Okay, I have one word for the first scene in this week's episode -- Gross! Cop #1 starts bleeding, starts shedding skin, and then explodes into puddle of blood. Dude, I'm glad I wasn't eating dinner while watching this episode. May I just say again, gross!
Next scene -- we've got some hot Dean/Lisa action. Only I knew from the fuzzy light that it wasn't real. Dean wakes up in the Impala.
Then we have what may be one of the most rewound, re-watched scenes ever in Supernatural history -- Sam working out shirtless. I think MJ's reaction was, "Please never make Sam wear a shirt again!" And we get more evidence that post-Hell Sam is not the same as Sam pre-Hell. Mysterious girl he obviously spent the night with (and from her comments, he pleasured well) emerges from bedroom, and he pays her. No, Sammy! Not a prostitute! She gives him her number, but he tosses it in the garbage as soon as she leaves. Part of me thinks something is really wonky with Sam, and part of me thinks this isn't Sam at all, that the real Sam is still in the Cage. And that makes me sad.
I was happy to see the return of snarky Dean. When he gets off the phone with Sam, he looks at the phone and says, "Who died and made you boss?" There's something about that line that makes me wonder about the identity of "Sam."
Next we have a shot of not exactly the world's best cop, some yokel who is sitting in the woods drinking alcohol from a pseudo-Big Gulp cup and not making the effort to catch a speeder because he's only blowing by at 70 mph. "You can do better than that." Within moments, he has bit it from another Egyptian plague, boils. More eew!
When Dean arrives in Easter, Pennsylvania, where Sam is waiting and the cops are being offed in icky ways, Dean is on the phone being all dad-like with Ben, telling him to "be a man" and tell his mom he broke something. I really am liking how we're seeing this "normal" side of Dean, but it really makes the changes in Sam stand out that much more. Sam: "Wow, you, molding the minds of tomorrow. Who knew?"
Anyone remember when Sam got nervous posing as federal agents with fake names? Yeah, those days are gone.
More of the old Dean comes out when he calls the killed cops "Skidmark" and "Bubblewrap." Eew, but funny.
Just when I think Sam isn't Sam, something funny and very brother-like happens, like the "car wars". I laughed when Dean raced Sam because he wants to prove the Impala is better, and laughed again when they got out of their cars and shut the doors at the same time.
They've arrived at the home of Officer Colfax (aka "Skidmark's" partner, who witnessed his really gross demise). He's acting odd, scratching out the faces on all the photos in his home and scratching his head a lot. He reveals that he and the two dead cops were the responding officers on a traffic stop where they shot and killed a young African-American man, Christopher Birch, for no reason other than maybe they were bigots. Ready for another plague? Yep, good ol' Officer Colfax keels over and Sam removes the guy's uniform cap to reveal...locusts crawling out of a hole in his head. I'm wondering if Tanya is watching with her fingers over her eyes at this point. I'm in danger of doing the same.
Despite the fact that Sam has been trying to get in touch with Castiel for a year, Dean gives it a shot in typical Dean fashion: "Now I lay be down to sleep. I pray to Castiel to get his feathery ass down here." Just when Sam starts to say, "I told you so," Cas shows up. Yay, Cas!!! He reveals neither he, nor any of his angel buddies, know who sprung Sam from Hell. (Did the Winchester brothers play a lot of supernatural Monopoly and been holding onto some Get Out of Hell Free cards?)
Okay, so they've all been through the Apocalypse (they and Buffy should compare notes), so what Big Bad come compare? A civil war in Heaven, you say? Ding, ding, ding. You're a winner! Evidently, chaos is all the rage in Heaven post-Apocalypse, and several powerful weapons were stolen, among them the Staff of Moses, which is evidently what's causing all the icky cop demises.
Dean: "What is Chuck Heston's disco stick doing down here anyway?" (Wouldn't you love to be in the writers' room when they come up with this stuff?)
Cas asks for the boys' help and then utters one of my favorite Cas lines ever, complete with air quotes: "Sam, Dean, my 'people skills' are a little 'rusty'. Pardon me, but I've spent the last 'year' as a multi-dimensional wavelength of celestial intent." Misha's delivery is awesome.
They go to the home of Christopher Birch's father, thinking he killed the cops, but then Chris's little brother, Aaron, points a sawed-off part of Moses' staff at them and tells them he did it, that he bought the staff from an angel for the price of his soul. Huh? Angels acting like crossroads demons? Things really are frakked up. Cas can find out who the angel is by searching for a mark inside the boy, though it will be excruciating for Aaron. Dean isn't happy with Cas, but he's more bothered by Sam's seeming lack of caring about what Aaron is experiencing, his "the ends justifies the means" attitude.
Castiel identifies the angel as Balthazar. Some other angel shows up, who I thought for a moment was Balthazar, then later realized was one of Raphael's minions. I admit I got a little confused. He and Cas fight and go out the window and crush a car. I didn't realize it was Sam's car until this interchange:
Sam: My car!
Dean: Okay, silver lining.
The look that Sam gives Dean is so pre-Hell Sam that I'm back to thinking it's really him. Man, I want to know what's going on here.
Cas reveals that the civil war in Heaven is pitting Raphael and his followers (who want to put the Apocalypse back on) against Castiel and his friends (who don't).
Cas, looking for ingredients to do some spell to find Balthazar: "I need myrrh." Simple line, awesome delivery by Misha. He finds Balthazar, and he and boys go to his house. Balthazar, who has a new vessel, is digging living a hedonistic life hiding out from Raphael. He's the one who stole the weapons from Heaven. When Raphael and two buddies show up, Balthazar says, "That's my cue. Tell Raphael to bite me."
Some angel toasting ensues, Cas and Raphael fight until Balthazar returns and uses a piece of the pillar of salt that killed Lot's wife to turn Raphael to salt. Of course, he'll have a new vessel soon, but this gives the rest of them a head start. Cas lets Balthazar go, saying his debt to him is paid.
We get one of those "brothers by the car" moments at the end of the episode. Dean asks if Sam is okay, Sam assures him he is despite his trip to Hell. Dean says, "I feel like I'm not getting the whole scoop." You and me both, buddy.
We also get a glimpse at some future episodes -- Bobby talking to Rufus about the weird way the monsters are acting, more tense moments between the brothers, and a bit of a Twilight dig when the boys are in what appears to be a teenager's room with movie vampires styled like Edward Cullen on posters. Dean: "These aren't vampires. These are douchebags." Even though I'm a Twilight fan, I thought that was funny.
One last thought -- I was glad to have a Campbell-free episode. I really don't like that bunch.