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2006, TV Show

Supernatural Episode: "On the Head of a Pin"

Season 4, Episode 16
Episode Synopsis: Someone is using Lucifer's sword to kill angels. Castiel and Uriel ask Dean to use the torturing skills he learned in hell to obtain information from a likely suspect.
Original Air Date: Mar 19, 2009
Guest Cast Robert Wisdom: Uriel Christopher Heyerdahl: Alastair
Full Episode
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Season 4, Episode 16
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Length: 42:24
Aired: 3/19/2009
Also available on Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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Supernatural Episode Recap: "On the Head of a Pin" Season 4, Episode 16

"On the Head of a Pin" was a devastating episode in so many ways. Questions were answered. Dean's self-worth spiraled downward until he hit rock bottom. Meanwhile, we witnessed Sam's secret to his demon-killing success. Plus, a traitor was revealed.

You guys, so much happened in this episode, I really don't know where to start. At the beginning of the hour, Dean was already in a bad way. By the end, he was so much worse. And to borrow a phrase from Dean, Sam was pretty far off the reservation. Uriel was outed as a traitor, Anna made an appearance and we really got to see a lot of Castiel for a change. It wasn't just a minute here or a minute there. This was definitely what I'd call a sweeps-worthy episode.

"I'm tired of burying friends, Sam."
I knew something was wrong with Dean the minute things opened up with the brothers in the Impala. Sam was driving. I know he and the Impala got to know each other really well while Dean was in hell, but it was still a little odd to see him behind the wheel. They were just coming back from Pamela's funeral and Dean was talking about how he was sick and tired of losing friends. I was really happy to hear that, because I think we fans have been saying this for a long time. We get attached to a character and then they die. With war comes casualties, but Sam and Dean have lost a lot. While big brother was feeling tired, Sam wanted Dean to get angry. I guess like him? Sam has seemed angry ever since Dean came back. He's been letting that anger fuel his revenge trip against Lilith. And I believe anger was an emotion John was heavily in touch with too. Dean has no problem channeling anger, but it has never been the sole reason why he was a hunter.

"That's why we've come to his student."
Someone was killing angels, so Uriel and Castiel decided to enlist Dean and his own special brand of help. In "Death Takes a Holiday," Castiel captured Alistair. The angels had been trying to get the demon to tell them who was killing their brothers and sisters and how, but he wasn't talking. So who better to torture the "Picasso with a knife" than his apprentice? Dean put up a good fight but Uriel wasn't having it. Apparently he was calling all the shots acting on orders from God (or so we thought). It was simply heartbreaking to hear Dean plead with Castiel to not make him torture Alistair.

"They sent you to torture me?"
You could tell Castiel didn't want to let Dean slice and dice Alistair. But Dean sucked it up, put on his game face and caused Alistair some immense physical pain. Of course, Alistair doled out some of his own psychological torture, which Dean was pretty much able to withstand. That is, until he started talking about John and then the big revelation.

It turns out John was tortured in hell for almost a century before the demon gate open and he escaped. Words can't express how ecstatic I am that John did climb his way out of hell. The man deserved peace. But when Alistair told Dean that his dad was tortured for almost ten decades and he never once took him up on the deal to get off the rack and torture souls, I couldn't even believe it. Because we all know Dean (only) lasted thirty years before he broke. It was so painful to hear, I had to hit pause for a second and take a breather. But it was when Alistair told Dean the consequences of torturing those souls my heart really broke: "And it is written that the first seal shall be broken when a righteous man sheds blood in hell. As he breaks so shall it break." John was originally the one intended to break it, but it wasn't to be. Dean pretty much shattered into a million tiny little pieces right then and there. I almost did too.

"Ruby, it's been weeks. I need it."
Ever since Dean came back from hell, Sam has been different. And now we know why. I always figured it was what Azazel said to Dean after Sam came back from the dead. Yellow Eyes said he wasn't 100 percent Sam. I just figured it was the younger Winchester's demon blood boiling. After all, it makes him bigger and stronger than your average person or hunter. But oh no. It wasn't just the demon blood that Yellow Eyes fed him when he was a baby. Sam has been sucking on Ruby's demon blood and creating a super-charged Sammy. This was another big revelation and I was really floored by it. And did you hear the way he sounded when he told Ruby he needed it? The boy sounded like he was addicted. I want to find out how in the world this first happened. How did he go from hunter with demon blood, to demon blood-sucker? What I like about Eric Kripke and the writers of this show is they're not afraid to take one of their lead characters and send him down the dark path. Joss Whedon did it on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Almost every one of those characters took a turn being a villain. Now, I'm not saying Sam's a villain. But he's definitely blurring the line between good and evil. Speaking of evil, did you catch that look on Ruby's face as Sam was sucking her blood? The girl's got her own agenda. And she just loves Sammy being dependent on her.

"He's not strong enough." "And you are?" "I will be."
When Sam told Ruby Dean wasn't strong enough to make Alistair talk, it solidified the fact he believed everything he said to his big bro under the siren's spell in "Sex and Violence." He had told Dean he was stronger, smarter and a better hunter. When Castiel couldn't close the deal and kill Alistair, Sam did just in the nick of time. And he was basically the human form of the Colt that had been used to kill many a demon. Sam eradicated the demon from existence with his mind. There was no going back to hell for Alistair. Wow. This is what you call power.

"The truth is...the only thing that can kill an angel is another angel."
Uriel betrayed God, Castiel and all the angels by deciding to help free Lucifer. This wasn't a shocking revelation at all, but it was a good one. Uriel has had this complete disdain for humans since we were first introduced to him in "It's a Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester." Of course he would have no problem helping raise Lucifer. The Evil One would definitely rid the world of the beings Uriel hated so much. Castiel had been following Uriel's orders when he thought he was following God's orders. Uriel killed his own kind when they would side with him. He arranged for the devil's trap to be compromised so Alistair would be freed and would kill Dean. Alistair almost did.

"You have to stop it."
Castiel told Dean he had to stop it in "In the Beginning." I didn't quite know what he meant then. Now we know. Yes, Dean started the apocalypse with the breaking of the seal, but according to Castiel, he's the one that can finish it. Dean was laying in that hospital bed a broken man. This was devastating to see. He just had no more in him. And he told Castiel as much: "I know our fate rests with you." "Then you guys are screwed." Dean's had to put up with so much. Everything that has happened even before he went to hell has torn him down. Like I said earlier, he has hit rock bottom. I feel like Dean in the hospital is as bad as it gets. Right now he feels like nothing. Well, he only can go up from here. He'll start to put himself back together again and he'll emerge stronger than ever. Telling Cas to "find someone else" is not Dean. He'll never be able to just walk away. I can't wait to see this phoenix rise and he will. Mark my words. I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed all facets of "On the Head of a Pin."

Other thoughts
Ben Edlund wrote this one. And this one was so not like your usual Ben Edlund episode — it didn't rely on humor and some sort of eccentric case or cast of characters. This was pure drama.

Dean really did get scary while he was torturing Alistair. You could tell he was conflicted. You could tell that he didn't want to go back to the way he was in hell. When he got into torture mode he was scary.

Loved the shots of those angel wings on the dead angel at the beginning as well as after Uriel died.

All the scenes between Dean and Sam and the angels were awesome. I love the dynamic the angels have added to the show, especially between Jensen and Misha Collins. And Uriel falling so low was a good twist. Kind of predictable, but good.

Christopher Heyerdahl was simply awesome as Alistair. I hated to see him go. I was hoping we wouldn't lose him permanently. Even though Alistair made Dean's life (and death) hell.

The way Dean walked into the room wheeling the table of toys to torture Alistair with was so crushing. He was like humped over in defeat. Also crushing was when Alistair told him he left part of himself back in the pit and wanted to see if they could get the two of them back together again.

We knew BDW (John) was in hell and we knew it wasn't pleasant for him. But now we finally have confirmation that he was tortured. So sad.

Is it wrong that I loved Dean injecting Alistair with holy water?

Not only did Sam suck Ruby's blood but they kissed. Have they continued their thing?

Anna showed up. Not sure if I wanted her to be the one to kill Uriel. I would have liked to have seen her in a scene with Dean, however. Where has she been if Castiel still has orders to kill her? And how did she cash in on favors so she could keep the same vessel?

When Sam was driving the Impala to save Dean and Castiel, his eyes looked almost black.

I really like the job Jared has been doing showing us Sam's descent into darkness. He's awesome especially when he uses his powers. As for Jensen, there are really no words that can express exactly how amazing of a job he did after Dean found out his actions jumpstarted the apocalypse. The boy was shattered. And that last hospital bed scene he shared with Misha, I think it was even better than when Dean confessed to Sam that he tortured souls in hell.

A good chunk of the episode was angel-oriented. Normally I would totally mind, but there was a lot going on with them that we needed to know.

It was only right that Sam killed Alistair, Dean's enemy. After all, Dean killed Azazel, Sam's big enemy.

Unlike in "Heaven and Hell," Castiel got a few punches in and I loved that twisting of the knife from afar, but the angel still has no game when it comes to fighting and defending himself.

This may have been the most heartbreaking line in the entire episode: "I guess I'm not the man either of our dads wanted me to be."

From the promo alone, I am looking forward to next week.

Questions

What did you think?

What did you think of Anna's return? I'm still trying to process it.

Do you think the episode got too angel-y towards the end? Or were you happy with the angel quality time we received?

What do you think of Sam sucking Ruby's blood?

What do you think Ruby's agenda is?

How do you think Dean will deal with what he learned in this episode?

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"On the Head of a Pin" was a devastating episode in so many ways. Questions were answered. Dean's self-worth spiraled downward until he hit rock bottom. Meanwhile, we witnessed Sam's secret to his demon-killing success. Plus, a traitor was revealed.

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Premiered: September 21, 2006, on CW
Rating: TV-14
User Rating: (10,261 ratings)
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Premise: Two brothers hunt demons, ghosts and other supernatural entities as they investigate crimes caused by paranormal forces.

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