I admit it; I’m behind on my reviews.  The truth is, Episodes two through four were hard to watch.  I said that Sam was going to have to pay some penance for his role in the end of last season, but that doesn’t mean that watching the boys go through the angst was easy for me. 

But now we’re through it, and I’m ready to commentate.  And here is my review on 5.02, the beginning of the story arc. 

The episode starts at the hospital, where we find Bobby despondent and Sam fretful.  Dean shows up with an impressive set of X-rays that show Castiel’s handiwork on the boys’ ribs.  Castiel calls to locate them – his own carvings hide them from him as well.  He’s more than a little angry that he had to kill his fellow angels and that he’s had to go rogue.  And since he’s rogue, he can’t fix Bobby’s injuries, which makes me a little angry too.  To fix everything, Castiel wants Dean’s amulet so that he can find God.

Turns out that Dean’s amulet – the one Sam gave him in the flashback scenes from A Very Supernatural Christmas, and was probably lying around in one of Bobby’s junk drawers  – will glow brightly in the presence of God.  (Kind of like divine TomTom, except without the bitchy voice that gripes at you when you make a wrong turn.)

Scene break! And for the first time since season three, we see Rufus.  I thought he was coming back last season.  But then again, I thought Ellen was coming back last season too.  Rufus is caught in the middle of a war zone with a civilian, so he calls Bobby for help. Which?  Considering that Bobby told him in a one-way conversation last season that he didn’t like him shows that there were no hard feelings.  The connection is bad, but the boys manage to make out the fact that Rufus is in River Pass Colorado and head that way. 

Things in River Pass look grim.  The bridge is out and the boys have to hoof it into town on foot.  Once there, they find overturned cars (one on a baby carriage.  Do we really need that to let us know how bad things are?) and a suspiciously cherry, Cardinal red mustang fastback, but no people.  At least not until Ellen (At last!) gets the drop on the boys with a gun and holy water (and on a side note, Jensen’s expression when getting hit with water is priceless).  Once she’s sure that the boys are not demon possessed, she takes them to a church basement where a small pocket of survivors is hole up.
 
There she dresses them down for not calling her and letting her know that they were okay.  And this?  This is why I love the writers of this show.  They actually acknowledged that the boys hadn’t called Ellen, and gave a great nod to the mama bear relationship that she’d developed with them back in Season 2.  It was just a small moment, but it could have been cut.  The fact that they didn’t drop the plot thread is fantastic with a side of awesomesauce.

Ellen lets them know that the whole town is possessed, and that somewhere out there, Jo and Rufus have vanished.  We get Jo too!  It’s old home week here at Supernatural.  Or at least a reunion of extras who did not die.  If they survive this episode, I would like to have them back some time in the future.

Sam wants to pick up some supplies and get the refugees out of town.  But since Dean still dosen’t trust Sam, he wants to go alone.  Sam overrides him, and the two of them head out to look for Jo, Rufus and salt.  Sam immediately gets jumped by demons while procuring salt, and quickly dispatches them with the demon killin’ knife what kills demons. 

Except that there is no fancy light show that indicates that the two black-eyed dudes were demonically possessed.  Which strikes me as a pretty big clue that something is not right.  Even when Bobby stabbed himself with the knife, there was a light show.  So there is apparently wackiness afoot.

And also? Sam kind of wants to suck the blood off the knife.  So maybe he didn’t complete divine detox as completely as we thought he did.  Dean shows up to find Sam standing in huge puddles of blood and looking kind of strung out, and immediately jumps to lantern-jawed, tight-lipped conclusions. 

In the basement of the church, Dean and Ellen put the refugees through firearms 101 (Point Mr.

Boom Stick away from you before you pull the trigger), and Sam broods.  Dean asks what’s up, and Sam mopes about wishing that he had his powers back. Before Dean can smack Sam verbally, Ellen announces that she’s going to look for Jo.  Once again, Dean wants to leave Sam behind.  Once again, Sam overrides Dean.

Outside, Sam asks Ellen why she and Jo are hunting together when Ellen never approved of Jo’s hunting.  Ellen says that Jo isn’t cut out for hunting, so she’s there to protect her . . . and I just realized that Elle and Jo are one big metaphor for the current Sam and Dean storyline.  (I see what you did there, Kripke!)

Ellen and Sam find a place where they think the demons might be holed up (except that demons don’t get cold, so why do they have a fire.  Clue number 2.  But they’re ambushed by black eyed Rufus and black eyed Jo – who growls at Ellen that she wants her mom back.  Clue number 3.

Ellen gets away, but Sam doesn’t.  Sam wakes up to find himself in the middle of an exorcism.  Demonic looking Rufus and Jo are attempting to exorcize him.  If you haven’t guessed by now, they think that he is the demon.  Jo seems to be on the verge of figuring things out, but Rufus is too busy beating the crap out of Sam to think things through.  When the two hunters aren’t looking, Sam notices one of the refugees from the church hiding around a doorway.  He twists a ring, and then we see from Rufus and Jo’s perspective that Sam looks like he has black eyes. 

Ellen makes it back to the church, and Dean is about to run off in hot pursuit of Sam when he stops himself.  He asks Ellen about the signs that drew Rufus to town, and narrows it down –through a prophecy in Revelation – to War being in town.  That cherry ‘Stang?  War rides a red horse.  But War seems a little bit too suburban to roll like that, even if Dean would.   Dean deduces that War is messing with their heads and turning them on one another. 

Back at Rufus and Jo’s hideout, War makes an appearance for his monologue of doom while Sam, still tied to a chair, has to listen.  Then he works his mojo and bloodies his own forehead before screaming.  Jo and Rufus come running to find him on the floor, pointing at Sam and saying that he did it (while tied up and held prisoner in a devil’s trap, no less.
 
Back at the basement, War shows up and sets the others against Dean and Ellen.  The two make a run for it, and the refugees prepare to give chase.  Over in their hiding spot, Rufus prepares mines to go off if anyone tries to break into their hideout.  Jo points out that her mom is one of the possessed that might try to break in.  Rufus tries to be reassuring, but Jo calls BS on him.  (And let me say that I’ve missed Alona Tal’s Jo.  Here she’s showing just the right amount of scared little girl though that mask of being brave because she chose to be doing this.  I don’t care what some people say, I want to see Jo again.)

Dean and Ellen fight their way into Jo and Rufus’s hideout.  They make the hunters realize what’s going on just in time to free Sam, and just before the refugees make an all out assault on the hideout. (And there is a nice moment where Jo and Dean see each other for the first time in years since Dean promised to call and didn’t.  Jo is nicely flippant, while Dean pulls an uncomfortable face.) In the firefight, a priest is wounded, and while Ellen is trying to give assistance, she is nearly stabbed by another refugee. 

Dean and Sam corner War by his red ‘Stang, and cut off his ring.  Instantly, his hold over the town breaks, and everyone realizes that they’re trying to kill people who aren’t demons.

Afterward, Sam confesses to Dean that he doesn’t trust himself, and thinks he should give up hunting.  Dean shocks Sam by agreeing.  And I kind of feel like Sam looks at that statement.  But Dean is good at the self-denial thing, and anyway, if Sam isn’t hunting, then Dean doesn’t have to worry about him.  Dean offers to let Sam take the Impala, but Sam declines, and hitchhikes out of the episode.

And that’s the start of one of the most difficult story arcs that I’ve ever watched on this show.  I’ll try to have my review of 5.03 up in a day or two.