Cahtryn Humphris wrote her first episode for Supernatural late in season one and has since averaged only two episodes per season. I donâ€™t know why she doesnâ€™t write more, but I enjoy the ones she has written.
Dead Manâ€™s Blood was her first episode and she showed from the beginning she could handle big material and big emotions. Cathryn introduced us to vampires in the Supernatural world and the Colt. Cathryn reunites the Winchester men and keeps them together. Cathryn gave us an actual, present-day fight between Sam and John to illustrate those that had previously been alluded to and we see first-hand how Dean plays mediator between his father and brother.
At the end of Dead Manâ€™s Blood we learn quite a bit about John as a father and the hopes he had at the birth of his sons. Sam sees a different side of his father and is open to listening to John the dad rather than John the drill sergeant. Dean reaches a crossroads of sorts in Dead Manâ€™s Blood and makes a decision that astounds Sam and shocks John but that which Dean stands resolutely by. Cathryn Humphris gives us a foreshadow of what is to come as John first proclaims that he wonâ€™t watch his children die and then gives direct evidence of what lengths heâ€™s willing to go to not let one of his children die as he uses one of the three remaining, and oh so very precious, bullets from the Colt.
Dead Manâ€™s Blood was her first Supernatural foray and it is powerful.
The Usual Suspects is an interesting departure from all her other six episodes for Supernatural. No overall mytharc is evident and heavy emotions are on hold, but even separated by rooms and miles Cathryn Humphris writes the boys as one unit.
A death omen appears to warn people of their imminent death and delves into a subject weâ€™re familiar with, not everything is as it appears, this is echoed in Deanâ€™s b-story that is delved into as Cathryn calls back to Skin of season one and reminds us that Dean has a suspicion of murder in his history â€“ in case any have forgotten.
This story is told in a series of flashbacks and realtime events and while much of the episode has Sam and Dean separated there is never any doubt in my mind, or as it turns out some of the episodeâ€™s characters, that these two are brothers. This is an excellent standalone episode, although it has one knock against itâ€¦no Impala.
Born Under A Bad Sign, what The Usual Suspects lacked in emotional tones Born Under A Bad Sign more than makes up for. Weâ€™re treated to a mystery that unfolds through the retracing of the past few days, a time for which Sam has been mysteriously absent and cannot account and Dean has been frantically searching.
The first part of the episode has the brothers seemingly working as a team to discover what happened. Dean is in control having now found Sam and is confident that they can figure everything out now that Sam is â€œall right.â€ Sam for his part appears in character to the point of showing his obsession about whether what is happening is part of what dad warned Dean about.
Things turn decidedly dark as â€˜Samâ€™ pleads with Dean to kill him since he thinks that perhaps this is what John had warned Dean about. Dean stays true to character, and true to what he displayed in Croataon, proclaiming heâ€™d rather die. In gratitude he gets pistol whipped.
We get a fabulous exchange between not-Sam and Jo and some more of the Bill Harvell/John Winchester back story, or not since demons lieâ€¦unless they think itâ€™ll mess with your head and then theyâ€™ll tell the truth, so who really knows. Bobby makes a welcome return to the boysâ€™ lives and we see in action for the first time his many ways of using holy water on a demon. Devilâ€™s traps and exorcisms, binding locks and white hot pokers all come into play and Cathryn ties it all together with the torture of the emotional and physical kind of Dean by demon Meg that calls back to Devilâ€™s Trap and Azazel. Excellent.
Bedtime Stories is perhaps Cathrynâ€™s weakest episode, solely from a plot point of view. Fairytales come to life in a grisly manner and itâ€™s all meant to explore the depths of Samâ€™s emotions regarding Deanâ€™s upcoming death.
Iâ€™ll call out the glaring weakness in the script, Sam observing a pumpkin and one mouse running across the porch is too far a stretch for me to come up with Cinderella, perhaps some bedsheets flapping in the breeze on a clothesline and the signs of a ladder up to scrub windows would help, I donâ€™t know. A carriage and horses nearby would be too over the top so I donâ€™t have any quick fixes here, while itâ€™s a weak spot it does not destroy the episode. This is all about Sam and Samâ€™s emotional state-of-mind.
Itâ€™s Sam that empathizes with the sole surviving brother who witnessed the slaughter of his other twoâ€¦ â€œI canâ€™t think of anything worse.â€ Itâ€™s Sam who watches Dr. Garrison release his daughter Callie from her coma and is there as she slips away. Itâ€™s Sam who voices the painful question to an unyielding Deanâ€¦ â€œIs that what you want me to do, Dean; just let you go?â€ And itâ€™s Sam who crosses that ever graying line between right and wrong as he defies Dean and slips out in the middle of the night and confronts the crossroads demon. When she refuses to give him what he wants, first the release of Dean from his deal and second, the name of the one that holds it; he kills her.
Sam has killed in the past; he shot Jake multiple times, heâ€™s killed changelings and demons, vampires and more. Thereâ€™s an argument that he didnâ€™t have to shoot Jake with a kill shot and itâ€™s a good argument. Similarly Casey in Sin City did not have to be killed but in the context of Supernatural Iâ€™ll excuse both events due to the adrenaline and the heat of the moment. Sam saw an imminent threat and he dispatched it. Bedtime Stories is different. Sam summoned her, she was no threat to him as her role is to make pacts, not kill those who summon her â€“ it would cut into business. Sam coldly and determinedly killed the crossroads demon because she would not do as he wanted. It was calculated. It was determined. It was without remorse.
Careful, Sam, â€˜tis a slippery slope youâ€™re on and youâ€™ve taken a crucial step.
Dream A Little Dream Of Me shows that Cathryn not only can explore the depths of Samâ€™s emotional state but Deanâ€™s as well. Once again weâ€™re treated to drunken Sam, who is a very honest Sam, and he poses a question that Dean is not only uncomfortable with but cannot fully answer, at least not yetâ€¦ â€œHow can you care so little about yourself? Whatâ€™s wrong with you?â€
Deanâ€™s saved from answering that question by his cell phone, news that Bobby is ill sends them hurtling off on their latest case; this is an excellent episode delving into not only Bobbyâ€™s dreams and nightmares, but Deanâ€™s as well â€“ and let us not forget Samâ€™s. Samâ€™s hilarious dream of Bela is perhaps the most disturbing of them all and I laugh each and every time, especially the exchange with the real Bela.
Here we learn quite a bit about Dean, Bobby is the closest thing to a father he has, he dreams of having a nice girl, a boy â€“ even one that isnâ€™t his [and who isnâ€™t impressed by a man that can take on someone elseâ€™s child and love them the same] and confronts his own inner demons. The Dean v Dean scene is worth multiple watches as Deanâ€™s inner self tears down all that he puts up as protection and forces him to admit what heâ€™s denied for so longâ€¦ â€œMy father was an obsessed bastardâ€¦I didnâ€™t deserve what he put on meâ€¦and I donâ€™t deserve to go to hell.â€ No you donâ€™t, Dean, and itâ€™s about time you realized that.
Iâ€™ll always wish Sam had had a chance to see Deanâ€™s inner turmoil but what I do love is that it was Samâ€™s questioning of whatâ€™s wrong with you and no one can save you because you donâ€™t want to be saved that brought Dean to this point and that is awesome. For Deanâ€™s subconscious, in the middle of a hunt, to go off and deal with his own issues is telling of just how much of an impact Samâ€™s comments had on him.
Metamorphosis is gross but deep as well and for that Iâ€™ll watch it many times and likely not catch all of what Sam and Dean are saying here, also itâ€™s the first time Cathryn Humphris and Kim Manners teamed upâ€¦and sadly the last we ever get from Kim Manners at the directing helm. Itâ€™s an awesome episode despite being gross and Jensen and Jared are excellent. Sam finally tells a bit of whatâ€™s going on inside that head of his.
I find it notable that while Dean was frightened â€˜forâ€™ Sam he clearly wasnâ€™t frightened â€˜ofâ€™ Samâ€¦if he was heâ€™d never have slugged him. I do believe Dean was trying to understand Sam, their conversation at the side of the road on their way to talk to Jack clearly shows that Dean is trying to â€˜hearâ€™ Sam. Heâ€™s as freaked out about whatâ€™s going on as Sam is angry about his â€˜curseâ€™ so itâ€™s the fault of neither that it doesnâ€™t get much betterâ€¦oh, for a father figure to show up and help.
I actually enjoyed the fact that Jackâ€™s character and struggle was so blatantly a mirror to Samâ€™s, sometimes thatâ€™s annoying but here it just works. Itâ€™s also proof that no matter your intentions, sometimes fate just gets in the way. Weâ€™ll never know if Jack would have been able to contain the â€˜beast withinâ€™. I believe he would have truly tried, sometimes knowing what you can become is a way to help you not to become it but weâ€™ll never know. There is that pesky loose thread, what happened to Jackâ€™s wife and unborn child? Weâ€™ll never knowâ€¦and by the way, what must the neighbors have thought.
Sex and Violence the first of the big bro downs for the season, having just rewatched it again itâ€™s just as painful. I find it interesting that while Dean is â€˜knownâ€™ for drinking and playing the field it is Sam who has interjected these less than appealing aspects into hunts, twice. Itâ€™s not very professional, Sammy. In Playthings Sam is drunk during a hunt and here he â€˜gets it onâ€™ with a potential suspect. Either way, so far as Iâ€™m writing this I canâ€™t remember Dean playing quite so fast and loose during a hunt. Sure he reunited with Cassie in Route 666 but she wasnâ€™t a suspect. Itâ€™s just something I noticed, so there you have it.
Both brothers have their issues and I knew I felt safe with this episode in Cathrynâ€™s hands as she knows the brothers and stays true to who they are. Dean is struggling with his memories of hell and is not reconciling this â€˜newâ€™ Sam to the one he left. Sam for his part is struggling with his continuing addiction and fears that Dean just isnâ€™t who he once was. Both brothers are heading for a fall as individuals and with each other and this was only the beginning of a full venting.
We get the third writing of Bobby by Cathryn and she just gets better and better each time with him, from â€œDonâ€™t try to con a con artistâ€ to â€œYouâ€™re like a father to meâ€ to â€œthose idjitsâ€ and kiss the cook, she just makes Bobby better and better and I love the touch of the soda at the end. Itâ€™s time to sober up boysâ€¦storm is coming and you boys are smack in the middle of it â€“ yeah, I know somebody else wrote that for another season but still, it works.
Because no one flayed me to the quick the last time I attempted this Iâ€™ll do it again, rank the episodes from least favorite to most favorite. This is a bit harder since there are fewer of them and all of them are strong but here goes nothing.
7: Sex and Violence: I love the misdirection and the brotherly angst but the doctor is a little too forward and cute and frankly I canâ€™t get past the whole, have sex in the office with the blinds open and the door unlocked. Also, no medical examiner would leave their door unlocked not to mention the fridge to the blood samples. Further, thereâ€™s a bit too much time spent with the siren and sex and killing of the mom, I got it already and that was too much. So for an episode that Iâ€™ll pick up to watch from top to bottom, Sex and Violence has a lot of moments Iâ€™ll spin right past.
6. Bedtime Stories: while it does explore some of Samâ€™s emotions it does not compare to the much heavier hitting Metamorphosis. The storyline is a bit far reaching at points so it also drops it down the list. Remember, this isnâ€™t saying itâ€™s a bad episode, but itâ€™s not higher on my favorites of Cathryn Humphrisâ€™ episodes.
5. The Usual Suspects: Itâ€™s this low simply because the other four to come are just so awesome. Also it has no Impala, so it just â€˜canâ€™tâ€™ rank higher than number 5.
4. Metamorphosis: This is hard because this is so into Samâ€™s emotions and is critical for understanding a lot of what goes on with Sam later on in season 4, however, it is so gross that while I enjoy watching it, Iâ€™ll pass it over for any of the remaining three given a momentâ€™s thought.
3. Dead Manâ€™s Blood: This gets really hard because this one has John in it and any episode with John tugs at my heart. This one is excellent because we get all three Winchester men, the history of the Colt as well as Sam and John reaching an understanding and Dean taking a stand against dad, why is it number 3 and not number 2 or 1â€¦too much time spent with vampires and I can simply fast forwardâ€¦and do.
2. Born Under A Bad Sign: Meg returns in another â€˜meatsuitâ€™, Bobby returns after a long absence, Dean gets pistol whipped, shot and beaten and Jared puts an all-out effort on screen and simply shines from beginning to end, I love this episode and I watch it a lot. Itâ€™s not my favorite because Dream a Little Dream of Me adds a few things that this one does notâ€¦but itâ€™s a tough match and Iâ€™ve often wavered back and forth.
1. Dream A Little Dream Of Me: Remember, these are my favorites, not the â€˜best ofâ€™ and Iâ€™ll go with DALDOM â€“ Bela and all â€“ because it combines humor and great brotherly moments along with deepening Bobbyâ€™s character [I know I look at him differently knowing he had a wife who was possessed and he had to kill] and gives the wonderful moment of Dean looking at Bobby and proclaimingâ€¦ â€œYouâ€™re like a father to me.â€ I choke up each time. Add to that Dean finally battling his inner conflict over his self-worth and Sam getting a small glimpse into Deanâ€™s dreamsâ€¦hands down, this is my favorite. We get drunken Sam and an awesome Jensen in dual role as Deanâ€¦I love this episode.
So there you have it, Cathryn Humphrisâ€™ episodes in under 3000 words (but whoâ€™s counting) and another ranking from meâ€¦tell me your thoughts. How would you rank them if you would even try?
As always, thanks for reading.