When Dean Winchester Breaks Your Heart: Supernatural What Is And What Should Never Be

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.

NOW

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.

It’s horrifying and terrifying in its realness.

 

 

 

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The Winchesters Go To Jail in Supernatural Season 2’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’

We’re finally getting back to the Supernatural rewatch after a break for life being too damn busy – oh OG Supernatural, I have missed you! We pick up with Season 2’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’, written by John Shiban and directed by Mike Rohl, which aired in April 2007. I had fallen madly in love with the show earlier in Season 2, so by the time this episode aired, I was glued to my TV screen, probably with a piece of pie and a whole lot of excitement as I sat down to watch, having shooed the kids out of the living room so I could squee to my heart’s content.

This is a great episode – it’s Sam and Dean for the entire episode, something that seems like an absolute feast after Jared and Jensen needed to share the burden of constant filming in later episodes (understandably). It’s directed and filmed beautifully, the prison scenes darkly lit, spooky and gritty just like the show itself in these early seasons. Rohl plays with perspective throughout, using it to evoke the claustrophobic feel of being incarcerated, unable to escape or even see clearly the dangers around you. And of course, the acting is incredible. Jared and Jensen were so young, and already so damn good.

The Road So Far reminds us that Agent Henriksen is onto the Winchesters, telling Dean on the phone that he knows about the desecrations and the thefts, that he knows about Sam too, and about their dad. Mention of his family is what gets to Dean, as always.

Dean: You don’t know crap about my Dad.

And then we see Sam and Dean at the end of the job that saw Henriksen almost catching them.

Dean: We are so screwed…

And… NOW

Workers in a dark eerie prison, using a blowtorch to open up an old cell block. We see their breath come out as visible steam, and uh oh. Something invisible blows by them, freaking them out. The lights flicker. All of us experienced Supernatural viewers know that’s trouble. A prisoner calls to the guards, the lights flickering, the clock on the wall stopping at 10 o’clock.

The guard tells him to cool it and go to sleep, but he keeps calling, the guard ignoring Randall’s insistence that he saw something. The lights go out and the guard goes to walk away when suddenly something slams the door on his arm and he’s attacked by something invisible, Randall watching from his cell as the guard screams.

The title card appears, and we jump to three months later as Sam and Dean break into a dark building at the Arkansas Museum of Anthropology at night. It’s a beautifully filmed typical Supernatural scene, lit by the brothers’ flashlights. The brothers are not in agreement.

Sam: I hate this plan, Dean.

Dean: I got that the first ten times I heard it.

They walk right past a motion sensor, open up a glass case and take out an artifact or two – a dagger, an axe – then put them down as they hear a noise and the command ‘Freeze! Down on your  knees now!’

As a viewer, it’s confusing because the Winchesters are never this careless, and they do make a half hearted attempt to evade capture, but then comply and get on their knees.

Sam is annoyed (which seems to make sense because who wouldn’t be annoyed while getting arrested)  but Dean actually gives him a little smile, which… huh?

Sam is cranky doing mug shots too, and again, who wouldn’t be? Though he can’t help but look handsome anyway because that’s just Sam.

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Dean, however, is almost enjoying himself in a scene which is now iconic for the series.

Dean: I call this one the Blue Steel.

He purses his lips and cocks an eyebrow, and somehow because he’s Dean Winchester he still looks hot.

Dean: Who looks better, me or Nick Nolte?

A little pop culture reference of the time there.

Dean stays cocky when an agent comes in who we recognize as Henriksen, asking for a cheeseburger with extra onions. (Dean does not recognize him, having not seen his face yet).

Henriksen: You think you’re funny.

Dean: I think I’m adorable.

(He is)

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Supernatural Breaks All Of Ours with Season 2’s Powerful “Heart”

The 17th episode of the second season of Supernatural is one of the best, most emotionally impactful episodes of the series. That’s no surprise when you realize it was written by Sera Gamble and directed by Kim Manners. Together, Manners and Kripke and Gamble shaped Supernatural in essential ways, and the team of Gamble writing and Manners directing was bound to be incredible. Add to that Ackles and Padalecki knocking it out of the park and guest star Emmanuelle Vaugier keeping pace with them every second and you have one of the episodes that fans often use to lure unsuspecting new fans into the Supernatural fold. I’ve seen this episode many times, and it still brings tears to my eyes and breaks my heart a little every time. That’s good television!

The episode begins in San Francisco, an attractive woman named Madison (guest star Emmanuelle Vaugier) laughing in a bar with friends. She blows off some guy Nate who wants her to come back to the office with him, and then sees an even more creepy looking guy staring at her through the window. It understandably freaks her out and she leaves – though walking out into the dark alley to get to her car seems like a bad idea to me, but what do I know? I would have at least had someone walk me to my car!

Nothing happens, though, other than the creepy guy watching her drive away. And some gorgeous Kim Manners mirror shots.

The next morning Madison makes coffee in her office when she notices a smear of blood on the wall – and then more on the floor. She walks with trepidation toward Nate’s office, and we see his hand covered in blood before we see him. When she rounds the corner, Nate is lying dead on his desk, torn apart. She drops the coffee pot, screaming. The pot shatters.

All of us: Now that’s a Supernatural opening if I ever saw one!

It’s pure Kim Manners brilliance, from the way Madison at first sees just a small smear of blood and isn’t sure what it is, to the tentative way she comes closer. The shot of just Nate’s arm and hand, bloody, all she can see as the realization of what this is slowly sinks in, and then the full on shot of Nate very very dead, torn apart and bloody. The close up slow mo shot of the coffee pot dropping and shattering is just perfect. Chilling.

Teaser ended, we cut to the boys, as we always did especially in the early seasons. They view poor Nate’s corpse in the morgue, Sam using his puppy dog eyes to charm the attendant into saying that off the record it looks like Nate was attacked by a wolf.

Attendant: But unless I know that the zoo is missing one of their lobos, I’m going with pit bull. I like my job.

Sam: (smiling) Yeah, I hear you.  One more thing – was this guy’s heart missing?

Attendant: Yeah, how did you know that? I haven’t even finished my report.

Sam: Lucky guess.

These boys though, who could resist giving them the information they’re after? I mean, look at them!

Then we get a little glimpse of Winchesters on the road, iconic in its simple familiarity. Early seasons Supernatural life in motel after motel, sleeping in the Impala in between, is the stuff that fanfic is made of. It warms my heart today, fifteen years later.

Dean cleans his guns as he and Sam discuss a new case – “hookers” murdered in the week leading up to the full moon, their hearts missing.

Dean: Awesome.

Sam: Could you be a bigger geek about this?

Dean’s excited about the prospect of “badass” werewolves, which they haven’t seen since they were kids.

Sam: Okay, Sparky. And you know what? After we kill it, we can go to Disneyland.

Gamble was so good at exploring the dynamic between the brothers – the affection beneath their bickering and teasing especially. Sam and Dean are very different, but at this point in the series, they’re accepting their differences and starting to appreciate each other’s strengths more. Most of the time anyway.

Rewatching this episode now in 2022, we all started giggling as soon as this scene began – because it is also one of the iconic gag reel moments, as Jared and Jensen start bickering just like their characters while Jensen has trouble with the prop gun.

Jensen: I’ve got a line, you moron!

The truly wonderful thing is that there’s just as much affection beneath Jared and Jensen’s teasing as there is Sam and Dean’s. At this point, they had already become brothers on and off set. And that chemistry powered the show for 13 more seasons!

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A Supernatural Homage to The Sixth Sense in ‘Roadkill’

Written by Raelle Tucker and directed by Charles Beeson, Roadkill wasn’t initially one of my favorite episodes, but on rewatch I was struck by how good it is. It’s not a feel good episode – it’s sad, tragic – but that is so well done. I feel for Molly, so it’s not an episode I tend to want to rewatch, but damn, the acting and writing are top notch. It’s a little bit of a Sixth Sense homage too, which always makes me happy since I was in that movie. (And it’s a great film, of course). Sure, I have zero lines and I’m just sitting in the auditorium audience but hey, I’m still in it.

Anyway…

THEN

The THEN reminds us that our boys are “smack in the middle of” the storm that’s coming, and that Dean especially is focused on “saving people, hunting things”. But we’re also reminded that the brothers are not entirely on the same page, as they both struggle with how to interpret their father’s mission and how much of it they want to take on.

Dean: If it’s supernatural, we kill it – that’s our job.

Sam: No, Dean – our job is hunting evil.

Well done THEN sequence, because that’s the crux of what Sam and Dean are trying to figure out right now, and they’re having a pretty epic brotherly tussle as they do it.

NOW

In a memorable opening, a car drives along a dark road at night as House of The Rising Sun plays on the car radio and the couple argue about being lost and turning around, the guy looking at the map (remember maps? I remember maps….and the days before your phone could just helpfully direct you where to go).  Their arguing is good natured, and the guy offers to make it up to the woman, kissing her neck although they’re driving and uh oh, this is not a good idea when you’re in the opening sequence of a Supernatural episode.

The woman, Molly, pushes him off, which takes her eyes off the road just as a man appears on the road. She tries to avoid him and ends up crashing into a tree, the windshield shattering. Uh oh.

Molly wakes up, the car smoking, David nowhere to be found. She crawls out of the car, calling for him, walking through dark and creepy woods as we all hold our breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

She finally sees a house with a light on in the woods and though it seems like a bad idea once again, she knocks on the door and then goes inside. There are knives on the wall and blood on the counter, and a man with his back turned.

Molly recognizes the man she almost hit, reaching out to see if he’s okay, though we as viewers can see that he’s not – his stomach is impaled and bleeding way too much to actually be alive, in fact.

Molly: Sir, are you hurt?

He turns around and opens his mouth – and his teeth start to fall out, mouth bloody, stomach wound gaping. It’s a Sixth Sense like reveal, and it’s so well done that it’s super creepy and scary. Season 2, Supernatural really was a little horror movie every week – so good!

The SUPERNATURAL title card pops up and lets us know our boys will be appearing soon. Perfect time for the logo of that season.

Molly screams and runs through the woods, terrified. It’s filmed in slow motion, adding to the terror of will the dead guy catch her or won’t he, and then she runs right onto the road. A car is coming as she yells Stop! Stop! The car skids to a halt – and we see that it’s the Impala.

Dean: Holy–  (The ‘shit’ is silent because CW)

Molly is totally freaked out, banging on the window and asking the boys to help her. Sam and Dean exchange a glance as she explains about the scary guy.

Dean: Did he look like he lost a fight with a lawn mower?

Molly: How did you know that?

Dean: Lucky guess…

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The Trickster Messes With Sam and Dean for the First Time in Season 2’s ‘Tall Tales’

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.

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Boys. I love how Supernatural always gets it so right. They are such brothers.

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