Next: Supernatural S 08 E 15 Mans Best Friend With Benefits
Trial And Error
Written by Andrew Dabb.
Directed by Kevin Parks.
Air Date: February 13, 2013.
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, 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 the Hell Gates forever. The first trial is killing a hellhound 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, right around the time the Cassity family struck oil on their farm. The brothers conclude that this unexpected good fortune was the result of a crossroads deal and take a job on the farm to kill the hellhound 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 hellhound.
Dean wants to summon a crossroads demon, believing they missed their chance to kill the hellhound, 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 (the middle sister), and Margot (the 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 crossroads demon made the deal.
When the hellhound kills Margot Cassity, Sam and Dean handcuff the remaining Cassity family members inside a circle of Goofer dust to protect them from the hellhound. Kevin calls them to let him know he was able to find a reference to hellhounds on the tablet, saying that hellhounds can be seen through an object scorched by holy fire. Dean takes two pairs of eyeglasses and passes them through burning holy oil, which the brothers keep in their trunk in case they need to trap an angel. Dean asks Sam to watch the Cassitys while Dean hunts the hellhound, making it clear 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 hellhound 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 hellhound in the barn. Dean is slashed by the hellhound and thrown against the wall, losing the glasses that allow him to see it and dropping Ruby's knife. Before the hellhound can completely tear Dean apart, Sam shoots it. This distracts the hellhound long enough for Sam to get Ruby's knife. Sam slices open the belly of the hellhound while it is standing over him so that he is soaked in its blood.
Dean wants to find another hellhound so he can complete the trials, but Sam tells Dean he is not going to let this be a suicide mission for Dean, explaining 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.
For this episode = 2 humans and 1 hellhound.
For the series so far = At least 873 humans (of which 6 were witches), 121 demons, 59 angels, 48 ghosts, 43 vampires, 36 Jefferson Starships, 19 zombies, 19 gods, 10 hellhounds, 7 skinwalkers, 6 changelings, 5 shapeshifters, 5 werewolves, 4 ghouls, 4 Leviathan, 3 djinn, 3 dogs, 2 Amazons, 2 arachnes, 2 kitsunes, 2 rugarus, 2 Thule, 2 vetalas, 1 crocotta, 1 dragon, 1 fairy, 1 Khan worm, 1 lamia, the Mother of All, 1 okami, 1 phoenix, 1 Purgatory creature, 1 rakshasa, 1 rawhead, 1 reaper, 1 shojo, 1 shtriga, 1 siren, 1 wendigo, 1 whore of Babylon, and 1 wraith.
- Accidental Pornomancer: Dean is propositioned for a Pre-Climax Climax. He's forced to decline, as he's backing up Sammy at the time.
- 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 crossroads deal.Dean: So, anybody have a horseshoe shoved up his ass?
- Big Damn Heroes: Dean insists on taking on the hellhound alone, but loses both his specs and the demon-killing knife. Fortunately Sam turns up to save his life and kill the hellish hound!
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Cassity family. Ironically, the ones who sold their souls are the nice ones.Cindy: Oh, look. Daddy's drunk and armed. Must be Christmas.
- Blood Bath: The first trial requires killing a hellhound and bathing in its blood.
- Book Dumb: Dean's vision of himself. Sam helps him out of this at the end.Dean: I'm a grunt, Sam. You're not. You've 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:
- Kevin is wearing the same headphones we saw in "Torn And Frayed" (S08, E10) while studying the tablet.
- The brothers use Goofer dust to hold off the hellhound. They first learned about Goofer dust from George Darrow in "Crossroad Blues" (S02, E08).
- While Crowley may now be the King of Hell, ten years ago he was just a crossroads demon, just like when we first met him in "Abandon All Hope..." (S05, E10).
- Dean notes that their encounters with previous Big Bads such as Yellow Eyes, Lucifer, and Dick Roman have all ended with him or Sam either dying or worse.
- Ellie's deal and Dean's determination to save her reminds us how Dean was killed by hellhounds in "No Rest For The Wicked" (S03, E16) and how the brothers saved Evan Hudson, the man who made a deal for his wife who was dying of cancer, in "Crossroad Blues" (S02, E08). Likewise, Ellie hallucinating Dean with an undead face recalls both episodes, which is a side effect for someone who has sold their soul nearing their death.
- The blade that Dean acquired in Purgatory is seen once again and is currently mounted on the weapons wall in his room.
- 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 made one to make Alice Cassity fall in love with him and become his wife, Margot made one to make her family strike oil on their land and become rich, and Ellie made 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 don't. But I tell you what I do know is that I'm gonna die with a gun in my hand. 'Cause that's what I have waiting for me, and that's 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 used a crossroads deal to make her believe she loved him and lived with her as her husband for almost 10 years. Despite this, Carl is remembered 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 hellhound, he loses the glasses that allow him to see it.
- Evil Brit: Crowley.Dean: Crowley. Poncy guy, about yea 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.
- Faux Affably Evil: The Cassity's all remember the charming Crowley, who did not bother to tell them of the ten year deadline on their wishes.
- Formerly Fat: Margot Cassity.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Blood splatter over Carl's face as the hellhound attacks.
- Gutted Like a Fish: How Sam kills the hellhound with Ruby's knife.
- Hard-Work Montage: The teaser with Kevin's daily routine (alarm goes off at 5 AM, drinks coffee, studies tablet, fries hotdogs, takes aspirin, goes to bed at 2:45 AM) repeated as he crosses off days on the calendar starting with January 13, 2013, and ending with February 7, 2013.
- Hellhound: While hellhounds were first introduced in "Crossroad Blues" (S02, E08), 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 haven't had my own room ever. I am making this awesome. I got my kick-ass vinyl. I've 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 from the viewpoint of the hellhound.
- Impossible Task: God has set up three 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 hellhounds are only seen and heard by the damned or through an object scorched by holy fire.
- It's What I Do: Dean when telling the Cassity's to sit down and shut up.
- 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 Man of Letters, whatever. You, with a wife and kids and grandkids, living 'til you're fat and bald and chugging Viagra. That is my perfect ending. And it's the only one that I'm 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.
- Dean's perfect ending is Sam being able to realize his dreams.
- Just in Time: Sam's gunshot wounding the hellhound 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 a crossroads deal and was never genuine.
- Magically Binding Contract: The crossroad contracts are enforced by hellhounds.
- Magical Incantation: The Enochian phrase: Kah-Nuh-Ahm-Dahr.
- A Magic Contract Comes with a Kiss: Ellie saw Margot kissing Crowley, but was still surprised that Margot made a deal with him. Between this and the revelation Margot had sex with Carl in the barn, it seems Margot Really Gets Around.
- MayDecember Romance: Noah (71 and worth a billion) and Ivanka (20-year-old lingerie model).Cindy: Maybe Alice should marry a child? Take after her father.Noah: Ivanka's not a child.Cindy: 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 hellhound "land shark", "Clifford the Big Dead Dog", and "Huckleberry Hound".
- Noah calls Cindy "Cin". Noah and Cindy call Margot "Margie". Margot 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 pigs' 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 deals.
- Only Smart People May Pass: Sam's comparison of the three trials to close the gates of Hell.Sam: [to Kevin] So, what, God wants us to take the SATs?
- Out-of-Character Moment: Dean recommending salad. He lampshades it at the same time:Dean: I'm gonna feel dirty saying this, but you might want a salad.
- Phlebotinum Pills: Dean gives Kevin two bottles of pills.Dean: I got you a present. The, uh, blue ones are for the headaches, and the green ones are for pep. Don't OD.
- 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.
- Pseudo Crisis: After collapsing from the strain, Kevin manages a garbled phone call to the Winchesters, who rush there with guns ready, only to find Kevin throwing up in the toilet.
- Psychic Nosebleed: When Kevin finally has a Eureka Moment with the tablet, he bleeds from the nose and then collapses on the floor.
- Rain of Blood: Sam is bathed in the hellhound's blood when he slices open its 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 that's not ground-up hooves and pigs' anuses. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The hellhound.
- Room Full of Crazy: Kevin's Post-It notes and papers covering the walls of Garth's boat.
- See-Thru Specs: When scorched by holy fire, glasses can be used to see the invisible hellhounds.
- Settle for Sibling: Before Carl did the crossroads deal, Alice was not interested in him, so he had sex with her sister Margot in the barn.
- 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 three 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 hellhound, 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 hellhound 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 tells Sam "You had me at weird."
- Dean compares the Cassity family to The Beverly Hillbillies.
- Cindy calls Sam a Ken doll.
- Ellie tells Dean she likes the Clark Kent look when Dean is wearing glasses.
- Dean compares the hellhound to a Hanna-Barbera character.Dean: You camp here, figure out who whored their soul. I'm gonna go scout the grounds, see if I can't 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.
- Shrinking Violet: Margot Cassity.
- Sickly Prodigy: Kevin.Kevin: I've 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.
- Stalker Without a Crush: Dean says he and Sam will have to become these to Alice to catch the hellhound.Dean: We're gonna have to go stalker on this one, Sammy.
- 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.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Dean rushes out, but Sam goes back for the burger Dean cooked and takes it with him.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Dean has this attitude about the three trials, and given what the first trial is and the fact that hellhounds previously tore him apart and dragged 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 hellhound draws near, its victim starts to have frightening hallucinations.
- Time for Plan B: Averted; Plan B would be Dean sweating a crossroads demon to send a hellhound. As this would like attract the attention of Crowley, Sam dubs it a suicide mission and informs Dean that Plan A isn't over yet.
- 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 hellhound attacks him.
- Visible Invisibility: Once the brothers are wearing the modified glasses, the audience is able to see the hellhounds, but they are partially transparent and blurry.
- 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 "Don't Pee on This Tree: Happy Arbor Day".
- Worth Living For: Sam tries to convince Dean of this.Sam: I want to slam Hell shut too, okay. 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: You're not a grunt, Dean. You're a genius. When it comes to lore, you're 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.