"The Man Who Would Be King" (6.20)
Castiel is working with Crowley to open the doors to Purgatory, and he is struggling with that choice. As he struggles, he reveals details of his backstory. Meanwhile, Sam and Bobby believe Cas is somehow working against them, but Dean isn’t convinced.
Gail: “I can’t begin to express how much I loved this episode. When he looks directly at the camera and says ‘Let me tell you everything’ and then he tells us that he has been around since ancient, Biblical times! How the writers managed to combine Christianity and evolution, in the same thought – ‘Watch out for that fish. We have plans for that fish - brilliant! Cas goes on to explain things from his point of view, and as a viewer, you can completely understand, and sympathize. He’s agonized, wondering if he made the right call. The story from Sam and Dean and Bobby’s point of view. The way Dean was trying so hard to be loyal. The moment of realization that Cas is hiding something. We know what he’s doing is foolish, but we can understand why he feels he needs to do it. The double smiting at “Demon Bobby’s” place (a much-needed moment of levity). The entire episode was just brilliant!”
Kate38: "I always love the Castiel back story episodes! Cas has been here for so many centuries and has experienced so many things we never hear about. I'm happy for any glimpse behind his curtain. I also like the slow unraveling of what had been happening behind our backs (and under our noses), as far as Cas' deal with Crowley and how that whole thing evolved. The one scene that always grabs me by the heart is when Dean - who is the LAST to believe Cas betrayed them - finally hears Cas slip up. There's a look that crosses Dean's face when he realizes he's been tricked. OUCH."
Bobby: If there's a snowball of a snowball's chance here, that means we're dealing with a Superman who's gone darkside, which means we've got to be cautious, we've got to be smart, and maybe stock up on some kryptonite.
Alice called the episode, “The most honest, revealing, heartbreaking examination of Castiel ever done. Perfectly written and directed by Edlund.”
Nate Winchester said, “I'm not the biggest fan of S6, but even I have to admit that this episode is a master piece of writing that puts in a solid effort to make all the different threads worth it in the end. Did it succeed? I'll leave that debate in the comments, but even I won't argue against Misha & Mark putting in excellent performances playing off of each other.”
Castiel: Sam, I am the one who raised you from perdition.
Sam: What? Well, no offense, but you did a pretty piss poor job of it.
Castiel: You don't understand. It's complicated.
Dean: No, actually, it's not, and you know that. Why else would you keep this whole thing a secret, huh, unless you knew that it was wrong? When crap like this comes around, we deal with it, like we always have. What we don't do is we don't go out and make another deal with the Devil!
Castiel: It sounds so simple when you say it like that. Where were you when I needed to hear it?
Dean: I was there. Where were you?
Lynn: “Cas is having a real crisis of conscience. This is a painful confrontation between the Winchesters and Castiel. Cas had such good intentions, but made such bad decisions. And it kills Dean, who tried so hard to stay loyal.” Perhaps, on some level, Cas’ struggle kills us all.
Sam and Dean go to Oregon to look into the meaning behind one of Sam’s visions, in which Dean kills a man possessed by a demon. What they find is a small town seemingly wholly infected by a demonic virus known as Croatoan. They go to the local medical center to search for answers, and they end up locking themselves inside the facility, along with the others who were already there.
A nurse, infected with the virus, attacks Sam, exposing him to the deadly disease. Dean rushes to Sam, but the other guy pushes Dean away, saying, ‘She bled on him. He's got the virus.’
Lynn said, “My heart broke as I watched Sam reaching for Dean to help him after he's been attacked, and the other guy pushing Dean away. When Dean replies, ‘You make a move on him, you'll be dead before you hit the ground, you understand me?’ I got CHILLS… Oh God, and the family theme starts playing as Sam begs Dean to save himself and Dean says no... One of the most emotional scenes in the series imho.”
Several of the participants referred to one specific scene, which they called “the fence conversation”:
Dean: I'm tired, Sam. I'm tired of this job, this life... this weight on my shoulders, man. I'm tired of it.
Dean: Right before Dad died, he told me something. He told me something about you.
Sam: What? Dean, what did he tell you?
Nightsky said this is one of her favorite episodes, and Alice added that it had “fantastic brotherly moments.”
Kate38 said, "Good episode, and a pivotal one for season 2 - especially the very end, when Dean begins to reveal what John told him about Sam."
Nate Winchester said, “A sign of a great episode is one that improves when rewatching. Croatoan is one of the best in this regard as it not only foreshadows Dean's emotional failure at the end of the season, but also the 5th's season story of the boys vs the world. The acting is great here as we see Jared & Jensen growing more comfortable with their characters, and I love the moral challenges the episode presents to us, making us think about what would be the right choice.”
#43 "Frontierland" (6.18)
Sam and Dean travel back in time to find Samuel Colt. And when I say they traveled back in time, I mean waaaay back, as in all the way back to 1861! Dean finds an entry in (grandpa) Samuel’s journal about Samuel Colt killing a phoenix on March 5, 1861… geez, so many Sams in this, my head hurts. Anyway, the boys need the ashes of a phoenix in order to defeat Eve (that evil ‘Mother of All’), so they decide to travel back to that date so they can scoop up those ashes. Makes sense, right? Time travel, man, freakin time travel.
Kate38 said, "What's not to love in this one!? Jensen got to be in a western like he always wanted, we got to see a Phoenix, we were introduced to a new and interesting monster, and we actually got to meet Samuel Colt! I also loved the music in this one."
Elle added, “Any episode that indulges Dean’s fan love of the wild west is great to enjoy! And of course, the end with the ‘package mailed through time’ was classic, plus meeting Samuel Colt all kind of make this work.”
Alice agreed, perhaps saying it the most precisely: “Who didn’t love watching Dean play a cowboy?” Same, Alice, same.
Lynn: I love the scene between Sam and Samuel Colt. The entire episode is so beautifully done in terms of set dec(oration), and it is beautifully filmed, and gorgeous music! Everything about the showdown scene is so well done.”
Sam: You Samuel Colt? My name is Sam Winchester. I'm - I'm a hunter from the year 2011.
Colt: Prove it.
[Sam shows Colt his Blackberry]
Colt: All right.
Sam: A-all right? That's -- uh, that's it?
Colt: Well, when you've done this job as long as I have... a giant from the future with some magic brick doesn't exactly give you the vapors.
Meanwhile, Cas is injured, and he must figure out a way to bring Sam and Dean back to the present. (Because there "Ain’t No Time Like the Present"… sorry, I just couldn’t resist doing a little Louden Swain shout-out) Anyway, Cas has basically alienated all the other angels, so his only option is to find some other soul to drain of its power. Alas, poor Bobby. He is Cas’ best chance at bringing the boys home.
Gail said, “I’ll tell you something; I really dislike westerns, but there was just something about Jensen and Jared and their acting skills in this one that drew me in. The horse poop, the saloon girls looking a little different than Dean thought, the ‘blanket’ – it was all comedy gold. Cas was a hero in this one, too, and so was poor Bobby, of course. Then, at the end, when they thought the ashes were lost, a messenger comes along. Yeah, maybe it’s hackneyed, but I liked it anyway.”
Nate Winchester said, “This episode is dumb, and headache-inducing for canon. . . and I absolutely love it! 100% guilty pleasure here as I loved Samuel Colt ever since they hinted at the man he was back in season 2's finale. Getting to see him in action just makes me wish we had another spin off of an old west hunter. Is it a bit of a cop-out for a solution to the season's problem? Who cares! I got a hat and duster ready to put on and join the Winchesters at sundown.”
At the end of the episode, and now back in the present time, Sam receives a package from Samuel Colt. Inside was a note that read:
Dear Sam, I got this address and date off your thingamajig, and I thought the enclosed might come in handy. Regards, Samuel Colt.
Then Sam pulls a bottle full of ashes from the package. Ashes, as in, the ashes of the phoenix. Okay, seriously, what a cool ending.
#42 "Jus in Bello" (3.12)
Sam and Dean are trapped inside a sheriff’s office with Agent Henriksen, while a horde of demons are circling outside. Dean comes up with a plan – they will lure all the demons inside, then lock all the doors, trapping them. Then they will play an exorcism, pre-recorded by Sam, over the office’s PA system, sending all the demons to hell.
Oh this isn’t gonna end well.
Elle summed it up like this: “There is so much to say about this episode. This is a vintage Supernatural piece, before there were angels and gods mucking about and the FBI were players in the game. Hendrickson goes from enemy to ally in fantastic way. The boys arm the station and ward off the demons. And in the end? Lilith shows up and flashes those white eyes! It’s both fantastic and tragic.”
Kate38 put it this way: "Sigh...poor Victor Henriksen. I liked him from the very first time we met him - even though I knew I wasn’t SUPPOSED to. I was sorry he died in this one. The way he reacted to learning about demons, monsters, and hunting, I thought he'd have made an excellent hunter. I liked the creativity of this episode in many ways. Sam stealing Nancy's rosary so they could use the toilet water as holy water was pretty quick. And Dean's idea to lock all the demons inside so they could exorcise them en masse was also brilliant. I love it when the show reminds us how intelligent and resourceful the Winchesters are."
Dean is his typical sassy self, until Henriksen says, "Take a good look at Sam because you'll never see your brother again." Then Dean is just pissed.
Nate Winchester added: “This episode is not just one of my picks of the season, but of all time. Why? Agent Henriksen. He'd been around a bit by then, played a low-level antagonist for the Winchesters, and then? His closing episode the writers went and gave us a fully realized, 3-dimensional character that single-handily added nuance and shading to the SPN world. Turns out here's a guy that really thought he was doing the right thing - and when he learned there was more information that changed contexts, he turned around and did the right thing without hesitation or a second thought.”
Ruby tells them about Lilith, “and she really, really wants Sam’s intestines on a stick.”
Dean: Open the doors, let them all in, then we fight.
So Dean’s idea to trap all the demons inside actually worked! And Henriksen told the boys that he would lie to the authorities and tell them they died in the explosion! But, um, you do remember that I said it’s not gonna end well?
After Sam and Dean leave, a sweet-looking little girl shows up, looking for the boys. Yes, I said a sweet-looking little girl, because, honestly, she does look sweet but she’s actually Lilith! She destroys the sheriff’s office, killing everyone inside… and I mean Everyone, from the sweet virgin Nancy to our newly-minted hunter Henriksen.
Ruby catches up with Sam and Dean at a hotel, turning on the TV to the news, showing them what happened. She tells them this is what happens when they don’t behave appropriately under the jus in bello, aka the “laws of war.”
Journalbookbinder said, “Trapped in a prison and improvising survival through an epic demon battle, then BAM; we learn the people they saved died anyway after they left – ouch.”
Nightsky added, “I loved this episode because it didn’t take long for the mayhem to take hold, vindicating the boys and convincing Henricksen they were the 'good guys.' Then all the demons gunning for Sam was so intense, with a surprise, heartbreaking twist at the end.”
Lynn said, “The twist ending of this episode pretty much destroyed me. ‘One's really tall and one's really cute...’ and then it all goes to hell. I remember being traumatized for a week, it seemed so unfair for them to die after all that.” Ouch. Traumatized. Indeed.
#41 "Yellow Fever" (4.06)
Sam and Dean investigate a series of deaths involving "yellow fever", aka ghost sickness. When Dean is infected, making him afraid of everything, the hilarity begins!
All of our participants agreed. Journalbookbinder called the episode “incredibly funny!” Kate38 added, "This one was fun! It seemed like Jensen had fun filming this episode and behaving in very UN-Dean like ways!" Lynn said, “Kudos to J2’s comedic talents – it’s off the charts in this ep!”
Let’s take a quick look at some of those funny moments:
Dean, as Sam tries to hand him a gun: Oh I’m not carrying that. It could go off. I’ll man the flashlight.
Gail: “I think that one particular, iconic moment will go down in the annals of TV history as one of the most hilarious ever witnessed! Let’s face it, the long, expressive, extended scream when the cat comes out of the locker, and then the “That was scary!”? Where the heck are the Emmys, anyway?!”
Nate Winchester: “The spring-loaded cat is a very old horror staple - so old that trope & movie sites have been referencing it for years, even before tvtropes actually existed. Leave it to Supernatural to not only bring up this classic trope, but to turn it into one of the funniest single moments of the show. And somewhere among all the laughs, we got some heart in the episode too, with Dean hugging a bible and the audience getting its first hint that the horrors of Hell aren't the worst thing that happened to Dean in there. Plus it's only fitting that in the end, it's Baby that helps save Dean's life.”
And then there’s Dean’s whole speech to Sam, when he decides he’s just done:
Dean: I mean, come on, we hunt monsters! What the hell?! I mean, normal people, they see a monster, and they run. But not us, no, no, no, we -- we search out things that want to kill us. Yeah? Huh? Or eat us! You know who does that? Crazy people! We...are insane! You know, and then there's the-the-the bad diner food and then the skeevy motel rooms and then the truck-stop waitress with the bizarre rash. I mean, who wants this life, Sam? Huh? Seriously? Do you actually like being stuck in a car with me eight hours a day, every single day? I don't think so! I mean, I drive too fast. And I listen to the same five albums over and over and over again, a-and I-an-and I sing along. I'm annoying, I know that. And you --you're gassy! You eat half a burrito, and you get toxic! I mean, you know what? You can forget it.
Funny moments aside, there is actually a ghost that needs to be dealt with in this episode. That ghost is Luther, bullied because he was different, killed because he was an easy target for those bullies, murdered by being dragged behind a truck through a parking lot, over and over and over again. His spirit is still tied to the old mill, to the town, to the people who bullied him and killed him. Take a moment and let that sink in – Luther is actually a victim, a nice guy who is literally bullied to death.
Not gonna lie – part of me is cheering for Luther. You go buddy, you haunt those idiots, and infect them with ghost sickness, and you make sure they feel so scared that their hearts stop and they die too. My heart hurt for Luther’s spirit when Sam and Bobby decide to kill his ghost by dragging him through the parking lot of the old mill, just like the way he died in the first place. I’m not saying that Sam and Bobby are like Luther’s bullies, not at all, in fact, they are doing what they have to do to save Dean and the other folks in town. But that knowledge doesn’t make it any easier to watch.
While Sam and Bobby are killing Luther, Dean is inside a hotel room, literally praying that they succeed in time. He hallucinates, seeing Lilith in the room with him, taunting him, ‘Ka-boom! Ka-boom! Ka-boom!’
And then that short, quick little moment at the end, when Sam asks what Dean saw while he was hallucinating… and Dean turns to look at Sam… and for the quickest second… Sam’s eyes flash yellow. YELLOW.
As Elle put it: “Funny, but chilling at the same time. This episode is a great example of how subtle Supernatural is at delivering information: when Dean sees Sam’s eyes flash yellow? Brrr. All the humour falls away and his darkest fears are understood absolutely.”
Ok, ok, so that might be the end of the actual episode. But we all know that isn’t really the end. God bless literally everyone on set that day for giving us that most precious outtake, that gift of Jensen Ackles lip syncing to “Eye of the Tiger”. Can anyone in the SPN family hear that song and NOT see Jensen climbing out of Baby’s window?!
Lynn said, “What makes that Eye of the Tiger vid so perfect is the crew's laughter and appreciation throughout, and their burst of applause at the end, and how soft Jensen’s expression goes when he hears it. Nothing will ever be like this show.” Amen, Lynn, A-MEN.
So that’s episodes 50-41 in the Top 100 Favorites list! Did any of these make it onto your list? Any surprises? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to join us as we continue the countdown with episodes 40-31!
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!
*In a rare (maybe accidental), coordinated publication, this is the scene for this week's CaptionThis challenge! Pop over and have fun with it!