Page 1 of 6This is one of the most intense recaps I've ever attempted. "Born Under A Bad Sign" is a delicious, thrilling, and completely nerve wracking episode that ranks in my top five of best episodes ever. It's not only one of the best acted episodes of the series, it's one of the best directed as well. So much detail went into the making of this, and this recap is going to do its best to capture every bit of that. So, in the process, treat this recap as though you were tackling your next novel. Get comfy!
The writer is Cathryn Humphries, who created an absolute classic and proves that no writer does brotherly angst better (well, her and Sera Gamble). The director is first timer for Supernatural J. Miller Tobin, and boy did he bring something fresh. Nothing like a few director's tricks here and there to take a suspense filled tale and slam dunk it into the stratosphere. This is also THE episode that everyone goes back to when trying to pinpoint when Jared Padalecki's acting finally soared to new heights, putting him and Jensen on even ground. This episode was the acting game changer, and the show and viewers have never been the same since.
So, here we go, intense detail and all, "Born Under A Bad Sign."
Raining in Vancouver?
The Impala sits under an overpass on one very wet and rainy day. In Vancouver? Noooo. Dean is standing next to his baby talking on the cell phone, and man is he frantic. Right off the bat there's a directing choice that manages to heighten the intensity. There are quick cuts in the frame, which jars everything a bit, and delivers the message that we're dealing with a pretty heated situation. This trick is used throughout the episode.
Dean asks Ellen on the phone if she's heard anything. Jensen does this one sided conversation brilliantly. "I swear, it's looking for my dad all over again. I'm losing my mind here"¦(quick cut)"¦I've called him a thousand times, there's nothing but voice mail. I don't know where he went or why. Sam's just gone." Excuse me? Sam's missing? No, not Sammy!
Then, speak of the devil, Sam's call comes through. Again, a great one sided conversation with more abrupt scene cuts in which Dean demands to know where he is, and then tells him to calm down and he'll be right there. Uh, how about asking "Where the Hell have you been?" All in good time I guess. The Impala thunders off, looking so pretty doing it.
The scene turns to a very despondent Sam, whose bewildered reaction as he slowly puts down the phone is shown from the viewpoint of the mirror, then moves to regular Sam sitting on the bed. There's a close-up of this bloody knuckles. The Impala thunders past a sign that says "Twin Lakes 100," and yes, that's reused footage from another episode. Back to Sam who's completely out of it, staring at his hands before three quick screen cuts happen while a frantic Dean briskly walks down the hall, looking for the right room.
Dean finds it, knocks on the door and asks for Sam, but there's no answer. He opens the door and sees Sam staring off into space. He calls Sam again, this time getting a soft "Hey Dean." Sam doesn't move from his dazed position on the bed. The score is distorted and creepy too, and I'm already freaking out.
Dean comes over and sees the bloody knuckles. "I tried to wash it off but-" We don't get to come up with suggestions though, because Dean notices all the dried blood on Sam's shirt. He inspects, and Sam confesses he doesn't think it's his blood. He doesn't know who's it is. Dean wants to know what happened, but there in lies the rub. "I don't remember," a distraught Sam tells him. Now that's a teaser!
Flaming Supernatural logo. Hurry up and burn already!
Another shot from the mirror, this time showing the reverse image of Dean coming through the front door before moving back to the real Dean. Keep in mind, there will be no rest or slowdown in the action from now until the closing act.
Sam, now with fresh, not bloody shirt, paces anxiously (and I'll be using variations of that word a lot in this recap) while Dean closes the door and shares his info. According to the motel manager, Sam checked in there a few days ago as "Richard Sambora." I guess that's a bit less obvious than Jon Bon Jovi.
Besides the fact that Dean's disturbed over Sam being a Bon Jovi fan (which Jared totally is BTW), everything's been quiet and no one's noticed anything. Sam is far from okay though, and starts rattling the "what if's" worse than my paranoid-over-life mother-in-law. "You mean no one saw me walking around covered in blood?" Dean doesn't care. Sam's okay, that's all that matters. "What if I hurt someone or worse?" Dean isn't worried, so Sam digs further. "What if this is what dad warned you about?" Oops, hot button.
Dean isn't going there, preferring to think rationally. He asks Sam to retrace his steps. That ain't so easy though, since the last thing Sam remembers is going out for burgers in West Texas. Gee, if I were in West Texas, I'd block that out too. Dean points out that was over a week ago. Sam claims that's it until he was sitting there, bloody. "I felt like I've been asleep for a month."
I absolutely loved Jared in this episode. My favourite scene is when demonSam is taunting Jo. Brilliant, Jared. The facial acting and inflections in his voice, not to mention the body language. I wonder how much of that was written, and how much was Jared's addition. And his laugh when he's tied to the chair at Bobby's...that is one of (if not THE) best evil laughs I've ever heard.
And the ep itself is in my top5 too 'cause its' soo... fricking awesome!! I love every bit of it and while I too would have loved a some kind of ramifications on this (allthough I remember Kripke some time saying, this was going to be another reason for Gordons manhunt on Sam but it fell apart 'cause Sterling K. Brown was too much attached on the other show and the whole writers strike in S3 or something like that) but it still doesn't spoil this ep for me.
I loved both Jensen and Jared in this one but EvilJared was just creepy as hell! In the Jo-scenes I would have ran screaming esp. after the whole wrist-gripping scene... Jared hands are huge and I can imagine him grabbing my wrist that way and totally (i have teeny hands *grin*) just smother them... *shudders BIG time* Jared was just SO good, I'm kinda sad he didn't get to show this side sooner 'cause I know the boy can act his ass off. Jensen has been great from the start but I've always felt they both are great and their chemistry is just the best thing ever on TV.
I could watch this ep non-stop for days and never get tired... I usually watch certain scenes with constant rewinding like your fave scene and the Jo-scene just because it's so freaking creepy and I just for one sec actually feared that MeginSam might rape Jo... And I'm convinced nothing of that sort happened (I don't care if I'm proved wrong, I'm in Denial Land *laalalaalaalaa * ) but it still was one of my fave scenes 'cause I don't remember a scene where I've felt so uncomfortable and it was SAM (even though it wasn't). Oh, Jared is a god and I bet he was really sweet in shooting this, making sure Alona was ok every step of the way... He's just that kinda guy... But he 'sold' that scene, he should play psychos more
Ok, Jensen was just heartwrenching with his freaking out 'n' suffering Dean. Nobody does those haunting looks better *love* And I too loved those Dean will have to kill Sam -themse that S2 gave us... And I too wll, never tire of those... as long as they don't go through with it
I didn't really care for Jo too, I liked her more in this one where they weren't trying to jam the Jo-Dean thing down our throats... She seemed too young to me and No exit was just *yawn* Dean usually seemed more uncomfortable than flirty with her... But that's just me, I don't like the guys hooking up *grin*
Ok, this is becoming longer than your review, so I better stop before I my keyboards explode.
ps. For little bits, I esp. loved the Timberlake-eye roll, the confused-Dean-w ith-the-hotel-m anager-by-the-d oor, and the Bobby-and-Sam-h oly-water-in-th e-beer -thingy and the Jo's "he was possessed?!", (I can't not eyeroll at that and say "No Jo, that's just Sam on Thursday nights" every single time ) and the scene in the gas station (I love how Dean says "This guy?!" like a million times, he's facial expressions *heart*) with the "Am I speaking Urdu?" with Sams over the top shocked puppy -look just cracks me up every single time.
Ok, I'll stop now, sorry for the length again
i also love bobby in this episode and i think you're spot on to say that bobby is a much better dad to them then their dad ever was. just that bit where he doesn't miss a beat as not!sam splutters over his holy water laced beer is just awesome.."don't con a conman" bobby has mad skills!
The acting was more than excellent, and kept me in twisted up tummy land all the way through.
My heart was aching for Dean, terrified of Sam and so grateful for incredible Bobby the conman.
I was truly worried that not/Sam would rape Jo I could hardly breathe through that scene. I don't think that happened off screen though.
I really liked Jo in this episode, even though she was a little slow in figuring out it was not/Sam, for a potential hunter. She'll have to improve in that area if she wants to survive in her chosen career. I liked her finding and patching up Dean and her resigned "No you won't". (I'd like to see Ellen and Jo again, also hoping Ash somehow didn't die in the fire. They do kill off so many interesting characters).
As I mentioned in another post, I would have liked to see a scene where Sam was really concerned about his brother's well-being and perhaps doing some first aid on the botched up job Jo did on his poor mistreated shoulder.
Love the way Bobby is with the boys, and how he shows his very real concern for their well being. I certainly hope that Bobby survives in this series. I don't think I could take it if they do him in. Let Bobby live I say!
I am babbling on here, so I better go. Agree with the posts above about this outstanding episode. Will always be at or near the top of my most gut-wrenching episodes.
Awesome recap. THis is one of my favorite episodes all around. Both Jensen and Jared as well as Jim Beaver nailed it. I love the directing and the cutting back and forth to show how stressed and rattled Dean was -- it was also done quite well in DalDoM.
Jared was superb here, the whole... "My daddy shot your daddy in the head." As well as the look after he shot Dean and after he pistol whipped him -- fabulous.
All around it's a classic, one to come back to again and again and I never get tired of it.
REO's song is a bit upbeat although the lyrics fit what they're doing but it is a bit 'on the nose' as we know that they're back on the road again.
I do like Dean's little joke at the end because it sorta echoed Bobby's comment and Dean's joke back at his house. You are right though, Sam did not have any after effects that we'rea ware of other than his comment in JIB and that is a shame. Still, I like that they closed the loop of the whole hunters after Sam because like the FBI manhunt after Dean it would have just muddied the waters. They've got bigger fish to fry, such as angels and demons after them in Season 5...way cool.
Great recap. Thanks for delivering.
I'm rather sorry they lost the Hunters hunting Hunters storyline though, I really fancied that! Not sorry we've seen no more of Jo, she was a bit too much of a standard permenatly imperilled yet spunky girl sidekick stereotype.
I'm glad Sam didn't spend ages having a crisis about being possessed ... We don't need any more angsty moments on the Impala!
According to the Supernatural Season 2 Companion, at the end, when Dean punches the no-longer possessed Sam, that wasn't scripted.
The Companion also points out the irony of that punch - all along Dean resisted attacking demon-Sam for fear of injuring his brother.