A lot of nightmares came out of the Winchesters' past in last night's Supernatural, "Repo Man," written by the always-awesome Ben Edlund. This was one of the season's best episodes so far, with two plotlines about very different kinds of possession coming together nicely - and shedding light on Sam's current state of mind.
Let's just say that things are bugfuck in Huntertown, and that's the way we like it! Spoilers ahead.
The return of an old fiend
The episode begins with a flashback to four years ago, when the boys were hot on chief demon Lilith's tail, trying to torture information about her whereabouts out of a demon. When the going starts to get a little 24-esque with the torture, the demon flashes out and lets his meatsack start talking. Jeffrey, the unassuming postal worker he's possessed, is timid and begs for his life - we assume that the demon has let Jeffrey through to play on Dean's sympathies and prevent further torture. No such luck. Jeffrey gives Dean permission to do whatever he has to, including breaking his ribs, collarbone, and doing some general stabbing.
After a lot more torture, the demon finally gives the boys a lead on Lilith's location and they exorcise him and dump the bloodied Jeffrey at a local hospital. They figure the demon will be locked up pretty tight, since he gave away "state secrets," as Dean puts it.
No such luck. Fast-forward to the present, and bodies have started showing up in the demon's old stomping grounds. Their murders are almost perfect matches for what the demon did in Jeffrey's body four years ago, and so the Winchesters have to go check it out. How did this demon escape so soon after squealing on his superiors? To find out, they visit the witch who helped them track the demon in the first place. She's got her own online white magic website now — wiccansweb.com (perhaps a Canadian wiccan in-joke?) — and she points them back to poor old meatsack Jeffrey.
Everybody loves Lucifer
While all of this is going on, Lucifer is hanging around Sam a lot. When the boys go to investigate the new murders, he's bouncing around making quips and Sam goes to great pains to ignore him. He eats the mold off the walls of Sam and Dean's hotel room and snarks about how dirty everything is until Sam banishes him by pressing on his old scar. It's not clear whether we're finally getting a glimpse of what's going on in Sam's head every day, or if Lucifer is appearing more and more often to him. (Sam has said in the past that Lucifer is with him all the time but he's just gotten really good at ignoring this figment of his tortured imagination.)
On the tail of their demon, the boys pay a visit to Jeffrey in the halfway house where he's gotten stuck after having a nervous breakdown and telling everybody he was possessed by a demon. Jeffrey seems better now, and he's even gotten a cute fluffy dog, whom you know is doomed from the instant he pads on screen and stares at the camera with his sad doggy eyes. When Jeffrey reveals that the demon had a hit list, and spills the next name on it, Sam goes to check out the next victim while Dean guards Jeffrey from what he thinks might become a dangerous repossession scenario.
This is when Lucifer really gets going. As Sam sits in a library watching the librarian — supposedly the next victim — Lucifer keeps chatting and chatting. He begs Sam to acknowledge him or just talk to him a little bit "the way we used to." And then Sam starts hallucinating that everybody in the library is having their heads smashed into the desks until blood sprays everywhere. Finally, just before leaving the library, Sam tells Lucifer to shut up and Lucifer is thrilled. "He told me to shut up!" he exults. Again, it's important to remember that this Lucifer is entirely in Sam's head. I don't think that we're supposed to believe that Lucifer is out of the cage and sneaking into Sam's brain.
That Lucifer is all in Sam's head becomes abundantly clear in a scene where Sam tries to track Dean down. Dean's gone missing after heading out to the demon's old killing warehouse with Jeffrey. As Sam pores over documents about the demon's most recent murders, trying to find clues, he's walking down the street and openly discussing the evidence with Lucifer. And Lucifer is offering hints about what the evidence might mean. Clearly, Sam is mulling it over on his own, and Lucifer is basically taking on the role of one part of Sam's consciousness. It's kind of a nasty part, too, because he urges Sam to smack the wiccan e-tailer to get more information out of her. Luckily, Sam doesn't have to go all 24 on her because she willingly admits that Jeffrey kidnapped her son, forced her to give him a summoning spell to get his old demon back, and now has Dean tied up in his lair.
What if I actually like being possessed?
One of the truly brilliant parts of this episode is when Jeffrey explains that he loved being possessed. He didn't want the brothers to exorcise him, because his demon helped him become the person he wanted to be — not just a guy who fantasized about murdering women, but a badass serial killer who actually does it. Jeffrey calls his demon "the love of my life, actually," and for the first time we get a glimpse of how complex the possession relationship can actually be. Jeffrey's scheme is to invite the demon back into his body, but he needed the blood of the exorcist (that would be Dean) to do it. So he set up this elaborate trap, killing more women to draw the boys back to town, and then pretending to be the scared victim.
Now that he's got Dean's blood, all Jeffrey has to do is slaughter that cute doggy (woof - awwrrrrr - splat), speak a little Latin, and poof — his demon is back! Except the demon zooms right into wiccan e-tailer's kid instead of Jeffrey. Turns out our demon is satisfied with how his "student" Jeffrey has turned out, and doesn't see a need to go back inside him. He has other humans to tutor in the ways of murderous evil. Heartbroken, Jeffrey lunges at the demon, who tosses him aside.
And that's when Sam and wiccan e-tailer zoom to the rescue, trapping the demon in a ridiculously convenient ceiling pentagram (really? there's a demon-trapping ceiling pentagram in the demon's LAIR?) and forcing him to barf smoke all the way back to hell. Dean is rescued, wiccan e-tailer's kid is rescued, and Jeffrey has been shot dead in the melee.
Still, you're left wondering: What if Sam liked being possessed? Maybe he's still got Lucifer in his head because he kind of likes having the guy around?
And now it's time to process our feelings
Underscoring those questions is our final scene, where Dean conks out on the hotel bed and Sam has another uncomfortable confrontation with the Lucifer in his head. As Dean snoozes away, Lucifer torments Sam by telling him that now "you've let me in." Even when Sam presses on his scar, Lucifer doesn't go away. Instead, flames rise up around the two of them and Sam is sitting in his own private hell with Satan while his brother lies totally oblivious 3 feet away.
As flames dance in Sam's eyes, Lucifer yells, "GOOD MORNING VIETNAM!" then cackles as the screen goes black. You can take the boy out of the war between heaven and hell, but you can't take the war out of the boy. I can't wait to see what comes next.