Scene 36: As Protester is breathing his last, Sam shouts at Dean that Roy can’t be the controlling influence after all. Dean looks around in confusion, only to spot Sue Ann not evacuated, but chanting to herself in a corner of the revival tent. He pegs her as the controller.
Dean interrupts Sue Ann’s chant, saving Protester in the knick of time! Meanwhile, Sue Ann quickly tucks her Old Cross Necklace away and starts shouting for help. Dean gives her a knowing nod, but the Sheriff’s Deputy heard her cries and yanks Dean away before he can do anything else.
Scene 37: In the meantime, Reaper looks momentarily confused about what to do. He walks away, leaving Protester to somehow fit this close call with a monster into his life.
Sam helps him up, to Protester thanking God for the save.
Scene 38: Dean is escorted from the tent by a pair of Deputies. Sue Ann offers that she can’t understand why Dean would do this to them, and to Layla, after everything that they’ve done for him. Sue Ann tells the deputies that they can let him go, as she’s not pressing any charges.
She tells Dean how disappointed she is in him and intimates that God will deal with him soon… i.e. she’ll be dealing with him soon enough. Because ungrateful curs are SINNERS!
The deputies let him go with a threat and order him to vanish.
Seconds later and it’s Layla’s turn to ask why he’d do that to them when this was her only chance. Dean tries to explain that Roy isn’t a Healer, but that’s pretty thin when he obviously healed Dean and he won’t go into the whole one-life-traded-for-another aspect of what is going on. Layla leaves him with a wish of luck, but she’s devastated at her chance being taken from her. Dean is equally miserable about it and offers to her retreating back that she deserved to be saved far more than him.
Commentary: It does bug the crap out of me when Dean doesn’t even attempt to explain the reasoning for his not allowing her to be healed. She deserves to have that answer, even if she ends up not believing it [a toss up really, if she’s already believing in miraculous healing touches]. It also bugs me that Julie hasn’t had more interaction with the Winchesters, but I do like her portrayal of Layla as a genuinely caring person who isn’t consumed with rage, even when her chance to live is taken from her by Dean’s antics. I just wished for more. I also can’t help but feel like this scene would’ve worked better for me if Layla’s reactions had come later and this scene was dedicated to Mrs. Rourke slapping the shit outta Dean for what he’s done… and then have Sue Ann offer Mrs. Rourke the second chance we’ll see in a moment with a flat, spiteful glance right into Dean’s eyes that nobody else would notice of course.
Scene 39: As Dean is walking away, he passes the Le Granges. Roy is offering a private session that evening after he’s rested for Layla’s healing. Sam and Dean return to the Impala, but clearly this thing isn’t done.
Scene 40: Later in the motel, Dean offers to Sam that he doesn’t think Roy has any idea what Sue Ann has been doing. Sam pulls out the Little Book of Death Lore.
[And in keeping with the running visual joke of the show, the motel room is appallingly decorated. What the hell is this motif? Are the walls supposed to look like a Mud Hut, or that the boys are sleeping inside a mound of shit?]
Sam discusses the ritual that Sue Ann had to have used to bind a Reaper and it’s some darkest magick stuff. Sam calls her evil. Dean offers that she was desperate. He informs Sam of Roy’s being on death’s door and the doctor’s not being able to save him. What he doesn’t know is why she’s still using the Reaper if she was successful at keeping it away from Roy. Sam offers that she’s on a moral crusade now.
Dean shares that he saw the Coptic Cross necklace around Sue Ann’s neck and that the Reaper seemed to stop its attack on Protester when she dropped it after he interrupted her chanting. This leads to their target… or the immediate one anyway. Sam suggests the alter may be the vulnerable point.
Dean shares whatever they’re doing they have to do it soon since Layla is rescheduled for a healing that night, as he overheard.
Commentary: I’m a bit iffy on this part of the tale. I like the episode very well, but it’s jabs at “religiously pure” people feels a bit stereotypical. Not every bible believer is a “burn all the sinners” sort. In this circumstance, I don’t really have a problem with the wife being made the bad guy for this reason, but I do wish that there had been a bit more nuance in it. If I got the feeling that she was serious in her puzzlement and disappointment with Dean for stopping Layla from being saved over the life of a “SINNER!”, I’d have liked it a lot more. Instead, it felt like she was expressing disappointment to hide her self-righteous anger for the cops’ sake. Just a little tweak to the character to make her honestly believe that saving some over others was a morally just choice instead of her just being a vengeance-filled cow would’ve gone a long way. I wish the victims had been more random or had another explanation not connected to her personal feelings to make her a bit more ambivalent about her personal motives.
Scene 41: The boys rush back to the Le Grange’s. Apparently the county sheriff’s office has the spare manpower and budget to keep deputies at the revival tent 24/7. When the boys pull up, they find Layla’s car already there. Sam recognizes from Dean’s tone that he’s struggling with choosing to let her die.
Sam cautions against playing God and letting somebody else die in her place. Neither boys seems to be thinking that Dean himself would be a juicy target right now for Sue Ann - despite her very clear insinuation earlier.
Scene 42: They eye-spy through the tent to see a small congregation assembled to pray for Layla’s miracle. Roy Le Grange once again readies himself to give it to her.
The boys don’t see Sue Ann present and Sam guesses she’s in the house.
Scene 43: Dean tells Sam to go after Sue Ann. In the meantime, he berates the two deputies -- who have one long-ass shift -- reminding them that they were supposed to put the fear of God into him. He leads them on a merry chase away from the Le Grange home.
Scene 44: Sam takes a quick stroll around the porch looking in windows for signs of Sue Ann. He sees light from a cellar door and noisily creeps in.
Scene 45: Meanwhile, Dean startles a dog in a camper. The officers almost catch him, but he hides on top of the camper and the cops assume the dog is barking at them.
Scene 46: In the cellar, Our Sam finds the Dark Alter that Sue Ann is using along with a photo taken from that security cam of Dean’s face. It’s been X’d out. Sam picks it up and looks long at it for the camera and us, because we are having a goldfish moment and may not have recognized the significance.
Sue Ann interrupts to tell Our Sam that she gave his brother life and she can take it away.
Our Sam super-bitch faces her, but it’s of limited impact against her stone-coldness.
He flips over her alter. She uses this time to escape from the cellar and bar the door, leading us to suspect that destroying the alter isn’t going to call of the Reaper at this late stage.
Alas, then Sue Ann wastes Sam’s time by trying to justify that she was chosen to save the deserving and punish the wicked. She tells Sam that Dean is a wicked person who deserves to die so Layla can live. She’s got the whole “God’s Will” sickness going on.
Our Sam uses this time to find a heavy beam and use it to knock out wood panels from the part of the wall of the cellar that is above ground, so he can crawl out.
Commentary: I love Jared’s bitch-face. LOVE IT. And I also loved Rebecca Jenkins’ super-cold “whatever” face. LOVE IT.
Scene 47: Roy continues to do the prayer in the workup to Layla’s finally getting that healing that has stretched on and on and on so far. Dean sneaks around. Around him, all of the lights start going out.
Scene 48: As healing hands are raised in the tent, Dean sees the Reaper standing there ready for him.
We get a commercial-not-break and a lot of intercutting between Le Grange and Dean/Reaper madness, so I’ll not list it all separately this time.
Outside the tent, Mrs. Le Grange chants with her Coptic Cross. In the field, Dean doesn’t try to run. The Reaper grabs his head and Dean starts to die of Layla’s brain cancer affliction.
Dean falls to his knees in agony as Layla falls to hers in healing ecstasy. Fortunately for Dean, Our Sam rushes up on Sue Ann suddenly. He grabs the symbol from her hands and smashes it on the ground.
Scene 49: The Reaper lets go of Dean and looks around in confusion. Le Grange removes his hand from Layla’s head. She seems to feel something stop happening.
In the tent, Le Grange says he doesn’t understand, also feeling the sudden cessation of the healing power. Layla looks with confusion and sorrow as she says she doesn’t feel any different to her mother.
Scene 50: Outside the tent, Sue Ann drops to her knees and gazing down at the shattered Coptic Cross with devastation. She asks what Sam has done and he tells her that it wasn’t her God’s work.
From the tent, Roy calls for his wife. She looks up to see the Reaper gazing at her, marking her as next up on the hit list. For the first time, The Reaper smiles.
It’s Frickin’ Horrible.
Sue Ann goes to run for her life, but the Reaper is suddenly RIGHT THERE. She can’t move before he grabs the side of her head. He kills her in front of Sam, who can naturally only see her side of it.
Scene 51: He meets Dean at the Impala. They leave before all hell breaks loose with Layla.
Scene 52: In the motel the next day, Dean isn’t sure that they did the right thing. There is a knock at the door. It’s Layla. Sam invited her over to talk to Dean. Our Sam leaves them alone.
Layla tells Dean about returning to Roy. He innocently asks what happened. She has to tell him it didn’t work, but worse that Mrs. Le Grange suffered a sudden and unexpected death. Dean offers that Roy is a good man and didn’t deserve what happened. And then he sympathizes with her disappointment over believing in something so hard only to have it not turn out right.
Layla offers that she’s okay. She has Faith to sustain her, even though the answer to her plea for a miracle was “no”. Dean admits that he’s not the praying type, but offers that he’s going to pray for her.
Commentary: And all of this is interesting in the fact that it introduces Dean’s lack of Faith in a higher power and angels and such… which he’ll then have to deal with as the angels becomes far more involved in the Winchester’s lives. This works wonderfully in the smaller moments, especially between Dean and Castiel but tends to make the plots messy, not always sensible and starts to wear on my nerves the longer it goes onward. But this plot was very well written to introduce the subject of faith into the Winchester’s lives.
The Good: Of the good first is the pacing. Despite the number of scene changes, especially in swapping among sets of characters and actions back and forth and around, I didn't find the story draggy like usual when this is done. Everything continues to move forward at a very nice pace.
The use of the darkness and shadows and the cinematography of the night shots are far, far better handled than in Scarecrow and Asylum... very nicely work done.
Kevin McNulty was fine as Roy Le Grange. He made me believe that he believed in his healing touch from God in every scene.
The makeup effects in this episode were particularly well done - especially on Dean's near-death face and with The Reaper's victims as they're sucked of their life.
I loved the editing in this episode and the way that Le Grange, The Jogging Victim and Dean and Sam are all intercut with one another with "Don't Fear the Reaper" played over it all as The Reaper kills our victim and Le Grange's 'patient' is healed. It was just a lovely way to put the extended scene with all of them together.
I liked the make up design for The Reaper, but what really pushed it into The Good was that single shot of the Reaper smiling at Sue Ann... that was chill inducing.
The Bad: I've got nothing bad enough to place here.
Other Thoughts: Okay, I'll admit that despite my enjoyment there is a few clumsy moments. Sam's notice of an anonymous background element in the tent that will be important, his just happening to have a Tarot Card with the Clue-Symbol on it, Dean seeing the Reaper even though he wasn't being approached to be taken and nobody else that was healed apparently noticed the tall grey guy standing around during their own experiences, the way that nobody mentions that even if they stop the spell being used to control the Reaper it wouldn't stop Roy/Sue Ann from doing the same thing over again, and of course the biggie: Dean's near-death being reversed with zero after-effects so as not to interrupt the monster hunting portion of the episode.
I'll also say that despite the pacing being well done, the scenes of Roy Le Grange's hands floating in the air getting ready to start the healing/Reaper-killing is repetitive and stretched out to breaking point the later the episode gets into its runtime.
More Julie Benz would've been appreciated.
I also would've liked it a bit more if Sue Ann Le Grange was a less clear-cut case of moral crusader and villain.
That very quick moment when Sam tries to Super-BitchFace Sue Ann and she returns her only flat, cutting look was a lot of fun for me.
The Score: This was a very effective episode with some great editing, great cinematography with very well acted characters and introducting a interesting aspect of the Supernaturalverse -- how god and faith play a role.
I really liked nearly everything while watching this one.
4.25 out of 5 stars
Next Up: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 10, Issue 11.