Article Index

Note from Alice: I’m proud to offer another first time great guest contribution, this time from Laurel. “Most Loved Episodes” is Laurel’s take on her personal top ten favorites with some honorable mentions thrown in. Feel free at the end to share your list! Happy reading everyone.

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Note: “Swan Song” will go in these top ten at some point, but I’m still processing the episode, and therefore wouldn’t be able to give an accurate (if brief) analysis of it.  In any event, I’ll probably do an Episode Ramble Thingy of Doom anyway, so.  Just FYI.

MOST LOVED EPISODES

1. What Is and What Should Never Be

Holy shit, where can I start with this one?  I could write an entire dissertation on the nuances in this episode, and of how much I love it—actually, I might write an article at some point down the line—so I’ll do my best to condense it here.

First and foremost: Oh, Dean.  You’re so goddamn broken.  I would not hesitate for a microsecond to say this episode is absolute perfection; between Dean’s five-year-old reversion when he sees Mary—when he sees Mom—and his desperation to just be loved; to his verbal and heart-wrenching anger at John for depriving him and Sam of a life; to his love of Carmen, even though he’d never really known her; to the fact that Sam loved his brother despite the fact that Dean was, to be honest, a dick in that reality; even to the fact that Dean’s Sam just didn’t get it.  I love Sam to bits, but...I’m sorry, man, “It’s worth it” is so not what Dean wanted to hear.

The worst (by which I mean most agonizing) part?  When the Djinn’s versions of Dean’s family are trying to convince him to stay.  No matter how many times I watch this damn episode, that moment (followed by Dean at John’s grave) always kills me.  Which is why I never watch this episode with anyone; I’m always reduced to a bawling mess by the time it’s done.  I have no problem admitting that—and, to be honest, I think that one more word from his Mary or Jess or Carmen or Sam would have convinced him to stay.  He was just that close to jumping off the very appealing precipice.  This episode is, as far as I’m concerned, the best that Supernatural or any other TV show has ever churned out, and though other episodes (as will be expounded upon later in this) are superbly excellent, nothing will ever top “What Is and What Should Never Be.”




2. Born Under a Bad Sign

This is not only my favorite Sam episode, but also my favorite performance by Jared.  The man’s done spectacular work prior and after this, but this one just takes the cake.  Much like “What Is and What Should Never Be,” this is one episode that I can watch and rewatch and rewatch until Judgment Day and never get bored or fed up with it.  Make note, those of you who may still think that I dislike Sam or Jared, and that is why I put this episode as number two: the only reason why “What Is and What Should Never Be” is higher is because of that graveyard scene.  I truly believe that was the turning point for Dean; after that episode, after he’d had everything he’d ever wanted and then had to rip it away from himself, he was different.  It was that scene that, in my opinion, changed Dean’s entire character, and for that simple but convoluted fact, along with the other perfection of the episode, that is my number one episode.

But back to this one.  I love Jared as Sam, I think he brings so many facets to what could just be a whiny brat of a character, and I can see no other actor playing him, let alone playing him better.  It is this episode that epitomizes Jared’s skill as an actor.  Jared, to me, does his best work in subtlety.  Unfortunately, Sam’s character is written as less and less subtle as the series has gone on, and so there are a lot of scenes where “big” acting is required; that is, broad gestures, yelling, etc.  Whereas Dean is written as the more withdrawn character (regardless of how cavalier he presents himself), and so I think that is why Jensen continuously gets the props for being the “better” actor, or for having more subtle facial ticks.

And maybe he is, I dunno.  But I think that people would lay off Jared if he were allowed to tap into the subtletly I know he possesses.  How many of you, pray tell, didn’t get shivers from that smirk he gave after he shot Dean?  That minute but purely evil expression that was so completely un-Sam?  Or when he’s got the knife and taunting a tied-up Jo: how many of you were not entirely creeped out—in a good way—when he sing-songed the “My daddy shot your daddy in the he-ead,” or the “I know things”?

Jared is fantastic in every episode, but this one...he just blew it out of the water.  He’s had fantastic episodes after this one, including ones where he’s evil, but I don’t think he’ll ever be able to top this.  That’s a compliment, by the way.  And, on that note, I don’t think any other actor out there could top that subtle but overwhelmingly evil portrayal that Jared gave.  Kudos to him.



Comments  

joelsteinlover
# joelsteinlover 2010-05-29 15:18
When you got to Bloody Mary and were like "...that skeeves me out to the point of not wanting to look into a mirror," I was like "I know EXACTLY what you are talking about." I rarely get freaked but that one just...ugh!

I agreed with all of them (not nessecarily in that order, but whatevs) up until Provenance, which I didn't like so so much. IMTOD may have made it on mine, but I have to be in disagreement with your vehement hatred of John! I love that guy! I mean, I can understand why anyone would hate him but I don't, maybe partly because he is played by Jeffrey! Dean! Morgan!

I did agree with Nightshifter and also not just cuz of Styx. Frequently, I'll be watching this show and saying, "That whole thing just went terribly, terribly wrong." Nightshifter had one of those moments. Also, RONALD! And not to be a clothes geek but Dean's shirt did look pretty damn awesome on him, he also has this black and white plaid one that I love but I don't think we've seen it very often.

Point of No Return: You totally could just leave it at that. But...you don't like Bobby?! Aww! I did love Adam though, I thought I hated him the first time he showed up but real Adam is so awesome.

TMTM doesn't even need an explanation, it was just that awesome. Death Death Death! And Crowley Crowley Crowley! And the title is so fitting!

I dunno about Tall Tales, but yay Trickster so I'll roll with you.

Loved your list, do more!
Suze
# Suze 2010-05-29 18:30
All good calls, Bloody Mary is a total festival of creepyness. I watch through my fingers. Things in mirrors, Brrr ... :shock:. I'd chuck in Jus In Bello ( Boys in chains, Ooooh ... ) and Bad Day At Black Rock ( Daft and fabulous, 'nuff said ) and loads of others that I'm too knackered to bring to mind. You're quite right, the crap episode list would be SOO much shorter!

PS. I'm proud to recognise a fellow member of the Big Daddy W Needs A Good Slap Society. Respect! :D
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2010-05-29 19:41
Great calls Laurel. Provendence, Nightshifter, and Bloody Mary were three of my favorites. Also loved Bad Day at Black Rock and the pilot. Thanks for putting this together. I love lists!
magichappening
# magichappening 2010-05-29 19:48
Hey Laurel. Wow…a top ten out of 104 episodes....let ting 94 episodes go even temporarily...I applaud your courage and decisiveness!

I tried.

Twas difficult enough to cut the list in half let alone a top 20 or 10. I worked backwards to a top 5 for each season and from there to a top 2 if possible... The easiest thing to do would be to pick all 5 season openers and finales and be done with my top ten…but The Magnificent Seven did not make the grade and I was not entirely convinced by Sympathy for the Devil and In My Time of Dying was good but…

...I failed. I found it impossible to get lower than 12 and ranking them was beyond me ...you're a better woman than I am Laurel! So here they be in order of season rather than preference:

1. Season 5, Episode 22: Swan Song
2. Season 5, Episode 16: Dark Side of the Moon
3. Season 5, Episode 4: The End
4. Season 5, Episode 8: Changing Channels
5. Season 4, Episode 16: On the Head of a Pin
6. Season 4, Episode 1: Lazarus Rising
7. Season 3, Episode 16: No Rest for the Wicked
8. Season 3, Episode 13: Ghostfacers
9. Season 2, Episode 20: What Is and What Should Never Be
10. Season 1, Episode 22: Devil's Trap
11. Season 1, Episode 12: Faith
12. Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

So I ended up with 2 finales, 2 openers, 3 Episode 16’s and too many honourable mentions to mention! Really surprised me to end up with two from Season 3 and only one from Season 2…but I love Nightshifter too and am torn between Ghostfacers and Mystery Spot …and I love It’s A Terrible Life and Something Wicked…oooh and I second Suze's motion for Jus In Bello!

(NB Where do I sign up for the BDW needs a good slap society? Is there a helpline?)

Also, could someone please do a top ten or twenty (or thirteen) or fifty scenes of Supernatural So Far? Some episodes I was desperate to include for one particular scene e.g. All Hell Breaks Loose Part II, Point of No Return, Wendigo, Skin, Are you there God? It’s Me, Dean Winchester, Everybody Loves a Clown, Sin City ... yeah, OK. This is going to be a little more difficult than I thought!
Zim
# Zim 2010-05-29 22:34
Whoa, I need more than 10, I'll try to come close. In no particular order:

1. Mystery Spot
2. Devil's Trap
3. All Hell Breaks Loose I & II
4. In My Time of Dying
5. Bad Day at Black Rock
6. Born Under a Bad Sign
7. Swan Song
8. Song Remains the Same
9. Two Minutes to Midnight
10. The Monster at the End of This Book
11. When the Levee Breaks
12. Lazarus Rising
13. Dark Side of the Moon
14. The End

And I couldn't disagree more about John. I keep praying that JDM will show up once more. Hey, even Sam admitted that he "gets it" and understood that John did his best.
Karen
# Karen 2010-05-30 10:15
Hi Laurel
Welcome and Kudos to you! To be able to bring it down to 10 out of a 104 episodes! For me no way, can’t do it, not going to happen. Just looking at Season 1 alone I have at least 10 that I could watch over and over again. So I may get by doing my favourite 50, but even that would be difficult.

I’m with you with the Bloody Mary thing, would never even attempt to say it in front of a mirror. Same goes with ever saying Candy Man. That movie scared me for life.
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-05-30 11:52
Hi, Laurel

I wholeheartedly agree about:

1)Sarah Blake - yes, yes,yes!!! She's the perfect woman for Sam and if there's is any justice left in the world the writers will bring her back. If Dean has his Lisa, Sam has exactly the same rights. And Provenance rocks!

2) John winchester - People use to say that he did the best he could. I couldn't disagree more. I think he could have done much, much better. For one so concerned about his children's safety, leaving two little boys by themselves back in cheap motels doesn't strike me as a caring father's behavior. Not to mention that he totally ruined the boys'- especialy Dean's - childhood. Dean was forced to raise Sam, which was John's job, not Dean's, and incredibly many people blame Sam for that. Even when he gave his soul for Dean, he still managed to put a terrible burden on Dean's shoulders. No, John is not the Father of the Year, not to my taste.

3) Bobby - is not Jim Beaver's fault. He's a fine actor. It's just that the character is overused. I liked him much better when he was a frind and fellow hunter who the boys came to for help and consultation every now and then. But now he's too much in the spotlight for my taste. With so many issues between the brothers to be addressed last season, I don't think we needed 2 Bobby-centric episodes, for example. As for his being a father figure to the boys, I don't see much of an interaction between Sam and him to justify it. I sincerely wish that Season 6 focus more on the brothers, and less on supporting characters.

About the favorite episodes I agree with many of them. I just would include A Very Supernatural Christmas, When The Levee Breaks and Swan Song in some order. I didn't like Nighshifter that much, except for the ending. And if I had to pick just one comic episode - much as I loved Tall Tales -I'd go with Bad Day at Black Rock.

Sorry for the long post!
Bevie
# Bevie 2010-05-30 14:31
Hi Laurel,

I love and agree with your top ten choices even though I myself would find it impossible to not include over 100 in my top ten. :o

So very much easier for me to pick my least favourites which would be exactly 1 episode, Criss Angel is a Douchebag, and even than I didn't hate that one.

But I enjoy reading why certain episodes are beloved and would enjoy your top 50 choices if you would be so inclined. I certainly agreed with your reasons in this article and found a few things I have also always thought that many others seem to see differently.

For instance: Sarah Blake. I adore that woman and they couldn't have come up with a better character for Sam than that gorgeous awesome brave lady. Maybe we should be grateful she has never been back as she is at least still alive!

I too do not believe for a second that John lasted 100 years and never broke in hell or was a "righteous man". Alistair was pushing all of Dean's buttons and I would never believe he was telling the truth. Poor Dean seems to believe it and so do a lot of the fans. I will never believe it.

Also love your take on Lisa and Ben. I can certainly see how Dean could be so very fond of her, and he might also have a sneaking suspicion that Ben IS his son. In that case it wouldn't be unbelievable that when thinking he was going to die he would want to keep Ben and Lisa safe from the fallout of the apocalypse. Lisa maybe told a fib to him not knowing what would occur if she admitted that Ben was his. I like to think he is anyway.

;-)

Just one little disagreement here. I adore and love Bobby and like that he is like a dad to Dean. And a better dad than John ever was. He can be pretty hard on him as he was once in Lucifer Rising (can't forgive him for that "boo hoo" comment there) but then again he does love Dean dearly and there are very few of those around especially in season four when Dean seemed to lose even his most depended on Sammy. Dean had no one but Bobby. :sad:

As for comic episodes, I love all of these: Hell House (the way I love the boys to be with each other), Tall Tales (just a hoot altogether), Bad Day at Black Rock (great slapstick and "I lost my shoe"), Ghostfacers (the return of those two "professionals" ) Changing Channels ("I say jackpot!" and Dr. Sexy) I might have missed one or two but all the comic ones are gold.

Really enjoyed your article and look forward to more of them. :-)
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-05-30 14:38
Hi Laurel and welcome! Thank you for this amazing piece. Just as Karen I couldn't come down to ten episodes.

I enjoyed this immensely! Most of your most loved episodes are mine, too, however Nightshifter is not one of them - don't get me wrong, I like it a lot (in particular the last scene with Styx' Renegade is a marvellous piece of editing, sound effects and choice of music), but I wouldn't put it on a personal best-of list.

I agree with and welcome your generous assessment of the actors' abilities. Jared is indeed awesome in subtlery - he pulls out the layers underneath with a small gesture and ennobles a scene. And Jensen, well, he certainly is one of the most talented guys out there...

Well, then, off to work, dear, and get the other thing done!
Thanks again for this and - again: welcome to our creative circle!
:-) Jas
Evelyn
# Evelyn 2010-06-01 11:59
Great assessment Laurel. Getting favorites down to 10 - that is a tall order. I don't think I could do that. I agree with most of your list. I wouldn't put Bloody Mary or Tall Tales in mine though. As much as I did love those episodes, for me, others mentioned in your Honorable Mention section would be put in their place.

I do agree with you on Lisa and Ben. I loved these two and also secretly believe (hope) that Ben is actually Dean's son. And I would love for him to find something more stable with them. We'll see won't we. It will be interesting to see how TPTB write that whole scenario.

We are the exact opposite on two points. First is Bobby, I love Bobby. I agree with Bevie in that he has been more of a father to Dean than John ever was. Bobby has always been there for Dean. I look at his brashness with Dean more as tough love, a way of getting through the stubborn streak of Dean to get him to action or stop feeling sorry for himself. Bobby was one person who knew John better than anyone I expect and he's known Dean since he was a kid - so he knows both men very well and knows what needs to be done or said to get through to him. I loved it when Bobby tells Dean that he is a better man than John ever was - and I think we all agree with that assessment. Bobby knows not to sugar-coat things, so telling Dean like it is, as he does many times, is the only way to get through to Dean. Yes, it may seem harsh - but we do what we gotta do when dealing with our loved ones.

2nd is Adam. I was not all that enamored with Adam. I liked him okay, but sincerely hope we do not see him in Season 6. (IMHO).

Thanks for this. I look forward to your article on least favorite.
Ardeospina
# Ardeospina 2010-06-03 12:16
Great list, Laurel! Thanks for publishing it, and welcome to the site. Top Ten lists are so fun, aren't they? But I think I would have a super difficult time picking just ten favorite episodes. It changes so much depending on how I feel each day.
Anene
# Anene 2010-06-11 02:18
I 100% disagree with you. Born Under a Bad Sign was not a Sam episode. It was actually a very Dean-centric episode. In this episode, Sam is possessed for 99% of the time and Dean gets pushed to his limits regarding his father's final words and Sam's elicited promise from him. We learn along with Dean that he would rather die than kill his own brother or and will most certainly not let anyone else do it either. We learn how Dean is no longer following his dad's order by disobeying the last one he gives him even though he would have been justified to have taken Sam down when they found that tape. This was more of a Dean self discovery episode than about Sam.
But it was most definitely a Jared-centric episode though but not a Sam.
Ishtar
# Ishtar 2010-06-16 21:05
I'm late to the party, but what the hell. I can't not comment on this huge ass slice of awesome.

I pretty much agree with all of your episode choices. My list will be at the end of my comment. A few things that stood out for me in this article was

1) The lack of love for Bobby. I've seen a lot of this lately, especially after Lucifer Rising. While I didn't take issue with that particular rant towards Dean, I became overall annoyed with Bobby's self-pity in season 5. There are many people in wheelchairs, not excluding soldiers, who choose to focus on what they can do rather than what they can't. Half the time I just wanted to smack him upside the head with his own hat and tell him to get over it.

2) The John hate. I can't say that I actively hate him, per say, but I definitely don't like the man. While I can't hate him entirely for his parenting decisions, because surely they shaped some if not most of Dean's personality, I think he was an asshole who needed to take off the sergeant mask once in a while and be a father.

3) Love for Lisa. While I admit that my opinions usually lean more towards the unpopular side, this one I'm surely not apologetic over. I love Lisa. I love Ben (though I wish he had a bit more of his own personality rather than being a mini Dean). I love Lisa, Ben, and Dean together. Uncle Sam or no, I hope they stay together and I PRAY that Sera doesn't decide to kill them off.

Things I disagree on (there aren't many).

1) Jared's acting. While he's certainly not the worst actor ever to grace a screen, not even in the show itself, I don't think he's spectacular. While I do agree that he nailed it in Born Under a Bad Sign, I think his acting was sub-par in The End and Swan Song. Jared's a sweetheart, but sometimes his acting makes me cringe.

2) Gabriel/Trickst er. I swear I'm the only person in fandom who can't stand this character. Tall Tales, I loved him. Everything after that came off as way too cracktastic for my taste. I literally cannot watch the ending of Hammer of the Gods because it makes me cringe so hard (the porn, not Pestilence). Changing Channels, while it had it's funny moments (the sitcom and the herpes commercial), just didn't settle with me. This is so weird because I love the hell out of Richard Speight (even to the point of watching Band of Brothers and Jericho just for him).

My top ten:

On the Head of a Pin
Home
Provenance
Born Under a Bad Sign
Dark Side of the Moon
What Is and What Should Never Be
All Hell Breaks Loose 1&2 (I consider it one episode)
In the Beginning
When the Levee Breaks
The End