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Recap / Supernatural S01 E10 “Asylum”

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Recap of Supernatural
Season 1, Episode 10:

Don't be afraid. I'm going to make you all better.

Kat: So how do you guys know about all this ghost stuff?
Sam: It's kind of our job.
Kat: Why would anyone want a job like that?

Written by Richard Hatem.

Directed by Guy Bee.

Airdate: November 22, 2005.

Sam and Dean investigate a haunted mental asylum in Rockford, Illinois.

The boys investigate Roosevelt Asylum in Rockford, Illinois, an insane asylum abandoned after the patients rioted and 52 patients were killed, after they receive a text with the coordinates 42, -89. They presume the text is from their missing father and find a newspaper account about a police officer who killed his wife and then himself after investigating teenagers trespassing at the asylum.

Sam and Dean investigate the asylum and find two teenagers who were also exploring but had run into some of the ghosts of patients. The patients seem to be trying to tell them something. They discover that the chief of staff of the hospital at the time of the riot, Dr. Sanford Ellicott, was experimenting on his patients and trying to increase their rage. Dr. Ellicott gets a hold of Sam and after this Sam tries to kill Dean. Sam also vents a lot of his frustrations against Dean for following their father's orders without question. Dean manages to knock out Sam and burn Dr. Ellicott's bones. Sam returns to himself, and in the last scene he answers the cell phone to find their father has finally called them.


Body count:

For this episode = 2 humans and 1 ghost.

For the series so far = At least 115 humans; 8 ghosts; 1 shapeshifter; 1 wendigo.

Tropes appearing in this episode:

  • Abandoned Hospital
  • Always Night: Lampshaded when Sam and Dean arrive at the asylum during the day and do not find any signs of ghosts.
    Dean: Yeah, the freaks come out at night.
  • Bedlam House
  • Big Bad: Dr. Sanford Ellicott, a ghost psychiatrist haunting Roosevelt Asylum.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: A ghost kisses Gavin and whispers in his ear.
  • Catchphrase: From Dr. Ellicott:
    "Don't be afraid. I'm going to make you all better".
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kat telling Gavin "If we get out of this alive, we are so breaking up."
  • Advertisement:
  • Disappeared Dad:
    Sam: You know, maybe we should call the Feds. File a missing persons.
    Dean: We've talked about this. Dad'd be pissed if we put the Feds on his tail.
  • The Dutiful Son: Dean is willing to follow his father's wishes, even when he does not understand the motives, as he still needs his father's approval. However, Sam questions whether this is the right course.
    Sam: I mean, he could be sending us there, by ourselves, to hunt this thing.
    Dean: Who cares! If he wants us there, it's good enough for me!
    Sam: This doesn't strike you as weird? The texting, the coordinates?
    Dean: Sam! Dad's tellin' us to go somewhere, we're goin'.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts:
    • EMF readings.
    • Orbs on video camera.
  • Engineered Heroics: Dean and Sam set this up with Daniel Gunderson, the partner of the police officer who killed himself, convincing him to tell Sam all about his partner and the asylum after he refused to talk to Dean, because he believed Dean to be a reporter and Sam shoved Dean and called him a "serious jerk".
  • Genre Blindness: The teenagers. Lampshaded by Dean.
    Dean: I got a question for ya. You've seen a lot of horror movies, yeah?
    Kat: I guess so.
    Dean: [turns to face her] Do me a favor. Next time you see one? Pay attention. When someone says a place is haunted? Don't go in!
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Parodied with Dean's line about "why I always got the extra cookie."
  • In-Universe Catharsis: Sam seems to get this when he shoves Dean and calls him a jerk as part of their con and then later during his talk with the psychiatrist. However, we find out that may not have been enough when Sam has a Psychic Nosebleed and a shotgun loaded with rock salt.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: Dean pulls this on Sam after his "treatment" by Dr. Ellicott.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!:
    • The two police officers investigating the asylum.
    • When searching for Gavin, Sam goes one way and Dean and Kat another.
    • Once they find Gavin, Dean goes off alone.
    • When Sam gets a call, he leaves Kat and Gavin alone.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Sanford Ellicott, who ran the hospital, experimented on his patients to tap into their rage. It claimed his life in the end, but he stuck around as a ghost.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Found in the south wing with broken procedure chairs, body parts in jars, a doll without a head, and plenty of Cow Tools.
  • Old Media Are Evil: Invoked by Dean pretending to be a reporter and Sam shoving him away.
  • Psycho Psychologist: This is Dr. Ellicott's profession both during his life and as a ghost, with all the inhumane experiments, including one on Sam.
  • Shock and Awe: When Ellicott is a ghost and attacks someone, he uses electricity to manipulate their brains. This gets a cop to shoot his wife and then himself in a murder-suicide.
  • Shout-Out:
    • While trying to read John Winchester's journal, Dean says his father "writes like friggin' Yoda".
    • In order to get information from Daniel Gunderson, Dean pretends to be a reporter from the Chicago Tribune.
    • Dean's reporter alias is "Nigel Tufnel".
    • When Dean points out Sam shoved him pretty hard in front of Daniel Gunderson, Sam says he had to sell it, and said it was Method Acting.
    • When they enter the asylum, Dean compares Sam's new abilities to The Sixth Sense.
      Dean: Let me know if you see any dead people, Haley Joel.
    • When Sam objects to his new abilities being characterized as ESP, Dean says, "Don't ask. Don't tell."
    • Dean compares Sam to psychics in other television shows.
      Dean: [deadpan] Hey, Sam, who do you think is the hotter psychic, Patricia Arquette, Jennifer Love Hewitt, or you?
    • Dean makes three references to Jack Nicholson.
      Dean: [whistles] Man. Electroshock. Lobotomies. They did some twisted stuff to these people. Kinda like my man Jack in Cuckoo's Nest. [makes crazy eyes and grins at Sam]
      Dean: Spirits driving them insane. Kinda like my man Jack in The Shining. [grins]
      Dean: All work and no play makes Doctor Ellicott a very dull boy.
    • Sam compares the events in the asylum to two previous alleged hauntings that were made into movies.
      Sam: Or maybe it's more like Amityville, or the Smurl haunting.
  • The Shrink: Dr. James Ellicott turns out to be a pretty awesome psychiatrist, calling Sam on his lies and forcing him to confront some of his problems. Conveniently, he also is a Haunted House Historian.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Kat is grabbed by a ghost on the upper arm and hauled into a nearby exam room. Justified in that the ghost has Super Strength and Super Speed, allowing him to yank her faster than a normal human would be able to.
  • Themed Aliases: Dean introduces himself to Daniel Gunderson, the partner of the police officer who killed himself, as Nigel Tufnel, another guitarist, even if he belongs to a mock band.
  • Urban Legend: Roosevelt Asylum is based on local legends about hauntings at other hospitals and asylums including Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky and others.
  • Wham Line: "Dad?"