|Recap added by journal bookbinder
(This is a truly incredible episode. So much nuance. So much feeling and humor and so creatively-directed by Richard Speight Jr. Incredibly, his first time directing an episode of TV. It's worth a second, and third watch. It's really perfect, classic, Supernatural.)
A little girl is in her room having a tea party. Her parents watch from the door as she gives her stuffed animals empty cups and asks an empty chair if it wants one sugar or two. She has an imaginary friend.
Her mom tells her she and her dad are ready for dinner.
The girl informs her mom that she and "Sparkle" aren't done with tea yet.
The dad wants to leave so they can make their reservation on time. The mom says they were told to be patient by the therapist. The parents leave.
Once the parents leave, the girl passes an empty cup across the table, and a fantastical creature takes it; part man, part unicorn, and very sparkly. He tells her to go ahead with her parents and he'll clean up. She hugs him and tells him she loves him. He waves as she leaves. He starts to pick up the tea set.
everything is in order and Sparkle is reading sitting on a bean bag chair. He hears someone open the door and expects it's Maddie, the girl, coming back. Instead, he's stabbed.
Maddie runs to her room, excited to see Sparkle, but stops dead in her tracks and screams a blood curdling scream.
In the bunker...
Sam's alarm goes off at 6:30 am on his phone. He gets up (love the gray v-neck t-shirt he sleeps in). He rubs his eyes. There's a shadowy figure lurking in the corner of the room.
Sam walks to the bunker's kitchen and figure follows him. He turns on the light and goes for the coffee pot then does the best double-take ever as he realizes the table is full of rainbow-colored cakes and candies. Suddenly, a heavy man in suspenders jumps out as if he's at a surprise party.
Sam turns around and punches him.
He demands to know who the man is. The man appears unhurt by the punch as says his name is Sully; Sam has to remember who his is, right? He tells Sam he made all of his favorite snacks because they're best friends.
Sam says no, it can't be, he's not real.
Sully asks if he's not real, how did Sam punch him?
Dean walks in and sees Sam holding onto the air with his fist pulled back. Sam says, "This can't be happening."
Dean's in his gray robe; he gets Sam's attention. He asks who Sam is talking to. Sam says, "Him," but Dean doesn't see anyone. Sully says Dean can't see him unless he wants him to. But Dean CAN see all of the food not he table.
Sam says it wasn't him that made it. Sully says, "It was me," and suddenly Dean can see Sully.
Sully says the marshmallow nachos are delicious.
Dean's a bit taken aback.
Sam's relieved that Dean can see Sully and introduces him as his friend from when he was a kid.
Dean replies, "You mean Mork from Ork here is your dumb ass imaginary friend Sully?"
Sully says he's not "dumb" or "ass".
Dean says he's going to go get his gun but Sully stops him. He says someone killed his friend.
Sully's offended by Dean's mocking tone. He explains they help kids. They're a creature called a Zana and they're the good guys. He wants Sam to tell Dean.
Sully points out that Sam and Dean help people too and he needs help. Dean says Sully is not "people".
Sam looks embarrassed by how Dean's treating Sully. Dean insists that he has to talk to Sam, alone, in the library, right now. Sam goes. Sully tries to follow, but Dean stops him.
Dean doesn't believe this. Sam says that when he was nine, what he wanted more than anything was marshmallow nachos. The only person he ever told, was Sully.
Dean thinks maybe it's one of Sam's visions; only Sam points out they're both seeing it. Sam gets a book (after going to the card catalog; love that!) and finds that there are creatures named Zana; who guide and protect children. They allow children to move on with confidence once guidance is no longer necessary. Sam thinks maybe Sully is telling the truth. Dean wonders how this is their problem even if Sully IS telling the truth. Sam says it's their problem because someone is dead. Dean says no, some THING is dead and that's not their thing. Sam tells Dean that as messed up and insane as this sounds, Sully helped him when he was little; they need to help Sully now.
Sam and Dean pull up in front of the house where Sparkle was killed. Sully's in the back seat. He says it's a horror show in there. He went in last night. He says he's in management now and doesn't get out in the field much; he just came to see Sparkle. Dean can't believe the entity's name is Sparkle.
Sully sounds deeply shaken by Sparkle's murder.
Dean reasons that since only kids can see the Zana (unless they let others see them), then the child was the only witness.
Sully feels deep sympathy for Maddie. He says he'll meet them inside and disappears.
Dean asks what Sam's next move is.
Next, we see them getting out of the car, both wearing cardigans like Mr. Rogers. (I highly doubt they drive around with cardigans in the car!). Dean makes fun of Sam's "Bert and Ernie" pretext. Sam points out that Dean didn't have to come along. Dean says the whole imaginary friend things was dumb then and it's dumb now.
Sam says Dean's made that really clear.
Dean's a bit upset that Sam never told him Sully was real. Sam points out that HE didn't think he was real. He grew up and remembered him as his imaginary friend. Dean wants to know what Sam needed Sully for as a kid anyway. Sam tells Dean he was a pretty lonely kid. Dean argues
with him saying what does he mean he was lonely? Sam had HIM.
Sam thinks back to when he was little....
Young Sam stares at a ringing phone. Sully tells him that whatever happens with the phone call, it's okay.
Sam asks if Dean "asked".
Dean replies yes, he did ask, but it's not gonna happen.
Sam's disappointed. He says Dean promised he'd ask.
Dean says he did ask and dad said "no" so there's nothing he can do about it.
Sam tries to argue his case. He's been practicing shooting; he can run two miles; he knows silver kills werewolves...Dean stops him from the other end of the phone. Starts to say, "Sammy...." Sam points out that Dean was hunting when he was younger than Sam is now. Dean shoots back that he (Dean) never had an imaginary friend. Sully yells out, "I heard that," in the background. Sully tells Sam not to listen to Dean, he's a "germ".
Dean says maybe Sam can come next time.
Sam sounds dejected. John honks the Impala's horn and Dean has to go. Dean hangs up on Sam.
Sam sits down. Sully tries to cheer him up saying they'll finally the chance to make those bottle rockets.
Back in the present...
Sam and Dean present themselves as trauma counselors following up on the police report filed
yesterday. The mom, Mrs. Burman, says Maddie has an active imagination. She made up a unicorn man named Sparkle who she now thinks is dead in her room.
Dean smirks very slightly. He asks her to clarify that it's a unicorn and also a man. She says yes. Dean proclaims it a "manicorn". (He loves to make up names for things.) He is getting a charge out of this and Sam shoots him a look.
Sam asks if they can talk to Maddie.
Maddie looks despondent. Sam asks why she doesn't want to go back into her room. She says because of all the blood.
Dean seems slightly moved by how upset Maddie is.
Mrs. Burman shows them Maddie's room. Nothing looks amiss. Sam asks if they can look around. Dean doesn't see anything. When Mrs. Burman is gone, Sully appears, saying he told them it was horrible. It all still looks normal to Sam and Dean. Dean asks if Sully can enlighten them. He touches their foreheads but, before he does, he makes them promise that if he shows them all they can see as Zana, they can't tell anyone. Dean mocks him but ultimately agrees.
Suddenly, Dean and Sam can see the blood everywhere. Even Sparkle's blood glitters.
Dean inspects the body and says it was a blade of some kind that killed Sparkle.
Sam asks if Zana can see other Zana. Of course they can. Sully says a Zana could never do this to one of their own.
Mrs. Burman re-enters the room saying, "Nothing to see, right?" She start picking up, oblivious to all the blood she's walking through that only Sam and Dean and Sully can see. She wipes her face and inadvertently covers it in Sparkle's sparkly blood. She asks sincerely how she can get her little girl back.
Sully is freaking out seeing Sparkle's blood all over Mrs. Burman's face. He begs Sam or Dean to do something. Sam suggests having Maddie sleep in the guest room and also, perhaps a very thorough cleaning in the shower.
"For Maddie?" Mrs. Burman asks. Dean says it should be for the whole family. To purify. Dean stammers through an awkward statement about the family showering together and Sully looks horrified. Tells Dean to "pull up".
A little girl is playing in the pool in the back yard. With a mermaid. Her imaginary friend. Her mom watches her play, smiling. The little girl gets out of the pool and the mermaid lies back in the water. Someone is watching the mermaid from the edge of the forest. She screams as she is attacked and stabbed. Blood splatters the rubber ducky in the pool and starts to spread throughout the pool water.
Sam and Dean and Sully show up at the site of the mermaid's death. Sully said she didn't check in last night. Zana share a telepathic link. Sully runs to look for her. He finds her bloody mermaid tail trailing out over the edge of the pool. It seems like Sully might hyperventilate at the sight.
Dean says maybe Sully should just lay down, but Sully says no, he has to stay strong.
This earns him a look of derision from Dean. Someone ELSE cares about Sam? Dean's
unnerved by the way Sully seems so familiar with Sam.
Sam pronounces the murder another stabbing.
Dean asks Sully if there was anyone who might have wanted to hurt Nikki, the mermaid. Sully says her boyfriend is a bit clingy, but he's one of Sully's best friends. He doesn't want to think he could do that. The boyfriend's name is Weems.
Dean can't believe they're even having a conversation where imaginary friends have boyfriends.
Dean goes to leave but Sully stops him. Saying they can't just leave Nikki's body there. It's disturbing for the kid. Dean sarcastically asks what does he want to do? Find a giant toilet and flush her? Sully looks horrified and Sam looks disgusted at Dean's lack of sensitivity. Dean asks what Sully would like them to do. Sully wants them to bury her. Sully leaves to get some shovels. Dean comments to Sam that Sully really cares about him.
Sam thinks back...
Young Sam and Sully are lying on the motel beds. Sam asks if he ever thinks he might be able to fly. Sully says sometimes...on windy days...how about Sam?
Sam says he used to think he could, but then he broke his arm trying (love this continuity; we remember the story of how Sam jumped off the roof and broke his arm and Dean got him to the hospital on his bike when they were kids).
Sully asks Sam if ever thinks he could eat ten waffles in one sitting. They laugh.
Sam asks Sully if he ever thinks about running away. Sully says from Sam? No way. Sam clarifies; he means running away from the hunting life. Sam says he thinks about running away from it.
Sully thinks a minute. He asks if Sam ever thinks about going to school and making friends.
Sam says he has Sully.
Sully says one day Sam won't have him. Sam can be whatever he wants to be. He's not Dean. He's not his dad. He's Sam and he's awesome.
Sam says if he ran away, his dad would KILL him.
Sully tells him it's his choice. His life. It's up to him.
Sam says, "Okay," he's ready to run away.
Back in the present...
Sam's deep in thought. Dean wants some help burying the mermaid. Sully is sitting off to the side and Sam asks how he's doing. He says he's fine, then, very earnestly, asks Sam how he is.
Sam replies, "Aces," but Sully obviously doesn't believe him and Sam doesn't sound very convincing.
At night, imaginary friend Weems is walking outside with a little boy who wet the bed. He's telling him that it's nothing to be ashamed of; it happens to lots of people. Weems will take care of the sheets and his mom will never know.
Weems says the mom will not wake up or hear them because she drank a lot of "grown up juice". He's obviously helping the child of an alcoholic.
The child walks back to the house to go to bed as Weems hangs the sheets on the clothesline.
Someone with a knife is stalking him.
Weems is stabbed through the sheet. The assailant runs off.
Weems, bleeding on the ground, calls out for Sully.
The Impala arrives at the scene of the stabbing; Sully must have heard Weems call for him telepathically. They find blood, but no Weems. They finally find him, bleeding, in the barn. Weems said he was stabbed through his love handle; his fat saved him. Sully proclaims fat to be "the best". (It's really sweet how Sully manages this sort of child-like innocence as well as wisdom.) Dean chimes in that the mermaid wasn't quite so lucky. Weems is shocked that Dean is talking to him. Can he see him?
Sully says they're friends. Dean asks when was the last time Weems saw Nikki the mermaid (then can't believe he's even saying that)? Weems saw her the day before and wants to know what happened. Sam tells him Nikki was murdered. Sully tells him about Sparkle too. Weems and Sully both start to cry. Deans says if they're all friends, who could have done this?
Weems said he saw who did it to him; someone he'd never seen before; some chick. She stabbed him then took off in a VW bug.
Dean's ecstatic. Something solid. A PERSON in a CAR; he can deal with that.
Sam says he'll stay with Weems and Sully and Dean can go check out the girl in the car. Dean pauses for a moment and then says he has to ask...what's so special about Weems?
"Mermaids dig me?" Weems offers.
Dean says no, why do kids like him?
Because he plays air guitar, is the answer.
Dean wonders what the big deal is. He can play air guitar. Sam can play air guitar.
Weems and Sully look at Dean like he's an idiot; like they know something he doesn't know.
Sully helps Weems up and Weems does an incredible air guitar solo. Dean's impressed, but can't let on. He scoffs and says, "He's no Clapton."
Sully goes to get something to dress Weems' wound but pauses first to reassure Sam he'll be right back. (How sweet.)
When Sully is gone, Weems says wait, it can't be THE Sam. Weems asks if now Sam and Sully are back together and thinks it's weird since Sam's so old. Weems says he gets it; everyone needs a tune up from time to time.
Sam protests that's not what this is. Sam says Sully came to him. HE'S helping Sully.
Weems can't believe he's THE Sam Winchester. He tells him he has to let him know, Sam broke Sully's heart.
Sam remembers back...
Young Sam is just hanging up the phone. Sully's standing there with his hobo bandana tied to a stick. He asks if Sam is ready to hit the road. Sam says no, he just talked to his dad. John changed his mind. He wants Sam to go hunting with him. Sam has to catch the next bus to Milwaukee. John thinks he's ready.
Sully is shaken. Sully asks if Sam is sure he wants this.
Sam replies that he's a Winchester and Winchesters hunt monsters. Why would he want anything else?
Sully says he's not sure that hunting is really Sam's thing.
Sam asks why Sully can't just be happy for him.
Sully thinks maybe this is the wrong path for Sam.
Sam says he's not afraid.
Sully says of course not; Sam is one of the bravest kids he knows. But hunting isn't the only way.
Sam says he doesn't want another way. He wants to be with his dad and Dean.
Sully says he's just saying this because he's Sam's friend.
Sam turns around and informs him he's a pretend friend. He's not even real.
Sully says he's there and he's there as long as Sam needs him.
Sam tells him he doesn't need him anymore. He doesn't even know why he made Sully up in the first place. He wish he could "un-make" him up.
Sully looks crushed but says if that's what Sam wants...
Sam tells him to just go.
Sully tells Sam to have a good, long life and when Sam turns around Sully is gone.
Sam packs his bag and leaves. He takes one last look before closing the motel door.
Back in the present...
Sully is dressing Weems' wound. Weems leaves to check on his child he's watching over.
Sam and Sully are alone. Sam tells Sully it's awesome how he helps everyone around him. Sully says it doesn't always work out but he tries. Sam says he feels awful about how they parted. He's sorry. He was a jerk of a kid and Sully was trying to help. Sully says it's all on him. He wasn't a great advisor. Sully tells Sam that when he went off to hunt, he considered it one of his biggest failures. It seemed clear to Sully that Sam wanted something else, but he guesses he
was wrong because it all worked out, didn't it?
Sam says he doesn't know about that. Sully says Sam's a hero. He saved the world. He keeps track of "his kids" and Sam did really good. Sam says it wasn't all good. Some was really bad. He let something out into the world...
Sully breaks in, "You mean 'The Darkness'? That's what the others are calling it." He'd only heard rumors. Sam says he's going to fix it, it's just that he thinks God is trying to help them fix it. But Sam doesn't think he can do what God is asking.
Sully asks how bad would itbe? Sam tells him about Lucifer and the cage and how he thinks God wants him to go back. Sam's eyes are full of tears. Sully considers it for a minute. Sully asks Sam if he ever thinks about running away anymore. Sam says he did; he has. But not in awhile. Not anymore. Sully gives him a "well there you have your answer" look.
Dean texts Sam. He found the girl. He tells Sam to meet him at the address he gives and to bring Sully.
Sam asks Sully if he ever thinks about hot-wiring a minivan.
"In my dreams," Sully replies.
"Let's do it," says Sam.
Dean wakes up, tied to a pole. The girl holding him hostage was the one who sent Sam the text to lure him in. She tells him what she did.
Dean pulls up in the Impala. He sees the VW but is knocked out from behind.
Dean asks who she is. She says she thinks they have a mutual imaginary friend. Sully.
In the present...
Sam and Sully walk in on the girl holding a knife to Dean's throat. She'll exchange Dean for Sully. Sam asks what she wants with Sully. She says he killed her sister. Sully tells Sam it was an accident. Reese and her twin sister were Sully's first kids after he thought he'd screwed things up with Sam. Reese asks if this is all, then, Sam's fault. Sully says no, it's all on him. Reese's sister and Sully were playing tag and she ran out into the street. Sully never saw the car coming. He never went back in the field; never helped another kid after that.
Reese says no therapists believed her; that her sister was dead because of an invisible man. It really messed her up. She always wondered if Sully was real. She studied folklore. She figured out Sully was a Zana. Sam interjects that Zana are good. Reese said that's what the witch told her too; the witch that sold her a spell so that she could see them in order to kill them. She's out to save other kids from the Zana.
Sully is appalled that she killed his friends just to get to him. She says she would have achieved her goal faster if Sam and Dean hadn't shown up. Sully asks why didn't she call? He would have come. No one else would have had to die. Reese replies that she honestly kind of liked watching Sully suffer as his friends died. Sully wasn't just her late sister Audrey's best friend he was Reese's too. After Audrey died, Reese never needed Sully more, but he was gone. He couldn't handle the pain after Audrey died. He left Reese alone to deal with it. The thought that he abandoned a child in need is sinking in. Reese says maybe she'll take something he loves. Sam says that's not going to happen. Sully asks Reese if killing him with make her feel better. Sam protest that that's not the answer. Sully says this is what he does. Whatever is best for the kid. If this what she needs, then she should kill him. Reese says she's still mad. She can't stop being mad.
Dean's works at his restraints until he's free. He stands up and tells Reese that revenge is not going to make her feel better. He's seen more than his share of monsters. The Zana aren't bad.
Dean continues...when he wasn't there for his little brother, Sully was.
Sully looks like he really appreciates this admission from Dean. Sam looks shocked that Dean's even saying these things. Dean continues that he's not saying Sully didn't make a mistake, but deep down, Reese knows he's good.
Reese holds the knife to Sully's chest. Sully tells her he's so, so sorry. She drops the knife and hugs him. He holds her and continues to apologize.
Dean quietly pick up the knife to keep it safe.
Sully waves and Reese drives off in the VW.
Sully is sure Sam probably never wants to see him again, now that he knows about Audrey's death. Sam asks Sully if he ever thinks that maybe he's a hero to him? Sam tells Sully that heroes aren't perfect. Sully says sometimes they're scared, but that just means that what they're facing is super important and nobody else is going to go for it because nobody else has the balls. Sully says this laden with meaning because of what Sam told him about what he thinks God is asking him to do; go back into the cage with Lucifer in order to, somehow, stop The Darkness.
Sam looks at Sully like he might cry. Sully's support means a lot to him.
Dean walks up, breaking the mood. Sully says it's time for him to go. He promises he'll look in on Reese. Sully thanks Dean for looking out for Sam. He's actually not a germ at all.
Dean says thanks. Dean says Sully is just about the weirdest thing out there, but he's a good weird. Sully looks seriously at Sam and says, "Good luck, buddy," before disappearing.
Dean's ready to go, but Sam's deep in thought again.
Cut to Sam riding next to Dean in the Impala. He tells Dean they need to seriously discuss him (Sam) going back to the cage. Dean says, "Okay. Not happening. Good talk."
Sam looks down. Dean says that even if Sam's visions are real....Sam cuts him off stating the obvious about how it's him and Lucifer and the cage...basically who would want to entertain
that idea at all? It's not something Sam WANTS to do.
Sam says he gets this lump in his throat when he even thinks about it, but that, being scared, is not an excuse. Not anymore.
Dean says they'll find another way. There's always another way.
Sam says okay...sounding like he doesn't believe Dean at all. He looks at Dean and asks him to tell him what the "other way" is.
Dean has no answer.