We have finally made it through the second season of the best show of all time (imho) in our Supernatural rewatch! Settle in as we revisit one of the most emotional episodes of the entire series – and one that stands up remarkably well to the test of time. As in, it still made me cry and I still think it’s one of the best hours of television ever as I write this almost exactly sixteen years later. Buckle up!
The season finale of the second season of Supernatural was a two parter that almost destroyed me.
Being uncertain whether Sam Winchester would survive – and whether the brothers and the show I’d fallen in love with would survive too – was excruciating. The level of emotionality I felt watching this episode broadcast live back in May of 2007 was off the charts. Remembering it today, and rewatching it all these years later, I still found myself tearing up. I bet you will too.
The Road So Far recap is a surprise to anyone watching now, who would expect Kansas’ ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ to be played for the penultimate episode instead of the finale, but in Season 2 it first graced our screens in this season finale. The voiceover reminds us that back in 1835, Samuel Colt made a special gun… and then there is such a badass recap OHMYGOD. The Impala screeching, a reminder of the crossroads and what desperate people do there, the Yellow Eyed Demon trying to recruit Sam. Andy’s bloody horrifying death, Jake and Sam’s fight, and then Dean screaming “Sam, look out!”
We see once again Sam fall, Dean holding him as the lyrics reach “Don’t you cry no more” and Dean yells out desperately, “SAM!”
And then, it’s NOW.
Sam lying dead on an old mattress, the camera slowly spinning to show us Dean staring at his brother, his face flat, almost frozen. As lifeless as Sam’s body.
Bobby comes in with food, encouraging Dean to eat something, but it’s clear Dean could care less about nourishment – or living.
Dean: I said I’m fine.
It’s striking how he can barely tear himself way from staring at Sam’s body, perhaps a little Ackles added touch that makes it crystal clear how far away Dean is from acceptance or letting go.
It’s also striking how otherwordly beautiful both Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki are in this episode. It quite literally takes my breath away.
Bobby: Dean, I hate to bring this up, I really do. But don’t you think maybe it’s time we bury Sam?
Dean is so full of rage at that suggestion that he looks like he could kill Bobby on the spot.
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.
As Season 2 neared its end, Supernatural aired one of its most innovative episodes, ‘What Is And What Should Never Be’. Written by Raelle Tucker, who I wish we’d had longer on Supernatural, and directed by Eric Kripke himself, this 20th episode of the season was a brilliantly done episode that asked the provocative question, what if the Winchesters were never hunters and lived a “normal life”? But of course, because this is Supernatural, it’s a dark and twisted version of that question and its surprising answer.
The ‘THEN’ sequence is a flashback to the very beginning, John and Mary and four year old Dean living a happy “normal” life, then the fires, Mary and Jessica, with a reminder that Sam was headed to law school once upon a time. Then a reminder of Dean’s headspace at the time, as he and Sam argue.
Sam: I’m not gonna just ditch the job!
Dean: Screw the job, man, we don’t get paid, we don’t get thanked, only thing we get is bad luck!
He’s not wrong, especially with what they’ve gone through recently, in prison and with Agent Henriksen on their tail. As this episode aired, Dean was questioning everything, including the job that has been his identity, that he’s sacrificed so much for. Inevitably, there had to be times when he wanted out, even if he felt guilty about that desire, as though he was letting his father down. But Dean is only human, and this episode is a brilliant reminder of that, and of the hopes and dreams and wishes beneath the often stoic surface.
Needless to say, Jensen Ackles portrays all that so vividly that this episode is both painful as hell and impossible to look away from. He has talked about how hard this one was for him, because it took away what Jared and Jensen had relied on for two seasons – the bond between Sam and Dean. Jensen felt destabilized not having Sam’s partnership for Dean to count on, and couldn’t wait to finish filming – just like he would later feel about the Soulless Sam arc which also took “our” Sam away from Dean. That destabilized feeling totally works, though, as Dean himself is thrown by the sudden changes in his world and in his relationship with his brother.
Dean driving down the road in the Impala – which has a new license plate! I remember at the time grieving for the original Kansas plate KAZ2Y5. It seems like a little thing, but the Impala was already vastly beloved by the fandom, so it hurt us almost as much as it probably hurt her boys to change the plate. CNK80Q3 Ohio it was, until the end of the show.
Sam is back at the motel, worried that a cop car outside is coming for them, even though they changed the plate and ditched the credit cards they were using. That’s a toll that their newfound visibility took on them, constantly worrying more than they ever had about being caught by law enforcement as they tried to do their job of ‘saving people, hunting things’. It’s another reason for Dean’s discontent, as everything that they’re trying to do – to help people – is getting harder.
The cop car eventually drives away and Sam breathes a sigh of relief.
Dean, as always, keeps his game face on, saying nothing to worry about.
Sam: Yeah, being fugitives? Friggen’ dance party.
Dean (grinning): Hey man, chicks dig the danger vibe.
Half of Dean’s game face is to bolster his little brother, the other half he tries to believe himself.
They’ve been trying to figure out where a bunch of victims disappeared to, Dean driving around and Sam researching. Back at the motel, Sam says that he’s figured out what they’re hunting – a djinn.
Dean: A freaking genie? You think these suckers can really grant wishes?
Sam says they’re powerful enough, they’ve been feeding off people for centuries and are all over the Koran.
Sam: But not exactly like Barbara Eden in harem pants.
Dean (with a wistful look on his face): My God, Barbara Eden was hot, wasn’t she? Way hotter than that Bewitched chick…
Sam (annoyed): Are you even listening to me?
The whole conversation is priceless brotherly banter, with early seasons Dean constantly distracted by his libido and early seasons Sam constantly trying to get him back to concentrating on the job. It was 2007, and we all knew that Dean never actually sacrificed any part of doing the job – and Sam knew that too.
The conversation is also amusing to revisit in 2023 because does anyone watching on Netflix now actually know who Barbara Eden was or that Bewitched was a show that also had a hot woman with powers? I am old enough to know, but Sam and Dean were going back a ways even in 2007 to bring up television shows from the 1960s before they were born! (I imagine they watched a lot of reruns while left in motel rooms as kids though).
Dean decides keep driving and searching for the djinn’s lair, saying he saw a place that fits its MO a couple miles back. Sam is instantly worried – it’s never a good idea for the Winchesters to split up, as we all well know!
Sam: Wait no no no no, come pick me up first!
Should have listened to Sam, Dean!
But Dean goes on alone. The Impala pulls into a dark alley, full of the “atmo” smoke that they used so often in the early seasons. (The first time we visited the Supernatural set, they had gotten a little carried away with it and it took our transport van a bit longer to come pick us up while they cleared it out – there were alarms going off as we talked to the PA on the phone!)
He walks into an abandoned office building or storage warehouse, past an old fashioned typewriter.
His spidey senses tingle and he grips his knife as he goes, flashlight searching the room.
Then we see him walk by the Djinn’s bald head and it is CREEPY and SCARY as hell omg. This scene was so well done, the cinematography gorgeous, the barely visible figure of the djinn looming in the background where Dean doesn’t seem him – but we do. Well done, Kripke!
Suddenly the djinn attacks, grabbing Dean by the throat, forcing his blue hand onto his forehead as Dean’s eyes roll back. Ackles is so good at scenes like this; you can see the moment that Dean loses the battle, his expression going blank and his eyes vacant as the djinn puts him under.
Tall Tales is one of those episodes that felt like FUN, despite some typical Supernatural monstrous happenings and, of course, people dying. But still, FUN. It was also a great episode to showcase Sam and Dean’s relationship as brothers. For better or worse! And, of course, it introduced us to Richard Speight, Jr. as the Trickster.
The ‘Then’ segment reminds us that Sam and Dean have pranked each other in the past, as brothers do, from Nair in the hair to Dean’s hand stuck to his beer bottle, Sam and Dean taunting each other with “That’s all you got?” and “Bring it on, Baldy!” And lots of calling each other ‘bitch’ and ‘jerk’ which at this point (rewatching the series after it has ended), just makes me tear up because we know now exactly what those words mean when the Winchesters say them to each other.
Sigh. I miss my Show.
This episode opens with a professor walking to his office building at night, encountering an attractive young woman hanging out waiting for him, inexplicably dressed in a little sundress even though it’s cold and other people have jackets on.
She shows off her legs and he doesn’t notice, and he initially does try to get her to come back during office hours. He’s reluctant to respond to her flirty advances and hero worship until she finally says okay, I should go, and turns to leave. Then he changes his tune, saying he understands what she’s feeling. He shows his true narcissist colors by saying it’s natural, since he’s “somewhat of a celeb around here”. I had to cringe on behalf of professors everywhere when he said that. Nice touch of what his latest book is about though.
He kisses her even as he says it would be wrong for him to take advantage of her, and then… her face starts to disintegrate. Because this is Supernatural. He recoils in horror.
Zombie woman: What, you don’t like me anymore?
Outside the building, a janitor played by Richard Speight, Jr. watches as the professor’s body falls from the window high above, head splattered on the stones in a pool of blood.
Of course at the time that was not newsworthy (the janitor, that is). But now, on rewatch, we all squealed because Richard has joined Supernatural! He will become an integral part of the SPNFamily over the next 15 going on forever years.
ONE WEEK LATER
Sam is researching, as a Joe Walsh song plays on the radio. He’s clearly annoyed at his brother, who’s munching on something on Sam’s bed.
Sam: Dude, you mind not eating those on MY bed?
Dean (as he stuffs more in his mouth and licks his fingers enthusiastically): No, I don’t mind.
Boys. I love how Supernatural always gets it so right. They are such brothers.
Born Under A Bad Sign is another one of the pivotal episodes that solidified my passion for Supernatural in such an intense way that the show would get under my skin and just stay there for – well, its over 16 years and counting now, so who knows how long? Forever?
In the “Then” we get a reminder that demons can possess humans, and of Sam and Dean’s recent agonizing conversation by the fence, Sam terrified he’s about to “go darkside” and warning his brother that if he’s not careful, “you will have to waste me someday” and Dean equally terrified he won’t be able to save Sam.
That’s where Sam and Dean are when we get to the “Now”. Dean is frantic, on the phone with Ellen after Sam has apparently gone missing.
Dean: I’m losing my mind here….I’ve called him a thousand times, there’s nothing but voicemail. I don’t know where he went or why, Sam’s just gone…
His phone shows another call and Dean cuts off to answer it.
Dean: Sammy? Where the hell are you? Are you okay? Hey hey hey, calm down, I’m on my way.
The impala roars away from under a bridge. I bet Dean broke every speed limit along the way to get to his brother.
Sam hangs up the phone and we see his bloody hand on the floor as he waits.
A while later, Dean rushes into a motel, hurrying down the hallway, still frantic. He bangs on the door and it opens, so he pushes it slowly open, calling his brother’s name. He finds Sam sitting still, blood on his shirt, head down.
Dean’s panic increases as he sees the blood and he drops to the floor, trying to push Sam’s shirt out of the way to see how badly he’s hurt. Dean is wide eyed, terrified for Sam.
Dean: You’re bleeding, ohmygod.
Sam sounds completely out of it, traumatized beyond being able to express any emotion at all. He tells Dean that he doesn’t think the blood is his, says he tried to wash it off. That he doesn’t remember anything.
I have to say that both Padalecki and Ackles played that scene incredibly well – I could feel Dean’s panic acutely, and Sam’s utter confusion and despair (making Meg a pretty great actress also!). They are both primed for these emotions already, Dean so worried about Sam’s fate and Sam convinced he could go dark side any moment.