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Open Supernatural Couch - Croatoan
 
Or
 
Infernal Virus Cocktail, Shaken, Not Stirred
 
Every sound echoes through the hallway as Dean checks his gun in slow motion, the click of the magazine like a metallic drum... takes aim at an unarmed, bound young man, listening to the others' fearful arguments, the guy's desperate pleading... but in fact - he's already decided to have no choice. He hates to do this. In all likelihood hates himself this very moment for having to do this... and he shoots him...
 
Dean! What are you doing?! No, this can't be ... this just can't be... and it isn't. Not yet. It's just another nightmare vision poisoning Sam's sleep, so powerful that it must have catapulted him out of bed. A dream that leads them to Rivergrove, Oregon.
 
Sam:    You thought there was something inside him
Dean:  What, a demon? Was he possessed?
Sam:    I don't know.
Dean:   All your weirdo visions are always tied to the yellow-eyed demon somehow, so was there any black smoke? Did we try to exorcise him?
Sam:    No, nothing. You just plugged him. That's it.
Dean:   Well, I'm sure I had a good reason.
Sam:    I sure hope so.
Dean:   What does that mean? I'm not gonna waste in an innocent man. I wouldn't!
Sam:    I never said you would!
Dean:  Fine.
Sam:    Fine. We don't know what it is, but whatever he is, that guy in the chair is part of it. So let's find him, and see what's what.
Dean:   Fine.
Sam:    Fine.
 
Both are on edge and how could they not be? Not long ago their father died and left Dean with some information concerning Sam. They heard that allegedly John was a part of how Jo's father died which put a shadow on their newly formed relationship to Ellen and Jo. And - there had been a moment where Dean considered, if only for a split second, to trade his soul to the crossroads demon... drops of oil on the already slippery slope towards disaster...
 
As they arrive in Rivergrove, Sam immediately spots the coloured man from his vision, and Dean scores some points for recognizing the guy's rank of master sergeant Varko - well, Dad was in the corps... so the former marine points them to the place where the young man Dean shot in Sam's vision is supposed to live.
 
 
 
You've got to love Sam's Sherlock Holmes - mind... His eyes are open to everything, he remembers tiny details like the thin scar the guy in his dream had, and now he stumbles onto the word Croatoan, engraved in one of the poles there, connecting it to America's probably first ghost story of the lost colony Roanoke.
 
They don't know, yet, of course, what's happening, but the brothers do know that it might be of a dimension that will exceed their capabilities. Sam's visions that are usually connected to YellowEyes... something big is afoot, no doubt. Trying to call for help discloses another crucial element to anyone who would want to wipe out a city: â€˜Line's dead. I'll tell you one thing: if I was gonna massacre a town, that'd be my first step.'
 
Where Sam is the widely gifted mind when it comes to knowledge and research, Dean excels at war design and strategic instinct - he smells it, putting himself immediately in the head of a potential terrorist, probably demonic. The Stepford attitudes of the people living there disturbs them and rightly so, as they witness the strange blood transfusion the Tanners are performing on the family's mom... and Sam, not yet anything like a cold blooded assassin, is just not capable of shooting the running kid in the back.
 
Dean:  You know, if you had taken out the other one, there'd be one less to worry about.
Sam:    I'm sorry, alright? I hesitated, Dean. It was a kid.
Dean:   No, it was an it. Not the best time for a bleeding heart, Sam.
 
Oh, Dean, you must be falling apart on the inside, observing your brother, as dad instructed you to, and over-interpreting his every reaction. Like a watchdog on drugs, being erratic, maybe even smelling some peculiar scents where there aren't any, well, not yet...
 
So, they get Mrs Tanner to the local medical clinic and perform their roles as Marshals again quite convincingly, though slightly disturbing the doctor, Amanda Lee, by showing up with the dead body of Mr Tanner who ‘did the attacking and then got himself shot'. No one can actually believe why the Tanner family would change so significantly. Except the Winchesters... still going for some kind of possession.... They should go to the movies more often, had they seen 28 Days Later, perhaps, they would have picked up the trail sooner...
 
Okay, Dean tries to find a way out while Sam stays behind, trying to keep the others safe - and not even knowing, yet, from what.  There is no way out. Dean runs into more blood... it's messy, whatever is going on, and then meets a road block... ha, saved by that beautiful car - he turns her around like a race car driver, what a car! (Don't shoot the Impala, damn you!) What a guy... Sorry, kind readers, I just love that moment. So very Han Solo. So very Dean.
 
Sam, in the clinic, learns of the weird residue to be found in a victim's blood - sulphur. Sam's face speaks volumes in this tiny sequence. It's an aha-moment for him, suddenly the strange reactions and the missing of demonic possession signs are beginning to make sense - and there is confusion and panic in his eyes, lasting as long as a heartbeat before he puts the U.S.Marshal mask back on. Oh, Sammy... a demonic virus? Because - what else could it be? He has suspected that something different than possession was going on and now this.
 
While Dr Lee still tries to find out what kind of disease might have caused the reported reactions, Sam attempts to remain calm, not letting on what he is suspecting.
 
And his fears are growing, experiencing first hand the effect of the strange viral infection the victim had been fighting off, due to his high lymphocyte percentage (lymphocytes are the body's anti-virus police, usually increasing when a viral infection needs to be conquered): Mrs Tanner just turns into a violent creature of enormous strength, and Sam needs a metallic bottle of Oxygen to calm her down.
 
We'll get back to you on that
 
On his way back, Dean almost runs sergeant Vargo down - a scene that become a hysterical exchange of ‘Put your gun down' - ‘No, you put it down' . Both soldiers are in panic, confused, but Dean, with his knowledge of the paranormal gets a grip easier than the big guy, realizing they could remain there all day threatening and ultimately kill each other and not being useful instead.
 
So, they drive back together, guns aimed at each other, just what you need to relax your mind... And that is one hell of a job, as it's fairly hard to bring someone in panic down, believe me, I know. Dean does his best to keep the guy in the shotgun seat down, Sam assures the nurse that help would come. Oh, boy, if you knew how desperate the situation really is...
 
This is the Omega Man - I Am Legend scenario. Sam is pretty keen on putting Dean in the picture of the demonic germ warfare idea, finally having understood why he had been having visions about this place. While Dean had been away, Sam has been ‘poring through dad's journal. Found something about the Roanoke colony. ... Dad always had a theory about Croatoan. He thought it was a demon's name, sometimes known as Dever, sometimes Reshef, a demon of plague and pestilence.'
 
Indeed this demon can be found in the Bible as a companion of Yahweh upon His appearance as the destroyer. In Acadian faith he was also a god of war, a god of the underworld, visiting the earth for a duration of 160 days each year, from July to December.  I wouldn't be surprised if Horseman Pestilence and this guy were friends. Perhaps even in league spreading diseases all over the planet...
 
As soon as Dean hears of Mrs Tanner being infected, he does not hesitate to kill the woman pleading for her life, yet not before having Sam confirm it - which he does, heartbrokenly and, for the moment, defeated.
 
This specimen of the Croatoan virus must have been an early version, as in this episode the infected persons are still capable of trying to manipulate others, to lie to save their skin, and not yet the mindless, bloodthirsty killers we've seen in later seasons... Looking back, I can't stop thinking about demonic scientists, in underground labs, experimenting with hundreds of captured people - perhaps those that disappeared hundreds of years ago in Roanoke and now those vanishing from Rivergrove, maybe many of the disappearing persons each year ended up in demonic laboratories... what a creepy thought. As Lucifer had ages to plan his escape, why not start in a pretty much uninhabited colony and expand his knowledge about this means of warfare over centuries... The big plan...
 
Now, the Winchesters still don't know about the master plan of destruction they will painfully learn of later on, but they are aware that they have to warn others about what's coming. Unfortunately they landed in a town not unfamiliar with rifles. Then, explosives are the deal of the day. And Sam, walking encyclopaedia of knowledge (how I love a smart man, in particular this smart man... oh, sorry, folks... you can't expect me to write an article entirely bereft of shallow moments, can you? I know, I know, he's a fictional character... but let's pretend for the length of an episode that he's not....) knows how to make some....
 
You sure, Mr. Kripke, that Sam and MacGyver don't share any DNA?
 
No time, as Duane Tanner shows up, confused, afraid, exhausted. For a moment Sam can't believe his eyes. Again, his vision is coming true. I can't help but assume that he might have hoped to be wrong this time. Because if not, his brother was going to shoot Duane.

 

Comments  

elle2
# elle2 2010-06-27 13:13
Hi, Jas,

Great open couch episode. So much to process and this one didn't give answers for a long, long time.

I love how you draw the bits that both brothers are dealing with from what has already transpired and then knit them together with the bits that are to come.

The obsertvation of Sam as the research analyst, quick to put the puzzle pieces in order and Dean as the military strategist quick to note the quirks and that 'it's quiet out there, too quiet' is also what makes the two so good as a team, nice notation by you.

I'm enjoying these moments on the couch that you've selected thus far.

:-)
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-06-27 17:59
Thanks so much, Elle2, for commenting on this article!
I do indeed see the brothers as a perfect team, and in this episode it is visible once more...

Happy that you enjoy my couch... Thanks and all my best, Jas
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2010-06-28 12:05
Another winner Jas. Croatoan is one of my favorites.

I’ve sometimes wondered if Jensen knew Dean’s secret during filming Croatoan, because even the first time I watched it, I could have sworn there was a tragic bit of relief in Dean’s decision to stay with Sam. Could be my own interpretation, but it seems to be there.

Thanks for giving the Impala some love! What a great hearted girl she is. That was a lot of strain put on her big body for this ep, but she saw Dean through.

Apologies, but my inner geek is coming out. Spoiler alert: At the risk of ruining the mythological proportions of the story…the Lost Colony of Roanoke isn’t just a ghost story but historical fact. There are some valid theories as to what happened to the people (who included the daughter of White, one of the Colonies founders and financiers, and his granddaughter Virginia, the first English child born on American soil.) Without going into too much detail, Croatoan may be a demonic name but was also the name of a nearby Indian Tribe. But there is still enough mystery surrounding the fate of the colonists that archeologists still search through the ruins for clues.

And I believe you’re right. There is some MacGyver DNA in Sam. After all, Jared did play the part of the Young MacGyver. The series might not have been picked up, but there is some MacGyver in his acting tool bag. I’m sure Kripke took this into consideration. :-)
Suze
# Suze 2010-06-28 13:59
The empty blood-stained baby seat one saw for half a second actually got me more upset up than all the viral shenanegans put together! I'm such a wuss ... :oops:
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2010-06-28 21:00
Good review Jas. A lot of historical fact in this episode and they used it well. Loved, Loved the impala screencap! She is one good girl!
Julie
# Julie 2010-06-29 13:16
Jas,
Great article again, you know Croatoan is also high up there on my list and is one I re visit regularly. I love the brother moments in this, whether the parts where they are at odds with each other and disagreeing or working as the wonderful team we know them to be.
There is no reason at all to apologies for drawing everyones attention to the `Han Solo` moment it was memorable ( of course this would make `The Impala` `The Millenium Falcon`, again ) or Sam channeling MacGyver ( another show I loved and which was educational, I still remember him starting his car engine in the desert from a catcus and repairing the leaking nuclear reactor with a bar of chocolate?? )
The scenes after Sam is infected are really heartbreaking with Dean so weighed down with the burden of `the secret` placed on him he is ready to give up, then we also had a foretaste of things to come with him refusing to leave Sam to die alone despite Sams` desperate pleas.
I was lucky and saw these episodes on DVD so unlike you I did not have the wait for the reveal. That must have been a very, very long week.
Karen
# Karen 2010-07-01 10:06
Hi Jasminka
Great review. Croatoan is another one high on my list of favourites.
Any that are strong on the brotherly moments and the comedy are usually the ones high on my list.
I guess they were testing to see if Sam was immune to the virus, to ensure they could use it in the future. After all you can’t have Lucifer wearing Sam’s body and have it go all squirrelly when exposed to the virus. That’s all we would need, Luci even more demented than he already was.
anene
# anene 2010-07-01 19:07
This episode is one of my all time favourite. Season 2 in general have my favourite episodes.
Like others have said, it had great, strong, quality brotherly moments and that is the best part of any episode. It was also well written with the mythology and monster of the week being inter-woven with the progression of the brother's relationship. Something lacking in season 5. That scene where we all know Dean was going to turn the gun on himself after Sam dies always gets me. It is both chilling and heartbreaking. I also loved all the supporting cast and most of all, the end scene by the lake. The Grand Canyon is somewhere i think they need to visit come season 6. They deserve it.

And ditto on them being a great team. They work so well together. This episode gets paralleled in future episodes so much. Especially in Point of no Return, The Devil You Know, & Swan Song. By Swan Song, we all knew how natural it was for Dean to decide that he would never let Sam die alone and how the fact that Sam was going to die was destroying him on the inside. And for poor Sam to have to know that his brother plans to die and how he was powerless to stop it. At least in Swan Song, Sam was for the first time, able to protect Dean from such a fate.
The brotherly love.
Evelyn
# Evelyn 2010-07-01 21:13
Yes, the brotherly love is very evident in this episode and it is also one of my all-time favorites. I also love the Impala scene where Dean escapes the Croats. Whenever I watch this episode I always have to replay that scene numerous times before I can proceed with watching the rest of the episode.

Jas, I also liked your analogy of the brothers about how they work well together. Each brother brings a distinct set of skills to the team. They are both skilled enough to do the job alone, but as a team, they are unstoppable.

As far as the scene in the clinic after everyone leaves and it is just Dean and Sam. I noticed here that all the scenes before that one, Dean's voice is very gruff, loud and angry. But when it is just himself and Sam, Dean knows what their fates are, has basically resigned to it and his voice changes. His voice becomes soft, reserved, almost loving. It is a small difference, yet very powerful and a great change-up to really get the point across what must be going through Dean's mind. (Jensen is always so fantastic at these little things-another reason why he is so great.) I love this scene and the boys play it out so perfectly. I just wish it weren't interrupted by the others coming back. Would have like to see this play out longer, but I guess we kind of saw it when they were at the river.

Jas, again, wonderful review. Always look forward to reading your perspectives. Good food for thought.
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-07-02 10:39
Jas, thank you for another great article. Croatoan is one of my favorite episodes in my hands-down favorite season. In my opinion, season 2 has the best brotherly scenes in the whole series, generally speaking. Croatoan is one of the very best examples. The soon-to-dye Sam scene is a classic.

I know it's not a very popular view, but I liked SPN so much better when it was just the two of them. Now there are way too many secondary characters stealing the spotlight. It's just my feelings, of course, and I don't want to start anything. ;-)
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-07-03 14:44
Yvonne, Suze, Sablegreen, Julie, Karen, anene, Evelyn, AndreaW, being away for a while also means to miss all your sweet comments – but the fun is greater finding them upon coming back…

Yvonne, thank you for explaining some more about Roanoke and Croatoan – I was referring to a quote by Kripke who called it ‘America’s first ghost story’, but else I didn’t research more about it (for once I withstood the temptation to dig into the mystery – but you made me curious, so maybe I might). I didn’t know what Croatoan also is the name of an Indian tribe. Thank you so much for pointing that out. I love to learn.

Suze, I think I invented wuss… let’s print some t-shirts…. Or at least share a box of Kleenex.

Sablegreen, I know you love the Impala – that picture might be in there just for you….

Julie, isn’t it great to love this show that brings together so many loves of us? I got me the dvds afterwards (in England they were already on sale) to save me cliffhangers. Wisest decision. So, I could indulge in the heartbreak as much as I liked. I hated it. I loved it. Oh, dear…

Karen, I also think maybe at the time they shot this episode they were not entirely sure what to make of Croatoan and the idea of Sam being immune added to his mystery, no doubt. It had me biting my nails indeed.

Anene, indeed, so many dimensions come together here, all painted in sombre colours by the star-crossed relationship of the brothers. Imagine – knowing that you’re (allegedly) sick and will die or turn into something else and your brother will stay with you and then die, too… there hardly is anything more painful, isn’t it? There are so many moments of this kind of emotional impact in this show. I hope they will continue with it in season six.

Evelyn, my thoughts exactly – the best team possible are the Winchesters. And I couldn’t agree more with what you say about Jensen’s acting- the man always uses his voice to express certain nuances, and it’s so hard to do it authentically.

AndreaW, you are, of course, entitled to your opinion and I understand why you liked the show better with focus on the brothers… it might not be the most popular view, but it’s your view. And you are one of us fans… how boring would it be if we were all of the same opinion, dear?

Thank you all for commenting. Looks like I picked an episode many of you love, so – I am honoured by your comments and your love for the show.

Take good care, Jas