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In S5E1, Castiel places Enochian sigils on Sam & Dean's ribs. He says:

"They'll hide you from every angel in creation, including Lucifer."

However, this appears to be not true in S6E15.

  • Balthazar appears uncalled to the brothers, in Bobby's house.
  • Virgil follows the brothers to the alternate universe.
  • Castiel and Balthazar find the brothers rather quickly after their return to reality.

There may be other, similar incidents I either haven't witnessed or thought of. Is there any good explanation for all of this?


I should note that I've got theories for the latter two, but I still cannot think of anything to explain the first.

  • Virgil may have been able to follow some sort of residual trail left by Balthazar's portal, to arrive at the same location the brothers did in the alternate universe.
  • Castiel and Balthazar could have been monitoring Raphael, knowing that he would eventually have to summon his servant back.

Still, this does not answer the first appearance of Balthazar in this episode. When I originally saw him gathering ingredients, I thought he might have gone to Bobby's because that is one of the few places on Earth that might have so many such things in close proximity. But, this seems less likely later on when we learn...

His original plan had been to send Sam & Dean to the alternate reality all along.

Therefore, we know that he was looking for Sam & Dean specifically. The proximity to spellcasting resources was probably just an added bonus.

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+1: I was wondering about it myself. –  Erik Burigo May 17 '12 at 8:44
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7 Answers

Out-of-universe: This may be a small plot hole in that episode, but is IMO justified. By that time, the novelty of Castiel having to find the brothers by normal means (and having Dean hang up on him mid-sentence) had worn off, so the writers just skipped right to the part where Balthazar finds them.

In-Universe: by that time, the angels (and demons) had had a lot of time to practice tracking down Sam/Dean despite Castiel's protection. They just had to use more mundane forms of location. People like police officers, private investigators, and bounty hunters find people who are trying to stay hidden all the time, and those fugitives are keeping a much lower profile than the Winchesters. The angels/demons would be forced to use many of the same techniques: they scope out places the brothers are likely to go, they follow leads of where the brothers have likely been, and they send out a network of informants with the brothers' descriptions (Raphael finds Dean this way). Being angels, they could literally stake a place out forever waiting for the two to show up.

Once Balthazar developed his plan for the brothers, he would have almost certainly begun a search for them using these techniques. It's possible (I would say likely) that he had places like Bobby's house under observation, either personally or via other agents. Remember, once he knows where the brothers are, he can transport himself there immediately; all it would take is one hint from an informant that the two were headed in that direction. Given the way the episode ends, its likely that Castiel himself might have been that informant, since the brothers appear to be keeping him appraised of their actions.

Going back to the out-of-universe example: the writers probably expected us to "fill in" the missing pieces of that plot for ourselves, rather than waste screen time showing the details.

(BTW: I suspect Virgil followed the key to the alternate universe, since that's what he wanted.)

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Perhaps the angels find the boys by locating items that they have on them. For example, maybe Castiel can look for the impala to find Dean.

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Remember that at the end of the episode you are referencing, The French Mistake, it is revealed that Baltazar is working with, and even perhaps, on the orders of Castiel. We learn in a later episode, The Man who Would Be King, that Castiel had not been entirely truthful with the brothers since the averted apocalypse. I believe it can be inferred that Castiel gave Baltazar the location of the boys. The chance that Dean or Sam contacted Cas offscreen to relay their location in case of emergency is pretty likely.

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Checking the Supernatural Wiki, Episode 5.16 Dark Side Of The Moon we learn:

After noticing his gun is missing from under his pillow, Dean wakes to find two men pointing guns at him and Sam. He recognizes them as hunters - Roy and Walt. Walt says they are there to kill Sam for starting the Apocalypse, and as Sam protests, Walt shoots and kills him. He tells Roy to shoot Dean, and when he hesitates, Walt kills Dean too.

Sam and Dean are killed, go to their private Heavens and meet the angel Joshua. He returns them to Earth, but the bodies modified by Castiel are lost. This would definitely explain why they suddenly become much easier to find.

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If you're saying that they returned with effectively "virgin" (unmodified from their purest form) bodies, then there is already evidence this is not true. On the Supernatural Wikia page for "Anti-Possession Tattoo" we see that their tattoos have had appearances since their return, first in S6E3. supernatural.wikia.com/wiki/Anti-Possession_Tattoo#Appearances Granted, it's possible they re-did the tattoos sometime off-screen. However, with Lucifer still being a substantial threat until at least S5E22, the same could be presumed for the Enochian sigils. –  Iszi Mar 18 '12 at 7:25
    
Also, your own Wiki of preference seems to disagree with you: supernaturalwiki.com/… "6.03 The Third Man - Cas finds Dean and Sam despite the Enochian symbols burned into their ribs. This may or may not be because they called him." For this (and some similar instances) I'm going with the theory that the sigils can be bypassed only when their bearer chooses to summon an angel/demon to them. However, that is not the case in the situations I've cited in the question here. –  Iszi Mar 18 '12 at 7:36
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It's possible that Balthazar just guessed they'd be at Bobby's house and happened to be right.

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Perhaps you can expand on this answer a little, maybe with some references. –  Jack B Nimble Feb 20 '13 at 4:51
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The enochian on their ribs don't mean anything in English (if using a literal translation letter for letter) and don't match any of the calls either which I find slightly disappointing and I think they could have at least written something fun or cool using them so that when translated its a nice surprise.

It is true though that a lot of times the boys are found using informants and Castiel always repeats the fact he and dean have a special connection and the fact he brought Sam back from hell too might suggest he had that with Sam now too. Also at the end of the season when lucifer kills castiel he believes he is brought back by his father and is improved. This might mean he can find them quicker.

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This hardly addresses the question at all. The question doesn't even mention translating the sigils, and there are cases cited for angels other than Castiel tracking the brothers. –  Iszi Feb 20 '13 at 14:23
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Maybe Balthazar and Castiel are so industrious that they scan the whole of America to find Sam and Dean. Many episodes show that Castiel can find a thing within the blink of an eye.

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The Enochian sigils prevent Sam and Dean from being findable like that. It's what they're designed to do. –  Izkata Dec 21 '12 at 0:10
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