One man’s heist is another man’s … steal? Sam and Dean become embroiled in the theft of a religious artifact all in the name of some holy blood.
Supernatural – “A Most Holy Man”, Season 13, Episode 15
Airdate: March 8, 2018
Director: Amanda Tapping
Writers: Robert Singer and Andrew Dabb
Created by: Eric Kripke
What You Should Know:
Sam and Dean have a plan, a plan they can actually set in motion now that Castiel has acquired the spell they need to open the portal to Apocalypse World. The plan is simple: gather the ingredients – including Lucifer’s grace – open the portal, sneak in, rescue Mary and Jack, sneak out, and slam the door shut behind them before they get caught.
Of course, even the Winchesters recognize that won’t be as easy as it sounds. With ingredients like archangel grace, the Seal of Solomon, a fruit from the tree of life, and the blood of a “most holy man” that might be an understatement. But time’s running out.
What You’ll Find Out:
A thief sneaks into the Malta Monastery and makes his way to steal a skull which is sealed in a glass box and resting on a pillow. He’s caught by one of the nuns and knocks her unconscious before making his escape.
Dean enters the kitchen in the morning, finding Sam on his laptop, and asks if Sam has any news. Sam’s been researching the Seal of Solomon but has thus far been unsuccessful. As Dean grabs some leftover pizza from the refrigerator, hearing Sam’s lack of news, he grumbles about their odds. They don’t know where Lucifer is hiding, making it particularly difficult to acquire the necessary archangel grace. Castiel is abroad searching for the fruit, and Dean doesn’t even understand what ‘a most holy man’ is supposed to mean. Let alone where they might start looking for one.
Sam suggests perhaps they should search for the blood of a saint, and without a better idea he pulls up a website which leads them to a woman named Margaret Astor who sells religious relics of the ethically questionable variety. Frustrated with his cold pizza, Dean agrees to take the trip, and the brothers head out to San Francisco.
Margaret Astor is already waiting when Sam and Dean arrive for their meeting. She takes a quick interest in Sam, giving him her full attention as Sam explains that they’d heard she might able to help them acquire a rare religious artifact. When Dean does attempt to speak she gives him a pointed look and informs him she wasn’t speaking to him. Sam plays up her obvious interest, though it makes him uncomfortable, and when she admits she might know a man likely to have the blood of a saint he assures her he would be very much in her debt if she would share the information. So she gives them a name and offers to arrange an introduction, but forewarns caution, hinting he’s not the gentlemen he’ll present himself to be.
So the Winchesters follow her lead and make their way up to Seattle, to meet with Richard Greenstreet. Once he deigns to set down his powdered donut, Greenstreet makes them repeat their aliases, before tricking them into revealing the lie about their identity. Forced to give their real names, Sam tells Greenstreet what they’re after, adding that it’s “for a worthy cause,” and Greenstreet admits he does have the blood of a saint, but it was particularly expensive. Not only that but he “gave up on worthy causes” a long time ago. He snidely comments that it’s obvious the brothers don’t have the money to afford the blood, meaning their interaction has been a waste of everyone’s time.
Moments before the Winchesters step from the room, however, Greenstreet calls them back, saying perhaps they would be amenable to “a little bit of chicanery.” He invites them to sit as he explains how an item he desires was recently stolen by a competitor, who also happens to be a mob boss by the name of Santino Scarpatti. Greenstreet suggests that if the brothers would be willing to steal the item from Scarpatti for him, he’ll trade said item for the blood. The item itself being the skull of St. Peter.
Dean asks for the name of the saint whose blood they would be acquiring and Greenstreet looks away briefly before declaring it the blood of St. Ignacious. Greenstreet then informs them that he’s heard the exchange is happening that very night, but he has no idea of where or who the thief actually is. He’s leaving that up to them. The Winchesters take their exit then, pausing on the front steps as Sam expresses his displeasure at this turn of events. He’s bothered by having to resort to thievery to get what they need. Dean, on the other hand, sees it as their only way to do what needs doing, and in his mind, their goal is on a grander scale than the theft of a skull. So if he has to steal it from the guy who originally stole it, “then so be it.”
Having stopped at a café, Dean picks up a coffee and spots an attractive woman reading alone. He asks what she’s reading and she shows him the cover as she tells him she’s reading a book about “the supernatural.” He grins and asks if she likes “the supernatural,” and when she smiles he decides he should take a seat and join her, but Sam calls his attention, ruining the moment and dragging Dean back to reality. When Dean arrives at the back table Sam’s claimed, Sam tells him he’s found a lead after digging into airline traffic records from Malta to Seattle. One particular man caught his eye, and that guy just checked in to a local hotel the day before.
On their way into the hotel elevator a short while later, Sam accidentally bumps into an older man. He turns to apologize and the man gives him a sour look, saying nothing before walking away. Then it’s up to Antonio’s floor in hopes of finding the skull, but his door is cracked open and upon investigating the room is trashed. With Antonio dead on the floor. Moments later someone levels a gun at the backs of their heads, demanding they stand up slowly.
They turn around, arms in the air cooperatively, but Sam stops Dean from pulling out his FBI badge despite the lone officer standing before them. The officer doesn’t seem inclined to hear anything they have to say, instead instructing them to cuff themselves to the radiator beneath the window while he shuffles through various drawers. Finally, he goes to leave, telling them to stay where they are, as he’s going to go call the scene in, as Dean had suggested a minute earlier. As soon as the guy leaves Dean comments that he probably got his obviously fake badge from a cereal box. Both agree, however, that he probably is making a call to the real police, so they don’t intend to stick around for that. Sam begins picking his lock as Dean teases him about being a Boy Scout and Sam’s response is “you’re like a … I don’t know what you’re like.”
When they leave the hotel they unknowingly pass by the same older man Sam had bumped into earlier, who watches them exit with interest.
They barely make it out of the hotel before the police arrive, rounding the corner as they try to figure out who killed the thief and what’s actually going on. If the thief works for Scarpatti then it would make no sense for him to do it if Greenstreet had him killed then Greenstreet has the skull and the deal’s off, but neither of those possibilities explains the Fake Cop. When they reach the Impala they find two men standing beside her, waiting. One of them pulls a gun on the Winchesters as the other declares that Scarpatti wants an audience with them. Dean passes on the invitation and the man informs him it isn’t a request. The man then inclines his head toward the Impala and adds “I’ll drive.” Again, Dean refuses, and again he’s told it’s not a request. Sam quietly nudges Dean into tense cooperation, though the expression on Dean’s face as he hands over the keys of the Impala makes it clear how he feels about the situation.
Just around the corner, out of sight, the man from the hotel watches the whole thing.
Dean and Sam are led into Scarpatti’s office, where Scarpatti himself is sitting at his desk petting his cat. He has the brothers take a seat, thereby putting their backs to the desk, before getting up and coming around behind them. He reveals casually that he knows who they are and he knows they’re officially dead as of six years prior, dismissing Sam when Sam tries to explain that, and adds how easy it would be to kill them quietly and get away with it. Sam is visibly uncomfortable, seeming intimidated, while Dean seems mostly annoyed. Once his point is made, Scarpatti says he wants to talk.
He knows they’ve made a deal with Greenstreet, and he sees that as their first mistake. Scarpatti walks around to show off a couple of shiny religious relics on display, claiming it’s his calling to give such treasures a home, while Greenstreet’s just a scoundrel. Dean pointedly reminds Scarpatti that the relics already had a home and then were stolen, to which Scarpatti gives him a long look before the room fills with awkward laughter. Instead of otherwise responding, Scarpatti asks why the Winchesters would involve themselves with Greenstreet. Opting for vague honesty, Sam replies that Greenstreet has something they need “and the skull was the price [they] had to pay.” Scarpatti acknowledges this response by calling it a ‘Devil’s bargain,’ and Sam and Dean remain silent.
Scarpatti takes a seat and explains his situation. He’d paid half of the skull’s value to Antonio upfront, and now with Antonio dead and the skull missing, he feels the skull belongs to him and he wants it back. Dean can’t help but to argue the legitimacy of ‘rightfully’ in Scarpatti’s phrasing, pointing out how the skull was stolen in the first place. This time Scarpatti doesn’t laugh. Scolding Dean for talking to him in such a manner in his own home, Scarpatti adjusts his course of argument and presents what he sees as a grand proposition. Find him the skull, and he’ll pay a “handsome finder’s fee,” enabling them to simply buy whatever it is they need from Greenstreet. Sam asks the cost of saying no, to which Scarpatti replies that would be their second mistake – leaving them little opportunity to make a third. Dean jumps in and declares it a deal, merely nodding his head when they’re told the classic line, “failure is not an option.”
Sam and Dean return to the hotel, now crawling with police in light of Antonio’s death, as Dean informs Sam that the key to everything is somewhere in Antonio’s room. “[He] can feel it.” Sam rolls his eyes but follows him anyway, until they find a real cop guarding the entrance to Antonio’s hotel room door. With no better idea, Dean leaves Sam tucked out of sight for the moment while he goes around discreetly pulling the fire alarms on multiple floors. Clearing the building.
As soon as the coast is clear, Sam makes his way into the room to look around. The more he looks the less he finds, muttering to himself about Dean’s intuition until he notices a slip of paper sticking out from beneath an object. A series of numbers is all that’s written on the paper, but when Sam looks up the man who’s been watching them is standing behind him and whacks him on the head with the base of a landline telephone. Sam drops.
The unidentified man exits the hotel as the fire crews arrive. The fake cop spots him and quickly follows.
Dean makes it to Antonio’s room, quickly seeing his brother on the floor, and rushes to his side. He finds a pulse and breathes out an audible sigh of relief. Shortly after, Dean and Sam leave the hotel, with Dean asking Sam if he shouldn’t find somewhere to sit down for a few minutes longer. Sam insists he’s fine, but Dean expresses concern over the number of hits to the head he’s taken recently, quipping “I know that Disney princess hair gives you some padding, but…” Sam swats his hand away as they hear sounds of a struggle beyond the parking lot. They make their way to the noise and find the unidentified man who struck Sam barely conscious on the ground.
They take the man back to the hotel, claiming a trio of seats for a conversation. Sam demands to know where the paper is and the man says that the other man, whom he didn’t see, took it from him. So Sam decides to start over and asks the man for his name and they learn, with a little help from the I.D. card in his wallet, that the man is Father Lucca Camilleri. A priest from Malta, sent by the monastery to recover what was stolen. He’s surprised to learn that Dean and Sam are aware of the skull of St. Peter as well. Dean asks if he was planning to steal it back and Father Camilleri said he wasn’t, that he’d brought all the money his village had to buy it back. But Antonio was already dead when he’d found him in the hotel.
He adds that when he saw Sam had found something in the room he “lost his head” and acted without thinking. He says this relic is treasured in his village and asks them to try imagining something they loved – something they and their families cherished every day – went missing, what would they do? But he’s lost his only clue and now he’s failed, and Dean’s words of comfort aren’t particularly comforting. Dean offers only the consolation that it’s a messed up world they live in and nothing can be done about it.
Camilleri counters that by simply saying he wants to change the state of the world. He goes on to explain that of course, he understands the world isn’t perfect, but that should never be reason enough for any individual to slough off or do wrong. Just because the world isn’t perfect doesn’t mean no one should try to make it better. “Good men” should always do “good things,” and he believes enough of that could make the world a better place. When his speech is done he becomes sheepish and apologizes for talking too much, saying he should just head home. Even if it’s without the skull. But Sam jumps in and offers to retrieve the skull for him, prompting Dean to pull him aside.
Dean reminds Sam of why they still need to get the skull to Greenstreet – the blood of a saint – and that in reality, they don’t owe Camilleri anything. Sam, who’s Googled Father Camilleri’s background, shows it to Dean to try and convince him this is the right call, claiming he believes Camilleri. Dean agrees with all of that but refuses to change his stance, so Sam tries changing his perspective, asking what Dean would do if someone sold the Impala. Barely taking a beat, Dean replies, “Murder. Murder ‘em all.” Sam stares at him for a moment as if surprised, shakes it off, and says he just means he doesn’t want people like Greenstreet or Scarpatti coming out ahead on this one. Dean continues, “Torture first. Like, lots of torture. If I can’t have her, nobody can.” At this point, Sam realizes Dean hasn’t heard a word he’s just said. He waves his hands in front of Dean’s face, but Dean is unblinking, staring forward in a violent haze. Sam gives up and walks away.
Now in the Impala, Dean asks Camilleri if he remembers anything about the man who jumped him, but Camilleri does not. Leaving them with zero leads. Until Camilleri reveals a particular skill – he has a very good memory and remembers exactly the code written on the paper Sam originally found. Sam types it into the computer and they learn it’s a tracking number pertaining to a package shipped from Malta several days earlier, which has just arrived in town. When they get to the carrier store they see Fake Cop exiting with a box large enough to contain a human skull and decide to follow him.
Fake Cop leads them to an old warehouse away from the city. Dean begins to outline the straightforward plan of “kick[ing] Fake Cop’s real ass” when another car pulls up and, as they watch, Margaret Astor steps out. Complicating things.
Margaret leads Fake Cop inside the warehouse, brushing him off when he asks for a raise due to “all the complications,” before she greets Scarpatti from the opposite side of an empty table. Fake Cop sets the box down and steps back while Margaret thanks Scarpatti for coming, who in turn expresses anger at having been screwed over since he was the original buyer for the relic in the box. He accuses her of killing Antonio and her reply is that she merely “cornered the market,” as he was the competition. Scarpatti asks, skeptically, if she’ll honor Antonio’s price, or what she’ll do if he says no, and she reveals she’s brought him competition of his own: Greenstreet. With everyone set up and tensions high, Fake Cop opens the box and carefully removes the skull for all to see before Margaret begins the proceedings.
Back in the Impala, Father Camilleri has moved to the front passenger seat while Dean remains behind the wheel, his cell phone on speaker on the dashboard. Camilleri asks if Dean’s worried, and when the question is returned Camilleri assures Dean God will see them through. With a scoff Dean informs Camilleri “he really won’t,” and when asked if he doesn’t believe, Dean says he believes – he knows – but he also knows God doesn’t care. He knows not to expect any miracles. Camilleri apologizes for the misunderstanding, saying he didn’t mean God would reach down and shield them. Only that he has faith that they are in the right, and it will work out. Their conversation is interrupted when Sam’s voice, via the open speaker phone connection, filters in as Sam makes his move.
Sam is escorted inside by one of the guards, startling everyone. Sam lifts his free hand, the other holding Camilleri’s briefcase, and he tells the gathered group he’s not there to fight. He cautiously maneuvers the case around to lift the lid, showing the group enough of the contents to assure them only money is inside and adds he’s come to buy. As Sam takes up position on the one remaining side of the table, between Scarpatti and Margaret, Margaret walks up to him gushing about how glad she is to see him again. Greenstreet interrupts, claiming Sam was supposed to be working for him. Scarpatti follows with the same claim. Sam replies he’s working for himself, which spurns Greenstreet to announce his distrust of Sam. Margaret sticks up for him, saying she’s fond of him, before more firmly adding a reminder that the money is what matters. She gives Sam a piece of paper and a pen before returning to her position.
Outside, Camilleri approaches another guard, who demands to know why he’s there. Camilleri almost awkwardly states he’s creating a distraction moments before Dean comes for the guard from behind, wrapping him in a chokehold until he’s unconscious and taking his gun. Dean calls Camilleri out on what he said, so Camilleri reminds Dean that lying is sinful as they move on.
Margaret takes charge of the meeting, informing them of the simple rules for the gathering. She wants each man to write his strongest offer on a piece of paper. “The one with the most zeroes wins.” Everyone agrees and Sam prepares to count the contents of the briefcase.
Dean and Camilleri have taken down all of the perimeter guards. As Dean prepares to go inside he instructs Camilleri to stay outside and stay down. Camilleri promises to send up a prayer in return, which Dean awkwardly doesn’t dismiss as he heads off.
Inside, Margaret collects the papers from Scarpatti, then Greenstreet, then Sam, before giving the papers to Fake Cop for him to read off aloud. Fake Cop starts with Sam’s offer of $634,000.02, which earns him a laugh from Scarpatti. Scarpatti has offered $2 million. Greenstreet, who mocks both offers, wrote down a large $0. When accused of thinking the sale a joke, Greenstreet promises his every intention of buying it, but not from Margaret. He offers Fake Cop $1 million in cash to kill Margaret on the spot and as she starts to tell Greenstreet off, Fake Cop, angry over not receiving a raise, shoots her. Then he lifts the gun and everyone dives for cover, knowing they could be next.
An every-man-for-himself shootout commences, with everyone taking cover behind the various large metal objects stacked in the warehouse. Greenstreet cowers behind the table while his men shoot at Scarpatti’s men, Sam, and Fake Cop. Scarpatti’s men shoot at everyone else. Fake Cop shoots at everything that moves, while Sam aims more carefully. Dean comes barreling in, guns blazing as well. All the while Camilleri holds his cover, praying fervently until Fake Cop – wounded and attempting to flee – sees an opening to shoot Dean. Camilleri rushes in to stop Fake Cop, struggles with him briefly, and is shot. Fake Cop turns back to shoot Dean but Sam shoots Fake Cop first before both brothers run to Camilleri, who’s on the ground in shock. He’s been shot in the stomach – but only just grazed. He’ll be fine. Camilleri smiles through the pain up at them, declaring it a miracle.
With the shootout over and everyone else dead or gone, Dean, Sam, and Camilleri approach Greenstreet. Greenstreet stumbles over his tongue in an effort to tell them how much this wasn’t his intention and he’ll do whatever he can to make it up to them. Dean demands the blood and Greenstreet shakily admit it doesn’t exist. Angry, Sam points his gun at Greenstreet, astonished at the lie. Greenstreet defends himself that it was never meant to get this far. It was just a little … chicanery. Dean hauls back and punches Greenstreet square in the face, dropping him to the ground.
Greenstreet gets arrested that night, and the following day the Winchesters see Camilleri and his skull off at the airport. Dean can’t help but point out that it’s just “a hunk of bone,” but Camilleri takes no offense, offering instead that everyone has faith in something. Sam takes Dean’s non-argument as his cue and asks Camilleri curiously about a long, wordy title on Camilleri’s profile. Camilleri looks embarrassed and says it really doesn’t mean much, it’s a title he was given by the Pope for good works. The Pope called him “A Most Holy Man.”
Back at the bunker, Dean’s holding a small bottle of Camilleri’s blood as Sam enters the room. Dean recognizes the look on Sam’s face and prompts him to share what he’s thinking. Sam admits that sometimes it hits him how they continuously seem to be “bouncing from one apocalypse to the next.” Dean points out they don’t have a lot of choice in that matter, which Sam realizes, but he’s also bothered by the awareness of the fact that they’re always stuck on defense. Reacting to monster problems – and apocalypses. Because no matter how many monsters they kill, there’s always another ready to pop up. Dean sees Sam’s point and agrees it’d be nice if there was some way to really stop the monsters. But both are aware that sort of option is a pipe dream.
Sam indicates the blood on the table and asks Dean if they really think that’ll work. Dean looks down at the bottle, resting his knuckles on it briefly, and finally replies, “I have faith.”
What Does This Mean for the Future?
From an obvious standpoint, they’re twenty-five percent of the way done collecting ingredients for the spell they need to rescue their family from Michael in Apocalypse World. Which is good and also dangerous, because even the Winchesters know the moment they open that portal their plan’s likely to go out the window.
On a deeper level, this was a good ‘reel it back in’ episode. Both the Winchesters, but Dean especially, are known to do shady and stupid things when they’re desperate, but just when they’re presented with an opportunity to dive right into that mode, they also find a shining reason to do what’s right. Not just in the moment, but continuing forward. Dean relearned the definition of ‘faith,’ and how he doesn’t have to associate it with God – or Chuck – and his disappointment in that figure. And Dean finding that, at least tiny, inner peace is a significant leap forward.
Final Thought: This episode was an interesting mix of humorous and surprisingly deep, introspective moments. All tied together with a whole heaping lot of classic mob clichés to satisfy any genre fan!
I touched on this up above, but I want to delve deeper. So often, around this time in a season, one or both of the Winchesters are slipping into desperation. With their mother on the line, as well as a boy they feel responsible for and have come to care for, not to mention the typical fate of the world threat, desperation is once again sinking in. Agreeing to act as hired thieves with no articulated intention of double-crossing the real crook once they’ve gotten what they need? That’s a sign. Dean’s ‘Devil may care’ attitude with the most dangerous mob boss in Seattle? Probably a sign (possibly a bad day). But accepting to get tangled up with said mob boss in addition to the other guy? Using arguments like ‘it’s not a perfect world, so what if I’m not perfect trying to save it?’ The signs might be more subtle than making a deal with a demon, but they’re there.
Then along comes a stranger, with an entirely different perspective on everything. And while it takes some work, some indirect convincing, Dean comes to see an unusual kind of reason to the Father’s approach. Mostly when it came down to their conversation about God and miracles. So many people, Dean included, always hear ‘have faith,’ and similar terms, to mean ‘God will himself take the time to see me through this.’ Something Dean knows from experience God will not do. He gains a new perspective on the subject when he talks to Camilleri. He doesn’t have to have faith in God’s direct intervention. He can have faith in anything or anyone. What matters is what’s put out into the world. And I loved how that change was simply conveyed in the end, with Dean’s final words of the episode. Not as a big, “ah-ha!” moment, but a calm, quiet statement.
I have to be honest, however, in that the majority of this episode was average for me. Good, to be certain, but not as overall compelling or exciting as I prefer. Perhaps I simply don’t care for the mob scene, since that was a prevailing vibe throughout the episode. Or maybe it was the fact that we’re ramping quickly toward the season finale (much as I hate to admit it) and most of this episode felt so unimportant for the goal. Yes, I recognized the moral lesson/reminder being taught to the boys. Of course, the episode did ultimately further the plot. Which is great, because those are the things I liked about it – those, and the funny parts. Seriously, Sam, did you really think using the Impala as an example would go your way?
My biggest issues with this episode are two-fold. One was in a small comment near the beginning, the other a larger conversation – however significant – at the end. Sam informed us that Castiel was off in Syria looking for the fruit. Once upon a time, this would have been absolutely believable. However, though the history and timing does sometimes get confusing, this season has helped to remind me of one solid thing: since The Fall the angels have lost their wings. Including Castiel. No wings means no teleportation, which is why Cas drives everywhere. So how, exactly, did Cas get to Syria? It’s entirely possible the boys have since created him his own plethora of fake I.D.s, including passport, but we’re I guess supposed to make that leap. I don’t like making leaps without a nudge. That was my first, minor, point of contention.
The larger one, which leaves me confused as to why it would be given the slotted ‘heart-to-heart’ scene at the end of the episode, was the conversation regarding whether or not it’s possible to ever really stop the monsters. To make that kind of a difference. And it struck me, immediately, that for as valid a point as that subject would always be, the conversation itself seemed unrealistic without the acknowledgment that they’ve already tried. That the attempt, which may or may not have succeeded, very nearly killed Sam. This very memorable time in their lives seems like an odd thing to have left out, to in fact have ignored as if it’d never happened at all. Their conversation flowed like they’d never really discussed the ‘dream’ of actually stopping all monsters once and for all. I hope this was on purpose, but as it stands it seems like writer error to me. And for a season that’s made multiple references to The Fall, one would expect someone to remember that the angels fell only seconds after Dean kept Sam from dying in order to seal the gates of Hell. So the fact that this was for some reason unmentioned, ignored, or forgotten leaves me bewildered.
Fortunately, neither of those things bogs down the plot of the episode – or the larger storyline – and so the majority of it is perfectly enjoyable! Watching Sam and Dean bounce around between all of these masterfully clichéd characters before finally realigning themselves for the cause was entertaining. Almost as entertaining as the look on Sam’s face when Scarpatti used the word ‘whack’!
Too bad we have to wait until March 29th for their next crazy adventure.
Supernatural airs on The CW on Thursdays. Check your local listings for times.
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