whammy.  "Rowena's dead," says the older witch, older by confidence and control not by appearance because she appears very youthful.  They're there for what Rowena left behind, but the apartment hex kills anyone who enters it.  She's surprised that Sam isn't dead.  Imagine Rowena leaving all her treasures to him!  Sam realizes that the dead woman on the floor was with these witches too.  He wants to bargain:  he'll get them anything they want from Rowena's storage area if they'll let hi have the resurrection spell, but the witch refuses.  The spell can only work once; she will bring her daughter back to life.  Anyway, they can control Sam.  The younger woman holds up a twig figure with yarn for hair.  When she twists the figure, Sam writhes in agony.  "Do as you're told and die quick," they tell him, "or die slowly."

Cas has gone out to the lake to investigate, but the concerned mother has followed him.  She feels bad because she was the one who'd told him to get off Fortnite and get outdoors, but Cas reassures her that it's not her fault.  She notices the other x marks on his map.  He's reluctant to reveal that they represent where dead bodies have been found.  She tells him that there was an old silver mine in the area; it had been closed in the 1970s.  He asks her to tell her where it is, but she says she'll show him.  Together, they walk into the woods surrounding the foggy lake.

The younger witch, Emily, holding the voodoo doll, approaches Rowena's apartment with Sam who holds an empty box.  "No talking!" she orders.  "Make it quick.  The good stuff."  She has to wait in the doorway, and her eyes can't help falling on the dead body of her older sister.  Sam's eyes darken with concern, and he offers to cover up the body.  "Do you think she's pretty?" questions Emily.  Sam doesn't answer for a minute, then says, "She's dead."  "She made my life hell," says Emily.  "I get it," says Sam.  "My older brother - once he put superglue in my toothpaste."   But his tale of a brotherly prank pales in comparison to Emily's experience:  "Once she made me invisible for a week.  She tried to sell my soul to a demon.  She turned my boyfriend into a water balloon . . . and popped him.  Then she got mean."  Sam might have tried to keep trying to bond with her, but she brusquely orders him to start packing.

On the trail in the woods, the mother asks what Cas is doing there.  He says that he needed to step away.  There had been a falling out with management and among the other agents.  She understands.  Her job had been toxic so she took herself out of the game.  She'd done it for Caleb, but now they've been at each others throats.  Cas starts to warn her about what is out there, but before he can finish the "monsters are real" speech, a voice calls out to them.  It's Caleb, looking injured but alive.  

Back at the apartment, Emily is still recalling her childhood:  "Star was a good bunny, but Jessy needed his bones.  When I complained, she turned my tongue into a snake.  This is where it bit my face."  She moves her hair back to reveal vivid scars on her cheek.  Sam tries to convince her to take some of the magical items and leave.  "She'd kill me!" Emily states.  "Not if you ran!" Sam counters.  He offers her books, journals,; he just wants the spell.  "Liar!" Emily grins maliciously at him.

Caleb explains how he'd seen a guy dragging a dead body to the lake.  He'd tried to get a video on his cell phone, but then had to run.  He'd hurt his ankle and had been hiding.  It was a monster!  Just then the sheriff approaches, holding a gun on them.  As blue tattooes appear on his skin, he says Cas has been a pain in his ass and proceeds to shoot him.  Cas glances down, unperturbed by the bullet but angry at the presumption.  "It's always you," he says," a selfish little man in the position of authority.  You take what you want and think your power will protect you.  Well, it won't protect you from me."  He knocks him to the ground, pulls out his angel blade, and stabs him repeatedly.  Blood spurts over his shirt and jaw.  The mother and her son hug each other in horror.  

Sam holds the full box.  He hesitates in the doorway, but the witch girl holds up the twig doll.  "Don't make me hurt you."  Just then, Dean appears in the hall, dragging the witch mom, his gun at her head.  "Witch-killing bullets!" he says grimly.  "Let her go or he dies!" Emily yells, but Dean won't back down.  It's a stand off, two on two, broken only when the ghost of the other witch appears, hurling Dean down the hallway.  His gun clatters to the floor.  Sam bats the doll out of Emily's hands, but before he can do anything, the mom holds up her hands and begins to chant.  Both Winchesters are on the ground, unable to fight back against the witches' spells, when a ghost of their own arrives.  Eileen says, "Not today, bitch!" and sends the ghost witch flying with a powerful shove.  "About time!" Dean says.  Both ghosts begin to fight in Rowena's apartment.  Emily has the doll again, but before she can hurt Sam, Dean shoots her, and she falls.  "I'll grind your heart to dust!" says the witch mother, holding up her hands and chanting a powerful spell that sends Dean to the floor in agony.  Suddenly, Sam grabs her, pushing her to the floor and holding up a magical ingredient which he shoves in her mouth.  Clasping his large hand over her mouth, he recites a spell.  She struggles in vain, then dies.  

In the apartment, the witch ghost has Eileen on her back on her floor and is choking her until Dean enters, setting the body on fire.  The ghost goes up in a burst of flame, and Eileen sits up with a gasp.

In the forest, Cas reaches out to heal the boy's ankle.  It's slow and takes it out of him, but he's able to restore the bruised flesh to health, amazing the boy and his mother.  "That's a miracle!"  exclaims the mom.  "Were you sent here by God?"  "I can't explain it,"  Cas tells her.  "I'm happy I met you.  I'm glad I found your son.  If I stay here, nothing changes.  Time for me to get back in the game."

Sam runs water in a large square freestanding bathtub then pours in the magical concoction.  Eileen looks nervous and awkward.  "I just get in?" she asks.  She smiles, then steps up to the bath, still wearing her tan coat, plaid shirt, blue jeans, and boots.  She steps down into the water which looks like an illusion and sinks down.  Sam, with his back turned, recites the spell.  Eileen sits up.  Real water runs from her face and plasters her hair to her head.  She stands and wraps herself in a towel.  "Sam?" she says.  He turns and sees her, no longer a ghost.  They reach out hesitantly, hands joining, smiling.  "Thank you!" she says before stepping closer for a hug.  She hangs onto him as if it's been forever since she's felt anything, while he tenderly wraps his arms around her and smiles with emotion.

Dean is sitting at the lighted map table drinking a beer when Sam enters and tells him that Eileen is sleeping.  Dean is happy for him, but wishes they'd been able to use the spell on Mom.  Sam doesn't say anything.  Dean rolls another bottle across the table to him.  "You some kind of witch now?"  "Just lucky," Sam responds.  "You did good today, Sam," Dean tells him.  "I did jack."  "You killed a witch.  Saved my ass," Sam tells him.  Then he adds that, while they don't make the rules, they can break the rules.  They have moves to make.  Does Dean think Chuck expected Sam to shoot him?  "I don't know!" Dean replies.  That's the problem.  Dean can't tell anymore what's Chuck and what's them.  "We're the guys who break the rules," says Sam, "but I can't do it without you.  Just like I couldn't do it today without you.  I need my brother."  Dean is looking down, listening to his brother's earnest words.

THE END

Here are a few questions to start the discussion.  (Don't feel you have to answer all of them if any of them don't interest you.):

  1. Where would you prefer to live:  Amara's apartment, Rowena's apartment, or the bunker?
  2. Were you surprised when Eileen appeared?  How long do you think she will last?
  3. Arthur Ketch died nobly refusing to turn in the Winchesters to the demon who'd hired him, but he's the one who had Eileen, not only killed, but sentenced to hell.  Does the show too easily overlook the shady behavior of people like Ketch, Meg, and Rowena?
  4. Did you think Sam was going to be able to convince Emily to leave her cruel family?
  5. What does the title "Golden Time" mean?
  6. What did the phone call reveal about the relationship between Dean and Cas right now?
  7. Both Cas and Sam seem determined to fight Chuck.  Will Dean get on board?
  8. What was your favorite part:  Eileen being back, Cas's rant about powerful petty authority figures, or Sam's heartfelt declaration that he can't do this without Dean? (Or something else.)

Let's talk!