"Dead In The Water" is an "on the fence" episode for me. There is plenty of good, but there is also plenty of bad. This is the debut for the series of Kim Manners as director and Sera Gamble and Raelle Tucker as writers. Even though this is the creative team that has taken the show to amazing heights, it's obvious here that everyone was still trying to find their stride. Even Jensen and Jared didn't have the same chemistry. If "Wendigo" felt like an X-Files episode, "Dead In The Water" WAS an X-Files episode. It had the same exact feel down to the pacing, suspense, somber tone, moodiness of the main characters and of course, the mysterious creature in the lake. The same lake used in a couple X-Files episodes. I imagine this is where all the rip off accusations started happening.  

Beyond that though, this Dean centered episode gave his character some deeper layers that is so well done. If we had gotten the macho bit again by the third episode, I'm sure viewers would have started to write off him off as a shallow pretty boy.  Instead, Dean takes a personal interest and connects with a boy, Lucas, who's deeply traumatized by witnessing his dad's death. Something Dean can relate. He even opens up to Lucas, telling him how he lost his mother when he was young, was scared and afraid to talk about it. Even Sam's thrown back by that confession. To me, that's one of Dean's best moments in the entire series. 



There is some good guest acting too, for Amy Acker (Andrea) and Nico McEown (Lucas) really steal the show. Of course no one else does, including some really bad performances by the adults trying to cover up their murder of a classmate years ago. There's some great creep factor to this episode too, especially the bathtub scene. Has it been done before?  Sure. I still love it though and got pretty freaked out. Far more than the drowning in the kitchen sink or the Jaws recreation in the lake.  

 
By putting Jensen Ackles in a lake and having him emerge in dramatic slo-mo, shaking off the water and gasping for air all while rescuing Lucas from drowning, the episode can't lose. This is why Kim Manners is a genius. This is all anyone remembers of this episode and probably always will. That one shot redeems any weaknesses up to this point. Like Sam being wallpaper. Like the weak cover up by the clueless sheriff and no one in the town really caring about the drowning victims. Like the lack any great brotherly moments. Like me trying to figure out who was Mulder and who was Scully. 

My overall grade is a B. Despite all the goodness with Dean's character development, I honestly don't like the story. This isn't an episode I like watching repeatedly because I get kind of bored. It also fails to be unique, something that changes by the next episode. 

Comments  

Karen
# Karen 2010-01-07 00:10
Hi Alice
This was another one I liked, basically for the same reasons you had given. The acting by Amy Acker, Nico McEown and of course Jensen and Jared. Also loved Dean’s connection with the Lucas character.
The look on Dean and Andrea’s face when Dean first surface with Lucas in his arms.
I thought for sure Lucas had drowned.
Thanks again Alice, these mini reviews are great.
Faellie
# Faellie 2010-01-07 03:49
Alice, now you're making me wonder whether I should have watched more of the X-files than just the first episode!

The image of Dean surfacing with the boy in his arms is pure television gold. It was still being used 4 years later, in the opener for Are You There, God? It's Me Dean Winchester.

The bit that bothers me most in this episode is digging up the drowned boy's bike - it's about 3 inches down in loosely packed soil in which it has obviously only just been placed. I have a garden that was completely neglected for 40 years, so I know all about digging in undisturbed soil, and that wasn't remotely close.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-01-07 09:44
DeadInTheWater reminded me of that MichellePfeiffe r/HarrisonFord- movie WhatLiesBeneath , a film that killed my joy for taking a bath for about year. It really took me that long to reclaim the relaxing experience of a long, hot bath, as I always feared some ghost would pop up suddenly. (I know, I should be a realist, but I was scared out of my wits.) Luckily, I was over that when this episode aired, but it was super creepy nonetheless.

Thanks for another mini-recap. Love those (she said for the umpteenth time).
I’m right on your planet with the intriguing and endearing Dean-moments, his bonding with Lucas. I was amazed at how great Jensen is with kids, he has been that throughout the show. And the manner in which he establishes that careful contact with the boy is very thoughtful and gentle, as it should be done with a child that tormented.

This episode also offers some terrific horror moments, like Sam trying to pull Andrea out of the bathtub, the dead boy emerging from the lake, even the drawings of Lucas scared me. You knew right away, something was rotten here, and that kept you on your toes.
Yes, of course, Dean rescuing Lucas from drowning was a classy Kim-Manners-mom ent…

I can’t help it, though, after watching the gag reel of that season, I always see Jensen jumping into Jared’s arms at the explosion (how strong is that man, come on, Jensen is not a kid! and he catches him as if he was nothing else but). Whenever that scene comes up, I wait for that.

Best, Jas
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2010-01-07 10:37
Love this episode to. I still can't understand how they did the bath tub scene. It looked like they had her chained in there. And the scene when Dean and Lucas surfaced, so moving. He wasn’t going to lose him. So like Dean. Also this is the first epi that showed Dean's gentleness and kindness with kids. Really neat!
Evelyn
# Evelyn 2010-01-07 12:18
Thanks for the review Alice. This is one of my favorite all-time Supernatural episodes. This is my big comfort episode. And yes, Dean emerging out of the lake with Lucas is one of my favorite scenes as well. However, if you look close, right before they emerge out of the water, you can see their hands just below the surface of the water. I noticed this after hearing Jensen tell the story of how they did that scene. And my favorite line comes out of this episode uttered by Sam - 'Who are you and what have you done with my brother.' :mrgreen: Overall, a classic, well-done episode.
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2010-01-07 13:21
Yes, that is maybe my most favorite line of the series. just loved it. I've ofter wondered how did they do that water scene? Do you have a link for his explanation?
Bevie
# Bevie 2010-01-07 14:14
Love this episode too, for all the reasons you state Alice, and in spite of the bad. The good outweighs the bad by a ton or two.

The way Dean was with Lucas showed the inner goodness and kindness that Dean has and seldom puts on display.

Loved that Sam discovered those things he never knew about his brother's inner strengths and compassion. Loved all Dean's talks with Lucas. (I read somewhere that Jensen said that this episode was the one that showed him what Dean was all about and helped him with his characterization).

The scene in the lake was breathtaking as Dean broke surface with Lucas in his arms. What a joy was felt when knowing he had been saved.

Also heart warming when Lucas and his mom brought lunch out to the boys and she kissed Dean. The look on his face was.....was.... ..geez! I can't think of a word. I felt so gratified that there was someone able to show appreciation for what the boys had done for them.

Yes, this is one of my favourite episodes, but then again, there is not one of season one that I dislike.
Not a one! ;-)
Evelyn
# Evelyn 2010-01-08 13:37
Sablegreen-Jens en explained how this episode was done at one of the Cons. Sorry I don't remember which one. But, that's where I heard about it. If anybody else knows which Con it was, please give a shout out.
Suze
# Suze 2010-01-11 07:46
Yippee! Another stay-indoors ( and don't wash ... ) pearl from the team that bought you camper jerky ( adds a whole new dimension to bush-tucker trails ... ) and Amy Acker nearly drowns as well, what bliss! See, kids, there is such a thing as being too thin after all!

I was deeply traumatised by this one, as a child I always felt wild swimming was a bad idea ... The worst things you met in the local pool were industrial strength chlorine solutions, other peoples verruca plasters and a few soggy wasps, but once you jumped into the river anything could be down there, from shopping trollys ( still got the scar ) to the Loch Ness Monster and pissed-off dead people with a vengeful agenda and very long arms ...
McMaggie
# McMaggie 2011-05-24 20:09
Some foreshadowing I didn’t catch the first two times I saw this on TNT: Sam talking about Lucas: “There are cases going through a traumatic experience could make certain people more sensitive to premonitions, psychic tendencies…† Hmmm, does seeing your almost-fiancés skewered to the ceiling over your head count as a traumatic experience?