(As I mentioned in my post announcing this rewatch project, there will be spoilers!)
Season 3, Episode 15: Time Is On My Side
Image and episode summary from Wikipedia:
Sam convinces Dean to go to Erie, Pennsylvania, to investigate a possible zombie, but they instead learn that the culprit behind recent organ thefts is Doc Benton (Billy Drago). Having abandoned his work in 1816 to follow his obsession of finding the key to eternal life, he drugs people and harvests their internal organs to replace his. Sam wants to use Doc Benton's research to find a way to extend Dean's life. Dean instead leaves for Canaan, Vermont, to speak with retired hunter Rufus Turner (Steven Williams), whom Bobby claims knows of both Bela's location and background. When he confronts her, she claims that the Colt has already been sold. He angrily reveals his knowledge of her parents—she had their car brakes cut due to abuse from her father—but then realizes that she had made a demonic pact. Like himself, her time is running out. He peacefully departs. Meanwhile, Sam rescues a woman from Doc Benton in an isolated cabin, stealing his research journal in the process. His survival methods are purely scientific, and are thus of no use to saving Dean. Doc Benton later kidnaps Sam and tries to harvest his eyes, but is stopped by Dean. With the doctor apparently immortal, the brothers bury him alive. Running out of time, Bela breaks into their motel room and shoots at their beds, which are revealed to be empty. They had expected her betrayal again and left town already. Dean calls Bela, and she explains that the Colt and Sam's death were the only way out of her deal. She also reveals that Lilith holds all of the deals; if Dean kills her, he may be able to break his. Dean hangs up, and Bela is left staring off into the distance as the growls of a hellhound—vicious, dog-like monsters who hunt down those whose contracts have expired—are heard.
This is the second-last episode of season three!
We see two men leaving a spa and racquet club in the evening. While one drives off, the other is attacked while packing his bags in his trunk. Uh oh! He is pushed into the trunk of his car. Later, we see him staggering into a hospital, wearing only a trenchcoat, begging for help and bleeding. When a nurse asks to see what happened, she opens the coat, but screams as the man’s intestines basically fall out. Gross!
Cut to Sam and Dean, who are interrogating a demon. This demon insists he doesn’t know anything. Dean asks again – who holds his contract? The demon sasses him, joking about the boys’ mother, but Dean says he wants a name. This demon won’t tell them anything though – he says he’s more scared of the demon holding Dean’s contract than he is of what Sam and Dean will do to him. So Sam begins the exorcism.
The demon says he and his demon friends will be waiting for Dean when he gets to Hell.
Later, Sam is on the phone with someone while Dean comes in from burying the demon vessel’s body. Sam tells Dean about the guy in the ER from earlier – apparently the dead body was covered in bloody fingerprints, matching a guy who died in 1981. Dean is intrigued. He speculates – was this a zombie thing?
Dean asks Sam why he cares about this, in the midst of Dean’s contract coming up so soon. Sam says he’s just trying to help, if Dean wants to work.
They go to the morgue and ask about the guy’s body. His liver was missing but it wasn’t ripped out. It was removed, surgically, apparently by someone who knew their way around a scalpel. The doctor chides them for not reading his report and tells them to go away.
Sam tells Dean this punches a hole in the zombie theory. Maybe they’re on the wrong track – they should be looking for survivors. This is organ theft.
They interview a man in hospital, who has apparently had his kidney stolen. Sam asks the guy what he last remembers. Like the man in the beginning, he was jumped from behind. He woke up strapped to a table, and after the pain of the surgery, he woke up in a motel in a bathtub full of ice.
At their motel, Sam tells Dean the man in the hospital’s incisions were sewn up with silk, which hasn’t been used in forever. Dean asks why this all sounds familiar, and Sam says they heard this story before, from their dad when they were kids.
He passes over John’s journal and says this is Doc Benton, a real-life doctor who was obsessed with alchemy and how to live forever. In 1816, the doctor went off the radar and eventually people started showing up dead or missing parts. The doctor had apparently managed to find a way to keep himself alive, but needed to replace parts every so often.
Dean says he thought their dad tracked this guy down and cut out his heart but Sam says he must have tracked down another one.
Meanwhile, a man is out for an evening run, and is being followed. He is grabbed from behind and when he comes to, he is strapped to a table in a dingy room. We see an old creepy-looking doctor come in, who cuts the man open and removes his heart! Yuck!!
Sam and Dean are tracking down Doc Benton, when Dean gets a call from Bobby. Bobby tells them he’s got a lead on Bela. He mentions Rufus Turner, who used to be a hunter but is now mostly a hermit and sells some stuff on occasion. Bobby put the word out on Bela months ago but Rufus just called saying Rufus got a call from a woman with a British accent, using one of Bela’s accents, looking to buy some stuff. Dean says that’s pretty sloppy on Bela’s part but Bobby says he doubts Bela knows that Rufus and Bobby know each other, as they haven’t spoken in 15 years.
Dean says they’ll check it out, and Bobby tells him to bring along a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label.
Dean tells Sam they’re going after Bela, but Sam insists that they stay here and finish the case. Sam says Bela probably sold the Colt the second she got it but when Dean says he’s going, Sam says no. This is what’s going to save him.
He tells Dean that if they find out how Doc Benton is staying alive, they can do it to Dean. If he doesn’t die, he can’t go to Hell. Dean realizes that Sam thought they were chasing Doc Benton from the start. And not to kill him, but to find out what he’s doing to stay alive.
Dean says that if he cheats this deal, Sam dies. Dean says their best shot is to kill the demon who holds his contract.
Sam won’t go with Dean to go after Bela. Dean says he won’t let Sam go after Doc Benton. Sam says they’re trying to do the same thing. But Dean says he’s going. And if Sam wants to stay, stay. As he leaves, he looks back at Sam. “Sammy, be careful.”
“You too,” Sam says.
We see Dean approach a house, with some a security camera and intercom at the front door. Rufus asks Dean what he wants. When Dean introduces himself and says he’s a friend of Bobby’s, Rufus says, “So?” Dean tells him he’s trying to find Bela but Rufus won’t do it. He comes to the door and tells Dean that he called Bobby about Bela, the end.
Rufus tells Dean to get the hell off his property. But Dean pulls out a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label, and Rufus smiles. (I LOVE RUFUS!)
Inside, Rufus and Dean share a drink. Rufus says he doesn’t even bother drinking unless it’s this stuff.
Dean asks what Bela was after. Rufus says she wanted to buy a couple things, and when Dean asks where she is now, Rufus wonders why Dean is chasing after Bela, with only three weeks left until his contract comes due.
Dean asks how Rufus knew about his contract. Rufus says he knows things. Like he knows the Colt won’t save Dean.
Dean asks how Rufus can be sure of that.
“Cause that’s the job, kid. Even if you manage to scrape out of this and live, there’s gonna be something else down the road. Folks like us, there ain’t no happy ending. We all got it coming.”
Rufus tells Dean that he’s what he’s got to look forward to if he survives. “Which you won’t.”
Meanwhile, Sam is out in the woods looking for Doc Benton’s cabin. This seems like a very dangerous idea!
Dean is still pressing Rufus about Bela. Rufus gives Dean her hotel and room number, and tells Dean to watch his back. Turns out Rufus tried to lift Bela’s prints after her visit but it got him nowhere (she burned her prints off!). Rufus says he got a print of her ear, which are as unique to humans as fingerprints. And apparently in England those prints are used in courts. Rufus got ten pages of confidential files from a contact in England after sending a picture of her ear from his security camera.
Rufus holds out a file to Dean: “The so-called Bela Talbot”.
Sam enters a dark, dusty cabin. This is such a bad idea, Sam! He starts looking around, and finds an old notebook, which he puts in his jacket. He then finds the basement! Don’t go down there, Sam…but of course he does, and finds the dead body of the man from earlier. Sam goes closer to investigate, and as he explores the basement, he finds another person strapped to a table! It’s a woman, who, despite her injuries, is still alive. Sam tries to keep her calm and quiet, saying he will help her. Then they hear the doctor enter the cabin above them.
When the doctor comes downstairs, Sam and the woman have managed to escape out a window. Sam carries her back to his car, and puts her inside, saying he’ll get her out of here. He gets in the car, but before he can drive away, the doctor attacks through the window. They struggle but Sam gets free and runs Doc Benton over with his car. But the doctor gets up! Even though his neck looks…wrong. But he puts it back in place and stares after the car as Sam drives off.
Dean surprises Bela in her hotel room, telling her that the Colt is halfway across the world by now. Dean disarms her, and she insists that she doesn’t have the Colt. He searches her room for it, and she tells him it’s gone. Dean points the gun at her, but she says he isn’t the cold-blooded type. Dean reveals that he knows that Bela killed her parents. She was 14, her folks died in a shady car accident and cops suspected a slashed brake line, and Abby (aka Bela) inherited millions.
Bela’s reaction reveals it’s true, and in a flashback we see a scene that strongly implies sexual abuse. She tells Dean that her parents were lovely people and she killed them and got rich and can’t be bothered to give a damn – just like she doesn’t care what happens to him.
Dean spots something hanging above the door in Bela’s hotel room and puts the gun down, saying she isn’t worth it. He pushes past her and leaves.
Bela makes a phone call, telling whoever is on the other end that Dean found her and Sam wasn’t with him, but she knows where they are.
Sam gets a call from Dean, who reveals that he didn’t get the Colt. Dean says Sam was right. Bela was a goose chase and the Colt is gone.
Sam says he found Doc Benton’s cabin but didn’t kill the doctor. He found the doctor’s book with his formula to live forever. Sam says it isn’t black magic, it’s just science. Very very weird science but not dark magic. Sam says it might be doable. It might save Dean.
As Sam talks to Dean, he’s attacked and wakes up strapped to the table in Doc Benton’s cabin.
The doctor tells Sam to relax and that the chances of him coming out of the procedure alive are very high. This looks like some creepy shit is about to take place.
The doctor tells Sam that this eternal life thing is very high maintenance and he only does what he has to do. If something goes wrong with a part – like, say, an eye – he has to replace them.
The doctor seems pretty angry at Sam’s dad for cutting out his heart those years ago. And the doctor has John’s journal, likely taken when he abducted Sam from his motel room.
At pretty much the last possible second, Dean busts in and shoots the doctor, who is unharmed. The doctor and Dean tussle while Sam is still strapped on the table. Dean stabs the doctor, who just laughs. He asks Dean what part of immortality does he not understand? “Pity about the heart, though. It was a brand new one”.
Dean reveals the knife blade was coated in chloroform, and the doctor passes out.
When the doctor comes to, he is tied down on the table and Sam and Dean are standing on either side. The doctor tells Dean that he knows what he needs, that he can help him, he can read the formula for him and impart immortality on him. Sam seems conflicted, tempted perhaps, and pulls Dean aside to talk. He tells Dean the method isn’t perfect but it would buy Dean time, asking him to think about it. Dean flat out refuses, saying what the doctor is isn’t living. It’s black and white: human and non-human. He says the doctor is a monster and he would rather go to Hell. Dean knocks the doctor out again, telling Sam he will take care of Doc Benton and Sam can either help him or not.
The doctor comes to, this time, in a box. He lights a match, and as he pushes on the lid, we see that he is lying in a deep grave in a chained-shut fridge, with his notebook on top.
“Enjoy forever in there, Doc”, Dean says, as he and Sam begin to shovel dirt on top.
Next we see Bela approaching a motel room, picking the lock and shooting two bodies in their beds. She goes to pull back the covers, to find that the bodies are dolls. She was expecting Sam and Dean!
Then the phone rings. Bela answers, and it’s Dean. He tells her that he knew Bela swiped the motel receipt from Dean’s pocket earlier, which is how she learned where they were staying.
Bela says that Dean doesn’t understand, but he says he does. He tells her that he noticed the herb above her hotel door, which is used to hold hell hounds at bay. Dean realized Bela’s parents died 10 years ago – she made a deal with a demon to kill her parents and it’s come due.
We see it happen in flashback.
Dean asks Bela if that’s why she stole the Colt – the gun for her soul? But it turns out the demon changed the deal and the Colt was no longer enough. They wanted her to kill Sam.
It’s 2 minutes to midnight. Bela cries, telling Dean she needs help even though she knows she doesn’t deserve it. Dean agrees, but says if she had just come to them and asked for help, he and Sam probably could have saved her.
Bela says she knows about Dean’s deal. She knows the demon that holds the contracts – it’s Lilith. Dean and Sam know that name.
Bela says they shouldn’t believe her but it’s the truth. And she’s telling them because maybe they can kill the demon. Dean says he’ll see her in Hell and hangs up.
Bela sits on the bed in tears, and as the clock switches over to midnight, she hears hell hounds howling outside. She looks out the window, resigned to her fate.
So. I kind of like the plot of this doctor who has figured out a way to achieve immortality (in a very gruesome way) and that Sam is so desperate to save Dean that he thinks the doctor’s methods might be worth considering – and I love that Dean is clearly against it.
I also love the introduction of Rufus, who we do see again on occasion.
But I am really struggling with this Bela storyline. I’ve said before that I think her character had potential but the writing for her was not good. And then after making her a villain all season, we learn that she was the victim of something awful as a child and made a deal with a crossroads demon (although what happened to the whole needing to summon the demon at actual crossroads?). So after being annoyed by the character all season, I was torn between feeling bad for her – both for what happened to her as a child, and for her death by hell hound – and still just not liking her. I know it’s possible to not like her character and also be upset about what happened to her, but it felt like the writers pulled this character backstory out of nowhere and then threw it out there and then killed her off.
I guess I’m frustrated by what could have been done with the character to make her more complex and pretty much waiting until they were killing her off to reveal anything about her motivations or background. It might have made her a more interesting and dynamic character throughout the season, but they did what they did and I’m still not sure how to put my feelings about it into the right words.
As for the episode overall, it makes it quite clear that Dean is out of options and all he can do is hope that he can track down Lilith, who holds his contract, and somehow kill her and hope that doing so will release him from the deal – without getting Sam killed.
And if that doesn’t work? Then those hell hounds will be coming for him, too.