While we all try to survive the hellatus, I thought I would write up a retro review on one of my favorite episodes.  Since this is my first article with WinchesterFamilyBusiness, I thought it would give you a little "me" information too, to help you see the method in my madness...  

I am a big scifi fan, however I am not a big television fan.  Growing up, I was way more likely to put in a movie than watch live television.  I have no patience for commercials, and are you kidding, I've seen this episode of Millinnium like FIVE TIMES NOW.  It's THE ONLY EPISODE I'VE SEEN. But seriously, the format of episodic television has always been boring and confining for me.  Sometimes, about my personal life, I joke and say "I'm so commitment phobic I can't even commit to a t.v. show." I'm only slightly joking.  I have serious issues with the whole idea of being locked into watching the same thing at the same time every week. Because of this, my live television viewing is sparse.  Shows have to be something special to hold me for more than a season before I start to wander.  Supernatural is the only television show I have ever watched that once I started watching live, I continued for multiple seasons.  Even with Supernatural, my eyes wandered once...it was in the beginning of the fifth season when Fringe moved to Thursday nights.  I had been watching the first season of Fringe and the fourth season of Supernatural the year before, and Fringe was moved forcing me to make a choice.  It was touch and go for a few weeks, but ultimately I chose Supernatural, and I have watched Supernatural consistently since.  I have been writing reviews since "99 Problems".  


Seasons of T.V. on DVD may be the best invention since sliced bread.  I can watch television like a very long movie!  The same does not hold true for DVD viewing of televisions shows.  For example, for the last two weeks I have been watching The Dead Zone.  I am well into the fifth season already.  There were six seasons.


The only other show to actually inspire me to write was The X-Files.  Like Supernatural, I started watching The X-Files live in the fourth season.  After a couple seasons however, I wandered.  I didn't watch much of the eighth season live, but I returned for the full ninth season. Suffice it to say my live watch consistency was nowhere near my Supernatural viewing.  Likewise, I loved Buffy, and also began watching that live in the fourth season, but was unimpressed with the sixth season watching it, and the seventh season, sporadically.


Sometimes I feel like I am a different kind of fan.  I would have to call my love for Supernatural and The X-Files "show obsessions". Strangely though, most of the people I know who develop show obsessions seem to consider the mythology episodes their favorites.  I feel like most "career fans", if you will, love the flowing storyline.  Maybe it has to do with my love for the American idea of "escapism", but my favorite episodes, the ones that I will put in just to watch a random episode and NEVER tire of watching, are the stand alone episodes.  For The X-Files, I loved the eppies that were just Mulder and Scully out there doing their job, kicking alien, mutant and monster ass.  I feel the same way about the Brothers Winchester.  Those are my favorite episodes.  Forget the angst, forget the larger mythology, just Sam and Dean, riding around in that '67 Impala out there kicking demon, monster and ghost ass....the family business.  Maybe I just love seeing them in "normal" "every day" circumstances as a way of character study?  Their personalities come out--they just are who they are.  Maybe that is it.


To me, that's what "Hell House" had to offer.  As far as writers are concerned, Trey Callaway probably couldn't be a more random choice.  "Hell House" is the only episode he has written to date.  He was co-executive producer for CSI:NY, it appears probably his most notable thing was as writer of I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.  Chris Long only directed the one episode of Supernatural, although he directed several episodes of Lois & Clark, Gilmore Girls and most recently The Mentalist.  Suffice it to say the pairing seems totally random as far as Supernatural is concerned. Even so, I love the vision we are given of Sam and Dean in this episode.  It's like they almost revert to kids together, left to their own devices, but they still get the job done.  


We also get a Smart!Dean moment...when killing Mordechai murdoch fails and Dean just decides to burn the house down...which is something that always makes me happy.  That would be Smart!Dean makes me happy...although angry Pyro!Dean is hot too...MOVING ALONG...
 


 

Sam and Dean find themselves in Richardson, Texas investigating an alleged suicide in an old abandoned house rumored to be haunted.  Just when they come to the conclusion that it is all a hoax, someone actually does die and Sam and Dean realize that sometimes things really are as bad as people can imagine...


 

Wait--where did that come from??? And on to the analysis...

 


We've just finished up the seventh season of this show and everyone is back in Vancouver for eighth season filming.  What makes me excited about season seven ending is that I have officially watched more seasons live than I had to catch up on!  But in Supernatural mythology, we're about 8 years later, closer to 9 because of the year time jump, and the boys have been though alot.  They've had some great times.  They've had some horrific times.  The years have taken their toll on their psyches and on the way they attack problems.  One thing I am in love with is how much their relationship has grown.  Sitting back and watching this old season one episode reminds me of how far the epic story of Sam and Dean has come.  We had the classic "Dad's on a hunting trip, and he hasn't been home in a few days" intro.  References were made to dad's journal.  Sam and Dean, especially Sam, were fixated on finding Dad.  Dean has his dad's leather jacket and the amulet.
 


I have a side comment on the leather jacket.  Actually it is a comment on all Dean's early clothes.  Looking at the promo shots from Season One and Two, I always was surprised that they seemed to go out of their way to make Dean look small.  Jensen is 6'1", but they put him in a leather jacket too big for him, pants that had to be cuffed, shirts with long emo sleeves.  Dean apparently wasn't supposed to fit into his clothing.  Maybe because he was trying to be like Dad, and those were some big shoes to fill. I love that they aren't doing that any more.  Dean has become his own man...found his own style...and I'm in love with it.  I can't say Dean is entirely happy with who he is; he seems to keep hitting himself upside the head with the whole "I'm a monster" imagery, but Dean is learning to deal with who he is, and I love that.  He has come so far!  Fingers crossed that Purgatory doesn't change that...
 


In "Hell House", we get to revisit a younger Dean.  What is great about younger Dean?  He is definitely more carefree.  How much to I love the pranks?  Quite a bit actually.  Sometimes Sam seems utterly unimpressed, and downright annoyed, but Dean doesn't let that phase him.  He feels he should always be teaching his baby brother, and in this case the lesson is that we can't take life too seriously--nobody makes it out alive anyway.  He forced his brother to have fun and lighten up. Dean knew that above all else, that was something Sam really needed.  Like John, Sam has the ability to really obsess with things.  At that time it was with his revenge over what happened to Jess and getting back with Dad to go after the demon.  Some people miss that lighter play of Sam and Dean.  I think we have plenty of episodes like that already.  If you want to see that, go back and watch some early Winchester action.  Sam and Dean are almost a decade older.  They're more mature.  They've been through a lot of crap as a team that they hadn't been through at that time. Their relationship now is more one of equals--each watching out for the other.  Then, it was more Sam spitting and spewing and Dean making sure Sam didn't do something stupid.  I love what their relationship has become.
 


That being said, I will admit the pranks are some of my favorite moments of the episode.  The beginning with Dean taking a picture of Sam with the spoon is one of my favorite moments on Supernatural ever.  You know those moments when someone does something that is just so them, and completely adorable? It's a moment when your heart skips, fills with love and you just KNOW you love that person completely? That is one of those moments for me with Dean.
 


 

Getting off the Sam and Dean topic, there are several other things I loved about this episode.  I loved that we meet the hellhoundslair.com boys.  You may not know this about me, but I am from the Springfield, Massachusetts area.  What does that mean?  It means that I've seen Steve Gonsalves play in his bands at Theodore's Bar.  Steve is one of the main guys in SyFy's Ghost Hunters series.  I doubt he remembers me as I haven't talked to him in probably about ten years, but he used to be in a band with my best friend's then boyfriend now husband.  I saw them play a few times.  Steve was always telling me to watch the movie Mousetrap.  I remember hearing about how they were planning on doing a ghost hunting show and I asked the Xander Harris question: So what happens if you run into an "I'm dead as Hell and I'm not taking it anymore" poltergeist?  What I love about Ed Zedmore and Harry Spangler is that they do in a fun, cheeky way personify that whole "ghost hunter" mentality.  Their equipment makes them professionals--but what would they do if they actually faced something nasty?  I love how this episode spins this whole concept on its head.  

 


I also love how the kids dare each other to go into the house as a part of "truth or dare".  "I'll take the homicidal ghost, thank you".  I love how that stupid cackling fisherman plaque keeps showing up. I even love that the Tibetan thought form, a Tulpa, is the nasty.  It reminds me of one of my Mulder/Scully shipping fangirl favorite X-Files ever--the sixth season episode Arcadia where Mulder and Scully play house while they investigate what turns out to be a Tulpa enforcing the CC&R's in a gated community in California.
 

Ah, an eppie that not even I could think too much about.  I tend to overanalyze...Maybe that is another reason why I love the stand alone eppies so much.  I can just sit back, crank up the rock tunes and enjoy the ride...


Although, I will admit that there must be a certain importance to the fact that the Blue Oyster Cult album "Fire of Unknown Origin" was so prevalent...its symbols on the cover, it's songs in the album.  After all, didn't a "fire of unknown origin" take away Mom and Jess? This episode originally aired on March 30, 2006 so much fun, but boys, you've come a long way, baby...  

Let me know what you thought of this oldie but goodie episode!  Screencaps taken from http://homeofthenutty.com/supernatural.screencaps.


Comments  

Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2012-07-15 10:22
Hi Nicole. I’d almost forgotten about this episode. I guess with all the weight of the later various mythologies and heavy storylines we’ve had it’s easy to forget about some of the lighter episodes, especially when they were in the early seasons. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it......)

Yeah, there was a real innocence and simplicity about the early seasons; everything was new to them and us. They were so earnest in their work that it just swept us (or me, at least) along with them. The pranks seemed much more endearing and the uncovered torso was definitely new to us! This episode kind of had a taste of all the best things about SPN in it; brotherly moments, a bad guy, an annoying guy, plenty of research and a good old fashioned salt and burn. When you compare it to the way the boys are now they seem almost jaded so this was nice.

And I couldn’t agree more, watching the episodes on download or on DVD is the job! I’ve never watched an episode of SPN live (wrong country for it) so I’ve never had to watch an episode with ads breaking it up but I know going from other shows there is nothing more headwrecking than ads in the middle of it! It’s almost worth the 7 hours wait to be able to be able to download and watch SPN in one go!

Thanks for the article Nicole and I look forward to the next one.
PENNY JAIME
# PENNY JAIME 2012-07-15 11:40
I rewatch this one all the time! It's def a fav. I love the pranks. It's such a guy thing; and a brother thing. One thing I really loved,and this may sound silly, is that it actually shows how TALL Jensen and Jared are, compared to everyone else! The guy in the music store. Even standing outside talking to Ed and Harry-they tower over them! Oh, and I love the little facial expression Jensen does throughout this epi. Fun times
Bevie
# Bevie 2012-07-15 13:30
Hi Nicole -

I absolutely love and adore "Hell House". It has all the reasons that make me love the brothers unconditionally . No matter how many times I watch it, I love it more each time!

Dean is so very Deanish and his sense of fun with Sam is so endearing that I just love him to death in it. Sammy is so very Sam with his huffing and bitchfaces that deter his brother in no way. Dean is determined to lighten up his little brother!

This one hardly ever gets mentioned in fans' favourites lists, but it is right up there near the top for me.

The mytharcs don't matter to me as much as the stand alones which showcase the relationship, which is the reason I love this show so very much. Another one I love is "The Benders" which showcases the love Dean has for his little bro and then it is Sammy who in the end saves the day, himself, the cop and his big brother all together. Then there is "Usual Suspects" which while hardly every being together, shows just how connected they are with each other. Awesome!

I was a fan of the X-Files too. Not nearly as much as I am of Supernatural, but I did like the episodes with Mulder and Scully just solving cases, without the burdens of the mytharcs weighing the episodes down.

I would really be happy with more stand alones that could be just about the brothers and give more time to their present problems with each other and heal some of the hurts they both carry around with them. After all, why couldn't their story be the mytharc that matters the most?

Welcome to the site and looking forward to more articles from you.
EireneS
# EireneS 2012-07-15 15:05
Nicole, thanks for the very well done review of "Hellhouse."
I liked that episode very much-any episode with both the guys laughing and bonding is a winner with me and the main reason that I watch Supernatural.
sweetondean
# sweetondean 2012-07-24 20:44
I do enjoy this episode and I love looking back at where Sam and Dean were at this point in time. I love looking back because it makes me love who they've become with all their strengths and weaknesses, with all their faults, with all their ups and downs and how their love, that love that is so well illustrated in this episode, prevails.

They are grown men now, who have found their own voices, who no-longer live in their dad's shadow. I love that about them and where we find them now.

But it is always fun to go back and remember where they've come from, it adds more resonance to the path they've both travelled. They've come so far....lost and yet gained so much...

The pranks say so much about them both...and yes, the Dean/spoon/came ra prank on his little bro...awesomeness!

Welcome aboard Nicole!
-Amy :lol: