Supernatural: Season 1, Episode 22: “Devil’s Trap”


Directed by Kim Manners
Written by Eric Kripke

For the finale, we get our first major loop-around. Sam, Dean, and, by extension, John, have spent their lives hunting the demon that killed Mom. Sam and Dean started the season by searching for their father. They found him. They lost him again. They found him again. They lost him again. Now, when they find him again, he is ALSO the “other” thing they have been chasing. The two have become one and the same. It’s elegantly set up, and works on both a plot-line and an emotional level. We’ve only seen the demon as a black silhouette in a baby’s room, no features, we don’t know yet what it looks like. So how great that in our first confrontation with this thing … it’s John.

A finale has to both wrap things up and keep the audience hanging. It has to have a satisfactory sense of closure, as well as set up the challenges for the next season. Season 1, seen as a whole, was a bit all over the place, with some major Lemons, but the show barreled on like the Impala, making its points, zig-zagging, making rest-stops, pit-stops, zooming back into the major themes before skirting away again … You know, the show is a road trip and the structure feels like one too. But everything that was set up in the pilot (search for Dad, search for demon, Family or Hunter dilemma) has to be wrapped up. Or at least re-visited in a way that will assure that the story will continue. It’s a hefty load, a huge challenge, and “Devil’s Trap” is an extremely ambitious finale, the most ambitious episode thus far, at least in terms of the multiple interlocked challenges facing everyone involved.

Kim Manners directs, and the script was by series creator Eric Kripke. “Devil’s Trap” hurtles out of the gate at 100 miles an hour, picking up directly where the last episode left off, and basically doesn’t stop until the final moment 40 minutes later. And yet it is amazingly taut, airtight, really, and there isn’t a sense, like you sometimes get with finales, that the action is being pumped up artificially to lead us to some kind of cliffhanger. The cliffhanger is certainly present, but when it comes it feels like it arrives from out of nowhere.

Our conversations in the comments section to these re-caps have been marvelous. One of the reasons I started these re-caps is because I wanted to talk about the show the way I wanted to talk about it. I also wanted to create a forum where I get to analyze the crap out of things like camera angles, camera moves, script analysis, and acting choices, the nuts-and-bolts of the business and things that have obsessed me since I was a kid. It is the whole POINT for me, and it makes me happy that like-minded people have gathered! Fun! The Story-telling tropes, and cinematic choices interest me far more than how a plot-point in Season 1 connects to a plot-point in Season 6, and how this fits with that, and that fits with this, and “but Sam said this in Episode 16, and that fits with what he said 3 seasons later …” and honestly, it’s all a bit too Inception-y for my taste. The beauty of Supernatural is that things are not wrapped up, they continue, they surge forward, they don’t make complete and perfect sense, the issues work ON the characters, the issues continue to rise up from the depths … saying “HANDLE ME”, and they think they’ve got it handled, only to realize … shit, nope, not handled. It’s not that those connections between seasons aren’t there, and I sense them constantly and of course mention them in the re-caps, but it’s not my obsession or interest. Have fun with it if it’s your thing, I mean that sincerely, but it’s just not my “way in”, or what interests me. For me, Supernatural is most powerful, though, because of the bottomless pool of un-knowability and ambiguity swirling beneath every moment (not to mention the almost slapstick level of humor, which was the initial attraction of the series for me). The pleasure, for me, in the whole thing is in breaking down WHY those moments work, and HOW they “do it.” This includes camera angles, directorial choices, and this also includes acting choices. I get into that at length below in my “Acting Choice” discussion.

And I want to thank you all for your participation in these re-caps. Seriously. It has been so much fun! Those comments sections are insane!

“Devil’s Trap” features three major scenes, really, and each scene is broken down into enormous and complicated sections. There’s the scene at Bobby’s house. There’s the scene at Sunrise Apartments. There’s the scene at Rufus’ cabin. (I know it’s not really, but that’s how I choose to think of it because it pleases me.) Each scene is ENORMOUS. Each scene has a HUGE arc. It’s a very information-heavy episode, and yet the emotions are 100% operatically in operation. Everything feels heightened, which basically means it’s NUTS, because the show already works on such a heightened level.

You know.


So. Briefly. “Devil’s Trap” features manly pained fights and brooding profiles and ancient books and dusty Impalas and hubcaps and muddy driveways. It features nighttime scenes as well as alienating blue sky. There are yellow fire trucks. There is a full-on exorcism as well as salt piled up on windowsills. There is a violent fight scene. Dean flies through the air twice. There are also a couple of “here is how I feel” and “this is how it’s gonna be” arguments. There are whiskey flasks and rosaries. There is a dog named Rumsfeld. There are firemen running around alongside creepy frozen demons. There is John Winchester drugged and tied spreadeagled to a bed. There are lots and lots of shot-from-below angles, almost every character gets one in the process of the episode. Look for them. There are many beautiful oozing wounds, wounds that proliferate over the course of the episode. Fire escapes. Stone cabin. Roaring fireplace. Ethical and moral issues surrounding interrogation. It features more spectacular closeups than any episode thus far. Dean has three, count ’em, THREE full-on Dirty Harry moments. Black smoke gushes from people’s mouths. We are introduced to Bobby. Meg exits. John re-enters. There is a massive realistic collision between the Impala and an 18-wheeler. I could go on. It feels like “Devil’s Trap” has GOT to be longer than 41 minutes. The entire THING is a “devil’s trap.”

Too much?

Hell yes. They’ve earned it.

1st scene
Picking up where we left off, with a classic Kim Manners closeup of Ackles’ panicked eyeball.


The emotionalism of that closeup is so intense that its momentum will carry us through this episode, over the hiatus, and barrel us through the first couple of episodes of Season 2. It NEEDS to be there, and Manners knew it. They had been picked up for another season. “Devil’s Trap” needed to land, and it needed to land HARD. There’s a reason why they “gave it” to Manners. Also, why they gave Episode 1 of Season 2 to him too.

The scene that follows Dean’s hanging up is chaotic, charged. Sam doesn’t take his eyes off his brother. Even with his intensity, even with his suicidal desire to run into the burning house, it is still Dean he looks to, even if he just wants to fight against Dean’s suggestion, he needs Dean to “show up” that way. Dean, though, is panicking. Sam is more focused, what is happening, what’s the plan, Dean. Dean’s fight-or-flight has kicked in. It is time to flee.


And only Dean could make fleeing seem brave as hell. There’s a moment when Sam says, “We still have three bullets left – let the demon come,” and Dean flips: “Listen, Tough Guy, we’re not ready!” The argument is messy and loud and urgent, and there’s a slight (almost imperceptible) push-in to Sam’s face as he listens to Dean’s words. It’s a great moment of contrast.


The Impala peels around a corner, and Kudos Mr. Dean Winchester Stunt Driver. The urgent messy panic continues in the Impala, all of it coming from Dean’s side. Sam acts as a counter-balance, throwing out ideas, things Dean doesn’t want to hear.

It’s a close-up to close-up scene, as most of the Impala scenes are, and they are a “thing of beauty” and “a joy forever,” especially when it’s Kim Manners at the helm. Everyone is gorgeous, the darkness is around them, and there’s so much emotional possibility and American poetry in how the light hits the planes of their faces.

And look out, because the Importance of Beauty (more here) is going to be even more of a factor in Season 2 where it reaches a baroque almost decadent stage.


To save time, these Impala scenes are often filmed with two cameras running simultaneously, one on Dean and one on Sam. Then, of course, you can piece together different takes in the editing room, but the technique is one of the reasons why scenes between these two guys are filled with interesting behavior and pauses and flickers of thought, because we’re watching an actual scene play out in real time. It helps things not be “one note” or literal.

Watch the behavior in each guy as the other one is speaking. Manners cuts back and forth, so we get a lot of listening reaction shots. A flicker of “that’s stupid” in Dean’s eyes, or a flash of “what the HELL” in Sam’s eyes, as the two of them pursue their separate objectives. It’s a real FIGHT going on, a real disagreement. The energy of their conversation is reflected in the sense that the car is going 90 miles an hour, and honestly it’s amazing because basically the Impala is being jostled around by a bunch of crew guys.


As the argument continues, Dean at one point says, “SCREW the job” and Sam shoots back, “Dean, I’m just trying to do what he would want.” Aaaaand cue the opening Arc of Season 2, the argument that carries us forward through those first episodes, and all of its attendant drama and buried hurts and losses. Dean couldn’t care less about the demon, and his weariness, his over-it-ness destabilizes the entire hunter lifestyle, and the Winchester “dance-step”. It is a conflict that is still going on for him. Dean is burnt out.

There is also an issue here of listening. How do we listen to one another? What we hear depends on our context. It can lead to misunderstanding, to conflict.

“Quit talking about him like he’s dead already,” Dean barks, but it comes out like he’s pleading, and indeed he is.

Dean, as often happens, is somehow stronger emotionally. I don’t mean strong as opposed to weak, I mean in terms of connectedness and force. Even when he’s behaving irrationally, he’s so compelling that he’s hard to resist. This will be a constant theme, and points out Sam’s distance from that kind of drama, his fascinating distance, something the show has a lot of fun playing with, making it explicit with things like demon-blood-junkie and oops-where’s-my-damn-soul-at? Dean can’t help but be human. He’s flawed. He’s emotional. He’s defensive. These are Achilles heels, and they are strengths. I love these moments when Dean’s sheer sense of connectedness makes Sam back down, or agree, or simmer off. Somehow Jared Padalecki finds so much variety in these moments. He does so without selling the character out, or betraying Sam’s inherent strengths too. It’s just that in certain situations he is no match for Dean.

In the middle of emotional connectedness is also sloppiness, as is often the case. Dean wants to head to Nebraska, to Wabash and Lake (holla Chicago!), and look for Dad. Sam treats that suggestion with the skepticism that it deserves. “Come on, Dean, you think these demons are going to leave a trail?”

Small exchanges like this one – with Dean panicked and shouting – and Sam keeping his cool – and somehow both of them are right, depending on where you stand – are part of why this show works so well, and why they make such an indomitable team. They need each other. Counter-weights. Nobody is the real leader. They need each other. It is really highlighted when their father joins up with them and destabilizes the equilibrium they have found with one another.

What was most interesting for me, the first time through watching, was what Dean says next, “You’re right. We need help.”


Wait, excuse me? (thinks Sheila, watching it for the first time). Don’t you guys exist in your own plane of existence? Isn’t it just you two guys? Wait … Where the hell are you going? Who the hell is out there that we don’t know about??

Well, of course, there are many many many people out there we don’t know about, and we are about to meet one of them.

2nd scene
We get a lingering exterior of Bobby’s house, covered in hubcaps. On the battered pickup truck in the drive lies an extremely chill chained-up dog. As the camera pulls away past the truck, we get the stretch of muddy drive for a bit and then, silently, it rests on the Impala.


I remember my sense of excitement when I saw that shot for the first time. I did not go into the show knowing too much about it. I started watching it early season 9, and had avoided all commentary, for the most part. So what was about to happen was a shock to me. The claustrophobic cloistral atmosphere of the Winchester men was about to be shaken, opened up a little bit. Seen story-wise, it was time. John Winchester is about to exit the narrative, and someone needed to “take his place.” We can only really get the full-frontal of Sam and Dean when seen in conjunction with these other regular figures: it is through the contrast and through the differing relationships that we actually start to understand them. (Mainly because they are not touchy-feely guys and do not talk about their feelings with one another – so it is through their relationships with, oh, Charlie, or Ellen, or Bobby, or Lisa … that we see those other sides. VERY important. If the show had continued on with just Sam and Dean … no way would we be looking at a 9-season run.) When we see Sam in a context without Dean, we understand more about him. Same with Dean. We NEED those outsiders to help us with that.

And no establishing shot once we are inside. Manners holds off, only showing us the full room once Meg enters. The first thing we see are two small flasks being picked up, and then suddenly we see Bobby (the magnificent Jim Beaver, who also happens to be a contributor at the same venue where I write – so you know, AWESOME), holding out one of the flasks to Dean. We’re in medias res. Whoever this new figure is, we’re forced to play catch-up and figure it out. The scene is dark (what a shock) and books are literally piled up the walls. The “set” of Bobby’s house will increase in specificity the more it is used, but at this point in the game, nobody had any clue that “Bobby’s house” would take on such import and meaning. Everyone jokes about how the thing was basically tied together with string, since it wasn’t built like, say, the bunker, as a major set that would be used all the time. I think half the reason they burned Bobby’s house down was that everyone was sick of the damn set. But anyway, here, in our first glimpse of it, it appears to be a hovel with books everywhere and the walls, naturally, covered with clippings and drawings, hunter-style The blinds are down. A siege mentality.


Bobby takes a big gulp from his flask, wincing at the bite, and giving Dean a rakish grin. It’s our first good look at him. I’ve written before about pilots of what end up being long-running or at least successful series, and our first glimpses of characters in said pilots – and how sometimes an actor eases into the role (if the show isn’t canceled that is), or – as in the case of Melanie Mayron in thirtysomething, she intervened almost immediately with how her character Melissa was being written (her comment was awesome: “Guys, the show is called THIRTYsomething, not TWENTYsomething”), the writers heard her concerns, took them seriously, and adjusted what they were doing. So you really have to discount the first couple of episodes featuring Melissa. It’s not the same character.

In terms of Supernatural: the show is so well thought out beforehand that you don’t have to do that much adjusting. Dean was obviously written as a “type” in the pilot, and that especially comes out in how he treats Jessica in their first interaction. You could certainly “justify” it if you felt like it, but I see it more as just broad-stroke kind of writing, throwing paint on the walls in primary colors. But almost immediately, with “Wendigo,” other things started to come into play and so there was an extremely steep learning curve with the character, where everyone started to build Dean Winchester to LAST.

Shows that last get it right quick. Shows that last course-correct themselves quick. Otherwise, you’re dunzo. It’s a brutal business.


We know nothing about Bobby, and we learn so much about him throughout – although not until his meeting-death episode do we understand his backstory completely – but here he is, and he is a full person entering the scenario. He is a real guy, and he somehow knows them and their dad, and they know him so well that they have immediately made themselves at home in his hovel, Sam sitting at the desk going through books, and Dean sharing the whiskey flask. It’s a ton of information provided for us, through behavior. We just know: This guy matters to them.


The first scene is quite long with a lot of different elements: it is the introduction of Bobby, it provides information about demons and devil’s traps, it gives us an important perspective-moment monologue from Bobby, and then Meg re-enters the scene.

When we first see Bobby, the flask he has handed to Dean is filled with “holy water”. We know that dousing a demon with holy water hurts them, we saw it in “Phantom Traveler”, and then of course in “Dead Man’s Blood”. But the “plan” is, so far, not revealed to us.

Now we get the exposition. A bit of filler. Dean says he wasn’t sure if they should have come: “Last time we saw you, you did threaten to blast Dad full of buckshot, cocked your shotgun and everything.” To normal people, such behavior would be a deal-breaker. A “Marmaduke You Crazy!” moment. But Dean sounds almost humorous and Bobby smiles a bit, saying, “Yeah, well, what can I say, John just has that effect on people.”

I love it. No apology. No “oops, yeah, that was messed up.” Not even “I was wasted, sorry.” It’s totally “he had it coming, I know he’s your daddy, but you know how he is.” We are not in mainstream America. We’re basically camped out on Ruby Ridge.

Dean’s response to that comment is soft, quiet, contemplative. “Yeah, I guess he does.” Bobby is total Inner Circle then, to say something like that and get away with it.

Meanwhile, Sam is buried in books in the background. Bobby has clearly given him some homework (it’s almost like: “You go busy yourself over there while your older brother and I have a drink, kiddo…”), and Sam expresses amazement at the book itself. It is the Key of Solomon, and if you are interested in going down the rabbit hole with it, go right ahead.

Instructions written beneath The Grand Pentacle:

It should be written on sheepskin paper or virgin parchment, the which paper should be tinted green. The circle with the 72 divine letters should be red or the letters may be gold. The letters within the pentacle should be the same red, or sky blue everywhere, with the great name of God in gold. It serves to convene all spirits; when shown to them they will bow and obey you.

Also, I believe I have expressed my adoration for sigils. There’s a lot about sigils in there too.

So I think I’m all set.


Sam is looking at the Devil’s Trap illustrations and asks, “These protective circles. They really work?”

Well, if you don’t draw them on with easily-smudgable chalk on a wet floor, you dumbasses.

Bobby answers Sam’s question, Yes, they work, blah blah, but instead of the camera being on Bobby speaking, instead we are given a shot of Dean in the background, drowning in shadows, looking off, worried, listening, coiling around himself.


It’s a brief shot, but it’s classic Kim Manners, who was so in tune with emotion as connected to visuals that it’s nearly uncanny, and he was basically unable to frame something in an uninteresting or cliched way. A master. Because what Bobby is saying is explanation. It’s academic. It would be too boring to just have our camera on him as he rattles off the wonders of the “Devil’s Trap.” Better instead to turn our focus elsewhere, subtle, deep.

Dean heads back over to the fold with a random line, “Man knows his stuff.” It feels like it’s for us, not Sam, because Sam, of course, already knows that Bobby knows his stuff. So consider how quickly Bobby is sketched in:

— Alcohol – he’s first seen drinking the hard stuff
— Threatened John with a shotgun
— Smart as hell, bookish

Bobby has grease under his fingernails, and probably marks down the dates of rare book fairs on his calendar. It is one of the many ways that Supernatural messes with expectations, as well as the downright regional prejudices that exist in the U.S. I’ve gone into that before, the obnoxious “flyover country” comments from snobs on the two coasts. Well, maybe YOU “fly over” this country, but other people drive, and there’s a hell of a lot of great stuff down there, as well as nice people. You should check it out sometime. Supernatural is a rough blue-collar world, a world of junkyards and roadhouses and rinky-dink one-pump gas stations. That America still exists. You just have to get off the Interstate to find it.

Now comes an important prophetic monologue from Bobby, one that will be quoted in re-caps endlessly: “I’ll tell you something, this is some serious crap you boys stepped in. Normal year, I hear of 3 demonic possessions, 4 tops. This year I’ve heard of 27 so far. More and more demons are walking among us. A lot more. I know it’s something big. Storm’s coming. And you boys? Your daddy? You are smack in the middle of it.”


If you want to see how Jim Beaver owns the role, when he’s only been on screen for 1 minute tops, watch how he does that monologue.

It’s also interesting because in 4 lines, he has given Sam and Dean more perspective and useful information than their father ever has, especially now, when things are getting dangerous and things are getting personal. Working with Dad, it’s like he’s put blindfolds on his kids, and ordered them to follow. But obviously that doesn’t work, especially not with grown capable men. Why else did he train them so hard when they were children? Naturally, John has that other subterranean secret all along, his knowledge that Sam is at the center of something, that something is coming for Sam specifically. But watching Sam and Dean soak up Bobby’s words is really evocative of the perspective they’ve been missing.

Bobby freely shares his information with a trusted group of hunters. He is “on call,” always, ready to look something up, pass on what he knows. It is the complete opposite of John Winchester, who huddles his knowledge into himself, parsing it out to his sons. But Bobby is a Public Library in human form.

The sound of the dog barking breaks the tense silence afterwards. Bobby goes to the window saying, “Rumsfeld.” The dog is named Rumsfeld. I love you, Bobby. Rumsfeld is no longer on the hood of the truck, his chain dangles. Poor Rumsfeld. We never see him again.

It is at that moment that Meg kicks Bobby’s front door down.

How much fun did Nicki Aycox have with this role?

She stalks into the main room, where they all stand, trapped. Our first establishing shot, the first time they allow us to really orient ourselves in space and get a good look at where they are.


Dean moves forward with the flask of holy water, but she, with a contemptuous flick of the wrist, flings him across the room. Dean flies through the air and lands in a pile of books in the corner. Demons can move people around with the power of their minds or a simple gesture. But still. They need to kick the front door down. Apparently.


Meg demands the Colt. Bobby and Sam move, as one, across the room, away from her. She says that after everything she’s heard about the Winchesters, she’s a little bit “underwhelmed” by them, and it’s a line I like because it suggests the importance of the Winchesters in the supernatural realm, that they have been discussed, gossiped about, they are a topic of conversation. In the same way that Sam and Dean discuss the characteristics of the things they hunt, so, too, they have been discussed. It’s creepy. As long as they could pursue these evil things without the sense that the evil things were aware of their particular existence, the world was a little bit comfy. Well, not comfy, but at least it had some balance. The Wendigos weren’t gossiping with one other about the Winchesters. But when the demon in “Phantom Traveler”, cackled, “I know what happened to your girlfriend …” the boys got a glimpse of how they are KNOWN, marked. It’s alarming.

This all would have been very good information for John to give his sons.

Meg coos at Sam, “Did you really think I wouldn’t find you?”

In a gorgeous shot, we see a dark figure step into the frame behind her. It is, clearly, Dean, who has recovered from his flight through the air. But the way he is filmed, he looks like the monsters they hunt, faceless, a threatening black form in the background, ominous and menacing.


Dean says, revealing the plan that they came up with before the scene even started: “Actually. We were counting on it.”

There’s a tense standoff, and then Dean helpfully flicks his eyes towards the ceiling, a hint for she who is not getting it. Slowly, she looks up, and there is a phenomenal shot of Meg seen from below (one of the most common angles in the whole episode), staring up, way up, at the ceiling (who knew it was so high?), painted with an enormous “devil’s trap”.


I love devil’s traps. I love the idea of them. I love how they are used in all kinds of sneaky ways. I love how hunters put them everywhere, underneath rugs, in the trunks of their cars, on walls, on ceilings, everywhere. The possibility of the devil’s trap is, of course, writ large, very large, in Season 2, as they realized that Samuel Colt had created a devil’s trap spanning 100 miles. It is also satisfying to watch demons look frustrated when they realize they are trapped. They look put out. Meg has seemed so un-containable up until now. She survived a fall from a 7-story window. What could stop her? A little painting on the ceiling, that’s what.

And I get to get my rocks off in the final moment of the scene when Dean sneers, with the seething hatred of Dirty Harry (although the real Dirty Harry moments are coming later), “Gotcha.”

Talk to me, big boy.

3rd scene
Watch the complicated swoopy camera move that opens the scene. It starts on the devil’s trap on the ceiling, moves down so we see Meg’s hands tied to a chair, with Dean and Sam standing off to the side, staring at her like thugs, and then the camera does a total 180 back to Meg. It probably took 4 hours to get that shot right. It lasts 1 second.

We haven’t seen Dean and Sam in interrogation mode. Dean referenced the possibility in “Shadow”. Interrogations will become almost rote as the series moves on, and they are always frightening, ugly … especially when you sense that Dean and Sam are getting used to them. Interrogation is useful but Supernatural also asks questions about what it does to the interrogator, and makes that explicit with Dean’s stint in hell, and his subsequent interrogation of Alistair in one of the most memorable and painful sequences in the history of the show. Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty didn’t “ask” those questions as much as presented the situation in an atmosphere where questioning was not part of the process. That’s why people had such a problem with the film, but I have a problem with people who had a problem. (I think the film is a masterpiece.) Those who wanted the film to make a “statement on torture” don’t know how to evaluate what they are actually seeing. I guess we just have a different definition of art. I like my definition better and I will continue to fight for it. There are those who want art to be moral (“moral” meaning Agree With My Politics, you realize), to provide a clear and easily understood lesson for the Dimwits in the audience, to have an arrow pointing downwards on “bad behavior” saying “This is bad.” (I covered my thoughts on this in my piece on Wolf of Wall Street, another film which sent the shriekers shrieking – and I used a Season 9 moment in Supernatural as a backup example, if you’re interested. Here it is. I was not a fan of that Castiel plot-line, in general, but the reaction from some fans illustrated my point perfectly.) Sam and Dean are constantly presented in a way that pushes buttons, that undercut their heroic status, that makes us question them and the world they live in. Supernatural shows them going too far. Supernatural shows them having to deal with that, struggle with that, combat what the job does to them on the inside. It’s what Supernatural is all about.

But as of now, the finale of Season 1, interrogation is a brand-new thing for us in the audience. And Meg is a tiny woman. Dean and Sam are huge. She can whip them across a room, so I’m not feeling too bad for her, but the fact remains that her “vessel” is a teensy slip of a woman, and so there are all kinds of associations with that, men looming their power over women, men abusing women, men using their strength in irresponsible ways. The implications are unavoidable. And I am glad, GLAD, that Supernatural did not shy away from that. Sometimes they don’t get it right, sometimes the envelope is pushed too far, an inevitability with a series that makes it a point to push the envelope. But for the most part, they find that balance, a queasy murky middle-ground, where the characters can feel the pull of black-and-white thinking, the beauty of it, the attraction of it, it’s seduction and inevitability, and yet they know that their humanity lies in the grey, the murky grey. That’s where Supernatural LIVES.

Meg and Dean are cut from the same cloth, because she smiles up at him breathlessly, “If you wanted to tie me up, all you had to do was ask.” It’s certainly something Dean would say if the positions were reversed.

Bobby returns to the fold, having salted all the doors and windows. Dean has a moment, a small getting-ready moment. It’s show-time.

He’s the Bud White of the group. The brawn. The scary one. The one who is able to turn off his brain (the brain that says, “She is a small woman”, the brain that says “I don’t hit girls”). She is a demon but she is in human form and this conflict would mess with anyone’s brain. You are going to have feelings about hurting a human-formed-thing in a way that you wouldn’t with some disembodied spirit or drooling monster. That small glance up at Bobby is Dean moving into that zone, you can see it happen.

As he approaches Meg, he looks almost gentle. It’s going to be a long day.

“Where’s our father, Meg?”
“You didn’t ask very nicely.”
“Where’s our father, bitch?”
“Jeez, you kiss your mother with that mouth? Oh, I forgot. You don’t.”

Well. No more Mr. Nice Guy.


You can’t get any closer than this. Kim Manners, again, setting the style, a clear signal to other directors: “Film these guys this way. Don’t be afraid to get this close.”

Meg says, with pleasure, “He died screaming. I killed him myself.”

And Dean backhands her across the face. Remember: Dean is the HERO of the show. I love Supernatural.

In any other context, it would be unforgivable. And even here, it’s shocking. It SHOULD be. We should be hovering around in that grey area, that muddy area, with these guys. Because that’s where THEY will be going too. It is very important that Supernatural does not protect its main characters. Let the fans feel protective. The show itself should not. Put these guys out there, put them in the muck, have them fuck up BIG time, or just present their reality, put them smack-dab in the middle of the chaos, let us wonder how they will get out, how they will survive, let us question how we feel about them. GOOD. Otherwise, the whole show is just a Tiger Beat photo shoot and I sure as hell wouldn’t be watching.

Even better, is Meg’s sick response: “That’s kind of a turn-on. You hitting a girl.”

Doh. Stop implicating me, Supernatural.


Dean definitely has some feelings about what he has just done. It’s all over his face in the two gigantic closeups that follow. He doesn’t recoil completely, he’s too much of a Bud White for that, but it does shake him. He says, almost trying to remind himself, “You’re no girl.” And this is when Bobby intervenes, calling Dean into the other room: “Dean, you have to be careful. Don’t hurt her.”

Dean and Sam hunch in towards Bobby in the dark of the room, and you can sense their hunger for information, for something that will help, provide illumination. These guys have been fighting blind, you really get that once Bobby comes into the picture. Bobby says, “Because she really is a girl. She’s possessed. That’s a human possessed by a demon. Can’t you tell?”


Of course Jim Beaver would not know Bobby’s full backstory at the time of filming “Devil’s Trap”. No one did. We don’t learn for a while that Bobby got into hunting because his wife was possessed by a demon and he was forced to kill her. But once that story-line came around, the writers did a wonderful job of calling back to this very conversation between Dean and Bobby. And it works, even though Jim Beaver isn’t expressly playing it. When you watch this moment, you can project your own knowledge onto him, and you can see it there in his face anyway. Good acting can work like that.

But of course Dean can’t tell it’s a girl possessed by a demon, and the knowledge devastates him. “You mean to tell me there’s an innocent girl trapped somewhere in there?”


We see Meg, sneering back at them, straining a little bit against the ties that bind, and suddenly we see the pathos. We see her humanity. We get the tragedy. Dean’s job is “saving people, hunting things.” But look at how those two things are not separated, are conflated. In this case, “hunting things” cannot exist at the same time that you “save people”. These are moral and ethical issues that will take on great significance in the landscape of Supernatural, especially when it is the two of THEM who need to be “saved”. Bobby was right. A storm’s coming.


Back to Dean hitting a woman: In “Dead Man’s Blood,” one of the vampires is about to backhand the female victim, and he is stopped by Kate: “Wait for Luther.” We can imagine all of the things that will be done to that girl, but we are spared the sight, the taboo sight, of a “man” (vampire or no) hitting a woman. Here, two episodes later, we are not spared it. It’s a violent show and egalitarian in its violence. But Supernatural could very easily have had Bobby stop Dean just as Dean raised his hand, but they didn’t. It’s a brave choice, one I applaud. Dean works when he’s on shaky ground.


There are a lot of Exorcist references in “Devil’s Trap,” for obvious reasons, one of them being the sense of compassion and empathy we feel towards the young girl (Linda Blair, who shows up in Season 2!) writhing around in that bed. As frightening as her behavior is, one of the reasons it IS so frightening is that you never forget that that’s an “innocent girl” we’re seeing. It’s so completely devastating to our ideas about identity and cohesion and personality and who we are, and Supernatural has always had a lot of fun examining that. We’ve seen it already: Dean as Shape-Shifter. Sam in “Asylum.” There will be more to come, much more.

The Exorcist ruined my childhood. I’m Catholic. You can imagine the horror. I had no business seeing that movie at age 11, 12. I saw it the same year I read Flowers in the Attic. No wonder I had a breakdown.

Speaking of exorcism movies, one of my favorite movies of last year (in my Top 10) was Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills, from Romania (he’s an awesome director). My review here. It’s about a true and recent story that rocked the monastery culture in Romania of an exorcism gone horribly … horribly … wrong. It’s an extremely long film. It is brutal. It is incredible.


The next moment shows Sam holding open a book, in black silhouette against the window, a la Father Damien in The Exorcist. The brothers circle her, switching places. Dean, looking at her, has a mix of expressions on his face. There’s adrenaline there, a volcano he’s trying to handle. It’s different from the “where’s our dad, bitch” look. He is now looking past her human form to the THING that is inside her. That “thing” is what he needs to remember, what he needs to address.

Sam starts reading in Latin, the camera now swooping down to Meg’s face, grinning up at Dean. All in one. It makes the moment feel dizzy, as indeed it is. Meg says to Dean, “An exorcism. Really.” and Dean’s response is clearly sexual for him, almost aggressive sexy encouragement: “Ohh, we’re goin’ for it, baby. Head spinning. Projectile vomiting. The whole nine yards.” To quote Madonna, “My bottom hurts just thinkin’ about it.”

Sam continues to intone Latin in the background, and kudos to Padalecki for pulling it off in any way/shape/form whatsoever. They have a Latin professor “on call” to help with pronunciation. I can imagine Padalecki flipping through the script and seeing 2 damn pages of straight Latin and breaking into a cold sweat. As Sam reads, Meg starts to wince, almost against her will, something breaking apart and revolting inside her. Exorcisms become so rote that Sam eventually records himself saying one on his iPhone, in order to expedite the process if necessary, but here … they are stepping into something unknown. And, like us, their conceptions of exorcisms comes from William Friedkin’s 1973 film.


Meg struggles against the pull of the Latin (and Aycox does it beautifully, there’s a sense that it’s a strong tide gripping her ankles, that the words are working ON her – and it’s sexual, I’ll just say it so you won’t have to. The buildup, the intensifying, her boundaries breaking down, until it’s a tidal wave and she can’t fight it anymore. My Shakespeare professor in grad school used to say, “If you think a line from Shakespeare isn’t bawdy, it’s because you haven’t worked it out yet.” Same is true for Supernatural. It’s All Sex All the Time.) She throws out taunts to Dean and Sam about how she will kill them, and Dean, whose excess energy could light up the city of Buffalo, glances at Sam to keep reading.

There is a gorgeous silhouette of both brothers, looking down at her. They’re both mostly in darkness, with a light going down the edges of their profiles.


Meg hates what is happening to her (or, the demon inside hates what’s happening to it), and it resists. She hisses, cutting off the ends of words, clipping the consonants, it’s hard for her to even speak, that their dad “begged for his life with tears in his eyes,” an image that is manipulative to the extreme, and yet Sam and Dean are both thrown off by it.

Dean’s ferocity is impossible to describe, especially since it is so coiled and tight, and it makes him seem completely terrifying. Like, Mark of Cain terrifying. You could see a foreshadowing here in this moment and in what he says to her, if you felt like it.


“For your sake, I hope you’re lying. Because if it’s true, I swear to God, I will march into Hell myself and I will slaughter each and every one of you evil sonsofbitches, so help me God.”

Nicki Aycox is a pretty woman, and here, you can practically see the leering mask yawning open from within. There’s evil there. As Sam keeps reading, with Bobby dimly visible in the other room, keeping watch at the window since poor Rumsfeld probably went where all good dogs go, a wind picks up, flipping the pages of the Key of Solomon in the foreground. Meg hunkers down, quivering, gasping. Dean continues the interrogation and it’s urgent now. Where is our father, bitch.

When she says, again, that he is dead, Dean shouts, and there are tears, and rage, and denial, the whole nine yards in his desperate face, “NO HE’S NOT. HE CAN’T BE.” Actually, Dean, he’s a human being, so yes, he actually can be dead. But that’s the thing. That’s the beauty of the moment. Supernatural doesn’t forget that element, the Winchester-psychodrama element, and Ackles shows us why he is the actor he is. Because the moment is childlike, raging, fearful, and, most importantly, revealing. The last thing you want to do is reveal yourself to a demon, but Dean is thrown off at the prospect of his father dying. Dean’s reaction even gets Sam’s attention, and Dean sort of snaps back to himself, realizing what he let out, what he revealed, and looks up at Sam, breathing, “What are you looking at. Keep reading.”


A lesser actor would have shouted that line. It could be effective done that way. It would certainly make sense. But, as Eric Kripke observed, Ackles approaches every moment from a place of vulnerability, which is why even his physical fight scenes vibrate with a sense of the fragility of his human life. Ackles is not afraid of vulnerability. Many actors are (ironically), and protect themselves for all kinds of reasons – and also, many actors flat out cannot do what Ackles does so easily, so they stay away from it. Nothing worse than an actor straining to get the effects that Ackles gets with seeming effortlessness. But it’s the broken little-boy look on Ackles’ face when he says, “What are you looking at. Keep reading” that makes him the actor that he is.

As Meg starts to break down, she keeps glancing up at Dean, and it’s fascinating because you can almost sense the real Meg, the “innocent girl,” looking up at this scary man with the thick neck, hoping, hoping he remembers that she is in there. It’s all there. Dean has straightened up, and watch him glance off in the air to himself, a quick “Jesus Christ, this is intense” moment to himself. It’s so RICH. Again, imagine another actor who would have only played the hatred. Because that’s what the lines suggest. Anyone can shout and scream. But the quick “My God, this is upsetting” glance to himself, in the midst of a ranting-screaming scene, is why he is so riveting as an actor, and why we honestly don’t know what Dean will do next.

Meg has held on as long as she could, and she starts screaming, and her chair starts whipping around the floor, with her in it, flopping around like a rag doll. Good old Sam keeps reading (I mean, he shouted an exorcism as a plane was crashing so guy has ice-water – plus demon-blood – in his veins). She screams something and Dean cries, “Wait -WHAT?” and she says, “He’s not dead. But he will be after what we do to him.”

If the demon flies the coop, then what the hell will happen to the information they need? They need her to TALK. So it’s a moment of complete horrible dovetail, where “saving people” and “hunting things” become completely synonymous, a foreshadowing of the confrontation with the demon at the end of the episode. Search for Dad? Search for demon? How about finding them in the same “meat suit” (ugly phrase)? It’s really beautifully designed, because it introduces the “murky” areas immediately. Social, ethical, moral, emotional issues will always come into play, and if you think they won’t, or if you act like they don’t, then you’re just Gordon.


I’m sorry but that screengrab cracks me up.

Meg/Demon, now fighting for its life, tells Dean that their dad is being held in “a building in Jefferson City”, but the “demon they’re looking for,” she doesn’t know where he is, she swears. The demon inside is disintegrating, we now sense the girl underneath, the frightened hurt girl. Dean says to Sam, “Finish it,” and the demon freaks: “You son of a bitch, you promised,” and Dean roars in close, “I LIED.”

Sam seems shaken. He has stopped reading. Dean wants Sam to “finish it,” and Sam disagrees. They could still use her. But now all Dean can see, and it was in that little “Jesus Christ” glance to himself, is that there is an “innocent girl” in there and they have GOT to get the demon OUT of her. Even in the midst of his own fear, his own dread, his worry about his dad, that news has shaken him, and it reminds him of who he is, what his job is REALLY about. It’s a great mix-up with the other argument that courses through “Devil’s Trap” and that is: is the demon worth dying for? Or is family more important?


Bobby intervenes again. “You said she fell from a building. That girl’s body is broken.” Our next shot of Meg, sitting in the chair, hunched over, panting for breath … what Bobby has described, a girl with a “broken body” is all we see. The “broken doll pose”, according to America’s Next Top Model. I just Googled “broken doll pose” and found an entire Tumblr devoted to it.

Bobby is a Perspective-Giver again: he changes how we see things. “The only thing keeping her alive is that demon inside her.” Which … sexy. Gross.


In their separate ways, both Dean and Bobby are fighting for that girl. Dean wants that demon OUT of her, and if it kills her, then they are “putting her out of her misery,” one of those complicated thoughts that must come up all the time on battlefields. Dean wants her clean, un-possessed, he takes it personally. There’s the unspoken fear/dread of penetration that Supernatural trucks in, Dean being unable to look at Meg and not totally identify/empathize/dread what has happened to her, and fearful that it could happen to him, although it is also interesting to consider that this “demon possession” thing is new for him, so all of it is hitting him unawares. Hence, the intensity of his reactions. Think of the monsters they’ve hunted so far. A Wendigo. A couple of vengeful spirits. Some urban legends come to life. A Native American woo-woo curse gone awry. A Norse fertility god. A bound-reaper. A racist truck. A haunted painting. A family. A couple of leaping shadows from Persia. Vampires. And Emperor Palpatine. Many of these are distinct entities, easily separated from oneself. There is “Them” and “Us.” You’re not gonna be possessed by a vengeful spirit. A vengeful spirit may kill you but it won’t enter you. As I’ve said, we’ve already seen the destabilizing of identity in both “Skin,” and “Asylum,” the possibility of being inhabited by something else, and you will still look like you, but you will not be you anymore. There’s a reason the “evil twin” trope has been around for centuries, it taps into a very common human fear. (Oh, and see The Double, starring Jesse Eisenberg, a really wonderful adaptation of Dostoevsky’s freaky story about a doppelgänger. It’s really good.)

Dean’s boundaries are already in a state of permanent compromise. He can’t help it. He also knows this about himself, on some wordless level, and he can use it for the greater good, as we saw in the queasy vampire hookup scene in “Dead Man’s Blood,” or in all the weird scenes where he flirts with everyone he comes across in order to get what he wants, or for his own pleasure when he’s off-duty and he doesn’t have to police his boundaries and all he wants to do is just get naked with a friendly woman as quickly as possible. His natural milieu is nudity and sex and probably cuddling too. I have no doubt he is a cuddle HOUND. Dean is an odalisque, basically. (I went into the odalisque thing here.) All of this is to say that being possessed by a demon is a game-changer and it’s extremely upsetting to him, outside of the fact that she has knowledge about where their dad is. Dean looks at her and wants that thing OUT of her.

Meg now does look held together with masking tape. Instead of terrible and frightening, she looks tragic, a victim.


But Dean is in charge now. Not just because of the force of his emotions, but because of that moral conviction. This is what we are doing, this is what ‘saving people’ looks like in this horrible context.

When the demon exits her, it does so in a huge column of black smoke, our first glimpse of what will become almost rote on the show (the rote-ness in and of itself is funny. “What’s happening?” “Ah, nothin’. Just some poor sap expelling a whirling column of black smoke.” “Oh. What’s on the telly.”)

Dean, the guy you want to have around in a crisis, takes charge, telling Bobby to call 911, and grab some water and blankets. He and Sam hurry to Meg, and gently, tenderly almost, untie the poor girl’s hands. And here is where Nicki Aycox, whose performance grew on me (I’m not sure what my problem was with her the first time around), breaks my heart. She tries to whisper, “Thank you,” and both boys shush her, realizing the level of damage she has withstood. They pick her up and lay her on the floor.

She is trying to express to them what it has been like for her. “I was awake for some of it …” a truly awful thought and one the show will explore again and again. To be you, but to NOT be you … to be forced to look on as Not-You does these horrible things … People talk about dissociative states, of “watching themselves” pull the trigger, feeling like they are in a dream, feeling like it was “not them” doing it … The sense of helplessness and also of complicity is palpable.


Dean is caring towards her, upset for her, but still asks, “Was it telling us the truth about our Dad?” Sam almost reprimands Dean, but Dean says, “We need to know.” And they do.

Bobby hurries in with water, and Dean hastens to hold her head and give her a drink. Her light is going out. She knows it, they know it. Before she passes away, she says “By the river … Sunrise …”

And now comes the final button of the scene. No lines. No words. Mournful eerie music. And a series of giant slightly moving closeups of each figure in the room, Sam, Bobby, Meg, Dean … around and around, in succession. It feels like it could keep going that way for 5 more minutes, going from face to face to face, exploring the feelings there, the fear, the loss, the adrenaline. It’s storytelling Kim Manners style.



Cinema is visual. If you can say it without words, do.

There’s a reason John Wayne would sit down with a new script and cut out 75% of his dialogue.

4th scene
A beautifully lit scene between the three men, blue-black, shadows, slats of light coming in through the blinds. I mean, look at this.


Dean and Sam are headed off to Jefferson City. Bobby has a corpse in his living room. You know, just another day at the office.

Bobby has already taken on huge scope in our minds, his presence is a welcome corrective to the black-hole authority figure of John Winchester. It is a strange relief to be in the presence of an older man who treats them like, you know, men. It is a tribute to Jeffrey Dean Morgan that that dynamic is so clear, so present. Bobby gives Sam the Key of Solomon, a nice Men of Letters passing-the-torch moment, and then says, in almost a snarl, “When your find your Dad, bring him around. I won’t even try to shoot him this time.” Bobby gets to joke about John Winchester’s nastiness in a way that nobody else would, and it’s almost a relief, because it admits what Dean, in particular, can’t admit, that John is difficult, that he has feelings about John that are NOT just idolization and adoration.

The scene ends on a closeup of Bobby’s face, already a clue that he will be coming back, that this ain’t no cameo.

5th scene
Along the way, in a gorgeous scene, color-corrected so that the blue sky isn’t bright blue but more of a cold icy flat-ness, and the shadows seem stark and black, Dean and Sam hang out by the Impala, getting ready. A wooden bridge towers in the background, an electrical plant. Sam has the Key of Solomon laid out on the roof of the car, and Dean has the trunk open, going through all of his guns. Books AND guns? In the same scene? Bestill my heart.

Look at Nerd-Ball Sam. I adore him.


Dean is quiet and grim. Sam knows his brother. He says, “He’s gonna be fine, Dean.”

No response. But a gorgeous shot of both guys. Filming in broad daylight? Challenging. Season 2 has some broad daylight scenes where I basically swoon into a heap at the beauty of them.


Sam, looking through the book, walks to the open trunk of the Impala, wipes off the accumulated dust, and starts to draw a devil’s trap on the trunk. Like, directly onto the car. Poor Dean. “What are you drawin’ on my car …”

It is, perhaps, the worst thing that has happened to Dean all day, which is saying something considering the day he’s had. His car defaced. By his brother. Sam is calm and firm and extremely strong: they can hide the Colt in the trunk while they go look for Dad and a demon can’t get to it. Dean assumed they were bringing the Colt with them. If you have a MacGuffin like the Colt, then obvi you have to bring it with you. The same moment, almost exactly, occurs in Season 9 with the First Blade.

Sam tries to speak patiently, because Dean is ratcheting up. Sam must resist, and Dean is hard to resist when he gets like that: “Do you know how pissed off Dad would be if we wasted a bullet?”

“I don’t CARE what Dad wants,” retorts Dean, a moment of undercutting surprise along the lines of “I hope we NEVER find the demon.”


The argument here is about the Colt, but it’s really about their relationship to their father, something they have been fighting about since the pilot, something they will continue to fight about. Dean pulls out the big mean guns: “And since when do you care what Dad wants?”

Because “Devil’s Trap” is the season finale, we must loop back to the argument they had in the pilot. Demon or no demon, the moment under the bridge is a family moment, a brothers moment, a childhood moment. Dean’s resentment comes out, something we saw really clearly in “Skin,” and Sam’s resentment comes out at being “pulled back in”, and he blames Dean for that. They look at each other and see the worst parts of their own lives. YOU’RE the reason I’m drawing a damn devil’s trap in white on your car, which is really DAD’S car, you little copycat. Think about Sam in the pilot. Think about him now. It’s a startling transformation, more so than even Dean’s.

Sam does not hold back from saying the hard things, the true things, which is why he can be so brutal in an argument. Dean recoils from Sam, and laughs to himself, a clear sign that Sam’s comments have hit home, but all he can say is, “Boy, you and Dad are more alike than I thought.”

Consider the implications. It is an observation, but it is also an insult, in a way. However, it is also coming from the man who has defended his father staunchly throughout the first season. It’s glorious. Kripke knows what the hell he’s doing. Dean goes on, coming from a place of total personalization, zero distance: “You and Dad both can’t wait to sacrifice yourself for this thing. But I’m gonna be the one to bury you.”

The Colt continues to work its MacGuffin Magic through the plot: Sam and Dean are arguing about the Colt, but of course they aren’t at all. The Colt is the excuse for all the other stuff. Sam says the Colt is their only leverage, they can’t bring it, put the gun in the Devil’s Trap trunk NOW. Bratty, Dean throws it down, “Fine.”

By this point, I don’t trust Dean at all, and as Sam moves away, we get this huge honkin’ James-Dean-in-Giant-against-the-oil-wells profile of Dean. No way will he leave the Colt behind. No WAY.



6th scene
Dean and Sam walk along the river in Jefferson City, looking for … a sunrise? In broad daylight? Dean catches sight of an apartment building, SUNRISE APARTMENTS (thank goodness it’s a short damn river), and there are kids playing around outside and a mum with a baby carriage. The demons assume that Sam and Dean will hesitate to shoot a mum with a baby carriage. But also, plenty of fresh meat for vessels. Sam and Dean talk it out. Demons could possess anyone, right? They check in with each other about that.

The fight at the car is over. Dean and Sam are in the same frame (as they often are), with Dean looking at the apartment, Sam blurry in the background, and then Sam coming into focus as Dean looks back at him. Kim Manners was beautiful in how he handled these guys, prioritizing not only them as individuals in those aching awesome closeups, but them as a team: the behavior of the two men, happening at the same time, in the same shot. While obviously there is a structure here, and both actors are on point, behavior should be relatively loose, in-the-moment and spontaneous. Both these guys are world-class listeners and reactors. (There’s a great quote from John Wayne: He said he didn’t consider himself an “actor,” he considered himself a “RE-actor”, and those are words any young actor should take to heart.)

They stare at the building together. Thinking on their feet.


Plus, freckles. And hair.

It’s a win-win for all of us.

7th scene
Sam walks through the front door and goes to pull the fire alarm. A “nothing” scene really. Filler. But look at how Manners and Ladouceur manage to make that lobby look entirely strange, not quite right, not quite real, with the wrought-iron and glass doors seeming like a cage, and the unrealistic light-contrast, the shadows too dark, the light too bright. It’s a Hitchcock-type shot. Or a Roman Polanski shot. A well-made and well-shot interior.


Once Sam pulls the fire alarm, we are suddenly in Creepy-Room, with Creepy-Angle, with a man and a woman sitting totally still at a table, listening to the alarm. It’s delightfully weird.


In this particular episode, demons “present” as:


Also, as we will see, in this particular episode demons can magically and invisibly inhabit people, and “pass it on” with a barely noticeable Bad-Touch, and then little veins burst out on the vessel’s faces and then subside, leaving the person still human-like but now clearly a demon. Whereas in later seasons, forget it: Open your damn mouth for 5 minutes so you can be penetrated by the longest column of black smoke in the world. No more of this clean and invisible possession stuff. In the high watermark of the penetration-via-mouth-motif, Crowley and Sam penetrate each other back and forth, back and forth, with first a black column of smoke and then a red one. I never … ever … get sick of that scene.

And please, for the sheer pleasure-level of it: watch and glory in the next camera move:

Starting off from that crazy low-diagonal door level that Manners loves so much (an exact replica happens in “Bugs” when Sam goes to hurry Dean out of the shower), the camera moves around the door jamb and we see the bed from the end of it, with two feet, one on each side – the camera moves up over the bed, so we can see John tied up, spreadeagled, drugged, and then the camera moves down his body and over to the side. That’s not a Steadicam shot, that’s some kind of complicated dolly track, with the camera moving up and down to multiple levels. All in one. Great.


It’s awful and strangely hot to see John in that provocative position. It’s like Dean being strapped down over the abyss of Hell. It is worth pointing out that every time we “see” Hell, it is different, depending on whose Hell it is. Dean’s is one of restraint and exposure, his limbs spread apart, a terrible openness in his body and an inability to move, fight back, resist. Sam’s, what we see of it, is sheer burning, constant flames on him at all times. Bobby’s Hell is the more classic version, a dungeon filled with the pleading damned. And of course Crowley’s is an endless line, like the worst possible DMV you could picture. Or maybe something like this.


Or this nightmare of office from The Apartment.

The apartment - Billy Wilder 1960

Same idea.

Seeing John tied up with his legs spread completely shatters the equilibrium of the universe. I don’t get the same vibe from John that I do with Dean, the sexualization Dean suggests, even in casual moments, or especially in casual moments, that get him into trouble but also brightens his dark world. John is pretty grim and controlled, and let’s not forget: THAT FUCKING TRUCK. There is the “overcompensation” joke Sam makes about Dean in Season 2, and Dean’s absolutely fascinating response to Sam’s jibe, but I don’t get the sense that Dean’s sexuality has to do with overcompensating for anything. Certainly he attempts to compensate for certain things, but not really sexually – he’s compensating for the fact that his life is risky, dangerous and he must wear 3 layers at all times so he won’t be penetrated by every Tom, Dick and Demon. The sex stuff to me feels like letting off steam, finding a safe space where he can wallow like the odalisque that he is, and something he deserves to pursue as “compensation” for the life he leads. John’s sexuality is rather murky to me at this early stage in the show, and there are obviously hints that a lot of it is about “overcompensation.” He is still wearing his wedding ring. He conceivably could be living like a monk, all of his sex drive going into hunting. I am sure it has happened to other hunters. The libido can be wonky like that. In any case, we just don’t know at this point. The sexualized thing he’s got going on with Dean, his “use” of his son as sexual bait, suggests a lot of nasty knowledge of the power of sex, and his willingness to wade into those waters. He’s not an idiot. But himself sexually? He’s pretty clamped down. It wouldn’t surprise me if he were a gentle gentle pussycat in the sack, or who knows, maybe he’s what my friend once referred to as a “two pumps and a cry guy.” (Mean. I know.) Regardless, I love how women continue to come out of the woodwork, 9 seasons later, women he bedded along the way, women still pissed off that he didn’t call, or, hell, a woman who actually bore him another son. The mystery that is John Winchester continues to pay off.

Meanwhile, outside:

Firetrucks have arrived. People hustle out of the building. Dean pulls aside a fireman, making up some story about a Yorkie he left upstairs, and he laughs, and I’m not buying what you’re selling, Dean. The fireman says, “Sir, you have to stay back.”

I love the rare moments when Dean meets people outside of hunting who are as tough as he is, whose jobs require the same level of bravery. The fireman here is one example. The other one is the Iraq vet in “Good God Y’All” who automatically assumes that Dean has been in combat too. Meanwhile, as Dean distracts the fireman, Sam, in broad daylight, sneaks around amongst the yellow fire trucks, because that’s apparently how they roll in Jefferson City, and goes at one of them with a lock pick. Because he knows where they keep the extra suits and masks and gear. Maybe he found a map of the fire truck in the Key of Solomon.

The next bit strains credibility, because there is probably a way into the building without all the trouble of stealing entire firemen’s getups, putting them on undetected, and strolling on in, but it’s good news for us, because who doesn’t love firemen? Being sentimental about firemen is basically a requirement of living in and around Manhattan, but I suppose that’s a universal truth. It’s just extremely intense here for obvious reasons. I have a couple of funny personal firemen stories: the time I smelled smoke in the hallways of my apartment building, called 911, the firemen arrived, and I let them in, not even realizing, in my panic, that I was wearing Hello Kitty pajamas and blue sparkly false eyelashes like some tragic Tennessee Williams spinster, and then the “Who here is wearing’ Sierra” exchange, a moment I will always treasure. Looking back on it, I know now that I coulda had that guy. Easily. Ah well. Road not taken. Then there was the time half my apartment building burned down and my cat was lost for three days. I’m extremely pro-fireman (who isn’t?) so any excuse to have Sam and Dean play dress-up and pretend to be firemen is okay by me.


The two guys stalk down a hallway holding out EMF meters, and Dean confesses, randomly, “I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up,” and Sam is so gobsmacked by this information that he leans against a doorjamb, staring at his brother, saying, “You never told me that!” Sam. Focus. Now is not the time. The EMF whirs-and-buzzes, and the EMF always reminds me of Dean Stockwell’s colored-lit little doohickey in Quantum Leap:


Back inside the Creepy Room, we see Creepy Lady still sitting at the kitchen table, not responding, seen through the slats of the opposite chair. Remember: every single shot has some interest in it. AND that interest helps in telling the story, it’s not just there to show off. The camera pulls around to her, and, expressionless, she looks up. It’s a hell of a shot. But wait: the shot is not over. She stands, and Creepy Guy joins her from the room where John is spread-eagled, and the two of them head to the door together, and peer through the peep-hole. One shot. Complex, yet elegant.


We see Sam and Dean through the peephole, and it’s glorious, a total fantasy come true for me – and for Dean too, I suppose. Dean shouts, “We need you to evacuate.”

Again with that very low and diagonal camera angle, with the camera almost slithering around. It’s a sinuous camera move, silky and slippery, like the demons themselves. These two have been filmed this way a couple of times now: they represent deliberate choices. Sam and Dean burst in, bringing a handheld camera style with them, spraying holy water at the two Creeps, causing screams and burning mayhem and hissing steam. No more sinuous camera moves. Chaos requires handheld.

With a hell of a struggle, Sam and Dean lock the two Creeps in a closet. Sam pours salt in front of the door, all as they batter against it, and then subside suddenly. So salt not only acts as a deterrent but it also acts as a silencer. Apparently.

Hurriedly, they whip off their firemen’s gear, which is almost too erotic for me to handle in any way shape or form, and then gather up their dropped things, heading into the apartment to look for their dad. There’s an amazing shot of the two of them entering the room, seeing their father there before them. They basically walk into the shot, hitting their marks on the floor, so that the shadows hit just right, and all is beautiful and moody and tortured, just like we like it.


Seeing John like this comes back to the “watching” thing that I mentioned in “Dead Man’s Blood” and elsewhere. The terrible intimacy of a family like this, especially an abusive family where violence is the currency of the realm. The violence is indiscriminate, and you are forced to watch as someone you love is humiliated, attacked, groped, whatever. It’s all made worse because their father adds to the humiliation in how he treats them, so Sam and Dean, in their 20s now, are still forced to “watch” as one or the other gets reprimanded as though he’s 9 years old. Emasculating. It’s twisted dark stuff, but it is the reality in which they live and nobody questions it. Nobody can even see it.

Dean, of course, runs to the side of the bed. I can’t even describe how much I love that Sam hangs back at the door. There are so many different ways you could go with it, and that’s why I love it. He looks worried, of course, and watches anxiously as Dean leans down to see if John is still breathing. But there’s more. A hesitation. Sam has more distance from the family unit. He always has. That distance was imposed by his father and his brother leaving him out, and treating him differently, but it is also something that comes from within him. His greatest desire is to be normal. But as he confessed to Dean, even at Stanford he didn’t “fit in.” We can circle the drain with it, and talk it to death, but I love the ambiguity of his placement.

Demon possession, remember, is still a new and unknown entity. Eventually, everyone throws holy water in each other’s faces when they return from a coffee run. So Dean goes to untie Dad, and Sam, the cool headed one, the clear-eyed one, the guy who was actually reading the Key of Solomon, stops him. Dean doesn’t like it at ALL but Sam says, “We gotta be sure,” and he sprinkles holy water on the torso of their father, and it’s all kinds of bizarre when you really think about what you are looking at. Good GOD, Supernatural. It cracks me up. Seriously, the entire thing should topple over into complete absurdity and a so-bad-it’s-good kind of thing, but it doesn’t. John does not hiss like bacon hitting the frying pan. Dean looks like an absolute wreck. There’s no game-face. None.


John slowly stirs and sees Sam at the foot of the bed. “Sam …” he breathes. “Why you splashing water on me …” and Sam, very faintly, laughs. It’s fun to consider how Morgan is playing the scene and the next one. It’s always fun to try to clock what the actor is doing, the “tells” he may be throwing in our faces. Think of Dean by the car in “Skin.” “What am I gonna do, cry?” Nope. You’re not Dean.

John’s next question is great: “Where’s the Colt?”

Uhm, in the back of Dean’s pants, John.

What would we do without our MacGuffin? It means so much to the characters, it focuses their energies, and it becomes hugely important in the Season 2 premiere. Not as an object in and of itself, but as a thing to leverage, a thing to fight over. A reason for everything else to occur: family dramas, demon deals, tears and angst, the whole thing.

Sam says gently, reassuringly, “Don’t worry, Dad, it’s safe,” and John, relaxed, murmurs, “Good boys, good boys …” a moment that stands out for sure in what we have seen of John Winchester who gives out compliments so rarely that everyone treats them suspiciously when they arrive.


Back outside the building, firemen are still rushing in and out.

We then get this totally terrifying shot. It comes from out of nowhere.


I literally jerked back in alarm when I first saw that grouping of people.

Holy mackerel, what is wrong with everyone? It’s very Children of the Corn.

A perfect reminder that you don’t need CGI monsters to create something so creepy for some unexplainable reason that the hairs on the back of your neck rise up. Clearly everyone was placed very carefully, told to remain expressionless, and totally still, and that’s it. Voila. You’ve got your Village of the Damned. Easy-peasy. Supernatural doesn’t have a big budget, but seeing how inventive they are, particularly with shots like this one, they actually don’t need it.

You can’t put your finger on what is wrong with that. But something is wrong. If you were walking down the street and you saw a grouping like that, you would either run for your life or feel compelled to join the group. Two quick cuts in, closer, closer, to the gentleman standing in the middle, who suddenly gasps, little black veins popping out on his cheeks, and then there he is, apparently demonic now. He moves out of the group, and nobody notices because they are all still too busy playing a creepy game of statues. A fireman tries to stop the man from going into the building, and suddenly, with the touch, the fireman too is “infected”. The two guys walk into the building together, BFFs now.

Sam and Dean help their father out of the room, and we get one of those rare glories, a shot with all three men in it.


That’s some stunning shit right there.

The demons break the door down, and the Winchesters hustle back into the bedroom, Dean taking care of John, and Sam handling the door, locking it, but it doesn’t matter because the fireman/demon smashes his axe right on through.

And hm. This shot …


… reminds me of something.

Hmm. What could it be. I’m sure I’ll think of it eventually.


As the Axe-Man tries to Cometh Through the Door, Dean and John Exit-Eth via the fire escape, as Sam hurriedly pours down salt by the door and along the windowsill, all as the Demon glares through the hole in the door.




The descent down the fire escape is given to us with two kind of interesting angles, one from above, and one from off at the curb, almost documentary-style, looking on from afar.



It distances us from them. It sets up a helpless-observer feeling.

The three battered men hurry off, Sam taking the lead, which is when he is side-attacked by Meg’s Demon-Brother, who throws him to the ground and proceeds to beat the living shit out of him.

By the way, now is as good a time as any to give credit to the makeup department, who so lovingly creates the wounds these guys receive every single episode. Shannon Coppin is the head makeup artist but it is Toby Lindala who is in charge of makeup effects, like prosthetic wounds, Sam’s bum eye coming up, and all that stuff. Yes, the men’s faces were clawed off in “Shadow” and they healed unbelievably quickly, but that glitch aside: the wounds are GREAT on Supernatural, and they carry over from episode to episode. Things heal up slowly. You see bruises that are left over from something that happened the episode before. The makeup people have Polaroids of every single shot lined up in the guys’ trailers so they can track continuity with the wounds. Although somehow, miraculously, their forearms remain completely smooth despite the fact that they cut themselves open with giant knives every other minute. No matter. You can’t win ’em all.

The wounds are beautiful, is what I’m trying to say.

Sam takes a beating. I love how these creatures are supernatural but when push comes to shove they get in fist fights like everyone else. It’s especially ridiculous when you see angels of the lord basically sparring. They have the power to vaporize entire towns and there they are trading punches in some barn. Guys. You’re ANGELS.

Dean leaves John collapsed on the sidewalk and races over, wheeling up and kicking the guy in the head – a totally awesome physical moment, and yet it doesn’t work at all. The guy doesn’t even flinch, and then whips Dean through the air (his second airborne moment in the episode), so that he crashes into a nearby windshield. Meg’s Brother returns to his devotions to Sam’s noggin, until suddenly we hear a gunshot, and we see the Demon fizzle with lightning bolts, and then, black smoke leaking out of his mouth (nice), he collapses dead.

First we see the barrel of the Colt. And it is smoking. And then, the focus shifts, and we see Dean.



It is the Dirty Harry shot to end all Dirty Harry shots. He almost out-dirties Dirty Harry. Not completely. But almost.


The demon, by the way, is basically dressed as Sam’s twin. It’s amazing Dean didn’t shoot the wrong guy. Doppelgängers abound.


So basically what is going down is close to Dean’s nightmare he expressed in the earlier scene at the bridge. He will be left to bury his two remaining family members. Dean rushes to help Sam up, and the two of them stare down at the dead demon. A dead demon. No one had thought it possible. There’s a lot going on in the moment. First off, they are both clearly stunned that the Colt worked. Confirmation. Hope. But the camera moves closer in on Dean, cutting Sam out of the picture, telling us that this is Dean’s moment, not Sam’s. Dean looks shaken, upset. But now is not the time to talk about it, and Dean shakes it off, hustling everyone back into motion. The dead demon lies in the foreground and we see poor Dean, who has his hands full in the background, with a collapsing brother, a collapsing Dad, and a giant clanking duffel bag. Not to mention broken glass in his rear end.

8th scene
Cue the melancholy “Winchester family emotions” theme, as the Impala roars through the blue night, fog, headlights, black reeds in the foreground. Unconnected again, barreling onto the next place, a getaway.

Next, we see an isolated cabin, with the Impala parked outside, golden lights seen dimly through the night. I like to think that this is Rufus’ cabin, although I’m just making it up. The other thing I think is fun to imagine is the underground information hunters would pass on to other trusted hunters, about rustic cabins, and abandoned lodges, and half-built houses, scattered across the country, places where you could squat if you needed to, places where you could hide out if you needed to get off the road. I picture the hunters sharing this, taciturn, with only a trusted few. You don’t want 20 hunters showing up at your damn hiding place. You’d keep it under wraps. The show obviously has a lot of fun with the motel theme, but there is another level, the sheer “squatting” level, which Sam and Dean are forced to do once their covers are blown on a nationwide scale. They have to stay in construction sites, and condemned houses, and rickety cabins in the middle of a forest. It’s great texture. The Motel Room thing is awesome, but too much of it would turn it into a cutesy “bit”. The disco room was already pushing the envelope. Supernatural is right to keep it a mix, to not get too rote with these beloved motifs.

The energy between Sam and Dean is soft and vulnerable. It’s a family with a sick father, it’s a family that is afraid, the children watching over the parent. Sam wants to say something and it is difficult for him. Touchy-feely chick-flick moments are (obvi) not these guys’ bags, and Sam is usually made fun of when he tries to talk about stuff. You never know how Dean will react. But Sam is usually the braver one in such moments, and says, “Dean. You saved my life back there.”


We are then treated to a massive closeup of Ackles, and it’s almost painterly in its construction, his head slanting into the frame, everything dark in the background, the blue shirt, the shadows on his face, and the gleaming of his eyes. He grins, and says, “Guess you’re glad I brought the gun, huh …” and Sam, because he is brave, stays in the moment HE wants to be having as opposed to taking Dean’s lead, and says, “I’m trying to thank you here.” (We’ve seen Sam do that before. Others would be swayed by Dean’s dazzle, and force of personality … but Sam is able to dig in, stay the course.)


Sam basically forces Dean to “take” the “thank you,” which Dean does, but he does so quietly, turning away, back into himself. Sam moves away, leaving Dean alone in the frame, another huge closeup (and get ready: Season 2 is going to be all about analyzing of closeups because it kicks into major high gear), and the blackness is all around him again, only now we’re seeing him from the other side. Manners. In love with the face he has to work with. Like Robert Singer has said, when you have an actor like Ackles, your job as a director becomes almost 100% easier. Just point the camera at him, you’ll get SOMEthing.


Now it is Dean’s turn to say something difficult. Something he probably has no interest in actually saying, but the cabin is quiet, there’s a lull, Dad isn’t there, and the darkness is almost womb-like, disconnecting them from the chaos of the outside world. There’s a small space here, a space to speak.

Dean says, “Hey, Sam. You know that guy I shot? There was a person in there.”

It’s so disturbing for him. It goes against everything he believes in, everything he was raised to do. It is not the gig he signed up for. But what is even more disturbing for him, is that in the moment he was NOT disturbed. Dirty Harry. What has he become? There was a human being in there, and he just ended that human being’s life. However, there is a deeper level. And this is where we get the real interesting stuff, the psychological stuff, looping us back to the pilot and Dean’s re-entry into Sam’s life, and Sam’s coming back to the fold at Dean’s insistence. We’ve learned a lot since the pilot, but there’s so much, still, that we do not know. Dean, even with his emotional openness, and maybe because of his openness, is not that forthcoming a guy. He honestly feels he can’t afford to be. Considering how his vulnerability is drooled over in almost every episode, and used against him, who can blame him.

I want to talk about acting choices. And so I will.

Acting Choices, Character Conception, Marlon Brando, Avoiding Cliffs, The Iconic Tough Guy Tradition

Much of this is speculative, because the acting choice we see onscreen is the choice that was made, or, at least the choice in the particular take that was picked by the director to be in the final cut. However, if you have a sensitivity to script, which I do, then you can almost sense pitfalls, in the same way that you could sense you were approaching a cliff even if you were blindfolded.

The following line from Dean is extremely on-point, appropriate for a season finale, but risky because of that: “Killing that guy, killing Meg … I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t even flinch. For you or Dad, the things I’m willing to do or kill … it scares me sometimes.”

If you are a sensitive actor, as Ackles is, then you will read that line in your script, and feel that it is actually a cliff that you need to avoid. Acting is esoteric stuff, and yet it is not ONLY magic (as author Dan Callahan and I discussed in my recent interview with him.) Actors come to the table with technique (hopefully, although many of them don’t). Ackles has meticulous technique. He also has world-class instincts. He is the opposite of sentimental towards his character. If Dean were played in a sentimental way, it would be deadly and self-congratulatory. Let the fans be sentimental, let the fans gush over his problems and his trauma, HE cannot. It is forbidden. The character wouldn’t work otherwise. Ackles feels those cliffs in the material and avoids them like a champ. He survives them because of the sensitive choices he makes. I’ve gone into it ad nauseum in these re-caps and there are multiple examples in every single episode.

The nuts-and-bolts aspect of it is Ackles’ business. But the end result is what we have to work with, in terms of analysis. And so what we see in that moment, as he says that line, is Dean going deep deep within. So far within that he almost can’t be perceived. It is a secret. It is something that honestly frightens him. Now the thing is: actors who aren’t as good as Ackles not only miss the potential cliffs in moments like that, but think the cliffs are a POSITIVE thing and NEED to be leapt off of. You see that kind of work all the time. It is extremely literal acting. What I would call playing-the-line kind of acting. Playing the line means: a line sounds angry, therefore it is said “angrily.” A character says, “I am so sad right now,” and so the unimaginative actor decides to play it “sadly”. And on and on. Those are all examples of cliffs that are NOT avoided. Playing subtext, meaning the underlying motivations and emotional architecture of the character, is what makes things unexpected, and makes fictional characters seem like real-life people. Because in real-life, we say things that may be angry, but we laugh as we say them, or we do weird things like burst into laughter at funerals and wakes, or we suddenly are soft and open in the middle of a fight. This is life. We are not literal beings. We are contradictory. We don’t always “make sense.”

In Roger Ebert’s review of Streetcar Named Desire, he makes an observation about Brando that is extremely important:

He’s a man, but not a clod, and in one scene, while he’s sweet-talking his wife, Stella (Kim Hunter), he absent-mindedly picks a tiny piece of lint from her sweater. If you can take that moment and hold it in your mind with the famous scene where he assaults Stella’s sister, Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh), you can see the freedom Brando is giving to Stanley Kowalski – and the range.


I have seen so many Stanley Kowalskis where the actor is unable to “give” to his character that range. All the actor can do is play the brute force, the bully, the rapist. (On the flip side, Sam Rockwell was unforgettable in the role in the production I saw. He owned it. Not easy to do with Brando looming in everyone’s memory.) Brando did not limit his characters. He did not say, “Stanley wouldn’t do this,” or “Stanley isn’t the type of guy who would do that.” He didn’t limit his conception of them or his performance. Stanley Kowalski is a horrible person and a rapist, and Brando himself made comments about it along the lines of, “I hate guys like Stanley. They make the world a terrible place.” But Brando’s judgment is NOT in the portrayal of the guy, and that is essential. It is why Brando was a genius.

Acting teacher Stella Adler said about actors: “The talent is in the choice.”

It is a difficult thought and one that many people do not like or find too limiting. But I see her point and agree with it. A sloppy or lazy actor will make a sloppy or lazy choice. A meticulous and sensitive actor will make a meticulous and sensitive choice. Many actors don’t like Adler’s quote because it seems to damn them before they even get started. Can’t I become BETTER? Well, of course you can. There are techniques you can learn, there are ways to become more fluid in your approach, there are all kinds of things you can use. The good actors are the ones who keep growing, keep learning, who are never “done”.

However, it is also important to remember Stella Adler’s other great quote, about her most famous student, the aforementioned Marlon Brando:

“Sending Marlon Brando to acting class was like sending a tiger to jungle school.”

So what we are dealing with here, with Ackles, is a meticulous and sensitive actor, who senses the cliffs from a mile off, and artfully and expertly avoids them. It’s not a criticism of the script, so much, what I’m saying here. Even very good scripts have moments where The Theme is stated outright, and that’s a cliff. You have to be very very careful if you’re an actor to get those moments right. Ackles avoids cliffs in various ways. Through humor and wisecracks, taking the edge off of sentimental moments (and the character is written that way, so he uses it constantly, even in moments where he has no lines: the expressions, the double-takes, the sudden moments of thought – as I wrote in my first piece about him, it is the conversation that Dean is constantly having with himself that makes the character so entertaining.) He avoids cliffs by underplaying, which basically means dialing down the heat a couple of notches. He avoids cliffs by never forgetting that as a character is speaking, he also is in the process of listening. It’s a conversation, not a monologue.

Here are the ways Dean’s line could have plunged the moment off a cliff, and the only way to illustrate it is to imagine it in the hands of a less sensitive actor. He could have cried. Horrible. He could have looked up at Sam pleadingly. Awful. He could have growled the lines in a tough-guy way, hoping that you would sense the vulnerability underneath, but all you really see is the tough-guy stuff. He could have said the line straight through, with no eloquent pauses. These are all small ways that actors fail. These are all ways that actors miss the fact that they are standing on the edge of a Cliff of Doom and Bad Obvious Acting.

The talent is in the choice, you see.

Ackles’ choice there shows the truth of Adler’s words.

And so I just wanted to provide some perspective here. It’s easy to get swept away by Supernatural and identification with the characters. That’s why the show works, nothing wrong with that. But it is the WHY that interests me. And all you need to do is watch how Ackles plays that “on the edge of a cliff” line, and manages to turn it into a completely fragile moment, almost breakable it’s so delicate, the words rising up from the depths inside of him spontaneously … he doesn’t even seem to realize he’s speaking … if he thought twice about it, he would never say such a thing. Ever. But the words emerge, floating up, and the entire thing is successful really because he is so inward with it. Because alongside the actual words he is saying is the rushing river of emotion that can’t be controlled. And yet Dean IS controlling it. He’s sitting on it. (So many actors are unable to “sit on” their emotions. Maybe because they are congratulated for their emotional vulnerability and expressiveness in every acting class they ever take. And so the thought of “holding back” or “sitting on” something is offensive, or they just flat out don’t know how to do it.)


Ackles’ work here operates on another level, one even less easily perceived, especially if you operate under the mistaken assumption that cinema began when Star Wars opened or that you “don’t watch black-and-white movies”, and if that’s the case, I have nothing to say to you. What Ackles is doing in the role of Dean Winchester is connecting him to the great Tough Guys of the past, the Indelibles, the John Waynes and Bogarts and Gary Coopers. And, a little bit later, the Clint Eastwoods and Burt Reynolds’. This type of archetypal characterization that he is doing works on an audience member in an invisible way and you shouldn’t sense it at all in the moment (and you don’t.) It’s not an homage, not really. It’s more about placing the character properly in the right genre/mood/outlook. Those 1930s/1940s Tough Guys were strong, masculine, gruff, sarcastic, and were men of few words.


These guys were not Alan Alda talking about their feelings endlessly. These Tough Guys HAD feelings, but the feelings remained unspoken (and usually the person who got to hear about those feelings was a woman or just one guy friend – the characters are usually lone wolves – but more often than not, especially with John Wayne, those feelings remained his and his alone). And so the result of their withholding of explanatory psychobabble language – at the same time that the emotion was palpably clear – is that audiences reached forward, en masse, in their seats, to “fill that gap,” meeting the characters more than halfway.


This is how icons operate. It’s how myths and legends operate too: they are just specific enough to make awesome stories, but they are also open enough to become universal. By NOT “giving it all away” these guys leave a huge space for US, to relate, to identify, to step into the dreamspace they provide, to fill the blanks.


They become MORE than just characters up there on the screen – instead, they are repositories for dreams, they are containers for our hopes and desires, they are men we hope exist, they represent something. Very very few actors work in this way today. It’s just not the style anymore, for various reasons. Angelina Jolie’s performance of Maleficent is the closest you’re gonna get to old-school dreamspace movie acting, and there are a handful of others – just a handful – who still work in that mode. And I include the two leads in Supernatural in this rare category. The sensibility here, artistically, is not 21st-century. It’s early to mid-20th-century. It’s interested in icons and myths and dreamspaces and quests and heroism and the vast unspeakability of universal emotions, things we all FEEL, things we MUST feel, and the characters are the vehicles through which we get to feel all that powerful stuff. As audiences, we still NEED those dreamspaces. The style of acting today, in general, is far more “realistic”, perhaps, but in a way because of that it is way more obvious and literal, and I think it has a lot to do with the overpowering self-help culture most of us grew up in as well as the “self-esteem-is-the-#1-most-important-thing-we-can-teach-our-kids” push in the last 30, 40 years. My friends who are acting teachers talk about trying desperately to get it through their students’ skulls, kids who are age 20, 21, that sometimes it’s better to NOT let your feelings out – it will serve the scene better if you SIT on your precious feelings – and there’s all this entitled push-back, almost knee-jerk in nature. “But I FEEL whatever I’m feeling. How dare you tell me to NOT FEEL something. You are trying to crush my special-ness and bully me.” Good luck having a career, kid. I’m not exaggerating or being mean. This is what is going on right now. A good teacher can crack through that. A good teacher can help a young actor with script analysis (perhaps even more important than innate talent), and see why certain choices make more sense than others. And why “feeling your feelings” is a total misunderstanding of the job description of “actor”.

My acting teacher, Sam Schacht, said a great thing once to an actor who was working in class, and had just spent the scene, whatever it was I can’t remember, sobbing hysterically. Sam was trying to get the actor to see that crying like that was NOT appropriate for the scene, for this this and that logical reason. And he ended the coaching with the ringing words:

“Remember. The name of the job is ACT-or. Not FEEL-er.”

It’s common knowledge among good actors that if you cry, you often cut off the audience response. You leave the audience no room to feel THEIR feelings. But if you hold BACK your tears, if you try to sit on your emotions, then forget it, the audience will need to be mopped up out of the aisles.

Ackles understands this in his bone marrow. “It scares me sometimes …” he says here, and his face has gone still, he’s communing with something deep inside him, he’s admitting something, he’s becoming aware of something … and yet his instinct is to go very very still. His facial expression as well as his interior.

And so. Cliff Avoided artfully and invisibly.

I hope all of this is somewhat interesting. It sure as hell is interesting to me.

Let’s get back to the moment at hand.

John emerges from the blackness, having overheard Dean. Dean would never have spoken like that if he had thought his dad was listening. John says quietly, “It shouldn’t. You did good.”


It’s too late to hide, to cover up. When Dean speaks here, he’s 9 years old. Tops.

“You’re not mad?”

John says, “For what?”

Dean is still 9 years old. “Using a bullet.”

John says, “Mad? I’m proud of you. Sam and I … we can get pretty obsessed. But you, you watch out for this family. You always have.”


#1. Morgan is brilliant. Consider what’s really going on with John Winchester right now. Morgan is playing it. But you can’t clock him playing it. It’s both there and not there. Kudos.

#2. In the final hospital scene in Episode 1 of Season 2, when John comes in to say goodbye to Dean and whispers in his ear, he prefaces it with a tearful apology for all he put on Dean’s shoulders as a kid. It’s a phenomenal moment, magnificently played on both sides, and then, fascinatingly, up-ended and exploded in “Dream a Little Dream,” when the exact same sentiments are expressed by Dean, to himself, by himself, in a dream – like, THAT’S how threatening the sentiment actually is for Dean. He isn’t even conscious of it, and his unconscious has to go, “Uhm … buddy … here are your issues.” I love it when my unconscious does that, and basically resorts to SCREAMING IN MY FACE because I’m just not “getting it” in my waking life. So. All of that. All of those connections … are here in embryo in John’s little speech right there, and it’s made all the more disturbing (and truthful) that it is John’s kindness and paternal pride that ends up being the tip-off for Dean that Dad is no longer Dad. But it is also what Dean YEARNS to hear. It’s a MESS.

I love the scene in “Slash Fiction” when Crowley is basically coaching the two demons on how to get the characterizations of Sam and Dean right so that Kevin won’t be tipped off. But of course Kevin IS tipped off, because the subtleties of language and personality and mood are of the intangible variety, and something is not right with the guys who present themselves to him. But I love the thought of what are basically acting classes for demons behind the scenes where they try to nail down the personality of the vessel they are going to inhabit. And here, Azazel makes the assumption that John would give an “I’m proud of you” speech. It is a mistake.

Winchester-Family-Music has come in. The theme. It’s great because, ultimately, it’s a trick. The music is leading us on, fooling us, pulling us in.

Dean has zero concept of how to deal with his father being proud of him and saying it outright. He’s on such uncertain ground with it that he glances over at Sam. Sam is the one who will help him understand what is happening. Dean needs an anchor. He’s lost. When he turns back to his father, what we see there is the abused son. The untrustful son. His whisper of “thanks” is full of that distrust. We’ll see it again in that great hospital scene where Dean can barely take it – “Is this really you saying this?” – a flashback to this moment, only even more heartbreaking. He can’t trust. He loves his dad and he “trusts” him in the abstract, but on the ground he doesn’t trust him at all, and rightly so.

And it’s here where Dean knows. You can see the knowledge in his eyes.


The lights flicker, and wind gusts around the cabin.

John tells Sam to salt the windows, and Sam said he already did. A flash of irritation from John, “Well, check it.” Sam rushes off to do so, and John, staring out the window, asks Dean for the Colt. In the last 2 seconds, Dean figured it out. You can see it on his face. So he stalls: “Sam tried to shoot the demon in Salvation and it vanished.”

John says, “This is me. I won’t miss.”

John, I would like to point out that Sam didn’t “miss” and Dean didn’t say that Sam “missed.” He said that the demon “vanished” when hit by the bullet. But whatever. John hears what he wants to hear. Dean’s got the gun in his hands, but he doesn’t hand it over. John notices the hesitation and says (and I love the line reading): “Son. Please.”


Dean is a man of instinct. It gets him into trouble, it saves his ass. He also analyzes, and puts pieces together, even if he can’t articulate it. And he knows that Dad is “not right” right now. Protectively, he moves back a couple of steps, out of arm’s reach from his father, and John goes quietly apeshit. The voice is contemptuous. The voice is not interested in what Dean is going through because Dean is nothing, not worth considering. At least the demon got that dynamic right! “What are you doing. Give me the gun.”

Dean’s knowledge makes him strong. Makes him able to stand his ground. He knows what he knows. There’s anger at John, anger at how John has treated him, how nothing he did was ever good enough, how he was never proud … but Dean is not present to the unfair-ness of it, not now. We’re gonna have to wait until the dream to get to the real rage. Here, he knows that he is in the presence of something very very bad, and he must not … must not … hand the gun over. “He’d be furious,” says Dean. “That I wasted a bullet. He wouldn’t be proud of me. He’d tear me a new one.”

I won’t forget my first time watching the entire scene. Morgan’s speech about being proud was so achingly warm, so unbelievably inclusive, that I melted in it. GOTCHA, shouts Eric Kripke. Tee hee. And so I was almost … I was almost HURT by Dean’s refusal to believe in the moment. I was almost BETRAYED. I’m talking first time through. This is how disorienting John Winchester/Jeffrey Dean Morgan is. I didn’t even know which end was the hell UP. When Dean digs his heels in, and insists that that “proud” moment was not, could not be real, I felt scared and betrayed, because I had been tricked too. I know there’s a lot of John hate out there. But I’m writing these re-caps trying to re-capture some of the feelings that came up for me in my first viewing, the sheer whirlwind of Season 1, how in many ways it felt like Jimmy Stewart’s horrifying psychedelic nightmare in Vertigo, especially the Mad-Men-esque free fall at the end:

I became complicit in the fucked-up family dynamic, in other words. I wanted Dean to pipe down and believe his dad, mainly because Jeffrey Dean Morgan had played the moment so movingly. But as the moment stretches out, and as Dean digs his heels in, other things started to push up through the earth, other elements, Dean’s understanding of his own life, and Dean’s understanding of his own father. The moment was a real eye-opener for me the first time through and I had to watch it a couple of times to really get how deep it went. Dean is telling us, inadvertently, how horrible it was for him. But his awareness of how horrible it was is what helps him to stay strong, to stick to his guns (or … gun), and to not let his father sway him, overrun him, boss him around … not now.

The moment teeters on the brink. John doesn’t move. Dean doesn’t either until somewhere, inside, the decision is made, and slowly, he raises the Colt to point it at his father, in yet another Dirty Harry reference, gun in foreground, Dean behind it in huge closeup.

“You’re not my dad,” Dean says.

John has turned to Dean. “Dean, it’s me.”

“I know my dad better than anyone. And you ain’t him.”

John’s closeups, facing off with his son, are as gorgeous and gritty as they get, again with that blackness all around him. The cut lip, the grime on his face, he looks like shit, he looks gorgeous, he looks pissed off, he looks hurt. It’s incredible.

“What’s gotten into you?” asks John.

Dean says, “I could ask you the same thing.”

There it is, the clearly sexual connotation of demon possession, of having something inside of you without your permission … not to mention the fact that it looks like your father, and so pointing a gun at him goes against every instinct you have … It’s a wonderful moment. Dean is both strong and Dirty Harry-ish as well as scared and vulnerable. Not to be attempted by amateurs.

Sam re-enters after salting everything again to see … Dean holding a gun on their father. Good lord, I leave the room for 5 minutes and this is what you two get up to? And you tell ME I’m hard on Dad? Jeez, Dean!

Great shot coming up – done in one – where the camera starts on Sam saying, “Dean. What the hell’s going on?”, zooms over to Dad who says “Your brother’s lost his mind” (there’s that “your brother” thing again), and then zooms back to Dean who says, “He’s not Dad,” and then Dean goes blurry and Sam comes into focus, saying to Dean, “What??” The actors need to be so on top of their timing to make a shot like that happen! Collaboration! And kudos to the camera operator! A shot like that puts the three men in the shot at the same time, even though they are separated, and you get whiplash going from one to the other, which basically would be what it would feel like hanging out with the Winchesters.

Dean doesn’t take his eyes off his father, but tells Sam he thinks Dad has been possessed since they rescued him, and Sam asks, “Dean, how do you know?” I love him for asking. Ackles’ brilliance comes up again in the following moment, where Dean kind of splutters, very upset, and very inarticulate, “He’s … different …” He looks scared. It’s fascinating.

John says to Sam, because now Dean is totally beyond the pale and not worth talking to anymore, “Sam, you want to kill this demon, you gotta trust me.” It’s a shut-out of Dean. Sam will be the one to kill the demon. Dean is out of the picture. There are all kinds of implications in the moment. Considering.



Then comes what feels like an endless triangulation of close-ups. It’s a clear “final moment” kind of visual choice, a deep look at “where everyone’s at” before the action heats up again. Sam needs to choose. He looks back and forth. John stares at Sam. Dean glances at Sam, looks back at Dad. Sam continues to stand in the middle, caught, looking back, forth. It goes on forEVER. It’s great. SWIM IN THAT SHIT, SUPERNATURAL.

Sam finally moves slowly over behind Dean.

The shot of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, seen from behind/through his two sons, is a masterpiece. It’s a masterpiece visually, and also because what we see on his face is heartbreaking.


It makes us question everything.

The worst part about demon possession is that it’s so RUDE.

The fact that Jeffrey Dean Morgan looks, ultimately, hurt, is perfect, because it makes it harder for Sam and Dean to stand their ground. Relationships make us do things we otherwise wouldn’t do. It also makes us hold back, and remember concepts like mercy and forgiveness and pity. Think back to Dean’s confession moment (“it scares me sometimes”) which already feels like it happened hours ago.

And, of course, retrospectively (which I’m trying to avoid, in general, because the scene was such a powerhouse the first time through, and that’s what I’m trying to get at – how it operates on a Story level WITHOUT the baggage of the following 9 seasons) – the whole thing is a HUGE manipulation. Think about the absolute glee of the demon inside of Dad, messing with his vessel’s precious confused sons’ heads in this way. Think of the “I know, I’ll almost cry” idea that comes to the demon, knowing how it will stick the knife in. The demon will count on the fact that Sam and Dean’s soft human feeling for their father (the best parts of them, John’s issues notwithstanding) will make them hesitate. The demon counts on using the best parts of Sam and Dean (their loyalty, their love, their gentleness) against them. He does so consciously and manipulatively.

That’s why what Morgan is doing here is so unbelievable.

John, near tears, says, “If you’re so sure, go ahead. Shoot me.”

I mean, look at that.


Of course Dean can’t take it. And of course the demon knows that and loves that. One could put forth the explanation that John knows it too. Whatever works. It’s all there. It’s not just one thing and it never is. Dean is on the verge of tears. John, in the meantime, has looked down, ostensibly because he is so upset. It looks that way if you don’t know what’s coming. His face is lost in shadow.


But then comes a different kind of voice from within that shadow, a smiling voice, a leering triumphant voice, “I thought so.” John looks up and dimly we see the golden smiling eyes.

Good for you, Dino. You knew.

Sam, before he can even make a move, is thrown back against the wall, and so is Dean, the Colt flying out of his hand. Bungee-cords, guys, you need to invest.

I want to make one granular observation. Jeffrey Dean Morgan has a way of almost grunt-sighing before and after each line. It was there in Grey’s Anatomy, too. It’s how he speaks. It can feel different, depending on the character he’s playing, and that’s his talent. It can make him seem completely connected, those grunt-sighs that bookend his lines. It makes him seem grounded, gritty, of-the-earth. And there’s something about that “tic” of his that becomes extremely gross in this final confrontation in “Devil’s Trap.” It’s almost like he’s eating with his mouth open, or sitting on the toilet. He breathes into Dean’s face, and you can feel the demon holding back from actually eating Dean whole, or kissing Dean open-mouthed, or licking the side of his Dean’s face. In this particular scene, those prefix/suffix grunt-sighs become 100% predatory.

And bless Jeffrey Dean Morgan for not being afraid to “go there.” For making this “demon” a leering grunting predator, whose main and only focus is Dean. Interesting, when you consider Demon-Blood-Boy is in the room.

With a grunt-sigh, John/Demon picks up the Colt off the floor, saying, “What a pain in the ass this thing’s been.” Too funny. A meta-comment on the meta-MacGuffin.

He looks so frightening with the yellow eyes, especially when he smiles, and Sam asks, “What about the holy water?” and the thing says, “You think something like that works on something like me?”


Teasing, needling, the demon tells Sam to make the Colt float on over to him. Yeah, Sam, why DON’T you do that? But it’s worse when the demon turns his yellow-eyed focus onto Dean.

Sam is complete, in a way, even with the psychic thing he’s got going on: He is whole in a way that isolates him from the family and makes him seem “different”, but also in a way that protects him. Dean has no such protection. His borders are completely porous. Life is dangerous to Dean on multiple levels, stuff “gets in” all the time, obviously monsters, that’s a given, but also in situations like Cassie where he was literally unable to date her or continue on without telling her everything. She “got in” with him. So it’s good and bad, perilous as well as safe. Sam was perfectly able to fall totally in love with Jessica at the same time that he didn’t tell her the #1 major thing about himself. Sam was ABLE to do that, Dean wouldn’t have been able to go one date with the girl without spilling the beans, if his feelings were engaged. So. Risk. Vulnerability. No boundaries. John uses all of that, terribly, in the following moments.


John grins over at Dean, almost in a buddy-buddy way. The yellow eyes are awful and remind me of Rudyard Kipling’s Rikki Tikki Tavi, and all of the animals knowing that they should never EVER look at the loop-de-loop on the cobra’s hood, because it has a way of freezing you in your tracks, leaving you open to Death by Cobra. Hide your eyes, hide your eyes. Chuck Jones, who created the animated version that got a lot of television play in the 1970s, the one narrated by Orson Welles, was a genius. You see the cobra’s decorated hood from all different angles, and it’s always a little scary, but then, in a critical moment, you see what that loop-de-loop actually FEELS like to the trapped animals looking at it.


That’s what John’s yellow eyes do to Dean.


John says to Dean, tapping into all of Dean’s fears about having something inside you against your will, not to mention forcing Dean to picture his father writhing around somewhere in there with the demon … ugh, it’s gross: “Your Dad? He’s in here with me. Trapped inside his own meat suit. He says hi by the way.” THEN, the demon says, with sexual relish, “He’s gonna tear you apart. He’s gonna taste the iron in your blood.”

That is a HELL of a line, Kripke. It’s so nasty. It turns Dean into something tasty.


Dean says, “Let him go, or I swear to God –” and considering the celestial storyline that ends up dominating the narrative, and all the Sword of Michael, Dean as Chosen One, Dean as Righteous Man and Handprint on Shoulder and angel radio and blah blah, I love that John says, “What are you and God gonna do.” Ha. We have zero idea that any of that is coming, it will be three more seasons before the angels even arrive, but I love Morgan’s line reading there. He sounds totally contemptuous and knowing, like he knows God personally and knows what a useless sack of shit He is.

John moves in close, and here is where the grunt-sigh thing goes into high gear. As close as he stands to Dean, Dean could smell what the demon had for breakfast yesterday.


So manipulative demon bullshit, Meg was his daughter and the other guy was “muh boy…” leaned in to whisper in Dean’s ear (I hate the “muh”, it’s a great choice, intimate and sick). I can barely hear what he’s saying though because the grunt-sighs before/after the lines freak me the fuck out. They’re so lecherous, he’s lingering in the pleasure.

“You destroyed my family. How would you feel if I killed your family?” The smile that twitches on John’s lips after he says that, and how close he is to Dean, makes it one of the ugliest moments in the series. Who knows what would happen next if Sam didn’t call across the room. Jeez, it was getting way too close for comfort over there. Dean can’t respond to the demon’s taunts because basically what he is seeing is this:


Sam, though, with that separation he is able to maintain, calls over, “I want to know why.”

The demon turns, saying, “You mean why’d I kill Mommy and pretty little Jess?”

It’s a line that would send Dean into a tailspin, he’s too connected to all of those losses and people and memories, but Sam just shoots back, “Yeah.” And it’s so fucking tough I am in love with it.

Yeah. Why’d ya kill my mom and my girlfriend. That’s what I want to know.”

Sam has thrown in his comment because he does want to know why but also as a distraction for the demon, the demon being “all about Dean”. Sam is all the way across the room. The demon turns back to Dean and says, “You know, I never told you this, but Sam was gonna ask her to marry him. Been shopping for rings and everything.”

I love the “I never told you this.” So totally weird and the images it brings up. We learned in “Bugs” that John used to “swing by” Stanford on occasion to keep an eye on (spy on) Sam. It is supposed to be a touching revelation which is totally hysterical to me. Awww, he cares enough to stalk! But the “I never told you this” line brings up an image of gloomy Dad skulking around Stanford, spying, following Sam, and then reporting back to resentful contemptuous Dean, already pumped up with the feeling of abandonment, probably one of the main ways he bonded with his father during those years. Dean: “So how’s he doing??” Dad: “He’s dating someone.” Dean: “What??” Dad: “Yup. They’ve moved in together now.” Dean: “What??” Dean and Dad probably whipped themselves into a bridge-party-gossip-circle over every new revelation about what Sam was doing without them. Guys, you are STALKING your family member. So I love the “I never told you this.” It suggests just how much Dean and Dad talked about Sam while he was gone. And “I never told you this” sounds like a very girlie thing to say, a gossipy thing – “Oh wait, and get a load of THIS …” “You never told me that!!” “Well here I am telling you now! Whaddya think of THAT?”

Now it’s Sam’s turn to be faced with the cobra-hood of Daddy’s yellow eyes, but Sam isn’t thrown like Dean is. He holds it together, all as he’s pinned to the wall with a busted eye.

The demon says to Sam, “You want to know why? Because they got in the way.” Sam spits, “In the way of what,” and the demon then says, “My plans for you, Sammy. And all the children like you.”

And that, folks, is how you guarantee your cliffhanger for Season 2. WHAT THE HELL IS HE TALKING ABOUT OMG WHAT.

The demon is so in Sam’s face that Dean interjects himself, drawing the demon back to him. Bait. Back and forth. Bait. “You mind getting this over with, please, because I can’t stand the monologuing,” says Dean.

It’s also a funny line, a sort of the-script-commenting-on-itself on the part of Kripke, because what is happening is artificial and also already a cliche by now. You know: the Big Bad Monster shows up in the Third Act and instead of killing everyone ….. proceeds to launch into a speech.

Dean’s line is funny but it also skips over the GIANT revelation that was just tossed out on the floor. Dean’s comment works the way Dean probably wants it to work because the demon is back on Dean in a flash. And now it attempts to worm its way inside Dean’s head, to explain Dean to Dean, so that Dean will forever after think of these words when his very necessary survival techniques come up. I’m a big fan of survival techniques. Duh. Because they help us survive. But when someone causes you to doubt them, when someone comes along and shows contempt for you, or cracks the edifice of what you have created … you’re left flailing. It’s one of the ways to recognize a potential predator, by the way. Predators make you feel that your boundaries are permeable, that they can see right through it, that you’re silly to try to hide yourself from them. There is such RELISH in the way Morgan launches into his next bit, how he looms right up near Dean’s mouth, his eyes on Dean’s mouth, the closeness of their bodies, the truly unstable air between them … it’s unbelievable.

Look at the difference in how the demon treats Sam as opposed to how it treats Dean. It is a reflection of what happens in the dynamic when Dad is at the wheel of his own meat-suit. Dean can’t get away with shit. Sam gets away with murder, comparatively. Of course it doesn’t feel that way to Sam, but Sam gets away with stuff that Dad would NEVER allow from Dean. And so Sam’s spitting orders into the demon’s face actually gets an answer – it’s a terrible and ambiguous answer – but the demon concedes Sam’s “right” to ask it. But Dean? You shut your mouth, boy.


Dean and Demon sittin’ in a tree …

“Funny! But that’s all part of your MO, isn’t it. Mask all that nasty pain. Mask the truth.” Morgan punches up the word “mask”, breathing it out, the vowel stretching out. It’s an attack. Dean can’t withstand it. The words “get in” there. Despite the fact that Dean can’t stand the monologuing, he asks for more, asks what “truth” the demon is referring to. You know, Dean is basically saying: Please. Let me hear another monologue. Glutton for punishment, that one.

Watch how Morgan keeps on looking at Dean’s mouth. And listen for the grunt-sighs. Dean, seen in closeup, taking the verbal beating, is all a mess, struggling for control, and yet feeling nailed by the revelations. It’s what he knows, what he feels, what he can’t admit to himself.

The demon: “You fight and fight for this family but the truth is they don’t need you. Not like you need them. Sam? He’s clearly John’s favorite. Even when they fight, it’s more concern than he’s ever shown you.”

That line, in case you haven’t noticed or guessed, is a Possible Cliff of Doom, which Morgan neatly and deftly and artfully avoids. He plays it straight-up, with a gleeful sneer, and also with a dead-on point-blank accuracy that makes it impossible to not consider the weight of what he is saying, yellow eyes or no.

Because of the sheer length of the monologue, Dean has had time to get himself together. What he comes up with as a comeback is almost as devastating as the demon’s abuse. It’s one of my favorite line readings of Ackles’ in the whole series.

“I bet you’re real proud of your kids, too. Oh that’s right, I forgot. I wasted ’em.”

Anyone who is a fan of Supernatural knows what Jensen Ackles does with that line and knows that it is awesome.


But it’s also really interesting (as always) to think of the multiple levels going on here. His dad is “in there” and as far as Dean knows his dad is aware of what is happening and what is being said. And there’s a power in that, too. Something maybe Dean would feel tremendously guilty about it if he actually examined it. Dad has been neutralized. Silenced, essentially, by the demon. Dad is out of commission and yet he is still present. So maybe I can say some shit “to” him and not have to deal with what comes back. The sneer of “I bet you’re real proud of your kids, too” – the “too” being ultimately sarcastic, because John, as established, would NOT be “proud” of Dean for anything. It could be seen as a dig, for his father who may be “in there” and listening.

Dean almost smiles up at his predator. It’s mean as hell and it does hit the demon where it “hurts”. The demon’s eyes have gone soft, contemplative. Nothing scarier than a demon who has his feelings hurt.

The yellow eyes flash, and Dean is suddenly pierced, somehow, attacked, blood pouring through his shirt, screaming and writhing in pain. Sam helplessly thrashes against his wall, and we see Dean’s injuries from one of those from-below shots Manners/Ladouceur love so much. Determined to shatter our emotions even further, Dean cries out, desperately, “DAD. DON’T YOU LET IT KILL ME.”


But the blood keeps pouring and what the hell, has his heart been pierced?, we don’t even know what’s happening, and Sam starts to eyeball the Colt, willing it to come to him.

You know. Calling upon his patron saint.

1976 Carrie Stepehen King

The demon was asking for it, putting that thought in Sam’s head. So far nothing. Dean is now weakening, looking at the demon, crying out, “Dad … please …” But the yellow eyes are ruthless, and Dean eventually passes out. Somehow, then, John wrestles control of the demon, and re-appears in his own eyeballs (you figure it out), crushed, whispering, “Stop …” Dean is collapsed, blood dripping from his mouth, a clear image-mirror with the same shot of Meg post-exorcism. With yellow eyes gone, Sam is released from the wall (but not Dean?), and Sam runs and grabs the Colt. The demon grabs control of his vessel again, basically knocking John out inside him, and grins at Sam, “You kill me? You kill Daddy.”

Sam’s ready. Sam was born ready. He says, “I know,” then points the gun down and shoots John in the leg. Little lightning bolts come out, and at one gloriously cheese-ball moment, John’s face shines out into a skull, it’s totally awesome, and the demon collapses on the ground, and it is then that Dean is released. Watch Ackles’ brilliantly floppy fall to the floor, done in one.

Earlier in the episode, Dean railed at Sam over how he was going to bury both of them, but now it is Sam who is the only man standing. He runs over to Dean first, beautiful.


It may not be “smart,” because the demon is still among us, but it’s very human. However Dean, still conscious but losing steam, asks immediately, “Where’s Dad … go check on him.” Oh, Dean. Sam obeys, standing over John, with a little blue window behind him that looks like it’s a mile away. Seen from below. Suddenly, John roars back up, shouting, “Sammy – it’s inside me. I can feel it.”

TMI, John. Or go to a doctor to get it checked out.

Morgan’s performance is a tour de force. Screaming: “You shoot me in the heart, son.” The “son” kills me, it’s a great line. Even better, Sam doesn’t hesitate, raises the gun, cocks it, aims. It is Sam’s version of “not even flinching.” The connections are endless. Dean breathes from his bloody corner, “Sam, don’t you do it …”

Now comes another back-and-forth battle of the wounded Winchester men, with Sammy once again in the middle.


I think family counseling is in order. These are clearly irreconcilable differences.


John is literally begging. “We can end this here and now, I’m begging you …”

Back. Forth. Back. Forth. Seriously, they are drawing this shit out. Finally, Sam lowers the gun. He can’t do it. And John’s despair is so intense that I want to give the man an Emmy for 2 seconds of screen time.


Realizing he’s up shit’s creek without a paddle, the demon exits the vessel, and John is forced to lie on the floor, mouth open, for 2 whole hours, as the black smoke pours out and up and then (love the detail) careens down through the cracks in the floor boards. John is, understandably, wiped out after such a violation and exhalation, and throws Sam a look from the floor, it’s a “Why didn’t you do it” look which then quickly turns into the sobbing of a wrecked and ruined man. He has devoted his life to killing this thing. He has sacrificed a relationship with his sons for it. That sacrifice HAS to mean SOMEthing. Right? Right?? That thing has to PAY for what it has done, what it has taken from him. Anyway, it’s all there, in John’s sobbing on the floor.

The scene closes out on Sam, left hanging there, having been unable to kill his own father, and, you know, freaked out in general because the demon seemed to have some kind of job offer for him and he has no idea what that means. Also his brother is all bloody. Also Dad just shot lightning bolts out of his kneecaps.

9th scene
How perfect is it that “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater is the accompaniment to this final scene?

“Bad Moon Rising” is so woven into the scene up that now when it comes up on my iPod shuffle, I always think of a careening Impala and three hot bloody men. Thanks, Supernatural! I’ve been listening to the song my whole life and now you all OWN it.

Kind of like how I will never, EVER, hear “Stuck in the Middle With You” ever again without thinking of…

Sam is at the wheel, John in the passenger seat, like the parents, with Dean in the back like a little kid.


Sam and John are fighting, Dean is not involved at all. John is saying, “I’m surprised at you, Sam. I thought we saw eye to eye on this …” It is just what a cult leader would say. Because “seeing eye to eye” on things is required. It also totally leaves Dean out of the conversation, the implications being, “We all know your brother’s boneheaded ideas, but you and I – we’re SMART, we see EYE TO EYE …” If Dean weren’t basically bleeding to death all over his own upholstery, he might even be pissed off. See eye to eye? Sam ditched the family. I’ve given my whole life to you and your quest. How much MORE do you want from me? I love, though, that it’s barely noticed, that small comment, by the three in the car. This is their fucked-up reality.

“Killing this demon comes first. Before me, before everything,” says John, and Sam glances in the rear view mirror where we are treated with the pathetic sight of bloody Dean.


It’s a loop-back to the argument by the Impala. To the argument in “Salvation.” Dean wants to protect his family. If they kill the demon, great, but nobody’s gonna DIE doing it. Sam says, looking at Dean, “No, sir. Not before everything.”

Shmoopy! Tears! Beautiful bloody wounds in the night!

Sam starts to take charge. “We have one bullet left – we found the demon once – ” Out of nowhere, huge headlights careen towards the passenger side of the Impala and there’s a massive crash, and it’s one of the best effects Supernatural has ever created, a show that features surprisingly few car crashes, all things considered. If you’ve been in a car crash, then you know that that’s what they can be like. Nothingness/normalcy into SHRIEKING CHAOS in a millisecond. The perception really is that “the car that hit me came out of nowhere.” I’ve watched the crash so many times and it STILL scares me, and I am STILL surprised by it.

Pulling out all the stops for their big finale, the 18-wheeler that has crashed into the Impala is seen careening off the road, pushing the Impala in front of it, zooming down a grassy ditch, right towards the camera, until coming to a dead stop. It’s extremely elaborate, and extremely well done.

All is silent after the crash, except … except … for that damn Creedence Clearwater song, still playing. Brill. The truck driver sits in his cab and is clearly alive, although he looks suspiciously Village of the Damned-ish, staring out of his front window, the camera pulling back, over the truck’s hood, down onto the demolished Impala crushed on his grill.


Making sure we have no emotions left besides despair and doom, Kim Manners shows us John, then Sam, then Dean, all of them blood-soaked, all of them passed out. Or dead for all we know. The music keeps playing.

Don’t go around tonight
Well, it’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise…

Yeah, a little bit late for that warning, but thanks.

End of Season 1.

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126 Responses to Supernatural: Season 1, Episode 22: “Devil’s Trap”

  1. mutecypher says:

    Wow, another wonderful walk-through and analysis. Thank you so much for doing this, and for letting all of us comment.

    //Watch the complicated swoopy camera move that opens the scene. It starts on the devil’s trap on the ceiling, moves down so we see Meg’s hands tied to a chair, with Dean and Sam standing off to the side, staring at her like thugs, and then the camera does a total 180 back to Meg. It probably took 4 hours to get that shot right. It lasts 1 second.//

    We were speaking of robots in the last recap… Many of the kids ‘bots have a mode where they can “learn” a series of actions. You take wheels and grippers and whatever else that’s been built and move them as you’d like, and then the robot duplicates this as often as you’d like. Do you know, do the dollies and other mechanical equipment used have similar capabilities for complicated shots – or are they always moved by actual people?

    Close-ups, are the cameras physically as close they appear or is there some zoom in to allow the actors a bit of space? When JDM and JA are about to kiss, is the camera really 2 feet away from them? It seems too much to expect that people could act at the level they are doing and be aware enough of the camera that they have to do everything AND not move more than an inch in any direction… Since you reminded us of how much you enjoy talking about the nuts-and-bolts, I thought I’d ask myself what my assumptions are about the process and see how ill-informed I really am.

    And Jim Beaver is completely cool. I loved that he showed up in a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad, selling weapons to Walter. I pictured Bobby making a little money on the side – as I suspect the BB folks intended.

    And the Key Of Solomon link. Oh my. “Table of the Magical Names of the hours and Angels who rule them…” The pull of Rabbit Holes, you temptress.

    • sheila says:

      // Do you know, do the dollies and other mechanical equipment used have similar capabilities for complicated shots – or are they always moved by actual people? //

      They definitely do have those capabilities now – which is so cool – although SPN has a pretty hands-on crew and they do old-school shit like Steadicams, and handheld – that shot looks to me like it was a dolly with the camera on a little crane moving up and down on a track beside the bed with someone pushing it, perfectly timing it. It requires exquisite timing. Not to mention keeping everything in focus. It’s nuts – and very intricate work – the show is so good-looking and there’s a reason why crew guys have been working on it for 10 years. Every day is a challenge for them as well.

      // It seems too much to expect that people could act at the level they are doing and be aware enough of the camera that they have to do everything AND not move more than an inch in any direction //

      And that’s why actors get paid the big bucks, because they CAN do all of that and make it seem like a totally private moment. In most cases in SPN, the cameras really are literally right in their faces. You can’t blink. You can’t move. You have to know your angles. You have to move your eyes very specifically. If you lick your lips, it is going to read HUGE and seem to have all kinds of MEANING – so you have to be very careful with your face and what you do with it in closeup. Everything is magnified in significance when the camera is that close.

      Robert Altman would use huge zoom lenses, so he could shoot something from far away and then move in really really close – so his camera is basically like a stalker or a sniper, but that gives a totally different feel. Sometimes the actors in Altman films weren’t even aware that they were being filmed.

      I don’t know much about camera lenses, and what they use for those closeups.

      I am pretty sure these early seasons were shot on film. I think the switch to digital is partially responsible for the more slick glossy look of the series now. But I’d have to check that.

      Here, they are in tight spaces, small sets, with a boom operator literally standing right at their shoulder, and a camera so close that their breath might fog the lens.

      These actors are insanely gifted.

      // I pictured Bobby making a little money on the side – as I suspect the BB folks intended. //


    • sheila says:

      The main difference between theatre and film is the closeup. Early film-makers didn’t understand that, and were basically filming things as though there was still a proscenium arch with people entering from off-stage. It was D.W. Griffith who went in close – right into his actor’s faces – who basically understood the possibilities of the new medium – and that the new medium was going to be psychological primarily, that that is what it could show.

      In good films, closeups MEAN something.

      Closeups are overused, in general. They are efficient – because it immediately clicks you in to a character’s emotional state. And faces tell the story FOR you. Closeups are an easy and quick way to do that.

      SPN uses closeups a lot, but they do them artfully – not in a pure soap opera way – soap operas are basically ALL closeups.

  2. mutecypher says:

    //And that’s why actors get paid the big bucks, because they CAN do all of that and make it seem like a totally private moment.//

    Is that a standard for actors taking classes – to have a TV/Film acting class and practice with something that much in your face? The standard acting class one sees in movies and TV seems set up as “theater-y.”

    • sheila says:

      Taking on-camera film classes is great practice. Be emotionally vulnerable and real, and do it with a camera 2 inches away from your face. Go.

      Some people just “know how to do it”.

      A friend of mine teaches an on-camera class to people in musical theatre who want to get into television. Musical theatre people are trained a certain way and it is VERY difficult for them (sometimes) to dial it down about 9 notches for television. My friend tells me great stories of one woman who would get up to do her scene – and my friend just kept saying, “Do less”, and the woman would do less, and my friend would say, “Do even less” and she would do less … until finally the woman was like, “But now I don’t feel like I’m doing ANYthing” and my friend said, “And now you’re starting to get the picture.”

      The camera can be your best friend, your supportive lover, but ONLY if you are entirely honest. If you lie even the tiniest bit, it becomes your staunch enemy.

      I have some great anecdotes about that on my site. About how little you have to do if a camera is pointing at you. Let me track them down.

  3. Helena says:

    Fabulous recap, as always. Final episode of Season 1. Feel like the cattle have been driven safely home to Abilene – time for the final punch up between John Wayne and Monty Clift.

    I wonder about the timeframe here. Is it very compressed – are they at Bobby’s the day after rescuing Monica and family, and then in Lincoln the next? Is that possible, given the speed at which a 40 year old Impala can drive along back roads.

    Love the song they’re playing as the brothers flee to Bobby’s. Crashing chords, portents of doom.

    Alas, poor Rumsfeld. Does his soul instantly transmigrate into that guy you see crawling around on the floor (in my DVD, at least) as the brothers say their goodbyes to Bobby?

    Sam’s little whispered nos. Tilt the Balance of the universe.

    Dad’s grunty voice. Love the way all the demons talk like exhausted cowboys, jaded chorines, perverted vaudevillians.

    There’s a lot of Dean in Demon-boy too. Dad’s little soldier.

    We could talk for hours about skeevy dads. Probably will.

    I may have posted something else which may have gone into moderation. Or not posted it all.

    • sheila says:

      Thank you Helena!!

      I don’t see a post in my moderation queue from you.

      It does feel compressed. Like it’s all one day.

      Okay, so they were in Salvation, Iowa and it was night. They drove to South Dakota, which would be about a 7 hour drive, or … maybe 5 and a half with the way Dean is driving. So maybe they hit Bobby’s in the morning. Hang out. Exorcise a demon. You know. What would that be, it feels like 3 or 4 hours. And then boom they’re off to Missouri. The drive to Missouri from South Dakota is about 10 hours.

      So. Ouch. Their asses are hurting by the time they get to Sunrise Apartments. That’s a lot of driving.

      Oh and I love the crashing music too as they go to Bobby’s, and then how it kind of dies down as we see the Impala in the drive … those chords … it’s a very Wild West feeling. Not as Wild West-y as the music we get when the guys discover the roadhouse, but it’s close!

      “perverted vaudevillians” – hahahaha Totally.

      Wait – I don’t know if I know what you’re talking about with the guy crawling on the floor in the DVD – hahaha Is it a crew guy?

      Here, the concept of Dad is just so monstrous. Kripke did say the underlying theme of the whole thing is “Family is hell” – so it’s just so perfect that Dad would become the literal embodiment of evil after all of that destabilizing disorienting emotionalism in JDM’s acting.

  4. Natalie says:

    Good lord, these John episodes. I just. Yeah.

    //I saw it the same year I read Flowers in the Attic. //

    Hahahahaha. I really opened a can of worms, didn’t I? I’m so, so sorry.

    //“That’s kind of a turn-on. You hitting a girl.”//
    //Doh. Stop implicating me, Supernatural.//

    Lazarus Rising may be my favorite non-comedic episode of the series (I’ve certainly been going back to it a lot in the last week or so), and the scene with Meg makes me think of the confrontation with the demons in the diner, which I would argue is Dean at his absolute hottest. He punches Flo the demon waitress – twice – hard enough that you hear her neck crack. And he’s all narrowed-eyes and intense and growly and dangerous and “bring it, bitch,” and I’m all, “Take me! Take me now!”

    Stop implicating me, indeed.

    I adore Bobby and his educated blue collar contradictions. I love that there are blank spaces in Bobby’s history even after Death’s Door. When the hell did he learn Japanese?

    The moment that Dean figured out that John was possessed because he said he was proud of Dean was the first moment that I fully grasped John. There were little hints – the crack about the Impala rusting, the playing of Sam and Dean against each other – that made me uncomfortable with John, but I didn’t really get the full impact of that until the moment that Dean pointed the Colt at him. It was such a beautiful setup. They had the whole audience aching to hear “I’m proud of you” from John right along with Dean, and even in the next episode, I was still pulled right into John’s speech to Dean at the end (and I do actually believe that one was sincere, and Dean’s “Is that really you talking?” is just heartbreaking). JDM is amazing.

    And the tension in those moments when Sam is struggling with who to believe – I love the look on his face when he steps closer to Dean. I kind of think the entire season was really building to that moment – that after everything they’ve been through, when push comes to shove, Sam’s allegiance is with Dean.

    I have more to say on the whole John and Dean stalking Sam thing, but that goes into really personal territory for me (and other members of my family). It also loops back to why I was so knee-jerk about none of the other hunters/contacts calling CPS on John in the last recap. Basically – I’ve sort of been in John and Dean’s shoes there, as have other members of my immediate family. Not for any reason so benign as someone running away to go to college, though. More like running off with two children and a potentially dangerously unstable man and cutting the kids off from any contact with the rest of the family. Luckily that situation has improved, but there were many months of grasping for any little bit of information we could get about the kids. So I kind of feel for John and Dean there (although, granted, my family and I were not exactly staking out their apartment or tracking their movements). But it’s a strange sort of loss, and a strange grieving experience, to know that someone you love is still out there, but they’re lost to you. It’s creepy that John was stalking Sam, yes, but I can understand it.

    • sheila says:

      Natalie –
      // And he’s all narrowed-eyes and intense and growly and dangerous and “bring it, bitch,” and I’m all, “Take me! Take me now!” //

      hahahahaha I know. It’s awesome.

      Have you seen the film Running on Empty? I mentioned it another re-cap and it has a lot of Supernatural themes. A family on the run, two sons, having to devote themselves to the criminal lifestyle – the sins of the parents resting on the sons … and the older son (River Phoenix) ends up auditioning to go to Juilliard and the whole “going to college” thing completely derails the family. Anyway, if you’ve seen it, then you know it. Going to college literally means never seeing your family again. It’s a hell of a choice.

      And I totally understand the “stalking” – I was just kidding, and also imagining how much Dad and Dean would have been Sam-focused in his absence. “How’s he doing?” It would be so WEIRD to suddenly be only two of them, to not have Sam there as a buffer and a focus-point. Now THOSE are some flashbacks I’d love to see, although I think the possibility of that is pretty dim at this point.

      // They had the whole audience aching to hear “I’m proud of you” from John right along with Dean //

      That’s it! And they really came by that moment honestly. It was manipulative – but in the best sense.

      and hahaha Flowers in the Attic. I read that entire blog over the last 2 days. Crying with laughter. Thanks so much for pointing it my way!

    • sheila says:

      // I kind of think the entire season was really building to that moment – that after everything they’ve been through, when push comes to shove, Sam’s allegiance is with Dean. //

      Natalie – I really like that.

      Yes, very important moment. I was extremely moved by it the first time I saw it.

  5. Helena says:

    Also, ornate metal holy water bottles. They are all very well. But by the time you’ve got the cap off you can be flicked to perdition by the demon in question. Squeezy bottles would be better.

    And Meg. Nicky Aycox’s performance grew on me too. I think, after all, she is meant to be annoying. Her arch voice and declarative diction are annoying. The way she trips around is annoying. The confrontational manner is annoying. But by the end of this episode you’re sorry for her.

    Love the gloomy paintings in Casa Bobby. Need to do a recce in future episodes of those spooky canvases.

    • sheila says:

      I think I felt she was stilted. I don’t know what my problem was. It’s quite a deep performance, because there is still a girl in there. The sort of coy arch line-readings are because the demon is “acting.” I really like her performance now.

      Bobby’s eventual house is just a masterpiece. We definitely will need to zoom in on those walls.

    • sheila says:

      Squeezy bottles bungee-corded to your wrists. Come on, guys, get it together.

  6. Natalie says:

    Oh, and Rumsfeld. I can’t decide if Bobby meant that as an insult or an homage. I could go either way.

  7. Helena says:

    //Wait – I don’t know if I know what you’re talking about with the guy crawling on the floor in the DVD – hahaha Is it a crew guy? //

    yes, guy with a still camera. But in my heart I know it’s Rumsfeld. Metempsychosis.

  8. Natalie says:

    //I pictured Bobby making a little money on the side – as I suspect the BB folks intended.//

    I haven’t watched Breaking Bad yet – it’s on my netflix list – but OMG, I LOVE this idea!!

  9. Helena says:

    Darn it. The missing post went something like





  10. Helena says:

    Reposted. Awaiting moderation.

  11. Helena says:

    //Oh my God, that second one.//

    It’s a fabulous painting. And as a statement of the Winchester family dynamic on display here? Totally.

    Actually kind of reminds me of Dean at the mirror finding that handprint in Lazarus Rising. Same sort of look in their eyes.

    • sheila says:

      Totally. There’s a masochistic thing going on in that second one – and an exhibitionist thing. “See my wounds?” Gorgeous.

      That mirror moment in Lazarus Rising. The first of many Dean-in-mirror moments and it’s killer!!

  12. Helena says:


    //Do you know, do the dollies and other mechanical equipment used have similar capabilities for complicated shots – or are they always moved by actual people?//

    There are indeed mechanised/digitised robotic cameras which can track very complicated and closeup shots – Keanu Reeves used one for the fights in Man of Tai Chi (reviewed by Sheila).

    Or, you can just have a brilliant director and crew.

    • sheila says:

      Oh look at that, Man of Tai Chi. I loved that movie and those fight scenes were amazing!!

      But yeah, you can’t beat the intuition of a camera operator who knows how to find the moment, every time.

  13. mutecypher says:

    Helena –

    //There are indeed mechanised/digitised robotic cameras which can track very complicated and closeup shots – Keanu Reeves used one for the fights in Man of Tai Chi (reviewed by Sheila//

    Wow, thanks.

    Bobby and Rumsfeld. When you recall that Bobby had a prominent poster of Hot Republican Babe Bo Derek, I don’t think there was anything insulting or ironic about him having a guard dog named Rumsfeld.

    Now back down the Rabbit Hole (hey, Keanu!) and learning the names of the angels in associated with various metals. If only I can discover the name of the angel in charge of semiconductors, I might be able to create a True Artificial Intelligence.

    I’ll be back.

    • sheila says:

      // learning the names of the angels in associated with various metals. If only I can discover the name of the angel in charge of semiconductors, I might be able to create a True Artificial Intelligence. //


      Tell us what you learn!

      That poster of Bo Derek transcends political opinions – but yeah, I’m with you.

  14. mutecypher says:

    //if you operate under the mistaken assumption that cinema began when Star Wars opened or that you “don’t watch black-and-white movies”, and if that’s the case, I have nothing to say to you. //

    My soon-to-be ex falls into that category. I’ll have to find this out about anyone I want to get serious with in the future. Those who do not remember the past, blah-blah-blah.

    Yes, there is something transcendent about Bo Derek.

    • sheila says:

      It’s fine if you only watch current films, I guess – although I personally don’t understand it and have to actually WORK to get hyped up about films made post-1960 – but to add to it disinterest about the past, as well as dismissiveness – or, worse, to say “I don’t watch black and white films” – which I have actually heard – it’s just so ignorant. Fine. Be ignorant. No desire to teach people who have that attitude.

      And Bo – Running on the beach with the beads in her hair and the orange bathing suit? I mean, it’s as iconic and definitive to a certain generation as that famous Farrah Fawcett poster!

  15. mutecypher says:

    I loved your post about the 3 actors. It’s hard to imagine an experienced (and world class) actor like Dennis Hopper not getting what Robert Duvall was doing until he saw the rushes. It must take a lot of trust (and experience) for film and TV directors to let their actors be so “small.”

    • sheila says:

      I know about Dennis Hopper! It’s just such a different mindset to be a director – and standing in the room with Duvall – he couldn’t see the performance, and then he looked at the rushes and there it was. That’s the thing about Hopper – he was always learning, always in a state of growth. I miss him.

  16. Heather says:

    Wow. Wow to all of it; to your energy and efforts in creating these wonderful recaps, to the show and whoosh of the season finale…just wow. And thank you Sheila.
    Three fucking scenes…that is crazy. Tight and epic at the same time – sounds like an orgasm. I really love your appreciation and the ‘let me show you what was awesome’ spirit you write in. It is full fan-geek-expert passion and I dig it!

    //Supernatural shows them going too far. Supernatural shows them having to deal with that, struggle with that, combat what the job does to them on the inside. It’s what Supernatural is all about.//

    Heroes being people and making choices in the mud of life…oh boy, yes please. And Supernatural has set up the perfect structure for doing this. I brought this up when I discussed personal identity in a transitory world but I want to come back to this point. Because the show takes a journey mentality it is never finished or complete and this is at the heart of the fun. Don’t finish that thought…allow us (the audience) to do that in our context. Because the context of the moment is crucial. Who am I right now? What am I doing now? The goodness and badness of our heroes isn’t fixed either. While this can be frustrating because part of me loves a Sir Galahad (read: safety), it is also way more important morally to not be fixed. Because it is in the journey, the unfixed state, that striving becomes important. One has to keep trying to be good/survive/cope – and that is the best for morality’s sake and for drama. I love this about the show.

    //The moment that Dean figured out that John was possessed because he said he was proud of Dean was the first moment that I fully grasped John//
    Me too exactly. It is really difficult to remember, or un-remember, those feelings. JDM is so good at this, and he has those beautiful lived in dimples and I am just convinced that he smells good- he is very appealing. I didn’t have hate for him at the time, but I did have suspicion from the moment he makes that snarky put down to Dean about the car. That was like (vinyl record screech) hold up, jerk-alert! But it really was Dean saying here, ‘he wouldn’t be proud of me, he’d be furious’ that made me consider John as a Father and not just sexy-pants. Just as you said. Sheila, good for you for being able to watch the scene clean.

    //Love the way all the demons talk like exhausted cowboys, jaded chorines, perverted vaudevillians.//
    Yes, couldn’t quite place the accent, but that is it!

    • sheila says:

      // I really love your appreciation and the ‘let me show you what was awesome’ spirit you write in. It is full fan-geek-expert passion and I dig it! //

      So so nice of you to say. I really appreciate it!!

      // Don’t finish that thought…allow us (the audience) to do that in our context. Because the context of the moment is crucial. //

      Exactly right.

      // it is also way more important morally to not be fixed. //

      I would say, on a real down-and-dirty level – this is the actual theme of the show. It’s really kind of a radical notion – and out of step definitely in today’s political climate – which is so divided, and both sides require absolute conformity with their particular platform. (At least in the US). But to be able to change, grow, re-examine, and maybe RESIST being nailed down into some black-and-white standpoint … it’s challenging, it is THE challenge.

      And I honestly think none of these scenes would work if John had been played a different way – as more openly a villain. He, too, is not “fixed”. He fluctuates. He shows us what we want to see. We have to make up our own minds. And things are constantly complicated by emotions. It’s a hell of a draw. He really is so appealing. He HAS to be.

      Thanks again for participating here. I may take a short break before Season 2 – but I love Season 2 – and will definitely continue with the re-caps!!

  17. Maureen says:

    // Bobby has grease under his fingernails, and probably marks down the dates of rare book fairs on his calendar. //

    Sheila, I think you might have described my ideal man here!

    I was very lucky, even though I didn’t watch Supernatural till you started doing the recaps, I was remarkably unspoiled. When Jim Beaver showed up, I gave a little squeal of joy-I LOVE him so much.

    That ending-I SCREAMED when that truck hit them. Then when I watched it a couple weeks ago, I screamed again, even when I knew it was coming. Like you said-that is how a crash is-one minute you are rolling along, the next-your car is spinning out of control.

    // I hope all of this is somewhat interesting. It sure as hell is interesting to me. //

    Oh, hell yes it is interesting!!! I love when you talk about these kind of things-and how you are such a fan of classic movies, and make these correlations. That strong, tough guy-the man of few words, who gets the job done…sigh..

    I love how you phrased it, that the audience will lean forward and “fill that gap”. It becomes so much more meaningful, when actors do that-and I think that is why the performances of Wayne, Cooper, Bogart still resonate with us so much today. We are emotionally invested in those characters, because we had to “fill the gap”. One actress I think does this so well is Mary Astor-sometimes I do feel myself leaning towards the screen when she is on, it is like it becomes physical!

    What a wonderful ride of a first season, Sheila-you are truly a treasure!

    • sheila says:

      Maureen – thank you so much!!

      And totally, that car crash scares me every time, even though I know now that it is coming. So so well done. I can’t even really tell HOW they did it. Green screen projection probably – but it’s so good!

      I think the Tough Guy correlation is so important just in terms of context for these guys, and how we “frame” them – the actual story tropes being used. Season 2 goes full on Western-mode, with the roadhouse, and the sensibility is that of a Western – not a comic book movie, not an ironic snarky COMMENT on a Western – but an actual full-on Western. With guys in black hats and guys in white hats and smoking guns and hard liquor and tough choices. It’s out of style now – and those “types” of men are also out of style – but that’s where they are placed.

      // I think that is why the performances of Wayne, Cooper, Bogart still resonate with us so much today. //

      Yup. They still beckon, they still appeal, they still don’t reveal everything to us. It’s up to US to “complete the story”, in our heads – and the characters all still stalk around in our heads.

      Thanks again, Maureen!

  18. May says:

    You know, people are often hard on SPN’s first season…but holy crap! This episode is a fantastic season finale. The crash at the end? I was not expecting that. I spent THE WHOLE SUMMER thinking about it, wondering what would happen next. I rushed out to buy the S1 the day it was released and rewatched the whole season before S2 started. I was hooked.

    RE: John stalking Sam. It is probably the most parental thing he has ever done. And yet even that is tainted–how much and when did he know about Sam and the demon blood? Was he checking in out of genuine concern for Sam or to make sure Sam hadn’t gone bad?

    And even now, I still don’t hate the guy.

    • sheila says:

      The crash is mind-blowing!! I love to hear from people who watched in real-time. What a great ending.

      Even better, Season 2 starts off with an episode that I consider a masterpiece. one of those super-special episodes that works on such a high level of poetry and emotion that I never get sick of it. Like, they followed it up GOOD.

      // Was he checking in out of genuine concern for Sam or to make sure Sam hadn’t gone bad? //

      Yeah, that’s a good point! I wonder, too, about John’s timeline. I am sure that Dean and Dad missed the HELL out of Sam. It would have been so weird to not have him around.

      That whole Running on Empty thing again – the family as a too-close unit, interconnected, interchangeable.

  19. mutecypher says:

    //My Shakespeare professor in grad school used to say, “If you think a line from Shakespeare isn’t bawdy, it’s because you haven’t worked it out yet.” //

    Sheila, I was envying you your Shakespeare professor because I was so disappointed in mine. I did some digging on her and found this long interview with her – she was the first woman granted tenure at Caltech.

    It’s very interesting and I came away with a much higher opinion of her scholarship; among other things I learned about her emphasis on the visual elements in William Blake (which seems kinda duh, to me, but was apparently neglected in English Lit. departments at the time). I got confirmation that, despite the fact that I enjoy his writing on Shakespeare, Harold Bloom can be a real douche. And I learned that she viewed the semester I took her class as a disappointment:

    “One winter term I think I went too far. I devoted all ten weeks to King Lear. I thought it would be wonderful. It was a huge mistake. The Polish critic Jan Kott has remarked that King Lear gives one the impression of a tall mountain that everybody admires but that nobody wants to climb. I thought we should scale it. I would be the Shakespeare Sherpa, the expert guide, and we would attain the dread summit together—into thin air, into King Lear. As you know the tragedy is profoundly pessimistic and filled with torture and despair. And just as King Lear’s fool disappears totally by the middle of the play so did most of the students. By the end of the quarter, at the top of that extreme verge, just a few of us remained, surrounded by dead bodies.”

    Now, as I teacher, I understand that sometimes your “hey, this will be great!” ideas don’t pan out. I decided not to become a physics/literature double major because I would have needed to take another semester from her. Now I kinda wish I’d taken that second semester.

    Jeeze, all these rabbit holes. Sometimes you grow up a bit when you follow them. Now back to searching for the Angel of Semiconductors.

    • sheila says:

      // Harold Bloom can be a real douche. //

      Totally. I am not a huge Harold Bloom reader – but I do know his thoughts on Falstaff, and that Shakespeare “invented the human” with that character – and I get what he’s going for, but I think it’s a bit much. Yes, Falstaff comes from “out of nowhere” – and he is an introduction to a type of humanity that is entirely MODERN. Yes. But he certainly “existed”, or the type existed anyway, in Chaucer. Bloom makes these huge claims which are certainly headline-grabbers but are pretty sloppy. My dad referred to him as a “puff”, his shorthand for “puff of hot air.”

      My Shakespeare prof was an actor – and acting teacher – so I think that was one of the reasons why the class was so great. These are things meant to be performed.

      // I decided not to become a physics/literature double major because I would have needed to take another semester from her. //

      Wow. Clearly there were some issues with her teaching. But that King Lear anecdote is pretty funny. My sister, who teaches reading in middle school, decided one year to teach “The Westing Game,” an awesome whodunit book by Ellen Raskin (I highly recommend it). It’s hugely intricate, a kind of Murder on the Orient Express structure – with a huge cast of characters, dead bodies, clues … and my sister had the kids do all these projects, and create charts of suspects, and all that – and it just was a huge Fail. The kids weren’t “getting it,” it was too confusing – I love The Westing Game so much that I would ask her for updates about how it was going, and my sister would say, “I am never doing this AGAIN.”

  20. evave2 says:

    SO many comments about this episode.

    I am just so unsure of my own reading of the episode. WHY does YED say that John does not give a hoot OR a holler about Dean? John and Sam argued over two episodes but nothing Sam said effected John, John wouldn’t change anything, not until Dean put in HIS measured opinion. I was the last post on Saturday night, and I put in something I had just heard: Kripke was toying with making Sam into YED’s son, having him born half-demon. That just totally surprised me. Would it make Sam into a child, Mary’s child, that he had to try to save?

    It would certainly change the coversation there between YED/John and his nailed to the wall son Sam. And between YED/John with JOHN’S nailed to the wall son Dean.

    The whole episode is so powerful for me. In the beginning with Meg (whose name we have never been given): I think it was just as likely that it was her own brother Tom’s shooting her that killed her, I wonder if demons can “heal” themselves after doing things like falling seven stories? They never said. Or does all damage that happens to a body during possession just “stay”? Because that gives new meaning to “rode hard and put away wet.”

    I don’t see John and Dean gossiping about Sam at Stanford. I see John going (Dean never said he went) and coming back and then saying “Sam is fine.” “OK.”

    The last three episodes of the season are just wonderful for family dynamics for me.

  21. evave2 says:

    Oh, I also liked the way that Dean by force of personality ordered the completion of Meg’s exorcism. He had to get Meg free of that demon. And he did.
    No argument made a dent. But Sam and Bobby did what Dean said.

    It reminded me of Dean saying things are his final line: Sam clearing himself of demon blood, NOBODY sacrificing Nancy the virgin from the sheriff’s office in Jus in Bello, Sam getting his soul back, and at the end when he told Sam it was ok to let him die, because he was turning into something he didn’t want to be in Do You Believe in Miracles? — I love it when we reach a line Dean won’t cross.

  22. sheila says:

    I have no idea who this person is, but I am so happy. Someone created a Gif set based on one of my paragraphs. Haha. I love Supernatural fans!

    Thank you Tumblr person.

  23. Helena says:

    //Thank you Tumblr person.//

    Awesome! (And reminds me I need to finish a few drawings.)

    I’ve been tracking all the Winchester injuries too. This is what I came up with. Have I missed anything? (Don’t look, mutecypher.)

  24. Helena says:

    I know! He looks like the world’s unluckiest person, a walking disaster area. I like that he’s standing on a kind of chicken foot thing, and the flying club is awesome, as is whatever is cutting into his shoulder, and I’ve no idea what’s going on in the upper thigh area – boils? blisters? some kind of buckshot? But mainly what makes me laugh about it this morning in particular is the mankini – because this article was online today. Click on any of the newspaper links in the article to see what she’s talking about – but not unless you are sitting down.

    • sheila says:

      Yes, the thigh is very interesting. Embedded pebbles? I’m thinking boils. Some kind of rabid STD. And love his “bracelet” of agony. The Speedo is amazing, not to mention his deadpan face. “Hey, y’all. Look what I got going on.”

      And thanks for that article – wow. It kind of goes along with what we’ve been talking about, off and on, about the treatment of male bodies in SPN. And male reaction (from critics and others) to a sexualized (i.e. “feminized”) male. Look at that pushback. It happened with Elvis. It’s still going on. Amazing. They can’t even SEE the hypocrisy, the whole thing is so threatening.

      Some of those comments. “I won’t sleep tonight.” Really? Because you get a glimpse of a man’s nutsack? What is your ISSUE?

  25. May says:

    mutecypher — //” I devoted all ten weeks to King Lear.”//

    10 weeks of King Lear. Don’t get me wrong. I like the play. When I was in University we got to see Christopher Plummer’s Lear (in Stratford, Ontario). It was great. But 10 Weeks of nothing but Lear? UUUUUUGHHH. You get a dead body! And you get a dead body! Everybody is dead!

    I enjoy Shakespeare, but had a horrible Shakespeare professor who basically covered one play per class and talked more about how “when [he] was at school in Oxford.” Yeah dude, we get it, you went to a better school than you are stuck teaching at. Get over it. My highschool did a much better job teaching it.

    • sheila says:

      The gif!! The gif is great! I wish my comments allowed gifs to be uploaded directly – but then again, I wish a lot of things about my silly comments section. Still – that is so funny!!

      // Yeah dude, we get it, you went to a better school than you are stuck teaching at. Get over it. //


      My Shakespeare professor didn’t even go to college. He was a New York street kid. But there he was, teaching in grad school. He was a rough New York guy with a rough New York accent. His father was the actor Murray Moston, the guy who got his hand blown off in the hallway at the end of Taxi Driver. My professor and Harvey Keitel used to bum around together. He was completely self-educated. He also was responsible for editing the Folio and bringing it into publication in facsimile form – which may sound totally esoteric – but it was a huge moment for not only scholars but actors. Because you saw what editors had done to the punctuation throughout the centuries. You can cross-check stuff with the Folio, and sometimes you pick up on amazing inconsistencies that actually crack open the text a bit more.

      My professor’s name was Doug Moston. He, sadly, passed away a couple years ago. One of the best teachers I’ve ever had.

  26. May says:

    //The crash is mind-blowing!! I love to hear from people who watched in real-time. What a great ending.//

    It was a real “HOLY SHIT” moment. SPN is one of the only shows that has kept me on the edge of my seat. Not because I find it scary (I never have. I’ve watched & read too much horror for SPN to scare me), but because I was never sure what they were going to do next. And what they would do was usually so (comparatively) smart and different. They break more tropes than they follow.

    I flat out told people not to call me when it was on. I needed uninterrupted viewing.

    //Even better, Season 2 starts off with an episode that I consider a masterpiece. //


    // I wonder, too, about John’s timeline. I am sure that Dean and Dad missed the HELL out of Sam. It would have been so weird to not have him around.//

    I can’t believe it was totally without fatherly concern. He would have recently found out about Adam. I’m sure John was doing a lot of thinking about things at that time and feeling sentimental. And Dean was probably a ball of anxiety.

  27. Helena says:

    //It kind of goes along with what we’ve been talking about, off and on, about the treatment of male bodies in SPN. //

    It does indeed. To objectify/not objectify, to display or not display – the naked male body seems the latest affront to public morals. I loved the faux-nervousness that the various newspapers wrapped their articles in. ‘Ladies – avert your eyes! (Psst, it’s over here!)’ ‘We’re so sorry we have to show you this filth – and here it is all over pages 4, 5, 6 all the way through to 15.’ Hypocritical. The guys in question are from a programme called ‘The Only Way is Essex’ – I’m guessing it might be a bit like Jersey Shore, so there’s a bit of class snobbery there too, as well as double standards. The kind David Beckham elicited back in the day for wearing a sarong. He’s kind of risen above all that crap now – I could care less about him, but he’s made an extraordinary contribution to this kind of objectification, and I think that’s rather awesome.

    So yes, I read the article in that spirit. But I have to confess when I looked at the fashion item that inspired it, I’m afraid my reaction was – seriously, guys?

    • sheila says:

      // ‘We’re so sorry we have to show you this filth – and here it is all over pages 4, 5, 6 all the way through to 15.’ //


      This also goes along with the blatant LIE perpetuated by men that “women aren’t visual.” They HOPE we aren’t visual because then we won’t be turned off by THEIR physical failures in the same way they are turned off by OURS. Bah humbug! There is zero evidence that women aren’t just as visual as men.

      I see Beckham’s nude body going by on every New York City bus. He doesn’t do much for me, really, just personally – but he certainly is a handsome bloke. And yes, playing around with that objectification thing – kind of fun.

  28. mutecypher says:

    Yes, May. 10 weeks. It was a slog and I certainly didn’t feel exhilaration from climbing the mountain. She fails to mention that she had an annoying favorite repeat student she always called upon.

    “Read this passage to us, John” sez she.
    “Shove your head further up your pretentious ass, John,” sez I.

    Anyway, it was good to get a fuller appreciation for her, and funny to see that she specifically recalled the semester as a mistake – 30 years after she taught it.

    Helena //(Don’t look, mutecypher.)// You warned me….

    Owie. Owie. Ouch. The sword goes through his chest and comes out his back – with bristles on it? Is this what will happen if a guy wears a mankini? Seems an awfully harsh way to enforce conformity.

  29. mutecypher says:

    How would poor Mae West react? “Is that a gun in your mankini, or are you just happy to see me?” No longer a classic line.

  30. May says:

    Helena — Thanks for the article!

    Sheila — //Some of those comments. “I won’t sleep tonight.” Really? Because you get a glimpse of a man’s nutsack? What is your ISSUE?//

    Homophobia. And a fear of being treated—objectified—like a woman (which I think is a cause of homophobia). Because that means being less of a man. From my personal experience, you can tell a lot about a man’s attitude towards women in how he reacts to gay men.

    Also, that “ewwww” reaction is the same sort of thing I’d encounter from my (insecure) male nerd friends at the idea of watching SPN. It was dismissed. I was just watching it because I thought the boys were hot (you see that reaction to female fans of the Marvel movies, too).

    I remember reading a while back (I can’t remember where) about SPN’s non-existent media profile and it was basically blamed on a lack of female characters. Because there were no hot women to ogle (like in Buffy or X-Files), SPN didn’t and wouldn’t gain mainstream attention. It isn’t taken seriously (the acting, the directing, the writing, none of it). Because it’s for chicks.

    I believe it. When kids cartoon are cancelled because they have large female audiences, and not the coveted boys, why would SPN be taken seriously?

    • sheila says:

      This goes back to the initial critical reaction of the phenomenon of Elvis Presley – people were literally NERVOUS about how crazy the girls went, and they just wanted it to STOP, and nobody thought to interview the girls and get their side of things. It was totally nerve-wracking to the males who were writing at that time.

      To be fair, fellow musicians and artists did not have the same problem. They looked at Elvis, and they were men, but they saw all they wanted to be. Carl Perkins: “Elvis is the best-lookin’ man I’ve ever seen in my life.” Roy Orbison was majorly eloquent in that regard. “I saw him, and immediately changed my style to be more like him.”

      So artists got it. Were not threatened.

      And Elvis got it. He did not condescend to his female fan base. He loved them and played right to them.

      But that vibe still lingers. It’s some deep shit.

      • sheila says:

        This is a hella long piece but it puts into words what I’m getting at here. I hadn’t seen SPN at the time I wrote that, probably would have referenced it if I had.

        • sheila says:

          The screaming girls were getting very very bad press. One writer referred to them as “idiots” and said they should be “slapped across the mouth.” This in a major newspaper.

          In the interview I quote in that piece – and this was before Elvis was forced to stop giving interviews only a couple of months later – that quote was recited back to him and the interviewer asked for a response from Elvis. Elvis was 21, and he went to town:

          “I just don’t see that he should call those people idiots. Because they’re somebody’s kids. They’re somebody’s decent kids, probably, that was raised in a decent home, and he hasn’t got any right to call those kids idiots. If they want to pay their money and come out and jump around and scream and yell, it’s their business. They’ll grow up someday and grow out of that. But while they’re young, let them have their fun. Don’t let some old man that’s so old he can’t get around sit around and call them idiots, because they’re just human beings like he is.”

          Ha. You tell ’em, Elvis. Elvis was sticking up for the girls because no one else was.

  31. Helena says:

    //How would poor Mae West react?//

    With the appropriate amount of enthusiasm, I hope.

    May – a pleasure!

    // SPN didn’t and wouldn’t gain mainstream attention//

    How sad. As if female attention is not mainstream enough. Half the planet, guys. Half the planet.

    On the other hand, a show with hot men in every episode? Mr Kripke, I’m sending you a fruit basket.

  32. mutecypher says:

    Willie Dixon’s line “The men don’t know but the little girls understand” really is timeless.

    • sheila says:


      It’s women who break down police barriers to get to the object of their affections. And the men who go, “Hey, let’s follow the girls, I think they’re onto something, because THEY USUALLY ARE” get so much more pleasure out of culture than those who get jealous or weird about it.

  33. mutecypher says:

    May –

    That article about Cartoon Network… wow. My daughter wants to be an animator, she’s drawing comics, working extremely hard on her craft – and Cartoon Network is one of the places she’d love to work (to get a show on). I’m just flabbergasted at the “girls don’t count” thing. As Dini said, sell ’em a t-shirt. Or make a doll version of the characters instead of an action hero version.

  34. Helena says:

    //I see Beckham’s nude body going by on every New York City bus. He doesn’t do much for me, really, just personally//

    Yes, an English soccer player all over New York. How did this happen?

    And it’s something he has grown into and withstood a lot of shit for – also for his wife, his voice, his brains or lack of (my thinking: astute, well advised, generally makes good choices = smart), his fashion choices, and this creation of his body as the Beckham brand. He’s highly sexualised, but the disguise of sport masks this and legitimises this aspect of him, for many who would otherwise have a problem with it. This ‘globalisation and pansexualisation’ was in no way inevitable in his early career, and is something that very few men, irrespective have pursued to this level. He’s this boundary-crossing, pan-sexual supermodel fantasy figure.

    Beckham is the Bruce Lee of gender-bendiness, I think. I’m sure there’s Beckham fanfic to fill the Marianas trench.

    (Alas, given that his mug on every bus and pair of underpants, he does nothing for me.)

  35. Heather says:

    //I may take a short break before Season 2 – but I love Season 2 – and will definitely continue with the re-caps!!//

    Damn girl, you deserve a break. Writing all these lovely, involved recaps and responding to all of our posts, you are giving us a lot here. But I hope you do continue with Season 2: think of the close ups, the Gordon, the Trickster… I totally went through and watched all the vampire episodes to try to understand their reverberations, and now I have ideas…. But all in good time. And that tumbler person gif- I think there are two of yours on their site.

    The folio was whispered about in my home like the colt.

    Helena, you are funny. That ode to impalement… where did you find that? Is that lettuce?! And the mankini- I don’t know if I were a guy I would wear something that looked like a deflated balloon to the beach, not the vibe I would go with. But I get a slice of malicious pleasure looking at that male body waxed into submission. I know it’s petty; so I’m petty.

    //Homophobia. And a fear of being treated—objectified—like a woman (which I think is a cause of homophobia). Because that means being less of a man. From my personal experience, you can tell a lot about a man’s attitude towards women in how he reacts to gay men.//
    Yes, absolutely, they are completely connected; complicated and connected.
    The article on cancelling the cartoon makes me so sad and angry. One of the people I am closest to designs toys (for a company I won’t name), he tells me stories of bringing in designs and being told “no, girls don’t buy robots”, “nope, it has to be pink and orange” etc. Such limiting concepts of gender and people and these rigid dichotomies seem even more artificial to me because people work so hard at reinforcing them.

    //“Is that a gun in your mankini, or are you just happy to see me?” No longer a classic line.// Yeah, it is missing something…. let’s call it mystery.

    • sheila says:

      Maybe because I grew up in the theatre world which is equal parts gay men and straight men – I am always surprised at the scared reactions of straight men to gay men. Because where I come from, the straight men and gay men have so much fun just letting off steam, and throwing each other around, and talking seriously about stuff, and roaring with laughter, and pretending to take advantage of each other, because … little boys – you know, at a barbecue, some guy leans over to get a beer out of the cooler and some other guy has to run over and start pumping away at the poor guys’ ass. It’s so stupid but so funny and nobody thinks twice about it. It actually does exist that straight men are BEST friends with gay men – and that’s also something that is very very rarely explored in pop culture. My friend Mitchell and David (gay and straight) have had all kinds of ideas about pilots or writing a play that actually has that – presented honestly – as its focal point. And not have it be the cliche – queeny guy and dudebro – but just two people who love each other as friends. This goes back to opening up a space around the very concept of masculinity. People need to RELAX. The stereotypes have got to go. Anyway, there is obviously still work to be done!!

      The whole “women don’t do this or buy this” thing is so ridiculous. There have been so many interesting and awful things happening recently in the gaming world and the tech world that really highlight that.

    • sheila says:

      // But I hope you do continue with Season 2: think of the close ups, the Gordon, the Trickster… I totally went through and watched all the vampire episodes to try to understand their reverberations, and now I have ideas…. //

      The Trickster! Gordon is my favorite Arc of all! And there is a closeup in Children Don’t Play with Dead Things or whatever that makes Dean look like Little Orphan Annie who hasn’t slept for 3 days. COVERED in freckles. But yes, so much more!

      And I am excited to hear your ideas about the vampire episodes. I should watch them all together as well, just to try to get some perspective.

    • sheila says:

      // The folio was whispered about in my home like the colt. //

      hahahahaha I missed that comment the first time around. Awesome.

  36. mutecypher says:

    Heather –
    //But I get a slice of malicious pleasure looking at that male body waxed into submission. I know it’s petty; so I’m petty.//

    LOL, seriously.

  37. Jessie says:

    Devil’s Trap is so great. Not much happens in terms of plot — not like later season finales — but it’s so overwhelming emotionally that it feels very full. And it’s perfectly paced. One of my favourite fannish memories is watching the finale with my friend — we were reminiscing about it just the other night. To my astonishment when I went hunting for the commemorative gif I made of that experience oh so many years ago I found it!

    It’s a great moment of contrast.
    And I love the contrast with the previous interactions with John. Dean might be saying what’s gonna happen but in the face of Sam’s “why?” he has actual answers, and continues to communicate them instead of doubling down on Because I Said So.

    I would have loved to have seen the scene before that first one at Bobby’s. “Ok, good catching up with you boys. Now let’s paint this thing on the ceiling and then have the exact same conversation again.” He’s so helpful. With his two exorcism interventions (“she’s possessed” “that girl will die”) — great timing, thanks Bobby.

    Aycox is so good. Her physicality. Of course demons are common as nail clippings now but I wish exorcisms were still so rattly. That endless pause after the demon leaves her and the blood drips from her mouth is one of my favourite moments of the episode.

    All of that stuff swirling around when they first find John is awesome. Sam holding his breath until it’s confirmed his dad is breathing too.

    Love your discussion of that one Dean line. When you lay it out like that it doesn’t surprise me how deep people get pulled into this show! It’s a startling delivery — spellbinding in it. The way I hear it its like music, in its cadence (“Killing that guy killing Meg (pause) I didn’t hesitate I didn’t even flinch”) and its pitch. Against all odds “flinch” resolves up just a fraction. Gorgeous. And the EYELASHES. And John ruining the moment like a goddamn gremlin.

    something is not right with the guys who present themselves to him.
    Because they weren’t being dicks to him! Demons keep making the same mistake of assuming that demons are the big assholes here.

    I wonder how much of Sam’s siding with Dean (hooray for the groundwork of alliance laid last episode!) is him trusting Dean and how much is his own instincts pinging. Sam before that moment hadn’t had much of a chance to show suspicion of John.

    Azazel licking John’s lip, tasting his blood. The shot so nice they used it twice. And YES on JDM’s little grunt-sighs. As the demon especially he puts voice to his breathing. It’s so heavy and gross and meaty for an incorporeal being. And then licking his lip again. Bllelleuruugughghghhhhhhhhhhhh. And then in the second round of Demon-on-Dean when it’s shot from behind Dean’s right earlobe and they literally look about 5mm apart, it’s just tooooo much. Too much! No more!

    Congrats on a full season Sheila! You’re amazing! Thank you so much.

    • sheila says:

      Okay I am CRYING with laughter at that Gif!!!!

    • sheila says:

      // Dean might be saying what’s gonna happen but in the face of Sam’s “why?” he has actual answers, //

      Right!! That’s a subtlety I missed. What’s going on there is different. A lot has changed.

      // “Ok, good catching up with you boys. Now let’s paint this thing on the ceiling and then have the exact same conversation again.” //


      // That endless pause after the demon leaves her and the blood drips from her mouth is one of my favourite moments of the episode. //

      Yes. It’s gorgeous.

      // The way I hear it its like music, in its cadence (“Killing that guy killing Meg (pause) I didn’t hesitate I didn’t even flinch”) and its pitch. Against all odds “flinch” resolves up just a fraction. Gorgeous. And the EYELASHES. //

      Right. He has such a good ear for dialogue, such perfect pitch. Totally accessible to the ups and downs of the moment and what the moment needs. Pull back, go still, be thoughtful … it’s an interior moment totally.

      // Demons keep making the same mistake of assuming that demons are the big assholes here. //


      // As the demon especially he puts voice to his breathing. It’s so heavy and gross and meaty for an incorporeal being. And then licking his lip again. //

      Meaty. Yes. It’s just so nasty and intimate – makes you realize how intimate violence is, something that people sometimes forget. Dean is totally disoriented and I don’t blame him.

      I went back and looked – I started these in January. And I pretty much did one a week. I think there was maybe one week I didn’t post one. Jesus, Sheila. If I keep this up, I’ll be finished by … 2016? 2017? What have I begun?

      Certainly everyone’s comments and the discussions have spurred me on so thank you!!

  38. Helena says:

    Jessie – That gif is majestic.

  39. Jessie says:

    No Helena, not Wound Man! I have enough trouble keeping my Hannibal and my Supernatural separate as it is. Katherine Isabelle, who was so fantastic as Ava in S2, also killed it on Hannibal this season and it caused all sorts of cognitive issues for me.

    Re John and Dean gossiping about Sam’s Stanford doings. There is a partial in-universe alternative explanation; we find out in several seasons that at least one of Sam’s friends was Azazel’s plant. So it might not even be John’s info here.

    • sheila says:

      Ugh, yes, I hated that information. It would make you question your whole life.

      • sheila says:

        Katherine Isabelle’s performance is one of my favorite one-offs in the entire series. Well, it’s not really a one-off, she does return. But that first episode with Sam? She is literally unable to give a boring line-reading. She makes Ava hilarious, real, like someone you would know. LOVE her.

        And I have got to get on the Hannibal train!

  40. Helena says:

    //No Helena, not Wound Man! //

    Yes! though the Hannibal connection was just a bonus. I was actually searching for an example of those pustulent late medieval Christ figures that were believed to cure whatever disease Christ had in the painting. (I was all revved up from searching for Christ/Saint Sebastian figures from an earlier post. Because I’m a bit sick that way.) I thought they were called something like ‘the Man of Wounds.’ But look what I got instead. Mr Walking Disaster in a Mankini.

  41. Helena says:

    //2016? 2017? //

    I think you’d finish around the end of 2017, allowing for the occasional week off for good behaviour. And this is only because Season 3 was shorter than usual. Otherwise, 2018, for sure.

  42. Jessie says:

    Toot toot, all aboard the Hannibal train. Your hook is behaviour, I know. Hannibal on the other hand even though it contains three diamond-perfect performances (Dancy, Mikkelson, Anderson) and even though it lolls its tongue around a terrific amount of specious psychobabble (suffering particularly in S2) it’s not a show about behaviour at all. It’s pure sensory input and baroque excess and frankly it’s fucking ridiculous on all levels but it takes itself just the right amount of seriously to be amazing.

    Helena I exist only in the shadow of your artistic skills!

    • sheila says:

      I know that my film buff friends – the ones who are true purist cinephiles – are in love with that show because of how it looks and how consciously the director/team creates that look. Like real camera-angle nerds and set direction nerds ADORE that show for, as you say, its “pure sensory input and baroque excess”. It’s kind of like film fans who go APESHIT for David Fincher and PT Anderson because of how old-school and creative they are with the camera. (I also love Fincher and Anderson so I agree!) I am obviously a nerd in that way myself so it has definitely made me curious.

      And I love all of the actors, so there’s that.

      And Supernatural and Mad Men are on hiatus. So, yeah, I’ve got time.

  43. Helena says:

    //What the hell.//

    Actually, I’m wrong. I forget about Season 10. I think we’re talking 2018 for sure here.

    • sheila says:

      Jeez, I better not get married or anything like that. It’ll really wreck my long-term time table.

      I can barely plan for next week.

  44. Helena says:

    //Jeez, I better not get married or anything like that. It’ll really wreck my long-term time table.//

    Nope. Better cancel all engagements. Of the marital and non-marital variety.

  45. Jessie says:

    Sheila I don’t doubt your Hannibal recaps will be tremendously illuminating wrt cinematic form!

  46. Natalie says:

    //My friend Mitchell and David (gay and straight) have had all kinds of ideas about pilots or writing a play that actually has that – presented honestly – as its focal point. And not have it be the cliche – queeny guy and dudebro – but just two people who love each other as friends.//

    I love that idea. I would definitely watch that show.

    • sheila says:

      I know – me too. Both men grew up pretty much father-less (or the dads they had were worthless, violent and actually criminal in one case) – and both guys have said to me at different points: “I learned how to be a good man through my friendship with him.”

      Like, somehow … they were the role models for each other … the good male role models neither of them had growing up. They met at 18, 19 – we all did – these are college friends – and somehow they just became fast friends and helped each other with all that Male Stuff that their dads flat out dropped the ball on. I don’t know – it’s very profound for both of them.

      These relationships exist – we just don’t see them out there.

  47. alli says:

    Goodness these are fun!

  48. May says:

    // I don’t doubt your Hannibal recaps will be tremendously illuminating wrt cinematic form!//
    //And even better – there aren’t NINE seasons!!//

    And, there are only 13 episodes per season. JOIN US!

  49. Heather says:

    Hannibal //pure sensory input and baroque excess// indeed. I’m going to figure out how to make gifs (because you all are too cool) and then make a Mads/Jensen lip-lick-off. Mads, hoods eyes, licks lips; Jensen, licks lips, hoods eyes… me caught staring at the yellow cobra thing! Yessssssssss.

    2016? 2017?- you could leave off Bloodlines and Man’s Best Friend with Bullshit, that could help…

  50. mutecypher says:

    OK, I worked out who the Angel of Semiconductors is. (ht: Sheila)

    As everyone knows, integrated circuits are made on wafers of silicon (currently at 300mm diameter – 12 inches, in the Units God Intended). Wafers are of course, a circle. Chapter 9 of The Key Of Solomon describes that the best time to make a circle is on the Day Of Mercury at the Hour of Mercury. It also says that the magic circle should be 18 feet in diameter, but since angels can fit on the heads of pins (and pinheads, I suppose), I don’t think the size matters (says the guy, hopefully).

    Making integrated circuits requires lots of very pure water Chapter 11 of The Key Of Solomon describes steps for making pure water. This is best done on the Day Of Mercury at the Hour of Mercury.

    Elements are often diffused into the silicon to create transistors of various types. In ancient times they would have likened diffusion to a smell that permeates the room. In Chapter 10 of The Key Of Solomon steps are described for setting up INCENSE, SUFFUMIGATIONS, PERFUMES, ODOURS. Again, this is best done on the Day Of Mercury at the Hour of Mercury.

    High temperatures are required to anneal and activate the deposited and diffused materials. In Chapter 12 of The Key Of Solomon the steps for creating the right kind of fire. Once more, this is best done on the Day Of Mercury at the Hour of Mercury.

    The day of Mercury is Wednesday, and the hours of Mercury are the first hour of the day, and the ninth hour, and the third hour of the night and the tenth. I had to go to Renaissance Astrology to get all that detail.

    Back to the Key of Solomon, it tells that Mercury/Wednesday is associated with the archangel Michael and the angel Raphael. So, I only need to get on their good sides if I want their help in creating a True Artificial Intelligence.

    I hope they don’t want me to give up porn.

    • sheila says:

      Mutecypher – I think I fixed the links – they were wonky.

      I have too much to say about your awesomeness. Honestly.

      #1. Clearly we have all lost our minds here and I think it is beautiful. You are actually reading the Key of Solomon for tips on how to create Artificial Intelligence and I fully support that.
      #2: Mercury/Wednesday associated with Michael and Raphael?? For real?
      #3. Suffumigations!! New word that I now love!
      #4. // but since angels can fit on the heads of pins (and pinheads, I suppose), I don’t think the size matters (says the guy, hopefully). // hahaha

      Dude, you are getting very close to … something. I have no idea what.

      // I hope they don’t want me to give up porn. //


      So is basically the message: Don’t do shit unless it’s on the Day Of Mercury/Hour of Mercury?

    • sheila says:

      I was curious about how to create the right kind of fire and went to the link, and saw this immediately:

      “For this reason he should make candles of virgin wax in the day and hour of Mercury; the wicks should have been made by a young girl; and the candles should be made when the moon is in her increase, of the weight of half a pound each, and on them thou shalt engrave these characters with the iron pen (stylus) of the art.”

      VERY specific.

    • sheila says:

      Is alchemy involved in any of this? Are my dates off?

  51. Heather says:

    //He’s so helpful. With his two exorcism interventions (“she’s possessed” “that girl will die”) — great timing, thanks Bobby.//

    Bobby, the way better version of this guy.

    I really do love Bobby.

  52. Heather says:

    //The Key Of Solomon describes that the best time to make a circle is on the Day Of Mercury at the Hour of Mercury
    The Key Of Solomon describes steps for making pure water. This is best done on the Day Of Mercury at the Hour of Mercury.
    The Key Of Solomon the steps for creating the right kind of fire. Once more, this is best done on the Day Of Mercury at the Hour of Mercury.//

    This explains everything I have ever done wrong in my life!

    //I only need to get on their good sides if I want their help in creating a True Artificial Intelligence//
    So we are back to Dean again.

    ahhhh, marking broke my brain….

    • sheila says:

      // This explains everything I have ever done wrong in my life! //


      I know. I’m amazed. If I had only known!

  53. mutecypher says:

    Sheila, thanks for fixing the links.
    //Is alchemy involved in any of this? //

    The standard definition is that alchemy is an attempt to change one element into another, usually gold. There isn’t anything in the Key of Solomon about transmuting lead or any other metal, into gold. So I don’t think this is alchemy, it is magic – with all of the attendant strictures, easily fuck-up-able so that failure can be blamed on the preparer and not the entire enterprise.

    • sheila says:

      // so that failure can be blamed on the preparer and not the entire enterprise. //

      Well isn’t that convenient.

      Kinda like writing a devil’s trap in chalk on a wet concrete floor. You have to do it right!

      I love the thought of these SPN writers reading the Key of Solomon cover to cover – I wonder what other references might be in there.

  54. mutecypher says:

    Let’s all make note: Wednesdays at the first hour of the day, and the ninth hour, and the third hour of the night and the tenth hour of the night are the times for attempting Important Stuff.

    Is it Greenwich Mean Time, Dublin Mean Time, Rome Mean Time (depending upon the version, parts of Key of Solomon were in Latin, parts in Italian)? Local time? I hope it’s local time.

  55. mutecypher says:

    Reminds me of Inherit The Wind, when mean old Clarence Darrow asked William Jennings Bryant if Bishop Ussher’s creation chronology of the earth being created on October 23, 4004 BC at 9AM was using Eastern Standard Time.

  56. Grean says:

    Season 1 finale was so fantastic it still leaves me shaken in a rewatch.
    The impact at the end, the most horrendous car wreck ever. The beloved Impala crumpled, crushed and shoved off the road mirrored Deans scene earlier with Demon ridden Dad.
    I am glad I didn’t have to wait through a hiatus for the absolutely fabulous first episode of season 2.
    Sheila once again your recap/review/critique is so insightful and I always rush to rewatch as soon as possible with all of your words whirling around in my head. Thank you.
    If I didn’t love Dean before this episode this one would have clinched it for me. I know it cemented his character for me as tragic hero and heart of the epic Winchester tale.
    JDM brought so much to his role, it is hard to believe he was in so few episodes.
    Dean never recovers from this, we see he is constantly forced to move forward onto the next crisis, never a time to heal or even collect himself. His year with Lisa was spent torturing himself with thoughts and endless searching for a way to save his brother. So no rest, not for the Winchesters.
    You are helping me through this hiatus and I can’t thank you enough. Reading everyones comments is a joy.

    • sheila says:

      Grean –

      // I always rush to rewatch as soon as possible with all of your words whirling around in my head. //

      That makes me so happy to hear!! Thank you so much!

      You know, I just finished Catastrophe 1914, by Max Hastings about the early months of WWI. One of the things that was so different about that war from every war before it was the sheer relentlessness of the battles – how long they lasted without stop – days and weeks with no advance, no triumphs, total stalemate – for YEARS. That was unheard of – through most of history – where you’d have, you know, 2 or 3 days of it – and then a damn break. Maybe because you’re all dead, but still. The truly monstrous part of trench warfare was how constant the attacks were – and it wrecked soldiers’ psychologies – and their commanders, who were also totally unused to this new brand of warfare, were completely unequipped to deal with it. “Stop whining. Get back out there.” And so soldiers returned home shattered psychologically – shell-shock and all that – completely new phenomenon. The veterans of WWI were FUCKED when they came home. And then, good times, the Depression came. Much of what happened post WWII – things like the GI Bill which was hugely popular and very successful – was to right the wrongs of what had happened with the soldiers in WWI. The human psyche is flat out not built to withstand that kind of constant onslaught.

      Anyway, I didn’t think of the Winchesters when I was reading the book – I was far too engrossed in the story (it’s an excellent book) – but your comment “no time to collect himself” makes me think of it and makes me think of how good SPN is with this little thing called Trauma. It’s been discussed before in the comments sections – how even shows that handle warfare don’t handle Trauma in as concentrated and sensitive and prismatic way as SPN does. And so Dean wandering around Lisa’s house, checking the locks, and being unable to re-adjust to civilian life is something so many soldiers go through – or Sam basically running away from responsibilities and dialing down his needs to such a simplistic degree that a dog and a girl and a bottle of beer are MORE than enough to get by on – you see that in combat soldiers too.

      I’m not surprised that SPN is popular with guys in the military. It speaks to their experience in many ways. And of course it’s a great escape too but I think it goes deeper than that.

      That’s why the one-off humorous episodes are sooooo important – essential – to the success of the series. You can’t have a cliffhanger every episode. The rhythm would be totally off. I think, in general, they do a very good job with finding a balance. Of course they’re gonna feel total pressure to end on some high note – some crazy anxious moment – and looking back over the series, each finale was pretty damn good, if I recall.

      But boy this one takes the cake!!

      Thanks again, so much, for reading, commenting, and re-watching!

  57. May says:

    mutecypher — good luck to your daughter! I once, very briefly, considered a career in animation. Then I realized how much work would be involved and my laziness ruled the day. So I admire your daughter’s drive!

    Heather — // Such limiting concepts of gender and people and these rigid dichotomies seem even more artificial to me because people work so hard at reinforcing them.//

    Agreed. I think, when push comes to shove, most people don’t think this way (or if they do, are fairly easy to convince otherwise). There is just a small group of jackasses that are so loud and obnoxious they draw all the attention.

    Sheila — //Maybe because I grew up in the theatre world which is equal parts gay men and straight men – I am always surprised at the scared reactions of straight men to gay men.//

    I’ve seen both sides of this and I tend to use my high school experience as the example. My sister and I went to different high schools: my school had a special academic program (that I was in) and a fairly strong athletic focus (nothing like in the US, though); my sister’s a theatre arts program (that she was in). My school was in a more affluent area of the city and many of my classmates were the children of doctors, teachers, professors etc. My sister’s school was downtown, in a “rougher” area of the city and closer to where we lived (we were a blue collar family). My sister’s school, at the time, didn’t have the best reputation, mostly because of its location and its strong focus on the theatre. My school was considered one of the best, if not the best, in the city. But it valued social conformity and was homophobic. The few gay students that I knew stayed firmly in the closet, though they were bullied anyway. Mostly it was boys who were bullied by other boys, usually (but not always) by jock-types. My sister’s school, with a strong arts culture and almost non-existent jock culture, had a lot of openly gay students who were accepted and felt safe.

    I don’t blame jock culture, per se. My Dad was a jock in high school, and though he finds the idea of male/male sex “gross,” he is not/was not homophobic. It’s the conformity aspect. Insecurity. My high school had rules about body piercings, hair colour, rips in jeans. There was a genuine fear of not fitting in. None of that mattered at my sister’s school.

    • sheila says:

      It’s amazing how different schools really have entirely different cultures. I really feel for the kids who are in that conformist environment. It’s so unforgiving. And being a teenager is sucky enough. I went to a pretty big school and everyone was in cliques – and that actually worked. I made friends in high school through Drama Club and Yearbook that are still my friends today.

      And theatre attracts all kinds – my friend David (as I mentioned upthread) was a theatre major – that’s how we all met, but he was also in a fraternity and a high school quarterback. He is the ultimate jock guy. And he’s also an incredible actor, a sensitive person – one of my best friends – he, too, was “lost” in that conformist culture, and he supposedly “fit in”!

  58. Natalie says:

    So, this was in my facebook feed today. It made me think of our discussions over the past week ;-)

  59. Morgan says:

    I was so excited to read this update from you! The acting in the episode is awesomely intense without dipping into what I would consider melodrama. I think the restraint that the SPN actors have utilized can be credited as one of the major factors in why SPN has held the viewers’ interest for so long. There are moments – very few of them – when they break down, or come close to it, but those moments are ‘well-earned,’ I suppose you could say. Honestly, the first season is ore interesting to me as something to rewatch after having viewed the later seasons, and I think that comes down to subtlety and restraint, too.

    I happened to stumble on an old post from Doris Egan (who I and most people would most-probably be familar with as a writer on the series House) a few days ago, posted before Supernatural aired that reminded me somewhat of your posts. I’m not sure if you know of her, but regardless, it’s her account of her involvement with the casting Jensen Ackles in his role on Dark Angel and I thought that it would be the kind of thing you’re into reading. Some of her comments about his performances as an actor reminded me quite a lot about your assessment of his talents. She also hits on that apparently troubling subject of Stuff Women Like, and jokingly states that she has been credited with single-handedly keeping his (pre-SPN) career afloat. Thank goodness for that, ha!

  60. Morgan says:

    Forgot the link to the post! Here it is, if you’re interested in reading it:

    • sheila says:

      Morgan – ha!! That was great. And yes, interesting – to “dismiss” the beauty factor, or to somehow think that wasn’t part of the whole damn point … Men still sometimes have trouble with that even though – even though – women have been proven to be the most loyal fan demographic in the world. We stick around for YEARS. We BUY SHIT. It’s crazy that that alone isn’t taken into consideration – we shovel out cash by the truckload.

      Anyway – thanks for your comment. Very glad you are enjoying the re-caps – I’m having fun doing them!!

      I totally agree with your comment on restraint. It creates this beautiful tension – the audience WANTS more, and for the most part, they refuse to comply. Very very smart. Otherwise we’d drown in constant catharsis.

  61. Tabaqui says:

    Just finished reading this and I wish like hell I could input so much more than I am, but man….. I dearly love your style, you insights, you flights of fancy *and* your nuts-and-bolts discussions of the hows and whys of actual episode making. All of it combined just makes for *the best* reviews of any show I’ve ever read.

    So yay! and thank you and…and…all of that. :)

    I watched this episode live and literally screamed when the truck hit the Impala, and just could *not believe* what I’d seen. It was so *abrupt*, and violent, and so freaking perfectly like an actual car wreck is, from zero to screaming insanity in .5 seconds, so horrible and so unstoppable. What a cliffhanger!

    One thing I noticed in this episode – and in later ones – is that when John goes down, and Sam turns to Dean, his voice – his whole demeanor – goes from bad-ass tough guy to *little brother* in seconds. The pitch of his voice goes up, his face falls, he’s just *so freaked out* and scared and ‘hey, Dean, oh my god’, so lost…. I love that.

    Both of these guys can do that, Mr. Ackles a little more…dramatically? perhaps? than Mr. Padalecki, but wow, it just gets you.

    I look forward to more, if more indeed there will be. So many episodes in future seasons that I cannot *wait* for you to take apart, turn to the light, uncover, discover anew, and lay out. Thanks for sharing!

    • sheila says:

      Tabaqui – thank you so much!! :)

      // s that when John goes down, and Sam turns to Dean, his voice – his whole demeanor – goes from bad-ass tough guy to *little brother* in seconds. The pitch of his voice goes up, his face falls, he’s just *so freaked out* and scared and ‘hey, Dean, oh my god’, so lost…. I love that. //

      Totally. You’re right, both of these guys – who are huge strapping hunks – can do those transitions really well. It’s heartbreaking, really effective. Sam’s whole “thing” in that finale showdown in the cabin is almost as interesting (and important) as what is going on with Dean.

      // if more indeed there will be. //

      I will definitely be moving onto Season 2. I love Season 2 so much!

      Thanks for reading!

  62. Helena says:

    //I will definitely be moving onto Season 2. I love Season 2 so much!//

    Season 2 is the full-on ‘beauty season’!

  63. rae says:

    just wanted to reiterate how much i’ve enjoyed re-watching this season with your excellent recaps and the amazing comment sections as a guide — it’s been enlightening and absolutely delightful! i don’t comment much on them, but i read each and every contribution and do an awful lot of nodding (and laughing) at my computer screen.

    take a well-deserved break, sheila — we’ll gladly wait till season 2!

    • sheila says:

      rae – thanks!! Yeah, the discussions have been incredible! I’m getting so much out of them. More to come!!

  64. evave2 says:

    Sheila, are you going to continue Season 2 of Supernatural or are you next going to deconstruct Hannibal?

    I’m sorry I was not sure.

    Because I think In My Time of Dying was terrific and THEN we get three episodes starring Crazy Dean.

    • sheila says:

      Yeah, I’ll be moving on to Season 2. I love Season 2. I said I’d probably be taking a short break. :) And that has come to pass. But yes, I’ll pick it up again soon!

  65. Betty says:

    In “Supernatural The Official Companion Season 1” by Nicholas Knight, Kim Manners explains that the semi/Impala crash did not go as it was supposed to. The truck was cabled on a 90 degree winch to the car. They were filming on a deserted airport space and they had done a lot of landscaping, and had to get it in one take. There were dummies in the Impala and also a cannon that was supposed to go off at the moment of impact and blow the car into the air where it would barrel roll and crash as the semi continued on.

    When the collision actually happened, however, the car got stuck in the grill of the truck and the truck went out of control. The stuntman managed to navigate a plywood bridge that had been put over a ravine and he steered the truck toward a camera that Manners had installed in a crash box. The Impala hit the crash box and the film went black–and Manners said the credit for that shot goes to the stuntman who made brilliant decisions while driving an out-of-control semi.

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