Over the last few seasons, it’s become lauded tradition that the star, Jensen Ackles, steps behind the camera to direct an episode of “Supernatural.”  This week’s episode was an Ackles family affair as it also featured Jensen’s real life father and actor, Alan (If you couldn’t tell the relations by the nose, the voice was a dead giveaway).  It also marked the return of the show's monster-of-the-week format, and somehow managed to pack some pretty loaded brotherly angst in-between the heart-eating plotlines.  Let's break it down.  

The Case

Sam wanted to work on tracking down the geeky little prophet, but there weren’t many leads and Dean had discovered some heinous unexplained murders.  “You took a year off to do yoga and play the loot, whatever, but we’re back, which means we walk about kill monsters at the same time,” Dean explained, sqashing all belief that he was ever the dumb one. 

The case was an intriguingly windy one that involved a strip club hilariously named The Bunny Hole, Sam fangirling over a fictional sports legend Brick Holmes, and stranger still, organ donations.  After tracking a handful of heart-less victims and one muttering mess of a cop-turned-murderer across three states, Sam and Dean finally nailed "the heart-sucking, possessed satanic crackwhore bat" as Dean had initially guessed in Boulder, Colorado.  This week’s big bad wasn't a demon, angel or even a vengeful spirit, but the magically cursed organs of by ancient Mayan god.  I'm positive nobody guessed that one. 

The organs belonged to one of Sam’s favorite athletes, who was apparently so dedicated to sport that he committed a ritual sacrifice of scarfing aortas twice a year to become immortal so he would never ride the athletic or proverbial pine.  

As indicated in his love letters to his aging wife (who eventually pretended to be his mother in her later years) after nearly a thousand years competing as a boxer, a baseball player, and NASCAR driver, Brick had finally lost the thrill of the victory and literally drove off a bridge.  Unfortunately, he'd signed his organ donor card and his supernaturally charged organs went into eight different people who were compelled to continue the sacrifices to the Mayan God of Corn.  It was perversely tragic to watch as Dean was ambushed in his sanctuary by a patient-turned-stripper who had received Brick’s heart.  Rayna dug her stilettos into some pretty sensitive places and cooed about how tediously she was going to kill him.  For a second, I could tell if Dean was terrified or turned on until she started gouging at his heart with her bare hands.  

Her demise was a bit lackluster and not particularly original with a knick-of-time Sammy diversion and a last minute stab from a conveniently close knife, but there was more to tackle than just the death of a cannibalistic stripper.  Was anyone grateful that Sam and Dean didn’t have to kill eight people?  

Sam and Dean

Fresh from Purgatory, Dean seemed a little too eager to jump back into the business of saving people, hunting things, and to return to a Winchester-esque version of normal as if he was forcing something that wasn't there because he wanted it so badly or was so relieved to be a hunter instead the hunted that his joy seemed slightly pathological, more than a little sweet, and utterly heartbreaking when it seemed that  Sam felt the exact opposite, and didn’t even bother hiding it.  Throughout the case, the youngest Winchester was cranky, snappish and at times, a million miles away.  Dean's good mood deflated a bit when he discovered by an email in their joint email account [insert fangirlish scream here] that Sam had been contacting universities about future admissions, proving that he is indeed the super-smart one.  Sam tersely wrote it off as simply “exploring his options," but it was obvious that the year apart had changed Sam just as much as it had changed Dean.  While Dean’s stint in the paranormal Thunderdome had only reinforced the warrior in him (like, say a Mayan, heart-eater), Sam’s time as a dog-owning, job-holding boyfriend had cemented his love of all things normalcy, farmer’s markets and being violence-free.