Time to continue the countdown of our Favorite 100 Supernatural Episodes! This week I’m counting down numbers 40 to 31!
How did we choose which episodes deserved to be on the Top 100 list? Rankings were determined by a group of rag-tag-war-torn fans who spend way too much of their time studying and writing about Supernatural! More specifically, participants in this ranking challenge included administrators and writers from The WFB, admins from the website Fangasm, and admins from Super-Fan-Wiki. Each individual’s rankings were tallied to create a consolidated list of our Top 100 Favorite Episodes - and by “tallied” I mean my computer-expert hubs took the excel spreadsheet and applied his math-genius skills, resulting in a formula that weighted and ranked the final results. Details about this epic project (as well as the Runners-up episodes that just missed being on the list) are described in "The Road So Far" introduction. It’s all about the Math, and say it with we – Math Don’t Lie. So let’s get to this week’s countdown!
#40 "Weekend at Bobby’s" (6.04)
On the surface, this episode is about a surly old hunter doing whatever it takes to nullify his deal with Crowley in order to get his soul back.
If you dig a little deeper, you see this episode is a glimpse into Bobby’s everyday life. It’s Bobby, trying to juggle too many things at once, unable to focus on the one thing that is most important to him – getting his soul back. It’s the phone constantly ringing, hunters calling to ask questions, hunters needing help. It’s Rufus, showing up unexpectedly, needing Bobby’s help with an okami. It’s Marcy, Bobby’s neighbor, showing up unexpectedly with a peach cobbler. It’s Bobby ultimately killing that okami via a woodchipper, thus saving his neighbor Marcy from certain death.
It’s Sam and Dean, calling, perhaps too many times, needing Bobby to help them with the creature they’re hunting, and needing Bobby to listen to their personal problems:
Bobby: Sam. Dean. I love you like my own. I do. But sometimes – Sometimes... You two are the whiniest, most self-absorbed sons of bitches I ever met! I'm selfish? Me? I do everything for you! Everything! You need some lore scrounged up, you need your asses pulled out of the fire, you need someone to bitch to about each other, you call me and I come through. Every damn time! And what do I get for it? Jack with a side of squat!
Bobby: Do I sound like I'm done? Now look. I know you've got issues. God knows I know. But I got a news flash for you. You ain't the center of the universe! Now, it may have slipped your mind... that Crowley owns my soul! And the meter is running! And I will be damned if I'm going to sit around and–and be damned! So how about you two sack up and help me for once?
Sam: Bobby, all – all you got to do is ask.
Dean: Anything you need... we're there.
But if you dig even deeper, this episode is Us. It doesn’t matter where you are in your life – married, or not; a parent, or not; working full time or part time or maybe not working at all – we are all Bobby in this episode. We all have days, even weeks or months, where it is all so chaotic and frenzied and there’s just so much to do, and it takes every ounce of strength we have to juggle our way through it. Me time? Forget it. Not happening. Watching this episode is like watching ourselves, and perhaps on some level, it is a comfort to know that Bobby works through it, he gets the job(s) done, he gets his soul back – and we’ll get through it too.
And all the while, Bobby is trying to figure out how to nullify his deal with Crowley. He’s got a crossroads demon trapped in his basement, torturing her for information.
Nightsky called Bobby’s lecture to the boys “priceless” and I can’t think of any better way to put it than that. #Priceless
Gail loved seeing things from Bobby’s point of view, adding, “The boys really take him for granted sometimes, don’t they? We love them, but they do sometimes get a little tunnel vision when they’re working a case! Finally, Bobby tells off the boys, when they don’t realize that they’re not the only ones dealing with stuff! But, was it just me, or did Sam and Dean ever get to Scotland quick! How many beers did Dean have to drink to calm him down on that long flight?”
Kate38 said, "I always tell myself that I love this one more because it's Jensen's first time directing, but there's so much more to love about it than that! What a hilarious glimpse into Bobby's life!! I'll always love the comedic charm and chemistry between Bobby and Rufus. "Did you stab it seven times?" LOL!! We also get Jody Mills, and we get to slowly peel back the onion skin and discover that Dean knows something is definitely off with Sam. Toss in some hilariously snarky Crowley antics and one-liners, and some amazing writing, and you have the formula for the perfect peach cobbler of an episode. Only WE get to actually eat some!"
And of course, we also find out that Crowley’s human name is Fergus MacLeod, and he has a son named Gavin. Rufus helps Bobby summon Gavin, who then gives Bobby crucial info; and in the end, Sam and Dean dig up Crowley’s bones, thus giving Bobby all the power over Crowley, and he gets his soul back.
Bobby: Listen. Um – about the things I said earlier. I was in a tough spot and I – I guess I was –
Sam: You were right, Bobby. We take you for granted.
Dean: You've been cleaning up our messes for years, Bobby. Without you, I don't even want to think about where me and Sam would’ve ended up.
Bobby: Okay then, let’s roll credits on this chick flick.
Alice said, “A great episode that gave Bobby his due. He earned it!” Earned it indeed.
#39 "The Great Escapist" (8.21)
Alice said this is one of her personal favorites, which is easy to understand, because this episode is absolutely jam-packed from start to finish!
First, Crowley has kidnapped Kevin, keeping him inside a fake reality, making him believe he’s still on the boat by sending in demons posing as Sam and Dean. Ultimately, the fake Sam and Dean were too nice, and Kevin suspected something was wrong. Kevin manages to get his notes about the Demon Tablet to Sam and Dean.
Then there’s Cas, who is trying to keep the Angel Tablet from Naomi by traveling from Biggerson’s to Biggerson’s; Naomi sends two angels to one of those locations, with the instructions to kill everyone inside except one waitress; the angels don’t kill her, but they do not burn out her yes. When Cas arrives, the waitress gives him Naomi’s message: “You have to stop.”
Ultimately, Cas is captured by Crowley and Crowley takes the Angel Tablet.
Naomi to Cas: You have never done what you were supposed to do.
Nightsky's observation on that quote: "That’s interesting. That means Sam and Dean didn’t corrupt Cas after all. He was always a rebel.” Team. Free. Will. Forever.
Lynn said, “Kudos to the acting in this episode! Both Mark Sheppard and Amanda Tapping brought so much evil to their characters that I literally got chills when they got down to business. What a treat to have not one, but two, villains who can pull off BAD like that, and make you love and hate their characters simultaneously! Osric Chau also hit it out of the park – his exasperated video message to Sam and Dean, in which he tearfully admits failure and apologizes, had me tearing up too. And Misha gave us a Cas who, even broken and bleeding, remains defiant and determined (and pretty damn badass). I was cheering out loud when he fished that bullet out with his bare hands!”
Gail added, “Cas, wily jumping from Biggerson’s to Biggerson’s, and all the while being badass – Cas hid the Angel Tablet IN HIS STOMACH! He kills Ion by digs the Angel-killing bullet out of himself, and shoves it INTO THE BAD ANGEL’S EYE! I mean....Yipes! There are times I really miss that Castiel. Oh and boy, do I hate Naomi!”
And as Sam gets sicker, Dean does what he does best, the only thing he’s ever really known – he takes care of Sam.
Dean: Alright, here we go. John Winchester's famous cure-all kitchen sink stew. There you go. Enough cayenne pepper in there to burn your lips off, just like dad used to make.
Lynn made an interesting comment, and I can’t shake the image of it. She said, “We get to see Dean once again show his vulnerability and the caring that comes with it. When he threatens to do the ‘airplane thing’ with the spoon, I was instantly bombarded with images from the boys’ childhood, little Sammy a stubborn 18-month-old refusing to eat and Dean still a little boy himself, resolutely taking care of his brother.” U.G.H. I did not need to think about little Dean taking care of baby Sam like this. I am shattered.
Meanwhile, Sam is getting sicker. He has a fever, he’s hearing things, and he’s having very vivid memories from his childhood.
Sam: Hey, you remember when uh... when dad took us to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, on that pack-mule ride?
Sam: You rode a farty donkey.
Sam: You used to read to me, um, when I was little, I— I mean, really little, from that— from that old, uh... Classics Illustrated comic book. You remember that?
Sam: Knights of the Round Table. Had all of King Arthur's knights, and they were all on the quest for the Holy Grail. And I remember looking at this picture of Sir Galahad, and, and, and he was kneeling, and— and light streaming over his face, and— I remember... thinking, uh, I could never go on a quest like that. Because I'm not clean. I mean, I w— I was just a little kid. You think... maybe I knew? I mean, deep down, that— I had... demon blood in me, and about the evil of it, and that I'm— wasn't pure?
Sam: This isn't a cold. Or a fever, or whatever it is you're supposed to feed. This is part of it all. Those first two trials... they're not just things I did. They're doing something to me. They're changing me, Dean.
Nightsky said, “These scenes are just one of the many reasons why I love this episode! Sam’s stories to Dean about their childhoods are so precious. Of course, there is also that scene of Sam’s fever faint. LOVE this scene! Then WorriedDean, the ice-bath plunge, and WetSam. Hello.”
Wait, I might need to go check on Nightsky. Did she faint? Can someone tell me if she fainted?
Sam and Dean read Kevin’s notes from the Demon Tablet and discover a lead on Metatron. That lead takes them to a hotel in Colorado. They find Metatron, holed up in one of the rooms, surrounded by piles and stacks of books.
Nightsky said, “Metatron was good at this point. Humble. I like this Metatron. He talks a lot about free will ‘at least as much as you’ve mastered it so far’. I wonder what the implications of that are, given S15.”
Nope, I’m not going there yet. Just, NO.
At first, Metatron is resistant to the idea of helping the boys, but eventually he does. After he rescues Kevin, he reveals the third trial – Sam has to cure a demon.
Dean: Cure a demon. Okay, ignoring the fact that I have no idea what that actually means, if we — if we do this, you get better, right? I mean, you stop trying to cough up a lung, and, and, and bumping into furniture?
Sam: I feel better, yeah, um, just having a direction to move in.
Dean: Well, good, cause where we're headed doesn't sound like a picnic.
Sam: But we're heading somewhere. The end.
Oh Sam. In spite of what his body is going through, he still wants to keep going with the trials. Perhaps he hopes to find atonement? Purification? Purification from the blood of Azazel? As Nightsky said, “Sam’s confession about never feeling clean, even as a child, that the trials are purifying him… it’s so emotional, and sad.”
Lynn made an excellent point, one that I think sums up everything: “There was so much heroism in this episode. Kevin, determined not to break this time, no matter what. Cas, exercising his free will and trying desperately to do what he thinks is right, no matter what. Sam, willing to turn himself inside out in order to undertake these trials. And Dean ready, willing and absolutely determined to do whatever it takes to make sure Sam succeeds and comes out alive on the other side. All four characters embody what heroism is – it’s not just the hero who ‘saves the day’, it’s all the people who sacrificed so he could do it. It’s every little victory along the way, carved out in blood and pain and loss.”
Listen, here, Sam, you are perfectly enough just the way you are. I’m just gonna go sob in the corner now.
#38 "Death’s Door" (7.10)
Listen, full disclosure: in the entirety of this Show, only two deaths have truly devastated me. So this one will be difficult for me. In this episode, Bobby, our beloved father figure, dies.
Before I get into the episode, I’d like to give All the Kudos to Jim Beaver. His portrayal of Bobby throughout the series is worthy of every award. He gives us a character that is surly and rough, but also loving and lovable. Bobby is the father that Sam and De- no, no, scratch that… Bobby is the Dad that Sam and Dean deserved. And Bobby is Bobby because of all that Jim Beaver breathed into him.
O Show, how dost thou devastate me? Let me count the ways:
Tissues-Required Scene #1: Sam sits at the hospital, rubbing his palm – like he used to do when he was having hallucinations of Lucifer. Really? Really?! That’s how Sam is coping with this? He subconsciously hopes it’s a hallucination! I can’t, I really cannot.
Tissues-Required Scene #2: That poor hospital administrator, just doing his job, takes Dean aside and tries to talk about organ donation. And Dean absolutely explodes. EXPLODES. He doesn’t want to talk about organ donation because he believes Bobby will wake up, that he can be saved. It’s fine. It’s fine, I don’t need my heart anyway.
I-Need-More-Tissues Scenes of Bobby’s inside his mind. As in, all of them. All of these scenes are so, so… gut wrenching. As he is dying on the table in the hospital, he is frantically trying to get back to Sam and Dean. Inside his mind, he finds Rufus, who tells him the way back is through his deepest, darkest memory. And we re-live all of those memories with Bobby. There are one or two happier ones, like when he remembers playing catch with a young Dean (hang on, I need another tissue). And there are heart breaking memories, like the fight he has with his wife, Karen… a fight about him not wanting to have children, and she’s so hurt… a fight that comes just days before she’s possessed and he has to kill her (more tissues).
And all of the memories about him as a little boy, living with an abusive father… culminating in his darkest memory: when he spills the milk, and his father erupts with utter rage and begins to beat his mother and so Bobby gets a shotgun and shoots and kills his father, and oh my god, I am just broken now.
Second-Box-Of-Tissues Scene #3: The reaper confronts Bobby and says:
Reaper: Bobby, you've helped. You got handed a small, unremarkable life, and you did something with it. Most men like you die of liver disease, watching Barney Miller reruns. You've done enough. Believe me.
Finishes-Off-Second-Box-Of-Tissues Scene #4:
Bobby: As fate would have it, I adopted two boys. And they grew up great. They grew up heroes.
Opens-Third-Box-Of-Tissues Scene #4: Bobby fights his way back to Sam and Dean, waking up long enough to write part of the number (45489) on Sam’s hand, a clue about the Leviathans plan. Then Bobby whispers, “Idjits” and. He. Dies. I… I… I’m just… sobbing.
No-More-Tissues-So-Moving-On-To-Toilet-Paper Scene #4: Back inside Bobby’s mind, he is again confronted by the reaper who tells him this last memory is the last piece that is still alive. And it’s a memory of a movie night with Sam and Dean, drinking beers and arguing about licorice. And Bobby says:
Bobby: Glad I saved the best for last.
First, Gail said, Objectively speaking, the script was very well-written, but emotionally....not Bobby! Waaaah! I can’t deal.
Then, Nightsky said, “Jumping around in Bobby’s memories is informative, interesting, scary and creative. It’s a great way to learn about him ... and say goodbye. Sadly, the brothers die a little bit with him.”
Kate38 said, "I've always loved and appreciated Bobby Singer, but learning more about his tragic back story in this episode just made him more precious to me. And the fact that he ditched his reaper to try to save ‘his boys’ just speaks volumes about his never-ending devotion to them."
Journalbookbinder added, “The memory Bobby saved for last before his death is burned into my brain – it’s the mundane things that matter most in the end.”
“The things that matter most.” That’s it. I’m done. Done. I’m just a puddle of tears and feels and shattered pieces of my heart. Send help.
#37 "Devil’s Trap" (1.22)
Sam and Dean are trying to find their father. Their efforts to locate John lead them to the house of another hunter, and we are introduced to one of the Show’s most beloved characters – Bobby Singer.
Once at his house, it becomes obvious the boys know Bobby very well. Before anything else can even happen, Meg shows up and attacks them, demanding they give her the Colt. However, she is soon caught beneath a devil’s trap – because of course, Bobby has a trap painted on his ceiling - and Dean begins to interrogate her about John’s whereabouts. Meg insists he’s dead, but Dean doesn’t believe her. Dean insists on exorcising the demon in order to save the girl, so Sam reluctantly reads the exorcism. The demon is banished, and human Meg, dying painfully, gives them a simple clue - "sunrise."
Alice called the scene the “best exorcism of the series.”
Kate38 said, "I fell hopelessly, ass-over-teakettle in love with Bobby Singer from the very first time we met him. And this episode is just one example of why. Among other things, I've always loved how Bobby jumps right in to help ‘his boys’, no matter the ask or the cost. He'd be like: "So, lemme get this straight. You got demons on your tail, they want the Colt, AND now they have your dad? Sure, come on over and we'll figure something out. Beer's on me." Bobby is the lovable, cranky uncle I will always wish I had in my life."
Bobby: No, but I know it’s something big. The storm’s coming, and you boys, your daddy – you are smack in the middle of it.
Meg’s clue leads the boys to the Sunrise Apartments where John is being held prisoner. While the building is being evacuated for a possible fire, Sam steals two firemen uniforms, and the boys then make their way to the apartment where John is being held. They find John tied to a bed, nearly dead. Once all three are out of the building, a demon attacks Sam. Dean shoots the demon with the Colt, and they are able to escape.
The three Winchesters flee, seeking refuge in a cabin. Dean quietly admits that he's scared of the lengths he'll go to in order to protect his family, but John says Dean should be proud of what he does for the family.
Dean: You’re not mad?
John: For what?
Dean: Using a bullet.
John: Mad? I’m proud of you. You know, Sam and I, we can get pretty obsessed. But you – you watch out for this family. You always have.
That comment makes Dean suspicious. John’s eyes glow yellow, revealing that he is possessed by Azazel. Demon!John attacks the boys, severely hurting Dean. Dean begs for his life. Sam is able to free himself and grab the Colt. Sam shoots John in the leg, but John begs Sam to shoot him, at the same time Dean pleads with Sam to not shoot their father. Sam is clearly conflicted, but ultimately he lowers the gun, and the demon escapes John's body.
Lynn said, “Kudos to both Jared and Jensen in this scene! As the YED torments Dean with everything he fears most - this family doesn't need you, etc. - it's so heartbreaking, and Jensen plays out his pain with such realism, thus revealing so much about Dean Winchester. Jared also killed it in this scene as Sam struggles to decide whether or not to shoot Demon!John, showing us all of Sam’s pain. So much of this show's power comes from the actors' incredible ability to show pain and suffering, and this episode is overflowing with it.”
In the final scene, Sam is driving the Impala, with John in the passenger seat and a seriously injured Dean in the back seat. John tells Sam how disappointed he is that Sam didn’t shoot the demon. Sam promises to get them to the hospital, but a semi-truck crashes into the Impala, leaving all three Winchesters unconscious.
#36 "Nightshifter" (2.12)
In this episode, Sam and Dean investigate a string of robberies where employees hold up banks and then kill themselves. During their investigation, they meet Ronald Reznick, a conspiracy theorist who believes the culprit is a ‘mandroid’; he proves his theory to the boys by showing them surveillance tapes from one of the robberies, which shows the robber’s “laser eyes.” The boys quickly realize Ronald’s idea of a mandroid is actually a shapeshifter.
Sam and Dean figure out the shapeshifter’s next target. They pose as security techs so they can watch the bank’s security cameras and identify the shapeshifter. Unfortunately, Ronald has the same idea, only his plan is less effective. Dean convinces Ronald they believe his theory, and they lock up everyone in the bank’s vault in order to identify the mandroid.
Meanwhile, the bank’s security guard alerts the local police. Sadly, as the situation escalates, Ronald is shot and killed by one of the police snipers. Dean is devastated.
Lynn said, “Ronald's death hit me so hard - because it hit Sam and Dean so hard. We've seen so many deaths in the past 14 seasons, but this is one of the hardest. He was trying so hard to do the right thing. RIP, Ronald.”
Then the FBI arrives, led by none other than Agent Henriksen. As far as hostage negotiations go, Henriksen doesn’t seem to care at all, in fact, he seems to be taunting Sam and Dean.
Henriksen: And yes, I know about Sam, too. Bonnie to your Clyde.
Dean: Yeah, well, that part's true, but how'd you even know we were here?
Henriksen: Go screw yourself, that's how I knew. It's become my job to know about you, Dean. I've been looking for you for weeks now. I know about the murder in St. Louis, I know about the Houdini act you pulled in Baltimore. I know about the desecrations and the thefts. I know about your dad.
Dean: Hey, you don't know crap about my Dad.
Henriksen: Ex-marine, raised his kids on the road, cheap motels, backwood cabins. Real paramilitary survivalist type. I just can't get a handle on what type of whacko he was. White supremacist, Timmy McVeigh, to-may-to, to-mah-to.
Dean: You got no right talking about my Dad like that. He was a hero.
Henriksen: Yeah. Right. Sure sounds like it. You have one hour to make a decision or we come through those doors full automatic.
Journalbookbinder pointed out that this is “the first time we see Sam and Dean scared as they realize the feds are after them.” Nate Winchester added, “Great example of tension and steadily making things worse for the heroes.” Alice called the episode “Easily one of the most exciting hours of the series!”
Oh but the episode isn’t over yet. Oh no, not even close. We still have to get through the final scene.
Kate38 said, "Of course, Victor Henriksen will forever be one of my favorite characters, and he stuck his landing in a big way in this episode. This was a great story with just the right amount of tension balanced with humor (courtesy of Ronald). I love that they kept me guessing all the way through about which person was actually the shapeshifter. And I LOVE the surprise escape at the end! Absolutely brilliant!”
Elle said, “The iconic use of music at the end was just incredible!” Lynn added, “The first time I saw this episode, I didn't even realize what Sam and Dean had done until they pulled up their masks in the car and 'Renegade' started playing. So damn smart and so damn badass and the most kickass music! What an epic ending.”
SWAT teams infiltrate the building while Dean fights and finally kills the shapeshifter. Sam and Dean steal SWAT uniforms and escape by walking right by the other SWAT members.
Cue the music, Renegade by Styx. Sam and Dean walk to the parking garage, reaching the Impala, and they get in… they slowly take off their headgear… all the while, it is the slow hard beat of the music… the haunting lyrics playing in the background…
And then Dean says:
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