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."
Jared is nailing this whole damsel in distress thing, and his agony is hitting me deep already because it's so believable. This is the first episode where that happened for me with Jared's acting. Also, Jensen's again blowing us away with Dean staying in control on the outside, but every so often showing those glimpses of him barely holding it together inside. Amazing how he pulls that off so well.
Dean figures Sam went somewhere and finds some blood on the window frame. Uh, yep, Sam probably went through that. They go outside and see if anything jogs the ole memory. No, but wait...that garage feels familiar. As luck would have it too, there's a key to it in Sam's pocket. They open the door and there's an old VW bug, which bothers Dean. "Aww, please tell me you didn't steal this." It's kind of interesting how little bits of Sam's actions were done just to dig at Dean. It's so working too.
They inspect the inside of the car and find more blood and a bloody knife. Sam by now is in full blown sad puppy mode, whimpering that he may have used that knife on someone. Dean is still giving him the benefit of the doubt, because in this stage of their relationship, Dean still actually believes in Sam. Boy does that change.
Then Dean finds a pack of menthols (Ha! Something else to bother Dean). Now he's sure it couldn't have been Sam (he's half right). Sam finds a receipt to a gas mart a few towns over.
The Impala in all its shining beauty pulls up into the gas station, and nothing looks familiar to Sam. He's so lost! Poor baby! They go inside and clerk loses it at the sight of Sam. Not in a good way. Sam apparently the day before grabbed a "40" from the fridge (malt liquor), chugged it, and threw it at the guy's head. "This guy?" Dean asks incredulously while Sam has full innocent child "not me" going. "What, am I speaking Urdu?" Ever since I've seen this episode, I say that to my kids all the time when they aren't listening. They still don't get the reference and I love it.
The clerk picks up the phone to call the police. Dean sends a protesting Sam away and calms the clerk down, wanting just to talk. Then Dean tries to get the clerk to help him out by asking him which way Sam went the day before, but the snarky jerk tells him, "Oh, that's what I live for. Look, dude, I get it, your poor occupational choices in life have made you bitter, but try to keep in mind that guys like this can snap your neck like a twig. Your attitude is going to get you ganked one day. Okay? Good.
Dean, being a great read of jerks like this, finds the motivation. After the clerk complains that Sam didn't pay for the drink and the smokes, Dean pulls out money to cover it. The clerk thinks he might remember, and Sam took two packs. Dean gives him more money and he tells Dean north. Dean gets the last word though, taking a few candy bars smugly in retribution.
They're crusing in the Impala at night and Sam's somber gaze out the window is tinged with desperation. Sam's eerie silence is freaking Dean out, but they can't talk for Sam sees a drive and insists they go down there. He doesn't know why, but that's good enough for Dean.
They pull up to a secluded house and the security lights light up the yard like a Christmas tree the second they get out of the car. Whoever lives there needless to say doesn't like casual visitors. They go on the porch and the house is dark. Dean asks if they should knock and Sam gives him a terse, "Yeah, I guess." I'm really loving this teetering on the edge Sam.
With the tension still thick in the air, Dean knocks, and Sam finds a window broken out. They wonder why the cops weren't there. Sam finds out when a box of wires has been tampered with. For a dude that was really cautious, leaving the alarm electrical box for easy access like that to intruders wasn't too smart. I would have fired the security company.
They go inside, everything is dark, and the place is completely trashed. After shining their flashlights, around, Dean finds the body in the office. The neck has been slashed, and he's lying in a pool of blood. Sam loses it. "I did this." Dean doesn't want to believe it and thinks if Sam did do this, he had a reason. Maybe the dude was evil. Sam sees the closet and with agitation (just so we get his poor frame of mind) demands Dean's lock pick. He opens the door and sees all the weapons. Hunter!
Sam thinks he's guilty, but Dean would rather look at the security footage. Fine, find out the hard way. Yep, it's Sam, wearing his before bloody shirt, beating the tar out of this poor guy before slashing his throat. Sam wipes the knife on his now bloody shirt, and Dean and now completely freaked Sam watch in devastation. Yeah, I wouldn't save that treasure for the home movie collection.
Dean's trying to cover their tracks while a near catatonic Sam reads a letter from the dead guy's daughter. No, I'm not going to speculate if waterproof pajamas is an inside joke. Dean tries to get Sam to help him, but Sam's feeling too much remorse over killing the guy. Dean points out that since dead guy is a hunter, other hunters will come looking for him and they have to cover their tracks. Sam still won't come around and says the guy's name is Steve Wandell. Dean isn't in the mood to join the pity party and smashes the computer with the survellance footage. That jolts Sam a little and Dean orders him to wipe his prints. Yeah Sam, wallow in misery in the Impala!
This is where I squeal like a fan girl! This is one of my all time favorite scenes. They get back to the motel room and Dean's still giving orders. "Alright, we get a couple hours sleep and then we put this place in our rear view mirror." Sam is very quiet and won't respond. Dean tells him this may be bad but he has to snap out of it. Sam looks like he wants to cry.
Dean demands Sam say something. After repeating Dean's order to sleep, he goes off. "Murder Dean, that's what I did." Dean's clinging to other theories, like a shapeshifter, but Sam knows better. He tells Dean how off he's been feeling the last few weeks, and how he's had building feelings of rage and hate. He can't stop it and it gets worse day by day. "You never told me this," A worried Dean says. "I didn't want to scare you," Sam replies. "Well bang up job on that." Ha!
Sam gets to the heart of the matter. The yellow eyed demon has plans for him, and has turned other children into killers before. Dean insists Sam has control, but Sam seems to think he's slowly becoming who he's meant to be. Slow is right, that doesn't happen until the end of season four.
Sam starts yelling. "You said once it yourself Dean. I need to face up to who I am." "I didn't mean this!" Dean answers. "But it's still true! You know that. Dad knew that too so that's why he said whenever it came to this-" "Shut up Sam!" Ah, but Dean doesn't get the final word. Sam's tone goes softer. "Dean you promised him. You promised me." "No," Dean defiantly declares and goes into his regular big brother assuring mode. "Listen to me, we'll figure this out. There's gotta be a way, right?"
"Yeah, there is." Sam won't take no fo an answer and reaches down on the bed for a gun. He hands it over to Dean and starts getting weepy. "I don't want to hurt anyone else. I don't want to hurt you." Dean insists Sam can fight it, but Sam insists he can't and tells Dean he's got to "do it." Now I know something is up, because Sam would never ask Dean to do this. He'd go in the bathroom and blow his own brains out first. Remember "Croatoan?"
Dean won't take the gun, so Sam grabs Dean's hand and puts the gun in it. Then he lets out the biggest sissy whimper I've ever seen. Given the "I'm about to die" issue, I think it's adorable! Too bad it's not really him.
Dean looks at the gun, and actually considers for a few seconds doing it. Now they both have me in knots! "You know I've tried so hard to keep you safe." Teary eyed Sam knows. Dean stays white with fear for a few more seconds, looks at Sam and comes to his senses. "I can't, I'd rather die." Whoo hoo Deano! Awesome choice.
Dean throws the gun on the bed and walks away while Sam looks majorly deflated. "No you'll live," he gently says and picks up the gun. Dean realizes that Sam's about to do it himself and comes up behind him. Sam turns to face him, suddenly becomes all evil and says "You'll live to regret this." Bamm!! He knocks Dean out cold. Hell Yeah!!!! He's evil! He sneers at an unconscious Dean and leaves.
The show to this day loves to throw out those hints that one day Dean will have to kill Sam. I wonder if they will continue with that all the way until the end of the series. It's a struggle I never grow tired of, but it had the biggest punch right here in season two. Literally!
Dean wakes up to the knocking on the door, and I love the shot being at floor level with Dean. It really shows how startled he is. The door opens and it's the manager. Dean is past his checkout time and he needs the room. A business man and a slut wait out in the hall. What, this large, crappy motel is sold out of rooms? At noon? How many sluts do they service?
Dean wants to know where the other guy that was with him went. He took off before dawn in Dean's car. No! Something that evil shouldn't be allowed to touch the Impala. Cathryn Humphris is crossing a fine line.
Dean wants to borrow the computer, but the manager is a jerk and it'll cost him. In the only funny part of this intense episode, Dean calls the cell phone company to put a tracer on Sam's phone. The rouse is that he didn't come back from a Justin Timberlake concert. "Yes, he really is the triple threat." Ha, he so is! I'm usually anti-boy band/overexposed teen idol, but in Justin Timberlake's case, the fact that he's down to earth and has a good head on his shoulders makes him a good example for my pre-teen daughter. He's the only one though.
Sam's in Duluth, Minnesota, and again, we get a scene for the ages. There's Jo Harvelle! She's working in a bar, and Sam saunters in with a humble face, but he's got this swarmy thing going in his body language, like he's some slimeball there to bother a long lost girlfriend. Jo is not happy to see him. Girlfriend should lighten up, for after all, what did Sam do to her? She needs an attitude adjustment. Oh wait. Coming soon.
Sam asks for a beer so she gets him one, but she's rude and slams it in front of him. That'll look bad on her secret shopper rating. Jo wants to know how he found her. Yeah Jo, you've been around hunters how long? It's in the job description. Then she asks where Dean is. Sam says he couldn't make it. Uh, Jo, there's your freaking clue right there. Sam never goes anywhere without Dean. At least he didn't in season two. This is where you excuse yourself to the bathroom and call Dean in a panic.
She doesn't, bringing up instead that they didn't part on the best of terms and why is he there. He takes off his jacket and she sees the huge welt on his forearm in the form of a circle with a mark in the middle. "Looks like it hurt." You don't know the half of it Jo. After Sam makes up a lame "burning it on a hot stove" story, he wants to square things. He mentions that John was an obssessed bastard, but he isn't his father. Funny how that's true, at least in this state. As we learn later though, the real Sam is John's carbon copy.
He tries to make the plea heartfelt, but Jo isn't falling for it. She asks about Dean. Uh, oh, wrong thing. After pointing out Dean is more like their dad, which is so not true, Sam breaks character and goes into a jealous snit, and bringing on the evil eyes. He goes onto insult her, saying that Dean thinks of her as a little sister and romance is out of the question. "He kind of thinks you're a school girl." Oh yeah, that's going to win her over. He then tries to make it sound like he cares, but Jo is too pissed.
Sam grabs her hand, upping the creep factor to eleven. "I care about you a lot." She tries to pull it away and he grips tighter, then gives her a bone chilling leer. "I could be more to you Jo." Yikes! Evil Sam is so scary! She tells him to leave and she yanks her hand away. Sam gives her a parting look, like he's going to snap her like a twig. She stupidly turns her back on him. Can't you tell he's psycho right about now Jo? Oh right, not good at reading hints. Sort of like Lois Lane on Smallville STILL not getting all the glaring clues about Clark.
All of a sudden, this giant beast grabs her from behind and wraps his huge arms around her, practically swallowing her in his chest. Sam easily overcomes her attempts to fight back, and stops her from smashing the beer bottle on his head after kissing her neck. She begs Sam to get off her, so he spins her around and pins her down against the bar. He has her in a headlock now and Jo is pleading in terror for him to stop.
We're gasping, wondering if they would actually allow a graphic rape scene on this show, especially when it's Sam doing the potential act. A few more tense seconds later, we find out when Sam bangs Jo's head against the bar, knocking her out. Then Sam scoops her limp body in his arms, and strokes her hair like he might actually go there. "It didn't have to be this way. (beat) Or maybe it did." The scene ends, and to this day we wonder if he went there, even though all evidence hints he didn't. Wow, I'm out of breath.
Oh, but the drama doesn't end there! A record comes on the Jukebox, "The Crystal Ship" by The Doors. I'm not a huge Doors fan, but that's one of their songs I do love. To fit the mood of the song, the shot goes into a slower motion, showing Jo being tied to a post, and Sam is in full fledged evil mode. Right now, Jared is totally blowing me away. Wow, to think we had no idea he had this in him (at the time). He's the creepiest villain this show has ever had.
Sam is behind her as she comes to and he asks what her mom told her about when her dad died. "You're not Sam," she says. "Don't be too sure about that. Answer the question." Jo clams up, so Sam pulls up a bar stool next to her and does a complete over-the-top Sam puppy dog look tinged with evil, while holding the knife to her forehead. "Come on, it's me. You can tell me anything, you know that." After exchanging a couple of terse "fine" comments, Jo gives the story about how her dad and John were on a stakeout, and her dad was bait.
Sam smiles at the idea of John dangling Bill like meet on a hook, and then acts like a little kid hearing a cool bed time story, eager to know what happens next. Man this evil act is delicious. John jumped out too soon and exposed her dad, and the hell spawn killed him. Sam taunts that wasn't right. "You see, it hurt him, but it didn't kill him"¦You see Bill was all clawed up, holding his insides in his hand, he was gurgling, praying to see you and Ellen one more time, so my dad killed him. Put him out of his misery like a sick dog." Then he sing-songs, just to rub it in worse, because evil beings do that. "My daddy shot your daddy in the head." Wow, can this get any better?
Jo wants to know how he could know that. "I hear things." Now she finally asks why he's doing this to her. Wouldn't that have been the first question? "Like daddy, like daughter, you're bait." He puts a gag around her mouth and that's when Dean bursts in. Sam grabs the knife and shifts into tortured brother mode. "I begged you to stop me Dean! I told you I can't fight it! My head feels like its on fire, alright." Dean holds the gun, but won't shoot. Sam issues the ultimatum. Kill him, or he's going to kill her. Dean looks at Sam but doesn't shoot. Sam yells at him louder. "Shoot me, shoot me!" The camera does the jagged shots of Sam and his extended arms demanding to be wasted, just to add to the already gripping drama. Dean considers it, looks at helpless Jo, then lowers the gun. He won't do it.
Sam is livid, and starts berating Dean. "What the hell's wrong with you Dean? Are you that scared of being alone that you'd rather let Jo die?" Dean whips around and splashes holy water from a flask at Sam. He smokes. He's possessed! "That's holy water you demonic son of a bitch." Suddenly, Sam's eyes go totally black. Cool!
Dean keeps flinging the holy water, so not!Sam jumps out the window. Dean cuts Jo's ropes and heads out in pursuit. "He was possesed?" Jo says all shocked. Dean rolls his eyes, reflecting what the rest of us think. Duh! Dean jumps out the window.
Now for a really cool dock scene, and I swear I've seen this locale in a few X-Files episodes. Or Smallville. Probably both. Dean searches a warehouse with gun drawn and spots not!Sam in the distance. He draws his gun but not!Sam ducks behind, uh, stuff. Dean asks the demon "Who are you?" while they both maintain their standoff. "I got lots of names." Luckily Dean only needs one. Bitch.
Dean keeps talking, speculating the demon has been in Sam since he disappeared. "You should have seen your face when you thought he murdered that guy. Pathetic." Okay, we think adorable, but lets move on. Dean wants why not!Sam didn't kill him. Not!Sam tells the dastardly plan. "Nah, that would have been too easy. Where's the fun in that? See this was a test. I wanted to see if I could push you far enough to waste Sam. Should have known you wouldn't have the sack. Anyway, fun's over now." Have I mentioned how much I'm loving evil Sam? He beats evil Kal-El from Smallville anyday.
Dean promises whoever is in Sam will pay hell for this. Not!Sam points out the obvious, Dean can't do anything without hurting his little brother. Dean accepts that point and puts away the gun. The plan is to kill Dean and every other hunter not!Sam can find. "One look at Sam's dewy sensitive eyes, they'll let me right in the door." Okay, that's a perfect point. Those eyes are hard to resist.
Dean pulls out the holy water, and not!Sam runs outside. Dean follows, and no one's visible in the dark night. He looks right, looks left, and then checks out the edge of the dock, where water sparkles from nearby lights below. Dean turns around and boom! Not!Sam fires his gun. Dean is hit and falls in the water. Whoa! Brutal! You know what else is whoa? When not!Sam checks out the water below. The wicked smirk on his face is mind-blowing. It's so weird seeing that look on Sam, especially when he thinks he just killed Dean.
Jo is now out on the dock with a flashlight and her cell phone. She isn't getting an answer. She tries again and finally hears in the distance Dean's rock and roll ringtone. Dean isn't answering. She follows the sound and finds Dean on a boat ramp, half submerged in the water, unconscious. She rushes to help and he comes to after she shakes him. As we can imagine, being shot and all, Dean's in complete agony, holding his shoulder. Dean asks where Sam is, but Jo's more concerned about him. She helps him up and he staggers his way up the ramp. Yes, I know, we're all bitterly jealous of Jo right now.
Back at the bar Dean grunts in pain while Jo digs the bullet out of his shoulder. Dean drinks whiskey, Jo patches up the wound, and as we can expect, Dean is pretty testy. Jo dishes it back, so no gentle mothering for Dean. Once Dean shuts up, Jo asks how did Dean know Sam was possessed. He didn't, he just knew it wasn't Sam. You know, he took hints, read the warning signs. It's what good hunters do.
Then she asks that even though demons lie, do they ever tell the truth? Oh yeah they do, especially if it messes with your head. So Jo, does the whole "answer the question" thing makes sense now? Dean asks why, but she won't tell him. Good, he's not exactly in the mood for sob BornUnderABadSign.
So where is not!Sam off to next? He's been going after hunters and the nearest one he knows of is South Dakota. Ooh, he's going after Bobby! Jo is eager to go with him, but Dean is so adamant that she doesn't, he threatens to tie her back onto that post. I wish he did just for fun. Dean is eager to leave, and Jo throws him some pain pills on the way out because she cares. "I'll call you later, okay," Dean says leaving. "No you won't," Jo says after he leaves. And that's the last we ever see of her. For the record I didn't hate Jo, but I didn't care for her either. She was just...there.
Dean, in his not!Impala, tries to call Bobby. No answer. Probably because a knife has just cut through the phone line. Not!Sam walks up to the front door and knocks. Bobby answers and is happy to see Sam. Sam gives him a dewy smile and Bobby lets him in. Drat those demons, always being right.
Bobby asks what brings him there. They're working a job nearby and he thought he'd stop and say hello. Conveniently, Dean is with a girl and a twelve pack and can't make it. Liar! Then not!Sam's black eyes flare while Bobby is in the kitchen, just to remind us he's still possessed.
Bobby comes back with two beers, and toasts to John. Not!Sam says with sentiment "to dad." That should be Bobby's biggest clue. Sam would clench his teeth or get all somber at the mention of John. Not!Sam drinks the beer and starts to sizzle. Bobby, being the totally cool person that he is, calmly continues to drink his beer and watches. "A little holy water in the beer. Sam never would have noticed. But then you're not Sam are ya? Don't try a con a con man." Bam! Not!Sam is knocked out cold. I love Bobby. Unlike Jo, he takes hints.
Ooh, ooh, another delicious scene!!! Yes, I know, this episode has one after another, but still! Time for another exorcism scene in Bobby's library under the devil's trap. Not!Sam is tied to a chair under it, and he's slapped awake by Dean! I guess Dean managed to arrive in his not!Impala. Not!Sam looks up at the devil's trap, and the camera angle is from his feet, showing the entire ceiling with not!Sam in the middle. Cool shot! Man the directing is so good.
Not!Sam is a little disappointed to see Dean. "Dean, back from the dead. Getting to be a regular thing for you, isn't it? Like a cockroach." Dean is threatening not!Sam's smart mouth, and not!Sam comes up with one of my favorite lines of the series. "Careful now, wouldn't want to bruise this fine packaging." That's so funny coming from Sam, even though its not him. Dean assures this won't hurt Sam much and throws a whole bucket of holy water on him. He smokes and yells. Dean wants to know if he's ready to talk. "Sam's still my meat puppet. I'll make him bite off his tongue."
Dean in badass form assures that won't happen and has Bobby start the latinating. At first not!Sam struggles, while Dean promises the master plan won't work. Then not!Sam busts out in laughter. "I don't give a rats ass about the master plan." Bobby latinates again, but it's not working. Uh oh. Not!Sam starts latinating himself, the fire flashes and the room rattles. Dean wants to know what's going wrong then Bobby finds the problem, the welt on Sam's arm. It's a binding link and the demon has trapped itself in Sam's body. Bobby doesn't know how to break it. Not good.
The devil's trap then cracks. Not!Sam cracks his neck and proclaims "There, that's better." He slams Bobby and Dean against the wall with his mind and busts out of the ropes. Not!Sam goes over to Dean, grabs him, and starts the evil villain monologuing. "When people describe the worst possible thing, they say it's like Hell." He punches Dean. "Hell, it's like (punches Dean), well it's like Hell. Even for demons. A prison made of bone and flesh and blood and fear (punches Dean). And you sent me back there."
Dean, blood streaming out of his nose, figures out who he's dealing with. Meg. Meg so cleverly points out now she's Sam. She's really hot in that body too. Meg punches him again and digs into Dean's wound with Sam's thumb. "I saw your dad there. He says howdi." Meg goes on, mentioning how all she dreamed about was coming back and torturing Dean nice and slow, like "pulling the wings off an insect." That's a nice graphic metaphor.
Dean groans some more in pain, so Meg goes for the psychological torture next, because demons do that, "But whatever I do to you, it's nothing compared to what you do to yourself is it? I can see it in your eyes Dean. You're worthless. You couldn't save your dad, and deep down, you know that you can't save your brother. They'd have been better off without you."
Meg goes to deliver one more blow but Bobby swoops in from behind and grabs Sam's arm, putting a red hot fire poker on the binding link. A ton of black smoke pours out of a yelling Sam, escaping through the chimney. Sam collaspes, Dean tries to pull himself together and Bobby watches stunned. Sam comes to, winces over the pain in his burning arm, and is really disoriented. He looks and Dean and Bobby in total confusion. "Did I miss anything?" An over the edge Dean reaches out with what little strength he's got left and punches Sam in the jaw. Then Dean falls over in pain while Sam clutches his jaw with no clue as to why that just happened. End scene with Sam's befuddlement, and our laughter.
Sam and Dean sit at Bobby's desk. Dean has an ice pack on his eye, Sam has one on his arm. They both look awful and Sam decides to point out the obvious. "By the way, you really look like crap, Dean." "Yeah, right back at ya." Aww, they just need a little mothering. Here boys, I'll make it all better.
Bobby comes in, looking bothered about something. He asks if they've heard of a guy named Steve Wandell. He was murdered in his house. Dean plays dumb, but Sam looks guilty as Hell. Still, they admit nothing, despite Sam's small protest. Bobby tells them to keep it that way, because Wandell's buddies are "looking for something or someone to string up." They apparently aren't the kind of guys who will listen to the "I was possessed by a vengeful demon" excuse. Dean says they're ready to leave, but where do they think they're going at this hour? They both have obviously been through a lot. They should hang at Uncle Bobby's for a few days and get some rest.
Bobby gives them both some anti-possession charms. The demon is still out there, so its their best defense. It's been widely speculated that it was around this time they took these charms to a tattoo artist and got the anti-possession symbols from in "Jus In Bello" inked onto their chests. I would imagine that was as good a time as any.
Bobby tells them to be careful, and oh how his concern over the boys get me. I love how he's way better than their own Dad. I love how Dean told him he was like a father to him later. Sam looks back at Bobby with humble gratitude, but the guilt is still pouring from him. Dean also gives Bobby a look of thanks, but more of a "we'll see what happens next" glance.
REO Speedwagon comes on. REO is another classic rock band I never cared for but if there is one song of theirs I did like, it's "Back On The Road Again." Still, it didn't fit here in my opinion. It's too upbeat for the really somber tone this episode has had so far. This is where some depressing grunge would be better.
Anyway, the boys are in the Impala, and Sam is somber and quiet. Dean is naturally concerned and asks Sam if he's okay. Uh duh, I think not! Needless to say, Sam doesn't answer right away. Sam then admits he was awake for some of it. He watched himself kill Wandell with his own two hands and saw the light go out in his eyes. What's bothering him the most though is that Dean wouldn't kill him, even when he almost carved up Jo. Wow, what an ungrateful brother.
Dean defends himself, saying it wasn't Sam. "Yeah, this time. What about next time?" "Sam when Dad told me that I might have to kill you, it was only if I couldn't save you. Now if its the last thing I do, I'm going to save you." Awww. Sam isn't comforted by this though, so Dean makes a joke instead. "Dude, you like full-on girl had a girl inside you for a whole week. It's pretty naughty." Dean laughs, Sam smiles. Fade to credits.
That ending right there triggers some criticism on my part, but not for this episode. Sam just went through one of the most horrific experiences of his life. He's riddled with guilt, with uncertainty, with lack of confidence in Dean being able to do the right thing should he go evil. With the exception of two comments in "Jus In Bello" a whole season later, we never see the ramifications of this ordeal on Sam. It's almost like it was all made better by one joke and everything reset back to normal. It's a missed opportunity, and that continued story arc would have played out great. However, in Kripke's defense, the show looked like it was going to be cancelled after season two, so I could see where those extra arcs couldn't be explored. They avoided that chance though for BornUnderABadSign like "Roadkill," "Hollywood Babylon," and "Folsom Prison Blues?" For a viewer looking back like this, it feels off.
My grade on this episode is an A+. Definitely a classic. The squandered Sam story line mars the season for me, but not the episode.