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Recap / Supernatural S 02 E 07 The Usual Suspects

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Recap of Supernatural
Season 2, Episode 7:

The Usual Suspects
Let's pretend for the moment you're not entirely insane.

Dean: My name is Dean Winchester. I'm an Aquarius. I enjoy sunsets, long walks on the beach, and frisky women. And I did not kill anyone. But I know who did. Or rather what did. Of course, it can't be for sure, because our investigation was interrupted. But our working theory is that we're looking for some kind of vengeful spirit.

Written by Cathryn Humphris.

Directed by Mike Rohl.

Airdate: November 9, 2006.

Dean is arrested for murdering the wife of a lawyer in Baltimore, Maryland, and Sam works with a detective to find the true killer.

Dean and Sam investigate the suspicious death of a lawyer, Tony Giles, who was found with a slit throat in Baltimore, Maryland. The security footage failed to capture footage of an assailant, and the brothers find the phrase "DANASHULPS" written again and again at the murder scene. When Dean goes to the victim's home, he finds the lawyer's wife, Karen Giles, dead with rope bruises around her wrists and the same phrase repeated again and again on sheets of paper in the room where she died. The police arrive as Dean is examining the body, and he is arrested for her murder.

Sam is picked up by the police as well. While talking to his lawyer, Dean realizes that the repeated phrase is not a person's name, but the name of a nearby street, Ashland. He manages to pass this information and a signal to escape to Sam in a note through their lawyer. Dean then agrees to confess and starts telling the truth about how he believes the murders were committed by a vengeful spirit. This angers the lead detective, Peter Sheridan, but his partner, Detective Diana Ballard, has reason to believe Dean when the ghost appears to her. Dean advises Detective Ballard that if she doesn't want to die like the other victims, she needs to find Sam, and tells her how.


Detective Ballard finds Sam, and is able to identify the ghost as Claire Becker, a young woman with two arrests for dealing heroin. Detective Ballard and Sam search the building where Claire disappeared and find her body. Around Claire's neck is a specially-designed necklace, which is identical to one that Detective Sheridan also gave to his partner and lover, Detective Ballard.

Realizing Detective Sheridan is behind the murders and that Claire's spirit has been trying to warn them, Detective Ballard calls the police station and finds out that Detective Sheridan said Dean was being extradited to St. Louis, taking Dean himself in a van. They are able to locate them by turning on the van's lo-jack, and arrive just before Detective Sheridan shoots Dean. There is a struggle during which Detective Sheridan confesses to the murders and his plan to kill Dean and pin the murders on him. Detective Ballard ends up shooting and killing Detective Sheridan. She lets Dean and Sam escape, saying she will sleep better knowing they are out there doing what they do best.


Body count

For this episode = 2 humans. The ghost's fate is uncertain, as we don't see her burst into flame, but Sam says she should be at rest.

For the series so far = At least 158 humans; 11 ghosts; 5 vampires; 1 demon; 1 god; 1 rakshasa; 1 rawhead; 1 shapeshifter; 1 shtriga; 1 wendigo; 1 zombie.

Tropes appearing in this episode:

  • Absence of Evidence: One of the concerns Detective Ballard has about convicting Dean is the absence of the murder weapon. The other main concern is the absence of a motive.
  • Arrested for Heroism: Detective Sheridan insists that he caught Dean with literal blood on his hands. The blood came from checking the victims pulse when he found her on the floor. Sheridan also refers to murders Dean supposedly committed in St Louis, but the viewers know that Sam and Dean actually helped stop those murders by killing the shape shifter that was committing them.
  • Big Bad: Peter Sheridan, the corrupt cop responsible for all the murders.
  • The Book Cipher: If split up, the brothers check into the first motel listed in the yellow pages. Detective Ballard finds Sam at the Aardvark Motel.
  • Broken Record: "DANASHULPS" repeated over and over.
  • Catchphrase: Dean gets to use "son of a bitch".
  • Clear My Name: Dean is suspected of murdering Karen Giles.
  • Consummate Liar: Sam's false answers to Detective Ballard's questions seem to come to him very easily.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • The Corpse Stops Here: Dean is found over the dead body of Karen Giles.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • Despite having no way of knowing they would be taken into custody, the brothers were able to give the exact same cover story.
    • Dean was able to signal Sam to escape using a reference to the film The Great Escape.
    • They had an established method of finding each other if split up.
    • Sam had printed out color photos of every girl who died or went missing on Ashland Street, even though he had no idea he would be talking with someone who had seen the ghost.
  • Cry Cute: Karen Giles remains attractive while crying, even when she has a red nose.
  • Cut Phone Lines: The phone cuts out during Karen Giles' call to 911.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dean. It's mentioned that all Detective Sheridan can get out of him during the interrogation are "a lot of wise-ass remarks".
    Dean: Pee break? So soon? You might want to get your prostate checked.
  • Dirty Cop/Killer Cop: Detective Pete Sheridan.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: The flickering lights.
  • Escape Artist: Sam, whose escape from the police station is never explained.
  • Everything Is Online: Sam is able to print out booking photos and crime scene photos.
  • Fair Cop: Detective Diana Ballard.
  • Faking the Dead: The police think Dean faked his own death because the shapeshifter died while wearing Dean's body in "Skin" (S01, E06).
  • Flashbacks/How We Got Here: While the brothers are answering questions in the interrogation rooms, the audience sees flashbacks to the actual events to get us caught up on what's happened so far (and so we know how much they're lying).
  • Ghostly Goals: Claire Becker's are Type A, with the Unfinished Business of revealing a murderer.
  • Going by the Matchbook: The police find the brothers' original motel and bring Sam in for questioning because of a branded matchbook cover in Dean's pocket.
  • Haunted Technology: The printer and fax that repeatedly print "DANASHULPS". Detective Ballard's computer which shows this same phrase again and again on the monitor.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Sam says he should be able to crack Tony Giles' password in about 30 minutes.
  • In Medias Res: The story starts with Dean being interrogated by the police, and the first part of the story is told in flashbacks as the brothers answer questions.
  • Just Between You and Me: Detective Sheridan has to explain himself to Detective Ballard instead of just shooting.
  • Mundanger: The supernatural being in this episode is a Death Omen who's trying to warn people, not hurt them. All the deaths are caused by the fully-human Dirty Cop.
  • Portent of Doom: Claire Becker is a Death Omen: she appears to people before they are murdered by the same person who murdered her. The same markings from ropes that she has also appear on the person who is going to be murdered.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Claire Becker.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Dean's video-taped confession for the police.
  • Secret Relationship: Detective Sheridan and Detective Ballard are in a relationship, despite being partners.
  • Shared Family Quirks: Both of the brothers refer to their lawyer as Matlock.
    Sam: Sure thing, Matlock.
    Jeffrey Kraus: You two really are brothers, aren't you?
  • Shout-Out:
    Dean: What do you think, Scully? You wanna check it out?
    Sam: I'm not Scully, you're Scully.
    Dean: No, I'm Mulder. You're a red-headed woman.
    • Dean yet again quotes The Shining, when he notices the sheets of papers filled with the same phrase over and over again.
    Dean: Well, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
    • Later he uses REDRUM from The Shining as an example of ghosts communicating from beyond the veil.
    • He refers to the vengeful spirit as "Casper the bloodthirsty ghost".
    • Dean refers to Detective Pete Sheridan as Ponch, pointing out a resemblance to Eric Estrada in CHiPs.
    • Dean addresses his note to "Hilts" and signs it "McQueen". Captain Hilts, the main character in The Great Escape, is played by Steve McQueen.
    • Sam and Dean both refer to their lawyer as Matlock.
    • When Detective Ballard asks Dean about ghosts, he refers her to Time-Life's Mysteries of the Unknown.
    • The brothers check in to the first motel listed in the yellow pages as Jim Rockford when split up.
    • The line "I could go for pea soup." at the end of the episode is a reference to "The Exorcist", this also a reference to this episode's guest star, Linda Blair.
    • The lawyer's name, Anthony Giles, could be an amalgam of Anthony Head and his character Rupert Giles on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", one of many nods to the earlier supernatural CW show.
  • Significant Anagram: DANASHULPS = ASHLAND SUP. The window in front of where Claire Becker's body was found says ASHLAND SUPPLIES, but the last letters were blocked by some boards.
  • Slashed Throat: Tony Giles' throat was slit so deep part of his spinal cord was visible. Karen Giles and Claire Becker also had slashed throats.
  • The Speechless: Claire Becker, who is unable to speak due to her slashed throat. When she tries to speak, more blood wells out of the slash.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Claire Becker, the Death Omen.
  • Stock Episode Titles: At least eleven other series have episodes with the same title, which originates from a line in Casablanca where Renault says to "round up the usual suspects".
  • Too Dumb to Live: Detective Sheridan left the rare, specially-designed necklace he gave to Claire Becker on her body.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Detective Sheridan gave Claire Becker the same specially-designed necklace he gave to Detective Ballard.



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