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Welcome to the second installment of our new series, "Hiatus Hunting"! In honor of "Throwback Thursdays", each week until season 10 begins we will lead you on a treasure hunt through our archives, seeking reviews on some of the best episodes of Supernatural! These reviews were all written in the moment, so they are sometimes insightful...and sometimes dead wrong... but it is fun to peek at what the fans were thinking before we all had the benefit of finding out what would happen to Sam and Dean (and Cas and Bobby and ...) in subsequent seasons. 

Today we are revisiting In The Beginning, one of THE most important episodes in the mytharc of the series. We get to meet young John and Mary. We see Samuel, who will come back in season six, and we see the whole tragic beginning of the Winchester saga. I hope you enjoy!

In The Beginning, Written by Alice Jester.
Originally Published on October 5, 2008
Pictures in the article by Alice Jester,
Front picture and full article picture by Percysowner

[Alice's note] Updated 6/7.  I finally added the pictures and put in some far better commentary.  Enjoy this one! It raises some major questions, and has tons of fun at the expense of a misplaced Pinto. :))

Noooooo!!!! To Be Continued???? Damn you...oh forget it. I've cursed Kripke's name so many times it's lost all meaning now.

Dean was pulled out of Hell to stop Sam! Mary was a hunter! Mary sold Sam's soul in exchange for John's life! Dean and Sam's grandpa rocks! There I go with those damn exclamation points again!

Deep breath Hold on. Ahhhhhhh!!!!!! Okay, better.

I know when I've seen a great episode that affects me forever. It's not the jaw dropping intensity of the drama, the out of this stratosphere acting that makes you wonder why genre shows like this are never recognized by the Emmy panel, the superior writing that makes me rush to my laptop to tweak yet again my own manuscript, or the fact that when the episode is over I'm so stunned I'm holding the remote and staring at the screen in disbelief for over an hour.

No, an episode for me is deemed great after the sleepless night. When the events of what I just witnessed play in my head over and over again and I can't shut it off. When I wake up the next morning an emotional and exhausted wreck, so profoundly affected by what I saw that I struggle with basic function, then yes, I've watched the episode of a lifetime. It happened to me numerous times during the second season of The West Wing. It happened after "Mystery Spot". It happened after "No Rest For The Wicked" and "Lazarus Rising". Now here we are again, only two weeks later with "In The Beginning". Mr. Kripke, you're killing me!

Not just Eric Kripke but everyone. To think, one of the two leads wasn't even in this one (except for a brief glimpse) and they still pulled off a classic with the best guest casting of the series, or of all television. Mitch Pileggi MUST get some sort of award for this one. Misha Collins continues to blow our minds, again giving us a chilling closing line that we can't shake. The young Mary (Amy Gumenick) and John (Matthew Cohen) are two unknowns that we may be seeing a lot of in the future in other places after this one. They made a huge impression.

I did miss Sam, even though this story was for his benefit. His absence served its point, so I'll let it pass. The only thing I won't let pass is why was Dean driving a 1979 Ford Pinto in 1973. My family drove Pintos while I was growing up so I know. There, nitpicks over. Time for the pages of gushing now.

Who Needs Classic Rock?

This is a packed full episode, so no time for musical montages. There's a great recap of season one for those of us that don't remember all those unanswered questions that we're still overly speculating about. They even showed Mary apologizing to Sam in Home. It's about time that one was cleared up!

The writer this week is the most incredible, awe inspiring, master of storytelling and dialogue known as Jeremy Carver (I'm still openly begging for that interview). The director is Steve Boyum, who I haven't had the pleasure of praising before. He previously directed "Crossroad Blues" and "Dream A Little Dream of Me" and added a gem here to his list.

Let's Begin

Dean is asleep on the bed, and obviously he got back from something exhausting since he's on top of the covers and has his clothes on. Sam has that tough guy ready to waste some demons glare, and he does the sneak out on Dean. Take a good look at that gorgeous face for that's the last you see him until next week. Mitch Pileggi in an interview said that Jared went to Hawaii while this episode was filmed. As a joke, the crew taped postcards from Hawaii on the front of the camera while filming to irk Jensen. That story alone makes Sam's absence worth it.

It's the Willow Tree motel! That's the similiar sign from “Mystery Spot," the motel Sam went to dig that bullet out of his ribs. Granted the inside is different, but I guess reusing signs is allowed. They did that with "A Very Supernatural Christmas" too (Cicero Pines), so I wonder if this is a norm for Jeremy Carver episodes. Probably just a coincidence.

Dean dreams of the red and black flashes from Hell again and there's Castiel. I heard all those squeals of joy! Awesome how he pops in and out like that and when Sam isn't around. He's an imaginary friend or something. You have to stop it. Before Dean gets an answer, the magic angel fingers go in between the eyes and he's being woken from a park bench. No time for a long slow setup. 

Dean's cell phone doesn't work and the park bench says Sugar Free Tab. He ain't in Kansas anymore more. Oh wait... Dean, didn't you notice all the classic cars around? You'd think a car guy like him would be in paradise. Also, isn't this the same town square from Smallville? Yeah, I'm sure I could fill a whole article on shared sets of Vancouver shows.

"Rambling Man" by the Allman Brothers plays on the juke box as Dean enters the diner, which is another time warp error since that song wasn't released until August 25th of that year. Yes, I know my classic rock too. Dean asks the person next to him where he can get reception on his cell phone and I yelled out Starship Enterprise! a second before the other guy said it. Who didn't see that one coming? The kicker though is the devastation of the waiter (I want one of those fuzzy vests) and other man when Dean mentions that Sonny and Cher broke up. He finally figures something is wrong, and the date on the newspaper confirms it. April 30, 1973. Could it be all that nastiness happens on May 2nd, the day Sam was born? Possible, since Jess and Mary both died on November 2nd. 

Now we get the obligatory Back To The Future, reenactment, and luckily this turns out to be the only one. I was afraid we'd have a whole episode of this. Someone shouts "Hey Winchester" and both Dean and other guy look. The man talks to the other guy and calls him John. Dean stares in shock, using the exact same look Michael J. Fox did when he saw George McFly. Dad? John gets nervous and leaves behind one very bothered Dean. I'd say that was the right time for the birds of the apocalypse.

Dean rounds the corner and there's lovely Castiel again. For a guy that never smiles and always has a rumpled appearance, he's great on the eyes. Dean gives my favorite line of the episode. "So what is it, angels got their hands on some DeLoreans?" I'm still laughing over that, and plan to somehow work that into regular conversation. Castiel says again, "You have to stop it." How heartbreaking when we find out what it is. Of course he disappears again before Dean gets the answer. "Are you allergic to straight answers you son of a bitch?" I don't think that's getting you answers Dean. How about please? Angels are temperamental if you haven't figured that out.

John's car shopping and what a sight for sore eyes. The Metallicar looks exactly the same. It's even dirty. Dean talks John into buying the Impala instead of the VW bus. So who talked him into it before? Oh yes, the destiny thing. $2204 for the Impala? That still seems to be a lot for a used car. Starting price was $2800 new in 1967, and this is not an Impala packed with features. It's confirmed, the Impala is a 327 4 barrel, 275 horses. Ha! Someone's been reading my speculation on the specs for the Impala. Thanks for clarifying that.

"Trust me, this thing is still going to be badass when it's 40." Sure, considering she had to be rebuilt, of course she's in great shape. Dean starts the awkward conversation with his dad by asking about cold spots, sulfur, and cattle mutilations. Sure, that's exactly what I want to say to my dad when I travel back in time. Seen any dead cows lately? Dean goes away, John wisely buys the car.


# njspnfan 2014-07-24 18:39
Hey, it's throwback Thursday on TWFB. This continued a run of great episodes in Season 4. Much of the speculation in the article is very reasonable given what was known at this point, but in hindsight, not much was known ;) And Alice was spot on about Ruby. When I first watched the epsiode, the Pinto did look strangely out of place but didn't realize they were that far off. I guess they couldn't go with an earlier Pinto because they had all caught fire and were destroyed by rear-end collisions :)

Usually not a big fan of time travel episodes but this one was great; everything we learned "fit", and made sense; none of it felt like a retcon and you saw how big YED's plans were. We got some great history on the Campbell family, and Dean talking John into buying the Impala was a nice touch. Otherwise, Sam and Dean would be cruising around in a 1964 VW Bus.
# debbab 2014-07-27 12:44
It is an important episode to fill in missing information and nail down the canon. I still get the emotional responses to the events even though I have seen where the whole story goes. It was important to miss Sam as it verified that the show is about both brothers and their journey. The subsequent return to John and Mary's time with Sam and Dean gives Mary another chance to save Sam, but Michael takes away that possibility thus letting us know that he too is not so savory a character. The reintroduction of Samuel in season 6 was planted here as well. MP does a skillful acting job despite the season being uneven, but back to this episode.The lessons we think the episodes are about are often not the ones that we are left with at the end. Castiel's head turn and comment about Sam are a turning point for Sam as well as Dean and how he views his brother. I forgave the Pinto error a long time ago. I loved seeing the Impala purchase. Baby is an important symbol in episodes that came after this one...especiall y season 5. She purrs.