13.05 Advanced Thanatology

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SPN-1305.jpg
Title Advanced Thanatology
Episode # Season 13, Episode 5
First aired November 9, 2017
Directed by John F. Showalter
Written by Steve Yockey
On IMDB Advanced Thanatology
Outline Sam and Dean go on a ghost hunt for a doctor who experimented on and lobotomized all his patients. When Dean chooses to temporarily die to save himself and Sam, he finds an unexpected ally in the new Death.
Monster Ghost
Timeline
Location(s) Grand Junction, Colorado
Lebanon, Kansas
[[{{{prevep}}}|« Previous Episode]] | [[{{{nextep}}}|Next Episode »]]

Synopsis

In Grand Junction, Colorado, two boys, Shawn Raider and Evan, investigate an abandoned house where a doctor had been performing experiments on patients. With camcorders running, they find the doctor's operating room which has creepy plague masks on a shelf. Evan tells Shawn to take one and put it in his bag. When they start to hear noises, Shawn wishes to leave, when suddenly the ghost of Dr. Avery Meadows appears wearing a mask and holding a running power drill. As the two boys attempt to escape, he knocks Shawn down, but turns his attention to attacking Evan while Shawn gets away.

In the Bunker, Sam presents Dean with the case he found online and suggests that they go check it out without Jack. Sam and Dean try to talk to Shawn and his mother Penny Raider, but she says that he isn’t talking. Doctors have told her he is fine physically, but he must have seen something so horrible, he is unable to talk. Dean opens Shawn’s door and finds him drawing the plague doctor mask repeatedly. He attempts to talk to him while Sam finds out about another friend Mike, who might know something from Penny.

Late at night, Shawn is awakened by a bad dream; he cries out and his mother comes in and calms him down. When his mother leaves the room, he hears a drill in the darkness. He sits up and sees Dr. Meadows in his room, moving towards him.

Having suggested a night at a strip club to Dean, Sam wakes the next morning to find him passed out on the floor covered in women's undergarments. Letting Dean sleep it off, Sam goes alone to meet Mike and finds out where the boys went. Sam returns to join Dean for breakfast and shares what he had found out about the doctor's place. Dr. Meadows was a sadist who gave lobotomies for every medical condition and had been wearing a mask like the Shawn was drawing when he was arrested. At Shawn’s house, Penny explains that Shawn was missing. At Meadows' clinic, Sam uses his EMF recorder to see that there is definitely a ghost. Dean then sees the doctor’s ghost behind Sam. A fight ensues until Sam smacks the ghost with an iron crowbar causing it to leave. They continue to look for Shawn and find the operating room and the masks, which they burn, causing the ghost of Dr. Meadows to be laid to rest. However as they continue to search for Shawn lights explode and furniture moves, suggesting there are many ghosts present, trapped in the Veil. Dean says he has a plan to talk to the ghosts. He digs in his bag and finds a box with two syringes in it: One to stop his heart, one to start it. Sam protests, but before he can talk Dean out of it, Dean plunges the syringe into his heart.

Walking as a spirit through the building, Dean finds Shawn, who tells him how the doctor possessed him at his house, and brought him to the doctor’s house and killed him. Dean runs to Sam to tell him he has the location of the bodies and waits for Sam to administer the second syringe. Dean hears a familiar voice as Billie reveals herself to Dean as the new Death. Billie takes Dean to her “reading room” where there are rows of book shelves, all labeled “W”. Dean asks if she is keeping him dead; she says it depends on him. She asks about them traveling to another dimension, but before he answers he wants to know what's in it for him. When Billie asks what he wants, Dean asks for all the ghosts to be released. In return, Dean tells her about Jack and that he opened a rip into another dimension that they then crossed. When Dean asks why she cares, she says that the “multi-versal quantum construct” is a house of cards that doesn’t need a big, dumb Winchester knocking it down.

Billie asks Dean why he didn’t beg for his life when he bargained with her. He replies he couldn’t save Cas, or his mom, or a scared kid, so if it’s his time, it’s his time. She says he has changed, and explains that all the books on the nearby shelves contain Dean's possible deaths, and what happens next depends on what he does. She says none of them say he dies today, though, and that she has seen a larger picture with her new position. She knows that Sam and Dean are important and have a job to do, Dean may want to die, but she says he needs to keep on living. As Dean asks about his mother, she send him back to his body and he is awakened by Sam.

As they are leaving the scene, Sam asks what happened back in the house. Dean tries to put him off, saying he'll tell him later, but Sam presses. Dean then tells Sam he saw Death, and that it is now Billie. He says that she told him they were important, and they have work to do. When Sam asks if he is alright, Dean replies that he is not okay at all, that he no longer believes in what they do. He says he used to believe that the losses were part of the job, that they were doing good in the world and he would keep fighting, but now with the loss of mom and Cas, he wasn’t sure anymore. As they are driving through the night, Dean's phone rings, waking Sam. He looks puzzled, and Sam seems concerned. They pull down a dark street, towards a phone booth. Sam and Dean get out of the car and approach the pay phone, where they find Castiel.

Characters

Definitions

Music

  • "It's Never Too Late" by Steppenwolf
(playing over the closing montage)

Quotes

Dean: What is that? A monster? Is this the one you told the cops about? You know... I know what it's like to see monsters. And I know that when they're gone, they never really go away. You see 'em when you close your eyes. You see 'em in your dreams... But you know what? Me and my brother? We're the guys that stop the monsters. We're the guys that scare them. But you gotta talk to me.
Sam: So, strip club?

Dean: Wait. Sorry. What?
Sam: Mm, s-strip... club. There's one just outside of town, the, uh... Clamdiver.
Dean: You wanna go to the Clamdiver?
Sam: Yeah. It-it got great reviews.
Dean: You read reviews for the Clamdiver?

Sam: It-it-it got four and a half --
Dean: You give me a-a beer for breakfast. You -- you gave me Agent Page, which you always like to be. You -- you didn't whine about me blaring my music the whole way here. And when we stopped for lunch, you ordered me chili fries.

Sam: You love chili fries.

Dean: Everybody loves chili fries. That's not the point. Now you wanna go hang out at a strip club? You hate strip clubs.
Dean: Dude, the last lap dance you had was -- was -- was at Christmas. It was a gift paid for by me. You spent the entire song trying to convince the girl that she should go to nursing school.
Dean: I'm fine.

Sam: No, you're not, Dean. You said you don't believe in anything, and -- and that's... that's not true. That's not you. You -- you -- you do believe in things. You believe in people. That's who you are. That's what you do. I know you're in a dark place, and I-I just want to help.
Dean: Okay. Look, I-I've been down this road before. I fought my way back. I will fight my way back again.
Sam: How?

Dean: Same way I always do -- bullets, bacon, and booze. A lotta booze.
Dean: So you died to become Death?
Billie: This universe can be so many things, and sometimes, it is poetic. That's why we need to talk.
Dean: Why do you care?

Billie: Because I do. Because... this whole multi-versal quantum construct we live in, it's like a house of cards. And the last thing I need is some big, dumb Winchester knocking it all down.

Dean: Hmmm. That does sound like us.
Billie: That doesn't sound like the Dean Winchester I know and love. The man who's been dead so many times but it never seemed to stick. Maybe you're not that guy anymore, the guy who saves the world, the guy who always thinks he'll win no matter what. You have changed. And you tell people it's not a big deal. You tell people you'll work through it, but you know you won't, you can't, and that scares the hell out of you. Or... am I wrong?
Dean: What do you want me to say? Doesn't matter. I don't matter.

Billie: Don't you?
Dean: I couldn't save Mom. I couldn't save Cas. I can't even save a scared little kid. Sam keeps trying to fix it, but I just keep dragging him down. So I'm not gonna beg. Okay, if it's my time, it's my time.
Billie: You really believe that. You wanna die. Dean... every notebook on this particular shelf tells a version of how you die. You specifically -- heart attack, burned by a red-haired witch, stabbed by a ghoul in a graveyard, and on and on. But which one's right? That depends on you, on the choices you make.

Dean: Well, I guess I made my choice.
Sam: You okay?

Dean: No. Sam, I'm not okay, I'm pretty far from okay. You know, my whole life, I always believed that what we do was important. No matter what the cost, no matter who we lost, whether it was Dad or -- or Bobby or... And I would take the hit. But I kept on fighting because I believed that we were making the world a better place. And now Mom and Cas... And I -- I don't know. I don't know.
Sam: So now you don't believe anymore.

Dean: I just need a win. I just need a damn win.

Trivia & References

Thanatology is the scientific study of death.
Dean: What about Jack?

Sam: He's, uh, he's catching up on all my old fantasy DVDs -- "Red Sonja", "Beastmaster", uh, "Beastmaster 2" -- you know, the one with the time traveling ferrets.
Dean: Yeah. Wow, how you ever got laid, I'll never know.

Red Sonja is a fantasy movie based on the eponymous Marvel Comics character who is a barbarian warrior.Beastmaster and Beastermaster 2: Through the Portal of Time are fantasy films about a warrior, Dar, who can communicate with animals. In the second film he travels forward in time with his companions, including the ferrets called Kodo and Podo.
Dean and Sam use the aliases "Agents Page and Plant," referencing Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and lead singer Robert Plant. As stated in the episode, it's a somewhat commonly used alias of the brothers, except Sam typically uses the name Page.
Dean: What's up with the creepy-ass mask?

Sam: It's a plague mask. Doctors used to use them. They thought they filtered out disease. As a matter of fact, when they arrested Meadows, he was wearing one. They had to hold him down to rip it off.

Used in France in the 17th century, the plague doctor costume consisted of ankle-length overcoat and a bird-like beak mask to protect against airborne diseases. The plague mask was in use by Roman doctors as far back as the 14th century.
Dean: What's up, Doc?
This is the catch phrase of the Warner Brothers cartoon character Bugs Bunny.
Dean: Look, we can't talk to 'em on this side of the Veil, so I'm gonna go to the other side. I'm gonna work my way through all these Caspers until we find out where this freak hid the bodies.
Casper is the title character in the famous cartoon series Casper, the Friendly Ghost. The Winchesters have referred to ghosts as "Casper" or "Caspers" on previous occasions.
Dean: No, I saw Cas kill you.

Billie: How's that working out for him? It's funny to hear a Winchester talk about the finality of dying. This reality -- it has rules, Dean. So many rules. And one of them? Kill one incarnation of Death, like you did, the next Reaper to die takes his place. So... when Castiel stabbed me in the back, turns out... I got a promotion. New job. New gear.

Billie taking on Death's mantle is a slight twist on the plot to the 1983 fantasy novel On a Pale Horse, in which the main character, Zane, kills Death and is forced to take the mantle on himself.
Dean: Lucifer's son. Jack. When he was born, it created a little rip.

Billie: 'A little rip'? Into another world? And you went there?
Dean: Mm. Yeah, I'll just say it's, uh, it's not Candy Land.

Candy Land features in the board game of the same name, and is a land made of candy and confectionery.
Death's various notebooks on the way Dean dies bears some similarity to the manga/anime Death Note, where shinigami, gods of death, write down the names of people and their deaths in their own personal Death Notes.

Minutiae

Alisen Down, who played Penny Raider, previously played Alice Cassity in 8.14 Trial and Error.
The set of Dr. Avery Meadows' Mental Health Center was previously used in Dr. Eleanor Visyak's mansion in San Francisco during the events in 6.12 Like a Virgin, specifically the grand staircase and the stained glass window featuring Joan of Arc.
When Dean takes out the syringes to induce death and revive him, the masking tape on the kit reads: “Dr. Robert. For Emergency.” Dr. Robert was the doctor that first induced death on Dean in 6.11 Appointment in Samarra.
Sam: Dean, you're talking about killing yourself.

Dean: Yeah? Well, it worked before.

Dean previously induced death on two separate occasions, first in 6.11 Appointment in Samarra and later in 11.17 Red Meat. Both included reapers, with the latter including Billie as well.
Billie: Since I got this... new job, I stand witness to a much larger picture. Do you know what I see? You. And your brother. You're important.

Dean: Why?
Billie: You have work to do. That's all you need to know. And trust me, having my eyes opened to the necessity of any humans, especially Winchesters, is not a thrill. So... you wanna die, but I say... keep living.

At the end of the pilot, there is a shot of Dean and Sam standing over the trunk of the Impala. As Sam tosses a weapon into he trunk he says, "We've got work to do" and closes the trunk. At the end of 2.22 All Hell Breaks Loose: Part Two, the scene is replayed with the brother's positions reversed. Dean tosses the Colt into the trunk and says, "We've got work to do." In 4.01 Lazarus Rising, when Dean asks Castiel why he was brought back, Castiel responds, "Because we have work for you." In 7.19 Of Grave Importance the line is used by Bobby to explain his presence as a ghost. It is also re-created at the start of 10.05 Fan Fiction after Dean announces he has found a case.

Sides, Scripts & Transcripts

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