Is it ever too late to do the right thing? Do good guys deserve a pass because they’ve made bad decisions? Those are questions posed in the Wednesday, Feb. 24 episode of “Supernatural,” 11×15, “Beyond the Mat,” which sees Sam and Dean relive their childhood and Crowley and Casifer throw around words like “double-cross” and “phallic.”
It’s time to remember the old days on “Supernatural” with this episode – both when it comes to Sam and Dean’s childhood and a certain season 3 event. When Dean discovers that their father’s favorite wrestler died, the brothers go to his wake to pay their respects, looking to get out of the bunker and away from their lack of leads on a Hand of God, Amara and saving Castiel. But they can only get a break for so long. At the wake, Sam gets to talk to his first crush, Rio, a former wrestling manager, while Dean gets to fanboy over his favorite wrestler, Gunnar Lawless (and reminisce over his first B&E, stealing pay-per-view to watch one of his matches). But when they stay for the memorial show that night – “World’s still going to be screwed tomorrow, right?” Sam reasons – their time letting loose and just having fun as audience members comes to an end when a man is killed and has ritualistic cuts on his body. (“Town after town, putting your ass on the line for next to nothing. No money, no glory,” Dean says to describe the wrestlers on the tour, but as Sam notes, he’s also describing them.)
It turns out that someone has turned up dead on every stop on the tour, with the wrestlers making up the suspect list since they’re the only ones traveling. Dean gets a chance to sit down and have a few drinks with Gunnar, exchanging battle scar stories (Dean’s de-supernatural-ized, of course). “You gotta keep on grinding,” Gunnar tells him when Dean questions why he’s still out there. Meanwhile, Sam’s been researching and discovered the marks are ancient Sumerian, said to have the power to pluck the spark of life. So souls? They’re looking for a demon? With that, Dean slips some holy water into Gunnar’s drink – and then ends up drinking with all the wrestlers to test them, down for the count when Sam gets there.
The only one he didn’t get a chance to test is Shawn, the rookie wrestler, because he and Gunnar got into a fight, he accused Gunnar of doing drugs after seeing him meet with a man before his match and Rio took him out of the bar. When they get to his motel room, it’s trashed, and security camera footage shows him being taken – by Gunnar. Well, that seems to rule out Shawn being a demon; how would Gunnar get the drop on him?
Gunnar is working for a crossroads demon, who tries to recruit Shawn. What does he want? Money? Glory? Whatever it is, he can give him the life he wants. But Shawn figures out how it’ll work. It’ll cost him his soul (and the little favor of killing someone for him), and while he’s never been one for God, knowing that he’s a demon and there’s a hell tells him there’s a heaven – and he won’t give up his shot at getting there for something (the belt) he could win on his own. Unfortunately, that just gets him dead.
The demon of course delights in the fact that he has Sam and Dean once they arrive, but he thought they’d be “more,” given the stories. He orders Gunnar to kill them, and the wrestler tosses Dean into another room. That gives him the chance to get through to him. He was desperate and dumb, Gunnar admits. Dean gets that he screwed up. He’s been there, but it’s never too late to do the right thing. He has to believe that. Just after the demon has filled Sam in on the hell situation – Casifer in charge, Crowley his pet, and so the demon is building his nest egg – Gunnar kills him from behind. But Gunnar’s fate is sealed, and with the hellhounds pounding at the door, he tells them he had it coming because he’s never been a good man.
Meanwhile, in hell, Casifer has demons searching everywhere for another Hand of God, while Crowley’s stuck cleaning the floor with a toothbrush, and then, when Casifer takes that from him, his tongue. However, one of the demons, Simmons, goes to his cage and tells him he still has friends who want him back and Lucifer gone. He’s Crowley, and the devil should be afraid of him. Crowley escapes, killing two demons in the process – “I’m Crowley,” enough said as far as an explanation there – and is once again dressed in a suit. He takes Simmons to his personal lockup, where he has the Rod of Aaron, and that’s when Casifer shows up.
“I invented the double cross, literally,” Casifer reminds him as Simmons returns to his side. She hates Crowley, as do all demons. See, Crowley may have once been “the evilest evil that ever eviled, present company excluded,” but now, he’s nothing more than “Dean Winchester’s number one fan.” The devil figured he’d let Crowley lead him here rather than beat the last spark of defiance from his eyes, but Crowley was expecting that and when Casifer opens the chest, the Rod isn’t there. “I perfected the double cross. Literally,” Crowley informs him, taking its power and using it, only for Simmons to step in the blast path. And since Hands of God are a one-time use only deal, Casifer returns the “favor” of making him bleed, but Crowley gets out of there pretty quickly.
Sam raises the question of whether Castiel wants to be saved. Dean insists he does, even if he doesn’t know it yet. And it’s hard not to feel like Dean telling Gunnar that he screwed up, but it’s never too late to do the right thing is about Castiel a bit as well – just like the fact that good guys who make bad decision don’t deserve to go out like Gunnar does. Still, they’re going to get Cas back, Sam says. Dean agrees. They just have to “keep grinding, no matter how much it hurts, no matter how hard it gets.” “That’s how we’re gonna win,” Dean tells his brother. “And we’re gonna win. We’re gonna save Cas, we’re gonna ice the devil and we’re gonna shank the darkness and anyone who gets in our way, well, God help them.” Sam agrees.
“Supernatural” season 11 airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on the CW. What did you think of episode 15 “Beyond the Mat”?