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I LOVE "Phantom Traveler." Is it flawless? Of course not. But still, this episode sets so many precedents. First appearance of demons and demonic possession. First appearance of Dean's homemade EMF reader. First time the boys put on suits to "look the part." The first time sulfur is found. The first exorcism performed and we learn for the first time how dreamy Sam's Latin is.  First time Robert Singer directs an episode and considering they had to film on an actual small airplane (no budget for a mock up set), an awesome job.

We see an adorable yet vulnerable side of Dean through his funny yet dead on portrayal of someone afraid of flying. Sam's issues aren't done either, for he's still being plagued by nightmares and can't sleep. Jerry, the man soliciting Sam and Dean's help, is a great character with a good sense of humor. The fact that he accepts the supernatural makes him enjoyable. I love how he was able to tell Sam how much John talked about him and then later dropped the bombshell on Sam and Dean about John's message. Plus, he was able to trigger the best line of the episode. "Hey, Poltergeist, I love that movie!" 

The dialogue is sharp and fun, and there are many great lines. That helps the pacing quite a bit, for other than a couple of scenes that drag the episode down, this episode keeps me engaged to the end.  The humor between the brothers is back and it's hilarious. "I look like one of the Blues Brothers." "No you don't. You look more like a seventh grader at his first dance." Or how about my other favorite, "Yeah, a middle-aged dentist with an ulcer isn't exactly evil personified." 

Oh, but there is the serious too. The demon telling Sam he knew about Jess triggers something inside of him we haven't seen yet. His guilt, his fear, his despair, his need for vengeance, it is a spark in Sam we need to see.  It's a good setup for the next episode too.  However, what I love the most is the ending. Coming soon is my "Top Ten Supernatural Endings" list. This makes it. I often pull up that scene of the two brothers on the trunk of the Impala listening to John's message because I love it so much. My heart still melts at the brothers' devastating realization that John is alive but doesn't plan on being found.  The drama in this episode also benefits from the emotional score, which is the best scoring of an episode so far (until it's blown out of the water by "Home.")

Most of all, this is the first episode since "The Pilot" where I feel like I'm watching something unique. Just when I'm NOT doing X-Files comparison though, Dean goes and gives the line, "This is going to sound nuts, but we just don't have time for "˜The Truth Is Out There' speech right now." Bonus! Overall grade, an A-. 


# Deborah 2010-01-08 00:58
Alice, I couldn't agree with you more about this episode, especially what you say about the final scene. This has long been one of my favorite endings -- the boys with their heads close together to listen to their father's message, the car, the beautiful, haunting score, the plane landing over their heads -- everything is so beautiful and so very, very sad. But the little part that gets me the most every time is that after they listen to the message and before Sam gets up to get in the car, you can hear his foot knocking against the bumper about 7 or 8 times. That part gets me every time.

Yes, I love this episode. Thanks for your review! Now I need to go watch this one again -- it's been too long since my last viewing.
# Bethany 2010-01-08 08:17
I love this episode - quips, family drama, watching the boys really get into character, not to mention a really good escape from that warehouse. I agree Deborah makes me want to go back and see it again.
# Bethany 2010-01-08 08:19
Also is this the first time impala is there in the background supporting the boys as the family drama unfolds?
# Jasminka 2010-01-08 09:21
Allow me to paraphrase you, Alice – I also love Phantom Traveller, it is as good as flawless… Great first-times-acc ount, thanks!!

It was fun to find out, listening to the audio commentary of the two leads, that that great line ‘Poltergeist, I love that movie’ was put in later, while they were shooting no one actually said that. It was a great idea to put it in, as it is hilarious, indeed, and giving once more a taste of the kind of humour we’re enjoying with this show, and evidence for the creative process behind the scenes.

Dean being afraid of flying is simply uproarious. Jensen must have had such fun playing those scenes.
Well, Dean, sweetie, don’t be afraid of flying. It’s the crashing that should bother you…

There are, as you wonderfully point out, great lines (and I love the Winchesters in their BluesBrothers-o utfit. They really look seriously cool in those suits, for once I’d love to put Jensen in one of those IndyJones – Temple of Doom white dinner jackets with a red clove and Jared in a dark grey tux… ah, Jas’s costume design dream, hey, costume department, might you not find an opportunity to give me that? Some nice alternate-reali ty-episode?).

And, just as you described, the final scene blows me away every time. Whenever I watch it, I’m fighting tears, and then I go and replay it. It’s composition is faultless.
As Deborah and Bethany already said, it’s about time I watch this haunting episode again…

Can’t wait for your ‘Top Ten Supernatural Endings’ List. I’m curious if you will put some of my favourites there… but I’m really pretty sure you will…

Could I ask, as I don’t get TNT here – since you’re giving us one mini-recap each day (which I love… don’t stop till season eight…. Okay, okay, I know) does that mean, the network is airing the show daily?

Thanks, Jas
# Sablegreen 2010-01-08 09:27
Alice this is one of my favorite episodes. It was so real and genuine, and yes the brotherly quips are so numerous and so indicative of the brothers bond. When someone new wants to start watching SPN, this is the first episode I direct them too. It sets them up for the whole family issue and myth arc in one hour.

For me it's an A++.
# Deborah 2010-01-08 12:03
Bethany, I think the boys were also sitting on the car at the end of Wendigo (when Sam said he was driving and Dean tossed him the keys).

And yes, Jasminka, TNT is running SPN daily (at 10 am eastern) - I'm taking a vacation day so today's ep is the first one I've been able to see -- Bloody Mary.
# Evelyn 2010-01-08 13:29
Alice, thanks for the review. This is also one of my favorite episodes. I watched it again last night and I so agree with you that this has a great ending.

But the greatness starts when the boys are still at the airport talking to Jerry. The wonderful music score in this scene starts when Dean asks Jerry how he got his number and when Jerry tells him it was from his Dad and that his Dad left the message to contact Dean, Sam's reaction, the jerk of his head and the look on his face as he looks at Dean. So beautifully portrayed. You see so many different kinds of emotions in Sam, as well as Dean. And the score underneath just intensifies the emotion. And then you get the rest of the scene with the boys sitting on the trunk of the car. Classic, classic, classic. Love that scene.

Gosh, I love this show. I recently got a new friend hooked in the series. She is DVRing the episodes on TNT and she just watched the Pilot and immediately got hooked. I loved her question to me after she watched the Pilot, it was 'OMG, where have I been?' I can't wait to 'watch' the episodes with her and talk to her about the series as she progresses through the seasons. It will be fun!
# Bevie 2010-01-08 14:10
I couldn't agree more with you Alice, about this episode.

Everything you love I love too. I especially love the EMF exchange with the look on poor Dean's face after Sam's remark "It looks like it". Really Sam, how many people could make that from an old Walkman?

Not only does it have a top ten ending, but for me it has a top five beginning. The camera pan over the sleeping Dean in his black boxers is just awesome!!! :o :o
# MyMADWorld 2010-01-08 22:14
As usual I'm late to the party - Ditto - I also love the episode. The escape from the hanger, Metallica calming Dean down, the great ending. It's funny how a guest actor can really add to an episode - Jerry was just very likable.
Talking about Dean's fear of flying - they didn't really deal with it in Lucifer's Rising when they suddenly appeared on a plane. I guess Dean was a little preoccupied trying to figure out how they got there & the oxygen mask did drop down immediately but they did just skip over that. Sort of ironic that whoever saved them (God, we assume) would chose to drop Dean on a plane - out of the frying pan into the fire!
# Supernarttu 2010-01-09 08:26
Oh, I love this eppie to bits. Perfect for me, I don't find anything wrong with it! lovelovelove
And I usually watch it back to back with the commentary 'cause that is the most hilarious of their commentaries and they sound so comfortable joking around, and they're so funny and it is just *love*
# Supernarttu 2010-01-09 08:27
On a side note, I miss Jensen & Jareds commentaries... They haven't done any in a long while... I dunno if they did any in S4...?
# Suze 2010-01-12 06:09
Total empathy ... I hate flying too ( I work on an airfield, I know how clueless some of the guys driving are :shock: ) Great episode, chock full of fabness.
# Dany 2010-01-13 07:49
Haven't see this episode for some time (missed it on Animax that, like TNT there, is airing Supernatural daily -09:30 pm- from the beginning) and this mini review just reminded me how much I love it!