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Recap: Supernatural S 08 E 14 Trial And Error
Season 8, Episode 14

Trial And Error

This whole "saving the world" thing? Itís a marathon, not a sprint. - Sam to Kevin
The Tablet says "Whosoever chooses to undertake these tasks should fear not danger nor death nor" a word I think means "getting your spine ripped out through your mouth for all eternity.Ē
- Kevin to Sam and Dean

Sam and Dean are settling into the headquarters of the Men of Letters in Lebanon, Kansas, when they receive a phone call from Kevin Tran. They rush to Garth's boat, the Fizzle's Folly in Warsaw, Missouri, to find that Kevin has discovered that reciting a spell in Enochian after completing each of three trials will close all hell gates forever. The first trial is killing a hell hound and bathing in its blood. Translating the tablet has taken a toll on Kevin's health, but he is determined to complete his work.

Sam finds that demon signs were centered around Shoshone, Idaho 10 years ago, when the Cassity family struck oil on their farm. The brothers conclude that this unexpected good fortune was the result of a crossroad deal, and take a job on the farm to kill the hell hound when it comes to collect the soul of the individual who made the deal. They suspect the owner of the ranch, Alice Cassity made the deal, but while the Winchester brothers are following her, her husband Carl is killed by a hell hound.

Dean wants to summon a crossroad demon, believing they missed their chance to kill the hell hound, but Sam tells Dean about Alice saying she doesn't feel anything after Carl's death, which confuses her as she had thought he was the love of her life. This convinces the brothers that Carl must have made his deal for Alice's love and not to strike oil. The stay to observe the Cassity family as the other members, Noah (Alice's father), Cindy (Alice's sister), and Margo (Alice's youngest sister), arrive after Carl's death. While serving drinks to the family, Sam overhears that the last time they were all together was when a charming English salesman named Crowley was visiting. Now the Winchesters realize just which crossroad demon made the deal.

When the hell hound manages to kill Margo Cassity, Sam and Dean handcuff the remaining Cassity family members inside a circle of Goofer dust to protect them from the hell hound. Kevin calls them to let him know he was able to find a reference to hell hounds on the tablet, saying the hell hounds can be seen through an object scorched by holy fire. Dean takes two pairs of eye glasses and passes them through the burning holy oil which can be used to trap an angel. Dean then asks Sam to watch the Cassitys while Dean hunts the hell hound, making it obvious that Dean wants to complete the trials himself and save Sam from the likely fate of the person who undertakes the tasks.

Dean goes to warn the manager of the ranch, Ellie, to stay in her room. Ellie tries to seduce Dean and then confesses that the hell hound is after her as she made a deal to cure her mother's Parkinson's disease. Dean tells her to stay in a circle of Goofer dust, and finds the hell hound in the barn. Dean is slashed by the hell hound and thrown against the wall, knocking off his glasses that allow him to see the hell hound and dropping Ruby's knife. Before the hell hound can completely tear Dean apart, Sam shoots the hell hound. This distracts the hell hound long enough for Sam to get Ruby's knife. Sam manages to slice open the belly of the hell hound while it is standing over him so that he is soaked in its blood.

Dean wants to find another hell hound so he can complete the trials, but Sam tells Dean he is not going to let this be a suicide mission for Dean. Sam explains how much Dean means to him and others. Sam then recites the Enochian phrase followed by his right arm glowing with a white light signaling he has completed the first trial. Dean reluctantly realizes that he is going to have to let Sam complete the trials.

Tropes


  • Accidental Pornomancer: Dean is propositioned for a Pre-Climax Climax.
  • The Alcoholic/Lady Drunk: Cindy Cassity.
  • All Girls Like Ponies: Ellie's room is decorated with pictures of horses and awards for riding.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    Ellie to Dean: What would you do for your mom?
  • At the Crossroads: Carl summoned the demon.
  • Auto-Tune: Cindy's answer for how she has a music career when she sings "like crap".
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Good fortune bought with a crossroad deal.
    Dean: So, anybody have a horseshoe shoved up his ass?
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Cassity family.
    Cindy: Oh, look. Daddy's drunk and armed. Must be Christmas.
  • Blood Bath: The first trial requires killing a hell hound and bathing in its blood.
  • Book Dumb: Dean's vision of himself. Sam helps him out of this at the end.
    Dean: Iím a grunt, Sam. Youíre not. Youíve always been the brains of this operation.
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: Noah Cassity, which is a Justified Trope as he was handcuffed to the couch.
    Noah: I need to take a leak.
    Sam: Hold it.
    Noah: Yeah, at my age. Not really an option, so either you let me go, or you get me a bottle.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Deal with the Devil: Sam and Dean go after someone who made a deal to track down a Hellhound. There are actually three of them, all concluded by Crowley when he was still a Crossroads demon. Carl Granville concluded one to make Alice Cassity fall in love with him and become his wife, Margo concluded one to make her family strike oil on their land and become rich, and Ellie concluded one to cure her mother's Parkinson's disease.
  • Death Seeker: Dean, yet again.
    Dean: You see a light at the end of this ugly-ass tunnel. I donít. But I tell you what I do know is that Iím gonna die with a gun in my hand. 'Cause thatís what I have waiting for me, and thatís all I have waiting for me.
  • Double Entendre: Ellie to Dean while he is working the grill.
    Ellie: I do like a man who can handle his meat.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi/Marital Rape License: Though Alice was never attracted to Carl, he uses a crossroad deal to make her believe she loves him and lives with her as a husband for almost 10 years. Despite this, Carl is portrayed as a well-liked easy-going guy.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: Ellie to Dean.
    Ellie: I think you're really hot. You want to go to my room and have sex?
  • Dramatic Irony: "Do you know anything about hunting, boy?"
  • Dropped Glasses: When Dean is slammed against the wall by the hell hound, he loses the glasses that allow him to see the hell hound.
  • Evil Brit: Crowley.
    Dean: Crowley. Poncy guy, about yay big, mountain of dicks.
  • Exhausted Eye Bags: Kevin.
  • Fainting Seer / Power Strain Blackout: Kevin collapses from his efforts.
  • Fake Food: As Osric Chau had to eat the "hot dogs" raw during the opening teaser, tofu dogs were used in the scenes with Kevin frying and munching on wieners.
  • Formerly Fat: Margo Cassity.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Blood splatter over Carl's face as the hell hound attacks.
  • Gutted Like a Fish: How Sam kills the hell hound with Ruby's knife.
  • Hard Work Montage: The teaser with Kevin's daily routine (alarm goes off at 5 a.m., drinks coffee, studies tablet, fries hotdogs, takes aspirin, goes to bed in the early morning) repeated as he crosses off days on the calendar starting with January 13, 2013, and ending with February 7, 2013.
  • Hellhound: While hell hounds were first introduced in "Crossroad Blues" (S02, Ep08), this is the first episode where we see what they look like.
  • Homage: The location of the bunker for the Men of Letters, Lebanon, Kansas, is the geographic center of the United States and an important location in Neil Gaiman's American Gods because of its "negative sacredness".
  • Home Sweet Home: Dean enjoys having his own room and a kitchen.
    Dean: I havenít had my own room ever. I am making this awesome. I got my kick-ass vinyl. Iíve got this killer mattress. Memory foam. It remembers me.
  • Howling to the Night: The wolf howl while Alice and Carl are having dinner.
  • Hug and Comment: Dean and Kevin, after Kevin says he figured out how to close the gates of hell.
    Dean to Kevin: Come here, you smelly son of a bitch.
  • Impending Doom P.O.V.: The camera shots of Dean in the barn which seem to be from the viewpoint of the hell hound.
  • Impossible Task: God has set up 3 of these which must be completed to close the Hell Gates.
  • In Mysterious Ways: Discussed Trope.
    Kevin about God: Uh, he works in mysterious ways.
    Dean: Yeah, mysterious douchey ways.
  • Invisible to Normals: The hell hounds are only seen and heard by the damned or through an object scorched by holy fire.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • Dean's perfect ending is Sam being able to realize his dreams.
    Dean: I want you to get out. I want you to have a life. Become a Men of Letters, whatever. You, with a wife and kids and grandkids, living Ďtil youíre fat and bald and chugging Viagra. That is my perfect ending. And itís the only one that Iím gonna get.
    • Ellie made her deal so that her mother could be cured of Parkinson's disease and retire to Phoenix where she plays golf everyday.
  • Justin Time: Sam's gunshot wounding the hell hound before it can kill Dean.
  • The Last Dance: Ellie celebrates on her own when Dean declines her offer.
    Ellie: All I wanted was one last meal, some good tunes, and maybe ... [looks at Dean]
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Ellie has her hair down when celebrating her last night, where it was previously in a ponytail.
  • Literal Metaphor: "Crap work".
  • Love Potion: Alice believed Carl to be the love of her life, but now that he is dead she feels fine because her love was only the result of the crossroad deal and was never genuine.
  • Magically-Binding Contract: The crossroad contracts are enforced by hell hounds.
  • Magical Incantation: The Enochian phrase: Kah-Nuh-Ahm-Dahr.
  • A Magic Contract Comes with a Kiss: Ellie saw Margo kissing Crowley, but still was surprised that Margo made a deal with him. Between this and the revelation Margo had sex with Carl in the barn, it seems Margo Really Gets Around.
  • May-December Romance: Noah (71 and worth a billion) and Ivanka (20 year old lingerie model).
    Cindy Cassity: Maybe Alice should marry a child? Take after her father.
    Noah Cassity: Ivanka's not a child.
    Cindy Cassity: Right. She's a prostitute who looks like a child.
  • Morning Routine: Kevin's alarm goes off at 5 a.m. with a "Good Morning, Warsaw!"
  • Musicalis Interruptus: When Dean enters Ellie's room, he turns off "I Touch Myself" by the Divinyls.
  • The Nicknamer:
    • Dean calls Crowley "Tea and crumpets" and the hell hound "Land shark".
    • Noah calls Cindy "Cin". Noah and Cindy call Margo "Margie". Margo calls Alice "Al".
  • Nightmare Face: As a Hellhound is coming for her, Ellie suddenly sees Dean's face as a distorted ghost/zombie-like form.
  • Not Hyperbole: When Ellie says "crap work"...
  • Not That There's Anything Wrong with That:
    "Kid needs to eat something that's not ground up hooves and pig anuses (hot dogs). Not that there's anything wrong with that."
  • Obstacle Exposition: Kevin.
  • Oh Crap: when Sam realizes Crowley's the one who made the deal.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: Sam's guess about what the 3 trials to close the gates of hell may entail.
    Sam to Kevin: So, what, God wants us to take the SATs?
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Dean.
    Dean: Iím gonna feel dirty saying this, but you might want a salad.
  • Phlebotinum Pills: Dean gives Kevin two bottles of pills.
    Dean: The, uh blue ones are for the headaches, and the green ones are for pep. Don't O.D.
  • Power Glows: After Sam recites the Enochian phrase, we hear a whooshing crackling noise, and his right arm glows with a white light.
  • Precious Photo: Dean's photo of his mother, which he props up in his room.
  • Pre-Climax Climax: When Ellie thinks a Hellhound is coming for her (It is. It's just after someone else first.), she bluntly asks Dean to come to her room so they can have sex. Dean declines.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Occurs to Kevin when he works to translate the tablet.
  • Rain of Blood: Sam is bathed in the hell hound's blood when he slices open it's belly while lying underneath the creature.
  • Real Men Cook: Dean makes surprisingly good burgers and later grills steaks.
    Sam: You made these?
    Dean: We've a real kitchen now.
    Sam: I know, I - I just didn't think you knew what a kitchen was.
    Dean: I'm nesting. Okay? Eat.
  • Real Men Eat Meat: Subverted Trope, with Dean actually concerned about Kevin's all hot dog diet.
    Dean: The kid needs to eat something thatís not ground-up hooves and pigsí anuses. Not that thereís anything wrong with that.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The hell hound.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Kevin's post it notes and papers covering the walls in Garth's boat.
  • See-Thru Specs: When scorched by holy fire, glasses can be used to see the invisible Hellhounds.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Dean has Led Zeppelin, Howard McGhee volume 2, and Nat King Cole Sings For Two In Love, on vinyl in his room.
    • Dean uses the slogan for Wheaties, "breakfast of champions", to describe Kevin's hot dog diet.
    • When Kevin explains that they must complete 3 trials, Sam asks him if he means trials like Law & Order.
    • Kevin compares the trials they must complete to the 12 labors of Hercules. Dean and Sam cleaning out the Cassity's stables may also be a reference to Hercules cleaning the Augean stables in a single day.
    • When Kevin tells the brothers they have to bathe in the blood of a hell hound, Dean says he has "no problem gutting some devil dog and letting Calgon take me away".
    • Dean compares a soul to one of the ingredients of a Big Mac and a hell hound to Clifford the Big Red Dog.
    Dean: Hellhounds like to collect on Crossroads deals, so all we gotta do is track down some loser who signed over his special sauce 10 years ago, get between him and Clifford the Big Dead Dog.
    Dean: You camp here, figure out who whored their soul. Iím gonna go scout the grounds, see if I canít gank Huckleberry Hound before he makes his next move.
    • Dean compares Noah Cassity to J.R. Ewing.
    • Noah Cassity compares his family to "the damn Waltons.
    • Ellie has a poster for Dean Brody in her room.
  • Sickly Prodigy: Kevin.
    Kevin: Iíve been getting bad headaches and nosebleeds and, I think, maybe I had a small stroke.
  • Specs of Awesome: Sam and Dean wear glasses scorched by holy fire while fighting the Hellhound.
  • Settle for Sibling: Before Carl did the crossroad deal, Alice was not interested in him, so he had sex with her sister Margo in the barn.
  • Shrinking Violet: Margo Cassity.
  • Team Mom: Dean seems to be adopting this role. Cooking dinner and making sure Kevin eats his greens.
  • The Three Trials: Must be completed to close the gates of hell.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Dean has this attitude about the 3 trials, and given the first trial and the fact that hell hounds did previously tear him apart and drag him to hell this might be about more than protecting Sam.
    Dean to Sam: So I'm gonna do these trials. I'm going to do them alone. End of story. You're staying here. I'm going out there. If land shark comes knocking, you call me. If you try to follow me, I'm going to put a bullet in your damn leg.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: As the hell hound draws near, its victim starts to have frightening hallucinations.
  • Traveling Salesman: Crowley's disguise when he visited the Cassity family.
  • Uncatty Resemblance: Discussed Trope.
    Dean: Oh, so you're Crowley's bitch. I guess pets really do look like their owners.
  • Vertigo Effect: The shots of Dean in the barn before the hell hound attacks him.
  • Visible Invisibility: Once the brothers are wearing the modified glasses, the audience is able to see the hell hounds, but they are partly transparent and blurred.
  • Volleying Insults: The Cassity family with Cindy often being one of the insulters.
    Cindy: Get cancer and die, old man.
    Noah: You first, sweetie. [winks at Cindy]
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Kevin doubled over in the bathroom.
  • Wall of Weapons: How Dean decorates his room.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Cindy Cassity.
    Ellie: She had a single on the country chart a few years ago. Then she started hitting the bottle and, well, her last album was a bunch of holiday songs for dogs. My favorites were "Jingle Bark Rock" and "Donít Pee on This Tree, Happy Arbor Day".
  • Worth Living For: Sam tries to convince Dean.
    Sam: I want to slam Hell shut too, OK. But I want to survive it. I want to live. And so should you. You have friends up here, family. I mean, hell, you even got your own room now.
  • Wrench Wench: Ellie is introduced coming out from under a tractor that she was fixing.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Sam gives Dean a much needed pep talk,
    Sam: Youíre not a grunt, Dean. Youíre a genius. When it comes to lore, youíre the best damn hunter I have ever seen. Better than me, better than dad. I believe in you, Dean, so please, please, believe in me too.


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