This week, writer Andrew Dabb returns to Supernatural with “Clip Show”, a fascinating episode in which Sam and Dean feel the true wrath of Crowley, while Castiel teams with “Marv” to put an end to humanity’s angelic tribulations. And with this being the last episode before the season 8 finale, there’s no sign of the series slowing down – or “pulling a Leviathan”, so to speak.

When Sam and Dean stumble across a “cure” for a demons, the duo are forced to piece together a former nemesis in order to test out this experimental antidote. But when Crowley begins to attack those once saved by the Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean are forced to drop everything to protect the familiar faces from the past. Meanwhile, Castiel and Metatron, set off on their own journey to close the gates of Heaven.

Since it was Dabb’s episode from earlier this season that introduced the “trials” storyline, it’s only fair that he returns to explore this element even further. And in staying true to this this rejuvenated, re-energized series tone, he does just that and then some. This time, truly divided, though equally compelling tales are presented for Sam and Dean and Crowley as well as Castiel and “Marv” – which touches upon the many years of series mythos, while at the same continuing to push the story that is Supernatural, as well as its characters, to new heights.

“Clip Show” is, for all intents and purposes, an awkward title for this episode given what’s included, yet more than fitting for the impressive depths that this tale successfully reaches. As Sam and Dean continue to search through the history of the Men of Letters, Castiel, too, sets out to find his own answers. Each story, though truly independent of each other (at this time), presents itself as two compelling halves of a complete story, masterfully handled by those who helped turnaround the series this season.

In a sense, this “normal” episode of Supernatural feels much more like a super-sized, extended version of what we’d typically get each week. And though the Supernatural season 8 finale is but a week away, nothing in this episode feels overtly rushed or out of place; instead, it’s as if the limits of what a 60-minute episode can be are pushed to the max, meaning its success relied on a perfect execution, otherwise it would be an over-bloated disaster too obvious to overcome this late in the season.

An impressive challenge, no doubt, and one the Supernatural took on and bested with ease, as if this episode, itself, was fueled by the return of its past characters and what the series was back when they first appeared. This is not to lessen the work that has been done since then, though, as the new tales of demonic and angelic are equally as enjoyable and will no doubt be as memorable.

In all the years of Supernatural being on the air, this is the first time that the actual legacy and success of the Winchester brothers has been at risk. Though, at times, it might feel a bit odd to delve so deep into the series past to threaten the lives of those once saved, it allows viewers to actually “feel” for the Winchesters. After all, the death of anyone hasn’t been a real concern for many years, especially when it comes to Sam and Dean.

As for Castiel, this season has served him well but still left much to be desired. Though Castiel’s sparse appearances are more the result of Misha Collins not being a series regular this season than the writer’s not wanting to use him, its seems as if they’ve finally dusted off his wings and put him to good use. When Collins’ Castiel is paired with Curtis Armstrong’s Metatron (or “Marv”) it is, simply put, delightful. Both actors excel at portraying the gruff, intellectual angels, and their interest in closing the gates of Heaven is a wonderful juxtaposition to Sam and Dean’s interest in closing the gates to Hell. It’s currently unclear which “team” will succeed first, but the exploration into more mythology is never a bad thing; in fact, it’s what Supernatural excels at.

The Men of Letters storyline, too, has helped expand the impressive universe that Supernatural exists in, and the newly introduced “curing” of the demons is no different. This element still seems to be in its infancy, though, but the options made available by its inclusion could make for some poignant moments in the future (or perhaps sooner). Still, this episode, at times, seems to be slightly confused as to its intended purpose, as the exploration of the demon “cure” slightly muddies Crowley’s ingenious plan of attacking the Winchesters through their old cases. That said, these very slight missteps never feel unwelcomed or overly detrimental.

Now that Supernatural is preparing to close off season 8 next week, anything and everything is possible – and at this point, there’s no need to be worried about what, exactly, that is. As this season has shown, there’s so much more life left in this series, its characters, and the beautiful mythology that has, so far, been constructed, and all it takes is a skillful hand of someone who loves the series as much as it fans to bring it out. Thankfully, showrunner Jeremy Carver is that person.

Supernatural returns next Wednesday with its season 8 finale, “Sacrafice” @9pm on CW. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below: