The Trickster (guest star Richard Speight Jr.) throws Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) into an alternate universe where they are characters in different television series, including a sexy medical show, a Japanese game show, a forensics show and a sitcom. The brothers realize the only way to get out of this world is to play along and become the characters in the shows. However, Castiel (Misha Collins) appears and warns them this universe is dangerous and they must get out before they become trapped.
Charles Beeson directed the episode with teleplay by Jeremy Carver.
Dean and Sam find themselves mystically trapped in a series of real-life “TV shows” and there appears to be no escape. They believe their old enemy the Trickster is responsible, but discover someone or something else is involved.
Supernatural is filmed before a live studio audience.
Dean is preparing a giant hero sandwich when Sam comes in to audience applause. He wonders if Dean has done his research and Dean claims he has. However, a girl in a bikini comes out of the bedroom to remind him he has more research to do.
Wellington, OH – two days earlier
Dean watches Dr. Sexy, M.D., a medical soap opera on TV as the brothers dress as FBI agents at the hotel. They talk to the sheriff about an incident of a local getting his head ripped off. The sheriff believes it was a bear despite the fact the man was decapitated in his own bedroom. The wife witnessed the incident but the sheriff insists that she’s confused. They talk to the wife, Cathy Randolph, and she insists it’s a bear because it couldn’t have been anything else. The brothers finally convince her to admit that she saw the TV version of the Incredible Hulk.
Sam checks out the house and reports back to Dean that everything at the house indicates that the Incredible Hulk was there. Dean has checked and determined that the husband, Bill, had a temper and a record of spousal abuse. Sam notes that he found candy wrappers at the crime scene and they realize that the Trickster is irresponsible. When Dean insists that he wants the Trickster dead, Sam suggests that they talk to him instead and try to recruit him to stop the Apocalypse. Dean points out that the Trickster is a bloody murderer but Sam says they can’t take a moral stance, and should at least give it a shot. Dean reluctantly agrees.
The brothers hear a police report describing something incredible and they go to investigate the warehouse. However, there are no police cars there and they figure it’s a trap. They run inside and find themselves in a hospital wearing lab coats. a female doctor slaps Sam and accuses him of being a brilliant coward, and then stalks off. Dean recognizes her as Dr. Picolo from his soap opera. Everything matches the Dr. Sexy, M.D. show. They figure the Trickster has trapped them in TV land but Dean insists he doesn’t watch the show that much. However, he recognizes everyone in it. Dr. Sexy himself comes over, but Dean realizes he’s an imposter because he’s wearing tennis shoes instead of cowboy shoes. When Dean refuses to back down, everything freezes and Dr. Sexy turns into the Trickster. He points out that they don’t have their stakes and explains he couldn’t resist once he knew they were in town. Sam tries to get five minutes to ask him for help and the Trickster tells them if they survive the next 24 hours in his game, they’ll talk. He refuses to tell them the rules and then disappears as everyone comes back to life.
As they try to figure out what to do, Dr. Picolo confronts Sam again. He tries to explain he’s not a doctor but nothing he says makes an impression. When Dean refuses to operate on a patient, her husband shoots him in the back. Sam takes him into surgery but he has no idea what he’s doing. He improvises as best he can and manages to stitch up Dean as Dr. Picolo looks on lovingly.
The lights flicker and the brothers find themselves in a Japanese game show.. The host tests them on their own lives… in Japanese. When neither one can answer, Sam gets two shots to the groin. They pause for a commercial break and then Castiel arrives. He explains they’ve been missing for days and tries to teleport them away, but disappears. The game show host explains that the Trickster doesn’t like angels and asks Dean another question in Japanese. Sam insists that they play along and Dean buzzes in, and then discovers he can speak Japanese and give the correct answer. They realize if they play their roles, they survive.
Next, Sam finds himself in a genital herpes commercial. He’s forced to play along. The brothers then find themselves back in their sitcom and Sam ushers the bikini girl out. They smile for the audience and discover everything they say is funny. An injured Castiel staggers in and warns that the Trickster’s illusion is much more powerful than it should be, and they may not be dealing with the Trickster. The trickster arrives and gags Castiel and then makes him disappear. When Dean confronts the Trickster, he tells them to play their roles in real life and accept their destiny as vessels for Michael and Lucifer. Since it can’t be stopped, he tells them to finish it up and insists he’s not on either side. When Dean refuses to accept that, the Trickster grabs him and slams him into the wall, and then tells them to suck it up and accept their destinies or they’ll stay in TV Land forever.
The brothers find themselves in a procedural cop show. Sam notices that a policeman is sucking on a lollipop. They put on their sunglasses at night and go to confront him, make wry but humorous comments, grab a stake, and drive it into the man’s heart. He dies and another policeman chuckles before transforming back into the Trickster. He boasts they got the wrong guy… and Sam stabs him from behind. They find themselves in the warehouse standing over the seemingly dead Trickster.
Back at their motel, Dean wonders where Castiel is. He turns and discovers that Sam has vanished. He goes outside and gets in the Impala, only to discover that Sam has been transformed into the Impala. They realize they haven’t killed the Trickster. The brothers take to the road and Sam figures that what they’re dealing with isn’t the Trickster. Dean realizes who they’re dealing with, pulls into a camp ground, and calls out to their captor, telling him that they’ll agree to do it. The “Trickster” arrives and Dean has him transform Sam back to normal. Dean asks why the stake didn’t kill him and the “Trickster” says it was just another illusion. In response, Dean tosses down his cigarette lighter into the circle of holy oil their opponent is standing in. He explains that the “Trickster” is an angel and dares him to leave the circle.
Their captor drops the illusion and they’re back in the warehouse. Dean explains that only someone personally involved gets that angry. Their opponent admits that he’s Gabriel, and explains he slipped out of Heaven and carved his own little piece of the world. He admits that his father didn’t say anything, and his brothers turned on each other. Gabriel couldn’t bear it but now it’s happening all over. He won’t help because he wants it all to be over no matter who wins. When Sam insists there must be a way to stop it, Gabriel explains it’s about two brothers that hate each other, and figures they should be able to relate. He points out that their lives parallel Michael and Lucifer and it was their destiny to be the chosen vessels all along. Gabriel says that they’ve known all along it would end with Sam and Dean. Dean insists it won’t happen but Gabriel says there’s nothing they can do and it’s going to end bloody for everyone.
Dean threatens Gabriel to bring Castiel back and he does so. Gabriel points out that Castiel’s search for their father has been unsuccessful. As Dean starts to go, Gabriel wonders if they’re going to release him. Dean says they will, and tells him it’s about Gabriel being too afraid to stand up to his family. He sets off the fire alarm and the sprinklers put out the holy oil.
Outside, Dean wonders if Gabriel was telling the truth and Sam figures that he does. They don’t know what to do and they admit it’d be easier if they were back in a TV show.
Review by Gaelic
5.08 – Changing Channels – Gaelicspirit review
Oh, my. That was all kinds of awesome.
This show is so unique. Other shows have flashback episode that recap the season. Or they have “main character is near-death or dying” episodes where they remember special moments. Or they have some other kind of gimmicky filler that takes away from the plotline… We don’t have anything like that. Instead, we get a very serious theme—Brother v Brother—told through some of the most hilarious moments I have seen on TV in a long, long while.
They actually managed to continue the story arch of Armageddon without cramming dark, dense apocalyptic overtones down our throats. That takes some planning, some clever writing, some deft performances, and some faith in the fans. And while I enjoy the action/angst whiplash of the heavy arch-driven episodes as much as the next guy, this was pretty damn entertaining.
The daunting concern presented at the end of this episode is one that I—and I know a great many others—have worried about since John whispered The Secret to Dean. It’s not a new theme, either. Cain and Abel. Civil Wars. I mean, even Harry Potter’s neither can live while the other survives had the same connotation. To end this conflict, Sam and Dean must battle each other—only this time to the death.
I don’t believe that will happen. I won’t. I have faith that they will find a way out of it when all is said and done. But I think we’re going to be wrenched to hell and back, pun intended, before it’s over.
The THEN ended with an ominous, “Dean’s your weakness, Sam. And he’s gonna be the death of you.” I should have realized with that little reminder that this episode would steal my breath before the end, but they fooled me.
They distracted me with shiny, sparkly things like Dean’s smile and Sam’s dimples and I got swept away.
First, can I just say how much I loved that it was mainly just the brothers in this one? Sure the Trickster and Cas were there, but it was Sam and Dean for the majority of the episode and that was… nice.
We open with a Happy Days/Laverne & Shirley/Threes Company-like feel. We even have Dean’s voice saying that “Supernatural was filmed before a live studio audience.” Laugh track. Garish colors. Overt, too-big actions and facial expressions. Even a Shaggy-sized sandwich with a repeated, cheesy joke of “I’m gonna need a bigger mouth…” “You’re gonna need a bigger mouth…”
I was laughing, but wasn’t yet sure why—because the boys were playing it so big. Were they brain-washed? Dreaming? Under a spell? WTH?? Sam’s, “Have you done your research yet?” was answered when a shapely brunette emerges from a bedroom saying that she and Dean were doing all kinds of research. Dean faces the camera with an overly-chagrined, “Son of a bitch!”
The only thing missing was a wide sweep of his arm with a shucks finger-snap.
AND THEN! They open with the funniest freakin’ title sequence I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t catch all the words of the song, but the backing into each other with their flashlights out and then turning and laughing, and Sam opening a dresser to see a sheet-covered “ghost” then closing it an putting his back to it, Dean smearing grease on his forehead and them laughing—oh! Oh! The dual straight-body collapse on the make-shift football field!! That was priceless! AND! AND! They rode a tandem bike with the L&S feet out to the side move!
*has to pause to swipe away laughter tears*
I have to see it again. I don’t usually re-watch during the season (don’t ask me why… I’d probably just say ‘no time’) but I HAVE TO SEE THAT AGAIN. I do remember the sequence ended with the lyrics, “…together we’ll face the day.”
*massages face that’s sore from grinning*
On one of the rare forum/board thingies I visit on sn.tv, one of the posters said she was reading the Season 3 companion book and in it, Sera Gamble said that because of the strike they went all out with the craziest episodes they could think of to create since the rug could be pulled out from under them at any time. One of them was a “what if Sam and Dean ended up in different TV shows.” Ah, writers. How I enjoy the imagination.
So, we get to backtrack two days to see how the hell our rugged, blue-collar heroes became set pieces on a bad version of Happy Days. The screen says Wellington, OH, but I have a ‘huh?’ moment about that location. I’ll get to that, though.
Dean, in a tie and looking all-together chewable, is sitting on the edge of a motel bed watching a show where a doctor in a lab coat and one in blue scrubs get into an elevator. Moody, emo music starts and suddenly the docs are totally getting it on, complete with gasps and grunts and groping. Sam’s all, what the hell are you watching.
Dr. Sexy, MD.
I haven’t ever seen Grey’s Anatomy, but I know enough from those who do to immediately recognize it. Dean’s enthralled and tries to casually explain the show to Sam. Sam walks past him saying, “When did you hit menopause?” *guffaw!* They head out to the police station and talk to the head police guy, explaining that the FBI are there because one of their residents had their head torn off.
GORE! Well… described gore, but still. What a way to go. I’ll come back to that in a bit, too.
Head police guy says that Mr. Randolph was killed by a bear. That the Randolph’s live in the ‘high country’ and a bear attack wouldn’t be unusual. *frowns* Bears? High country? In OHIO?? I grew up in Indiana. Ohio isn’t much different. Even near the river. Lawrence has buildings higher than the land elevation there. So… yeah. That’s my ‘huh?’ moment. Moving on.
The guys interview Kathy Randolph who confesses that there’s no way she could have seen what she thought she saw. They convince her to fess up. Okay, so having not been spoiled, but also having been totally thrown off by the beginning, I’m waiting for her to say, y’know, werewolf…. Maybe Wolverine? She said she saw the Incredible Hulk kill her hubs. And not the Bana or Norton versions either (those movies were terrible, she says, and I have to agree). We’re talking old-school Lou Ferrigno Hulk.
The boys have to visibly and audibly swallow their obvious natural reaction of “HA!” Dean manages to choke out a sensible question… in light of the situation, at least, asking if there was any reason Lou Ferrigno would have a grudge against her husband. Kathy Randolph looks at them like they’re crazy.
Like they’re crazy. That’s rich.
Back at the motel (which, by the way, is a slightly faded version of the room in the opening TV show), Dean’s… researching… (I know, right?). Sam comes in saying he was at the Randolph’s house and there’s a hulk-sized hole where the front door used to be. Dean says that he pulled up some intel on Randolph, and he’s not exactly a nice guy. Basically, “you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.”
Sam reveals that he found candy wrappers at the house and they quickly put together that they’re dealing with the Trickster. Sweet tooth, large, impossible scenarios, toying with the victim first all adds up to Trickster. Now, that got me thinking. He’s killed before, this Trickster. The professor in Tall Tales, for one. And Dean, though I’m not sure he actually counts since he was only mostly dead. *wink*
But… based on what we learn of the Trickster… having this man killed by getting his head ripped off… wow.
Once they figure out who/what they’re dealing with, Dean’s pacing, jacked up on the instant energy that courses through him at the thought of being able to ‘gank’ this guy. He’s wanted to do it since the Mystery Spot. And who could blame him, really? But Sam… Sam isn’t so sure. He thinks they should talk to him. See if he’ll help them, because maybe he doesn’t want the party to end.
Dean doesn’t like it—thinks talking to a monster is eight kinds of crazy. But… he goes along with it. In a scene I thought interestingly filmed, the guys are hanging out in the motel room, listening to a police dispatch walkie-talkie. It’s shot from the outside, through the window so that the gauzy, white curtains float into the frame and give the brothers an almost too-far-away-to-reach appearance. I actually found myself squinting my eyes to get a better look.
They hear over the radio that there’s a 187 at a paper mill and head out. Only, when they get there, there are no cop cars, no people, nothing. RED FLAG! They grab their wooden spikes (and what almost looked like a crossbow?? Anyone??) and head through the door of the abandoned paper mill, emerging on the other side garbed in white lab coats and standing in the hallway of a hospital—sans weapons.
But complete with moody, emo music.
A dark-haired woman in blue scrubs walks up to them and slaps Sam, hard, across the face.
“Seriously?! You’re a brilliant coward…” (I’m guessing this dialog is typical of Grey’s…)
The shocked look on Sam’s face… the confused I can’t be seeing what I think I’m seeing expression on Dean’s… *BWAH!*
“That was Dr. Ellen Piccalo, sexy, yet earnest doctor at…” Dean gestures to a sign on the wall, “Seattle Mercy Hospital!!”
Oh, Grey’s… and you thought your ratings would squash us… little did you know that we would toy with you like a child’s yo-yo… *insert maniacal laughter*
Dean: Dude, what the hell?
Sam: I don’t know.
Dean: No, seriously, what the hell?
Sam: I don’t know.
Dean: One theory, any theory!
Sam surmises that the Trickster trapped them in TVLand. Pretty good theory. Dean is going into I can’t be seeing what I’m seeing overdrive as he identifies the different doctor’s from Dr. Sexy, M.D. Including, if you can believe it, Johnny Drake (Denny anyone?)… a ghost that’s only real for one doctor. *dies* Oh, JDM, your reach is far and your characters are with us in spirit (pun intended).
Sam’s like, this show has ghosts?! Dean argues that it’s compelling and then goes totally, full-on, gushing fan-boy when Dr. Sexy himself walks down the hall toward them. “It’s him. It’s Dr. Sexy.” Oh my God. *ruffles his hair affectionately* He was completely adorable. The way he tried to wipe off his automatic grin and had to look away and me wanting to pinch his cheek or something.
There’s a funny exchange of, “Doctor,” “Doctor,” “Doctor,” greetings. Like something out of SNL. I was waiting for Steve Martin to come around the corner. Dr. Sexy wants to know why Dean went against his orders and authorized the face transplant (BWAH!). Dean still can’t look at directly at him and then notices that Dr. Sexy is wearing tennis shoes. He grabs the good doctor by the lapels and slams him against the wall saying that one of the things that made Dr. Sexy so sexy is that he wears cowboy boots not tennis shoes.
Sam: “Yeah, you’re not a fan.”
Dean: “It’s a guilty pleasure!”
Gaelic: *laughing into her pillow*
The set (and all the people) freezes and Dr. Sexy morphs into that face we all know and love of the Trickster. Seriously, I love this actor. He’s just fantastic. If you haven’t seen Band of Brothers (and you can handle war movies), I highly recommend you check it out and watch for him. His character is one of the best. ANYWAY! The Trickster removes Dean’s arm (and the grimace on Dean’s face is wince-inducing). Sam’s all, “that was you on the walkie-talkie… you tricked us.”
With an lift of his brow, the Trickster replies, “Hello… Trickster.” HA!
Dean wants to know how to get out, but Sam takes advantage of the moment to ask to talk to him.
Trickster: “You two muttonheads broke the world and you want me to sweep up your mess.” Basically, he tells Sam that if they survive the next 24 hours of the game that they’re apparently already playing, then maybe they’ll talk. And poof, he (and Dr. Sexy) is gone.
Dean gives Sam shit about wanting to talk to monsters and says they’re getting out of there. Dr. Slap-Happy Piccalo confronts Sam and he jerks back with a, “Lady, what the hell?” She tells him that he’s the finest Cerebral Vascular Neurosurgeon she’s ever known. Dude. You’d have to go to school for like… 27 years for that handle, wouldn’t you? Dean’s eye roll probably sprained his optic nerve. Hilarious!
Sam tells her he’s not a doctor and after she gets dramatic for a bit longer, they walk away and are next confronted by a distraught looking man who tells Dean that his wife really needs that face transplant. Dean barks at him that none of this is real and they walk away.
BAM! Distraught Man pulls out a gun and shoots Dean. In. The. Back. Dean goes to his knees, reaching a hand for Sam and gasping, “it’s real… it’s real…”
Sam does his, “No. Nononononono…” before he yells for a doctor. Which… turns out… he is after all. Dean is awake while they operate. The emo music is turned up to eleven as the nurses try to hand Sam surgical instruments and Dean lays face-down, his head in a donut-shaped support, gasping. Sam leans down and whispers, “I don’t know how to use any of this crap.”
Dean’s like figure it out! So, Sam takes a breath, and says, “I need a penknife, some dental floss, a sewing needle, and a fifth of whiskey.” NICE! I loved it. That’s the kind of field medicine we all imagine they’d know to use. And, well, we’ve seen them sew each other up on a few occasions. It was clever. And Dr. Slap-Happy Piccalo is watching with teary-eyed pride from the observation room while Sam sews up his brother’s back. Good thing they were in a TV show and didn’t have to worry about, y’know, spinal injury.
Next thing you know, they’re in a Japanese Game Show. Just like that. They’re standing in what looks like ski boots, legs spread, awkward as hell. A game show host is speaking Japanese and directs a question at Sam (translated in subtitles…): “What was the name of the demon you chose over your own brother?”
The brothers somewhat desperately regard each other, arms spread, faces almost comically tense.
Sam: What am I supposed to say?
Dean: You think I know??
So, they don’t get to automatically understand Japanese. This is a problem. Especially when Sam misses answering the question in the time allotted. BAM! A large ball on a stick swings up and cracks him in the family jewels. Sam doubles over as much as his restraints allow and gasps for air. Dean calls to him, unsure how to comfort, ‘cause, yeah. I’ve heard that’s a special kind of pain right there. The show host goes off to the side to do a commercial (apparently that happens in Japanese Game Shows?!) and suddenly Cas shows up, looking worried and sweaty and more than a little panicky.
He’s like, “What are you doing here?! You’ve been missing for days!”
Before the boys can do much more than gape at him, Japanese Game Show man… digitizes him. Zap, he’s gone. And then it’s Dean’s question: “Would your Mother and Father still be alive if your brother was never born?” *ouch!*
Dean: What do I do? What do I do?! I don’t want to get hit in the nuts!
His panic shouldn’t be funny, but the look on his face… *bites inside of cheek*
Sam does some quick thinking and realizes that back at Seattle Mercy, he was playing a doctor, so he… played a doctor and they got out. He tells Dean to answer the question… in Japanese. Which, Dean does—though he doesn’t know how he does.
He says that the answer is yes. Now, I don’t know if we’re to believe that he 1) knew the question and 2) knew what he said as an answer or not. There’s not enough time to assimilate that. And it doesn’t seem like Sam understood anything. The way Dean tensed immediately after he said it, ready to be hit (and that expression… I need a screencap!) makes be believe he just said something… but it turns out he was right.
Wrap your mind around that one for a sec. We learn a lot of heavy destiny stuff later in the episode, so the Trickster tricked Dean into saying that he believed Mary and John would be alive if Sam had never been born… for what reason? To validate his own belief of how it all has to end? To keep in his back pocket as fodder to fuel a war between the brothers? That was a pretty heavy question to have been asked and answered when we don’t know if Dean even knew what he was saying.
But, now they know how to play the game. We shift to a commercial for “Herpexia”… oh, poor, poor Sammy and the STDs. And what was up with that crotch shot with the Yoga woman?? Anyway, next thing you know, we’re back on the pseudo Happy Days set. Sam’s showing Hot Chick out and the brothers grin tensely at each other, wondering aloud how long they’re going to have to do this.
“We could die here.”
“How is that funny?”
Cas shows up again, this time looking a helluva lot worse—cut up, bloody, haggard. He tells them he doesn’t have much time, and that the Trickster is too powerful… before he can say much more, duct tape appears on his mouth, the Tickster shows up, and Cas is once again digitized out of the scene.
Dean’s instantly worried. His voice tight, he demands to know where the Trickster sent Cas. The Trickster is very blasé about it and Dean hits his wall. Says they’re done dancing. They get it. They have to play their roles. But the Trickster wants them to take it one step further – to play their roles out there. Sam = Lucifer, Dean = Michael. Celebrity death match. Sam is shocked that he wants them to say yes.
Dean asks him whose side he’s on.
Trickster: “You listen to me, you arrogant dick. I don’t work for either of those SOBs.”
Dean: “Oh, you’re somebody’s bitch.” I love it when he gets tough like that. His eyes go flat—which is so noticeable in someone whose eyes normally convey so much—and his face kind of smoothes out and his lips bounce in an almost-snarl. He looks bad-ass.
The Trickster grabs Dean and slams him hard against the door. Hard enough that Dean’s breath kind of stutters out of him and his mouth twitches with that holy crap that hurt but I’m not giving him the satisfaction and I don’t really have enough air to cry out anyway motion. It’s actually very sexy, that almost-but-not-quite unconscious from pain (or loss of air) expression. Dean still pressed against the door, the Trickster looks between the two of them and says that they have to suck it up and play the roles destiny gave them or stay in TV Land.
And suddenly… wooded area, body, crime scene, flashing lights, it’s dark, and they’re wearing sunglasses. Hit it.
Dean’s revulsion at being shoved into a procedural cop show is endearing. He is incensed. Sam, though, notices that the M.E. is going to town on a red lollipop and marks him as the Trickster. He tells Dean to follow his lead.
They slip their glasses on, turning in unison. Who-esque music cues up and they cross to the body. Awesome! The M.E. describes the wounds—belly wound and a roll of quarters down the throat. Dean leans down and sees a wooden stake (though, I thought I remembered Bobby saying it had to be a certain kind of wood… not that it matters). Hilarity momentarily ensues.
Sam slides the shades off and his face is the epitome of Serious Over-Actor Playing Serious Cop as he says, “Well, I say (timely pause)… jackpot.”
Dean grabs the stake, picking up Sam’s rhythm. “Well, I say… no guts, no glory.”
Lollipop M.E. is chuckling. Still with the one-liners, Dean stands and stabs the M.E. in the heart. He gasps and dies and behind Dean another cop morphs into the Trickster saying, “You got the wrong guy!”
Dean coolly pulls off a nice Caruso-does-Shatner with his, “Did we?”
Sam stabs the Trickster through the heart from the back (which, ironic that it’s Sam who delivers what they believe to be the killing blow since he argued against killing him in the first place) and he falls, dies, and the surroundings return to normal. Or so we think. Back at the “Day-Z Motel,” Dean is brushing his teeth and saying that he’s worried about Cas and wants to know what that SOB did to him… only Sam’s not in the room. Slight aside? I really like how worried Dean is about Cas. Helps cement that the angel is more than just an ally. He’s an ally and a friend.
Dean exits the motel room, calling Sam on his cell as he gets into the Impala. He leaves Sam a voicemail saying, “Sam! It’s me. Where the hell did you go?” Can I just say that the way Dean barks his brother’s name when he’s worried totally curls my toes? I’ve probably said this like every other ramble, but seriously, that rough clip at the end of the word as if he doesn’t even really need all three letters is just perfect.
Suddenly, Sam’s voice echoes around Dean… but there’s no one in the car. This? Was the best one. The others were funny, yes, but this? OMG. I really should have paused and savored, but I didn’t want to stop the awesomeness. Sam was the Impala. Ala KITT. Complete with expanding and contracting digital voice bars on the dash. “I don’t think we killed the Trickster.”
Then?? We get the Knight Rider theme with the quick camera shots of the Impala—just like with KITT—and the wha-wha swoop of the red light inside the grill. I hadn’t laughed with honest-to-God-delight like that in a long, loooong time. The hubs even laughed—but, I kinda think he was laughing more at my enjoyment than anything else.
So, true to Knight Rider form, Dean works out the problems in a man-on-car conversation with Sam. Reviewing what they know of the events, the come to the conclusion that maybe the Trickster’s not a Trickster… and Dean thinks he knows what they’re dealing with. They pull over… somewhere… and Dean’s getting something out of the trunk.
Sam’s Voice: Dean… that, uh, feels really uncomfortable. (BWAH!)
Dean looks to the sky and hollers “UNCLE! We’ll do it!”
Sam: Should I honk? (BWAH! Again!)
The “Trickster” shows up, but Dean says that nobody’s going anywhere until Sam has opposable thumbs. *grins* Atta boy, big brother. Sam climbs out of the car, looking exceedingly grateful to be standing on two feet, and they tell the Trickster that they think he’s an angel. He’s all, whatever. Dean drops his Zippo on the ground and lights a Ring Of Special Fire around the Trickster.
“Maybe you’ve always been an angel…you just jump out of the holy fire and we’ll call it our mistake.”
NICE! Annnnd, they’re back to “real” normal. Like, abandoned paper mill in Ohio normal. And this is where the heavy comes down on us.
Trickster: Where’d you get the holy oil?
Dean: You might say we pulled it out of Sam’s ass.
HA! And Sam’s little grimace just iced that line. Dean reveals how they figured out the Trickster’s true identity by saying it was the way he talked about Armageddon. “Nobody gets that angry unless they’re talking about their own family.”
Ain’t that the truth… no one pushes your buttons like family. No one tears you apart or puts you back together like family. No one can break your heart into a million little pieces and select the two pieces that would make it work right again and throw them out before helping you heal like family. No one holds on as tightly and no one releases as reluctantly as family.
Sam demands to know which angel the Trickster is, bitterness sliding through his voice. It’s sad, actually. When he’d first found out that Dean had been saved by angels, he was so smitten with wonder and hope… but a year and a half (and some pain and loss and end-of-the-world crap) later, he’s mocking the angels with a curl of his lip and a snide joke more worthy of Dean. Made my heart hurt for him a bit.
Turns out the Trickster is none other than Gabriel. WOW. I have to say I did NOT see that coming. He turned himself into a trickster as his own little angel witness protection program. God didn’t say a thing, apparently. Of course not. God only asks that we follow Him. That we obey Him. That we believe in Him. We have to choose to do it of our own free will or it means nothing.
However, I kinda thought that free will was limited to humans—or, more specifically, non-angels. So, if Gabriel ran off and went pagan, he’s essentially fallen, right? I wonder how he kept his powers. And I wonder how he’s going to come back from this because he used those powers to kill people. Perhaps he felt it was teaching them a lesson, who knows. But still, he murdered. Violently. And not in the name of God.
Gabriel says he left because he loved his family—he loved his father—and he couldn’t bear to watch them tear at each other anymore. He wants Dean and Sam to say ‘yes’ so that it can all finally be over. Sam argues that there has to be a way to pull the plug—that it can’t come down to this final battle.
But Gabriel says that it’s not about a war. It’s about two brothers (Michael and Lucifer) who loved each other and betrayed each other. “You’d think you two would be able to relate.” Dean looks over his shoulder at Sam and then back at Gabriel. The light from the holy fire is reflecting on his face and eyes, turning them liquid. The parted-lip, pursed brow expression is one of shut the hell up mixed with I don’t want to hear this and a little I don’t want to believe you.
Gabriel continues that Michael was the big brother, loyal to an absent father while Lucifer was the little brother, rebellious of Daddy’s plan. He says the Winchesters were “born to this. It was always you. One brother has to kill the other. We always knew it would end with you.”
Dean looks like someone scooped out his lungs while Sam? Sam’s face doesn’t change and yet at the same time he looks shattered. His eyes just kind of die a little.
Dean resists. Says that it’s not going to happen. He’s not going to fight his brother to the death… but I couldn’t help but think that even John alluded to that so long ago. Save him, or kill him. I still really wonder how much John could possibly have known. Gabriel says that unfortunately, this isn’t a TV show. It’s real and it’s going to end bloody for all of them.
Dean demands that he bring Cas back or they’ll dip him in the special oil and deep fry themselves and arch angel. And suddenly, Cas is back, looking roughed up. Dean turns to him, asking if he’s okay. Reticent as always, Cas replies, “Fine. Hello, Gabriel.” As he says the angel’s name, his face folds in a bit, looking slightly destroyed. Dean starts to back away from Gabriel with a, “C’mon, Sam.”
Gabriel protests, “Guys! You’re just going to leave me here forever?”
Dean replies, “No, because we don’t screw with people like you do.” His voice gets harder and his volume ramps up as he puts more of his heart and more of his rage into his words. “This isn’t about some prize fight between your brothers or some destiny that can’t be stopped. This is about you being too afraid to stand up to your family.”
With that, he turns on the sprinklers and Gabriel looks up at the water, then back at them. Cas gives Gabriel a parting, pitying glare, and they head to the Impala.
Sounding exhausted, Dean asks Sam if he thought all that babble was true. Sam says that he thinks Gabriel believed it was. They both agree that they wished they were back in a TV show where things are wrapped up at the end of the hour and everyone goes home happy.
Except on our show. Where the good fight is still fought even after the screen goes dark and pain is survived and humor is found in bizarre places and family is the only thing that holds them back from the precipice.
Gabriel’s wrong. Raphael’s wrong. Zach—well, don’t even get me started with Zach. If there is such a thing as free will, then there is no such thing as fate. There is nothing pre-destined if we are able to make our own choices. In a universe that has so many minds with limitless possible imaginings, there is always another way it can happen. The biggest thing is going to be surviving the machine that is the conglomerate of angels and the juggernaut that is the band of demons, both of whom are determined to bring about one particular outcome, long enough to rewrite their own future.
It may end bloody, but I refuse to believe that the only way it will end is in the battle between these two very human brothers—essentially erased by the possession of angels—to the end of one and the ruination of the other. I can’t help but wonder, too, that if these two powerful beings must fight… why do they have to have a human vessel to do so in? Why can’t they just pick some kind of universal middle ground and go at it?
Anyway, that’s my stubborn belief and I’m sticking to it. I’m digging my heels in. You won’t be able to convince me otherwise until episode 5.22 is over. And hopefully by then, you won’t have to.
Next week? Oh man… I withhold any thoughts on what I saw in the previews until after I see the epi. I just find it sooo ironic that that episode is airing the Thursday before the Chicago Creation Convention… *shakes head*
Thanks for reading, all! See you next week.
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Official Episode Stills:
Episode Screen Caps:
Anya Marina – Move You
(plays on the “Dr. Sexy, MD” television show while Dean watches)
Anya Marina – Not A Through Street
(plays when Dean and Sam enter the hospital)
Renee Stahl – Something Real
(plays when Dr. Sam gets the “you’re a great doctor” speech, over Dean getting shot, and Sam performing the “surgery”)
The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again
(plays during the CSI portion)
Game Show Host: No, no, no, no. Mr Trickster does not like pretty boy angels.
Herpexia Disclaimer: Patients should always consult with a physician before using Herpexia. Possible side effects include: Headache, diarrhea, permanent erectile dysfunction, thoughts of suicide and nausea.
Dr. Piccolo: Doctor, seriously.
Dr. Picolo: Seriously, you are brilliant, you know that, and a coward. You’re a brilliant coward.
Sam: Uh, what are you talking about?
Dr. Picolo: As if you don’t know.
Trickster: (to Sam and Dean) You sorry sons of bitches. Why do you think you two are the vessels? Think about it. Michael, the big brother, loyal to an absent father. And Lucifer, the little brother, rebellious of daddy’s plan. You two were born to this, boys! It’s your destiny. It was always you. As it is in Heaven, so it must be on Earth. One brother has to kill the other.
Dean: Ally with the Trickster?
Dean: A bloody, violent monster… and you wanna be Facebook friends with him? Nice, Sammy.
Cathy Randolph: I could have sworn I saw… the Incredible Hulk.
Sam: The Incredible Hulk?
Cathy Randolph: I told you, it’s crazy.
Dean: Bana or Norton?
Cathy Randolph: Oh, no, those movies were terrible. The TV Hulk.
Dean: Lou Ferrigno?
Cathy Randolph: Yes.
Sam: It was you on the police scanner, right? This is a trick.
Trickster: Hello? Trickster.
Sam: I am doing all I can, to slightly lessen the spread of… of genital herpes. And that’s a good thing.
Sam: You’ve got to calm down.
Dean: Calm down? I am wearing sunglasses at night. You know who does that? No-talent douchebags. I hate this game. I hate that we’re in a procedural cop show. And you want to know why. Because I hate procedural cop shows. It’s like 300 of them on television, they’re all the freakin’ same.
Trickster: Wow. Sam, get a load of the rims on you.
SAM the Car: Eat me.
Trickster: Where’d you get the holy oil?
Dean: You might say we pulled it out of Sam’s ass.
Trickster: Where’d I screw up.
Sam: You didn’t. Nobody gets the jump on Castiel like you did.
Dean: Mostly it was the way you talked about Armageddon.
Dean: Well, call it personal experience. Nobody gets that angry unless they’re talking about their own family.
Sam: So which one are you? Grumpy, Sleepy, or Douchy?
When Dean is shot, the bullet wound is on the left side of his back. When he falls to his knees, however, the wound is on the right side.
In the Dr. Sexy MD skit, Dean is explaining to Sam that the woman is having a relationship with a ghost. In the show Grey’s Anatomy Jeffrey Dean Morgan (John Winchester).
The episode parodies two of the shows on opposite Supernatural: CSI on CBS and Grey’s Anatomy on ABC.
The opening credits are in an 80s family/sitcom style: different opening theme, different font for the credits, and shots of Sam and Dean engaging in brotherly humor and ghost-hunting.
Cathy Randolph: I could have sworn I saw the Incredible Hulk.
Specifically referencing the CBS TV series running from 1978 to 1982, starring Bill Bixby as David Bruce Banner, and Lou Ferrigno as his alter-ego, the Hulk.
SAM the car:
The glowing red light, control panel in the car, and hip background music reference the NBC TV series Knight Rider, which ran from 1982 to 1986, and featured KITT, a talking car with a computer intelligence.
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