Recap: Supernatural S 01 E 06 Skin

Recap of Supernatural
Season 1, Episode 6:

Skin

Me? I know I'm a freak. And sooner or later, everybody's gonna leave me.
Dean: I really wish things could be different, you know, I wish you could just be Joe College.
Sam: Nah, that's okay. You know, truth is, even at Stanford, deep down, I never really fit in.
Dean: Well, that's 'cause you're a freak.
Sam: Yeah, thanks.
Dean: Well I'm a freak, too. I'm right there with you, all the way.

Written by John Shiban.

Directed by Robert Duncan McNeill.

Airdate: October 18, 2005.

Sam's college friend is framed for murder in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sam and Dean go to St. Louis to investigate a murder at the behest of Becky Warren, one of Sam's college friends. Her brother Zach is accused of killing his girlfriend and there is forensic evidence to prove it, but Becky insists that he was with her when the murder took place. Sam and Dean uncover a shapeshifter who takes on Dean's form and attacks Becky.

Body count:

For this episode = 2 humans and 1 shapeshifter.

For the series so far = At least 109 humans; 4 ghosts; 1 shapeshifter; 1 wendigo.


Tropes appearing in this episode:

  • A-Team Firing: The SWAT team.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Sam and Dean pursue their quarry into a sewer large enough for them to stand upright, occasionally walk abreast, and a spacious lair for the shapeshifter. Large rusty pipes and large amounts of moisture complete the expected look of an ancient underground despite the episode being set in St. Louis, MO.
  • Bluff the Impostor: Sam and Dean are hunting a shapeshifter. They split up, and when they go back to the car Sam asks Dean something about a mission done by their father. Dean seems to give the right answer, proving that he is himself. Except that the shapeshifter can access the thoughts of the person it is mimicking and actually had copied Dean. Sam still sees through it when "Dean" uses the arm the real Dean had injured.
  • Body Horror: A shapeshifter is killing people, and Dean theorizes that shifting involves shedding his previous skin. Late in the episode, we see him shift. Dean was right.
  • Busman's Holiday: While it's not really a "holiday", Sam and especially Dean didn't expect that helping one of Sam's friends would end with hunting a monster.
  • Captain Obvious: Sam, pointing to bloodstain. "Blood."
  • Clear My Name: What Sam and Dean are trying to do for Zach. They succeed when all the shapeshifter's crimes are pinned on Dean. Police figure that Dean tampered with the video recording of Zach at the crime scene.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The shapeshifter ties its victim up, tortures her with a knife, and leaves her either to die of her injuries or be rescued by a third party.
  • Criminal Doppelgänger: A shapeshifter impersonates people close to the victims while committing his crimes so that they'll take the fall instead of him.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: One of the first clues that something supernatural might be involved is that the dog next door has become vicious since the attack.
  • Faking the Dead: The dead shapeshifter is indistinguishable from the real Dean.
  • Fan Disservice: Dean seducing Becky? Fine. A shapeshifter pretending to be Dean seducing Becky as a prelude to brutalizing and murdering her, not so much. Followed by the shapeshifter removing its skin, complete with werewolf-esque writhing and screaming.
  • Fingore: As part of its transformation, when the shapeshifter starts shedding its skin we see its fingernails start popping out in graphic detail.
  • Foreshadowing: Dean's line about how many chances he will have to see his own funeral foreshadows his repeated deaths and resurrections.
    Dean: You know, I gotta say—I'm sorry I'm gonna miss it.
    Sam: Miss what?
    Dean: How many chances am I gonna have to see my own funeral?
  • For the Evulz: The shapeshifter's motivation.
  • Frameup
  • Freudian Excuse: According to the shapeshifter, he has one. Though it still doesn't excuse his acts.
    Shapeshifter!Dean: Maybe this thing was born human but was different, hideous and hated...until he learned to become someone else.
  • A Friend in Need: Sam is willing to travel back 400 miles to see if there is anything he can do for his college friend when he hears he has been accused of murder.
  • Gender Bender: The shapeshifter posing as Becky before it knocks Sam out and tries to kill him.
  • Girl of the Week: Becky for Dean
  • Glamour Failure: Seeing "Zach"'s eyes flaring when caught on camera is what convince the brothers they are dealing with a shapeshifter.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: How shapeshifter!Becky knocks Sam out.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Illustrates the fact that when the Winchester brothers show up at the same time horrific events occur it makes them targets for law enforcement.
  • How We Got Here: Opens with "Dean" about to murder Becky.
  • Iconic Item: Dean retrieves his amulet from the dead shapeshifter and is upset that it drove his baby, the Chevrolet Impala.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends
  • I Shall Taunt You: The shapeshifter to Sam.
  • Knife Nut: The shapeshifter.
  • Kubrick Stare: Shapeshifter!Dean gives one to the SWAT team.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: The brothers, while looking for a shapeshifter. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Living a Double Life: Sam does not tell his college friends about hunting because he does not think they would understand or believe him.
  • The Masquerade Will Kill Your Social Life: One of the reasons Keeping Secrets Sucks.
    Dean: Look, it sucks. But with a job like this you can't get close to people. Period.
    Sam: You're kind of anti-social, you know that?
    Dean: Yeah, whatever.
  • Metaphorically True: Sam didn't exactly tell his friends what he was doing with his brother.
    Sam: I tell them I'm on a road trip with my big brother. I tell them I needed some time off after Jess.
    Dean: Well, so you lie to them?
    Sam: No, I just don't tell them...everything.
    Dean: Yeah, that's called lying.
  • Mutants: The shapeshifter suggests this is his origin.
    Becky: Well, what is it? Like a genetic freak?
    Shapeshifter!Dean: Maybe...evolution is about mutation, right? So maybe this thing was born human but was different, hideous and hated...until he learned to become someone else.
  • Painful Transformation: and disgusting.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Sam tucks the gun Dean gives him into his waistband.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: After Shapeshifter!Dean fails to seduce Becky, he chases her through her house, holds her down, and ties her up while she's screaming. The scene quickly cuts away, then cuts back to a bloodied, carved-up Becky tied to a chair. It's never stated outright, but given how it acts it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that he raped her (and possibly his other victims).
  • Serial Killer
  • Shapeshifter
  • Shapeshifter Baggage
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: One of the many examples in the show.
    Shapeshifter!Dean: I am your brother. See, deep down, I'm just jealous. You got friends. You could have a life. Me? I know I'm a freak. And sooner or later, everybody's gonna leave me.
    Sam: What are you talking about?
    Shapeshifter!Dean: You left. Hell, I did everything Dad asked me to, and he ditched me, too. No explanation, nothing, just poof. Left me with your sorry ass.
  • Shirtless Scene: That quickly becomes a skinless scene.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Becky makes a reference to Hooters.
    Sam: Hey, Bec, can we take those beers now?
    Becky: Uh, sure.
    Sam: Hey, ah, maybe some sandwiches, too?
    Rebecca: What do you think this is, Hooters?
    Dean: [quietly] I wish.
  • Silver Has Mystic Powers: You kill a shapeshifter with a silver bullet to the heart.
  • Super Dickery: The opening scene with "Dean" torturing a sobbing, bloodied woman with his knife.
  • Tempting Fate: When Dean finds his car. "Ah ha! There she is! Finally, something went right tonight!" Cue the police cars.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Why didn't the shapeshifter just kill Sam, the guy who's been hunting him down, right away either of the two times he has him captured?
  • Traitor Shot
  • Tuckerization: When Sam is checking his cell phone, a text message from Jerry Wanek can be seen. Jerry Wanek is the Production Designer for Supernatural. The name Jerry Wanek was previously seen as Dean's alias on his U.S. Department of Homeland Security ID in "Phantom Traveler" (S01, E04).
  • Wrongly Accused: The secondary victims of the Criminal Doppelgänger. This episode also starts an important subplot of the show: the brothers being hunted down by the police and FBI, who believe them to be some sort of homicidal maniac family.