For whatever reason, after seeing the well-crafted episode surrounding Metatron and discovering the final trial to close the Gates of Hell, I'd assumed that the follow up would perhaps be a more light and airy hour focused on reminiscing about the past and inadvertently connecting it to some present case.
Except, while on some level we did get to revisit prior experiences that were directly linked to Sam and Dean's possible future, "Clip Show" was way more involved with the end goal of Supernatural Season 8 than I could have imagined.
This wasn't a breezy look back by any means, but rather an intense rising of action and stakes on all fronts towards what is looking to be a game changing finale.
It was great to see Sam and Dean working together, backing each other up and going through the copious amounts of information at the bunker in order to figure out what curing a demon could possibly mean.
What's interesting is throughout the discovery how chilling and scary their findings would actually be. It's not that Supernatural isn't frightening now, but there was something overly dark and haunting during the early seasons of the series when it was primarily focused on the things that go bump in the night instead of the war of Heaven and Hell.
And here, there was a heavy creepiness that seemed to surround it all, enhanced by the dark demon dungeon, the old footage of the new style of exorcism and even the audio of the priest trying again and again to cure the demon. In a lot of ways, it re-established the demons as the vile, nasty, killing creatures that they are complete with black eyes and bloody mouths.
Now, was it convenient that Sam and Dean seemed to find all the information so quickly? Maybe, but I guess having the vast works of the Men of Letters might be a major help in cracking cases faster.
Of course, through it all, the callbacks to the past began to pop up. Notably, Abbadon, the demon that Henry Winchester had managed to put a bullet in before he died. Turns out, Abbadon happened to be connected to the "curing" exorcisms, and who better to practice the final trial on.
I'm glad Abbadon wasn't a one off character, and she brought a menacing feel beyond the smile and red lipstick. And how messed up was the hand coming out and then sticking its fingers in her mouth to pull out the bullet?
Sure, she managed to escape, but learning that Crowley was now King of Hell was an interesting turn. I've got a feeling this super powered demon isn't going to like the ranking order that the present currently is in.
But, my, how evil has Crowley become! It's a welcome shift from his prior self, often just messing with the brothers, into a villain that will stoop as low as possible to get what he wants.
The episode dug deep for those past characters to reappear, including the Wendigo save of season one, the witches save and, of course, Sarah, also a girl from season one Sam had rescued and even kissed.
It was noteworthy to see how in the eight years since Sam and Sarah met, how much she had done in her life from getting married to having a kid. In a lot of ways, its seemed to be what Sam has longed for. And I appreciated that where he saw that missing out and thinking he hadn't changed, Sarah recognized he had grown up from the kid really getting into the hunting, to the man that had found a determination and drive to accomplish and overcome the tumultuous road that he's been on.
Yet, I actually thought Sam and Dean would save Sarah at the last second, even though they had failed to save the first two victims of Crowley's new plan.
It was tragic that the duo who have become resilient and strong against all odds seemed ultimately powerless, watching her gasp for breath and eventually die.
Crowley got to have a brilliant speech about killing every single one of Sam and Dean's saves, all while quoting their famous line, "Saving people. Hunting things. The family business." It felt so cold and wrong to hear him utter those words, but perfect for a villain who the boys can't seem to stop.
I've never wanted the Winchesters to defeat Crowley more, but it makes me wonder who else from and Sam and Dean's past might suffer the same fate before all this is through.
And I know it's been a long journey for the brothers, but I wish Sam didn't feel so ready to give up at the end. The chips are down, but they are not out, so I was glad that Dean was there to stand with him, even if the episode cut off before Sam had a chance to respond.
Fantastically, Castiel also was a part of a major plot that stemmed from his desire to help (loved him getting the dirty magazines, beer, etc. at the store), but Metatron's desire to close the Gates of Heaven.
Wait. I did not see that coming. What would happen if both Heaven and Hell were closed? Is that a good thing? Can it be done?
Definitely the trials for Heaven sound incredibly harsh if they are anything like Castiel had to do in killing the offspring of a human and angel (I wonder which angel?) and pulling out her heart.
This was an intense episode filled with some great twists, scary and dark atmosphere, along with a combination of paths for each of the characters that are looking to converge in an explosive way. It's a great way to lead in to that finale, as I was on the edge of my seat the whole hour and now simply excited to see how it will all close out.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.