I’m a sucker for non-linear storytelling. Add in snarky chapter titles, and I’ll sing praises about something until the day I die. “Stuck in the Middle (With You)” does both, and it does both fantastically.
First off, I really dig the diner scene. The back-and-forth between the brothers, Cas’s stoic presence, the random hunter dude, and Mary’s exasperated expression make for a great scene, not to mention the swift directing. The way the camera moves around the table gives what would be a typical exchange of information diner scene a lot more energy. We have Supernatural alum Richard Speight Jr. to thank for that, making his return behind the camera for a second time after last season’s “Just My Imagination.” Wally, the random hunter dude, has called the Winchesters in on a demon hunt. It wasn’t until later in the episode when I recognized Wally — we last saw him in the midseason premiere turning down a recruitment pitch from the British Men of Letters. Not so random after all, then. The demon he wants help with appears to be a lone demon that likes to fish. The brothers, Cas, and Mary agree to help. Then, we’re thrown into chaos. Cas has been stabbed, Sam almost dies, and Wally does. There’s a lot of jumping around in the timeline here, but I like how it uses those jumps to contradict the previous scene. In this case, the end of the diner scene implies the group has a solid plan. The next scene quickly demolishes that idea.
Other jumps explain more about the situation. None of the usual demon killing techniques work on this particular demon. Two other demons show up with no explanation. In one, Mary is confronted by the demon, who flashes yellow eyes at her, so Mary runs away because she has a bad history with yellow-eyed demons, and then Cas gets stabbed with a giant spear as a result. Mary also steals something from the demon’s basement (more on this later because yeah, this is a big one). In another, it’s revealed it wasn’t Wally who found the demon, but Mary. This demon hunt is brought to you by the British Men of Letters. Not included: good intel. They have no idea why the demon has yellow eyes, and they don’t much care. Mary and Cas end up in a barn, with Sam and Dean following close behind.
With the appearance of Crowley, Supernatural dabbles in some more retconning. The show has been pretty good about retconning in previous seasons. The discovery of the Men of Letters bunker probably being the biggest and most successful. But here, it’s a small thing, but no less interesting. Crowley explains the demon they confronted is a prince of hell, or more importantly, “Ramiel, Prince of Hell.” Princes of hell are the oldest demons except for Lilith, created by Lucifer himself. They typically have yellow eyes, meaning Azazel, the demon that killed Mary and kicked off this entire Winchester saga, was one as well. Another jump in time, this time to six years previously, shows Crowley’s first meeting with Ramiel. This second piece of retcon has Crowley offering Ramiel the throne to hell in the wake of Lucifer getting thrown back in the cage. Ramiel turns the offer down, suggesting Crowley take the spot, in return for being left alone. I’m not sure I really bought Ramiel’s whole “woe is me, I don’t care about hell” spiel, but whatever. Crowley agrees, but leaves two gifts with Ramiel. The lance of Michael, which is the spear that stabbed Cas (why Crowley had it is anyone’s guess), and a second item. It’s this gift Mary stole from the basement (I’ll get to this in a second, I swear! And if you’re counting, the item would be the third retcon of the episode).
The group traps Ramiel in a ring of fire. They demand a cure of Cas, who is slowly being poisoned by the lance of Michael. Ramiel explains there isn’t one, and that he’s only there for the item that was stolen from his basement. The brothers don’t know what he’s talking about and Mary refuses (or takes too long?) to step forward, and Ramiel is able to break past his trap with the lance. A fight ensures, and not a well choreographed one. At some point, Sam ends up with the lance in his hands and kills Ramiel. Which, honestly, is too bad. I liked that guy. He made a good villain. Crowley then breaks the lance, which cures Cas.
The tag to the episode, under the One Last Thing chapter title, brings us back to Arthur, the British Men of Letters assassin who began the episode by asking an unnamed person to tell him a story. He asks Mary to hand over the item she stole, the item clearly being the only thing the BMOL wanted out of this operation. Arthur unwraps the item to reveal the colt. Yes, that colt. The Samuel Colt colt. The last time we saw it was either in season five when they tried to kill Lucifer, or in season six when Dean and Sam traveled back to the Old West. I can’t remember quite, but regardless, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen it. Apparently, the colt ended up back in Crowley’s hands and he for some reason gave it to Ramiel. I’m sure more light will be shed on this matter, but for now, it’s actually kind of comforting to see it again. A relic from the beginning of Supernatural, heaping on a torrent of nostalgia.
One last thing (ba dum tish — see what I did there?) “Stuck in the Middle (With You)” is an exciting episode, but it also tackles Crowley’s larger role. To Ramiel, Crowley explains it’s best to have allies when things get apocalyptic. But that doesn’t change the fact that Crowley is the current king of hell and the epitome of things the Winchesters hunt. At some point, the Winchesters will come after him. This revelation comes from Lucifer himself. In “LOTUS,” the brothers banished Lucifer back to hell. The last scene here shows Lucifer taunting Crowley from a cell about that very point. It took me awhile to place the voice, but that’s only because I wasn’t expecting to see him again. I don’t know how vessels work, but I don’t really need a supernatural explanation for how Mark Pellegrino is once again reprising his role as Lucifer. His appearance just made my week, and it’s my birthday tomorrow.
I really, really enjoyed this episode. Davey Perez wrote it. His other episodes all come from this season, and they include all the better ones — “American Nightmare” and “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets.” It was fun, dramatic, and the music selections totally killed. There was plenty of snark to go around, and revelations galore. The idea of princes of hell is interesting, but even though Ramiel is dead, he did make mention of a sister. There’s probably a Princess of Hell episode in the near future. Too bad we didn’t get more of Wally. His reaction to Lucifer’s baby was priceless, and he had a nice chemistry with the Winchesters and Cas. Here’s to Wally. You had great potential to be a recurring character. Oh well.