The Wednesday, Jan. 20 midseason premiere of “Supernatural,” 11×10, “The Devil in the Details,” begins with Crowley celebrating Christmas and ends with a body on the floor. In the middle of that, there’s a trip to hell, singing as a password and a big change for one of the characters.
First things first, Rowena has very strange dreams. As is revealed in the opening scene of the “SPN” midseason premiere, she’s been having this recurring one of Christmas, with Crowley getting a Sam Pop Vinyl figure and her dressed in reindeer ears and glowing red nose. But there’s one thing that’s new this time around: Santa Lucifer! After he kills Crowley via candy cane, he reveals himself to Rowena, and that is why everything went sideways when Sam talked to the devil.
She and the kingdom are his – as in Lucifer’s, Rowena tells her son. Lucifer has a plan, she explains. After he stops the darkness, he’ll ascend to his throne in heaven, with Rowena at his side. He’s fought the darkness before and won, after all, she points out. So it falls on Crowley (whose voicemail contains the options to press 1 for demon deals and 2 for a sighting of Rowena) to be the one to tell Dean about his brother’s situation, and while Castiel is off finding out if Amara survived the smiting, Dean makes his way into hell, with a witch catcher for Crowley to use to control his mother, which is their primary concern, according to the King as he tells him not to worry about his brother. “I’m sorry, have you met me?” Dean asks, and all anyone has to do is look at the last 11 seasons for proof of that.
Castiel’s search for Amara goes south. After running into a fellow angel looking for answers about what happened (and not even noting the fact that it’s the middle of the day but pitch black at the smiting site), what follows is basically a conversation to make him as depressed as possible as he ponders the meaning of his existence. They’re expendable, the angel tells him, which is why they’re there. Sam and Dean are the real heroes, so it won’t be a big loss if the Darkness kills them, and there’s nobility in that, right?
Amara is in fact alive and kills the angel, taking her grace, her spark and her memories, she explains to Castiel. It hit the spot too. And that angel blade of his is pointless, she says, reminding him that the smiting barely scratched her. He reeks of fear and self-loathing, and yes, he is expendable and weak and she doesn’t get why God took a special interest in him. But she’s not going to kill him because he’s not worth it. He looks a bit “used up” anyway, and she has a job for him: carry the message on his chest that she’s coming. After she sends him along, however, she stumbles and looks weak.
Meanwhile, Lucifer is doing everything he can to get Sam to say that magical “yes” to him. No, he won’t torture him even though he can, and he scoffs at Sam’s insistence that his brother is going to walk in and kick his ass. “I always have” bet on him, Sam says. Lucifer doesn’t buy it, and since torture “was so five years ago,” he’s going to prove to him that he should say yes – via a trip down memory lane. There’s a young Sam (welcome back, Colin Ford) with a girl who’s more interested in kissing than studying. That’s the Sam Lucifer remembers, decisive, a hero. He beat him (cue flashback to Stull Cemetery), but now, he doesn’t recognize him anymore. “You were willing to do the hard thing if it meant saving the world,” Lucifer tells him. “That’s not you anymore. You’ve gone soft, Sammy.”
Next up is Sam with Amelia and the dog and Lucifer calling Sam out on not looking for Dean (an arc better left far, far in the past). What happened to the Sam ready to sacrifice for the greater good, Lucifer wonders. The old Sam wouldn’t have let Dean talk him out of closing the gates of hell. And then what he did to cure the mark. “My brother was dying,” Sam protests. Therein lies the problem, according to Lucifer. “You’d do anything to save him and he’d do anything to save you,” so instead of choosing the world, they choose each other, no matter how many innocent people die. To beat the Darkness, Sam must be ready to die, to watch the people he loves die. He’s not strong enough to win this one. And yes, Lucifer is, because “snapping necks and cashing checks” is what he does.
Lucifer thinks he’s getting through to Sam, thinks that he can talk him into saying yes. Gabriel and Raphael are dead, the devil points out. God went out for smokes and never came back like a typical deadbeat dad. Michael is spending his days curled up in a corner singing show tunes. (Poor Adam.) That makes Lucifer the only option. But Sam still won’t say yes as Lucifer tries to seduce him into giving in, to making the right choice to beat the Darkness together. Even if he’s telling the truth, Sam reminds him that it took him, three other archangels and God to stop her last time. And even if he can stop Amara, then Lucifer is loose in the world, ready to start the apocalypse again. Either way, everyone else loses. So Sam is saying no, and it has everything to do with him, his faith in his friends, his family. “We will find a way,” he promises, and he’s ready to die, ready to watch people he loves die, but he’s not going to be Lucifer’s “bitch.” So Lucifer turns to plan B: his fists.
That’s when Dean goes running, Castiel (with Amara’s message on his chest) on his heels, leaving Crowley to make sure Rowena, wearing the witch catcher and essentially his slave (she’ll hop on one foot, she’ll do the spell to lock Lucifer up again), does what she’s told. “Welcome to the party,” Lucifer greets them, bringing them into the cage. Castiel goes after Lucifer while Dean checks on his brother and tells him they just have to hold out a few minutes, for Rowena’s spell to work. But those few minutes are ones filled with Lucifer basically delivering a beatdown to all three of them. And as Rowena finishes the spell, Lucifer disappears in a flash of light. With that over, so is their team-up, Crowley announces. “This has been a horrible train wreck,” he notes, so it’s time for them to get the hell out of hell. But there’s something off about Castiel as he parts ways with the Winchesters. And as Sam has questioned before, wondering about Lucifer and the Darkness, he can’t help but wonder if he was telling the truth. Doesn’t matter in Dean’s eyes. The Darkness and the devil loose in the world? That’s a nightmare.
And a nightmare it is, as Castiel joins Rowena and Crowley in hell, only it’s not Castiel anymore. In the final moments before the spell – which wouldn’t work if Lucifer had a vessel that anchored him – Castiel asked if he could really beat the Darkness. When Lucifer said he could, Castiel said yes. Given Castiel’s conversations with the angel and Amara earlier, this isn’t really a surprise. (Also, they needed to do something with Castiel.) “I’m back, baby,” Lucifer exclaims, tossing Crowley aside and freeing Rowena from the witch catcher. She deserves a reward, he decides, a token of his affection. And how does the devil show his affection? Well, after confirming that she’s the only one who can open the cage, he snaps her neck. He then turns to Crowley with a “let’s chat.”
“Supernatural” season 11 airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on the CW. What did you think of episode 10 “The Devil in the Details”?