Supernatural's Trial and Error Pits the Winchesters against Crowley's Pet
So after many bottles of aspirin, fried hot dogs and basically a maddening routine of just trying to figure out what is written on the tablet, Kevin Tran has a eureka moment, gets a nosebleed and collapses from the exhaustion. He calls the Winchester brothers leaving a vague message, cutting Dean's nesting, short. Sam follows his brother out the door, but not without bringing his burger to go. Who knew Dean was such a good cook?
Kevin, the Malnourished Prophet
They rush to the boat, guns blazing, only to find the prophet vomiting his meaty diet. After sharing the news, Kevin explains that closing the Gates entails speaking some Enochian words after undergoing certain trials. The one he has translated so far involves killing a hell hound and bathing in its blood. Definitely not a problem for Sam and Dean.
Dean goes out for a supply run and Sam tells Kevin to take a break from cracking the tablet's code. Kevin responds that he can't because he wants the mess to be over as soon as possible so he can go home. He's not looking too good but Dean gives him something for the headaches and to increase pep along with better meal options.
Apparently Hellhounds are usually found collecting on Crossroads deals so in order to find the devil dog, the two Winchesters just have to locate someone who signed over their soul. Their web search leads them to Shoshone, Idaho where a family of small time farmers, the Cassitys, struck oil on their land a few years back. They get to the farm and meet the groundskeeper, Ellie, who is used to hiring drifters as farmhands.
Life on the Ranch
After shoveling horse poop, they see Ellie in a fight with Alice about what to feed the horses. The brothers suspect Alice as a potential demon deal customer and decide to stalk her come night fall.
Wolf howls were heard coming from outside the house while Carl Granville, and his wife Alice Cassity were having dinner. Alice goes out to check on the horses. Not long after she leaves, her husband suffers death by hell hound, going under the brothers' radar while they were busy following the wrong culprit. We knew something was fishy with that "trophy husband".
When Sam goes off to talk to Alice, he finds out that Carl didn't sign over his soul to strike it rich. Instead, he gave it up so he can win Alice's affections. This means the brothers have another shot at killing a demon dog when the rest of the Cassitys fly in for the funeral.
Quirky, Rich, Self-absorbed, and Damned
Ellie introduces the family one by one as the three of them watch from afar. All three new arrivals seemed to have something suspiciously lucky happen to them in the past. The father, Noah Cassity has had five wives in total, with the most recent being a 20-year old model. The middle child, Cindy is apparently a washed up country singer who has had one major single and the youngest, Margot, ran away to live in Paris before Carl and her sister got married. Due to the sudden family reunion, Ellie assigns some dinnertime tasks to the Winchesters; the perfect way to keep watch over the new arrivals.
That night, Sam is assigned to serve food and pour drinks for the family. Meanwhile, Dean mans the grill like a pro, which is rewarded by a flirtatious comment from Ellie. Dinnertime conversations are less than pleasant, with the Cassitys making snide remarks about each other. After some bouts of sarcasm, the family recalls a particularly charming English salesman with the name "Crowley". Yup, the one and the same King of Hell --he was one of the best Crossroads demons after all.
The Perfect Excuse to Geek Out
While Sam relays the information to Dean, Kevin calls with good news. There's a way to see the invisible hounds of hell, and it requires the use of an "object scorched by holy oil" or being damned, but the brothers go for the first option of course. Dean heads off to gather the Jesus juice and specs while his brother keeps tabs on the family. Unfortunately Noah and Margot go for a little hunting trip to put down Carl's killer. Though it's not part of the plan, Sam joins the two.
After Dean finishes his Clark Kent-esque demon detectors Ellie propositions him to go to her room for some private time. He asks her for a rain check but Ellie says it's a one night only deal.
Being separated from Sam and her father, Margot becomes the next Hellhound victim. After getting Noah home in one piece, the Winchester brothers have no choice but to tell the family about their invisible killer and its crafty master. Nobody owns up to making the deal with Crowley. Due to the Hellhound being able to cause hallucinations as it comes close, Sam and Dean cuff them to keep them safe from hurting themselves. To keep the dogs at bay, the brothers also spread goofer dust for good measure.
Before Dean heads out to try and slay the Hellhound, the Winchester brothers have a conversation about who should sacrifice himself if it all goes to hell. Dean declares his intentions to keep Sam safe by being the one to do the trials himself. He believes his brother has a happier future ahead of him and that he can find a way out of being a hunter.
Dean heads out to investigate and hears music coming from Ellie's room. He goes inside to warn her, finding out that she is actually aware that her time is almost up. She believes the Hellhound is coming for her because she told Crowley that she would give anything to cure her mother of Parkinson's. Somehow, she did get better and is now happily retired.
Back inside the house, the Cassitys are still arguing about who of them caused the Hellhounds to appear. Apparently it was Margot who believed that if they were rich, they would all be happy. Sam takes his eyes off them for a second to look out the window. Alice wiggles her hand free of the cuffs and she rushes out the door, to her car. Sam follows her and sees that the Hellhound is heading towards the direction of the barn. He tells the scared woman to head back inside as he rushes off to assist his brother.
A Somewhat Predictable Outcome
The Hellhound comes for Ellie and she sees Dean as a monster. Dean tells her to stay inside the circle of graveyard dirt no matter what happens. Outside the room, a Hellhound charges at Dean, he hears a scream and gets distracted. Because of the successful diversion, Dean gets slashed by razor sharp claws. Fortunately, Sam comes to his rescue. He is able to fire a few shotgun rounds before the Hellhound charges at him. With him pinned underneath it, Sam cuts the Hellhound in half with Ruby's knife.
Ellie helps dress Dean's wounds. He tells her that with a Hex bag she can dodge Crowley's collectors and that she wouldn't have to go to hell. When the brothers are alone, Sam calls Dean's bluff about Ellie's soul but he dismisses it saying that they would have dealt with the Gates of Hell then. Dean tries, but fails, to cast the spell needed to pass the trial and asks that they go off to find another Hellhound so he can kill it. Sam asks his brother to believe in him, saying that he doesn't plan on dying and that they can both survive to live their lives in peace. With Dean's blessing, Sam recites the spell words and momentarily reels in pain, much to the horror of his older brother.
What's really special about this episode is the fact that we get to see the Winchester boys in another light. Instead of just being all business, they have come to a point where they are more focused on clearing a path for an actual future for themselves.
Even Kevin is working overtime just so he can go back to normal life. The delivery of the lines will tug at your heart strings, hearing Dean's concern for Sam and vice versa. Even the fact that Sam threw a bubble gum wrapper on the floor of Dean's newly decorated room offers some sort of playful banter for the two --rarely happens when you're fighting both Hell and Heaven.
Trials, Tribulations, and Witchcraft
What will happen to Sam after successfully passing the trials? Will there be another fine print hidden in the tablet somewhere that indicates some sort of catch? How about Crowley's search for the angel tablet? Will Sam be in a race against time to finish the trials first? So many questions, with quite a number of episodes left. One thing is for sure, the guys behind Supernatural will try to top the already mind-blowing cliff hangers done in the past. And that's no small feat.
In "Man's Best Friend With Benefits", Sam and Dean deal with witches. Also, it seems the Winchester brothers are not done with meeting canines --the shape shifting kind. The sneak peek of Episode 15 shows Sam opening their motel door as a Doberman runs past him to lounge on the bed. Dean gets back and knowing his brother doesn't share his soft spot for dogs, he tries to sell the idea of letting their four-legged guest stay the night. Dean opens the door only to find that the dog was replaced by, well, someone more attractive.
She's basically the familiar of a police officer named James and was sent to call on the brothers to help. It seems after dabbling with witchcraft, James is now having nightmares where he murders innocent people. Only, they really do die in real life.