Supernatural: Season 1, Episode 9: “Home”


Directed by Ken Girotti
Written by series creator Eric Kripke

In this episode, Sam says to Missouri, the psychic: “It just feels like something’s starting.”

It feels that way to me too.

The seeds have been planted for where the series is going to go, even in the episodes where it seems those Arcs are in eclipse, or don’t exist at all. When you think of where Season 1 is going, and further along than that, Season 2 and Season 3, you can see that Sam’s instincts are right on. Something’s starting. And it really starts here, and in the next three episodes. Almost every important theme/plot-line/idea that is going to be necessary to keep Supernatural going for as many seasons as it has lasted, is introduced for real in “Home” and the three episodes following. So let’s track it.

The Pilot:
— Winchester family backstory, mysterious death of Mom, Dad becomes a demon-hunter, bringing his children up in a dangerous and violent life of tracking down evil
— Current day: Dad has now disappeared, bringing the brothers back together to go search for him
— Sam’s girlfriend Jess is killed in the same way Mom was killed
— The search for Dad then takes on even more urgency. Whatever happened back in Lawrence, Kansas, appears to be starting up again. But why? And where is Dad?

Episode 2:
— Search for Dad continues, to no avail, although he does show up in the episode through the coordinates he has sent to his sons
— Friction between brothers over whether to search for Dad or to work the case
— Dean has a big monologue about Dad’s journal, and the legacy Dad has left them: “the family business”

Episode 3:
— Trail for Dad has gone cold.
— Episode 3 introduces the idea of lingering childhood trauma, something clearly set up in the pilot, but not explored explicitly until now. Dean bonds with a traumatized child, which loops us into the deep undercurrents of trauma and loss that churn beneath the waters of the Winchester boys’ lives. Yes, Dad is missing. But they grew up without a mother. Have they ever dealt with THAT loss? The FIRST loss? (“The first cut is the deepest.”)
— Dad is really gone in this episode. If anything, this episode is haunted by Mom. It is a mother’s love that the boys have really missed in their lives.

Episode 4:
— New concept introduced: demonic possession. (Demonic possession becomes so commonplace on Supernatural in future seasons that I honestly feel like I would yawn if I watched a poor sap be penetrated by a whirling column of black smoke. I’d be like, “Whatevs, seen it.”)
— The demon they run into here seems to “know” things, suggesting that there is an interconnected level to the demonic world (unlike, say, the world of ghosts or Wendigos). The demon knows about Sam’s girlfriend Jess. This is hugely suggestive, and starts to connect the events of the present-day with the events of the past.
— Dad haunts the episode: the hunt they go on comes through an old friend of Dad’s, and the episode ends with Sam and Dean listening to Dad’s new outgoing message on his phone which says “If you need help, call my son Dean.”

Episode 5:
— Standard hunt, easing us into the Monster of the Week format that the show will keep going back to.
— The episode is really about Sam, and Sam’s prophetic dream about Jess’ murder. The fact that Sam has “psychic abilities” is introduced here, almost invisibly, you can’t tell how important that fact will eventually become. But it’s key. It’s also key to our understanding of the brothers’ relationship: Dean can’t bear secrets. They mean separation and separation is deeply destabilizing to his understanding of himself.
— The episode ends with Sam getting a glimpse of the dead Jess standing on a sidewalk. Vision? Imagination? Premonition?

Episode 6:
— Dad and Mom don’t appear here at all. The brothers are getting in a groove with one another, as men, without Dad around.
— Like “Wendigo”, this episode ends up being really about Sam needing to cut ties, for real, with his own past.
— Through the shape-shifter monster, who takes over Dean, we get a glimpse of the resentments that might be churning around in Dean’s subconscious about being left behind to stay with Dad, while Sam got out. Although it’s the monster talking, the seeds are planted here for eventual splits between the brothers, something that is still coming to fruition now, in Season 9.
— Dean is charged with murder during this episode. Although he escapes, that will come back to haunt him again and again. The series does not forget its characters’ own past (for the most part, the whole “Grand Canyon” thing being an especially annoying example of the writers forgetting a former episode).

Episode 7:
— The search for Dad comes back here, in the first scene, suggesting that their missing Dad will start rising in the narrative again.
— Episode 7 doesn’t really illuminate deeper themes/thru-lines, it’s a pretty stock episode all in all. There are interesting connections made, with Sam’s college experience and Dean’s resentment of it, as well as Dean’s sense that maybe Sam needs to start trying to get over Jess. Maybe. This will become explicit in “Provenance”, a later episode in Season 1, which I adore.

Episode 8:
— Bugs.
— Stilted arguments between the brothers, where they battle out interpretations of their own childhood, and Dad’s parenting, in particular. Dad, even in his absence, is taking over the narrative.

But all of that seems mere preamble for what happens in the next four episodes, “Home,” “Asylum,” “Scarecrow,” and “Faith”, which, taken together, could make up a gorgeous and effective “Part 1” of some hugely successful movie franchise. These episodes weave in and out of each other, the prism focusing on this or that aspect of the boys’ lives, and with each one we go deeper and deeper into the outside forces working on both of them. It’s all here. Mom, Dad, childhood trauma, a rift between the brothers, the haunting threat of Death, as well as a couple of new concepts which will take on huge importance to the series as whole. Reapers, for one. What would the show be without its ideas on Reapers? We also get the introduction of Meg, in “Scarecrow”, and that final scene in the truck was a mind-blower for me the first time I saw the episode. If I could put into words my initial reaction it would be: “WTF.”

Because up until that moment, what we have seen the show to be is a moody and violent horror movie on wheels, and it seems mainly to be about siblings, family dynamics, and childhood stuff, albeit with monsters thrown in. “Scarecrow” is a game-changer. “Scarecrow” says to the audience, “Ha. Ha. You thought you knew where we were going. You thought wrong.

Suddenly, in that final scene of “Scarecrow”, the micro-view goes macro. With no lead-in or preamble, although we have sensed something is “weird” about Meg. But THIS weird?

Even better, Meg’s final moment is not witnessed by either brother. So we, the audience, know more than they do. And that situation lasts for another bunch of episodes. (Supernatural has great patience for its big reveals. Dad whispers something into Dean’s ear in the Season 2 pilot and we don’t find out what he said until “Croatian”, which is Episode 9. Patience!) In terms of Meg’s final moment in “Scarecrow”, we want the brothers to know what we know, they are clearly in danger, and the “search for Dad” suddenly seems way way bigger than it had before, with much more at stake. But the Winchester brothers remain oblivious, until “Shadow” (and even then, they still don’t get the full picture). If Sam sensed “something is starting” during “Home”, then it was during “Scarecrow” that I originally thought: “Wow. What country, friends, is THIS??”

Home is one of the most important themes of Supernatural as a whole, getting back to Home, what does Home mean, Home is where the heart is, any place I hang my hat is home, etc. It is natural that the brothers would avoid Lawrence, Kansas, like the plague, after what happened there, but inevitably, they must go back.


One of the things I like very much about “Home” is it shows the brothers almost swapping-off strength and weaknesses. And “strength” doesn’t only look a certain way, and neither does “weakness”. It is hard to say, at times, which is which, and I find that to be quite complex and quite human. Because strength under another name is being rigid and a dumbass, and being weak, seen in another light, is actually being human and properly cautious. Up until now, we have had glimpses of Sam’s strength, and there is also the undeniable fact that he had the strength to remove himself from the family and go to college, even as it was treated like a huge betrayal by both his father and his brother. So that takes backbone. That takes a sense of self. Dean seems stronger and more capable, only because of his swagger and his confidence at his job (which is fully earned). He’s the big brother, he takes the lead on things, because he’s older, even though now, they are both men, and it’s about time that hierarchy shifted. And it will. Not yet, though, although it’s starting here. Sam is panicked about the nightmares he’s been having, and Dean’s worried about them too. But when Sam realizes that they must return to Lawrence, Kansas, he seems urgent, certain, and capable: he is not afraid. Dean, on the other hand, resists the return with every fiber of his being. We’ll get back to this. In subtle ways (unlike in “Bugs,” which lacked subtlety), we start to see Sam coming into his own, and in that process, Dean starts to unravel. If he’s not the “big brother,” then who the hell is he supposed to be?

Lawrence, Kansas

The words on the screen telling us where the teaser takes place gives us a clue that we are entering into some murky psychological waters. In a dark house (so dark the shadows creep towards the inhabitants, even in scenes taking place in broad daylight), a blonde woman sits on the floor going through a box, ostensibly unpacking but actually lost in a reverie. She stares at a wedding photo where she is pictured as the bride. Whatever happened to the husband, we never learn. Did he die? Did he leave her for another woman? Whatever went down was bad, and this woman is now trying to pick up the pieces. Unfortunately, she moved into the wrong house for a fresh start. Her sad reverie is interrupted by her young daughter who informs her that something is in her closet upstairs. Mom checks the closet, and the perspective (from inside the closet) is creepy, making Mom show up in black silhouette, a Supernatural stylistic fingerprint.


Mom shows the daughter there is nothing there, but the darkness of the room, the shadows, tell another story. The daughter tells the mother she doesn’t like their new house (you and me both, sister), and Mom reassures daughter that “you, me, and your brother are going to be very happy here.” Daughter makes Mom place a chair in front of the closet door and Mom obliges. The teaser for “Home” is one of those “take its time” teasers, easing us into the set-up, through mood and music, giving us evocative character details that will then unfold over the course of the episode. Done assuaging her daughter’s fears, Mom goes back downstairs and it’s so dark and creepy I want her to turn on a light for herself. Going back to her boxes, she then hears scuttling sounds through the floorboards, and murmurs to herself, “Please. Don’t let it be rats.”

Naturally, because she is in a horror movie and doesn’t realize it, she takes a flashlight and descends into the murky pitch-black basement to investigate for herself. The light doesn’t go on, something is off with the wiring (of course), but does she wait until morning to go check out the sound? Of course not!

Upstairs, in the daughter’s room, the closet door slowly opens, pushing the chair in front of it away. Blackness yawns from within the closet, and the daughter stares at the abyss in horror. She KNEW something was in there. (Have to say, too: it’s nice to have a little girl in Supernatural who is NOT a “creepy kid”, the kind of creepy kid Hollywood delights in giving us. There are many little boys who show up in Supernatural, and some of them have creepiness licking at their heels, like Jessie, like Lucas, but ALL little girls are creepy here, not to mention Lilith, the creepiest of them all. I get that Sam and Dean may relate more to little boys, since they were little boys themselves, and maybe the “creepy little girl” thing is used more than the “creepy little boy” thing because we expect little girls to be pleasing and sweet and adorable, but not ALL little girls are dead-eyed little psychos-in-training, hate to break it to you.)

The teaser now moves back and forth between the events unfolding in the little girl’s room and Mom’s exploration of the creepy basement downstairs. Little girl trembles, terrified, staring at the darkness within her closet.

Mom’s eye catches sight of a dusty battered old trunk in the corner. Curious, she opens it up and sees it is filled with objects, photographs and construction paper cards (the first thing you get a glimpse of is a big card with the word DAD colored on it, a heart-stopping detail, when you consider that card was obviously made by Dean, before his world fell apart).

A mother, consumed with mourning for her own lost past, rifles through the objects, pulling out photographs, of these people we know, John and Mary Winchester smiling and embracing, the whole family standing together on the front lawn, and written on the back is: “The Winchester Family, John, Mary, Dean and Little Sammy.”


Supernatural is very big on clues written on the backs of photographs.

Back in the bedroom, from out of the pitch-black closet materializes a figure wrapped in orange flames. The daughter huddles in her bed, staring at it, frozen (which … I don’t blame her). The way the scene is shot together tells the whole story (along with the images themselves): cutting from the Winchester family photograph to the Flaming Figure in the closet suggests that whatever is going on now is connected to what happened back then, which will be the story of this episode.

1st Scene
Teaser image leftover: Outside the house, Mother seen inside the house, screaming for help, eerie slo-mo. Sam wakes up with a start in some terrible dark motel room, with an 18-wheeler screaming by.

Later that morning, Dean sits by the window at the laptop, drinking coffee, and Sam sits on the bed with a pad of paper. Dean tries to get Sam interested in possible cases, but Sam is too busy drawing a big twisted tree on a pad of paper. Dean is getting annoyed. I love the light in this scene. There are filmy white curtains at the window, showing tangled tree shadows from outside, and the rest of the room is dark as hell. When we do see the boys, they are either half-lit or gloomily lit, giving the scene a natural grungy feeling of grime, and burnt coffee, and chilly tile. I’ve stayed in cheap horrible motels, and it’s true: you don’t want to turn on too many lights because you don’t really want to see just how dirty the place is.


Sam pulls out childhood photo and compares the trees. He knows where they need to go. “Home.” Sam shows Dean the photo, and says, “This photo was taken in front of our old house, the house where Mom died, right?” Dean looks at it, still as a statue, and glances up at Sam, without moving any other part of his body. His tone is cold and almost aggressive in its suggestion that these are dangerous waters, “Yeah?” I pointed out in “Bugs” the mini-eruptions that go on in Dean Winchester when anyone, even Sam, mentions the family, Mom, what happened, anything having to do with their childhood. He has not incorporated the trauma into who he is, he has not gone into it at all, he was not given a chance to as a kid, he was not allowed to grieve. So it’s fascinating to watch him, especially here, when he is forced to come face to face with his own past. That dead-voiced “Yeah” is our clue.

Naturally, Dean balks at this. Why? The way he looks at Sam shows that he’s not pissed or annoyed or pulling rank. He’s actually afraid. He’s about 4 years old. Playing that is all on Ackles: being angry would be the easy choice. Ackles taps into the underlying terror, the leftover trauma, something Dean himself is barely able to acknowledge.


Sam is in a rush, he knows that the people who live in their old house are in danger, they need to hit the road, and Dean needs to just “trust me on this”. This is a big deal with the brothers, and will come up again and again, a sort of “don’t have time to explain it now, but you have to trust me”, or “I’ve proven myself to be trustworthy, please just follow my lead and I’ll fill you in later”. Sometimes this pans out for the good, sometimes it is treacherous and terrible. In this instance, Dean’s reaction to Sam’s asking him for trust is, “Trust you? That’s weak. You have to give me something more.”

Sam finally comes clean about his prophetic dreams or visions, which goes over about as well as you could expect. Dean is truly shaken. He tries to brush it off, but he has to go and sit down. What does it mean? What is up with Sam? Has he gone “The Shining” (a favorite reference for Dean – Stephen King is EVERYWHERE in this episode.) (Interestingly enough, later on, when Pamela comes into the picture, clearly the Hunter world is not so disgusted by psychics that they won’t welcome them into their confidence, so sometimes I wonder what the hell is the big deal with Sam’s visions.) But clearly for Dean, Sam having this whole other Big Thing that 1. he knew nothing about, and 2. he cannot control, is seriously upsetting.


One dynamic I find interesting in the episode is the one I mentioned up above: Sam, although he has no idea what his visions mean for him, steps up to the plate in a very confident and adult way in response to them. He is the Leader in the episode, and Dean is the resistant baffled follower. A beautiful detail is how Dean, upon meeting Missouri the psychic (played by the divine Loretta Devine, who validates any project she is in merely by showing up), almost automatically becomes her punching bag. From almost the first moment. She treats him roughly, keeping him in line, before he has even done anything wrong. Sam she goes soft on, she recognizes a kindred spirit in Sam, she senses his psychic abilities which perhaps connotes a deeper sense of empathy and connectedness, something Dean needs to learn. Dean experiences her treatment of him as totally unfair, why he is always in trouble with her?? (I would also suggest that people have strange sometimes hostile reactions to beauty like the kind he has. The show is sometimes explicit about that, most often when demons mention his looks, but beauty affects human beings as well. I think Missouri may have looked at that boy before her, and thought to herself, “He needs to be taken down a peg. His beauty isn’t working on ME.” Just a thought.) Dean trying to deal with Missouri’s treatment of him goes along with his “racing to catch up with events” vibe throughout the episode. Dean is WAY off his game here. He’s off his game from the moment Sam says they have to return to Lawrence.

“I swore to myself … I’d never go back there,” he says to Sam, in almost a pleading voice.

And, classic Supernatural, we go right up his nose to get a closer look at his panic.


Dean sits on the bed and he looks very fragile and lost and it is a reminder that they had two very different childhoods. Sam was born into a world with no mother, he does not remember her death or those early years when Dad went off the rails. Dean does. Sam’s urgency (“This might be the thing that killed Mom, Dean!”) draws Dean up short. He understood his life and what he was doing up until that point. He has gotten into a groove with carrying on Dad’s legacy of hunting and killing evil things. Maybe he has even lost sight of the ultimate hunt, which is for the “thing that Killed Mom”. But Sam, still grieving the loss of his girlfriend, can’t forget it. Sam doesn’t remember the house-fire and he doesn’t remember Mom. It doesn’t have the same potency for him that it has for Dean. We saw that in the pilot during their night-time confrontation on the bridge.

Dean is handling a lot in this scene: he is handling the fact that his brother has weird dreams that come true. He is handling the fact that something may be going on in their old house, which means “the thing that killed Mom” may still be there? and he is also handling the fact that he has to return home. There’s eerie mournful piano and violin underneath this scene, elegiac and sad. It’s their subtext. Great use of score.

Dean looks at Sam in almost a pleading way, which is heartbreaking, and very new for the character. The same pleading/questioning “help me?” look comes over his face at the end of the episode too.

Boy, Supernatural loves its moody tormented profiles. So do I.


2nd scene
The Impala pulls up in front of their old re-built house, and my God, if you owned it, wouldn’t you cut that creepy-ass tree down? Isn’t it magnificent though?


Both brothers stare out the car window at the house, and, in a nice moment, Sam says to Dean, whose eyes remain riveted on the house, “Are you gonna be all right, man?” Siblings can sometimes argue about who had the worst childhood, or whose interpretation of how things went down is the right one, but in this moment, Sam gives Dean the space to have his separate experience. He reaches out to his brother, too. It’s kind. Dean’s response, “Let me get back to you on that” is surprisingly vulnerable. Normally the brothers are all, “I’m fine” “I’m okay” when questions like that come up. Dean is too raw for that. Sam knows it and is gentle with that knowledge.

They knock on the door, and blonde Mom Jenny (Kristin Richardson) opens it. Immediately, you can see Sam struck into total silence because this was the woman from his dream. Dean fills in the gap and begins babbling about how they are federal investigators but Sam cuts him off, and it’s the right choice: Sam tells her that they used to live here and they were just driving by and would it be all right if they took a look at the old place? Methinks Dean, with his awkward blunt-ness and his inability to go through a moment without flirting (he flirts with people, burgers, his car, angels, demons, anyone, to quote Nancy Lemon, he “would have batted [his] eyelashes at anything in shoe leather” – I go into that dynamic at length here), would have screwed up this initial moment royally without Sam’s intervention.

Because, after a moment of hesitation, she does let them in. Especially after she hears that their last name is Winchester. She tells them she found some of their old photographs. Dean says, “You did?” And again, he looks thrown. His father had tossed him into this life immediately following his mother’s death, had taken him shooting, gave him guns, pulled him out of school, and told him to take care of his younger brother. Dean knows how to cook, he knows how to change diapers, he knows how to heat up formula. I mean, we don’t see him do any of this, but as a child, he was responsible for a baby when he was barely toilet-trained himself. There was no space for Dean to understand what had happened to him, to grieve the loss of his mother, and to grieve the loss of his childhood. He didn’t know any other kind of life. So to hear that there are photos out there, in a basement, that may connect him to “the time before” … Another kind of man might be thrilled at such new information, but Dean gets rattled. He doesn’t want to look back there. He can’t bear it. He is fragile, not strong. This is what Jensen Ackles brings to the portrayal of Dean Winchester. I imagine that the creation of this character was a somewhat organic phenomenon, once the series got picked up, once they knew they would be making more episodes. In the Pilot, Dean is written as a brash womanizing douchebag, blunt, to-the-point, and bossy. But very quickly after the Pilot, other shadings start being highlighted, which would have been impossible if they had hired a less gifted actor. The writing team, Kripke and everyone else, clearly recognized what they had in this guy. He can do anything, so let’s throw everything at him.

The word “jackpot” comes to mind, although I am stealing that from Chelsea Handler’s reaction to Jensen Ackles’ face when he appeared on her show.

But still. It’s his talent that’s the real jackpot.

Acting teacher Stella Adler said once that “Talent is in the choice.” Marlon Brando was talented because of the choices he made as an actor, within scenes, within moments, he brought things to life that were words on a page, and it was all through the choices he made, unconsciously or not (it doesn’t matter). An untalented actor makes uninteresting poor choices.

Jensen Ackles basically does not make uninteresting or poor choices as an actor. Ever. There’s a magic in him, yes, a cinematic photogenic magic, and it is combined with his beauty, sex appeal, and general appealing-ness, which is all part of being a success as an actor as well (especially if you’re in the Leading Man bucket, and not the Character Actor bucket). But he has such a good instinct for the character, and for what the script needs. When it needs him to go balls to the wall, he can do it. When it needs him to underplay, he does it. When it needs him to be ridiculous and obvious, he can do that too.

The unbalanced quality he shows in “Home” is just the tip of a very enormous iceberg.

Jenny moves backwards, inviting them in, and there’s a quick glance between Sam and Dean, both of them polite, and awkward, and without speaking, Sam walks into the house first. It’s not a huge underlined moment, but it’s eloquent. Dean needs Sam to go first on this one.

The house is barely lit, and as they walk through hallways and rooms they are at first covered in almost complete darkness before emerging into half-lit smaller areas. It’s gorgeous. The production design/lighting team makes this house look and feel haunted. Sam is looking around him, and Dean follows, looking around him as well, but there’s a halted energy in his walk, his posture, the look on his face. It’s almost too much for him.

Once in the kitchen, they see a little boy in a crib over to the side jumping up and down saying, “Juice” over and over again. The kitchen looks TERRIFYING, especially from this angle, with the crib looming in the foreground.


Daughter Sairie (Ginger Broatch) sits at the kitchen table, and Dean and Sam stand hulking over to the side, smiling shyly down at her, looking around them, and looking, as they often do, totally out of place. This is a domestic homey environment (creepy lighting notwithstanding), and they stink of the road, and unwashed laundry, and muffler fumes. But it is impossible to stand in that kitchen and not think about their own family, their dead mother, their missing father, the wreckage of their lives.

Jenny admits that the house has some problems, wiring issues, maybe even rats. Sairie breaks in and informs the brothers that there is something in her closet. Sam and Dean both seem frozen to the spot throughout this section, glancing at one another, but trying desperately to play it all cool, not alarm anyone. And, of course, since this is their own childhood they are facing, they are trying to keep down their own sense of alarm in a way that doesn’t happen during other more routine cases. Sairie says that what was in her closet was real, and it was on fire.


Circumstances dictate behavior. Less sensitive actors miss this memo all the time. So when emotions are called for, what they bring up is general (“this scene calls for anger, so let me press the Angry button”). They forget that circumstances are ALL, and one may FEEL anger but not feel comfortable letting it out, or may think, “This is not the place to show my anger”, all kinds of subtle moments like that. Lee Strasberg said that good acting was “coming alive truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” “Coming alive truthfully” is worthless if you forget the “imaginary circumstances”. This is technical nuts-and-bolts acting talk, but it’s interesting to me. Plenty of young new actors are great at “coming alive truthfully”, that’s what acting training is all about: you learn how to access your emotions, bring them out, be able to call upon them. But when you add “imaginary circumstances” (as in: you HAVE the emotions but you don’t want to show them, due to the circumstances, or you HAVE the emotions but circumstances dictate that this is not the time or place to give them free rein), many actors get lost. If you watch how Dean listens to Jenny and Sairie talk in this scene, if you listen to how he asks the questions, you can see an actor who understands both sides of that coin: coming alive truthfully and the circumstances part of it. In other “questioning” scenes in other episodes, he is forthright, sometimes flirtatious, sometimes obnoxious. But in this one, he teeters on a precipice. What he is hearing fills him with dismay and fear, but he can’t show it to Jenny or Sairie, and he also can barely acknowledge it to himself.

3rd scene
Dean and Sam burst out of the house, back into the sunlight, and head back to the Impala, both of them freaked out, for different reasons, and already arguing. Sam is freaked because there is clearly a malevolent spirit in the house and that family is in danger, and Dean is freaked out by everything, most of all by the fact that Sam’s visions are coming true. They stand in the street and it’s a beautiful shot of a neighborhood at sunset time, the road stretching out into the distance.


One of Dad’s hunting mantras which he passed on to his sons was: “Shoot first. Ask questions later.” Those words come up first in Episode 2, and we don’t know that it’s a quote from Dad, and we won’t know that for some time. Sometimes Dean is “shoot first, ask questions later”, but sometimes Sam is. When it’s Sam, look out, things can get pretty dark, especially in later seasons where he becomes downright scary. In “Home”, in this scene out on the street, Sam is so terrified and has such a sense of urgency that he basically wants to drag that family out of their home bodily before the thing hiding there can get them. Dean keeps just yelling back, “I don’t KNOW what it is in there … it may not be the thing that killed Mom or Jess … I don’t KNOW.”

If this were not his childhood home, if this were not somehow connected to his own traumatic past, it seems clear that Dean would not be shouting “I DON’T KNOW” at his brother. He’d be onto the plan, figuring out a way to get those people out of there and go after the evil sonofabitch inside.

But Sam, as urgent as he is, doesn’t have a plan. Shoot first, ask questions later, is actually terrible advice, for regular humans and for hunters. What needs to happen is research, understanding, and, basically, a TON of questions asked beforehand. Knowing what you are dealing with is far better than charging in blind.

4th scene
A key scene, mainly in terms of deepening the Dean Winchester character. Sam and Dean are at a gas station, filling up the Impala, and the jagged edges of the fight in the road have subsided. They are now more thoughtful, and Dean tries to bring them back on course, older brother that he is. “How would we handle this if this were any other case?” This helps Sam focus, despite his misgivings about the approach. They need to research the house, and they need to research what happened in their own childhood. Talk to people who were there, neighbors, friends of Dad’s. In order to work the present-day case, they actually have to talk about what happened back then. And Dean is the witness, Sam was too young. Sam asks him what he remembers about that night. Again, watch for the small hesitation in Dean, the sense you get that this stuff, as long ago as it was, is un-handled, un-managed, un-incorporated. Dean says he doesn’t remember much, but he does remember the fire, and carrying Sam out the front door.

It’s strangely touching, seeing these two big guys, remembering being so little. Sam is struck by this detail. He had never been told about Dean carrying him to safety. They talk about Dad, and we learn that they asked him multiple times, through their lives, what HE thought it was that killed Mom. Dad kept them in the dark. If he had a theory, he did not pass it on, which seems protective and also foolhardy. He was protecting his sons, but also leaving them vulnerable, which we can see now.


The music, mournful piano, binds the episodes together. It was used to gorgeous effect in Episode 3, and it’s back here. It is the music of their past.

Dean’s energy here goes through a shift, as Sam’s does as well. Sam has a sad vulnerability, and in response Dean becomes brisk, almost official, like, he knows what they need to do, and they know how to do it. It’s codependent, these shifts, but it’s also just normal sibling behavior, the ebb and flow of strength and weakness. Dean’s emotions are rising up. His response is to clamp down on that shit. Dean excuses himself to go hit the head. He walks off around the corner of the building, taking out his phone, and glancing back at Sam as he does. Filmed from below, he looks totally off-balance, with the sign ‘MEN’ looming behind him (a nice detail: no detail like that is accidental: Dad is the one who drummed into him what being a real man looked like, felt like. Dean struggles with that. His father crushed his own sense of agency in certain areas, and made him believe that obedience was what was required of him. But Dean is without Dad now. And they’re back in Lawrence. And Sam predicted it. Dean is dealing with a lot, and in a way, Dad’s “here’s how real men are” teachings has left Dean completely unprepared for life.)


It takes a lot for Dean to call Dad. It means he has failed. It takes a lot for Dean to show Dad that he doesn’t know what to do. Dad has been cruel when that has come up before. But when Sammy is involved, Dean is able to push down those fears of being inadequate or not manly enough and call Dad. Because deep down (and this isn’t clear until much much later), he has a feeling that Dad loved Sam best. Sam was the one who needed protecting. Dean grew up in Dad’s world with Dad’s points of view. He was irrelevant, almost. Sammy was the one Dad “doted” on. This hurts. It hurts like hell. But it is also drummed into Dean enough that he has taken on the same attitude. It’s second nature. So if Sam is in trouble, Dad needs to know.

This phone call, where Dean just leaves a message, is when I first realized just how good Ackles really was (in my first viewing of the series). I got that spidey-sense, that goosebumps-on-neck feeling as I watched this actor “go there”, with the camera right up in his grill. It’s one take. No tricks. Jensen Ackles is actually creating the mini-event of this phone call, it’s not something that was created for him in the editing room. Supernatural often lets moments play out “in one”, meaning no cuts, which is super-challenging (for crew and cast), and also a huge part of why the show, even with its fantastical elements, can feel so real. Editing choices and shot choices work on you unconsciously: even if you are not aware of the fact that a scene has no edits and is playing out in one shot, even if you are not looking for those things – these technical details work ON you, the audience member, giving you so much information. So what we see here is Dean Winchester, in deep close-up, calling his Dad and leaving a message. The phone call starts out one way (emotionally) and then goes somewhere entirely different, and that shift is up to Ackles. A shot like this is akin to live theatre, where actors must create any given event on their own in real-time. There will be no “fixing in the editing room” later. So you’re onstage, and you have to start out a scene happy and bright and by the end of the scene you have to be collapsed on the floor weeping. You have to create that event. In film, it’s usually broken up into little chunks, so an actor can prepare for each chunk. To show you how it could go, and how it normally goes (in films, but also in television): We’d get a medium shot of Dean, starting to leave the message. He is official-sounding and no-nonsense. Then, when he starts to cry, there would be a cut, and we’d go in way close. A cut like that acts as an underlining mechanism, an emotional shorthand. Sometimes it can be effective, but sometimes it is lazy. Sometimes it covers up the fact that the actor is not good enough to make that emotional transition in real-time. They can’t bring up tears on command, they have no emotional apparatus to rely on.

Jensen Ackles, in one take, takes a huge journey, from tough-guy imparting information to the Dad he is afraid/in awe of, to crying helpless little-boy who needs his Daddy, and it happens in 15 seconds, and it happens right in front of our eyes. Like I said: this is the moment when I realized: Shit. This guy is GOOD.


5th scene
Back at creepy dark house, Jenny lets a plumber into the pitch-black kitchen, and leads him to the backed-up sink. Creator Eric Kripke has said that this is one of the scenes he is most proud of, something I find totally charming. The plumber starts to work on the sink. He’s futzing with the pipes. The shadows are deep and dark. Suddenly, over to the side, a terrible monkey-toy starts banging its cymbals maniacally.


It startles Plumber, but he keeps working on the sink, sticking his hand down the drain to try to remove the blockage. The monkey subsides its clanging-cymbals behavior. But not for long.


The plumber eventually sticks his hand down the drain. You know this will not end well. As he digs around in the drain, we get a small shot of the now-subsided monkey, staring on from the side. It’s a great sequence, Kripke is right to be proud of it. Of course, eventually the drain basically eats the plumber’s arm, and as he starts screaming, the monkey claps its cymbals in glee. The monkey makes that scene. A scary cymbal-clanging monkey will be familiar to anyone who has read the works of Stephen King!

6th scene
Dean and Sam stand in a garage talking to the guy who was once upon a time John Winchester’s business partner. They owned a garage together. He’s played by Don Thompson, and he shows up again in a season 8 episode as a Sheriff. He’s got a grizzled old face, and it’s interesting because he was clearly a big part of John’s life before, and Dean and Sam are basically meeting a stranger. There is such a huge break with their own past that they don’t know anything about who their parents were “before”. That, obviously, will change.


Instead of coming out with who they are, they pose as cops who are opening up old cases, the “Winchester disappearance” being one of them. As audience members, we are still piecing together what happened back there, and so we are on the same level as Sam and Dean here. Yes, we know that Dad became a hunter following his wife’s death. But what, exactly, was that process? In later seasons, with Bobby and other hunters, you get to know that nobody “chooses” this life. It is usually chosen for them, because they experienced a loss, a trauma, a supernatural event that drew back the veil forever. One of the things that distinguishes the “hunter” occupation from other jobs, even dangerous ones like being a cop or a fireman, is that it requires Trauma to get into it. So what we see, when we start to meet other hunters, is that all of them are walking around in an undiagnosed state of post-traumatic stress, and weapon-ing up and hunting is how they cope. The world of the hunters is beautifully imagined, I think, and part of what Kripke wanted to create going in. It’s a blue-collar world, it’s held together with duct tape, its machine-guns are sawed-off and custom-built, people drink hard, fuck hard, and hunt hard. They all understand they are not long for this world. They behave accordingly. Hunters are universally intelligent, it’s a requirement: being a hunter requires skepticism of the status quo which says “monsters are not real”, and it requires patience and brain-power. It also requires violence and courage, and so the hunter world is full of reckless wack-jobs who can out-think anyone from the vanilla everyday world. Hunters could easily have been imagined as super-heroes, Bat-Men cruising the streets with gleaming laser-guns and brand-new shining weaponry, but no, Kripke wanted it to be a world of junk yards, road houses, moldy motels, and flasks of moonshine. It’s a great touch.

Some interesting moments here, as Dad’s business partner thinks back 20 years ago, and remembers how John went crazy following his wife’s death. He started reading these old weird occult books, and stuff like that. “I begged him to get help …” says this poor man.

Sam listens, drinking it all in, and so does Dean, but Dean seems to be struggling with anger. Who was this guy to judge his dad? Why couldn’t he have just been there for him?

“Home” has some cut scenes which are available on the DVD and this particular scene has an extended version which didn’t make the final cut. But information is given that is important, and I choose to incorporate it into my understanding of the Winchester past. Dad’s partner confesses that he was really worried about the kids and called Protective Services on John a couple of times. Wow. You wonder why certain things are cut. It’s a great extended scene. Dean seethes at the man for his betrayal of John Winchester, for not sticking by him, for calling the authorities. What would have happened if Sam and Dean had been taken away from Dad? It’s a compelling question.

In the scene as it stands in the episode, the mechanic remembers who John was. “He was a stubborn bastard … maybe it was the Marine thing, he couldn’t stand losing.” He says that John was going to see a palm-reader or psychic in the weeks following his wife’s death. It seemed weird to him. He was really worried. He never learned what happened to his friend, who just up and vanished with his two boys.

7th scene
No library scenes in “Home”, but I do like that phone books are still relevant at this point in time, in a way they no longer are. Sam stands by a pay phone, flipping through the yellow pages looking for any psychics listed there.


When Sam comes across the name “Missouri Mosley” that rings a bell for Dean, who gets out Dad’s journal, and shows Sam the very first entry: “I went to Missouri and I learned the truth.”

Dean always assumed Dad meant the state. Missouri, the “Show Me” state, an aggressive and cynical nickname, suggesting that Missouri residents need to see it to believe it, which has interesting connections with the Winchester brothers’ lives as hunters. The same could be said of Missouri, who deals in supernatural forces that others can’t see, but she can.

8th scene
Missouri Mosley (Loretta Devine) enters the picture. I wish she had come back in the series. She immediately settles into her role, and her part in the Winchester Family Arc, as though she were born to it. She first came to my attention years ago through the Broadway soundtrack to Dreamgirls, which was on constant rotation for my group of friends in college. This woman WORKS. She has been a regular on multiple TV series, often winning awards, and she keeps going back to the stage (although not so much so, she is so busy with her TV and film career). She won an Emmy for her work on Grey’s Anatomy. And who can forget her show-stopping scene in Crash?

She stops the show whenever she appears. One of the things I love about her is her counter-intuitive line readings. Nobody else would choose to say a line the way she does. Her phrasing is unique, her decisions where to place emphasis, all of these things are so HER, and come from a very real place. (And, fantastic, her phrasing is different as Missouri than it is in that clip from Crash. Character and circumstance dictate her phrasing. She’s excellent.) In this episode, listen to how she says the line, “Why, to protect her boys, of course.” Where she places her voice, the way she chooses to say that line, is not how any other actress would. It’s almost as though she is floating above the real guts of the scene, she is working on another plane of existence, which, of course, is perfect because so is Missouri Mosley. She is both earthy and otherworldly. And from the very first scene in “Home,” she knows more than she is telling either brother. That’s in the performance, too.

Sam and Dean sit in the foyer of Missouri’s home, looking like schoolboys waiting outside the principal’s office, waiting for her to finish with a client. When we first see Missouri, she emerges through the beads from the room beyond, speaking to a man as she brings him to the front door. She is assuring him, with a big sincere smile, “Your wife is crazy about you.” The second she closes the door, she lets out a sigh, and says flatly, “His woman is cold-bangin’ the gardener.” And if that doesn’t make you love her immediately, there is no hope for you. The phrasing! Her tone! Both brothers are taken aback by this and Dean (not realizing that he is about to become her punching bag for the entire episode) says, “Why didn’t you tell him the truth?” He’s not pissed, just curious. Missouri tells him, “People don’t come to me for the truth. They come to me for good news.” She says it as though he should know better.

The line is great because we immediately see that she’s a businesswoman, who needs to keep her practice going, even if she has to lie and give good news when it is actually bad. So should we trust Missouri? Because she’s played by Loretta Devine, we do trust her, but our first moments dealing with her leave questions. It’s great. Will she just give Sam and Dean good news?

Perhaps stunned by her presence, but also unsure of how to proceed, Sam and Dean both sit there, looking up at her, and she impatiently gestures for them to follow her into the house. “I don’t got all day!”

Yes, ma’am!

Missouri has immediate authority. Once in the back room, both guys having to bend over to come through the beads, her demeanor changes and she stands back to look at them, and laugh with delight. It is a reunion for her, although neither of them remember her.


The way Sam and Dean react to being appraised by her, their silent expressions, are a reminder that these guys have been cut off from their own past. Their only frame of reference for who they are, and how they have changed, is each other and Dad. There are no grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, family friends, that whole larger community that helps people understand who they are. So to be looked at and cooed over by someone who knew them when they were babies/children … it’s fascinating for them. Their baby pictures were lost to them as well, most of them, they were in a trunk in the old house and they haven’t ever seen them until now. You really get how cut off these guys are, how un-moored, un-connected. Dean, in particular, looks almost hungry for information. Missouri looks at both of them and comments on how handsome they are, and then glances at Dean, kindly, “And you were one goofy-lookin’ kid.” Dean is taken aback. Not insulted, just curious and thrown. His only outside-eye in his life, on who he is, is his Dad. It’s warped him. He was goofy-looking? Really? What else?

She’s a link. To the child he was, which is a link to the man he is now. Those links have been lost.

I love Jared Padalecki in this whole scene, because very early on Missouri starts picking on Dean, scolding him, before he’s even done anything, and Sam’s reaction is so perfect little-brother behavior. He can’t keep the delighted smile off his face watching this woman treat his scary bossy older brother like a misbehaving grade-schooler. It is unfair how she treats Dean, but the way she does it makes me think she has ulterior motives. This boy missed out on having a mother. So hell, she’ll mother him now. He clearly needs it. He “means well”, as she says later. But he’s been living in the strictly-male world too long.

Missouri reaches out to Sam in a way she does not with Dean, grabbing onto his hand, and gasping at what she senses in him. “Oh honey … I’m sorry about your girlfriend.”

Sam looks so vulnerable as he is basically assaulted by Missouri’s warmth and sympathy, something he has been missing in his life too.


Missouri says, “And your father … he’s missing?”

Considering the final scene of this episode, one wonders if she got her information through a strictly un-psychic source. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.

Dean asks where their dad is, and watch how Loretta Devine says, “I don’t know.” Great stuff. Is she lying? Dean makes his first error which is to say, “I thought you were a psychic.”

Missouri reads him the riot act in her typically hilarious phraseology. “Boy, you see me sawing some bony tramp in half? You think I’m a magician?” Dean has been SCHOOLED, and Sam couldn’t be happier.


She orders them both to sit, and they take places on the couch, and as Dean settles in, Missouri lays into him again: “Boy, you put your foot on my coffee table, I’m gonna whack you with a spoon.” You can hear Sam start to laugh even though he’s off-screen and Dean is startled and childish in response (I don’t blame him). “I didn’t do anything!” he cries.


As mean as it may seem, it’s almost like a comforting blanket, a motherly figure giving a shit enough to scold him, to train him right, to take an interest. At least that’s how I see it. And his grumpy reaction is part of his regression to the childlike state he’s in throughout. She is picking on him, and why is she picking on him? It’s not FAIR.

She fills them in on her relationship with their Dad, who came to her just a couple of days after the fire. She tells the boys, “I just let him know what was really out there in the dark. I guess you could say … I drew back the curtains for him.”

The lighting in the scene is gorgeous and dark, with white light peeping in from a window to the side, catching on the boys’ profile, and highlighting her profile as well. They are half in shadow, half in light, a common visual cue in these early seasons (no longer really happening in the show, more’s the pity.)


They ask questions, and Dean says, intense, “What about the fire?” And then something changes for him, one of those internal eruptions I keep mentioning, and his next line, “Do you know what killed our Mom?” comes from a different place entirely. We saw him be ambushed by the word “Mom” in “Dead in the Water”. Even mentioning her name is difficult. It’s not “in him” to bring her up in a casual way, he has shut that door forever. And watch how Ackles shows us all of that, through an eloquent energy-and-voice shift.

She tells them that their Dad walked her through the burnt ruins of the house after the fire, and she sensed that something “evil” had been there. She doesn’t know exactly what it was, but she does say she knows “a little”, which at this point is such a relief you want to give her a medal for even knowing “a little” bit about it.


9th scene
It’s about time for another creepy appearance of whatever it is mauling Plumber’s hands and scaring little girls half to death as fiery apparitions, and we are back in the dark kitchen of the old house. Little Juice Boy sits in his creepy crib looming in the foreground, and Jenny is on the phone, wondering why she should be held liable for the plumber’s hand getting mauled.

Cutting back to Missouri and the boys, Missouri asks them if they think that “something” is back in that old house. Dean doesn’t say anything, but Sam says, “Definitely.” Dean just can’t take the lead here. It’s too much. Missouri says that over the years she has kept an eye on the place, and nothing strange has happened. No accidents or deaths. Why is it starting now?

That is the question, Missouri.

And Sam is the one who can respond. Dean looks like he doesn’t have a word in his head at that moment. Sam says, “I don’t know. But .. with Dad going missing, and Jessica dying, and now this house … all happening at once … it just feels like something’s starting.”

Sam is the Big Picture guy here. Maybe because he got out of the bell jar of the Winchester family, but also because of the prophetic dreams. Dean says in response, “That’s a comforting thought.” He hates every second of this, there’s almost a growing sense of dread for him that “something’s starting”. This divide between the brothers will intensify over Season 1 as they get closer to “the thing that killed Mom”, and it will carry over into Season 2.

Back in the old house, Jenny is still out of the kitchen, the little boy in his crib-slash-prison, and slowly, the hinges on the front wall of the crib are lifted up out of their slots, the wall crashing down, leaving an exit for the little boy.


Addicted to juice, as he is, he heads to the fridge, and the child-proofing latch on the door suddenly comes undone. There’s a very funny (and also scary) shot from within the refrigerator, the juice cups looming in the foreground, with the little boy staring at them with glee. Awfully, he crawls into the fridge to get one, and, swiftly, the door slams, and the child-proof latch re-attaches itself. Ugh. I can’t stand it.

Jenny comes back into the kitchen, sees the broken crib, the missing son, and starts racing around screaming for him in a total panic. It’s horrifying. She races off-camera into the house, the camera staying behind, with this killer shot.


Jenny is hyperventilating, racing back into the kitchen, and she sees some milk spilling out through the kitchen door. Thank goodness! She races to the fridge, and my heart-strings are tugged like hell when she sees him in there and pulls him out into her arms. This poor woman. She’s so alone in the world. She does not feel capable right now. The house is turning against her, the plumber lost his hand, she has rats, and she has no one to help her.

But then a knock comes on the door.

10th scene
Holding her son, and clearly upset, she opens the door to see Sam and Dean standing there. They both look at her with vulnerable openness on their faces, not so taken up by their own family drama that they can’t recognize that this woman is upset. Sam introduces Missouri, who is standing behind them, and Missouri steps forward, smiling, but you can see her be assaulted by the “wrong-ness” of what she is sensing in front of her too. Dean asks if maybe they can show Missouri the old house too and Jenny says now is not a good time. “Listen, Jenny, it’s important–” Dean starts to say before Missouri whacks him upside the back of the head (and Loretta Devine does it for real, it’s hysterical, Dean wincing at the attack), and scolds: “Give the poor girl a break, can’t you see she’s upset?” Missouri takes over, speaking directly to Jenny: “Forgive this boy. He means well. He’s just not the sharpest tool in the shed.” I know it’s mean and unfair but I can’t help but think that that is one thing that Dean needs in his life, correction like that, from a female figure, who may express annoyance at his more boorish manners, but won’t abandon him or throw him out into the cold. I don’t know. I really like it. Dean hates it, but I like it.

Missouri realizes that Dean was on his way to ruining the situation by pushing too hard, so she speaks to Jenny, and Ms. Loretta Devine rocks the planet in her small monologue. “You’re gonna have to trust us … just a little …” Those pauses.


Jenny allows them in, and Missouri leads the way through the house, Dean and Sam following. Missouri holds her hand out, over tables and chairs, feeling what might be there. They walk into a room and she says “This is where it all happened.” It is the site of Sam’s nursery. There’s a wonderful shot, all emotion, of just the ceiling. Dean and Sam looking up there, and it’s empty, it’s just a ceiling, but you can practically see their mother pinned up there. Dean, almost as a comfort thing, a security blanket, takes out his EMF. Missouri looks at it, and sniffs, “Amateur.” Dean can do no right. He is annoyed but he holds his tongue, looking back down at the EMF. The two of them (Missouri and Dean) have settled right into their relationship, and you know that if they kept contact with her, this would be the rhythm of it. And neither of them would want to walk away. Imagine someone else treating Dean like this, especially a woman. Dean isn’t thrilled, but he doesn’t push her away either. There’s something familiar here, something needed.

Missouri tells the boys that whatever she senses is not the thing that killed their mother. It’s almost a disappointment, but it’s also a relief, maybe. Both brothers look at her with a sense of loss and wonder. She walks into the closet, and we get a repeat of the shot in the teaser, with Missouri in black silhouette, and the boys in the background, same as Mom and the little girl in the teaser.


Sam and Dean are men, out there in the world, but not here, not now.

When you think of where the episode is headed, of course the psychic would be a warm and yet scolding female figure who takes an interest in them, who cares for them, who helps them, who whacks them upside the head if they get out of line. Of course.

Missouri senses more than one spirit. There is a “nasty poltergeist” and then … something else, but she’s not sure what it is yet.

Missouri’s monologue could be seen as emblematic of the brothers’ lives as well.

They’re here because of what happened to your family. You see, all those years ago, real evil came to you. It walked this house. That kind of evil leaves wounds and sometimes wounds get infected. This place is a magnet for paranormal energy.

Dean and Sam both struggle to take all this in, to deal with the clear and present danger as well as what it says about what happened to them. Dean finds his way now, renewed energy, renewed focus, saying, “One thing’s for damn sure. Nobody’s dying in this house. Ever again.”

11th scene
Back at Missouri’s house, Dean sits at the table putting together some kind of hex bag concoction with ingredients gathered by Missouri. I love that “cross-road dirt” is part of the list of ingredients. How important will cross-roads be in Supernatural! I also love that at one point Dean tastes one of the ingredients and grimaces, grossed out. (Dude. what are you, a toddler?)


Dean is the workhorse here, Missouri obviously feeling that the boy needs tasks in order to keep him on the straight and narrow. She explains to them that they need to place these little bags of Magic Hoodoo in the four corners of the house, behind the walls, on each floor. Dean, busy with his mad scientist concoction, murmurs, “Breaking up the drywall. Jenny’s gonna love that.” There’s a long pause as Missouri serenely considers Dean from her spot across the table, and she says, and, again, there’s a flat detached quality to her delivery: “She’ll live.” The detachment is what helps make the performance. It’s better than playing the sentimentality which would leave no room for audience reaction. The way she says “she’ll live” is unique, and gets Dean’s attention. Missouri is both warm and cool at the same time. Analytical and intuitive.

She warns them that they will each take a floor and they will have to work fast. Once the spirits realize what is happening, “things are gonna get bad.”

For me, I now get flashback-terrors to The Conjuring.

12th scene
Again, like The Conjuring, Missouri ushers Jenny and her two children out of the house that night, assuring her that it will all be over and taken care of by the time they get home from the movies. Jenny and the kids head off into the night and Missouri briskly heads back into the house. Missouri takes the basement, Dean the first floor, Sam the second.

The work begins. And the cray-cray starts up immediately. Sam, hacking into the wall in Jenny’s bedroom, does not see that a cord from a lamp in the background is snaking its way across the floor towards him. Eventually, that cord wraps itself around its neck and damn near almost kills him. And Dean chops into the wall into the kitchen, and almost immediately, a knife flies past his head. In my favorite effect in the entire episode, Dean crouches down onto the floor, turns the kitchen table over onto its side, and at that moment, every knife in the kitchen plummets at the table, the blades all piercing through to the other side.


And down in the basement, a huge dresser whizzes across the floor by itself, pinning Missouri behind it. The ghosts are on the loose!

Sam struggles on the floor upstairs, but cannot get the cord unwrapped, and we get one of those God’s eye views that the series uses from time to time (not too much, just enough).


Dean, having escaped certain death from flying cutlery, bursts into the room and goes to battle with that damn wrapped cord which has a life of its own. Basically the entire house has taken on a life of its own. He can’t get the cord off, he runs to the wall and kicks a hole in it, releasing a blinding blue light which fills up all the windows of the house, energy being unleashed. The cord has loosened and there’s a quick and touching moment where Dean, helping his gasping brother, puts his arms around him. Just for a second. They are not affectionate with one another in a touchy-feely kind of way, but in that moment, it’s like they’re kids again. This is the baby John told his son Dean to protect.

13th scene
The three poltergeist-hunters congregate in the trashed kitchen. The house is quiet. Sam says, “Are you sure this is over?” Missouri says, “I’m sure.” But then she looks closer at Sam, whom she trusts, whom she senses is (perhaps) even stronger than she is in psychic ability. And says, “Why do you ask?”


She’s worried. She looks to Sam. She senses something.

Jenny and the kids return home at that moment and she stops in amazement when she sees her ruined kitchen, food on the floor, table pierced with knives, what the hell. A humorous small moment, Sam says, “Hi. Sorry. We’ll pay for all of this,” and you can see Dean balk at that. The hell we will! Even in the midst of dealing with his childhood trauma, Dean doesn’t forget THAT much of who he is. Missouri says comfortingly to Jenny, “Don’t you worry.” Then she says, “Dean’s gonna clean up this mess.”

Hahahaha. Only Dean?? Dean looks at Missouri, like, Can you please give me a break, lady, why do I have to do it? Missouri says, “What are you waiting for, boy? Get the mop!” Dean starts to go, and she reprimands him, even though he hasn’t said a word, “And don’t cuss at me.”

I am picturing Dean mopping up the smashed tomatoes, hating his life, feeling like he was born under a cursed star.

Even to Missouri, Sam is the special one, the one that needs to be protected and listened to. Dean is the grunt. And yet the way Missouri bosses Dean around, you feel her love for him too underneath that, in a way that you don’t when you see Dean later with Dad. There will be no hard feelings when Dean walks away from Missouri. As a matter of fact, when he thinks of her in later years, he’ll feel warm and protected. He would want to go back to her house and have her boss him around some more. Because she does it in a way that makes him feel safe. Dean and Missouri have 10 minutes of screen-time together, tops, in this episode, and both actors create that dynamic, memorable and poignant.

14th scene
Later that night, in a show-stopper of a shot, Jenny sees Sam, Dean and Missouri to the door. The camera is placed down the walk a ways, and we see Dean help Missouri down the steps. The three come towards the camera a bit, and then stop, to look back at Jenny. It is at that point, when all characters are still, that the camera starts moving, pulling back down the walkway, and then raising up, high up, into the air. It’s all in one, no cuts. It’s very eerie, the camera taking on a life of its own, the human figures frozen in one place, before the three on the walkway head offscreen, and Jenny goes back into the house. The camera move suggests, of course, that this is all far from over. A shot like that, which lasts 2 seconds, takes 4 hours (maybe more) of set-up time. Well worth it.


15th scene
Jenny, reading a Parenting magazine in bed, settles in to go to sleep, turning off the light. The bed starts to wiggle, gently at first, just a tremor, until accelerating until it is basically knocking around the room.

16th scene
On Sam’s insistence, the boys sit outside in the Impala, keeping watch. Dean is exhausted, and grumpy, he wants to go to sleep. But Sam just has a feeling they need to be there. Remember his dream in the opening. He saw Jenny screaming for help through the window. He can’t shake the feeling that the ritual might not have taken. And in “Home”, Sam is the lead. Dean may grumble, but Sam’s insistence on things is the motor, unlike, say, “Wendigo”, when it is Dean’s point of view that dominates. Dean says, in a pop-culture reference I love, “Missouri did her whole Zelda Rubinstein thing. The house should be clean.”



It is at that point that Sam, peering out the window, sees, dimly, Jenny at the window, screaming for help. It is so dark you can barely see her, but it is terrifying. Sam and Dean leap out of the car and charge across the lawn, and I love how Dean barks an order at Sam as they run, “Grab the kids! I’ll get Jenny!” These crystal-clear moments of professionalism, showing how the brothers work together, how they help each other out, how they are able to plan in the middle of a crisis, help us understand their strength as partners. When people say to them, “Your dad would be so proud of you”, Dean and Sam both react, usually, with a wince of regret and pride, and they are not quite sure their Dad WOULD be proud of them, nitpicking bully that he was. He never said he was proud. Later in this season, in the final episode, it is Dad saying to Dean he is “proud” of him that clues Dean in that that is not really his Dad. How painful! But how smart of Dean! In the midst of a father-son moment that would tug at your heart-strings, Dean knows that it is not right. Because no one has EVER been proud of him. Why start now? Anyway, I love that barked command from Dean, because even in his regressive racing-to-catch-up vibe throughout the episode, when a crisis comes, he knows what the fuck to do.

Jenny is trapped in her room and the door is locked. Meanwhile, flaming fire-ball figure rears up in daughter’s closet, as daughter cowers in her bed. Dean kicks in Jenny’s door, and grabs her, all as she is screaming about her kids. Dean shouts that Sam will get the kids, they have to leave.

Now comes a small section with Sam that brings me to tears every time I see it. Maybe because I have men like this in my family. Men who are caretakers and protectors, who would put themselves in harm’s way before a child is hurt, tough guys, take-care-of-it guys. I don’t know. I’ve said before that it touches me enormously watching Sam and Dean, who were never allowed innocence, be confronted with actual innocence. You can see how a hunter might have contempt for innocence (that certainly happened with John Winchester). But the best hunters would be the ones who devote themselves to protecting innocence, for realizing that innocence has VALUE. How did Sam and Dean manage that? How was that soft-ness in them (soft-ness that is actually strength) protected, how did they keep it safe? How were they not brutalized out of it? We can discuss why. Maybe it is the memory of Mom, maybe it is the comment she would say to Dean every night before he went to bed, that angels were watching over him (this comes out in Season 2) … who knows why. Maybe it is because they had one another to rely on. I shudder to think what would have become of Dean if he HADN’T had a younger brother. Neither brother is contemptuous of innocence, despite the fact that it was robbed from them. They are TOUCHED by innocence. We saw it with Dean and Lucas in Episode 3. And we see it now in this brief frenzied scene of Sam rescuing the kids. Sam runs down the hallway, holding the little boy in his arms, and arrives at the little girl’s room, where he sees the Flaming Fireball Figure taking up the closet doorway. Holding his hand over the little boy’s head to protect it (bless you, Padalecki), he scoots around the fire, and scoops up the little girl in his other arm, and as he charges out of the room, he yells at the kids in his arms, “Don’t look! Don’t look!”

God, why do I have tears in my eyes?

I just do. And I do every time I hear him shout that at the children.

Because the Flaming Fireball is terrifying and he doesn’t want them to look at it. It is too late to protect their innocence entirely, of course, but he does what he can to salvage the rest of it.


Sam races the kids down the stairs, puts them both down, and says to Sairie, echoing John Winchester’s words in the pilot teaser, “Take your brother outside as fast as you can.”

We are still learning more about the Winchester family and the Campbell family in Season 9, and how that plays out in the brothers’ lives. There is an assumption that John is the “hard” one and Mary is the “soft” one, that Dean takes after Dad and Sam obviously takes after Mom. Those binary assumptions are immediately challenged and continue to be so, especially as we learn more about bad-ass Mary and her family. But as we learn more about the brothers, as we discover how hard Sam can be, and how soft and human Dean can be, we stop being able to assume anything. Sam is more like John, Dean is more like Mary. Both are a mix of both. It’s a huge strength of the show that it went that more complex route, that it delves into the complexity of family dynamics and personality traits, in a prism-like way rather than in a primary-color way. So our assumptions about Sam being more like Mary, and obviously the one who butted heads the most with John, are shattered when we see him, suddenly, and literally, re-enact that night 23 years earlier. He literally says the exact words John said.


It’s a great dovetail, thought-provoking and destabilizing.

At that moment, something grabs Sam by the feet and pulls him back into the kitchen, a terrible effect, and Sairie grabs her brother and runs outside to her mother on the walkway. The front door slams. Sairie tells Dean that “something got” Sam.

Now Dean has to step up, and he does, racing back to the Impala, grabbing an axe and loading up his shotgun with rock salt. He’s breathing heavily though. He’s terrified. Sam, meanwhile, is pinned up against the wall in the kitchen (I love how ghosts and demons do that to people, immobilizing them, usually in order to rattle off some long monologue about their motivations). Dean proceeds to chop away at the front door with the axe, which seems silly to me. Just break a window and charge on in, dude. But like Missouri said, he means well, he’s just not the sharpest tool in the shed. And perhaps he’s been watching The Shining too much.


Then again, who am I to talk.


Dean finally crashes through the door, and at that moment, the Flaming Fireball Figure erupts itself into the living room, and starts walking towards the pinned Sam. Dean is about to blow it away when Sam tells him to stop, he knows who it is, he can see her now.


Of course we’ve all probably guessed who it is at this point, but Dean is still in the dark, staring at the Fireball, terrified and stressed-out, not seeing what Sam sees at all. He can’t see his own past with any clarity. But suddenly, the flames vanish, and there is Mom (the wonderful Samantha Smith, and I love how she keeps returning, even though it’s often a terrible sign, and their love for her is used against them. Still, it’s always good to see her, especially since her missed presence haunts the entire series like an afterimage.)


Sam is in tears, and Dean is frozen, staring at her, with a bruised and vulnerable look on his face, a part of him rising up that has been so long-buried that he doesn’t even know it exists. But it’s been rising up in him throughout the episode. In the moment Mom is revealed to him, he looks so off-balance that if you nudged him he would fall over.


Mom says to him, “Dean.”

That’s all she says. But it washes over him. She walks past him to Sam, and Dean’s eyes follow her. It’s heartbreaking. What is so interesting to me is the moment that follows when she looks up at Sam, still pinned to the wall, tears on his face. She looks up at him, and says his name. She is not overly warm, or gushing, or maternal. She is greeting her sons as equals, after a long time apart. She plays it beautifully. Looking up at Sam, she then says, “I’m sorry.”


Could Kripke et al have known that far ahead where they were going? I have to believe they did. She does not apologize to Dean. She apologizes to Sam only and when he asks “For what?” she does not respond. It is one of those tiny mysterious moments the series excels in, knowing the payoff will come, knowing they will make us wait for it.

This is a scene that could have been overwhelmed with talk-talk-talk, with a busy bossy script. “Mom, I’ve missed you!” “I love you boys! I’m sorry I left you!” “What killed you, Mom?” Etc.

Instead all we get is:
“Dean. Sam. I’m sorry.”

Amazing. Bold.


Mom then turns, with one of those weird speeded-up moments making her seem quite otherworldly, and speaks up at the ceiling, saying, “You get out of my house.” There is then some mysterious battle royale between Mom and poltergeist, and waves of orange flames explode across the ceiling, before subsiding, leaving the room quiet and dark again. Sam is released from Poltergeist Jail.

Neither are sure what has happened. Sam has tears on his face and Dean, who looks totally shocked and emotional, looks around the empty room, and you can tell he starts to say “Mom” into the air, but stops at “M”. A detail like that? This is Ackles. Directors take credit for too much as it is. Why he is good is because of moments like that. He can’t even finish the word. “Mom” is too emotional for him to say, we see it time and time again. And in this moment, he experiences the loss of her all over again. Like a child, he looks up at his little brother, who towers over him. He is looking to him for help, for support, for everything. We never see that look on Dean’s face, and we’ve seen it twice now in this episode.


And Sam stands there, listening on another plane, just like Missouri does, aware of energies in the room that Dean cannot sense. He seems so grownup, so himself, especially since Dean, the big brother he idolizes, is looking at him in that helpless way. Sam can take it, though. He knows that now whatever was going on in their house is over.

17th scene
The following morning, Dean stands by the Impala, parked in front of his childhood home, looking through the old photos that Jenny has given him from the basement. He lingers on one in particular.


Dean carrying Sam has been the Purpose of his Life. Sam carried Dean (emotionally) in this episode, and Sam basically BECAME John in that moment in the house with the kids. The question for Dean will persist, and the question will erupt in Dean Winchester “hurt/comfort” fanfic that could fill the New York Public Library, all of its branches: who will carry Dean? Who will comfort Dean? Who will be there for Dean? Who will hold him and take him to safety? Castiel is 3 seasons away. But even that gets complicated. Way complicated. Benny is more of a “we were in ‘Nam together” war buddy, although they both comfort/help one another. Lisa does her best with Dean, but when he re-enters her life he is in a comfortless state. Maybe he still is. Comfort comes from alcohol, from music, from working on his car, and from porn and the occasional hook-up (that comfort may be temporary, but if you have any understanding of Loneliness as a Permanent Condition – which I do – then you do not sniff at comfort of the temporary kind. It is just as real and just as valuable as the permanent type. Don’t knock it.) I said in my very first post about Dean Winchester, that the show wants you to worry about him, a unique thing for a Leading Man, and a Tough Guy Leading Man, at that. It is in those helpless moments where he looks to Sam, scared and child-like, that worry for him grows. I worry about Sam too, but not as much. Sam seems more complete. Sam has some serious freakin’ issues that make Dean’s look like a walk in the park, but Sam’s sense of self is somehow un-shatter-able. It all goes back to Lawrence, Kansas, to Dean saving his brother, and becoming his Dad’s blunt little instrument, an obedient soldier in the hunt against evil, sacrificing emotional growth and resiliency in the process.

All of this can get pretty maudlin, I do admit, a sort of sniffly-nosed reveling in victimization that I think the show does well to fight against, undercut, under-play. I would get sick of that shit real quick. These guys are not victims, they are survivors. But the price they both have paid is enormous, we need to feel that price, and we do, here, in the silent moment of Dean looking at his childhood picture.

Meanwhile, the two Psychic Wonders sit on the front stoop. And, thankfully, Missouri fills us in on what happened in the house, because damned if I know at this point. The Poltergeist and the Spirit of Mom canceled each other out, and Mom sacrificed herself in order to save her sons. (Here comes that line, “Why to protect her boys … of course.”)


The pauses are lengthy. Supernatural is awesome with its allowing for pauses. Sam turns to Missouri, then, and finally asks, “What’s happening to me?” And again, Padalecki makes me want to cry, because whatever is happening to him is terrifying, and he can’t talk about it to Dean, because Dean is in Panic Mode about it, and he has nobody to talk to, nobody. Unfortunately, Missouri says, “I don’t know”, but in a way it’s the best answer. It takes him seriously. It does not dismiss his concerns, or try to brush them off. She also doesn’t try to tell him that “nothing is happening” to him. Something IS, he’s RIGHT, and she doesn’t know what.

The scene is left at that, and Sam goes to join Dean at the car, and the two drive off with Missouri and Jenny standing in the walk. It is impossible to classify what is on Missouri’s face. It’s somewhat deadpan. And listen to how she says, “See you around.” The phrasing and voice make you think twice about what she has actually said. I love this performance so much.


18th scene
A game-changer of a final scene, one that made me gasp when I first saw it. I, personally, did not see it coming. Instead of closing out the episode with the two brothers in the Impala, we see Missouri re-entering her house, deep in thought, and she stops, saying out loud, “That boy … he has such powerful abilities. Why he couldn’t sense his own father … I have no idea.”

She walks through the beads into the living room, and there is John Winchester, sitting on the couch, where Sammy had been sitting the day before. He has his head in his hands. I remember first seeing it and being confused: Is he a ghost, like Mom is? Is Dad dead? Alive? If he’s alive, he has some serious explaining to do. I was PISSED.


What the HELL.

John asks Missouri if she really thinks Mary’s spirit saved the boys. Loretta-Devine-Awesome-Line-Reading-Alert: how she pauses before saying, “I do.”

Listen, God is in the details. I am detail-oriented to the extreme, and it is through DETAILS that things end up actually WORKING and sticking together. One of the great things about Missouri, and Devine’s performance, is that you think you know what she is thinking, but her line readings make you just … not quite sure. With mournful violin in the background, John looks down at his wedding ring for a while. Before the show completely revels in maudlin victimization/boo-hoo sadness, in comes Missouri’s voice, saying what I felt like saying:

“John Winchester. I could just slap you. Why don’t you go talk to your children?”

John says he really wants to (but of course when he does finally meet up with his children, all he is is a bully and an emasculating jackass). His final words are very important, obviously: He wants to go talk to them, so so badly, but: “I can’t. Not yet. Not until I know the truth.”

We think back to that first entry in his journal.

Cut to black.

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78 Responses to Supernatural: Season 1, Episode 9: “Home”

  1. Helena says:

    //She treats him roughly, keeping him in line, before he has even done anything wrong. Sam she goes soft on,//

    Have to comment on this before I’ve finished reading the whole post, which as usual is awesome and such a treat to end a week. I’ve thought a lot about why she treats Dean as she does. I like your thoughts – there’s definitely a kindred spirit thing going on, and Dean gets in the way. It’s quite funny in how it plays out, but it’s also an echo of their dad’s relationship – hard on Dean, soft on Sam.

    I’m trying to keep count of the times Dean gets cuffed around the head by women. Certainly more than Sam.

    • sheila says:

      I think that somehow Dean turns women into mothers. They love him, they are frustrated by him, and they need to knock him upside the head from time to time. He is so isolated in his everyday life, it’s him and his car and his guns … a certain kind of woman, who doesn’t lick her lips with lust when she sees him, wants instead to take care of him and boss him around, because he clearly needs it.

      And when he fights back, it’s like a little kid fighting back – not a grown man. It’s such a funny dynamic.

      • Helena says:

        Hmm, good points. Having thought a bit more, I feel the dynamic with Missouri arises because Dean is initially freaked by the fact that she’s a psychic, full stop. As a hunter he’s got his own, maybe cut and dried ideas, about psychics – as Jessie said, the distrust is ‘ontological’ – (definitely weird, possibly charlatans) and the kind of information they can provide, but this is now muddled by two things, the fact that dad went to this woman just after his mother died and also that Sam is now ‘psychic’. So she could tell them what they need to know but he’s freaked out by the fact of having to ask. Missouri’s initial put downs are a challenge to his mindset, which is that she does ‘magic tricks’ – they are very direct and very domestic – to do with precisely what he is thinking, his manners, and how to behave in a house. They are aimed at dis-arming – as in disarming a bomb – his distrust and scepticism. And in a way, they allow him to bea child in a situation where his childhood emotions are threatening to overwhelm and get in the way of dealing with what’s going on right now.

        //It’s such a funny dynamic.//

        Yes, good schtick

        • sheila says:

          Helena – Really well put! He does get off on the wrong foot with that “Thought you were a psychic” line – and she really never lets him off the hook after that. But there is that “disarming” quality, as you mentioned, to her taking him down – that is not as rough as what he experiences with his Dad. It’s a safety net – protection. He seems to sense that – or otherwise he would say, “You know what? Screw you, lady.”

          He really is childlike here, throughout – welling up with tears, looking around him confused. He never got to be a child in the first place!

        • sheila says:

          And – yeah, I had kind of missed that other point, although it’s right there in the episode: Sam being psychic rattles Dean. So Dean showing Missouri that he has skepticism in his first interaction with her is one way of dealing with that anxiety.

          • Helena says:

            And the way she’s introduced is really destabilising. They are led to her by the line ‘ I went to Missouri and she told me the truth.’ So, she knows the truth about the world that the brothers know. But the first thing she says to them is that she just lied to her last client. People, she says, don’t want the truth. ‘Truth’ is becoming a big word all of a sudden. Their dad clearly wanted the truth, and she told him, and he believed her. For John Winchester the existence of monsters and demons was a ‘new’ truth – a revelation, and it changed him irrevocably. So it’s interesting when John’s sons come back to her for ‘the truth’. It’s both the same truth – ‘what happened to Mom? – and a whole bunch of other truths they need to know or face, since they’re coming from a different place. They’ve known about monsters and spirits all their lives, actually thanks to Missouri and what she told their dad. She has helped set the Winchesters on the very life and journey that we see in Season 1. Dean comes with the scepticism of a seasoned hunter and the trauma of a four year old. Sam comes thinking – are you like me? can you possibly help me understand what’s happening to me. Both their internal worlds – and the world we’ve come to understand in previous episodes – are being turned upside (again) down for good.

            I think that’s why I like this episode so much, and it’s what you pointed out about Scarecrow. Having established and then set up what looks like firm rules, boundaries and solutions to confronting the supernatural world of the series, it then steps off a cliff. I find it the eeriestepisode in the series so far, and it’s also the one where the family story, brothers’ relationship, and ‘mechanics’ of the episode finally come together into an indivisable unit. Finally it’s not about parallels, links or echoes but the actual thing itself – the truth, in fact.

          • sheila says:

            // She has helped set the Winchesters on the very life and journey that we see in Season 1. Dean comes with the scepticism of a seasoned hunter and the trauma of a four year old. Sam comes thinking – are you like me? can you possibly help me understand what’s happening to me. Both their internal worlds – and the world we’ve come to understand in previous episodes – are being turned upside (again) down for good. //

            I love how you put that, Helena. Yes.

            I think why Gordon keeps coming up for me now is his episodes seem to point out that there isn’t one “truth” – that it depends on the situation – something that is anathema to Hunters, but which is essential to Sam and Dean remaining human.

            Obviously – with folks like Missouri and Pamela as examples – Sam needn’t fear his abilities. Both of those ladies use them for good, to help others. Even if it means lying – hahaha.

            I just love, too, that our first introduction to Missouri, the one who tells the “truth”, is her telling a big fat lie. Awesome.

      • Helena says:

        And the flipside to that cuffing over the head is that people, and not just women, reach out to cradle his cheek as you would a child, laying their hands on his cheek in a gesture of comfort, consolation, or even, in Bobby’s case, desparation and anger. Sam doesn’t get seem to attract this either, aside from the fact you’d need to stand on a big box to do it anyway. Especially in Season 1 Sam can appear very young, younger than his years – he does in this one, when talking to Missouri or looking at his mother. But he is never shown as attracting that sort of gesture. Which I put down to your point about being essentially more integrated, complete, more ‘grown up’, than his brother. More often than not he’s acting older than his years.

        • sheila says:

          Right – the way people touch Dean, or want to touch Dean, is this running subtextual thing. Either they want to hurt him, or cradle him. Or bang him. Sometimes they want to bang him AND hurt him. Those porous boundaries again – so destroyed by his father – leaves him prey to that stuff. BUT it also leaves him open to enormous tenderness – I mean, HE’S the one who is appointed a guardian angel. Now Castiel is the opposite of cuddly – but to Castiel, Dean is The One. The important One. Dean is so un-used to thinking of himself in that way.

          I love the moment when it is suggested to Dean that his half-brother Adam may now be “The One” for Michael. He’s jealous!! Even though he’s spent an entire season saying “No” to being an “angel condom”. But still: a part of him revels in being seen as important and chosen. It’s so sad and so beautiful, too.

          Bobby worries about Dean. He worries about Sam too – but it’s more that “is Sam really like the rest of us” worry. He worries about Dean not loving himself – there’s that big confrontation in the junk yard (killer scene) when Dean tells him he made the deal for his brother’s life. The theme there goes explicit: “why the hell doesn’t Dean VALUE himself?”

          Sam says almost the same thing to him in Season 3: “You’re gonna die and you don’t even care. What is wrong with you?”

          • Helena says:

            //He worries about Dean not loving himself – there’s that big confrontation in the junk yard (killer scene) when Dean tells him he made the deal for his brother’s life. //

            Indeed, that’s the very one I was thinking of. From gruff, grumpy old Bobby, that gesture is incredible.

          • sheila says:

            It’s amazing, going back to watch it again, how little Bobby is in the show in Season 2 – especially considering how enormous a role he will play over the next 5, 6 seasons. Some of it doesn’t track – i.e.: if he was such a huge part of the boys’ lives as children, then why aren’t they reaching out to him from the get-go? It seems that the writers were trying to create a similar “he was our babysitter when we were kids” relationship with “Pastor Jim” in Season 1 – who comes up a couple of times before he is axed by Meg. Clearly they put Pastor Jim on the back burner and decided to let Bobby rise as the guy who played that role in the past.

            But still: it’s really not until Season 3 that Jim Beaver takes on his proper place in the Supernatural hierarchy – and once he’s there, you just can’t imagine the show without him. What a huge asset to the ensemble.

            And it was really that agonized scene in the junk yard, where he is screaming at Dean and clutching the guy’s face when I thought – Holy mackerel, this man LOVES Dean. It’s all in the performance. The entire history he had with Dean, starting when Dean was little, is in that scene, in his performance. I love Bobby.

          • Jessie says:

            Jim Beaver brings so much soul to everything he touches. In Deadwood you can see David Milch shaping Ellsworth around Beaver’s decency and quiet depth of caring.

            AHBL part 2 is such a heartbreaker, and has so many perfect moments. One of my favourite bits is Dean’s kind of perplexed, desperate sorrow at Sam just jumping up and getting ready to go after Jake. Ugh, so tragic.

          • sheila says:

            Jessie – wait, remind me of the moment you’re talking about with Dean and Sam – where does that take place? In the abandoned house where they’re holed up, where Dean watches over Sam’s dead body? All of those scenes are so incredible.

          • Jessie says:

            oh lord, well it’s after the Monologue of My Tears, and Dean gets back from his deal and Sam’s like we gotta get out of here, and Dean’s like jesus,, hang on a second, you almost died, what I would have done if mumblecan’tsayit, can’t you just take care of yourself for a second? And Sam of course says no. And Dean’s like, ………

            He’s actually shaking his head minutely. (Like a lot of what he does) it doesn’t really carry in caps. Anyway the whole episode is full of those indelible moments.

          • sheila says:

            Jessie – Oh yes, of course. That is a killer scene. The unfinished “what would I have done …”

            I mean, that’s it, isn’t it. That’s the unanswerable question for this poor man. It’s all there, so EARLY in the series – I’m so impressed by how well they had thought out the concept for this character – and, of course, they couldn’t have found a better actor to portray those things.

            And I agree that his best moments are difficult to capture in screen grabs – since most of his best moments are “transition moments” – the change in expression, which shows thought process – From one thing to the other. Or nearly imperceptible shifts in his eyes. The camera loves this man and he loves it right back. He knows how to use that shit!!

  2. Jessie says:

    Ooh, what a lovely lazy Sunday present.

    Have they ever dealt with THAT loss? The FIRST loss?
    One of the things we learn in this episode that John essentially refused to discuss or deal with it their entire lives. Goddammit John.

    I like how this episode examines Dean more as Sam’s brother, rather than (as we shall start to see in Something Wicked, and glimpse here) the pseudo-parent that John forced him to be. That reversal, when Sam steps forward and Dean steps back, it sets them up as peers first and foremost. In later seasons, after wading through those rivers of crap, when confronted with something destabilising Dean often doubles-down and becomes his dad. But this early on there is a blueprint for how they can interact healthily.


    The scary bits in this episode are definitely some of the best-filmed scary bits the show’s put on. That plumber thing sequence is a work of art.

    sometimes I wonder what the hell is the big deal with Sam’s visions.
    I kind of love this actually. Not for Sam’s sake obviously. But the idea that the Hunter underworld just knows there’s something wrong with Sam. It’s ontological. And that drive to categorise Sam starts up here, as Mary apologises for something we won’t learn about for three and a half seasons, and John asserts that he can’t face his sons until he knows the truth. About what? In the context of the season so far it seems to be about Mary’s death, but I think it’s specifically about what happened to Sam as a baby and Azazel’s plans. At this stage already he knows that there is Something Wrong With Sam and he can’t face them until he knows what that is and what he’s going to do about it.

    with the camera right up in his grill
    Ugh, this scene. It’s excruciating in a way. It’s too much. Being facepunched by Dean’s pain. Back in the pilot he says he doesn’t want to do this alone. And now finally you get it. He is a WRECK.

    I love Sam’s little face at “The Mysterious Mr Fortinsky” ha ha ha

    I love the way you talk about Missouri and Dean’s relationship, how he settles into that role. There’s something similar going on there with Ellen too (woe, Ellen). He takes their admonishment and authority from a really interesting place. Sam is respectful to women and men in legitimate authority (I love his yes m’ams, yes sirs!) but you can see that that it doesn’t reposition him in the same way it does Dean.

    Yes, Sam with those kids is AMAZING. The way he covers the boy’s head with his huge hand. I like how the episode didn’t labour to Learn A Lesson or anything from Sam repeating his father’s command. It’s just an echo that gets to resonate. How Winchester traumas circulate like a carousel. How Sam can be like his father. How following from Bugs, Sam can at times understand why his dad did what he did. And how that little girl will be able to grow up without Dean’s pathologies because her mum won’t do a John.

    It’s so interesting how blurred our idea of John is for so long. It took me years to get over seeing him as a flawed hero, when really his place in the structure of the show is sympathetic or unwitting villain. You have to really beat through Dean’s idolisation of him, his Big Damn Heroness, and JDM’s shockingly gentle and understanding portrayal. Like, you know this guy means well. But he fucked UP, repeatedly, over decades.

    • sheila says:

      “Croatian”. hahahahaha Poor JA.

      Jessie, I love your final point about John Winchester, and how the show makes us see him through Dean’s eyes mostly, and it is a long time before we can shed that influence. And yes, this is also impacted by Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance, and how appealing and emotionally available he is. But the guy was a monster, and he is a cautionary tale, too: This is what happens when a hunter internalizes the job so much that he ceases being human. Obviously Dean and Sam will struggle with that all the time. And think about a character like Gordon (I love his performance) – and what that job has done to him. Dean, of course, is the one who “can’t see it”, and is seduced by Gordon (almost literally) – and it is Sam’s insistence that there are actually grey areas, in life AND in hunting, that helps Dean snap out of it – very important.

      I like what you say about seeing the brothers as peers here – which, in looking back at the former episodes … it’s new, right? We haven’t really seen that yet, or only glimpses of it. It’s been Dean driving the show, even in “Dead in the Water”. But here, Dean crumbles, Sam does too, and they look to each other for help/support/answers. They still keep secrets, they can’t help it … but it’s a nice shading of the dynamic. The show would have gotten old and rote real quick if it was always Dean being Bossy Older Brother and Sam being Sensitive Younger Brother. No way would they be going into their 10th season if they hadn’t decided that the brothers’ relationship, even above the monsters and demons, was what they were really interested in.

      // But the idea that the Hunter underworld just knows there’s something wrong with Sam. It’s ontological. //

      Yes!! Ellen clocks it almost instantly.

      It really taps into all of these great and universal fears about not fitting in, and having something wrong with you – something that everyone can sense. Like I said to you in another comment somewhere – I think if I had started watching SPN pre-mental-illness-diagnosis, I wouldn’t have been able to make it through it. Too triggery. Sam’s journey, in particular, so reflects my own … this weird underlying feeling that something is really REALLY wrong with me and it will GET me someday.

      And I love the whole Gordon arc. Because you really see the dark side of hunting – and yet, because he’s so good as an actor (how much fun did he have with that role??) – you can see his point. It’s horrible, but he plays it in such a gentle way that you can see where he is coming from. I’m not saying I AGREE, but it’s a point of view that is “out there” and the show really dealt with that in the form of Gordon. Great tension. Great exploration of that dynamic, of the sense that something is wrong with Sam, and it’s going to be a problem for the hunters in general if they, as a community, don’t bring him down.

      // I think it’s specifically about what happened to Sam as a baby and Azazel’s plans. At this stage already he knows that there is Something Wrong With Sam and he can’t face them until he knows what that is and what he’s going to do about it. //

      Right. Doesn’t John say to Yellow Eyes in that boiler room – “I’ve known for some time about Sam”?

      It’s so deep. You can see it in how he treats Sam when they finally reunite – and of course Dean seems to think this is same old butting-heads stuff, the same old argument they always had … but maybe it’s different. It’s John being almost afraid of his son and needing to shut him down, keep him in line, because of what he knows about him.

      It’s infuriating though. Wouldn’t Sam deserve to know this about his own past? John not telling him is horrible – AND John telling it to Dean instead is even more horrible. The burden of it.

      More to say on this …

      Gonna take a run … I’ll be back!

    • sheila says:

      In re: Dean calling Dad: I know. That camera right there, not giving us any cuts away of edits to soften the full onslaught of this guy’s vulnerability and pain. It’s a great scene. And you’re right: “I don’t WANT to do this alone.” That all comes into play here.

      That screen grab of Sam’s face at the pay phone! Ha! That is so Jared Padalecki, the sort of “Huh, mr. fancy pants psychic” – a small moment of humor where you really see them as brothers. It sure lightens the mood.

      // He takes their admonishment and authority from a really interesting place. Sam is respectful to women and men in legitimate authority (I love his yes m’ams, yes sirs!) but you can see that that it doesn’t reposition him in the same way it does Dean. //

      Yes! That was what I was trying to get at. Dean is pissed off at being bossed around, but a part of him settles into it – it’s a comfortable place for him. He needs limits. He needs something to push against, he needs resistance. Not the cruel kind, like from his Dad, although Missouri is not exactly nice to Dean. Think about Lisa, and how she sets up this safe world, with limits on his behavior. he can’t last in that environment, but it suits him, too. Suddenly, he’s an “unavailable” guy who has to turn the waitress down. He still knows he could fuck her if he wanted to, but he chooses not to (and thank goodness, in that particular case) – and the limits placed on him by monogamy seem to SUIT him, and who would have thought that?? Like I said in last week’s re-cap, when Sam goes off on his own, he is drawn to Amelia, a woman who is in free fall, chaos, and he is able to be with her in the midst of all of her chaos – it suits him, he is not afraid of it, he is in free fall too. Dean races towards limits, boundaries. Lisa is stable. That’s the kind of partner he would need, ultimately. Almost automatically, Dean accepts Missouri’s authority over him, and pushing back against it (even in a childlike way) makes him know where he is in the universe. I love so much the episode where the brothers are in prison – and Dean FLOURISHES in that environment behind bars. He becomes the king of the yard in 24 hours. Sam is disturbed at how well his brother adjusts to prison. But it makes perfect sense. It’s why Dean would have been a great Marine too – a world with serious limits on you, serious limits on your boundaries – Since he has no boundaries to begin with, a world with all of these limits is totally comforting to him. He settles into it. I love that – there’s more there to explore. I have a feeling I’m just scratching the surface.

      And yes: looping back Sam into connection with Dad is an awesome little detail – because it makes us question our assumptions. That Dean takes after Dad, etc. Sam echoing his Dad’s words makes us re-think that. Not in a huge way, like you said it’s not underlined in any gross obvious way – it’s just a flash, a glimpse of the complexity in these guys, and in Sam in particular.

      And back to your comment about John Winchester: I love your thought that, even in his absence (and he’s really barely in Season 1 – incredible how he FEELS like he is in it more) – he emerges as a sort of damaged hero, a guy willing to do what it takes to find out the truth, and even if his sons were robbed of a childhood, the guy had his reasons (blah blah blah macho bullshit, blah blah ). We are asked to look at him in that way.

      And it isn’t until much later that we realize how unreliable a “narrator” Dean has been for us in understanding John. It’s not his fault. It’s John’s fault. He didn’t allow Dean to develop in the way a child should develop – Dean is stunted, emotionally – and that’s VERY difficult for someone as emotional as Dean is. And look at what has happened by now, in Season 9. Dean is a wreck, emotionally. Time to pay that piper. He’s got to let it go, move on, something’s gotta give. It can no longer all be John’s fault – Dean is a man, he has to take responsibility for himself. At least that’s the way we seem to be going in Season 9.

      That final moment in last week’s episode? Dean turning to Sam – only to see Sam already on his way down the stairs away from him? And then retreating to his room and his heavy metal on the headphones?

      Freakin’ awesome. Painful – but awesome. Just where we need to be mid-season, in my opinion. The whole “can’t you guys forgive each other” thing from Kevin … obviously a deliberate “and here is what we all have learned” thing – but because it’s Supernatural, you just KNOW that none of this will end well. Kevin? He’s gonna turn. You know it. That dark side is coming.

      But how uncomfortable were Sam and Dean in the presence of Kevin’s final words of advice? It was like they were a couple on the verge of a divorce, being urged by a marriage counselor to give it one more shot. They could barely stand it.

      • Jessie says:

        The Gordon episodes are so great! And the one where Sam finally kills him — Jared is terrifying. I really love seeing their interactions with hunters, how clear it is that even in this guerrilla band of outsiders the Winchesters are beyond the pale. Sam and Dean, and John before them — they UNSETTLE things.

        Doesn’t John say to Yellow Eyes in that boiler room – “I’ve known for some time about Sam”?
        Oh, well remembered! I was going mostly on John knowing in the season 2 premiere that Dean might have to kill Sam — and let me take a moment here to decry this supreme and crowning act of awfulness, like, thanks Dad, you’re going to lay this latest Sam-related burden on me, but it’s going to directly contradict everything you’ve ever said to me, and you want me to basically annihilate myself, and you’re not going to tell me WHY? The context? The details? Anything? And it has to be a secret? — but being surprised in Dead Man’s Blood about the visions. So the visions become a little confirming piece of evidence for him, and he doesn’t even care about Sam’s welfare over it, it’s just straight to the mission. ARGH.

        Yes, Dean and boundaries! He loves boundaries and I think you’re right, it’s because he’s so decentered that be needs boundaries to define himself against. It’s like he can relax. He flourishes in the prison. He flourishes in the Wish-verse, in the company-verse, in Hollywood Babylon (three beloved episodes). Interestingly, he does not flourish under the kind of regime the angels flourish under — ie Law — ie his father’s command. But give him a safe space from which to operate and he will blow your mind. Sam’s not like that. Sam might like normal but if you ask him to subject his will and reason he will very quickly be Not Interested.

        This latest ep was more manna from heaven for me! On the whole. Some weak moments but I love the Trans so much and I think there were some neat little tangles there. Like Kevin giving that well-meaning advice at the end to get over it, but I thought it was terrible advice — how are they meant to “get over it”? I am lazily paraphrasing myself from elsewhere here but I admire Sam’s dedication to not “getting over it.” “Getting over it” has gotten them right here! How is Dean mean to “get over” deeply identifying with Mrs Tran’s comment that looking after Kevin is her job? She is Kevin’s MOTHER! You are Sam’s BROTHER! Don’t get over it, Dean, DEAL with it. Semantics I know but I thought it was great.

        That cut to Sam already halfway out the door was fantastic, just heartbreaking, and Dean’s 14-year-old retreat to his headphones was great as well. I know some people feel like this is broken beyond repair but I have to say I don’t see that. Witness Sam darting out of his room, running around the bunker at the start, similar to his drive to find Dean in The Purge. Witness also his little hesitation before going into his room at the end. I actually wish we’d been able to finish on his face for once. Would be nice for the emotional tracking to be of Sam for an episode or two.

        • Helena says:

          //The Gordon episodes are so great!//

          Second that! Gordon is one of those characters which make my blood boil. Which must be the sign of a good acting. So calm, so single minded, so threatening. So condescending, so inhuman.

          • sheila says:

            Helena – I know – Gordon makes my blood boil too. The way he quietly says to Dean, “Sorry, Dean” after the tripwire goes off. What is so good about the performance is you believe he is sorry – but he will not be swayed from what he believes he has to do. After all, he killed his own sister. You can see Dean balk at that, even as he is swayed by the comfort of having a buddy to talk to and drink with. He’s like … “Come again?”

            You cannot reason with Gordon.

            The great thing about the Gordon character is it inadvertently drills us down into the Hunter’s Code, its world, its rules, in a way that Ellen and Jo – more reasonable – can’t. Gordon shows us where it often CAN go, and where it went for John Winchester.

            To have Dean actually take Sam’s side in that vamp episode – and realize that the vamp is being tortured in a way that makes even his strong stomach turn … It’s a huge moment for Dean. Accepting the grey areas.

            Maybe it’s because he has had to accept his brother is a “freak” – and he will not kill his brother. We all could use a little loosening of our rigid rules for ourselves, our rigid ideology. Things stop being cut and dry for Dean early on. I mean his whole “what’s dead should stay dead” thing.

            Clearly THAT’S gone out the window!!

          • Helena says:

            //I mean his whole “what’s dead should stay dead” thing.

            Clearly THAT’S gone out the window!!//

            So many things go out the window because of Sam that the people on the pavement start needing crash helmets. But I guess Dean does have one thing in common with Gordon, in that he has an unshakeable tenet around which all other values must be subordinated or reassessed – which is, take care of Sam.

        • sheila says:


          // the Winchesters are beyond the pale. //

          Key!! When Sam kills Jake by the crypt: Dean looks at him like: “Dude. You are scaring me.” It takes a lot to scare Dean.

          And in the hospital scenes in Season 2 first episode: Sam realizing Dad is more concerned about where the Colt is. In John’s world, being concerned about the Colt is PART of protecting his sons – but it’s so jacked. And how about Dean standing over his Dad by the hospital bed and saying, “Aren’t you gonna try to help me? Aren’t you gonna ask for help?”

          Of course Dad then does “help” – but it places that burden of guilt on Dean’s shoulders which he still has not gotten rid of in Season 9. So thanks a lot, Dad. He values Dean only as someone who can “take it”. He’s strong enough. Dean is strong. But he needs to be cherished and cared for – Jesus Mary and Joseph the man is 35 years old and he LACKS comfort entirely. John W. made him de-value himself. The way JA tracks all of that is just so excellent.

          // Sam’s not like that. Sam might like normal but if you ask him to subject his will and reason he will very quickly be Not Interested. //

          I love the moment in Hollywood Babylon when Sam says to Dean, “I meant what is happening with the case. You do realize that we don’t work here?”

          How quickly Dean assimilates, how much he loves being “part of a team”. It is his most beautiful quality – and also his Achilles heel.

          // Don’t get over it, Dean, DEAL with it. //

          SUCH a good point. I love the way Kevin’s advice was given – in a lesser show, a more traditional show, that would have provided a catharsis. The brothers realizing ghost-boy was right, and tearfully hugging, all forgiven. I mean, we know Supernatural isn’t interested in that … but you’re right: the semantics are important. Kevin even calls it “drama”. But that’s dismissive. This isn’t “drama”. It’s KEY to these guys moving forward, they are now sitting in the MESS made for them by their childhood and how they interpreted said childhoods. They need to DEAL and what is going on is not DRAMA.

          // Witness Sam darting out of his room, running around the bunker at the start, similar to his drive to find Dean in The Purge. Witness also his little hesitation before going into his room at the end. I actually wish we’d been able to finish on his face for once. Would be nice for the emotional tracking to be of Sam for an episode or two. //

          I also don’t think it is “broken beyond repair”. Sam feels that way and you can see why he would – but obviously where the series is going is into those treacherous waters. Something is going to CHANGE – I can practically FEEL it. Both of them have this weird hovering stilted energy – it can’t hold.

          I agree, it would have been interesting to see Sam in his room too. Have we even seen what Sam’s room looks like?? Dean’s room is a palace, it’s immaculate, his pink iPod (love the detail), and the two perfectly placed bedside tables. The headphones. So adolescent. What happened with Sam?

          Seeing his back as he went down the stairs said so much, as did his little hesitation.

          Looking forward to next week.

          • Jessie says:

            Agreed on all points! I look forward to next week too! I’m super interested to see where this all goes.

            We have seen Sam’s room. IIRC it is utilitarian and non-homey, lined with research books etc. But it DOES have a couch and a big TV!! So he’s got the right priority there.

          • sheila says:

            Oh that’s right – doesn’t Charlie make some sarcastic comment like “Love what you’ve done with the place” to Sam?

          • Jessie says:

            Yeah, she’s like, when are you gonna move in? And he says he already did. Ha! And then Susie Homemaker Dean gets all offended: what, the place isn’t good enough for a hang in there kitty poster?

          • sheila says:

            I will never get sick of Dean bustling around making gourmet burgers and raving about different kinds of tomatoes.

        • evave2 says:

          I have always wondered if John would’ve sold his soul to save Sam’s life. If he might’ve thought that it was the end of the story, and peace to all.
          Unlike everybody on this thread I hated the way Missouri treated Dean. Absolutely hated it.
          Everybody here has every justification in the book, but it seemed to me that Missouri was WRONG when she said it was all over. EVERY ONE of them got attacked and then Dean saved them all.
          Mama came back and told Sam she was sorry (I read that Kripke was at one point intending for Azazel to be Sam’s dad. Yikes!) and we did not yet know about HER deal with Azazel and that she basically sold Sam to Azazel (of course he could’ve taken Dean, wasn’t he just gearing up for the psy-kids?)
          The actress who played Missouri was spectacular, so ON in every scene. But at the end when Dean is helping her down the stairs and then she pushes him away. I wanted to slug her.
          This episode stands out for me like a sore thumb. If the writers/director had just had her be civil to Dean (she could’ve been MUCH more friendly to kindred-spirit Sam I wouldn’t’ve cared) but she was just a jerk to Dean and the jerkiness sucked.

          • sheila says:

            For me, that’s the thing though. People have strange unpredictable reactions to Dean throughout the series. He doesn’t “pass,” for some reason. Hostility comes out towards him, for seemingly no reason, repeatedly. He just “presents” as different, odd, maybe trying too hard, maybe entitled, or it’s a subtextual reaction to his beauty – and people have weird responses to it – that’s all written in there, and it’s still going on. It sucks for him, for sure, but it’s fascinating, in terms of who he is as a character.

  3. Helena says:

    Random thought

    //there’s a quick and touching moment where Dean, helping his gasping brother, puts his arms around him. Just for a second. //
    – but so like the last shot of the penultimate episode of season 2, where Sam is actually dead.

  4. rae says:

    I always wished for more episodes that incorporated Missouri somehow, but given how much they avoid Lawrence I knew it wasn’t very likely. Love her!

    • sheila says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one – she really was special, and yes, it does make sense they wouldn’t loop back to her. But still, what a great energy she brings!

      • sheila says:

        Also, there is the undeniable fact that Loretta Devine is, how you say, BUSY.

        • Jennifer says:

          Divine was supposed to be the “Bobby” character. They couldn’t get her back as a recurring character because of her schedule. That’s when they created Bobby–thank God! I loved Missouri and would have enjoyed seeing her show up now and then, but Bobby– nope. Bobby trumps Missouri any day. The boys needed a softer version of their father, and he gave them that. (BTW, I’ve never viewed John as a villain; I believe fanfic has vilified him. He was hard, cold, obsessed, neglectful and he did NOT raise his boys properly–but he loved them, and did what he could to keep them safe in a supernatural world that butchered their mother, Sam’s girlfriend, and was gunning for Sam. Look at the few scenes of John with his boys where he does show them he cares, such as telling Sam about the college funds in “Dead Man’s Blood.” John was forced to revert to an archetype. Thank God for JDM making him three-dimensional, or John truly *would* have been a villain. I know JDM has stated he was surprised by how he was turned into an abusive monster.)

  5. Helena says:

    (and he’s really barely in Season 1 – incredible how he FEELS like he is in it more)

    From the viewer’s POV, isn’t Dad is just about in every episode of Season 1, in the recaps? Every episode begins with him pushing baby Sam into Dean’s arms and saying “Take your brother outside etc.” So there’s that.

    • sheila says:

      Yeah – constant reminders of that backstory, hanging over the brothers, even when Dad himself isn’t even mentioned in the actual episode.

  6. Helena says:

    Sheila, your analysis of the hunters’ world makes me think of Chinese martial arts movies, and the term ‘jiang hu’ – which the name for the ‘community’ of lone warriors who constitute it. If you see the phrase ‘martial arts community’ in a subtitle, this is usually the word it’s translating although it’s basically untranslatable, because there’s no Western equivalent. (It literally means ‘rivers and lakes’.) It’s a community inasmuch as it’s bound by shared traditional values and very strong, familial ties of loyalty between master and student. (Breaking those ties and defying or betraying your master is one of the most heinous crimes you can commit.) Otherwise it’s scattered, itinerant, separate from domestic life. The key figure in the ‘jiang hu’ is the xia – sometimes translated as ‘knight errant’, though this is also misleading. The xia, is certainly errant, noble in spirit but usually of humble birth, and tends to wander around on foot because they’re penniless (no credit card scams allowed.) Their defining feature, apart from their incredible martial skills, is their moral code, which is to use their swordsmanship to defend the weak and defenceless from the bully or tyrant, at the cost of their own life as necessary. They’re different in many ways to hunters, of course, but there are similarities too, and I like to think of the hunter’s world as a ‘jiang hu’. For a start, there are roadhouses in the ‘jiang hu’ – some of the most famous martial arts films are set almost exclusively in vast inns full of other xia and assorted travellers and villains.

    • sheila says:

      Helena – this is totally fascinating. Thank you so much! There is a lot to think about here.

      I love the roadhouse detail especially – you can see where people like Tarantino – or, hell, George Lucas – with that famous bar scene in Star Wars – were so influenced by martial arts films.

  7. Max says:

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading your recaps. The level of them and following discussions are indeed intimidating! Is that why there aren’t more, you know average, fans like me commenting here, or have they simply not found you? This should definitely be the most interesting thing going on for a fan of the show right now.

    How long are you planning on keeping on? I would love to hear more about your thoughts on the current season. Just throwing it out into the universe! This is such a crucial time fore the show. I agree there is something major happening in the relationship. I usually put my faith in the show and that they know what they’re doing. And I think this last one kind of confirmed that they do. I liked Thinman. It wasn’t the most subtle of episodes to put it mildly. But it was really very touching. God, the guy playing Ed is really good! The tension between the boys is just killing me. But I was so happy that we get to see now that it’s killing Sam too. He has not given up. This is breaking his heart. Loved when they forget about it for a second to laugh about that horrible memory. But you believe that Sam is willing to let go of Dean even though it’s breaking his heart. Dean is really calculated and manipulative to bring that up! Is it just me or didn’t JA reveal in some facial expressions that it was a calculated moment for Dean? It was beautiful really. You could see how desperate he was getting in Purge to actually be guilt-tripping his brother about how many times he’s saved him (“You know, Sam…” loved that delivery!). It was so out of character. I loved it. Now he’s changing approach in his efforts to make Sam come around. He’s acting more indifferent, or like he’s also given up, but it’s just a new strategy. He’s gone through a few already. He’s losing it for sure.

    I can’t believe they’re making me worried about IF they’re going to work it out. Of course they are. How great is that!

    Jessie talked about that there is a blueprint of how the brothers can interact in a (sort of) health way. I would so enjoy seeing that kind of relationship exist again for a while, without any lies secretly poisoning them. Do you think they could do that and stay true to the show?

    • sheila says:

      Max – thank you so much! Oh, I’m gonna keep going!! :) I realize I am, you know, SEASONS behind – but in a way it’s been a fun counterpoint – to “go back” and analyze these first episodes in light of the brand new season.

      I write for a living and March is insanely busy – every single week feels like mid-terms in terms of writing assignments, but I promise I will keep going. I am going to do my best to keep up with the weekly schedule.

      Thanks so much for the nice words about what I’m doing here – and also about the awesome conversations we’re all having! I don’t read much re-caps elsewhere, so I’m honestly not aware of what else is going on all that much – I just don’t have time. I don’t think “they” have found me yet – at least not en masse. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe because people are so caught up in the current season? I’m not “promoting” the posts either – I put up the “schtick” post on JA’s IMDB page but that’s the only promoting I’ve done. So I’m not sure the larger fandom is aware of what’s going on here.

      I certainly think that Supernatural warrants this kind of deep critical analysis – on story and performance level. I am glad you’re enjoying it too!

      I liked Thinman too – I am an enormous GhostFacers fan in general (those two guys crack. me. UP.) The parallels were perhaps a bit too “neat” – but I just love those two guys so much (and who Dean and Sam become in their presence – especially Dean, who seriously regresses when he is in their presence – “Treasure trail”??? Dying. Slapping one of them on the ass? RUDE, Dean. So funny, though.) that I didn’t mind. Besides: it just confirmed my feeling that where they are GOING right now in the show, ultimately, is directly towards the real deal, which is the relationship between the brothers, and how it needs to change. Not just “get over it”, like Kevin Tran said (because – how on earth could they do that?) – but actually CHANGE. They’ve done it before. We have seen these two guys go through huge shifts, and it’s time again.

      I enjoyed the episode. And JA is basically killing me. Dean is killing me right now. He is in so much pain. The character has zero comfort zone left. His libido has disappeared completely and he just does not seem like himself at ALL without the sex drive. It’s terrible. He looks gaunt and watery-eyed. Even his beloved music is now something that he listens to on headphones in his room, not blasted at full volume in his car. The man is suffering. Even where JA is placing his voice – and the VOICE is such a key part of this character – it’s the tough-guy voice, but it sounds completely … cut off. What that does, though, is make him seem completely emotionally ragged. I feel like if he ever actually had one second to RELAX, he’d start crying and not stop for hours.

      So I know there are complaints about Thinman – and Destiel fans appear to be angry that Castiel wasn’t mentioned at all (no judgment!)- but for me, the clear Arc of what is happening now has nothing to do with Castiel, at least not centrally (although he certainly can see the problem between the brothers and has been doing his best to counsel them into a better way of “being” with one another – he is a good outside eye for them, as is Charlie – they are trusted confidantes – I absolutely LOVED the scenes where he tried to extract grace from Sam – and the conversations they had. I love Castiel).

      Whatever is happening with Castiel right now, and killing Bartholomew and all of that … obviously there will be a payoff coming, but it seems a separate issue than the main Arc which is “Sam and Dean’s shattered relationship” – that is taking precedence right now. We’re only mid-season. They keep bringing it back to Dean. I can’t help but be so excited about that – even though I know things are going to get worse before they get better. But Dean is on the verge of something HUGE.

      And Sam was killing me in this episode too. He’s been so HARD recently – and I certainly do not blame him. But there was a softness flickering on the edges there …

      These guys are just so effed up. I adore them both. I find them endlessly interesting to watch, as actors.

      So! Those are my brief thoughts on Thinman!

      I had thought to myself – damn, I should be doing current-seasons-recaps – but I really still want to stick with this plan, discussing the old episodes, in this much depth, concurrently with the new seasons.

      One last thing: In “The End”, when we got that vision of a Dean 5 years ahead – a brilliant episode – on the commentary I think it was Ben Edlund who said that they really wanted to give a glimpse of the “apocalypse” that was coming – and that the Dean they encountered in the future would still be Dean but would be more “emotionally truncated” – a phrase I love. JA is so superb in that episode, playing the future self and current self –

      BUT, my point is this: Even though Sam and Dean averted the apocalypse, and the Croatan plague seen in “The End” did NOT come to pass: here we are, 5 years later, at the point in time when “The End” took place – and Dean has become that future guy we got a glimpse of in the episode – he became that guy anyway. In other words: Dean was always going in that direction anyway, apocalypse or no, Croatoan virus or no. His “end game” was always going to be an “emotionally truncated” damaged-almost-beyond-repair guy.

      In “The End”, current-Dean was pretty freaked out by what he saw in the future – how cold future Dean was, killing that guy in cold blood in front of the other guys – current-Dean couldn’t imagine ever being that guy. The ONLY thing that could make current-Dean turn into that guy would be a catastrophic plague/apocalypse. But that has turned out not to be the case: Dean became that guy anyway.

      I know a lot of people are talking about Dean killing that psycho in “Thinman” and how cold it was – and how it probably has something to do with the mark of Cain and all that. Perhaps so.

      But I think he already got a glimpse of who he was going to be, what this life was going to do to him, how he would turn out, way back when in “The End”. The outer circumstances were different – but the result has been the same regardless of the outer circumstances.

      Now THAT is chilling.

      Anyway, thanks so much for reading and commenting. I’ve had to write four pieces this week, and I have five pieces to get done by next Friday. :) All movie pieces (I’m a film critic) – but I do have some time this Saturday … I’ll try to get the next Season 1 episode re-cap up.

      • sheila says:

        And in regards to your last question:

        I definitely think they could make some sort of shift in their relationship and still be true to the show. I think that would be awesome. And, frankly, the show needs it – eventually – they need to explore this aspect now, but I miss the HUMOR of their dynamic together. Adult siblings have these crack-ups all the time (albeit without monsters and vampires) and have to find a new way of being in relationship. Supernatural is not about monsters – it’s about FAMILY – and (for me) that’s what Season 9 has all been about. I honestly couldn’t give a shit about Abaddon (although she is a phenomenal actress and I love her) and the angel war and Castiel’s maneuverings thru the bureaucracy. I mean, I’m watching, and it’s interesting, but that’s not the motor beneath this season. The motor is the relationship.

        I have a feeling it is going to be something outside of them that brings them together. Maybe Crowley? Or maybe someone else? Some other situation? At this point, it seems like Sam is gonna be the one who has to “give” a little … but at the same time, I am just so thrilled that Season 9 has really been giving so much screen-time to Dean’s inability to be alone. THAT’S the problem. And that’s where the gold lies, where the solution lies.

        It’s not gonna be a love relationship that swoops in and saves him. It’s not gonna be the cumulation of all of his good deeds. Whatever is going to save him (from at least this latest bout of suffering) is going to have to do with Dean dealing with Dean. AND, driving all of that is the really explosive stuff: Dean has to believe he is worth saving. Dean has to believe it is worth his time to deal with himself, to take care of himself, to give a shit about himself enough to really LOOK at this. And, yeah, we know he has a hard time with that. It is his tragedy. That is what has been done to him, by his father, and by the life he has lived – he finds himself worthless. We’ve seen those problems from the earliest days of the series. Dream a Little Dream of Me – facing himself in his dream and how destabilizing that is for him. Now it’s time for Dean to REALLY pay that piper. The writers keep driving that point home. Good. Good. Now THAT will be a payoff.

        So it’ll be interesting to see where they go with all of this.

  8. Max says:

    Shit I wrote a really long reply and I lost it. Anyway, YES YES YES! You’re right about all of it! The HUMOR man! I would be so happy if I could see that again. I find it kind of hard to adjust to Ackles, yeah, stunted performance sometimes. It’s so dialed down. But it’s all concious of course and brilliant. I feel like i’m getting hit in the gut everytime Sam cuts him off or can’t even bring himself to try not to hurt him. Padalecki is great too in that you get why he just can’t. That’s pretty fucking great considering how much sympathy we have invested in Dean. I mean he’s basically dying, has lost all footing and it’s so desperate! You write in the Kim-post that pathetic is such a brave thing to play. And he really is pathetic now.

    Agree also about The End, what a sweet payoff for fans when they’re tying it together like that. Mark of Cain – exactly! It might have something to do with killing the psycho but is it even relevant when at this point it could just as well be all Dean? Wouldn’t that be more interesting really. He’s still broken! How the hell are they gonna put Humpty Dumpty back together again?!

    I loved the psycho by the way. First “monster” that ‘s been scary in a long time. And of course that “monster” actually turns out to be human. I love that this season has continued to push the idea of the brothers as the real monsters.

    I like Castiel too. Really. But I liked him more before they started giving him an almost third lead role. I think I might be starting to harbor some resentment towards him actually because of that. It just feels forced and it’s obviously due to the Destiels. So yeah, don’t really care for them blooming Destiels. So I’m quite happy they can leave him out of it once in a while. Especially since, as you point out, this season really is the first where you don’t really feel like the “bad guy” plot is important at all. It’s all about the boys.

    I’m always for giving Ackles more screentime. Give it all to him! I’d watch that show.

    Yeah, I’ve noticed you’re keeping busy! Well I’ll take what I can get! I enjoy the rest of it too! Liked the Lana Turner post. You wrote that you liked the lack of cynicism in her book/personality. I think that might be one of biggest reasons I truly love this show. There’s no cynicism. None. The characters can be cynical but the show itself never is. It takes all the great difficult questions so seriously, about death, God, religion, destiny, free will, love and family. I LOVE that. Still it has no problem being really funny or making fun of itself. But what really gets me is how they’re constantly adressing i would say even more difficult questions about objectification, sexual violence and consent issues. And they’re adressing it using MALE characters. What other show is this committed to talk about that stuff?

    • sheila says:

      In a way, what is happening on the show right now is really courageous – in the same way that Sam being soul-less for half of season 5 was courageous. (I adored the soul-less Sam – not as a person, but as an Arc – it was amazing – but I’ll get to that whenever I get to season 5. JP blew me AWAY in that season.)

      But what they are doing in Season 9 is letting us, the fans, SIT in the uneasiness of the situation – really DWELL in the suffering of these guys – they are not letting us off the hook, they are forcing us to deal with the real pain here, they are delaying the catharsis. That’s good drama. Souls are on the rack – the brothers’ souls, and ours. And both actors – JA and JP – are forced to sort of hold back on many of the things that make us love them so much – their humor, their charm, their sexiness, even – all of the things that I love about them. They are DENIED use of those things. And they are playing the hell out of it – and that’s a risk. It’s a risk because audiences get upset – audiences don’t like change. But audiences are dumb sometimes. :)

      So it’s brave of these guys – how they are playing Season 9. Watching these earlier seasons, I am struck by how YOUNG JP was – and seems. How open and accessible, really just a lovely guy. And here we are in Season 9, and he’s cold, cool, and pissed off – JP the actor isn’t tipping his hand too much. He’s really playing this for all its worth – In other words, he’s not winking to the audience, like, “Don’t worry – the Sam you love will be back …” Lesser actors would feel compelled to do that, because they would be worried that the audience would turn on them. JP doesn’t give a shit. (That was why I thought he was so super strong in Season 5 too with the soul-less thing. He had really thought about what being soul-less meant and would look like – he wasn’t Sam anymore – and God, it was sooooo good to have him “back” – but JP was brave enough to let us wait for it. The whole show was. What’s happening now in Season 9 reminds me a lot of what that soul-less Arc felt like. I just felt so anxious, like, “My God, please let Sam come back – I can’t STAND this anymore!!)

    • sheila says:

      // I mean he’s basically dying, has lost all footing and it’s so desperate! You write in the Kim-post that pathetic is such a brave thing to play. And he really is pathetic now. //

      Thanks for reading the Kim piece. I appreciate it.

      Yes, that scene when Sam and Dean suddenly reminisced about a moment in their childhood – and Dean bicycling Sam to the ER on his “handlebars”? Heartcrack.

      The show often plays with the fact that this looks like a love-relationship – without the sex. It has the same issues. They are with one another more than they are with anyone else. They have to negotiate small moments in a way that normal adult siblings don’t have to – because they don’t see each other all the fucking TIME. So it’s kind of like a stalemate in the love-relationship – and Dean is now the scorned partner, trying to remember the good times … and he has this desperation whenever he looks at Sam. It is pathetic – you’re right – and honestly, I think it’s the best thing for him. It’s the only way he’s gonna start thinking about himSELF for a change. But then of course that brings up anxiety too: if Dean ever started getting strong and self-sufficient emotionally …. would we even have a show then????

      And that’s perfect. It gives the show such a sense of anxiety. It’s great.

      In re: “it’s all Dean”? It feels to me like that is where the show is headed. They introduced the Mark of Cain – which I think is super fascinating and something the show has been wanting to do for a long time … I mean, please, you do this big Biblical-themed show starring two brothers and you never reference Cain and Abel? When Cain finally showed up, I was like, “Where the hell have you BEEN?”

      But yes, I think that alongside the Mark of Cain – there’s something else going on – something that really just has to do with the themes of betrayal and trust between the brothers, accumulated over the seasons – and the spotlight is on Dean for that. It’s so cool to re-watch Season 1 and Season 2 as I’ve been doing for the re-caps and see how often those themes are there, even at the earliest dates. The sense that Dean is “needy” – the crossroads demon refers to him as “sloppy” and “needy” – that’s the outside perception of him. Even with all the tough-guy stuff. Dean KNOWS that that is how he is perceived. Even with all that armor he’s got going on. No matter what he does, he cannot hide his true nature.

      JA is brilliant. Because he has been giving us that from almost the beginning. His tough-ness is undeniable. But what he is actually PLAYING is vulnerability. That is no small feat. If they had cast some other less open guy for Dean, the show never would have lasted.

      Yeah, I loved the psycho too. I also loved that weird warehouse space at the end – with the photo shoot set up? So bizarre.

      I love Castiel best when he is in connection with the brothers. I get that they are setting up some big Heaven thing for later use – the growing factions, and Castiel having to deal with that. It feels a bit unconnected for me right now … although I’m sure there will be a big dovetail. And Crowley will be involved. And I am not sure I can properly express how much I love Crowley. I also love Mark Sheppard. I follow him on Twitter and he is super hilarious. One of my favorite characters on the show. I mean, is he gonna “go human”, you think? Oh my God, who would have predicted THAT??

      And I do think the relationship Dean has with Castiel is important – not perhaps in the Destiel sense – but in the sense that … who can this guy lean on? Who can this guy confide in? He can’t “hide” from Castiel – not even his thoughts. And there’s an intimacy there that is unique for Dean – something (frankly) the show NEEDS. Because Dean is so holed up with himself, it’s always interesting when he has to deal with someone he can’t hide from. The same is true with Charlie. I hope she comes back too. Like, Dean is FRIENDS with Charlie. And he can’t throw the bull shit around at her – she’s not buying.

      Like when they find her at the big LARP event – and he actually confides in her that he sent that fake text to Sam from Amelia to get him out of the way. (An almost unforgivable action. Forget letting the angel possess Sam. THAT was some shady-ass behavior from Dean.) And she was all: “Dude. That so sucks of you.” And he agrees. But the fact that he told her that in the first place!

      It says so much about HER that Dean would open up like that. It’s hard for him. But with her it feels easy. And with Castiel it feels easy. Important relationships to him. And they are denied him right now in Season 9 (which is perfect, actually).

      // But what really gets me is how they’re constantly adressing i would say even more difficult questions about objectification, sexual violence and consent issues. And they’re adressing it using MALE characters. What other show is this committed to talk about that stuff? //

      I know. It’s RADICAL.

      • sheila says:

        And I am still laughing about Dean’s line:

        “This all sounds like Sad Times at Bitch-mont High.”

        And the gesture he did along with it, the WAY he said it … still laughing.

  9. Max says:

    Sounds like you have a busy week ahead of you! Good luck with all of it! Thanks for the great reply.

    • sheila says:

      Writing is fun – but this much writing?? I feel like I’m back in college. Only college didn’t pay me to write the mid-terms. So at least I’ve got that going for me.

      Thanks, Max!

  10. Max says:

    About Dean. Yeah..this is really happening isn’t it? I’m getting really excited!! To think what they can do with that. Dean actually growing a bit? In a positive way? But what about my unhealthy addiction to their unhealthy co-dependence?? What if it’s gonna give them something other than each other? Can we bear it??

    Maybe it’ll be good for all of us.

    • sheila says:

      // But what about my unhealthy addiction to their unhealthy co-dependence?? //

      hahahahahahaha I know. But that’s so interesting too – this show implicates US in what we want to see for the brothers. It really turns me back on mySELF and makes me ask questions like, “Why do you want to see them NOT grow, Sheila??”

      Season 9 has been PAINFUL for me to watch – more painful than other seasons. Maybe more painful than Season 4, which I found agonizing as a whole – when Dean was slowly starting to realize how traumatized he was, and at the same time, actually felt … redeemed a little bit – because he had been “chosen” and Castiel had picked HIM (under orders, of course) to save. Something started to change in Dean during Season 4 – a hope, maybe … I mean, why else could he even allow himself to basically present himself to Lisa and say, “Take me in”? I’m sure he felt pathetic – but that was an act of bravery, that was saying, “I actually think I am worth ‘taking in’ – I am WORTH having comfort and safety … I just need to ask for it.”

      Then of course – in my opinion – his time in Purgatory basically shattered the last of his understanding of comfort. Boy, he came back from there different.
      We’re still seeing the results of his time there. He’s still hunkered-down somewhere, inside.

      But the other seasons didn’t have that KEEN of agony coursing underneath it – this one does. It’s kind of unbearable and kind of great. Something’s gotta give. Of course something very bad is coming down the pike – especially since we know they’ve been renewed for season 10. But I think something great is coming too.

  11. Helena says:

    I’m sorry, but first you hit me with talk of beards and now headphones? – and a pink ipod??? God, if anything signals the seriousness of the situation in Series 9 it must be that. I mean, vampires, psychopaths, whatevs, but – headphones?

    • sheila says:

      hahahaha “you hit me with talk of beards” haha

      Season 9 awaits you in the UK, Helena – dammit, when will that be?

      I saw the iPod and thought: Wow. Dean is growing with the times. Member how he bitched about the iPod player in his car after his time away?

      Now he lies in his room with headphones on, listening to Metallica, and eating his heart out. Like a big sulky teenager.

      And yes, the iPod is pink.

      I LOVE that the props folks picked that color – everything is deliberate, but subtle. Because other guys might worry about what a pink iPod would “say” about them. Dean, by this point, does not give two fucks. And I love that!

      • Helena says:

        //Member how he bitched about the iPod player in his car after his time away?//

        Indeed, my very thoughts.

        Growing with the times … changing technology is an ongoing issue in Supernatural, isn’t it. Homemade ESP detectors. In Asylum Sam is flummoxed when they get a text message from dad – dad knows how to text? Must be suspicious. Grandpa Samuel, after from being catapulted back to life forty years into the future, has to deal with computers (and velcro). The young vampire hunters in that episode in Season 8 use all kinds of technical wizardry to track their prey down (but are too inexperienced to know they’re being duped.) A long way from scribbled notes and hunches of episode one of Season 1.

        Ach, Season 9 – general howl of despair.

        I’m looking forward to the next recap, but take it easy, eh? Sounds like you have a lot of (very exciting) things on your plate.

        • sheila says:

          “Dad barely knows how to use a toaster.”

          For some reason, though, that bugged me. Dad was a mechanic. He would understand machines.

          But maybe that’s different from texting. It probably is, right?

          I also love that even though there are things like GPS, the guys still pull out actual MAPS to consult. I do the same thing. I have my GPS lady telling me what to do in my car, but there is nothing like an actual physical MAP.

  12. Helena says:

    //“Dad barely knows how to use a toaster.”//

    Interesting comment from Sam, and probably says more about his view of Dad at that moment than about Dad himself. Compared to Sam, Dadis technologically illiterate, and of course Dad could fix a toaster … but make toast? Not the domestic type. We’re getting that loud and clear. On the other hand, how does Dad think? He’s a genius hunter but his thought processes – are, like what? A mix of gut feeling and hard evidence, obviously – but an ability to make inspired connections that others might miss? (As Dean remarks in Scarecrow) In the pilot his notes (pictures, mainly) are organised enough to let the brothers know what he’s on to. But – he writes like friggin’ Yoda. And you remember Ash’s reaction to that pile of his notes in Season 2? Sheesh. (Sorry, this is the stuff of your next recap, so don’t feel obliged to weigh in. ;-)

    • Helena says:

      Ach, overdid the italics.

      • sheila says:

        Fixed it! I see what you were going for there.

        That’s interesting – I hadn’t thought of that. That comment says more about Sam than it does about Dad. God, Dad is such a cipher, isn’t he – talk about a prism. You were the one who said John Winchester was the biggest prism of all, right?

        He changes, depending on who you listen to, and whose word you take as truth. I fluctuate on that guy. I am still confused/frustrated by him – and it’s perfect.

        Right, so that shows Sam’s sense of superiority – he’s the guy who gets the Web and isn’t afraid of “new” things – and Dad was a grease-monkey, too rigid, etc. Whereas Dean doesn’t question getting a text from Dad at all.

        Speaking of beloved characters.

        I STILL miss Ash.

        The series has moved away from that blue-collar biker-bar vibe – and I have to admit I miss it. I get that by moving into the bunker they are moving into that other track of their heritage – which is the scholarly Men of Letters track.

        But I miss them doing shots of whiskey as you hear the clack of pool balls in the background, and REO Speedwagon on the jukebox. And Tough Chicks (™) wandering around. It’s so much a part of the Winchester history/background … I do miss it.

        And Ash was the best.

  13. Helena says:

    //Right, so that shows Sam’s sense of superiority – he’s the guy who gets the Web and isn’t afraid of “new” things – and Dad was a grease-monkey, too rigid, etc. Whereas Dean doesn’t question getting a text from Dad at all.//

    Sure – and I love the way Sam says something actually rather unfair and untrue as a way of lashing out – because he’s angry, just like we all do when we are really angry and freaked out. He’s still so young!

    And yes, prisms: what anyone says at any moment is rarely the factual truth, it just gives us their view through the prism. And yes, ALL kinds of things going on in that little exchange, Sam super frustrated about finding Dad and freaked, Dean freaked and reverting to Obedience to Dad to get some sense of order. It’s like trench warfare – they’re both fighting over a strip of ground they want to get control of.

    • sheila says:

      And Dad just looms over everything. You really get how weird it is, at first, for the brothers to deal with each other WITHOUT Dad being there, hovering over them in person.

  14. Helena says:

    //But I miss them doing shots of whiskey as you hear the clack of pool balls in the background, and REO Speedwagon on the jukebox. And Tough Chicks (™) wandering around. It’s so much a part of the Winchester history/background … I do miss it.

    And Ash was the best.//

    Without seeing any of Season 9’s shenanigans – and as you’ve described with The End and what’s going on five years on, the way the show seems to operate is to cut people off from something, and see what happens. So cutting them off from this – the past 20 years of Dean’s life, basically – (i> is a big deal, not just an ‘upgrade’ or new phase, it gonna change them, and reveal things about them. Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

    I appreciate Ash more with each rewatch. He was a bit too out there on first viewing. But now I ‘get’ what he provided, and miss it.

    • sheila says:

      Yeah, that’s a good point. Their shared history, the comfort zone of Bobby’s – the junk yard/road house/bottles of whiskey past … Now they’re listening to old-timey records on a gramophone and pouring Scotch out of cut-glass decanters and wearing freakin’ bathrobes. hahaha But it suits them, too. I like that they have switched up the vibe of the show – and built that bunker-set – all that. But the blue collar stuff is important too.

      Not just because it’s been so firmly established – but one of the reasons I loved it is due to the fact that that “demographic” (if you will) is usually condescended to within an inch of its life in popular culture today. At least in America. It’s caricaturized – made fun of – all that. Supernatural LOVES that world and also messes with those caricatures. If you saw Ash out and about in the world, you might think: “wow, there goes a loser. I know everything about that guy just by looking at his haircut.”

      But you’d be wrong!

      Supernatural asks you NOT to judge people that way. Especially this particular scorned demographic. Bobby is basically a scholar, a self-taught man, he speaks Latin and Greek. He runs a junk yard. I’m not saying that there are millions of people out there like him, there clearly aren’t – but Supernatural makes you think twice before “judging” someone like Bobby, based on his appearance, his John Deere hat, his corn liquor, his blue-collar phraseology.

      I guess I don’t like how “rednecks” are treated in our culture. It’s too monolithic. Yes, if a “redneck” is a racist asshole, then have at it – but just because someone likes NASCAR and drives a tractor, people assume he’s a racist and a jerk? It’s so close-minded. I love traveling through the South, and places like South Dakota and Nebraska – big diverse country out there. The term “flyover country” is used by assholes on both coasts. :) They only call it “flyover country” because they haven’t taken the time to actually get to KNOW any of the folks in between the coasts.

      So I think that whole blue-collar thing is a wellspring of much of Supernatural’s strength and unique-ness. I appreciate how it really tackles diversity. Diversity isn’t just an urban concept – and it’s funny how urbanites devoted to “diversity” suddenly are the most intolerant people EVER when it comes to an entire area of the continent. My Southern friends tell stories about how they are immediately under-estimated when they come to Manhattan – because of their Southern accent. That’s intolerance, plain and simple. Or assuming that because someone is from Alabama, it means they’re racist, homophobic, fanatical Christian, whatever. Suddenly “diversity” is ignored when it comes to anyone below the Mason-Dixon line.

      If diversity is going to have any meaning, then it has to include EVERYONE.

      Guess I feel pretty strongly about it. :)

      And Supernatural, taking place easily and comfortably and non-condescendingly, in that blue-collar so-called “redneck” world … I just love that about it.

      • Helena says:

        Guess you do, and thanks for the fabulous insight.

        Not being American I don’t carry that precise sort of prejudice regarding rednecks and flyover country (thought god knows the Brits are masters at snobbery and stimatisation, so there’s that). I just saw Bobby and went – of course he knows Latin and Greek – and Japanese, why not? But the obvious point I miss is that a guy like Bobby in real life would never have become the auto-didact he is after becoming a hunter.

        Hmm, so clearly there’s an educational benefit to being a Hunter – it’s the Working Men’s College (check it out) or Open University of America’s underclass.

        • sheila says:

          I imagine you all in the UK have equivalents up the wazoo! You know, writing someone off because of their accent – or whatever. We all do that to one another – and Supernatural is like, “Not so fast…..”

          And love it – Working Men’s College! Totally true: these guys are clearly smart and capable, and they have had to dig through old books to get what they need, and pick up ancient languages that even PhDs don’t understand.

          I mean, on his weekends off, I would imagine that Bobby isn’t just working on the junkyard cars – he’s probably traveling around to rare book fairs.

          LOVE that.

          • Helena says:

            Professor Bobby, antiquarian book seller. I love that idea.

            Oh man. When Bobby is gone and they find that ‘real’ professor. Who is a venal dickhead. That is not a ringing endorsement of the academic classes, is it? I mean, you can see Bobby is fascinated by all the crazy stuff he reads, in a way that Dean, for instance, is definitely not. But it all has a practical application. But to come across someone who has that knowledge but who is a) a dickhead and b) doesn’t believe it is one of those fabulous reversals the show likes to play with. I laughed every time Sam promised the guy some deal on his taxes.

          • sheila says:

            Hahaha totally. I love how often they ask a professor questions and the guy is like, “Uhm, these are just stories.”


    • sheila says:

      // the way the show seems to operate is to cut people off from something, and see what happens. //

      I love that point. You’ve made it before – and I can really see it operate on so many levels throughout the seasons. It’s a great structure, inherently dramatic – emotional. You just want things to resolve, to go back the way they were! Let them have what they want and need!!

      • Helena says:

        Yep. I’ll try not to bang on about it too much :-).

        • sheila says:

          Oh no, I didn’t mean it that way!

          It’s a good reminder – especially going back to watch these earlier seasons. “let’s give these guys a glimpse of something … and then – ha ha – let’s TAKE IT AWAY.”

          • Helena says:

            Sure, and not only through giving people a glimpse then removing it, actually changing something they have in a fundamental (and very real life) way – losing important people, changing where we live, the people around us changing … all of that.

      • Helena says:

        Kind of goes back to the point in your exchange with Max – and how interesting it is – to be invested in things not changing, to things staying as they are. Crazy and impossible.

  15. Helena says:


    Among the various scenarios Supernatural sets up for a given episode the ones which freak me out most and make my blood absolutely boil are ones where ‘amateurs’ appear on the scene. The kids who take over Sam (can’t remember the Season), the Ghostfacers (sorry, I can’t bear them), the students in Season 8. Picture me writhing in pain. I said Gordon makes my blood boil but this brings me to Vesuvian levels, but for different reasons. I find the amateurs and dilettantes more threatening that all the vampires, demons and wendigos put together. Because they seem to operate from a place of absolute moral carelessness. They don’t care how much havoc they wreak. And it brings home how much the real Hunters do. Heck, even the demons do.

    • sheila says:

      Get ready for the Ghostfacers return in Season 9! :)

      But you’re right: the amateurs really put the professionalism of the real thing in stark relief. And to be in it for any other reason than to help people and to do good – is to put everyone in danger. You can’t do the job with vanity – and the “moral carelessness” is indeed devastating. The teenage hunters episode was unbearable – because their sense of mission was TOO personal – it really showed the danger in doing the whole job out of revenge.

      There’s a moment in the last episode that we’re discussing – where one of the Ghost Facers gets into the closet where a girl was just hacked to pieces, and walks out of it, narrating the whole thing to the camera – and it really is gross. A nice commentary, too, on how TV shows fetishize the very real pain of others.

      You can feel Sam and Dean be totally taken aback by these amateurs – hunters in name only – people who don’t follow the same creed.

  16. Tatl Tael says:

    This is very late–I just discovered your recaps and am loving them–but I’ve heard that Missouri was supposed to return in the last episode of season 1. However, it didn’t work out with Loretta Devine’s schedule, so they introduced Bobby to take her place.

  17. Rammygrrl says:

    Trying this for a third time ;)

    Way late to the party, but I wanted to let you know how much I love these recaps and how much I *need* for you to continue them through the entire series! A lot of work and pressure, I know, believe me, but you are so good and the show is so deserving of actual critique instead of teen drama like “omg, dean is so mean to sam” or “why don’t dean and cas kiss already!” and crap like that which permeates the entire internet much to my chagrin.

    I am currently devouring everything you’ve written (I got here by discovering your “schtick” piece on JA and totally agreeing with it) and I hope you get notified when you get new comments on older material.

    You’re doing a yeoman’s job. Keep it up and keep well. Thank you for this gift!

    • sheila says:

      Rammygrrl: Thank you so much! I love it when SPN people come out of the woodwork. It makes me feel good and I am very glad you appreciate these posts.

      Like I keep saying: I am going to do my best to keep going with them – at least through Season 5 – these first 5 seasons my favorite (especially in terms of how they look, one of my favorite things to talk about.) Of course that means I’ll be doing re-caps into my geriatric years, but there are worse things. :)

      // instead of teen drama like “omg, dean is so mean to sam” or “why don’t dean and cas kiss already!” and crap like that which permeates the entire internet much to my chagrin. //

      hahahaha I know. One of the reasons why I started these things at all was because I wanted to talk about them the way I wanted to talk about them. Nothing against all of those people – I’m not saying I want to shut them up – HAVE AT IT, FANDOM!!! – but it just is not my thing at all. I like serious analysis, even of something as potentially “silly” as SPN. (I think its silliness is its greatest asset, actually – which is why that “schtick” piece was so important for me to write. The first thing I wrote about the damn show!)

      Anyway: thanks so much for reading and commenting and the vote of confidence. :)

      Look forward to hearing more from you !

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