2.09 - or the one where we learn Sam’s visions can be used to manipulate him.
A vision lures Sam and Dean to a town where everyone’s being infected by a demonic virus. In Sam’s vision, Dean shoots a man who’s begging for his life. Once they’re in town, the trap is sprung. They’re cut off from the outside world while the demons “test” Sam’s immunity to the virus.
That’s it. The whole episode is a manipulation from start to finish, but Sam and Dean never learn that fact:
DEAN: I swear, I’m gonna lose sleep over this one. I mean, why here, why now? And where the hell did everybody go? It’s like they just friggin’ melted.
SAM: Why was I immune?
DEAN: Yeah. You know what? That’s a good question. You know, I’m already starting to feel like this is the one that got away?
Oddly, this is the thing that prompts Dean to suggest they maybe take a break from hunting for a bit:
I just think we should take a break from all this. Why do we gotta get stuck with all the responsibility, you know? Why can’t we live life a little bit?
But it also prompts him to finally come clean to Sam about the extent of the burden John saddled him with before he died. It’s not just the guilt of knowing John traded his soul to the demon in exchange for Dean’s life.
Of course that’s the cliffhanger at the end of this episode, leading into 2.10.
Dean: He said that he wanted me to watch out for you, to take care of you.
Sam: He told you that a million times.
Dean: No, this time was different. He said that I had to save you.
Sam: Save me from what?
Dean: He just said that I had to save you, that nothing else mattered; and that if I couldn’t, I’d…
Sam: You’d what, Dean?
Dean: That I’d have to kill you. He said that I might have to kill you, Sammy.
Sam is justifiably angry that Dean didn’t tell him this horrifying news sooner, but Dean asks for some time to figure out what they should do next. Sam wants to rush off to figure out what all of this means.
Meanwhile we’re seeing the demon actively manipulate other Special Children into direct acts of violence. All the while Gordon Walker’s shifted his Kill All The Vampires ice cold focus onto killing all the Special Children– especially Sam. He owes Sam a little bit of vengeance for how they left him in 2.03, but Gordon “no grey areas” Walker takes that to a terrifying extreme.
Instead of the demon setting traps for Sam, this time it’s a more human evil at work, as well.
Sam, angry with Dean for hiding the truth, takes off to investigate another vision he’s had. More special children dying, and he meets Ava who’s been having visions similar to his own.
But there’s also a resolution of sorts with Ellen and Jo, left over from 2.06. Sam finds out that Jo continued hunting despite her mother’s wishes, and that Ellen forgave John years ago. It was only John who couldn’t forgive himself for Bill’s death.
So of course when Sam makes Ellen promise not to tell Dean where he was, she turns around and tells him. What else is family for, if not to look out for each other? :P
Sam tries to protect Ava from harm by sending her home (where she’s harmed irrevocably by the demon…), but he knows from Ava’s visions the exact nature of the trap he’s walking into and is able to foil Gordon’s bombs and rescue Dean.
(like we saw Gordon do before, and like we’ve seen Ketch doing in s12, Gordon got his information on Sam by torturing a demon he was exorcising. He trapped and tortured a human being who was possessed against her will by a demon, and yet… he had no moral problem about torturing an innocent teenage girl to death just to get information from the demon possessing her. Dean’s assumptions about how horrible Gordon is are confirmed, further cementing his lesson that people are often the real monsters.)
Why does Dean fight against “destiny” as hard as he does? Why did this become his primary mission in life? Free will?
GORDON: I’m surprised at you, Dean. Getting all emotional. I’d heard you were more of a professional than this. Look, let’s say you were cruising around in that car of yours and, uh, you had little Hitler riding shotgun, right? Back when he was just some goofy, crappy artist. But you knew what he was going to turn into someday. You’d take him out, no questions, am I right?
DEAN: That’s not Sam.
GORDON: Yes it is. You just can’t see it yet. Dean, it’s his destiny. Look, I’m sympathetic. He’s your brother, you love the guy. This has got to hurt like hell for you. But here’s the thing. It would wreck him. But your dad? If it really came right down to it, he would have had the stones to do the right thing here. But you’re telling me you’re not the man he is?
SAM: Well, come on, dude, you’re a hunter. I mean, it’s what you were meant to do.
DEAN: Ah, I wasn’t meant to do anything, I don’t believe in that destiny crap.
SAM: You mean you don’t believe in my destiny.
DEAN: Yeah, whatever.
SAM: Look, Dean, I’ve tried running before. I mean, I ran all the way to California and look what happened. You can’t run from this. And you can’t protect me.
DEAN: I can try.
SAM: Thanks for that. Look, Dean, I’m gonna keep hunting. I mean, whatever is coming, I’m taking it head-on, so if you really want to watch my back, then I guess you’re gonna have to stick around.