Supernatural Leaves the Black and White Behind with Season 2’s ‘Bloodlust’

And our Supernatural rewatch continues…

The third episode of Supernatural’s second season is hard hitting, thanks to not only Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles’ acting skills, but several very talented (and well known now if they weren’t then) guest stars. Amber Benson was already a fan favorite from her time on Buffy, and Ty Olsson would become  a Supernatural fan favorite when he returns to team up with Dean in Purgatory as Benny. And of course the amazing Sterling K. Brown as Gordon Walker makes this episode powerful – it’s not surprising that he’s gone on to more mainstream fame on This Is Us.

As I’ve said many many many times, someone really needs to buy Supernatural’s casting agency a fruit basket. A really big one.

This episode is written by Sera Gamble and directed by Robert Singer, who both have been integral to Supernatural and went on to become showrunners. No wonder it’s so damn good.

These early episodes are enriched so much by the music cues, and this one is no exception. The recap gives us ‘Wheel in the Sky’ with strikingly appropriate lyrics for what the brothers are experiencing. “The wheel in the sky keeps on turning, I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow…”

We revisit John’s funeral, and Sam’s question to Dean – did he say anything to you?

And Dean’s stoic ‘no’, followed by his breakdown at the Impala’s expense. It still hurts.

And then we’re off – to Red Lodge, Montana.

A woman runs through the woods, falling down and then scrambling up, desperate and terrified. She finally hides behind a tree, and of course we’re all rooting for her, thinking a monster is after her. She finally thinks she’s eluded it and looks around the tree – and a large knife slices her head clean off.

Oof.  Little do we know, she’s a vampire – but our first instincts turn out to be right. What was hunting her was the real monster.

Cut to our boys, and one of the most iconic Supernatural songs ever, AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’. The car roars down the road, Dean behind the wheel, enjoying his (now restored to her full beauty) baby. By this time, the show knew how much the fandom loved what we at the time called “the Metallicar” and lingers on her shiny chrome and sleek black exterior. We know what Dean sees in her; we see it too.

And Sam, though he loves to tease his brother about it, loves and values that car almost as much. She’s home, after all.

Dean: Wooh, listen to her purr!

Sam makes a face, trying for grumpy but a smile trying to break through.

Sam: You know, if you two wanna get a room, just let me know.

Dean hears it for the affectionate nudge that it is and plays along.

Dean: Aw, don’t listen to him, baby, he doesn’t understand us.

Sam notes Dean’s good mood, and he owns it, saying he’s got his car, they’ve got a case, things are looking up.

Sam: Wow, give you a couple of severed heads and a pile of dead cows and you’re Mister Sunshine.

It’s a light conversation, but also a prelude to what will be a darker turn that Dean’s repressed rage and grief will take in this episode, and how much Sam really will be worried about him. For now, Dean floors it and both brothers enjoy the open road.

Sam and Dean visit the sheriff when they get there, posing as press to find out about what’s going on (Jensen’s sister Mackenzie has a walk-on role in this scene).  The sheriff isn’t very forthcoming, so the boys press him.

Dean: Cows found dead, split open, drained, over a dozen cases…

Sam: First cattle mutilations, now two murders…sounds like ritual stuff…

Dean: Like Satanic cult ritual stuff…

The sheriff bursts into laughter, and then sees the looks on their faces.

Sheriff: You’re not kidding. What paper did you say you work for?

Dean: World Weekly News…

Sam: Weekly World News…

Dean: Um, Weekly… I’m new.

Sheriff: Get out of my office.

Jared and Jensen are so funny in this scene, and the guy playing the Sheriff plays off them perfectly. It’s a nice outsider pov on the Winchesters, who honestly must appear to be either insane or psychopaths to everyday people around them much of the time.

Sam and Dean go on to the hospital and to the morgue to check it out for themselves, looking dapper in their white coats as they now try to pull off being doctors. But first they have to get rid of the young intern, wearing a name tag that says “J. Manners”, a nice homage to Kim Manners, who was such a huge part of the show at this time (and forever, really, because his impact just carried on).

Dean attempts a bluff, taking a chance on the ‘J’.

Dean: John…

Intern: Jeff.

Dean:  Jeff, right, I know that. Dr. Dworkin needs to see you in his office right away.

The intern points out that Dr. Dworkin is on vacation, but Dean rolls with it.

Dean: Oh, he’s back – and he’s screaming for you, man, so if I were you…

Off goes the intern. Mission accomplished.

I keep talking about how smart the Winchesters were allowed to be in the early seasons, and this is a great example. They go into these situations with almost no information and have to think on their feet. They have to pick up cues and act on them instantly, taking educated guesses and changing course on a dime when they need to. They’re like fortune tellers, watching for subtle cues that will tell them which direction to go and when to make a U turn. And Sam and Dean excel at it. It puts them in humorous situations because they inevitably can’t get it right all the time, but they do remarkably well again and again.

Also, is this the same hospital that’s used in ‘Dream A Little Dream of Me’? We had our very first visit to the set during that episode (as in, we found the set and tried to look casual about it) and I think it looked alot like this shot.  Someone who’s better with these kind of questions, let me know!

Sam provides some background information that Satanists in Florida marked their victims with a reverse pentacle, and Dean delivers this weirdly appropriate for 2021 line:

Dean: So much effed up crap happens in Florida…

Me in the middle of an unending pandemic: I’ll say.

Neither of the brothers wants to open the box that contains the woman’s head, which frankly is totally understandable.

Dean: Open it.

Sam: You open it.

Dean: Wuss.

Also, I think that might be Dean’s version of puppy dog eyes.

Sam does open it, finding no reverse pentagram, and Dean suggests that they should look in her mouth in case anything’s in there ala Silence of the Lambs. (Dean makes the obligatory ‘put the lotion in the basket’ quote, because Dean Winchester).

Sam: Yeah, go ahead.

Dean: No, you go ahead!

Sam: Right, yeah, I’m the wuss, huh? Whatever.

He pries open her mouth and starts feeling around, then asks Dean for a bucket.

Dean: You find something?

Sam: No, I’m gonna puke.

Me: I could listen to Sam and Dean banter all day.

Seriously, they are so believable as brothers because they do it perfectly, either because they’re just that great actors or increasingly because Jared and Jensen were by that time brothers in real life too.

Dean instructs Sam to lift her lip up further, and Sam grimaces.

Sam: What, you want me to throw up?

But Dean is being the smart capable hunter the early seasons let him be, and they find to their surprise that she’s got retractable fangs.  The plot thickens.

The Winchesters head to a local bar looking for more information, and exchange worried looks in the car about I can’t remember what.

But they look good doing it.

The bartender is Ty Olsson in his pre-Benny (but still a vampire) days.

Sam: So, we’re looking for some people.

Bartender: Sure, it’s hard to be lonely…

Sam and the bartender have a bit of a moment, then Sam clarifies.

Sam: Yeah, but… umm… that’s not what I meant.

They offer the bartender a 50 dollar bill looking for information about some people who recently moved there and are pretty rowdy – real night owls, sleep all day, party all night…  The bartender tells them to check out a farm nearby that was recently leased out. Sam and Dean head out, and a mysterious guy who was listening to their conversation also leaves.

We think Sam and Dean haven’t noticed him, and he follows them down a dark alley. We don’t see Sam and Dean have any conversation, and think they’re in the dark about being followed, but then the guy turns a corner and WHAM, he’s slammed up against the wall and Dean Winchester has a knife to his throat.

BADASS smart boys.

Gordon tells them he’s not a vampire – Sam and Dean must be doubly surprised to once again run into someone who knows as much about the supernatural as they do. He says he knows how to kill them too and Dean starts to put the knife down, but Sam slams him right back up into the wall.

Gordon: Whoa, easy there Chachi.

He shows his gums sans fangs and the Winchesters let him go, though I think Sam already has a bad feeling about Gordon. After all, he called Sam Winchester Chachi!

Gordon shows off his weapons cache (with the scythe like thing that beheaded the woman at the beginning) and tells them that he met their father once and is sorry to hear he passed away, but that he’s heard Sam and Dean fill his ‘big shoes’. Dean is instantly suspicious, wondering how he knows so much about their family.

Gordon: Word travels fast. You know how hunters talk.

Except they don’t. It’s becoming clear that other hunters are in a sort of loose network, in communication at least, but the Winchesters have been on the periphery – and that’s how John wanted it. (I guess Gordon sort of proves his point, come to think of it).

Gordon says the farm the bartender flagged isn’t full of vampires, just “hippie freaks,” and says he doesn’t want the Winchesters’ help, that he’s got this one covered. Dean is disappointed, complaining that he’s been itching for a hunt.

Gordon: Sorry, but hey, I hear there’s a chupacabra two states over, go ahead and knock yourselves out.

(I took a detour here in the rewatch and started giggling, remembering David Haydn Jones as Ketch saying chupacabra and cracking Jared and Jensen up. Sorry.)

Cut to a factory, a worker anxious and hearing noises. Once again, we’re relating to the person who seems like he’s in danger, but once again that’s the vampire and Gordon the stalker.

He attacks, but the vampire gets the upper hand and pins him under a giant electric saw and begins bringing it down on him.

Suddenly Sam Winchester appears and saves him, while Dean spears the vampire and then uses the saw to decapitate him, blood spraying him all over. He looks like a man possessed, reveling in the violence of the kill and the blood splattering him.

Sam stares at his brother in horror.

Gordon grins.

Gordon: Guess I gotta buy you that drink.

(Sera Gamble got the fandom’s fascination with bruised and bloodied boys from the start – our books on Supernatural have many interesting conversations with her about this very subject, in fact.)

The three go to a bar and Gordon buys them drinks, toasting their kills with Dean and calling it ‘beautiful’ while Sam looks on, sullen and worried.

Dean is happy, but there’s never going to be a time when he’s not attuned to his little brother, and he knows Sam isn’t.

Dean: You all right, Sammy?

Sam says he’s fine.

Gordon: Well lighten up a little, Sammy.

Sam glares at him, and man, if looks could kill.

Sam: He’s the only one who gets to call me that.

One of my favorite lines of the series, and Padalecki delivers it to perfection.

Also perfection is Dean’s little satisfied smirk when he hears it.

Gordon tries to talk Sam into celebrating and ‘having a little more fun with your job’ which is – really saying something considering what their job is. Sam says decapitations aren’t his idea of a good time and decides to go back to the motel to not bring the other two down.

Dean does not like this very much.

Dean: You sure?

He tosses Sam the keys to the Impala.

Dean: Sammy? Remind me to beat that buzzkill out of you later, all right?

It’s a bravado-filled thing to say, a way of bonding with Gordon, who right now Dean wants to impress – and maybe even more, wants him to validate the violence Dean is feeling. But his ‘you sure?’ and giving Sam the keys shows his concern too (always).

Sam goes back to the motel and Dean confides in Gordon, telling him about a hunt when he was 16, using a crossbow to kill a monster while Sammy waits in the car, joining his father to burn it ‘to a crisp’.

Dean: I’m sitting there and looking into the fire and thinking to myself, I’m 16 years old. Most kids my age are worried about pimples or prom dates. I’m seeing things that they’ll never even know, never even dream of. So right then, I just sort of…

Gordon: Embraced the life?

Dean: Yeah.

That was a coping strategy that made sense, because what choice did he have?

That description, a rare glimpse into the brother’s childhood – because yes, sixteen is still a kid – is heartbreaking. It reads like what happens to a child who has experienced trauma. The experience is so alien, so unable to be shared and validated and normalized, that it ends up setting the child apart from other children, leaving a vulnerability behind to feeling painfully different. It can get in the way of relationships because – literally – no one else understands.

That’s a terrible burden for a teenager, and also one of the reasons that Sam and Dean have a bond that’s so unique. No one else will ever understand their trauma-filled life the way they do. And Dean does not realize how unfair that is.

Gordon’s story is different – at 18, a vampire attacked him and his sister and then disappeared with her. His family didn’t believe him so he left home and tracked the vampire down and killed it – his first kill.

Dean says he’s sorry about Gordon’s sister, because that hits close to home, and also shares a little bit about how much he misses his dad – the things Sam has been trying to get him to open up about. Sometimes it’s easier with a stranger.

Dean: You’re always thinking to yourself, he’s indestructible, he’ll always be around, nothing can kill my dad. Then just like that, he’s gone. I can’t talk about this to Sammy. You know, gotta keep my game face on. But the truth is, I’m not handling it very well. Feels like I have this –

Gordon: Hole inside you? And it just gets bigger and bigger and darker and darker?

You would think that Gordon is offering empathy that might help Dean fill that emptiness up, but instead he encourages Dean to use it to stay hungry and keep killing, saying it’s not a crime to need your job.

Gordon is not a very good therapist, I can’t help thinking to myself. But he’s a pretty good manipulator.

Back at the motel, Sam calls Ellen at the Roadhouse and asks if she’s run across Gordon Walker, saying they’re kinda working with him.

Ellen initially casually said Gordon was a good hunter, but as soon as Sam says that she gets serious, saying don’t do that, that he’s dangerous to everyone and everything around him.

Uh oh.

Flash back to Gordon and Dean getting more and more buddy buddy as they drink together, and as Gordon tries to put a wedge between Dean and his brother.

Gordon: I love this life…It’s all black and white, there’s no maybe. You find the bad thing, you kill it. Most people spend their lives in shades of gray, is this right? Is that wrong? Not us.

Dean: Not sure Sammy would agree with you, but…

Gordon: Doesn’t seem like your brother’s much like us… We were born to do this. It’s in our blood.

Dean thinks hard about what Gordon says here, because some of that appeals to him a lot. Sam starts out as the one always wanting to see the shades of gray, whereas Dean looks for that same simplicity that Gordon values. He’s still appreciating it many seasons later when he goes to Purgatory. As violent and dangerous as it was, it was simple in its black and white, kill or be killed, ethos. And Dean found that compelling in some ways.

Back at the motel, Sam goes to the vending machine for a soda, sensing something outside but not finding anything. In true horror movie fashion, he gets back into his room and shuts the door, smiling at his own anxiety, and then boom! He’s attacked, putting up a good fight before someone slams the motel room phone (one of those heavy land lines that don’t exist much anymore) on his head and down he goes.

He wakes up tied to a chair with a bag over his head. The flirty bartender from before (Ty Olsson) pulls the bag off and hisses at Sam, showing his fangs. Before he can do anything, however, a young woman orders him to step back, and he does.

Lenore takes off the gag and tells Sam she’s not going to hurt him, just needs to talk.

Sam scoffs. His view of monsters is pretty black and white at this point too; he’s John Winchester’s son after all, and he’s seen a lot of monstrous stuff in his life.

Sam: Talk? I might have a tough time paying attention to much besides Eli’s teeth.

Lenore gives him her word that Eli won’t hurt him either, but Sam is unconvinced.

Sam: Your word? Oh yeah great, thanks. Listen lady, no offense, but you’re not the first vampire I’ve met.

She tells him they’re not like the others, they don’t kill humans or drink their blood. Instead, they drink cattle blood, and Sam realizes they’re the ones responsible for all the dead cows.  Lenore explains that they blend in more easily, no  deaths so no reason for hunters to come after them. Eli, however, is still mad.

Eli: We choke on cow’s blood so none of them suffer. Tonight they murdered Conrad and they celebrated!

Like Sam, we get to hear Eli’s perspective – Conrad, who apparently was not killing people, was stalked by Gordon Walker and ultimately had his head chopped off by Dean Winchester.  Lenore says they brought Sam there to convince him, so that they wouldn’t follow them, saying they have a right to live if they’re not hurting anyone – and to prove it, they’re going to let Sam go.

They take him back to the motel, unharmed.

Dean and Gordon are at the motel still trying to figure out where the vampires’ nest is, Dean anxiously looking at his watch.

Dean: What time is it? Where is Sam?

Gordon: Car’s parked outside, probably went for a walk. Seems like a take-a-walk type.

Dean: Yeah, he is, but…

Sam comes back, surprised to see Gordon there.

He tells Dean to come outside to talk, away from Gordon.

Sam tells Dean that he was with the vampires, in the nest.

Dean: You found it?!

Sam: They found me, man.

Dean: How’d you get out? How many did you kill?

Sam explains, saying that they let him go – he’s proof of that.

He doesn’t think they’re killing people and that they need to rethink this hunt, but Dean is stuck on his black and white thinking more than ever after spending time with Gordon.

Dean: No man, no way. I don’t know why they let you go, I don’t really care. We find ‘em, we waste ‘em. If it’s supernatural, we kill it, end of story, that’s our job.

Sam: No, Dean, that’s not our job. Our job is hunting evil. And if these things aren’t killing people, they’re not evil!

Dean refuses to listen, saying they’re all the same, they’re not human. He also makes the mistake of taking Gordon’s word for it instead of Sam’s, which (rightly) pisses Sam off.

Sam: You’re taking his word for it? Ellen says he’s bad news.

Dean: You called Ellen? And I’m supposed to listen to her? We barely know her, Sam, no thanks.

Sam is angry, pointing out that Gordon isn’t exactly an old friend.

Sam: You don’t think I can see what this is? He’s a substitute for Dad, isn’t he? A poor one!

Dean turns away, saying he’s not talking about this, but Sam is worried as hell and he keeps going.

Sam: You know, you slap on this big fake smile but I can see right through it. Because I know how you feel, Dean. Dad’s dead. And he left a hole and it hurts so bad you can’t take it. But you can’t just fill that hole with whoever you want to, it’s an insult to his memory!

Dean says okay and starts to turn away, and then erupts in violence and punches Sam in the face. Sam rubs his chin, but refuses to hit back.

Sam: You hit me all you want, it won’t change anything.

Dean stomps away, saying he’ll go find the nest without Sam, and Sam calls after him. When they get back to the motel room, Gordon is gone.  Sam wants to stop him; Dean wants to lend him a hand.

Sam: Just give me the benefit of the doubt, would you? You owe me that.

Dean says we’ll see, and asks for the keys – they’re gone from the table.

Gordon is good, you have to give him that.

Dean has to hotwire his own car, much to his annoyance since he ‘just fixed her up’, and the boys head out for the farm where Sam was taken.

Sam remembers a bridge, and Dean complains, ‘that all you got?’

Sam: The bridge was four and a half minutes from their farm.

Dean: How do you know?

Sam (deadpan): I counted.

Sam: They took a left out of the farm, turned right on a dirt road, followed that two minutes up a hill, another quick right and then the bridge.

Dean is grudgingly impressed.

Dean: You’re good. You’re a monster pain in the ass, but you’re good.

All of us: Sam Fucking Winchester.

Lenore and Eli are packing up to leave, Eli insisting that you can’t reason with “these people” who will kill them anyway, and Lenore insisting that she’s not giving up hope, because if they can change, so can hunters/people. I love the turned-on-its-head reasoning – it reminds me of the show Jensen Ackles is filming right now, The Boys, where it’s not the superheros who are the good guys.

Unfortunately, Gordon proves Eli at least partially right, finding the farm and stabbing Lenore with a knife soaked in dead man’s blood. When Sam and Dean arrive, Gordon has clearly already been torturing her for a while – she’s tied to a chair and bleeding from multiple cuts. Gordon tells the brothers he’s poisoning her with dead man’s blood to find out where the rest of the vamps are and suggests they grab a knife, he was ‘just about to start in on the fingers.’

Despite Dean’s earlier resolve that vampires need killing, both he and Sam look repulsed by what Gordon is doing. Which is a relief, because I find this scene very hard to watch. Amber Benson does almost too good a job at showing us Lenore’s agony, and it turns my stomach every time. Similarly, Sterling’s ability to show us Gordon’s enjoyment just makes it more nauseating.

Dean tries to get everyone to chill out, but Sam moves toward Gordon, telling him to put the knife down. Dean holds Sam back, while Gordon says darkly that it sounds like it’s Sam who needs to chill, but Sam doesn’t back off.

Gordon shrugs, saying he’s wasting his time anyway, “the bitch will never talk” so he may as well put her out of her misery. He pulls out a big knife to decapitate her, but Sam gets between him and Lenore to stop him, insisting that he’s letting her go.

Gordon turns on Sam, stopping him with the knife at his chest.

Gordon: You’re not doing a damn thing.

Dean, seeing his little brother suddenly in danger, is on instant alarm, but he still thinks he can reason with Gordon.

Dean: Hey hey, Gordon, let’s talk about this, I know how you feel, that vampire who killed your sister deserved to die, but this one…

Gordon laughs darkly, and Sterling is just so good in this scene, so menacing.

Gordon: Killed my sister? That filthy fang didn’t kill my sister, it turned her. Made her one of them. So I hunted her down and I killed her myself.

Dean is shocked, it shows on his face.

Dean: You did what?

Gordon: It wasn’t my sister anymore, wasn’t human, I didn’t blink. And neither would you.

He is a million percent wrong. Sam and Dean will prove over and over and over again that they will never give up on each other, including when the other is a ‘monster’. Gordon could not possibly have said anything that would turn Dean Winchester’s stomach more than to suggest that he would kill his own brother, no matter what.

Sam realizes that Gordon knew all along that these particular vampires weren’t hurting anyone, but he was determined to kill them anyway. Gordon retorts that them being nice doesn’t change anything, and he can prove it. Before Dean can react, Gordon grabs Sam and slices across his arm, cutting him. He then holds the knife to Sam’s throat and drags him to stand over Lenore.

Dean moves so fast it’s blinding, pulling his gun and aiming it at Gordon.

Dean: Let him go – now!

Gordon doesn’t, far too relaxed as he tells Dean he’s not gonna kill Sam, just making a little point. He holds Sam’s arm over Lenore so his blood drips onto her mouth and she responds with a hiss and her fangs come out. Gordon snarls that she’s no different, that they’re all the same – evil and bloodthirsty. But Lenore, with some truly impressive determination, retracts her fangs and turns her head away, despite having been tortured for who knows how long.

Lenore: No, no, no…

Sam and Dean are convinced. Sam extracts himself from Gordon’s hold and pushes him away.

Dean: Sam, get her out of here.

Sam frees Lenore and carries her out. Gordon moves to stop him, but Dean keeps his gun on Gordon and tells him “uh uh Gordon.” At first Gordon doesn’t believe Dean will really stop him, but Dean doesn’t lower his weapon.

Dean: I’m having a hard time believing it too, but I know what I saw. If you want those vamps, you gotta go through me.

Gordon finally lowers his big knife and jams it into the wooden table, so Dean lowers his gun and pulls the clip out.

All of us: Nooooooooo Dean, what are you doing?

I don’t know why he felt like he had to not just lower it but take the damn clip out – some kind of macho code or something?

Predictably, Gordon attacks him and they fight, Gordon once again armed with the knife. It’s not a fight that’s easy for either of them to win, two well trained and strong hunters.

Gordon: You doing this for a fang? Come on, Dean, we’re on the same side here. You’re not like your brother. You’re a killer, like me.

Dean: I don’t think so, you sadistic bastard.

Every time Gordon tries to use Sam to pull Dean to his side, it backfires spectacularly. Not like your brother? Not what Dean wants to hear. Nobody thinks Sam Winchester is a better man than Dean Winchester does. And while the Winchesters can be ruthless, they aren’t sadists – and unlike Gordon Walker, they do see the shades of gray.

Thank you, Sera.

After being thrown across the room once or twice, Dean finally gets the upper hand, dragging Gordon across the room and letting his head slam against the wall again for good measure with an “Oh, sorry…”

He ties Gordon to a chair. As the sun comes up, Sam returns. Dean is still angry at Gordon, with good reason.

Dean: How you doin, Gordy? Gotta tinkle yet? Get comfy, we’ll call someone in two or three days, have them come out and untie you.

Sam’s ready to leave, but Dean has one more thing to get off his chest. He punches Gordon, knocking the chair over.

Dean: Okay, I’m good now. We can go.

As they leave, Dean stops and steels himself, tipping up his chin.

Dean: Sam? Clock me one. Come on. I won’t even hit you back, let’s go.

Sam shakes his head.

Sam: You look like you just went 12 rounds with a block of cement, Dean. I’ll take a raincheck.

They pause at the car, having one of their iconic Supernatural heart to hearts over her shiny roof.

Dean sighs, saying this job has jacked everything up.

Dean: Think about all the hunts we went on, Sammy, our whole lives. What if we killed things that didn’t deserve killing, you know? I mean, the way Dad raised us…

Sam: Dean, after what happened to Mom, Dad did the best he could.

Dean: I know he did. But the man wasn’t perfect. And the way he raised us, to hate those things – and man, I hate ’em, I do. When I killed that vampire at the mill, I didn’t even think about it. Hell, I even enjoyed it.

Sam points out that he didn’t kill Lenore, though Dean insists that his instinct told him to.

Sam: Yeah Dean, but you didn’t. And that’s what matters.

Dean: Yeah. Well, that’s cause you’re a pain in my ass.

Sam: Guess I might have to stick around to be a pain in the ass then.

Dean thanks him; without consciously realizing it, Sam gave him the reassurance that Dean needs most, that his brother isn’t going to abandon him. That his brother believes he did the right thing and isn’t judging him for what came before that. Dean took a real chance here, even admitting that he enjoyed decapitating that other vampire, and Sam reinforced his vulnerability and honesty.

This was a pivotal episode for both of them, both for them increasingly seeing the gray in the world instead of their father’s more black and white version, and for the brothers and their relationship. Season 2 is one of my favorite seasons of the whole series for showing us that slow evolution so realistically.

Sam gets in the car, but Dean pauses for a moment, staring at nothing, taking in what Sam just said and all that just happened. A happy accident caused a lens flare in Serge Ladouceur’s beautiful photography and makes this an iconic moment, and one of the most gorgeous shots of Dean Winchester ever.

That’s right, Bob Singer and Serge Ladouceur, let us see that close up!

It takes my breath away, still.

There’s an amazing chapter by director of photography Serge Ladouceur in one of our books about how all these breathtaking shots, including this one, came to be.

The Impala roars away, dust flying in her wake.

This is a Robert Singer directed episode, and he gives us some beautiful shots – both the close ups of the boys and also ones like the ending shot, which will always be my favorite way for a Supernatural episode to end.

There’s a deleted scene that we watched on the rewatch, Sam and Dean in the motel room realizing that there’s another hunter already there killing vampires. Smart Sam does some research and already sees some things about these particular vampires that don’t add up – they’ve been there over 6 months, holding jobs, blending in, and the town has a below average number of missing persons.

Dean doesn’t want to hear it, laughing when Sam refers to the vampires that were killed as ‘victims’ and saying ‘All I know is I get to kill some vampires.’ And Sam is already worried about how much Dean is enjoying his work, happy he’s happy but uncomfortable with why.

The shades of gray versus black and white, and the lure of violence when you’re dealing with anger and loss and grief, are themes that will be revisited many times over the course of the series. This episode is a wonderful, memorable way of kicking that journey off.

And that’s a wrap on 2.03.

Thanks to spndeangirl for the beautiful caps!

Next up, the creepy ‘Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things’…

— Lynn

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10 thoughts on “Supernatural Leaves the Black and White Behind with Season 2’s ‘Bloodlust’

  • Season 2 is my personal favourite, it is the culmination of all the groundwork laid in Season 1 and brings everything that’s good and great about the show together, directing, casting, writing. The whole package ( Although with hindsight the way the show ended my new ‘Happy Place’ will forever be Season 1 before our Brothers lost themselves over and over)

    It was so good to get Baby back on the road, she was so important for both the brothers, allowing them a safe space where they could just be together, a buffer against the world. We see this repeatedly over the years, as Baby watched over and grounded them both for the whole of their lives.

    This episode makes it explicitly clear the duality in Dean’s nature going from tired, sleepy, little boy rubbing his eyes with the back of his hands, missing his brother to excessive, angry rage at Sam on a coin toss. With the benefits of seeing where The Family Business takes Dean, it makes me question if John was actually very aware of the moral injury he inflicted in his eldest? Putting Dean’s innate kindness and propensity towards caregiving directly into conflict by also making him both a soldier and Sam’s protector? Did John specifically keep Dean from the hunting community, fearing that he could be groomed in exactly the way Gordon did here? Did John understand he’d created a ticking time bomb by effectively weaponising Dean?

    Oh John, John, John…. If he was unaware, he left Dean so vulnerable to manipulation time after time down the years with his isolation and his conditioning. The closest Dean ever really got to a network of support with anyone close to normal or stable, was his time with Lisa and Ben and it made such a difference to Dean. Despite his huge grief at losing Sam, it didn’t eat Dean up to the extent we see here. Having Lisa to act as a balance to Dean’s inner darkness (it also helped Lisa wasn’t deeply traumatized ) Dean was able to function, find a job, he wasn’t happy, but for the first time he had everything he need to start the process of healing his already considerable traumas
    ( can I say? I hate, hate that the writers took that from Dean in such a way there was no going back)

    Smart Sam, Patient Sam, Kind Sam, Gentle Sam, he shows all his most beautiful qualities here with both his grief stricken traumatized brother and the ‘good’ vampires ( and isn’t life cruel the creatures Sam so vehemently argued to save are also the creatures who take his Brother from him, indirectly because they didn’t finish the job of saving Jenny in Season 1?)
    Unfortunately Sam’s grieving and communication styles vastly differed from Dean’s and he got punched because Dad was a subject Dean just did not want to touch ( even if he should have) Oh, and of course, John’s insistence at making Sam’s situation into a secret put an added layer of barriers in place leaving Dean completely strung out, a powderkeg waiting to explode ( Bad John, Bad)

    The miscommunication or inability to communicate, the keeping secrets, lead time and again to problems, down the years, pushing them apart generally at the times they needed each other the most. It was one of the good things we benefitted from by having 15 seasons, the Brothers were finally talking, communicating and whilst Dean always struggled with wanting to let go of ‘parenting’ rather than partnering Sam, they did reach a good point where Dean accepted and ( when Sam wasn’t looking) cherished the care Sam gave, the care that Dean had sought since he was four years old, the care that his parents had failed to deliver. Sam was, ultimately, once they’d hashed it out, Dean’s peace.

    • It was such a gift to have 15 whole seasons for this story to be told, because it was complex (like real life) and wasn’t able to be wrapped up in a few. I am so grateful we got to witness that evolution. I don’t know if we’ll ever really understand John’s motivations, but he did make his boys vulnerable ultimately, whether he realized that or not. I think Dean with Lisa was similar to Sam with whoever he was with after he lost Dean – stability, a family. But I don’t think for either of them that anything could really ease the depth of loss no matter what. Still, they ‘kept fighting’.

      • Maybe ‘The Winchesters’ will give us some answers regards John and Mary’s choices, if it makes it to air( all fingers crossed 🙂)
        It’s a topic ripe for exploring and would make a beautiful coda that could tie up some loose ends as to exactly what did happen to John and Mary to make them who they were.

  • Gorgeous recap. The relationship between the brothers is what keeps this show timeless and relevant. Watching it develop will never grow old. And yes the casting department should be sent a fruit basket with balloons

    • “Yeah and Hannibal Lector is a good psychiatrist”. Ellen’s words to Sam don’t exactly give anyone a good feeling about Gordon Walker. It’s a tribute to Sterling’s acting that his character is one of the ones I hated the most. His enjoyment of torturing Lenore, and saying that he killed his own sister, gives a pretty big look into his dark, cruel persona. He doesn’t exactly improve with age.

      I have to admit- on a small scale-of laughing a bit at the fact his last name is Walker. He is sooo much not the Walker that I like.

      Great recap Lynn, it was definitely a darker (or greyer?) episode and one of the first times we meet another hunter (except John and Bobby). They obviously are as different and damaged as the Winchesters themselves.

  • This ep was a really good one. And Lynn, your recap is perfectly detailed: I feel like I just rewatched the episode! Thank you SO MUCH for doing these!

    • Thank you so much! I hope at least someone out there is also enjoying them, because I’m really enjoying doing them despite the many hours it ends up taking. It’s a true labor of love revisiting this show I miss so much.

  • Thanks for the great review! There’s a lot to love in this episode – the shots of Baby all shiny and restored, Dean’s close up with the lens flare, smart brothers.

    I will always love Sam telling Gordon that Dean is the only one who gets to call him “Sammy.” It’s the way it should be. Dean with the saw is scary. It shows us just how dark Dean can get and he can be very dangerous if you cross him. I think they made Dean too comical in the later seasons. I liked it more when it was a special treat to see him be silly.

    Gordon was a great adversary. He was skilled and scary because all he could see was right and wrong. I like that they gave him a personal reason why he was this way. Sera was one of my favorite writers. She really “got” the boys.

    I ranked “Bloodlust” at number 10 for my Season 2 list. It’s behind “Playthings” and ahead of “Simon Said.”

    • I agree that they made Dean silly too often in later seasons. It was like, they realized Jensen was skilled at physical comedy and then they wanted to just throw that in whenever they could, even at times that it made absolutely no sense, or even detracted from who he was as a deadly and dangerous hunter. It takes a skillful touch to incorporate both into an episode, but Sera had that.

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