Our little rewatch of Supernatural has arrived at another favorite episode! I feel like I’ve been saying that almost constantly during this rewatch, but the first few seasons of this show were just SO amazing. Even watching sixteen years later, they hold up incredibly well – in fact, I think this show really has spoiled me. I stack every other new show up against this one, and few make the cut. Supernatural is THAT good.
Anyway… I love this episode for its humor, which Jared and Jensen carry out masterfully, but it comes during a dark time in the show’s canon. Kripke was particularly good at knowing when the audience needed a bit of comic relief from the darkness, because at this time Supernatural was very much still a horror show. The combination was compelling, like the best twists and turns and scares of a roller coaster, but I’m sure it was hard to pull off. But Supernatural? Did it every single time in the early years. Including in this episode. With brilliant writing by Ben Edlund and directing by Bob Singer, this episode is an all time favorite.
Let’s jump in!
‘THEN’ reminds us that this is, in fact, a horror genre show. That the boys’ dad is gone, and Dean is determined that they will carry out his legacy. That Dean sold his soul to save Sam and has a year to live before being sent to Hell. That a mysterious chick named Ruby might have a blade that can kill a demon and insists she can save Dean. Oh, and a reminder of the hunter Gordon Walker, convinced that Sam Winchester is fighting on hell’s side in the upcoming war….
Kubrick visits Gordon in prison, telling him that a devil’s gate was opened in Wyoming. (Kubrick was a fascinating character played perfectly by Michael Massee, who sadly passed away in 2016.)
Gordon is immediately suspicious. He’s got a one track mind when it comes to Sam – an obsession really. Gordon is such an interesting character, both he and Kubrick in this episode vividly showing that hunters have a dark side. They’re obsessed, most of them, in one way or another. If they weren’t, would anyone do what they do? And that includes the Winchesters, all of them, eventually. I love that the show has never shied away from examining its heroes and pointing out their flaws – the ARE heroes, no doubt about it, but what they do skates the thin line between right and wrong and is almost always on the not-quite-legal side of things, especially in the early seasons. It made for a compelling narrative and characters.
Gordon: Sam Winchester was there, wasn’t he?
Kubrick is initially doubtful about Sam going darkside – Bobby Singer says the Winchesters were there, but they went in there to stop it.
Kubrick: He’s a hunter, that’s all.
Gordon: Kubrick, I’m not even sure he’s human. Track him down, Kubrick. Sam Winchester must die.
Gordon hangs up dramatically, and we all know the boys are in trouble.
The Supernatural Season 3 title card hits the screen, and then we’re with our boys. In the Impala at night on a quiet, dark road. Sam and Dean are arguing, and Dean is pissed that Sam is considering working with Ruby. Of course, the boys are keeping secrets, so he doesn’t know that Sam is considering it to save Dean. At this time in the show, we already know the lengths Dean will go to in order to ensure Sam is okay, but we’re now finding out that Sam will go every bit as far.
Dean: The second you find out this Ruby chick is a demon, you go for the holy water, you don’t chat!
Sam bristles, saying no one was chatting.
Dean demands to know why he didn’t send her back to hell then, and Sam reluctantly admits that she said she could help him out of his deal. Dean stares at Sam incredulously, while Sam sits silent and sullen.
Dean: What is wrong with you, huh? She’s lying, you gotta know that, don’t you? She knows what your weakness is – it’s me. What else did she say?
Sam doesn’t answer.
Sam: Nothing. Look, I’m not an idiot, Dean, I’m not talking about trusting her, I’m talking about using her.
I forget sometimes how reasonable it all seemed at the beginning of the season. It’s probably what any of us would have done, if we wanted to save someone we loved and there was no other way to do it. Of course Sam desperately wanted to believe Ruby – and Dean’s right, she knew that.
Dean: You’re okay, right? I mean, you’re feeling okay?
Dean, of course, knows that if he tries to welsh on the deal, Sam will once again drop dead. Both of them are terrified that they’re about to lose the other.
Sam snaps back, saying he’s fine.
Sam: Why are you always asking me that?
Dean has not forgotten what his little brother looked like laid out on that old bed, lifeless. He can’t shake the fear that Sam really isn’t okay, that he’s going to be yanked out of Dean’s life once again just like that.