Dean and Sam are doing research at Bobby's House when Balthazar appears. He says that Raphael is aiming to kill all of Castiel's allies and affiliates so he gives them a key and sends them to an alternate reality to keep them out of harm's way. Supposedly, the key opens a door where he has stored the stolen angelic weapons of Heaven, which will help Castiel to retain control in Heaven.
When they appear in the alternate reality, Sam and Dean find themselves on the set of "Supernatural"- a show that appears to be about their lives and where everyone mistakes them for the actors Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. They try to contact Castiel, but instead encounter Misha Collins, who plays Castiel on the TV show. Taking refuge in Jensen's luxurious trailer, they do some research about Jensen and Jared, and Dean is horrified to learn that Jensen was on Days of Our Lives. Dean suggests they try doing the same spell Balthazar did in order to get them back to their own reality.
Discouraged that there are no 'real' saints' bones or other items they need on the set of Bobby's house, Sam and Dean have the actors' driver, Clif Kosterman, take them to Jared's place, which turns out to be a large ostentatious mansion with a tanning bed in the living room and an alpaca in the backyard. Sam and Dean are shocked when Ruby - or rather the actress who plays her - appears and kisses Sam, who she believes to be her husband, Jared. After Genevieve Padalecki heads out to a charity function for the International Otter Adoption Fund, Sam and Dean go online and purchase some saints' bones for rush delivery using Jared's credit cards (they max out at least one). Dean then spends the night on Jared's couch, while Sam alternates between surfing the internet for signs of the supernatural activity and sleeping with Genevieve.
The next morning, Clif drives them to the airport to pick up the rush delivery before taking them back to the set. They have to try and act in a scene which ends badly after many takes, but in between takes, they try and do the spell. When nothing happens, they come to the conclusion that in this reality there is no real supernatural, no magic.
Back on set, the angel hitman Virgil appears and tries to vanquish Dean with his angel powers. He, too, is devoid of powers in this reality, so Sam and Dean are able to take him in a fight and start pummeling him on the set of the Dragon's hideout from 6.12 Like a Virgin. The rest of the crew intervenes, however, and during the resulting scuffle Virgil pickpockets the key Balthazar gave Sam before running away.
The crew of the show is now suspicious because "Jared" and "Jensen" are behaving out of character. Normally they don't speak to each other, they came in with a mysterious package (the saint's bones) which the crew believes are either drugs or black market organs, and now they've beaten up what everyone thinks is an extra. Director Bob Singer calls showrunner Sera Gamble and suggests that they get Eric Kripke to come to Vancouver and talk to them. Sera reluctantly agrees, although Kripke is sequestered in a cabin writing the script for "Octocobra." Meanwhile, Virgil takes Misha hostage and kills him so he can use his blood to contact Raphael.
Bob confronts Sam and Dean, and they drop the pretense of being Jared and Jensen and tell him that they quit. Dean says that at least in their world they make a difference. They then go back to Jared's house and learn from Genevieve that Misha is dead, so they go to the scene. A witness states that the killer was speaking to "Raphael," and they learn from the relayed conversation that Virgil is trying to get back to their reality. While they wait for him on the set, Dean suggests to Sam that maybe if they get stuck in this reality, Sam's life would be better. But Sam disagrees because back in their world they do matter, and he doesn't like that in this world they aren't even brothers.
Virgil returns on set just as Kripke arrives to speak to them, and the angel goes on a killing spree, killing Eric Kripke, Bob Singer, Kevin Parks, and Lou Bollo before Sam and Dean manage to knock him out and get the key. Just as Sam has the key in hand, Raphael activates the nearby gate between the worlds, and they land back in their own reality.
Raphael -- now in a female vessel -- demands the key, but Balthazar arrives and reveals that the key and Sam and Dean's journey was all a ruse to distract Raphael. He threatens them, but Castiel arrives and reveals that he now has all the Angelic Weapons. He threatens to kill Raphael, and he leaves. Castiel then returns Sam and Dean to Bobby's house, promising to reveal more of what is happening in Heaven soon.
"Ancient Celtic Lands" by Biddy Blyth & Mike John Trim
(plays in Jensen Ackles' trailer)
Dean: I said 'hey.' Balthazar: You did. Twice. Good for you. Blood of lamb. Blood of lamb. Beer, cold pizza. Blood of lamb. Yes! Blood of lamb!
Sam: So... No angels?
Dean: No angels, I think. Bob: But that was great! Serge: ...it's not a problem with the stunt. It's a problem with the... signal.
Sam: Should we be killing anybody?
Make-Up Artist: Okay, hon, we're just gonna get this makeup off your face. Dean: Wha--I'm not wearing any ma-- Oh, crap! I'm a painted whore!
Dean: No, seriously. Why? Why would anybody want to watch our lives?
Sam: Well, I mean, according to that interviewer, not very many people do. Look, I'm not saying it makes sense. I'm just saying, we -- we landed in some dimension where you're Jensen Ackles, and I'm something called a 'Jared Padalecki.'
Dean: So what, now you're polish? Is any of this making any sense to you?
Dean: Oh, hey. Least my baby made it. Hey. Hey! What -- I feel sick. I'm gonna be sick. I want to go home. I feel like this whole place is bad-touching me.
Dean: Don't like this universe, Sammy. We need to get out of this universe. Sam: Yeah. No argument here. But I don't think our -- our prayers are reaching Cas. Or the real Cas.
Dean: Right. Right. 'cause you're not Ruby. You... I mean, how could you be? You... of course! You are the lovely actress who plays Ruby. And you are, uh, in... Jared's house, Uh, because you two are... Married! You married fake Ruby?
Clif: We're not doing anything illegal, are we?
Sam: Would it make you feel better if we said no?
Misha: Ooh, 'priority.' what's in it?
Sam: I bought part of a dead person.
Misha: Oh, cool.
Bob: Cut! What is happening? What's happening?! What's happening?!
Serge: An atrocity is happening. Kevin: Seems like they should stop. Bob: They can't stop. Nobody stops. Did we get anything we can use? Kevin: Well, uh, technically, we have them saying everything in bits and pieces. Could be sort of experimental?
Bob: Whatever. Season six.
Sam: What if it can't? Look, I was up all night, looking online. There's no sign that anything like the Apocalypse happened here. Ever. And as far as I can tell, monsters, ghosts, demons -- they're all pretend.
Dean: So nobody's hunting them? Sam: No hunters. Look, maybe that's why our spell didn't work, Dean, you know? M-maybe here, there's no supernatural, no magic.
Dean: No demons, no Hell, no Heaven, no -- no god?
Dean: You heard my brother. That's right, I said 'brother.' 'cause you know what, Bob? We're not actors. We're hunters. We're the Winchesters. Always have been, and always will be. And where we're from, people don't know who we are. But you know what? We mattered in that world. In fact, we even saved a son of a bitch once or twice. And yeah, okay, here, maybe there's some -- some fans who give a crap about this nonsense.
Homeless Man: Yeah, yeah, Raphael. Like the ninja turtle. He was calling someone name of Raphael, up in heaven. Yeah, yeah. That's right. The -- the scary man killed the attractive crying man, and then he started to pray. And the strange part -- after a while, I s-swear I heard this voice, answering.
Sam: Cas, what the hell? Wait, wait, you were in on this, using us a diversion?
Castiel: It was Balthazar's plan. I would have done the same thing. Dean: That's not comforting, Cas.
Castiel: When will I be able to make you understand? If I lose against Raphael, we all lose. Everything.
Sam: Solid. It's real. Nice.
Dean: Yeah. Yeah, real, moldy, termite-eaten home sweet home. Chock full of crap that want to skin you. Oh, and, uh, we're broke again.
Sam: Yeah. But, hey... at least we're talking.
Trivia & References
The episode title "The French Mistake" refers to a famous sequence in Mel Brook’s movie Blazing Saddles. At the end of the movie, the action from the movie which is set in the Old West, crashes through a wall (literally breaking the fourth wall) onto the set of a musical on the Warner Bros. lot. The song being performed in the musical is called "The French Mistake."
The term "French Mistake" purportedly refers to a straight guy having a gay sexual encounter he later regrets (Source).
Dean: Yeah, man's a hero. We were officially out of 'hunter's helper.'
Balthazar: Hello, boys. You've seen The Godfather, right? Dean: Balthazar... Balthazar: You know, the end, where Michael Corleone sends his men to kill his enemies in one big, bloody swoop?
Balthazar makes reference to the 1972 movie The Godfather, where the Godfather sends assassins to kill the other Dons. This is then played out in the alternate universe when Virgil shoots the crew on the TV set.
Kevin Parks: Well, we can clean up, reset the window; takes about 95 minutes, basically. So we'd have to blow off the scene where they sit on the Impala and talk about their feelings.
Bob Singer: Ha! Right! You answer the hate mail.
When references are made to events in real life like this it is referred to as lampshade hanging. Other examples are Sam mentioning that not many people watch the show, and of course Misha's tweeting.
Sam: Yeah. I mean, here -- wherever 'here' is, this -- this Twilight Zone Balthazar zapped us into. For whatever reason, our life is a TV show.
"The Twilight Zone" is an anthology TV series which was created by Rod Serling in 1959. The stories it portrayed often featured bizarre and unexpected twists.
When Misha first meets Sam and Dean, thinking they are Jared and Jensen, he recites lines from his script, in the character of Castiel. The lines he recites describe the plot of the meta episode.
Dean: Like Bizarro Earth? But instead of Bizarro Superman, we get this clown factory?
Bizarro World is a planet from the DC comics universe, where everything is the opposite of how things are on Earth, and it is inhabited by "bizarro" versions of characters including Superman.
The shirt Misha is wearing under his Cas costume says the word 'NAMASTE' - which is an Indian greeting. The symbol on the shirt is the sacred Hindu symbol 'Om'/'Aum'.
Misha: You guys! You really punk'd me! I'm totally gonna tweet this one. 'Hola, mishamigos. J-squared... Got me good.'
Punk'd is an American hidden camera/practical joke television series that first aired on MTV in 2003 and was produced and hosted by Ashton Kutcher. Being "punk'd" referred to being the victim of such a prank.
Dean: I just want to dig my finger in my brain and scratch until we're back in Kansas.
Reference to The Wizard of Oz, a 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum that has been adapted into several different works, the most famous being the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland. In it, a young woman named Dorothy is swept up in a tornado and transplanted in an alternate dimension. Dean references it later in the episode by saying "There's no place like home."
Sam: Huh. All right, here we go. Let's see who this guy is.
Dean: Well, he's not a hunter, but he plays one on TV. Oh, come on. Look at these male-modelin' sons of bitches. Nice 'Blue Steel,' Sam.
In Jensen's trailer, and later in the writers' conference room, a magazine called TV News Weekly featuring Jared and Jensen on the cover is on display -- a reference to the fan voted SupernaturalTV Guide Cover.
Sam finds a clip of Jensen when he played Eric Brady in Days of Our Lives.
Bob Singer: Well, at least they're talking to each other.
A running gag during the episode is the fact that in this universe, Jared and Jensen are not on speaking terms. In real life, they are good friends as evidenced by the fact that they were groomsman at each other's weddings in 2010.
Dean: Where the hell are we, anyway? Dude, we're not even in America.
Despite being set in America, Supernatural is actually filmed in Vancouver, Canada. (Except for the Pilot which was filmed in Los Angeles.)
Dean: Nice modest digs, Jay-Z.
Jay-Z is one of the most financially successful hip hop artists and entrepreneurs in America.
Sam: What am I? Dracula?
Dean: George Hamilton Dracula!
Actor George Hamilton is renowned for having a very deep, and obviously fake, tan. Jared has been known to appear rather tan on occasion, most famously at the 2008 Scream Awards.
A tanned Jared with Jeffrey Dean Morgan at the Scream Awards
Jared and Genevieve married in real life on February 27, 2010, in Sun Valley, Idaho. The photo on the mantle (next to the alpaca) is an actual wedding photo taken by Kirsten Schultz and featured in an article in Sun Valley magazine.
Bob Singer: Jensen, we're thrilled to see you collaborating so creatively. And your enthusiasm is refreshing. Dean Cain was like that on 'Lois,' And that man's a real actor. And we will clear this set exactly when we shoot the 2 3/8 pages we are scheduled to shoot on this set. So you do your 'actor stuff' and we'll do our 'camera stuff' and, uh...
The two guys rehearsing a fight scene beside the Impala on the green screen stage, who then broke up the fight between Dean, Sam, and Virgil, were Jared and Jensen's real stunt doubles, Mike Carpenter and Todd Scott.
Sera Gamble: Eric's supposed to be off in a cabin somewhere writing his next pilot.
Bob Singer: He sold Octocobra? Mother of God they'll buy anything
A reference to the Syfy TV movies that feature monster mash-ups like Sharktopus and Dinocroc.
Bob Singer: I'd like to think that over these years we've grown closer, that you don't think of me as 'director Bob' or executive producer 'Bob Singer,' but as Uncle Bob.
Sam: You're kidding? So the character in the show - Bobby Singer... Dean: What kind of a douchebag names a character after himself? Sam: Oh that's not right!
The character of Bobby was named after producer Bob Singer, although the culprit was Kripke. You can see Bob Singer talk about it here.
The scene where Virgil obtains weapons in a gun store by incapacitating the owner before shooting a customer is a send-up to a similar scene in The Terminator, where the T-800 played by Arnold Schwarzenegger does the same thing, but kills the owner instead. Watch it here.
Dean: Well, I'm just saying. No hell below us, above us only sky.
Balthazar: Well, Cas... Now that you have your sword, try not to die by it.
This is a reference to the Bible verse Matthew 26:52, which describes a disciple (identified in the Gospel of John as Peter) drawing a sword to defend against the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and then being rebuked by Jesus, who tells him to sheath the weapon. The verse reads: Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
When Sam and Dean arrive back in Bobby's house in their universe, we see that the window and much of the wall behind them has been obliterated. Like in Blazing Saddles, which this episode gets its name from, they have literally broken the fourth wall. At the end, Sam checks that the "wall" is solid again - perhaps a reassurance to viewers, as well.
Many fans joke that the photo of Jared on the wall behind Sam in Jared's house was foreshadowing for Jared taking up the role as Cordell Walker in the reboot of the show Walker after Supernatural ended. In an episode in season 1 of Walker, Cordell has an alpaca.
Sam: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, the whole earthquake spike. You know, the -- the 9.2 in Rome? I mean, the --the 8.5 outside Boston? The whole east/west tsunami chain?
Genevieve: Yes. I remember all of those from last season on your show.
Continuity Error: There is a slight discrepancy between this and the reports heard in 5.22 Swan Song, which stated that there was a 7.6 earthquake in Portland, an 8.1 in Boston, and more in Hong Kong, Berlin, and Tehran.
Misha Collins spent a lot of time on Twitter in the episode, and at one point he tweets "Ola mishamigos! J2 got me good. Really starting to feel like one of the guys." Just to really mess with our minds, the real Misha actually sent that tweet as the line aired in the U.S. east coast run of the episode (Source). Misha Collins and Misha also both tweeted "IMHO j&j had a late one last night. Rotflmfao!" (Source). After both these tweets, Misha then relates, "My phone was stolen and apparently cast into a parallel universe devoid of magic. I've retrieved it. I promise it won't happen again" (Source). All three tweets were retweeted by over 100 people in a matter of hours and then vanished from Misha's twitter feed. A few hours later, they were reposted, but the direct links to the original tweets still work.
The words: #Misha, #metamadness and #kripke all made it into the top ten Trending Topics as the episode went to air.
The blue sweater Misha wears in his death scene is also one he wore in his Rhino Puzzle missive here.
Both in the Supernatural universe and the TV universe in Bobby's house there is a leaflet pinned to a wall that proclaims that 'Roy Le Grange is a cult leader NOT a healer!' Roy Le Grange was the faith healer from 1.12 Faith.
The episode inspired a fan song called "Meta Madness" by stopitsgingertime.
In the second season of the Netflix series You, a journalist mentions working on a story about Jared Padalecki. When asked about the reference to Jared, creator Sera Gamble said that the series takes place in the same universe as “The French Mistake.”
The Impala was spotted in photos for the Legends of Tomorrow episode "Zari, Not Zari", when Sarah Lance is seen holding a notice about the filming of Supernatural. The episode's plot has Constantine, Charlie, and Sara traveling to British Columbia and running into the Supernatural crew filming an episode with the Impala, putting it in yet another universe similar to “The French Mistake”.