After John's death, Dean and Sam take the Impala to Bobby's junkyard and spend the next month hanging around. Bobby wonders why they're not doing anything and Sam explains that they've been trying to trace the yellow-eyed demon, Azazel, but haven't turned up any demon signs. Dean goes out to work on the Impala and Sam admits to Bobby that his brother still hasn't gotten over John's death.
Sam goes outside to the Impala and checks on Dean, who complains that his younger brother is hovering over him. He insists that he's fine but Sam says that he has to let out his grief. Sam figures that Azazel is responsible for John's death since the Colt disappeared at the same time that their father died. Dean refuses to discuss it and tells Sam to search for Azazel on his own if he thinks the demon is responsible.
That night, Bobby shows Sam an article in a tabloid magazine about Sean Boyden, a world-renowned architect who died a few days ago. Before he died, Sean said that he was being stalked by a black dog, but nobody ever saw it. Sam has heard the stories of a hellhound, the spirit of a black dog, and Bobby figures that it works for Azazel. When Sam says that he isn't convinced, Bobby glances outside at Dean, who is still moping, and tells Sam that nothing happens if no one makes a move.
Sam convinces Dean to investigate and they pose as writers to interview Ted, an architect who was Sean's friend. Ted explains that Sean was a bartender who didn't know the first thing about architecture. Ten years ago Sean suddenly became an overnight sensation as an architect. Ted tells the brothers about the legend of bluesman Robert Johnson, who made a deal with the Devil at a crossroad to become a great bluesman. Sean learned of the legend and the bar where he worked was at a crossroad, so he decided to try it as a joke. Sam convinces Ted to give them the bar's address.
When Sam and Dean drive to the crossroad, Dean discovers that someone has planted yarrow flowers along the edges of the intersection. Yarrow is used to summon demons. The brothers dig at the center of the intersection and find a small metal box with Sean's photo and components for a summoning spell. Beneath the first box is a draw-string bag containing the photo of a different man. Sam figures the man made a deal as well and the brothers go to the bar to ask the bartender if he recognizes the second man.
Once they confirm who the man is, they drive to the address of Evan Hudson, who was a regular at the bar when Sean worked there. They figure that Evan made the same deal Sean did and will be killed the same way. As Dean drives, he points out that he definitely died in the car accident and yet somehow he came back to life, and he wonders how it's possible.
In his study at home, Evan hears a dog barking somewhere outside. His wife, Julie, comes in and tells him that she's ready to leave for her parents' house. Evan says that he has too much work to take time off and hugs her. Julie thanks him for always being there for her.
Once Julie leaves, the barking dog draws closer and Evan hides behind his desk. The door bursts open, and Evan is relieved to see it isn't the dog: it's Sam and Dean. The brothers realize that Evan isn't rich or famous and Dean asks what kind of deal he made. Evan explains that ten years ago Julie was dying of cancer and he made a deal with the devil to save her life. Furious, Dean tells Evan that he'll make Julie suffer when she learns that her husband gave up his soul to save her life. Sam drags his brother out into the hall and Dean, sobbing, says that John did the same thing and it's eating him up inside. He insists that he should have died instead of their father, and Sam hugs him.
The brothers are startled when they hear a scream from the study. They run in and see Evan trying to close the window. Realizing what he has to do, Dean tells Sam to seal the room with salt and protect Evan. Meanwhile, he'll go back to the crossroad to summon the demon. Sam realizes what Dean plans to trade away to save Evan's life, but Dean simply tells his brother to buy him enough time and leaves.
Dean drives to the crossroad and buries a summoning box at the intersection. The night turns to day and a demon arrives in the form of an attractive woman. She flirts with Dean and asks what he wants, and Dean offers his soul in return for cancelling Evan's contract. The demon refuses, saying that the deal can't be undone. As they talk, Dean saunters over to a nearby water tower and tries to negotiate. The demon says that she knows all about Dean and figures that what he really wants to do is make a deal to bring his father back.
Sam has Evan seal the room with salt while he makes a circle of salt in the center to protect himself and Evan. Evan doesn't see what good it will do and Sam tells him that Dean will save him.
The crossroad demon walks with Dean and tells him that John made a deal with Azazel to save Dean's life. She taunts him, saying that now he'll have to suffer with the knowledge that John is suffering in Hell because of him, and then offers to deal for John's life.
When it can't get past the salt sealing the door, the hellhound stops trying to break down the barrier. The heating vent bursts inward and Sam realizes that Evan didn't block that entry.
The crossroad demon's eyes light up red as she tells Dean that she has the power to bring John back from Hell.
When the hellhound enters the study, Evan trips and breaks the salt circle. Sam grabs the man and drags him into a closet, slamming the door shut and trying to keep it closed.
The crossroad demon gets within touching distance of Dean and tells him that she can give him ten years with John. Dean steps away from her back onto the road and admits that it's a good deal, and the demon invites him to come back to her and seal the deal with a kiss. He refuses and the demon, trying to step forward, realizes that Dean has painted a devil's trap on the underside of the water tower. Dean threatens to exorcise her unless she frees Evan. The demon tells Dean to choose: John's life or the life of a stranger. He hesitates and then begins performing the exorcism, forcing the screaming demon to its knees.
The hellhound bursts through the closet door, knocking Sam aside. It lunges at Evan but disappears in mid-leap.
At the crossroad, the demon kisses Dean to seal the deal: her freedom for Evan's life. Satisfied, Dean removes a board, freeing the demon. Once free, the demon taunts him by asking him how does it feel to save a stranger instead of his own father. Satisfied that Dean is suffering, the demon leaves and day turns back a stormy night. Sam arrives a few minutes later and finds Dean kneeling in the rain, crying.
Later, Dean wakes up in the Impala and realizes that Sam is driving. Sam explains that Dean had cried himself to sleep and reminds him that John sacrificed himself so that Dean could keep on living and hunting. He tells Dean that his giving up his life to bring John back would have been wrong and Sam assures him that he did the right thing. After Dean lets Sam's words sink in, he lies back and allows himself to drift off to sleep
Written by Gadfly on May 22, 2016