'Supernatural': Two Rings to Rule Them All

Supernatural_The_Devil_You_Know_Mark_Sheppard.jpgIn this week's "Supernatural," called "The Devil You Know," it's all about getting the two remaining rings from Horsemen of the Apocalypse Death and Pestilence in order to send Lucifer back into his cage in the Netherworld.

So we open in a swine-flu-vaccine lab where a couple of monkey-tending lab types (one of whom gratuitously disses profit, a thing I'm sure the "Supernatural" producers like just fine, but I digress) at a company working on a fast swine-flu cure (dudes, that's SO last year) run afoul of a syringe-wielding mystery man.

A jab from said syringe turns Mr. Not-for-Profit into a murdering monster, and the mystery man -- who has black demon eyes -- is very happy.

Next thing you know, we're in the middle of "The Stand" by Stephen King, with a bunch of sick people coughing, with the boys posing as CDC representatives. Looks like the number of swine-flu victims has exploded, and there's a shortage of vaccine (again, SO last year).

Back in the car, the boys are sure it's Pestilence, but they're not sure why he's playing small ball with swine flu when he could knock it out of the park with the Croatoan virus (something, BTW, that gets hinted at but farly quickly abandoned). Suddenly the British demon Crowley appears, who still wants to fight Lucifer -- and this time he's offering a way to get Pestilence.

Apparently Crowley has now come on Lucifer's radar, and has gotten his house burnt down and his tailor eaten (hope he took the pins out of his pocket first -- ouch). Now he's stuck talking to the Winchesters, and he's offering a deal.

In Crowley's dilapidated shack hideout, the boys learn that Crowley planted a mystical bug in the Impala, and he's been tracking them and listening in. He knows Pestilence's personal assistant, and unsurprisingly there he is at the pharmaceutical company from the episode opener, and his name is Mr. Brady.

At the firm, Mr. Brady collects some blood from an underling (the syringe guy), and he uses it to work a little spell, which turns out to be a direct line to Pestilence. (really, you can't just text the guy?).

Back in the shack, Crowley doesn't want Sam to come along, partly because he takes his murder attempts personally. Dean reluctantly agrees, leaving Sam fuming as the Impala roars off.

He gets on the cell immediately to Bobby (they're both swilling booze), and Sam wants to know how Bobby managed to regain control of his body after being possessed. Sam has concluded that getting Lucifer to walk calmly into a cage might be hard, but if he's inside Sam at the time, it might be easier, provided Sam can wriggle free afterward.

Bobby thinks Sam's suicidal and that he can't get control back from Lucifer. "It's called possession for a reason," he says (love that line). "How are you going to control the Devil, when you can't control yourself?" (another good one).

Back at the pharmaceutical company, Crowley pops himself inside and kills the humans at the front desk. Obviously, Dean doesn't approve. He also doesn't approve when Crowley sends him upstairs to the demons on his own, with just his knife.

Dean shanks his way into Brady's office, and Brady doesn't seem surprised to see him. Dean offers a deal for the two rings they already possess, but Brady doesn't bite. Apparently War and Famine are done for (if true, good news!). All Brady wants is payback, and he wants it from Dean, who gets a whuppin'.

(BTW, sweet "Supernatural" promo ... "My name is Death, and the end is ..." Very cool).

Back to the whuppin' ... Dean's bleeding and on the run. He winds up back in the lobby, but Brady's right there for more whuppin'. Crowley suddenly appears with a magical sack to toss over Brady's head, which he then beats to a pulp with a crowbar (we're not going to worry about where he got the crowbar, we're just happy to see it).

Crowley knew all along that Brady didn't want the rings, and the whuppin' was all part of his plan, which, admittedly, worked like a charm.

In the Impala, Crowley carves a lock of sorts onto Brady, so he can't vacate his body. Crowley doesn't want Brady taken to Sam, because "they've got history." Dean's all curious now.

In the shack, Sam's pretty drunk, and Crowley has unwillingly returned, on Dean's orders. He wants to "negotiate a high-level defection," and he thinks Sam will mess it up. And why would Sam mess it up? Oh, he knows Brady, or at least he used to know Brady back at Stanford, where, as it turns out, he was already possessed.

Brady introduced Sam to the late unfortunate Jess, and it looks like Crowley was right. Sam is out for blood. Dean tries to keep him focused on the larger picture. They need Pestilence to get to the Devil, and they need Brady to get to Pestilence. After his experience trusting Ruby -- and Brady, back at school -- Sam isn't convinced.

Crowley tries to reason with Brady, to convince him that Lucifer will dust them all if he comes to power. Brady thinks Crowley wouldn't be lucky enough to die, but Brady thinks he's toast either way, so why should he help?

Crowley decides to go for the Hail Lilith play and plans to "kick open a hive of demons." Dean washes up in perhaps the grottiest sink ever seen on TV, and gets himself barricaded in the bathroom by Sam, who's got a knife and a grudge.

Sam figures out that Brady got possessed over Thanksgiving break, sophomore year. Sam noticed the change in Brady and tried to help, and all that love and concern didn't set well with the demons, who wanted Sam in the game. Killing Jess was just the ticket.

Sam gives Brady a little slice but backs off on finishing the deed. He lets Dean out, just in time for Crowley's arrival. Crowley informs Brady he's not going to die, that he went to a demons' nest, had a massacre but let one live. He gave the surviving demon the impression that Brady and Crowley are closerthanthis (wink wink, nudge, nudge) and are allied against Lucifer.

Dean gives a look like, "Huh? What?"

Brady now realizes he's in the same boat with Crowley, so he'd best play ball and give up Pestilence. Oops, there's a little howling in the distance, and Dean recognizes the not-so-sweet sound of a hellhound. Crowley realizes he's been bugged and followed, so he takes off.

Sam pulls an "I told you so," and Dean goes for the salt, but the hound is quicker. Dean's on the run. He gets off some shots, which slows Cujo down, but he didn't get the salt.

But Crowley reappears -- apparently not as much of a craven coward as we thought -- and he goes all Cesar Millan on the hellhound ... but which one?. Apparently he returned with his own, bigger hellhound. and it's a huge invisible dogfight!

Dean sets Brady loose, and they all sprint to the Impala and take off, leaving the Fidos to it.

In some alley somewhere, Brady gives up Pestilence's location. Crowley assures him he's not screwed for eternity, whatever that means. Dean lays down some salt to keep Brady in place. Dean informs him that he should truly fear the Winchesters. Brady taunts knife-wielding Sam with all his demonic misfortunes, implying that he's just like them.

Sam takes a couple of cuts, but Brady keeps up, saying Sam's demon hatred is merely self-hatred. Sam goes in for the final stab, and Brady goes down, a dead demon trapped in a dead body.

"Interesting theory," says Sam. Dean looks dubious.

Back at Bobby's, he's on the phone with Rufus, who's on the search for Death. Crowley suddenly appears to introduce himself. He tells Bobby his gun won't work, but Bobby shoots him anyway.

Crowley informs Bobby the boys are now on the trail of ring three, but they still need ring four, and he's there to help. He doesn't know where Death is, but he can find out. There's a little spell, but Crowley requires Bobby's soul in exchange for getting Death's location. He also implies that the Almighty isn't responsible for a lot of Grammy wins.

I think I can pinpoint the moment that started -- when one-hit-wonders A Taste of Honey" ("Boogie Oogie Oogie") won Best New Artist of 1979 over The Cars, Elvis Costello and Toto. It's all been downhill from there.

Back at Bobby's, he says yes but shoots Crowley with rock salt anyway. Crowley promises he can give the soul right back, it's just a loan. Bobby contemplates the implications of that ...

And we're done. What, no Matt Frewer as Pestilence? I spent a whole week waiting for Matt Frewer! He better show up next week, or I'm going to be cranky. I have the distinct impression that this was going to be a whole episode about Pestilence and swine flu, but then had to be reworked into a Crowley-fest for some reason. I could be wrong, but the lack of Frewer is suspicious.

Anyway, thinking about it, even if Bobby has to give up his soul for good, and Sam couldn't free himself from Lucifer after he gets caged, wouldn't it be worth it for the world? Of course, since we have a season six, this may be just a philosophical speculation, especially in Sam's case.

Next week, the final showdown with the only thing that's certain aside from taxes. And still no Matt Frewer in the previews. Grrrr. 
 
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