Sam and Dean Go To College – Supernatural Rewatch 1.07 Hookman! 

Hook Man was never one of my favorite episodes, but I think I’m appreciating all the episodes more on rewatch just because I know I’m not getting any more – they’re all incredibly valuable to me now. And this one, like so many of the early episodes, was beautifully filmed and had the creepy horror movie vibe down.

It’s a stereotypical sorority house opening and then the even more stereotypical college kids on a date go parking under a creepy bridge in the dark. As they start kissing in the car, we see the silhouette of a man in a flowing coat with a hook for a hand. And honestly, it’s truly scary!  The guy keeps trying to pull her shirt down and she keeps saying no, hey, I mean it – and then there’s the ominous sound of scraping metal against metal, although we can’t see anything out there. The guy gets out because that’s what the guy always does in a horror movie and then the girl frantically rolls up the windows and starts screaming.

There’s a wonderful shot of the car as something invisible scratches a deep gash in the side, with a terrible screech – but there’s no one there.

The terrified young woman finally gets out and starts to run away, only to look back and see the guy dead and strung up from a tree.

Cue horror movie worthy scream.

Opening segment at an end, it’s time to find the Winchesters. Sam and Dean are searching for clues on their dad, Sam on a pay phone (it’s 2005!) and Dean on a laptop at a café.

Dean: Your half caf latte is getting cold here, Francis.

Sam: Bite me.

(That little conversation makes more sense if you watch the deleted scene that explains the Francis somehow, but I can’t for the life of me remember what happened in it).

Dean confides to Sam that he doesn’t think Dad wants to be found. Dad would, on the other hand, want them to check out a case he’s found of a mutilated body and an invisible attacker. Sam goes along, which follows the gradual evolution of Sam’s investment in hunting and saving innocent people versus finding the thing that killed Jessica and their missing father. He still wants the latter more than the former, but he’s beginning to see the sense of control and satisfaction that saving other people can bring when your life feels so out of control. It’s what Dean was trying to explain to his brother in Wendigo, as a coping strategy that keeps him going even in the face of repeated trauma and tragedy in their own family.

They end up at a fraternity house, where they claim to be fraternity brothers looking for a place to stay. The funny thing is, Jared and Jensen are so young at this point that it’s entirely plausible.

A frat boy is painting himself purple. As you do. (Fandom is fandom btw, and if it’s perfectly okay to paint yourself purple for every game, don’t quibble with media fans cosplay or any other expression of fannish passion and creativity!)

Frat boy to Dean: Do me a favor, get my back?

Dean: Oh, he’s the artist. The things he can do with a brush.

Sam gives him a bitchface and Dean sits down to watch while Sam paints, thoroughly enjoying the spectacle.

Dean: You missed a spot, lower back…

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Supernatural Rewatch Episode 1.06 – Going A Little Deeper with ‘Skin’

My Supernatural rewatch from the very beginning (after the entire 15 seasons of the series has aired) continues this week with ‘Skin’. I was excited to rewatch this episode because I remember it as being pretty epic. The music is amazing, there are some super disturbing and dark flashlight-lit scenes that have that quintessential early seasons Supernatural horror movie vibe – and it has two Deans. What’s not to like?

In probably one of the best openings of the series, Inna Gadda Da Vida plays as a SWAT team bursts into a house to rescue a bound and bloodied woman tied to a chair in a dark house. They pursue her attacker, ordering him to freeze and drop the knife. He turns around, bloody knife raised, and we see  — to our absolute shock —  that it’s Dean Winchester!

He leaps to the ground and gets away. What a beginning!

And then it’s: One Week Earlier

Sam and Dean pull the Impala into a Gas N Sip, another of the Supernatural locations that I’ve been at. This one was on my very first trip to Vancouver in 2007, when Kathy and I traversed the beautiful city with a fellow fan who was also a resident. Every time we managed to find a filming location, we stood there in awe, overcome just to be standing where the Winchesters had, taking photos of what had reverted back to a nondescript gas station. The confused attendants probably wondered what the hell we were doing. It didn’t matter; we were joyful just to be there.

Sam is reading emails on his phone because he’s pretty tech savvy for 2005, and Dean’s feelings are a little hurt that Sam’s not paying him more attention (now that we know how worried about Sam leaving again he was, this and every other scene reads just a little differently – and makes a lot of sense). Dean tries increasingly provocative statements to try to get Sam’s attention, finally landing on “Sam wears women’s underwear” because early seasons Supernatural was subtly misogynistic and homophobic in a way that was probably realistic for who Dean was and how he’d been raised but in 2021 makes me do a little eyeroll. But hey, Dean is not perfect, and that’s one of the things I love about him. Another is how much he evolves over the course of the show.

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“That Was Scary!” – Supernatural Rewatch with Bloody Mary

Next up in the Supernatural Rewatch, it’s time for the scariest episode of Supernatural EVER – Bloody Mary! The only episode to leave me and my daughter screaming and clutching each other hysterically on the couch because we were foolish enough to watch this episode in the dark with just the two of us at home. I’m still in awe of you for pulling off so much scary, Supernatural!

As usual, I did this rewatch with four friends over Zoom, because that’s the way we do things in the midst of a pandemic. For this episode, that was a good thing, because I still don’t think I want to watch it all alone! The episode opening is scary right out of the gate. Teenage girls at a slumber party in Toledo playing truth or dare, and of course one of them dares the other to say Bloody Mary in the bathroom mirror three times. The room is dark, lit only by candlelight, and the girl is nervous but peer pressure pushes her to do it anyway. She closes the bathroom door and all of us watching start yelling “Don’t to it! Lie to them! They can’t even see you!” Alas, she does not listen, and honestly, I don’t even like HEARING her say it!

The dad of the house says goodnight to the girls and walks up the stairs, and as he passes by a mirror, we catch a glimpse of a dark figure in it and I literally want to scream, it’s so scary. He looks in the mirror in the bathroom, his eyes begin to bleed, and he collapses. The older daughter comes home later and finds him dead in a pool of blood and screams.

Cut to Sam also screaming, in a well done edit, having another nightmare about Jessica (Adrianne Palicki), who keeps asking him “Why, Sam?”  It’s clear at this point in the show that Sam is tormented by his own guilt and sense of responsibility. It’s a common thing with trauma, unfortunately. One of the things that makes trauma and sudden loss so unnerving is that it makes us feel like the world is out of control. By taking responsibility in some way for what happened, even if that makes no logical sense, that allows us to feel a little more in control – and like next time, we’ll maybe be able to stop a future trauma from happening. Of course, there’s the big down side of leaving you with a whopping helping of guilt and self blame, which Sam is dealing with.

Dean, ever the big brother, is concerned.  Dean wakes him up and tries to get Sam to open up to him – note that Dean is not really the stereotype of ‘no chick flick moments’ that he pretends to be, from the very start. He knows Sam is struggling and wants to help, but can’t if Sam won’t confide in him.

Dean: Sooner or later we’re gonna have to talk about this.

The brothers visit the morgue, which is also oddly dark and creepy, posing as med students from Ohio State and faced with an unimpressed and uncooperative morgue attendant.

Dean: (under his breath to Sam): I wanna hit him.

Sam bribes him instead, which works.

Dean protests: I earned that money!

Sam: You won it in a poker game.

Dean: (insistent) Yeah!

I love their banter. Dean refuses to feel guilty about how they ‘make a living’, while Sam is still clinging to ‘normal’ and thus judging it. He’s going along, but he’s not fully on board.

Next they go to the dad’s funeral, where younger daughter Lily insists that her father’s death was her fault (the broader theme of the episode, since it’s what Sam is struggling with too). Sam assures her that it wasn’t her saying Bloody Mary three times that did it, since it’s her dad who died. The brothers try to figure out exactly what is happening, since kids play the slumber party game all the time and no one dies.

Me: Hah! Not taking chances!

Also: How are they that pretty?

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Supernatural Rewatch – Getting to Know the Winchesters in Phantom Traveler

Next up in our series rewatch of Supernatural, the fourth episode of season 1, ‘Phantom Traveler.’ I believe this is the first episode directed by Bob Singer, who would remain with the show throughout its 15 season run and be pivotal to its evolution, as a director, a producer and eventually a showrunner. The Season 1 DVDs have an episode commentary by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles for this episode, so from time to time I’ll include some of those priceless comments too. They were so young in Season 1, and still new to being the leads of a TV show, but you can tell that their friendship was already clearly solid.

The show is still dark and scary in Season 1, so the opening sequence is scary too. An anxious flyer prepares to board a plane, then some ominous looking black smoke comes out of a bathroom vent and goes right into his eyes. His eyes turn black, and now he’s calm as ever.

Pivotal moment – this is the episode where we’re introduced to demons, who will become so important to the entire series. VFX may have been more primitive in 2005, but the smoke is actually surprisingly well done – and creepy. The black-eyed man momentarily freaks out the flight attendant, then calmly wrenches open the door hatch and brings the plane down, exactly 40 minutes into its flight.

[Jared: I’m really proud of this episode. Good job, Bob. I really enjoy Sam’s relationship with his brother Dean.]

Me fifteen years later: Me too!

After the opening sequence, we always switch to the boys, and this episode is no exception. Well, boy in this case – Dean is asleep, luckily for us on top of the covers and not wearing multiple layers as is way more usual. Singer, perhaps already understanding that the show’s audience was not the mostly male demographic that the WB was expecting after having laid eyes on Jared and Jensen, gives us a slow pan up Dean’s boxer-and-tee-shirt-clad body. The stills and later the gif of that shot became an instant classic in the fandom, for obvious reasons.

I’ve written about this in several of our books, but the show didn’t just lean into the traditional ‘male gaze’ – in this shot, the show turns the tables, something surprising and a little bit subversive for 2005. It’s also something that fandom has delighted in and one of the things that makes fandom such a different type of community, with different norms – a powerful change from what most of us are used to. Especially then. Okay, I’ll move along. I’m just typing to keep this gif in frame…

gif dizzojay

A shadowy figure enters the motel room and for a moment we’re all on edge. Dean too apparently – he surreptitiously reaches under his pillow – and then Sam wakes Dean up with a too-cheery “Mornin’ sunshine!”

Dean has adorable bed-head and is worried because Sam still isn’t sleeping well and having nightmares. He bristles and denies it when Sam realizes his big brother is worried, though.

Dean: No, it’s your job to keep my ass alive so I need you sharp!

(Forgive the number of caps of said ass, it’s just a really nice scene. Like, well lit. Yes, that’s it.)

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