My 20 Favorite Supernatural Episodes

Now that we’ve nearly reached the milestone 100th episode for the series, I thought it would be a good idea to post about my favorite Supernatural episodes. I don’t think there will be many surprises for most of you, because I think a lot of fans will agree on what their favorite episodes are, but we might disagree on a few.

I judge my favorite episodes on which ones I can watch over and over and never tire of. It was actually incredibly difficult to narrow down my top 20. And 20 seems like too many episodes to put together in a “best of” list, doesn’t it? The thing is, if I had done this list back in season 3, it would have been easier to narrow it down to less than 10 favorite episodes. But now that we’ve reached almost 100, it’s hard to wade through and discard the 80 episodes that didn’t make the list.

I actually debated waiting until the 100th episode aired before posting this list, because I’m absolutely convinced that the 100th episode will make this list. Dean-centric episodes are heavily featured on this list, and the milestone episode airing on April 15 will focus on the eldest Winchester brother. That doesn’t mean I’m trying to start a fight between the Dean!girls and the Sam!girls, because some big Sam-centric episodes do make the list below. I just feel the Dean-centric episodes are generally well-written and well-acted. Plus, the 100th episode is sure to bring out all the stops. Regardless of all that, I’ve decided to post this now and reserve spot #21 for this week’s new episode.

I haven’t bothered to rank the episodes, because it was hard enough narrowing down my favorites. If I had to choose, I would declare “The End” as being in my top 2 (I can’t even decide what the other would be), but I have decided to present them in chronological order.

P.S. Some of the photos contain really cheesy captions. Hover over them if you dare.

Devil’s Trap – Season 1

The first season of the show had some really good episodes (such as the pilot episode, “Asylum”, “Faith” and “Home”), but it was the finale that tied everything together. I’m a big fan of Jeffrey Dean Morgan and even if John Winchester is a sucky father (because, let’s face it, he was), I loved the episodes that he appeared in.

This episode had some of the best supporting cast members. Nicki Aycox was fantastic as Meg, even if I wasn’t particularly fond of her hair. I loved her sauciness and her interaction with the boys. This was also the first episode to feature Jim Beaver as Bobby Singer. Bobby is one of my favorite characters of all time on this show. He seamlessly stepped into the father role for the brothers once John died and he’s always around to smack some sense into their thick skulls.

We should talk for a minute about the awesome exorcism at the beginning of the episode. After the boys realize that the demon is possessing a human girl (John sure left a lot out of their hunting studies, didn’t he?), we’re treated to an incredibly tense encounter between Meg and Dean. Aycox and Ackles play terrifically off each other, from Aycox’s sarcasm and bravado to Ackles’s penetrating stare. Props to Padalecki for being able to recite all that Latin in a fairly competent manner. I’ve never met anyone outside of my grandfather who’s capable of that.

I will admit that I could skip over the scenes between the exorcism and the Winchester boys in the cabin. Not because they’re bad, but because they’re pretty throwaway. It’s the scenes in the cabin that really made this episode great. Morgan is creepy when he plays the Yellow Eyed Demon. Ackles flawlessly goes from sneering at the demon possessing John, to a little boy who’s begging his daddy to save his life. It’s also heartbreaking to know that Dean realizes his father is possessed when he praises him for using the Colt to save his brother’s life, instead of criticizing him for wasting a bullet during their quest for vengeance. The family dynamics are front and center during these scenes – Sam is willing to stand with his brother against his father, but Dean is desperate to save everyone, even at the expense of himself. The first thing he does is ask Sam to check on their father, even as he’s bleeding to death.

I’m glad I didn’t jump on the Supernatural bandwagon until season 5. If I had seen this cliffhanger episode back in season 1 when it aired, I would have been freaking out all summer long. Overall, “Devil’s Trap” was a satisfying conclusion to a good first year.

Next: “We were just getting to be brothers again.”

“You got a neighbor named Mr. Rogers?”….”Not anymore.”

In My Time of Dying – Season 2

Most people love this episode and it’s not hard to see why. More than any other episode, “In My Time of Dying” showcases the Winchester family dynamics front and center. Dean is desperate to hang onto his family, to prove that he’s needed by them. He feels betrayed when he thinks his father hasn’t done anything to help him and he doesn’t want to leave this world with the reaper. Sam, meanwhile, clashes with his father about everything important, but he’s willing to do anything to help his brother. Sam’s grief over John’s death in later episodes can’t mask the fact that Dean was always the most important person in his life (what’s ironic is the fact that both boys seem to forget this – or are too busy fighting this fact – as the series progresses).

This episode was one of the most emotional of the first two seasons. Every moment is heartbreaking, from Sam watching the doctors try to resuscitate Dean, to Dean’s anger over his father’s silence at his sick bed, to the devastating end of John Winchester. What I find most interesting about this episode is something that is primarily forgotten in hindsight. As the show continued, we were constantly bombarded with the message that John was not a very good father. Even Dean, John’s most stalwart defender, admits that his father was a “deadbeat dad” or an “obsessed”, who missed birthdays and Christmases because he was too busy trying to hunt down the thing that killed his wife (the wife, we learned in “Dark Side of the Moon”, that he even separated from for a few days).

All of this is true, but somehow we forget that in the season 2 premiere episode, John selflessly gave his up his own life – nay, agreed to spend an eternity in Hell – in order to save his eldest son. I’m not saying that this should redeem him for a lifetime of sins against his children, but when you rewatch this episode you realize that this was his plan from the moment he handed Sam the list of supplies he wanted Bobby to procure. And there was a big part of me that wanted to forgive him for everything, to say that he was a father who loved his children more than his own life. He was willing to die without ever killing the Yellow Eyed Demon. Doesn’t that say that he loved Dean even more than his quest for vengeance?

Overall, this episode was a fitting way to end the life of one of the most complex characters that ever graced this series. Even now, I don’t think we truly understand all of the layers of John Winchester. The fact that we can travel back into the past and visit his younger version in seasons 4 and 5 shows that John is still an important character who lives on in the show and who’s impact is still felt.

Croatoan – Season 2

Are some of you surprised to see this episode on my list? Technically, it’s sort of a monster-of-the-week episode, at least until we see the Croatoan virus pop up again in season 5. But I adore this episode. It’s incredibly tense, right from the opening scene of Dean preparing to kill Duane.

The Sarge is another one of my favorite weekly guest stars, and his back and forth with Dean about whether the other is infected manages to bring humor to an otherwise bleak episode. Dean’s struggle over doing the right thing here is an interesting exercise in character study. He’s willing to murder Mrs. Tanner because Sam said that she’s infected with the virus, but he’s unable to kill Duane when they’re unsure of his infection. Dean, I believe, struggles more with morality than we give his character credit for. Sam’s insistence that they do the right thing is later contrasted with his darker tendencies that arise in seasons 3 and 4.

This is really the first episode that foreshadows Dean’s later despair and exhaustion with hunting. It’s not surprising that he’s willing to kill to protect his brother, or that he’s willing to die with him, but it’s Dean’s quiet admission of “I’m tired, Sam. I’m tired of this job. This life. This weight on my shoulders” that gives you pause. Especially knowing what we know now – that Dean will have so much more to endure before he’s allowed to rest. Is Dean just tired here because of what John told him about Sam, or is it something bigger?

The last two scenes of this episode go on to set up bigger storylines. The first is demon Duane killing Sarge and revealing that the appearance of Croatoan virus was a plan to test Sam’s immunity, which fed into the whole “special children” storyline that would dominate the rest of season 2. The final scene is the one between Sam and Dean. We won’t learn what John told Dean right before he died (that Dean would have to kill Sam unless he could save him) until the next episode, but it’s a great cliffhanger that lead’s into a multiple-season-long struggle between the brothers.

Next: “It’s my job to bring you in. Alive’s a bonus, but not necessary.”

“Hi, so sorry to bother you, but my son snuck out of the house last night and went to a Justin Timberlake concert… What?… Uh, yeah, Justin’s quite the triple threat.”

Nightshifter – Season 2

Most of my favorite dramatic episodes are mythology driven (as you’ll see later in this article), while most of the comedy episodes are one-off episodes. But “Nightshifter” is one of my favorite one-off, monster-of-the-week, dramatic episodes. It hooks you in from the first moment you see Dean as a bank robber on the news, up until the awesome ending sequence with the smooth tones of “Renegade” playing in the background. Ronald was a great guest character, who was both endearing and funny. His insistence that a mandroid robbed the bank never failed to get a chuckle out of me.

The tension explodes once all of the characters are locked inside the bank, as we chase the shapeshifter from person to person, trying to figure out where it’s hiding. I love the quick comedic moments – Ronald telling Sam to shut up because he hates him, and Dean telling Sam to “manage the situation” as Ronald continuously steps into the police lights.

But the best part of the episode is the introduction of FBI Agent Victor Hendrickson, a character we would see a few more times before he met an untimely end in season 3. Hendrickson is awesome. He’s a take-no-prisoners kind of guy that knows entirely too much about the Winchesters and is willing to go to extreme measures to capture them. The tense exchange over the phone between him and Dean is priceless – Hendrickson is cocky and bold and isn’t dicking around, while Dean is trying to hold his own against this guy who just popped up out of nowhere and silently freaking out on the other end of the line. The boys manage a cool (if predictable) escape to an awesome soundtrack, but now have a very determined fed on their collective asses.

Born Under a Bad Sign – Season 2

I feel like this episode is a classic example of a slow build-up. After the initial panic Dean displays in the opening moments, the real turning point comes when Sam pistol whips him (pistol whipping is always awesome) and reveals that he is possessed. I like the pacing of the episode, including the boys trying to solve the mystery of what Sam did while he was alone. Mostly, the episode is tense and suspenseful and it all works.

But the best parts start when Sam reveals that he was possessed and Padalecki starts playing the demon. He’s very good at playing the evil demon, especially when the demon is playing creepy or calm. In this episode, the creepy came when he attacked Jo in the bar, which is a scene that will freak anyone out.

Confrontation scenes between the brothers is always an interesting thing (like in the season 1 episode “Asylum” or in a lot of season 4 episodes). Padalecki and Ackles play well off of each other when the brothers are facing off. Those two are always good at creating tension between the two brothers. As you watch this show, you understand pretty quickly that the relationship between the Winchester brothers is complex. There are times when they don’t seem to like each other very much (or are just two entirely different people, depending on how you look at it), but you always believe that they love each other. Even when they’re fighting, you understand that that much pain, anger and hatred can really only spring up between two people who truly love each other.

The reappearance of Jo left me feeling a bit conflicted. I didn’t hate her character, per se, but I did feel that she was sort of directionless up until this point. If she wasn’t going to be a love interest for Dean, she was too underdeveloped to be a strong female character (unlike Ellen, who was used much more convincingly as a mother figure for the boys). But I didn’t mind her in this episode, especially since she seemed much more grown up and less sullen and defiant. Her brief appearance made sense within the story, furthered the tension, and put an end to the idea that she and Dean would ever have some sort of relationship.

What I really want to know is what this show has against Bon Jovi – notwithstanding “Dead or Alive”. I love Bon Jovi. Come on, Supernatural, what’s wrong with “Bed of Roses” or “This Ain’t a Love Song”?

Next: “Dean, this is a very serious investigation. We don’t have time for any of your blah blah blah blah.”

“Does this look like swimming-pool weather to you, Dean? It’s practically Canadian!”

Tall Tales – Season 2

Ackles is awesome at straight comedy, but Padalecki is really good at exaggerated comedy. Case in point: the scene from this episode where he overacts his sympathy for the frat brother who was bullied by the alien abductee: “You brave little solider! You’re too precious for this world!”. And the hugging! HILARIOUS. Or his prissy complaining during Dean’s story in the bar. Much has been said about Padalecki’s awesome “face”, but when you throw some prissiness into the mix it’s even better.

In fact, this whole episode plays like the classic X-Files episodes “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” or “Bad Blood”. Multiple versions of the same story are always funny, especially when Dean’s version includes a girl telling him he’s so damn attractive that looking at him is like “staring into the sun”.

Other notable highlights from this episode include the frat boy abduction story. Particularly the line: “The probed me. Again and again and again and again and again and again and then one more time”. But the absolute best part was the frat boy dancing with the alien to “Lady in Red”. It came out of nowhere and I remember bursting out with laughter the first time I ever watched this episode.

I also loved the introduction of The Trickster. Not only does hilarity ensue whenever he appears, but future episodes reveal that there’s more to him than meets the eye. I like that this show can successfully integrate fan favorite characters again and again in a way that doesn’t seem like a gimmick.

What I love about Supernatural is that I can’t really think of another show that so seamlessly blends horror, drama and pure, unadulterated comedy. And those genres are never really mutually exclusive in any given episode. Sure, “Tall Tales” is primarily a comedic episode, but there’s dramatic and horror undertones. I have never been disappointed when Supernatural decides to go funny, so that puts this episode right up there with my favorites.

Hollywood Babylon – Season 2

Supernatural is one of the few shows that can actually parody itself without looking ridiculous. Case in point are episodes such as “The Monster at the End of This Book” and “The Real Ghostbusters”, which are both lots of fun. “Hollywood Babylon” is another successful parody, not only of the horror genre, but of television and movies in general.

This episode is hilarious from beginning to end. Dean’s constant and unending love of the food on set, the “you’re one hell of a PA” remarks, the fake McG, and the entire discussion of whether ghosts would be afraid of condiments is pure comedy gold.

I love how excited Dean gets about “being part of the team”. Considering Dean is generally the anti-social one – at least in terms of really getting close to people – he sure jumped right into his PA role quite easily, didn’t he? He was adorable in this episode. Naturally, Sam had to come along and spoil all of Dean’s fun (which is usually what happens, isn’t it?), but at least he came up with the great idea of tracking the ghosts using the video in his cell phone.

I actually liked most, if not all, of the guest stars in this episode. The fake McG director guy was funny, as was the annoying producer who met his untimely end quickly. My favorite was the guy who played the scriptwriter Martin, the one that the brothers saved at the end. His decision at the end of the episode to exploit his new-found knowledge of the afterlife wasn’t surprising, but it was funny. Props to the actress who played Tara, who can scream with more disdain on her face than anyone else I’ve ever seen.

And by the way, nice Canadian weather joke the writers managed to work in there. On behalf of my country, I forgive you.

“What am I supposed to do?!”

What Is and What Should Never Be – Season 2

Unlike some other shows, Supernatural generally does fantastic alternate-reality episodes (such as season 5’s “The End”). “What Is and What Should Never Be” is another example of this fact.

Dean Winchester is a cocky, hilarious sonofa, but that boy can break my heart like nobody’s business. Like I said, Dean-centric episodes generally get to me. It’s heartbreaking to see his joy at his alternate-reality, which includes his still-alive mother and a gorgeous girlfriend. But Dean’s trip to this world hasn’t changed his selfless personality – his greatest joy is not his own happiness, but the fact that his mother has had an opportunity to live her life and his brother is happy, in school, and engaged.

It’s the estrangement between the brothers that hurts the most in this episode, but is also very telling. The boys never became hunters and, thus, grew up to live very separate lives. Is it hunting that brings them together? Is it the tragedy of their mother’s death that resulted in their close relationship? Would the boys be destined to be estranged if not for all of the horrible things that happened to them? Dean feels the pain of their fractured relationship because he knows differently, but Sam seems to be perfectly content with it, if not a little sad and disappointed.

Ackles knocks every scene out of the park, from his joy at a Mom-made sandwich, to mowing the lawn (which he had shot down as too domestic in season 1), to the monologue at his father’s grave. Overall, this was a sad, sad episode that led into an even sadder season finale.

All Hell Breaks Loose – Season 2

It’s not cheating to group the two-part season finale together. I like the first hour because I like it when Padalecki has a chance to come to the forefront of the show, and the first hour showcases Sam taking charge of Azazel’s “special children” in the abandoned town. But it’s really the second hour that tugs at the heart strings.

I never really hated the Roadhouse (even if I never really loved it), but I was sad to see it go (especially when it took Ash with it), and I was overjoyed to see Ellen pop up in the second hour. As I’ve said, I loved Ellen as a character, and I loved her interaction with Bobby and the boys.

I really liked Ava as a character. She provided a bit of comic relief when we first met her earlier in season 2. She was real and smart and it was cool to see her go evil and embrace her psychic powers. The return of Andy was also welcomed, as he was also a pretty cool character and I was sad to see him die. The scenes in the abandoned town were creepy – I always hate weird ghost towns, they freak me out.

The action and the tears really start at the end of the first hour, when Sam dies. Ackles sells Dean’s despair over the death of his brother – over the fact that he had essentially failed at the one real job he had in life. The sacrifice that Dean made – the same deal his father made to save his life – is another example of Winchester familial love, which is both wonderful and soul-crushing at the same time. Jim Beaver hits it out of the park when Bobby confronts Dean over the deal he made to save Sam. His anguish over Dean’s sacrifice cemented his role as surrogate father to the boys.

It’s surprising that the series choose to wrap up the main storyline after only two seasons. Azazel’s death left the show without a large story arc until season 4 (I believe the quest to save Dean from the deal was the overarching storyline of season 3, but the overall impact of the arc suffered due to a weaker season). This was a bold move, as it left the show without a large villain and a target for the boys’ anger and hatred (notwithstanding the regular monsters-of-the-week), but it worked. I was glad they didn’t drag it out. And the conclusion was satisfying. The return of ghost John was a bit cheesy, but still made me smile.

Next: “You fudging touch me again, I’ll fudging kill you!”

“Of course I peed myself! Man gets hit by a car, you think he has full control over his bladder?! Come on!”

A Very Supernatural Christmas – Season 3

Where to begin with the adorableness and heartbreak that is this special Christmas episode of Supernatural? Let’s start with Dean’s desire to have one last Christmas with his brother before he bit the big one. It’s obvious the boys haven’t had some great holidays in the past, let alone normal ones. But Dean’s always been about family, and it’s clear that he wanted to spend his last major holiday with his brother, even if it did consist of gas station presents wrapped in newspaper. The last scene between the brothers – where Sam has decided to give Dean a Christmas even though it kills him to know it’s their last one together – is beautiful and heartbreaking.

Rewind back to the younger versions of Sam and Dean and your heartstrings get tugged a little tighter. Always the protective, nurturing, older brother, Dean steals gifts so that Sam can get presents on Christmas. Okay, stealing is wrong, but in this case it just brings a little tear to your eye. As does WeeSam’s realization that Dean is more of a father to him than John is. And thus we were presented with the origin of Dean’s amulet. I couldn’t help but flash back to this episode after viewing “Dark Side of the Moon” in season 5. When Dean threw away his amulet, was he rejecting the God who chose not to interfere, or his brother who gave it to him?

Finally, all the schmoop aside, I loved the villains in this episode. The adorable, but devious, bridge-playing, Christmas-decorating, assimilating pagan gods were hilarious and kind of creepy. They’re among some of my favorite monsters-of-the-week to ever appear on this show.

Mystery Spot – Season 3

This is one of the classic Supernatural episodes that seamlessly blends comedy and drama into a single hour. The trick with doing a Groundhog Day type scenario is to not bore the viewer with repeat viewings of the same thing. The trick to successfully killing a main character that we’re already afraid is going to die at the end of the season is to make it funny. This episode accomplished both of those feats. It didn’t matter how many times we saw the same thing – saw Dean dying – because it got progressively more ridiculous and hilarious. Death by archery! Death by bad taco! Death by falling piano! Death by shaving electrocution!

This is another episode where Padalecki shines as the loving younger brother, but also gets to show his range. Sam’s despair over being unable to prevent Dean’s death keeps appearing, no matter how many times he watches his brother die in a progressively more absurd manner. But it’s the end of the episode, when we see the anguish Sam suffers after thinking his brother is truly dead, where Padalecki excels. Without his brother, Sam becomes a scary, isolated hunter. This simply reinforces the strength and benefits of the brother’s relationship.

Next: “You kinky sonofa, we don’t swing that way”

“So…are you guys, like…together?”

Jus in Bello – Season 3

This is, by far, one of my favorite episodes of all time on this show. Possibly in my top 5. Firstly, there’s the reappearance of FBI Agent Victor Hendrickson, who you know I love. Hendrickson’s exchange with Dean while he gloats over their capture is nothing short of brilliant. When both men get their sass on it’s a pissing contest extraordinaire and it’s a joy to watch.

This episode also happens to boast Padalecki’s most impressive “face” ever. It just so happens to accompany an hilarious line – “I shot the sheriff”. “But you didn’t shoot the deputy” (cue face).

I love the reversal of roles here – with Sam willing to sacrifice the one poor virgin girl to save the rest and Dean refusing to do so. This episode more than episode reverses the brothers’ roles in seasons 1 and 2. The fight scene at the end – with the pre-recorded exorcism – was nothing short of kick-ass and brilliant. We also got our first look at Lilith as a young girl, which now makes me extremely distrustful of weird, creepy young girls.

Oh, and let’s not forget the introduction of the Winchester brothers’ hot tattoos. “How long have you had those?” Not long enough indeed.

Lazarus Rising – Season 4

Any episode that starts with a main character crawling out of his/her own grave is automatically in my good books (like when Buffy came back from the dead). Any episode that ends with a kick-ass trenchcoat-wearing angel sent by God automatically gets elevated into the top 20.

I love how this episode brought Dean back to life right away. As far as the fans were concerned, the guy spent a grand total of about 4 minutes in Hell. From the moment he crawled out of his gave, the episode was a wild ride. First, though, there were emotional reunions – Bobby hugging Dean after realizing he was really alive again was heartwarming. But it was Dean’s reunion with his brother that was really touching, from their initial hug to Sam’s apology for being unable to save Dean.

This episode brilliantly set up the rest of the season with subtle hints – from Dean’s horrible flashes of Hell to Sam’s continuous lying to his brother. It also introduced a fun new character – psychic Pamela – who always managed to kick the boys’ asses into shape and provide a bit of comedic relief.

In the end, it was the introduction of Castiel that made this episode one of my favorites. I loved how the mythology of the show expanded and grew with the angels, even if they were something Kripke said the fans would never see on the show. In the end, season 4 was my favorite overall season, and that is, in part, due to Castiel.

Next: “Destiny can’t be changed, Dean. All roads lead to the same destination.”

“What? Safety’s a crime now?”

In the Beginning – Season 4

I am always a sucker for a Back to the Future type scenario. But the best thing about this episode is the introduction of Young Mary and Young John. First of all, if this were real life, I’d say that the young couple is proof that gorgeous people produce gorgeous children (Young John is HOT!). Although this isn’t real life, I loved the opportunity to see younger versions of characters that were, for all intents and purposes, still a mystery to us.

The fact that Mary was a hunter and came from a family of hunters (and had Mitch Pileggi as her father!) was a big – and welcome – surprise. It was heartbreaking to learn that her only real wish was to never raise her children as hunters. Young John was also terrific. It was so nice to see John Winchester as a happy young man in love. We later learned that John was not perfect – that he and Mary fought when Dean was very young, and that his quest for vengeance became all-consuming. Despite this, it was good to see a softer side to the man we would later know as brisk and militaristic.

We all knew that there was no real way for Dean to change his parents’ future. After all, that would have wreaked havoc with the entire series. But it was still sad to see. And it answered a lot of questions, some minor and some not – such as the fact that Dean was named after his grandmother, and that Mary’s deal to save John resulted in Sam getting tangled up with Azazel (although, we later learned that it was destiny, it’s obvious Mary felt responsible for it).

If you group this episode with “The Song Remains the Same”, which also featured a trip back into the past to visit these same versions of Young Mary and John, you have two great hours of storytelling that fit nicely into the Winchester family dynamic, even if we never suspected that the Winchester parents could ever be like their younger counterparts.

Yellow Fever – Season 4

I ask you with all sincerity…if I simply said the words “Dean Winchester screams at the cat” and left that as the only explanation as to why I love this episode, would you honestly require more?

Further, if I said to you “Jensen Ackles lip-syncs to Eye of the Tiger as a bonus video at the episode of this episode”, would you still require more explanation as to why this episode is freaking hilarious?

And then, if I casually happened to mention “Dean Winchester running from the tiny little dog with the bow in its hair” as the third reason why I love this episode, would you really require a forth?

If you do, then you have no sense of humor. Seriously. You should go to a doctor and get that checked out. This episode is all kinds of funny. Like pee-in-your-pants funny.

I don’t even think I need to justify the hilarity of this episode, or explain why I love it. No other episode has made me laugh harder.

Next: “There’s something caught in my throat. I think it’s my throat.”

“It’s not funny, Dean! The voice says I’m almost out of minutes!”

On the Head of a Pin – Season 4

Alright, let’s get this out of the way right at the beginning – the Marlon Brando accent that Alastair was going for is distracting at best and annoying at worst. Was the guy trying to go for a distinctive voice? It worked, but probably not the way he intended. Still, despite that, I love this episode.

Can I take a moment here to ask a question? Jensen Ackles, what’s with all the pretty crying? And how, in the name of everything that’s holy, do you manage to pull off the one-perfect-tear-sliding-down-your-perfect-freaking-cheek thing? HOW?! I can’t do this, no matter how much I practice (yeah, I practice…but only on Sundays when there’s nothing else to do…so sue me). And when I cry I just look like a terrible mess. Like really, really awful. So where the hell do you get off crying prettier than a girl, Ackles?! What makes you so DAMN SPECIAL!? Like in this episode, when you’re crying at the end because you started the bloody Apocalypse. If I started the Apocalypse I’d be on the floor, curled up in a ball, bawling my freaking eyes out and it would be gross. But not you, right, Ackles? Oh NO. YOU cry the one perfect tear. Damn you. Damn you to Hell. Ahem…that is all.

Aside from all of the ridiculously attractive crying, Ackles shines in this episode – in an extreme and effective manner. You buy that Dean is broken inside from his experiences in Hell. And you understand that Dean got a whole lot scarier than we’ve ever seen him before. Toss in some angel-on-angel fighting and killing, and you’ve got an episode that works on all levels.

I also love Cas’ dead-pan humor, which Mischa Collins delivers better than anyone else on the show. His “Uriel is the funniest angel in the garrison. Ask anyone” is one of my favorite lines (at least until the episode “99 Problems”, when everything that came out of Drunk Cas’ mouth was pure comedy gold).

The End – Season 5

I have a great deal of admiration for Jensen Ackles’ acting skills. The boy has some serious talent and I feel like he’s only gotten better as the series had progressed. There has never been a funny or dramatic Dean moment that hasn’t gotten a laugh out of me or failed to bring a tear to my eye. So believe me when I saw it’s difficult to judge any Dean-centric episode as better than the others, but The End would be right up there as one of my favorites.

Ackles could have played this episode differently. He could have played FutureDean as PresentDean, but he didn’t. The fact is, when you have both Deans on the screen, you could almost believe that they’re two entirely different personalities or, at the very least, that one is significantly more evolved than the other. You’ve got PresentDean who’s cocky but loving, weighed down with responsibility but still willing to crack a joke. Then you’ve got FutureDean, who’s so incredibly burdened by the events of the last 5 years that he’s changed. Sure, he’s still sneaking into other women’s cabins, but he’s a cold SOB who murders his own men without blinking an eye. His eyes are more guarded, his face is harder and even his voice is deeper. He is not the same Dean we all know and love. He’s scary and he’s not the kind of guy you want to tangle with.

For Ackels’ double performance alone, I would put this episode high atop my top 20 list. But, fortunately, this episode blessed us with more goodies. Case in point – Castiel’s transformation. Who would have predicated that he would become a hippie who pops amphetamines, gulps down absinthe, and engages in orgies? This entire episode is a display of Mischa’s Collins’ own acting chops, because, by this point, he’s already played his one character in three different ways. You have angel Castiel, who can be a hard but socially awkward guy. Then you have the vessel Jimmy Novack, who was, by all accounts, a loving family man. And now there’s hippie Cas. I love all incarnations of Mischa Collins, so any episode with him is a blessing (also, that part at the beginning where he says “This isn’t funny, Dean, the voice says I’m almost out of minutes!” is so funny – you’d think an angel of the Lord could get a better cell phone plan).

I even love the reappearance of Chuck, not only because I love Chuck as a character, but because he also helped provide some comedic elements in what was an otherwise dark and depressing episode. His appearance may have been short, but his advice for Dean to hoard toilet paper never fails to get a laugh out of me.

Finally, I have to admit that Jared Padalecki doesn’t get as many dramatic moments in this series as Ackles does. Sure, Sam went through some dark and dramatic times (especially in season 4), but I always feel like Padalecki plays Sam as more angry or sullen than the tortured hero complex that Ackles brings to Dean. It’s not his fault, it’s just the personality of the characters. On the other hand, Padalecki’s turn as Lucifer was amazing. Because he too could have played Lucifer differently. Lucifer could have been portrayed as a caricature, but Padalecki played him as a calm, if evil, man.

Of all the demons we’ve met to date, Lucifer is the one that scares me the most – because the guy is just too damn calm. All the time. I don’t trust it. And yet, you almost feel something (pity? understanding?) for him as Padalecki delivers each line. Maybe Lucifer’s right – maybe he was unfairly cast out of heaven for being different. Maybe his older brother is just a complete dick who refused to give him a chance. Never once does Padalecki break character and it’s such a good scene it’s worth watching over and over. Also, it’s really hard for a lot of men to pull off the full white suit. Padalecki nailed it, so points to him for that.

Next: “Okay, um, I need a… penknife, some dental floss, a sewing needle, and a fifth of whiskey! Stat!”

“If tonight is our last night on earth, I’m going to spend it with a little something I call ‘self respect’.”

Changing Channels – Season 5

Hilarious opening song, reminiscent of old sitcoms like Full House or Family Matters. Ridiculous parodies of medical shows (and Grey’s Anatomy in particular) with sexy doctors and over-reactive nurses who slap people. Japanese game shows where guys get kicked in the nuts. Priceless parody of CSI, complete with witty impressions of David Caruso’s character. Side-splitting fake commercial with Sam talking about herpes medication.

Put all that together and you have one of the funniest episodes of Supernatural. Ever. “Changing Channels” is another example of Supernatural’s superb ability to poke fun at itself (and television) without being over the top. Instead, it’s just ridiculous enough to be side-splitting.

But it’s the ending that cements this episode – allowing the show to seamlessly switch from comedy to drama. We learned that the Trickster was, in fact, an archangel. Sure, maybe the writers were pretty much making that stuff up as they went along, but I liked his explanation as to why Sam and Dean were destined to become the vessels for Lucifer and Michael, even if it was convenient. I mean, surely they can’t be the only brothers on earth who have loved and betrayed each other. Whatever. Doesn’t matter. This show is awesome.

[I rarely link to fanvids, but a YouTube user has posted one of my favorite fanvids of all time using the scene with Gabriel at the end of this episode (and other amazing scenes). You have to watch it.]

Abandon All Hope – Season 5

Ben Edlund used to be the guy who wrote all of the funny episodes – “Hollywood Babylon”, “Bad Day at Black Rock” and “Monster Movie”. Then “On the Head of a Pin” came around and showed us that Edlund could write drama just as well. Could in fact, blow us away. “Abandon All Hope” merely cemented that fact. It introduced us to a cool, cocky demon named Crowley, who is convinced that Lucifer is only looking out for #1, and not demons (which is definitely reiterated at the end of the episode). Mark Pellegrino turned in another solid performance as Lucifer. I like how Padalecki and Pellegrino both play Lucifer as calm and collected. He rarely shows emotion, instead preferring to use logic to argue his point. Frankly, the guy has a point, scary as that may be.

While “Born Under a Bad Sign” went a long way in turning Jo from a whiny never-girlfriend of Dean’s to a likable character, “Abandon All Hope” made me sad about her death. Finally, Jo acted like a responsible adult, willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good. And the stupid girl didn’t even agree to sleep with Dean before she died! Tragic. Jo and Ellen’s sacrifice rank up there with John’s death for me – something I admire the characters for.

I loved how dark and tense this episode was. I particularly liked the interaction between Castiel and Lucifer, and Cas’ later escape from the ring of holy fire – which awesomely resulted in Meg getting burned. Cas is nothing if not an improviser. I loved the silence at the end when Bobby burned the last photograph of Ellen and Jo with the group. Supernatural is never afraid to let the actors’ faces do the talking. With the boys’ support team dwindling, and the failure of the Colt to kill the Devil, this episode went a long way in dashing our hopes. Sometimes I hate how much this show breaks my heart.

[Trivia: Abandon hope, all ye who enter here” was supposedly written on the doorway to Hell in Dante’s “Inferno”, his first book in his “Divine Comedy” series. Fitting title for this episode.]

Next: “But I’m gonna warn ya…when I come back, I’m gonna be pissed.”

Dark Side of the Moon – Season 5

Sometimes it amazes me how much the Supernatural universe has expanded. It went from being a show about two brothers fighting pretty mundane one-off monsters to a huge mythology series that featured angels, the devil, and God. The thing is, it doesn’t feel cheesy. The show never tries to beat you over the head with the religious undertones, but it chooses to display them in a way that seem down-to-earth and human. Case in point: “Dark Side of the Moon”. We never really saw the Hell that Dean visited, but we sure got to see Heaven. Instead of being some fluffy cloud city with cherubs plucking harps and whatnot, what we actually see are individual Heavens filled with happy memories for those who are there. Dean was right, maybe it does sound lonely, but it was the perfect version of Heaven that fit in with the overall series.

I loved the reappearance of some old characters – especially the scene between Mary and Dean. It was somewhat surprising to learn that Mary and John had problems before she died, especially since we saw that they were generally happy and loving in the time-travel episodes. But, like with anything else, Supernatural never fails to show glimpses of the pain behind what may look like perfection and never fails to show that we don’t know as much about these characters as we might think. Watch Dean hug his mother and tell her that he loves her – he sounds so lost and broken that it’s painful to see.

It was great to see Ash again. He’s one of my favorite characters – snarky, funny and smart with ridiculous hair. He fit in so well with the brothers that I was really sad to have him die back in season 2. His advice to the boys – as well as his descriptions of visiting other peoples’ version of Heaven – was spot-on, funny and a welcome surprise. The only thing that bothered me was seeing Pamela the psychic. I’ve said before that I liked her character, and I do, but her words to Dean seemed to ring false (her suggestion that he let Michael use him and that perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if a lot of people died because Heaven was pretty awesome). One could argue that perhaps Zachariah was manipulating all of the boys’ experiences in Heaven, not just the one with the creepy Mary at the end, and that might be true. But the boys’ encounter with Ash seemed so in tune with his character that Pamela’s conversation with Dean just seemed so out of place.

This episode really showed the disconnect between the brothers more than any other episode has so far. Dean’s idea of Heaven is his family, but Sam’s idea of Heaven is being on his own – getting out from under the stifling control of his father (and even sometimes his brother). More than anything, I think it was this experience that drove Dean to his willingness to say yes to Michael (the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back”, if you will).

If nothing else, this episode belongs here because of the amazing sequence of Dean and young Sammy lighting off fireworks in the field. It was, perhaps, the most beautiful scene ever in the series. The happiness on Dean and young Sam’s faces reminded us that Supernatural is a show about two brothers – even with angels, demons, mythology, horrible fathers, dead mothers and a few dead girlfriends mixed in. The choice of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” as the music for the scene, a throwback to the season 2 episode “Houses of the Holy”, was so perfect and I wasn’t even ashamed by the fact that my eyes started to tear up.

Honorable Mentions

There are a few episodes that wouldn’t necessarily make my Top 20 list, but definitely warrant mentioning – either because they moved the storyline in a new direction or contain a favorite scene of mine.

Skin – Season 1

Jensen Ackles took his shirt off. Period.

I love you, Supernatural.

Home – Season 1

This was the first episode that really started the overall mythology kick that ramped up in later seasons. I think it was one of the first episodes where we saw Dean cry, which is always somehow manly. I don’t know how he does it. I honestly can’t think of another male character who cries more than Dean (in fact, my friend Tamara and I argue about who cries more – Dean Winchester or Jack Shephard from Lost), but it never fails to touch me.

It was cool to get a look little into the boys’ past and to see their mother again. Mary Winchester has appeared many times throughout the series (apparently people remain as dead on Supernatural as they do on Lost), but I love her character, so I’m always happy to see her. We also got our first real peak at John Winchester, which was awesome. While I wouldn’t characterize this episode as one of my favorites, I still liked the look into the Winchester family and the focus on the family mythology.

Faith – Season 1

Looking back on this episode, we realize that we don’t often see Sam step into the “protective brother” role as much as Dean does. That’s understandable, of course, because Dean is the older brother. But early on in season 1 we got to see a role reversal. I feel like this was the first really serious episode that the show attempted. Heavy themes were present – who should live, who should die, is one life worth more than another? Toss in a moving performance by the always-lovely Julie Benz (from Buffy, Angel and Dexter), and you have a sad, serious episode in a show that was just starting to find its legs.

Hell House – Season 2 & Ghostfacers – Season 3

Apparently there are numerous people who didn’t like the “Ghostfacers” episode. I can understand why, but I feel differently. I mention these two episodes for a few reasons – not the least of which is the fact that they introduced me to some of my favorite characters: Ed Zeddmore and Harry Spengler. The two of them are like geeky, hilarious foils to Sam and Dean and I love whenever they pop up. “Hell House” is a great episode, in an of itself, especially for the utterly ridiculous prank wars between Sam and Dean that somehow – blessedly – led to a shot of Padalecki in a towel. Listen, I’m a Dean!girl, but even I can appreciate this photo. I mean, I’m not completely blind.

By the way, did you know that a Ghostfacers webseries will be premiering on April 15? Check out the official website.

Bad Day at Black Rock – Season 3

You’re going to wonder why I’m not putting this episode in my top 20 and I really can’t explain it (seriously, I can’t justify it, no matter how much you might want to argue with me). As funny as this episode is – and believe me, it’s funny – I just couldn’t do it. But I can tell you that my absolute favorite scene in this episode – nay, my favorite Sam line EVER – is Padalecki’s spot-on, little-boy delivery of “I lost my shoe”. You can’t just make up that kind of funny, people. That kind of funny is priceless.

My Bloody Valentine – Season 5

This episode contained one of the most disgusting deaths ever featured on this show. And that’s in a series that has a great many disgusting deaths (like the guy who died from a table saw in his back in season 2). The scene at the very beginning where the couple literally ate each other to death had me wishing I hadn’t eaten that day.

It also contained one of my favorite scenes of the show: when the woman shoots her boyfriend’s co-worker and the boyfriend moans about how something will always keep them apart, including family and sleep, and she replied “now prison, maybe” (cut to the dead co-worker’s leg falling from his chair). I don’t know why I love that scene, but it’s one of my favorites.

So we have gross and funny down in the same episode, and that’s augmented by the entire scene with Cupid, which is funny in its own right. But it’s the last scene with Ackles – Dean out alone in Bobby’s scrap yard, praying to a God he’s not even sure he believes in – that warrants the honorable mention. Brings a tear to my eye every time.

Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid – Season 5

Jim Beaver made me cry. I hate Jim Beaver for making me cry. I hate him for making Bobby brave and heartbroken in this episode and breaking my stupid heart and making me cry. Damn him.

It’s about time we really got a Bobby-centric episode (the one about the poker doesn’t count) and Beaver knocked it out of the park. The zombies eating people were gross, Dean’s insistence that Bobby is a member of their family was adorable and sweet, and the action scene at the end in Bobby’s house (with Sam and the sheriff saving the day) was awesome. This episode deserves a honorable mention for all of these reasons, but especially because of that guy who made me cry.

Watch 3 sneak peeks from the upcoming 100th episode of Supernatural – airing on April 15!

Email: clarissa @ tvovermind.com

Follow: twitter.com/clarissa373

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