It seems like forever since I've seen the Dean Winchester I know and love on my television screen. Don't get me wrong: I loved Demon!Dean and would have enjoyed more of him, but after the Dean we know slowly faded and distorted into an angry, blood-thirsty monster at the end of Season Nine, it was a relief to see Dean finally getting back to himself. Or at least trying to.
We start with a great cold open, made mostly great by the use of Waren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" as a sound track. I'm amazed it's taken this show ten years to use that song! There's also the part where a pretty girl literally rips a guy's heart out. No shocker, really. You're watching Supernatural.
We catch up with the boys doing a few things we rarely see them do: taking a boyfriend's Castiel's advice and resting for a while, chilling by a lake with a cooler of beers and rocking some cool shades. I think the sunglasses were supposed to be a visual reminder of Dean's recent black-eyed state, but they just ended up being sort of disconcerting. After gently teasing Sam about his injured shoulder and sling (which actor Jared Padalecki had to wear for the beginning of the season due to an injury sustained at a convention), Dean admits he's got the shakes for hunting. he's not made to still and enjoy "we time" and we wants to get back to making a difference. Luckily they've caught wind of that whole "guy in bar gets heart ripped out situation.'
We are gloriously treated to the sight of Sam and Dean in Wildlife Manager uniforms investigating the case (Dean is adorably out of practice with his banter, babbling on about bitcoins and Obama) which eventually takes them to an abandoned barn and a trail of chickens with their hearts eat out. So much more gross than bread crumbs. Low and behold, the chicken trail leads them straight to...Kate!
If you don't remember, Kate was the college student who ended up being turned into a werewolf by her boyfriend's crazy roommate in the stellar "found footage" season eight episode "Bitten." The boys let her go then and immediately regret that decision. Kate says nothing to protest that she's the one dropping bodies, but thankfully, Sam steps in before Dean shoots her. Sam is understandably a bit wary about his brother killing again, given his whole demonic-killing-machine summer break. Kate takes the opportunity while the boys are discussing their feelings to use her magic werewolf nails to break free and run.
It's lucky for us that she does, because it gives us the first of three great scenes between Sam and Dean in the Impala where they actually talk about what they did on their summer vacations. Dean, maybe deflecting, maybe really concerned, notes that Sam did get a guy to sell his soul and also get killed, apparently among other things (!), without having Dean's "i was a demon" excuse. Sam doesn't seem to be ashamed with having to go dark to save his brother. After the feeling are out, the boys use Kate's phone to lead them back to her hotel.
They find a small blonde leaving the room and, apparently, go to hunt breakfast in a nearby park. They boys catch up fast, and, shocker to no one, it turns out the gal isn't Kate, but her sister, Tasha. Like her sister, Tasha gets the jump on the boys and bolts, leaving Kate to explain her sad story. to the Winchesters.
Turns out Kate isn't killing people, though she certainly wants to, she's got the urges under some form of control. But life as a lone wolf had gotten to her, and she'd returned to see her family a while back. She hadn't revealed her new, monstrous self to them though. At least, not until her little sister was severely injured in a car accident and was on the edge of death. In a move mirroring Dean's season Nine decision to trick Sam into letting himself be possessed by a shady angel, Kate bites her sister and turns her without her consent. As with Dean's decision, the result were predictably disastrous. Tasha couldn't control the hunger and started killing. Whoops. Kate however, won't give up on family and believes she can still help Tasha be good. Though she does carry a nice silver knife for if things do need to be dealt with, her or Tasha. Dean and Sam share a few looks during this confession that broke my heart a little.
Speaking of Dean, and lying, Dean tells Kate there's a cure for werewolfism that they can use, if they find Tasha. Kate falls for it and leads the boys towards her sister and into Sincere Impala Feelings Talk #2 for the episode. Sam confesses there were others he harmed while looking for Dean, no other humans though. He pleads with Dean to understand that he carried his brother's dead body home to his bed only to find it gone, just a note left behind. Dean in turn confesses he had hoped the note would explain, which it didn't, and that what he did as a demon was "embarrassing." I don't know if a fivesome involving Crowley and some triplets of unknown gender is really embarrassing, but the Karaoke rampage was certainly not one of Dean's prouder moments.
Dean notes though that he never said 'thank you' to Sam. Sam tells him, "You never need to say thank you, not me." I'm sure something happened after that, but I was too busy sobbing.
Eventually the boys make it to the secluded cabin in the woods (what could possibly go wrong!?) where Kate and Tasha agreed to meet if things went bad. Well, things are bad. Much worse in fact than anyone would have thought. Tasha has started her own pack - a new family, by turning burly stent werewolves #1 and #2 and demands that Kate, proving her loyalty by killing Sam. Yeah, the werewolves got the jump on the boys. They're really out of practice...Kate refuses and tasha orders her minions to kill the boys and bring her a heart to go. Rookie villain mistake. A bit of flirting and punching later and Sam has skewered the big bad wolves through the hearts. Dean, interestingly, doesn't gank anyone.
That's because Kate was left to deal with Tasha. Unlike a Winchester, Kate knows when to let a sidling go or when they're too bad to save, and kills Tasha. Does this mean Sam or Dean is going to finally kill the other by the end of the season? Dean's still got the Mark of Cain, and we all know how Cain's story worked out.
Kate calls the boys from a truck stop, assuring them she's on the straight and narrow now, though it's a road she'll walk alone. The final Impala Feelings Talk is probably my favorite, as Dean explains that maybe he's not all the wat back, but he has to keep going. ""I am just trying to do the right thing, man, because I'm so sick and tired of doing the wrong one." Fade to black.
Saddly, there's no mention of where Cas is right now. I assume that means he's back at the bunker baking some pie for Dean. Nothing else makes sense.
Perhaps why favorite moment of the episode was Dean being told by Stunt Werewolf #2: to get on his knees to which he replied "Wow, I'm flattered, but..." what I'm sure was more flirting was cut off by Dean being punched. Sigh.
Next week! No new episode due to the election, so as wee wait for the 200th (!) episode to air, I'll be treating you to a list of Supernatural's 20 most essential episodes!