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Recap: Supernatural S 02 E 07 The Usual Suspects
Season 2, Episode 7:

The Usual Suspects

Let's pretend for the moment you're not entirely insane.

Dean: My name is Dean Winchester. I'm an Aquarius. I enjoy sunsets, long walks on the beach, and frisky women. And I did not kill anyone. But I know who did. Or rather what did. Of course, it can't be for sure, because our investigation was interrupted. But our working theory is that we're looking for some kind of vengeful spirit.

Written by Cathryn Humphris.

Directed by Mike Rohl.

Airdate: November 9, 2006.

Dean is arrested for murdering the wife of a lawyer in Baltimore, Maryland, and Sam works with a detective to find the true killer.

Dean and Sam investigate the suspicious death of a lawyer Tony Giles who was found with a slit throat in Baltimore, Maryland. The security footage failed to capture footage of an assailant, and the brothers find the phrase "DANASHULPS" written again and again at the murder scene. When Dean goes to the victim's home, he finds the lawyer's wife, Karen Giles, dead with rope bruises around her wrists and the same phrase repeated again and again on sheets of paper in the room where she died. The police arrive as Dean is examining the body, and he is arrested for her murder.

Sam is picked up by the police as well. While talking to his lawyer, Dean realizes that the repeated phrase is not a person's name, but the name of a nearby street Ashland. He manages to pass this information and a signal to escape to Sam in a note through their lawyer. Dean then agrees to confess and starts telling the truth about how he believes the murders were committed by a vengeful spirit. This angers the lead detective, Peter Sheridan, but his partner Detective Diana Ballard has reason to believe Dean when the ghost appears to her. Dean advises Detective Ballard that if she does not want to die like the other victims, she needs to find Sam.

Detective Ballard finds Sam, and is able to identify the ghost as Claire Becker, a young woman with two arrests for dealing heroin. Detective Becker and Sam search the building where Claire disappeared, and find her body. Around Claire's neck is a specially designed necklace, which is identical to one that Detective Sheridan also gave to his partner and lover, Detective Ballard.

Realizing Detective Sheridan is behind the murders and that Claire's spirit has been trying to warn them, Detective Ballard calls the police station and finds out that Detective Sheridan said Dean was being extradited to St. Louis, taking Dean himself in a van. They are able to locate them by turning on the van's lo-jack, and arrive just before Detective Sheridan shoots Dean. There is a struggle during which Detective Sheridan confesses to the murders and his plan to kill Dean and pin the murders on him. Detective Ballard ends up shooting and killing Detective Sheridan. She lets Dean and Sam escape, saying she will sleep better knowing they are out there doing what they do best.

Body count

For this episode = 2 humans. The ghost's fate is somewhat uncertain, as we don't see her burst into flame.

For the series so far = At least 158 humans; 11 ghosts; 5 vampires; 1 demon; 1 god; 1 rakshasa; 1 rawhead; 1 shapeshifter; 1 shtriga; 1 wendigo; and 1 zombie.

Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) items:

Tropes appearing in this episode:

  • Absence of Evidence: One of the concerns Detective Ballard has about convicting Dean is the absence of the murder weapon.
  • Actor Allusion: Linda Blair plays Detective Diana Ballard, and there is an exchange between the brothers at the end of the episode recalling her infamous vomiting scene from The Exorcist.
    Sam: No, why?
    Dean: I don't know. Are you hungry? For some reason I could really go for some pea soup.
    • Jason Gedrick was on the other side of the table in Murder One.
  • The Bechdel Test: Failed.
  • The Book Cipher: If split up, the brothers check into the first motel listed in the yellow pages. Detective Ballard finds Sam at The Aardvark Motel.
  • Broken Record: "DANASHULPS" repeated over and over.
  • Clear My Name: Dean is suspected of murdering Karen Giles.
  • Consummate Liar: Sam's false answers to Detective Ballard's questions seem to come to him very easily.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • The Corpse Stops Here: Dean is found over the dead body of Karen Giles.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • Despite having no way of knowing they would be taken into custody, the brothers were able to give the same cover story.
    • Dean was able to signal Sam to escape using a reference to the film The Great Escape.
    • They had an established method of finding each other if split up.
    • Sam had printed out color photos of every girl who died on Ashland street, even though he had no idea he would be talking with someone who had seen the ghost.
  • Cry Cute: Karen Giles remains attractive while crying, even when she has a red nose.
  • Cut Phone Lines: The phone cuts out during Karen Giles' call to 911.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dean.
    Dean: Pee break? So soon? You might want to get your prostate checked.
  • Deggans Rule: Failed.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: The flickering lights.
  • Escape Artist: Sam, whose escape from the police station is never explained.
  • Everything Is Online: Sam is able to print out booking photos and crime scene photos.
  • Fair Cop: Detective Diana Ballard.
  • Faking the Dead: The police suspect Dean of faking his own death because the shapeshifter died in the form of Dean in "Skin" (S01, Ep6).
  • Ghostly Goals: Claire Becker's are Type A with the Unfinished Business of revealing a murderer.
  • Going by the Matchbook: The police find Sam's motel because of a branded matchbook cover in Dean's pocket.
  • Haunted Technology: The printer and fax that repeatedly print "DANASHULPS". Detective Ballard's computer which shows this same phrase again and again on the monitor.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!:
    • Keegan Connor Tracy who plays Karen Giles, also plays the Blue Fairy and Mother Superior in Once Upon a Time, and Jeanne in Battlestar Galactica.
    • Jason Gedrick who plays Detective Pete Sheridan, also plays George Novikov in Dexter.
    • Linda Blair who plays Detective Diana Ballard, also portrays Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Sam says he should be able to crack Tony Giles' password in 30 minutes.
  • In Medias Res: The story starts with Dean being interrogated by the police, and the first part of the story is told in flashbacks as the brothers answer questions.
  • Just Between You and Me: Detective Sheridan has to explain himself instead of just shooting.
  • Killer Cop / Dirty Cop: Detective Pete Sheridan.
  • Portent of Doom: Claire Becker is a Death Omen, who appears to people before they are murdered by the same person who murdered her. The same markings from ropes that she has also appear on the person who is going to be murdered.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Claire Becker.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Dean's video taped confession for the police.
  • Secret Relationship: Detective Sheridan and Detective Ballard are in a relationship, despite being partners.
  • Shared Family Quirks: Both of the brothers refer to their lawyer as Matlock.
    Sam: Sure thing, Matlock.
    Jeffrey Kraus: You two really are brothers, aren't you?
  • Shout-Out:
    Dean: What do you think, Scully? You wanna check it out?
    Sam: I'm not Scully, you're Scully.
    Dean: No, I'm Mulder. You're a red-headed woman.
    • Dean yet again quotes The Shining, when he notices the sheets of papers filled with the same phrase over and over again.
    Dean: Well, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
    • Later he uses REDRUM from The Shining as an example of ghosts communicating from beyond the veil.
    • He refers to the vengeful spirit as "Casper the bloodthirsty ghost".
    • Dean refers to Detective Pete Sheridan as Ponch, pointing out a resemblance to Eric Estrada in CHiPs.
    • Dean addresses his note to Hilt and signs it McQueen. Captain Hilts, the main character in The Great Escape, is played by Steve McQueen.
    • Sam and Dean refer to their lawyer as Matlock.
    • When Detective Ballard asks him about ghosts, he refers her to Mysteries of the Unknown.
    • The brothers check in to the first motel listed in the yellow pages as Jim Rockford when split up.
  • Significant Anagram: DANASHULPS = ASHLAND SUP. The window in front of where Claire Becker's body was found says ASHLAND SUPPLIES, but the last letters were blocked by some boards.
  • Similarly Named Works: The Usual Suspects a neo-noir film directed by Bryan Singer.
  • Slashed Throat: Tony Giles' throat was slit so deep part of his spinal cord was visible. Karen Giles and Claire Becker also had slashed throats.
  • The Speechless: Claire Becker, who is unable to speak due to her slashed throat. When she tries to speak, more blood wells out of her throat.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Claire Becker, the Death Omen.
  • Stock Episode Titles: At least 11 other series have episodes with the same title, which originate from a line in Casablanca where Renault says to "round up the usual suspects".
  • Too Dumb to Live: Detective Sheridan left the rare specially designed necklace he gave to Claire Becker on her body.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Detective Sheridan gave Claire Becker the same specially designed necklace he gave to Detective Ballard.

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