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Recap / Supernatural S 01 E 19 Provenance

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Recap of Supernatural
Season 1, Episode 19:

What kind of house doesn't have salt? Low-sodium freaks.

Sam: So, what are we today, Dean? Are we rock stars? Are we Army Rangers?
Dean: Reality TV scouts looking for people with...special skills.

Written by David Ehrman.

Directed by Phil Sgriccia.

Airdate: April 13, 2006.

A young couple dies in New Paltz, New York, after purchasing a painting of a family who died violently. Dean and Sam investigate, with the help of Sarah, an antiques dealer's daughter.

Sam and Dean visit an auction house to get more information on the possessions owned by Mark and Anne Telesca who died in a locked house. Dean thinks the daughter of the owner of the auction house, Sarah Blake, is interested in Sam and encourages Sam to ask her out. Sam takes Sarah out for dinner, and she provides him with the provenance of the Telesca's possessions. A painting of the Merchant family has been passed from owner to owner after they are mysteriously killed. Sam and Dean sneak into the auction house and burn the painting, but the painting reforms and is sold to a new owner the next day.


Sam and Dean research the Merchant family and find the father, Isaiah Merchant, was suspected of slitting the throats of his wife, two sons, and adopted daughter before killing himself. When the Winchesters arrive at the home of the painting's new owner, she is dead, and Sarah Blake is there. The Winchesters explain what is happening to Sarah, who wants to help them. They find that the painting in the painting has changed from what it was originally—now it shows the Merchant family's mausoleum. They find the mausoleum and discover that Isaiah's body wasn't cremated with the rest. Dean looks up the death certificates for the family to find what happened to his body. They go to the cemetery and salt and burn Isaiah Merchant's remains, and then return to the home to burn the painting. Sam and Sarah are locked in the house with the spirit of Melanie Merchant, the adopted daughter who was the true murderer. Sarah realizes that even though Melanie's body was cremated, some of her hair was likely used on the antique doll in the family's mausoleum they had seen when they visited the cemetery. Dean returns to the mausoleum while Sam and Sarah fight Melanie's spirit. Dean manages to burn the doll and Melanie is consumed in flame.


It turns out that the reason Melanie was adopted was that everyone else in her original family was found murdered in their beds. Sarah makes sure the painting is burned. Sam gives Sarah a kiss before leaving, but says he can't be with anyone because it would put the person in danger.

Body count:

For this episode = 2 ghosts and 3 humans.

For the series so far = At least 136 humans; 11 ghosts; 1 god; 1 rawhead; 1 shapeshifter; 1 shtriga; 1 wendigo.

Tropes appearing in this episode:

  • Ax-Crazy: Melanie is utterly psychotic. She killed her adopted family, her original one too, and even extends her rampage beyond the grave as well.
  • Action Survivor: Sarah isn't really impressive enough to cut it as an Action Girl, but she is just an art dealer and at least she tries to keep up with Sam and Dean.
  • Big Bad: Melanie Merchant, a violent spirit of a child who murdered her family for no reason.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: When it looks like Sam's already left at the end of the episode and Sarah looks wistful, Sam suddenly comes back and surprises Sarah with a big, enthusiastic kiss.
    Dean: That's my boy.
  • Big Eater: Dean with the mini-quiches at the auction.
  • Big "OMG!": When Sam sees the painting again after he and Dean burnt it, he says "Oh my god!" quite loudly, confusing Sarah. He then tries to play it off as a reaction to how good the painting is, which confuses her further.
  • Bluff the Impostor: Sarah tries to trick Sam by identifying the painting of the family as American Primitive, but Sam does not fall for it.
    Sam: Well, I'd say it's more Grant Wood than Grandma Moses. But you knew that. You just wanted to see if I did.
  • Braids of Action: Sarah when she joins the Winchesters on the hunt.
  • Captain Obvious: Sam. Lampshaded by Dean.
    Sam: I don't understand, Dean. We burned the damn thing.
    Dean: Yeah, thank you, Captain Obvious.
  • Continuity Nod: We see Dean using Sam's Dell Inspiron laptop sporting the logo for Cove Bikes. The laptop was previously seen in "Hook Man" (S01, E07), "Asylum" (S01, E10), "Faith" (S01, E12), and "Hell House" (S01, E17).
  • Creepy Changing Painting
  • Creepy Child: Melanie, especially when she manifests out of the painting. She's pale-skinned with shadows around her eyes, dragging a doll in one hand and a razor in the other. And sometimes her face...changes.
  • Dangerously Close Shave:
    Bookstore owner: Old man Isaiah...well, he gave them all a shave. [draws his hand across his throat, laughing]
  • Dies Wide Open: Anne Telesca in the teaser.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?:
    Dean: I'm the one that burned the doll, destroyed the spirit, but don't thank me or anything.
  • Enfante Terrible: Little Melanie killed two families (including her own) when she was alive and, as a ghost, is killing anyone who has the Merchant family portrait. There's no reason given why she did/does any of this—although Sam theorizes that she was just "born tortured", it seems more likely that she was just born evil.
  • Environmental Symbolism: The disco-themed motel seems to mirror Dean's casual dating style.
  • Ghostly Gape: Melanie trying to frighten someone out of the house by shaking her head creepily and changing her face.
  • Girl of the Week: Sarah for Sam.
  • In-Joke: When Sam and Dean arrive at the auction, we see luxury cars parked next to the Impala. The second is a Bentley with New York license plate "THEKRIP", a reference to Supernatural creator and executive producer Eric Kripke.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Sam tells Sarah that they can't be together, which is wise, since everyone he sleeps with dies.
  • Mistaken for Servant: Daniel Blake.
    Daniel Blake: Can I help you gentlemen?
    Dean: [putting on a posh voice] I'd like some champagne, please.
    Sam: He's not a waiter!
  • Motion Blur: The ghost when it moves quickly.
  • The Nicknamer:
    • Dean dubs Daniel Blake "Chuckles".
    • Sarah refers to Sam as "Romeo".
  • Phantom Zone Picture
  • Red Herring: Isaiah's ghost is only trying to warn victims-to-be about Melanie.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Melanie murdered her biological family. When another family adopted her, she killed them, too, and then herself.
  • Shipper on Deck: Dean for Sam/Sarah.
    Dean: Sam? Marry that girl.
    • Subtly Lampshaded by Sarah. The wink she throws Dean at the gallery lets him (and the audience) know that she sees what he's doing.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The motel "Do Not Disturb" door hanger is a silver outline of John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever.
    • Sam compares the search for clues in the painting to the work of Dan Brown:
      Sam: What, like a Da Vinci Code deal?
      Dean: I don't know, I'm still waiting for the movie on that one.
    • The lead article of the newspaper the book store owner shows the Winchesters is "New Titanic Sinks, 1304 People Go To Watery Graves: Only 866 saved from 2,170 Aboard Liner Which Collides With Iceberg. Disaster Proves To Be the Greatest in Marine History of the World."
    • Dean refers to Isaiah Merchant as "Daddy Dearest".
  • Slashed Throat: How Evelyn died.
  • Spooky Painting
  • The Sociopath: Melanie. Brutally murdered her own family and her adopted one, then attacks people in the house without a single drop of emotion.
  • Three-Way Sex: Implied between Dean and the two girls he met at the bar.
  • Underdressed for the Occasion: Sam and Dean at the auction.
  • Wine Is Classy: Dean swirls and sniffs the aroma before drinking the champagne, but just can't manage to pull it off.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Dean thinks Sam does.

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