Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Supernatural S 04 E 03 In The Beginning

Go To

Recap of Supernatural
Season 4, Episode 3:

In The Beginning
Three generations of the Campbell family.

You must stop it.
Castiel to Dean Winchester

Written by Jeremy Carver.

Directed by Steve Boyum.

Air Date: October 2, 2008.

Castiel sends Dean back in time, and quite vaguely tells him "to stop it". Dean wanders into a café, and ends up talking to his dad, John Winchester, who seems genuinely nice, and even buys Dean coffee. Dean pays him back by convincing him not to buy a van, but a certain Chevy Impala instead, and says his surname is Van Halen.

He thinks that something is after John, though, and follows him. He sees his mother Mary, who, in his own words, is a "babe", but also a kick-ass hunter. He's invited to dinner, meets his grandparents, and steals the Colt, so he can finally kill the Yellow-Eyed Demon, who will eventually kill Mary otherwise. Castiel appears, and reminds Dean if he kills Yellow Eyes, then he won't grow up to be a hunter, and all the people he saved won't be saved at all. Dean knows this, but fires ahead with the plan anyway.

Yellow Eyes has his own plans—he grants people a wish, and all he wants in return is permission. Permission to come into your house in ten years' time and bleed demon blood into your child's mouth, admittedly. Mary and her dad fight Yellow Eyes, and he takes a liking to Mary. Uh-oh. Eventually, Dean confides to his granddad what's going on, knowing that Yellow Eyes' interest in his mum will kill her, only to find out Yellow Eyes is possessing Granddad right then and there. Lucky Dean doesn't trust anyone with the Colt, not even family. Granddad and Granny are killed, and to top it all off, Yellow Eyes kills John Winchester.

The demon offers Mary a deal. He'll bring John back to life, at a price. Permission. Dean bursts onto the scene, but it's too late. Mary agrees to the deal, creating a Stable Time Loop and condemning them all to their fates without knowing it. Castiel returns, telling Dean that now that he knows how Sam got demon blood, he needs to stop him from using the powers, or they will. "They" being God's army of course.

Body count

For this episode = 4 humans.

For the series so far = At least 267 humans (of which 3 were witches), 14 demons, 24 ghosts, 10 vampires, 6 changelings, 3 gods, 2 shapeshifters, 2 werewolves, 1 crocotta, 1 djinn, 1 rakshasa, 1 rawhead, 1 shtriga, 1 wendigo, 1 zombie, and 1 dog.


  • Action Girlfriend: Mary. Downplayed since John is a war vet but Mary was hunting before John ever knew demons and other monsters existed.
  • Badass Family: The Campbell clan.
  • Bad Habits: Dean and Samuel dress up as priests in order to question a family.
  • Big Bad: Azazel, who has been making deals with people in order to cultivate his special children. It's revealed he killed Sam and Dean's grandparents, and that he made a deal with Mary in order to bring back John from the dead.
  • Big "NO!": Deanna shouts “No!” when Azazel stabs himself, mortally wounding his host - her husband, Samuel.
  • Cool Car: We finally see how and why John purchases the Impala.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Dean and Sam were named after Mary's parents, Deanna and Samuel Campbell.
  • Deal with the Devil: Azazel with multiple people. Mary makes a deal with it, dooming Sam and the rest of her future family.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Dean makes pop-culture references from the future and keeps expecting 21st-century technology.
  • Forced to Watch: Azazel does this to Dean by stabbing himself while he is possessing Samuel. In doing so, he unknowingly does this to Deanna who was hiding in the doorway and witnessed the stabbing. Being married to Samuel, she takes it much worse than Dean.
  • I'm Going to Hell for This
    Dean: Sammy, wherever you are, Mom is a babe. [Beat]. I'm going to hell. [Beat]. Again.
  • Implied Death Threat: "Your brother is heading down a dangerous road, Dean. So stop it. Or we will."
  • I'm Mr. [Future Pop Culture Reference]
  • Irony: In general, this episode is practically swimming in irony.
    • Mary telling Dean that the worst thing would be having her children be raised as hunters.
    • Mary's adoration of kind, sweet John who is "everything a hunter isn't" and making the plot-triggering deal to bring him back, when John will become everything that she hates as a direct result of her death...which in and of itself is an unintended side-effect of her deal.
  • Just Between You and Me: For once, defied by Azazel. Give that demon a round of applause! He refuses to tell Dean much of anything because he knows that the angels would find out through Dean. He did tell him that he would give Sam demon blood (which the audience knew but Dean didn't) and that his plan was way bigger than just making a psychic soldier for his demon army, but, hey, baby steps.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Zig-zagged. Initially, Deanna is faced with the possibility of having to shoot possessed!Samuel but clearly can't bring herself to go through with it. Only for Samuel to be forced to snap Deanna's neck while possessed after she blows her cover and Azazel decides to kill her.
  • Malt Shop: Mary and John's idea of a date is going out to drink milkshakes. In 1973.
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: Dean gets dropped in the past by Castiel without much explanation.
    "What, you're allergic to straight answers you son-of-a-bitch?!"
  • Newspaper Dating: Dean realizes he's been sent back in time when he goes into a diner and sees the date on the newspaper of the man next to him (who happens to be his dad).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Dean's attempts to change the past is what attracts Azazel to Mary, leading her to make a deal and condemn her family to a life of hunting.
    • Mary's deal-making (see above) is what enabled Azazel to feed Sam demon blood and set the whole damn plot in motion, including her own death, John going off the rails and selling his soul later on, Sam being taken to Cold Oak and killed, Dean going to Hell...
  • No. Just... No: What Dean says when May asks Samuel if he'd rather she be with someone like him (Dean) than John.
  • Nothing Personal: Azazel sees murdering Mary's parents and her boyfriend as merely the cost of doing business.
  • Out of Focus: One of the few episodes where one brother (here, Sam) gets minimal screen-time.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Combined with Follow in My Footsteps. Samuel Campbell disapproves of John Winchester, whom he views as a civilian.
  • Relative Button
  • Running Gag: Dean using rock bands' members' names as aliases. This time, he's Dean Van Halen.
  • Safe Cracking: Dean stealing the Colt.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Revelations aside, none of Dean's actions change the past. If anything, he made them worse by telling Azazel that he would kill him, which only served to piss Azazel off and give him twenty years or so to build up contingency plans in event of his death. Oops.
  • Shout-Out: When the guy goes back in time, ends up in a diner, hears his name called, and turns to find the guy he's been sitting next to the whole time is his dad. Dean even lampshades it when he confronts Castiel.
    Dean: What, the angels got their hands on some DeLoreans or something?
  • So Happy Together: John is about to propose to Mary, in the new car he bought, when Mary's demon-possessed father drags him out of the Impala and kills him. He then reveals he's fatally stabbed himself and has also killed her mother. This causes Mary to make the wish that leads to her doom and her family's revenge quest.
  • So Much for Stealth: Deanna sneaks into the room behind Azazel and even considers making a dive for the colt. However, before she can work up the will to possibly shoot her possessed husband, Azazel stabs himself to fatally wound Samuel. This understandably causes her to scream, completely blowing her cover and making her Azazel's next target.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Dean is driving alone in the car, then the camera pans around to show Castiel is suddenly riding shotgun.
    Dean: So what...God is my copilot now?
  • Time Travel: Though it's difficult, angels can—on occasion—bend the flow of time. Castiel does so here to send Dean back to 1973 (when John and Mary were teenagers) to find out more about Azazel's plans for Sam.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: John, who Mary describes as "sweet", "kind" and "everything a hunter isn't". This, of course, cranks up the Dramatic Irony of the episode.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Mary, who notices Dean following her and John and attacks him when pretending to go to the bathroom.
  • Wham Line:
    • Dean to Mary:
    Dean: Are you a hunter?
    • When interviewing the witness whose dad was killed, he describes the eyes of the "stranger" who made him a deal:
    Dean: What, were they black? Red?
    Witness: No, they were yellow. Pale yellow.
  • Wham Episode: Mary was a hunter while John was a civilian; she made a deal with Azazel in order to bring John back from the dead, and her worst nightmare was her children being raised as hunters. Also, Azazel had a bigger plan for Sam and the others like him than just making a psychic, demonic child army. Oh, and angels can bend time.
  • You Can't Fight Fate/You Already Changed the Past: More or less the moral of the story.
  • You Have to Believe Me!:
    • Dean tries to convince Samuel and Deanna to help him track and kill Azazel. However, he comes across as a complete lunatic by, among other things, claiming his father could see the future. Unsurprisingly, Samuel and Deanna aren’t taken by his behaviour and decide not to help him.
    • He later tries convincing Samuel to help him again and prefaces what he’s about to say by admitting it sounds unbelievable. After some initial hesitation, Samuel says he believes him. However, it turns out Dean just revealed everything to Azazel, who is currently possessing Samuel.
    • A rather heartbreaking example when Dean tells Mary to not get out of bed on November 2nd, 1983 - the day she'll die.
  • You Killed My Father: Turns out Azazel didn't just kill Sam and Dean's parents, but their grandparents too. However since he's already dead by the time Dean learns this, it doesn't have the same effect it usually does.