Whether you consider it dark-fantasy or science-fiction there is no denying that the CW Show, Supernatural, has become a force to be reckoned with. It survived the Writers Strike back in 2007/08, fought against cancellation on more than one occasion and then, as of its eleventh season, managed to stay around to become the longest running show of its type. With all of that in mind, and it’s incredibly vocal and loyal fan base, it’s not that surprising that the show is about to start its fourteenth season this coming October.
We’re continuing our look back over the past seasons, ranking our top five episodes, and now it’s the turn of season two. I’m not going to lie but I struggled with this one, not because there is a lack of good episodes but because the attempt to limit myself to just five was proving nigh on impossible. The first season really set the stage for the everyday struggles that the Winchesters have to deal with but it’s the second season that really propels their lives to dizzying levels and hasn’t let up to this day. Life, death, and sacrifice are themes that often run through every season but they are really delivered on here.
In My Time Of Dying
The season’s first episode picks up right where the last left off with the three Winchesters, Sam (Jared Padalecki), Dean (Jensen Ackles) and their Father John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in a bad way, having had the Impala run off the road by a truck driven by a demon. As the episode progresses we follow Sam desperately trying to find a way to bring Dean out of the coma he’s fallen into, while also being at odds with John. Papa Winchester seems to be more concerned about the location of the Colt rather than the fact his oldest boy is in a coma and is unlikely to survive.
Despite being in a coma, Dean doesn’t spend the episode lying down, and ends up wandering the hospital in the spirit world where he encounters a woman called Tessa (Lindsey McKeon). At first it seems that Tessa is in the same situation as Dean, but he quickly works out that she’s a Reaper, specifically his Reaper, sent to take him to what’s next. Dean effectively gives fate the finger as he won’t give up without a fight.
We find out, though, that Sam’s desperation isn’t as great as John’s. After Dean’s miraculous recovery, and he with no memory of what transpired with Tessa, comes an emotional scene between John and his boys. John cuts short an argument with Sam, asking not to fight, and admits he’s made mistakes but has always tried to do the best he could. There follows an emotional scene between John and Dean, in which father apologises to son for making him grow up too fast, and asks him to watch out for Sam. Dean is scared by the conversation, the feelings of concern building inside him, and things end with John whispering something in Dean’s ear. Dean is right to be concerned when Sam finds John collapsed on the floor of his hospital room, he yells for help which summons doctors and Dean, but it’s too late and the boys hear John’s time of death given.
Love him or hate him, (and an analysis of John Winchester could be worthy of a write up on its own), John has proven that he’s ready to do anything for his sons, even die for them. John met with Azazel (Fredric Lehne), the very demon that killed his wife and did a trade, his life and the Colt in return for saving Dean. The performance delivered by Jeffrey Dean Morgan is heartrending, and it’s this act that is the beginning of a long-reaching character arc for Dean. It is the origin for his self-loathing and contributes to making him the man we see even now in season thirteen.
The fifth episode of the season sees the blending of comedy and darkness that has become synonymous with Supernatural, and we are introduced to Andy Gallagher (Gabriel Tigerman) a slacker of epic proportions who also happens to have mind control powers. When friends of his start to die, and we find out that his mother died under the same set of circumstances as Sam and Dean’s, they wonder if Andy is one of the Special Children that Azazel told Sam about. Sam also wonders if Andy has gone evil and if that will happen to him.
A lot of the comedy comes from Andy and the silly suggestions he puts into people’s heads. Sam is unaffected by Andy’s powers but Dean is left vulnerable. He gives up the Impala when asked, and on being told to tell the truth he can’t hold back. He explains to Andy exactly what they are doing in the town and who they are, and of Sam he says:
“He’s psychic. Kind of like you. Well, not really like you, but see, he thinks you’re a murderer, and he’s afraid that he’s going to become one himself, ’cause you’re all part of something that’s terrible. And, I hope to hell that he’s wrong, but I’m starting to get a little scared that he might be right.”
In the end, we find out that all the murders are being caused by Andy’s unknown twin, another one of the Special Children, which has the brothers and their allies all wondering what the demon’s end game is going to be and what it’ll mean for Sam.
Born Under A Bad Sign
By the time we reach the fourteenth episode a number of revelations have been unleashed on us and the Winchesters. Dean now knows that his Father died because of him; John gave up his life and the Colt in exchange for healing Dean, and we now all know what it was that John whispered to Dean before he died. Dean was told to watch out for his brother, to save him, and if he couldn’t do that then he might have to kill Sam. This episode makes it seem all the more likely that Dean will have to follow through on his Dad’s final words when Sam goes missing for a week with no memory of where he was.
Video evidence shows that Sam has killed another Hunter in cold blood. Sam doesn’t remember doing so but he confesses to Dean he’s been having feelings of rage that he can’t control and he’s terrified he’s finally being taken over by his dark side. When it comes to the crunch though Dean cannot go through with killing his brother: “I can’t. I’d rather die.” Sam’s response is to tell Dean he’ll live to regret it and then pistol-whips him into unconsciousness.
Long story short, it transpires that Sam hasn’t gone evil but is possessed by the demon Meg who, having crawled back out of hell, just wants to make Dean suffer for exorcising her. We get to see Jared playing an alternative version of Sam, something he has done multiple times over the course of Supernatural, and yet again how each brother will refuse to give up on the other one, no matter what.
“Sam, when Dad told me… that I might have to kill you, it was only if I couldn’t save you. Now, if it’s the last thing I do, I’m gonna save you.
Episode fifteen brings us back to the mixture of comedy and gruesome murder, and at the time of airing ‘Tall Tales’ was meant to be just a Monster of the Week. However, the popularity of Richard Speight Jr. as the Trickster saw him coming back for repeat performances, albeit in a slightly different form.
There are incidents taking place that seem to be mimicking sensationalist headlines from the tabloid newspaper, Weekly World News, and tricks are being played on people including Sam and Dean. Events escalate between them which leads to full-on brotherly arguments and rough-housing, which still make me laugh even now on repeat watches. It’s Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) who bashes their heads together and tell them what they are dealing with.
There are lots of laughs to be had throughout this episode, including comedic retellings of the Hunt as each brother lampoons the other; an alien abduction; and the mother of all sweet tooths. It’s a welcome change in the midst of the heavier episodes that are hurtling us towards the season finale.
All Hell Breaks Loose Parts 1 & 2
Yes, yes I know this was meant to be a top five episodes but as I said, I was having a hard time picking just five and given that the last two episodes are a two-parter I couldn’t have one without the other.
In the first part of the finale, we see the coming together of Azazel’s Special Children, including Sam after being abducted by demons right out from under Dean’s nose, and both Andy Gallagher and Ava Wilson (Katherine Isabelle), who appeared in earlier episodes. It is unclear why the five of them have all been brought together, but given that there are hostile demons in the ghost town that they are in, and one of their number, Lily (Jessica Harmon) gets killed when she tries to leave, it’s clear it isn’t good. Eventually, Azazel turns up in Sam’s head as he sleeps and explains what’s going on. He wants the group to take part in his own version of a battle royale until only one of them remains alive; that survivor will go on to become a great leader in an upcoming war. Azazel tells Sam that he’s rooting for him, and after the sad death of Andy at Ava’s hands, and her death at Jake Talley’s (Aldis Hodge) saving Sam from her, it looks like it might go the way the demon predicted. However, Sam is still fighting against his destiny and tells Jake they need to not fight, they need to just walk away, Jake isn’t convinced and starts to attack Sam. Despite Jake having been gifted with super-strength, Sam is still able to get the upper hand and put his opponent down, but he refuses to give in and kill the other man.
Dean, who has spent the entire time since Sam’s disappearance looking for him, arrives at the town with Bobby and sees Sam staggering in their direction. Dean’s palpable relief is dashed though when Jake recovers and stabs Sam in the back, twisting the knife before taking off. The episode ends with Sam dying in his big brother’s arms, the one thing Dean had been desperate to prevent happening.
The second part has Dean taking the extreme steps to keep his little brother safe, as his Father instructed, and he heads to the nearest crossroads to summon a demon. Dean had been tempted to sell his soul to save his Father, but for Sam, there is no hesitation. Dean is utterly heartbroken and blaming himself for failing his brother, but of course there is a catch. Demon deals usually come with a ten-year time limit, but because of who Dean is the most the demon is prepared to offer him is one year. He gets one year left to live in exchange for Sam’s life. Dean agrees, and Sam is back to breathing again.
With Sam back, the urgency is on to finding where Jake went to prevent him becoming this big piece in Azazel’s war. They catch up to Jake but not before he can open a gateway to Hell and let out a multitude of demons. All is not lost though because Sam kills Jake, and Dean, with the help from the spirit of John Winchester who also got out of Hell, finally manages to end Azazel and avenges both John and his mother.
The final scene has Sam and Dean knowing that they have to prepare for the fight ahead against the hordes of demons now unleashed and with Sam, having worked out what Dean had done for him, vowing that it is now his turn to protect Dean. The season ends but the War has just begun.
I know I technically did six episodes with the inclusion of the two-part finale, but I can’t just leave it there either. I have to give some honourable mentions to the following episodes that I had to cut out: ‘Crossroad Blues’, ‘Croatoan’, ‘Heart’, and ‘What Is And What Should Never Be’. Please do check them out as well, and let us know in the comments which five episodes you’d have picked for your lists.