I can honestly say that as last night's episode of Supernatural progressed, it looked less and less like there would be significant progress in the search for Sam's soul. Dean was killing people (because he was acting as Death), and Sam had hopped aboard the crazy train in his effort to remain soulless (destination: E-ville). Then, Dean failed his mission. Bleak. The surprise? Death came through anyway, and in a blast of white light, Sam suddenly had soul again.
Join me in a big, fat, joy-filled "Woah!!"
I've said it once, and I'll say it again: The pace of this season has been outstanding. I very much expected this no-soul thing to continue until season's end (which would have been agonizing). So I was pleased as a piece of diner pie (Dean's favorite) that this is where we found ourselves midseason. I think it's a sign of good things to come creatively.
That said, I felt like this episode was rather short -- even though my Tivo promised me that it was 42 minutes as always. I think I get this feeling every time the boys are the case of the week rather than a group of strangers. That's not necessarily a bad thing -- in fact, that often produces the most monumental episodes -- but it does make for a strange episode to reflect upon.
Take Dean's plot for instance.
At the beginning, we found Dean rolling up to a butcher shop in China town that was almost as plentiful in dead animal carcasses as it was in health code violations. In short: disgusting. But not too gross for Dean to go seeking some back alley medicine courtesy of a doctor who specialized in hunter care (played by the man responsible for 90 percent of my childhood nightmares, Robert Englund.)
For what looked like at least a few hundred bucks, the doctor agreed to kill Dean for three minutes and then bring him back. If he was unable to be revived, obviously, he'd be dead for good. Yeah, that sounded dangerous even to Dean. So he handed the doc a letter for Ben (aww) and told him to mail it if something went awry. That's when the doc noted the same thing I did: Nothing for Sam? No, said Dean. "If I don't make it back, nothing I say is going to mean a damn thing to him," he said. (Dean, dear, it's getting very tiring playing this tiny violin.)
That's actually the whole reason Dean was going on this journey to the dead. It was his latest move in the Save Sam's Soul campaign. The plan was meet up with Death and use Death's ring (that they took last season) as leverage to convince him to get Sam's soul back. But once confronted with the deal, Death was less interested in getting his ring (because he claimed to know where Dean had hidden it) and more interested in getting Dean to walk in his shoes. So he made him a deal: If Dean could be death for 24 hours, Sam would get his soul back. The caveat was that if Dean took the ring off before the 24 hours were up, he'd lose.
NEXT: Dean puts a ring on it.