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Recap: Supernatural S 02 E 15 Tall Tales

Recap of Supernatural
Season 2, Episode 15:

Tall Tales

These punishments, they’re almost poetic. Well, actually they’d be more like a limerick, but still...
—Dean

Written by John Shiban.

Directed by Bradford May.

Airdate: February 15, 2007.

A death of a professor appears to be related to a vengeful spirit in Springfield, Ohio, but as the Winchesters investigate they encounter odder events, including an alien abduction and an alligator in the sewer.

Sam and Dean investigate the apparent suicide of a professor at Springfield University in Springfield, Ohio, where they hear a local legend that Crawford Hall, where the death occurred, is haunted by the spirit of a student who was having an affair with a professor and jumped from the window of room 669. However, when they investigate they find no evidence of a ghost and that Crawford Hall is only four stories tall, so it looks like the story is only an urban legend. Following this, a frat boy is abducted by aliens, and an animal researcher is eaten by an alligator in the sewer.

Having no idea what could be causing these odd events, Sam and Dean call in Bobby Singer for help. As Sam and Dean explain what's been happening, Bobby realizes the brothers are not getting along because Sam thinks Dean took his computer and Dean thinks Sam let the air out of the Impala's tires. Bobby recognizes the discord between the brothers and the odd urban-legend-inspired events as the work of a Trickster.

Sam and Dean return to Crawford Hall, realizing that the janitor they met there was nearby when each of the odd events happened. Sam searches the janitor's locker while Dean distracts the janitor. In the locker, Sam finds a copy of the Weekly World News, which has outlandish articles similar to the odd events that have been occurring. Dean and Sam get into an argument on whether they have enough evidence to be sure the janitor is the Trickster. Sam leaves, saying he is going to search the janitor's home for more proof.

Dean waits outside Crawford Hall, but as it starts to get dark, he goes back in by himself and hears Barry White playing. He follows the music to a lecture hall where a blonde woman and brunette woman in lingerie sit on a round red velvet bed. The Trickster tells him the women on the bed are a peace offering if Dean lets him go. Deans says he admires the Trickster's style, but he can't do that. Then Bobby and Sam enter the lecture hall with wooden stakes, and the Trickster realizes Sam and Dean staged their argument to make him think Dean was alone.

The Trickster conjures up a man in a mask wielding a chainsaw who attacks Sam and Bobby. Dean is beaten up by the women wearing lingerie, and the blonde throws him into the audience seats where the Trickster is watching in amusement. Sam tosses Dean a wooden stake, and Dean stabs the Trickster. The women in lingerie and the man wielding the chainsaw disappear. Sam, Dean, and Bobby take off in the Impala. A figure walks up to the dead body of the Trickster. The body fades away and the camera pulls up to show the figure is the Trickster eating a candy bar.

Body count

For this episode = 2 humans. The two women and the psycho killer that the Trickster created also vanish upon his staged death, but they were more projections than real entities.

For the series so far = At least 178 humans; 12 ghosts; 5 vampires; 2 shapeshifters; 1 demon; 1 god; 1 rakshasa; 1 rawhead; 1 shtriga; 1 wendigo; 1 zombie.


Non-trope items:


Tropes appearing in this episode:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The campus sewers are large enough to be the habitat for a man-eating alligator and for Sam and Dean to enter. Dean is seen exiting the sewer through a manhole.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Dean insists the woman he met in the bar was not named "Starla", but he admits he can not remember what her name actually was.
  • Affably Evil: The Trickster is quite nice and playful right up to when he gets staked.
  • Alien Abduction: Curtis blacked out and lost time. After this, the aliens ran tests, probed him, and made him slow dance.
  • All Work vs. All Play: Sam portrays Dean as All Play, and Dean portrays Sam as All Work.
  • Almighty Janitor: Literally!
  • Anal Probing: The Trickster forges lots of strange happenings in a college town, and one of them involves a guy who being abducted by "aliens". The victim's experience involved being repeatedly probed (a total of eight times according to the dialogue). This ordeal apparently paled in comparison to being forced to slow-dance with one of the aliens to "Lady in Red".
  • Animal Testing: The third victim is a research scientist who worked in animal testing, which Dean says qualifies him as a dick, fitting the pattern of the first two incidents. The specifics and worthiness of his research are not explored, but neither Dean nor the Trickster seem to approve of his research.
  • Anything That Moves: Sam's portrayal of Dean and the "feisty little wildcat on the hook" wearing fishnet stockings and a tight miniskirt.
    Dean: Yeah, good job. [To Sam] Hey. Good news. She's got a sister.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Hunters of ghosts, demons, and vampires, find the idea of aliens unbelievable.
    Bobby: Aliens? Look, even if they are real, they're sure as hell not coming to Earth and swiping people.
  • Asshole Victim: Professor Cox, who cheats on his wife with students. Curtis, who bullied the frat pledges. The animal researcher.
  • The Bad Guy Wins
  • Berserk Button:
  • Big Eater: While in the professor's office, Dean keeps stuffing candies into his mouth so that his cheeks stick out like a chipmunk, according to Sam's version of events.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Despite being clearly distraught, Curtis' violation is Played for Laughs.
  • Blah Blah Blah: Sam's actual dialogue from Dean's POV.
    Sam: Dean, this is a very serious investigation. We don't have time for any of your blah blah blah blah.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Dean, after the women in lingerie are done with him. The fake image of the Trickster after Dean stakes him.
  • Brainless Beauty/Dumb Blonde: "Starla" in Sam's portrayal of the bar scene.
  • Breakup Song: "Walk Away" by Joe Walsh, which is the song Sam asks Dean to turn down, but instead Dean turns up the volume.
  • Breather Episode: Especially needed after the extremely dark "Born Under A Bad Sign" (S02, E14).
  • Catch Phrase:
    Dean: [looking at the deflated tires of the Impala] Son of a bitch!
  • Chainsaw Good: The Trickster conjures up a mask wearing man wielding a chainsaw.
  • Character Exaggeration: Dean's tendencies to pick up women and enjoy eating are overemphasized in Sam's narration, and Sam's tendencies to be Mr. Exposition and be supportive and concerned for others are overemphasized in Dean's narration.
  • Cloning Gambit: The Trickster creates a duplicate of himself that he allows the hunters to stake.
  • The Comically Serious: In Dean's version of events, Sam has some major bitch-faces, uses a seriously prissy tone, and combines his sincere puppy eyes with hugs.
  • Complete Immortality: The Trickster is one of The Ageless with Nigh-Invulnerability.
  • Consummate Liar: In Sam's version of events, he pretexted as a local reporter to get information about the possible haunting, while Dean pretended to be an astronaut to pick up a woman.
  • Contest Winner Cameo: The band Junk Food won a competition on Myspace sponsored by The CW to have their song "Next To You" played on Supernatural. It plays during Sam's version of the bar scene.
  • Continuity Nod: The brothers slide a knife under the window to undo the latch and enter the morgue, in the same way they entered one of the victim's homes in "The Houses of the Holy" (S02, E13).
  • Crop Circles: Sam and Dean are flummoxed by the sight of a circular burn hole in the grass where an Alien Abduction supposedly took place.
  • Cute Bruiser: The two women in lingerie beat Dean up soundly, punching him in the jaw and throwing him across the room.
  • Dance of Romance: A Parodied Trope. The much shorter alien rests its head against Curtis' torso, wraps its arms around his waist, and then looks up into Curtis' eyes, while slow-dancing to "Lady in Red" by Chris de Burgh under a disco ball surrounded by flashing stars.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dean.
    Sam: Maybe we should get some help. I'll call Bobby. Maybe he's run into something like this before.
    Dean: Oh, I'm sure he has. Just your typical haunted campus, alien abduction, alligator-in-the-sewer gig. Yeah, it's simple.
  • Death by Irony: Professor Cox, the teacher of ethics and morality who commits adultery with impressionable young students, is apparently killed by a vengeful spirit of a Woman Scorned. The animal researcher is killed by a wild animal in an unexpected setting.
  • Depending on the Writer: An in-universe example.
  • Destination Defenestration/No Escape but Down: The professor falls to his death from his office window.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: In Dean's version of events, the woman not named Starla had trouble telling him about the urban legend because she found Dean too good looking.
    Woman: Sorry, I just...can't even concentrate. It's like staring...into the sun.
  • Divide and Conquer: The Trickster sets Sam and Dean against each other.
  • Does She Have A Sister: Inverted when Dean notes to Sam that Dean's date at the bar has a sister. Sam isn't interested in the suggestion.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: The Trickster asks Dean to take his offering and let him move on to the next town.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi: Curtis being probed by the aliens.
  • Dream Sue: Dean retells an evening in a bar to Bobby as if he is a romantic Dream Sue, with hints of being a perfect hunter as well. The entire setting is glamorized, and a girl just completely swoons over him and showers him with praise, while he insists that he has to do his "duty" of interviewing her because lives are at stake. Sam by contrast is turned into a whiny jerk who simply wants to interrupt Dean and his lover, eventually just descending into whining "Blah Blah Blah".
  • Drink Order:
    • In Sam's version of events, Dean is a big fan of a drink called a purple nurple. Executive Producer Jim Michaels tweeted the recipe.
    • The Trickster is shown sipping from a flute of champagne.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Curtis drinks three shots while telling Sam and Dean about his abduction.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Unlike some versions of this trope, the Trickster does come back as a recurring character.
  • E = MC Hammer: The chalkboard in the college lecture room behind the bed has the alphabet written across the top.
  • Erotic Eating: The Trickster decides something is missing while eating and conjures up a gorgeous blonde in a red bra and panties with a garter belt and a brunette in a Black Bra And Panties who is also wearing a garter belt. He feeds the brunette whipped cream from his finger and the blonde then feeds him cake, which he seems to enjoy.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: "Starla" says, "Enchante" when introduced to Sam, according to Sam's narration.
  • Expendable Clone: The Trickster creates a duplicate of himself for the Winchesters to stake.
  • Faking the Dead: The Trickster lets the hunters think they killed him so they will leave him alone.
  • Feet-First Introduction: To the girl Dean met in the bar.
  • Femme Fatale/Woman in Black: In Dean's version of the story, the "classy chick" who was not named Starla is a grad student in anthropology and folklore wearing a black cocktail dress and black heels.
  • Fictional Document: Modern Morality: Examining Societal Views and Belief Systems by Arthur Cox, the book by the professor with his photo on the back cover.
  • Food Porn: The Trickster's kitchen table has layers of different cakes with elaborate toppings surrounded by grapes and chocolate-covered strawberries.
  • Frame-Up: Sam's money clip with the initials S.W. engraved on it was left next to the Impala.
  • Give Me a Sword: Sam tosses Dean a stake while Dean lies near the Trickster.
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: The light reflecting off the gold watch in the sewage drain catches the scientists eye.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Blood spatter on the scientist face as he screams in pain.
  • The Greys: Seen running tests and slow-dancing.
  • Hand in the Hole: The research scientist trying to pull the gold watch out between the bars of the sewer grate.
  • Happy Ending Massage: Lampshaded by Dean.
    Blonde: Come on. Let us give you a massage.
    Dean: You know, I'm a—I'm a sucker for a happy ending. Really, I am, but...I—I'm gonna have to pass.
  • Hate Plague: The Trickster makes Sam and Dean become increasingly disagreeable to each other, to the point that they end up wresting over Sam's money clip.
    Bobby: These things create chaos and mischief as easy as breathing, and it's got you so turned around and at each others' throats you can't even think straight.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!:
    • Barclay Hope, who plays Professor Arthur Cox, also plays Colonel Lionel Pendergast in Stargate SG-1 and General Mansfield in Eureka.
    • Neil Grayston, who plays the Frat Pledge who didn't like Curtis, also played Douglas Fargo in Eureka.
    • Richard Speight Jr., who plays the Trickster, also plays Bill in Jericho and Sgt. Warren "Skip" Muck in Band of Brothers.
  • Homage: Trickster gods including Loki (Loki Liesmith) and Anansi (Mr. Nancy) are important characters in American Gods and Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.
  • Hoist By Their Own Petard: The Trickster's MO. Even uses the phrase himself.
  • How We Got Here: Sam and Dean take turns explaining this to Bobby.
  • Hypocrite: Professor Arthur Cox teaches a course of morality and ethics, but he seems to be a serial adulterer who takes advantage of impressionable students.
  • In Medias Res: The first scene shows Bobby arriving in the brother's motel room and each of the brothers take turns narrating what happened in their investigation up to that point.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: Or at least from Sam's POV, that is all Dean thinks it is for. Sam blames Dean when he finds his computer frozen on bustyasianbeauties.com. Busty Asian Beauties is a fictional porn franchise created for Supernatural and will be a Running Gag through the seasons.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: Sam from Dean's POV.
    Sam: [flashback] But I want you to know...I'm here for you. You brave little soldier. I acknowledge your pain. Come here. [grabs him in a hug] You're too precious for this world.
    Sam: [present] I never said that!
    Dean: You're always saying pansy stuff like that.
  • It Came from the Fridge: Sam accuses Dean of this.
    Sam: It's not food anymore, Dean! It's Darwinism!
  • Jerk Jock: Curtis, the abducted frat master.
  • Karmic Trickster: The Trickster.
    Bobby: Tricksters target the high and the mighty, knock them down a peg, usually with a sense of humor—Deadly Pranks, things like that.
  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual/A Lady on Each Arm: The Trickster entertains himself with a blonde and a brunette he conjures up and then offers them to Dean as a peace offering.
    Dean: Y—Y—You guys aren't real.
    Brunette: Trust me, sugar, it's gonna feel real.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The victims are made to suffer for their vices. Curtis, who enjoyed bullying the frat pledges, is owned by aliens who force him to participate in distasteful acts. The other victims suffer Death by Irony.
    • It's noticeable that Dean gets beaten up by a couple of lingerie-clad hotties.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang:
    • Dean and Sam split up to search the sewer on different ends of the campus.
    • Sam says he forgot something in the trunk so he can search the lockers while Dean distracts the janitor.
    • Sam leaves Dean alone at Crawford Hall after a staged argument between the brothers.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Sam and Dean, which is lampshaded by Bobby.
    Bobby: No, come on. You're bickering like an old married couple.
    Dean: No, see, married couples can get divorced. We're like, uh, Siamese twins.
    Sam: It's conjoined twins!
    Dean: See what I mean?
  • Lingerie Scene: The blonde and brunette are wearing teddies with garters in the lecture hall.
  • Mangst: Bobby breaks up the brothers make-up scene.
    Sam: Look, Dean, um...I just want to say that I'm, uh...um...
    Dean: Hey. Me too.
    Bobby: You guys are breaking my heart. Could we please just leave?
  • Mighty Roar: A snarling growl is heard when the scientist puts his hand through the sewage grate, which grows louder.
  • Moment Killer: In Dean's version of the bar scene, Sam tries to interrupt when Dean is kissing the woman, but it is a Subverted Trope as Dean ignores him and goes back to kissing.
  • The Neidermeyer: Curtis as the pledge master.
    Frat pledge: He's our pledge master. Put us through hell this semester, and got off on it.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile/Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The alligator in the sewer which devours the scientist.
  • Nightmare Face: While kissing the professor, the woman's face becomes gray with sores. Her face appears to be rotting away in areas.
  • No Ontological Inertia: The Trickster's creations fade away as he appears to die.
  • Norse Mythology: Bobby mentions Loki as an example of a Trickster.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: When Sam feels the need to comfort the frat pledge, he hugs him close and just does not seem to want to let him go, well, at least, according to Dean.
    Frat pledge: Thanks for the hug, but, uh, I'm okay. Really.
  • Not Enough to Bury: The research scientist after the alligator was done with him. Only two very mutilated limbs were under the blanket in the morgue.
  • Number of the Beast: The ghost story about Crawford Hall says the brokenhearted student jumped from room 669, and Jen points out what happens if you turn the 9 upside down. Sam later learns Crawford Hall only has four stories and has no room numbered 669.
  • Only Sane Man: Bobby pointing out how the brothers are behaving after the Trickster sets them against each other.
  • Poetic Serial Killer: The Trickster picks victims he sees as guilty and kills them in a way to highlight this guilt.
  • Poster-Gallery Bedroom: The Trickster has quite a swinging bachelor's pad with a large oval photograph of a woman in a bikini on the beach and another photo of a woman wearing a construction hat who has her bra visible. He is sitting in a red velvet chair with a cup-holder.
  • Power is Sexy: The young woman seems to be impressed by the professor's authorship of a book, and he describes himself as "a celebrity around here".
  • Precious Puppy: The Trickster has an energetic black-and-white Jack Russell terrier who helps him eat his desserts.
  • Punched Across the Room: Dean is punched by the blonde across the stage and into the brunette.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Sam is constantly wide-eyed, eyes bright with unshed tears, in Dean's version of events.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: Sam and Dean recount slightly different versions of events to Bobby.
    Dean: Come on, dude, that's not how it happened.
    Sam: I never said that!
  • Ready for Lovemaking: The blonde and brunette are on a round, red bed under a disco ball with Barry White playing when Dean enters the lecture hall.
  • Reality Warper: The Trickster.
    Bobby: They can create things out of thin air. Things as real as you and me. Make them vanish just as quick.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Exaggerated in the different brother's versions of events.
  • Rewriting Reality: The Trickster is recreating stories from Weekly World News. The abduction and sexual violation by an alien, the giant alligator in the sewer, and the chainsaw madman were all in articles the Trickster is shown reading.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Both Sam and Dean seem to paint themselves as the hero, while exaggerating the other's faults.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: This dynamic of the brother's relationship is exaggerated in Dean's version of events.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: The Trickster is in his underwear being fed cake between two women in their underwear followed by a Fade to Black. In the next scene he is bragging about the amount of sex he had to Sam and Dean.
    The Trickster: Sorry I'm dragging a little ass today, boys. Had quite the night last night. Lots of sex, if you catch my drift.
  • Sexy Walk: We get a nice Male Gaze look at the Woman in White's bum wiggling as she walks up the stairs of the college.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The professor asks the young woman how the Anscombe paper is coming.
    • In Sam's version of events, Deam introduces Sam as "my shuttle co-pilot Major Tom". Major Tom appears in "Space Oddity" by David Bowie.
    • Dean refers to the alien as a sexed-up E.T.
    • Dean refers to Sam as Poindexter, which was the name of the nerdy nephew of the Professor in Felix the Cat.
    • Sam says he didn't even find Equal in the Trickster's locker.
    • Dean says that the abductee had a "close encounter".
  • Shrouded in Myth: Crawford Hall at Springfield University.
    Jen: So now she haunts the building. And anyone who sees her? They don't live to tell the tale.
  • Source Music: Dean hears "Can't Get Enough of Your Love Babe" by Barry White playing, and follows the music into a lecture hall.
  • Stock Underwear: The Trickster is relaxing in a white wife-beater, red boxers, and black socks.
  • Super OCD: When Sam gets upset about his computer being frozen, Dean asks him why he doesn't control his OCD.
  • Sweet Tooth: A Trickster trait.
    Dean: Another thing Bobby mentioned was that these suckers have a metabolism like an insect, a real sweet tooth.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: The woman in the teaser initially pretends to be one of the professor's students.
  • Tender Tears: In Dean's version of events, Sam becomes overcome with emotion when talking to the pledge who disliked Curtis, and Dean grabs Sam's shoulder and tells him "It's okay".
  • Three-Way Sex: It is implied that the Trickster has sex with the blonde and brunette. He later offers them to Dean.
  • Tractor Beam: Curtis is abducted in a beam of light.
  • Trickster Archetype
  • Tuxedo and Martini: While Dean never wears a tuxedo and admits to drinking purple nurples instead of martinis, his version of events paints him as a James Bond Expy.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Sam portrays Dean as only interested in pleasure. Dean portrays Sam as too serious and sensitive.
  • Urban Legends: Which include:
  • Vehicular Sabotage: The air is let out of the Impala's tires.
  • Volleying Insults: The Previously On montage is edited this way, showing Sam and Dean sniping at each other.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: A Trickster can appear as lots of things, but usually takes a human form.
  • Weekly World News:
    • The Trickster is seen reading this for inspiration. The first article is titled: "An Alien Made Me It's Love Slave. Has she found true love at last!" The second article is titled: "Giant Alligator Terrorizes Sewage Workers". The third article is "Cannibal Madman Chainsaws Family! Body parts strewn over grisly scene".
    • The Trickster has a copy of Weekly World News in his locker with the headline "Aliens Abduct Cheerleaders".
    • This episode was promoted in Weekly World News in an article titled "Supernatural Menace Finds Demonic Inspiration in Weekly World News".
  • Woman in White: The woman who visits the professor in the teaser. Like the Woman in White in the Pilot (S01, E01), she targets adulterous men.
  • Wooden Stake: The way to kill a Trickster.
  • Worthy Opponent: Dean admires the Trickster.
    Dean: Look, man, I got to tell you, I dig your style, all right? I mean [chuckles] I do. I mean...and the slow-dancing alien.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Dean gets a punch in against the brunette.
  • You Look Familiar: Matreya Fedor, who plays Taylor, also played Tyler Thompson, in "Playthings" (S02, Ep11).
  • Your Cheating Heart: The professor.
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