January 25, 2018
“What the cuss?!? A vampire??”
Oshkosh, Nebraska. A car pulls in to Mann-burned out Y-’s Truck Stop Cafe to fill up. The driver’s credit card is declined at the pump, so the young woman goes inside to pay. The room stills and all eyes turn to her when she walks in. The energy is not friendly. The cashier is downright slimy. After gassing up and declining a gaunt Manson looking dude’s offer to wash her windows, the woman drives away.
Some distance down the road she pulls over with a flat tire. I would drive on the rims before I stopped on a dark murder road. I HAVE driven on the rims rather than stopping on a dark murder road. She tries to flag down a passing semi, but the truck roars past.
She crouches down to inspect the tire and discovers a large three-pointed spike is embedded in the rubber. And that’s when she’s attacked from behind by the leather-masked man who put it there.
Never stop on the murder road.
6:00 AM. Sam is laying in bed, wide awake. 8:22 AM. Sam, still in bed. He seems stuck in his own head. Dean knocks on the door. He’s making pancakes. Sam doesn’t respond. 10:00 AM. Sam is finally roused out of bed by the insistent buzzing of his phone.
Dean is just finishing tidying the kitchen when Sam walks in. He remarks on the time and says he saved Sam a short stack. Bless his heart. I love domestic Dean.
Sam puts his call on speaker. Donna is on the line. She’s sitting alone in her truck on the side of the murder road. All the sunshine is drained out of her voice. She’s scared and fighting back tears. Her niece Wendy has gone missing and Donna knows it’s not their normal thing, but … Dean immediately tells her to text the address. They’re on the way.
Donna is waiting for the boys at the impound yard. Her mind is a million miles away, but her face brightens when she sees them. There is hugging. Yay! Hugging! She admits that she’s not doing well. She seems wracked with guilt for inspiring Wendy’s road trip with stories of her own gap year adventures.
She says she’s sorry for calling them, but Jody has her hands full with the girls … Dean tells her never to apologize for sending up a flare. The boys try to keep her focused and positive. Just work the case.
New Doug is inside talking to local law. Dean gives Wendy’s car a quick look and is aggressively challenged by another suit. New Doug rushes over to diffuse the confrontation, introducing Agent Clegg to Agent Savage. Clegg asks which field office he should call about Dean walking through his crime scene.
Dean quickly downshifts and says he’s not there on official business. The victim is family – his cousin, which just seems like an unnecessary detail, especially when a confused New Doug starts asking questions about the family reunion a few weeks ago in Sioux Falls. SIMMER DOWN NEW DOUG.
The story is enough to satisfy Clegg, who offers to fill Dean in on what they know. That seems … unusual. I can’t decide at this point if Clegg is legit or if he’s working for the monster.
Sam, Donna, and New Doug join them in a makeshift office. Clegg says Wendy’s disappearance matches the pattern of a serial abductor he calls the Butterfly. Victims are never seen again. “We’ve never even found a body.” Donna is stone-faced. Clegg tells them he’s been chasing the Butterfly for 12 years, and if they want to help, he can use all the help he can get.
Dean looks at Sam who shakes him off with a worried expression. Dean says they’re in. Sam’s bitch-face is like, WE LIVE TO SERVE.
That night, Dean pulls out the CB radio and is poo-poo’d by Sam, who says no one uses them anymore. “No one except truckers.” Dean says it will work. John used it all the time. Dean’s handle, naturally, is 67 Midnight Rider. He gets a lot of chatter but no leads on his “Alice in Wonderland”.
Sam says the whole thing is stupid. The case isn’t even their kind of thing! Not to mention the risk of exposure with the real Feds there. He reminds Dean that they’re still fugitives. Does he really want to get on the FBI’s radar again?
Dean says the Feds think they’re dead. And what exactly does Sam want to do? Peace out on Donna so they can go back to the Bunker and Sam can mope some more?
After complaining that Sam turned down pancake – PANCAKES! – Dean changes tack. He acknowledges that Sam is in a dark place after losing Jack and Mary, but says that he can’t let it eat him up. The only way out is through. And right now, Donna needs their help.
A voice crackles through the CB. Felix the Cat says she might have some info to share. Dean throws a puffy vest on over his flannel and meets her for coffee the next day. Felix tells him she saw Wendy once at Manny’s and then again on the murder road. Felix was the driver who passed Wendy by and her decision not to stop seems to be eating at her.
New Doug joins Dean at Manny’s and gives him every incident report ever recorded at the truck stop. There’s nothing in the file that screams “secret hunting ground for a kidnapper.” New Doug turns the conversation to Donna. He asks Dean if she’s going to be okay. He says he’s never seen her like this and worries that it’s more than Wendy’s disappearance. He thinks she’s hiding something from him.
Oh, New Doug.
Clegg brings in a suspect. Wendy’s credit card activity also led him to Manny’s and Pastor Diamond Don Hinkey. He was in the diner the night Wendy disappeared, sitting at a booth with Felix. Clegg says he’s liked Hinkey for years but never had enough to bring him in. Until now.
Sam and Clegg take a run at Hinkey while Donna watches through the glass. Clegg shows him Wendy’s photo along with a picture of Luis Fernando, also missing. Hinkey asks for a lawyer … “Then you can ask me anything you like about your illegal and your whore.”
Donna walks into the room with a “not today, Satan” set to her jaw.
Son, you’re about to get hit by the D Train.
Donna wonders if Hinkey is sure about that lawyer. She says the Bible doesn’t have much good to say about them. She joshes that even the good book’s got lawyer jokes and quotes from memory Luke 7:30.
When Hinkey persists in his request, Donna pulls up a chair and real talks him. It’s a small town and it’s Friday night. A public defender might be assigned to him by Monday. That’s at least two long nights fending for himself in county lock up.
So he can deal with that, or he can answer a few questions and be on his way.
Clegg remarks to Sam that Donna is good. Sam grins in appreciation and agrees that she is – for anyone in the back who hasn’t already picked up from context that Donna is HBIC.
She asks Hinkey about his life on the road and his family. She wonders if his wife and two children know about the girl he flashed outside of Cheyenne. Or the teenaged boy he picked up hitchhiking. Hinkey begins to squirm but says he’s weak. He’s made of flesh. God knows he’s a sinner, and he’s working through things with his wife, so.
Donna reaches for the manilla envelope sitting on the table. She pulls out an evidence bag containing a bloody t-shirt. Does Mrs. Hinkey know about that? Donna says the shirt is Wendy’s and they found it in Hinkey’s van. She increases the pressure on Hinkey as his composure crumbles and he begins to panic. She hisses at him not to lie to her before abruptly standing and leaning over the table shouting, “DON’T LIE TO GOD!”
Donna leaves Hinkey sobbing in the interview room. She says she believes him – he didn’t do it. Sam agrees. He says the t-shirt doesn’t make any sense. It’s too easy. Donna suggests someone could have planted it, but who?
Windshield Jesus approaches Dean and New Doug as they get out of the car. Dean offers him a little folding money to jog his memory about Wendy. Windshield Jesus says he saw her and that Marlon the cashier saw her, too. He closed up after she left and drove off after her. He didn’t come back until dawn.
Marlon plays dumb about Wendy and immediately finds his face smashed into the counter. Dean tells New Doug that’s how they do things in the FBI. Marlon quickly relents. He pulls out his laptop and pulls up an auction site on the deep web. Luis Fernando is shown on a webcam bound and gagged. The current bid on his left arm is $230 and rising.
The auction ends and Luis struggles against his restraints as a gloved hand and whirring saw come into view of the camera. Dean says they’re selling the man off, piece by piece.
Sam and Donna join them at the truck stop a short time later. Sam recoils at the video and hits pause. Marlon wonders if Sam is vegan and gets a smack in the back of the head from New Doug. He shrugs with his voice. “That’s how they do it in the FBI.” Donna gives Dean a look – stop corrupting her boyfriend.
She wonders if the point of the sale is for trophies, but Sam points out the auction comments. He says it’s for food. Dean calls it take out. It’s the ‘oh shit’ look on Dean’s face when Donna fills in the blank and says, “ … for monsters”, that makes it poetry. New Doug is like, what in the who now?
Donna tells him they’ll talk about it later. Dean makes a mental note to be someplace else when that happens.
Marlon blithely says he doesn’t know anything about the site or who runs it. When he sees someone he thinks nobody is going to miss he sends a message and gets paid. As they’re talking the site refreshes and Wendy appears on the screen as the next item up for bid.
Sam says it would take him days to hack the site. He can’t do it – but the FBI can. They have 58 minutes to find Wendy. Clegg gets them the location of the video feed in less than 15.
Sam goes around back while Dean and Donna go in the front. New Doug follows with Marlon, which seemed weird to me, but given that the boys are shit at securing prisoners, it’s as good a call as any. He hangs back with Marlon while Dean and Donna press deeper into the building.
Clegg arrives on scene to Sam’s surprise and consternation. He says he’s been hunting the Butterfly a long time and he needs to see it through. He arrives alone with no additional backup, which doesn’t seem strange at all …
20 minutes until bidding closes. The leather-masked man who abducted Wendy sharpens his blade while she watches. The camera captures her terrified screams for its slavering viewers.
Y’all, this episode has moments in it that are straight up Criminal Minds. It’s the creepiest that Show has been in a long time.
Dean and Donna stalk through the darkened halls following the sound of music. They find an empty room and a transistor radio. When they get back to New Doug he’s on the floor. His chin is covered in blood. Marlon is gone. New Doug says he’s not hurt, but he doesn’t think he’s okay, as his new baby vampire fangs descend.
Dean calmly drops his bag and pulls out a syringe of dead man’s blood. He injects New Doug before he can feed on Donna. Dean talks her off the ledge of panic, reassuring her that there is a cure and New Doug will be fine. They just need a little sage, a little garlic … and the blood of the vampire who turned him. Marlon ambles back into the room.
He taunts that Dean never even saw it coming. Clegg played them. And he’s got Sam. Dean goes to his dead-eyed special place. If only Dean hadn’t been so rough with Marlon, he might be willing to spill where Sam is. But the vampire holds a grudge, so. Dean unsheathes the machete. “Bring it Twilight.”
Donna is like, TICK TOCK, and shoots Marlon in the knee. While the vampire writhes in pain on the floor, Donna tersely tells Dean to get the blood and mix the cure. She puts the muzzle of her shotgun in Marlon’s face. The vampire gasps that if he tells her where Clegg is, she’ll kill him.
Donna stares him down. Oh, she’s killing him either way. “You just gotta decide if you want it fast or slow.”
Sam comes to in the bloody abattoir strapped down to a metal table. Clegg is next to him stage directing his faceless minion. I’m going to call him Larry. Clegg tells Larry to set the camera further back. Sam is a big boy. They need him on a wide lens.
Also, he’s Sam Winchester. He and Dean are famous.
Clegg rolls up his sleeves and says he knew who they were as soon as he saw the car and oh my god THANK YOU writer Davy Perez. I was sure in “The Scorpion and the Frog” that Shrike was going to recognize Baby – and try to add her to his collection.
Clegg admits that he set up the preacher, but since Donna and Sam saw right through that, it’s on to Plan B. He tells Sam there are tens of thousands of monsters out there. That the freaks that he and Dean chase are just the ones who are too mean or too stupid to pass. He says most monsters have assimilated – but they still need to eat.
The way that Clegg sees it, by providing this service, he’s saving lives. Sam and Dean wouldn’t be able to stop the carnage if Clegg’s customers were left to their own devices. No one could. “You should be thanking me.”
To quote “The Benders” from Season 1: “Demons I get. People are crazy.”
Donna administers the cure to New Doug as Dean races to Sam. She asks again some more if it’s going to work. Dean says it worked on him.
And let’s just push pause to remember one of Show’s greatest moments.
The auction is going hot and heavy on Sam. His liver sells for $5,000 before Clegg opens the bidding on his heart.
Dean and Donna arrive at another abandoned building and split up. Donna finds Wendy but is soon set upon by Larry. She brains him with a crowbar and puts his own knife through his heart.
Sam’s heart meanwhile tops out at $500,000. It’s his expression when Clegg announces the winning bid that makes the moment sing. Like, he’s about to die but yet also quietly pleased at his market value. Also, the comments that accompany the auction – people complaining about other bidders driving up the price at the last minute – is like every Creation Entertainment Meet & Greet auction ever.
Clegg tells Sam that he usually does the next part slow – so the victim can feel it and the online audience can enjoy it – but with Dean still in play, he’s opting for quick and dirty instead. Not quick enough. Dean shoots him first. “Show’s over.”
Donna sits at the motel keeping watch over New Doug. He swims back to consciousness with a loud gasp. Donna calls him Dougie-bear. Dean confirms that New Doug doesn’t want to bite any of them and Donna unlocks the handcuffs. He immediately asks about Wendy and Donna tells him she’s safe and in the hospital. She’s going to be fine, just like Doug.
“Fine? I was a vampire.”
Donna tries to force a bright smile. Just for a couple of hours …
New Doug is not comforted.
Dean welcomes him to the family. He says he knows New Doug has had a lot of day. But now he knows what’s out there, it would be nice to have another good guy on their side.
New Doug is like,
The smile slides off Donna’s face. She takes his hand. New Doug pulls away. He says that maybe they can live this life, but he can’t. Donna apologizes for lying to him but says she can’t give up hunting. New Doug says he knows. He is full of nothing but pride and admiration for her. But it’s not enough.
“Donna, you kill monsters. You’re a damn hero. But that’s not me.”
He says he’s sorry. He says he loves her. He walks away.
Sam tells her to let him go. It’s for the best. “When you choose this life, anyone who gets too close, eventually they get hurt. Or worse. So let him go. He’ll be safer that way.”
Dean puts a comforting hand on Donna’s shoulder as the tears start to fall. I’d also like to think he offered her the comfort of his pantaloons in the back seat of the car. But that’s just me writing fanfic in my head again.
As the boys drive through the night, Dean observes that Sam was not at his caring and sharing best with Donna. Sam is like, was I wrong? He asks when knowing them has ever worked out – for anyone? He acknowledges that they save people, but they also get them killed. He brings up Kaia. He says she helped them and she died for it. He does not mention that they only needed her help because Dean THREATENED TO SHOOT HER IN THE FACE AND KIDNAPPED HER. That really needs to be addressed at some point.
I also think it’s interesting to contrast this conversation to a similar one the boys had in “Baby”. When Sam asked Dean if he didn’t ever want something more with someone who understood the life. Sam still had a spark of hope then. Dammit, Bob Seger, he wanted tomorrow, not just tonight! But after losing Eileen last season (which is still some bullshit, never forget) and Mary and Jack now, that spark seems to have been crushed.
He angrily pushes back when Dean says he’s just in a dark place. To Sam that suggests a temporary state, but he says the dark place IS their lives. The dark place is why they can’t have nice things. “This ends one way for us, Dean. It ends bloody. It ends bad.”
Dean can’t exactly argue when he’s been saying the same thing FOR TEN YEARS.
So he says nothing and keeps his eyes on the road.