No Rest for the Wicked (Supernatural)

"No Rest for the Wicked"
Supernatural episode
A vast landscape of chains against a dark sky, with a man hooked to various chains.
Dean Winchester is sent to Hell in the final moments of the episode. Series creator Eric Kripke described the scene as "M. C. Escher meets Hellraiser".
Episode no.Season 3
Episode 16
Directed byKim Manners
Written byEric Kripke
Production code3T6916
Original air dateMay 15, 2008 (2008-05-15)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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Supernatural (season 3)
List of Supernatural episodes

"No Rest for the Wicked" is the sixteenth and final episode of the third season of The CW television series Supernatural, and the show's sixtieth episode overall. Written by series creator Eric Kripke and directed by Kim Manners, the episode was first broadcast on May 15, 2008. The narrative follows the series' protagonists Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles)—brothers who travel the continental United States hunting supernatural creatures—as they attempt to save the latter's soul from damnation. Having made a year-long demonic pact in the previous season finale, Dean has just one day left to live. The brothers must track down the demonic overlord Lilith, who holds Dean's contract. Lilith, meanwhile, is entertaining herself by possessing a young girl (Sierra McCormick) and terrorizing her family, a homage to the Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life".

Marking the final appearance of Katie Cassidy as the demon Ruby, the episode was originally intended to feature the return of Samantha Ferris as recurring character Ellen Harvelle. The writers initially intended that Sam would save Dean by giving in to his demonic abilities, but the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike prevented the development of that storyline throughout the season. Dean is instead killed; the final scene of him in Hell was the "most complicated shot [the] visual effects department has ever done".[1]

The episode received high ratings for the season, and garnered generally positive reviews from critics. The decision to follow through with Dean's Hell-bound contract was praised, as were the performances of Padalecki and Ackles. General consensus was that McCormick was "creepy" as Lilith, but lacked the menace of Fredric Lehne's Azazel of the second season.

Background

Supernatural follows brothers Sam (Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Ackles) as they travel the continental United States hunting supernatural creatures that pose a threat to society. At times, they are assisted by fellow "hunter" and family friend Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver). Their greatest enemies come in the form of demons, corrupted human souls that have escaped from Hell.[2] A cloud of black smoke in their true form, they take possession of human hosts.[3]

Twenty-two years earlier than the series' main storyline, the demonic tyrant Azazel fed his blood to Sam and other infants, to imbue them with demonic abilities. He gathers them together in the second-season finale "All Hell Breaks Loose" and coerces the young adults into a fight to the death to determine a leader for his demonic army. Sam is killed by the super-strong Jake Talley,[4] but Dean sells his own soul to a crossroads demon in exchange for Sam's resurrection, a contract that leaves Dean with only a year to live. The Winchesters, Bobby, and fellow hunter Ellen Harvelle kill Jake and Azazel, but are too late to prevent the release of hundreds of demons from Hell.[3]

One of the freed demons is Ruby (Cassidy), a former witch who claims to oppose the demonic world. She frequently helps the brothers throughout the third season with her demon-killing knife and knowledge of witchcraft,[2][5][6] but Dean mistrusts her manipulative nature.[2] As the deadline approaches, the Winchesters learn that Azazel's successor, Lilith, holds the contract to Dean's deal.[7] He now only has one day remaining before he is sent to Hell.