First it was Bobby in the last episode, and now Charlie in “Book of the Damned” – Supernatural is getting the band back together! This show, like most, functions at a much higher level when its best characters intersect in the same storyline.

Sam and Dean have seen both Castiel and Charlie this season but rarely have they interacted with other series stalwarts at the same time. Getting Crowley and Castiel together for the showdown with Cain was a real treat. Here we have Metatron sprung from Heaven’s jail and teamed up with Castiel on a quest to retrieve his grace. Sam and Dean come to Charlie’s aid once she tells them she found the Book of the Dead, and by the episode’s end, we have the entire group gathered – for the first time in show history – in the bunker for pizza and beer. It was a heartwarming moment after Sam and Dean’s surrogate family had been slowly stripped away.

At first glance, it would be easy to declare "Book of the Damned" a massive tease. Images from Evil Dead immediately sprang to mind when I saw the page with flesh pages and blood ink. Before we saw that Sam salvaged the Book and burned a fake, I realized this episode was more about dealing with temptation and showing how the Winchesters have grown. Well, Dean, at least. Back in Season 2, we saw Dean make a deal with a crossroads demon to save Sam without thinking twice. Here, he has the same opportunity to fix his current situation by pushing the repercussions of that decision down the road. The Mark of Cain can be removed with dark magic from the Book, we’re told, but Dean wisely chooses to find another way. He’ll get that beach vacation one day, he says to Sam. Just not with dark magic from the Book. This decision shows tremendous growth for Dean, who is typically so impulsive, gung ho, or just plain shortsighted that he makes rash decisions.

Sam, on the other hand, is typically the more levelheaded of the two. The Sam we know would never condone the use of magic from the Book of the Dead, even if it meant saving his brother. But Sam’s conversation with Charlie illuminated his current mindset in a very poignant way. The callbacks we got to the pilot episode were unexpected and much appreciated. We saw how Sam’s attitude toward “the life” has evolved since he viewed hunting with Dean as “one more job.” That job eventually became a life that Sam very much enjoys now, because he can do it with Dean. While his desire to save Dean can be seen as selfish, it’s also a very understandable choice.

But I continue to be disappointed in the level of secrecy between the Winchesters as they deal with these seemingly unsolvable problems. In the same episode were Dean opened up to Sam about his encounter with Rowena, and Sam opened up to Charlie, I thought the brothers might finally be realizing the value in being honest with those around them. Sam and Dean are batting a thousand when they’re on the same page and united against a common enemy. When there are lies and distrust and discord, evil finds itself in a much better position to succeed. That’s why I see this newfound partnership between Rowena and Sam going horribly wrong. Did Sam learn nothing from working with Ruby during Season 4? For crying out loud – Dean told Sam just this episode that Rowena tried to kill him! Handing her a book of unspeakably dark magic is dumb even by dumb TV standards.

Also moronic was Castiel’s decision-making in the library. He deserved to be force-choked by Metatron’s spell after removing the handcuffs from the enemy who tricked him into ejecting the angels from Heaven! Then to stand on the other side of the bookshelf while Metatron finger-painted with his leg blood was beyond idiotic. Granted, Metatron was playing serious head games with Castiel, asking him about his identity and his mission, but Castiel has to be smarter than to allow an angel like Metatron (even the human version) to be given any wiggle room.

Speaking of human, it was hilarious watching Castiel deal with an earlier version of himself for the first half of the hour. As Metatron swooned over pancakes, Alanis Morrisette songs, and digestion, I was fondly reminded of how wide-eyed and enthusiastic Castiel was years ago about being human. This new version of the character has some soul-searching to do after Metatron’s tough questions and reacquiring his grace.

Charlie wasn’t given much to do this hour after she met up with Sam and Dean, which is fine. I’m hoping she’ll be around these last few episodes and we’ll see her role expand as Sam’s duplicity/ is brought to light and Dean inevitably shuts his brother out for a couple of episodes. Dean has a real soft spot for Charlie, and it’s always extra adorable when the two of them get to work together.

Lines of the week

“Can’t we be besties?” – Metatron

“Did we just become best friends?” – Charlie

Next week on Supernatural

Benny is back?!

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