The "Then" recap at the beginning of the episode highlighted the two things we'd be exploring this episode, and they were biggies -- how Castiel came to be in that human vessel he wears and more about Sam's demon blood sucking.
First off, let me say that it takes way longer to watch an episode when you're pausing the TiVo every few seconds to jot down thoughts on your notepad so you don't forget anything important.
After the recap, we launch into the...uh...non-action. Dean is sitting on the end of a pier beside a peaceful lake fishing. It was such an odd image that my brain didn't really engage until Castiel suddenly popped up next to Dean and Dean realized he was dreaming. Cryptic Castiel says he wants to talk to Dean but that it's not safe to talk in Dean's head -- someone might be listening. He hands Dean a piece of paper and tells him to meet him there, now. Dean then wakes up, and we next see him and Sam picking their way through some appropriately dark and dismal building. It's seen better days, and Dean comments that, "There was a fight here." After they spot a painted symbol on the wall, they find Castiel on the floor. Only...
He's not Castiel anymore. Rather, he's Jimmy Novak from Pontiac, Illinois -- aka the person whom Castiel possessed so that he could be seen and heard by humans like Dean. And considering Jimmy has been possessed by an angel for nearly a year, he's way hungry and is eating himself silly in the next scene. Even Dean, who can put away a lot of food, says, "You mind slowing down? You're gonna give me angina."
When the boys ask him what he remembers, he says only bits and pieces. And worst of all, he doesn't remember what Castiel was going to tell Dean or where Castiel has gone. We see the first of Jimmy's flashbacks to his pre-possessed days. He has a wife and daughter, is a devout man, and falls asleep in front of the TV like just about every other man in America. Only I'm doubting that those guys wake up to find their TV freaking out, then hear a piercing noise, and fall to the floor in a seizure. At least I hope not.
As the Winchester boys are apt to do, they disagree about what to do with Jimmy. And this scene illustrates again how much the boys' viewpoints have swapped places. Dean wants to put Jimmy on a bus home to his family; Sam doesn't want to lose the only lead they have to what has happened to Castiel. Besides, he says, if they want to find out what Jimmy might not even realize he remembers, they can bet the demons do too.
Next, we see Sam standing in the motel room with Jimmy asleep in one bed and Dean asleep in the other. He sneaks outside and takes a hit of demon blood from a flask. Oh, no! My Sammy's a demon blood junkie! :( And he lets Jimmy escape while he's doing it.
Jimmy has made it to the bus, and we see another flashback. This time, it's the radio that is going all super-static. When Jimmy's wife, Amelia, arrives home and finds Jimmy with his arm in a pot of boiling water, she freaks. But when he pulls his arm free of the water, it's uninjured and he says Castiel told him to do it to prove his faith. Of course, Amelia just thinks he's had a mental break, which I really don't understand considering the evidence. I mean, how could she explain the injured arm pulled from the boiling water?
Back in the present, the boys are driving down the road, not talking. When Anna pops into the back seat and says "hi", the boys are understandably freaked and the Impala weaves across the road before Dean shoots off a comment about her calling ahead, and then another about her looking good. Ah, Dean being Dean. But the light moment is short-lived when she reveals that Cas has been dragged back to Heaven because he evidently really ticked someone off. At this point, I started to worry that this might be the end of Cas and very nearly yelled "No!" at the TV. I love his character and Misha's portrayal of him.
While I wanted to see the return of Castiel (and in Misha's form), I did hurt for what Jimmy has given up. It's been nearly a year since he's seen Amelia and their daughter, Claire. When he arrives home, he watches them through the window before going to the door and ringing the doorbell. How sad is it to have to ring the doorbell of your own home? While standing there, we see another flashback in which Amelia tells him to take his pills because she obviously thinks he's lost touch with reality, and if he doesn't she's doing to take Claire and leave. Back in the present, he decides to tell Amelia he's been away at a psych clinic rather than ruin his return by telling her the truth. They decide to take it in small steps, starting with a meal of sandwiches over which he says he will not be saying grace.
But the peace is short-lived. A friend from before he left comes by, and Jimmy is glad to see him. While Amelia goes to get the friend a beer, he leads Jimmy into another room. Wait for it...yep, the friend isn't the friend anymore. He's possessed by a demon who says he's going to kill Claire. When Amelia returns to the room, she thinks Jimmy is still crazy because he's beating his friend, saying he's a demon, and telling her to run. Amelia doesn't believe until the friend grabs Claire and brings a knife to her throat, the guy's wife (also possessed) joins the party, and the Winchester boys arrive just in time to save the day. We see further proof that something is wiggy with Sam because he's too weak to exorcise a lower demon when he previously could take on the likes of Alastair. When Dean later asks him about it and says he's scaring him, Sam admits that he's scaring himself.
The boys convince Jimmy that his family will only be safe if he leaves them behind -- forever. Poor Jimmy, he's facing a Winchester fate of a never-ending battle and life on the road. But wait! There's 20 minutes of the episode left. Jimmy gets a call, supposedly from Amelia. Alas, she's now possessed by a demon too, and the Impala gets turned around so Jimmy can save his wife and daughter. Only, the demon Amelia shoots him in the gut and tells her goons to kill Claire. This time, it's Castiel who shows up just in time, in Claire's body, and takes care of the baddies. A dying Jimmy begs Castiel to take him and let his daughter be because he knows what's in store for her if Cas stays in her vessel. Cas takes him up on his offer, and poor Jimmy's short return to his normal life and family comes to an end. I was glad to have Cas back, but I was sad for Jimmy and his family.
When Dean asks Cas what he wanted to tell him, we learn that the Cas we have now is much more like the version we saw when we first appeared to Dean in human form and not the Cas of recent episodes. He says he learned his lesson while whe was away. "I serve Heaven, not man, and certainly not you." Ouch! This tidbit left me with questions: Did he mean what he said? If so, what did they do to him to change his tune? And if not, when will we find that out? Will we see Castiel fall? That's what I had been expecting before the end of the season, but Kripke and company threw me a curve ball.
The jam-packed episode isn't finished yet though. Bobby calls and tells Sam that he and Dean need to get to this house pronto.
Sam: "What's going on?"
Bobby: "The apocalypse, genius. Now get your asses over here."
When they arrive, Sam asks what the big demon problem is as he walks into a metal cell (Is this the spirit-proof room?). Bobby, with a sad but determined look on his face, says, "You are. This is for your own good," and locks him inside as Dean watches. I have to admit I didn't see this coming until Sam walked in that room. This, combined with the previews of coming episodes, drives an even bigger wedge between Sam and Dean, and I'm afraid of what's to come. I hope we don't have a fifth season with them on opposite sides, coming together only at the end. That would blow.
So, what are your thoughts about "The Rapture?" How do you think this season will end?