11.16 Safe House

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SPN-1116.jpg
Title Safe House
Episode # Season 11, Episode 16
First aired March 23, 2016
Directed by Stefan Pleszczynski
Written by Robbie Thompson
On IMDB Safe House
Outline When a creature is released in an old house, leaving a mother and daughter in a coma. Sam and Dean investigate and find that Bobby and Rufus hunted the same creature a handful of years ago.
Monster Soul Eater
Timeline Two weeks since 11.15 Beyond the Mat;
Flashback to 2008/09
Location(s) Grand Rapids, Michigan
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Synopsis

A woman, Naoki Himura, is scraping old wallpaper while talking on the phone with her partner about the progress on renovating their "fixer-upper" of a new home. She hears a scream and runs up to her daughter's bedroom. The girl tells her mother that there is something bad in the house, and complains about how cold her room is. After the mother leaves to get her a glass of water, the lights in the little girl’s room go out and her door slams shut. The child hides under her bed, watching the shadow of someone walking in front of her door. The door is suddenly opened, followed by a pale hand snatching the child away.

The brothers are having breakfast at a café, discussing their frustrating lack of leads on Amara and Cas. In the meantime, Sam suggests they take a case, showing Dean an article about a little girl in a coma after some sort of attack. The only sign of trauma is a handprint on her ankle. It seems like a vengeful spirit -- an easy case to solve, something Sam thinks they could use right now. They arrive in their fed suits at the hospital and question Naoki. She reports the flickering lights and cold spot in her daughter's room. Sam and Dean ask if they can go take a look at the house, and she consents, letting them know where the spare key is hidden. After the boys are gone, Naoki turns to check on her daughter and covers the child’s calf, where we can clearly see a bruise in the shape of a hand. When the brothers arrive at Naoki’s house, one of the neighbors stops them, asking why the FBI keeps showing up. When she sees the puzzlement in the boys’ faces, she tells them that a handful of years before there was another pair of FBI agents checking the house. She describes them as older men who were very rude to her, and Sam and Dean share a look of recognition.

A handful of years ago, Bobby and Rufus meet up in front of the house. Rufus pulls up behind Bobby's car and finds him asleep in the front seat. Bobby explains that he's been working on finding a way to prevent the apocalypse, and he's irritated that Rufus asked him to put that work on hold to come help him with this case. Just as Rufus and Bobby are walking to the house, the neighbor stops them, asking them why they're here. Bobby explains that they're FBI agents working on special case. Rufus brusquely tells the woman it's none of her damn business why they're there.

In the current year, Sam and Dean enter the house with the spare key. They investigate and find that the whole place gives off high EMF readings -- too high for a simple haunting by a single spirit. Dean suggests that they take some time to dig through Bobby’s old journals and the history of the house to try to get a better idea of what they're dealing with.

In the past, Bobby and Rufus sit down with a previous resident of the house. She tells them that her son called out for help in the night, saying he heard footsteps. By the time she and her husband got to his room, he was unconscious on the floor. She also mentions flickering lights and a cold spot in her son's room. As with the case in the present, the doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with the child apart from a strange mark on his ankle that looked like a handprint.

Sam and Dean check in to a local motel. Sam discovers that it's the same motel where Bobby and Rufus stayed, and he asks for the same room, for luck. In the past, Rufus asks Bobby why he was sleeping in his car and Bobby evades the question. Sam finds that there were two deaths on the house, one accidental (a man choked on a chicken bone) and the other a murder (a husband shot his wife). Dean finds the entry for the hunt in Bobby's journal, but it's short and unhelpful, suggesting only that they believed it to be a possible ghost. He speculates that Rufus and Bobby probably dealt with only one of the two spirits and that the other one is now haunting the house. They just need to find and burn the other set of bones, and the house will be clear. That feels too easy to Sam, but Dean is now ready for a nice, easy case so they can deal with it and get back to hunting Amara and saving Cas.

In the past, Rufus and Bobby argue over the case. Bobby believes it's a simple ghost case while Rufus now thinks it's a baku. They bet a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Whisky on it, then head off to dig up some bones. On two separate nights, two pairs of hunters are digging up the same graves. Sam and Dean open the first casket and find that the bones have already been burned. While taking his turn at digging, Rufus again asks Bobby why he fell asleep in his car. Bobby finally answers that he's been overworked, staying up late trying to find a way to stop the apocalypse with Sam and Dean. He says he's worried for his boys. Rufus reminds him of the oldest rule of hunting: you can't save everyone. Back in the present, the brothers reach the second casket and find only ashes within. Apparently they're not hunting a ghost after all.

Inside the case house, Naoki is packing some of her daughter's things to take to the hospital, when the light suddenly goes off and the sound of footsteps approaches. She falls to the floor and is grabbed and dragged away. The next day, Sam and Dean are back in the hospital, checking on Naoki and her daughter, now both in unexplained comas. Sam finds the doctor who was treating the family from Rufus' and Bobby's case. In flashback and in the present day, she confirms the details of the case -- mother and child found unconscious, each with a strange mark on the ankle. She says that the patients' vital signs had failed rapidly and they'd come close to death, then somehow both woke up the next morning, perfectly fine. She says that Naoki and her daughter show the same failing vitals and she expresses hope for the same sort of recovery.

Sam and Dean go to speak to the family from the past case, the Hendersons. The mother, Mary Henderson, is shocked to see a pair of FBI agents at her house. She asks if it's happening again, if her son in danger. The boys reassure her and ask for any information she can give them, even the smallest detail. She describes a dream she had during her coma, a nightmare in which she was in a darker, faded version of her house. She saw her husband's dead body, and then it was gone. She tried to leave the house but couldn't. She saw spirits all around her. She says that after she woke up, one of the FBI agents told her never to touch the wallpaper in the sitting room.

The boys return to the house. Sam looks closely at the wallpaper that Naoki had been removing and sees a bit of red peeking out from underneath. When he peels more of the wallpaper away, he reveals a sigil painted on the wall. Naoki had unknowingly deactivated it by damaging it while she was scraping off the old paper. The boys don't recognize the sigil, and dive into the research to try to figure out what they're dealing with. In the past, Bobby and Rufus do the same.

Bobby figures out that they are dealing with a Soul Eater. Sam reaches the same conclusion in his own time. Both pairs of hunters discover that Soul Eaters are undead creatures which feed on souls. A Soul Eater moves into a house and builds a nest, a place that exists outside of space and time. It yanks its victim's soul into its nest and feeds on it, showing it visions of loved ones in distress to keep it weakened. Meanwhile, back in the real world, the body withers and dies. According to the lore Bobby is consulting, Soul Eaters cannot be killed, only trapped. He recalls a similar case from his earlier days, where he was able to trap the monster with an old Celtic sigil. He sadly relates that the hunter he was helping in that case couldn't be saved, and Rufus reminds him again that not everyone can be.

In the present day, the boys wonder how the Hendersons' souls were returned if Rufus and Bobby only managed to trap the monster. Sam finds information in the Men of Letters archives that provides a way to kill the Soul Eater -- two sigils, one in the house and one inside the nest. A game of Rock, Paper, Scissors determines that Dean will be the one entering the nest. In their respective times, Rufus and Sam each begin painting a sigil on a wall of the house. Bobby and Dean each get pulled into the nest, although only Dean was expecting the trip.

When Dean wakes up, the house is dark and gloomy and he sees Sam's bloody body on the floor. Remembering the lore, he closes his eyes and when he opens them again, Sam’s body is gone, to his relief. The same thing happens to Bobby -- he sees Sam and Dean dead, blinks his eyes and shakes his head and they're gone. Both Dean and Bobby find the children from their respective cases inside the house, and while they are talking and trying to help them (and Dean is painting his sigil), Rufus and Sam are doing their best to finish their sigils in the outside world. Rufus hears a noise and runs upstairs; he discovers Bobby's unconscious body and leaves it in place, once again mentioning the oldest rule of hunting. Sam drags Dean's unconscious body into the kitchen with him and props it up against the refrigerator.

The longer the hunters stay in the nest, the more spirits they see there. Bobby encounters the Soul Eater itself, which occupies his body in the real world and tries to coax Rufus into the nest and keep him from completing the sigil. The same thing then happens to Dean. Rufus and Sam each struggle with the Soul Eater inside the borrowed body of their hunting partner while also trying to finish the sigil. Eventually they succeed, and the souls begin disappearing from within the nest, freed across time by the sigils that Sam and Dean painted. As the souls vanish, Dean looks up the stairs and sees Bobby looking back at him. Their eyes meet, shocked, and then they each flicker out and return to their own times.

The next day, in the past, Bobby is covering the sigil with wallpaper while Rufus is checking on the fully recovered Hendersons at the hospital. Over the phone, Rufus asks Bobby what he saw inside the nest. Bobby mentions the vision of Sam's and Dean's bodies, but he hesitates to tell Rufus that he saw Dean, alive, as well. Rufus tells Bobby to forget the oldest rule, because they actually can solve a case without casualties. Good news also comes in Sam and Dean’s time -- Naoki and her daughter are awake, Naoki's wife has arrived safely, and they’re selling the house.

After he finishes with the wallpaper, Bobby goes back to his car and finds the whisky from Rufus, with a note. As he's about to write more in his journal about the hunt, his phone rings. It's Dean, asking for Bobby’s help tracking Lilith. He puts his journal down and starts his car.

Back in the present, Sam and Dean, are talking about what Dean saw in the nest. They don't understand why Dean saw Bobby there, but speculate that it might have something to do with the nest existing outside of time. They decide to head to the location of the other Soul Eater case that Bobby mentioned, to kill that monster as well and tie up those loose ends.

Characters

Definitions

Music

  • "Nite Life" by Willie Nelson
(playing over the montage of Sam, Dean, Bobby and Rufus researching)
  • "Midnight Rider" by The Allman Brothers Band
(playing as Bobby is driving away and as Sam and Dean drive away)

Quotes

Dean: You really think now is the time to take our eye off the prize?

Sam: We can't just sit around and-and wait for a lead. Plus it'd be nice to get a win. This case seems like a layup.

Dean: Yeah. When's the last time we had a layup?
Bobby: The Apocalypse is on the horizon, and you wanna hunt a damn ghost?

Rufus: Well, unless you found a way to stop the end of the world during your little siesta... We got jack-all on any of that business. I knew you were in the area, heard about this possible little gig. I thought a win would be nice.
Bobby: Oh, wait. I'm supposed to be your frickin' backup?
Rufus: Yeah. Well, if by backup you mean you do all the heavy lifting while I watch. It's Shabbat.
Bobby: Are you serious?
Rufus: Deadly.
Bobby: You drove over here. Ain't that against the rules?

Rufus: Less talking, more hunting.
Rufus: It's officially none of your damn business, ma'am.

Bobby: Were you ever nice?

Rufus: 1985. Worst year of my life.
Dean: Well, Bobby and Rufus were definitely on a ghost hunt.
Sam: 'Grand Rapids, Michigan: possible ghost hunt with jackass.' That's all he wrote?
Bobby: Been burning the midnight oil, last couple of weeks. Up for days looking for ways to stop the Apocalypse. Looking for anything. Sam and Dean are right in the middle of this thing. I'm worried about my boys, Rufus.

Rufus: Your boys? Hey, hey, alright. Okay. Papa bear. But you know more than anyone, Bobby... Even if we find a way to keep the world spinnin', not everyone's gonna be on that bus ride home. Sacrifice, greater good, all that jazz.
Bobby: Yeah, I know.

Rufus: Oldest rule in hunting, Bobby. You can't save everyone.
Dean: Come and get me, you son of a bitch.
Bobby: Stay away from me, you son of a bitch.
Soul Eater Dean: You know your brother wants to go to the Darkness; he needs to go. But I can keep you safe, both of you. Forever.
Rufus: You saw something in the nest, didn't you? What'd you see, Bobby?

Bobby: My boys. Both of them. Both of them dead, and then I saw... Well, I don't know what the hell I saw.
Rufus: Yeah, well, forget the oldest rule, Bobby.
Bobby: You gettin' soft on me, Rufus?
Rufus: Yeah, soft this.

Bobby: Idjit.
Dean: I don't know. Maybe it's like-like you said before, that Bobby and Rufus' trap sigil forced their souls out of the nest back then, and that the soul eater was just making me see things. However, if Bobby did go into the nest back then, and you said that the nest exists outside of space and time, then... Theoretically, couldn't he and I have been there at the same time? Right?

Sam: My head hurts.

Dean: Well, let's get drunk and not think about this ever again.
Sam: Hey. You said the soul eater made you see things, plural. So, what else did you see?

Dean: I saw you, dead on the floor. What?

Sam: How messed up are our lives, that you seeing a vision of dead-me is actually kind of comforting?

Trivia & References

Sam and Dean use the aliases "Rizer" and "Bean," a reference to characters Bill Rizer and Lance Bean from the classic video game series Contra. Bobby and Rufus use the aliases "Riggs" and "Murtaugh," a reference to the characters from the Lethal Weapon franchise.
The hospital where Sam and Dean speak with Naoki Himura was named St. Eligius, which is the name of the fictional hospital where the TV series St. Elsewhere took place.
The book Rufus is immersed in when Bobby disturbs his reading time is Old Man's War by John Scalzi.
Dean: Okay, so they're either hunting chicken bone or asshat. One ghost breaks bad back then, the other's been marinating until now.
To "break bad" is to do something unconventional or illegal.
Dean: Hey, easy like Sunday morning works for me.
"Easy like Sunday morning" is a reference to the chorus to the song "Easy" by the Commodores.
"Ooh, that's why I'm easy / I'm easy like Sunday morning / That's why I'm easy / I'm easy like Sunday morning"
Rufus: What's complicated? I'm just saying it's not a ghost. It's a baku.
A baku is a Japanese spirit that feeds on dreams and nightmares.
Rufus: What happens to the remains of the souls in the nest?

Bobby: Well, they wither, too. But they stay with the soul eater, keeping it fed in lean times. Sort of like a cud.

A "cud" is a portion of food that returns from the stomach of an animal, usually cattle or sheep, to be chewed and eaten again.
Sam: You know, it's too bad Bobby and Rufus aren't around to see this stuff. They'd have been great Men of Letters.

Dean: Yeah. Grumpy old Men of Letters, but yeah.

Probably a reference to the 1993 movie Grumpy Old Men, starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Sam compared Bobby and Dean to the same movie in 5.07 The Curious Case of Dean Winchester.
Bobby: Keep painting, Picasso.
Picasso is a famous Spanish painter, known for his seminal work in the cubist movement.
Sam: I'm getting too old for this.
"I'm getting too old for this." is the famous catch phrase from Danny Glover's character Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon series. "Agent Murtaugh" happens to be Rufus's alias in this episode, and in 5.02 Good God, Y'All he made the same reference.

Minutiae

An "unrelated drawing" writer Robbie Thompson sketched on his script for this episode. In retrospect, it's likely his vision for the soul eater. And notes from the board for this episode from Thompson's Twitter.
Holly Elissa, who played Mary Henderson, previously played Lucy in 4.05 Monster Movie.
Arien Boey, who played Will Henderson, previously played Aiden Duren in 6.08 All Dogs Go to Heaven.
When Dean calls Bobby in the flashback, he refers to tracking Lilith, which places the scenes in late 2008/09 (Season 4).
During the flashback scenes, both Bobby's Car and Bobby's flask can be seen.
Rufus is Jewish and often uses the Jewish tradition of observing Shabbat (which lasts from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday and is a day of rest) as an excuse to make Bobby do all the heavy lifting. Though, as Bobby points out, Rufus is pretty loose about observing the rest of the time.
At the end of the flashback in this episode, Bobby gets a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue from Rufus to satisfy their earlier bet, since Bobby was right: they weren't dealing with a baku. This bottle is found two years later by Sam and Jody Mills in 7.12 Time After Time. They wonder what bet Rufus and Bobby had made, but never find out.
Executive Consultant Robert Singer can be heard as the radio host introducing "Midnight Rider" as Sam and Dean drive off at the end of the episode.

Sides, Scripts & Transcripts

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