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A perfectly healthy Dean is sitting up in bed with Sam standing by him.  The doctor is talking, and I swear this guy is Dr. Hibberd from "The Simpsons."  I mean, even the way he talks!  The edema has vanished, the internal contusions have healed, his vitals are good.  "You have some kind of angel watching over you."  He does!  A hot blue eyed one in a trench coat.  Oh wait, season four.  Dean isn't feeling so lucky.  For a guy that was dead and now alive, he's looking rather grim.  

"You said a reaper was after me?"  Dean asks.  Oh great, he got the memory  wipe too.  He wonders how he ditched it.  Right, like Sam knows.  Sam doesn't seem to care, for there's some happiness under that hideously bruised and scarred face.  Where's Castiel when you need him?  Sam asks if he remembers anything.  "No, except this pit in my stomach.  Sam, something's wrong."  Yeah, it's called your Daddy has messed up the natural order, BIG TIME. 

Speaking of Daddy, John is at the door, clothes on, arm in a sling.  He must have just come from the boiler room.  He looks relieved that Dean is alright.  He asks Dean how he feels and Dean just gives him a "Fine, I guess.  I'm alive."  Yeah, Dean, don't get too excited.  John thinks that's all that matters.  Sam isn't being so nice though.  His look goes back to anger and he wonders where John was last night.  Trying to find something that will fix your face Sammy.  Okay, that would have been my smart answer.  John says he had to take care of some things.  "Oh, that's specific," Sam says.  What, like you were expecting an honest answer?  

Dean doesn't have to "Swayze that mother" this time.  He gives a "Come on Sam."  Sam still has a stick up his ass.  "Did you go after the demon?"  John answers no, even though he doesn't want to have this conversation.  Sam presses on.  "Why don't I believe you now?"  Gee Sam, isn't that kind of the pot calling the kettle black?  Oh wait, that's future you.  Never mind.  Dean is mortified and John makes the best appeal he can without saying "Shut up you idiot I'm about to die!" 

"Can we not fight?  You know, half the time we're fighting I don't know what we're fighting about.  We're just butting heads.  Look Sammy I've made some mistakes.  But I've always done the best I could."  Dean is listening to that like something is really wrong.  "I just don't want to fight anymore, okay?"  John's eyes are a bit glassy and his voice cracks a little.  Sam is staring at him now like he's looking at a stranger who looks like his Dad but can't be.   "Dad, are you alright?"  Sam asks.  John claims he's just tired and then he...sends Sam for coffee??  Not even a goodbye hug??  You're about to say goodbye forever and you can't show some affection for your youngest son??  The one that you've spend your entire life trying to protect?  Sorry, I still have a problem with that.

Sam and Dean share a look of confusion (they did that a lot even back then) and Sam leaves the room.  Dean knows something is wrong and asks John "What is it?"  Okay Dean, get ready for the speech.  "You know, when you were a kid, I'd come home from a hunt and after what I'd seen, I'd be wrecked.  And you, you'd come up to me and you'd put your hand on my shoulder, you'd look me in the eye and you'd say "˜It's okay Dad.'"  John is fighting back tears here and dammit, so am I.  Dean looks really scared now. 

So John says the one thing that normally would get him outed as being possessed by a demon, but we know it's real because the special score music is playing.  "Dean, I'm sorry."  Dean has no idea for what.  "You shouldn't have had to say that to me.  I should have been saying that to you.  You know I put too much on your shoulders, I made you grow up too fast.  You took care of Sammy, you took care of me.  You did that.  And you didn't complain, not once."  Now tears start streaming down John's face.  "I just want you to know, that I'm so proud of you." 

Dean remembers recent history a bit too vividly.  "Is this really you talking?"  John says it's really him.  "What are you saying all this stuff?"  A really freaked out Dean asks and rightfully so.  John comes closer.  "I want you to watch out for Sammy, okay?"  "Yeah Dad, you know I will.  You're scaring me."  John tells him not to be scared and leans over to whisper something in Dean's ear.  This part is just brilliant.  It's all done with gestures and looks.  The focus for most of this is on Dean's face and it stuns him.  Dean looks at John like he just punched him in the gut.  John deals with Dean's silent yet disturbed reaction with a teary look of confidence, like everything is going to be alright.  Really?  Sorry, but everything is so NOT going to be alright.  

Of all of Dean Winchester's tragedies, I think only Sam's first death hurt him more than this.  The one time he finally gets validation from the person he idolized the most and he finds out later it's because that man was about to die, trading his life for his.  Survivor's guilt!  Then, to add insult to injury, his Dad leaves him with a cryptic and horrifying message about his brother and the crap load of burdens that came with it.  I'm sure this has been debated for a while now, but what in the world was John thinking by telling Dean this?  Didn't he realize he was haunting his son for the rest of his life?   
Sooo, an emotional John Winchester ends it at that, leaving his youngest son without a goodbye and his oldest with the creepiest farewell that anyone could possibly get.  Ah, what heartwarming family memories.  I swear to this day I don't know why Sam and Dean didn't go howling into that nuthouse.  John goes into his room and tells Yellow Eyes he's ready.  

God this next part kills me every time.  An unsuspecting Sam is walking in the hall with that coffee he was told to retrieve.  That coffee that prevented him from making peace with his Dad and giving him the proper goodbye.  That coffee that created guilt which like a black cloud followed him wherever he went.  Sam sees John lying on the floor dead.  In some cinematic brilliance (again kudos to the director), the sound only being the dramatic score, we get the slo-mo of a horrified Sam dropping the coffee and in the foreground is the coffee crashing and splashing on the ground while in the background Sam is crouching down over John yelling for help.  We can't hear his cries but can see the distress, thus making the emotional impact of this scene 80 times larger.  I still marvel over this execution of Sam's haunting discovery.  

The crash team is working on John and no surprise, he's not coming around.  He's long gone.  Sam comes back after fetching Dean and is holding his weakened brother in the hallway as they both watch in terror their father die.  They pronounce John dead and...fade to black.  Yep, when this first aired I suspect there was a little rumble, aka the sound of millions of fan girls screaming at their TVs.  When I saw this the words that came to my mind were "Damn You Kripke!" but I think I was holding back.  I'm sure others had something a bit more laced with profanity.  Farewell thee John Winchester.  We know you did your best.  Too bad that ended up not being even close to good enough.  


# Bevie 2011-01-31 16:39
What an utterly fantastic review Alice!! I especially loved your utter concern regarding the car !! You have your priorities straight indeed. You made me cry from laughing! Long live the Impala!

Kim Manners directing was phenomenal and heart rending indeed. He really knew how to pull off those emotional moments and could convey the brothers feelings with no dialogue like no other. Wish he was still with us.

This episode was very special indeed. (the no layered look was much appreciated by these eyes in the shallow end of the pool). Sam's love for his big brother really came through and contrasts so much with RoboSam's soulless
attitude which hurts like hell to see.
# Yirabah 2011-01-31 18:17
Alice I always love to read your reviews especially the retro ones. You are right that some things just have a different perspective if you look at it with the knowledge of now 6 and a half seasons.

I extremly enjoy how you describe your feelings while watching it and all those snarky comments. Keep bringing those retro recaps on.
# fanotheboyz 2011-01-31 18:24
Great recap, Alice! This is one of my fave episodes, too. Love the camera work. Love how all three say so much with expressions, even when there are no lines. Come to think of it, these two could pull off an entire episode, I think, with no dialogue at all, but this one did stand out. Makes me want to go watch it again... now.
# dmakdavis 2011-01-31 20:24
My goodness - I really thought I was over crying through this episode but just your review made me bawl like a baby.

I mean, who could get past the wrecked and battered, broken body of the shows main hero?

Hopefully we'll get a retro-review showing how that hot guy got all sweaty putting my heroic baby back together again!

Oh yeah, the rest of that show was pretty heart wrenching too .. I mean someone died right? Not just my car huh?

-RIP Kim Manners -

Thanks for the review though I'm already on Prozac due to the @$@! postponement till NEXT Friday :evil:
# nancyL 2011-01-31 20:54
Once again Alice, you come thru with a great recap of a great episode.

'Not the Impala'. :lol: :lol:
'Kripke wouldn't kill the car, would he?' :lol: Well, since we now know that he has killed Sam and Dean numerous times, then the 'death' of the Impala shouldn't be too much of a stretch. And like her boys, she returns badder than ever. :D

Sam was 'mad about the car', silly me, I thought he was protecting his brother and his father. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the truth. :D

The good old days when Sam and Dean LOVED EACH OTHER. Please Sera and Co, now that Sam has his soul back, can we get some brotherly love?
please please please with sugar on top.

Whatever happened to Sam's abilities?? All he had later on were demon exorcisms with his magic hand and nose bleeds. :lol:

I loved the scene where John and Sam are talking. John lies to Sam about not knowing about the YED plans for Sam and the other 'special children', and Ghost!Dean calls 'bulls**t'.

Then there is the scene where Bobby is talking about the Impala, but Sam is thinking about Dean. Poor Impala, poor Dean, poor Sammy.

Is it just me or was Bobby reacting more as a father to Sam then John? John's priority was more geared towards the YED then it was towards Dean. Okay, he did get Dean's health back, but then he just puts this great amount of stress on Dean with his 'order' to kill Sam. So he does a 'good' thing (so to speak) by trading his life for his son, but then he does a really f**ked up thing, by putting this weight on his son's (very broad) shoulders.

'Sam Winchester open arms of annoyance' :lol: Also seen when he (and us) finally learn what John whispered in Dean's ear. How about calling them the 'Sam Winchester open arms of being pissed off'?

Even as a ghost, Dean has to mediate between his brother and father.

Another one of my favorite scenes, is when Dean saves himself from the reaper while Sam watches. Even though he is near death, Dean still tries to reassure his baby brother that he is not going anyway. Then Sam is like 'Dean is that you'. Sera this is what I am talking about: BROTHERLY LOVE.

Of course, seeing how calm Tessa is with her 'being a spirit', we can tell that she is acting for Dean's benefit. She is trying to get his defenses down, but he realizes that she is too calm. Smart!Ghost!Dea n. :D :D

Alice, I loved the Ouija board scene. :D :D BROTHERLY LOVE.

Just a thought: Whatever happened to John's journal??

When Young!John cuts his palm in 'Song remains the Same', I think it was a callback to John cutting his palm in this episode.

All the foreshadowing that is in this one episode:
Sam telling his father to go to Hell. We come to find out that all the Winchester men will go to Hell.
The doctor telling Dean that he has an angel watching over him. Hello Castiel. Also, what Mary told her oldest son.
What we thought was the first deal with YED, was really the second. Mary f**ked up the natural order by making a deal to bring John back to life. Funny, that the character that didn't live past the pilot (she didn't even make it to the first commercial break), is the reason that we are all here.
If Mary hadn't made that first deal, think of the possiblities. Would she had continued hunting? Maybe joining up with Bobby and/or Rufus? Then again what about the fight between Lucifer and Michael, would that had occured without Sam and Dean Winchester?
You have to love the 'what ifs'.

Anyway, Alice great recap. I loved it so much that now I am going to get my season 2 DVD and relive this wonderful episode. Thank you. :D
# Alice 2011-02-02 20:40
So, I take it you like this episode then? I love it, but for some reason it never makes my top ten. Not that it isn't good, it's just this show is a riches of good! Okay, here's a slight spoiler just for you (and anyone else who bothers to read these comments). John's journal makes an appearance in the next episode, 6.12. A key appearance.
# maggie 2011-01-31 21:27
Great recap!

"Sam pulls out from the backseat his season one Dell laptop with the awesome symbol". Yes, the symbol that is in the background of the an awesome site "the winchester family business" :D

"You know the truth, right? About Sammy and the other children?” John “Yeah, I’ve known for a while.” You bastard! Tell your children! Tell me! Oh right, we figure it out 21 episodes later.".... hehe one of the longest time we have had to wait for an answer is in episode: Home, when Mary said to Sam: "Sorry", and we didn't know why she said that until season 4, 4.03 "In the beginning" .

wow awesome episode and awesome recap
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2011-01-31 21:27
Awesome review Alice! Oh, the woes (tears, angst and non-verbal communication)o f the Winchesters! Oh,the imperilled Impala! Oh, the single layers!!!

This is one of my all-time faves. There is just so much there. It really is a brilliant combination of writing, acting and directing.

I find that I can't help but compare this episode to Appointment in Samarra. They are so tied together (at least in my mind).

There is the continuing chemistry of Dean and Tessa. And really, if she was human, they'd make a great pair! They're very similar. They're both dedicated to their jobs, in part because they believe they are doing work that, although unpleasant at times (okay, many times)needs to be done. They're both feisty, smart and strong, but also full of compassion and empathy. And I think Tessa really likes Dean, for all he keeps messing up the natural order. That's why she alternates between being so gentle with him, and so frustrated by him. He's The One That Gets/Got Away. That's a phrase we often use to describe the romantic loves we should have kept in our lives.

Both episodes also have as part of the storyline, the idea of trying to repair something that is battered and broken. In AIS the battered and broken things are Sam, Sam's soul and Robo!Sam. In IMTOD, it's Dean and Dean's body. Interesting, in both cases the goal is to reunite soul to body. In IMTOD, without his soul, Dean will die. In AIS, restoring Sam's soul could kill him.

Also, both episodes look at the issue of love and sacrifice. In AIS, Dean is willing to wear Death's ring for a day in order to get Sam's soul back. He's not sure what the cost will be to him personally, but he's willing to pay it, whatever it is. In IMTOD, John sacrifices his soul to save Dean, although I don't think that's what he originally had in mind, when he summoned the Yellow-Eyed Demon.

I have also always thought it intriguing that the writers chose to make Dean's line "You haven't called a soul for help". Dean could have said "you haven't called anyone" but it doesn't carry the same weight. He meant something very definite when he talked about calling a soul for help. Perhaps foreshadowing the power of souls?

In fact IMTOD really highlights the soul and how it defines us, and acts our moral compass. It's Dean's soul that is walking around while his body lies in a coma. And Dean's soul is very much HIM. He still wants to protect his family; still acts as a mediator between his Dad and Sam; still continues to hunt and fight in every way he can; and is still heartbreakingly funny and snarky, tragic and vulnerable.

There's also something niggling in my mind about the parallels between Tessa reminding Dean several times in IMTOD that he's living on borrowed time, while in AIS she's teaching him what happens when you screw around with the natural order.

But I don't think it's really Dean's fault that he threw such a wrench in the works. In both Faith, and IMTOD he was saved by the agency of others. In Faith, it was Sam, Roy LeGrange and the spell binding the Reaper. In IMTOD, it was John's deal with the Yellow-Eyed Demon. I think it's significant (although I'm not sure why yet) that in both cases, Dean was willing to die naturally, but that option was taken away from him.

So, I'm musing, as I'm wont to do, could there be another Dean Winchester soul sacrifice coming this season? We know souls are powerful. We know the natural order is out of whack. We know Death has told Dean to take living, and dying more seriously. We know Sam's soul served to stave off the Apocalypse. Perhaps Dean's soul will be necessary to re-set the natural order, and to wipe out his debt of borrowed time.

Probably not, but fun to ponder.
# nancyL 2011-01-31 22:06
I'm back from rewatching this wonderful episode, and I have a crazy thought:

Did the YED and John seal the deal with a kiss?
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
# Jasminka 2011-02-01 00:30
awwwwh, Alice, this is one of my all time favourites! I know every scene by now, every word the characters say... I don't know how often I've watched this. And it still manages to make me reach for tissues. Bloody episode!

I couldn't possibly say which scene is my favourite here, but I'll go with John's good-bye speech to Dean... *chokes*.

"watching" it again through your eyes was a huge pleasure. Thanks for this retro-recap!

Love Jas

P.S.: It's a joy to see the comment section back in its pretty. Great job, lady of the site! :D
# Karen 2011-02-01 09:15
Hi Alice
I just love this episode, it’s in with my top 10 favourites.
I remember watching this when it first aired and being literally glued to the TV. I felt so fortunate that this had landed on one of my nights off so I didn’t have to resort to recording it on my then ‘Tape Eating VCR’ player.
# Julie 2011-02-01 09:54
Ahhh Alice,
I have waited for this since a Sunday night ages and ages ago when you made a rare visit to CBOX to talk about an idea you had for writing some retro-recaps and which episodes to chose.
This is a very special for me as it was my first one. I had not seen any Tv for at least a couple of years and had just started to watch again, I bought the Season 2 Part One in a second hand shop, all I knew about the show was a distant memory of a glimpse of a trailer featuring Echo and the Bunnymens` `The Killing Moon`, and remembered thinking , `that looks interesting`, boy was I right!!
By the end of this episode I was totally and utterly hooked and have never looked back or waivered in my passion for the show.
It is one I return to again and again and it`s interesting to try and remember how different that first viewing felt. The biggest difference, I would guess, is that I had no idea just what that truck was hitting, and I do not mean our much loved boys here. Who would ever have thought you can care so much about a car! I do remember finding the episode very moving even having no investment in the story or knowledge of the characters. That also changed, and how, and now it tears me up knowing all the wheels that were set in motion here, and the implications of that whispered sentence in Deans` ear.
I am there with Dmakdavis in that I got all misty just reading your recap, how many TV shows could do that to you ?
Thank you Ju
# Junkerin 2011-02-01 09:55
In German Free TV aired the Epi after one and a half year break (almost two). But I was stucked from the beginning. The road so far helped to remember. It was soooo sad to watch Sam and Dean losing John. And it keept me wondering what John told Dean!
Great Review
# BagginsDVM 2011-02-01 23:11
Such a great episode! Ugh, but that 1st summer Hellatus was horrible, worrying not only about all 3 Winchester men but also the Impala. Honestly, I really was worried most about the car!
The emotional impact of this one was so powerful too. I was in tears just reading your review & remembering all those scenes, especially knowing all that has come since then.
# Mstngsali1 2011-02-01 23:36
Alice, I am new here and have watched this episode recently (try yesterday). "Watching" it through your eyes made it all the more entertaining.

When I first watched this episode, I too went absolutely bezerk when the Impala got smashed. It rbought tears to my eyes thinking about how that could be my baby someday. :sad: I hope I'm not in her when it happens. That sounds dirty... Eeek.

This episode doesn't make my all time faves list either and it's the same reason as yours but I am rethinking that stance after reading your recap.

I also realize how much I miss the Sam and Dean relationship and am happy to hear that it is more than likely coming back.

On a personal note, thank you for providing a place for fangirls to come and hang out with each other. It means a lot.