Supernatural, S1 E7
Written by: John Shiban, Directed by: David Jackson
Blurb: In a quiet Iowa college town, a minister prays to protect his parishioners' children. But another minister -- a two centuries-old madman with a hook for a hand -- wants them terrified, slashed and dead.
Scene 01: We open on rock and a black screen with a subtitle letting us know we've arrived at Eastern Iowa University and are about to join the ladies of EIU's Theta Sorority.
Commentary: Gee. How lame is that? They don't even get three letters in their name. Here ladies, I give you the other two Theta's. You can be Theta Theta Theta, or T(3).
Scene 02: We join two of our girls of T(3) in their room, where one of our girls is dressing for a date. The roommate looks askance and first girl worries that she's looking a little too middle-age mom. Roommate comes to her assistance with some wild-party top. First Girl is dubious, but Roommate insists that there is a hot girl in there somewhere.
The top is much more modest than Buffy trying this with Willow ... though to be fair, that was for Halloween.
With the fashion crisis resolved, First Girl rushes out to her date with Lunk O'Hunk leaving Roommate with a grin.
Scene 03: We join our daters out below an old railroad trestle, where they're in Lunk O'Hunk's Family Jeep(?!? -- is he really driving a four door, hatchback Daddy-Machine?), where they park in seclusion... naturally.
We hear First Girl's voiceover wondering about how they were supposed to be going to a party, not parking. We see in the foreground, a dark shape with a shiny, curved blade staring at them.
Scene 04: In the Dad-Jeep, First Girl is kidding that if she didn't know any better, she'd think that Lunk O'Hunk brought her there on purpose with party being a sham. He plays offended, jokingly. They start some light making out.
The moment is interrupted by First Girl's cell phone chirping, which she chooses to answer. It's daddy, but she chooses to send him to voicemail. Our couple returns to light kissing, when Lunk O'Hunk goes right in for the top being held up by loose straps and a spagetti string. She puts the brakes on anything too heavy. Lunk plays everything is cool and decides to return to light kissing.
But, that moment of sexual tension was enough to draw our Hook-Hand to the scene and he creepers his creepy way toward the Dad-Mobile of Luv.
Lunk O'Hunk's "it's okay" was of course BS and he nearly immediately returns to dropping her top, which she states in no uncertain terms is not happening. Before he can do the "petulant boy-man with blue balls of suffering" routine though, Hook-Hand scrapes a nearby "Dead End" sign... 'cause that's ironic, or darkly amusing, or... uh... cliche. As befitting our Cliche Hook-Handed Killer Creeper.
Commentary: And this is not an insult to this monster or this episode. Supernatural -- before we start getting to the epic arc stories -- was meant to be a Monster Of The Week show, exploring American Myths & Legends (of which, apparently there are very few since we relatively quickly introduce foreigner monsters). So, the playing up of the Hook-Hand Urban Legend is right in the series' oeuvre.
The trick will be, are they going to do anything twisty and humorous with it, or play it too straight and thereby actually be nothing more than a cliched story of a cliche. And for that answer, we must stop rambling and return to the episode.
Also, I immediately notice that the camera seemed to want to draw attention to the necklace chain First Girl is wearing. You'll note a similar chain wrapped around Hook-Hand's wrist rather too obviously... really... Too Obviously.
Scene 05: So, First Girl starts the "What's That"-ing. Refreshingly, Lunk actually did hear the scraping noise as well.
HH continues to scrape a second sign, and we can't help but see him phase out as he goes suggesting we're dealing with a possible Ghostly Killer to boot. We're given the suggestion that he's invisibly stalking toward the Dad-Jeep, where our two horny teens college kids are wondering WTH.
Alas, Lunk (who turns out to be Rich) gets out of the car instead of suddenly remembering that party and getting the heck outta there post haste.
Scene 06: He walks to the front of the Jeep and looks around uselessly. To his amazement, he sees a claw mark rip along his driver's side door without any obvious source. First Girl, upon hearing this insists they go, but Hook-Hand doesn't like that idea, and so invisibly flattens a tire. To add LOLs, he also smashes the back window.
Frightened First Girl looks to the front of the Jeep for Lunk-Rich, only to find him missing in action. First Girl locks the doors and winds up the windows, rather than making an immediate dive out of the Dad-Jeep and make a run for it.
TV-Glass is never an impediment to killers. Neither is metal doors. Or locks. On the other hand, she is a TV-Girl, so she should assume that any attempt on her part to run will only result in her tripping over her own feet three or four times.
First Girl is terrorized some more with the scraping sounds on the Dad-Jeep roof. When the scraping stops, First Girl gets ahold of her fear and makes a ... uh... fast walk like she has to poo... for safety. She stops for no real reason to look behind her, only to see Lunk O'Hunk-Rich hanging by his feet above the Dad-Jeep... the scraping sound being caused by his inexplicably hard as steel fingernails rubbing against the roof, as the slash marks indicate he's been fatally slashed on a TV-acceptable grue-mess.
She gets camera-push in for her big scream.
Commentary: So, how did they do with our cliche-storm opening? Not bad, actually. I was really, really hoping that we'd find out that Lunk O'Hunk simply ran off immediately and First Girl was left on her own, but I guess that would have blown the First Victim thingie, since clearly she's our Guest Star To Be Ultimately Saved.
The opening was rather long at a bit over 5 minutes, but it was appropriately moody while hitting the notes it should, since we're acknowledging the Urban Legend and playing into it while making sure there is a murder for Sam and Dean's attention to get drawn. I have no real complaints.
Scene 07: We skip on over to our Winchesters, where Our Sammy is hanging up on a payphone in frustration. He returns to Dean (in shade, so no "Adorable" and he hasn't cried yet, so we're not to "Beautiful") working at a coffee shop outdoor table where they exchange mildly, brotherly antagonism.
We find out that Sammy is pissy because he can't find any trace of their father. Dean shrugs this off. If the old man doesn't want to be found, he won't be until he's ready. Dean turns attention to the paper of the town about a 100 miles away referring to our Lunk's death.
Our Sam's not impressed. Dean wants to check it out and namechecks that it's the sort of case their dad would be interested in....
Scene 08: Cue The Impala (always in caps!) tooling down the road with classic rock blaring, which I'm just not going to bother name checking every time -- same with their classic rock referencing aliases. I know, it's cute and something that other fans gravitate toward. It's fine. But it's also on the Supernatural Wiki if you wanna dive in.
We get useless pan over small city.
Scene 09: The Impala takes Our Sam and Dean into our Town of Dark Mystery. They stop by the male fraternity where our Lunk resided. Our boys' cover: Fraternity brothers from Ohio chapter transferring schools and looking for a place to crash.
Scene 10: Inside, fraternity stuff takes place.
Winchesters meet their "roommate" for their stay. He of the above pic. He's a blabbermouth and it takes nuthin' but a heavy handed Dean-query to learn the scant details of the Night In Question. Dean points out a "missed spot" on the guy's lower back, to Sam's consternation... cause even being in the vague vicinity of a guy's butt with a purple paint brush is homo-icky funny.
We find out that First Girl, who was not killed (as she is our Guest Star To Be....) is also a Reverend's Daughter, which makes her like, 3x Hotter on the 'Got To Tap That' scale. Dean asks for directions to the church. I notice that Sam's brush stays away from Blabber's Body, so as to avoid that icky thing.
Commentary: Sigh. Fuck You. (In reviewing entry before posting, I almost deleted this comment. I may be a bit oversensitive on
this point, but the scene did give me an insulting feel to it. Let's call this observation a strong Your Mileage May Vary scene.)
Scene 11: At the church, and in a slice of irony considering the homo-ick sheen of the last scene, Reverend Played-By-Openly-Gay-Actor is conducting service, where he thanks both God and Dead Lunk-Rich for protecting his daughter from Hook-Hand. Naturally, being a church dude with a hot daughter, he's immediately a suspect. [Yeah, maybe I was oversensitive about that last throwaway scene.]
We note that Roommate is sitting next to First Girl, hereby rechristened Preacher's Virgin (with Dean around, we'll see if she remains that way). Somehow, Roommate doesn't burst into flame for being Anti-Virgin Bad Influence. The Sheriff is also there ... we'll presume he's also suspect just for being a Law & Order Conserva-Dude.
Dean and Sam join the service late... banging the door shut so that they draw undue attention. Smoooooth.
As Reverend gets back to the message of the tragic loss of Hero-but-Lunk-Rich, Preacher's Virgin makes eyes with Our Sam.
Our Sammy has to give Dean a nudge to bow his head appropriately during the prayer section with he lookin' bored. I mention this because Dean's anti-belief in God & Wonders is a central part of his character, especially when the Lucifer arc begins.
Scene 12: After service, Roommate tries to coax Reverend's Virgin to join her and the other sisters for a movie/tequila shots night to put this tragedy behind them. For some entirely insane reason, they're planning this for a Sunday Night. Preacher's Virgin tells Anti-Virgin Bad Influence that she's expected at her father's for Sunday Dinner -- which is apparently an all night affair?? (Hello - have dinner, meet up with sisters at nine for movie/shots night. There, scheduling fixed).
They seperate with Preacher's Virgin telling Roommate she'll try to be there.
Scene 13: Preacher's Virgin... which, fine - I'll start using her name: Lori, is greeted by Sam and Dean who expresses their sorries for what happened to Lunk O'Hunk; Sam pulls out the recent tragedy with Jess card to bond.
Dean smoothly draws the arriving Preacher away by asking about services with the "new in town at college" story, allowing Our Sam to feel out Lori regarding the local police's ideas on the murder. Lori offers that she thinks that the Police are blaming her for not remembering details about the "invisible killer".
Sam offers that just because she didn't see anything doesn't mean that it wasn't real... which... for reasons I'm sure I don't quite get makes her feel better-ish. It just sounded like a lame line, to me.
Scene 14: In the local library later, Sammy confirms to Dean that he's buying Lori's story as truthful. Dean thinks it's cause Sam thinks she's hot (in Dean's continued, and uncomfortably clumsy way of pushing Sam to let go of the Jess trauma) but Sam says it was something in her eyes that convinced him she isn't faking her story (plus, her story is stupid as far as trying to fake something).
He tells Dean about her seeing Lunk-Rich suspended over the car during her attempt to fast-walk-flee/stop-to-turn-around.
Dean immediately recognizes the details as the Hook Man legend. Sam points out that as far fetched as it might sound, they know that every legend has a source (as we just saw in Bloody Mary).
Scene 15: Dean and Sam's next step is to search through arrest records for any dead killers who followed the MO of their suspected spirit serial killer with a hook. It's long and tedious and dusty.
Sam finally finds a possible suspect in a dead Reverend from the 1860's who had a hook for a hand and went on a killing spree of prostitutes one night when he couldn't take the outrage of the red light district anymore. Dean points this out to Sam, who in turn points out that the red light district was at the current site of 9 Mile Road, where Lunk-Rich was taken out.
Seems to be a slam dunk. However, something that I note which the brothers do not is that the Murderer-Preacher's hook is made of silver, which seem important since they mentioned it specifically. We know ghosts don't like salt and iron -- is silver a thing, too? And if so, then that puts a wrinkle in Hook-Hand as Vengeful Spirit theory, doesn't it? [Future!Edit: Actually, no, the silver is not a thing. In fact, it doesn't actually play any part in the story at all. I think the hook was made silver just to provide a reason for it to not have been buried with the murderer and because it has a relatively low melting point compared to steel.]
Commentary: It's nice that they acknowledge that not everything can be looked up on the suspiciously-advanced-Sunnydale-Internet and that the rest of the world doesn't get Hellmouth-enhanced web browsers. And, they even managed to avoid the de rigeur requirement of being shhh-d by scowling fellow patrons or the librarian (though in the latter half's case it's probably because they were too busy going with 'everyone wants Dean' with the bedroom glance).
Scene 16: Later that evening, Preacher is dropping off Lori at T(3)'s house. They have an argument over Lori's continued good-girl status when she's surrounding herself by bad influences. She argues she's over 18 and can make her own choices.
Lori leaves Dad stewing.
Scene 17: On her way to Roomate Anti-Virgin Bad Influence, Lori notices a scratch mark on the wall. She gets a chill, but continues onward. When she reaches the room, she finds no girls partying, but just Roommate who apparently decided she wasn't coming and went to bed instead.
Lori is disappointed and goes into the bathroom to change into her sleepwear.
Scene 18: Meanwhile, Our Sam and Dean have driven out to the foggy moors of Iowa. The Impala is wearing a spot light accessory that I never noticed before. Considering how briefly it gets used, Sam having a good flashlight would have made better sense.
Our Boys dig into The Impala's trunk and gives Sam a rifle with rock salt shells. [Which Sam must then clumsily remind us is a spirit deterrent since we may have forgotten Pilot; No Sam -- I didn't forget. Shut up with the obvious.]
Dean adds [No, Dean -- I didn't forget. Shut up with the obvious] that it won't kill our ghosty, but it'll slow 'im down.
They proceed into the woods near the train trestle.
Nearly immediately, they hear noises from the forest.
Commentary: Okay, in addition to the annoyance at the info-dump of information that should have been left to us to remember or figure out on our own, the moonlight on the nearby river is ridiculously bright. RIDICULOUS.
I do like the music playing under the scene though.
Sam points salt rifle as POV-CAM stalks out of woods toward them. But this turns out to be a Sheriff on Patrol, and his gun is looking a little more impressive at this moment.
Scene 19: Back at T(3), Lori is ready for her bedtime. Roommate shifts in her sleep, so she's alive despite the scratch on the wall leading toward their room. (However, I can see where we're going. I predict that she'll be dead in the morning, having been killed silently and there should be a message on the wall asking Lori if she's glad she didn't wake up during the night.)
We get camera-focus on the dark closet and whispery soundtrack.
Scene 20: We shift to the following morning. Lori awakens and rolls over in her bed. Her attention is grabbed by a pool of blood gathered at the side of Roommate's bed, along with still wet dripping down her bedsheet. As she sits up in a scream, we get several jumpcuts showing a bloody mess before focusing on Roommate's dead face and the hole punched through her throat.
As we pull out, we can see she was sliced across her midsection as well. And yes, there is a message on the wall in blood and scratches asking her if she isn't glad she didn't turn the light on....
Commentary: I do like the tableau for this scene, including making sure that the tropes for the urban legend of this situation are presented for our terrorized co-ed. But, I have to wonder about this silly message business. What difference would it have made if she had turned on the light... Roommate was clearly still alive at that point, since we saw her shift in bed. It doesn't really make sense in this context, despite being a part of the urban legend about the Roommate-Killed-Across-Room-From-Girl story.
The scene also wasn't really set up that well, since there isn't any explanation for why Roommate was already in bed at all. What happened to the other sorority sisters who were supposed to be movie-watching and drinking? And okay, it sorta makes sense that this whole thing didn't happen because - SUNDAY NIGHT, but that was a dumb detail anyway.
The whole set up for this particular murder was really clumsily approached by the scripting. And the entire point of her not turning on the lights the night before should have referred to Roommate already being dead when she came in (which wouldn't work due to the mess) or that Lori would've woken up during the night when she heard a noise, started reaching for her lamp, but then just stumbled to the bathroom in the dark and then stumbled back to her bed.
The way it's presented just doesn't really work, unless it was deliberately being used to indicate that a supernatural presence is following the myth tale without a sense of logic about it? But that still wouldn't quite work, since we were shown quite clearly at the beginning of the episode that this isn't just a human serial killer. I don't know, it's all a little clumsy.
Also, note the mess of a signature-symbol at the bottom. Presumably that is only being included to act as a clue to Sam and Dean; If it turns out to be, it's a bit overdone and obvious, don't ya think?
Scene 21: As Lori is screaming, Sam and Dean are leaving the confines of the Sheriff's office. Dean is riding high on his using his charm technique to talk the Sheriff down to a fine for that stunt out in the woods. Our Sam was the one in some trouble for carrying around and pointing a shotgun at a law enforcement officer. But Dean explained to him that Sammy is a hell week pledge out hunting ghosts with rocksalt in the ammo, and wasn't actually looking to hurt anyone.
As they're walking away, deputies come racing out of the sheriff's office. Our Boys watch them tear out of the lot.
Scene 22: Obviously, everyone is headed to the T(3) house. The Impala carries the boys by the scene and there is deep-looks between them and Lori. Meanwhile, Preacher argues the Sheriff into allowing him to take Lori home.
Boys pull around the corner to park, so they can sneak onto the crime scene from the back.
Commentary: Okay, I know that Lori is supposed to be in shock but... uh, she seems awfully calm in a not-drugged way for this scene. Couldn't they have at least had her acting zombified by sedative, or had glycerin tears on her face for this?
Scene 23: Our Boys climb up the outside wall to the second floor to slip in through a window. How fortuitous that the window belongs to a huge walk in closet, which leads directly to the crime scene room.
Also lucky is how there is only one deputy in the room and he quickly leaves. Thank goodness that CSI teams aren't spending hours there micro-searching the room for evidence. Sammy indicates the legend again, while Dean points out the strong smell of ghost.
Sammy points out the signature-symbology at the bottom of the wall carving.
Scene 24: This leads Our Boys back to their research about the ghost preacher, where the signature is the symbol that was on a pendant attached to the hook he wore in place of his lost hand. They're sitting at The Impala and decide they need to find the dead preacher's grave and salt his bones. One problem -- he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave....
As Dean plucks a parking ticket from the windshield, since they rather stupidly parked too close to a hydrant, he suggests to Our Sam that his new gal-pal Lori must have some tie to the business before them.
Scene 25: That night, at the Fraternity house, a wild party is in swing (why let a grisly murder on campus get in the way of a kegger -- amIright). Dean and Sam are in the midst of it, trying to discuss the case instead of in their room where they'd have privacy, as surely their flatmate wouldn't be hanging there during this party.
Our Sam shows results of research he'd conducted that day. There had been at least two other rashes of violence in which a preacher preachin' against immorality led to his being charged for murders which in both cases the minister insisted was the work of an invisible force. Our Sam suggests a poltergeist latches onto the preacher's energies and he unintentionally gives it the power it needs to kill anything he disapproves of. In the former cases it was to protect the town in general, but with our current minister, it's to protect Lori specifically.
Dean tells Sammy that he's on Lori guard duty, while he (reluctantly as coed gives him coy come-hither looks his way) will go to the graveyard and try to locate the dead minister's unmarked grave.
Scene 26: That night, Dean goes cemetery stalking where he finds an unmarked grave that is marked with a headstone that has the signature/symbol carved into it on a stone that seems in remarkably good shape for being several hundred years old.
Scene 27: Meanwhile, Our Sam is hanging out outside of Preacher's house/Church. He sees father/daughter argument through the window.
Scene 28: Back in the cemetery, Dean is digging for bones. He resolves that the next time, he gets cute-girl watch, just as he reaches the coffin.
Scene 29: Back with Sammy, he sees the lights go out in Lori's house. He is unexpected joined by Lori, who tells him she saw him from upstairs. The two have attracted-banter as Lori tries to tell Sam that he should get away from her as quickly as possible to keep himself safe. Sam's own experience helps him understand her.
Scene 30: Back at the grave, Dean lights up the dead preacher's bones.
Scene 31: In front of Lori's house, she's unloading about her situation, which admittedly sucks beyond the telling. Sammy mentions the fight he just witnessed and Lori tells him about her dad not being so straight-and-narrow as he seems. She just found out that he's been seeing a married woman on the side. The woman is a parishoner and Lori knows their kids. She's disgusted and angry about his talk of praying and having faith that this nightmare will come to an end.
She rants a bit about being raised to believe in morality to avoid punishment, only to find out her dad's become a hypocrit. She embraces Sammy in a hug of comfort-me. This leads, naturally, to kissin'.
Sammy pulls back, and Lori intuits it's due to the "someone you lost". The moment between them was about to be broken anyway by Preacher-Dad noticing that she's not in the house. He calls to her to come inside, and she say angrily that she'll come inside when she's ready.
As Our Sam and Lori watch, Hook-Hand appears behind Preacher and hooks him into the shoulder, yanking him screaming back into the house. Sam rushes in with his sawed off of rocksalt and drives the ghost away before Poppa-Better-Repent gets disembowled.
Lori follows behind yelling as she hears the blasts and stuff shattering upstairs where Reverend Dad had been dragged.
Commentary: Overall, I really liked this scene. I do want to again mention the negative, which is Lori's lowkey response to having her date and Roommate murdered, both of which she was there to eye the aftermath of and with the law now believing she's a suspect. It pulls down the scene until the ghost appears. I get it, in a way. They didn't want her to be all blubbery when her and Sam start the makeout, as that may have come off as sleazy on Our Sam's part if not handled delicately with her being in a state, but the way they went has really underplayed her trauma.
I do like Sam's struggle with Jess' loss being referred to again, especially in how it isn't being used to be angsty while he goes on bedding girls, anyway (please see far too many 80's actioners where our grieving cop-who-goes-after-the-bad-who-killed-hi
I also really liked the ghost's sudden appearance behind the Preacher, and the way - of course - that is suddenly turns the story on its head since we know the bones are destroyed and we can now tell that this has nothing to do with Preacher after all, though Lori now is even more suspect as the one the poltergeist (presuming that part is correct) is attached to. This was really nicely done.
Scene 32: Later at the hospital, Sam is being questioned by suspicious Sheriff as to Sam's always hanging around oddly with a weapon. Dean shows up, and his and Sam's interactions only intensify Sheriff's suspicions that our brothers are involved. You can certainly understand the point, as Dean could've been under the costume to attack Lori's dad, while Our Sam kept her distracted.
It doesn't help that Sam and Dean choose to get into a heated argument in the hallway just out of earshot, where Sam asks why Dean didn't torch the bones [Uh, wouldn't your first assumption be that Dean didn't find the grave, rather than that he did but didn't carry out the torching, Sammy?]
Our brothers discuss both Dean's success at the gravesite and Sam's new theory that Preacher PissedGhost has latched onto Lori, not her father, due to her conflicted and chaotic emotions in regards to the immorality around her: Lunk O'Hunk Got Handsy, Roommate Introduced Her To Wild Party Goodhood, Dad Has Affair....
It still doesn't explain why the damned dude didn't disperse to the afterlife with his remains burning though, until Sammy asks about making sure the hook was salted and torched as well. Dean realizes the accessory wasn't in the coffin.
Scene 33: Library Scene as Our Boys try to track down what happened to Preacher-Killer's hook hand once he'd been executed.
Dean discovers that all earthly possessions of the dead reverend were turned over to the very church that Lori's father presides over, further explaining why Lori was leeched onto to. Next, is to discover from church records filed in the library on what preacher's past may have done with the cursed item.
Sammy discovers an entry indicating that the hook was melted down and reforged into something else that the church could use.
Commentary: I'm really diggin' this episode for the heavy use of actual research... with books, even!... that Our Brothers are having to do to resolve this case. And I really appreciate that they're letting Dean find some of the answers on his own because there are some episodes in which Dean starts looking like a caricature of the dumb, horny guy and Sam gets pigeonholed as the smart one. I always appreciate the episodes more when the directors/writers let both boys use all of their talents, rather than trying to divide them along stereotypical and cliche muscle/brains lines.
Scene 34: Sam and Dean return to the church to do a sweep for a silver item that could indicate the hook's new form. The boys decide to split up, with Dean checking out the church proper, while Sammy goes through the house.
Scene 35: In the church, Dean's got a fire going in a fireplace and is tossing everything silver into it. Sam returns with more silver items from the house.
Commentary: Wait, you had them seperate and then didn't even give us a scene where one of them (preferably Sammy so he can make a panicked flight back to the church) get attacked to try to stop them? Huh.
Their burning spree is interrupted by a bang against the floorboards above their heads. Instead of simply throwing the entire bag of silver items into the already burning fire, they stop what they're doing to go investigate. (Whaa-whaaaaaa)
Scene 36: It turns out to be Lori, who has come to seek spiritual guidance and help. Dean waves Sam off to go talk to her, while he returns to the basement fire. [And, we finally get the Lori in tears that this episode really needed for her character.]
Lori is naturally surprised to see Sammy. She's seen the same thing that the Winchesters have noticed, that ghost is all about her in some way. She holds herself responsible, believing that Hook Man is an avenging ghost summoned by her to punish those that she's angry at, and she's devastated over what "she did". Sammy tries to talk sense into her, but he doesn't really get a chance to explain the actual case, because as she's explaining that she's the one that should be punished for Lunk and Roommate's deaths, we see Hook-Hand vaporing up the aisle. Sammy also hears/senses his approach.
Nearby, candles get blown out by supernatural breath.
Scene 37: Sam gathers Lori and escorts her to the church door, telling her they need to go. But when he opens said door, Hook-Hand is waiting. He's just able to slam the door, as the hook gets slashed their way. They retreat back up the aisle toward the dais.
In a small room behind the dais, they find themselves in a dead end. Sammy gets arm-slashed. Lori gets grabbed and supernaturally dragged by inviso-powers back into the church proper. Sam rushes after her to help her up.
Commentary: And unfortunately, we get that super-closeup/jumpcut o'fun where it is nearly impossible to see what is actually happening and you have to fill in the details yourself. That is always annoying. Always. STOP DOING IT.
Sam tries to pull Lori to her feet, but Hook-Hand appears again in solid form. It mega-strengths Sam up against the wall with an uppercut, and when he collapses to the floor a small book case falls over on top of him. Lori meanwhile is crabcrawling away, but Hook-Hand stalks her down.
Our Sam gets to his feet just as Hook-Hand towers over Lori. Without a weapon, he looks pretty useless though [and really stupid for not having something on him at the ready].
Dean suddenly appears behind him and shouts for him to drop, which he does instantly [I like that -- no looking around with a huh-what reaction] and Dean fires the rocksalt gun -- but Hook-Hand does a disappearing act before being hit.
Sam shouts at Dean about burning all of the silver, but Dean responds they must have missed something. Our Sam notes the silver cross and chain around Lori's neck and asks urgently where she got it. She says from dad, and Dean follows up with where he got it -- which reveals it is a church heirloom. Sammy snatches it.
Before he can toss it to Dean for a fast trip to the Fire of Ghost Banishment though, the way is blocked by invisible ghost carving a line in the wall and leading up the aisle toward them.
Scene 38: Alas, Preacher Poltergeist gets dumb now. Instead of making a direct line for our vulnerable group, he chooses to play around with carving on walls above their heads. This allows Dean and Sam to exchange rocksalt shotgun for silver necklace and Dean leaves Sammy to keep he and Lori alive until he can toss said heirloom into the cleansing flame.
Commentary: I liked Jared here, because he never forgets that his left arm is largely immobilized with injury and when he wrestles with reloading the shotgun, he makes sure not to use that hand to easily reload.
Scene 39: In the basement, Dean tosses the necklace in.
Scene 40: On the floor above, Hook-Hand swats the shotgun out of Sam's hands and raises his hook.
Hook-Hand poses menacingly for moments too long, allowing the silver cross to melt in the fire, which immediately causes first his hook hand to similarly melt away, and then for him to combust.
Dean rushes back up to relievedly find that his brother and Lori are okay.
Scene 41: At daybreak (not actually, but the timeline is screwed up here -- clearly our boys waited way too long to summon the police to not be overtly suspicious), the Sheriff is questioning Dean. They've spun a story that Hook-Hand attacked Lori but ran off after they banded together to fight him.
Sheriff starts to strongly suggest that Dean and Sam should be on their way, but Dean interrupts -- having gotten this same reaction more times than can be counted -- and tells him they're already leaving town as he walks away.
Scene 42: Meanwhile, Lori meets up with Sammy at an ambulance, where he's had his injury wrapped up [and I'm gonna call bullshit on the lack of a visit to the hospital for stitches, instead of having this scene here].
Dean waits for him in Impala, but watches them handhold via the side mirror.
Lori does the grateful thing for his saving her life. They part. Dean looks a little blue on behalf of Our Sam [in some very nice acting by Jensen, considering its all in his face].
Scene 43: When Sammy gets in the car, Dean suggests that they could stay but Sam silently shakes his head in the negative as Lori looks on behind the car. Dean takes a last look at Lori through the side mirror and gives a single "such a shame" shake of his head before doing as Sam wants and putting the car in gear.
Our Impala carries the boys away.
Commentary: I really liked this scene as well for both Jared's stony refusal to stay despite being attracted to Lori (obviously due to conflicted feelings regarding Jess) and Jensen's expression that tells us he wants his brother to move on from Jess' loss, while not being a douchebag about it, as I complained about in "Dead In The Water".
This is the respectful way to handle Sam's grief and Dean's wanting to find some way to alleviate Our Sam's lingering pain and guilt that let's Jensen's character have depth, so I thank the writer and director for going out this way instead of with a horny joke by Dean.
The Good: I love this episode for showing Dean and Sam hard at work during the research phase. They don't find the convenient answer laid out in Dad's journal, or sitting at "Convenient Plot Knowledge.com" that lays it all out for them.
I really like that Sam is being allowed the weight of his problems with letting go of Jessica's loss after "Pilot".
Despite the weird set up for this attack (which made it into The Bad), I really liked the handling of Roommate's death, especially the visuals. And while we didn't really get to know Roommate all that much, it was enough for her viscious death to have impact.
I also liked the way the attack on the Preacher came about and finally the Sam/Dean/Lori vs. Undead Preacher in the church scenes (but I have a caveat in the bad on the final battle scene).
I really enjoyed Jared's acting in the final fight scene, and I really liked Jensen when it came to him watching Sam privately and aching for him when he walks away from Lori, despite their mutual attraction.
The Bad: I was vaguely insulted by our going through the rules of rock salt vs. ghost. We know this from Pilot already and I'm hoping we don't get this clunky explanation of what our brothers are doing with it every time we come up on a ghost.
That Roommate murder set up was really, really clumsy. The sequence of events don't really jibe if you give it any thought at all. However, this scene did make it into the good and that makes up for this weird bit of plotting.
I was going to place Lori's reactions here as... well... acting fail. But then Jane McGregor handled her breakdown/terror just fine in the church confrontation, so it must have been a directing fail instead. There are too many scenes where Lori's trauma just isn't well realized on screen in the aftermath of some pretty awful circumstances, especially in the immediate aftermath of Taylor's murder.
It's really unfortunate that the scene of Sam and Lori trapped in a tiny room with a Hook Handed Ghost was so marred by the extreme closeup, constant jump cutting editing. It is one of my pet peeves in cinema watching to have a tense hand to hand battle completely obscured by hyperactive, piecemeal editing. Sometimes it may be needed to cover weak fight coreography/execution, but often it is used as a cheap gimmick to make a battle scene appear more exciting and fast than it is and this never works to the scene's benefit. Never.
Other Thoughts: I want to mention the directing here. When I first started watching this one, I didn't get much hope that we'd be getting more than a very middling episode. Although the entire point of the episode was an urban legend, and following the common urban tropes associated with the hook handed killer was deliberate, the tale was actually pretty fun. I think the episode, for me, got off to a worrying start because the direction seemed like it would be plain, workman-like and adequate. But then, we got to some of the tense scenes, some exciting battle scenes and some quiet scenes and the director kept the tones appropriate to those individual scenes. I was really happy by the end and so I hearby bestow a half-kudo to our director (there were still some directing missteps along the way that mars his kudo).
I can't get over the Dad-Jeep that our college boy is driving. [This speaking as a former driver of a Cherokee, which I loved to death and was a fantastic car -- over 325,000 miles before the engine really started to have seriously expensive problems and I had to let her go.] Maybe their product placement wouldn't have looked so out of place, if they'd at least given the dude a black model.
Vaguely homophobic or oversensitive (for some reason, I'm not usually so annoyed by such things) reviewer. I still can't decide about that first scene with the half-naked purple guy, so I place it here.
I'm left confused by Dean getting a parking ticket outside of the murder house. I thought for sure it was going to come back later as a reason to have the Sheriff catch the boys in a lie about their whereabouts, but no. It actually had no point. Not even a "Dean goes to pay it and gets accosted by suspicious Sheriff" scene. It was just there, so why the director focus on the event to the point of accepting that Dean would be stupid enough to park next to a hydrant in the first place when the entire block was free??
The Score: What we have hear is a mixed bag judging by the comments above, but the episode hangs together very well and the strongest scenes arrive at the end, so we go out on a high note. They worked the Hook Man myth nicely and I enjoyed the episode. It's a good one for being a monster-of-the-week episode in Season 1.
3.75 out of 5 stars
Up Next: First, we'll have a mini review of the trade paperback version of "Godzilla: The Half-Century War" from IDW.
After the mini-review, we'll be taking on Angel & Faith, #6.