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‘Supernatural’ Review: “Road Trip”

Supernatural Road Trip Review
The CW

Supernatural’ season 9 summons its 10th episode of the year in “Road Trip,” as Dean and Castiel reluctantly partner with Crowley for a desperate attempt to free Sam from the angel Gadreel’s control.

Last year’s ‘Supernatural’ cliffhanger, “Holy Terror,” saw the slaughters of warring angels bring Castiel back into the field, while Dean discovered the true nature of Sam’s possession by the angel Ezekiel. So what does the 10th season 9 episode bring? What strange and unexpected challenges will the Winchesters face next?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Supernatural’ season 9 episode 10, “Road Trip”!

Dean burns Kevin Tran’s body, wallowing in angry grief as Gadreel confronts a fellow angel occupying the body of a pop star, the angel who had tortured Gadreel and his friend Abner for centuries in Heaven. Gadreel kills the angel, just as Castiel returns to find Dean at the Men of Letters base, and he’s brought up to speed on everything Dean did to save his brother.

On inspiration from Castiel, Dean confronts Crowley for information on how to “hack” into an angel’s mind as had been done with Alfie, though Crowley insists he’d have to do the deed himself in exchange for a field trip, to which Dean reluctantly agrees. Elsewhere, Metatron drinks at a bar tended by Gadreel’s former vessel (Tahmoh Penikett), before Gadreel walks in and updates Metatron on his latest kills. Metatron provides him with another name, questioning Gadreel’s devotion when he laments further killing.

Crowley, Dean and Castiel visit a financial office that Crowley reveals to be a front for the NSA, an officer of which he’d had possessed for purposes of tracking information. The agent, Cecily, agrees to take Crowley into a private meeting, wherein she admits to waiting out the war between Crowley and Abaddon, before tracking Dean’s stolen Impala to Somerset, Pennsylvania. There, Gadreel prepares to attack his latest victim, before realizing the man to be a vessel for his friend Abner, who has since started a family on Earth.

Abner admits to having let go of his past anger for their jailer Thaddeus, lamenting that Gadreel had killed him, and wishing to continue his second chance at a life on Earth. A short while later, Dean finds his stolen car and enters the house to find Gadreel washing Abner’s blood off his hands, before Castiel knocks the angel unconscious. Elsewhere, Cecily meets with Abaddon to give up Crowley’s location, though Abaddon kills her for waiting out the conflict rather than supporting Abaddon outright.

Gadreel awakens bound in a warehouse, threatening Dean to rip Sam’s body apart rather than release him, before Crowley begins inserting nails into Sam’s head to start the “hacking” process. Dean and Castiel wait out the gruesome procedure before Crowley finally triggers Gadriel to at least reveal his true identity to them, sending Castiel into a rage that Gadreel caused all of the universe’s ultimate conflicts since the dawn of time. Gadreel insists that they’ll never be able to root him out of Sam, to which Crowley proposes a radical solution: possessing Sam himself, in order to flush out Gadreel from within, in exchange for Crowley’s freedom. With no other options, Dean orders Castiel to remove Sam’s warding tattoo, after which Crowley enters Sam’s body in a cloud of red smoke.

Using Dean’s code word “Poughkeepsie,” Crowley finds Sam trapped within a dream and alerts him to the angel currently possessing his body. Gadreel appears in the guise of the bartender, brawling with Crowley and Sam until Sam summons the strength to finally cast the angel out. Gadreel leaves Sam’s body, ultimately retreating back into the bartender’s vessel, alerting Metatron to what happened in the process. The true Sam awakens just as Abaddon arrives to the warehouse, for which Crowley volunteers to hold her forces off as the others escape.

Abaddon finds her demons hesitating to attack Crowley, as the deposed King reveals that the demons remain conflicted in their loyalties to the brutish Hell Knight and his more democratic style of rule. Rather than fight one another, Crowley poses that they allow the rest of Hell to choose their leader, teleporting away as he urges the minions to “Vote Crowley.” Elsewhere, Dean urges Sam to voice his frustration with Dean lying to him yet again, especially after he’d been ready to die and Dean’s actions ultimately cost them Kevin’s life. Dean admits his fault but refuses to drag anyone else down with the pain he inevitably causes, vowing to finally take down Gadreel on his own, before leaving Sam and Castiel on a rain-swept dock.

OUR REVIEW:

Man, where has this been hiding all season? Forget the holding pattern that saw Castiel slinging burritos, Crowley reduced to a punchline under dim lighting, and Jared Padalecki’s best Tahmoh Penikett impersonation, “Road Trip” represents the hot angel-vs-demon action we’ve been waiting to see since October. Not that ‘Supernatural’ hasn’t managed to entertain in the meantime, what with Dean becoming a dog or Castiel’s adventures in babysitting, but most of the episodes had felt, at least up to now, as trapped as the characters themselves.

Of course, it couldn’t all be sunshine and roses to color the fun of “Road Trip,” as the requisite Winchester guilt will keep Sam and Dean apart for a number of stock episodes, as is the well-worn mantra behind the series. The simple fact that getting to said guilt allows cooped-up characters (and an especially A-game Mark Sheppard) to actually do something about their circumstances for a change, resetting the playing field with some good old fashioned fun and creepy visuals along the way.

It certianly helps to have Tahmoh Penikett back in the fold, as well; despite Jared Padalecki’s relative comfort within the role of Gadreel, Penikett proved far too welcome in the premiere to be discarded just as quickly. ‘Supernatural’ always tends to play toward the convoluted, with warring factions both above and below engaging in conflicts too abstract to accurately portray, but a clearer sense of character and motivation (if only by actor) can only help things going forward.

Surely some slower, split-dynamic episodes will follow in the week to come, but between both Sam and Tahmoh’s returns, a three-way low-rider road trip for Dean, Castiel and Crowley that entertains as often as it informs, an NSA front for demon trackers, and a new conflict between Abaddon and a revitalized Crowley, ‘Supernatural’ sure knows how to kick off 2014 in style.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of scary ‘Supernatural’ action? What did you think about “Road Trip”? Give us your take in the comments, and join us again next Tuesday for an all-new recap of ‘Supernatural’ season 9 episode 11, “First Born,” on The CW!

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