Season 01, Episode 12
Writer: Sera Gamble, Raelle Tucker
DIR: Allan Kroeker
Blurb: Witness the miracle: Faith healer Roy Le Grange cures Dean after an accident leaves him near death. Witness the terror: [minor spoiler territory, so we’ll wait a bit to reveal].
Scene 01: We first get previouslies to establish the hunt for John Winchester.
Our real first scene starts at night, outside of a dark home. Naturally, there is mist in the night, because isn’t there always?
The throaty growl of a car engine sounds and we see headlamps light up a driveway next to our darkened home. In the light spill, we can see that the house is dark because it has clearly been abandoned, possibly due to a fire, or it’s just been a while because there is some definite structural damage.
Our car is obviously The Impala.
Scene 02: Dean and Sam pop the trunk and gather their supplies, telling us that this site is a hunt in progress. They grab a high energy stun gun: 1000 volts.
Dean reminds Sam that a Rawhead only gives you one shot, so make it count.
Scene 03: In the Domicile of Dark Tidings, Dean and Sam systematically make their way into dark corridors looking for their monster. As our brothers make their way down into the basement, a rattle startles them.
Dean creepers up to a cabinet. He opens it, ready for he and Sam to attack, but this isn’t their monster. It’s two children. They confirm to Dean’s question that the monster is still there somewhere nearby.
As the brothers gather the kids and hustle them toward the stairs to get them away to safety, Rawhead is annoyed that his larder has been raided. He grabs Sam’s leg through the stairs, even though Sam had looked there on the way down. Clearly the Rawhead is quick on its feet. Sam falls down the stairs, but he’s okay. Dean fires his overpowered stun gun and the monster roars in pain. Our Sam tosses his stunner to his brother and then rushes the children out of the monster den, while Dean goes after the Rawhead to finish it off.
Scene 04: In the cellar, Dean urges the monster-man to show itself, already. The creature obliges, catching the hunter off guard and sending him across the room, against the wall. We note that the basement floor has puddles of standing water.
Dean scrambles into a puddle to grab the stun gun, and is able to shock the Rexhead fatally [and poor dude looks like a Tellarite that suffered an industrial accident]. But the ‘Rex isn’t the only one that suffers. Dean is caught in the feedback because of the conduction abilities of water… that puddle he’s half lying in. He receives an equally jolting shock to the system.
Sam returns from escorting the children to find his brother lying in a slump. He’s unresponsive to Sam’s panicked calls and manhandling.
Commentary: This was a relatively strong opening, mostly because of some great use of shadow, and unlike the last few episodes, the set lighting wasn’t ridiculously apparent. Jensen also did well looking afraid of the monster this time out, which was nice since this is just the bumper and not the actual episode monster. I also enjoyed that because this isn’t the main foe for the episode, the scenes were speedy - not wasting a lot of time to introduce why Dean is in his current predicament and then move onto the real story.
Insert Flashy-Jumpy Title
Scene 05: We return in a hospital, following a nurse’s elbow. We pan up to her telling Sam that there doesn’t appear to be any insurance information on file for his brother. Sam distractedly pulls out fake ID stuff. Nearby, two officers wait to question Sam.
He explains that he and his brother were driving by with the windows rolled down and heard screaming from the empty house. They stopped. Cops buy it.
Scene 06: Having seen the doctor down the hallway, he excuses himself to find out Dean’s condition. [We see Julie Benz’ name in the credits and we squee. It’s embarrassing. But necessary. Then we remember how little Amy Acker had to do and we worry.]
Doctor Stiff-Acting reveals that the electrical current triggered a massive heart attack and damaged the muscle. He tells Sammy that they can keep Dean comfortable, but the damage is severe… fatal, actually. Dean has a few weeks… maybe a month at most.
He assures Sam that they’ve done all they can.
Scene 07: In his room, Dean flips through a tiny, portable TV. It’s even Black & White!
When Sammy comes in, Dean is looking like death warmed over… or if you prefer… SHITTY. Dean complains about daytime tv. When Sam mentions speaking to the doctor, Dean deflects with telling Sam they need to hunt down the Snuggle Fabric Softener Teddy Bear. [I say “yes!” because nothing is that syrupy sweet without a hidden evil center.]
Sam won’t be put off, of course. Dean pulls some gallows humor that Sammy doesn’t find amusing. Dean is pretty straightforward about it all, considering their living. Our Sam is naturally enough ready to call ‘bullshit’ on that, although how he plans on changing Dean’s fate, he’s not sure yet.
Commentary: First, a hardy kudo to the makeup artist on this episode. Jensen almost loses him adorableness with that pale look. Although, weirdly it only seems to accentuate his freckling. Still, he’s kept out of Adorable Dean territory by the dark circles around his eyes.
I also find it interesting in retrospect that Dean tells Sam that he can’t stop his dying, while Sam refuses to acknowledge that fact. This will turn into a running theme between the Winchesters -- neither one of them is going to allow the other to be dead, no matter what they have to do, and it will lead to some engaging story arcs in future… especially with how so often, not letting nature takes its course creates blowback on the brothers and some of it is pretty severe. I don’t know if this was just dramatic storytelling, or if there is a deliberate message in there.
Scene 08: We pan to a motel room, where Sam has research on the heart and how it can be treated spread out on the bed. He’s listening to his father’s voicemail message telling him to call his son if there is an emergency. Our Sam chokes out the news about Dean, but also tells his dad that he’s going to do what it takes to get him better, so not to worry. Sam is clearly only half-believing himself.
There is an unexpected knock at the motel room door. When he opens it, Dean is swaying in the doorway to Sam’s shock. He’s checked himself out because he doesn’t want to lay around dying in a hospital bed where the nurses aren’t even hot. Sam calls Dean out on his not buying his brother’s “laugh in the face of death” routine.
He shares that he’s been scouring the internet for the past three days looking for an answer. He shares that a contact of their father’s has something in Nebraska that may be the answer. And he’s not taking an “accept my fate” answer from Dean about going.
Scene 09: Next stop: Nebraska.
They join a large group of the sick, maimed but hopeful at a revival tent. The tent is in the midst of a muddy field for extra pathos as we watch these afflicted people struggling to reach what they hope is their salvation.
[Because if you want to heal the sick and injured, why not have a few laughs first by making them trudge with their walkers and wheelchairs through mud. Y’gotta take your fun where it lies, I guess… y’know, if you’re a Grand Ass.]
Scene 10: Dean is not amused. He accuses Sammy of telling him they were going to see a doctor, but Sam reminds him he used the word “specialist”… which in this case is Roy Le Grange - Faith Healer.
Sam’s research suggested he’s the real deal. Dean isn’t impressed with Sam’s opinion on this matter, and neither is a single protester complaining that the “reverend” is bilking. The Sheriff’s Deputy on duty tells him it’s a religious service and he’ll have to move along.
The brothers argue about faith vs. reality and about evil being real while good is just an illusion to comfort people while they’re being preyed upon. They’re interrupted by a woman saying that God works in mysterious ways. This is Layla Rourke [It’s Julie Benz! Yay!]
Dean turns instantly flirtatious because… well… Dean is a tramp. Layla questions Dean’s arrival if he’s not a believer and he puts the blame on Sam… charmingly, as is his way when he’s talking to a beautiful woman, which Julie is.
Scene 11: Dean is barely in the tent when he bitch-faces the security camera watching the audience as not being conducive to Faith and Trust. The boys find seats in the packed tent.
The Reverend and his wife Sue Ann arrive. He’s a blind preacher and he starts a sermon about the Lord. It’s the usual. To the preacher’s spiel that God helps him see into men’s hearts to judge who is ready to be healed, Dean side-talks to Sam that God helps him see into men’s wallets, too. Preacher Le Grange hears it and comments, forcing Dean to apologize out of embarrassment, but Preacher takes it all with humor and moves on.
Meanwhile, Sam has noted an unusual cross design as one of the accoutrements on a background table. Dean is asked to come up on stage. Dean wants to beg off, despite Sam’s astonishment, but Le Grange is clear in his heart that the Lord has picked Dean today.
[Dean is trying to pull the Adorable again with those freckles, but he’s too pale and he’s being bitchy, so it doesn’t quite work.]
It’s obvious he’s not going to be able to squirm out of this by suggesting that someone else would be more fitting.
Scene 12: On stage, Dean admits to Le Grange that he isn’t a believer. Le Grange promises he will be. Everyone sets to praying and Le Grange sets a hand upon Dean’s head.
Despite Dean’s disbelief, he does appear affected - falling to his knees and acting as if a powerful force is traveling through his body. Sam nearly jumps out of his seat but whether to cheer him on, or pull a gun on the reverend for bad juju, we can’t know.
But Le Grange is calm and smiling and very focused. He keeps repeating, “Alright, now” as he continues the laying on of hands. Dean falls to the stage unconscious, getting Sam up and out of his seat in alarm. He doesn’t pull a gun.
Everyone is clapping and cheering as Sam shakes Dean, who awakens with a start. He woozily opens his eyes to find a Grey Figure standing over the reverend’s shoulder.
Commentary: I really liked how this scene was filmed. You could almost believe that Le Grange was in touch with a higher power… until you remember that this is Supernatural and therefore we’re sure to be confronted with some horror any second.
And then we see the Grey Man and “yep -- nothing the Winchesters touch is anything but a pile of shit”.
Scene 13: Later in a hospital, they’re waiting for the doctor to confirm Dean’s miracle. Sam is full of joy, but Dean is … unsettled.
The doctor tells Dean that there isn’t any sign of anything wrong with his heart, or that there had ever been but that sometimes weird things happen with the body. Dean asks what she means and she offers that just yesterday [presumably at the time of Dean’s healing] a 27-year old man dropped dead of a heart attack.
Sam jumps immediately to “coincidence” but Dean is cynical and ergo believes in cause and effect for everything that appears to be miraculous and bad luck. Sam wants to just not look this gift horse in the mouth and be grateful that the dead guy somehow saved Dean’s life but that isn’t going to fly.
Dean admits to Our Sam that he saw something standing on the stage with him. He tells Sam that during his healing, he felt cold and wrong. He insists to Sam that he’s been hunting too long not to trust his gut on this one and something is wrong with his miracle.
Sam relents. Dean asks him to check on the history of the dead guy while he drops in on the reverend.
Scene 14: At the reverend’s, Dean tells both he and his wife that he feels great, but he needs to make some sense of what happened. Sue Ann tells that miracles have become a regular occurrence around Roy. Dean asks when the miracles started and Roy gives his story of having a fatal brain cancer with a month to live. Roy offers that he was weak, but Sue Ann never stopped praying. Roy fell into a coma and wasn’t expected to awaken again. But he did. And the cancer had gone into remission leaving only his blindness as a sign he’d ever had it.
He’d discovered afterward that he could share this healing with others. Sue Ann is all aglow with the possibilities for the future but Dean remains concerned. He asks why Le Grange chose him rather than somebody else in that tent.
Le Grange tells Dean that when he looked into his heart, he stood out from the others as a man with an important job to do that isn’t finished.
Commentary: I want to give a kudo to Kevin McNulty for his performance. I can really buy into his being a Faith Healer who is not only committed, but is a true believer that this ‘gift’ is coming from something outside of himself and is only possible through god. He doesn’t act as a showman or a con artist, like the usual OTT performance we’d usually see in a tent revival and it keeps the character grounded and relatable.
Scene 15: At an athletic club, an attendant who witnessed our victim’s death relates that he can’t explain what happened to the guy. He was young, very fit and athletic. He shares that the guy started freaking out that something was after him, and then he just collapsed.
As Sam goes to leave, he notes the clock on the wall stopped at 4:17 -- the time of the victim’s death.
Scene 16: Dean leaves and runs into Layla. She’s arriving at her mother’s insistence to talk to the reverend. They can’t get past Sue Ann though. Mrs. Rourke pleads as they’ve been to the tent six times looking for Layla’s deliverance from her affliction but Sue Ann tells her that Roy is well aware of Layla’s situation and wants to help her as soon as the Lord allows. She asks her to have faith.
But as the Reverend’s wife returns, Mrs. Rourke isn’t feeling that charitable. She turns on Dean for his getting the healing that her daughter deserves. She wants to know what Dean is even still doing there after he got what he wanted. Layla tries to intervene, but Mrs. Rourke is pissed that a stranger who doesn’t even believe received a healing after they’ve put their faith in the reverend and have come to every service devotedly.
[Except, it’s not actually devotion exactly, is it?]
Layla is embarrassed by her mother’s behavior, and sad of course, but she’s carrying on. Layla’s mother isn’t doing as well with this. Layla turns out to have an inoperable brain tumor… like Roy recently had.
Scene 17: When Dean comes in deflated to the motel room, his day doesn’t get any better. Sam apologizes and to Dean’s questioning reveals the time of death of Marshall the Young Heart Attack Victim, which coincides with Dean’s healing perfectly.
Sam has been digging on the internet. He’s located evidence that for each of the six people Roy healed over the past year, six others died suddenly with no prior sign of being sick. And each one died with the manner of disease the healed person had. He has come to the conclusion that Le Grange is somehow trading one life for another….
Scene 18: Speaking of which, a woman is jogging through the park when she gets a sudden intuition that she’s being watched. She’s listening to “Don’t Fear The Reaper”, which is oh-so-appropriate.
Scene 19: In the motel room, Dean is horrified that Marshall Hall died in order to save him, but Sam points out that he’s not responsible.
Scene 20: At that very moment, Le Grange is healing a man with severe emphysema.
Scene 21: In the motel room, Dean is pissed that he killed somebody to live and partly blames Our Sam for bringing him there. Obviously, nobody could’ve known. And Sam is right when he states that the guy probably would’ve died anyway as somebody else was being healed.
Scene 22: In the revival tent, Old Man is being relieved of his not-enough-air problem through the miraculous touch.
Scene 23: In the motel, Sam questions how Roy is trading a life for a life. Dean tells Our Sam that he isn’t. Somebody else is doing it for him… the old man on stage that he saw.
Scene 24: Who at that very moment is confronting our female jogger.
Scene 25: Dean tells Our Sam that they’re dealing with a Reaper.
Scene 26: On the trail our jogger is running for her life while having trouble catching her air. The Reaper serial killer-walks behind her without any problems in keeping up with her.
This is intercut with Roy praying and laying on of hands. Because as we now know, jogger will die at the exact moment that Old Wheezer breathes free air again.
The Reaper suddenly appears right in front of her and knocks her down. Before she can get to her feet again, he lays his hands on her head. That’s all it takes.
Scene 27: Back in the tent, the [invisible to everybody else] hand of the Reaper rests on the Old Wheezer’s head and he is cured.
Commentary: I loved this sequence. I wanted to be annoyed by all of the intercutting -- mostly because it was a pain to transcribe -- and the little-too-cute choice of song but the entire thing worked very well. Including how the separate events’ dialogs were being played over anothers’ scene. The whole sequence was just well edited together and I have to admit that the song was a perfect choice to play over the whole thing.
I also want to give a shout out to the makeup department, because our unfortunate woman jogger looked awful as she was having her life ended by The Reaper. I also liked the actor who played the silent role of The Reaper. There was something in his bearing that was both creepy and kind of sad, and the make up design brings to mind the ghost haunting Mary Henry in ‘Carnival of Souls’ on a higher budget.
Scene 28: In the motel, Dean continues to insist to the doubtful Sam that they’re dealing with an genuine Reaper. Dean is much more aware of the lore than the unknowing Sam and he tells his brother about the Reaper’s ability to stop time… explaining the dead clock. They also can’t be perceived until they’ve come to collect the person who is about to die, which is why Dean could see the Reaper on stage but Sam couldn’t… [uhm… except for that part where it wasn’t coming for Dean and he wasn’t near death yet… uhm…. Dean was brought to the point of death by his healing before the miraculous reversing?? Sure - let’s go with that.]
Considering this more deeply, Sam remembers the unusual cross that had gained his attention in the tent. The cross can be found also on at Tarot Card depicting the Death card [which usually doesn’t actually mean a physical death -- if interested, here is a linkage to follow into the internet rabbit hole].
Sam tells Dean that the symbol dates back to when some Christians were still heavily involved in the occult before that was excised from the Church. They decide Roy must be using black magic to control the Reaper. And with him trying to play God, Dean is ready to kill him but Our Sam objects that they can’t kill a person. Sam offers the alternative of finding out what black spell is being used and then discovering how to break it to free the Reaper.
Commentary: Sam doesn’t mention just how they’ll stop Roy from using the same spell on a new Reaper in a new place and continue this saving/murdering cycle, conveniently. Once just has to hope the Reaper will be a pissy sort and take Roy for what he’s done, I suppose. Neither brother voices this concern/hope.
Also -- how many times do we see the Winchesters pulling out Tarot Cards? Not too damned often -- do they have a pack in the Impala’s trunk that Sam happened to have grabbed before Dean and he separated for Dean’s visit to the Reverend? Because that is the only way to explain away Sam’s having the awfully convenient Death Card, of just the right design by the way, to have the Clue-Cross depicted. Ugh, that’s clumsy filming.
Scene 29: It’s another trip for the Winchesters to the muddy grounds of the Revival Tent.
[I’d be more annoyed, but I know Dean won’t tolerate Impala being muddy for long. I do wish he’d do something about the squeaky doors, though.]
Our Sam and Dean plan to separate again, with Sam looking for the totem indicating the spell works, while Dean tries to stall Roy. In the meantime, they’re interrupted by Single Protester protesting.
They tell Protester to keep up the good work and then run off for their individual assignments.
Scene 30: Roy, anonymous footman, and Sue Ann leave the house for the tent of waiting people. Sam watches from their porch, before looking for a way into the house to snoop.
An unlocked window gives easy access [or not… Jared tends to be a bit tall for cramped spaces like climbing through a window]. He finds himself in an office and goes through the book shelves which appear to be filled with old volumes full of dust. Signs indicate that the Old Christianity book has had recent use. He pulls this out and finds something stashed behind it. Another much tinier book, which has a discussion of Reapers and Death Incarnate in it.
But wait, there’s more! Newspaper clippings are folded in the little book. One discussing an openly gay teacher -- SINNER! And another discussing an abortion rights advocate -- SINNER!
It would appear that Roy’s switcheroo isn’t as random as it may have appeared in the beginning. Sam finds a third clipping… and oh-oh, it’s our Lone Protester in a small article about his crusade to shut down the “cult” of Le Grange -- SINNER!
Scene 31: In the tent, Sam phones Dean with the evidence that the dead-before-their-time victims were targeted. Sam tells Dean he needs to find Protester, but Dean has to keep Le Grange from healing anyone else.
Scene 32: This presents a moral dilemma. For the newest person to be offered her life is none other than Layla Rourke… finally.
Dean intercepts Layla and begs her not to allow Roy to heal her, despite her seeing evidence of Dean’s own recovery. He tries to convince her that something awful will happen if she goes through with it, but naturally can’t explain what exactly. At the same time, Sue Ann is reaching a hand of salvation out to her. Layla takes a moment to stare between her pleading mother and welcoming Sue Ann and naturally tells Dean that his vague statement about an undefined awfulness isn’t enough to turn down not dying.
Dean is left frustrated and unsure of what to do.
Scene 33: In the parking lot, Sam hears a cry for help. It’s our lone protester, and he’s being stalked by the Grey Man Reaper.
Scene 34: In the tent, Roy begins with the group prayer directed at Layla’s healing.
Meanwhile, Sam finds Protester, but he can’t see the Reaper threatening him. They run.
In the tent, Roy is building up to the moment when he uses his magic hands on Layla… stretching out the moment….
Dean yells that there is a fire, causing a mass exodus. Layla’s mother is left to beg Le Grange not to stop alone, as everyone else heeds Dean’s call to evacuate. Dean is left to feel like a Shit-Heel, despite it’s being the necessary course of action. He phones Our Sam to update him, as Le Grange chooses to evacuate with everyone else.
Scene 35: But outside, as Sam is telling our Protester that everything should be okay now -- he reacts with terror as the Reaper hasn’t stopped!
He starts dying in front of Sam, as Sam shouts to Dean over the phone that it didn’t work.