Supernatural season 6 episode 11 review: Appointment In Samarra

Robert Englund leads the guest stars in a terrific outing for the Supernatural team...

This review contains spoilers.

6.11 Appointment In Samarra

I’m going to have to start the recap of this episode with a slight spoiler. Dean dies.

Thankfully, it’s only a temporary measure to allow him to contact Death. Dean has reasoned that Death is possibly the only entity able to retrieve Sam’s soul from Lucifer’s cage. He can, but again points out how warped Sam’s soul would be and goes on to say how he can put a wall in Sam’s soul to keep back the corruption, but it would only be a temporary measure.

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Dean still insists that he wants Sam’s soul back and Death agrees, but there’s a condition. Dean must wear Death’s ring and become Death for twenty-four hours.

Back at Bobby’s, Dean explains his plan. Sam argues that he doesn’t want his soul back, but Dean convinces him it’s for the best. Dean leaves Sam under Bobby’s watchful and places the ring on.

Unbeknownst to Bobby, Sam summons Balthazar for advice. He asks the angel if there is a way to keep the soul from entering the body and the angel reveals to him a spell. Unfortunately, the spell requires the blood of the father, or in Sam’s case, a father figure, Bobby.

Dean has taken to his new role well until he needs to kill a terminally ill twelve-year-old girl and refuses to allow her to die, despite Tessa warning him that there will be repercussions, one of which is a young nurse being killed, and as a result , Dean must take her. Tessa tells the nurse that it wasn’t her time to die and blames Dean for her early demise. As Tessa leads the nurse away, her grief-stricken husband arrives at the hospital.

Tessa tells Dean that unless he kills the little girl, more and more people will die because of it. Before he acts, Dean sees the husband of the nurse stumbling drunk from a bar and getting into a car. Using his power of Death, Dean transports himself to the car in an attempt to stop him and has no alternative but to take the ring off to do so. Dean realises that he has broken his agreement with Death, but puts the ring on one last time to kill the little girl and restore the natural order.

Sam has attacked Bobby and after a struggle has him at his mercy. Just as he is about to kill him, Dean returns and stops him.

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Dean and Bobby have secured Sam and are discussing what to do with him when Death returns. Death surprises Dean by saying he will still restore Sam’s soul. Dean questions why and Death tells him that he’s “digging at something”, to “keep digging” and “it’s all about the souls”.

The episode ends with Death forcing Sam’s soul back into Sam…

This is a fantastic episode. The guest stars really add to the quality. Robert Englund as the doctor in the opening scenes was a nice touch, as was Lindsey McKeon reprising her role as Tessa, but it is Julian Richings that really steals the show. His Death seems to drip presence. His veiled power and threats really give weight to the role. I don’t know whether it’s down to his acting ability and simply great writing, but it does seem to be an almost perfect piece of casting, so a very well done to all involved.

That’s not to say that the regulars don’t do well. Jensen Ackles showing Dean’s self-doubt and discomfort as opposed to the brash, bad demon killer we are used to was mirrored brilliantly by Jared Padalecki showing Sam’s slide from slightly off to dangerous psycho killer.

As for the show itself, a lot of the episode could be compared to Dead Like Me and a bit of the episode to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, but whether it was deliberate or not, it felt like a subtle reminder rather than a rip-off. Possibly like ‘we can’t avoid doing something similar, so we’re just going to do it and move on with the story’.

I had been thinking that Supernatural had been writing itself into a corner with regard to Sam’s soul and last week’s episode looked like there was no way to get it back. The idea of Dean going to Death is one that works brilliantly.

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Firstly, Dean is actually the instigator in the plan to get it back. It’s not relying on a demon or an angel to tempt them with it like a fairground prize. Secondly, having it retrieved by Death makes sense that doesn’t let the audience feel cheated, especially with regard to the soul being corrupted.

The idea of the wall holding things back coming from a lesser being on the show may have been considered an easy get out clause. but because it’s Death, the character has the weight and power within the series to make it plausible.

Finally, the fact that Death restores Sam’s soul despite Dean not fulfilling his side of the agreement again adds a new twist to the series.

If Death is worried about something, how big must that something be?

Read our review of episode 10, Caged Heat, here.

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