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.
3. The End
This was another spectacular episiode done by both boys. Obviously, I have to say that Jensen was the standout part of this one, because not only was he asked to play two Deans who, in some scenes, play off each other, but it was also required of him to make each one different enough so the audience could distinguish the two, and yet make them similar enough so you could tell they were both Dean. He succeeded in spades.
The different colored jackets were, I’m assuming, meant to make it easier for the audience to tell which was Future Dean, and which was Present Dean, but in my opinion, they could have been wearing identical clothing and armaments, and yet we’d still be able to tell who was who. Future Dean had that deeper, more worn voice, carried himself with more stiff resignation, had the dead and desolate eyes that could come only from watching his baby brother say yes to the Devil. Present Dean, as we knew, was still majorly depressed and dejected, but his voice was just that much stronger, there was more of a purpose behind his step and his expressions. The two were as polar opposites as day and night, and the fact that one actor can do such a flawless job is astounding to me. This was most certainly an Emmy-winning performance (hell, an Oscar if those could be applied to television), and if Supernatural weren’t hopelessly ignored by awards committees, this would have had them falling over their feet to present Jensen with one.
That isn’t to say Jared didn’t do a wonderful job, either. It goes without saying that my favorite performances by him are when he’s playing evil, and though I stand by what I said in that “Born Under a Bad Sign” was his best evil personification, his portrayal of Lucifer was breathtaking. Mark Pellegrino has shown Lucifer as a sympathetic yet malicious angel, that quiet danger beneath the pretty mask, and Jared, while keeping in with Mark’s tones, added his own flavor that made Lucifer—Samifer, if you will—even better. I can’t even describe how brilliantly creepy and just plain good it was. I certainly don’t want Sam to house Lucifer (forever), but I would also not object to seeing Samifer again. Jared just did that good of a job.
4. Bloody Mary
My first episode of Supernatural was not until “Family Remains,” the middle of the fourth season, and so I did not catch this episode first run. Instead, because I was instantly hooked, I went out and bought seasons one through three and burned through them embarrassingly quickly. And while each episode has its merits—some more than others—and each is memorable for its own reasons, and many have proven to be horrifically creepy, “Bloody Mary” is the only one to this day that still skeeves me out to the point of not wanting to look in a mirror for a good while after a rewatch. In fact, although I was never exactly an advocate of it, it wasn’t until after I saw this episode that I had a full-on aversion to the whole Bloody Mary dare thing. I still don’t believe in the paranormal, but good God. I refuse to say Bloody Mary into a mirror. One of those “I know nothing will happen, but just...no.”
Supernatural has many, many excellent moments of horror, terror, and creepiness, but “Bloody Mary” outshines all of those. (Maybe “outshines” isn’t perhaps the best word, you catch my drift.) The dark atmosphere, the beautiful directing and cinematography with the mirrors and the presentation of Mary, not to mention the blood dripping from the eyes and the alter-persona within the mirror, all made this episode worthy of Hitchcock’s praise. As Shawn from Psych would say, it “[puts] you on the creepy train headed for Creepy Island where the creepy natives drink creepy nectar out of creepy coconuts.” It may not have Jason, or Freddy, or Michael, or any of the other horror icons, but “Bloody Mary” is an episode that, should you watch it alone in the dark, reflections start to look a hell of a lot less benign.
The first—and, regrettably, last—appearance of Sarah Blake, the woman with whom I avidly ship Sam, and the one who I hate has not been brought back. Also the sole woman who, if I may be so bold as to suggest it, fandom agrees is amazing and a perfect fit for Sam. Which, when you consider that “Provenance” was only the nineteenth episode of the series, is a pretty damn good achievement. Sarah was badass, sweet, understanding, and just plain awesome. I think that she would have made a perfect hunter, and I hold the belief that she is, in fact, doing just that. Out there somewhere, still thinking about Sam. Also, make note that Sarah is the one girl of whom Dean has wholeheartedly approved. As memory serves, he approved of her enough to tell Sam to marry her. Granted, that was probably an exaggeration, but, I mean, come on. Can you not see her holding her own and being a great ally and aid to the brothers? I can.
Sarah girl-crushing aside, this episode was also creepy as hell. Little girls are already creepy, and add in a doll, a razor, and a painting, and you’ve got yourself a good, old-fashioned, lock-the-doors shiver fest. This was one of the few episodes where I legitimately did not guess the murderer until she was revealed, and one of the few where I was on tenterhooks waiting for Dean to bust through that glass and save Sam and Sarah. Not that, obviously, they would have been killed, but I think that that reaction I got was exactly what the show was going for, and I think that episodes like this perfectly personify what Supernatural is, at its core, about. Pure, unadulterated horror.
With a totally bitchin’ love interest on the side to boot.
6. In My Time of Dying
My favorite season opener, to be sure. The others were good, “Lazarus Rising” certainly packing a hell of a punch, but this episode was just. plain. good. I’m not one of those people who salivates over hurt Dean or Sam, and so that wasn’t what did me in; rather, that Dean was, effectually, a ghost throughout this, and had to both solve a “case” of his own and communicate with Sam as well. All from the ghostly plane. (Or whatever Kripke wants to call it. That’s what it was called in Charmed, so that’s what I’m using. Lemme alone.)
I loved Tessa the Reaper, thought she was a great addition, and loved her return in “Death Takes a Holiday.” Also would not complain if we saw her again. No clue under which circumstances she would reappear—besides when there’s reaping to be done, obviously—but it’d be cool nonetheless. I loved her initial appearance, as the scary-ass ghosty thing above the kid’s body, and how Dean, ever the hunter, tried to grab her. And, to an extent, succeeded. Even though throughout this episode I wanted to slap him upside the head and yell, “Dean. Sweetie. You’re. a. GHOST.” I settled for rolling my eyes.
But anyways. I liked this. It was one of the few episodes—if not the only—in which I could tolerate John. I hate the dude, hate him, but I thought his presence here was not homicide-worthy. I overwhelmingly despise the huge guilt and burden he put on Dean (I echo Dean’s sentiments in “Playthings” here: You don’t put that shit on your kids, you just don’t), but his deal did let Dean live, and I guess I can be thankful for that. Even though I still hate him.
The thing that got me most out of this episode is the directing. I loved the focus on the Exit sign, and the care to make sure that, even before Dean figured out he was a ghost, Dean’s footsteps were silent, and the Ouiji board scene with Dean and Sam. It was all very affecting and supported the dialogue and tone of the episode, and I adored it.
I know, the episode about which most of the fandom gushes. For me, it isn’t just the fact that “Renegade,” by Styx played at the end—as awesome as that admittedly was—but because of the intense, almost comic book-y feel of the episode. Not just talking about the very beginning, where the helicopters were cruising between the buildings, that grayish-blue tint to the skyline and the spotlights going over the windows, either. More, the suspenseful, but at the same time darkly comical, atmosphere of the episode. From the hostage situation to the tenseness of having to find the ’shifter while simultaneously trying to keep a leash on the Feds, Ronald, and the creepy crawlie in the bank (poor Sam with his juggling Ronald’s glee and the hostages) to the Oh, shit-ness of Sam and Dean’s situation just made this episode phenomenal.
Of course, it’s Supernatural and thus not without tragedy, in this case it being Ronald’s death. Though there’s been many, many deaths in the show, Ronald’s was one of the saddest. I quite liked the dude. Granted, he came back briefly in season four, but still. I loved his geekiness about the supposed Mandroid and then shapeshifter, and his “This is not a robbery!” He was just so adorkable, and didn’t deserve to die. But that’s Show for you.
Also, on a shallow note, I loved Dean’s shirt in this. He looked lovely in it, and I’m regretful we’ve only seen it once (I think; and don’t ask me the episode) since then.
8. Point of No Return
ADAMMMM. Can I leave it at that? No? Okay, fine.
Even disregarding the fact that this was the 100th episode, it was splendiferous. Dean’s packing up his belongings at the beginning, the letter-writing to Sam, Cas, and Lisa (I’m positive on the first, and spitballing with the last two, from what I could read of the letter; remarkably, Dean’s handwriting is pretty damn good for a dude), the checking of his Colt M1911 magazine before putting it in the box, his folding of the jacket and doing the same, all of it punctuated by somber music and Dean drinking hard liquor made it the perfect opening. Incidentally, it was also the point at which I knew I was going to be done for. I stole a box of Kleenex from my roommate, in fact, and used most of it.
From there, it all went downhill. Not in quality, no sir, but in terms of my emotional strength. There were only two smudge marks in this episode as far as I’m concerned: Bobby, and Zach’s later comment upon which I shall not elaborate (the latter chiefly because I already did so here and would not like to revisit). Oh, Bobby. I really, really do not like the guy. Not as much as I don’t like John, but...I dunno. I like Jim Beaver just fine, but Bobby just gets under my skin for some reason. One of the bright spots in “Swan Song,” actually; though Bobby doesn’t stay dead or anything, it sounds as if he won’t be in many episodes in season six. So (my) happiness for that.
I hated Bobby’s guilt tripping of Dean. I hate how in “Lucifer Rising” he yelled at him in such a godawful manner. Sure, the boy needs some sense knocked into him now and again, but in my opinion, Bobby was going about it all wrong. In “Point of No Return,” Dean was already at his rope’s end, hanging on by his fingernails to already fraying fibers. He was doing what in his mind was the right option—and, until Sam came up with his harebrained plan to take in Lucifer, the only option—and, to be honest, the one I personally thought was best. Bobby hammering Dean’s emotions was not the wisest idea.
But anyway. I loved Adam’s return, and I adore Jake Abel, so I’m glad we got to see him again, and that he made another appearance in the finale as well. He was so not the ghoul’s version of Jake, nor was he the ghoul, but an entirely separate person. Someone who was a hundred percent Winchester, through and through. He was a perfect amalgamation of both Sam and Dean, and I loved him for it. I was sad that he was sacrificed at the end, but, again, this is Supernatural. No one, certainly not a Winchester, is safe.
This is an episode I could rewatch over and over and over again (so long as I fast-forward through the Bobby and Zach meh-moments), and not only enjoy it even more each time, but find new nuances and such that I may not have caught before. Gorgeously shot, gorgeously acted, gorgeously dialogued, gorgeously everything.
9. Two Minutes to Midnight
Favorite part: Death. I’ll say that right off the bat. I liked the other Horsemen a lot—in order, if I had to choose, I’d go Death, War, Famine, Pestilence, though those last three aren’t set in stone—and they each had their own brands of awesomeness, but Death took the cake. He was quick-witted (“Think how you would feel if a bacterium sat at your table and started to get snarky.”), badassery (“Regardless, at the end, I reap [God], too.” “I’m more powerful than you can process, and I’m enslaved to a bratty child having a tantrum.”), and had the entrance to end all entrances. That slo-mo shot with him driving up, bumping into the dude and thusly causing said dude to die right then and there, all set to Jen Titus’s “O Death”? LOVE.
Also, Sam was quite the BAMF in this episode, if I do say so myself. He saved an entire building of people who were under capture by demons doing Pestilence’s bidding, and looking incredibly handsome all the while, and didn’t stop to pay regard to his own life; it’s “Saving people, hunting things” personified, and I totally adored Sam for it.
Also also, Crowley. What can I say about Mark Sheppard that isn’t already known to everyone? Nothing. He’s just that awesome. And every synonym of “awesome” that Messrs. Merriam and Webster can provide.
Lastly, this line of Cas’s, which is arguably the funniest of all: “I don’t understand your definition of ‘good news.’” Heh. Dean’s accompanied “No shit, Sherlock” expression is just GOLD.
Ahem. I heart this episode. In case you couldn’t tell.
10. Tall Tales
Come on, I had to have one comedy episode in here. “Tall Tales” is, in personal opinion, the funniest episode of the entire series. There are many episodes where I’ll nearly literally fall over laughing, but this episode was just a side-splitting wonder from start to finish. Sam and Dean’s totally exaggerated versions of events (whether Sam’s making Dean out to be this cheap man-whore or Dean’s making Sam a total fishwife, not to mention the “Blah, blah blah blah blah blah...BLAH.”) and Bobby’s total “...What?” and the Trickster all around (I prefer to not view him as Gabriel until “Changing Channels”) and just...well, everything. It’s such a feel-good episode that you can show to anyone and have it be an immediate hit.
I realize I said the least about this episode, but, I mean, come on. It’s simply...hilarious. Epitomizes the word.
(Next page, see the Honorable Mentions...)
Dark Side of the Moon
Talk about your heart stomping episode. Between Dean’s interactions with Mary (oh God, KILL ME) and Sam’s total Jared-ness with Bonesie and that gut-wrenchingly sweet scene between Dean and young Sam, I was a wreck. It was loveliness all around. For the record, I would very much like Jensen and Colin Ford to have another scene together. They’re fantastic.
At first summary, I was kind of skeptical that they could pull this off, but pull it off they did. Wonderfully. I’ve never seen Grey’s Anatomy (really have zero intent to), but from everything I’d heard, the hospital scenes were totally in tune with that show, which was obviously the effect they were going for. And Dean’s man-crush on Dr. Sexy? And the nurse hitting a totally “What. the. fuck. lady?!“ Sam? And Dean’s spontaneous speaking of Japanese? And the sitcom? And Dean’s vehement rant about procedural cop shows? And Sam-KITT? Agh, I was laughing myself to death. The Gabriel revelation at the end was unexpected (obviously), but not unwelcomed. Dean’s family speech was perfect, and I’m really glad we got Gabriel to return in “Hammer of the Gods.” He’s great. (Also, Kripke, ’twould be much appreciated if he weren’t actually dead. Mmkay?)
On the Head of a Pin
Another ouchie episode. Not only was Dean forced to torture Alastair, but it was revealed that Dean broke the first seal because he broke in Hell. Oh, Dean. As if he weren’t hurting enough already. If it means anything, I don’t personally believe that John lasted a hundred years. I think that was Alastair just fucking with Dean to get under his skin. I think Dean is stronger than John—maybe this stems from my John hate, I don’t know—and I simply don’t think that Alastair was telling the truth. Which is entirely plausible, given the fact that he was a demon. In any case, Jensen outdid himself, and the end scene with him and Misha broke my heart. In a good way.
The Kids Are Alright
Lisa. Ben. Dean. The trifecta of cuteness. There was also a creepy plot to this episode with the leechy kids and such, but for the most part, I loved this episode because of the introduction of Lisa and Ben. There’s a lot of wank about it because people don’t think that Ben’s Dean’s (which I so do, by the way; a blood test doesn’t prove jack squat), or that Lisa was supposedly just a one-night stand (also don’t think that; why the hell would he not only remember her after nearly a decade, but trek all the way out to Indiana if he didn’t care about her?), but I say screw all those haters. Lisa’s reappeared as an obviously repeated fantasy of Dean’s in “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” as the focus of Dean’s happiness in “Point of No Return,” and as the person to whom Dean promised Sam he’d return in “Swan Song.” The haters can say what they want, I say Dean cares a hell of a lot about her, and could very easily love her. And Ben. And they can live happily ever after with Uncle Sammy (’cause you know he ain’t going to stay dead for long) and yayness. I am certainly not delusional, how dare you say different?
Everybody Loves a Clown
This is on there primarily because it’s creepy as fuck. I’m already somewhat of a coulrophobic (fear of clowns), and so seeing this episode just...*shudder* It was a solid episode otherwise (with a large dose of Man Pain), but it was the clown plot that did me in. I’m skeeving out just thinking about it.
Aaaand, I’m done. I intend to make a Least Favorite Episodes thing at some point, but that’ll be less fun to do, so it may be a few days. Because I know you guys care so much.
Anyways. Comment if you wish, or else just ignore this. I had fun doing it.