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It's been my goal to clean up and improve my Season Three recaps as I can.  I so far have only fixed "Mystery Spot," so in honor off the holidays here's my new and improved recap for "A Very Supernatural Christmas."  Enjoy!

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What a better way to celebrate this special holiday season than to re-experience the twisted, gory, heart-wrenching, fast-paced, cynical, and downright brilliant version of Christmas the Supernatural style. Kripke and Company are a bunch of sick bastards, and we love them for it.
This episode contains an overwhelming attention to detail so it’ll be impossible to overlook most of these elements that made up one of the most outstanding episodes of the series. It went all out, beyond the usual great writing and acting, giving us several unique camera shots, extreme set decoration, a brilliant cast of supporting characters, loads of eye catching background details, and even a clever cover story as to why Ypsilanti Michigan was looking so lush in December.
The writer of this episode, Jeremy Carver, gives us his first solo script here, and I must wonder how many Andy Williams Christmas specials he’s seen in his lifetime (I assume enough to drive him crazy). As with his other masterpiece, “Mystery Spot”, this script is very diverse, offering snappy and outrageous (in a good way) dialogue, a multitude of jabs at the history of Christmas culture, a progression of scenes going at a wild yet seamless pace that blended laugh out loud moments, powerful emotional ones and very disturbing ones.  Plus, it ruined Christmas. What could be better?
The directing on this episode is phenomenal as well, coming from J. Miller Tobin. This was his second outing for Supernatural. Considering his first episode was the stellar “Born Under A Bad Sign”, he already had an excellent track record with this show. What he did with this episode was nothing short of incredible.
The Recap
Kripke you magnificent bastard. Right from the opening second, when the old CBS intro “A Special Presentation” popped on the screen, I knew they were going all out.  That intro as a kid always let me know that something cool like Rudolph was coming on, causing me to squeal with glee. That’s exactly what I did here too. The show didn’t waste anytime going for the shock value either, starting as if we were watching a cheesy Hallmark Holiday special. The living room décor takes a page straight out of the Christmas edition of Martha Stewart Living, a pleasant flute plays in the background the sweet sounds of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, and cubby cheeked little boy greets his Grandpa with glee, for its Christmas Eve. I can picture the director telling these two “ham it up as much as possible,” and boy did they run with it.
It’s Seattle, Washington, One Year Earlier. “Santa,” aka Grandpa in one very fake Santa suit, starts unloading presents under the tree. Considering Santa isn’t supposed to be seen or bad things happen, you would have thunk that Grandpa would have paid attention to his urban legends more. But no, Grandpa puts on the suit and with one less than subtle bell ring he alerts his grandson just because he wants to show off. Yep, he does give the boy a show.  
This All-American kid, now decked out in his reindeer jammies, peeks through the wooden rail of the stairs to see “Santa” putting presents under the tree, reacting with wide eyes and adorable lit up face. He gets very excited by the thump on the roof. “Reindeer.” “Santa” isn’t so overjoyed, since he knows that isn’t good because he left the reindeer back at the North Pole.  Some soot filters down from the chimney, and we assume from the creepy music playing this is Grandpa’s last Christmas. Sure enough, “Santa” is suddenly yanked up the chimney and judging by his chilling screams, that hurts. A lot.  Then his boot falls down the chimney. With blood on it. Who knows, probably a foot too.  All this happens while the boy watches with confusion. At least Grandpa gave his grandson a Christmas he’ll never forget.
Cue the special title card, a decked out “A Very Supernatural Christmas.” Major kudos to the graphics designer on that one!  It’s so evilly tacky! That right there gives us a hint as to how much effort and attention to detail went into this episode. It should also be mentioned that Kripke said in the DVD extras that after this episode aired, many of his family and friends went up to him and asked “What’s wrong with you?” I’m sure they meant it with love. Along with several referrals to a psychologist.     
Its present day Christmas, in balmy Ypsilanti, Michigan (trust me, as a prior resident of that state, December is not that green), and Dean talks with a traumatized wife with daughter overlooking in the doorway.   Dad is missing.  The story is pretty intense. She and the girl were upstairs in their beds, Dad was downstairs decorating the tree. You know, a man never does this. It’s always the wife and children that decorate. I’m still trying to find out if this is a law or something. She heard a thump on the roof, Dad screamed, and now she’s talking to the FBI. I hate to add to your misery lady, but you aren’t. However, Dean is a fantastic alternative to a real G-man. 
Dean confirms she didn’t see any of it. The doors were locked, there was no sign of forced entry. Sam comes out thanking Mrs. Walsh (that name is important for later) for letting him look around. You’re FBI, did she have a choice? Scratch that. They got everything they need and will be in touch. The poor lady. She plays the sympathetic victim very well and points out the theory is kidnapping but there’s no ransom and no calls. It’s three days before Christmas. What is she supposed to tell her daughter? Since this is season three Sam, who apparently left his puppy dog eyes in the great beyond after he died in season two, he gives a rather insincere “we’re very sorry.” Mom wants to drag on the point more, but gives up sensing she isn’t getting anywhere with the Winchesters. Good call. 
Another clue that Sam is being a heartless bastard? Dean asks if he found anything. He gives a matter of fact “Stockings, mistletoe, and this.” It’s a tooth. I understand the message being sent here, Sam hates Christmas. Still, he is being a jerk. They quickly figure out Dad went up the chimney and likely not in one piece. Time for research. 
There are clippings of Pagan beasts everywhere and Sam is at the computer doing his “checking of lore” because he’s so damned good at it. Dean enters and this room takes the cake. This scene is a prime example of what happens when great set decoration and directing collide. Sam is sitting on a dated forest green leather couch when Dean comes in, exposing the red leather retro table and chairs, ugly green curtains and loud yellow floral wallpaper. A standard room so far, right?

Comments  

Karen
# Karen 2009-12-30 09:06
Hi Alice
Loved the recap. Always enjoyable...Thank-you!

I have added this episode as part of my yearly Christmas shows that I have to watch at least once. I think it lines up well with Bill Murray’s Scrooged.
Of course can’t forget the classics! A Christmas Carol (Alastair Sims version), It’s a Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn, White Christmas, Going My Way, A Muppets Christmas Carol (no, not kidding):oops
Man! I’m a total Sap around this time of year!
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2009-12-30 11:29
Karen, I'm a total Sap at this time of year too. Alice, once again a recap masterpiece. So much in the episode, as you pointed out, and so much a tribute to the Christmas spirit. I guess Kripke’s friends would think he needs a psychoanalyzing because they really don’t get the message he was sending, in his own SPN way. Their loss; our gain!

What Bobby meant by the amulet as being special, is open to interpretation. From the series aspect, no one thought the show was going to be around in season 5, so the original idea behind the amulet being ‘special’ was just for Sam to think the gift he was giving would be exception to Dad, a way to once again try to reach his father. Something so special, his Dad would have to sit up and take notice of Sam. Something Dean did Sam’s entire life. At this point in the series, the amulet was not endowed with any magical abilities. That developed between season 4 and 5, and I hope when it’s returned to Dean, it’s ‘magic’ will give us all the same warm and tingly feelings the amulet did when it was first given to Dean. The final domino in cementing the boy’s relationship before facing Lucifer. That would be fabulous to see!

You are completely right with the concept that Sam gave his special gift to Dean because he finally realized Dean meant much more to him than Dad did. This wasn’t something he didn’t know for a while either, just something he now could accept. I guess I would say, Dad’s not showing up for Christmas was just the last straw for Sammy.

It’s funny to know Jared REALLY spiked Dean drink! I didn’t know that before. Those two seem to have so much fun together…and it really comes across in the show. Hummmmm…wonde r if in another life, Jensen and Jared really WERE brothers. :o

The intense silence between the boys after the toast did contain all the ideas you brought out, but I think it would have meant a LOT to Dean to hear it verbalized, and it would have been so good for Sam’s soul to speak it. Maybe the return of the amulet will remind the boys of that moment, and why, for their lives, all that matters is being together.

Only thing I missed was a screencap of the Merry Christmas on the wall. Like what you have on the count-down clock. Really would like to have it for wallpaper for the holidays. Can you post it please?
Randal
# Randal 2009-12-30 13:40
Just Pong? Didn't the Odyssey have a couple of other games, too, like Son of Pong?

Not funny? Oh well. 8-)

Anyone ever screw up a fingernail? It hurts like a MOFO and I cannot even fathom having one completely torn out. That's right up there with the melonballer.

Totally awesome recap of a, like, gnarly episode. (is Valley Girl speech too new for the youth of us old people?) I know Xmas is over, but I think I'll watch this again when I get out of work.
Bevie
# Bevie 2009-12-30 16:07
That was wonderful Alice! Got me all teary again.

That episode is an A+ for me too. An up and down roller coaster of hoots of laughter and sobbing tears, one after another. The final shot of them through the window with the lights reflected on baby and knowing that it is Dean's last Christmas just gets my waterworks gushing. Those poor boys! I love them so.

This is my one and only traditional Christmas show. I guess I'm sorta a grinch as well as Sam.

Sweet Peter on a popsicle stick! Those gods were absolutely fabulous characters. So very funny and macabre and creepy altogether. The actors were just perfect in their parts.

And we need that amulet back. Come on Cas, get a move on with your quest. Dean wants it back. (By the way, where is his ring and bracelet? Did Cas steal them too? I miss them also.)
grayj1133
# grayj1133 2009-12-31 20:26
What a great recap. This is my very favorite episode. There is not a single wrong note and every time I watch I catch something new and wonderful. I "strongly encouraged" several friends to record this episode this year and think it is a wonderful introduction to our wonderful show.
Manabozho
# Manabozho 2010-01-01 16:02
I recently watched this wonderful episode again when it was on television on Christmas Eve, and like grayj1133, I also usually catch something new every time I watch it. Therefore, I will have to disagree with her statement that there is not a single wrong note since I caught one with the last viewing. As the screen shots show in this recap, Dean’s jacket collar was initially down when Sam handed him the eggnog, but then the jacket collar was up when he was drinking the eggnog. This inconsistency in collar positions happens another couple of times before Dean finally takes off the jacket. Within what is about a minute of screen time, Dean’s collar starts off down when entering the motel room; then it is up; then it is down again; then up again; then down again; and when he finally takes off the jacket, the collar is up again. Such an unimportant inconsistency will never prevent me from loving this episode; however, I know I will never be able to watch the final motel scene in this episode again without having a mental image of Dean flipping the collar of his leather jacket up and down – not a bad mental image at all actually – in fact, it might even add to my love of this episode.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-01-02 17:22
Alice, thanks so much for this recap, another of my favourite episodes re-invented…. You’re a master! I adore how your account of this episode matches the dark humour of it. You can’t watch a tooth pulled out? Wuss… ;-)
Well, here comes my wuss-moment: I have a problem with the fingernail – I had a small accident in a pool once, slipped and ripped one nail (on my foot) out, there’s a lot of blood, actually (come on, you can’t expect me to be gentle after such an episode). It grew back, of course, but I remember the pain as if it had been yesterday (I was about fifteen at the time)… So, every time I watch that scene, I’m tempted to scream along with Sam… (yep Randal, I’ve had it…)

And I think you’re right, the Easter Bunny tradition (I believe) is of German but also French (Alsace, if I’m not mistaken) origin, going back to a German fertility Goddess. I don’t really care for the bunnies, though, Christmas is hardly gone and you already find the chocolate bunnies in some shops… Come on, it’s still freezing out there!

Always great fun, Alice!! Love, Jas
Huppy
# Huppy 2010-01-03 23:46
You are right, Alice, AVSC is one of the best episodes of the series. My favorite little detail is at the very end of the episode, when the camera is pulling away from the hotel room where Sam and Dean are celebrating Christmas, and one of the lights decorating the hotel, which looked liked it had burned out, suddenly lights up.

I will have to watch next time for the change in Dean's collar position in the final scenes, that one of the posters above mentioned, or the victimized wife's black eye that you referred to, neither of which I have ever noticed.

One thing I have noticed, however, is how unsynchronized the editing of the opposite camera angles is when Sam and Dean are tied to the chairs in the pagans gods' kitchen. Like when the camera is facing Sam after the fingernail is taken out he is slumped down, but the very next shot from behind him he is not slumping. Then he is slumping again when we see him from the front. Also Dean turning his head from our back view of him does not match the head turning in our front view of him. It's like the scene is on two slightly different timelines, depending on which angle the camera is shooting from. In a way it kind of adds to the wackiness of the scene for me.

These pagan gods were among the best MOTW in the series, so much better than the pagan god in "Fallen Idols." And the porn-loving Santa was also one of the most memorable secondary characters. Just a great episode.