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Season 4, Episode 3:
In The Beginning
You must stop it.Written by Jeremy Carver.Directed by Steve Boyum.Air Date: October 2, 2008.Castiel sends Dean back in time, and quite vaguely tells him "to stop it". Dean wanders into a café, and ends up talking to his dad, John Winchester, who seems genuinely nice, and even buys Dean coffee. Dean pays him back by convincing him not to buy a van, but a certain Chevy Impala instead, and says his surname is Van Halen.He thinks that something is after John, though, and follows him. He sees his mother Mary, who, in his own words, is a "babe", but also a kick-ass hunter. He's invited to dinner, meets his grandparents, and steals the Colt, so he can finally kill the Yellow-Eyed Demon, who will eventually kill Mary otherwise. Castiel appears, and reminds Dean if he kills Yellow Eyes, then he won't grow up to be a hunter, and all the people he saved won't be saved at all. Dean knows this, but fires ahead with the plan anyway.Yellow Eyes has his own plans—he grants people a wish, and all he wants in return is permission. Permission to come into your house in ten years' time and bleed demon blood into your child's mouth, admittedly. Mary and her dad fight Yellow Eyes, and he takes a liking to Mary. Uh-oh. Eventually, Dean confides to his granddad what's going on, knowing that Yellow Eyes' interest in his mum will kill her, only to find out Yellow Eyes is possessing Granddad right then and there. Lucky Dean doesn't trust anyone with the Colt, not even family. Granddad and Granny are killed, and to top it all off, Yellow Eyes kills John Winchester.The demon offers Mary a deal. He'll bring John back to life, at a price. Permission. Dean bursts onto the scene, but it's too late. Mary agrees to the deal, creating a Stable Time Loop and condemning them all to their fates without knowing it. Castiel returns, telling Dean that now that he knows how Sam got demon blood, he needs to stop him from using the powers, or they will. "They" being God's army of course.
—Castiel to Dean Winchester
Body countFor this episode = 4 humans.For the series so far = At least 266 humans (of which 3 were witches), 14 demons, 24 ghosts, 10 vampires, 6 changelings, 3 gods, 2 shapeshifters, 2 werewolves, 1 crocotta, 1 djinn, 1 rakshasa, 1 rawhead, 1 shtriga, 1 wendigo, 1 zombie, and 1 dog.
- Action Girlfriend: Mary. Downplayed since John is a war vet but Mary was hunting before John ever knew demons and other monsters existed.
- Badass Family: The Campbell clan.
- Bad Dreams: Dean has been dreaming of Hell.
- Bad Habits: Dean and Samuel dress up as priests in order to question a family.
- Cool Car: We finally see how and why John purchases the Impala.
- Dead Guy Junior: Dean and Sam were named after Mary's parents, Deanna and Samuel Campbell.
- Deal with the Devil: Azazel with multiple people. Mary makes a deal with it, dooming Sam and the rest of her future family.
- Fish Out of Temporal Water: Dean makes pop-culture references from the future and keeps expecting 21st-century technology.
- Heroic Lineage: Samuel mentions how the Campbell line has been fighting monsters since before the New World.
- I'm Going to Hell for This
- Implied Death Threat: "Your brother is heading down a dangerous road, Dean. So stop it. Or we will."
- I'm Mr. Future Pop Culture Reference
- Irony: In general, this episode is practically swimming in irony.
- Mary telling Dean that the worst thing would be having her children be raised as hunters.
- Mary's adoration of kind, sweet John who is "everything a hunter isn't" and making the plot-triggering deal to bring him back, when John will become everything that she hates as a direct result of her death...which in and of itself is an unintended side-effect of her deal.
- Just Between You and Me: For once, defied by Azazel. Give that demon a round of applause! He refuses to tell Dean much of anything because he knows that the angels would find out through Dean. He did tell him that he would give Sam demon blood (which the audience knew but Dean didn't) and that his plan was way bigger than just making a psychic soldier for his demon army, but, hey, baby steps.
- Malt Shop: Mary and John's idea of a date is going out to drink milkshakes. In 1973.
- Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: Dean gets dropped in the past by Castiel without much explanation."What, you're allergic to straight answers you son-of-a-bitch?!"
- Newspaper Dating: Dean realizes he's been sent back in time when he goes into a diner and sees the date on the newspaper of the man next to him (who happens to be his dad).
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- Dean's attempts to change the past is what attracts Azazel to Mary, leading her to make a deal and condemn her family to a life of hunting.
- Mary's deal-making (see above) is what enabled Azazel to feed Sam demon blood and set the whole damn plot in motion, including her own death, John going off the rails and selling his soul later on, Sam being taken to Cold Oak and killed, Dean going to Hell...
- Nothing Personal: Azazel sees murdering Mary's parents and her boyfriend as merely the cost of doing business.
- Out of Focus: One of the few episodes where one brother (here, Sam) gets minimal screen-time.
- Parental Marriage Veto: Combined with Follow in My Footsteps. Samuel Campbell disapproves of John Winchester, who he views as a civilian.
- Relative Button
- Running Gag: Dean using rock bands' members' names as aliases. This time, he's Dean Van Halen.
- Safe Cracking: Dean stealing the Colt.
- Shaggy Dog Story: Revelations aside, none of Dean's actions change the past. If anything, he made them worse by telling Azazel that he would kill him, which only served to piss Azazel off and give him twenty years or so to build up contingency plans in event of his death. Oops.
- Shout-Out: When the guy goes back in time, ends up in a diner, hears his name called, and turns to find the guy he's been sitting next to the whole time is his dad. Dean even lampshades it when he confronts Castiel.Dean: What, the angels got their hands on some DeLoreans or something?
- So Happy Together: John is about to propose to Mary, in the new car he bought, when Mary's demon-possessed father drags him out of the Impala and kills him. He then proceeds to stab himself, hours (at most) after killing her mother. This causes Mary to make the wish that leads to her doom and her family's revenge quest.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Dean is driving alone in the car, then the camera pans around to show Castiel is suddenly riding shotgun.Dean: So what...God is my copilot now?
- Time Travel: Though it's difficult, angels can—on occasion—bend the flow of time. Castiel does so here to send Dean back to 1973 (when John and Mary were teenagers) to find out more about Azazel's plans for Sam.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: John, who Mary describes as "sweet", "kind" and "everything a hunter isn't". This, of course, cranks up the Dramatic Irony of the episode.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: Mary, who notices Dean following her and John and attacks him when pretending to go to the bathroom.
- Wham Line:
Dean: Are you a hunter?
- Dean to Mary:
Dean: What, were they black? Red?
- When interviewing the witness whose dad was killed, he describes the eyes of the "stranger" who made him a deal:
Witness: No, they were yellow. Pale yellow.
- Wham Episode: Mary was a hunter while John was a civilian; she made a deal with Azazel in order to bring John back from the dead, and her worst nightmare was her children being raised as hunters. Also, Azazel had a bigger plan for Sam and the others like him than just making a psychic, demonic child army. Oh, and angels can bend time.
- You Can't Fight Fate/You Already Changed the Past: More or less the moral of the story.
- You Got Spunk: Azazel decides he likes Mary because of this.
- You Have to Believe Me: Dean tries to convince the Campbells to help him.
- A rather heartbreaking example when Dean tells Mary to not get out of bed on November 2nd, 1983.