Sarah: Whelp. Here we are. It’s Tuesday night and I have just worked about 12 hours at 3 different jobs (yay, the future, right?). I, for once, am fully ready to have the bejeesus scared out of me. Don’t know why, not gonna question. All I know is this episode is called “Faith.” Ahem.
Also it stars a post-Darla Julie Benz.
On days like today, Darla is fully my copilot. Havoc, ahoy!
Dawn: I have been living with a broken air conditioner for over a week now. In Florida. In August. So my faith in anything not strong at the moment. Can those darling Winchester boys help me out? Christ, I hope so. Though I am a little nervous that Dean might take off his shirt again, because it’s already damn hot in here. Also while Sarah knows Ms. Benz as Darla, I know her as Mrs. Dexter. Also she is blonde. I am not holding out hope for her surviving the episode. But then this ep was written by the Misses Gamble and Tucker, and they have been known to save a blonde. Let’s see how it goes.
Season 1, Episode 12: Faith
Written by: Sera Gamble and Raelle Tucker
The Story So Far: We get the basic history, including a lot of mentions of Dad. But not a single flame! Again! Who does a fangirl have to service to get some goddamn flames up in this piece?
(Don’t worry if you don’t know who that is. You will, and then you will totally laugh at that gif. Trust us.)
Anyway. We open on those handsome Winchester Boys prepping for battle. Dean spouts some mumbo-jumbo while digging around in Baby’s trunk, telling Sam, “I want this Rawhead extra freakin’ crispy!” Ew. But ok. And they only get one shot, so make it count, Sammy.
Life and death. Sounds like a plan.
The boy pull out their best cop-movie “cover me” moves and descend into the ickiest basement, where they open a cabinet and find two adorable dirty and terrified extras from a touring production of Mary Poppins.
Our boys help the kids make a run for it but something grabs Sam’s leg! What is it? Dean fires a taser and, from the really angry noises, scores at least an direct hit. He yells for Sam to get the kids out of here, and the younger Winchester wisely listens to his big brother. But not before tossing his own taser to Dean, just in case.
A fairly gross-yet-generic monster of the week corners Dean, who goes down in a puddle. A PUDDLE, DEAN. MADE OF WATER. WHEN YOU HAVE A TASER. MADE OF ELECTRICITY. But Dean never paid attention in science class and also there is a monster, so he tases away. He kills the creature, but because he is LAYING IN A PUDDLE GODDAMN IT DEAN, the rules of superconductivity bite him right in the ass. So our Dean is zapped almost to death along with the rawhead. Sam, who has rushed back down the stairs, is understandably upset at finding his unconscious brother lying in said puddle. Because Sam paid attention in science class.
Dawn: Let that be a lesson to you, boys and girls. Pay attention in school.
We cut to a hospital, where an apologetic nurse is asking Sam — sorry, we mean Mr. Birkowitz — for Dean’s insurance. Also, there are cops waiting. Is this an ep of The Twilight Zone? Cops are being kind and thankful to Sam, who’s making that sad puppy face the entire world just can’t get enough of. Sam excuses himself from Helpful Cops 1 and 2 in order to talk to the ER doc. The doctor very apologetically explains the facts: Dean’s heart is so damaged that he is going to die. Sam, being Sam, is like, nope. There has to be some kind of treatment. Kind Doctor, who clearly does not know who he is dealing with, says no, because he “can’t work miracles.” The editors cut rapidly from a talking heads two shot into a closeup, the better to see those sweet Sammy eyes as they start to well up. He heads for Dean’s room. He is very Sad Panda.
Sarah: I get it. This episode isn’t scary. It’s depressing. Okie doke.
But we don’t have long to relish our lip wobble, because Dean is here with snark to save the day. “Have you ever actually watched daytime TV? It’s terrible.” That’s our boy — always bitching in the face of adversity. He further intones that he has put the Snuggle teddy bear on his hit list and we are SO GLAD because that thing is practically Satanic in its insidiousness. JUST LOOK AT IT.
IT’S TOTALLY GOING TO EAT THAT BABY’S SOUL.
Anyway. Dean is not stupid (at least, not when we’re not talking about the electroconductive properties of fucking water) and he can see the writing on the wall. Dean wants Sam to take off without him, and he warns Sam to take care of Baby or he’ll haunt his brother. Dean wants to talk about the End of His Life. Sam is Not Having Any Of That. Look at this face — he is like the anti-Lauren Cooper. That boy is WAY bovvered:
Sarah: DID SOMEONE REPLACE MY SCARY SHOW WITH A SOAP OPERA? WILL DEAN GET TRANSFERRED TO GENERAL HOSPITAL? THIS SCRIPT MAKES ME THINK YES.
Dawn: OH MY CROWLEY, LET THEM HAVE THEIR MOMENT. YOUR HEART IS BLACK, SARAH. DID SOMEONE BURN IT ON A CEILING, FFS?
Anyway. Sam, surrounded by piles of medical journal articles on cardiovascular health and treatment, leaves a voicemail for Dear Old Dad. Surprisingly, he’s not tearing his Dad a new asshole for sending them on yet another dangerous hunting mission what the fuck John you suck at parenting. Instead, he leaves a determined message: “Don’t worry, cause I’m uh…gonna do whatever it takes to get him better. Just wanted you to know.”
And just in time to, because there is a knock at the door and of course it’s Dean, who is NOT going to die in a hospital that lacks hot nurses. Dean is way stoic. Sam is Not Having It. That seems to be his theme his episode. It’s actually a pretty good moment between the brothers, because stoic Dean is just Dean being Dean, and it’s cool to see Sam not only not buying it, but also calling him out on it.
DEAN: You’re not gonna let me die in peace, are you?
SAM: I’m not gonna let you die, period.
Dawn: I love that exchange. It’s not the last time they are going to have a conversation where Sam takes Dean to task for his macho bullshit, but it’s probably the only time they’re going to do it without raised voices. That’s our Sammy!
While Dean was checking himself out of the world’s most lax ER, Sam was digging through Scary Demonbits and calling up Dad’s pals, one of whom knows a faith healer — “The real deal,” swears Sam. “We’re going.” Dean looks less than convinced. We don’t really blame him.
Baby drives through some gnarly, muddy potholes, and even though we can’t see the expression on Dean’s face as this happens, we assume it’s something like this:
They have reached a tent in the middle of a muddy field, where many people in various stages of illness and disability are milling(ish) about. Some are on crutches. And it turns out we DO get to see Dean’s pissed off face, and it is indeed as irritated as we thought, especially once he sees the sign that reads “The Church of Roy LeGrange. Faith Healer. Witness The Miracle..” Yeah. Not a happy Dean.
“You’re a lying bastard,” he snaps at Sam, “Thought you said we were going to see a doctor.” Sam can’t really argue, but that doesn’t keep him from trying: “I believe I said a specialist.” Weak, Sammy. We love you and your big ol’ eyes, but yeah — weak. But Reverand LeGrange is supposed to be the real deal, and let’s face it — if there is a chance out there to save his brother, Sam is taking it.
“Reverend LeGrange is a great man,” offers a lady from the ADR looping session as a totally different lady walks by, obscured by her umbrella. Dean is ornery. Sarah likes it. Dawn is thrilled she’s joined the club.
SaeH: Also, I don’t remotely believe that they’re about to kill off their lead in Season 1 E12. Unless you’re Joss Whedon about to go on a tear (pour one out for Tara, Doyle, and Wash, yeah?), you have to work pretty hard to convince me you’d axe any of your leads this early in the game.
Dawn: Don’t forget Game of Thrones Pour one out for…well, far too many to list here. Valar morghulis! But not quite yet, SPN.
Hey, hold up! Someone is also protesting the good Reverend by way of yelling at an unsympathetic cop that the Rev is “bilking people out of their hard-earned money,” and for a brief and glorious moment we think perhaps the Winchesters have wandered on to the set of Carnivale, because JUST IMAGINE the magic that would have resulted from a SPN/Carnivale crossover. Seriously, take a few minutes with that. Can you even? We can’t even.
Goddamn you, HBO. ANYWAY, back to faith healing. Dean is Scully. Sam is the Mulder-iest Mulder ever. HE JUST WANTS TO BELIEVE WHY CAN”T YOU JUST LET HIM BELIEVE and also he’s totally backed up by Julie Benz, flashing her friendliest smile. Dean warms immediately. Darla, err, umm, Mrs. Dexter, err actually her name is Layla totally has his number. And judging from the very Dean-esque smirksmile on his face, we’re betting he’s hearing those Clapton lyrics in his head, most notably that whole “you got me on my knees” bit. Oh, Dean.
Dean unwarms rapidly when, inside the revival tent, he spots a bunch of cameras posted around the room. And he gets suuuuper unwarm — downright arctic– when Sam insists that they sit right up front.
Enter Reverend LeGrange, who is a blind faith healer (both a pun and a trope! And our second Clapton reference of the recap!). He starts spinning a folksy piece about how scary and bad the news is, and Sam starts to scan the room. His eyes nearly immediately fall upon a super funky metal cross on the altar. So if there is any badness in this episode, it comes from that. Know how you can tell? The camera paused just long enough to let it register with you for an extra second. Also, it’s the only inanimate object other than the camera that either brother has noticed. Also also, it makes Sarah think of Warehouse 13, which she really dug. Also to the third power, Dawn watches a LOT of horror, and crosses are always a sign of something not awesome coming up soon.
The Rev promises his faithful flock that Gawd rewards the good and punishes the “corrupt.” Good thing he didn’t say “wicked,” because then Dean might have been screwed. He can’t even keep himself from making a snarky comment while the poor old blind crook we mean reverend is speaking: When LeGrange mentions being able to see into people’s hearts, Dean, perhaps not as quietly as he should have, snarls to his brother, “Yeah, and into their wallets.” The Rev hear him, and he takes is surprisingly well, joking right back by reminding Dean that blind people often have sharp hearing. Everyone has a good chuckle, and Dean almost smiles, but oh crap, the Rev asks Dean to come up on stage with him. This is Dean’s nightmare and Sam’s dream. Dean wants the Rev to pick someone else; Rev says that “the Lord” picked Dean. Dean does not like being chosen by God.
Dawn: Oh, my poor precious Dean. He has no idea how much he is going to hate being picked by the Lord.
Dean remarks that he isn’t a believer. Reverend LeGrange promises he will be. Dean is like,
And then LeGrange heals him. Like full-on fucking heals him. But when Dean opens his eyes, he sees a sort of reaper guy who looks at him and then vanishes. So now Dean is like,
Cut to the next morning. Dean is way too creeped out to muster up any hope of hitting on the cute brunette lady doctor who tells him he checks out just fine. The creep factor rises when she mentions that a guy just Dean’s age and super healthy dropped dead of a heart attack the night before, leaving Dean to be even more
(Yeah, yeah, we know — that was a lot of Doctor Who. No one at Head Over Feels can resist the siren call of a David Tennant gif set.) (Editor’s Note: That’s basically the founding principle of this blog.)
ANYWAY. So Dean is all WTF, but Sam, who is just happy to have a healthy big brother, wants to believe in coincidence JUST THIS ONCE. Except now it’s Deans turn to be having none of it. The healing felt wrong, and Dean saw something. Sam’s argument is that if something had been there — something like a spirit — that Sam would have seen it to, because Sam has “been seeing an awful lot of things lately.” By the way, you might want to note that little tidbit for, oh, pretty much the rest of S1. But Dean is still not having it, and he tells the “psychic wonder” to have some faith in himand his experienced gut.
Dean sends Sam to check out the dead guy, and he goes to visit the LeGranges. It seems the Rev magically started being able to heal people after a bout of ocular cancer just…cleared up. His wife is just tickled pink about the whole thing. She’s even wearing pink. We don’t trust her. She’s shady. Dean wants a balm for his survivors guilt, because why him and all. And Dean being Dean knows that a good soldier is never happy when it’s his own life that is saved. The Rev (who, unlike his shady wife, we really like a lot) tells Dean that God guided his hand to a young man with “an important purpose, a job to do that isn’t finished.” Rev, you don’t know the half of it. But hey, thanks for making sure we have both Winchesters for the foreseeable, ok?
Across town, Sam is taking a tour of a gym with a trainer who tells him that the guy who died had been freaking out about something chasing him. But no one saw a thing, of course. Also the clock at the pool stopped at 4:17, the exact time the athlete went full deadshirt. Sam’s curiosity is piqued.
As Dean is leaving the LeGrange house, he runs into Layla and her mother. Layla is sweet but her mother, not so much. In fact, she hates him with the fury of a thousand suns because the Rev Roy saved Dean and not her daughter. They’ve been to see him 6 times, and nada. “I just can’t pray any harder,” says Mom. Because, you see, Layla has an inoperable brain tumor. They don’t talk about what’s coming in six months. Layla’s trying to make her peace, but Mom doesn’t give a single fuck and is having zero trouble making Dean feel shitty about being healed. Super shitty. “Why do you deserve to live more than my daughter?” Fucking hell, lady.
[That said, can we just take a moment to say, Fuck Cancer! Even fictional cancer sucks.]
But it gets worse for our good soldier. Back at the hotel of the week, Sam informs Dean that every time Roy heals someone, an innocent person dies of very similar symptoms. While Sam is explaining, we see a woman running down a hiking trail. Sam’s voiceover continues, explaining that “somehow, LeGrange is trading one life for another.” We see what he means as Deadshirt!RunningLady’s scene is intercut by the Rev healing an old man with emphysema, and quick shots of the two brothers where Dean’s survivor’s guilt seems to be rubbing off on Sam. Dean figures out what he saw — A Reaper. Sarah thinks the Reaper looks like an ancient Ralph Fiennes; Dawn thinks it looks like a slightly weirder Tall Man.
The Reaper kills the young woman. The Reverend heals the old man. We’re not too sure about the Rev anymore. And Dean is not happy about any of it.
Time for Hunter Homework with a touch of Basil Exposition, as we learn that every culture has a Reaper myth. Also it’s not THE Reaper, but A Reaper. That’s important, for this ep and upcoming ones (at least, once we get to Season 2). Things are rapidly taking a turn for “I’ve seen the monsters and they are us”. Having looked deeply into the Abyss, the Abyss has also looked into Dean. And he is ready to mete out some eye for an eye justice — stop the life trading by killing Roy. Sam is not up for that. Instead, he wants to break whatever spell is controlling the Reaper.
The boys take Baby over to the revival tent in search of a spellbook. Dean heads to the tent while Sam goes for a little B&E at Casa LeGrange. It isn’t long before Sam finds the goods conspicuously close to a volume penned by an I. Steele (I steal! Punny!). He reads the spellbook because the Winchesters are the exception to every single rule for how to survive a horror movie, and immediately spots an illustration of Ye Olde Creepy Metal Crosse. Indeed, it is a Reaper that they are dealing with. But not just that — turns out someone is making the Reaper target liberals. Like, seriously. The victims thus far were a gay teacher and pro-choice advocate. And guess who’s up next? Our gallant local protester! TAKE THAT, HEATHEN.
So, basically, Roy is using a Reaper as his own personal political hit man. Not cool.
Sam calls Dean to give him the news, and also to tell Dean to keep Roy from healing anyone. So of course Roy chooses Layla. Dean cannot fucking win today.
So, in the parking lot, the Reaper is already targeting the protester. In the revival tent, Dean can’t convince Layla to avoid being healed because Brain Tumor+Sad Mom trumps Winchester Charm. Back in the parking lot, Sam is trying to protect the protester from the Reaper. And back once again in the revival tent, Dean has figured fuck it all and just starts screaming out FIRE, which works to get everyone to leave including the Rev and his healing Mojo. On a scale of 1 to Inoperable Brain Tumor, Dean’s life sucks, but Layla’s sucks worse.
But wait. Back in the parking lot, all is far from well. The Reaper is still in hot pursuit of the protester and actually manages to lay hands on the protestor, which means Roy isn’t the one doing the dirty work. Dean realizes it has to be Sue Ann LeGrange … who is parked in the corner of the revival tent, mumbling to herself. That bitch. Dean grabs her and sees that she is wearing a smaller version of Ye Olde Creepy Metal Crosse on a chain around her neck. She shoves it back into her ugly sweater and calls for help. Immediately, sheriff’s guards snag Dean. At least the disruption in ritual is enough to call off the Reaper, who disappears. The protester recovers. We think, anyway.
Sue Ann just doesn’t get it. She is very disappointed in Dean, what with the healing and all. She tells the cops that she isn’t going to press charges in favor of letting the Lord deal with it “as He sees fit,” but the purse of her lips makes us think she’ll be trying to make that call herself pretty soon. Layla comes up, understandably pissed and disappointed and yet still so very fucking kind and nice that it’s heartbreaking,. She wishes him luck so very sincerely, and it really gets to Dean, who is still large with the survivor guilt.
Over by Layla’s car, Roy promises to heal her privately that evening. That doesn’t leave too much time for the brothers to break apart the black altar that Sue Ann must have constructed (out of bones and human blood and a bunch of “seriously dark stuff”) and destroy the binding spell that’s keeping the Reaper in her control. She’s gone full Dark Arts and in a pretty major way. But Dean kinda gets it: “Her husband was dying, she didn’t have anything to save him.” Anything for family — that’s something the Winchesters understand, even if it is their own personal do as we say and not as we do. But for now, what they need to do it destroy the altar and the cross that Sue Ann is wearing, which is key to controlling the Reaper.
Finally, it’s a creepy night. Fog and everything. But it’s probably even darker and foggier in Dean’s mind, because he is still completely preoccupied with what is happening to Layla. Sam reminds him that no one should be playing God. We don’t think Dean really buys it, but he gets out of the car because he is a young man with an important purpose and it’s not finished yet.
Dean and Sam split up to stop Sue Ann. Dean asks the deputies if they’re ready to put the “fear of god” in him and takes off, drawing their attention away from the house. As they chase him, Sam cases the LeGrange house, realizing that of COURSE a dark altar would be kept in a storm cellar. He descends while Dean climbs on top of an RV to escape the deputies’ attention, but gain the attention of a cranky dog, who the deputies stupidly ignore.
Dawn: Duh. Always listen to the dog!
Sam’s found the altar, and it really is pretty bloody and creepy. And on it is a camera still of Dean, a bloody ‘X’ marking out his face. Sam wrecks the altar but Sue Ann has discovered him. She locks him in the cellar, pleading with him as only a self-righteous religious psycho can: “Sam, can’t you see? The Lord chose me to reward the just and punish the wicked! And your brother is wicked and he deserves to die just as Layla deserves to live! It’s God’s will!” Sue Ann is fully bonkers.
She takes off, leaving Sam to try to get out of the cellar.
In the tent, Roy is preparing to heal Layla. Reaper Tall Man Fiennes appears in front of Dean. Roy prepares to lay hands for a healing. Sue Ann whispers a (Dark Arts) prayer. Reaper Tall Man Fiennes lays hands of his own and begins transferring Layla’s brain tumor to Dean, who begins to die for the second time this episode. And we can’t help but notice that Dean isn’t fighting as well as perhaps he should to get away. Goddamnit, Dean.
But never fear. Sam’s broken out of the cellar, and he smashes Sue Ann’s blood filled Coptic cross.
As soon as that’s done, the Reaper realizes he’s no longer trapped and lets Dean go. Simultaneously, Roy loses the ability to “heal.” He calls for Sue Ann, who is staring at the Reaper, who smiles the world’s creepiest smile and then moves in for the kill in the episode’s only really freaky moment.
The brothers take off back to the Motel of the Week.
Dean is still super bummed out about Layla. He’s doubting himself for possibly the first time ever. Then Layla knocks on the door, thanks to Sam’s meddling. Per Sam, Dean wants to say good bye. Layla tells Dean about the second healing that did nothing, and that Sue Ann has died of a stroke. Dean feels terrible about, well, everything. But Layla’s ok.
“If you’re going to have faith, you can’t just have it when the miracles happen. You have to have it when they don’t.” (Amen, sister. Sometimes the answer is “no.”)
Dean has the first genuine connection of the season. He kind of looks like he’s going to cry. He tells Layla that while he isn’t a praying type, he’s gonna pray for her.
“There’s a miracle right there,” she says, and leaves, winning our hearts and the entire episode. Maybe even the entire season.
Sarah’s Final Thoughts: This episode was creepy in places, but not actually scary scary (see? I’m not afraid of EVERYTHING.) Corpsey Old Ralph Finnes deserves props for having an actual arc sans any dialogue whatsoever. Other things I learned tonight: True faith is kind of beautiful but the fake manipulative kind is nauseating. Goat brie makes overly hoppy IPAs taste better. I wasn’t really hungry for those chips. Julie Benz wins all the things. All of them. ALLLLLL OF THEM. Cast her in everything, Hollywood. And while you’re at it, maybe cast me too.
Dawn’s Final Thoughts: I love the eps that make our boys human, because at the heart of it, that is what they are — two kids who had to grow up too fast and who were thrust into potential greatness by a father who really did feel like he had no choice. And they love each other, those boys. They really do. Someday, someone is going to exploit that. And hard.
Next week, it’s creepy racist ghosts! And a lady from Dean’s past. That might be the most supernatural thing they’ve dealt with so far, quite frankly.