Just in case last week’s episode didn’t completely destroy you, our favorite show returned to scrub your heart over a cheese grater and give your soul a few gut-punches with an episode jam-packed with “Supernatural’s” unique brand of campy special effects and life-ruining angst.  “Hello Cruel World” picked up right where the premiere left off:  Sam was in a secluded part of the demonic laboratory succumbing to all-too real hallucinations of Lucifer, and Castiel’s vessel was just taken over by those sinister Leviathans that tossed Dean and Bobby around like a couple of hot potatoes. 

Unfortunately for this season Big Bad, the meat suit that Castiel possessed was dissolving in plumes of black sludge.  Dean warned it (them?) that tearing his pretty, pretty face apart might destroy it completely, so it, being smarter than your average demon, retreated in a loping, disjointed shuffle that reminded me of Vincent D’Onofrio’s life-changing, pre-“Law & Order: Criminal Intent” performance as a cockroach in “Men In Black," hemorrhaging monster blood from every pore. 

Dean went to collect Sam, who was in the throes of a Satan-sponsored fever dream, and he was already going in for the kill.  “You’re still my bunkmate, buddy.  You’re my b-tch in every sense of the word.”  Lucifer forever ruined Dean’s affectionate nickname for Sam.  I know he’s the devil, but that’s just uncalled for.

Together, Bobby, Dean and Sam followed black brick road to the public water supply and the lake beside it to watch the Leviathans wade into its pristine waters and baptize it with evil

In one of "Supernatural's" saddest send-offs, Castiel’s trademark trench coat washed ashore, and Dean reverently plucked it from the water, grieving for his angelic friend.  While I don’t believe that Castiel is dead, this could be the last time we see his handsome vessel played by Misha Collins.  If that is true, Collins went out with biggest of bangs.  Bravo.

Bobby, always a step ahead, pointed out, “If they’re in the pipes, they got themselves a highway to anywhere…” and the mourning period was over.  It was time to work.

The Doobie Brother’s “Black Water” provided a folksy soundtrack to the cryptic montage of the unsuspecting and surprisingly buxom citizens of Sioux Falls partaking in wholesome water-based activities—cooking dinner, taking part in a charity car wash, enjoying a drink at a water fountain.  The message was clear: everyone was at risk.  And I was thankful for my stinky, but evil-free, well water.

As much as I love the gory personifications of paranormal and Biblical villains on “Supernatural,” its heart has always been the exploration of the brother’s co-dependent relationship.  This best part of this episode was Sam’s intensifying hallucinations and Dean's struggles to hunt these new monsters while keeping his brother alive. 

Sam confessed to Dean and Bobby (while they rather tenderly took care of his lacerated hand) that Lucifer was telling him that everything around Sam is “set dressing,” that Sam was still being tortured in the pit.  Jared Padalecki’s decision to play Sam’s descent into madness with a brittle frankness was an clever one, and I found his performance to be unexpectedly noble and unapologetically heartbreaking.  Because Sam Winchester was raised a hunter.  He has had to fight every variation of demon and ghost—except the psychological ones.  This is the first time we've seen the brothers unsure of what to do.  Thus, he obsessively field-strips his weapon just to keep his mind busy as Lucifer taunts him.  Mark Pellegrino’s Devil is delightfully cavalier and literally the terrifying devil on Sam’s shoulder.

To contrast Sam’s quiet flail, Dean was all bluster and livid anger.  When Dean realized that Sam was seeing Lucifer as they spoke, he softened to assure him that he wasn’t there.  Sam, with teary eyes and a precarious hold on everything he loves, explained, “He says the same thing about you.” 

In case you missed it, folks, the Winchesters are epically screwed.  And I need tissues.

Bobby, a better father than John Winchester ever was, focused his attention on Dean, who boasted that he was fine because he “keeps my marbles in a lead friggin’ box.”   Bobby has known Dean his entire life and offered, “anytime you want to decide that that’s utter horse crap, I’ll be where I always am, right here.” 

This is the moment where I had to pause it and retreat to my happy place (which is ABC’s uproarious “Happy Endings”) because as an obsessive television-aholic, I know that whenever anyone makes a grand, sweeping statement like that, they’re generally found dead a few scenes later. 

When I returned, the Leviathans were re-grouping and had absorbed information about humanity from their vessels and television.  The monster in the body is a little girl saw a promotion for Dean’s favorite medical drama, “Dr. Sexy, M.D,” where hospitals were described as places where you can “cut into whatever body you want and take out whatever organ pleases you without any paperwork what-so-ever.”  Thus, the Leviathans decided to build their lair in a wing Sioux Falls General (conveniently closed for renovations, of course), where they could to feed on patients at will.  Fatefully, Sheriff Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes), who appeared in the season 5 zombie-fest “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” was recuperating from an appendectomy, and she found it a bit odd when her surgeon began feasting on her roommate, and called Bobby.

With Bobby and Dean investigating separate leads, Sam was left alone.  Did anyone think it was a tad irresponsible to leave a psychotic giant alone in a house full of guns, booze and boobytraps?  I don’t see this ending badly at all.    

Thankfully, Dean returned in a hurry and needed Sam as back-up.  Even Sam was lucid enough to question that.  After he was assured that all he had to do was wait in the car and “don’t let Satan change my pre-sets,” he obliged.  Sam has always trusts Dean’s judgment more than his own.

I fully believed that it was actually Dean, and not a delusion until he kept demeaning Sam’s mental status.  “You’re crazy and that don’t wash off.  You are never going to be okay, Sam.” 

It wasn’t him, but Sam was somehow still on his way to a brick-and-mortar office building occupied by real people with a loaded gun.  For once petrifying second, it looked like Sam would quite literally charge in and open fire, thinking he was killing Leviathans and not humans.  I deflated with relief when it was revealed that Mr. Morning Star, masquerading as Dean, had led Sam to another empty warehouse to reveal his end game.  He wanted Sam to kill himself. 

With seamless production and spot-on acting, Lucifer and Dean’s faces and voices blend into one and another, thoroughly confusing an already freaked-out Sam, causing him fire wildly before training the gun on Dean. 

Impossibly, Dean managed to talk to his brother off the proverbial ledge by sharing his own experience with Hell’s torture, and...holding his enormous hand, much to the delight of fangirls worldwide.  Jensen Ackles never ceases to deliver powerful and devastatingly sincere performances, and his speech about discerning the difference between traumatic hell-pain and the regular pain of reality was yet another. “I am your flesh and blood brother,” Dean raged, “and I am the only one who can legitimately kick your ass in real time.  You got away.  We got you out, Sammy.  You gotta believe me.”  This wasn’t a chick-flick moment.  Not with  Sam digging into the infected flesh of his filleted hand, and the grisly understanding that physical pain is a strong tether to reality.  This was a Winchester moment, and it hurt beautifully. 

The brothers receive a call from Bobby, who was fleeing the hospital with a Leviathan on his tail.  He said he’d meet them back at Singer Salvage.  Sam and Dean arrive to find it torched so effectively that it wasn’t even smoldering.  As Sam and Dean's only real home, I definitely wanted to witness the destruction of Bobby’s moldering, book-laden house, but I do understand that “Supernatural’s” weekly budget is about one-tenth of boring cop procedurals like CSI.

Panicked, Dean called Bobby’s cell, but only got his voicemail.  He left this gut-wrenching message: “You cannot be in that cater back there.  If you’re gone, I swear I’m going to strap my Beautiful Mind brother in the car and I’m going to drive us off the pier.  You asked me how I was doing?  Well, not good.  You said you’d be here.  Where are you?” 

Sam and Dean separated to search the labyrinth of mangled cars for Bobby.  A Leviathan (“Sons of Anarchy’s” Benito Martinez) showed up to declare that the Winchesters are worthy of being slaughtered and went in for the kill.  Leviathans are merely pissed off by shotgun blasts to the face and bare their reptilian monster-mouth with forked tongue and jagged teeth bared when provoked.  It hurled Dean across the salvage yard, breaking his leg.

Sam stupidly rationalized that if a gunshot couldn’t kill it, a punch to the jaw just might.  Luckily, the punch drove it into the perfect position so Dean could flatten it with a car—because that’s how you end monsters who invade Bobby’s fortress!—but not before Sam got clobbered in his already scrambled head with a metal crowbar. 

The show ends in anoter nail-biting, hair-tugging, sanity-annihilating cliffhanger: Dean’s crippled; Bobby’s presumed dead (SPOILER ALERT: if you follow Jim Beaver’s twitter, you know he’s fine) and in the ambulance that barreled towards Leviathan-infested Sioux Falls General, Sam was once again graced with visions of Lucifer, and consequently suffered another grand mal (and Dr. Sexy is probably going to eat his gigantic liver). 

Oh, and the Leviathan that was rendered a stain of black ooze by a falling car?  It’s not dead, and I imagine it’s pissed

While I was a little underwhelmed by Sam’s hallucinations (a poker through Bobby’s chest, that’s all you got, Satan?  Sam's demon blood detox delivered more chills) and the surprising lack of gore, this episode delivered impressive drama and fantastic writing and performances.  Not a bad week in the cursed world of the Winchesters.

What did you think of the episode?  Do you really think Castiel and Bobby are really dead?  Do you love Lucifer as much as I do?  Let me hear it in the comments.