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Supernatural - Beat the Devil - Review

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Supernatural “Beat the Devil” was written by Robert Berens and was directed by Phil Sgriccia. It begins the real run to the end of the season. It was nice to see the brothers gathering some allies. It also seems like they are dragging out the run to save Mary (Samantha Smith) and Jack (Alexander Calvert), but I suspect the end game is to leave us with a big cliffhanger concerning Michael and Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino). The press release for the finale hints that one brother makes an impulsive decision, and I think that’s been telegraphed – just as Sam’s (Jared Padalecki) death is telegraphed in this episode from the opening scene. This episode is perhaps most notable both for that shocker and the really outstanding performances by both Padalecki and Jensen Ackles (Dean).

The episode opens with Sam dreaming of his version of a perfect family dinner. It’s a nice tease that maybe they’ve already been successful in getting Mary and Jack home. I loved Mary’s “Sam” turning into the buzzer on his alarm.

I loved all the sexual innuendo surrounding Gabriel’s (Richard Speight Jr) grace – Dean’s disgust at him extracting it in his room, the music as the rift goes limp, Gabriel’s angel sword dropping, and Rowena’s (Ruth Connell) comment of “premature.” Of course, in the end he isn’t strong enough to open the rift – let alone keep it open for 24 hours. The team has to devise another plan, and Cas (Misha Collins) is the one to insist they go after Lucifer. Still loving this version of Cas.

Cas, Dean, and Sam discuss Lucifer. Sam insists that dealing with Lucifer always ends badly. Cas commiserates with Sam’s reluctance, but insists that they let Lucifer out of the cage, and that’s never ceased to be their responsibility. Sam doesn’t like their choices, but he does come up with a way to give them more than 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Gabriel tries to make excuses to Rowena. He suggests she might have been the one to screw up the spell, but she insists it was the ingredient. Gabriel and Rowena find a way to fill the extra time they seem to have while the three amigos plan their next move. It’s a nice little bit of fun before things get more serious. Connell and Speight do a nice job with the comedy here.

Lucifer thinks he’s pouring his heart out to a bartender (Trevor Lerner). When he starts to talk about realizing that the only thing that’s really important is his son, Gabriel – who is the bartender – looks thoughtful. Is this a new side to his brother? However, he gives himself away by telling Lucifer that “Jack, will come around” – when Lucifer hasn’t mentioned him by name. However, the spell that Rowena put in the alcohol has already taken effect.

It’s really hilarious when Lucifer is confronted by not one, but two people that he thought he’d killed. It was also fun to see the Trickster up to some nice tricks with the bar that Lucifer can’t get out of. Rowena’s magical handcuffs are also pretty fun. Gabriel also looks taken aback when Lucifer tells him to just put him out of his misery.

Sam’s plan involves slowly draining Lucifer’s grace into the spell so that the rift will stay open: “Grace on tap.” Sam tells him that they’re going to kill him when they get back. He also checks to make sure that Rowena is ok. She’s fine because she knows that Sam will be the one to kill her. Of course, that could also be the poor decision that one of the brothers make. What if Sam allows himself to be a vessel and that entity kills her?

The team arrives in a heap in Apocalypse-World (AW), and honestly, I could have done without the locker-room-teenage-boy “humor” of Gabriel landing face first in Cas’s crotch. One rung too far guys. Maybe it might have worked if they didn’t have to pause so long and get the reactions – but this wasn’t clever – just ho hum teenage-boy-stupid. Naturally, they don’t land in the same spot. They need to make their way from Kentucky to Dayton, Ohio – 2 days by foot.

Lucifer does his best to bait Rowena, but she tells “Lucille” that she’s not biting. He changes tactics to try to annoy her. He softens her up with some hideous singing, and then finishes the job by talking about killing her.

Rowena snaps and taunts Lucifer by telling him that the brothers and Cas are going to Jack who considers them to be his fathers. Lucifer is nothing to Jack. And somehow, making Lucifer mad allows him to break free of his bonds. Why wasn’t she monitoring that spell more closely? How can he suddenly be stronger after he’s just spent some hours being drained of his grace? This was weakly plotted.

Lucifer grabs her by the neck. He tells her that she gave him something to fight for again – his boy. He promises to make it quick, and Rowena blasts him away from her… and right through the rift!

We get a nice scene between Cas and Gabriel as Cas asks if Gabriel has thought about what’s next. Cas tells Gabriel that Heaven is dying, and Gabriel is shocked and concerned. He’s interested that Cas thinks that he can fix it, but he also thinks of himself as a screw up. Cas tells him that “Heaven’s been run into the ground by up-standing angels. Perhaps a screw up is just the change we need.” Gabriel definitely looks like he’s thinking about it.

Dean has noticed a change in Sam. And Sam is actually happy – he tells Dean that they’ve been working toward this for so long, and now they’re so close to actually being able to save Mary and Jack. He asks Dean if he can’t feel it too. But Dean doesn’t. And of course, then they are interrupted by screaming. The brothers go into rescue mode – is it possible for them to do anything else?

Gabriel tries to convince them – not our world, not our problem. But of course, they come to the rescue of Floyd (Michael Patric) and Maggie (Katherine Evans) who are being attacked by a starving vampire. Not eating makes vampires wild – and even more dangerous. Sam is concerned when Maggie uses the past tense to say they were going to Dayton. They were stopped by a nest of vampires in the tunnel. Gabriel urges that they take the safer, longer route, but Sam insists they don’t have time. Dean agrees, but is clearly not expecting a positive outcome. He looks resigned and defeated.

Rowena is about to leave and tries to convince herself that it’s not her problem. It’s a nice parallel to Gabriel declaring that Maggie and Floyd aren’t their problem. In the end, Rowena can’t just walk away and goes to work, looking for a way to keep the rift open.

The group head into the tunnel. We get some nice flashlight work, and this totally reminded me of the tunnels in “Wendigo!” Sam killing the vamp so Maggie didn’t have to, and the vamp being totally oblivious to them actually reminded me more of a scene from The Walking Dead - there's even a Maggie (who is played by Supernatural alum Lauren Cohen!)! And of course, the impending death of the positive, moral compass of the group also reminded me of TWD

They come into a central chamber – with a floor much too smooth to be natural – so kudos to the production team for an amazing set! Gabriel and Cas are distracted by having to clear a passage of rocks. The group spreads out and Floyd is the first to be taken. Sam is quickly overwhelmed as Dean is distracted by saving Maggie. Dean watches in horror as Sam is overcome and has his jugular ripped open. I won’t lie – I was absolutely shocked to see what had to be a killing blow. But of course, this is Supernatural – not TWD – so I knew that somehow, we weren’t losing Sam – nobody is ever really dead on Supernatural.

Dean watches in horror as Sam is dragged away – and Cas quickly follows. Dean refuses to believe that Sam is gone, but Cas insists that they can’t save him and they don’t have time. Ackles is terrific throughout this scene.

As they continue walking to Dayton, Dean is clearly in shock. He replays Sam’s death in his mind in an endless loop. And of course, we are also reminded of Dean’s charge by John to keep his brother safe – and what that’s meant to Dean throughout his life. He’s focused on getting to Mary and Jack, however.

We go back to the tunnel and Sam’s dead body – and Padalecki does make a very attractive corpse, even with half his neck missing. I thought it was nice planning on someone’s part to give him that backpack to use as a pillow! It seems that Sam is really, really dead.

As the group approach the camp, Cas is stopped by the warding, which Gabriel helpfully burns off. Then they are accosted by the rebels – and Mary is there. Mary is thrilled to see Dean and grabs him into a hug. Ackles is perfect here as his eyes fill with tears as he pulls back from Mary. It doesn’t take Mary long to see the devastation on her son’s face and realize that Sam isn’t there. Dean is finally able to give in to his emotions.

And then it’s Padalecki’s turn to shine. We get a close up on his face – and nice use of those glow sticks as light sources! – and suddenly Sam is inexplicably gasping for air – with a perfectly healed neck. He turns around after leaping up to find Lucifer pulling the old flashlight under the chin camp scare!

Sam wants to know why Lucifer brought him back, if Rowena is ok, and how Lucifer brought him back. Lucifer tells him that he was going to kill Rowena, but she blasted him through the rift, and he charged up his grace by eating a bunch of Michael’s angels to have enough grace to bring Sam back. Sam turns to leave, but Lucifer is holding back a huge nest of vamps. Padalecki is great here – he’s clearly afraid of Lucifer and the vamps, and the consequences of doing anything that Lucifer wants.

Lucifer wants Sam to help him establish a relationship with Jack. All he wants is for Sam to acknowledge that Lucifer was the one who lifted him from the darkness and into the light. Which sounds like an echo of Cas’s first words to Dean – I am the one who gripped you tight… Sam is given an impossible choice. Come with Lucifer and do what he wants – or die again.

The group makes it to the camp. Jack is devastated by Sam’s death. He’s angry at Cas and Gabriel for not bringing him back. Gabriel, clearly ashamed, says he wasn’t strong enough. Cas tells Jack they would have if they could have. Dean is determined to go back and get Sam’s body – and it doesn’t look like Mary is going to stop him from this suicide mission.

The warning bells begin to ring and Jack’s face lights up as Sam walks in. Mary and Dean are shocked, but it’s clear that Dean especially is waiting for the other shoe to drop – and it does as Lucifer steps in right after Sam. Lucifer addresses Jack as “son,” and Dean and Sam exchange a look. I think that Sam made the right choice. I think that Dean will agree with me, but I’m betting that Sam may have reservations or even remorse. But they’ve beat the Devil before and they can do it again.

This certainly starts the ball rolling for the final two episodes. The elements are in place so that the show could have wrapped up in a satisfying way, but of course, we have at least one more season, and I’m betting on a hell of a cliffhanger! Will we see Jo (Daneel Ackles) or Naomi (Amanda Tapping) again before the end of the season? Will Rowena be able to keep the rift open? And if she does who will make it back through? What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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