This episode was written by Raelle Tucker, who I really wish had stuck around longer, and directed by Rachel Talalay, one of the first women to direct Supernatural. And they both did an amazing job! Also special shout out to the music cues that make the episode haunting and creepy, as much as its subject matter does.
The THEN reminds us that the Winchesters are still out there saving people, hunting things. That John Winchester knew the truth about Sammy and didn’t tell his sons. That he whispered something to Dean before he died and Dean lied about it. That Sam knows the demon said he has plans for Sam and other children like him. Like Max, like the ‘others’….
I love the huge mystery that the show was spooling out at the time, leaving me always feeling like I was on the edge of my seat desperately wanting to know what the hell was going on, and knowing that my boys were right at the center of it. It was so compelling, it’s no wonder I fell so hard for this show!
The opening is a gut punch right away, a psychiatrist talking to his patient, a young man who’s hesitant to confide in the doctor about what he refers to as his ‘ability’.
Scott: When I touch something…I can electrocute it, if I want.
As if that isn’t chilling enough, he gives an example – the neighbor’s cat.
Scott: Its insides fried up like a hamburger.
The haunting sounds of ‘White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane play in the background as Scott tells his disturbing tale, “One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small…”
Scott knows the doc doesn’t believe him, and holds his hand out ominously.
Scott: Wanna shake on it?
I think I started screaming NOOOOO don’t do it the first time I saw this, as the doctor calmly asks why he wanted to kill the neighbor’s cat, but Scott says he didn’t – that “he” wants him to.
Scott: The yellow eyed man. He comes to me in my dreams… he has plans for me…
Everyone watching: OHMYGOD
I can’t even describe now, almost 15 years later, how chilling that reveal was. How just the words “yellow eyed man” struck fear into our hearts as viewers, because we knew Sam and Dean were in serious danger and we didn’t yet know just what it meant.
Scott leaves the doctor’s office and walks out into the dark, clouds of mist hanging over the deserted street as he rushes down a hill, hunched over, looking scared.
He looks around, calls out “Hello?” thinking someone’s following him, as the music grows louder and a train rushes overhead. We see the shadow of a man behind him in his car window as he finally gets there and then he’s stabbed, brutally. Blood spills out of his mouth as he dies and it’s brutal, graphic, so much more sinister because of the cinematography and the music and damn this show is so well done.
From that disturbing beginning, we’re back at the iconic fence with the Winchesters, Sam and Dean drinking beer next to the river.
Dean: Before Dad died, he told me something. Something about you.
Sam: What? Dean, what did he tell you?
Dean: He said that he wanted me to watch out for you, to take care of you…
Sam points out that their dad said that a million times, but Dean insists this time was different, increasingly agitated as he tries to confide in Sam this burden that he’s been carrying.
Dean: This time was different. He said that I had to save you…that nothing else mattered, and that if I couldn’t, I’d…
He falters, anguished, and Sam presses him, fully aware that this is bad, very bad.
Sam: You’d what, Dean?
Dean is looking at Sam almost begging him to make this all go away, and yet he pushes on, knows he has to come clean to Sam.
Dean: That I’d have to kill you. He said that I might have to kill you, Sammy.
Sam looks as anguished as Dean, the two of them facing off in this beautiful spot over this horrific reveal.
Sam: Kill me?! What the hell is that supposed to mean?
Dean swears that’s all he knows, but Sam is also furious that Dean kept this from him – no matter that their Dad begged him not to.
Sam: Who cares? Take some responsibility for yourself, Dean! You had no right to keep this from me!
Dean is angry too, both of them overwhelmed with just how horrible this is.
Dean: You think I wanted this? Huh? I wish to God he’d never opened his mouth, then I wouldn’t have to walk around with this screaming in my head all day!
Dean suggests they just lay low for a while, stay safe, so he can make sure…
Sam interrupts him, angrily demanding “make sure of what? That I don’t turn evil?”
Dean: I never said that!
Sam: Jeez, if you’re not careful, you will have to waste me one day, Dean.
Dean acknowledges that Sam has every right to be pissed at him and says he deserves it, but he also tries to convince Sam that they should lay low. When Sam refuses, glaring at his brother, Dean softens, his anger gone and his anguish clear as he begs his brother, pleading like we’ve never heard Dean Winchester do before.
He reaches out and taps Sam as he pleads with him, appealing to their bond, reminding Sam of his love. It was a moment of utter vulnerability for Dean, and one of the moments that made me fall in love with him.
Dean: Sam, please man. Hey, please, just give me some time, give me some time to think, okay? I’m begging you here, please. Please.
Sam finally agrees, but both brothers are shaken – and so were all of us as viewers. The impact of that scene left such an impression on me that the fence was the first place I wanted to visit when I first went to Vancouver, just to see the place where Jared and Jensen acted their asses off and made me believe in the love between these two brothers and the tragic hand they’d been dealt.
The next scene is just Sam, leaving a motel room with a duffel bag and walking across the parking lot. He passes the Impala, glistening from rain, and breaks into another car and steals it, driving off into the dark misty night. Leaving Dean behind.
We see him break into an old house or building of some kind, walking carefully in the dark – when suddenly he steps on a trip wire and the place blows up, Sam screaming.
It was utterly confusing and shocking the first time I saw that scene, and again cinematically so well done – and then we see Ava wake up, gasping, from the nightmare.
She reassures the man sleeping beside her that she’s okay, though she’s clearly shaken from the vivid dream – as were all of us!
Another jump and we’re with Sam again, but this time at the Roadhouse. Ellen greets him as though she’s been expecting him.
Ellen: Your brother’s been calling, worried sick looking for you. What’s going on between you two?
Sam deflects by asking about Jo, and Ellen says that she decided she wanted to keep on hunting. Ellen said not under my roof and Jo said fine. She sends postcards now.
Sam is apologetic for letting Jo hunt with them, but Ellen says she doesn’t blame them – or John.
Ellen: I forgave your daddy a long time ago for what happened to my Bill. I just don’t think he ever forgave himself.
A little insight into John Winchester and the burdens he carried, and a little insight into how those burdens impacted his ability to parent his sons too.
Sam asks for help from Ash to find other psychics like him who had nursery fires like he did, and Ash finds (in addition to Sam), Max Miller, Andrew Gallagher and Scott Carey, who was recently stabbed in a parking lot in Indiana. Love that we got a little bit more Ash, because Chad Lindberg is one of my favorite people in the universe. He brought this character to life so vividly that ‘Dr. Badass’ became a fan favorite and remains so even now after the show has ended.
Ash: Apparently that’s my job, make the monkey dance!
(I love the character of Ash too – Chad wrote a chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done all about why the character is so appealing and how his experience on Supernatural was impactful to him. It’s titled ‘The Magic of the Mullet’ because of course it is!)
And of course Ash agrees to help. No one can resist the Sam Winchester puppy dog eyes!
Sam heads out, and Ellen stops him.
Ellen: Sam, I’ve gotta call Dean, let him know where you are.
Sam: Ellen, I’m trying to find answers about who I am. And my brother means well but he can’t protect me from that. Please.
Me now: Oh but he can try, Sam. He can try. And he will.
Another incredible music cue plays in the background, this time Muse’s ‘Super Massive Black Hole’. The early seasons got the BEST music and it added so much to the story. Sam gives Ellen those patented puppy eyes too and of course it works.
Ellen lets him go and he visits Scott’s dad, pretending to be a high school buddy. Scott’s father says he’d changed a lot – headaches, depression, nightmares, paranoia. Nothing the poor dad did helped, which makes me feel really bad for even this little side character we don’t even get to know, and his son.
Sam checks out Scott’s room, finding lots of meds with the psychiatrist’s info on them. He opens the closet and finds a whole wall of cut out photos of yellow eyes staring at him.
Sam looks shocked and I probably did too at that moment – I just can’t describe how much gravity every single mention of ‘yellow eyes’ had at that time.
Back at the Blue Rose Motel, one of Supernatural’s memorable early season motels, Sam senses someone behind him in the dark and turns around to grab them. It’s Ava, the woman who had the dream about Sam.
Ava: Please, you’re in danger!
(I love love love the motel aesthetic that Jerry Wanek and company developed, both inside and out – and I will miss it forever. No other show had a look like Supernatural, and maybe never will.)
She tells him about her headaches, her nightmares, how she saw the guy stabbed in the parking lot and then read about it and realized her dreams were coming true. The night before she had another one, she says, where she watched Sam die. She expects him to think she’s nuts but Sam says she must be “one of them, the psychics” and then it’s Ava’s turn to think he’s nuts instead. She also doesn’t fit the pattern, since her mother didn’t die in a house fire.
Meanwhile, Dean is frantically looking for Sam, the Impala roaring through the night. Ellen calls and he asks if she’s heard from Sam, sounding a little desperate. She says she has but he made her promise not to tell Dean where he is.
Dean: Come on, Ellen, please. Something bad could be going on here, and I swore I’d look after that kid.
Ellen: Now Dean, they say you can’t protect your loved ones forever.
She pauses, then continues.
Ellen: Well I say screw that! What else is family for? He’s in Lafayette, Indiana.
I love Ellen.
Back at the motel, Ava tries to talk Sam into leaving town before he gets blown to bits but Sam insists he’s got to figure out what’s going on. Ava would rather get back to planning her wedding and being a secretary from Peoria, but Sam is persuasive. She schedules a therapy session with Scott’s psychiatrist to cover for Sam trying to break into his office records. The scene where Ava tells the doc she’s super anxious and then suddenly blurts out “Holy crap!” as she sees Sam creeping along the window ledge outside is priceless. And Ava proves herself an adventurer at heart – which will eventually not be a very good thing for Sam. Or her fiancé.
They listen to audio recordings of Scott’s sessions with the doc, both of them excited to be making some progress maybe.
Meanwhile Dean pulls into the parking lot of the motel and glimpses Sam through the window.
Dean: Oh thank god, you’re okay.
He sees Ava too, and smiles, not just in relief.
Dean: Oh, you’re better than okay. Sam, you sly dog…
Honestly this didn’t strike me at the time, but I doubt Dean would have been all super happy and zen about Sam taking off and being out of contact just to shack up with some girl. That would be a shitty thing to do right after Dean confiding that big secret, leaving him to worry about whether or not Sam is okay. But in the first couple of seasons, Dean had a real thing about Sam’s hook ups, so I probably just put it down to that weirdness.
Sam and Ava hear Scott on the tape saying that the yellow eyed man told him he has plans for him, and that there’s a war coming, and people like him will be the soldiers in that war.
Ava: He’s not talking about us, right?
Sam: Yeah, I think he is.
Suddenly bullets start to fly, the window shattering as Sam throws himself on Ava to shield her.
It’s Gordon Walker, with a sniper rifle on a roof across the street. Which means it’s the incredibly talented Sterling K. Brown. Over the years, Supernatural had some of the most amazing guest stars, who enriched the show tremendously. Sterling seems like such a great guy, but his Gordon Walker is disturbing, creepy and terrifying.
He aims at Sam again, and suddenly Dean jumps him from behind and throws him down, punching him repeatedly and yelling threats.
Dean: You do that to my brother, I’ll kill you!!
He’s nearly unhinged, all his fears about something happening to Sam now taken out on Gordon, and maybe that’s why Gordon manages to get the gun and knock him out.
Sam and Ava find the shells on the ground when they go to check it out, though Ava is confused about why they’re not going to the police.
Sam: These are .223 caliber, subsonic rounds. The guy must have had a suppressor on the rifle.
Ava: Dude, who ARE you?
Sam: Uh, I just watch a lot of TJ Hooker.
I love when these little moments date the show, and also when we get some outsider pov on the Winchesters and just how scary they would really seem. Sam pulls out his phone to call Dean, saying they definitely need help.
Unfortunately, Dean needs help too. Gordon has him tied to a chair, holding the phone to his ear.
Dean: Sam, I’ve been looking for ya.
Sam tells him where he is, and Dean says he talked to Ellen and just got there himself.
Dean: It’s a real funky town. You ditched me, Sammy.
He tells Sam to meet him at an address and Sam says sure and hangs up and all of us watching at the time were like OHNOOOOOOO. The camera pulls back to show us what’s unfortunately happening.
Gordon: Now was that so hard?
But we’ve underestimated the Winchesters and how well they work together.
Sam to Ava: My brother’s in trouble. He gave me a code word. Someone’s got a gun on him.
Oooh smart smart Winchesters.
Ava: Code word?
Sam: Yeah, Funky Town. Uh…well, he thought of it. It’s kind of a … long story.
(One the entire fandom would like to hear though!)
Ava is reluctant to leave, but Sam wants her out of harm’s way.
Ava: What about you?
Sam: Harm’s way doesn’t really bother me.
Ava: No, but you’re walking right into my vision – I mean, this is how you die!
Sam: Doesn’t matter. It’s my brother.
Supernatural in a nutshell.
Back at the abandoned cabin, Dean is at first cocky with Gordon, saying that this is a little extreme for him getting revenge on them.
Gordon: This isn’t personal. I’m not a killer, Dean. I’m a hunter. And your brother’s fair game.
He shoves a big knife into its sheath menacingly as Dean looks on, stricken.
Gordon tells him about exorcising a demon, torturing it to make the demon talk about the coming war.
Dean: And what happened to the girl it was possessing?
Gordon: She didn’t make it.
Dean (derisively): Well you’re a sonofabitch.
Gordon gets up and slaps him, saying ‘that’s my mama you’re talking about.’ He says the demon talked about the psychics who will be fighting on hell’s side, calling them worthless scumbags who turn on their own race – and then that the demon said he know one of them.
Gordon: Our very own Sammy Winchester.
Me: NO ONE GETS TO CALL HIM THAT EXCEPT DEAN YOU BASTARD!
Oh, sorry. I still get carried away all these years later.
It was also Gordon who killed poor Scott. Dean protests that he didn’t kill anyone, but Gordon isn’t having it, saying he was working up to it and they’re all gonna be killers and he has to take them out, Sam included. Gordon cocks his gun ominously.
Dean: You think Sam’s stupid enough to walk through that front door?
Unfortunately, Gordon is not that stupid either. He knows Dean probably warned Sam and that he’ll see Gordon covering the front door and come around to the back – where he’ll hit the tripwire. He pulls a grenade from his bag.
Gordon: Then boom.
Dean: Sam’s not gonna fall for a friggen’ tripwire.
Gordon ponders for a second, and for a moment we think Sam will be okay.
Gordon: Maybe you’re right. That’s why I’ll have a second one.
Dean blinks, stunned, his eyes wet. He looks gutted.
Gordon walks away and we see the trip wire as he sets the grenade.
Dean struggles in the chair, trying desperately to get free, terrified now that he realizes that Sam is in real danger.
In desperation, he tries to convince Gordon that Sam is not that guy.
Dean: I know Sam, okay, better than anyone. He’s got more of a conscience than I do. I mean, the guy feels guilty surfing the internet for porn.
But Gordon insists that Sam will become a monster. He looks at Dean with something like disgust.
Gordon: I’m surprised at you, Dean, getting all emotional. I’d heard you were more of a professional than this…. Look, I’m sympathetic, he’s your brother, you love the guy, this has got to hurt like hell for you.
Gordon puts a hand on his shoulder in fake sympathy and Dean glares. If looks could kill, Gordon would be dead.
He pulls out a scarf and gags Dean, so rough his mouth is pulled back painfully and damn Jensen, that’s taking one for the sake of this show being too damn real sometimes.
We can see Dean wracking his brain, frantically trying to think of something to do, his jaw working as Gordon paints a dark scenario, comparing Sam to Hitler no less. He insists that John Winchester would have had the stones to do the right thing (take Sam out) but that maybe Dean is not the man he is.
Ackles shows us Dean’s distress and helplessness so vividly, it’s just about killing ME.
The suspense increases as Sam does exactly what Gordon predicted, going around to the back as scary music plays in the background. He opens the back door just like he did in Ava’s vision and picks the lock while Dean struggles frantically, his terror evident just in the whites of his eyes as he looks around wildly, helpless. It’s Dean Winchester’s worst nightmare come to life.
Gordon taunts him.
Gordon: Ya hear him?
The door clicks open as Sam slowly comes inside.
Gordon: Here he comes…
He’s enjoying this, relishing it. A hunter about to take down his prey. Dean struggles again, and then there’s an explosion, Dean screaming ‘Sammmm’ behind the gag.
Gordon: Hold on, not yet, just wait and see…
Dean is anguished, almost sobbing, tied and gagged and unable to protect his little brother as another blast goes off, wood flying all over. Dean looks broken, sobbing through the gag, panting, breathing hard, shoulders slumped in defeat as he keeps struggling to break free from the chair but can’t.
Gordon goes to the back to investigate, seeing Sam’s smoking boots like we saw in Ava’s vision, and then there’s the click of a pistol and Sam’s voice.
Sam: Drop the gun. Put it down now.
Sam Fucking Winchester! Gordon came up with an incredibly well thought out and executed plan that would have killed 99.999% of people, but not Sam Fucking Winchester!
In the front room, Dean struggles to turn toward his brother’s voice, frantic to get to him, to see if he’s okay.
Gordon taunts Sam, saying ‘your brother thinks you’re some kinda saint’ and Sam agrees that he just might shoot him. Then suddenly Gordon turns the tables and knocks the gun away from Sam, hitting him until he falls to the floor, as Dean groans helplessly in the front room, practically growling as he tries to break free.
Gordon stands over Sam and pulls out his knife.
Gordon: You’re no better than the filthy things you hunt.
But as Gordon goes to stab him, Sam flips them over and grabs the rifle, pointing it at Gordon.
Gordon: Do it – show your brother the killer you really are, Sammy.
Sam knocks him out instead.
Sam: (breathless) It’s Sam.
Me: THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I’VE BEEN SAYING!
Dean gasps as Sam enters the room, staring at him like he was afraid he’d never see him alive again. Sam puts a hand on his brother’s shoulder in reassurance and unties the ropes binding him.
Dean pulls off the gag, still frantic, and immediately grabs Sam and pulls him up to his feet. He cradles Sam’s face, all big brother tenderness, assessing carefully to make sure Sam’s okay. Sam speaks the same nonverbal language, nodding at Dean and then touching him on the shoulder in reassurance.
As soon as Dean knows Sam is okay, he goes toward the back room, saying he’s not making the mistake of leaving Gordon alive again.
Sam insists that Gordon is taken care of and pulls Dean out the front door instead.
Dean is pissed when Gordon appears soon after, shooting at them as they run for cover.
Dean: You call this taken care of?
I actually kinda agree with Dean, but Sam was counting on the cops arriving and they do, cuffing Gordon and taking him away after finding the weapons stash in his car.
Sam to Dean: Anonymous tip.
Dean: You’re a fine upstanding citizen, Sam.
The boys smile at each other. Gordon glares in their general direction.
I still think Sam’s plan had a pretty decent risk of going south, but it does perfectly prove that Sam is NOT the monster that Gordon is insisting he is – both to himself and to Dean.
Back in the Impala, Sam tries repeatedly to call Ava, but she doesn’t answer.
Dean calls Ellen to update her, pissed that Gordon got some of his intel at the Roadhouse. She swears it wasn’t her or Jo, that they’re not disloyal or stupid, but that there are a lot of hunters at the Roadhouse and she can’t control them or what they choose to believe.
Dean is worried – about Sam. With good reason!
Dean: Dude, you ever take off like that again…
Sam: (smiling) What? You’ll kill me?
Dean: That is so not funny.
But he smiles too, the sense of relief really hitting both of them.
Dean suggests they take a break, go to Amsterdam, screw the job, he’s sick of it anyway, all that destiny crap.
Sam: Look Dean, I’ve tried running before. I mean, I ran all the way to California and look what happened. You can’t run from this. And you can’t protect me.
Dean turns to him, expression dead serious.
Dean: I can try.
Sam considers, then answers, voice quiet.
Sam: Thanks for that. Look Dean, I’m gonna keep hunting. Whatever is coming, I’m taking it head on, so if you really wanna watch my back, then I guess you’re gonna have to stick around, watch my back.
As if there’s anything in the universe that Dean Winchester wants more!
They both smile, knowing exactly what that means – and we do too.
Dean goes right back to ribbing Sam about being sweet on Ava, engaged or not.
Dean: What’s the point in saving the world if you can’t get a little nookie once in a while, huh?
Sam has a bad feeling when he can’t reach Ava by phone, so they drive to Peoria and break into Ava’s house. They find blood all over, Ava’s fiancé dead in their bed. Dean runs his finger through something on the window sill.
Dean: Sulphur. Demon’s been here.
Sam finds Ava’s ring on the floor, covered in blood.
Now that was an episode! Phew!
We watched the deleted scene, which I don’t think I’d ever seen before. Ash at the Roadhouse, trying to score with a girl while they play pool. He suggests Waffle House, then Olive Garden.
Ash: You mind driving though? I ain’t got no license.
Woman: I think I just decided I’m gay.
Ash: Well hey, I mean, that’s even better.
(That part does not play so well fifteen years later, but I’m sad we missed out on more Ash).
Sam comes in and Ash greets him.
(We got cheated out of that excellent nickname!)
Sam wants help looking for the other psychics.
Ash: Oh come on, man, I was workin’ my game here, you’re C-blocking.
He agrees, though, and the story picks up from there. It’s always interesting to see the little things that are invariably edited out.
I love this episode, one of my favorites of the series. I know I say that alot recently, but Season 2 is just….chef’s kiss!
Stay tuned for more of our Supernatural rewatch coming up – and Happy New Year!
Beautiful caps by spndeangirl!
You can celebrate the awesomeness that
is Supernatural with the two books with
chapters by the actors and the fans –
Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll
Be Peace When You Are Done. Links on
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