It’s the summer of 2021, pandemic still hanging over the world, and our little Supernatural rewatch slowed down a bit as all of us headed out for much needed family vacations. I’m glad we got a little of that in while we could considering the arrival of the Delta variant – and once again, I need my comfort show more than ever. So, it’s back to Supernatural!
Now that September is on the horizon, we’re back to making our way through the early seasons of our favorite show little by little. We finished Season 1 in the beginning of the summer, so we picked back up with Season 2’s memorable premiere, In My Time of Dying, which features a whole lot of Dean in a white tee shirt and scrub pants, a deepening connection between the brothers, and an emotionally devastating goodbye to John Winchester.
Directed by the brilliant Kim Manners, the episode kicked off with an awesome rock montage recap of the whole first season, ending with that cliffhanger crash, and when the ‘NOW’ title card comes up, it’s CCR once again. I have never listened to Creedence Clearwater Revivial’s ‘Bad Moon Rising’ the same way ever again – it literally gives me chills now.
The stunt driver who accidentally became an actor when he ended up in the scene had to come back for Season 2. (The Impala didn’t move like they expected it to so his face was clearly visible – it was supposed to flip over but got hung up on the truck so you could see the driver through the windshield). He had to come back and film the first episode of the next season too, but he did a great job. After Sam gathers every last bit of his strength and raises the Colt to shoot, the demon smokes out of him and the traumatized guy gasps, “did I do this?”
Sam fucking Winchester, right from the start. Damn.
The demon may be gone, but the aftermath is terrifying. Sam calls out desperately for his dad, and then for his brother, his eyes catching on his unconscious bloodied brother in the back seat, as we all sat in horror and waited to find out if either of them were okay.
Then it’s the next day, paramedics putting an unresponsive Dean on a stretcher. Sam, distraught, yells “are they okay? Are they even alive?!”
Jared is so good in this entire scene, the only Winchester conscious so the weight of portraying all the emotion and horror is entirely on him – and he shows us every bit of it.
At the time, we didn’t know for sure what the answer to that question was, and that made every moment an edge-of-your-seat one. The media landscape at the time was vastly different than today, and Supernatural was entirely under the radar, so there were no paparazzi shots or website leaks or even any articles. I love that we eventually got so much, but in those early days, we were genuinely terrified that one of our favorite characters was going to die and be gone for good, and that added an extra layer of suspense to the story telling.
Every time Sam yells for his brother, I tear up.
When the next scene begins, Dean wakes up in the hospital, everything seeming quiet and surreal. He gets up, clad only in a white tee shirt and scrub pants with bare feet, praise the powers that be, and wanders down the hall, calling “Sam? Dad? Anybody?”
Down the stairs, everything echoey, surreal. Now iconic images for the series. Ackles shows us Dean’s confusion and anxiety vividly – he knows something is off, but can’t figure out what it is, and so we know too. There’s already something genuinely terrifying about being in a hospital and being injured – vulnerable – and the emptiness just amplifies those feelings.
He tries to talk to a nurse at the front desk, but she seems to look right through him and doesn’t answer. Finally he snaps his fingers right in front of her face – but gets no response. Uh oh.
Panicking, Dean runs down the hall, and finds himself in a hospital bed, hooked up to a machine that’s breathing for him, unconscious.
And with that, we get the title card for the new season – one of my favorites of all fifteen of them.
Sam comes in, and Dean, despite having just realized he was on the verge of death on that bed, breaks into a grin, overcome with relief. Already in Season 1, we all understand that there’s nothing more important to Dean Winchester than his little brother being okay.
Dean: Sammy, you look good…considering.
Sam, however, is distraught. He goes to Dean on the bed and stands over his brother’s unconscious body.
Sam: Man, tell me you can hear me…
There’s a moment when Sam senses something, when he seems to know that Dean is in fact there.
Dean: C’mon, you’re the psychic, give me some ghost whispering!
The doctor comes in and tells Sam that their dad is awake.
Dean: Oh thank god.
Sam: Doc, what about my brother?
Doctor who tells it like it is: There’s head trauma… IF he wakes up… most people with his degree of injury wouldn’t survive this long…
It doesn’t sound good, and Sam looks even more distraught.
Dean: C’mon Sam, we’ll find some hoodoo priest to lay some mojo on me, I’ll be fine.
Season 2 was also peak awesome episode titles time – I know every one from those early seasons, but many from the later seasons don’t carry that much meaning. This one is A plus.
Sam gets their (fake) credit card and insurance card from John and gives him the poor prognosis for Dean that the doctor shared. But Sam is also determined.
Sam: If the doctor won’t do anything, we’ll have to. I’ll find something, some hoodoo priest to lay some mojo on him.
Even though Sam’s not consciously aware of Dean there, he’s tuned in enough that he uses the same words that Dean spoke to him earlier. What a subtle but powerful way to tell us how close they’ve become.
John: We’ll look, but I don’t know if we’ll find anyone.
Sam bristles at his pessimism, and even more when John asks where the Colt is.
Sam: Your son is dying and you’re worried about the Colt?
John explains that they may be being hunted, and tells Sam to go clean out the trunk of the Impala that was towed to Bobby’s place and get the Colt. He also hands him a list of other things he needs “for protection”.
Sam agrees, but he’s still upset.
Sam: Dad, the demon said he had plans for me and children like me. Do you know what he meant by that?
John says no, but it’s fairly clear that he’s lying to his son.
Dean (watching from the corner invisibly): Well, you sure know something…
That’s one of many brilliant Kim Manners shots in the episode. He uses focus to perfectly convey what one character is thinking, and then the other’s perception of that, shifting perspective. So many scenes in this episode that I’ll never forget.
Of course, we don’t know what John knows, or why he’s being so seemingly callous. Little do we know why he wants the Colt and what he’s planning to do if he needs to.
Sam goes to find the Impala at Bobby Singer’s scrapyard, which is tragically mangled from the accident.
Sam: Oh man, Dean is gonna be pissed.
Bobby: Sam, this just ain’t worth a tow. I say we sell the rest for scrap.
Sam: No! Dean would kill me if we did that. When he gets better, he’s gonna wanna fix this.
Bobby: There’s nothing to fix.
Sam: Listen to me, Bobby. If there’s only one working part that’s enough. We’re not just gonna give up on…
Bobby hears how upset Sam is, and realizes he’s not just talking about the car – he’s talking about his brother.
Bobby (gently) Okay, you got it.
I love Bobby.
Bobby also lets Sam know that the items that John wanted, ostensibly for protection, are not in fact for protection – they’re for summoning a demon.
Back at the hospital, John Winchester sits at his son’s bedside, while ghost Dean watches and pleads with his father.
Dean: C’mon, Dad, you gotta help me. I gotta get better, I gotta bet back in there! You haven’t called a soul for help, haven’t even tried. Aren’t you even gonna say anything? Do anything? I’ve done everything you ever asked me. I’ve given everything I’ve ever had. And you’re just gonna sit there and watch me die. What the hell kinda father are you?
My god, it’s heartbreaking. I can barely watch it, even knowing that John was doing everything he could.
It’s a question the fandom asks a lot – what kind of father was John, really? Maybe we’ll find out more in the new spinoff being tossed around. In Season 2, we weren’t sure.
Something rushes by Dean’s room, and he chases it, watching it visit a patient in her room – who then collapses on the floor and dies as Dean bends over her, unable to help.
Shout out to the special effects even way back in 2006, and to Ackles’ acting, showing just how thrown Dean is by all this and how unbearable it is for him to be helpless to save anyone.
Sam returns and Dean tries to tell his brother that there’s something in the hospital, but of course Sam can’t hear him – though he once again can sense something.
John: You’re quiet.
Sam’s not just quiet, he’s pissed.
Sam: Did you think I wouldn’t find out? That stuff you wanted, you don’t use it to ward off demons, you use it to summon one. What, some stupid macho showdown? Dean is dying and you care more about killing this demon!
John: I’m doing this for Dean!
Sam: How is revenge gonna help him? It’s the same selfish obsession.
John: If you’d killed the damn thing when you had the chance, we wouldn’t be here!
Ouch. That’s a low blow, John, and it had to hit Sam hard.
Dean is there, invisible to both of them, more and more upset as his brother and father get into a heated argument. Once again, he’s completely helpless – and without Dean as a referee, he realizes that John and Sam are very capable of hurting each other. To Dean, that’s the most unbearable thing of all.
Finally, in desperation, Dean screams “Shut up, both of you!”
He sweeps his hand across the nightstand and knocks a glass of water clean off it – which of course to Sam and John looks like it just flew off all on its own.
Dean, too, is amazed.
Dean: Dude, I full on Swayzed that mother!
But the effort and the emotion expended take a toll.
He falls to the floor, staggering. In his hospital room, physical Dean is coding. The doctors shock him repeatedly as Sam watches from the doorway, anguished, tears in his eyes.
The look on Sam’s face… I needed more tissues…
Ghost Dean stands behind Sam, watching, as a reaper hovers over Dean’s body, preparing to take his life.
Ghost Dean: Get the hell away from me – stay back!
The creature throws him off and against the wall, but it works – for now.
Sam looks around like he’s sensing something there again, and then the reaper stares right at Dean and flies away.
The doctors announce ‘we have a pulse.’ Sam, staring at the monitor, gasps in relief.
Dean: Don’t worry, Sammy, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll get that thing before it gets me. It’s some kinda spirit but I can grab it – and if I can grab it, I can kill it.
Sam looks around, confused, his instincts telling him something – someone – is there. This episode tells us so much about the bond between the brothers and how much it transcends this plane of existence, something we’ll eventually see reiterated in the series finale.
A woman down the hall starts screaming, and Dean goes to investigate. He finds a young woman dressed like he is, frightened and confused like he has been. Lindsey McKeon gives a memorable performance as Tessa in this episode, and I sort of wish they had let her character remain as is instead of modifying it in a later seasons episode.
Tessa: Why can’t you see me? Why won’t you look at me?
She realizes that Dean can see her and says she just came into the hospital for a routine operation. Dean shows her the hospital room where her unconscious body lies.
Dean: I think there were some complications.
He explains that he thinks they’re having an out of body experience – bilocation. That it means that they’re spirits, close to death. But he also tells her that if they hold on, their bodies can get better. Dean refuses to give up hope, but Tessa says she’s dealing – that she’s not necessarily okay with dying, but that whatever is gonna happen is gonna happen. It’s fate.
Dean: That’s crap. You always have a choice. You can roll over and die, or fight.
A code blue is called and we hear “Paging Dr. Kripke”, a nice shout out to the show’s creator and showrunner. Dean takes off, concerned that something else bad is happening – which it is.
A reaper goes after a young girl. Dean tries to help, but she dies anyway, which is pretty much one of Dean’s worst nightmares.
Meanwhile, Sam tells John that he felt something.
Sam: It felt like Dean, like he was there, just out of eyeshot. You think his spirit could be around?
John promises not to hunt the demon until they know that Dean’s okay (which isn’t exactly a lie, as I think John is already planning to do what he feels he has to do in order to save his son.) Looking back at this episode now, John feeling like he couldn’t tell Sam about his plan feels so much like Dean deceiving Sam when he planned to sacrifice himself in the Ma’lak box – he couldn’t tell Sam because Sam’s the only one who could have stopped him.
Sam, in true Winchester fashion, refuses to give up on his brother.
He brings a Ouija board to Dean’s room (it’s not an actual Ouija board since I guess they couldn’t use that, but close enough. It brought back lots of slumber party memories for all of us as kids, with a mix of what the hell were we thinking and damned if that thing didn’t move sometimes…)
Sam: Hey. I think maybe you’re around. And if you are, don’t make fun of me for this – but there’s one way we can talk.
Dean: Oh, you gotta be kidding me…
Sam: Dean, are you here?
Dean scoffs, but this is Sam asking, and that means Dean is going to try – for Sam.
Dean: God I feel like I’m at a slumber party. All right, Sam. This isn’t gonna work.
But he sits down on the floor across from his brother, legs crossed, bare feet, and tries to move the marker. For Sam, if not for himself.
Slowly, to Dean’s astonishment as much as Sam’s, the marker begins to slide across the board.
Dean: Well I’ll be damned.
Sam nearly dissolves in relief. I love this moment, Sam’s heartfelt joy captured, Jared Padalecki once again doing an amazing job of showing us the depth of Sam’s emotion.
Sam: It’s good to hear from you, man. Hasn’t been the same without you, Dean.
Dean: (a little smile on his face too) Damn straight.
Sam starts asking questions, and Dean starts answering, reminding him “one question at a time, dude” even though Sam can’t hear him. He tells Sam that it’s not killing people, but taking them, when their time’s up.
Sam: A reaper. Dean, is it after you?
Sam is upset, saying that if it’s here naturally they can’t stop it.
Dean: Yeah, you can’t kill Death.
All of us in 2021: Well, actually…
Sam is determined to find a way. He goes to John’s room, but finds it empty. In the basement boiler room, John Winchester summons the demon.
Sam goes back to Dean’s room, saying that their dad wasn’t there, but he brought his journal, that maybe there’s something in there. Sam sits on Dean’s bed and Ghost Dean stands over his shoulder, watching.
Dean: Thanks for not giving up on me, Sammy.
Then he notices something in the journal.
He finds Tessa and confronts her, having figured out that reapers can alter human perception – and that she is one. Tessa counters that death is nothing to fear and that it’s his time to go.
In the basement, John lights candles and cuts his hand, bleeding into a bowl and chanting in Latin. A janitor interrupts him.
Janitor: What the hell are you doing down here, buddy?
John Winchester: Hey, how stupid do you think I am?
It’s the Yellow Eyed Demon, always played to perfection by Fred Lehne. He says he didn’t take John for suicidally reckless.
YED: Did you really think you could trap me?
John: Oh I don’t wanna trap you. I wanna make a deal.
Upstairs in the hospital, Sam tells Dean that he couldn’t find anything in the book.
Sam: I don’t know how to help you…but I’ll keep trying, all right? Keep fighting. I mean, c’mon, you can’t leave me here alone with Dad, we’ll kill each other, you know that.
Sam manages a smile, then gets serious again.
Sam: Dean, you gotta hold on. You can’t go, man, not now – we were just starting to be brothers again. Can you hear me?
And that was it for me on the rewatch, my eyes were flooded with tears. Just starting to be brothers again….and for the next fourteen years, that’s what they would be, right up to the very end – and beyond.
Dean isn’t giving up, continuing to bargain with Tessa, saying she has to make an exception, his family is danger – they need him, the fight’s not over.
Tessa: It is for you.
Dean: My brother, he could die without me…
Tessa: There’s nothing you can do about it. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. It’s an honorable death, a warrior’s death.
He still refuses, and she says she can’t make him come with her, but he’s not getting back in his body – that he’ll stay behind, for years, disembodied, scared, driven mad over the decades, maybe even become violent.
Tessa: Dean, how do you think angry spirits are born? They can’t let go and can’t move on. And you’re about to become one. The same thing you hunt.
John is still bargaining with the YED, saying he has to help Dean, bring him back.
YED: Why John, you’re sentimental. If only your boys knew how much their Daddy loved them…. You know the truth, right? About Sammy and the other children?
John says yes, he’s known for a while; the YED figures out that Sam doesn’t know, however. And neither do we at the time, which was infuriating and intriguing.
John: So we have a deal? (The Colt for Dean coming back to life).
But the YED says not yet, John still needs to sweeten the pie – that there’s something he wants as much as the Colt, maybe more.
Cut to Tessa and Dean, the moment of truth, what’s it gonna be?
Dean starts to turn to her, and it looks like he’s going to say yes, when the lights start to flicker.
Dean: What are you doing that for?
Tessa: I’m not doing it.
Black demon smoke floods in as Tessa screams ‘you can’t do this, get away!’
The demon smoke enters her and her eyes snap open, yellow.
Demon: Today’s your lucky day, kid.
He puts his hand on Dean’s forehead, and in the hospital room, Dean wakes up. Sam, at his bedside, screams “Help! I need help!”
The doctors can’t explain it, Dean is fine, the contusions magically vanished.
Doc: You’ve got some kinda angel watching over you.
Sam fills Dean in, that a reaper was after him. Dean doesn’t remember, doesn’t know how he ditched it.
Dean: I’ve got a pit in my stomach. Sam, something’s wrong.
John comes in, softer than we’ve ever seen him, asking how Dean is feeling. Sam confronts him, asking where he was last night and accusing him of going after the demon, not believing his denial.
John, uncharacteristically, refuses to get angry.
John: Can we not fight? Half the time we’re fightin’ I don’t know what about, we’re just butting heads. I’ve made some mistakes, but I’ve always done the best I could. I just don’t wanna fight any more, okay?
Sam looks confused, and worried.
Sam: Dad, are you all right?
John says he’s just tired, asks Sam to get him a cup of caffeine; he watches Sam go, while Dean watches his dad.
Dean: What is it?
John comes over to sit with his oldest, still uncharacteristically soft and gentle.
John: When you were a kid, I’d come home from a hunt, and after what I’d seen I’d be wrecked. And you, you’d come up to me and put your hand on my shoulder and look me in the eye, and you’d say, it’s okay, Dad.
The family theme, Jay Gruska’s masterpiece, starts to play and my eyes fill up once more.
John: Dean, I’m sorry.
Dean: For what?
He knows there’s something very very wrong. This is clearly not the John Winchester that Sam and Dean know and love.
John: You shouldn’t have had to say that to me, I shoulda been saying that to you. I put too much on your shoulders, made you grow up too fast. You took care of Sammy and you took care of me, you did that. And you didn’t complain, not once. I just want you to know that I am so proud of you.
Dean doesn’t know what to think, worried and yet emotional about hearing what he’s probably needed to hear his entire life.
Dean: This really you talking?
John: Yeah it’s really me.
A tear rolls down his cheek and we know – and so does Dean – that something is very very wrong. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s turn to give a brilliant performance, and one that I think he’s proud of.
Dean: Why’re you sayin’ this stuff?
John leans in closer, emotional too.
John: I want you to watch out for Sammy, okay?
Dean: Yeah Dad, you know I will. You’re scaring me.
John: Don’t be scared, Dean.
He leans in, bends to whisper in Dean’s ear.
I remember at the time thinking that was so weird, because there was no one else in the room – it was almost like they were whispering so WE wouldn’t hear.
Dean pulls away after a few seconds, eyes wide and shocked. This seems like the first time Dean has seen his stoic father like this, so broken open and vulnerable. Another tear rolls down John Winchester’s face; he nods and walks out.
Dean watches him go, shaken.
John places the Colt on the table in an empty room and looks up, saying “okay.”
Sam comes back with the coffee and walks by that room, sees John collapsed on the floor.
Sam, his voice small, shocked: Dad.
And in an unbelievably amazing scene, Sam, terrified, drops the cup of coffee and it lands upright, spilling out the top, as Sam rushes into the room in slow motion, leaning over his dad, screaming for help.
Another scene that showcases the genius of Kim Manners, and made me exclaim once again during the rewatch “OMG this show is so amazing, how did it not win all the awards??”
The family theme plays, slow and sad, as Dean and Sam watch from the door, Sam supporting Dean, telling the doctors and nurses “That’s our dad, that’s our dad” as they work on John.
Sam and Dean (desperation in their voices and expressions): C’mon, c’mon…
Doctor: Okay, stop compressions, still no pulse. Okay, that’s it everybody. Time of death 10:41 a.m.
The family theme continues as we get a close up of Sam and Dean’s faces, shocked, almost disbelieving.
The Winchester brothers are now orphans.
They only have each other.
And that was one of the best hours of television ever.
Doing the rewatch, we watched the deleted scenes, which were pretty inconsequential and didn’t entirely make sense, and then we watched Jared and Jensen’s commentary, which was priceless. (One of the early scenes had to be deleted because they all realized that ghosts can’t open doors lol – that was a call to Kripke).
They talked about Riverview, the former asylum where Supernatural (and many other Vancouver productions) did a lot of filming, and where much of this episode was filmed. Once when I was lucky enough to be out to dinner with Jared and Jensen, they told more stories about things that had happened there – and some of them were pretty scary! I had my own story to tell about when my son was in the film The Sixth Sense and they were filming in an abandoned old school building, so it was sort of who can out-frighten who (they won).
On the commentary, Jensen said that there was another actor in the hospital bed playing him unconscious, and he had a rubber molded face on to look like Dean. When he wasn’t filming, the other actor had to be led around because the Dean mask had its eyes closed!
Jensen: That was the weirdest thing…
He also said it was a very weird experience to be playing Dean when no one could hear him – to be talking to the other actors and they don’t respond to you at all.
Jared said when they needed the broken laptop, Kim Manners told the props guy Chris Cooper to just throw it off the roof – so he did!
Dean running down the hallway, that was Guy Bee on the Steadicam making it look so amazing. It’s actually a ball on a pole that Dean is chasing down the hallway, which apparently Kim Manners kept laughing about.
There were lots of challenging scenes to shoot, but they seem to have really enjoyed this episode – and of course, working with Kim.
Jared said it was hard for him and Jeffrey to do the scenes where Dean was not actually there (just a ghost) because Jensen was there but they couldn’t react to him.
Jared also said it was hard to react to the doctors shocking Dean.
Jared: I was looking at nothing, just camera guys, I couldn’t see Jensen.
The lady who Dean watched die in her room, Jensen felt bad for.
Jensen: I wanted to give her a water bottle and a hug after every take!
Jared got in a little pranking with Jeffrey Dean Morgan – he kept slamming his bag down on his legs, but JDM just started moving his legs right off the bed.
The Ouija board scene was one of their favorites, but also very challenging to film.
Jensen: For the 180 shot, they had to build a ramp behind Jared.
Kim: For the Ouija board, we couldn’t use certain graphics, so Maryanne our graphics designer made that.
Jared: This was hard to film, because I couldn’t react to him.
Jensen: I had to hide and then sneak in, then had to slide back in. It was four guys going around in a circle.
Kim: We kept catching you landing, so you had to do it over and over and over again.
Jared: I got a raise for my hand acting.
Jensen: And your spelling.
Jared and Jensen had plenty of fun doing the commentary, with Kim trying gamely to rein them in.
Jensen (about the tubes Dean had down his throat): I hated that thing sticking in my mouth and up my nose.
Jared: I jiggled it around to help you be really uncomfortable.
Jensen: (deadpan) You did a good job.
Jared: This is the most comfortable Jensen has ever been shooting, a tee shirt and scrubs. Sam was worried about him for a while there…
Jensen: I know he was.
(Dean’s scars magically disappear onscreen)
Jensen: That magic network cream.
Jared: I applied it to him every night.
Jensen: Kiss on the forehead, off to bed…
Kim: Going too deep, boys…
The showdown between John Winchester and the YED was also a favorite for all of them. Apparently Jared and Jensen were done for the day, but they stayed around to watch.
Kim: You guys were dismissed but you didn’t go away, you stuck around all day.
Jensen: You spent your birthday at Riverview and I also spent mine at Riverview.
They all remembered that Fred Lehne (the YED) had yellow contacts on, and he was completely blind. They had to put down sandbags on the floor so he could feel his way around.
Jared and Jensen: Amazing performance.
Jensen: How deep could two actors’ voices be??
The actress who played Tessa also could not see when she had the yellow contacts in. Jensen said she kept missing his head and hitting his shoulder, his nose, his lips…. (Tough job)
It was wonderful having Kim on this commentary. He added so much to the show, and shaped it in so many ways.
Kim: We ground the show in an emotional reality, even as far fetched as demons but you give them heart and a soul, it works.
This was a very emotional episode, and that wasn’t lost on Kim or Jared and Jensen.
Kim: I was crying because he truly emotionally touched me. Not only me, but the grips were even crying. You know you’ve scored when they’re crying.
Jensen: Or when you see a PA in an orange vest sitting on the side of the road reading a script.
Kim: These guys make my life so easy.
Jared or Jensen (cannot remember): When you trust your director, you believe the captain of the ship isn’t gonna steer you the wrong way, and it’s easy to give your best performance. We can push each other and complement each other and do the best work we have in us.
As they watched Sam and John have their last emotional scene together, Kim commented that it was an amazing scene.
Kim: You guys both nailed it.
Jared: My instinct was to make a Hallmark moment out of that walk by dad (as Sam goes to get his coffee), but Kim suggested I not do that. It’s more heartbreaking because Sam doesn’t have a last moment with his father, not even eye contact. Because Sam wouldn’t know (it’s his last moment with his father) so it’s more true to life. Almost a worse loss not having that last moment.
All of us now: (sobs)
Jared: Jeffrey did his coverage first, and his performance got me so choked up off camera, I think I was crying and I thought I better cut it out, or I’m not gonna have anything left for my coverage.
Kim: That was it for me (as a tear rolls down JDM’s face).
The shot of Sam dropping the cup of coffee when he sees his father on the floor comes on.
Kim: Luckiest shot in the world, the lid came right at the camera. I didn’t realize at first that it was still standing upright.
On screen, Sam and Dean watch in horror and shock as their father dies.
Jared and Jensen: We were looking at absolutely nothing.
Ah, the challenges of acting! And yet their faces convey all the shock and horror and grief that would have accompanied that moment somehow.
I don’t think I’d listened to the commentary on his episode in over a decade, so this was a real treat for our rewatch. I keep saying to my rewatch buds, I just cannot get over what an amazing show this is – Season 2 is off the charts brilliant.
On to the rest of Season 2!
Big thanks to spndeangirl for the caps that were so gorgeous it was an almost impossible task not to use all of them!!
You can always remember and celebrate how
special Supernatural is with the books written
in the actors’ own words – Family Don’t End
With Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You Are
Done. Links here or at:
20 thoughts on “In My Time of Dying – Supernatural Rewatch Kicks Off Season 2!”
Awesome recap. The coffee cup is a pic that instantly brings back that shocking scene. All the kudos to J3. They are amazing. And Kim Manner’s brilliance will live forever
I had to use that shot as the header because it is so amazing – one of many that Kim Manners blessed us with!
Season 2 was my all-time favorite. I love your recaps/analyses, so I’m really looking forward to reading them for the rest of S2!
Season 2 is the season that really made me a forever fan of Supernatural, so it’s special to me also. I”m so enjoying really digging into these early episodes in detail, especially with the perspective of the rest of the series. Glad you’re enjoying it too!
Thanks for including the commentary by the actors. This is a favorite episode for me. It is not only fantastic on many fronts, but has personal meaning for me as I had suffered a loss.
I’m so sorry for your loss – Supernatural has so much to say about grief and loss and always keeping fighting, it’s one of the things I love most about the show.
Hi Lynn, good to be back on the re-watch with you🙂
Omg. Only Dean Winchester could have it out with his Father, silent and invisible whilst he’s DYING. It screams so loudly in the most heartbreaking way that despite everything he’d done for his family, he’s still the Invisible Child.
That sense of invisibility will haunt Dean’s entire life and yet he couldn’t be angry at John, which speaks volumes for his love and loyalty, how beautiful his soul is. It also speaks of his fear that if he acknowledged and let out his true feelings about losing his childhood, for never being fully validated, for being held back and controlled, it would be a tidal wave of rage he couldn’t stop.
Which, in season 15 was exactly what we got. A Dean who fully owned his righteous anger for every damn time he was wronged. It was ugly and messy and horrible because that’s what a lifetime of questioning your right to exist, subjugation and pain look like. Those emotions took no prisoners and hurt those around him because Dean simply couldn’t perform for them any more, he was done, beyond done and wanted his freedom. Dean in season 15 was finally doing what so many people like Jo, had advocated on his behalf, telling Dean to put down the crap he didn’t have to carry and fight for himself.
Make no mistake, this was not a cage built entirely by John. With conditioning, Dean held himself to such high standards, denied himself what he needed, was so enmeshed with his family he would never break free until he owned that right to anger, that right to be seen. Dean tells Tessa his family need him, his argument to her as to why he shouldn’t die isn’t that it’s unjust because he deserves a life and the right not to die young for the family ’cause’. Dean fights to live for “My Family”
John may have put the foundations in place for Dean’s captivity but Dean’s steadfast refusal to reject his place in the family as the invisible child, to own he was a victim as well as a survivor, that kept the door to his cage locked fast. Until Dean truly saw all of himself and his damaged parts, owned them all, not just the bits he could live with, he would never be free, never fully heal from a life of trauma deeply rooted in childhood.
This episode is masterful, it’s about family and love and loyalty but also the ugliest side of family life and family roles. It underscores more than once how invisible Dean’s feelings were to his loved ones. John and Sam butt heads over him, though it starts from a place of love, it quickly evolves into making him the centre of their opposing views ignoring his wishes that they please stop fighting. This had been foreshadowed in an earlier episode, Dean’s role of peacemaker is so integrated into the Winchester family system to the point both John and Sam process and mediate through Dean. That strain of trying to keep the peace takes its toll on Spirit Dean and he almost flat-lines. That’s how exhausting being caught in n the middle is to Dean and we pretty much know by now this was an established pattern of behaviour. Throughout Season 1 we hear about the fights, see Dean advocate for John, build up Sam’s regard for himself and his father in a quiet and thoughtful way . An act of kindness which is very important in the aftermath of John’s death that enables Sam to review his position, see the good things John did as well as the bad. Gives Sam the perspective he needs to begin the painful process of moving on from his grief.
There were some beautiful bonding moments where invisibility as a spirit allowed Dean to see the best and unfiltered side of Sam, his faith, loyalty and care. Sam never stopped caring, even his anger at John came from devotion to his big brother. We saw smart Sam and the two of them, working together trying to figure things out. Team work in harmony and en-sync to the point they were Sam, though he couldn’t hear Dean, knows exactly what he’s thinking and used Dean’s words. We see the good thing they have between them in that unspoken communication at it’s pure best, a thing which came out of their terrible unstable upbringing and being together with only each other for support. Sam says “We were just starting to be brothers again” but I’d argue season 1, without John’s influence and with Dean not having to play the parent figure, they were actually being brothers truly for the first time in Dean’s life, where he was tentatively learning to let go and allow Sam space ( for example he makes that call to apologise and completely lets Sam choose his own direction in Scarecrow, once he’s cooled down after their initial tiff) Dean’s beginning to understand the role of being a brother, rather than being a parentified child. The sense of Sam believing in him and fighting for him boosted Dean and motivated him throughout the entire episode, even though he was clearly very scared. Sam gave him strength and hope.
Lot of love to Tessa, she was magnificent at her job. Tessa really saw Dean, whole and complete, one of the very few characters in the whole show asking nothing of him, only giving . Tessa didn’t feel the need to fix or change Dean, he just was, which was why he was able to relax with her.
John, not so much love there. This was another moment to whack him with Missouri’s spoon. He was calculated and in control, his choice to not tell Sam, but burden Dean was quite deliberate. It felt like his decision on what and who to tell was made during those moments when he sat vigil over Dean. It wasn’t a snap, spur of the moment thing. John had already decided who was to play what role in his grand plan. John simply re-assigned permanent responsibility for taking care of adult Sam and his adult problems to Dean. Neither son were consulted or even wanted the roles given to them, that Dean was to be the protector and Sam the protected. John upset the delicate balance the boys were finding as brothers, putting them firmly back into their childhood roles which did huge damage to the progress they were both making in their own respective healing from a rotten childhood.
I was very much struck on rewatch the parallel of possessed John and Dean and this time around Dean and Dad. Both occasions they are physically close, almost intimate, both times Dean is trapped and powerless to escape and he reacts as if under threat, backing away as best he can. Dean is still asking the question, is this my Dad? There’s an uncomfortableness in Dean indicative of him anticipating the attack, trying to figure out how to ward if off. Jensen brilliantly telegraphing the “What does he want from me? What can I do to be safe?”. And an emotional attack is exactly what it becomes. John offers the very validation Dean has sought for his whole life, then robs him if it in the cruelest by placing a huge secret that becomes a wedge between himself and Sam, the one person Dean has in his life whom he values and loves and who, in return loves him back.
Worse it’s not just a secret, John leaves Dean and Sam no intel, no idea what’s going on and asks something unforgivable of his eldest.
In that attack in Dean’s emotional well-being and security, before he’s barely recovered from almost dying, John is every much the villain Azazel is. Only instead of bleeding outside, Dean’s wounds are far deeper, more visceral, bleeding inside him.
Kudos to the crew and to Kim Manners, this was a visually stunning, unique and powerful episode.
Yes yes, this episode has so much to say – about Dean’s evolution right through S15, and also about John. I so agree about how brilliantly Jensen (and Kim) has Dean telegraph his uncertainty when his father literally and figuratively invades his boundaries and asks something of his son that no parent ever should ask of their child. What thing to put on Dean’s shoulders, without any explanation at all – something that haunts both brothers eventually for a very long time. I was struck, on rewatch, by how John makes it a secret, even though ostensibly there is no one else in the room. The shame of it, the guilt, even if he’s not aware of it (and even if it’s also a convenient TV trope). I wonder, if The Winchesters does get made, how they will explore John’s story, because some of it is dark indeed.
I really want to see The Winchesters come to fruition so John the Man has a voice. We do not know John at all, all we know is what Dean and Sam think and a few snatches of one or two aspects of John. I think there’s so much character to dig into there. If presented correctly it could be a very important part of Dean’s journey. Right now John and Dean feels like unfinished business. In Lebanon, though Dean was gracious and kind to him ( as he actually often is to those who’ve badly wrong him) it felt like Dean did have more to say that he shelved in favour of building a good memory. Finding out exactly who his parents really were and what they did could go a long way towards his healing and be very cathartic for him.
I’m so happy you are back with your recaps, I was worried that you had stopped permanently! I think this is one of those episodes that you remember it almost entirely as every part of it is so very good. One of my top ten for sure.
Oh no, I’m determined to have a recap and review of every single episode of this show before I stop! (Though there will probably be periodic pauses lol). Agreed, a top ten episode – which is really saying something with 327 of them!
I’d always taken that interaction of the “hoodoo priest laying some mojo on him” was more a reminder that Sam has developing abilities and that on some subconscious level Sam actually heard Dean. Sam has a somewhat bewildered expression on his face after saying it like “where the heck did that come from?” that leans itself to something more then just their deep relationship and being in sync with each other. Super episode and wonderful recap as usual.
Oooh that’s an interesting thought. Sam never does really develop any mind reading abilities, but maybe at that point they were considering that his abilities weren’t as specific as we might have assumed. He definitely sensed or heard something, that’s for sure!
I think Sam’s “powers” were probably more broad then they ever really knew. It started with visions and telekinesis but all the children showed various skills. But, they both grew up learning that these things are very very dangerous most of the time. So by the time Season 4 rolls around, he’s only really willing to develop the singular ability that will allow him to get his revenge. Who knows what Sam could have really been capable of?
I’m happy to see (read?) that you’re back to doing the recaps. I didn’t start watching our show until a later season so I bought the past season DVDs to catch up on what I missed (spoiler alert-a lot).
Meeting John was an interesting eye opening experience . His similarities and differences between him and both his sons are subtle at times but definitely there. Sam and John both have a stubbornness and a clearer point of view than Dean. Dean is more protective than either of them-Sam is closer to his brother (mostly I think, because of the way they were raised) but because of Jessica, he relates to John. I also think that because John found out about the special kids-he was a bit afraid for and of Sam. I always disliked him telling Dean that terrible secret though.
This episode showed the differences between Sam and John and also showed the anger in Sam. Something he ends up hanging onto a long time.
Good old Riverview. Growing up in Vancouver, it was the place used as an insult growing up. Did you escape from? You belong at ____. Etc. Good set (for at least 3 episodes) sad building.
That’s a very good point Kelly, it’s a strong probably John’s fears informed his poor choice to keep Sam in the dark when he knew so much about Azazel’s plans. How he thought Dean would be the one to find the solution begs the question, did he have any knowledge of what lay ahead for Dean also? Looking at the bigger picture there’s a lot we don’t know. It’s good for thought.
I think you’re right – John was afraid for Sam, for sure, but he was also a little afraid OF Sam, and that influenced how he handled his knowledge of Sam being one of the ‘chosen’ children. And also his decision to put that on Dean’s shoulders :/
I love season 2! It’s my favorite season. This episode was amazing. I wish the show would have kept the look and tone from the first 5 seasons. This episode was heavy with the drama but had just the right amounts of humor sprinkled in to relieve some of the tension. I think this was touch was lacking after Kripke left. Too many of the episodes focused more on the laughs or over the top characters than the subtle drama.
I wonder if John thought that maybe Sam was the one who make the glass fly off the table. At this point unbeknownst to us he is worried that Sam could go “dark side.” Could this have prompted his secret request to Dean before he died?
I also love how Sam can sense Dean. This is a nice nod to them being soulmates which we don’t learn about until season 5. I love their bond.
I also liked how Sam not wanting to give up on fixing Baby was a nod to how he wasn’t ready to give up on saving Dean.
This episdoe was perfection – beautifully shot, directed, written, and acted.
Have a mentioned how much I love season 2?!?!
I agree with the above comments, this episode is brilliant in every way. It seems like every time I do a rewatch, I forget how good season 2 is and I am struck afresh by it every time.
I consider this the first truly excellent episode of the series. Not to say there weren’t great episodes before (Home, Faith, Something Wicked) but this one’s on another level, in my opinion.
What do I think of John Winchester? The TL;DR answer: at his core, he was a good man, who loved his children, but made a great many awful decisions. I don’t particularly like him, but…I can’t really bring myself to hate him, either.
Most of what we know about him seems to come from these first few seasons, with random nuggets of additional information scattered randomly throughout the series. Therefore, I find it difficult to keep it all straight in my mind. (Hard to remember absolutely everything in a 327 episode long series, ugh.) Mostly, we learn about John not by watching him, but by watching Sam and Dean. Funny to think that he is an important character, but he’s really only in 1% of the entire series. It’s through his children’s personality traits and (often maladaptive) behaviors that we really get to know him.
Dean bears the brunt of John’s poor parenting. He had to grow up fast–his actual dad is MIA, so he must become the parental figure for Sam. He never got to be a kid, really. The horrible trauma of losing his mother, then being left with an absentee dad who, even when he was around, appeared emotionally distant, treating him as a soldier rather than a child. So he never worked through that initial trauma, then had ever more traumas heaped upon him by a neglectful, grieving parent who couldn’t work through his own grief and trauma, PLUS all the crazy monster BS going on around him. John was utterly drowning in grief and terror, and the revenge quest only plunged him further into the darkness. He wanted to protect his children at all costs, of course, and he did. That’s admirable. But Sam and Dean also needed him to be present, not just in terms of being in the same physical space, but be emotionally present as well. They needed him. But how could John save them, when he couldn’t even save himself? It doesn’t excuse his behavior, but it does explain it.
Dean grows up. Basically he’s just a tangled up ball of trauma, emotional constipation, and toxic masculinity. “No chick flick moments!” Push the feelings down deep inside, where they belong! I suppose Dean’s feelings about his dad are…complicated. A few times throughout the series, he compliments his old man. Though at one point, when talking to his mom at the end of season 12, he refers to Daddy Winchester as a “shell.” He may still have love for his father. But he also has realized that after Mary’s death, he was an empty, hollow thing with nothing left to give him or Sam. At this point, Dean is acknowledging his father’s imperfections, and admits the truth: that John Winchester, for most of the time he knew him, was not someone he could depend on for everything. He could depend on him to teach him about what lurks in the dark, or show up with a sawed off shot gun when needed, sure. But when it came to affection, helping him heal from the trauma…that was something John Winchester could not do for his sons. Dean accepts that his father was not as good as he once believed him to be, and he’s become disillusioned.
Sam faired slightly better–comparatively. He did not witness the death of his mother, he was too young to even know his mother, so he does not carry that trauma with him. He had it out with his dad, obviously. They rarely got along. Of course, Sam wasn’t the good little soldier his big brother was, and he wants to leave hunting behind. But John wasn’t really his father, not really. Dean was his father. He was the one to watch over him and feed him and so on, while John was off on his mission. Dean was the closest thing he had to a parent–he was there for him more than anyone. But of course this left them with some co-dependency issues and some toxicity between them. It was, after all, a strange and inappropriate dynamic.
Over the years, though, their relationship of course evolved, with each of them coming into their own, Dean finally starting to recognize Sam as the competent adult he is.
So yeah–John left a lot of damaged people in his wake. He had good intentions, but that’s what happened. Reminds me of the Toad the Wet Sprocket song…”It’s hard to rely on my good intentions…”