Written by John Shiban and Patrick Sean Smith.
Directed by Kim Manners.
Airdate: January 10, 2006.
Sam and Dean argue, and Sam decides to take off on his own hitchhiking to find their father in Sacramento, California, while Dean investigates the disappearances of couples driving through Burkittsville, Indiana.
The brothers get a phone call from their dad. A fight over whether they should follow their father's orders results in the brothers splitting up: Dean heads to a small town to help solve the disappearances of young couples, while Sam continues searching for their father. While hitchhiking, Sam runs across a young woman named Meg and they strike up a friendship. Meanwhile, Dean discovers that the couples are being sacrificed to a Vanir by the townsfolk, and is chosen to be the next sacrifice along with a local girl. Having had a change of heart, Sam returns in time to rescue them, and they burn down the sacred tree that kept the Vanir returning. At the end, it's revealed to the audience (though not to the brothers) that Meg is more than she seems: after accepting a ride from a trucker, she slits the man's throat, collects his blood in a goblet and uses it to communicate with an unknown supernatural being.
Body count:For this episode = 5 humans and 1 god.
For the series so far = At least 120 humans; 8 ghosts; 1 god; 1 shapeshifter; 1 wendigo.
Tropes appearing in this episode:
- A Fête Worse Than Death: The victims in the town are shown kindness and given a last meal "on the house" each year to fatten them up for the Vanir to feast upon.
- Ambiguous Situation: In retrospective:Meg: You were right. That guy was shady. He was all hands. I cut him loose.
- Artistic License Biology: The "trees" in the orchard are not apple trees. Instead, the plants are actually hazelnut trees.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Harley and Stacy Jorgeson, Scotty, and Meg.
- Big Bad: Vanir, a norse fertility god which kills people for the nearby town.
- Blood Magic/Slashed Throat: Meg uses it to contact her "father".
- Bookends: The episode starts with the brothers getting a call from their father; it ends with Meg contacting hers.
- Breaking the Fellowship: The first but not last instance of the boys fighting hard enough to split up temporarily, though Sam comes back before even the end of the episode has happened.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Without Sam by his side, Dean is called out on his false alias, and when he starts asking questions, he is run out of town by The Sheriff.
- Celebrity Paradox: Despite The X-Files being referenced several times in the series, Dean doesn't bat an eye at a guy who looks exactly like the Cigarette Smoking Man.
- Chekhov's Gun: Vince's tattoo.
- Deadpan Snarker: Dean.Dean: [to unsmiling Scotty] Scotty, you got a smile that lights up a room. Anyone tell you that? [Scotty stares] Ah, never mind.Dean: [to scarecrow] Dude, you fugly.
- Deal with the Devil: The Vanir protects the town in exchange for the sacrifices.
- Distressed Dude: Dean, about to be sacrificed.
- The Dutiful Son: Dean is this to John.
- Electromagnetic Ghosts:
- Cars and cell phones don't work by the orchard.
- Dean's EMF detector starts going off when he drives by the orchard.
- Garden of Evil: The orchard.
- Girl of the Week: Emily for Dean and Meg for Sam, at least at first glance. Though it's clear at the end of the episode that Meg was Genre Savvy enough to play with the trope to get close to Sam while actually being far more than she appeared at first glance.
- Gods Need Prayer Badly: Or in this case sacrifice badly. A couple sacrificed each year keeps the blessings going.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: If you've been sacrificing married couples to a fertility god annually, maybe you and your husband shouldn't go walking in his woods at the same time the sacrifices got away.
- Homage: The portrayal of old gods transplanted to America and still requiring bloody sacrifices recalls Neil Gaiman's American Gods, while the appearance of a demon recalls Good Omens. These elements become more frequent in Supernatural and Eric Kripke has reported Neil Gaiman has been an influence on the series.
- Hooks and Crooks: The scarecrow uses a sickle as a weapon.
- Human Sacrifice: One needs to be made every year to keep the bounty going. When it goes awry, the townspeople end up sacrificing Dean and one of their own members to fulfill it.
- Karma Houdini: The townspeople (aside from Emily's aunt and uncle). But the god's destruction won't be good for the town.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Harley.
- Kill It with Fire: Though the monster scarecrow is not an example as one might think. It takes burning down the sacred tree of the Vanir to destroy it for good.
- Oh, Crap!: "What scarecrow?"
- Old Gods: The first example of one on the show, in this case one of the Norse gods.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Meg over the goblet of blood.
- Te requiro pater me audi = I demand that you hear me, father.
- Physical God: The Vanir can possess the scarecrow and use it at will. It also has a physical link tying it to the town in the form of the giant tree.
- Plot-Sensitive Items: The victims have their car breaking down and no cell phone reception. Possibly justified as the townspeople deliberately made sure the former happened and likely would have worked to ensure they ended up in a dead zone for the latter.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Dean admits Sam is more convincing with this.
- The Reveal: What killed Jess and the brother's mother is a demon, and Meg Masters works for him. He knows the Winchesters are after him, but wants to do something with them before killing them.
- Sacred Hospitality: Subverted Trope, with the "pie on the house" only helping to set the couple up for the sacrifice.
- Scary Scarecrows: Yep.
- Screaming Woman: Holly Parker.
- The Sheriff: One is a supporting antagonist who runs Dean out of town and ambushes him in the professor's office.
- When Vince sees the scarecrow, he says, "If I only had a brain".
- Emily is also the full version of "Auntie Em's" name in the Wizard of Oz and she's being raised by her aunt and uncle just as Dorothy was in the books and movie.
- Themed Aliases: Dean tells Scotty that he's John Bonham and is caught in the lie. Maybe he should have stuck with guitarists?Dean: Hi, my name's John Bonham.Scotty: Isn't that the drummer for Led Zeppelin?Dean: [taken aback] Wow. Good. Classic rock fan.
- Town with a Dark Secret: They're sacrificing people to a pagan god for good fortune and bountiful harvest.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: The way they see it, even sacrificing their own relatives is worth keeping the town alive for.
- Viewer-Friendly Interface: The book Dean reads from in the professor's office has a HUGE font to facilitate the audience reading it.