TELEVISION EPISODE REVIEW: Supernatural S13 Ep21 “Beat the Devil” – O Dee Doo Da Day!

It’s time to save Mary and Jack. But no family reunion goes the way you plan it … especially not when Lucifer’s involved.

Supernatural – “Beat the Devil”, Season 13, Episode 21
Airdate: May 3, 2018
Director: Philip Sgriccia
Writer: Robert Berens
Created by: Eric Kripke

What You Should Know:
A while ago, Lucifer killed Rowena. Viciously. And deep down, even though she’s become stronger than she was, her fear of Lucifer remains. A fear that created an understanding between her and Sam Winchester. Because of that understanding, when faced with the opportunity to kill Sam in the name of possibly getting what she wanted from Death herself, Rowena faltered. As a result, and with a larger threat looming overhead, she agreed to join Sam and Dean’s fight.

After getting his desired revenge on those who’d wronged him, Gabriel kept his promise to Sam and Dean and went to the bunker with them. To prepare for the battle against Michael.

What You’ll Find Out:
Sam wakes from a pleasant dream of sharing pizza with his family – consisting of Dean, Castiel, Mary, and Jack – at home in the bunker after successfully rescuing them. And it’s time to get the day started because today’s the day they’re going to depart for Apocalypse World to do just that. So he, along with Dean, join Rowena and Cas in the library where Rowena mixes up the majority of the ingredients for the spell. While Gabriel takes a minute of ‘alone time’ – in Dean’s room – to extract his own grace. What he arrives with fills maybe a third of the vial, but he swears it’s enough, calling it the “jet fuel of divine emissions,” so everyone arms up and Rowena proceeds.

The rift opens, but in less than a minute it folds in on itself in a “premature” collapse. Leaving them with only one choice. Like it or not, they need Lucifer – with or without his cooperation.

Dean, Sam, and Castiel reconvene in the kitchen to discuss their options, temporarily leaving Gabriel and Rowena alone in the library. Sam is steadfastly against trying to capture, let alone manipulate, Lucifer. He rationalizes that not once in their history of messing with Lucifer has any such tactic worked the way they’d wanted it to. Dean simply doesn’t see a Plan C. Castiel speaks up, offering Sam his sympathies as he understands why Sam would be hesitant, but all the same he recognizes that it’s ultimately their fault Lucifer is walking free in the first place. Therefore Lucifer “never stopped being [their] responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Gabriel self-consciously flips through a book – appropriately titled Laying Pipe – while Rowena remains at the table. After an awkward back-and-forth in which he attempts to defend his archangel manliness, Gabriel tries turning the accusation around, claiming he heard that the spell used to release her full power “didn’t take.” Insinuating she’s still not at her true maximum strength, as well as declaring the malfunction could have been hers. She assures him the spell was far too simple for it to be the fault of the spellcaster, meaning it could only be the fault of the ingredients. He looks away. She studies him. He looks back at her, she looks away. He studies her. She looks back, mentioning that she knows “a thing or two about wounded male pride.”

Sam’s still less than sold on whatever decision they’ve come to. But it’s the best they’ve got. Dean points out that, hey, regardless, they still only have twenty-four hours to try to find and rescue Mary and Jack on the other side. They’ll be lucky just to hear news about them. Sam sarcastically agrees, but follows it with a suspicious pause. With Dean and Cas also silent, the bunker seems awfully quiet. The trio makes their way back to the library, at first glance finding it empty and call out for their allies. Rowena cries out – in a decidedly not painful way – from behind a tall bookcase, before almost rushing into sight, her usually presentable self all askew and her hair a mess. Sam’s jaw about hits the floor in shock even as Gabriel swings around into view, holding a bright red book conveniently low in front of his waist, his clothes also askew. Dean jerks his thumb into Sam’s chest, unable to look away, declaring that Sam has a plan. Sam himself is still slack-jawed and Castiel has tilted his head as down as physically possible to avoid looking at the pair altogether.

Lucifer’s drinking at a bar, wallowing in self-pity and wishing he could actually get drunk. He finishes a bottle – apparently not his first – and demands another, prompting the bartender to comment on his impressive tolerance. Lucifer, in turn, complains about his inability to feel it, leading him to complain more. He says he “had Heaven and Hell right in the palm of [his] hand,” giving the bartender pause, before declaring that all he learned from it was that it meant nothing. Lucifer goes on to talk about how he “had a son,” a son he can’t sense in the world anymore, even commenting that his mother likely poisoned the boy against him. The bartender, like reading a script, assures him Jack will “come around.”

This gets Lucifer’s attention, as he’d never actually used Jack’s name. The bartender tries to brush it off, but Lucifer won’t fall for it and goes to stand up, only to find he can’t. His legs won’t hold him. Clinging to the counter now, Lucifer realizes he’s somehow been drugged. The bartender explains it’s a powerful cocktail as he himself fades into the form of Gabriel. Startling the now disoriented Lucifer. Lucifer goes to simply leave, uncomfortable with the situation, but when he steps out the front door he finds himself walking back into the otherwise empty bar. Lucifer looks at the barely touched bottle on the bar in front of him, demanding what’s inside it, and Rowena answers as she walks into the room. Startling Lucifer again as he now realizes he’s been doped by not one, but two, powerful beings he’d slain and thought dead. Before he can try to flee again Rowena ties him up with a magical binding spell.

Lucifer awakens in the bunker, still tied, now bent awkwardly forward over a bare space on the floor. Upon seeing his eyes open she announces his regaining of consciousness and Lucifer realizes he’s trapped with “everyone [he] loves to torture.” As Rowena slides a bowl of freshly mixed spell ingredients beneath his face Lucifer guesses at their goal to save Mary. Castiel comes up behind him, grabbing him by the hair and cutting a slit in his throat. But Sam explains that the plan isn’t quite so simple. They realized that twenty-four hours wasn’t enough time, so they plan on draining him. “Archangel on tap,” as Gabriel puts it, in order to keep the rift open continuously. Giving them as much time as they need to accomplish their mission.

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With the rift open now and Lucifer’s grace spilling at a good, steady streaming rate into the bowl, Dean, Sam, Cas, and Gabriel leave for Apocalypse World. Leaving Rowena behind to keep watch over both the rift and the devil.

This time the rift opens on the edge of a leafy hillside, causing Sam, Castiel, and Gabriel to go tumbling down. Dean barely manages to maintain his footing, sliding down awkwardly. Once they find their feet Cas declares they’ve landed, roughly, in Northeast Kentucky. Since Dean’s last tip on the location of Mary and Jack was Dayton, Ohio, they calculate the appropriate direction and start walking.

Back at the bunker, Rowena has reclaimed her seat at the table, where she can keep an eye on Lucifer and read at the same time. Lucifer doesn’t want to let her be in peace, so he taunts her about the old-fashioned appropriateness of the situation, with the men heading off to war while the little woman stays home “where she belongs.” Rowena informs him that she’s fully aware of his ploy and “sorry, Lucille, I’m not biting.” So Lucifer goes for a different strategy, one he used on Sam while they were stuck together in Sam’s head. He begins singing at the top of his lungs.

Trudging through the forest on their way to Dayton, Castiel takes an opportunity to ask Gabriel about his plans for his life after the battle with Michael is over. Gabriel admits he hasn’t thought that far ahead. He jokes about having recently crossed some items off his bucket list, but aside from the current rescue mission and his hope of surviving their fight with a super-powered Michael, he has no idea. Castiel tells him that in comparison with Apocalypse World, their own only has a handful of angels remaining. He states plainly that Heaven is dying. The declaration shocks Gabriel, sobering his previous amusement. Gabriel picks up on Castiel’s meaning but points out that he’s hardly a good choice for taking the reins, when it’s guaranteed the angels remaining see him – as he himself does – as a “screw up.” Cas suggests that since Heaven was broken by “upstanding” angels, “perhaps a screw up” is the perfect solution.

Behind the angels, Dean comments on a notable attitude change he’s witnessed in Sam since their arrival in Apocalypse World. To him Sam has seemed ‘lighter,’ as if he’s almost happier. When asked about it, Sam says it must just be because they’ve finally both made it to Apocalypse World. Together. They’re on their way, after all the effort they’ve invested, to finding their mother and Jack. From his tone he clearly already counts it as a win.

A terrified scream interrupts the journey, and though Gabriel suggests “not our world, not our problem,” Dean and Sam waste no time rushing in to save a pair of humans from a rabid vampire. The vampire was transformed more than any other they’ve encountered, so much so that they had a hard time identifying it as one without the locals’ explanation. But the male, Floyd, explains the problem as being the angels’ fault. With angels killing so many humans, the monsters have begun to starve. Starvation, apparently, turns vampires – and other monsters – rabid. Even physically transforming them.

Shifting the focus of the conversation, Dean and the others quickly learn their new companions were also headed to Dayton. ‘Were,’ because while they were traveling through the underground tunnel which is the shortest method of access, they were attacked by a large nest of those vampires. Their party of nine was cut down to the two of them by the time the pair escaped. Unwilling to take the long way around an otherwise necessary mountain pass, Sam declares that they’re going through that tunnel regardless and vows to protect the pair if they still want to get to Dayton.

Lucifer finishes yet another song as Rowena sharply tugs the drawstrings of a new hex bag shut. Apparently tired of singing, Lucifer declares that he just wants to “have some fun” with her. Like before, when he popped in on her at her hotel. He tells her he’d hoped that day that she’d put up a fight. But instead she’d “just choked,” so naturally Lucifer retaliated by chocking her. He goes on to laughingly reminisce the scene of her brutal death, including how he “still can’t get that smell out of [his] nose.” The smell being that of ‘burnt ginger.’ Unable to take it anymore, Rowena rushes him and grabs him by the roots of his hair so that she can snarl her own taunt in his face. That his grace is making it possible for Dean, Sam, Cas, and Gabriel to save not only Mary but Jack as well.

Inspired now, Lucifer breaks free of his restraints and shoves Rowena against a far wall with a chokehold on her throat. He heals the slice on his neck as he thanks her for the information, promising in return to kill her quickly. Fear of dying at his hands yet again causes her to panic and Rowena reacts, blasting him away from her with all her might. And he flies right into the open rift.

Packing her things into a bag, Rowena puts on her coat, talking herself into leaving. Knowing she’s the only person who has any chance of keeping the rift open without Lucifer’s flowing archangel grace. She turns to walk away, telling herself it’s not her problem but takes no more than a step before her conscience stops her. Frustrated, she turns around again and unpacks everything she’d just packed, immediately opening her spellbook.

Joined now by the two Apocalypse World natives, the group makes it to the entrance of the tunnel. Arming themselves with flashlights, glow stick necklaces, guns, machetes, angel blades, a baseball bat, and a pickaxe, they file into the darkness. The girl is especially jumpy, screaming when Floyd trips over a bloody backpack, and again when they find a lone vampire feasting on a corpse. Eventually, they come to a larger area with a hole in the ceiling and what passes for sunlight filtering through. But the way forward is blocked, so Cas and Gabriel have to tuck away their angel blades and work on tossing aside the boulders. In the meantime they’re stuck waiting, hoping no vampires ambush them.

Which is exactly what happens. Vampires come at them from multiple directions, and while Dean goes to rescue the girl – who had failed to save Floyd from being dragged off – Sam is tackled by several at once. Dean looks over in time to see Sam pulled to his knees, a vampire on each arm, and as Dean watches, a vampire sinks his teeth into Sam’s neck and rips. Dean cries out for his brother but is unable to rush to him as he himself has a vampire to finish off. He does so as Cas sees Sam dragged into another tunnel and runs off after him. Dean manages to run in after Cas, but Cas is already returning. Alone. He catches Dean by the shirt and shoulder, having to talk him out of pursuing. There’s nothing they can do.

“He’s gone.”

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Having made it out of the tunnel, Dean takes point on the path to Dayton. Cas and Gabriel bring up the rear, with the woman they’d rescued earlier in between. Feeling awkwardly guilty, she moves up to Dean and attempts to offer her sympathies for his loss. His dead stare never wavers. He continues on as she stops, until Cas and Gabriel catch up and Castiel puts his hand on her shoulder to encourage her forward. Soon enough their pace becomes cautious as they know they’re nearing their destination. Cas begins moving stiffly and making sounds of discomfort before finally declaring that he can’t move any further. Only then does Dean seem to realize the way ahead is surrounded by angel warding.

Gabriel walks up to the nearest ward, painted on a tree, and studies it briefly before placing his palm over it and burning it out. Along with the other ones in the immediate area. As soon as they fall several humans with guns come running into view. Cas and Gabriel lift their hands – and their blades – in a gesture of surrender, Cas mid-way through explaining their peaceful intentions, when Mary Winchester steps into view as well. She sees Castiel first and lowers her gun as she greets him, which in turn grabs Dean’s attention. Mary sees Dean as well and quickly pulls him into a hug, happy to see him. Dean’s hard mask cracks and when Mary pulls back to ask where Sam is the first tear falls as he struggles for the right words.

Sam’s body remains, dead and covered in blood, in a factory-like room within the tunnel system. Until he suddenly sucks in a sharp, startled gasp of air and sits up, immediately reaching for his throat. Finding it completely healed – though still covered in blood. Confusion mounts as he turns to look around and finds himself face-to-face with his old nemesis. Lucifer. It was Lucifer who resurrected him, much to Sam’s surprise. After assuring Sam that Rowena’s fine – because she has sharp self-defense instincts – Lucifer explains that he ate several of Michael’s angels while he was tracking them in order to regain his strength. Not really interested in Lucifer’s latest scheme, Sam turns to leave but finds the exit blocked by a wall of rabid vampires eager to devour him. All being held at bay only by Lucifer’s power and … generosity.

With no choice, as he doesn’t particularly want to be ripped apart all over again, Sam asks Lucifer what he’s after. So Lucifer tells him. He wants a relationship with Jack. He saved Sam based on the logic that Jack wouldn’t “accept” him if he didn’t have something to lead with. But he swears all he wants from Sam in return is for Sam to tell Jack the truth – that Lucifer brought him back, that he raised Sam from the darkness and into the light. Of course, Sam could always say no, and try fighting his way through a starving wall of vampires.

Dean, Cas, Gabriel, and the refugee they rescued are ushered into camp, where Castiel and Jack have an unhappy reunion when Jack hears of Sam’s fate. He asks Cas, and then Gabriel, why they couldn’t bring Sam back, but their answers are the same. Castiel assures him that if either of them were strong enough, they would have. Dean refills his water canteen, slipping his backpack back into place, and informs Mary that he has to go back. Now that they’ve found her and Jack, he has to go get Sam’s body. But he’s barely said the words before bells start ringing some sort of alarm. The group turns its curious, hesitant attention to the entryway, waiting to see what will happen.

Sam staggers, still weak and covered in bloody, tattered clothes, into view. Jack’s face lights up in a relieved smile. Confusion with a flicker of relief shine in Dean’s eyes. Sam offers the group a small, partial smile moments before Lucifer strolls into view behind him. Shame contorts Sam’s expression as a different kind of confusion takes over Dean’s. Lucifer looks around with a content smile and finally says, “Hello, son.”

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What Does This Mean for the Future?

We’ve got all three surviving Winchesters, Castiel, Jack, Gabriel, and Lucifer in one place at the same time. All on Michael’s side of the rift. That means two things, almost for certain: one of them is in-fighting, as none of the others are a fan of Lucifer’s, and Lucifer will certainly be doing his best to manipulate the others to his favor. The second is external fighting. With Michael and/or other angels? Quite likely, especially that ‘other angels’ part. But also probably with at least a fraction of the refugees. It’s surprising enough that they allowed Castiel and Gabriel – an archangel – to enter the camp unrestrained, even with Mary’s clearance. But now that Lucifer’s joined the group? Tension and conflict are sure to follow.

Speaking of ‘all three surviving Winchesters’ … well, that’s an awful lot at a time. Especially for two seasons – sort of – in a row. Yeah, Sam and Dean spent a chunk of the season thinking Mary was dead, but she wasn’t. She’s not likely to stay trapped in another world for a second season finale. So either she’s going to choose to stay, or one of the three will end the season dead. Again.

All the conflict’s about to explode. Lucifer’s a ticking time bomb, he could kill anyone on any side – and will likely at least try. Gabriel’s vulnerable with his weakened powers. They’re on the verge of a major confrontation with possibly the strongest archangel they’ve ever faced. Someone is absolutely going to die. And there’s no guarantee everyone who remains will even want to come back home again.

On the bright side, at least for the time being the Winchesters seem to have made a fairly reliable ally in Rowena of all people. The fact that she couldn’t bring herself to abandon them speaks volumes. That could be a great help in their future battles – presuming she survives the season (again).

Rating: 9/10

Final Thought: A great, solid episode! This is the kind of pre-season finale build-up episode that pulls you to the edge of your seat and leaves you chomping at the bit for more by the time it ends. I mean, it’s not very often we get an unexpected, middle of the episode Winchester death – actual – death when it’s not a season/mid-season finale or premiere. They left Sammy dead just long enough I was starting to think Dean was going to end up trading his life for his brother’s (again) at the end of the season! Or, hopefully, that they’d reach Jack and Jack would do like he’d done with Cas and simply will Sam back to life. I mean, if he managed it with Castiel, why not Sam?

But, you know, sticking poor Sam with Lucifer again was kind of poetic, too. Especially with the flashback behavior we got to see when Lucifer was taunting Rowena earlier. The same kind of over-the-top obnoxiousness he used to use on Sam just to get a reaction. (Anyone remember “He said ‘shut up’ to me!”?) Personally, I don’t know why she didn’t just magic away his tongue or something. Other than that something needed to happen to trigger his anger enough to break him free of her restrictive spell.

Speaking of Rowena, honestly, I expect that kind of behavior from Gabriel, but not her! Although Sam’s face and Castiel’s refusal to even look at them kind of made it all worth it.

I loved the way Rowena and Gabriel teamed up to dope and capture Lucifer. The whole scene was great. Making him wonder if he was hallucinating people he’d killed or if they were really there – at least briefly.

But back to Sam’s death, and Dean’s, and Castiel’s, reactions to it. For as unexpected, and almost as surreal, as Sam’s death was, the reactions were perfect. And it really brought home, even though we’re used to seeing them rushing into world-ending scenarios and, yeah, those are usually what kill them when they die, the fact of the matter is that they hunt monsters. Monsters that kill – and often eat – humans on a regular basis. Their job is always dangerous. Sam was just wading in like a badass and then he got swarmed, partly because they couldn’t really see how many they were up against. He and Dean were separate enough that Dean couldn’t grab one and shove it off. Dean had to watch as these regular monsters brought his brother down. Reminding all of us that, yeah, they could go out like this, too.

I loved that Cas went running after Sam when the vampires dragged him down the dark hallway. We know Cas cares about Sam. But we also know Cas is fully aware that should anything happen to Sam, Dean won’t handle it well. At all. Only this time Cas came back empty-handed, another thing I doubt most of us expected, and had to stop Dean from charging in anyway. He had to drag Dean back to the mission. And Dean led them all out, his hard mask in place. The one that says he’s broken inside. It was so well-done. Watching Dean attempting to tell his mother, when he finally saw her, that Sammy was gone. Watching Jack lash out with grief and anger when he learned the news. Dean’s completely characteristic choice to restock and go back in for Sam’s body. All of it.

One of my favorite episodes of the season so far, I think. Which leaves me in a complex place of “I can’t wait for more!” and “I don’t want it to end (for the season) so soon!”

Supernatural airs on The CW on Thursdays. Check your local listings for times.

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