8.14 Trial and Error

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Title Trial and Error
Episode # Season 8, Episode 14
First aired February 13, 2013
Directed by Kevin Parks
Written by Andrew Dabb
On IMDB Trial and Error
Outline Sam and Dean visit a ranch to try and find a hellhound that they need to kill in order to close the Gates of Hell.
Monster Hellhound
Location(s) Lebanon, Kansas
Warsaw, Missouri
Shoshone, Idaho
[[{{{prevep}}}|« Previous Episode]] | [[{{{nextep}}}|Next Episode »]]


Kevin is on Garth's boat still attempting to translate the demon tablet. He is working day and night - strung out on hot dogs and aspirin – with but a few hours of sleep. Back at the Bunker, Dean begins to “nest” by setting up his own bedroom complete with guns mounted on the wall and an old photo of him and his mother on his desk. Just as Dean serves Sam a burger he's made, Kevin calls.

When Sam and Dean arrive at the boat, Kevin explains that there are trials that must be completed in order to close the Gates of Hell. The first trial is the only one Kevin has deciphered so far. It includes bathing in the blood of a hellhound. Kevin questions how they will find one. Dean explains that when a crossroads deal is made, it has an expiration that is enforced by hellhounds. Sam and Dean decide to try and find someone who has made a deal 10 years ago and hopefully be able to find a devil dog. Dean goes for a supply run for Goofer Dust and some real food for Kevin. While he’s gone, Sam counsels Kevin on taking better care of himself. Kevin expresses that he is at the end of his rope and wants this to all be over so that he can go back to his real life.

When Dean returns, Sam tells him about an interesting article he found about the Cassity family in Shoshone, Idaho that struck oil even though it seemed geologically impossible. Before they head out to check out the ranch, Dean asks Kevin to check the tablet for any secrets to killing a hellhound.

Sam and Dean arrive at the Cassity family ranch. They meet Carl Granville the self-proclaimed trophy husband, and the ranch manager, Ellie, who hires the boys on as ranch hands. They spend their time trying to figure which of the Cassity family made the deal. They suspect Alice Cassity and decide to track her to be sure. While Alice and Carl have dinner on the terrace, howling is heard in the distance. The boys are on surveillance near the barn but within sight. Alice decides to go inspect the noise further confirming the boys’ suspicion. The growling grows closer and something attacks and kills Carl.

The sheriff arrives and blames the death on the re-introduction of wolves to the area. Ellie disagrees and comments that this was no wolf which seems to spark Dean’s interest. The boys discuss what happened and decide to pack it up. As they go back to the barn, Sam runs in to Alice and tries to console her. Alice explains that she is oddly fine. She knows she should be sad, but isn’t. She explains how she and Carl had known each other all of their lives but he went unnoticed by her until Valentine’s Day 2003. Sam then realizes that Carl made a deal, but maybe not the only deal as it doesn’t explain the family striking oil.

Dean suggests summoning a crossroads demon to find out who made a deal. Sam explains that he thinks another family member made a deal for the oil. Dean agrees to wait it out for two days. The other family members are returning to the ranch and Ellie --has been working for the family since she was 13 -- gives Dean the rundown of the family members.

As the Cassity's are having a dinner, Sam is assigned to waiting on the family and Dean is working the grill. During dinner, the family discusses the story of a traveling salesman named Crowley who visited before they were rich.

Kevin finds some help for killing the hellhounds. They can be seen through objects that have been scorched with the holy flames. Dean gets some holy oil out of the trunk of the Impala, douses some glasses and set them alight. Meanwhile Noah and Margot Cassity decide to go hunt whatever it is that killed Carl, so Sam goes with them.

Dean, wearing his specialized specs, runs in to Ellie who tries to seduce him with a one night only offer that he turns down. Off in the fields while hunting, Sam separates for a minute from the others to chase the path of the hound but Noah finds him quickly. While going to get Margot, the hell hound has found her first and killed her. Back at the house Dean and Sam explain to the rest of the family what is going on and the family is handcuffed to keep them safe. Goofer dust is sprinkled around the house to try and prevent the hellhounds from getting in. Dean asks Sam to remain inside, to protect him from the trials. Sam protests but gives in as Dean explains how important it is that Sam has a life. Dean looks for the hounds and hears music coming from the Barn so he goes to inspect it. Sam listens to more bickering amongst the family.

Dean finds Ellie in her room and she reveals that she is the one who made the deal with Crowley. Ellie tells Dean what happened years ago and about the deal she made with Crowley after seeing him kiss Margot sealing her own deal. Ellie’s mother had Parkinson’s and she sold her soul for her mother to be healthy. She begins to hallucinate and Dean morphs into a creepy-faced monster. He tries to console her and tells her that she is just seeing things. He encircles her in Goofer dust for protection and goes out to find the hellhound

Alice escapes the house and Sam chases after her. He sees a hellhound for the first time and sends Alice off to safety. The hellhound charges Dean and swipes his claw against Dean’s side. Dean falls to the ground and the glasses get knocked off. The hellhound is closing in on Dean and about to attack. Sam runs up just in time to save Dean and shoots the hellhound twice. This doesn’t stop it for long. Within moments the hellhound has Sam on his back on the ground and Sam has him by the throat. Sam stabs and eviscerates the hellhound and the blood of it covers him completely.

Sam and Dean make a hex bag for Ellie and have her leave town, as long as Crowley can’t find her. Sam argues that even when Ellie dies, her soul will still go to hell. Dean retorts that her soul is safe if Hell is shut down. Dean says the incantation but it does not work. Sam wants to do the spell and continue the trials. The boys argue with Sam pleading for Dean’s trust and support. Reluctantly Dean concedes and agrees to let Sam complete the trials. As Sam reads the spell, his arm begins to glow. It hits him harder than he expects but he tries his best to conceal that from Dean.




  • "Clair de Lune" by Claude Debussy
(plays while Carl and Alice are having dinner)
  • "I Touch Myself" by Divinyls
(plays when Dean walks in on Ellie's last night "celebration")


Dean: Not bad? I haven't had my own room -- ever. I'm making this awesome. I got my kickass vinyl, I've got this killer mattress. Memory foam -- it remembers me. And it's clean, too. There's no funky smell. There's no creepy motel stains.
Dean: Are you eating?

Kevin: Hot dogs, mostly.

Dean: Sure, yeah -- breakfast of champions. Look, I'm gonna feel dirty saying this, but you might want a salad and a shower.
Dean: Look, you get on the net -- see what you can dig up. I'm gonna go for a supply run because we need goofer dust, and the kid needs to eat something that's not ground-up hooves and pigs' anuses -- not that there's anything wrong with that.
Sam: I know. I do. But trust me on this -- this whole "saving the world" thing -- it's a marathon, not a sprint. You got to take better care of yourself.
Dean: All right, keep an eye out. Anybody with a hellhound on their ass is gonna be showing signs -- hallucinating, freaking out -- the usual.

Sam: And if we find someone?

Dean: You get 'em clear. I spike fido. The crowd goes wild.
Ellie: Alice is his oldest, and that's Cindy, the middle girl. She had a single on the country chart a few years ago. Then she started hitting the bottle, and, well... Her last album was a bunch of holiday songs for dogs. My favorites were "Jingle Bark Rock" and "Don't Pee on this Tree: Happy Arbor Day."

Dean: So she's the Devil?

Ellie: Pretty much.
Kevin: Sorry. Um, I found something on the tablet, uh, about Hellhounds. Uh, this mean anything to you -- "the dire creatures may be seen only by the damned or through an object scorched with holy fire"?
Dean: Because of the three trials crap -- God's little obstacle course. We've been down roads like this before, man -- with Yellow-Eyes, Lucifer, Dick friggin' Roman. We both know where this ends -- one of us dies... Or worse.

Sam: So, what -- you just up and decided it's gonna be you?

Dean: And you told me yourself that you see a way out. You see a light at the end of this ugly-ass tunnel. I don't. But I tell you what I do know -- it's that I'm gonna die with a gun in my hand. 'Cause that's what I have waiting for me -- that's all I have waiting for me. I want you to get out. I want you to have a life -- become a man of Letters, whatever. You, with a wife and kids and -- and -- and grandkids, living till you're fat and bald and chugging Viagra -- that is my perfect ending, and it's the only one that I'm gonna get. So I'm gonna do these trials. I'm gonna do them alone -- end of story. You're staying here. I'm going out there. If landshark comes knocking, you call me. If you try to follow me, I'm gonna put a bullet in your damn leg.
Ellie: Hey. So... I think you're really hot. You want to go to my room and have sex?

Dean: What?

Ellie: I -- sorry. I don't usually do this. I guess I'm feeling my oats.
Sam: I'm closing the gates. It's a suicide mission for you.I want to slam Hell shut, too, okay? But I want to survive it. I want to live, and so should you. You have friends up here, family. I mean, hell, you even got your own room now. You were right, okay? I see light at the end of this tunnel. And I'm sorry you don't -- I am. But it's there. And if you come with me, I can take you to it.

Dean: Sam, Be smart.

Sam: I am smart, and so are you. You're not a grunt, Dean. You're a genius -- when it comes to lore, to -- you're the best damn hunter I have ever seen -- better than me, better than dad. I believe in you, Dean. So, please -- please believe in me, too.

Trivia & References

The records in Dean's room include:
  • Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin
  • Howard McGhee, Vol. 2
  • Nat King Cole Sings for Two in Love
The hot dogs Kevin was eating were actually raw tofu dogs.
Sam: T-trials like, uh, like Law & Order?

Kevin: More like Hercules. The tablet says, "Whosoever chooses to undertake these tasks should fear not danger, nor death, nor..." A word I think means getting your spine ripped out through your mouth for all eternity.

Law & Order was a long running police procedural, that also spawned four spin-offs.
Kevin compares the trials that must be undergone to close the Gates of Hell, as similar to those Hercules went through. Later, Sam and Dean clean the stables at the Cassity's farm. One of the labors of Hercules was to clean the Augean stables in a day.
Dean: Well, hellhounds like to collect on crossroads deals. So all we got to do is track down some loser who signed over his special sauce 10 years ago, get between him and Clifford the big dead dog -- easy.
Reference to Clifford the Big Red Dog, main character of the eponymous titled children's book series and television series.
Dean: Yeah. Hey, if this means icing all demons, I got no problem gutting some devil dog and letting Calgon take me away.
Calgon is a brand of bath and body products, that uses the tagline "Take Me Away."
Dean: Let's go visit the Beverly Hillbillies.
The Beverly Hillbillies is a television series that aired from 1962 to 1971 about a family that discovers oil on their land and becomes rich, much like the Cassity's.
Dean: Do not let J.R. and the gang out of your sight, all right?
J.R. is the main character from Dallas, a television series that aired from 1978 to 1991 about the Ewing family, a family of Texan oil magnates.
Ellie: (to Dean) I like it. The whole Clark Kent look.
Clark Kent is the human identity of Superman. In the TV series Smallville he is played by Tom Welling. Jensen Ackles was considered for the role but ended up playing a character named Jason Teague in season 4.
Sam: When the hellhound gets close, you might start seeing things, hearing things. It's gonna feel like you took the brown acid, and it's trying to kill you. The handcuffs are so you won't hurt yourselves.
Brown acid is infamous for causing bad hallucinations and freakouts at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
Dean: If Land Shark comes knocking, you call me.
Land Shark was a character on Saturday Night Live that recurred in several sketches after the release of the movie Jaws. The character would knock on the door, announce himself as a handyman, and then attack his victims once they opened the door.
Dean's demonic look when Ellie is hallucinating is very reminiscent of how the deadites look in Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead.


This was the directorial debut of First Assistant Director Kevin Parks.
The Bunker is in Lebanon Kansas, which is about a six hour drive from where Kevin is on Garth's boat in Warsaw, Missouri.
This episode was the first to actually show what a hellhound looks like.
Carl Granville sold his soul for Alice Cassity's love.

Ellie sold her soul for her mother's well-being.

It isn't stated explicitly what Margot Cassity sold her soul for, but by process of elimination it can be inferred that it was her deal that led to the family's oil wealth. It might also be inferred by her father's comment about her being fat when she hooked up with Carl that she sold her soul to be thin.

Sides, Scripts & Transcripts