I want to clarify my purpose in tackling this project, the purpose is to pick the one, and only one, episode per season that I believe is the pivot point for the season as well the series as a whole. Each season has many, many excellent episodes as well as episodes that are not so excellent but have excellent moments, with that in mind, I try to pick one out of 22 (or in one case 16) that is the pivotal episode.
Rules for pivotal episodes:
As I've learned from Alice, rules are necessary when embarking on such an adventure. Thus, I have some rules regarding how I decided upon the pivotal episode of each season.
First off, it must add to what we know thus far, either for Sam or Dean or for the storyline as a whole.
Second, it must be built upon in future episodes and events.
Third, the episode as a whole must be strong, this is the pivotal episode, not necessarily the most powerful episode of the season but in no way can it simply have a pivotal scene while the rest of the episode is flat or uneven or even forgettable.
All right. With the preliminaries out of the way let's jump into Season 2.
The second season's pivotal episode came a bit earlier than last time and may be an episode that flies under the radar for a lot of people. I hope you'll hang with me though and then in the end, as always, I'm eager to read your thoughts and opinions.
While In My Time of Dying was critical for John's sacrifice, Dean's choice between going with the reaper or staying and eventually becoming an angry spirit (something that gets a nice repeat in Malleus Maleficarum as Dean learns that all demons were once human and that one day (in a few centuries or so in hell) he'll become a demon), Sam's struggles with John's seeming obsession with the demon as well as his own determination to save Dean, and it is a strong, very strong episode, it does not pivot the series, despite John's death.
Bloodlust, Simon Said, Croatoan, Hunted, Born Under a Bad Sign and What is and What Should Never Be have many crucial elements but some do not bear fruit for several seasons and others add to the complexity of the brothers' relationship but do not significantly change it. These six are particularly strong episodes in their own right as well as having nuggets within that add to the story overall but are not the pivotal episode.
Simon Said introduces Andy but since we already know there are other psychic kids, and that Gordon is over the edge, it adds layers to the story without altering the course. Sam's concerns over what the demon is doing and Dean's fears that he may not be strong enough to save Sam are all elements that we saw in Nightmare and continue the elements that we were introduced to and pivoted upon in Nightmare.
Croatoan and Hunted also add to the mystery of Sam and the psychic kids with the addition of Ava and the demon's kidnapping of her at the end as well as the revelation that Sam is mysteriously immune to some demon virus. Since Croatoan's mystery does not get anything further added to it until Season 5 it is hard to suggest this is a pivotal episode although the moment is certainly pivotal.
BUABS and WIAWSNB are powerhouse episodes giving each of the leads a chance to showcase their talents, but neither overall are pivotal. Meg returns and possesses Sam in order to torment Dean and also opens Sam up to being prey for other hunters. BUABS also introduces the anti-possession charms which get an upgrade in the form of tattoos and later the boys receive Enochian etchings on their ribs so their arsenal of hiding and protecting themselves grows a little bit more.
WIAWSNB allows a grief-stricken and increasingly burdened Dean a respite from his burdens by thrusting him into a fantasy world where his fondest wish came true, Mom never died. While Dean's realization that things aren't always as you would want them to be as he realizes that having mom and having a loving girlfriend and a 'normal life' are nice he does not have that which is ultimately most important, Sam. Add to that the realization that his life as a hunter does mean something and that many people are alive because of his and Sam's and John's efforts allow him to refocus his attention taking it off his losses and putting it on his purpose and his victories and we get a powerful episode in which Dean finds his purpose again, however events the next week knock him back down.
None of the above make my choice of pivotal episode for, if we look at what happens in Seasons 3, 4 and 5, we realize that none of that would have happened if not for the seeds planted much earlier in Season 2.
"Crossroads are where pacts are made." When one is at a crossroads, there is a choice to be made, left, right, straight or go back" - in this case sell my soul or don't sell my soul.
We viewers knew that John had sold his soul back in In My Time of Dying. Dean suspected it and said as much to Sam in Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things; here it's confirmed. John is in hell, the demons are torturing him. Dean is given the opportunity to trade his life to release John and have ten years as a family. Dean is tempted, very tempted but it's a defining moment as the dedicated hunter in him holds firm; Evan Hudson needs saving and Dean takes action to save him.
Crossroad Blues lays massive groundwork for the future, here the events of All Hell Breaks Loose II are foreshadowed, from Dean dealing with a demon to his lack of self-worth speech to Bobby to being tired and worn down. George Darrow's recitation of his choices and how he's accepted them are much of what Dean embodies throughout Season 3 and we see it all outlined in the eighth episode of Season 2.
Crossroads Blues shows that deals have been made with demons for a long time and that while sometimes people seek the demon out sometimes the demon hangs around and makes its own mischief and misery; something that we learn all the way in Season 4 when it's shown that back in 1973 Azazel was making deals for his own purposes. We learn that crossroad demon deals are nothing new to the Winchester family. What we thought was a first in In My Time of Dying and almost occurred here -- and ultimately did in All Hell Breaks Loose II -- was, in fact, but a number in a long list of encounters between the Winchesters and crossroad demons.
Sam doesn't learn as much in this episode as Dean did in Nightmare but the cracks between the brothers and the desperation of
Dean is reflected by Sam's growing concern over Dean's head space as well as his revealing question at the end:
Sam: "When you were trapping that demon, you weren't, I mean, it was all a trick, right? You never considered actually making that deal, right?"
Dean doesn't answer but we the viewers, as well as Sam, know that he did, in fact, consider making that deal; if it were not for Evan Hudson "“ and the fact that this is a show about two brothers, not a father and a son, and also that Jeffrey Dean Morgan was otherwise working "“ Dean likely would have made that deal.
Crossroad Blues continued the course that is unchanged to today, as reflected in Sam's comment to Dean in Point of No Return "“ Dean will self-sacrifice because he does not see himself as worthy.
Dean's disdain for those that made their deals, the doctor, the architect, the husband, George Darrow, are all manifestations of one of his greatest coping mechanisms, deflect with anger or alcohol or sex or humor. Rarely do we see Dean so contemptuous of the people they are trying to help except when the topic hits so close to him personally, remember Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things and then again in Point of No Return when he uses anger to push the three closest away from him. If he can't crush it down and bury it, he'll use anger to remove it from his presence.
Crossroad Blues may be a bit of a monster of the week but it also brilliantly showcases what Eric Kripke has said all along, demons, angels and the like are all backdrop, the emotional family drama is the core of the show and where the real story lies. Here Dean's suspicions and fears are confirmed and the seed is planted for sacrifice. John sacrificed for him, unworthy Dean, and when the time comes to "˜right that wrong' Dean takes it. From that we get angels and seals and Lucifer"¦Crossroad Blues is the pivotal episode in Season 2.
All right. Bring on the comments. If you think this one is going to generate debate, wait until Season 3's comes out next week.
Thanks for reading! Elle2