Season 2, Episode 8:
Sam: So, it's just like the Robert Johnson legend, right? I mean, selling-your-soul-at-the-crossroads kind of deal?
Dean: Yeah, except that wasn't a legend. I mean, you know his music. [Sam shrugs] You don't know Robert Johnson's songs? Sam, there's occult references all over his lyrics. I mean, "Crossroad Blues"? "Me And The Devil Blues"? "Hellhound On My Trail"? The story goes, he died choking on his own blood. He was hallucinating and muttering about big evil dogs.Written by Sera Gamble.Directed by Steve Boyum.Airdate: November 16, 2006.People in Greenwood, Mississippi are dying after seeing black dogs.
Sam and Dean hear about an architect, Sean Boyden, who reported seeing a black dog before he jumped to his death off a high rise he built. They travel to Greenwood, Mississippi and start investigating any reports of black dogs. Dr. Silvia Pearlman, who used to frequent Lloyd's Bar—where Sean Boyden was a bartender—also reported seeing a black dog and recently disappeared. Both Sean and Silvia had remarkable success in their careers starting ten years ago. When the Winchesters investigate the bar, they find yarrow planted outside and items used in summoning rituals buried under the crossroads in front of the bar. They realize these people have made deals with a Crossroads Demon and are now being dragged to Hell by hellhounds.They track down the man in the photo buried under the crossroad, George Darrow. He has become a talented painter, but did not achieve fame or wealth. He admits to summoning the demon, and accepts his fate of going to Hell, but is holding off the hellhound with Goofer dust until he finishes his last painting. Realizing he doesn't want their help, the brothers track down Evan Hudson, who George says also made a deal with the demon. Evan tells them that he gave his soul so that his wife would be healed of her cancer. Dean plans to summon the demon, trap it, and try to get it to call off the hellhound, while Sam defends Evan. Sam has misgivings about the plan, saying that he knows that this is, for Dean, really about their dad's death; Sam's been thinking that their dad made some kind of similar deal for Dean; he knows Dean's been thinking it, too; and he doesn't want Dean blaming himself for their dad's death. Dean says they don't really have other options at this point and leaves. Sam stays to hold off the hellhound with the Goofer dust that George gave them.Dean goes back to the crossroad and—despite Sam's earlier protests, accusations, and fears—summons the demon. He offers her his soul while luring her to his car, where he had drawn a devil's trap. The demon discovers the trap and decides to wound Dean by telling him how John Winchester suffers in Hell because he gave his soul for Dean's life. Dean acts as if he will trade his own soul for his father, but is actually luring the demon into a second devil's trap. Dean begins to exorcise the demon, stopping only when she agrees to release Evan from his contract. Dean almost finishes the exorcism, but keeps his word and breaks the devil's trap. The demon pours out of the vessel as a cloud of black smoke.Later, back in the car, Sam asks Dean if he had actually considered taking the deal for their father, wanting to make sure that it was just a ploy the whole time. Dean changes the radio station and turns it up in response.
Body countFor this episode = 3 humans.For the series so far = At least 161 humans; 11 ghosts; 5 vampires; 1 demon; 1 god; 1 rakshasa; 1 rawhead; 1 shapeshifter; 1 shtriga; 1 wendigo; 1 zombie.
Tropes appearing in this episode:
- At the Crossroads
- Convulsive Seizures: Robert Johnson has a typical Hollywood seizure with his eyes closed and start-and-stop movements.
- Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster: Dean.Dean: What have they got on you?Sam: [quietly, worried] I'm sure they just haven't posted it yet...Dean: What, no accessory, nothing?Sam: Shut up.Dean: You're jealous.Sam: No, I'm not!
- Deal with the Devil: The victims made deals with a demon at a crossroads ten years ago, and their deals are coming due. Dean makes his own deal and learns about his father's deal.Crossroad Demon: [bargaining with Dean] You're lucky I've got a soft spot for lost puppies and long faces. I just can't leave you like this. Besides. You didn't call me here to bargain for Evan. Not really.
- Eye of Newt: Yarrow flowers; graveyard dirt; black cat bones.
- Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Dean releases Evan from his contract by trapping the crossroad demon.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Damnation in Hell.
- Fire and Brimstone Hell:Crossroad Demon: See, people talk about Hell, but it's just a word. It doesn't even come close to describing the real thing.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: When Robert Johnson summons the demon, it appears in the vessel of a beautiful black woman. When Dean summons it, the demon takes a white woman as a vessel.
- Geometric Magic: The devil's trap.
- Guilt Complex: The Crossroad Demon recognizes this in Dean.Crossroad Demon: Because your misery's the whole point. It's too much fun to watch. Knowing how your daddy died for you, how he sold his soul. I mean, that's gotta hurt. It's all you ever think about. You wake up and your first thought is "I can't do this anymore". You're all lit up with pain. I mean, you loved him so much. And it's all your fault.
- Hellhound: How the contracts are enforced. Sam says they're "demonic pit bulls".
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Dean is in the federal criminal database for the events in "Skin" (S01, Ep06) and "The Usual Suspects" (S02, Ep07).
- Hollywood Voodoo: Hoodoo, actually.
- Hot as Hell: The Crossroad Demon.Crossroad Demon: Well, I heard you were handsome. But you're just edible. What can I do for you, Dean?
- How Dare You Die on Me!: The woman holding Robert Johnson as he dies.
- Invisible to Normals: The hellhounds are only seen and heard by the humans they are pursuing.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Evan Hudson is willing to die or go to hell for his wife.
- The Last Dance: George Darrow is using Goofer dust to hold off the hellhound until he finishes his last painting.
- Like Father, Like Son: The Crossroad Demon uses this phrase when Dean offers his soul to release Evan Hudson from his contract, implying John Winchester also gave his soul for someone.
- Literal Genie: George Darrow asked for artistic talent but not for fame. Now he's a brilliant unknown painter.
- Magically Binding Contract: Enforced by hellhounds.
- A Magic Contract Comes with a Kiss:Dean: What the hell was that for?Crossroad Demon: Sealing the deal.Dean: I usually like to be warned before I'm violated with demon tongue.
- Musicalis Interruptus: Robert Johnson starts to play "Hellhound on My Trail", but then hears a growling noise and sees a dark shape through the window. He tries to keep playing but, as the growling gets louder, stops and runs outside.
- Natural Spotlight: The light shines on the golden cross of the woman holding Robert Johnson as he dies. This is combined with a zoom in on the cross. This may suggest the salvation denied to him, or it could signify the crossroad.
- Nightmare Face: Silvia and Evan both hallucinate people's faces turning into zombie-like monstrosities as a sign that their time is almost up.
- Not Afraid to Die: George Darrow.
- "Open!" Says Me: Dean kicks in Evan Hudson's front door, but Sam stops him before he kicks in the unlocked door to his study.
- Power at a Price: Success and talent for the person's soul.
- Redemption Equals Death: George Darrow feels he needs to face the hellhounds as he feels guilty for summoning the demon who then stayed for a week and made bargains with the others at Lloyd's Bar.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The crossroad demons have eyes that flash red instead of the more common black.
Sam: So much for our low profile. You've got a warrant out in St. Louis and now you're officially in the feds' database.Dean: Dude, I'm like Dillinger or something.
- Dean compares himself to John Dillinger.
- Smoking Is Cool: Robert Johnson has a cigarette dangling from his lip while playing.
- Something Blues: The episode is named using a method commonly seen in blues music.
- Starving Artist: George Darrow is still broke. He received talent from the demon, but his paintings are not appreciated.
- Summoning Ritual: Robert Johnson, George Darrow, and Dean all do one at the crossroad.
- Super Window Jump: How the hellhound enters Dr. Pearlman's hotel room.
- Super Smoke: When the Crossroad Demon leaves its vessel.
- Survivor Guilt: Dean feels he should have died and is angry that his father sacrificed himself for Dean.Dean: I think you did it for yourself. So you wouldn't have to live without her. But guess what? She's going to have to live without you now. But what if she knew how much it cost? What if she knew it cost your soul? How do you think she'd feel?
- Take That: "MySpace, what's that? Some kind of porn site?"
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!:Dean: Shut your mouth, bitch.
- Titled After the Song: "Cross Road Blues" by Robert Johnson.
- Understatement: Evan Hudson, who knows the hellhounds are after him for the deal he made ten years ago.Julie: Well, what are you going to do all weekend?Evan: Um, not much, I—I got some bills to pay.
- Urban Legend: The teaser is based on the story of how Robert Johnson became such an awesome guitarist by making a deal with the devil.
- Your Days Are Numbered: Those who make a contract with the demon.