Supernatural Recap: The Curious Case of Dean Winchester

A man comes home late and his wife is horrified to find he has aged to his golden years and has fallen down dead in the bathroom. After investigating the ancient corpse which is only supposed to be 25, Dean and Sam check in with Bobby, who doesn't seem to do anything but sit by the phone. The repercussions of his self-inflicted exorcism in this season’s premiere seem to really be taking their toll on Bobby. The old bear of a hunter is now struggling to adapt to his new life in a wheelchair. He tells the brothers to check out a missing persons report in the same town.

An interview with a worried wife leads Sam and Dean to a hotel room, where they find a middle-aged man with a couple of Asian prostitutes. However, Cliff Whitlow now looks half his age. He tells the brothers about an Irish gentleman named Patrick, who plays poker for years of your life. You win, you get younger. You lose, you start collecting Social Security. Cliff doesn’t know where to find Patrick, so Sam and Dean start checking out bars. When Bobby gets updated, he hops in the van to try his luck in finding Patrick as well.

Dean runs into one of the thickest bartenders on syndicated television in one bar. Dean tries to bribe him by talking about an old guy named Ben. Numbskull tells Dean he doesn’t know anyone named Ben. After Dean flashes the bill to the moron, he then catches on and points him to a game out back. But Bobby got there first and lost 25 years off his life already. What was Bobby thinking, I wonder? Did he think if he had some years restored to him, he would regain the use of his legs again? Maybe he was trying to beat Patrick by killing him with his own magic. I’m not too sure.

Dean is furious at Patrick and interrupts him trying to start a game with an old man and a young woman. Dean and Patrick start to play and Dean wins Bobby his 25 years back. But, as Sam finds back the hotel, Dean loses. Dean thinks he looks like "that old chick from Titanic", Sam thinks he looks like Emperor Palpatine, and Bobby calls him John McCain. This was a funny scene as Dean is obviously very cranky now, and his old man shell really matches his gruff emotions. He argues with Bobby, to which Sam cracks up, thinking he is watching Grumpy Old Men, tries to wolf down a cheeseburger which gives him acid reflux, and even tries to hit on a hot housekeeper, who thinks he’s cute like her grandpa.

Staking out Patrick, they see he likes to get around by stealing people’s cars – after he makes them hit him. Don’t try this at home, kids. They follow him to an apartment building and after he leaves, the three enter the building to find that the elevator is out. Bobby is left behind. Dean hardly makes it as he follows Sam to the third floor. Apparently Sam has a psychic power that can figure out where Patrick the man-witch is living. Mmm…manwich… They break into the apartment to try to steal the chips, but Patrick is there with the woman from the bar, Lia. It turns out that they are both 900 year old witches. He is a bit irritated by their attempted burglary, especially since the chips hold no power. But he does. He claps three times to give Sam a parting gift: the clap. Poor Sammy.

The next morning, Sam tries to convince Bobby and Dean to let him play against Patrick. Bobby interjects and says that he wants a rematch, and defends it by saying how expendable he is. "I ain’t a hunter no more! I’m useless!" He tells them he even wanted to kill himself but was too scared. It is terrible to see a man like Bobby have to come to grips with being paralyzed. We have all seen stories like this before on television, but Jim Beaver pulls it off very well with the amount of angst in his eyes and in his voice. After all these years, I truly think Bobby is finally starting to become a full-fledged character.

Lia is waiting in the brothers’ hotel room when they get back. She gives them a reversal spell for not only Dean, but everyone who is alive and dealing with Patrick’s magic. After Bobby asks her why they should trust her, she touches her locket and says she has her reasons. Meanwhile, Patrick is playing cards with an old man named Hesh and we see that the man-witch can be generous sometimes; he lets the old man win. Sam sits down and is dealt in.

At a graveyard, Dean’s sciatica is killing him as he digs the grave of a murderer to get his jawbone for the spell. Bobby and Dean trade insults. Dean even calls Bobby "Ironside", which, if you didn’t know, was a courtroom TV drama starring Raymond Burr. At the card table, Patrick tries his best to unnerve Sam while chewing on a toothpick. We find that Sam was there to get some DNA from Patrick and the toothpick should do the trick. When Patrick takes a break from the game after Lia arrives, Sam runs the toothpick outside to give to Dean, who is clenching his arm like he is about to have a heart attack.

The game continues while Dean and Bobby perform the spell. It doesn’t work and they rule out any flaws with the ingredients of the spell except for the toothpick. Dean goes back to Patrick’s pad to find a sample of DNA. Back at the poker game, Patrick turns on Sam, telling him that the toothpick wasn’t the one he had in his mouth. He chokes Sam like a trained Sith Lord until Lia tells Patrick the spell was her idea. Patrick puts this off by returning to the game. Sam wins back some years by a bluff. Patrick tells Sam that Dean will be dead in minutes as Dean collapses in the apartment. Sam cannot leave the game until it is over.

Sam bets everything he has and luckily wins with four 4’s. We see Bobby is getting frantic because Dean isn’t answering his walkie. But we see that younger Dean has returned as he dances a jig out of the apartment building. Lia challenges Patrick to another hand and we see that living so long has worn her down. Inside the locket, we see her daughter, an old lady who died naturally of old age. They both go all in and Lia loses, dying in front of Patrick.

As Sam races off to get a booster shot to help him with his, um, problem, Dean talks to Bobby about how they are still family, hunters or not. He chides Bobby for thinking suicide and tells him he is all that they have. He tries to lighten things up a bit by saying "Let’s go Ironside." Bobby responds with humor, but we see him let out a sigh to himself as he wheels out of the hotel room. This isn’t an easy fix, but at least Bobby isn’t going to kill himself now. But this is not over.

I thought this was a pretty good episode. I liked the guy who played Old Dean. He did a great job at capturing Jensen Ackles’s mannerisms. However, I thought that Patrick and Lia’s stories were a bit shallow. Did writers intentionally leave the door open for Patrick to come back? Why didn’t the brothers go back to finish him off, like they have done before with witches? All in all, I think this week’s best performance goes to Jim Beaver. I used to think we could do Supernatural without Bobby, but now I don’t ever want him to leave the show. He’s family.