“Beyond the Mat” occurs during the aftermath of the discovery that Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino, “Lost”) is using Cas (Misha Collins, “24”) as a vessel, bringing much needed levity to the Winchester Brothers. The episode opens at a wrestling match. During a stunt, a drunk wrestler nearly hangs a fellow wrestler. During the altercation that follows a threat is issued, and that night the drunk wrestler is killed.

In the Bunker, Sam (Jared Padalecki, “Gilmore Girls”) and Dean (Jensen Ackles, “Smallville”) are working diligently to find a way to save Cas and stop the Darkness. Dean notes that Larry “The Hangman” Lee (Travis Watters, “American Mary”) died and reminisces about the wrestling matches their father used to take them to as kids. Dean suggests taking a break to go pay their respects at the funeral since he is burnt out and their research is stagnating.

Sam and Dean arrive at the funeral to see all of their old wrestling heroes, including Dean’s man-crush, Gunner Lawless (Aleks Paunovis, “Continuum”). He goes up to introduce himself, drooling over himself in the process. Sam meanwhile runs into his old crush, the announcer and booker, Rio (Jackie Debatin, “Switched at Birth”). The brothers find out that they are having a memorial show and decide to attend. They are disillusioned to discover that the show is less grand than they remember, and the wrestlers are only getting paid 25 dollars for the match. Behind them a Dad (Boyd Ferguson, “Package Deal”), double fisting beer, and his kid sit down. Sam is cynical but Dean politely asks him to not ruin another of his memories of his father.

Back stage, a wrestler witnesses a drug deal between a man and Gunner Lawless. Gunner then arrives at the mat. Dean is more than a little disappointed when Gunner gives the kid behind him his glove instead of Dean. The match begins and Gunner is immediately thrown out of the ring. He lands near Dean and when he stands he gives a wink and pat’s Dean on the leg. The tide of the fight tips very quickly in Gunner’s favor.

Meanwhile, the deadbeat dad behind them wanders out the back door to take a leak, and is promptly brutally killed. After the death, Sam and Dean investigate and believe the death to be supernatural in nature. Sam takes off to research a symbol carved into the body and Dean returns to the match location and takes advantage of the empty ring to live out his wrestling fantasies. Can you blame him? Rio interrupts him. She comments that many of the wrestlers believe they are cursed. He asks where to find the wrestlers; she points him in the direction of the nearest bar.

In Hell, Lucifer has his demons searching for another Hand of God to fight the Darkness. Crowley (Mark Sheppard, “White Collar”) is still being abased and abused. A demon using a female vessel (Bethany Brown, “Legends of Chima”) springs him from his prison, she says that she wants Crowley in charge again. The two make a run for it.

At the local bar, Dean finds Gunner sitting by the bar and joins him. Dean flashes his FBI badge and after a bit they start sharing scar stories. With all the times Dean has been healed by angel “mojo” it is strange that he even has scars. Gunner tells him that he’s learned to just “keep on grinding” no matter what happens.

Sam calls in with information on the symbol explaining that it is said to “pluck the spark of life” meaning perhaps their souls. This points to demons. Meanwhile, Harley (Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, “WWF Raw”) the wrestler who saw the drug deal go down, starts a fight and gets himself kicked out. Dean begins the slow process of slipping holy water into the drinks of every member of the wrestling company. Needless to say, Sam finds Dean passed out at the bar an indiscernible time later. Speaking of, healing via angel “mojo” must be the only explanation as to why Dean still has a functioning liver.

The two go in search of Harley and find his room ransacked. Harley was kidnapped by Gunner. Gunner reveals that his drug dealer was actually not a dealer but a demon (Aidan Kahn, “Lewis and Clark”). He is a crossroads demon who has left the crossroads to make deals. It is revealed that Gunner made a deal and that is why he is working for the demon. When Harley refuses, the demon severs his Achilles and orders Gunner to kill him.

Crowley and his rescuer, Simmons, escape to one of Crowley’s weapon caches where Crowley is keeping a Hand of God. As soon as he reveals it, Lucifer appears. The whole escape attempt was a trap. Apparently all the demons hate Crowley because he has gone soft. He calls him Dean Winchester’s Number One Fan. Ironic considering who he is wearing as a vessel.  But, when Lucifer goes to retrieve the weapon, Crowley has already taken it. He attempts to use the power of God on Lucifer, but Simmons jumps in front of the blast and, unfortunately for Crowley, those weapons are one shot only. He is barely able to escape.

Sam and Dean reach Gunner just in time, but the demon fights back. Gunner knocks Dean into the next room. He ties Dean up but admits that he wishes he didn’t have to. Dean tells him he doesn’t, that he understands all about hell and demon deals. He reminds him that it’s never too late to do the right thing. He lets Dean go and together they take out the Demon (and save Sam). This invalidates Gunner’s deal with the demon, and the Hell Hounds come to take him to hell. Gunner accepts his fate, and Dean takes with him the message that Gunner taught him: no matter what, always keep grinding. He believes that they will save Cas and beat the Darkness by doing just that.

Supernatural returns this Wednesday, Mar 23.


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