In 1958, a young man says goodbye to his son for the night and prepares for some sort of initiation ceremony into a secret, mystical society. Also at the ceremony is a woman who seems rather friendly... until she turns out to be a demon named Abaddon who tries to kill everyone. One of the society's dying members presses a small box into the young man's hand, urging him to keep it away from Abaddon. To do this, the young man works a bit of blood magic, which ends up hurling him 55 years into the future.
Sam and Dean are hanging out in the motel du jour when suddenly, the young man comes tumbling out of the closet. "Which one of you is John Winchester?" he asks them. Naturally, the brothers are a bit freaked out and run all the usual tests to make sure he isn't a demon. He claims to be John's father, Henry. You know… the guy who supposedly ran out on his kid and forever embittered him? His spell was supposed to bring him to John, but it's brought him to his next of kin. Why didn't it just bring him to John at some point before he died in 2006? We'll never know. Anyway, Dean is kind of a dick to his grandpa at first, but he and Sam agree to help him out once they get the whole story.
Henry's secret society was called the Men of Letters. They studied and chronicled the supernatural, passing along information only to a select few hunters, most of whom they regard as brutish apes. (His grandsons are a wee bit miffed about that.) Unfortunately, since Henry didn't make it through is final initiation, he doesn't know what the little box is for. The Winchester trio goes digging – figuratively and literally -- for some of Henry's old friends, but discovers that the Men of Letters no longer exists as a group. There's only one survivor, who lives just long enough to tell Sam that inside the little box is the key to basically everything supernatural. Then Abaddon shows up to kill him and take Sam prisoner.
Henry's instinct is to return to 1958 and stop Abaddon before she can wreak all this havoc in the first place. Dean's not down with that because… well, he and Sam could cease to exist, along with a bunch of other stuff. So he arranges a trade with Abaddon -- the box and Henry in exchange for Sam. Since they can't kill the too-powerful Abaddon with the demon knife, Dean concocts another plan, which becomes clear only after Abaddon fatally wounds Henry. As he's dying, he shoots her in the head with a bullet that's been carved into a Devil's Trap. She ends up trapped in her meatsuit, which Dean promises to slice into plenty of pieces, rendering her powerless.
At the end, the brothers are left standing over their grandfather's grave, feeling pensive about what might have been and wondering what the key might open. Given their luck? Probably just a lot more misery. Stay tuned for the full recap.
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THEN! Oh, boy. This is a long one. But, unlike last week's, it's actually kind of important because it seems like the show is trying to adapt past events for a new storyline. We start with Dean reminding Sam (and us) that their dad wanted them to continue on in the "family business" of saving people and hunting monsters. "We have to carry out his legacy," Dean insists. The Jeffrey Dean Morgan version of John Winchester screams in horror at the very idea. The Matt Cohen version says, "It's a bloodline. It's in your blood, your father's blood, your family's blood." Keep in mind that he's speaking of that whole Michael vs. Lucifer debacle a few seasons back. On one of his trips back to the past, Dean tells his young mom that she and John are "meant to be." Heaven even sicced Cupid on the young couple to make sure they hooked up. "The orders were very clear; you and Sam needed to be born," Cupid says to Dean. Again, keep in mind that this, too, is referring to the Michael vs. Lucifer hoedown showdown. To guide them on their path, Sam and Dean had their father's old journal, full of supernatural information and dressing tips for the man who wants to wear five or more shirts at once. Also, remember when Sam had bangs? Cute. Sam and Dean killed a lot of evil monsters, ghosts and demons. "How many people do you think Dad saved?" Sam asks. "That's his legacy, so we gotta keep going." LEGACY, LEGACY, LEGACY. I have a feeling it's going to be the season's buzzword.
NOW! The episode begins, as many of them do, on a dark and stormy night. This time it's a dark and stormy night in Normal, Illinois, in 1958. We find ourselves in a boy's bedroom, chock full of toy pistols and robots and sports paraphernalia. Ominous music plays as we watch the boy sleep, for we are not the only ones. A man in a long coat stands in the shadows, hands in his pockets. He sits on the edge of the boy's bed. Is he going to drip demon blood into his mouth? Abscond with the boy to Hell? The boy's eyes open. "Hey, Sport, sorry about that," the man says. "Where are you going?" the boy asks. "Work," the man says. "Just wanted to check on you before I left." The ominous music and shadowy lurking were a bit of misdirection, because the man is the boy's father. Now that we have a better look at the man's face, he looks to be not very far out of his twenties. "What's that, Pops?" the boy asks, pointing to his dad's tiepin. The symbol on it is a unicursal hexagram. The man touches the pin and promises to tell his son all about it one day. He picks up a music box, winds it and places it on the boy's nightstand. A tinny, slightly creepy version of "As Time Goes By" begins to play as the man bids his son goodnight.