Monday, May 16, 2011

Supernatural - 1.03 - Dead in the Water - Retro Recap

Note - This episode made Supernatural appointment TV for me and solidified my love of all things Winchester. While many dismiss Dead in the Water as another monster of the week episode (and it is), I can pinpoint the exact moment my heart belonged to Supernatural. I haven't been disappointed in that love yet. It was Sept. 27, 2005…

Previously, Dean took baby Sam to safety, Mary burned, John went missing 22 years later, Sam left hunting but came back after Jessica burned, John left his journal, the family business is saving people & hunting things

At Lake Manitoc in Wisconsin, a hearty Northern girl readies for a bracing swim. She says morning to her dad while her brother quips, "All these workouts sis, I don't know. Guys don't like buff girls." Sis: "Yeah well girls don't like guys who still live at home." I'd like these two if they didn't scream Goner. Special K gets product placed and we get an underwater shot of her swimming. You were so doing the Jaws theme in your head too. We hear a voice whisper but can't make it out. All of a sudden Sophie Carlton gets dragged down. Goner. The lake is peaceful afterwards.

Dean eats at the Lynnwood Inn, circling obituaries and flirting with Hot Waitress. He's a multitasker. Hot Waitress asks if he wants anything else as he chews on a pen. (Add pen envy joke here.) Sam intervenes, asking for the check to Dean's dismay. "You know Sam, we are allowed to have fun once in a while. That's Fun." Sam eye rolls; Dean sighs. He shows Sam Sophie's obit and exposits that 2 other people drowned that year and they dragged the lake to no avail. No bodies were found. Sam wonders about a funeral with no body and Dean says closure. Sam: "Closure? What closure? People don't just disappear Dean. Other people just stop looking for them." Sam mentions the trail for John is cold. Dean wonders what they can do about it and Sam says "something, anything." I guess they've had this conversation before because Dean's had it. "You know what, I'm sick of this attitude. You don't think I want to find dad as much as you do?...I'm the one that's been with him every single day for the past 2 years while you've been off to college going to pep rallies. We will find dad but until then, we're going to kill everything bad between here and there. Okay?" (Argh annoying 2 vs. 4 year timeline issue.) When I first saw this episode, I cheered Dean's scolding but I do see Sam's point. He's reeling from Jessica's death. Still, checking out Sophie's disappearance can't hurt if they don't have any leads anyway. Sam eye rolls again, making him look 12. Now that Sam's ready, Dean's too busy focusing on Fun. Ugh! How do they get anything done? By the way, this is one of the first hints that Dean has issues with Sam going to college while he hunted. Stay tuned for more on that as the season progresses.

They head to the Carlton house and introduce themselves as Agents Ford and Hamill of US Wildlife Service. Nice Star Wars nod. Will Carlton exposits the drowning while his dad, Bill, sits forlornly on the dock. Will saw Sophie go under, no splashing, no animals. Dean walks away but Sam asks about Bill. Will politely tells them to leave Bill alone so they head to the police station. Sheriff Jake wonders why the Wildlife Service cares about a drowning and Sam questions how she drowned. The sheriff says no carnivorous animals live in the lake "unless it's the Loch Ness Monster." Didn't Bobby confirm Nessie in season 6? The sheriff blames Will's traumatized mind and reminds us they dragged the lake and sonar swept. Still it's weird that 3 people have gone missing. The sheriff reminds us of his affection for those people. I love the actor playing the sheriff - Daniel Hugh Kelly. He does a great job here. He states it won't be a problem soon because of the dam. Dean and Sam clearly don't know what he's talking about. Dean wings it but no dice. The dam is shutting down. "In another 6 months there won't be much of a lake. There won't be much of a town either. But as Federal Wildlife, you already knew that." Uh oh, BUSTED.

The sheriff's daughter, Andrea Barr, interrupts. Hi, Amy Acker of Angel fame. I really like her too. Awesome casting all around. Dean swaggers over not caring that her father, the sheriff, is in the room. Sheriff Jake mentions the lake and Andrea gets quiet. Her son Lucas pokes his head out at the news too. Dean asks his name but he rushes off with Andrea following. Sheriff: "My grandson's been through a lot. We all have." Sad pianos ping, Jake rushes them out, and Dean asks about a "reasonably priced" motel. Andrea gives him simple directions but he asks if she'll show them the way. This time Sam's eye roll amuses me. Andrea: "You want me to walk you 2 blocks?" She's heading that way and tells her dad and Lucas goodbye, making plans to take Lucas to the park at 3. Jake smirks about Dean obviously hitting on his daughter. On the way to the hotel, Dean makes kid small talk but Andrea's my kind of woman. "It must be hard with your sense of direction never being able to find your way to a decent pick up line." BWAH!!! I love her! She has to return! Dean's baffled but Sam enjoys the snark. Sam: "Kids are the best? You don't even like kids." Dean disagrees. Sam challenges, "Name 3 children that you even know." In a classic season 1 move, Dean scratches his head. "I'm thinking."

They get a room at the Lakefront Motel and Dean sniff-tests laundry while Sam researches. There have been 6 more drownings in 25 years - no bodies. Dean ponders lake monster but Sam disagrees because no one's seen anything. Dean looks over his shoulder and sees Christopher Barr mentioned. He remembers the name so Sam pulls up the article. Christopher Barr was Andrea's husband. Lucas was with him when he drowned and was stuck on a float for 2 hours. The brothers look disturbed by this. Sam: "Maybe we have an eyewitness after all." Dean: "No wonder that kid was so freaked out. Watching one of your parents die isn't something you just get over." We realize Dean and Lucas have something in common. Until this time Dean has been the rebellious hero with great snark and an eye for women. He's been angry, funny, protective, and definitely cocky but not really vulnerable. In fact, he bordered a flat character and could have been one easily without Jensen Ackles' acting. It's one reason why this episode is so special to me. We see a side of Dean he's used to hiding which develops the character.

At the park, Dean walks to Lucas. Andrea: "Tell your friend this whole Jerry Maguire thing is not going to work on me." Sam: "I don't think that's what this is about." Lucas is drawing. Dean plays with his army men and then says, "So crayons is more your thing. That's cool. Chicks dig artists." I start a Sammy eye roll but Dean looks through the art. There's black circles and a red bike. Dean invites himself to draw but Lucas remains silent. "You know I'm thinking you can hear me. You just don't want to talk. I don't know exactly what happened to your dad but I know it was something real bad. I think I know how you feel. When I was your age, I saw something... (he pauses) Anyway, maybe you don't think anyone will listen to you or uh believe you but I want you to know that I will. You don't even have to say anything. You could draw me a picture about what you saw that day with your dad on the lake." Lucas still doesn't respond so Dean gives him the drawing he made. It's a stick figure family. His words stick in his throat when he mentions his mom. "Alright, so I'm a sucky artist. I'll see you around Lucas." It's hard to explain why this scene always gets to me, especially as the years go by. Jensen Ackles has a way with pauses and inflection that lets you see the character's pain without sitting an emoangsty talkfest. This is the first time I felt truly sympathetic towards Dean, but it's not the moment I fell in love with this series.

As Dean rejoins Andrea and Sam, Lucas picks up Dean's drawing. Andrea tells them about how Lucas changed after the accident. Before he was vibrant and active but now he's suffering from post-traumatic stress and spends all his time drawing and playing with army men. Lucas won't talk to anyone so they moved in with her dad. Dean: "Kids are strong. You'd be surprised what they can deal with." Lucas joins them, handing Dean a picture of a house. He says thanks while Andrea stares in shock. At his house, Bill Carlton is also staring but in grief. Will says he should eat and starts cutting up fish. I remember thinking that was gross. Supernatural has taken me a long way from severed fish heads in 6 years. The pipes churn out gunky water and even though Will turns the water off more rushes in the sink. The same creepy voice says, "Come play with me." I guess Will doesn't hear it because instead of running from the room, he sticks his hand in the sink. This a good idea? Since the background music gets shrill, I think something will happen when he pulls the drain but no. It's not until he shoves his hand in a second time that something pulls him in. I jump every single time! Bye, Will. He drowns in the sink and the water drains out. Supernatural season 1 - making viewers everywhere fear the kitchen sink. Seriously, keep watching season 1. It gets brutal.

Later, Sam enters the motel. "So, I think it's safe to say we can rule out Nessie." He recaps Will's death. Dean guesses water wraith "or something that controls water….Water that comes from the same source." Sam figures the baddie has been "upping the body count" because the lake's draining. "Whatever this thing is, whatever it wants, it's running out of time." I like that twist. No one's safe since it goes through pipes and it's all tied to Bill Carlton, as it took his kids and his godson, Chris Barr. They interview Bill but he's distraught. "My children are gone. It's worse than dying. Go away, please." The brothers discuss as they walk back to the Impala. Dean: "I think the poor guy's been through hell. I also think he's not telling us something." They ponder what to do when Dean realizes Lucas drew the Carlton house. "Maybe Bill's not the only one who knows something." They head to the sheriff's house.

Andrea's against questioning Lucas, especially since he won't speak. Sam soft voices that someone else could be hurt and they need to stop it. He's very good at that! Andrea says they were accidents and Dean calls her on it. "If that's what you really believe, then we'll go. But if you think there's even a possibility that something else could be going on here, please let me talk to your son." Upstairs Lucas draws with army men around him. Generally talking for info is Sam's specialty, but since Dean already made a connection to Lucas, he goes in while Sam and Andrea stand by the door. He crouches low and squats to Lucas' level. "You know, I wanted to thank you for that last drawing. The thing is I need your help again." Lucas doesn't respond so Dean pulls out Lucas' drawing and asks why he drew it. "Did you know something bad was going to happen? Maybe you could nod yes or no for me." Lucas does neither; Dean has a revelation. "You're scared. It's okay. I understand. See when I was your age, I saw something real bad happen to my mom and I was scared too." Sam reacts in surprise. So do I because it's unlike Dean to admit it. "I didn't feel like talking just like you. But see my mom, I know she wanted me to be brave. I think about that every day and I do my best to be brave. And maybe your dad wants you to be brave too." Lucas drops the crayon and looks at him. Andrea holds her breath as Lucas gives Dean a new picture. "Thanks Lucas." This scene won my Supernatural devotion. I'm a sucker for brother stories so that was a plus, and my heart melts when grown men get eye level to children and talk to them instead of at them. It's the teacher in me. However Dean's vulnerability here had me at my TV screen every Tuesday that season. Dean prides himself on being tough, but this time when the case demanded it and when Lucas needed to know he wasn't alone, Dean stepped up to his worst fear - vulnerability - and let a piece of himself he typically locks up come seeping out. This scene made Dean's character for me. Until then, I was intrigued by Dean but empathetic to Sam. By letting me see both brothers' pain, Supernatural hooked me for life.

Back in Metallicar, we learn Lucas never drew pictures until the accident. Sam exposits that trauma can make people "more sensitive to premonitions, psychic tendencies.." Dean interrupts saying Lucas is tapping into it. He wants to follow Lucas' lead and since Sam doesn't have a better idea, they look for a yellow 2-story house near a church. "Oo, college boy thinks he's so smart." Ha! Sam is definitely smart. He asks about Dean's conversation with Lucas since he never knew it, but Dean doesn't want to discuss it and I'm good with that too. It keeps chick flick moments to a minimum. Sam sad faces Dean. "..we're not going to have to hug are we?" Bwah! I love Dean snark. They find the house and for unfathomable reasons, the lady lets them enter although they aren't dressed like officers and they ask about a little boy who currently lives there. Her son Peter went missing 35 years earlier. "Losing him, you know it's worse than dying." Sam brings Peter's army men to Dean's attention and Dean asks about the disappearance. Peter was supposed to ride his bike home from school. A picture of Peter on a red bike with Bill Carlton adds more pieces. Bill also realizes what's happening because alone on his deck, he tells Peter he's taken everything. He's figured out what Peter wants. Meanwhile, Dean and Sam lay out the case for slow folks who don't get it. Bill murdered Peter and Peter wants revenge. Unfortunately, by the time they get to the Carlton house, Bill is already on the lake in a boat. As the brothers run to stop him, the boat flips out of the water and Bill goes missing.

At the sheriff station, Lucas silently freaks while Andrea brings dinner to her dad. All three walk in and Sheriff Jake comments on her greeting the Winchesters by their first names. Mentioning Bill Carlton, Andrea asks what's going on. Jake tells her to take Lucas home but he latches on to Dean, scared but unable to speak. Dean crouches down and says it'll be okay. His look to Dean is anything but okay and Andrea leads him out as Jake leads the brothers to his office. He takes their statement about Bill, but is skeptical since Bill is also a great swimmer. Plus, he knows they aren't from Wildlife Services. I love how Sam's jaw drops and he audibly closes it. (snickers) Dean starts to talk his way out of the lie, but Sheriff Jake isn't playing. "Enough. Please. The only reason you're breathing free air is one of Bill's neighbors saw him steering out that boat just before you did. So we have a couple of options here. I can arrest you for impersonating government officials and hold you as material witnesses to Bill Carlton's disappearance OR we can chalk this all up to a bad day. You get into your car, you put this town in your rear view mirror, and you don't EVER darken my doorstep again." Best monologue by a one-shot character in the whole series! Sam: "Door #2 sounds good." Jake: "That's the one I'd pick." This whole scene is made of awesome, especially the acting!

Unfortunately, Lucas is not calm. He sits on his floor drawing a continuous black circle. Andrea gets him back to bed but you know something bad is about to happen, especially as she starts the bathtub. Basic furniture always seems ominous in Supernatural. We cut to the Impala at the road to I-43 North. Dean sits at the light even after it turns green. Sam, sounding annoyed, tells Dean to go and is frustrated when Dean goes the wrong direction. He thinks the job's over since Bill Carlton is dead but Dean disagrees. He worries more people will die. Sam asks why and Dean responds that Lucas was scared. "I just don't want to leave this town until I know the kid's okay." Sam: "Who are you and what have you done with my brother?" Not fair Sam. Dean might have changed as much as you did in those college years. Dean tells him to shut up.

Andrea hops in the tub and let's remember this is Sheriff Jake's house. The same man who earlier said leave or get arrested. That's where they're heading and I understand Sam's hesitation. I hope the sheriff isn't home. The bath water gets gunky again and the creepy voice whispers. Time to exit that tub! Andrea finally realizes she's bathing in lake water and screams. Alas, something won't let her out. Lucas frantically pounds on the bathroom door but can't do anything either. In come the Winchesters to the rescue. Sam questions how late it is, but Dean barely rings the doorbell before Lucas opens the door and runs upstairs. Dean kicks in the door and holds Lucas back while Sam struggles to lift Andrea out. He uses his super strength to rescue her before she drowns. As the sun rises, they sit at a table and Sam uses super puppy eyes to get her to talk. She's in shock but his empathy voice breaks through like it does so often. She's confused and thinks she's crazy, but Sam reassures her. A voice called out, "Come play with me." She breaks down and Sam comforts her. They both do an excellent job in this scene.

In the meantime, Dean finds Jake's old scrapbooks. Apparently, Jake knew Peter too because they were all in Boy Scouts together. The brothers surmise that both Jake and Bill were involved in Peter's death. Before Andrea can get answers, Dean sees Lucas head outside. They follow the mute boy to a spot in the woods by the house. He looks up at Dean and after Andrea and Lucas go back inside, Dean and Sam dig. I can't be the only person who thought they would find Peter's corpse. Instead, it's his red bike, the one Lucas drew over and over again. The sheriff pulls a gun on them as they pull it out. He asks how they knew the bike was there, but Dean confronts him about killing Peter - drowning him and burying the bike. "You can't bury the truth, Jake. Nothing stays buried." I wish the Winchesters applied that to their own lives more. Andrea sees her father from the window and tells Lucas to go to his room, lock it, and stay there until she comes back. She joins her father as the brothers explain that Peter's spirit will kill Andrea and Lucas. Sam: "It's going to drown them and it's gonna drag their bodies God knows where so you can feel the same pain Peter's mom felt. And then after that, it's gonna take you. And it's not gonna stop until it does." Jake calls them insane but that's what happened to Bill. Dean doesn't care what the sheriff thinks as long as they can salt and burn the body.

Lucas watches from the steps outside. I knew the bedroom plan was too good to be true. Peter calls; Lucas heads to the lake. Andrea asks if the Winchesters are right but Jake denies it. "Don't listen to them. They're liars and they're dangerous." Andrea recaps that Peter tried to drown her and her husband died on the lake. Jake can't look her in the face when she demands, "Tell me you didn't kill anyone." Realization slowly sinks in and they do an excellent job of letting their faces tell the story. Jake confesses he and Bill were at the lake when Peter came by. They bullied him before but this time they held him under too long. The body sank into the lake. Jake tells Andrea it was a mistake but they were scared kids. He can't believe Chris' death was from a haunting. "It's not rational." Dean refocuses them by saying they have to get far away from the lake. Not happening as Andrea sees Lucas kneel by the lake.

Jake yells his name and starts running but they're all too late. Before they get there, Peter grabs Lucas' hand and he goes under. Jake sees Peter's creepy, gray body and halts while Dean and Sam jump into the lake. Sam tells Andrea to stay there. The brothers come up for air without Lucas while Jake walks into the lake apologizing to Peter. Andrea tells him to get out but he pleads for Lucas' life, asking Peter to take him not Lucas. Dean yells, but Peter grabs him by the leg and he spirals down making odd little hand motions, almost like he's waving goodbye. Dean's ticked but the focus is on Lucas now. Sam can't hold his breath for long and shakes his head no. He doesn't have Lucas. Then in one of the best shot sequences that season, the sound mutes as operatic music swells. We see Andrea screaming but all we hear is the tension of rising music. You wouldn't think it would work here but it does. The lake is still until we slowly see two heads break the surface. Dean holds Lucas as Andrea cries from the deck. Then the scene fades to black and we're left without confirmation that Lucas is alive. Fantastic scene! One of my favorites.

We open back at Lakefront Motel where Dean and Sam are packed to leave. I wonder why they needed to get their stuff if they were leaving the night before. Someone forgot to call the continuity fairy. Dean slams the Impala door so you know he's upset. Usually he takes great care of his baby. Sam: "Look! We're not going to save everybody." Dean agrees and we don't need to see Lucas alive to know they are talking about Jake. Supernatural does not get us attached to kids and then kill them. You hear that writers! I'm talking about episode 6.21. You better not kill any kid or I'm going to be one sad, miffed viewer. Lucas brings them sandwiches and asks if he can give Dean and Sam the platter. They smile as I rejoice over Lucas talking again. Put that one straight in the Winchester win column. Dean and Lucas put the sandwiches in the car while Sam asks how Andrea is doing. He apologizes for Jake. Andrea: "You saved my son. I can't ask for more than that. Dad loved me. He loved Lucas. No matter what he did, I just have to hold on to that." I truly like this character. I wish she'd return. Sam nods while Dean teaches Lucas a very important phrase. "Zeppelin rules!" They high five and Dean tells him to take care of his mom. He rises as Andrea and Sam join them (so John taught them manners - I still don't like him) and is flustered when Andrea kisses him to say thanks. Are there that many ungrateful people out there who don't thank them? He scratches his head and masks discomfort by telling Sam to move it or they will "run out of daylight before they hit the road." Yeah, since it's what noon now? Sam gives Andrea a knowing look and I laugh with them. Hideous, badly sung music blares where Bad Company is supposed to be playing. Thanks iTunes! And the Impala roars down the road.

I really love this episode. There is top notch acting all around, except maybe Peter's mom. The guest stars were perfect and I wish they'd bring back Andrea and Lucas. Maybe not for a whole episode, but surely they would be welcomed for the night whenever they are in Wisconsin. I want to know how they're doing. However, for me this episode rests on the previously undiscovered depths in Dean. It took Dean from a one-note, flat character and made him sympathetic. Before this, Dean often appeared to be a jerk to Sam, cops, and well everyone. This episode gave him the vulnerability he desperately needed and for me made this a story about 2 brother s coping with hardships life has always thrown at them. It scores bonus points for revealing these details without making the scene maudlin, a flaw of season 4 and 5 in my opinion. All in all, I feel that Dead in the Water rarely gets the recognition it is due because it is at heart a monster-of-the-week story. But it's the heart underlying the plot that makes it one of my top 5 episodes of season 1. After all, this is where Supernatural became my favorite TV show and it has remained that way for six seasons. Not bad for 43 minutes and 24 seconds.

Screencaps by RC Caps and Screencap Paradise.
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