Written by Daniel Knauf.
Directed by Whitney Ransick.
Airdate: April 6, 2006.
Dean faces a creature from his childhood who got away and is now stealing the lives of children in Fitchburg, Wisconsin.
John Winchester sends Sam and Dean to Fitchburg, Wisconsin, where pneumonia has started to spread among the children, affecting one family at a time. For some reason, none of the kids respond to medical treatment.
During their investigations they find a handprint, which Dean remembers seeing in one of their father's photographs when they were children. It's a Shtriga, an Albanian witch, which is draining the kids of their life force. It's only weak when it feeds and it hides by disguising itself as a human. It's also one of the few monsters that got away from their father.
After exhausting the few leads they have, they return to the motel where they're staying and find out that the younger boy of the family who runs the place has fallen ill. While Dean gives the upset mother a ride to the hospital, Sam finds a picture in a newspaper from the 1890s of a group of doctors. One of them is the very same doctor who is currently responsible for the pediatrics ward where the sick children are treated.
While arguing with Sam whether or not to use the older brother as bait for the witch, Dean reveals that the reason their father never caught the witch in the first place was because he disobeyed their father and almost got Sam killed by the witch.
Realizing they don't have any alternative, they ask the older brother to act as bait, and he accepts because of the possibility of it saving his brother. They set up a trap and manage to kill the witch, after which all the children are cured from their illness.
Body count:For this episode = 1 shtriga.
For the series so far = At least 133 humans; 9 ghosts; 1 god; 1 rawhead; 1 shapeshifter; 1 shtriga; 1 wendigo.
Tropes appearing in this episode:
- Abandoned Playground: The first clue about what is wrong in Fitchburg, Wisconsin.
- Adult Fear: An illness taking children.
- The Bait: Michael.
- Big Bad: Dr. Hydeker, a shtriga that poses as a doctor to eat the souls of children.
- Big Brother Instinct: Naturally. Both Dean and Michael.
- Call-Back: John's response to the shtriga attacking Sam was to flip out and hold his son while ignoring the escaping shrtiga, then drive his children three hours away to safety before finally going back for it, resulting in it escaping for good. This references the characters' previously-held concern that John Winchester is not always so clear-headed around his sons.
- Catch Your Death of Cold: The illness is attributed to a window being left open.
- Child Eater: The shtriga.
- Commonality Connection: Dean immediately sympathizes with Michael's feelings of protection towards his younger brother
- Convenient Coma: The children languish in a coma instead of just dying.
- Cover Identity Anomaly: Sam's fake ID as Dr. Jerry Kaplan is for a Bikini Inspector.
- Creepy Long Fingers: The shtriga.
- Cute Responsible Kid: Michael and Dean.
- Deadly Doctor: The shtriga.
- Evil Old Folks: Subverted Trope in the case of the woman sitting in the wheelchair.Sam: An old person, huh?Dean: Yeah.Sam: In a hospital? Whew, better call the Coast Guard.
- Life Drinker: An immortal creature called a shtriga drains the life force from people, mostly children.
- Light Is Not Good: The light from the shtriga's throat.
- Literary Allusion Title: From Macbeth:Second Witch: By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes!
- Mistaken for Gay: A Running Gag, which was previously seen in "Bugs" (S01, E08).Michael: [checking Dean in at the motel] King or two queens?Dean: Two queens.Michael: [looks at Sam waiting outside] Yeah, I bet.Dean: What'd you say?Michael: Nice car.
- Monochrome Past: Dean's flashbacks are shown in very muted tones.
- My Greatest Failure: Dean sees his failure to protect Sam properly at age ten as this, despite the fact that even if he'd been there the whole time, he probably wouldn't have been able to do much.
- No Ontological Inertia: The children are healed when the shtriga is killed.
- Not Quite Dead: Sam and Dean have difficulty determining whether or not they've killed the shtriga. The shtriga clears this up quickly, however.
- Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: A variation emphasizing angels instead of death is used, but either version fits well with Supernatural's themes.
- Promotion to Parent:
- Prophet Eyes: Subverted Trope, with the old woman just having cataracts.
- Red Herring: The shtriga can take just about any human form when its not feeding, but the most common one is that of an old woman. An old woman has a room not far down from the pediatric unit. Not only is she incredibly creepy, but she has an inverted cross hung on the wall of her room. Turns out she's just an old lady who happens to look rather creepy due to cataracts and who keeps complaining to the staff about the crucifix on her wall that got loose and is now hanging the wrong way.
- Regularly Scheduled Evil: The shtriga appears in a new town every 15-20 years.
- During Dean's flashback, Sam is watching Thunder Cats.
- Dean tries to explain away their father not killing the shtriga by saying he didn't get his Wheaties that morning.
- The towns Sam explains were recently struck by the shtriga include Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook. These are the same towns plagued by the monorail in The Simpsons episode "Marge vs. the Monorail".
- Really 700 Years Old: The shtriga.
- Shapeshifter Default Form: The shtriga usually appears as an innocuous human, often an old woman, but in this case a pediatrician.
- Steel Ear Drums: Acknowledged—the boys make a note of telling Michael that the gunshots will be louder than in the movies, and to cover his ears.
- Themed Aliases: Sam's alias as Dr. Kaplan may refer to guitarist Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo.
- Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: Branches scratching on the windowpane that turn into long weathered fingers as the little girl hides under her covers in the opening scene.
- Throat Light: The shtriga.
- Too Dumb to Live: An immortal monster that's completely invulnerable unless feeding. What does it do after the ambush is sprung? Feeds so it can take a bullet.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Young Dean with the shotgun.
- Wicked Witch: The shtriga.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Dean and Michael, who are not and never really were allowed to just be children.