Episode Title: "Like a Virgin"
Writer: Adam Glass
Director: Phil Sgriccia
Previously on "Supernatural":
Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) was desperate to free the soul of his bother Sam (Jared Padalecki) from hell, despite the fact that Sam adamantly did not want to reunite with his soul. Dean was also warned that because Sam’s soul had been trapped with Lucifer for so long, he may no longer be the man he remembered. Regardless, Dean made a deal with Death to assume his role in the natural order for one day in exchange for Sam getting his soul back, with a wall in his mind to protect him from his time in hell.
While Dean made good on his end of the bargain, Sam attempted to kill their mentor, Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) to keep his soul from reentering his body. Sam was narrowly stopped in time and forcibly reunited with his soul before passing out. Then Death warned Dean and Bobby not to "scratch the wall" within Sam’s mind or else the consequences may be dire.
Later, the angel Castiel (Misha Collins) checks on Sam and admits that he doesn’t know if he will ever wake up. He chides Dean for not letting his brother die, which would have been better than the pain his soul has gone through. As Bobby and Dean talk over drinks, he brings Dean’s attention to a case in Oregon in which a plane crashed 17 miles away from where the pilot was found, with his girlfriend completely vanished from the plane. Suddenly, Sam walks in on them and finally seems like his old self. They soon find that he has none of his body’s memories of being on Earth without his soul and Dean lets him believe that he’s been gone for a year and a half.
But Bobby isn’t quite ready to forget that Sam tried to kill him and he stays cranky around him. He also warns Dean that the truth will eventually get out to bite them. He sends the Winchester brothers out to investigate the case in Oregon without him, which arouses Sam’s suspicions. On the way there, Sam discovers that two other girls have vanished mysteriously within the last few months, but they don’t seem to have a connection to the girl who disappeared in midair. While posing as the FBI, they interview one of the victim’s sisters and soon learn that she was a virgin who was involved in church work.
At a nearby college, a co-ed named (Melissa Jodi Balfour) is attacked by a winged creature but left alive. When the Winchesters arrive to interview her the next day, she discloses that the creature stole her gold "purity ring" and they deduce that she was spared because she isn’t a virgin. They also figure out that the creatures who steal gold and virgin females is most likely a dragon. Although Bobby initially insists that dragons aren’t real, he soon remembers otherwise and directs Dean to his colleague, Dr. Visyak (Kim Johnston Ulrich). Elsewhere, the dragon returns to its underground lair with a new victim. He transforms into human form and locks her up with the rest of the missing girls.
Dean meets with Dr. Visyak and learns that she and Bobby may have been in love at some point. She shows him a sword in a stone in her basement than can kill a dragon, but Dean can’t pull it out despite his best King Arthur attempts. He finally tries using explosives to free the sword, but ends up shattering the blade in two from the blast. Back at the motel, Sam prays to Castiel, who answers his call and is relieved to see Sam alive and whole. Castiel doesn’t realize that Dean lied to Sam and gives away the truth, which Sam slowly coaxes out of him.
The Winchesters reunite and hunt for the dragon in the sewers before stumbling upon its lair. Much to their surprise, there are two dragons holding the women captive. Sam uses the ruined sword to kill one of the dragons, but the other escapes. Later, Sam apologizes to Dean for the things his body did while his soul was in hell. Bobby also has some bad news for the boys, as the dragon’s journal indicate its plans to call forth the "Mother of all." Elsewhere, the surviving dragon and another minion of evil sacrifice another virgin, allowing "Mother" (Julia Maxwell) to rise…
I hadn’t realized how tired I was of the soulless and amoral Sam until this episode, when his more innocent persona returned. So, I have to give Jared Padalecki credit for making me hate Sam and come to like him again. However, the early buildup of what would happen when Sam learns the truth was pretty disappointing when it led to a drama-less scene in which Sam apologizes for his actions without a soul. It could be that something bigger is in mind when Sam eventually does remember his time in hell (and you know that’s going to happen at some point). But for now, it felt like a road to nowhere.
I loved the short subplot of Dean trying to free the sword from the stone. Even the music was over-the-top heroic until Dean couldn’t seal the deal and pull the blade free. Using explosives to free the sword was actually something I’ve always wondered about. Would a few well placed sticks of dynamite or C4 have allowed someone else to take Arthur’s sword? The fact that the sword was actually ruined by the blast seemed like the natural result and a poetic turn of events for trying to subvert fate.
Using dragons as an adversaries is definitely intriguing, but the writer completely missed the opportunity to pit the Winchesters against a full sized dragon. I understand that TV shows only have a certain budget for effects, but if you’re gonna bring in dragons… let the heroes fight the dragons! And can we get a villain that doesn’t transform into human form? Is that too much to ask?
This episode also introduces "Mother," who I presume is going to be the main villain for at least the rest of the season. Her title "Mother of All" is evocative of Lilith, who has already been dealt with on this series. And I don’t think "Mother" will turn out to be Lilith reborn, but it seems like an odd direction to go in after already featuring Lilith on the series.
On other note, Castiel is one of my favorite characters in this series, but he seems like such neutered puppy lately. I know he’s softened towards the Winchesters, but he desperately needs to do something important to the plot and revisit his inner a**hole! This polite and good natured Castiel is kind of… boring. And I never thought that I’d say that about him.
Overall, a relatively solid episode. But I think that "Supernatural" still needs to step up its game. It’s not feeling as intense as it used to.
Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.