(As I mentioned in my post announcing this rewatch project, there will be spoilers!)
Season 3, Episode 9: Malleus Maleficarum
Image and episode summary from Wikipedia:
Sam and Dean investigate a series of witchcraft-related deaths in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, and believe that the neighborhood book club is actually a coven. Ruby shows up and warns them that a powerful force is controlling the witches. The force will likely target Sam, so Ruby advises him to leave town. The brothers ignore her pleas and head back to their motel. Dean confronts Sam about his lack of concern over killing people, so Sam explains that he is just trying to be more like him in order to prepare himself to fight alone in the upcoming demon war. Intense pain suddenly overcomes Dean, who is being attacked through magic. Sam is unable to find the hex bag—a small bag of various ingredients that witches use to focus their magic onto a target—and instead decides to go after the witches with the Colt. Ruby arrives shortly after and is able to save Dean from the spell with a potion. Elsewhere, the three women deny targeting Dean, and claim that they have only used witchcraft for personal gain. Sam realizes that Tammi (Marisa Ramirez), who has not benefited from the coven, is what Ruby warned him about. Tammi incapacitates Sam and kills one of the women. She stops a bullet from the Colt in mid-air with telekinesis, and subdues Dean when he attacks. Ruby tries to trick Tammi by claiming she led the Winchesters right to her, but fails in her attempt to kill the powerful demon. The other witch begins reciting a spell. Tammi quickly kills her, but the distraction gives Dean enough time to stab Tammi with Ruby's knife. Later that night, Ruby admits to Dean that she cannot save him from his deal. She also reveals that all demons were once humans, but have had their humanity stripped away in Hell. Like the coven, she was also a witch who sold her soul to Tammi, but for some reason still remembers what it is like to be human. Ruby requests Dean's help in preparing Sam for the future.
I am really looking forward to some of the upcoming season three episodes (Mystery Spot, Jus in Bello, Ghostfacers!, No Rest for the Wicked), but I have to admit that other than Dean’s hatred of witches, I do not really remember this episode.
This episode opens with a couple coming home from a fancy night out. Uh oh she’s brushing her teeth while we also see that someone seems to be doing witchcraft somewhere. I HATE TEETH STUFF. One of the things that super grosses and creeps me out. I have a major fear of losing teeth and this gives me the shivers. I can’t even look at this.
Ghosts, monsters, zombies, clowns, dolls, blood, whatever – but mouth/teeth stuff and bugs are my no-nos.
So Sam and Dean, under the guise of the CDC, are speaking with her husband who says that no one has been able to explain to him what happened and what killed his wife. While Dean conducts the interview, Sam searches the house. In the bathroom, under the sink, he finds a little bag. The woman’s husband insists that everyone loved his wife and there was no one who would have had a reason to hurt her – but he doesn’t seem so sure, does he?
Sam shows Dean the hex bag he found under sink: it has bird bones, rabbit’s teeth, and the cloth was probably cut from something the dead woman owned. Sam says this is old-world black magic they’re looking at.
Dean hates witches, saying they’re always spewing their bodily fluids everywhere and it’s not only creepy, it’s downright unsanitary. Sam says the culprit could be anyone. Witches are human, like anyone else, but this wasn’t random. If they find the motive, they should find the murderer.
Later on, we see two neighbours talking – one, Amanda, seems a little evasive and has apparently missed bookclub recently. Uh oh.
When she gets inside, Amanda takes a turkey out of the oven. GROSS it’s covered in bugs. TEETH STUFF AND BUGS – my two worst nightmares in one episode.
Later, we see the dead woman’s husband sitting in his car, listening to music, eating a fast food burger.
Then we cut to Amanda doing some witchcraft with the gross turkey. I see where this is going. Amanda seems to have it out for Paul and Janet. While he eats, the car radio changes. He puts the burger down and we see that now it, too, if full of disgusting bugs. WHY IS THIS EPISODE SO GROSS. Maybe this is why I don’t remember this one too much – I must have blocked it out of my mind because I hate these things so much.
As Paul gets out of the car, puking bugs out, Sam and Dean show up and Dean finds a hex bag in Paul’s car, which he burns. Doing so causes Amanda’s nasty turkey to go up in flames! Take that!
Sam and Dean tell Paul that someone murdered his wife and is now trying to kill him too! Dean asks who wants him dead, and Paul mentions an affair, “a mistake”, she was blackmailing him but he put an end to it a week ago. He doesn’t want to give Sam and Dean her name, wondering what she could have to do with this (even though he just called her unbalanced…) What an idiot.
Amanda is flipping through a cute little scrapbook that appears to be full of witchcraft-looking documents. Suddenly her candles blow out on their own and she is attacked by something unseen, cutting her arms. She’s dead too! It’s made to look like a suicide. Uh oh!
Sam and Dean show up at Amanda’s house – so clearly she was the woman Paul had the affair with, and she killed his wife and tried to kill him. The boys find Amanda’s dead body, and are confused. “That’s a curveball,” Dean says.
Sam finds the remains of Amanda’s spell and he says she was involved in some heavy magic. Dean is upset on behalf of the dead rabbit he finds in the house.
But Sam is wondering why, if Amanda was so set on revenge, she would kill herself? Dean thinks she was trying to make it a spurned lover hat trick, but Sam isn’t buying it. And then he finds a hex bag under a table! Dean can’t believe it, another hex bag. So it’s some witch-on-witch violence. He calls to report Amanda’s body, then asks Sam why witches are killing each other.
Later we see some ladies gathered for their suburban book club, including Elizabeth (the neighbour who spoke to Amanda earlier). Once the requisite dumb husband leaves, Elizabeth asks Tammy – who seems to be the ringleader – why Tammy’s husband doesn’t know about Amanda’s death. The other woman there says it’s book club business. This is not like any of my book clubs…
The girls tell Elizabeth that they loved Amanda, but she was a little unstable, and she was probably the one who killed Janet. Elizabeth says they have to stop book club and it’s gone too far. The others try to dissuade her. Even though people are dying?? It turns out book club has gotten husband promotions, vacations, a booming home pottery business…does Elizabeth really want to stop?
The three of them get down to business. They light some candles and do some witchy chanting while holding hands.
The next day, while Elizabeth is gardening, Sam and Dean approach. Sam says she must have a green thumb, getting her herbs to grow the way they are. They introduce themselves as Detectives Bachman and Turner (haha). They say they’re following up on Amanda’s death and that they heard Elizabeth was her friend. Dean asks if she knows anything about her practices – the house was littered with satanic paraphernalia.
“She was an Episcopalian,” Elizabeth says.
“Then we’re pretty sure she was using the wrong bible,” Dean responds.
Then Tammy and Renee, the book club women, come over and tell them that Elizabeth is upset and that the Amanda business has been hard for all of them. Sam and Dean leave.
Later that night, Dean is convinced that Elizabeth is involved – bella donna, mandrake, wolf’s bane in her garden; Sam says she’s had a good run recently, financially. The kind of thing black magic helps with.
Sam says Renee has won a lot of craft contests, too – Dean says that must have been the coven. Did they kill Amanda to keep up appearances, Sam wonders. He says the others are working black magic and need to be stopped.
Dean says they’re human. Sam says they’re murderers. Well well well, isn’t that an interesting switcheroo.
Uh oh, car trouble! Dean stops the car – but Ruby is standing right in front of them! She tells Sam there’s no time, he has to get out of town. This is Dean’s first time meeting her, and he points the Colt at her. Ruby begs Sam to get in the car and leave.
Dean tells her that they can take care of the witches.
“I’m not talking about witches, jackass,” she tells Dean. She’s talking about who the witches serve – demons. The witches get the power from demons, and there’s one here.
“Besides you?” Dean asks. Ruby tells Sam that it knows Sam’s in town. Dean tells Sam Ruby is messing with her head and tells her to shut up, bitch. And calls her a black eyed skank.
Ruby tells Dean to stay out of it but he says he won’t. She taunts him, saying he cares about Sam so much but he’s checking out in a few months, leaving him. Dean gets pissed and goes to shoot her, but Sam pushes his arm away. When they turn back, Ruby is gone.
Dean gives Sam a look and gets back in the car.
Back at the motel, Dean tells Sam that Ruby’s a demon, what the hell is Sam doing??
Sam says he knows she’s dangerous but she’s useful. Dean wants to kill Ruby before she kills them. Sam says if she wants them dead, all she has to do is stop saving their lives.
Dean goes to wash his face while Sam talks about how they’re at war. They aren’t just hunting anymore.
Dean gets mad at Sam for taking advice from demons, and says that Sam’s not as upset as he used to be at offing people. It used to eat him up inside, but it doesn’t seem to bother him anymore.
Dean says they’re supposed to drive in the car, argue, Sam would go on about the sanctity of life…Sam asks if Dean’s mad because he’s agreeing with him now. Dean says Sam’s not acting like himself.
Sam says Dean is leaving and he has to stay there alone in this world, so the way he sees it, if he’s gonna make it, he has to change. Into Dean.
He has to be more like Dean.
Dean suddenly does not feel good. Something’s wrong. Like knives inside him. Son of a bitch! He tells Sam it’s gotta be the coven.
Sam checks the room for hex bags while Dean writhes in pain, spitting up blood.
Sam can’t find a hex bag. What’s happening??
Sam grabs the colt, and runs out of the room. He drives the Impala to the coven! He busts into the house, pointing the Colt, and tells them to let Dean go. He tells the ladies that if they know about him, then they know about that gun. They’re killing his brother.
He tells them to get away from the altar.
While Dean is in pain in the motel alone, Ruby comes in.
“You want to kill me? Get in line, bitch.”
Ruby throws him on the bed and pours something down his throat, which seems to help him.
“Stop calling me bitch.” Yeah!
Elizabeth and Renee say they didn’t mean to hurt anyone and they don’t even know Sam’s brother. Sam tells them to stop the spell, or die. Elizabeth insists they were just getting Renee a lower mortgage rate, lol.
Sam is confused.
Dean tells Ruby she saved his life. They insult each other and then Ruby walks out.
Sam has figured out now that Tammy is the ringleader. Sam says that they’re all in the news for various accomplishments, except Tammy. Why is that? She didn’t want anything for herself? Or is she already getting what she wants, like these women’s souls?
Tammy tries to protest, then gives it up, revealing herself to be a demon.
Elizabeth and Renee are shocked! Renee gets mad, and Tammy kills her! Elizabeth freaks out. Sam tells Tammy to let her go.
Elizabeth asks Tammy who she is. Tammy asks Elizbeth if she remembers all the dark, demonic forces, to whom she promised her servitude, they prayed to.
“Just who did you think you were praying to?” What did Elizabeth think they were doing. Tammy says Elizabeth sold herself to her. All she had to do was bring one good book to book club. Elizabeth says she didn’t know, but Tammy says they did, and now their souls are hers.
Tammy approaches Sam. She says her friends have been looking for him, not because he’s supposed to lead a demon army (“You’re not our messiah. We don’t believe in you”), but because there’s a new leader rising, a real leader, and that’s the horse to bet on. This demon doesn’t like Sam very much. Doesn’t want the competition. So Sam’s gotta go.
Before Tammy can kill Sam, Dean busts in. But Tammy pins both he and Sam. But then Ruby comes in!
She tells Tammy to wait, and has her hands up, saying she just came to talk. Tammy seems to know Ruby. “You made it out of the gate. Impressive”.
Ruby tells Tammy she’s been lost without her, asking her to take her back, and says that’s why she led the Winchesters here. Dean knew it!
Ruby tells Tammy the brothers are a gift. She wants Tammy to take her back. “You were one of my best,” Tammy says.
Then Ruby tries to stab her! But Tammy grabs the knife. “Then again, you always were a lying whore.” Oooh.
Then they fight! Ruby’s demon-killing knife gets knocked away. Tammy grabs a fireplace poker to finish Ruby off.
“You really telling me you threw in your chips with Abbott and Costello here?” Tammy asks, nodding in Sam and Dean’s direction.
Elizabeth sneaks away and starts doing some witchcraft of her own while Tammy taunts Ruby some more. Tammy tells Sam and Dean that Ruby was one of hers, and that Ruby was a witch when she was human, a long, long time ago. Centuries ago she sold herself to Tammy (well, to the demon inhabiting Tammy).
Tammy starts to exorcise demon-Ruby. Before she can finish, Elizabeth’s spell interrupts, and Tammy starts to cough up pins, freeing Sam and Dean.
Tammy sees what’s going on, and kills Elizabeth. Then Dean stabs her – several times – with Ruby’s demon-killing knife. That knife is so cool.
Dean and Ruby look at each other for a beat and then he goes to help Sam up. Dean grabs the Colt off the floor and Ruby tells them to go, saying she’ll clean up this mess.
Ruby grabs her knife from Tammy’s body.
Back at the motel, Sam is washing up while Dean is outside. The lights start to flicker. Dean looks around and finds Ruby standing there.
Dean tries to understand: she was human once, died, went to hell, became a demon. Yeah, Ruby tells him. Dean wants to know how long ago.
“Back when the plague was big,” she answers.
Dean asks if every demon was human once. Ruby tells him that every one she’s ever met was. Most of them have forgotten what being human means, or even that they were.
“That’s what happens when you go to Hell, Dean. That’s what Hell is. Forgetting what you were.” Uh oh.
Ruby tells him it isn’t philosophy, it isn’t metaphor. There’s a real fire in the pit. This is probably not what Dean wants to here, what with his impending doom.
“The answer’s yes, by the way,” she tells him.
“Sorry?” Dean asks.
“Yes, the same thing will happen to you. Might take centuries, but sooner or later, Hell will burn away your humanity. Every hellbound soul, every one, turns into something else. Turns into us. So yeah. Yeah, you can count on it.”
Dean pauses. “There’s no way of saving me from the pit, is there?”
“Why’d you tell Sam that you could?”
“So he would talk to me. You Winchesters can be pretty bigoted. I needed something to help him get past-“
“-the demon thing? That’s pretty hard to get past,”
“Look at you. You try to be all stoic. My god, it’s heartbreaking.”
“Why are you telling me all this,” Dean asks.
“I need your help.”
“Help with what?”
“With Sam. The way he stopped that demon tonight, it was pretty tough. Sam’s almost there but not quite. You need to help me get him ready. For life without you. To fight this war on his own.”
She goes to walk away but Deans calls out. “Ruby. Why do you want us to win?”
She stops and turns to face him. “Isn’t it obvious? I’m not like them. I don’t know why. I wish I was but I’m not. I remember what it’s like.”
“What what’s like?”
Dean looks up but she’s gone.
First, I love Ruby’s leather jacket.
Second, I can see why I didn’t remember too much about this episode. The monster-of-the-week story, with the witches, is kind of interesting, but compared to the great episodes this season, it doesn’t stand out.
What is important is that final scene with Dean and Ruby. We know that she claims to be different from other demons and that’s why she wants to help Sam. And to help Sam, she helped Dean.
She also confirms that demons, at least every demon she’s ever known, were all human to start, but were basically corrupted souls in Hell, turning them into demons.
And she confirms what may be one of Dean’s fears – that the same thing will happen to him.
And oh yeah, that there’s no way to save him from going to Hell. That was a lie she told Sam so that he will work with her. And Dean looked shaken to hear that cold hard truth from her, because no matter what he tells Sam, I think that he tried to have some hope that they might find a way out of this deal.
So there is definitely some important stuff here, in terms of Dean’s fate and learning more about demons, but the rest of the episode was not a standout for me (although I do find it funny that the women in the coven were not using witchcraft for anything beyond craft fairs and lower mortgage rates, hahaha).