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The scene opens at night. We see a young man (Conrad Martin) running through the main street of a small town as if something or someone is chasing him. He runs to the door of an ice cream shop called “Harrington’s”. The shop is closed, so the door is locked. Conrad knocks anxiously on the door. When a young waitress answers the door, they embrace.
The girl tells Conrad that he must leave, but he says he doesn’t want to leave without her. The girl says she can’t leave because she made a promise. She urges Conrad to leave without her. Reluctantly, Conrad kisses her goodbye, tells her he loves her, and runs off.
A few moments later, we see Conrad still running and he has reached an area about five miles outside of town. He bursts into a convenience store/gas station and hurriedly asks the clerk (Griffin) if he can use the phone. As he’s talking, Conrad holds his head and groans loudly as if he’s in a great deal of pain. We can hear a ringing noise that he presumably can hear inside his head.
The clerk is initially startled by Conrad’s behavior and asks him to calm down. Conrad again asks urgently to use the phone, and when the clerk doesn’t reply quickly enough, Conrad snatches the clerk’s cell phone, which was lying on the counter.
Conrad starts trying to dial a phone number, but we can hear the ringing in his head getting louder. He becomes incapacitated by the pain and sinks to his knees, holding his head. The clerk says he’ll call the police, but before he can do anything, Conrad screams loudly and his head explodes.
At the bunker, Castiel stops by Jack’s room to talk to him and sees Jack playing with the snake. Jack insists (apparently not for the first time) that he’s alright. But Castiel says that since the hunters’ funerals and other recent events, he doesn’t believe him. When Cas tries to change the subject and asks how the snake is doing, Jack says he’s not doing well and won’t eat. Cas suggests the snake may be missing his previous owner, and explains that the snake has experienced a lot of change very quickly. The way Cas is talking, it’s apparent that he’s talking about Jack and trying to get him to talk about his feelings.
Cas leaves Jack alone to go talk to Dean, who is in the kitchen eating a sandwich. Dean says he recently spoke with Rowena, who is alive and coping, but not “great” after being possessed by Michael. When they discuss how Sam and Jack are doing, we learn that they both say they’re fine, but nobody believes it.
CASTIEL and SAM:
The interview with Griffin doesn’t provide much new information. However, when Sam asks Griffin if he knew Conrad, Griffins says “no”, but suggests that Conrad probably lived in a nearby town called Charming Acres. Griffin tells Sam that Charming Acres is five miles up the road, but warns him that the place is “weird”.
When Cas and Sam enter the ice cream parlor, they find more of the same – a 50s era song playing on the juke box, old-style furnishings, and people dressed in old-style clothing. They are greeted by Sunny (the waitress we saw with Conrad the night before) and her father (Chip Harrington), who owns the shop and is also the town’s mayor.
When Sam asks about Conrad Martin, Sunny seems distressed, but doesn’t say anything. Meanwhile, Chip continues talking, saying the local police say Conrad died from a brain aneurysm. When Castiel corrects him and says Conrad’s head exploded, everyone in the shop turns around suddenly to look at them, and Chip seems surprised by the news. Sam quickly adds that they just want to learn what they can about Conrad, so Chip sends them to the boarding house where Conrad was staying.
Cas and Sam arrive at Dowling’s Boarding House and are greeted by the owner, Ms. Dowling, who addresses them as “agents” before they introduce themselves. When Sam and Cas seem curious about how she knew they were feds, her reply is the same as Chip’s – “small town”. She invites them inside and shows them Conrad’s room. She comments that Conrad was a “nice” young man who had only been in town for a few weeks, and she’s saddened by what happened to him.
When Sam asks if the boarding house gets many visitors, Ms. Dowling corrects him and says she only rents to men because it’s inappropriate and immoral for a young woman to be living alone. Sam asks for some coffee as a pretense to return downstairs with Ms. Dowling so Cas can search Conrad’s room. During his search, Cas finds a set of steamy love letters from Sunny, Harington’s daughter, to Conrad.
Elsewhere in town, Cindy and Justin Smith are preparing to have dinner, but Justin is looking through the house for his cell phone. Cindy pretends that everything is normal, but Justin is distracted and confused. He says he remembers buying a cell phone for his daughter when he lived in Houston. Then, he remembers his daughter’s name is Rose and he seems to snap out of some sort of trance. He suddenly turns to Cindy and asks who she is. Looking around the room, he realizes that he’s not in his own house and doesn’t know where he is. Cindy continues to pretend that nothing is happening. Suddenly, Justin grabs his head as if he’s in tremendous pain. We hear the same loud ringing we heard right before Conrad died. Justin runs outside, calls for help, and tries to run away, but he only makes it a few yards before his head explodes.
DEAN and JACK:
At the bunker, Jack is still trying to feed the snake (who seems sad and has thus far refused to eat) when Dean suggests they take a drive. Later, night has fallen and Dean and Jack are driving with the snake in a container in the back of the Impala. They have an awkward conversation about snakes, during which Dean says snakes are cool when he’s clearly fearful of the snake in the car.
Dean and Jack arrive at Donatello’s house the next morning. It’s clear that they’ve been driving all night.
Over coffee, Jack asks Donatello how he lost his soul, and Donatello replies that god’s sister ripped it out of him. During further discussion, Donatello says not having a soul feels like there’s a black hole inside him where something else used to be. He feels bright and shiny on the outside, but empty on the inside. When Jack asks if that feels bad, Donatello replies that he feels nothing. Donatello goes on to say that losing your soul doesn’t make you bad or good or anything else; it’s a lack of empathy, pity, and humanity. When Donatello asks Jack how he feels, Jack’s reply is he doesn’t know; but he also doesn’t want Dean, Sam, and Cas to worry about him. He says he needs time and space to figure things out for himself, but right now there’s always someone there. During further discussion, Jack reveals that the Winchesters are the best people he knows, so Donatello advises that the next time Jack realizes his “family” is worrying about him, he should ask himself what Dean and Sam would do, and try to do that.
Jack and Donatello leave the house and meet Dean, who has been waiting outside. Jack gets in the car, leaving Dean and Donatello alone for a moment. When Dean asks Donatello if Jack has a soul, Donatello replies that if Jack seems alright, he probably is, but he’d keep an eye on him just the same. He adds that Jack is the most powerful being in the universe, so what’s going on inside his head is anyone’s guess.
CASTIEL and SAM:
At the boarding house he next morning, Cas knock’s on Sam’s door, but there’s no answer. When he opens the door, Sam isn’t inside and the bed looks like he didn’t sleep there. Cas searches the boarding house for Sam, but can’t find him. He finds Ms. Dowling vacuuming the floor and asks if she’s seen Sam. She tells him that Sam said he was going for a walk and a milkshake. Cas surmises that Sam went to Harrington's, so he goes there looking for him.
When Cas arrives at the ice cream parlor, he finds Sunny setting up tables for the day. When he questions her about his partner’s whereabouts, she tells Cas that Sam had come by earlier, but he left when she told him there’d been another death in town and Justin Smith is dead.
Cas heads to the Smith’s house, and is greeted by Cindy Smith, who invites him inside. Initially, Cas asks Cindy if she’s seen his partner, but she pretends to not know what he’s talking about. She also acts like nothing is wrong, so Cas assumes she doesn’t yet know about her husband. When Cas tells her that Justin is dead, she laughs, telling him that her husband is fine. As they’re talking, Sam enters the room wearing clothes like to the clothes Justin was wearing, including the same horn-rimmed glasses he was wearing. Sam introduces himself as Justin Smith and seems to not know who Cas is.
Later that night, Cas returns to the ice cream parlor to talk to Sunny. He accuses Sunny of being a witch and brainwashing the entire town – including Sam.
During the exposition that follows, Chip reveals that he is a powerful psychic and he’s controlling the entire town. He explains that when the local mill shut down, the town started to die. Then, Chip’s wife died and his life seemed to get worse. Many people in town moved away, or turned to drugs and alcohol. Chip saw his town dying and he blamed modernization for many of its problems. He also started to hear voices in his head screaming for things to get better. He started wishing for things to get better, and realized that his thoughts could influence other people, so he gave everyone new lives and new identities, and decided to make a place where people would be happy. When Cas confronts Chip with the fact that he murders people who try to break away, Chip insists that he’s just protecting his home.
When Castiel asks about Sunny’s role, Chip says his mind control doesn’t work on Sunny, because she’s too much like him, so she simply plays along. When Chip comments that his mind control doesn’t work on Castiel, either, Cas reveals that he’s not human.
Sunny runs out of the room, clearly upset. Chip goes after her, and Sam and the two other men attack Castiel. Cas easily overpowers the two men, and tries to convince Sam to fight the mind control. Sam says he doesn’t want to fight, because he’s happy in this place. Cas tells Sam that he knows what it’s like to lose an army of people who counted on you and how that makes you feel like a failure. But he tells Sam that if he gives in, he will fail everyone else in his life, too, including Dean. Sam snaps out of his trance and stops fighting with Cas.
Outside, Sunny screams at Chip for killing Conrad, but Chip insists that once Sunny told Conrad the truth and he ran, Chip was left with no other choice. Chip insists Sunny killed Conrad when she chose to tell him the truth. During a heated argument between Sunny and Chip, Chip says Sunny didn’t even try to stop him from killing Conrad, and she chose to stay. Sunny retorts that she promised her mother that she’d stay with Chip, but now she realizes he’s a monster.
As they’re arguing, Cas and Sam rush outside. Chip uses his powers to fling Castiel across the pavement. When Chip realizes Sam is no longer under his control and uses his powers to attack Sam. Sam sinks to his knees in pain and his face starts to get red and swollen, like his head is about to explode. Sunny sees what is happening and uses her own powers to attack Chip. Her attack stops Chip from killing Sam, but leaves him in a vegetative state where he’s happy inside his own mind.
Back at the bunker, Jack and Dean return first. Jack takes the snake and heads to his room.
Soon after, Sam and Cas return. After a brief discussion about the case, Cas goes to check on Jack, leaving Dean and Sam alone in the war room to talk. During their discussion, Sam confesses that he hates the bunker now because he sees the faces of the dead hunters everywhere he looks. That’s why he’s been taking them on so many hunts lately – so he doesn’t have to stay in the bunker surrounded by bad memories. He admits that the bunker is their home, and he can’t keep running.