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Recap / Supernatural S 01 E 17 Hell House

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Recap of Supernatural
Season 1, Episode 17:

Hell House
Of all the things we hunted, how many existed just because people believed in them?

Dean: People believe in Santa Claus. How come I'm not gettin' hooked up every Christmas?

Written by Trey Callaway.

Directed by Chris Long.

Airdate: March 30, 2006.

Sam and Dean run into two amateur paranormal investigators while investigating a haunted house in Richardson, Texas, they discovered on a website.

The brothers get a tip about a cabin haunted by a ghost named Mordechai Murdoch in Richardson, Texas from Hell Hound's Lair, a website run by amateur paranormal investigators Ed and Harry, but when they investigate, they realize that the supernatural creature described on the website isn't a ghost but is a Tulpa that has been brought into being by the belief of everyone who reads the site. They try to manipulate the website to give the Tulpa a weakness, but the website server crashes before it can come into effect and the brothers are forced to burn the house to stop the creature and save the hapless Ed and Harry. Dean and Sam are also embroiled in an escalating prank war throughout the episode, which ends when they both prank Ed and Harry instead and call a truce.


Body count:

For this episode = 1 human.

For the series so far = At least 133 humans; 9 ghosts; 1 god; 1 rawhead; 1 shapeshifter; 1 wendigo.

Tropes appearing in this episode:

  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Mordechai Murdoch.
  • Big Bad: Mordechai Murdoch, a tulpa created from a made up story.
  • Breather Episode: This episode is more comedy-centered, right after the previous Wham Episode.
  • Burger Fool: One of the teenagers who saw the girl hanging from the rafters in the cabin also works at the Rodeo Drive-In and is in uniform, complete with hat, when interviewed.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Dean blasts "Fire of Unknown Origin" by Blue Öyster Cult when he puts the spoon in sleeping Sam's mouth.
  • Continuity Nod: Sam still thinks letting Dad leave alone was a bad idea.
  • Cool People Rebel Against Authority:
    Dean: You know, I hate to agree with authority figures of any kind...but the cops may be right about this one.
  • Advertisement:
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Sigils + concentrated thoughts of hundreds of websurfers = Mordechai the meme-ghost.
  • Continuity Nod: We again see Sam's Dell Inspiron laptop sporting the logo for Cove Bikes. The laptop was previously seen in "Hook Man" (S01, E07), "Asylum" (S01, E10), and "Faith" (S01, E12).
  • Creepy Basement: The root cellar.
    Teenage guy: Oh look, it's the evil root cellar. You know, where Satan cans all his vegetables.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: Drawn on the walls of the cabin to give the impression of devil worship.
    Dean: [whistling] Looks like Old Man Murdoch was a bit of a tagger during his time.
    Sam: And after his time too. That reverse cross has been used by Satanists for centuries, but this sigil of sulfur didn't show up in San Francisco until the 60s.
    Dean: That is exactly why you never get laid.
  • Deadly Prank: The Hell House itself: two teenagers inadvertently create a Tulpa that kills a girl.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts:
    • Subverted when Dean finds that the power lines and the transformer nearby make the EMF readings unreliable.
    • Later a Parodied Trope, when Ed and Harry are excited about the strong EMF readings caused by the power lines.
  • Environmental Symbolism: The Western-themed motel and drive-in emphasize the Winchesters' roles as gunslingers who are not bound by authority.
  • Escalating War: Of the prank variety detailed below.
    • Dean puts a plastic spoon in Sam's mouth while he is asleep, takes a photo, then turns the music on really loud, waking Sam up and startling him.
    • Sam turns the car radio's volume all the way up, startling Dean with a Latin music song.
    • Dean puts itching powder in Sam's underwear while he is in the shower.
    • Sam glues Dean's hand to a beer bottle.
    • Sam calls Ed and Harry, pretending to be a producer offering them a movie.
    • Dean puts a dead fish in the back seat of Ed and Harry's car.
  • Foil: Ed and Harry for Sam and Dean.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    Dean: I barely have any skin left on my palm.
    Sam: I'm not touching that line with a ten foot pole.
  • Haunted House: The abandoned cabin.
    Dean: So much for curb appeal.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Both Harry and Ed.
  • Local Hangout: Rodeo Drive-In, where they find the teenagers in Richardson, Texas.
  • Modesty Towel: Sam and his nice abs.
  • Monster Misogyny: The spirit haunting the cabin is originally described as only killing girls, though in a variation on the trope it's implied to not be out of a hatred of women, but because he (and by extension the ghost) is insane and the ghost still thinks he's "mercy-killing" his starving daughters.
  • New Media Are Evil: Or, at least, the internet is unreliable.
    Dean: Most of those websites wouldn't know a ghost if it bit 'em in the persqueeter.
  • Noodle Incident: Dean mentions putting Nair in Sam's shampoo bottle as part of a prank war when they were younger.
  • Occult Detective: Ed and Harry are pretty much what we'd expect Sam and Dean to be like in Real Life, effectively putting one big lampshade on the entire premise of the show.
  • Pater Familicide: The original explanation for why Mordechai Murdoch's spirit was trapped in the cabin was that he was unable to feed his six daughters during the Depression and so killed them all before killing himself.
  • The Power of Creation: The Tulpa is born from the imagination of some bored teenagers.
  • Prince of Pranksters: Both Dean and Sam.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The teenagers describing what happened in the cabin to Sam and Dean.
  • Right Behind Me: Of a particularly grisly form with a body hanging from the rafters.
    Teenage guy: It's just a basement full of skank-filled jars in some crap farmhouse. I don't see anything scary. Do you? [other teens look horrified at something behind him] What? What is it? [turns around and screams]
  • Scare Dare: Jill has to get a jar from Mordechai's cellar as part of a game of Truth or Dare.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • Dean dares and then double dares Sam to drink the contents of one of the cans in the cellar, but Sam doesn't go for it.
    • Harry and Ed do go for the story about Mordechai shooting himself with a .45.
  • Shirtless Scene: Sam in a towel out of the shower.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Dean recognizes one of the symbols in the cabin as being the Blue Öyster Cult logo.
    • Ed Zeddmore and Harry Spengler are references to the characters Winston Zeddemore and Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters.
    • When Harry wants to turn back, Ed asks him, "Would John Edward go?"
    • When Harry and Ed see the Winchesters run out of the cabin followed by Mordechai they yell:
    Ed: Sweet Lord...
    Harry: ...of the rings. RUN!
  • Stoners Are Funny: Ed gets the giggles from smoking pot.
  • Television Geography: Richardson, Texas is a rather rich and developed area, right next to Dallas. Not the small podunk town that has only a small fast food joint to hang out in or a small farm cabin in which could be a haunted house. Sam and Dean would have had to go to clubs in downtown Dallas or to major hangouts to talk with teenagers in the area. Nor is I-35, north of Dallas, a small two-lane highway, but instead a major highway all the way to the Oklahoma border.
  • What Would X Do?: "What would Buffy do?"
  • Who You Gonna Call?: Dean even Lampshades this by yelling it out.
  • You Cannot Kill an Idea:
    Dean: So, if he really is a thoughtform, how the hell are we supposed to kill an idea?

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