Supernatural, Ep 8.14: “Trail and Error” formally puts Sam and Dean on the path towards closing the gates of Hell

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Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and Danay Garcia

Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and Danay Garcia

Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 14: “Trial and Error”
Written by Andrew Dabb
Directed by Kevin Parks
Airs Wednesdays at 9pm (ET) on CW

While the Winchesters have been discovering new threats and new potential allies over the last few weeks following the unexpected reunion with their paternal grandfather, the old threats continue to loom large over them. While the brothers have been facing off against Nazi Necromancers and the like, Kevin has been busy with attempting to decipher the recovered half of the demon tablet, as previous episodes have shown, for being able to close the gates of Hell remains a major priority despite the events of the last few weeks. This week’s episode brought the focus back to this particular task as Kevin’s deciphering of a key part of the tablet sets the stage for a thrilling episode that sees the Winchester brothers head down another uncertain path that atleast one of them is convinced will lead to doom.

There are a lot of fascinating similarities between Dean and Kevin’s outlook towards closing the gates of hell, as this episode highlights. While Dean’s line of thought is more in line with his fatalistic view of himself and the line of work he has found himself in, Kevin’s stop-at-nothing attitude is likely to lead him down a similar path as Dean in the end. To that end, Kevin’s behaviour is worth looking out for, as this episode indicates he’s on the path towards some kind of mental breakdown. The Winchesters will be up for quite a challenge if Kevin reaches a mental state where he’s unable to decipher the tablet anymore, especially if that occurs before he can determine the final two tasks the brothers need to do before they can close the gates of Hell. Unlike Dean, Kevin has no real support system, as his conversation with Sam pointed out, which further exacerbates the possibility that he will not survive long enough, physically or mentally, to see the gates of Hell closed.

Osric Chau

Osric Chau

How the Winchesters’ formal beginning of their attempt to close the gates of Hell affects Crowley and Naomi also promises to be compelling. Crowley has two potential avenues he can pursue at this point, once he clues into the fact that the brothers are getting ready to seal Hell in; either he can work towards preventing the brothers from completing the remaining two tasks, or he can redouble his efforts towards finding the Angel tablet and closing off Heaven. How Naomi factors into this fight will surely be determined by what course of action Crowley chooses to take, but what possible actions she will take continue to be clouded in mystery, and whether she ultimately proves to be an ally or enemy of Sam and Dean will be crucial in determining whether the brothers will have help in fighting Crowley, or will have to wage a war on two fronts. If the brothers get any help at all, and where they get said help from, is also something to look out for; will Garth be useful once again? Will Castiel be able to break free of the influence Naomi has on him? Will Benny be willing to fight for something bigger than himself, and win Sam’s trust in the process? Would Charlie be willing to risk her life in such a manner once again, especially when she is not directly involved this time?

Overall, this was a solid episode, effectively bringing the gates of Hell issue back to the forefront while still keeping it interesting. Dean’s outlook on the matter is a wonderful indicator of the continued hopelessness he feels towards his life in general. Sam’s insistence that things will be different this time, however, is a breath of fresh air, and how that’ll affect Dean’s perspective will be worth looking out for. Sam’s transformation at the end is also a worrisome issue, as it might mean he is marked, in much the same way Lucifer had him marked for possession, which ended with Sam in Lucifer’s cage. What the transformation really entails, and how it affects both Sam and Dean, the latter of whom would undoubtedly do everything in his power to ensure his brother does not end up sacrificed again, as his speech to Sam this episode proves. Dean’s giddiness at having a room of his own for the first time since his mother’s death was a touching moment, and how the Men of Letters library and the Thule Society factors into the Winchesters’ attempt to close the gates of Hell, if the two story arcs interact at all, is worth looking out for next episode and beyond.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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