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.---------------------------------------------
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.