|The episode begins and we see Dean entering a Korean butcher shop in the middle of a bustling city. The butcher on the other side of the counter tells him to go to the back and Dean complies. He walks up the stairs in the back to a shabby apartment where a man called Dr. Robert works. Dr. Robert greets Dean and recalls his experiences with John Winchester before bringing Dean into his medical ‘office’. They lay Dean down on a table and Dr. Robert’s assistant Eva sets up an IV. Robert’s informs Dean that he only has three minutes before he brings him back to the land of the living with an injection and Dean, promptly, drifts off to death. Cut to the title scene!
Dean is a spirit now and he looks down at his dead body and grimaces a bit before heading down the stairs and into the butcher shop. He calls for the reaper Tessa, summoning her with a chant. She’s a little pissed, claiming she was busy, and Dean tells her that he wants to talk to Death. She says she can’t and even if she could she wouldn’t, but just then Death appears.
Dean asks for his help in getting Sam’s soul back and bringing Adam back as well, reminding Death that he still has his ring, and Death informs him that he already knows where the ring is. Death tells Dean that if he’s going to make an exception and help then Dean may only choose one of his brothers, Adam or Sam. Dean, naturally, picks Sam. He reminds Dean that Sam’s soul is mutilated with all the time spent in the pit with Michael and Lucifer and Dean asks if he can do anything about it, like ridding it of its memories in Hell. Death says he can repress those memories within Sam, build a “wall” to hold them back, but it’s not permanent. Dean agrees and tells him to do it. Death will, but only if Dean takes his place for one day. The entire day. 24 hours. Dean asks him why and just before Death tells him he returns to the land of the living thanks to Dr. Robert’s injection. He tells Dr. Robert’s that he would have liked a minute more with Death and Dr. Robert’s informs him that he’s been dead for seven minutes- way past the originally planned three minutes.
Back at Bobby’s junkyard, Dean informs Sam & Bobby about his deal with Death and the “wall” he might be able to create upon retrieving and returning Sam’s soul. Sam is defiant. He doesn’t want his soul back, caught up in the fear that something will go wrong. He leaves the room attempting to retrieve Death’s ring from its hiding place so Dean can’t retrieve his soul. Dean & Bobby follow him and know what he’s up to. We find that Dean has already retrieved the ring and he assures Sam that he won’t let anything go wrong and Sam, reluctantly, says he’ll trust Dean. Dean tells Bobby to watch Sam then leaves to complete Death’s request.
Dean puts on Death’s ring and meets up with the reaper Tessa, who isn’t shy about telling Dean she doesn’t want to babysit him and tells him the rules that come when wearing the ring. He must kill everyone on Death’s list and cannot take off the ring. Taking off the ring means he loses the wager.
Meanwhile, back at Bobby’s junkyard, Sam sneaks off to summon the rogue angel Balthazar. The angel is summoned and Sam asks for his help- he wants to know if there’s a ritual or object that can prevent him from recovering his soul. Balthazar helps him, surprisingly, and tells him he has to commit something so awful his soul will refuse to reenter his body. Patricide. And the closest thing Sam has to a father now is Bobby.
In the meantime, Tessa runs Dean through the basics about being Death and confronting the spirits of the recently deceased. She tells him they’ll have questions and, sure enough, the first few people Dean has to kill have questions. A petty thug and a heart- attack victim ask him why, and Dean replies. But when he is confronted with the death of a child, suffering from a severe heart disease, Dean can’t bring himself to give her the touch of Death. Tessa is not pleased and reminds Dean about what he signed up for, but Dean remains stubborn. A little while after that, we see the girl and her single father talking to one of the hospital’s doctors. He says that her heart disease has miraculously disappeared and they don’t have to perform surgery.
Meanwhile, during a game of poker with Bobby, Sam prepares to strike. Bobby gets up from his chair to grab a beer from the fridge and Sam attacks, but Bobby, having expected it from the get-go, manages to knock him out first. As he goes to retrieve rope, he turns and finds that Sam is no longer where he had left him. He gets a little rattled (losing a Sam Winchester hell-bent on killing you is never a good thing) and hides in a closet. Just then, Sam begins to hack through its door and unwittingly falls into Bobby’s trap. Literally. Bobby pulls a lever from within the closet and Sam falls into the basement below. With Sam locked down in the basement, behind a reinforced steel door, Bobby asks him why he tried to kill him. Sam admits it was part of a ritual to prevent him from retrieving his soul and continues by Dean is only thinking about the old Sam and not about him. He doesn’t want to become that other Sam again, especially if it means risking his sanity. Bobby tells him he needs mental help and he needs his soul. When Sam fails to answer, he cautiously walks down into the basement to find that Sam has escaped through a hole on the ceiling.
Back in the hospital, Dean finds that the nurse who was supposed to work on the little girl’s heart surgery left early from work and ended up in a car crash. Tessa says Dean’s refusal to kill the girl set off a domino effect and disrupted the balance of things. Because the girl isn’t dead, the consequence will be the death of many others. She tells Dean to kill the nurse, who was rushed to the ER in critical condition, and when the nurse’s spirit appears and she asks why, Tessa tells her Dean messed up. We see the nurse’s husband walk into the ER, sobbing over his wife’s dead body and Dean laments. Dean returns to see the little girl and Tessa advises that he finish her off before any other people die. Dean asks for a minute, then disappears. He reappears on the passenger’s seat of a speeding car, sitting beside the nurse’s now drunk husband- who plans on crashing into a wall and killing himself. Dean takes off his ring, appearing out of thin air, and yells at him to step on the brakes, barely saving the man’s life.
Meanwhile, Bobby heads out to the front yard to look for Sam and approaches the entrance of an outhouse. Sam, who was waiting in the shadows, comes up from behind, knocks him out and drags him into the outhouse.
Back at the site of the car crash, Dean steps out of the car and slides Death’s ring back onto his finger, disappearing before the drunk driver’s eyes. He calls for Tessa and she appears, who says she’s sorry that Dean lost the bet and Sam won’t get his soul back. He teleports back to the little girl and gives her the touch of Death to prevent anyone else from dying when they weren’t supposed to. The little girl, who died before her father’s eyes, asks why Dean killed her. He says that there’s a natural order of things and it must be followed.
Back at the junkyard, Sam has Bobby tied up in the outhouse and Bobby wants to know how Sam could bring himself to kill him- Bobby, who has been like a father to him for years. Sam replies, “That’s just it”, and raises his knife, preparing to stab it into Bobby’s neck, when Dean appears and knocks him out. Dean and Bobby lock Sam in the panic room, chained to the bed, and Dean tells Bobby that he doesn’t know what to do anymore, now that the deal with Death has failed. Just then, Death appears from his ‘vacation’ and Dean hands him back his ring. He admits that he failed and Death would like to know if he’d do things differently if he had a second chance. Dean admits that he would have killed the little girl, knowing what he knows now, and it somewhat surprises Death. Death is pleased that Dean learned something- that messing up the natural order of things isn’t a good thing to do, especially when you’re stuck with cleaning up the mess and he continues by saying that he’ll retrieve Sam’s soul. He wants Dean (and Sam) to keep investigating the power of souls and the war in heaven. It’s all about the souls, he says, and he’ll understand when he needs to. Suddenly, Death disappears and Dean rushes Bobby to open the door to the panic room.
Death has appeared beside the bed where Sam is chained, carrying a black doctor’s bag and advising Sam not to “scratch at the wall”, unless he wants to break the wall and remember all the torture his soul suffered through in Hell. The fear comes across Sam’s face as Death pulls a bright orb of light out of the doctor’s bag- Sam’s soul. Dean and Bobby watch as Sam pleads and yells at Dean to stop Death and Death pushes Sam’s soul back into his body.
[Roll credits here]