Not that we're really that surprised or anything. But last night's Supernatural definitely felt like it was a little too easy. Spoilers follow...
Dean Winchester getting turned into a scummy demon was one of the most interesting things that's happened to Supernatural in a while, so it's kind of too bad the show shoved this development back in the box. In last night's installment, Sam "cures" Dean of being a demon, using the same ritual he used on Crowley a couple years ago — except back then, it was incredibly risky and experimental, and nearly killed Sam. (Admittedly, this was at the end of the "trials" Sam underwent.) But you'd think curing a demon who had previously taken on the Mark of Cain as a human, and died while holding the First Blade, would be even harder.
Instead, it was pretty smooth sailing, all told. Sam barely even has to do any chanting — just inject Dean with some sanctified human blood. The main obstacles to this course of action consist of:
1) Dean taunting Sam and trying to get inside Sam's head, as seen in the above video. Dean mostly sticks to pretty basic stuff, though, and doesn't go after any of Sam's major issues or lapses in judgment. We do learn that the software mogul who sold his soul to kill his wife, last week, was doing so at Sam's encouragement, so Sam could trap a crossroads demon. Which is a nice twisted touch. (But that dude still kind of deserved to die at Dean's hand.)
2) Dean seeming weak, and Sam worrying that he's killing his brother — which, if he can't cure him, would be a good thing. But Sam isn't willing to stick a knife in his brother, even as a demon, which turns out to be a bad thing when...
3) Dean gets loose and stalks Sam. In true Jack Nicholson/The Shining style. He nearly knocks Sam's block off with a hammer, but at the last moment Sam gets the drop on him with the knife. But Sam's not willing to do what's necessary, so he's toast — until Castiel jumps in and saves him at the last moment.
Speaking of which... Castiel also got a (temporary) fix to his problem in this episode. He's dying because the Grace he stole from an angel last season is fading, until Crowley steps in and saves him. Thus denying Castiel the noble self-effacing death he's been demanding for the past several episodes. And Castiel is definitely having some kind of romantic vibe with the angel Hannah, at this point.
So why does Crowley save Castiel? That's definitely the most interesting part of the episode. Crowley says it's so Castiel can help Sam deal with Dean, because a demon version of Dean is bad for business — but how bad is it, really? Dean just wants to party, after all. It's embarrassing that Dean kicked Crowley to the curb, but it's not a massive problem if Demon Dean gets left to his own devices.
Of course, in the episode's most fascinating scene, we finally glimpse Crowley holding court in Hell, and... it's Hell. He's bored and annoyed and other demons keep sucking up to him and screwing with him and lighting themselves on fire, while Crowley obsesses about the good times he had with Dean. And lots of demons still see Crowley as weak because of his blood addiction and his extended "sabbatical" with Dean.
Crowley's the show's main wild card, and it'll be interesting to see where he ends up — maybe he's playing some kind of long game, in which he's planning to use the Winchesters and Castiel to strengthen his weak position. Or maybe he's still more human than he lets on, after Sam's treatment, and he's trying to help "Moose and Squirrel" as much as he can without overtly helping them.
In any case, now that the most pressing problems are conveniently taken care of, Castiel tells the restored Dean that now is a good time to take a breather. Heaven and Hell are more or less all set, everybody's good, it's all chill, brah. Which is the show's cue to show us a glimpse of (apparently) our new villain — a woman in an armchair, sitting daintily while two men bleed on her from the ceiling.