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First half of SPN season 6 ends in cliffhanger

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Supernatural‘s showrunner Sera Gamble didn’t want fans to think the writers have forgotten about Death’s prophecy last season that it would force Dean into a deal. With the episode “Appointment in Samarra,” Death’s reappearance may in fact provide another linchpin for the turbulent season’s main conflict: Souls.

Dean heads into a sketchy, unlicensed surgeon’s office on top of a butcher shop. We can see nothing is wrong with Dean, but he’s about to die — voluntarily — and he’s about to stay dead for about 7 minutes.

In this brief amount of time, Dean runs into Tessa, a reaper he met back in the first episode of season 2. Death soon shows up to demand his ring back, but Dean uses this opportunity to ask for Sam’s soul back, as well as his half-brother Adam’s soul. Death makes it clear to him that Dean has no leverage and that Dean can’t hide anything from this all-knowing force that claims to be older than God.

Death gives Dean an ultimatum: Wear Death’s ring for all of 24 hours, collect souls of dead people and do not take the ring off till the end. If Dean complies, Sam’s soul goes back with a sort of barrier, not really a permanent one, that will keep Sam from dying from his soul’s trauma in the cage. If not, no more soulful Sam forever.

After he is revived, Dean tells Robo-Sam an Bobby what he must do. Robo-Sam become aware that his messed-up soul might get jammed back into him with no assurance that it won’t kill him, so he begins plotting of ways to not let this happen. Invoking Balthazar, Robo-Sam learns of a way he can cast a spell to make his vessel uninhabitable for Sam’s soul. He basically has to commit patricide, or rather…. kill Bobby (cue the “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! NOT BOBBY!”)

Dean resists playing Death at first, but he gives in when he realizes stuff like botched convenience store robberies and unexpected heart attacks happen. When it comes down to taking a little girl in a hospital with a rare heart disease, however, Dean refuses to do his job. This dereliction of his Death duty causes a chain reaction that ends up killing many more people, at one point causing him to take his ring off to save a grieving drunken driver’s life. Even though he failed at Death’s task, Dean puts the ring back on to take the little girl, saying that he realizes now how people not dying when they’re supposed to can “upset the natural order of things.”

This discovery was the lesson Death was trying to teach him all along, and this fact is the reason why Death can only bring back one person from the cage. Dean chooses Sam, of course, and he has to run back to save Bobby before he is sacrificed to Robo-Sam’s own selfish end.

The episode closes with Death taking Sam’s soul out of a medical bag and telling Robo-Sam: “You might feel a bit itchy. I’m warning you: Do not scratch at the wall… Trust me, you don’t want to know what’s on the other side.” The screen goes black with Sam yelling as his soul is plunged back into him.

Death was just as chilling and overwhelming as last season. But why was Death so cool to Dean? After all, Dean failed the challenge, Death always has leverage in that it can take Dean at any moment (he’s way overdue and has “upset the natural order of things” so many times himself). The explanation comes in the episode’s biggest revelation: Death explains to Dean that he and his brother need to “Keep digging.”

In short, there’s something “about the souls,” that is of monumental importance. We’ve yet to understand what exactly, but as this episode showed, even Death’s quasi-omnipotent powers can’t control “the order of things.” I suppose there is something about a balance of souls, a situational kind of power that nobody controls.

Whatever it is, SPN has me on the edge of my seat once more. Too bad we have to wait till Jan. 28 to see the real Sam again, or learn anything new about this extraneous yet oddly compelling season.

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