Synopsis of 12×11: A witch causes Dean to lose his memory and it’s up to Sam and Rowena to make sure he gets it back before he loses everything that makes him… him.
Dean wakes up in the forest the following morning holding a rabbit, which is a subtle reference to a comment Dean makes in an earlier season about rabbits getting the short end of witch spells. Dean stumbles out of the forest and stops a jogger to use his phone to call Sam. Sam assumes Dean had gotten drunk and blacked out until Dean forgets how to drive Baby. At this point, Sam realizes that there was something seriously wrong with Dean and brings him back to the motel to attempt to figure out what had happened.
Sam decides to retrace Dean’s steps the day prior, and they walk through all of the previous day’s events. Dean is unable to recall things but tries to prove Sam wrong by listing things in the room. He’s unable to remember what a lamp is called and says, “This is a light stick,” which causes Sam to stop and stare at him.
Sam takes a post it note and writes lamp on it and sticks it to the “light stick.” Sam then proceeds to write post-it notes on everything around the room, including a humorous one on the coffee pot that reads “hot, no touchee.”
Concerned, Sam calls Rowena to help, and she tells him that memory spells are very intricate and that to break the spell he needs to kill the witch who cast it. Dean disappears to get ice, which causes Sam to freak out, thinking that he lost Dean. Sam finds him trying to get into another room. They go to a bar and meet the waitress at the bar Dean was at the night before.
Sam explains to the waitress that someone roofied Dean and Dean was having a hard time remembering what had happened. The waitress feels bad about what had happened and tells Sam and Dean what she remembers and allows them to look at the security footage.
Sam recognizes the witch on the screen, and Dean becomes very excited that he knows how to shoot a gun and exclaims, “I took a shot! I can shoot a gun?” Dean now can’t remember about supernatural creatures, so Sam very patiently explains it to him as they look in the forest for the witch.
Dean’s reaction to the information about supernatural creatures is that of pure joy and excitement as Sam very visibly tries not to slap his forehead in frustration. Sam finds the glyphs in the tree, and Dean is still stuck on, “Our best friend is an angel, whaaaaat?” when he suddenly stops and finds the body of the witch. Sam explains that killing the witch was supposed to be the cure and since Dean is not himself that is a problem. Sam tells Dean to come on, and they head back to the motel.
Two members of the dead witch’s coven show up and are upset because hunters killed their brother. They vow revenge as witches tend to do and take the body back to their house. Rowena decides to come to the motel and help Sam and Dean, stating that the spell has progressed and that eventually Dean will not only forget himself and everyone around him but eventually he would forget how to eat and breath, which would be what would kill him.
While this is happening, Dean is playing with Rowena’s hair and being nice to her, to which Rowena asks Sam if they have to fix Dean. Rowena tells Sam that she knows the coven that did this to Dean, and that the family has a black grimoire of magic that they are going to need to break the spell.
Dean leaves the room and goes to the bathroom where he recites the important people to him: Sam, Mary, Cas. As he is doing this, a single tear rolls down his cheek as he struggles to hold on to who he is, and he begins to falter with his list of people. This scene was heart-wrenching to watch as Dean forgets everything about himself and he realizes that he is losing something important to him.
Sam decides to find the grimoire and leaves Rowena with Dean. Rowena is exasperated with both Sam and Dean, but Dean continues to get in her way as she prepares for a spell. Rowena gives Dean a voodoo doll to play with and tells him her life story.
In a rare moment of honesty, Rowena tells him it is a gift not to remember what he has done and told him that he is a killer. Rowena tells Dean, “Everything you’ve done has been for the greater good.” Rowena then compares what he has done to what she has done as she tells him that she did horrible things for the price of power and that there was no hope for her in the end.
Dean asks her why she is telling him this and she replies that it is because he won’t remember they had this conversation later. This entire scene marks that Rowena, though power-hungry, does have regrets about her past and is also a moment of vulnerability for her, even if Dean won’t remember what they had talked about.
Sam finds the coven and asks them for the grimoire, as he has Rowena on the phone. The witches attack Sam in an attempt to bring their brother back in Sam’s body. Rowena kidnaps Dean and steals his car and then leaves Dean a note to stay in the car, as she goes and attempts to help Sam.
Rowena confronts the witches about not allowing her in their coven, and as a blow to Rowena’s ego, they tell her that she was no one to them and that they called her Raggedy Ann. The female witch and Rowena fight and Rowena is getting beat when Dean runs to the rescue and saves Rowena by shooting the witch. Dean then swings his attention to Sam, and the other witch and Sam has to quickly explain that he needs to kill the witch not him, he’s Dean’s brother. Later, Rowena restores Dean’s memory and tells him to let her know if he remembers any conversations from before.
Sam says he was kind of jealous of Dean for being able to forget all that they’ve done and that he didn’t have to bear the weight of their lives all the time. Dean explains that he wouldn’t trade all his memories in the world just to rid himself of the bad memories. The episode ends with Dean riding the mechanical bull from the bar.
This episode balanced funny and serious very well. The show had a lot of fun at Dean’s expense, with his reactions to information that he once knew and even his regression of behavior managed to be both funny and sad. Sam and Rowena responses to Dean’s regressing behavior also made this episode great, especially in the moment of honesty and vulnerability that each of the character’s had while going through this episode.