Sam and Dean are back and facing a new kind of torture: boredom. Unlike the Devil or the demons, or anyone else who the boys have come up against so far, the US government seems to have found the perfect way to break the mighty Winchesters. Locked in isolation for months, they turn up dead, much to the confusion of their captors. They don't stay dead long.
Meanwhile, Mary and Cas try to deal with the absence of the boys and try to find them. With absolutely no leads, they don't get very far. Cas sinks into depression while Mary turns back to hunting. That is, until they get a call from Sam and Dean who have escaped and are now trying to outrun a team of highly trained soldiers through the woods of Colorado. In order to locate them, Cas calls on the British men of letters, who have been trying to make inroads with the American hunters, with no success.
In the Colorado woods, the soldiers gain on Sam and Dean. The boys take down an outlier and take his weapons. They use to radio to contact the agent in charge of the manhunt and issue a challenge. They take cover in a nearby cabin in the woods, where they set up traps for the remaining pursuers. It all works perfectly according to plan, and they manage to take out all of their pursuers without actually killing anyone.
Soon the Winchesters and Cas are all reunited when Mary and Cas arrive with the getaway car. But they don't get far before the car sputters and dies. The group gets out of the car and Billie the reaper shows up. Finally, Dean explains how they got away. He broke under the pressure of isolation, but rather than talk to the investigators, he called on Billie, who talked to Sam. They decided to strike a deal. Billie would kill them both and bring them back one last time, so they could escape. And in return, at the stroke of midnight, a Winchester had to die. Permanently. When Mary hears this, she immediately offers herself up so that the boys can live. They protest, but before anyone can do anything about it, Cas kills Billie. He tells the Winchesters that the world needs them and he can't bear to watch any of them die. He tells that the deal they made was stupid and he broke it, and now he'll pay the consequences for it.
This was a heart-wrenching episode. It wasn't at all what I expected. There was a ton of characterization going on. It was really interesting to get a chance to see Sam and Dean as the people around them might see them, without knowing how they do all the things that they do. It was a little bit frightening to see them go up against actual people instead of monsters. There was never a doubt in my mind that Sam and Dean would win and get away. There was no way that the soldiers could overcome them, but it was scary to see how easily they did it, without even seriously injuring anyone. The men of letters are also getting more and more sinister, as well. I can'twait to see where that storyline is headed. What did you guys think?