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"Red Sky at Morning"
Robin's Rambles by Robin Vogel

Many people, including Kripke himself, don't like this episode. He says so through Chuck in "The Monster at the End of This Book." I happen to think it's not that bad, and seeing Sam and Dean in tuxedoes is worth the price of admission. It's got a scary MOTW and a decent mystery, plus the snarky Bela gets herself in trouble and Sam chooses to help her anyway.

In Massachusetts, a woman goes out jogging and spots a three-masted clipper ship on the stormy ocean. When she returns home, she is drowned in her own shower by a mysterious man.

In the Impala, Sam and Dean are arguing over Sam killing the Crossroads Demon. She was a smart-ass, he says by way of explanation. However, this did not get Dean out of the deal, since someone else holds his contract, and he couldn't get that information out of the CRD. Dean is angry that Sam took such a risk, but Sam insists he's going to save his brother, and he sure as hell refuses to apologize for trying.

The boys, posing as sheriff's deputies, visit a wealthy 70-ish woman named Gert Case, who has a huge crush on Sam. Her niece, Sheila, is the woman who drowned in her shower, which is very puzzling. Their questions lead to her assumption that they are working with "Alex," and Dean assures her they're very close with Alex. Mrs. Case thought the case closed, but the Winchesters say not yet. She tells them about the ship Sheila said she sawcould it be a ghost ship? Alex thinks so. Maybe, says Sam. Mrs. Case rubs Sam's forefinger suggestively before they leave, assuring him to let her know if she can do anything at all. Sam finds this disturbing.

Walking down the docks to pick up the Impala, Dean teases Sam about his cougar girlfriend. "Bite me," invites Sam. "Not if she bites you first," says Dean. Sam explains that every 37 years here, there's a rash of weird dry-land drownings. There are similar apparitions all over the world, says Sam--the SS Violet, the Griffin, Flying Dutchman--almost all of them are death omens. You see the ship and kiss your ass goodbye, concludes Dean. They must ID the boat, says Sam, and there are 150 to choose from on this coast. Realizing the Impala missing, Dean begins to hyperventilate. "Somebody stole my car!"

Turns out Bela had the Impala moved to a tow-away zonethen had it towed away. She's angry that the Winchesters got Mrs. Case so riled up, she stopped payment on Alex' checkand Bela is Alex! Mrs. Case is her friend, and she gives her comfort. She does the same with similar rich, elderly ladies up and down the coast, seances to commune with their dead cats, sells them charmsnone of it real. When Sam asks her how she sleeps at night, she replies, "On silk sheets, rolling naked in money." Dean thinks about and likes this image. Sam, however, remembers that she shot him and is not a fan. Bela says she barely grazed him and calls him a drama queen. (Dean's agreeing to this annoyed fans, who all feel he would be OOC if anyone attacked his brother.) Bela suggests they get to the car before someone finds the arsenal in the trunk, and stop interfering in her business. After she walks away, Dean asks, "Can I shoot her?" "Not in public," says Sam. (That's something I sure wanted to see! Whatta bitch!)

At the sumptuous Warren residence, a man has drawn a bath, but the water is black. He tries to drain it, but that doesn't work, so he reaches a hand in, feeling for an obstruction. A hand reaches up, grabs hold of his throat; his eyes pop out, the veins in his forehead turn purple and he gasps on his last breath.

The following day, Bela poses as a reporter and interviews Steve Warren, the dead man's brother. The Winchesters, posing as cops, shoo her away, infuriating her. Steve tells the brothers he and his dead brother had gone night-diving and saw a Yankee clipper, a smuggling vessel, throwing in a lot of detail. Sam and Dean look at each other--uh oh! Bela is talking to real cops and pointing at the Winchesters. Sam and Dean quickly exit, promising Steve they'll be in touch.

When Bela comes upon them, they're loading up their rifles, and Dean asks if she really wants to come near when he's holding a loaded gun. Why are you even still here?, she asks--do you have enough to ID the boat? That guy back there saw the ship, says Sam, and he's going to die, so we have to save him. How sweet, she mocks, he's cannon fodder--he can't be saved in time and you know it. We have souls, so we're gonna try, says Dean. I'm going to find the ship and put an end to this, she says, but you have fun. "How did you get like this?" asks Dean--"Did Daddy not give you enough hugs?" "I dunno--your Daddy give you enough?" she asks coldly--"Don't you dare look down your nose at me--you're no better than I am." "We help people," Dean reminds her. "You do this out of vengeance and obsession," she accuses, "you're a stone's throw from being a serial killer--whereas I, on the other hand, get paid to do a job and I do it--so you tell me--which is healthier?" "Bela, why don't you just leave?" says Sam--"We've got work to do." "Yeah, you're 0 for two," she taunts, "bang-up job so far." She slithers off.

Sam and Dean sit vigil outside Steve's house, waiting, going over the Warren brothers' records--both Duke U grads, no criminal records, inherited 112 million dollars six years ago from Daddy. Nice, clean, aboveboard, so why did they see the ship? Or Sheila, for that matter? What do the three have in common? Steve comes running out, demanding to know why they're watching him--"You guys aren't cops! Not dressed like that, not in that crappy car!" No need to get nasty, says Dean. Sam says they are cops, undercover--"We're here because we think you're in danger--let's talk about it." The guy orders them to stay away and runs to his car, trying to leave. Sam and Dean pursue. The guy's car conks out at the gate. They climb the railing and race over just as Steve spots what looks like a pirate in his rear view mirror. Then it's sitting next to him, locking the doors, pressing its hand to his face. Water begins spewing from Steve's mouth. Sam and Dean are collecting guns from the Impala's trunk. (Why didn't they have them ready, with time being of the essence? That's so unlike our heroes.) By the time Dean shoots the ghost through the window, they're too lateSteve is dead.

In the Impala, Sam laments to Dean how it feels that lately, he can't save anybody. Bela shows up at the shoddy mansion in which they're squatting and calls it “Charming.” She has found the ship--the Espirito Santo, a merchant sailing vessel--in 1859, a sailor was accused of treason, he was tried aboard ship in a kangaroo court and hanged. He was 37. Explaining the 37 year cycle, says Sam. She shows them a photo of the sailor; Dean recognizes him as the ghost they saw last night--except he was missing his right hand. Which was cut off to make a hand of glory, says Bela. "I think I got one of those at the end of my Thai massage last week," says Dean, grinning. Bela rolls her eyes at him. Sam explains that the right hand of a hanged man is a serious, powerful occult object. "Which counts as remains," says Dean. "None of this explains why the ghost is choosing these victims," says Sam. Who cares? says Bela--find the bloody hand, burn it, and stop the bloody thing. Dean wants to know why she's telling them all this. I know where it is--at the Sea Pines Museum, she says--a macabre bit of maritime history--but I need help.

Bela, dressed in a slinky black gown, waits impatiently for Dean. "What's taking you so long?" she demands. "Sam's already halfway there--with his DATE." She grins. "I'm so not OK with this," complains Dean from upstairs. "What are you, a woman?" asks Bela, wearing a diamond necklace and bracelet. "Come down already!" To a James Bondish tune, Dean walks downstairs, wearing gleaming shoes--and a tuxedo! Bela sighs lustily. "All right, get it out, I look ridiculous," says Dean, standing in the middle of the room. "Not exactly the word I'd use," she says, hand on hip. "You know, when this is over, we really should have angry sex." Finally realizing she's complimenting him, Dean crosses his arms over his chest. "Don't objectify me," he says testily. She smiles, big, at him. "Let's go," says Dean, strutting, then grinning with pleasure. She follows him out.

At the Sea Pines Maritime Museum, Dean and Bela enter; she hands over their invitation at the desk. "Are you chewing gum?" she asks quietly, scandalized--"Try to behave as if you've lived this life before, yeah?" He removes the gum from his mouth and sticks it on the champagne fountain. Bela closes her eyes in resignation and follows him into the ballroom. Gert Case slips her arm into Sam's. "This'll get their tongues wagging," she exults. He reminds her they're on business. "But business can be pleasure," she says, caressing his chest. "Right," says Sam, so she caresses his back, too. He takes both her hands in his and asks her to excuse him a moment. He heads over to where Dean and Bela are standing at the bar and asks, "Just how long do you expect me to entertain my DATE?" As long as it takes, replies Bela. Dean reminds him this is a high-security, uncrashable party without Gert's invitation. We can crash anything, Sam reminds him. This is easier and more entertaining, says Dean. "You know there are limits to what I'll do, right?" says Sam, bitch-face in place. "Aw, he's playing hard to get," says Dean--"I want all the details in the morning."

Bela and Dean take glasses of champagne from the bartender and walk away. Sam's bitch-face grows more intense as he prepares to return to Gert. She appears in front of him with two glasses of champagne. "To us," she toasts. Sam swallows his in one gulp, delighting Gert. Sam and Bela exit into the hallway, deciding the security is probably moonlighting state troopers, posted at every door, which means they can't just waltz upstairs. "What do you suggest?" she asks. "I'm thinking," he says. "Don't strain yourself," says Bela, "interesting how the legend is so much more than the man." "You got any bright ideas, I'm all ears," he says. She faints in his arms; he barely catches her. "Honey," he says, "you all right? Waiter! My wife has a severe shellfish allergy, there's no crab in there. . .." "No sir," the waiter holding the tray of canapes assures him. Dean takes and eats one. "They're excellent, by the way." A security man steps forward, asking what's wrong. "Champagne," says Dean, "is there anywhere I can lay her down till she gets her sea legs back?" The guard asks Dean to follow him. "Come on, you lush," says Dean, carrying Bela upstairs. He dumps her on a leather sofa, mindless of her head. "You think she's a pain in the ass now, try living with her," says Dean. Bela pops one eye open, then sits up after the guard is gone. "Next time give me a little heads-up with your plan!" he whispers angrily. "I didn't want you thinking," she says, "you're not very good at that." He's silent. "Oh, look at you, searching for a witty rejoinder," she says. "Screw you," he says. "Very Oscar Wilde," she retorts. He heads for the door. "Room 235," she says, "it's in a glass case, wired for alarm--I'm sure that won't be a problem." Dean mocks her snooty tone and exits, closing the door behind him.

Sam tells Gert that Dean and Alex are "entertaining themselves," which she takes to mean they're doing something naughty. "I guess we'll have to entertain ourselves," she says, grabbing his bum. Sam jumps uncomfortably, telling her he doesn't want her to get the wrong idea. She asks him to call her Gert and presses herself tightly against him. "You remind me of my late husband," she croons, "he was shy, too--until we got below deck." She grabs his cheeks again, more audibly this time. "Whoa!" cautions Sam, taking both her offending hands in his. "You're just firm all over," she growls. Sam looks trapped, but keeps on dancing.

Dean easily secures the withered hand of the ghost from its glass case by Dean as Bela paces the room in which she's waiting. She picks up a ship in a bottle and looks at it. The guard knocks at the door, asking if everything is all right. He's about to enter when a disheveled Bela opens the door, smiling wickedly, her dress half-off. "Feeling better, I see," says the guard. "Much," she giggles, "could we have a few more minutes?" "Yes, Ma'am," he says. She closes the door. The guard hears her laughing, "Stop it, that tickles." Dean runs upstairs--and right into the guard. "Nature called," explains Dean, "thanks for looking after my wife." "She's being looked after, all right," says the guard, who walks off, smirking.

Dean enters the room and finds Bela pulling her dress back together. "Any trouble?" he asks. "Nothing I couldn't handle," she assures him. He shows her the hand but refuses to give it to her. "Just trying to be helpful," she says. "Sweetheart, I don't need your kinda help," he says, tucking it into his jacket pocket after wrapping it in a handkerchief.

"Man, this is one long song," says Sam. "I hope it never ends," swoons a drunk Gert, holding an empty champagne flute in her hand behind his back. She tells him she thinks Sheila and the Warren brothers had their deaths coming, in a Biblical sort of way, and will explain why in Sam's ear. "People say the old man didn't die of natural causes," she whispers in Sam's ear, making him cringe. "Rumor is, the boys did it." She sweeps her lips over Sam's lobe. "Nothing was ever proved, but people still whisper." She presses her lips to his neck, ear, lobe. Sam leans back and asks, "Did Sheila have any tragedy in her life?" Gert recalls a car accident when Sheila was a teenager; the car flipped over--she was OK but her cousin was killed. Dean and Bela appear. Having a nice time?" the latter asks Gert. "It's DELIGHTFUL!" Gert says, kissing Bela's cheek--"He wants me." Bela whispers, "I'm going to get Gert into a cold shower," to the brothers, leading Mrs. Case away. "Great idea," says Sam. Dean turns to his brother and says, "You stink like sex." (Funniest. Line. Ever.)

In the Impala, angrily removing his tie, Sam begs, “Tell me you got ittell me I didn't get groped by Miss Havisham all night for nothing. I got it, Dean assures him--Mrs. who? Sam wants to see it, but when Dean unwraps it, he realizes Bela got them again--he's holding a ship-in-a bottle. "I'm gonna kill her," swears Dean.

Bela climbs into her car and checks her purse, which is filled with a lot of money. Staring at the ocean, she sees the ghost ship! "Oh, no," she says, watching it appear, then disappear amidst flashes of lightning and booming thunder.

Sam is furious when Sam reminds him Bela didn't get another one over on THEM, he got another one over on DEAN. Thanks, Sam, very helpful, snarls Dean. Bela comes to the boys and confesses that she sold the hand; she had a buyer all set up and used them to get it. Dean walks around behind her, makes a pretend-gun with his fingers, and pretend-shoots her. She needs it back, but since it's halfway across the ocean, can't buy it back in time“I saw the ship,” she says quietly. I knew you were a lying, thieving con-artist bitch, says Dean, but just when I thought my opinion of you couldn't get any lower. . . We figured out the spirit's motive, says Sam--the captain of the ship who hung our ghost boy--they were brothers--Cain and Abel--so our spirit is going after a very specific kinda target--people who've spilled their own family's blood--first there was Sheila who killed her cousin in a car accident, then the Warren brothers who murdered their father for the inheritance--and now you. "My God," says Bela. So who was it? asks Dean--who'd you kill?--was it Daddy?--lil' sis maybe? "It's none of your business," she says coldly. Oh, right, says Dean--well, have a nice life--what's left of it--Sam, let's go. "You can't just leave me here!" insists Bela. Watch us, says Dean. "Please," begs Bela, "I need your help." Sam looks guilty. How could a couple of serial killers possibly help you? demands Dean. Bela admits that was a bit harsh, but doesn't warrant a death sentence. That's not why you're gonna die, says Sam--what did you do, Bela? "You wouldn't understand," she insists--"no one did. Never mind--I'll just do what I've always done--I'll deal with it myself." You do realize you sold the only thing that could save your life, says Dean. "I'm aware," she says sadly. Maybe not the only thing, says Sam.

Sam has set up an altar with five candles. He steps back, John's journal under his arm. Bela asks Dean if he really thinks this is going to work. "Almost definitely not," he answers. It begins to storm, rain pelting them. Dean readies a shotgun in his grip. "Sammy, better start readin'," he says. Sam reads, ironically mentioning the name Castiel, as winds pick up and blow out the candles. Dean orders Bela to stay close. The sailor materializes behind him and Bela screams. Before Dean can use the gun, the ghost flips him into a headstone. The gun goes off, uselessly. The sailor presses his hand to the side of Bela's face, then removes it. She begins spewing water. Sam continues to read as Dean gets back on his feet. He holds onto Bela as she vomits up water. "READ FASTER!" shouts Dean to Sam over the pounding rain. Sam escalates his reading. The clouds uncover the moon and the rain stops. The sailor turns to see his brother, the captain, behind him. "YOU--hanged me!" accuses the sailor through gritted teeth. "I'm sorry," his brother says. "Your own brother!" snarls the sailor. "I'm so sorry!" says the captain. The sailor dives forward, inside his brother, turning both of them into water, and together, they dissipate into nothing, disappearing. Dean, his arm around Bela, looks at her. She's alive. Sam, eyes wide, water dripping from his hair, looks around in disbelief--it worked!

Sam and Dean are packing to leave when Bela walks in. "You boys should learn to lock your doors," she quips, "anyone could just barge in." "Anyone just did," retorts Sam, "you come to say goodbye or thank you?" She's come to settle affairs--"Giving the spirit what he really wanted--his own brother--very clever, Sam," she says. She tosses ten thousand bucks at them--"I don't like being in anyone's debt," she says. So ponying up 10 grand is easier than a simple thank you? asks Dean--"You're so damaged." "Takes one to know one," she replies, "goodbye, lads." "She's got style," says Sam, "ya gotta give her that." "I suppose," says Dean. Sam points out they don't know where this money has been. "No," agrees Dean, "but I know where it's going." He takes Sam's and adds it to his.

"Seriously? Atlantic City?" asks Sam, looking over a map in the Impala. "Hell, yeah," says Dean--"Roulette, always bet on black. . .hey, listen, I've been doing some thinking, I want you to know I understand why you did it--went after the Crossroads Demon. If the situation were reversed, I guess I would have done the same thing. I mean, I'm not blind, I see what you're going through with this whole deal, me going away and all, but you're gonna be OK." "You think so," says Sam. "Yeah," says Dean, "you'll keep huntin', live your life, you're stronger than me, you are, you'll get over it, but I want you to know I'm sorry, sorry for puttin' you through all this." "You know what, Dean?" says Sam--"Go screw yourself. I don't want an apology from you--and by the way, I'm a big boy and I can take care of myself. So would you please quit worrying about ME? That's the whole problem in the first place--I don't want you worrying about ME, Dean, I want you to worry about YOU--I want you to give a crap that you're dying." Dean smiles. "So that's it?" says Sam--"Nothing else to say for you?" "I think maybe I'll play craps," says Dean. Sam shakes his head, mad. Dean is in denial. Sam can't get through to him. He can't save Dean without his help, and he's not getting it. Damn Dean! Damn him!

1. What did you think of the last discussion between the brothers? Did you feel the same frustration with Dean that I did? That Sam surely must have?

2. Did you think this such a terrible episode? Why or why not? I liked it OK. There are others I like less. I found the scenes with Sam and Mrs. Case very amusing, and wished I were in the old lady's shoes more than once. You go, girl! Jensen's line, “You stink like sex,” was ad-libbed, I heard. So funny!

3. Did you wish that Sam hadn't stuck his neck out to help Bela? She was the only one they actually saved and saved all the others from future attacks from this same spirit. Seems like maybe a lose-win to me.

4. What about Bela handing them 10 grand in reward money? She owes them a lot more, given she stole way more than that from them in “Bad Day at Black Rock.” I was wishing one of the brother had brought that up. We know she collected a huge sum of money for the hand, so asking her for the rest plus 10 grand would have only been fair.

5. We now know which kin Bela killed. Surely Sam and Dean would have understood had she told them the truththat her father molested her while her mother just allowed it to happen? That she, too, had made a deal and was close to death, too?

6. Everything else aside, does Bela deserve to die JUST for having the Impala towed?


# Jasminka 2010-03-18 04:48
Robin, actually I like this episode a lot, mostly for Ellen Geer whom I ‘ve met a couple of times and whom I always remember as a witty, a bit crazy, but lovely lady. I’m always happy when I see her somewhere which would mean that she seems to be in good health and still a working actress.

Thanks for your detailed account, now off to your questions:

@1 No, it wasn’t frustration I felt with Dean, it was sympathy. Of course he gives a crap that he’s dying. He’s terrified. But he goes into his usual mode of keeping up a brave face. I think he needs to do that. If he gave in to all that fear and frustration, he would not be able to manage the job at hand. So far this modus operandi keeps his spirits up, only to falter in later episodes, most recently in My Bloody Valentine.

@2 As I said, I liked this episode. Well, they hed not been Moore and Kutscher, but if the affection had been mutual (who knows, Sam might develop a knack for older women yet), why not? At least this gave way for some nice comedy.

@3 Of course Sam had to stick out his neck for Bela. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sam had sensed early on a scent of tragedy about her, and it would have gone against Sam’s nature to let her go and die. It was the only right thing to do.

@4 and 5 I understand Bela (read my article to see why, if you like, dear). She had to keep her own toughness up, since her time was running out pretty fast. She would not have been able to keep on searching for a device to save herself (and in that department she’s not unlike Dean or Sam). Can any of us be so arrogant and say that in her place we would act differently, especially with the history she has?
Telling such a truth to strangers is probably impossible. They were not friends-close to bring that up. And perhaps Bela had to shove that memory way back into her brain to not break down. Because, as we know, those times were excruciatingly horrific for her.

@6 Of course not. Anyone who gets the Winchesters to wear tuxedos deserves a damn medal.

Love Jas
# Karen 2010-03-18 09:08
Hi Robin

1. I can understand Sam's frustration to have your brother not even try to save himself. But if Dean tries to get out of the deal, Sam will die. So once again Dean is sacrificing himself for Sam, despite that Sam doesn't want him to do. It's quite the vicious circle.

2. I'm one of the rare few that liked this episode. I enjoyed the comedic scenes, the story line and of course seeing both Sam and Dean in Tux's. Plus I liked the Bela character. I mean as a person she was a total b*tch but I found she was a wicked adversary to the brothers.

3. Like Jasminka's part of Sam nature to help. Plus I also believe Dean would never of walked away either. I think his conscience would of taken over him and he would of helped her, no matter how much he hated her.

4. I was surprised that she gave them any money at all. It proved she had some scruples. I think she lost alot more from not selling the Rabbits she may of felt they were even.

5. I believe both Sam and Dean would of been more understanding once they knew the truth. The two people in her life that were suppose to love and protect her were her biggest do you learn to trust anyone after that.

6. I would say no it seems abit extreme for just the Impala...but with shooting Sam, stealing their lottery tickets, having the Impala towed and stealing the Hand that would of put a stop to the killings...I could then understand the desire to do so.
# Randal 2010-03-18 10:08
I, too, don't have the utter disdain for this episode that many, including Kripke, have.

1. I felt bad for both of them because, only going by my own personality, I'd probably react the same way if I was in their shoes: frustrated if Sam, defense mechanism city if Dean.

2. Mrs. - I mean, Msssssss - Case was hilarious. The Impala getting towed and Dean all but dry heaving, snarky lines. Hell, I didn't even have a problem with Bela getting one up on them because it gave them a chance to show, yet again, that the Winchesters *are* heroes. They saved her ass. Even in 3.15, if they had had a way, I still bet they would've. Maybe.

Also, even the maritime world needs ghosts.

3. That's what they do, save people, even the morally nebulous.

4. Oh, she certainly owed them more, but given her nature and background, they should be happy they got even that much.

5. Considering her history and her temperament, I would have been shocked had she revealed that. They would have been more sympathetic (in the traditional sense of the word), but there's no way she would have ever spilled her guts.

6. Oh hell no. That was comedy gold.
# Sablegreen 2010-03-18 16:19
I liked this episode, but a friend was really terrified of the shower scene. That was a surprise, as I think that was the tamer 'scary' scene of the series at that point. And she had watched all the other eppies in order.

Anyway, this did have an unusual twist and I love the clipper ship. Dean's reaction to the impala getting towed was priceless, and he did look good in a tux. And as usual, J&J's on screen chemistry was perfect.

Good one!
# Supernarttu 2010-03-23 03:50
This ain't my fave on the whole but it has very, very good moments, so I usually watch those and skip the rest.

The Ms. Case & Sam moments were just torture, I can't watch those, they make me feel super uncomfortable.

The actual ghost ship plot was boring to me, the only cool thing was the special effects when the dead brothers destroyed each other.

The scene where Bela paid them made me realize she doesn't really value her life, I mean 10 000? Wow. She is damaged, but her words to the brothers were quite brutal, so my sympathy was quite low in the end of the eppie. *smirk* But, again I get why she did what she did, even if I didn't like her all that much. Jas' article about her is really good in explaining/expl oring that.