Every hell hound has its day.
Fresh off of a hunt and just getting back to the bunker, Sam gets a text message about a new case in Nebraska. Dean is curious about how Sam has something new so quickly but Sam brushes him off and tells him it's a new algorithm that he's developed to track incoming cases. After they head over to Nebraska, they go to the scene of the crime where the local sheriff fills them in the details. A young boy named Marcus was killed by what looks to be an animal attack of some kind. His girlfriend, Gwen Hernandez, is pretty shaken up but still alive. Meanwhile at Crowley's lair, he still has Lucifer chained up and although the prince of darkness is certain he will get out, Crowley insists that he is already ten steps ahead of him. When the boys go and speak to Gwen, she tells the Winchesters that some invisible animal attacked Marcus and killed him. She managed to escape because she hit it with an axe. The boys tell her that her that it was just a bear to give Gwen some piece of mind but she doesn't buy it and kicks them out of her place and is attacked by the hell hound again. Fortunately, Sam and Dean managed to save her in time but this doesn't make sense. Hell hounds only go after people that made a deal with a demon and they already confirmed that Gwen didn't make any deals. The boys give Crowley a call for more details and manage to pull him away from annoying Lucifer. He tells them that this isn't just any hell hound but the hell hound. The one that will only answer to Lucifer or be put down since she is known to hold a grudge and won't be tamed. So now the boys have to hunt a demon dog they can't see and use the one person it wants to kill as bait. Easy stuff.
All in all Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell was a pretty good episode of Supernatural. What worked especially well was the pacing between the stories of the Winchesters hunting the hell hound and Crowley's ongoing feud with Lucifer and how the two of them eventually came together in a natural way that worked for the overall plot to hunt down a vicious hell hound. Peaking of hell hounds, long-time fans of Supernatural haven't seen one of them in quite a few years and it was a nice surprise to see Sam and Dean hunting something familiar and dangerous at the same time. Reuniting the Winchesters and Crowley can sometimes be too much of a good thing and the relationship can feel stale but since the bickering about Crowley's son was done over the phone, the real chemistry and humour was allowed to come forward. It helped the overall story and kept the tone light even though they were hunting an invisible monster that tears people apart.
For its strengths, Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell was not without a few low spots. The first being the side story with Castiel and the latest angel to offer him a deal where he can come back but only if he helps, and that all of his sins will be forgiven and that he can go home and so on and so forth. For starters, Castiel's plot in the episode was slow and felt out of place with the rest of the fun. Secondly, isn't this the same thing that happens to Castiel every season? Each year we see him befriend another angel that he used to know and then get lured in, only to see how nothing has changed and side with Sam and Dean. I see the obvious parallel to the brits but he does this every season. Unless Supernatural finds a way to keep it fresh, I already feel like I've seen this plot more than once. Besides that, the character Gwen Hernandez started had far more character development than what was needed. It's a good effort by the show to want to give some backstory but since she was only the catalyst to the story and not the focus, it didn't serve to improve what was there already; as the rest of the story was strong enough to stand on its own.
Lastly, the final moments of Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell were a fantastic surprise on two fronts. First, Crowley pulling one over on Lucifer was the best moment of the show. To have Crowley allow Lucifer to hit him just to create the illusion that he was in control was great writing. Crowley wanted Lucifer to think he was in control as long as he wanted and we have never seen anyone take control away from Lucifer like that before. The other stand out scene was when Dean accepted that Sam was already working with the brits and trying to do the right thing. Dean agreeing and not simply walking away is the right move in the story at this time as his character has grown quite a bit this season. When things go sideways (and they will), that's when it will be interesting to see what he does.
Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell had its faults but those are far outweighed by the classic Supernatural demon and a hunt with Crowley that never felt dull. At this point, I'm willing to say that Supernatural is officially on a streak of good episodes. Let's hope they bring that momentum with them when the show returns March 30th.