Oh, boy. I love this show, and I had trouble respecting this episode.
It's a disjointed, quickly-thrown-together, crappy episode. It hurts to say that about one of my favorite shows, but there you go.
1) the Ruby character--oy. Where to begin. Will she ever really be more than a prop? I don't know. But she isn't more than a prop in this episode. She feeds Sam some lines that help shape later bits in the episode, but otherwise, she does a lot of screaming and bleeding and not much else.
2) Castiel and Uriel--they are wasted here (although Castiel actually is a plus in some ways--see below). They come for Anna, ostensibly to kill her, and they of course encounter resistance from the menfolk, who just don't get that these angels aren't all warm and cuddly and. . .well, angelic. No, they have a mission, and sometimes the stuff they gotta do is horrible. Why is this surprising to the Winchester men? I dunno. Anyway, these two angels get short shrift here, and it's annoying that Castiel, in particular, gets used that way. Also--what's up with the whole Alastair-can't-be-killed thing? Does that mean he's better than an angel of the Lord, or what? Utter confusion. So--these guys get used in the plot line, and all that happens as a result is that the viewer gets utterly confused. Perfect.
3) The whole plot line is convoluted and filled with happenings that don't make much sense. Pamela comes back to help Anna figure out what's really in her head that she can't remember, but that comes from left field. And almost everything that happens here seems disconnected. Maybe it's that so much is left kind of unexplained, and the show won't be on again until January, so eh? I'm confused, unsatisfied, and basically left to be so for another two months. Fantastic.
1) Jensen Ackles. He's been kicking acting butt for two years or more now, and he just gets better and better. This guy knows how to make Dean vulnerable, and his willingness to just put Dean Winchester out there and let him be human and flawed and in deep, deep pain, with all the acting challenges that comes with--well, kudos to you, Jensen Ackles. You are superb. From the way your face can show childlike glee (think the "Mystery Spot" episode) to the way your eyes can actually go blurry and your face seem to crumple in on itself from guilt and self-loathing. Oh, yeah. The last scene in this episode is a perfect example of what I mean. Every muscle twitch, the way you refuse to stop those tears--a long time coming, they are--to just overflow, and the way every single emotion is just. . .THERE. Awesome. Someone give this man an Emmy.
2) Castiel--like Jensen Ackles, Misha. . .what's his last name? Huh. Can't remember. Anyway, the guy who plays Castiel. He can convey so much with just a subtle shift in expression. At one point, when Anna realizes that Dean has given her up to Uriel and Castiel in order to save Sam from death or a quick toss into the pit of Hell, she turns to Dean and tells him she understands and forgives him. The camera pans to Castiel a couple of times, and the longing in his eyes (for the human emotions that angels aren't supposed to feel or enjoy having) as well as the respect he has for Dean and the decisions he makes at risk of his own sanity and happiness--all there on this guy's face and in his eyes. Good job here, too.
Those are the only two positives I can see in this episode, but they were enough to keep me from giving it one or two stars.
Hopefully the new episodes in January will return with the quality of the first four or so of this season.
Again--someone give Mr. Ackles an Emmy or a People's Choice or something. Wow.