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Recap / Supernatural S02 E16: "Roadkill"

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Recap of Supernatural
Season 2, Episode 16:

This is really what you guys do? You're like Ghostbusters?
Molly: What happens if you burn their bones?
Sam: My dad always said it's like death for spirits. But the truth is, we never know. Guess that's why we all hold on to life so hard. Even the dead. We're all just scared of the unknown.

Written by Raelle Tucker.

Directed by Charles Beeson.

Airdate: March 15, 2007.

Sam and Dean investigate a stretch of Highway 41 that's haunted for one night each year.

Dean and Sam are driving along Highway 41 near Nevada City, California when a woman runs out in front of the Impala screaming for help. Dean slams on the brakes, halting the car just before hitting the woman, and Sam rolls down the passenger-side window and asks the woman what happened. She explains that her name is Molly McNamara, and she was in a car accident when she swerved to miss a man standing in the middle of the road. When she came to after the accident, her husband was missing. She started looking for her husband in the woods, but then came across the man she swerved to miss. This man had horrific wounds and started chasing her through the woods. Sam tries to convince her to let them take her someplace safe, but she will not leave until they find her husband and asks them to take her back to her car.


When they arrive at the tree where the car crashed, the car is gone. Dean convinces Molly they need to report what happened to the police, and they drive down the road in the Impala. The car radio starts playing "The House of the Rising Sun" all on its own, which is the same song that was playing when Molly's car crashed. The radio then crackles into static and a voice says, "She's mine. She's mine. She's mine." The same man who caused Molly to swerve and crash her car appears in the middle of the road in front of the Impala, but Dean speeds forward and the man dissolves in a black cloud as the Impala strikes him. The Impala's engine then sputters and dies as Dean pulls to the side of the road.

Dean opens the trunk of the Impala and starts loading a sawed-off shotgun with rock salt. Molly freaks out when she sees the weapons in the trunk. Sam and Dean explain to her that it is no accident they found her: they are hunting the ghost of Jonah Greely, who haunts this stretch of highway each year on the anniversary of his death 15 years ago. They convince Molly to help them find Jonah Greely's body so they can put him to rest. As they start searching in the woods, Molly hears a man—who she thinks is her husband—call out for help, goes looking for him, and is caught by the spirit of Jonah Greely. Dean shoots the spirit with rock salt and rescues her.


They find the abandoned home of Jonah Greely and start searching it for any records of where his body is buried. Dean finds a hidden room which contains the dead body of Jonah's wife, Marion Greely, hanging from the ceiling by her neck. Sam and Dean cut her down and bury her body. Molly overhears Sam and Dean talking about her husband, but before she can get any information out of them, "The House of the Rising Sun" starts to play on the unplugged radio in the Greely home. The pane of glass in the kitchen door then frosts over, revealing the words "SHE'S MINE". Jonah Greely then smashes the window and drags Molly through it. Sam and Dean chase after him, but can't find him or Molly.

Sam and Dean open up a scrapbook, looking for a clue about where Jonah Greely's body is buried. Sam notices a picture of the hunting shed taken a couple of weeks before Jonah died, with Jonah and Marion standing in front of the shed in a spot where a tree now stands. Sam realizes the tree must have been planted as a grave marker, and they take off for the hunting shed. As they approach, they hear Molly screaming from inside the shed. Dean goes to help her while Sam works on digging up Jonah's body. Jonah has Molly hanging from a hook in the shed and is using his nails to rip into her skin. Dean shoots him with rock salt, but Jonah reappears behind Dean and tosses him against a wall. As Jonah approaches Dean with a knife, Jonah goes up in flames because Sam has found, salted, and burned his bones.

Dean and Sam then convince Molly to leave with them in the Impala, saying they'll take her to see her husband. They pull up to a house and see David drinking coffee in a bathrobe as another woman kisses him. Sam and Dean explain to Molly that she died in the car accident 15 years ago and that Jonah tortured her for one night every year because she was the one that killed him. Molly wants to talk to her husband, but Sam and Dean convince her that he has moved on and now it is time for her to move on. Molly accepts this and dissolves into light as the sun rises.

Body count:

For this episode = 2 humans and 2 ghosts, although the ghosts that die are also the same 2 humans that died in the teaser.

For the series so far = At least 180 humans; 14 ghosts; 5 vampires; 2 shapeshifters; 1 demon; 1 god; 1 rakshasa; 1 rawhead; 1 shtriga; 1 wendigo; 1 zombie.

Tropes appearing in this episode:

  • Absurdly Sharp Claws: Jonah Greely uses his bloody fingernails to slice open Molly's skin.
  • Answers to the Name of God: Dean.
    Molly: Oh, thank God.
    Dean: Call me Dean.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Molly's shirt has a tendency to ride up, especially when Jonah is torturing her while she dangles from a hook with her hands above her head.
  • Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: The variation where the ghost appears in front of a moving car.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: When Jonah drops his knife as he goes up in flames, the blade ends up buried in the floorboards of the shed.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Jonah Greely when he turns around in the teaser.
  • Bookcase Passage: Dean finds a hidden room which contains the body of Jonah Greely's wife.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The disappearance of Molly's car and husband.
  • Closed Circle: Jonah's spirit is attached to the location where his body is buried, which is why he will not permit Molly to leave the area.
  • Cobweb of Disuse: Jonah's home is full of cobwebs.
  • Commonality Connection: Sam says he "knows how that goes" when Molly says she and David only really fought when they were "stuck in the car" together, but Dean gives Sam a look which suggests he does not appreciate Sam's remark.
  • Cue the Sun: The sun rises as Molly realizes she must move on and face her new fate.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Jonah Greely was lost in a desire for revenge when his death causes his wife's suicide.
    Molly: It's a love letter he wrote her. My god, it's beautiful. I don't understand how a guy like this can turn into that monster.
    Sam: Spirits like Greeley are, wounded animals. Lost. In so much pain that they lash out.
  • Dangerous Windows: Jonah smashes the window next to where Molly is standing and pulls her through it.
  • Dead All Along: Molly does not know she is dead.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Dean shoots Jonah with rock salt.
  • Destination Defenestration: After Jonah smashes the window and escapes with Molly, Sam and Dean both jump through the smashed window trying to catch them.
  • Directionless Driver: Lampshaded by Molly.
    Molly: Come on. Isn't this argument a little archaic? Men can ask directions these days.
    David: No, we can't. It's against our genetic code. Look, I know exactly where we are.
  • Disappears into Light: Molly transforms into light as the sun rises.
  • Dramatic Thunder: A rumble of thunder is heard as Molly approaches the hunting shack in the teaser.
  • Driven to Suicide: Jonah Greely's wife hanged herself after his death.
  • Driver Faces Passenger: Subverted Trope, with Molly's teasing and glances towards her husband contributing to the accident. Too bad she didn't have Dean's skills, who manages quite a few prolonged glances towards Sam while driving.
  • Due to the Dead: Sam insists they bury the body of Jonah Greely's wife.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: Jonah Greely has a thing for playing "The House of the Rising Sun" on the radio. He can also talk over the radio and kill the Impala's engine.
  • Establishing Shot: After the car crashes in the teaser, a shot is shown of the car in the snow-covered woods from above through the branches of the trees. Then the camera spirals downwards to show the smashed windshield and Molly's face.
  • Face Framed in Shadow/Hollywood Darkness: Molly and David's faces are clearly illuminated despite driving along a rural road without the internal car lights on. Molly and Jonah get the same treatment in the hunting shed, which is lit by a single candle. This continues throughout the episode, with most of it taking place in dark woods or an abandoned house with two flashlights as the only light sources.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: When Molly enters the hunting shed, Jonah has his back turned towards her. He turns around to reveal his fatal wound.
  • Finally Found the Body:
    • Dean finds the body of Jonah Greely's wife, who disappeared in 1992.
    • The body of Jonah Greely is under a tree his wife planted in front of the hunting shed on the 1000 acres of land they owned.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: The bit of proof Molly gets to realize she's a ghost? Her being informed that it's 2007, not 1992.
  • Foreshadowing: When Molly asks them what they're hunting, Deans says "Ghosts." Plural, rather than "a ghost," which would be the expected line if they were only after Jonah Greely.
    • A small example. At the beginning when Molly rushes onto the street, and Dean nearly runs into her, note that the camera only focuses on Dean and his reaction to Molly in the street, we don't see Sam's. At the end of the episode, it's shown that Sam, at that moment, was surmising that Molly doesn't know she's dead.
  • Ghost Advocate: Sam argues that ghosts deserve sympathy.
    Sam: Well, they weren't evil people, you know? A lot of them were good. Just...something happened to them. Something they couldn't control.
  • Ghostly Chill: Jonah Greely frosts over the glass pane in the door, and the words "SHE'S MINE" appear in the frost.
  • Go into the Light: Molly after coming to terms with her unfinished business.
  • Gutted Like a Fish: Jonah has a large gaping abdominal wound from being struck by the car.
  • Haunted House: Jonah Greely's home, which is lampshaded by Dean.
    Dean: You know, just once I'd like to round the corner and see a nice house.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Molly McNamara crashes her car and dies on her 5th wedding anniversary.
  • Left the Background Music On: "The House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals plays on the car radio, first when Molly is driving before the accident, and again when Sam and Dean are driving. It also plays on the radio in Jonah Greely's house, even though the radio is unplugged.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: The presence of Molly allows Sam and Dean to provide exposition about their roles as ghost hunters, salting and burning a ghost's remains, the power of salt, and ghosts' motivations.
  • A Light in the Distance: Molly sees the candle in the window of the hunting shack.
  • Logical Weakness: Ghosts' susceptibility to salt is explained, turning a Weaksauce Weakness into a logical one. Turns out that salt, as a symbol of purity, repels the impure, like ghosts and demons. According to Sam, it's for much the same reason as throwing salt over your shoulder.
  • Love Letter: Jonah's letters to Marion are kept in a scrapbook with photos of the couple. One, which is on a wrinkled sticky note under the photo that shows the hunting shed without the tree, reads, "Marion, I love you XXX OOO more as I write this than I did last night when we spoke with deep and tender love. Jonah".
  • Mind over Matter: Jonah's spirit is able to toss Dean against the wall with the gesture of his hand.
  • Mr. Exposition: Sam serves this role yet again. Lampshaded by Dean:
    Dean: You're like a walking encyclopedia of weirdness.
  • My Car Hates Me: Jonah is able to kill the Impala's engine. Dean tries to restart the car, but the engine only sputters.
  • Nightmare Face: After Jonah Greely turns around in the trailer, his face seems to rot away.
  • Noisy Nature: After the car crashes in the teaser, we hear Stock Sound Effects of crickets chirping and owls trilling.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Molly does not want to leave the site of the accident without her husband.
  • No Sense of Direction: David McNamara has managed to get them lost despite having a map. He believes they are on Route 99 when they are actually on Route 41.
  • Oh, Crap!: Dean has an epic one on his face when Molly runs in front of the Impala and he's trying to stop before hitting her. Justified in that it's late at night, the road is icy, she came out of nowhere, and he's driving a 3500-pound muscle car that doesn't have anti-lock brakes.
  • Ominous Fog: The fog along Route 41.
  • Ominously Open Door: After knocking on the door of the hunting shed in the teaser, Molly tries turning the door knob and finds it is unlocked.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The scenes of Molly's accident and her interactions with the Winchesters are replayed at the end of the episode, but these scenes are interspersed with scenes of Sam and Dean researching and discussing the case with each other.
  • Parting-Words Regret: Molly becomes tearful as she recalls arguing with David and calling him a jerk just before the accident.
  • P.O.V. Cam: The teaser has a few shots from the viewpoint of someone inside the car, including the headlights on the wet asphalt, the car radio dial, the trees through the windshield as they careen off the road, and the smashed wind shield.
  • Quieting the Unquiet Dead: Molly is a rare case of a ghost peacefully and voluntarily moving on. When the Winchesters help her understand that she died in the car crash but her husband is safe, she Disappears into Light.
  • Race Against the Clock: Sam and Dean have until sunrise to wrap things up. If they fail, they will need to wait another year.
  • Rules of the Road: The episode opens with a close-up on road sign showing a vehicle tipping over.
  • Rustproof Blood: The red blood staining the table in the hunting shed.
  • Scare Chord: Used when Molly gets out of the car and starts calling for her husband. These increase as she approaches the hunting shack.
  • Screaming Woman: Molly McNamara.
  • Shortcuts Make Long Delays: David insists they are not lost and the route they are taking is a shortcut.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Molly compares Sam and Dean to the Ghostbusters.
      Molly: Is is really what you guys do? You're like Ghostbusters?
      Sam: Yeah.
      Dean: Minus the jumpsuits.
    • Dean makes a reference to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:
      Dean: Follow the creepy brick road.
    • Dean compares Sam to Melinda in Ghost Whisperer.
      Dean: Sammy's always getting a little J. Love Hewitt when it comes to things like this.
    • Dean calls Sam "Haley Joel" again, referring to the character he played in The Sixth Sense.
  • Smash to Black: After the car smashes into the tree in the teaser, there's a black screen, which is followed by seeing the crashed car from above. After Molly sees Jonah Greely's abdominal wound and his face rot away in the teaser, there's a cut to a black screen.
  • Snow Means Death: The snow along the sides of the road where the car crashes.
  • Spiritual Sequel: Not only is there a shout-out to The Sixth Sense, the story structure is basically the same. it opens with the death of the ghost protagonist, Molly, who doesn't know she is dead. Although it's not revealed to the audience, the Winchesters know she is a ghost, and they allow her to go on a journey of discover in order to put her soul to rest.
  • Super Smoke: When Dean drives the Impala through Jonah Greely or shoots him with rock salt, Jonah dissolves into black smoke.
  • Super Window Jump: Jonah Greely smashes through the window to snatch Molly.
  • Tempting Fate: After they drive through Jonah Greely, Sam says, "Don't worry, Molly. Everything's gonna be all right." Of course, the Impala's engine dies after this, and Dean says, "Spoke a little too soon, Sammy."
  • Title Drop: Dean refers to Jonah Greely as "Farmer Roadkill".
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Molly.
  • Undeath Always Ends: Sam and Dean admit that they don't know what happens to ghosts after they burn their bones.
    Molly: You hunt these things, but you don't know what happens to them?
    Dean: Well, they never come back. That's all that matters.
    Sam: After they let go of whatever's keeping them here, they...they just go. I hope someplace better, but we don't know. No one does.
  • Unfinished Business: Molly is bound to the earth by her concern for her husband.
    Sam: Well, there's some part of them that...that's keeping them here. Like, their remains, or, um...unfinished business.
    Molly: Unfinished business?
    Sam: Yeah. It could be revenge. Could be love. Or hate. Whatever it is, they just hold on too tight. Can't let go. So they're trapped. Caught in the same loops. Replaying the same tragedies over and over.
  • Wall of Weapons:
    • The walls of Jonah's hunting shack are lined with tools, including knives and meat hooks.
    • Molly freaks out when she sees the armory in the trunk of the Impala when Dean opens the trunk and pulls out a sawed-off shotgun.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Molly assumes Dean and Sam are serial killers or something along that line when she sees all the weapons in the trunk of the Impala, but is fairly easily convinced that they're ghost hunters by Dean's blunt explanation with Sam's gentler additions.