As if Dean doesn’t have enough issues with witches, this week’s Supernatural episode is sure to only increase that hatred. Season 12 episode 11 begins with a man running through the woods at night, evidently being chased. He’s injured and stops at a tree long enough to call someone, warning them to “get out of there.” Then we see Dean (Jensen Ackles) come through the trees, taking a shot at the man and hitting the tree instead. The chase continues until he finds the man collapsed by another tree. Dean raises the gun but the man shifts, exposing glyphs on the bark. A light flashes and Dean is knocked to the ground, unconscious.
Dean wakes up sometime the next day, disoriented and dirty. He finds his phone is broken but thankfully there’s a walking trail nearby. Managing to borrow a guy’s phone, he calls Sam who is concerned about where he’s been. But, Dean can’t remember where he’s been or even knows where he is. He does spot a sign for a restaurant in the distance and tells Sam to meet him there.
They do meet up with Sam (Jared Padalecki) bearing aspirin. Dean has no memory of the night before and thinks his headache is due to a hangover. He’s definitely a bit off, forgetting words and details about the case they are currently working on until Sam reminds him. He even earns a slap from a woman who says hello but he has no recollection of meeting.
Continuing their case, they go to the coroner’s office to inspect the body of the dead accountant that had brought them to town. The autopsy reveals the man died of asphyxiation, which is what had piqued their interest. Inside of a box next to the body were bags filled with the items pumped out of the man’s stomach, containing lots of money. Dean is affected by the sight and smell far more than usual, nearly gagging. He blames it on a big breakfast while Sam finds another bag in the box containing a hex bag, confirming that they are looking for a witch.
When they get back to the car, Dean is still acting strange; needing help to remember which key is for the car, putting the car in reverse instead of drive. Sam thinks it’s all related to Dean’s drinking, saying he knows things have been rough lately but that he needs to get it together. While the younger brother is talking, Dean’s vision gets blurry and when Sam calls his name, he asks who Dean is.
By the time they get back to the hotel room the moment has passed and Dean is trying to convince Sam that he’s fine. Now that they know they’re dealing with witches, Sam suspects that Dean may have been hexed. Yet Dean doesn’t think he’d be alive if that was the case. Sam proceeds to give him some tests, his suspicions getting stronger when Dean can’t remember the word for a lamp.
We then flash to Rowena (Ruth Connell) playing poker and winning, thanks to some magical cheating. She gets a call from Sam, although Dean in the background is clearly not too happy about it. After being told Dean’s symptoms, Rowena agrees that it could be a memory spell. She asks Sam if Dean is suddenly hairless from the neck down, as if Sam is going to check. The feisty witch tells him that if it is a memory spell, killing the witch that hexed Dean will break it.
When Sam gets off the phone, Dean has disappeared and Sam gets worried. He finally finds him trying to get into the wrong room after going for ice. Dean blows it off, of course Sam does not. They do make the decision that the best thing to do is to retrace Dean’s steps from the previous day, which takes them to the accountant’s office looking for clues to where the elder Winchester brother might have gone next. Nothing triggers his memory, not even looking at a picture on the wall of the dead guy with the witch we know he was chasing the prior evening.
So their next step is to try and figure out where Dean had gone to get burgers, the last thing Sam knew he was going to do before they’d parted ways. After several tries, they spot the woman who had slapped Dean earlier working as a waitress. Sam tells her they’re FBI, which doesn’t match the story Dean had told her when they met. They play it off as him not wanting to blow their cover and make it clear Dean doesn’t remember what happened. Still annoyed, the woman does fill them in on some details. While waiting for the to-go order he’d put in, Dean had done some tequila shots, rode the bull and gotten frisky with the waitress. After explaining that another waitress saw him run off in a hurry later, she comes to the decision that Dean must have been given a roofie, and instead apologizes to him if she took advantage.
Given access to the security camera recordings, the brothers are able to see a confrontation between Dean and the man from the picture. They watch as the witch magically tosses Dean into a pile of trash bags and runs off, then as the hunter fires a shot and runs after him. Clearly, the memory spell is progressing when Dean is awed that he knows how to shoot a gun. Not wasting any time, they go outside where the skirmish happened, finding the bullet Dean had fired.
Dean’s vision blurs, memory fading again, now requiring Sam to explain about witches, vampires and other baddies being real. During their trek through the woods, Sam explains all about hunting which Dean thinks is awesome, that they sound like heroes. Sam only gets a moment to be surprised about this reaction when they find the trees, first the one Dean had shot, then the one with the glyphs. While Sam is busy taking a picture to show Rowena, Dean makes another discovery; the witch…dead already. Knowing this is not good because the spell was still on Dean even though the witch was dead, they decide to get the heck out of there.
Shortly after they leave, two other witches show up, one male and one female, to find their brother dead. The woman, Catriona, immediately realizes that hunters killed their sibling, Gideon. The living brother, Boyd, states that it’s their fault for killing the accountant against Gideon’s wishes.
Our boys return to the hotel and soon have a visitor, Rowena. She quickly realizes the spell has progressed and kind of likes this carefree version of Dean. Putting cartoons on the television to keep Dean entertained, Sam shows Rowena a picture of the dead witch. She recognizes Gideon Loughlin, knows quite a bit about his family. She explains that in order to fix Dean, they will need to find the family’s spell book referred to as the black grimoire. Rowena also states that they need to hurry because the spell will get worse until Dean can’t remember how to even function, then he’ll die.
The brothers go into the bathroom for some privacy, where Sam tells Dean his entire life story. Dean says he can feel all of his history slipping away, clearly upset and scared that after everything he’s done this spell will be what ends him. Sam leaves the room, also upset. He’s watched his brother die before, yet watching Dean slowly lose himself is almost worse. He also doesn’t trust that Rowena even cares to help, but is more interested in the book. She admits it’s true, but it also never hurts to have a Winchester owe her one. Meanwhile in the bathroom, Dean is repeating to himself the details of who he is and all the people he cares about, until it all fades away in a frightening moment.
In a rush and determined to do whatever it takes to save his brother, Sam leaves without Rowena, despite her protests and attempts to convince him that he needs her. Stuck babysitting a rather clueless Dean, Rowena talks to him, opening up more than she probably ever has. Rowena tried joining the Loughlin’s coven but they kicked her out, saying she wasn’t good enough. She also talks about horrible things she’s done and when he asks why she’s telling him all this, Rowena admits it’s because he won’t remember.
Arriving at the Loughlin home, Sam kills a witch outside before heading into the house. Once inside, he calls Rowena, putting her on speaker so she would be ready once he had the spell they needed for Dean. He finds the sister working on a butterfly collection in a room where her dead brother’s body was laid out. Threatening her, he insists she give him the spell. Totally unfazed, Catriona says she knew he would show up, saving them the trouble of finding the hunters responsible for Gideon’s death. Boyd bursts in, throwing Sam against a wall as the other witch begins a spell making the butterflies shake and make a loud sound. Through the speaker, Dean and Rowena can hear Sam yelling while the woman laughed maniacally.
Next we see as Dean wakes up in the back of the Impala to find a note from Rowena explaining that his brother had been kidnapped and to stay in the car. Sam, however, is once again tied to a chair. This time the Loughlins are preparing some kind of spell and arguing once more about the consequences of killing the accountant. Hearing a sound downstairs, Catriona tells Boyd to take care of the spell while she goes to check it out. Sam attempts to reason with the man, to convince him not to do whatever he is about to do. It’s pointless though, as it turns out Boyd is about to exchange Sam’s soul for Gideon’s to bring him back to life.
Catriona finds Rowena waiting for her downstairs, not recognizing her at first until reminded. Yet when she remembers the other witch from her past, she mocks Rowena, calling her Raggedy Ann and poking at how pathetic she was trying to get into their coven. Ready for some revenge, Rowena throws her into a wall. Catriona retaliates in kind, but is stronger, keeping the other witch trapped against a wall while throwing pieces of broken mirror at her.
Losing his memory didn’t make Dean any more patient, however. Checking the trunk, he finds a note that says open me, revealing the arsenal when he follows the directions and leading him to the gun he should grab. He enters the house just in time to save Rowena, cocking the gun and showing the paper with “witch killing bullets” written on it. They hear the gunshot in the upstairs room, prompting a fight between Sam and Boyd. Sam chases the other man down the stairs to find Dean holding a gun to both of them. Dean is obviously confused, unsure who to shoot until Sam states that he’s the brother, the other guy is the witch. Dean shoots Boyd, giving Sam a big thumbs up afterward.
Minutes later we see a flash of light from the upstairs room as Rowena does a spell while Sam anxiously awaits below. Dean follows Rowena down the stairs, looks at Sam and asks, “Who’s this hippy?” He plays it off for a minute, then bursts into laughter at the look on Sam’s face. Dean is back to himself! The brothers see Rowena off, where she asks if Dean remembers any conversations during his time under the spell, which he states he doesn’t. The boys prepare to take off as well, when Sam says he was jealous of Dean at first because he seemed happy, having no memory of everything they’ve gone through over the years. Dean says he’ll keep all of his mental baggage if it means he gets to keep all of his other memories. As we all know by now though, that healthy attitude probably won’t last long.
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