Synopsis of 13×05: Dean just needs a win and a good old fashion case going back to their horror roots might be what sets him right.

This episode of Supernatural has been the best the season has had to offer so far. ‘Advanced Thanatology’ provides another throwback to earlier seasons horror-esque opening scenes and typical ghost hunts.

Unlike previous seasons, this episode delves more into how hopeless and torn up Dean is about his most recent losses. Although Dean has been gruff and angry this season, this is the first time audiences have seen him as broken and directionless, much like Castiel has been since season 9.

The episode opens with two teenage boys, Sean and Evan, entering an abandoned asylum run by a crazed doctor who lobotomized his patients to “cure” them of the maladies. They find a death mask and decide to take it back to their house. However, the ghost of Doctor Meadows appears and attacks Evan, while Sean flees from the house.

Of course, ghosts and weirdness are a beacon to Dean and Sam, who head to Colorado to figure out the case. They meet Sean, and Dean attempts to make a connection with Sean, but he’s catatonic and only drawing the death masks. Dean is downtrodden about the whole thing and is in a foul mood as they leave the house.

Sam awkwardly offers to go with Dean to a strip club. Dean confronts Sam about him acting so oddly, and Sam admits that he is attempting to give him something to believe in again. Meanwhile, Dr. Meadows possess Sean and brings him back to the house.

Dean and Sam quickly realize they need to destroy the masks, but there are souls of the doctor’s victims still trapped in the house. Dean decides that he is going to commit suicide to free the spirits in the house.

While on the other side, Dean meets Billie, who has gotten a promotion to Death. Billie calls Dean out about his suicidal tendencies and points out to him a shelf of notebooks that detail various ways and dates that he was going to die, and today was not that day. Billie informs Dean that things have changed and that he is more important than he realized and that he was meant for something more.

Billie sends Dean back to the world of the living, while Sam is freaking out. They find Sean’s body and inform his mother. Dean tells Sam that he just needs a win and needs something to believe in again when he gets a phone call from Castiel asking the Winchesters to get him.

This episode was a nice reprieve from Jack and the central conflict of whether or not Jack is good or evil. This episode tastefully handled Dean’s hopelessness and brokenness, while also providing characters other than Sam to remind him that life was worth living despite the loss he had endured. This episode had all the elements of early seasons that made it both intriguing and heartbreaking. Hopefully, the rest of the season keeps up in the same vein.

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