Thoughts on "The Devil You Know"

Season five of Supernatural has been quite a mixed bag of episodes ranging from the phenomenal to the low-level mediocre and everything in between. For me, The Devil You Know fell about smack dab in the middle of those two, perhaps a little closer to the phenomenal than the mediocre, but just a smidge. I enjoyed the episode, I enjoyed the guest acting and I liked the reveals. That said, there was a lot of wait-time packed into the episode too.
The opening scene featuring our boys decked out in surgical masks should have been humorous - it was meant to be - and while it was certainly interesting that they chose to do a scene where most of the actors faces where obscured, this wasn't the strongest opening we've seen, not by a long shot. The tie between Pestilence and the Croaton virus is slowly being made. He infects the people with a flu-like bug (swine flu in this case) and the vaccine that his well placed demon minions circulate is actually the Croaton virus, which turns people into bizarre demonic zombies fighting to infect the rest of the population. Maybe I'm slow or I've missed something, but even in The End I was a little fuzzy with the purpose of Croaton virus. Why bother? If I'm the only one asking that question, well, bully for me. I'm not criticizing this element of the plot - just waiting for that "aha!" moment to hit me.
"That's what you get working with a demon."

Crowley pops into the Impala and Sam stakes the upholstery - blasphemy! I do love Crowley though. From the first time we met him, brief as it was, this is one demon that left a distinct impression - in a good way. Certainly, he's evil but Crowley is up front about this fact, something that's appreciated given the extreme demonic manipulations we've witnessed in the past. Of course, for all we know, Crowley has assumed the undercover role that Ruby once occupied - so deep undercover that only the head honcho himself is in on the plan. While I fully except to eat these words later, given that it is Kripke we're talking about - I just don't think that's the case.

"I've sold sin to saints for centuries. You think I can't close one little demon?"

The demonic Brit is a wonderful element to the storyline and it only makes sense that the other creatures who enjoy existing on Earth as we know it right now would be opposed to the Heaven and Hell showdown that the angels and Luci are gearing up for. Regardless of which side wins, they are screwed. This was the main attraction that brought the gods together last week and what drew Crowley to help Sam and Dean in the first place - which is why I believe what he says, fork-tongued though he may be. I've heard a number of people questioning why Crowley can pop in and out like an angel - theories have included that he is such a creature in disguise. We've seen that there is something of a hierarchy to demons and crossroad demons (which Crowley is) have in the past popped out of thin air to appear before their summoner to collect a soul, so this just makes sense.  Not since Azazel has a demon been so charismatic and out-and-out evil - I love it.

Crowley and Dean were like the two stooges in their ploy to get the right hand man of the Horsemen. Well, Dean was anyways. Crowley was mostly himself. Dean - when will you learn - attempting to make a deal with a demon is never a good plan. Ever. In this case, it resulted in a thorough beating. Dean's having a rough couple of weeks here - first Cas and now Brady. Hope the aspirin bottle is well stocked. Still, Crowley's ultimate plan, of which Dean knew nothing, worked perfectly.  He even proved to be salesman of the apocalypse, ultimately convincing Brady to fess up to where Pestilence was. Who didn't love the story he manifested about him and Brady being "lovers in league against the devil"? Fantastic! And, he has his own Hellhound! I think Sam and Dean should have their very own hellhound - a good sized one. What a help that would be!

"Do the best of someone better!'

Brady. Oh boy. To borrow from the Winchester brothers - what a douche. Not once did the cocky self-important air saran-wrapped around this character break - even in death. The actor responsible for this incarnation, Eric Johnson, ironically the same actor who played Flash Gordon (From Alice - also Whitney in Smallville) - a hero, had superb chemistry and the perfect smirk for this character. The elements of season one being drawn back into the plot line, however miniscule, effectively bookend the over-arching plot that has run between season one and now. We haven't seen the chalice phone call (anybody else made nauseous by the bubbling blood and flies? I have a thing about bugs in that I strongly detest them, so maybe it was just me) since Meg back in Shadow - way to bring it back, dear writers! Even Jess (down to the cookies that awaited Sam at the end of the Pilot *sniff*) and Stanford have played a significant role in the apocalypse and for me; the idea that Azazel inserted someone into Sammy's core college group is diabolical and makes perfect sense. Sam was/is too important to the grand plan to risk something going wrong.
"What if you guys lead the devil to the edge and I jump in?"

Jared, once again, demonstrated some killer acting chops in this episode. The unadulterated rage as he realized how badly he'd been played and that Jessica was set up to as a linchpin from right from their first meeting - oh Sammy. The Lucifer-in-Sam plan intrigues me. Only on Supernatural would something as seemingly off the radar as how Bobby took back control of his body be the possible solution to the whole apocalypse. It's also evident that Sam, despite the alcohol, heard what Bobby was saying about his rage-control issues and made a concerted effort to get them in check. Most chilling two words of the episode? "Interesting theory." So cold, Sam! It's nearly Arctic!

The parallels between this season and last season are quite strong - with reversed Winchester positions- and grow more evident with each episode. This time, we have Dean trusting, or at least going along with the demon element with Sam vehemently opposed to any sort of alliance. Dean's thinking, I imagine, is that they've only got one tiny shot in hell (excuse the pun) in this thing ending in their favour, so at this point what's to lose?

It was good to see Sam and Dean trusting each other again - Dean had faith in Sam by bringing Brady to him and Sam reinforced this by not out-and-out killing the bastard. Good, concerted team effort, guys. My favourite scene in this entire episode is one of the shortest. Dean, Sam and Crowley take Brady to an alleyway and lock him in with a salt line. Crowley buggers off and Sam and Dean stay to take care of Brady. During this time, they have possibly one of the greatest bad cop-bad cop brother moments ever:

All those angels, all those demons, all those sons of bitches, they just don't get it, do they Sammy?
Sam: No they don't, Dean.

Dean: You see, Brady, we're the ones you should be afraid of.

This brief dialogue gave me chills. The boys are sick to death of being pushed around like pieces on a chess board and now they're just pissed. Especially since learning just how deeply team-YED injected itself into their lives (well, mostly Sammy's life - but that's more likely to make Dean angry than if the con had been played on himself). If there was any doubt that the final showdown wasn't going to be exhilarating and unbelievable, these three sentences washed it away.

Bobby - how can I put this delicately? Don't do it, idjit! Good rule to live by: just say no [to demons]. It will save us all a lot of grief and trouble in the long run. Somehow, I suspect were in for some grief and trouble in the last two hours of the season. Well, if that's the case, put a big check in the sold-soul column of each and every Winchester male, including the honourary Winchester one Robert Singer. Apparently, they don't learn by example.

The one glaring ommission from this episode for me - where in the world is Cas? Not even a mention about looking for him. I miss that blue-eyed, poor example of an angel. Wonder what he's been up to since zapping himself into smithereens? The Devil You Know will, without question, be on my list of rewatchable episodes when the DVDs are released. Between Crowley and the Sam and Dean moment at the end, the character elements will bring me back. Only two episodes left in this season and then Hellatus again. Holy crap, where has the year gone? Just yesterday Sam and Dean were being zapped onto an airplane after killing Ruby and now they're gearing up for the final showdown. Hold on tight, I'd say we're in for a crazy ride!