Dean goes to Dr. Robert to have a 3 minutes near-death experience to meet Death. They have a meeting and Death proposes Dean wear his ring for 24 hours; in return, Death would retrieve Sam's soul, return it to Sam's body and put up a wall to isolate his traumatic period in Hell. Dean becomes Death for a day with the guidance of Tessa and soon he learns that the natural order cannot be violated. Meanwhile Sam summons Balthazar to help him find away to keep his soul from being put back, but he must kill Bobby to do it.
Dean seeks out Death to help get Sam's soul back. Death tells Dean he will help Sam if Dean will agree to act as Death for 24 hours. Meanwhile, Sam decides he doesn't want his soul back and asks Balthazar for a protective spell to keep his soul out of his body. Balthazar tells Sam he needs the blood of his father for the spell to work and since John Winchester is dead, Sam decides Bobby is the next best thing.
- Dean goes to a Chinese grocery. As he goes into the back, the clerk buzzes off an alert. Dr. Robert, an old friend of the family, greets him and introduces his assistant Eva. Dr. Robert assures Dean that he's had a 75% success rate and tells him to get on the table. Dean hands over the payment and asks Dr. Robert to mail a letter to Ben Braeden if he doesn't make it. Dr. Robert and Eva then give him an injection and warn him that he has three minutes.
Dean discovers that he's a ghost, and goes downstairs to the store. He speaks an incantation, and the Reaper Tessa arrives. He asks her to summon her boss, Death, but she warns that she can't make an exception. However, Death himself appears and asks what Dean wants. Dean tries to bargain for Death's ring, but Death assures him that he can get it at any time. He tells Dean to get down to business, and Dean asks him to get Sam out of the cage. Death says that he can get out Sam, or Adam, but not both. Dean chooses Sam, and then asks if Death can remove the damage to his soul. Death says that he can put a block the memories of Hell. However, Tessa warns that it won't be permanent and Death agrees. Dean agrees, but Death says that there is a price to be paid and offers a wager. Death tells him to get the ring, put it on, and be Death for one day. If he takes the ring off before the 24 hours are up, Dean loses. When Dean asks why, Death starts to explain...
And Dr. Robert revives Dean after seven minutes.
Dean tells Sam and Bobby that Death can give Sam his soul back. Sam objects, saying that the odds are that it will all go bad. Bobby is more interested in learning about the deal Dean made with Death. Sam says he needs a few minutes alone and goes outside for some air. He goes to where the ring is buried, but Dean catches him at it. He insists that he's not going to let Sam get hurt, and Sam seemingly gives in. As Dean leaves, he tells Bobby to watch Sam.
Inside, Sam asks if Bobby is going to lock him up. Bobby wonders if he'll have to, and Sam says that Dean will do what he has to do.
Outside, Dean dons the ring and finds himself on a street corner. Tessa is there and admits she isn't thrilled with the whole situation. She tells him to stick to the rules, and explains that he has to kill everyone whose number is up. She has a list, but she refuses to show him. He touches them, she reaps them. Tessa tells him not to mess it up.
Sam drives to an abandoned building and performs a summoning to bring forth Balthazar. He warns Sam that it'd better be good, noting that he wants to kill Sam. Sam claims that it was a misunderstanding, and says that he needs a spell or weapon that can keep a soul out of its human body. When Balthazar wonders what's going on, Sam admits that it's for himself. He doesn't want Dean to put it back. Balthazar says he can help, but wonders why he should do it. He then offers to do it for free, so that he'll have Sam in his debt and screw over Dean. The angel says that there is one tricky ingredient: Sam needs to pollute his body by committing patricide. When Sam notes that John has been dead for years, Balthazar says that it doesn't have to be his blood father.
Tessa warns Dean that when people die, they'll have questions for him about what happens next. She says that he won't have any answers, and will have to wing it. They go to a store where a robbery is in progress, and the robber is threatening the owner and his son. The owner draws a gun and shoots the robber. As he lies dying, Dean stands over him and lets him suffer. Finally, he touches the robber, who expires. Dean tells him he'll be going to Hell, and Tessa takes him away.
As they walk down the street, Dean notices a man overeating and figures he's a candidate for a heart attack. The man immediately collapses of a heart attack and Dean finishes him off, and the man wonders why. He admits that he died overeating, but the pizza was worth it. As Tessa takes the overeater away, he turns and asks Dean what it all means. Dean hesitates, and then quotes him a Kansas song. The dead man is less than impressed.
Sam returns and tells Bobby that he was just driving around. Bobby pours out drinks.
Tessa takes Dean to a hospital children's ward and tells him to take a girl, Hilary, who is looking at a photo album with her father. She confirms that the father doesn't have any other family, and notes that not everyone who dies is a bad guy. Dean refuses to take Hilary, but Tessa says that it's destiny. He insists that there's no destiny and he won't kill the girl. Tessa points out that it hasn't gone well in the past when he's decided who is going to live or die, but Dean still refuses.
Sam and Bobby play poker.
Hilary's father is informed that Hilary's heart recovered. As they leave, Hilary's nurse Jolene calls her husband Scott and says she's heading home early because the surgery was called off.
Sam tries to knock out Bobby, who is expecting him and knocks him out. However, when Bobby turns to get a rope, Sam slips away. Bobby grabs a shotgun and then hears Sam approaching. He hides in a closet, but Sam hacks it open and says Bobby shouldn't have cornered himself. Bobby says he didn't and activates a trapdoor, dumping Sam into the basement. He then locks the door and tells Sam that it's titanium-steel, and asks what Sam is up to. Sam says that Dean doesn't care about him, he cares about his brother burning in Hell. Bobby tells him that Sam isn't giving them much choice. He doesn't get an answer, and opens the door. He goes down the stairs and realizes that Sam has slipped out through the ventilator shaft in the safe room, and that he's bleeding.
As Dean and Tessa prepare to leave the hospital, Nurse Jolene is brought in, the victim of a car crash. She needs a heart surgeon, and the doctor is gone for the night. Tessa warns that Dean has set off a chain reaction, and if he doesn't take Jolene, it could cause even greater consequences. Dean finally takes Jolene's hand, and Jolene's spirit appears next to Tessa. Tessa explains that she was supposed to live for decades and have kids and grandkids, and says that it all changed because Dean screwed up. As Tessa takes her away, Dean says that he's sorry. He then watches as Jolene's husband Scott comes in and breaks into tears as Dean watches.
Dean goes to Hilary's room and watches her and her father together. Tessa says that he has to kill Hilary before something worse happens simply by being alive. If she doesn't die, chaos will follow her for the rest of her life. Dean asks for a minute, and then disappears.
Bobby follows the blood trial outside to the shed, and Sam knocks him out from behind.
Jolene's husband is drinking heavily and driving wildly through the streets. Dean appears in the car and tries to stop him, but he can't be seen. He finally removes the ring and grabs the wheel, yanking the car over. Scott is knocked out but still alive, and Dean realizes he's lost the wager. He gets out and calls for Tessa, admitting that he's lost and Sam is screwed. He gets no response, and then puts the ring back on so he can see Tessa. She tells him that they're done, but he returns to the hospital to take care of Hilary. When she says that Hilary skated by, Dean notes that nobody skates by. He tells the father to say his goodbyes, and the man wakes up... and realizes that Hilary is dead. Meanwhile, Hilary, Tessa, and Dean watch as the doctors try to revive her without success. Dean says that she's dead, and he doesn't know what will happen to her father. When she asks why, Dean says that there's a natural order to things. They both agree that the natural order is stupid. Tessa takes Hilary away.
Sam ties up Bobby and prepares to kill him. Bobby pleads with him, saying that he doesn't want to do what he has planned. Sam ignores his pleas and prepares to kill him, but Dean appears just in time to knock him out.
Once they have Sam locked up in the safe room, Dean and Bobby wonder what to do next. Dean contemplate Death's ring and goes upstairs, and finds Death enjoying takeout. He notes that the ring is heavier than it looks, and Dean admits that he screwed up the natural order. Death asks if he would go back and kill Hilary knowing what he knows, and Dean admits that he would. In response, Death explains that Dean has learned that messing up the natural order is hard when he has to clean up the mess. He insists that the human soul is stronger than he can imagine. In response, Dean says that he figured Death rigged it from the beginning. Death says that he's going to get Sam's soul, because the Winchesters keep coming back. They're an affront to the natural order, but they're digging at something that Death wants them to keep pursuing. When Dean asks if the soul sheltering procedure with Sam will work, Death admits there's about a 75% chance.
Dean and Bobby open the safe room and find Death there with a bag containing Sam's soul. Death tells Sam not to try and break through the wall. Sam begs him to stop, but Death takes out his soul and puts it in Sam's body. Sam pleads with Bobby and Dean, warning that they won't know what will happen, and then screams in agony.