Route 666 is an interesting episode. It’s not a fan favorite, and the whole ‘killer truck’ thing doesn’t entirely work for me. Up until this point in Season 1, Supernatural had pulled off being pretty damn scary, and this episode tries hard with lots of the big truck looming out of the mist, but when it revs its engine and puffs smoke it just ends up looking a little silly.
That said, there’s a lot to appreciate in this episode. It tackles some serious themes that weren’t seen in media that often in 2005, calling out racism overtly and not within some sort of monster metaphor. That was a rare thing in 2005, certainly on the WB. It’s also one of the relatively rare episodes where one of the brothers has a relationship that feels real and understandable. I’ve often said that Jensen Ackles has chemistry with just about everyone and everything, but he definitely did with guest star Megalyn Echikunwoke. I wasn’t really in the fandom in Season 1, so I don’t know what the fan reaction was to Cassie at the time, though I’m guessing the idea of Dean Winchester being ‘taken’ in any way, shape or form was not a welcome idea. I’m also fine with the show concentrating on the brothers, but I really liked the way Cassie and Dean’s relationship was explored in this episode. Once again, it gives us a chance to see Dean’s vulnerability. Faced with the loss of the only other person who had shared and really understood his life when Sam went to college, Dean opened up to Cassie — and was reminded that most people would not understand the kind of life he lives. That must have made being on his own even harder. Knowing how hurt he was by the break-up, it makes his insecurity with Sam once they’re back on the road again even easier to understand.
The open is the scary truck chasing after a car in the dark somewhere in Cape Girardieu, the radio gone staticky. The driver, a black man, skids to a stop and suddenly the truck is right in front of him, ramming into the car, windows shattering, until it drives him right off the road in a fiery crash. The truck pauses for a minute, ‘breathing’ hard through its exhaust pipe, and then drives off.
I think it’s the anthropomorphizing that makes it not work for me – before that part, it was scary, and also disturbing as the guy is killed in a more realistic way than most of the deaths on Supernatural.
Cut to the Winchesters, Dean on the phone and Sam reading a map finding a route to Pennsylvania.
Dean: Problem is, we’re not going to Pennsylvania.
He says he just got a call from an old friend whose father was killed the night before, and that it might be their kind of thing. When Sam questions it, Dean says she never would’ve called if she didn’t need them.
Sam has good instincts already when it comes to his brother.
Sam: And by ‘old friend’ you mean…
Dean: A friend that’s not new.
Sam’s surprised to find out that Dean dated someone for more than one night, and Dean is evasive, uncomfortable with his carefully constructed devil-may-care persona being called into question, with Sam of all people.
Sam quickly figures out that she’s calling them and saying it’s their kind of thing because she knows what their kind of thing is, and then he’s angry.
Sam: How does she know what we do?
Dean doesn’t answer, but that’s answer enough.
SM: You told her. You told her? The secret. Our big family rule no. 1 – We do what we do and we shut up about it. I lied to Jess and you go out for a few weeks with a girl and tell her all about it?
Dean: Yeah, looks like.