Monday, May 30, 2011

Supernatural - 1.04 - Phantom Traveler - Retro Recap

Previously - Mary burned, John disappeared, the wicked curved blade made a solitary appearance (sigh), Dean needed Sam, Jessica burned, John left his journal, Sam wanted revenge, and there were more classic lines in 3 episodes than most shows have in 3 years.

We open to a beautiful beach with vacation music playing in the background. Brothers on vacation? Nope, just an airport ad with an incredibly nervous looking guy in front of it. He heads to the bathroom to wash his face and calm down about flying. A helpful guy tells him the odds of dying in a plane crash "are what? 20,000 to 1." Thanks Helpful Guy, I'm sure he feels much better now. Black smoke pours from the vents and that's never good. Since it enters his eyes, we can rule out fire. Welcome black-eyed demons to Supernatural lore. We're all screwed now. On the plane flight attendant Amanda says hello to pilot Chuck as Demon Eyes boards full of confidence. Amanda welcomes him and he looks at her with his black eyes. She freaks but dismisses it as her imagination because that always goes well on Supernatural. 40 minutes into the flight, Black Eyes opens the emergency door. College Boy shouts but it's too late. The plane goes down and the title card flashes.

The cameraman likes Jensen Ackles and pans his sleeping body. Dean wakes as the motel door opens. He reaches under the pillow but is greeted by Sam. "Good morning sunshine." For the record, I'd kill Sam for being unbearably cheerful at 5:45. Happy morning people irk me. Dean agrees, "In the morning. Where does the day go?" Dean asks if Sam slept and Sam lies. Dean calls him on it. "Liar. 'Cuz I was up at 3 and you were watching the George Foreman infomercial." Sam: "Hey, what can I say? It's riveting TV." No Sam it's not, but there's a show called Supernatural… Dean worries that Sam's not sleeping; Sam says he's fine. Ah, the Winchesters' go-to lie comes early this episode. Sam says he appreciates Dean's concern. Dean lies. "Oh I'm not concerned about you. It's your job to keep my a** alive so I need you sharp." He asks about Sam's nightmares of Jess. Sam admits he still has them and I'm pleasantly shocked. Such emotional honesty. "But it's not just her. It's everything. I just forgot, you know. This job man it gets to ya." Dean: "Well you can't let it. You can't bring it home like that." I've seen Dean's coping methods; you keep being you Sammy. He pushes for honesty. "So never. You're never afraid?" Dean lies through his teeth so Sam pulls out a giant knife Dean stashed under his pillow. What the heck? You could slice your hand off Dean? Why not a gun with the safety on? Plus, motel pillows are pretty flat. How do you sleep with a knife under your head? Dean: "That's not fear. That is precaution." Sam: "Whatever. I'm too tired to argue." With a sibling? That's tired!

Dean's cell rings and he acts like he never gets calls. Weird because his dad is missing. I'd think he'd answer quickly. Jerry Panowski, an airline employee and former poltergeist victim John and Dean helped, calls. Dean asks if it's back but he's got a worse problem. Arriving at his work, Jerry thanks them for coming and for removing the poltergeist. Random background guy: "Poltergeist. I love that movie." Ha! That line makes me laugh each time. "I'll tell you something. If it wasn't for you and your dad, I probably wouldn't be alive." Dean smiles; I love Jerry. It's rare that Dean hears thanks. It's always nice to be appreciated. Jerry doubles my joy, telling Sam that John proudly bragged about him. Sam is incredulous and if it's true score one point for John. (He still sucks though.) Jerry asks about him and Dean says he's busy on a job. Jerry: "Well, we're missing the old man but we get Sam. Even trade, huh." Jerry is made of win and I love the looks Dean gives Sam throughout the conversation.

In Jerry's office, they listen to the cockpit voice recorder for United Britannia Flight #2485. There's EVP on it. The NTSB claims mechanical failure and 7 out of over 100 people survived. Pilot Chuck, Jerry's friend, is distraught about the crash. The brothers ask for passenger manifests, a survivor list, and access to the wreckage. The NTSB doesn't let just anyone traipse over evidence so Dean makes fake ID's at Copy Jack's. Sam's irritated by the wait but Dean checks out a passing hot chick and says, "You can't rush perfection." Sam: "Homeland Security? That's pretty illegal even for us." Dean calls it perfect because people haven't seen it before.

Sam's been busy too. The recorder EVP says "No survivors" in the cheesiest voice possible. The brothers exposit haunted flights, phantom travelers, flight 401, and other things it will NOT turn out to be. They head off to interview College Boy at Riverfront Psychiatric Hospital because he's local and "if anyone saw anything weird, he did." They ask is he saw "strange lights, weird noises maybe, voices." He says no but I'd wonder if they were crazy. Dean wonders why College Boy checked himself into the hospital and he cites stress from the crash. Dean pushes but he claims he was delusional. Dean flat voices, "He was seeing things" to Sam who gives Dean the patience glare and takes over. Smart move. Sam: "It's okay. Just tell us what you thought you saw. Please." He recaps Black Eyes opening the plane door. Sam: "This man, did he seem to appear and disappear rapidly? It would look something like a mirage." College Boy: "What are you, nuts? He was a passenger. He was sitting right in front of me."

Dean and Sam head to the house of Black Eyes, formerly known as George Phelps. Dean refutes anyone's ability to open a plane emergency door midflight. Sam: "Not if you're human. But maybe this guy George was something else. Some kind of creature maybe, in human form?" Dean: "Does that look like a creature's lair to you?" BWAH! Not unless he's the suburbia monster. Inside, Sam picks up Black Eyes' picture and softly questions his wife of 13 years. He was headed to a dental convention (insert bad joke about dying being less painful), but was petrified of flying. Sam asks if there was anything strange about him. "Well, he had acid reflux if that's what you mean." Bwah! This episode gets funnier every time. Love the look the brothers exchange. They leave discussing the case. "Yeah, a middle aged dentist with an ulcer is not exactly evil personified." Ha! Depends on the dentist. I've had a few I swear were Alastair's assistants. Dean wants to check out the wreckage and Sam says they need to shop first.

Outside Mort's for Style, Dean complains about his suit. "Man, I look like one of the Blues Brothers." Sam: "No you don't. You look more like a seventh grader at his first dance." HA!!! Sammy snark - love it. Dean: "I hate this thing." I bet you do. They show their brand new ID's and enter the hangar. Dean pulls out an EMF reader he made out of a busted Walkman. Very creative, Dean. Sammy's a hater not an appreciator though and insults it. JERK! Don't make fun of Dean's handiwork. I don't see you making one. Dean's feelings are hurt and he walks off scanning for a signal. The emergency door handle makes it buzz and they discover yellow powder on it. They scrape some off to test and Dean wipes his hands on Sam's suit. Normally, I'd chastise him but Sam deserves it. Sadly, real Homeland Security shows up and the chase is on. However, they run noisily, giving the brothers ample time to skedaddle. They hop the security fence as alarms blare. "Wow, these monkey suits do come in handy." Why doesn't the hangar have security cameras? Shouldn't they see Dean and Sam escape in the Impala and put an APB out on them?

At the airport, Pilot Chuck and Buddy wait for Chuck's first time flying a plane since the crash. His buddy says he'll be there to take over if Chuck panics or they can wait until later to go up. Chuck says waiting is worse and Buddy heads for the plane. Alas, black demon smoke enters Chuck's eyes. This flight will not end well. However we rejoin Dean and Sam in Jerry's office where Jerry pronounces the yellow powder sulfur. Really? Sulfur? You couldn't tell that by the smell? It has a distinct odor. (I roll my eyes.) Dean looks in the microscope to the sounds of shouts and banging. Jerry: "If you fellows will excuse me, I've got an idiot to fire." HA! I love his matter-of-fact tone. Dean concurs sulfur and they determine it's demons. The black eye thing didn't give it away? I miss young and somewhat naïve Dean and Sam. Dean's not sure about demons. "This goes way beyond floating over a bed or barfing pea soup. I mean it's one thing to possess a person, but to use them to take down an entire airplane?" Neither brother has experienced this before. Chuck's buddy hasn't experienced death either but it's a-comin'. Chuck is now super confident and I'd worry he took happy pills if I were Buddy. They chat in the plane until it 40 minutes go by. Chuck: "Wow, time really does fly." Apparently demons like to repeat their own bad puns. Chuck knocks Buddy out and heads the plane straight for a farmer's field. Bye Pilot Chuck and Buddy.

At the motel, they've redecorated a la John Winchester. One day a maid's going to enter and freak. Sam exposits demon possession throughout world religions and says Japanese demons can cause natural and man-made disasters. Dean: "So what? We've got a demon who's evolved with the times and found a way to ratchet up the body count." Sam suggests that Flight #2485 wasn't the first. Dean scratches his head and Sam asks what's wrong. "I don't know man. This isn't our normal gig. I mean, demons, they don't want anything, just death and destruction for its own sake. I mean this is big and I wish dad was here." Aw Dean. Wait a couple of years and this will seem like a walk in the park. Sam wants John too and the phone rings. At first viewing I thought it might be John. Of course that was before I knew what a jerk he was. Jerry calls about Chuck's plane crash near Nazareth. Dean: "Well try to ignore the irony in that." They head to Nazareth where smoke still billows.

They must have trespassed that crime scene too because they found more sulfur. Dean suggests the demon was tied to Chuck but Sam thinks it's the 40 minutes thing. Dean explains Biblical numerology to Jerry, stating 40 symbolizes death in the Bible but it really means completeness. Sam's research shows 6 other planes crashed at the 40 minute mark. Only Flight #2485 hadsurvivors, explaining why Chuck was targeted. "It's trying to finish the job." Sam calls survivors in an excellent telemarketer voice. AlternaSam might have a great career here. The only one about to fly is Amanda the flight attendant. It's her first day back and they are 5 hours away. Sam calls 3 times and Dean floors the Impala. They've got a plane to catch. Racing into the airport, they have 30 minutes to go. Dean pages Amanda and says her sister's in an accident. His alias - Dr. James Hetfield. Ha! Alas, she just talked to her sister who was studying for finals. Amanda suggests Dean is Vince's friend and he goes with it. He pleads Vince's case and Amanda agrees to talk with him but not until her flight lands. That's a bust. By the way, Amanda is at gate 13. Number omens appear everywhere this episode. Black smoke rustles inside the ventilation again so demons are present.

One plan busted, Sam suggests they board the plane themselves. Dean says hold on but Sam pleads his case. "Dean, that plane is leaving with over 100 passengers aboard and if we're right, that plane is going to crash." And you want to make it 102? Sam says to get anything that will pass security but Dean doesn't move. "Are you okay?" Dean: "No, not really." After I awake from fainting at season 1 Dean admitting he's not fine, I rewind to join Sam's concern. "What? What's wrong?" Dean: "Well, I kind of have this problem with um.." He makes flapping bird gestures and Sam figures it out. "It's never really been an issue until now." Sam: "You're joking, right?' Dean: "Do I look like I'm joking? Why do you think I drive everywhere, Sam?" Well I thought it was tightened security at airports but this is a great way for the writers to explain the frequent cross-country driving. Sam: "Alright, uh, I'll go...I'll do this one on my own." Dean: "What are you nuts? You said it yourself. The plane's going to crash." Sam: "Look Dean we can do it together; I can do this one by myself. I'm not seeing a third option here." Bomb threat? It buys you a little time. One of my favorite Dean lines ever - "C'mon. Really? Man." BWAH! Rush to YouTube and watch it. It's fabulous. In fact, the whole scene is one of my favorites from season 1.

Sadly for Dean, this flight comes with turbulence. Sam: "Just try to relax." Dean: "Just try to shut up." Ah, brothers. Dean freaks at each sound and hums Metallica's "Some Kind of Monster" to calm down. Sam gently tells him to focus and he agrees. The clock is ticking; they've only got 32 minutes left. Dean says demons more easily possess people "with an addiction or some kind of emotional distress." So they check out Amanda first. Dean, still in need of deep breathing, will "go talk to her and get a read on her mental state." He pulls out holy water to see if she's possessed but Sam tells us and Dean demons flinch at God's name. Sam reminds him to say it in Latin and then calls him back to smugly say, "In Latin, it's Christo." Dean mutters impatiently, "Dude I know. I'm not in idiot." Now I don't know Latin but those who do say Sam got it wrong. God is Deus and Christ is either Christus or Christi so no points for Geek Boy. Dean heads back and starts a conversation with Amanda about aerophobia. She admits to a little fear herself but is stronger than that. "Look everybody's scared of something. I'm not going to let it hold me back." Dean's impressed but says "Christo" just in case. He rejoins Sam. "Alright, well, she's got to be the most well-adjusted person on the planet…There's no demon in her. There's no demon getting in her." Back to square one. Well, after the turbulence passes. Dean: "Oh come on, that can't be normal." Sam quiet voices him. "Sam, this plane is going to crash okay so quit treating me like I'm freaking four." Sam gently says to calm down. "Dude stow the touchy-feely self-help yoga crap. It's not working." BWAH! Love that line. Sam: "Listen Dean, you're panicked. You're wide open to demonic possession so you need to calm yourself down right now." That finally gets through and Dean deep breathes in a hilarious manner.

Sam found an exorcism in John's journal and I'm surprised he never made them memorize it. Odd. In fact, given that a demon killed Mary, they know very little about them this episode. What are you hiding John? The exorcism is 2 part. The first expels the demon from the person, making it stronger. Dean and I ask , "And why's that a good thing?" Sam: "Well, because the second part sends the ba*** back to hell once and for all." Dean uses his handy Walkman EMF to scan passengers. Bet you're glad it looks like a radio now, Sam. I love Dean's expression when he sees Tattooed Girl. He's finishes scanning when Sam comes up from behind startling him. 15 minutes left and so far nothing. Dean suggests, "Maybe the thing's just not on the plane." Sam: "You believe that?" Dean: "Well I will if you will." Ha! EMF doesn't lie though and the co-pilot's the winner. He locks himself in the cockpit. Fasten your seatbelts folks because ability to suspend belief in a post-9/11 world jumps right out of the episode.

Since they obviously cannot open that door, they head to Amanda. Sam: "She's not going to believe this." Dean: "12 minutes dude." Dean starts, "This is going to sound nuts but we just don't have time for the 'Truth is out there' speech right now." Love X-Files references but Sam wisely takes over. They know about Flight #2485 and mechanical failure didn't cause it. Dean: "And we need your help because we need to stop it from happening again here, now." Amanda freaks like a normal person but doesn't yell when Dean stops her from leaving. He says they won't hurt her and tells her Chuck Lambert died in a plane crash. Something's wrong with the flight and she admits she saw Black Eyes. Dean needs to talk to the co-pilot and doesn't have time for explanations. Amanda protests she could lose her job. Dean: "Well you're going to lose a lot more than that if you don't help us out." No way an attendant on a plane lures a co-pilot out post-9/11 but Amanda does by pretending something's broken.

The brothers get ready and Dean punches him and duct tapes his mouth. Amanda: "You said you were just going to talk to him." At this point, she should yell for an air marshal, especially when Dean pours on holy water and his flesh blackens and smokes. She must think it's acid. Instead, she obediently stands guard outside the curtain so no one sees what's going on. Crazy lady! Get help. Dean tells Sam to hurry because it's hard to hold demons down. It fights them off and I'm hard pressed to understand why no passenger can hear the fight or the exorcism. It's just a fabric curtain dividing them. The demon undoes the duct tape to tell Sam, "I know what happened to your girlfriend. She must have died screaming. Even now she's burning." Dean punches it out and refocuses Sam, who finishes the ritual and puts John's journal down to restrain the demon. Sadly, it kicks John's journal, sending it flying down the aisle. The demon is expelled from the co-pilot and escapes into the vent.

Sam hunts for the journal while the plane nosedives. It slides even farther and Dean is thrown against the emergency door. Sam grabs the journal and he finishes the ritual as Dean has a massive panic attack. What looks like lightening hits the plane and everything goes back to normal. Dean and Amanda start breathing again. He shakes his head as Sam looks at him. I don't think this experience changes his views on flying. In a quirk called lack of budget, the plane disembarks at the same airport and the same GATE it left. The NTSB question disheveled people and it's fair to say United Britannia has a publicity nightmare on its hands. The co-pilot remembers nothing and Amanda mouths "thank you" to the brothers. Dean wants to get out, but it's Sam's turn to freak. "Dean, it knew about Jessica." Dean adds mind reading to the demon lore. They also lie but that's par for the course in Supernatural no matter what species. Dean says it was nothing more and Sam agrees verbally, but his heart screams something else.

They head to Jerry's where he finally annoys me. "Nobody knows what you guys did but I do." Then you can't say "nobody" Jerry. It bugs. He thanks them and says John will be proud. They start to enter the Impala when Dean asks how Jerry got his cell number since he got it 6 months ago. Jerry says from John and the brothers are all attention. Apparently his voice message says, "This is John Winchester. I can't be reached. If this is an emergency, call my son Dean. 785-555-0179. He can help." When this episode originally aired, the number was 866-907-3235. It was a toll-free number fans could call to hear "This is Dean Winchester. If this is an emergency, please leave a message. If you are calling about 11-2-83, page me with your coordinates." In the December rerun it changed to "Dad? We really need to hear from you. Leave me a message, text me, check your jwinchester1246 e-mail. Anything. We have new info." I love how they added fan perks here. Sam however is less thrilled. It means John knows they're looking for him but doesn't bother to contact them. Sam is visibly upset as he slams into Metallicar. Dean looks resigned. He's used to John's douchebaggery. He peels out on the road and we're left with a mighty fine 67 Chevy Impala taking her family to their next destination. Just 2 brothers, Metallicar, and the road.

This episode is classic Supernatural to me. The brothers work together to fight evil and save the day. Humor is mixed in well and I consider this episode one of the best for one-liners. Kuddos to the writers for a great, if unbelievable, script. It's also fun to see the brothers get an unquestionable, no strings attached victory against evil, something sadly lacking in recent seasons. All in all, it's a solid, fun monster of the week story I always enjoy rewatching even if it's not in my top 25 episodes.

Screencaps by Screencap Paradise and Supernatural Caps
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