I honestly wondered how an episode of Supernatural told through the vantage point of Baby would play out, but, let's face it, a show does not go strong for 11 seasons without figuring out how to pull off the occasional oddball episode.
The intro is a nod to die-hard fans of the show and is narrated by Chuck -- a reminder of Baby's history (à la Season 5's "Swan Song").
The show starts off with an unconscious Dean, bloodied and handcuffed in the back of Baby with no explanation. We, then, jump to 48 hours earlier, where all is well and Dean is washing Baby. Sam joins him, and they begin driving in the car to check out a case of an unidentified monster. They pull into a roadhouse that Sam points out even Swayze wouldn't enter (Dean's retort: "Never use Swayze's name in vain."). Sam decides to catch some sleep while Dean goes in. When Dean comes out the next morning, he finds Sam in the car with a waitress.
They say their goodbyes to the waitress, and Dean busts out Bob Seger's "Night Moves." The boys joke and talk about what it would be like to be with someone who understands their life. Something normal -- well, as normal as they can find anyway. It's a simple scene, yet the vibe between the brothers is tighter than anything we've really seen since almost season 9. The Winchester brothers are finally back in sync.
Sam dozes off and wakes up to find, instead of Dean, a young John Winchester driving the car and jamming to some Joni Mitchell. Sam is clueless as to what's going on. Is John a dream? A vision? An entity pretending to be John?
John confides in Sam that he did not want this life for him or Dean and that he did his best. John assured Sam that whatever he is, dream or vision, the message he was sent to deliver to Sam is still the same. The Darkness is coming, and only Sam and Dean can stop it. And God helps those who help themselves.
Sam wakes up and not only tells Dean about the dream but about being infected in the hospital, praying, and the visions that followed. Dean is convinced that's it not a vision, but a fever dream. Sam wonders if the Darkness has reached Dean via his visions -- maybe the light is reaching out to Sam. Maybe God. Dean remains firm: the Darkness is on them. There is no help coming and no God.
The boys go back and forth trying figure out what exactly it is they're dealing with, besides a staged crime scene. Sam goes to interview the wife of the victim while Dean goes to take another look at the crime scene. The deputy shows up and attacks Dean, revealing himself to be the monster. A fight ensues, and, no matter what happens, the monster does not die. Meanwhile, Cas, who is still recovering back at the bunker and helping the boys from there by researching the monster, explains via speakerphone what kind of monster they’re dealing with.
After Dean decapitates the deputy and stashes the head in the cooler (because the very pissed-off head continues to growl), he connects with Sam who has rescued the original victim's from being attacked by two more monsters. Cas tells them over the phone that, by killing the alpha male of the pack of these monsters and placing a copper coin in his mouth, they will revert all of the others he has since turned and it will kill him for good.
While Sam ducks into a gas station to find a copper penny (a penny minted prior to 1982). The widow discovers the growling head in the cooler. She tells Dean how she had let her family down and now knew how she was going to make it up for it. She attacks Dean. It turns out she's a monster, too. She handcuffs Dean and tosses him into the back and, then, drives Baby off to reunite the deputy's head and body.
Once the deputy is back in play, he and the widow reveal to Dean that she was being punished for not covering up her feed correctly. The Deputy, who is obviously the alpha, tells Dean how he used Dean's phone to set a trap for Dean and that he planned to turn Sam into one of them. In the last 100 years, he had only turned three people, but, in the last month, he had turned 16. He's building an army to fight the Darkness because it is coming and there is nothing anyone can do about it.
During the Deputy's monologue, Dean manages to get out the cuffs (thanks to the pin left in the backseat of Baby by the Roadhouse waitress). After a struggle and minor car accident, Dean is able to kill the alpha male using some old pennies he finds stashed away in Baby. The widow reverts back to human, and they speed away to the monster's lair. They arrive to find a beat-up Sam and a bunch of confused monsters who have just reverted back to being human.
Sam and Dean get back in Baby, all three bloodied and beat up. Sam and Dean realize what it must mean that even the monsters are scared of the Darkness. They agree that it's time for them to step up their hunt for a way to defeat the Darkness.
They agree to start tomorrow. Dean starts up Baby with a little revving and says "let's go home." Sam looks at Baby's bloodied and broken windows and dented hood, and says "We are home."
"Night Moves" begins to play, as the boys and Baby drive off into the sunset.
The biggest takeaway from this one-off episode was that they have truly steered this season back to the show's true course. It's the story of two brothers.
Well, two brothers and their car.