Welcome to our newest guest post series! Head Over Feels are finally filling our SuperWhoLock quota with “Salt vs. Sass: Dawn & Sarah take on Sam and Dean,” a Supernatural recap-a-thon! We’ll learn all about the family business through the eyes of veteran fan Dawn and n00b Sarah. They’ll be posting weekly, so now is the perfect moment to queue up your rewatch or pop your SPN cherry. Want to speak fluent SPN fangirl? Check out this handy Glossary of Terms.
Take it away, ladies! –S
Dawn Ferchak is a long-term Dean girl who occasionally has trouble resisting the King of Hell.
Sarah Bisman is an SPN newbie and professional crafter of one-line bios.
Sarah: This week on SPN: Because no one has anything to fear about the formerly friendly skies, this week DEMONS CRASH PLANES. I THINK I WILL TRAVEL BY TRAIN FROM NOW UNTIL FOREVER (OR AT LEAST JUNE), BASED SOLELY ON THIS FRAKKING EPISODE. (My anxiety about Terrifying Occurrences doesn’t have the firmest basis in logic, in case you were wondering.) Can I get a tiny bottle of Scotch over here, please?
Dawn: THERE’S A MOTHERFUCKING SNAKE ON THE MOTHERFUCKING PLANE! Well, not exactly, but then again, kinda, by the time we get to the end. Yes, Hunters and Fans of Letters, this week’s recap is all about Dean and Sam’s personal nightmare at 20,000 feet. Do they handle it better than Shatner? ONLY YOU CAN DECIDE. Or, you know, us, since it’s our recap. Grab a tiny bag of peanuts, won’t you?
Season 1, Episode 4: Phantom Traveler
Written by Richard Hateum
Recaplet with significantly fewer flames and significantly more searching for dad and monsters.
We open on a tropical paradise (psych! It’s a poster, but seriously, gorgeous) but it’s no matter to our first Deadshirt, a terribly, horribly, anxious traveler. He’s in some random airport, talking to another random traveler who tries to calm him. Good luck, calming stranger (are you the pilot? I’m confused) with insta-statistic. YOU’LL DIE TOO, because Anxious Traveler has been possessed by black ick. THROUGH HIS EYES.
SPN Life Lesson #12: Black Eyes are NEVER, EVER GOOD. (Also, they are important to the overall mythos of the show.)
Deadshirt!Traveler’s eyes are solid black, which wigs out our cheery blonde flight attendant (oh hai, Jaime Ray Newman, loved you on Eureka), but she’s professional, yo, and carries on.
Deadshirt!Traveler asks Deadshirt!MiddleSeatLady how long they’ve been in the air and makes a terrible joke about how “time really does fly.” Then he asks to be let out so he can stretch his legs, by which he actually means walk to the back of the plane, rip open the fucking exit door open (HINT: This should not be possible for a mere human), and kill himself and nearly everyone on the plane. The last thing we see is our cheery blonde flight attendant grabbing her O2 mask…
…And then we cut to long, muscly man-legs in what looks like boxer briefs. They turn out to belong to Dean, which turns Dawn into this:
Dean is sleeping on his stomach when the door to Motel Du Jour opens up and we see an ominous dark shadow lurking behind a funky glass partition. Amazingly, it’s not Life Lesson #8 — it’s just Sammy with coffee. Sam admits he’s still having weird dreams and has totally forgotten how much This Job is ZOMG This Job. He and Dean banter about fear. Sam thinks sleeping with a gigantic hunting knife under your pillow is fear; Dean believes it is preparedness. We are totally with Dean on this one because SPN Life Lesson #13 is clearly it’s not paranoia when everything is fucking supernatural.
The phone rings! This week’s Basil Exposition is Jerry, whom Dean helped with a poltergeist a few years back. Jerry has found “something else that could be a lot worse.” He requests an in-person meeting and vrrroooom, across the country go our boys.
Jerry is another amazing character actor whose banter about poltergeists and their dad unintentionally buoys Sam’s psyche, at least until he brings them to his office and plays the cockpit voice recorder for Black Eye’s flight — a panicked transmission that ends with a weird and scream-y electronic noise. Like an angry, digitized panther. Jerry also tells them that seven people survived the crash, including the pilot. Sam and Dean want the whole shebang: passenger manifests, logs, access to the wreckage — that last one is damn near impossible in a post-9/11 world (even the fictional ones). Jerry lacks clearance to get them inside; Dean is feloniously unconcerned, because he is planning to make bogus Homeland Security badges for himself and Sammy. At a photocopy place. Because that’s totally not going to land them both in Guantanamo forever and ever amen. Concerned!Sam is concerned. Dean is giddy over a brand-new badge.
Sammy plays Dean the cockpit voice recorder again, this time with EVP rasping, “noooo survivorrrrrs” tidily ensuring that Sarah will need a tranquilizer next time she boards a plane, while Dawn is scouring the app store for an EVP recorder for her phone (because she already has an EMF meter on it). Our boys namecheck Flight 401 and wonder if this is a similar haunting (unlikely, since the Flight 401 ghosts generally freaked the ever-living fuck out of people in order to draw their attention to onboard safety issues).
They visit Max Jaffey, who has checked himself into a psychiatric hospital because he’d been “seeing things” on the flight before it crashed. He describes how Black Eyes opened the emergency exit, which should have been physically impossible due to the “something like two tons of pressure on that door.” Also, Black Eyes didn’t flicker, which means he wasn’t a ghost. He was a real life, presumably human passenger who had been sitting right there, at the time, bringing us neatly to SPN Life Lesson #14: Flickering = ghost. Not flickering = not a ghost.
Next up is the widow of George Phelps, seat 23, a pteromerhanophobic (that means fear of flying and not fear of pterodactyls, though pterodactyls are probably way scarier because teeth and claws) dentist en route to a convention. Sam does the semi-tactful probing (did he ever act weird, etc.) and learns that George had acid reflux. “A middle-aged dentist with an ulcer is not exactly evil personified,” opines Dean. Dawn thinks this is adorable, because that tune will change in a hurry (though not necessarily in this episode).
Our boys go suit shopping. Dean thinks he’s rocking a Blues Brothers look; Sam thinks it’s more middle school dance. Cheap suits and badges get them access to the wreckage.
Dawn: As a cop’s daughter, I can confirm that the combination of suit plus badge does indeed work on all manner of things it shouldn’t.
The wreckage is grim and grisly — pieces of plane lay on the floor over the outline of what was once a whole plane. Dean breaks out the EMF that he made out of a busted walkman and starts checking for signals. Sam is unimpressed, but Dawn thinks is further proof of how good Dean is with his hand and oh, Crowley, there she goes again.
While they look around, two ACTUAL Homeland Security officers show up. Cue a chase complete with drawn guns and Magnum, PI-style pursuit music! And wall leaping, because that’s always cool.
We cut to the pilot, whose BFF is trying to talk him into flying a teeny plane to get over his fear of the crash. Because teeny tiny planes never kill anybody, said nobody ever. And here comes the Black Smoke right into his eyes.
Sarah: Seriously, airports, check that shit.
The boys visit Jerry and learn that bits of the wreckage are covered in sulfur. Dun dun dunnnnnn: DEMON. SPN Life Lesson #15: Sulfur = demon.
Cut back to the plane, and sure enough, once they’ve been in the air for a while, Demon Pilot heads the plane straight into the ground as he says, “Time really does fly.” Demons think they are funny, huh?
Hunter Homework this week is “Demons Around the World,” specifically Japanese demons that can affect real-world items and events. The following important dialogue ensures:
DEAN: “All right, so, what? We have a demon that’s evolved with the times and found a way to ratchet up the body count?”
SAM: “Yeah. You know, who knows how many planes it’s brought down before this one?”
DEAN: “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. This is big.”
The phone rings — it’s Jerry, informing them of the latest plane crash and death toll. Our boys head off to the races again, this time in ironically named Nazareth, PA.
Flight 2485 and Chuck’s plane both crashed exactly 40 minutes into the flight. Along with six other planes. Smart!Dean is smart: “[Forty is] biblical numerology. You know Noah’s ark, it rained for forty days. The number means death.” Also, sulfur again. The boys realize the demon is trying to kill the survivors in order to finish the job. It’s now their turn to save the flight attendant, save the world. Good thing Dean drives fast.
The boys try paging her and Dean’s new Alias of the Week is Dr. James Hetfield(!), calling about an injured family member. Who Amanda just got off the phone with. Oops. Now Dean pretends to be her ex’s friends. They’re basically trying anything and everything to keep Amanda off that plane and are about as successful as a teen prank-caller asking if your refrigerator is running. They’ll do anything to get her off that flight, and nothing works. She hangs up on the brothers.
Is this curtains for our cheery blonde flight attendant? Sam thinks not if they get on board. Dean is really not ready for that. Dean is…an Anxious Traveler! Which, you know, uh-oh, criteria numero uno for possession. This should go well. We cut to the brothers onboard. Dean is freaking, quietly. Sam is amused, obviously. Dr. James Hetfield hums Metallica to soothe himself. Sam wants him to focus — 32 minutes to find a demon and exorcise it. Dean heads to the back of the plane to see if Amanda will flinch at the name of god — Christo, because SPN Life Lesson #16: Latin est semper melius — and prove to one and all that she’s possessed. They have a sweet little chat and Dean gives it the world’s most awkward whirl.
No flinch. No dice. Amanda is no demon.
Dean heads back to his seat. I have never seen someone pronounce another human being “well-adjusted” with such disappointment and malice in his voice. He’s freaking. Sammy points out, with steely determination, that Dean needs to get his shit together. He’s “wide open to demonic possession” and not in the cool way where your whole family sings calypso songs at the dinner table. Dean tries to calm himself while Sam reviews his Acme Home Exorcism Kit and Scary Demonbits, yet still manages to get the name of the ritual wrong.
Dawn: It’s not the Rituale Romanum. It’s De Exorcismis et Supplicationibus Quibusdam. Nine years of Catholic school, bitches!
Dean takes a little stroll with his home EMF detector because it’s T-minus 15 minutes and they’re not getting anything. Then, suddenly, the meter dings as the copilot exits the bathroom. They say the magic word of God, and the copilot glares at them, his eyes as black as coals. Filii canis.
Now, it’s a whirlwind attempt to convince Amanda the Flight Attendant that Evil is Afoot. It’s magic how little work that takes, but that’s Winchester Charm. She’s more ready to believe the brothers than she is to lure the copilot out of the cockpit, but she agrees to try.
Whatever she said to convince him must have worked, because here he comes. Dean has no more fucking time for this demonic nonsense, so he just knocks the guy cold, tapes his mouth shut, and sprinkles some Holy Water to make sure. There is an audible sizzle. That seems pretty goddamn sure, so let’s call it SPN Life Lesson # 17: If (holy water+skin=sizzle), then (demon). Dawn would like to point out that the previous definition is the first time she has written anything remotely close to algebra since freshman year, so suck it, high school curriculum. Cue Sammy and his amazing mid-flight exorcism skills. Just like in The Exorcist, there is a lot of holy water, serious screaming, and some pretty nasty sass about Dead!Jessica burning in Hell. Black Smoke comes out of the pilot! High five!
And goes straight into the plane. Oh shit.
The plane starts to dive. Dean is terrified, passengers are screaming, and Sam has dropped Scary Demonbits. He finds it and reads the fastest Latin he has ever read in his life. It works. The demon disappears in a crackle of terrible electricity and the plane levels off. Also, it’s very possible Dean has peed his pants. Just sayin’.
The copilot’s memory is a total blank and everyone is traumatized, but they aren’t roadkill. In the world of Supernatural, that’s a win. We get a couple final little mythos clues: 1. The demon knew about Jessica, and 2. Dad’s voicemail not only works again, but is telling anyone who calls to call Dean because “he can help.” WTF, Dad? No pressure, Dean. Time to start up the Impala, crank the music, and drive.
Next week, it’s an episode so scary Sarah has to watch it in the daytime as she joins Amtrak’s frequent traveler program, while Dawn starts cramming Latin. Christo, Hunters!