I still remember how shaken I was by this episode. It was Season 2, the show was on the verge of being cancelled constantly. We didn’t know for sure what its future was, and that made the ending of this episode unbearable as Sam died in his brother’s arms. I remember just sitting on the floor and sobbing, and then being unable to stop thinking about it all week as we waited for Part 2, the season finale. It wasn’t the first time the Show ripped my heart out, but it was the first time I couldn’t shake it off with a reminder that this was a television show and not real life, that Jared Padalecki was out there living his best life in spite of just having watched Sam Winchester die, and everything would be fine. It didn’t feel that way.
And that is damn good story telling.
This is a Sera Gamble penned and Kim Manners directed episode, which should tell you alot about how incredible it is. The THEN reminds us of the Winchesters’ tragic history, Mary burning on the ceiling setting her boys off on this dangerous road they’re still traveling. The Yellow Eyed demon and the special children that were chosen for something still unknown – Andy, Ava. The warning that there’s something big brewing, enough to frighten a scary man like Gordon. Bobby’s warning that a storm is comin’ and Sam and Dean are smack in the middle of it.
Sam’s scared, wondering if maybe this is the YED’s plan, that they’re all…
Dean: What? Killers? Give me a break!
Refusing to believe that about his little brother. They find sulfur at Ava’s house, know that the demon has been there.
Sam: You can’t run from this — and you can’t protect me.
That, right there, is Dean’s worst nightmare.
Dean: Damn it Sam, this whole thing is spinning out of control!
The impala pulls up to a café in the middle of nowhere, an example of the brilliant location scouting of Russ Hamilton and set dec of Jerry Wanek and the amazing collaboration that Supernatural was. Most of this episode’s outdoor scenes (which is most of it) are filmed on dark rainy nights, puddles and mud on the ground and raindrops glistening on Baby’s sleek black metal. It sticks in the boys’ hair, on Bobby’s battered cap. It’s beautiful, but it adds to the sense of tragedy that’s coming, and Kim Manners takes advantage of every moment of it.
Sam goes inside the diner and Dean reminds him not to forget the extra onions. It’s a few glorious moments of the brothers being brothers, Sam arguing that he’s the one who will have to ride in the car with Dean’s extra onions and Dean grinning smugly.
Dean: Hey, see if they’ve got any pie – bring me some pie!
He settles back in the seat, murmuring what will become a Supernatural-ism – “I love me some pie”
Sam scoffs as he goes inside. A few of the simple pleasures that the brothers enjoy on those long drives, a random cafe in the middle of nowhere that might have some home-baked pie. An opportunity to annoy your brother by eating lots of onions on your burger, or an opportunity to bitch at him if he does.
Supernatural excels at setting you up with a feel-good scene, all warm and cozy, and then suddenly turning everything ominous and dark in a heartbeat. There’s static on the radio suddenly, the rainy night now seeming dangerous – and when Dean looks up at the diner, he can’t see anyone inside now.