Dean and Ketch go walkin'' through a portal...
With the twenty four hour clock ticking, Dean and Ketch don't have much time to find Mary and Jac before the door closes to get home. After the two of them get moving, they see people being escorted on a bridge by angels. After two of them are killed, Dean sees that the third one is Charlie Bradbury. The angels mention that she knows where Jack and Mary and now the two of them have a lead. Back at the bunker, Sam and Castiel are trying to help Gabriel get his sanity back after years of torture and Asmodeus feeding off his grace. It's a slow process but Asmodeus is connected to Gabriel and is waiting to sense the presence of his grace. In heaven, Lucifer is bored and looking for purpose as the new king of heaven. He tries listing to prayers but is bored by that and eventually, he reveals to the angels that he no longer has the power to give them their wings back or create new angels. Back on apocalypse world, Dean and Ketch are attacked by a bandit. They manage to get the best of him and learn where the angels are taking Charlie but not before Dean takes a bullet in the shoulder. The tough guy attitude usually works for Dean but the bullet wound slows him down until he eventually collapses. Ketch mentions that it's a tactic of the Men of Letters to wound their enemies with something that slows them down and eventually gives them a terrible death. He has a remedy for the wound but time is running out as Charlie will soon be executed, leaving them with no way of finding Jack and Mary if they don't save her in time.
After a few solid episodes in a row, Bring 'em Back Alive is a definite miss for Supernatural and could graciously be called a filler episode without a real focus. In its attempt to tell several stories, Bring 'em Back Alive didn't manage to tell any of them very well. Dean's dynamic with Ketch across their journey is an interesting one: on one hand Dean gives Ketch the out as soon as they cross over into the world but on the other, he's willing to give everyone the chance to redeem themselves. This episode needed to be about them and their hunt for Charlie with the focus being sharply on the new world and how dangerous that can be for even for a Winchester and the knife of the Men of Letters. The other disappointing aspect of Bring 'em Back Alive is how nothing actually happened and the plot is no further along than it was before the episode. Dean and Ketch crossed over and only have Mary's possible location, Sam and Castiel helped Gabriel and then he left and Lucifer's story amounted to zero. The overall arc of the season doesn't necessarily need to progress significantly in every episode but the story should be good enough on its own that it doesn't drag or feel pointless by the end. Dean's frustration at the end sums everything up perfectly about this season so far, not a lot of progress has been made.
Speaking of Lucifer, his character added no value to Bring 'em Back Alive. Lucifer's journey in this season has, at times, been quite intriguing. He started as the invincible archangel that was defeated by Michael, the depowered shell that ran from Asmodeus and is now the imposter on the throne in heaven. That's all very appealing but his boredom isn't an aspect that needs exploring when Sam and Castiel are trying to help Gabriel. It's just one too many stories in a fourty two minute episode that isn't covering the main characters well enough right now.
Whereas Lucifer's story now spans the everyday boredom he faces as the new king of heaven, Gabriel's story has been a blur. Binging Gabriel back into the series was a bold move but his recovery from years of torture at the hands of Asmodeus took place in the entirety of a single day. Flashbacks helped this along but this story likely needed its own episode to be properly told. Gabriel fooled the Winchesters, the angels and the demons into believing he was dead but not explaining how the weakest of the demon princes was able to learn of his fate, track down an archangel and feed on him can only be described as a shortcoming of the season. It was a pivotal moment for the character and it was glossed over with fans just expecting to accept this. The only good part here is that Asmodeus is dead. The battle that lead to that, however, was a disaster. Asmodeus's fireball looked cheap and the moments leading to this didn't give a major character for the season the due he deserved in his death. It was a sloppy way to end the arc of a character that has been a thorn in the side of the Winchesters for the season thus far.
Bring 'em Back Alive had the potential to be a great episode but ended up being an overcrowded story with too much going on that all ended up as very little. We'll see what happens next week when Rowena returns in Funeralia.