Everybody Loves A Clown – Except Sam Winchester (Supernatural Rewatch)

The second episode of Season 2 starts out with a bang – or rather a tick tock tick tock. The haunting lyrics ‘Tick tock tick tock time has come today…’ mark the recap montage and remind us of the great loss that has just happened to the Winchesters. As the ticking of the clock slows down in the song, we hear “Time of death, 10:41 am…” and then the last word of the song, ‘Time.’

Not on the Winchesters’ side.

And then: NOW

In Medford, Wisconsin, kids enjoy an old fashioned fair and carnival that’s come to town, laughing at a sword swallower and fire breather and some clowns.

A very relatable dad: God, I hate clowns, they always creep me out.

All of us watching: SAME.

A young girl (though not young enough to be acting the way she is, actually) sees the creepiest looking clown in the history of ever, and for some unknown reason happily waves back at him. Then it disappears.

I guess I’m glad the show didn’t hire five year old actors to be traumatized for life by being in this episode, but that girl was definitely old enough to realize there is something very off about this clown! (Interestingly, she was played by Nicole Munoz, who returns as an adult guest actor in the final season)

Driving home, she looks out the window and sees the creepy clown standing on the side of the road, and all of us watching start exclaiming ‘child, you’re old enough to know that’s just weird!”

Alas, she does not.  Instead she wakes up in the middle of the night and sees the creepy clown outsider her window, smiles and goes downstairs to let him in. What the hell??

Intro over, we switch to our boys, and instantly I’m emotional.

One of the most memorable and heartbreaking scenes in the series is in this episode, as Sam and Dean give their father a hunter’s funeral. Sam is sobbing, tears rolling down his face. Dean is stoic, eyes shining with unshed tears.

Sam: Before he… before he… did he say anything to you?

There’s a long beat. We know he did, though we don’t yet know what.

Dean: No. nothing.

A single man tear rolls down Dean’s face, and breaks all our hearts.

This is a Phil Sgriccia directed episode, and it shows. The shots are gorgeous, and full of emotional impact, with early seasons Supernatural trademark close ups on strikingly beautiful Sam and Dean (ditto young Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles).  Director of photography Serge Ladouceur once told us that they were so attractive that he could light them like he would light a beautiful woman, and this episode really shows just how true that is. The close ups allow the emotion to come through loud and clear, and director Sgriccia is as talented at showing us what the brothers are feeling as Jared and Jensen are at showing it.

The episode was written by John Shiban, who came from the X Files along with Kim Manners (Mr. Cooper in this episode was also a character from that show, which many Supernatural crew members also worked on).

That scene hits harder now than ever, after having to watch Sam Winchester build a similar pyre for his brother in the series finale. There’s something in my eye now and it isn’t smoke…

One Week Later.

As Three Dog Night sings about the road to Shambala and what the Winchesters would give anything for right now, to ‘wash away my troubles, wash away my pain…’, Dean works on the broken Impala. The brothers can’t fix that their father is gone, or that the demon is out there, so Dean works on what he can.

Throughout this episode, the Impala stands in for so many things, and if we all didn’t realize she was special to us before (we did), we would have known with this episode.

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In My Time of Dying – Supernatural Rewatch Kicks Off Season 2!

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.

Sam: Dean!!

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?”

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Supernatural Rewatch – The Shocking Season One Finale, Devil’s Trap

I have to admit, I went into doing our rewatch of the Season 1 finale of Supernatural feeling a little ambivalent. For me, doing this rewatch has been a coping strategy, in part, to get me through the loss of my favorite show (which in itself has been a coping strategy!)  Knowing I have the rewatch to look forward to for literally years in the future is a real comfort, and watching it with a group of friends makes that sense of community feel secure as well. That said, it feels like our Season 1 rewatch has flown by – almost as quickly as the original airings of the show did! I never wanted it to end and always felt a little sad as we came to the season finale, and in the early seasons, we were often terrified that we wouldn’t get a renewal and that might be the last episode we ever watched. It was a tremendous relief in later seasons that the network gave the show an early renewal so we didn’t have to bite our nails about it!

So, the Season One finale…

We start with something innovative at the time, now familiar and nostalgic for anyone who watched the show throughout its run – The Road So Far. It’s a badass rock montage to Triumph’s ‘Fight The Good Fight’ with some of the most dramatic moments the boys have experienced so far, ending with Meg’s  ominous message, “You boys really screwed up this time, you’re never gonna see your father again.”

And we’re off – to an episode that is an unrelenting roller coaster toward a cliffhanger end that left us all open mouthed.

Sam and Dean react to Meg’s phone call, Dean grabbing the Colt and shoving it in his waistband and telling Sam, “we gotta go!”

Sam: Why?

Dean: The demon knows – it’s coming for us next.

Sam: Let it come.

Sam is so much like John, once again, willing to take this thing on out of pure rage and desire for revenge, and not caring what price has to be paid. But Dean is not – his focus, as always, is on protecting his family.

Dean: Listen, tough guy, we’re no good to anybody dead. We’re leaving now.

They peel out in the Impala, skidding in the dust, still arguing about whether they should have tried to confront the demon, or whether they could try to trade the Colt for their father. Sam is focused on killing the demon at any cost, and Dean is not.

Sam: Dad…he might be…

Dean: Don’t! Screw the job, Sam!

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Winchester Prank Wars – Supernatural Rewatch with Hell House

Hell House is notable for its introduction of the duo who would eventually become the Ghostfacers, and the comedy chops that guest stars Travis Wester and A.J. Buckley brought to the episode. It’s also notable – for me at least – for how many times Sam and Dean get to laugh and smile and have fun, which warms my heart.

The episode starts, as so many horror movies do, at an abandoned allegedly haunted old house – in Richardson, Texas, which I think is where Jensen Ackles grew up, so nice little shout out in the seventeenth episode of Season 1.  Teenagers with flashlights dare each other to go in, the one young woman saying she’s not going, but caving when one of the guys offers to hold her hand – or any other part of her. She slaps him, but for some reason she also goes in. There’s a ghost that is said to go after girls and string them up in the root cellar, which is of course exactly where they go.

Cocky guy: I don’t see anything scary, do you?

Right behind him, in perfect horror movie style, is a young woman strung up. Scream!

Cut to the Winchesters on the road, rock music playing, Sam asleep in the passenger seat. This is the episode where Sam and Dean are having an escalating prank war, so Dean slips a plastic spoon in Sam’s mouth, pulls out his flip phone and takes a picture, grinning happily after.

He turns the music up loud and starts singing to wake poor Sam up, and as he spits out the spoon, Dean slaps the steering wheel happily.

Sam: Haha very funny. Man, we’re not kids anymore Dean, we’re not gonna start that prank stuff up again.

Dean: Afraid you’re gonna get a little Nair in your shampoo again, huh?

Sam shakes his head, warning Dean to remember that he started it.

Dean: Aww, bring it on, Baldy!

As ridiculous as their little prank war is (and as quickly as it’s abandoned), I love it for the part it plays in getting Sam and Dean back to being brothers again. It evokes their childhood, when they only had each other to get through long car rides and lonely motel rooms and nobody to play a game of catch with. There’s an edge of cruelty that’s often there between siblings, a jockeying for position of who’s going to get the upper hand, but it’s also a way of finding things to laugh about in the midst of a frightening and stressful time – even if it’s sometimes at your brother’s expense!

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Supernatural Rewatch – The Return of John Winchester in ‘Shadow’

I love this episode so much – it’s scary, creepy, touching, and it brings the narrative back to what Season 1 was so much about, Sam and Dean’s search for their mysterious and elusive father, John Winchester and their rediscovery of being brothers. Like most episodes in this season, it’s also beautifully filmed and full of atmosphere, including the opening scene – which takes place in the windy city.

A young woman walks down the street, blues music playing. Her Walkman glitches, which looks very 2005, and the wind starts howling in the alley. She looks around, asking what people always ask in horror movies, as though being polite might get a bad guy to answer you.

“Hello?” she calls, and there’s no answer, but she’s scared as she hurries to her apartment door. Shadows loom behind her n the walls of the alley as she runs, a giant shadow seemingly following her. Breathless, she fumbles for keys and can’t find them, like in the worst of nightmares. Finally she gets in the door and inside, locking the door behind her and setting the alarm.

‘System armed’ it says, and she sighs with relief, checking her vintage (not at at the time) answering machine. Just as she thinks she’s safe, a shadow moves behind her on the walls, it’s giant shadow hand reaching out for her shadow and stabbing her, blood splattering on the wall as she screams and falls.

Quite an opening!

A week later, Sam and Dean drive, rock music playing. When they get out of the car they’re in uniform, which Dean isn’t exactly thrilled about (but frankly these two look good whatever they’re wearing).

Dean: Dad made it just fine without these stupid uniforms.

That brings back a memory, which gives us a rare and cherished glimpse of young Sam and Dean, when Sam was in ‘Our Town’.

Dean (smiling at the memory) Yeah, you were good.

I’m all warm at the thought of Dean going to see Sammy’s school play, though I wonder if that means John didn’t. I’m glad Sam got to do that though. (My daughter did the same school play, so I had an even stronger nostalgic reaction). I’m always so grateful when we get a glimpse of Sam and Dean’s childhood. Dean brings up the memory more like a proud parent here, not a brother who was forced to go sit through a school play.

They’re posing as working for the alarm company, so the landlady lets them in, but she’s not very impressed with their fake company.

Landlady: No offense, but your alarm’s about as useful as boobs on a man.

I like the landlady.

She tells them there’s no sign of a break in, the chain was on the door and the alarm was still on.

Landlady: Everything was in perfect condition. Except Meredith.

What condition was she in, the boys ask?

Landlady: Meredith was all over – in pieces! Like a wild animal did it.

After she’s gone, Sam says he knew this was their kind of gig, and Dean pulls out the EMF and says he agrees.

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