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:
#35 "Just My Imagination" (11.08)
In this episode, Sully, Sam’s former imaginary friend, asks Sam and Dean to investigate the mysterious deaths of several zannas, aka imaginary friends.
Alice hit the nail on the head with her comment: “Oh yes, it is as good as it sounds.”
Nate Winchester called it “a very classic style for Supernatural.” Journalbookbinder added, “This is a great Sam back-story with the perfect, typical SPN combo of funny and sad. Plus, I appreciated Richard Speight Jr.’s sensitive directing choices.”
Memorable Scene #1: Sam and Dean, posing as trauma counselors from Child Services, investigate the site of the first zanna death. Sully gives the boys the ability to see the zanna, and hence, the bloody crime scene. However, Maddie’s mother cannot see any of it, so as she picks up the (blood-soaked) teddy bear, she then proceeds to smear Sparkle’s blood all over her face.
Sully: Um, it’s on her face. Sam, it’s on her face!
Ms. Berman: Just tell me...
Sully: She’s got Sparkle on her face!
Ms. Berman: ... how do we get our girl back?
Sully: Somebody’s gotta say something. Somone’s gotta say something.
Sam: You know what, is there a spare bedroom? Great. Maybe Maddie can sleep there, that should help.
Sully: Not her face.
Dean: And a hot shower. That does wonders.
Sam: Real deep scrub. Purify.
Ms. Berman: For Maddie?
Dean: The whole family. Yeah, just get the whole gang in there... You know, the family that showers together... Kay.
Sully: Pull up. Pull up!
Lynn said, “Jared, Jensen, and Nate Torrance knocked it out of the park in this scene, but Kudos to Carrie Genzel as she smears the sparkly blood all over her face! The whole scene is PRICELESS - I can't watch it without laughing.”
Sully: Even when he's dead, Sparkle can't stop shining.
Memorable Scene #2: Sam remembers a time with Sully when they were sitting on beds in a hotel room, asking each other “do you ever think…” Eventually, Sully asks young Sam if he ever thinks about about running away:
Sully: Hm. Ever think, that maybe you wanna go to school? Make some friends?
Young Sam: But I have you.
Sully: Yeah, you do. But one day you won’t. Sam, I want you to listen to me. You can be whatever you wanna be. You’re not Dean, you’re not your dad. You’re Sam. And Sam is so awesome.
Memorable Scene #3: Sully, dropping truth bombs all over Sam:
Sully: You know I'm not gonna lie to you. When you went off to hunt, I considered that one of my biggest failures. Just seemed so clear to me that you wanted something else. But, I was wrong. It all worked out, didn't it?
Sam: I don't know about that.
Sully: Come on, you're a hero. Sam, you saved the world. I keep track of my kids, and you did really good, Sam.
Nightsky said this episode is on her short list of motivational stories: "JMI can inspire and comfort me, no matter what I'm facing in my life. Sam's trust when revealing his deepest fear to his secret source of comfort (Sully), then hearing exactly what he needed to hear (Sully's confidence in Sam), then Sam summoning the courage to face his greatest fear. It's the innocence of our vulnerability, and the reassurance that we always have inside us what it takes to push through life's scariest moments. It gets through to me every time."
Lynn loved this episode and she had a lot to say about it! “I loved this episode for so many reasons, but one main reason was that this episode was a poignant glimpse inside Sam Winchester's childhood and of his evolution into the man he is now, and I felt so grateful to get that backstory. I sometimes feel like we get more understanding of Dean than of Sam, and this episode was the exception. Jared and Nate, in their scenes together, knocked it out of the park - from Jared in his heartbreaking talk with Sully, apologizing for being a “jerk kid” and confiding in him about the cage and the Darkness; to Nate, with 9 year old Sam, letting him go because that’s what Sam wants. And Kudos to Jensen as well, with every subtly played break-my-heart-open look that says he wanted desperately to be there for his little brother when they were young and couldn’t. That he desperately wanted to be enough for Sam, and he fears he never was and never will be. Oh and bonus points for Dean in the dead guy robe and slippers and his childlike glee in coining the term ‘manicorn’.”
#34 "Heaven and Hell" (4.10)
In the first scene, Cas and Uriel are demanding that Sam and Dean hand Anna over to them, saying that she’s not “as innocent as she appears.” The boys are prepared to fight with Cas and Uriel, but then a bright light appears and the angels disappear. Well, well, well… as it turns out, Anna somehow knew that she could use her own blood to draw a sigil on a mirror that would banish the angels. Wait, what?
Sam does a little investigating, and he learns that when Anna was a child, she claimed she had another father, who was mad at her. Anna doesn’t remember any of that, so the boys ask Pamela Barnes, a psychic, to help her unlock her memories. Anna is able to remember, and she tells them she is an angel who chose to fall to Earth and become human, relinquishing her grace.
Yep, that’s right. Anna is, in fact, an angel. A fallen angel to be specific.
Sam, Dean, Anna, and Ruby travel to Kentucky to find Anna’s grace. While they are there, Anna overhears the angels talking; they are saying that if she is not handed over to the angels, then Dean will be sent back to Hell. Later, Anna tells Dean she knows what he did in Hell… and she tells him he should forgive himself.
One thing leads to another, and then, hey wait, is this when the word ‘squee’ became a word? Asking for a friend.
As Lynn so eloquently said, “Sex scenes are so rare in Supernatural, and damn, Jensen Ackles looks fine fine fine from the back.” Journalbookbinder added: “Dean has beautiful sex with Anna in the back of the Impala.” Beautiful indeed.
Sam, Dean and Ruby develop a plan to keep Anna safe. Part of that plan requires Ruby to make a deal with Alastair – she’ll turn over Anna if Alastair lets her and the boys go free. Unfortunately, Alastair tortures her until she agrees to take him to Anna.
Meanwhile, Uriel appears to Dean in a dream. He demands Anna, saying he knows Dean's weak spot, and offers him a choice. Uriel also reveals that he holds Anna's grace inside a necklace.
The confrontation begins. Sam and Dean versus Cas and Uriel. But then Dean’s choice is revealed – either Anna dies, or Sam. Just as the angels are about to take Anna, Ruby appears, with Alastair. The demons and angels fight, and during that melee, Anna steals her grace from Uriel, which allows her to become an angel again. And get this – this was Sam’s plan all along, to bring the demons and angels together, knowing they would fight, hoping it would allow Anna the chance to get her grace back.
Then there’s that final Broment. Lynn praised both Jared and Jensen for their work in this scene. “Jensen sobs for real, and the reality of his tears create an empathetic reaction as I watch that brings tears for me too. He has talked many times about how he lets Dean's emotions become real instead of having to think about something else, and that lends an extra realism to these scenes that is raw and powerful. And painful. Jared is just as good, showing us all of Sam's pain in realizing what his brother endured - to save his life - and clearly struggling with the horrible sense of helplessness that must come with that realization, and likely some guilt of his own. I think this is one of those scenes that Jensen had to ‘walk off’ after, and Jared went after him, because when your body is in the midst of so much emotion, you can't just tell it ‘oh never mind’, I was just acting."
Nightsky said, “That last scene of Dean confessing to what happened in Hell is one of the most powerful Brother scenes in the entirety of the series. 40 years in Hell. Shame. Regret. Pain. It’s all just so Powerful.”
Elle agreed, adding, “The moment that earns this episode it's ranking is that unbelievable confession on the Impala. I still tear up watching that - it's heart-wrenching.”
Dean: It wasn't four months, you know.
Dean: It was four months up here, but down there... I don't know. Time's different. It was more like 40 years.
Sam: My God.
Dean: They, uh... They sliced and carved and tore at me in ways that you... Until there was nothing left. And then, suddenly... I would be whole again... like magic... just so they could start in all over. And Alastair... at the end of every day... every one... he would come over. And he would make me an offer. To take me off the rack... if I put souls on... if I started the torturing. And every day, I told him to stick it where the sun shines. For 30 years, I told him. But then I couldn't do it anymore, Sammy. I couldn't. And I got off that rack. God help me, I got right off it, and I started ripping them apart. I lost count of how many souls. The -- the things that I did to them.
Sam: Dean... Dean, look, you held out for 30 years. That's longer than anyone would have.
Dean: How I feel... This... inside me... I wish I couldn't feel anything, Sammy. I wish I couldn't
feel a damn thing.
Gail said, “Dean’s confession about Hell was harrowing. Really showed off Jensen’s acting skills.”
Kate38 added, "Can any of us ever forget how hard we wept when Dean confessed what happened to him in hell? I'll never forget."
Listen, you know where to find me – I’ll just be in my little corner, sobbing, clutching that roll of toilet paper because I ran out of tissues a while ago.
#33 "Brother’s Keeper" (10.23)
To briefly recap, in this episode, Dean has gone off on his own. He’s investigating a murder/vampire case, and he’s trying to deal with the Mark of Cain (MoC). It’s not going well. Meanwhile, Sam and Cas are trying to find a cure for the MoC, hoping Rowena can find a spell in the Book of the Damned, and they need Crowley’s help in gathering the ingredients. Yeah, that’s not going to end well either.
Gail said, “Wow. Talk about suspense. One of the best season finales. Kept me wondering all the way through: How on earth are they going to get out of this one? I was really afraid Dean was going to kill Sam. I mean, we know Sam wasn’t going to be off the show, but still... masterful suspense, good writing. Superlatives all around.”
Kate38 said, "This one shocked me at the time. I mean, you can't KILL Death, can you? And Dean's not REALLY going to kill Sam, is he? I appreciated so many things about this episode. By the time we got to the end, I think I was exhausted. I loved the moment when Sam showed Dean the photos of Mary and their family, a reminder of his capacity to love and a guide to help him find his way back from wherever."
Memorable Scene #1: Dean may not always have the greatest bedside manner when dealing with people, but as he investigates the murder/vampire case, he is cold and outright mean when he talks to the victim’s parents. The situation is even worse when he finds the vampire, with both the victim and a fellow hunter named Rudy – Dean taunts the vamp until he ultimately kills Rudy. When Dean returns to his motel room, he sees Cas’ bloody face and Rudy’s face in the bathroom room, and he punches the mirror, smashing it to pieces. Enraged, Dean then smashes up the rest of the motel room.
Lynn said, “Dean was so far from the Dean Winchester that I adore – brutal, cruel, without compassion or empathy. Going through the motions of being a hunter and doing “good” but far from the hero we know him to be. And yet, we know there’s some of Dean still there, in the guilt he can’t seem to shake. All season, Dean has been determined to fight the Mark as long as he can, to go down swinging. The rage he expels when he finally erupts just shows that he has finally realized he can’t do it anymore.”
Memorable Scene #2: Rowena tells Sam and Cas the three ingredients she needs for the spell: the forbidden fruit, the golden calf, and a sacrifice of something that the spellcaster loves. Rowena says there’s nothing she loves, not even Crowley. Castiel doesn’t believe her, saying, “Everyone loves something.” Touching her forehead, he sees that Rowena befriended a boy named Oskar some 300 years ago.
Memorable Scene #3: Sam finds Dean’s motel room, but Dean is gone. The keys to the Impala are there, along with a note:
She’s all yours.
Lynn said, “I started sobbing for the second time, because we all know that Dean would never give up his baby if HE hadn’t given up. And that knowledge is heartbreaking. Brilliant to show it that way; it had an impact on all of us like nothing else would have. The Impala means so much to US too, and we know that Sam’s heart is breaking along with ours.”
Memorable Scene #4: Dean summons Death, asking Death to kill him because he can’t fight the Mark. Death tells Dean that he can’t kill him. Death then explains ‘the Darkness’ to Dean, telling him the only way Dean can be killed is if he gives the Mark to someone else, in order to keep the Darkness locked away. Death offers to relocate Dean with the Mark far away from Earth where he will no longer be a danger. Dean calls Sam and tells him he’s done, and to come to him so he can say his goodbyes.
Memorable Scene #5: Sam arrives at the restaurant, and thus begins one of the most gut-wrenching confrontations between the brothers.
Dean: Truth is, when I left, I thought the only way out was my death. Well, I was wrong Sam, it's yours.
Sam: You'll never, ever hear me say that you, the real you, is anything but good. But you're right, before you hurt anyone else, you have to be stopped at any cost. I understand. Do it.
Death hands his scythe to Dean. Sam shows Dean a couple of pictures that he brought – of Mary Winchester, Sam and Dean as children – as a guide to remind Dean what it was to be good and what it was like to love.
Death: It's for family that you must proceed, Dean. To be what you are, to become what you've become, is a stain on their memory. Do it, or I will.
Dean: Forgive me...
Then Dean swings the scythe over his head and stabs Death, who crumbles into dust as Dean looks on in shock.
Memorable Scene #6: Crowley brings all the spell’s ingredients to Cas and Rowena. He also brings Oskar.
Crowley: Ah yes. All my long life, I wondered what I'd done to deserve a mother that showed no love. I pained over it, I built my bloody kingdom on top of it. Then one day epiphany struck, my mother was incapable of loving anything, for the first time in hundreds of years I felt free. Then you showed up in my dungeon, we communed and I began to realize you weren't incapable of love, you're incapable of loving me.
Rowena appears conflicted, devastated, but then she stabs Oskar and collects his blood in order to complete the spell. Back in the restaurant, lightning strikes Dean’s arm and the Mark is gone. Now that the spell is complete, Rowena grabs both the Book of the Damned and the codex, and she puts an attack-dog spell on Cas – Cas then attacks Crowley.
Lynn said, “Mark (Sheppard) and Ruth (Connell) blew me away in this episode, and broke my heart. There's hate between them now - the kind that only comes from once having been loved and from the pain of rejection. When Rowena has to kill Oscar, it kills her, but it kills Crowley too - he can no longer tell himself the fiction that his mother was incapable of love.”
In the final scene, as Sam and Dean leave the restaurant, lightning begins to strike the ground throughout the nearby field. Black smoke erupts from those holes and forms a cloud that consumes the sky. Sam and Dean rush to get into the Impala, but they are engulfed by the smoke.
Oh yeah, this definitely did not end well.
#32 "LARP and the Real Girl" (8.11)
In this episode, Sam and Dean meet up with Charlie again after members of a LARPing group start to die. I really want to end that sentence with an exclamation point because Charlie is back, but maybe that would seem insensitive to the dead LARPers? Seriously, I mean no disrespect. But – Charlie is back!
Alice said, “Silly fun that shows Sam and Dean at their best with their ‘little sister’. We needed to see more LARPing in this series!” Journalbookbinder was thrilled to see Charlie “in a leadership role.”
Lynn said this is one of her favorite episodes, adding, “Felicia Day is in her element as the geek girl queen and I've never loved Charlie more. I love how Robbie Thompson lovingly crafted such a multi faceted character and how Felicia brought her to life. I love that the fact that Charlie's sexuality just IS, and that she and Dean are so comfortable sharing an unabashed attraction to beautiful women. It makes their relationship something rare and special in media, and Charlie herself a character that's important to many fans.”
Sam and Dean arrive at the first crime scene. Dean wanders through, using his EMF, while Sam talks to the sheriff. The sheriff explains to Sam that the victim received some strange, even threatening, texts… and once again, we have one of the most memorable lines from the show:
Sheriff Jake Miller: Like, uh... "You shall bleed for your crimes against us," followed by the emoticon of a skull. And, uh, this beauty – "I am a mage. I will destroy you." These kids today, with their texting and murder.
Sam and Dean then question Lance, the person who sent the texts to the victim. He tells the boys about Moondoor. The boys do some research, and they soon learn that the Queen of Moondoor is none other than Charlie!
The boys catch up with Charlie at the Mooondoor site and they begin to talk about what is happening. Charlie gives them more details about other suspicious incidents, breaking out a map to help with her explanation. Dean is fully engrossed, helping her strategize. Then Sam gets a call, telling him how Lance died:
Sam: But the medical examiner said his body showed clear signs that he was killed by belladonna.
Charlie and Dean: The porn star?
Sam: The poison.
Charlie and Dean: Oh.
Charlie is then kidnapped! Sam and Dean eventually find her, walking into the tent just as she is about to kiss a beautiful Fairy, Gilda. She tells Charlie that Boltar summoned her, put her under a spell, and is forcing her to hurt the others. Boltar says he did all of it so that he could win the Battle of Moondoor and convince the Queen (Charlie) to make him her King. Boltar prepares to fight with Sam and Dean, and in that process, Charlie is able to destroy Boltar’s book of magic which frees Gilda and leaves Boltar powerless.
Then there’s that epic final scene where Sam and Dean decide to have a little fun: before they join Charlie in the battle, Dean gives a pep talk to the troops. Sam tells us that Dean’s speech is actually a speech taken from the movie Braveheart.
Gail called the episode funny and entertaining, adding, “Charlie is so likeable, and relatable as an every (wo)man who just wants to be free to live her life without worrying about the supernatural. Love Sam and Dean, mainly Dean in the end, realizing they need a little fun in their lives. The ‘Braveheart’ speech and the costumes – Terrific!”
Lynn said, “Special props to the costuming department for dressing up Sam and Dean and Charlie in the battle scene! And props to Jared and Jensen for getting into it enough to paint their faces and rock some great hair, aka Jared finally donning a ponytail and Jensen in that blonde wig!”
#31 "Dark Side of the Moon" (5.16)
This episode begins with Sam and Dean awakening to the sight of two hunters pointing guns at them. They are there to kill Sam, blaming him for starting the Apocalypse. And bam! Walt shoots and kills Sam! Then bam! Walt shoots and kills Dean too!
Roy: Killin’ Sam was right, but Dean...
Walt: He made us and we just snuffed his brother, you idiot. You want to spend the rest of your life knowing Dean Winchester’s on your ass, ‘cause I don’t. Shoot 'im.
Dean: Go ahead, Roy, do it. But I’m going to warn you, when I come back I’m gonna be pissed.
Alice said, “Sam and Dean brutally murdered by hunters as a teaser! An attention grabber from the beginning! In between it all, a chance for the brothers to work on some long time family scars.”
Journalbookbinder added, “Great insight into Sam and Dean’s past and what they each value most from it.”
Gail said, “Interesting view of the brothers’ respective Heavens. Dean’s hurt is evident, but again, you can see both sides from each brother’s points of view, especially when Sam’s memories all seem to be about being apart from the hunting life. Poor Cas is devastated by Joshua’s news that God doesn’t want to intervene in the Apocalypse. Talk about the ultimate negligent parent. Harbinger of things to come!”
Kate38 said, "I'll always wonder if they meant for this episode to be as sad as it was. Not only does Dean learn that the happiest moments of Sam's life were when he was away from his family, but Sam gets a first-time glimpse of what Dean's early childhood was like with Mary - something he never had a chance to experience for himself. And at the end when Castiel and Dean both discard the amulet because they realize God isn't going to help them, their despair is just... wow."
As the rest of the episode proceeds, we are taken on a journey through Sam’s and Dean’s memories, as they make their way through Heaven. The first memory is Dean’s, a Fourth of July spent with a young Sam, setting off fireworks in a field.
Nightsky loved this scene, calling it a “precious moment between brothers. Both are happy and smiling, which is so rare.” Yes, it is good to see them like this, to know they did have happier times together.
Then Dean is alone again. Cas begins to talk to Dean through the radio of the Impala, confirming that Dean is in fact dead, but if he follows the road then he will find Sam. Dean finds Sam having a happy memory of a Thanksgiving dinner at the home of one of Sam’s crushes.
Dean: C’mon! Your Heaven is somebody else’s Thanksgiving. Okay. It’s bailing on your family. What do you want me to say?
Sam: Man, I never got the crusts cut off my PB&J. I just don’t look at family the way you do.
Dean: Yeah, but I’m your family.
Sam: I know...
Dean: I mean, we’re supposed to be a team. It’s supposed to be you and me against the world, right?
Suddenly, a floodlight is sweeping through the house, and the boys hide. Cas talks to them through the TV, telling them that Zachariah is looking for them so he can send them back to Earth; Cas also tells them this is their chance to find God, and tells them to look for someone name Joshua in Heaven’s garden.
As they make their way to the garden, Sam and Dean travel through several memories, including:
Dean: Kind of trippy, right?
Sam: Yeah. More trippy. Um. Apparently, you ‘wuv hugs.’
Dean: Shut up.
Ash appears, saving them from Zachariah’s pursuit. Ash explains Heaven to Sam and Dean:
Ash: Mm-hmm. Yeah. See you got Winchesterland. Ashland. A whole mess of everybody-else-lands. Put them all together: Heaven. Right? At the center of it all? Is the Magic Kingdom. The Garden.
Dean: So everybody gets a little slice of paradise.
Ash: Pretty much. A few people share—special cases. What not.
Dean: What do you mean ‘special’?
Ash: Aw, you know. Like, uh, soul-mates... Anyway. Most people can’t leave their own private Idaho’s.
Ash then shows them a shortcut to the garden.
The memories continue: this time, Mary is taunting Dean, telling him he’s a burden, that it’s his fault that everyone leaves. Zachariah is actually behind this, and he tells the boys he will torment them until they give up and return to Earth. Fortunately, Joshua appears and tells Zachariah that he needs to speak to the boys.
Joshua tells Sam and Dean that God knows what is happening. He also confirms that God saved them when Lucifer was resurrected, and God resurrected Cas, and now God has given them salvation. Joshua also tells them that God is on Earth, but the amulet will not help them find Him. God does not want to intervene (in the Apocalypse) anymore, and He doesn’t want the boys to intervene either.
And then there’s that sad, heart breaking final scene, when Sam and Dean are back on Earth, and they tell Cas what they learned from Joshua.
And Cas gives the amulet back to Dean, saying:
Dean is sad and angry and broken. He drops the amulet in the trashcan as he leaves the motel room.
I just can’t. I have used all of my tissues in writing this article this week. I Cannot. CAN-NOT. No one had better even mention that F-word (F**aL Season) to me for the next several days.
And that’s episodes 40-31 in the Top 100 Favorites list! Did any of these make it onto your list? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to join us as we continue the countdown with episodes 30-26!
Twitter: @MamaPrior or @PriorStudios
Staff Writer, https://fangasmthebook.com/
Staff Writer, https://thewinchesterfamilybusiness.com/
See the whole list of our Favorite 100 Episodes from the beginning! You can find them all with the tag Top 100 Episodes!
Need a little help compiling your Top 100 Favorite Episodes? Karen and Nightsky are sharing their Top 10 episodes of each season, to coincide with the #SPNSummer2019 Hiatus Rewatch. You can find those lists, and all of WFB's Top 10 articles in WFB's Article Archives!