Born Under a Bad Sign
Written by Cathryn Humphris.
Directed by J. Miller Tobin.
Airdate: February 8, 2007.
Sam calls Dean from Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, after having disappeared for a week. Sam claims to have no memory of what he did in that week.
Sam disappears for over a week, and then calls Dean from Twin Lakes, Wisconsin. Dean finds Sam in a motel room with bruised knuckles, covered in someone else's blood, and unable to remember anything that happened. Sam seems overwhelmed by the possibility that he may have surrendered to the fate the Yellow-Eyed Demon has planned for him, but Dean will not accept this and insists they work this like any other case. The investigation leads them to the home of Steve Wandell, a hunter they do not know. The brothers find Wandell's body and security tapes showing Sam murdering Wandell. Sam then insists that Dean kill him so that Sam will not hurt anyone else. When Dean says he would rather die then kill Sam, Sam says, "No. You'll live. You'll live to regret this." Sam then pistol-whips Dean, knocking Dean out.
After Dean wakes up, he is able to track the GPS on Sam's phone to Duluth, Minnesota. He arrives to find Sam holding a knife to Jo Harvelle's throat. Sam asks Dean to kill him before he kills Jo. Dean lowers his gun and turns away, only to surprise Sam by dousing him in holy water and revealing that Sam is possessed by a demon. Dean chases demon-possessed Sam out on to a dock, where the demon shoots Dean, and Dean falls into Lake Superior. Demon-possessed Sam leaves, believing Dean dead, but Jo hears Dean's ringtone, drags Dean out of the lake, and patches up the gunshot wound.
Dean realizes that Sam probably went after the nearest hunter, Bobby Singer in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Bobby realizes that Sam is possessed when he chokes on a beer laced with holy water. Bobby knocks the possessed Sam out and binds him to a chair under a devil's trap. Dean arrives in time to help Bobby try to exorcise the demon, but they are unsuccessful due to a binding brand on Sam's arm. The demon uses an incantation to crack the ceiling and break the devil's trap. The demon then reveals that she is the same demon that possessed Meg and that she crawled her way out of Hell to be able to torture the Winchesters. While she is beating up Dean, Bobby manages to burn the binding brand on Sam's arm with a hot poker, and the demon leaves Sam's body.
Bobby warns them that Steve Wandell's hunter friends are after his killer and gives them anti-possession charms. Dean and Sam set off on the road together.
Body count:For this episode = One human, a hunter murdered by Evil!Sam.
For the series so far = At least 176 humans; 12 ghosts; 5 vampires; 2 shapeshifters; 1 demon; 1 god; 1 rakshasa; 1 rawhead; 1 shtriga; 1 wendigo; 1 zombie.
Tropes appearing in this episode:
- Artistic License Geography: Sam says the receipt is from a gas station a few towns over. However, we later learn the gas station is located on Route 71, which is in Minnesota. It would likely take over 6 hours to drive from Twin Lakes, Wisconsin to Route 71.
- Asian Store-Owner: Averted, but lampshaded by the white clerk at the Tasty Express.Clerk: What, am I speaking Urdu?
- Attempted Rape: Implied to have been where Evil!Sam was going with poor Jo.
- Badass in Distress/Damsel in Distress: Jo.
- The Bait: Jo's father served as this for John Winchester in Devil's Gate Reservoir. Jo served as this for Evil!Sam. Like father, like daughter, as Evil!Sam points out.
- Being Evil Sucks: Demon Meg states that Hell is... well, like Hell, even for demons.
- Berserk Button: Demon Meg makes sure to plant quite a few for Dean when setting up her scenario.
Dean: [picks up pack of cigarettes] Okay, now, this is disturbing. Come on, man, this couldn't have been you.
- She attacks him through Sam and his father's last request.
- Sam is checked into the motel as Richard Sambora. Dean is not a fan of Bon Jovi.
- Sam appears to have stolen a poorly maintained Volkswagen Beetle, whose very existence seems an insult to the Impala, Dean's baby.
- Sam's behavior is out of character, including smoking menthols and drinking malt liquor.
- The murder victim is a hunter.
- Black Eyes of Evil: Sam's eyes flash when it is revealed that he is possessed.
- Bound and Gagged: Jo.
- Brand X:
- The Sandpiper Tavern has a neon sign for Black Hills beer.
- Dean's account is with the A-line Mobile Phone Service.
- The Bus Came Back: The demon that possessed Meg Masters in Season 1 returns from Hell and is now possessing Sam.
- Can't You Read the Sign?: There is a "No Smoking" sign on the pump at Tasty Express, where the attendant said Sam stole two packs of menthols and lit up a cigarette.
- When Dean realizes Sam left the motel without him, he says. "Oh, son of a bitch."
- When Dean flings holy water out of his flask, he says, "You demonic son of a bitch!"
- Caught on Tape: Sam killing Steve Wandell. This is even more incriminating in the Supernatural Universe as the absence of eye flare makes a Shapeshifter impersonation less likely, as Sam points out.
- Chekhov's Gun: The brand Jo sees on Sam's arm.
- Clear Their Name: Dean is convinced, despite increasing incriminating evidence, that someone else must have been responsible or Sam must have a justified reason for his actions.
- Close-Knit Community: The hunter community, who wants to avenge Steve Wandell's death.
- Continuity Nod:
- When talking to Ellen on his cell, Dean compares looking for Sam to their search for their father in Season 1.
- A deer's head is seen on the wall in Steve Wandell's home. This deer's head was also seen in "Nightmare" (S01, E14), "The Benders" (S01, E15), "Salvation" (S01, E21), "Everybody Loves A Clown" (S02, E02), and "Playthings" (S02, E11).
- Dean's phone is under the name Jack Mahogoff, which was the same last name on Dean's credit card in "Playthings" (S02, E11).
- Jo tells Sam she didn't expect to see him and that they "didn't exactly part on the best of terms", referring to how she asked them to leave at the end of "No Exit" (S02, E06).
- Jo recognizes Dean's ringtone, which is the same ringtone he had in "No Exit" (S02, E06).
- Bobby Singer mentions it has been a while since he has seen Sam, and proposes a toast to John Winchester. The last episode with Bobby in it was "In My Time Of Dying" (S02, E01), but the brothers stayed at his salvage yard while they repaired the Impala and tried to come to terms with their father's death in "Everybody Loves A Clown" (S02, E02).
- When Evil!Sam sees that Dean did not drown in Lake Superior, he says, "Dean, back from the dead. Getting to be a regular thing for you, isn't it? Like a cockroach." While Dean has not actually died yet in the series, he was meant to die and had a Reaper after him in "Faith" (S01, E12) and in "In My Time Of Dying" (S02, E01).
- Sam says he was awake during some of the time he was possessed, just like Meg Masters in "Devil's Trap" (S01, E22).
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Evil!Sam attacking Steve Wandell on the security tape.
- Cut Phone Lines: Evil!Sam cuts the phone line as he enters Bobby Singer's house, but given that Bobby likely has a cell phone it is unclear how effective that was.
- Demonic Possession
- Destroy the Evidence:
- Sam wipes the fingerprints off of the knife handle in the Volkswagen Beetle.
- Dean smashes the computer with the security camera footage, and they wipe away fingerprints at Steve Wandell's home.
- Double Entendre: Dean seems to find talking about possession amusing.Bobby: That demon's still out there. This'll stop it from getting back up in you.Dean: That sounds vaguely dirty, but, uh, thanks.
- Environmental Symbolism:
- The motel room in Twin Falls, Wisconsin is decorated with fish hanging between red and white bobbers. Dean is fishing for answers, but in actuality Sam is being used as bait by Meg who is reeling Dean into her trap.
- The fishing theme is continued at the Sandpiper Tavern, where several fish specials can be seen on the menu on the wall. In the Sandpiper Tavern, Jo serves as bait.
- Evil Laugh: Meg possessing Sam utters a maniacal laugh as Bobby and Dean try to exorcise the demon.
- Faking Amnesia: Meg, the demon possessing Sam, pretends Sam is suffering from amnesia to get Dean to investigate what Sam did and discover Wandell's murder, so Dean will believe Sam has surrendered to his dark potential.
- Fire and Brimstone Hell: How the demon describes where she escaped from.Demon: It's a prison, made of bone and flesh and blood and fear.
- 555: Sam's cell displays as 1-785-555-2804 on Dean's cell.
- Geometric Magic: Evil!Sam is tied to a chair under the devil's trap in Bobby's home just as Meg was in "Devil's Trap" (S01, E22).
- Good Parent: Sam find a letter from Steve Wandell's daughter, who is away at college, thanking him for sending her a package including waterproof pajamas.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: One of the signs that Sam has turned to evil is smoking menthol cigarettes.
- Grievous Bottley Harm:
- Evil!Sam threw a bottle of malt liquor at the head of the gas station attendant.
- Subverted Trope, when Evil!Sam smashes the bottle in Jo's hand.
- Holy Burns Evil: Evil!Sam sizzles and cries out in pain when exposed to holy water.
- Hollywood Exorcism: There is a Latin incantation, pages of books turning from the wind, and a writhing possessed person, but this ends up being a Subverted Trope when the exorcism does not work.
- I Have Many Names: When Dean asks the demon, "So who are you?", the demon replies, "I got lots of names."
- I Just Knew: Sam claims to "just know" places that seem familiar as he guides Dean to Wandell's house.Dean: You getting any, uh, any goosebumps yet? God, this looks familiar, déjà vu vibes?
- In Medias Res: The teaser opens with Dean frustrated by a fruitless search for his missing brother.
- The Killer in Me: Sam when possessed.
- The Ketchup Test: Sam touches the blood on the steering wheel.
- Knight Templar Big Brother: Dean, looking for his little brother and unwilling to accept Sam has turned dark.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: It initially appears that Sam can't remember what the hell happened in the past week. But since he was possessed all along, this turns out to be a lie to make Dean investigate and find out that Sam has apparently turned evil.
- Last Request/The Promise: Dean is reminded of what his father requested of him in "In My Time Of Dying" (S02, E01) and what Sam made him promise to do in "Playthings" (S02, E11).Sam: Dean, you promised him. You promised me.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After the events of "Houses of the Holy" (S02, E13), Sam disappeared for a week thanks to being possessed by Meg...no points for guessing how the trope applies...
- Leitmotif: Dean's ring tone is an original song created for the show, but has similarities to "Smoke On The Water" by Deep Purple and other classic rock songs.
- Meat Puppet: Sam.Demon: Sam's still my meat puppet. I'll make him bite off his tongue.
- Mercy Kill: Evil!Sam says his father shot Jo's father, Bill, in the head after Bill was clawed up by a Hell Spawn in Devil's Gate Reservoir in California.
- Minnesota Nice: Averted Trope for the clerk at the gas station.Clerk: Tell your story walking, pal. Po-po will be here in five.
- Missing Time: Dean finds Sam in a motel in Wisconsin, and the last thing Sam says he can remember is going out for burgers in West Texas over a week ago.
- No One Could Survive That!: Evil!Sam shoots Dean and then sees the body fall into the lake. He smiles and leaves believing Dean is dead.
- No-Tell Motel: The hotel manager is knocking on the motel room door because Dean is past his checkout time, and he has a couple who needs the room.
- Not Himself: Sam.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Dean is shot in the shoulder.
- Open Heart Dentistry: Dean gets his shoulder patched up by Jo after he gets shot and then almost drowns. He drinks whiskey out of a bottle for anesthesia.Jo: Don't be such a baby.
- Out-of-Character Moment: The whole episode for Sam and Meg. The why for Sam is obvious. It's Fridge Logic for Meg, especially in later seasons—she claims in past and previous episodes to have Undying Loyalty to Azazel, yet here she says she doesn't care about their plans anymore and in fact nearly sabotages it by trying to get Azazel's favorite special child killed.
- Of course, considering Azazel's penchant for mind games and the question of how much he knew about Lucifer's plans for Sam in particular, it may be that either Meg didn't definitively know Sam was the best choice or this plan was intended to reinforce Dean's bond with Sam to make him less likely to kill Sam if/when Sam really gave into his dark side.
- Out, Damned Spot!: In the first scene, Sam seems overcome with grief, believing he has surrendered to his dark potential.Sam: [covered in someone else's blood] I tried to wash it off.
- Pistol-Whipping: Evil!Sam knocks Dean out this way.
- Product Placement: Dean's phone is the Verizon Chocolate previously seen in "Houses Of The Holy" (S02, E13).
- Properly Paranoid: Steve Wandell's house is protected by flood lights triggered by a motion sensor, an alarm system, and indoor and outdoor security cameras.
- Protective Charm: Bobby gives Sam and Dean small metal charms to fend off possession.
- Revenge: What Meg claims to be after. Of course, even that's questionable, given the character...
- Room Full of Crazy: Steve Wandell has drawings of Lucifer, newsclippings, maps, and weather charts and diagrams of storms, in a locked closet in his home.
- Ship Sinking: For Dean/Jo. Sam says that Dean doesn't like her that way, thinking of her as more of a little sister, much to Jo's anger. Later on, Jo recognizes that Dean doesn't see her as an equal and that he won't call her, even though he says he will.
- Sibling Triangle: Evil!Sam expresses his interest in Jo, and explains that Dean could never return her feelings because Dean thinks of her like a little sister.
- Slashed Throat: Steve Wandell.
- Slipping a Mickey: A rare non-rapey example: Bobby laces his visitors' beers with holy water to check for monsters. This saves his life from Possessed!Sam.Bobby: Don't try to con a con man.
- Stealth Pun:
- Jack Mahogoff, the name on Dean's phone account. Sound it out slowly.
- Evil!Sam tells Bobby Dean is "in way over his head", believing Dean is still under the waters of Lake Superior.
- Stock Footage: The scene of Dean driving into Twin Lakes seems to be footage from "Phantom Traveler" (S01, E04) with digital alteration of the road sign. The same footage was also used in "Home" (S01, E09).
- Superdickery: Caused by Demonic Possession.
- Super Smoke: The demon leaving Sam and going up the chimney.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: "The Crystal Ship" by The Doors makes the scene with a bound Jo and Evil!Sam even more creepy.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: The Meg demon possesses Sam.Dean: Dude, you—you, like, full-on had a girl inside you for like a whole week. That's pretty naughty.
- Swiss Cheese Security: The disabled alarm system at Steve Wandell's home.
- Themed Aliases: Even though Sam is not himself, he chooses a guitarist for his alias.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Dean tells Jo he will tie her back to the post if she tries to go with him.
- Titled After the Song: An often-covered song by Albert King.
- Tracking Device: Dean gets the phone company to unlock the GPS on Sam's phone by claiming his son, Sammy, is a diabetic he is worried about after not coming home on time after a Justin Timberlake concert.
- Wall of Weapons: Sam uses Dean's lockpick to open a closet at Steve Wandell's home and finds one, the first clue that Wandell was a hunter.
- Wanderlust Song: "Back on the Road Again" by REO Speedwagon plays during the final scene with Dean and Sam in the car.
- We Have to Get the Bullet Out: Jo digs the bullet out of Dean's shoulder.
- Western Zodiac: Steven Wandell has a chart of astrological symbols in his locked closet.