LOVE LOVE LOVE this one. I think this was the first one that REALLY hooked me. I was all-in after this.
I am also kind of fond of episodes where Sam and Dean split up for awhile. I enjoy the angst and Sam just being a defiant almost-teen. They make their differences clear here. It’s incredible from the start where the phone call from John is just SUPERB – Sam all glad to hear from him at first. Asking a bunch of questions. But when John starts giving orders, you can see Sam start to boil and Dean just grabs the phone away and starts to talk to John with concern, but instantly switches into “soldier” mode and obediently writes down the names John wants them to follow up on. This scene is SUCH ACTING GENIUS and sets up the entire rest of the episode as well as making the differences between Sam’s feelings and Dean’s feelings about John so stark and apparent.
I also liked the kind of surprise reveal later…Sam blows up…Sam leaves…takes off walking…but then just has to try to call Dean from the bus station. And then…it’s like it slowly grows. Then he’s TALKING to Dean while Meg sleeps and it’s like nothing is wrong. Like he didn’t blow up. He’s back in “solve the case and help Dean” mode and Dean gives him his blessing to follow his own heart and life elsewhere and Sam’s surprised. Makes me wonder how much of Sam wanting to leave was him perceiving that Dean wanted him to stay? Just to “not do what you tell me to do”. Because once Dean tells him it’s okay with him if he goes after a different life, he comes back.
I loved the MOW. The “old world Norse” connection (and the Smoking Man from X-Files as the professor!). Speaking of X-Files, there is one scene here taken DIRECTLY from X-Files; the umbrellas-from-above scene is shot EXACTLY the same in an X-Files episode about high school teachers who worship Satan. You can tell that a bunch of the crew came from X-Files and I love that.
The scarecrow is creepy as hell. Made from the skin of all his victims and the fresh addition of the arm tattoo that Dean notices is just gross and effective as hell!
I loved ANOTHER strong female could-have-been-a-victim-but-refuses-to-be role in the girl who is chosen for the sacrifice with Dean. When she torches the “mother tree” at the end without any regret that it will cause the town to die, I cheered. No regret! I WAS a little surprised that Dean felt the need to point out to her that this would cause the town to die, but I guess that was just to make it all the more effective when she did it.
The “too nice” townspeople are creepy…luring tourists in. I love how they are nice to the tourists but not to Dean. Dean telling the one unfriendly cafe owner with all the sarcasm, “Scotty, anyone ever tell you you’ve got a smile that lights up a room?” still makes me laugh.
The rifle butt to the face after Dean met with the professor shocked me; I’d forgotten that.
Love that Dean is never really afraid of the scarecrow. The whole time it’s like he’s trying to find a way to outwit it instead. Love that he gets CLOSER to look at him and is more curious than anything.
Of course I love that Sam comes back to get him. Great break-up and make-up! Sam’s decision to stay at the end, spelled out so well, it carries the entire next 14 seasons that it’s them, together, no matter what. Dean’s “Hold me Sam, that was beautiful” – so sarcastic. So deadpan. SO PERFECT!!!!! Then Sam swats at him like a brother would. PERFECT!
And Meg. The first demon we see besides the flashbacks of yellow eyes. Sorry to Rachel Miner, but THIS Meg was the best Meg. Cute. Trying to tell Sam what he wants to hear about how it’s not wrong to live his own life, empathizing with him. It all makes the reveal at the end more shocking. They seemed to not use the “bowl of blood to call up Lucifer” much in future episodes and I REALLY liked that. The creepy way the blood forms into little spikes in the bowl…sound waves maybe as she “hears” Lucifer? Whatever it is, I like it. It’s kind of our first inkling that there are bigger forces interested in Sam and Dean.
And I have to talk for a minute about how drop dead gorgeous Jensen is in this episode. The camera just loves him and there are so many great closeups with his gorgeous long eyelashes. A more perfect-looking man has never been created.
Sam’s still a bit young for me to think of him that way here, but he’s ADORABLE and so sincere with Meg. I didn’t mind the closeups of him either!
One thing…that’s the weirdest-looking orchard and I wonder if it was really an orchard? In the U.S., orchards are pruned to within an inch of their lives so there is ONE TRUNK on each tree with horizontal branches above that. This looked more like an orchard full of bushes, but okay, I’ll let it go. Maybe it’s different in Canada but I’ve always wondered if that was a real orchard and, if not, what was it?
I HOPE YOUR APPLE PIE IS FREAKIN’ WORTH IT! That line lasted for the next 14 years too.
Best episode of season 1 so far for me. Hands-down. I have NOTHING bad to say about it. It’s one of those near-perfect ones for me.