‘Supernatural’: The magic’s in the craftsmanship

Supernatural
“Stuck in the Middle (With You)”
February 16, 2017

“So … tell me a story.”

5:20 PM

(The instrumental music plays)

Diner. The camera spins around the table as waitress Mandy shoots Dean down, Sam asks for the wifi password, and hunter Wally orders a burger with extra cheese. He says he wants to carbo load. In unison, Mandy and Castiel tell him cheese isn’t a carb. Mandy looks up from her pad and smiles at Cas. He notices her noticing him and buzzuhs.

Dean and Wally agree – Mandy likes her some Cas. Dean says it’s just the teachable moment they’ve been looking for. Mary’s phone buzzes but she brushes it off when Sam asks about the call. Just another hunter looking for help. She says you can’t have too many friends in their line of work.

Mary is ready to talk business but Sam interrupts to complain about the restaurant’s wifi. Dean briefly dozes off from boredom and then gets back to tutoring Cas. He says the thing to know about waitresses is that they get hit on all day long. So he needs to bring his ‘A’ game. Bless his heart, Cas probably needs to work on just having a game.

Dean says the upside to waitresses is that they always smell like food. Wally concurs. They always smell like food. Sam is like, what in the who now?  And speaking as a former waitress, I was just as likely to come home smelling like the grease traps that were overdue for a cleaning. Not sexy. Mary is forced to use her mom-voice to get their attention.

“Hey! Screens down. Eyes up. Shut up.”

She gives them the bullet on their target. She says he keeps a tight schedule. Leaves home every day at 8:00 p.m., returns at exactly 8:45. Wally says the target spends his time night fishing.

Wally asked them to help hunt a demon who fishes?

Yes. Yes he did.

Wally says demons are new for him. He was just passing through and heard about some cattle mutilations. Did a little digging and discovered a bunch of missing virgins too. Dean calls that a classic horny demon sign. Or, you know, dragons.

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Mandy comes back to flirt with Cas and refill coffees. Wally says he’s so nervous, he’s not sure he can eat. Mary reassures him that everything is going to be fine …

Mary half drags Cas into the dark room and drops him on an old sofa. The front of his shirt is covered in blood. It seeps through his fingers as he applies pressure to the wound. He pants through the pain. “Where are Sam and Dean?”

Getting their asses handed to them by a couple of demons. Fight fight struggle fight. Sam kills one with Ruby’s Knife. He looks up in time to see the other one gut Wally with his own knife. Aww. Poor Wally!

The demon’s eyes flips black as she walks slowly down the stairs towards Sam. She says she’s going to be famous. The demon that killed Sam Winchester. “They’re going to tell stories about me.” Dean runs up on her and puts a gladius in her back. No. They won’t.

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Cas is sitting in the pickup truck he stole at the beginning of the season. He’s listening to a religious radio station. Rev. K. Billy is preaching on God’s judgement and paying the consequence for your actions. The Impala pulls into the parking lot.

EARLIER

Introductions all around.  Mary thanks Cas for coming. She knows he’s busy. He sheepishly admits he’s not, really. It’s like Kelly has just disappeared. Wally is like, can we rewind to the part where Lucifer has a kid? That’s a joke, right? The stoney looks he gets in response tell him no. It’s not.

“All right ramblers, let’s get rambling.”

So obviously Castiel is Mr. Orange and Mary is Mr. White. Wally is Mr. Blue. And Sam and Dean are Misters Pink and Brown. Doesn’t matter which one is which. They would probably both complain either way.

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And kudos and fruit baskets all around to writer Davy Perez, director Richard Speight, Jr. and editors John Fitzpatrick and Marty Skibosh, for a tightly paced and tension filled episode and for the spot on Tarantino homage. Well played.

But if I’m honest y’all, Davy’s basket is mostly cantaloupe and grapes because this episode left me with so many questions. Many of which he addressed in this interview, but still. SO MANY.

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Diner. Going over the plan. Sam and Dean will be waiting for the demon when he gets home at 10:45. Wait, what?  You boys might want to check your watch there.  Dean will pop him with a devil’s trap bullet and Sam will finish him off with Ruby’s knife. Cas and Mary will cover the back. And Wally?

“Keep a look out. Don’t die.”

Mary tells him everything is going to be fine.

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Sam marks out a devil’s trap just inside the front door and covers it with a rug. Dean loads a clip with devil’s trap bullets. When he’s done he slaps the clip in his palm before loading it into his gun. I mention it because tapping the clip is something Dean does fairly consistently. It’s one of those little character grace notes that I just love. And let’s be honest – who doesn’t love a scene that lovingly lingers on Dean’s hands?

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Cas comes into the house from the back. He catches Mary as she comes up from the basement. She seems medium squirrelly, but Cas accepts it when she says she was in the bathroom.

“Urination. I understand.”

Her phone buzzes with a warning from Wally. The demon whistles as he walks through the damp grass towards the house.

He’s early.

Inside the house, Team Free Will take up their positions. The door opens and Dean fires. The demon is merely taken aback to find people in his house.  Dean shoots him again to no effect. The demon kicks the carpet back to reveal the devil’s trap. “Hunters.” He spits out the word with disdain but looks at Dean with a wolfish grin.

Dean fires at will as Sam pops out from behind the open front door. He jams Ruby’s knife into the demon’s ribs. The demon elbows Sam in the face. He flies back into the wall and bounces hard onto the floor. The demon pulls the Knife free. A few sad little embers burn out in the air. Dean watches with the same expression of shock and fear he had when Cas did the same thing in “Lazarus Rising”.

Mary and Cas step into view. The demon barrels through the devil’s trap and charges straight for Cas. He elbows Dean in the face as he passes. He gets up under Cas and forces him back, tossing him against the kitchen counter. The demon mojos the doors closed and now it’s just him and Mary. His eyes flip yellow.

HIS EYES.

FLIP.

YELLOW.

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“Hiya, sweetheart.”

WHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?????!??!?!

Terror washes over Mary. She freezes in places. The demon – AZAZEL? IS THIS AZAZEL??!? – easily knocks the gun from her hands. He savors the moment long enough for Castiel to launch himself at the demon. Didn’t he just have a gladius in his hand? I swear, these boys. BUNGIE!! Cas yells at her to run. Mary is like, don’t have to tell me twice! She scurries out the back door just as Cas comes sailing through the kitchen window.

Sam and Dean rush through the front door where they’re met by Wally. Behind him, two demons walk through the gate. Sam tells Dean to get Mary and Cas. He says he and Wally have got this. Wally takes a deep breath and says there’s a first time for everything.

The demon laughs. A bloodied Castiel crawls across the grass and GUH! Can TPTB PLEASE come to some consensus about Castiel’s level of power? A couple of episodes ago he was able to withstand a beat down from Lucifer. But now he gets tossed around a kitchen and he’s done? MAKE UP YOUR MIND, SHOW.

Anyhoo, crawling across the grass. Crawling across the grass. Crawling across the grass. The demon reaches behind him and manifests a spear. Wait, when did this go from a Tarantino homage to Highlander? Because those dudes were forever just pulling swords and whatnot out of their aspirations.

The demon jabs the spear into Castiel’s side. The angels howls and writhes on the ground in pain. He tries again to crawl away. The demon lets him, prolonging the sweet moment of the killing blow. Prolonging just long enough for Mary to Hurley his ass with Wally’s SUV.

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She bundles him into the car and smash cut to them crashing through the door and Mary dragging him into the dark room. She asks if he can heal himself but he says he tried. Something is wrong.

Sam calls. He looks thoroughly wigged. Mary tells him they’re at a farm down the road. Cas pulls up his shirt. The wound is deep and bleeding freely. Mary’s hands are covered with his blood. Sam asks if they’re okay.

“No.”

9:05 PM

Sam and Dean come through the barn door. Sam tells Mary that Wally didn’t make it. Castiel grunts in pain. Dean goes immediately to his side. Sam asks Mary where the other demons came from. He either says, “Mom, uh” or “Momma”.  It’s just weirdly disconcerting if it’s the latter. I get that it’s meant to be an indicator of his mental state, but he didn’t grow up with Mary. He wouldn’t revert back to a scared, childlike state with her.

Mary asks Sam if he saw the demon’s eyes. She tells him they were yellow.

“Mom … what the hell did you get us into??”

SPN_2 Mother Mary.gif

11 HOURS AGO – 10:07 AM

Ballads are being sung / But not for me. The demon walks out of his house. Church bells are being rung / But not for me. He smiles at the gray misty day and putters around his front yard. There’s a glass of iced tea by his rocking chair on the porch. Wally is nonplussed. “That’s the big bad demon you need help with?” Wally says he’s just some old guy. Mary points out that, technically, she’s in her 60’s.

Okay then. Wally says he wouldn’t know. He’s never gone after a demon before. He doesn’t even know why Mary called him. Mary says she wants Sam and Dean to think they’re helping him, not her. It will save them asking the wrong questions. It’s safer that way.

Mary sifts through a dossier on the demon. There’s a photo of Raphael’s St. Michael Vanquishing Satan in the papers. It’s the same painting of Michael that Sam commented on waaaaaaay back in Season 2’s “Houses of the Holy”. Oh, foreshadowing. Good times!

Wally asks if she got the documents from her “new Limey friends”. Oh girl, no. Mary says she did. She doesn’t answer when Wally asks if she trusts them. She simply says that, since she’s been working with the BMoL, they’ve taken out more than a dozen vamp nests, four werewolf packs, and a ghoul who was eating his way through Arlington.

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At the diner, Dean asks Mandy on Cas’s behalf when she gets off. She smiles at Cas. “Whenever I can …” Dean eyebrows at Cas knowingly. Cas frowns back with consternation. Bless his heart.

Wally asks if the boys have met “them fancy Men of Letters”. Dean is derisive. He says they’ve got gear, but they also tried to kill Sam, so. Wally manages not to look at Mary and ask her a third time if she trusts them. She leans over and reassures him that everything’s going to be fine.

8:23 PM

They arrive at the demon’s house. Cas says it doesn’t appear to be warded. They get to work. Sam gets a moment alone with Mary and worries about her being okay. He says he knows she never really wanted this. A bitter smile tugs at Mary’s lips.

“Since when is life about getting what you want?”

While Sam paints the devil’s trap Mary slips downstairs to the basement. It’s full of priceless works of art – including the Raphael. She removes the painting from the wall and cracks the safe behind it with a nifty device provided by her new fancy friends. She pulls out an old metal toolbox and opens it. Her face is lit by a soft glowing golden light.

pulp-fiction-vincent-briefcase

“We happy? Mary, we happy?”

“Yeah. We happy.”

Mary wraps Marcellus Wallace’s soul in a cloth, tucks it in her waistband, and replaces the toolbox and painting. Castiel catches her as she comes up the stairs. “Bathroom. I get nervous sometimes.”

9:03 PM

Mary binds up Castiel’s wound. The angel has passed out. She taps out a text to the BMoL. They’re saved in her contacts as “Hobbits”. Her handler is like, who is this I don’t know you PRANK CALLER PRANK CALLER!

Castiel groans back into consciousness. Sam and Dean come through the door. Cas grunts in pain and Dean goes to his side. He knows it’s bad so he quips that the angel looks like hammered crap.

Castiel pulls up his shirt to reveal jagged black marks snaking across his belly. Dean is appropriately concerned but keeps his tone light. It’s not that bad. He’s had worse! Cas growls back at him. “Oh, yeah? When?”

Umm …

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Castiel’s breathing is labored. He says something is wrong. He can’t heal himself. He thinks the demon’s spear was poisoned. He thinks he’s dying.

“You idiots! You’re all going to die.”

Mary looks at Crowley like he’s a moderately interesting bug. Crowley says it’s a pleasure to meet her. He’s heard so much. He calls her Mother Winchester. He extends his hand. Mary looks at him like a bug she’d like to squash under her heel.

“Touch me and I’ll kill you.”

awkward-unfortunate-turn

Sam realizes that the demons were Crowley’s. “Obviously.” Mary spits that they killed her friend. Crowley snaps back that Wally was stupid. I loved me some Wally, but he trusted a Winchester, so fair play. Crowley asks them if they even know what they’ve done. Does the name Ramiel mean anything? Castiel if familiar.

“Ramiel, Prince of Hell.”

Crowley says it’s catchy. It rhymes. The Princes are the oldest of the old demons. The first generation after Lilith, turned by Lucifer himself “before the oceans drank Atlantis.” Castiel says they were trained as generals to lead demonic armies in the war against Heaven. He insists that the Princes are all dead. Crowley is like, yeah … not so much.

SIX YEARS AGO

Ramiel sits by the fire polishing his pocket watch. “Who are you? And what do you want?”

“The name’s Crowley. King of the Crossroads.”

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Silence hangs between the demons. A cuckoo clock goes off in the background. Heh. Crowley says he’s been sent by Hell, bearing gifts. The first is from all demonkind. The Lance of Michael. Crowley’s henchie offers it to Ramiel. He regards it with reverence that blooms into delight. He says this beauty kills the bad ones fast and the good ones slow and painful.

There’s only one angel Michael wanted to kill, and he wanted that son of a bitch to suffer. Ramiel muses that the lance’s magic is in its rune work. He runs his finger along the shaft. The runes glow with power.

Crowley places a metal box on the coffee table. This gift is from him personally. Ramiel opens the lid. Marcellus Wallace’s soul glows up at him. The Prince is suitably impressed and a mote suspicious. Crowley simply says it’s amazing what some people just leave laying about. He tells Ramiel to consider it his coronation present.

Crowley tells him Hell needs a ruler. With Lillith and Azazel dead, and Lucifer back in his box, Ramiel is next in line. The demon shrugs off the ‘Prince of Hell’ title. He says it’s just a name. It doesn’t mean anything. Neither does the crown. He doesn’t want it.

“You take it.”

He says Crowley seems to have the right qualifications. Ambitious, conniving, and slimy enough for the job. “So take it! Go for the glory, kid.” Crowley is gobsmacked that Ramiel is turning his back on all that lovely power. And suspicious that the offer is some kind of a trap. But still …

“One dares to dream …”

He asks about the others. Ramiel isn’t the only Prince of Hell. Ramiel says Azazel was the true believing fanatic in the family. The rest of them stopped caring about Lucifer’s master plan a long time ago. “Asmodeus has his hobbies. Dagon has her toys. We’re happy where we are.”

Ramiel again says the crown is Crowley’s if he wants it. Otherwise … he looks at Crowley’s second. It takes her a beat to realize what’s happening. Crowley is just a hair faster on the uptake. He’ll take it!  Ramiel notes there is a catch. Crowley’s primary task as King will be ensuring that the Princes are left alone. If anyone or anything bothers them, it will be on Crowley’s head.

kill-bill-i-collect-your-fucking-head

So that’s where the extra demons came from. And the spear? Crowley deflates a bit. Something like regret washes over him. He quietly says it’s not a spear. It’s a lance.

pulp-fiction-lance-cereal

“Nasty bit of business. Kills everything it touches.”

“Sorry, Castiel.”

Mary goes and sits next to Cas. Dean is not hearing that noise. He says there’s a cure. There’s always a cure. Sam is right in step with his brother. He says they took down the Darkness and the Devil. They can beat a cure out of a Prince of Hell.

Crowley observes it took them years to defeat Lucifer. The power of God to stop the Darkness – although really, it was Dean asking her nicely to NOT DO THE THING that stopped Amara, so. He admits that, if they had more time, maybe they could manage Ramiel. But they don’t.

“Hey, I was growing fond of the choirboy, too.”

Dean gets up in the demon’s dance space. He tells Crowley to shut up. He struggles to keep his emotions in check. Dean tells Crowley that what they don’t have time for is him. So either help them or get out.

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Dean and Crowley have a moment, but the flame of their bromance has waned. The demon blinks out.

9:07 PM

Team Free Will prepare to face the Prince of Hell. Sam pours a circle of very rare, very precious holy oil that who knows where they source it now that Bobby is no longer cold pressing it out back of the tow yard. Mary arms herself with a gladius. Dean slips the BMoL’s spelled brass knuckles onto his hand.

Castiel continues to die slow and painful.

The sound of Ramiel’s whistling gets louder.

“What can I do to keep you out of that barn?”

Ramiel says he can smell the angel. He’s rotting. He asks if the people inside are friends. Crowley says he doesn’t have friends.

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“I make deals with those I can use. Every kingdom needs allies. Even Hell.”

Ramiel calls them three humans with one good liver between them and a busted up angel. Crowley admits Team Free Will doesn’t sound like much. “But every armageddon, every bloody ‘this is the end of all things’ … the Winchesters stopped it.”

He can’t help but look fond as he says it, but tries to cover by calling them assets they can’t afford to lose. He proposes striking a new bargain to replace the broken ‘no contact’ agreement.

The wall of the barn explodes inward as Crowley comes crashing through it. He howls as he flies through the air and hits a tractor with a THUD. It’s the fifth and his ass just went down.

9:12 PM

Dean asks Cas how bad it is. The angel pulls back his shirt collar. The black marks have spread across his chest. He says Crowley is right. They should go. He pants the words out through the pain. And then he says goodbye.

“Thank you. Thank you. Knowing you … it’s been the best part of my life. And the things we’ve shared together, they have changed me.”

“You’re my family.”

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He looks from Dean to Sam, to Dean again and then Mary. He drops his eyes.

“I love you.”

“I love all of you.”

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He begs them, please, “don’t make my last moments be spent watching you die.”

He pleads with them to run. To save themselves. He pledges to hold Ramiel off as long as he can. He can barely pull himself upright on the sofa. He says they need to keep fighting. Sam says they are.

“We’re fighting for you, Cas.”

Mary puts a comforting hand on the angel’s arm. Dean says he’s family. “And we don’t leave family behind.”

And then they kiss.

Sam calls Mary aside. She asks the boys what the play is. Dean says they hit the Prince with everything they’ve got.

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Ramiel ambles in through the gap in the wall. Sam pulls out his lighter and ignites the ring of holy oil. The Prince blandly says it’s toasty. He looks over at Cas. The black marks have spread to his face. Ramiel says there is no cure. Dean asks if the Prince has any idea who they are.

Ramiel doesn’t care. He doesn’t care who they are. Why they were trespassing. He doesn’t care about Heaven or Hell. He doesn’t even care that Lucifer has a bun in the oven. He says his sister Dagon has taken an interest, but him? Meh. All he wanted was to be left alone.

Disturbing his solitude is one thing, but stealing from him? That he cannot abide. The boys have a confused. They’re focused on Ramiel and don’t see the OH SHIT expression on Mary’s face.

The Prince pulls out his pocket watch and buffs it on his coat. He tells them to give him back what is his or he’ll take it off their lifeless bodies. He clicks the watch. They have 30 seconds.

Time ticks down. “Have it your way.”

Ramiel manifests the lance. The flames flare up as he raises it overhead. With a cry he stakes it into the ground, releasing a burst of energy that extinguishes the fire and blows the Winchesters off their feet.

Fight fight struggle fight. Dean does a pretty good job of holding his own and even getting in a few licks, but it’s Sam, with an assist from Mary, who gets the Lance away from Ramiel and kills him.

Not going to lie, I don’t love that Michael’s vessel didn’t get to use Michael’s Lance, but I guess it was done for the sake of symmetry so it’s fine, whatever. Ramiel sparks out before exploding in a big, black cloud of dust.

I like this new layer of mythology, but in creating this retcon, Hell’s hierarchy gets a little fuzzy. A Prince outranks a Knight, but a Knight can only be killed by the First Blade? And a Knight can be stopped by a devil’s trap bullet, but a Prince can’t?

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Over on the couch, Cas is like, ‘still dying in horrible agony over here’. Thick black goo begins to bubble out of his mouth. The Winchesters all crowd around him, powerless to do anything but watch. Behind them, Crowley dusts himself off and picks up the lance. He snaps it in two. Blinding blue light flares from the broken ends. When it fades, Cas has been healed.

“The magic’s in the craftsmanship.”

“You’re welcome.”

And NOW they kiss.

Mary looks almost sick with relief. She starts to say something when Cas questions the whole stealing thing, but Dean brushes it off. It doesn’t matter. They’re all alive. He still has his angel.

“Let’s go home.”

Dean picks up the lance’s broken pieces. No sense leaving a perfectly good weapon just laying around.

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“Well … that’s quite a story.”

Mr. Ketch sits across from Mary in another diner. He tells her she did well. Mary leans forward, her fury simmering just under the surface. He sent her after a damn Prince of Hell!

Ketch blandly explains they didn’t know what Ramiel was, simply that he had the item. She spits that that’s not good enough. She lost a friend. She almost lost one of her boys! Ketch is like mistakes were made. Mary snaps at him to shut up.

“Anything like that happen again – anything. And I will burn you down. All of you.”

Mr. Ketch asks if that’s a threat. Mary stares him down. “It’s a promise.” He blinks first. He apologizes and sprinkles a little sincerity on it. It’s enough to dull the edge of Mary’s anger. He asks if he can see it. He sounds like an eager boy.

Mary hesitates but then reaches into her coat. She puts the cloth wrapped bundle in front of him. Mary says her father used to tell her stories about it. He said there were only five things in all creation it can’t kill.

It’s the Colt.

Mary forking Winchester just handed over the forking Colt to the forking BMoL.

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Your sons could tell you stories about it, too. How John traded it for Dean’s life. How Dean used it to kill Azazel. How they traveled back in time and Sam met Samuel Colt himself. How Dean lost it (apparently) trying to kill Lucifer and prevent the Apocalypse.

I’m sorry Mary. It’s nothing personal, but you are dead to me now.

Has it really been since Season 5 that we last saw the Colt? How has there been no reference to it since then, especially when they were trying to find something to kill the Leviathans. And since when does it glow? I mean, I know why it glows in the context of this episode, but still. Did Samuel Colt forge it from Marcellus Wallace’s soul?

Crowley tersely instructs his minions to search Ramiel’s house again. “Find me that gun.” And hey, remember when you needed the Colt to open a damned door to Hell? Now demons just come and go all willy nilly.

Anyhoo, Crowley pours himself a drink while the current occupant of his old dog kennel sings a ballad to the Colt. Occupant chuckles and says he knows that look. Sam and Dean have got Crowley down.

He still can’t believe the once and future King of Hell is working for the “Dukes of Half Hazzard.” Does he really think they care about him? They kill his kind. It’s in their blood. Crowley must know it’s only a matter of time before they come for him …

“Shut your mouth, dog.”

“That’s not my name.”

Supernatural airs Thursday at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) on The CW.

Whitney is also watching Hawaii Five-0 and Timeless. Follow her on twitter @Watcher_Whitney.

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3 thoughts on “‘Supernatural’: The magic’s in the craftsmanship

  1. I love this recap as much as I love this episode. It’s pretty crazy that halfway through season 12 they’re still making eps that could be top 10 or 20 of the entire series. Davy Perez gets a gold star from me, with an asterisk for the whole “mama” thing.

    Like

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