We were overdue for a mythology-heavy episode, and “Inside Man” reminded us that despite its age, Supernatural still has some magic left in the tank. A cold open with our main characters had my attention right away, and when I saw Bobby with his feet propped and Kenny Rogers playing on the radio, I knew we were in for a treat. With precious few episodes left this season, “Inside Man” did a nice job setting the table for the coming conflicts. These last 16 episodes haven’t done enough to give us a clear endgame for the season. Last year, the final conflict felt extremely rushed, and I can only hope the writers avoid the same mistake by spreading the rising action out a lot more.

The Sam-Castiel dynamic that’s rarely seen was put to good use this week as the duo hunted down a (rather funny) psychic in order to communicate with Bobby. I’m grateful the writers keep finding ways to bring Sam and Dean’s surrogate father back. He brings some much-needed levity and heart to the proceedings and his presence only magnifies how much his absence has taken from this show. What made me feel icky – and Sam too – was that Bobby shouldn’t have been called on for this kind of job. He finally made it to Heaven and, after a life of saving people and hunting things, deserves a peaceful “forever” in his own personal paradise. You could hear the weariness in his voice when he asked Sam if there was anybody else who could complete the task at hand. But what makes Bobby special is that he would never refuse to help Sam or Dean. That’s part of being a family.

While it was great seeing Bobby again, I have some serious issues with how Heaven was portrayed. I’ve accepted the fact that God will always be absent on this show. That said, why is there an escape hatch built into Bobby’s own version of paradise? Like Ash said long ago, this show’s version of Heaven is whatever the deceased makes of it. I’ll let this show get away with a lot of contrivances but this was a bit too far. Furthermore, why are souls kept separated from one another? Isn’t one of the comforting things about Heaven the idea that we’ll be reunited with our deceased love ones? The setup we saw tonight is more or less prison, right down to the “guards” coming to get Bobby for his role in helping Sam and Castiel spring Metatron from the clink. It was obvious he would pay serious consequences when he uttered the infamous “what’s the worst that could happen?” line, but I know his punishment will just end up as another burden for Sam and Dean to carry. Lord knows they have enough of those as it is without adding “got Bobby kicked out of Heaven” to the list.

Bobby correctly pointed out to Sam in his note that going behind Dean’s back was the wrong move. I don’t know if Sam even realizes what he’s doing at this point or if he even cares. He and Dean are both addicted to subterfuge for the sake of each other’s wellbeing. It’s a major annoyance at this point that Bobby – who is dead and in Heaven – has to interrupt his afterlife to remind Sam to stop being an idiot and lying to Dean. If those two haven’t learned after a decade to stop going behind the other’s back, there’s no hope for them ever learning. Here’s hoping the writers will wise up and look for other ways to create tension between the brothers. While that kind of drama makes for the show’s best scenes, this cycle of dysfunction and deception has to end once and for all.

In the 1B storyline (can’t really call it a B storyline), Dean chose not to go with Sam and see a French movie about a mime who’s secretly a cockroach (“But Dean, the New York Times…”) and instead ending up hustling a few college idiots at pool. Everything was fun and games until Rowena showed up and tried going nuclear on Dean, only to discover that the Mark of Cain keeps Dean from being killed that easily. Now that Crowley has finally kicked his mother out of Hell, we can see her being positioned as this season’s Big Bad. She wants the Winchesters dead and Crowley enjoys having them alive (for reasons that remain unclear). Dean’s Dr. Phil moment at the bar with his demon BFF put some spring back in Crowley’s step and I think this rejuvenation will be important when the King of Hell has to decide between killing his mother or killing Sam and Dean.

Speaking of Dean, the flash of black eyes he saw in the mirror has me excited. Demon Dean was the best thing Supernatural has done in quite some time and I was devastated when it abruptly ended after only three episodes. (Be honest – was the show better off ditching this new wrinkle in order to return to its status quo? The obvious answer is “uh, no.”) It would be perfect for the writers to circle back to the Deanmon for our season finale and have two symmetrical bookends for Season 10. Then again, it’s entirely possible that Rowena finds a way to remove the Mark and the Winchesters simply have to decide if they can trust her. Given who her son is, we all know the answer there.

One final side note: If you own a Microsoft Surface – congratulations! You own the official tablet of Hell. Not sure why Microsoft chose to promote its product in a place of eternal pain and suffering, but that’s why I don’t get paid to make million dollar sponsorship deals. I can only hope the show finds a creative way to spend its piles of Microsoft money because that product placement was painful to watch.

Lines of the week

“It’s about a mime that’s secretly a cockroach.” – Sam
“I don’t get it.” – Dean

“I’m an angel.” – Castiel
“No, you can’t be.” – Oliver
“Why not?” – Castiel
“Because I’m an atheist.” – Oliver
“Not anymore.” – Sam

“The Bobbies are surly.” – angel on headset

Next week on Supernatural

Sam and Dean in a Cabin in the Woods knockoff? Sign me up!

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