Sarah: This is the one about the racist ghosts, right? I predict I will find some very problematic tropes in this episode. Also, I am guessing that they knew from the get that they were going to call episode 13 “666” because it is Supernatural, tropes are tropes.
ANYWHO. I am ready to be distracted, even if it is by an episode which I predict will make me feel tremendously unimpressed by its ham-handed handling of racism in America as sort of solved in 45 minutes by two very traditionally handsome white men.
Woah. Maybe this episode should watch out. I’m not feeling very friendly, even to the hot and do-gooding brothers Winchester.
Dawn: This week I had the flu. In Florida. In August. Also I have two large dogs, and I work for myself. So basically, sick days? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Yeah, it was not pleasant. This is the first day all week that I have been upright for more than ten minutes, and I am drowning in deadlines. But I am here for you, SPN fans. Yes, yes, I am. And since I saw this ep long before the current atrocities were happening, I am not as worried as Sarah. Also, Dean with a girl. The ONLY girl they ever hooked him up with that I actually liked. Let’s get on the road.
Also to celebrate Saturday, August 24, and the premiere of the new season of Doctor Who, it’s all Doctor gifs, all the time. Except for when it’s SPN. So…
Season 1, Episode 13: Route 666
Written by: Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner
The Story So Far: The recap is still happening – only now it tells us that Sammy has “gotta find Dad” because it’s all he can think about. “We KNOW,” says everyone who has been watching episodes 1-12. Sammy is a little obsessive.
Chyron Person informs us that we’re in Cape Girardeau, MO. Sarah has decided that we are going to call it Gerard Depardieu for the rest of this recap because she feels like it, and Dawn is so punchy from being sick that she considers this to be hysterically funny and possibly Sarah;s best idea ever. Also, hey, remember Gerard Depardieu? He turned out to be way problematic.
Sarah: I also need to say that right now recapping an episode about racism that takes place in suburban/rural Missouri feels pretty loaded given recent events.
Dawn: I took way too many historical criticism classes in college to compare a TV show that originally aired in 2006 to recent events, and also the world is a fucking awful place and I refuse to let it take my boys from me.
It’s about to feel way more loaded now that we’re watching a black man driving his car down a street deserted…aside from a GIANT FREAKING SEMI truck whose presence makes our Deadshirt!Driver’s radio short out, and then bears down on his car, all the while gunning its engine. The horrible truck speeds and speeds, surprising Deadshirt!Driver, who tries to get away (though we already know he won’t, because this is the teaser). Suddenly, just as quickly as it appeared, the evil truck of doom is gone and D!D’s radio returns to normal. He gets just enough time to take a relieved breath or three before the truck reappears — this time, stopped dead in the middle of the road and facing him. D!D makes a three-point turn and prepares to get the hell out of there when the truck takes after him again. This time, it hits his car repeatedly and runs him off the road before vanishing mysteriously. The car is totaled and its occupant most assuredly deceased.
Cut to Sam and Dean at a gas station. Sam thinks he found a quicker route through PA – “around that construction.” Dean informs him that they’re no longer headed for the freedom state, as an old friend of his has called – her father was killed the night before, and she thinks “it might be our kind of thing.” She never, ever, never would have called if she didn’t need the brothers, Dean informs Sam. So they need to head to her immediately.
Right, Ten? We’re certainly intrigued. So is Sam. He’s also a little bit tickled — not not by the destination, but by the revelation that his gruff big brother managed to date a real live human person for more than one night. But gruff Dean is gruff and he is not a in a sharing mood because SPN Life Lesson #3 is very clear on this, Sammy, and you should know how your brother feels about that.
Nine, we feel you. But Dean is Dean, bless him. “Am I speaking a language you’re not getting here?” he asks, clearly perturbed that they are having any sort of conversation involving the mere possibility that he has feelings.
Then Sam realizes that the reason she knows what the brothers do for a living is that Dean told her, meaning he broke big family rule numero Uno – the one he never broke while dating Jessica.
Sam has gone from zero to furious in a total of about five seconds. The Bitchface is so epic it should probably have gotten its own credit. (Sadly we could not find a gif of the Bitchface form this actual ep, but here’s one that’s damn close.)
Brrrr. It’s getting cold in that Impala. But Sam has a point and the fact that Dean is basically unresponsive isn’t really helpful. But again, Sam shouldn’t be surprised. So, moving on.
Cut to a newspaper office, where the town’s mayor is rightly getting some blowback for attempting to tell the paper “what to print and what to sit on.” His challengers are Cassie — Deadshirt!Driver’s daughter and Dean’s ex, and oh my god she is ADORABLE and not at all what we expected and Dawn kind of loves her instantly because sass — and the paper’s editor, Jimmy, who points out to the mayor that two black people were killed on the same stretch of road in the space of three weeks. The white mayor tries to tell them that they’re too close to the subject as (and I quote) “Those guys were friends of yours.” He leaves as the brothers enter.
Dean introduces Cassie to Sam and there is much staring (and some longing) between Dean and Cassie. Sam is entirely superfluous to the exchange, which is adorable. It’s also a really nice move on the part of the writers and the director, because anyone who has ever been the third person in a room like that knows exactly how Sam feels.
Cassie takes the brothers to her mom’s house and explains that she’s been staying with her mother since her father’s death. Before his death, Cassie’s dad swore that he’d been seeing an “awful looking black truck” that would appear and disappear. In the accident, Cassie tells them, her father’s car looked like it had been slammed into by something big. He drove cars in perfect condition. At the scene, there was only one set of tire tracks — his. The first accident scene was similar, and the man killed was Clayton Soames (her father’s best friend and the co-owner of their car dealership). So two people who knew each other died in virtually identical manners. Sounds at least a little suspicious, right? The kind of thing that might make an enterprising youg police detective raise an eyebrow and do a little investigating? Except apparently, there are no enterprising young detectives in Gerard Depardieu, MO, and the cops are calling both deaths as the drivers having lost control of their vehicles. Sure, that seems likely.
Cassie is skeptical about ghosts (very), she says. Dean reminds her that she called him crazy. But that was then, she says. And now she can’t explain what’s happened.
Enter Cassie’s mom. She meets the boys but balks at the idea of talking to them. Momma Robinson is immune to the Winchester Charm. Seems her daughter inherited a bit of that too.
Dawn: It spoils nothing when I say that Cassie is the ONLY girl they ever attached to Dean that I actually liked.
Time for another accident. This time the victim is the editor of the paper. The next morning, Cassie and the mayor tour the scene of the accident. Major Tool oops we mean Mayor Todd offers some bs platitudes about Jimmy being one of Gerard Depardieu’s “best.” Cassie notes that “our best seem to be dropping like flies.” She wants the mayor to close this stretch of road. He balks and actually utters the words “accidents do happen.” When the brothers join them, he insists that the single set of tracks “don’t point to foul play.”
Sarah: I’d like to go on record as sincerely hoping that “accidents” happen to this tool next. What a dick.
Cassie asks point-blank if Major Tool would close the roads if the victims were white. It’s an obvious question and no one blames her for asking what we were all wondering. He takes offence at her insinuation that he’s racist and gives us all a bad feeling when he adds, “Why don’t you ask your mother?”
Oh, it’s suit time!!! Suit time lightens things up a bit, because Winchesters in suits.
As they straighten their ties and adjust their jackets, Sam is being so very Younger Brother and is needling Dean about the way that he and Cassie keep checking one another out whenever they think the other person isn’t looking. Like, to the point where it’s almost disappointing that he doesn’t start singing the K-I-S-S-I-N-G song. Missed opportunity there, writers. Sam also points out that Cassie is fearless and probably kicked Dean’s ass a few times. Sam totally gets why Dawn likes her. Thanks, Sammy.
It’s Alias of the Week Time! We’ve missed you, AofW. And the winner is… Insurance Adjusters. Because Sam totally looks old enough for that. Good thing for them, none of Jimmy friends seem to notice that one of the insurance adjusters is a zygote and some information is forthcoming. Turns out one of them has heard of the big black truck they’re asking about, but that was back in the 1960s, when a string of black men disappeared into the truck and were never seen again.
“They ever catch the guy who did it?” Dean asks.
“Never found him,” Jimmy’s friend notes, “Hell, not sure they ever really looked.” Seems the town had a pretty racist past — Jimmy’s friend refers to it as “unfriendly” rather than coming right out with it, but all know exactly what he means.
The brothers thank the man and depart. They walk and talk, theorizing that the phantom truck might be like The Flying Dutchman. Dean further realizes that all the victims are connected to Cassie’s family. Younger Brother is totally. “You should go talk to her.” About the truck. And maybe some other things. Dean is obstinate. Sam is intuitive. It’s another great scene that shows us just how close these two really are, since Dean can say whatever he wants but Sam knows the truth — Dean loved this girl, and she broke his heart.
Dean hates every second of this conversation. Sam is having a ball. We love it.
Off Dean goes to the girl that got away. Cassie is going through Jimmy’s awards and personal effects in order to write the paper’s tribute to him. After the Dorians, the racist family who first owned the town’s paper, sold it, Jimmy became its first black reporter, and “didn’t stop until he was editor.” Then she asks where Sam is and we all feel the delicious tension rise when Dean responds, “Not here.”
Dean proceeds to ask if Cassie’s asked her mom what Major Tool meant about not being a racist.
Cassie and Dean proceed to have an adorably shouty fight (in which Cassie totally calls Dean on most of his shit, re: feelings, and Dawn is basically cheering her on) and about who said what to whom and what it meant and who hurt whom and then they are kissing and it is really sweet.
Then they totally hook up and it is frenzied and kind of hot in the way hookups are when you are otherwise rather sad about life and need to connect, which both Dean and Cassie totally are and totally do. The scene is done really well, and the original music used for it was perfection — Bad Company’s “She Brings Me Love.” Unfortunately, it seems the show was unable to get the rights to the song for syndication, so instead we get Sharif’s “Paradise.” But because we love you, cue up the scene, mute Netflix or your DVD, and play this instead, because it’s seriously so much hotter and way more Dean:
The next morning, Major Tool is looking at some blueprints at a survey site. He walks back to his car when That Truck appears, runs him down (it’s rather grizzly but then again he rather deserves it) and then disappears.
Back at Cassie’s house, she and Dean are still in bed remembering that they were very, very good at fighting and making up. She asks why he told her the truth and he tells her he couldn’t lie to her. She thought he was crazy, but perhaps she was looking for a reason to walk away.
Dean basically admits that he’s more afraid of emotional intimacy than of the inexplicable horrors he faces on a daily basis. He promises no more excuses. We know he’ll break that promise in the remaining moments of this episode, which is kinda sad because we also know that, in this moment, he actually means it. Damn you, writers.
Dean’s phone rings. We can tell that it’s Sam because Dean seems soooooo pleased. But then he seems very WTF, and that’s the end of pillow talk.
Dean joins Sam at the snowy crime scene. Sam teases. Dean is slightly better about it, including this fucking adorable exchange that makes us once again have all the feels for Dean and Cassie:
SAM: I’m guessing you guys worked things out?
DEAN: We’ll be working things out when we’re ninety.
Oh, baby. We’re pretty sure you mean *you* will be working things out when you’re ninety. Alone. The sad, sad SPN Life Lesson here is that hunting and relationships don’t mix.
Anyway, the brothers are perplexed because the mayor didn’t fit the pattern, being white and in another part of town. Hunter Homework time!
Dean is sitting at a computer in the newspaper office, trying to figure out the nature of the MotW with Cassie. She’s super unsurprised that Dean can’t find anything about the murders in the 1960s, basically because racism. We are super surprised that they aren’t taking advantage of the fact that Sam isn’t there because that desk over there looks like a convenient flat surface, but hey, score one for responsibilities.
Sam calls with the news that the Dorian family owned the property where the mayor died. Dean recognizes the name and so do we. It turns out that the Dorian family owned most of the town. Dean’s research turns up a newspaper article on the disappearance of Cyrus Dorian in 1963 — the same time the murders of black men were taking place. Interesting. Moreover, Sam, Dean, and Cassie figure out that the first of the modern-day murders took place on the day after the mayor bulldozed the Dorian family home.
We now know that the super super racist Dorian family is probably behind all of the deaths in this episode, but HOW?
Cassie is at home at night (presumably alone) when the lights flicker and she hears an engine rev. The monster truck is at every window revving its engine and shaking the house. Cassie phones Dean and we cut away. When we come back, Cassie is making a joke about adding a couple of shots to her tea. She wants to know why the driverless truck left them alive, and Dean comfortingly responds that whoever is controlling it “wants you afraid first.” He badgers Cassie’s mom into revealing that her husband had indeed seen a truck.
Dean should never ever go into a “helping” profession. His soft tone doesn’t quite match the questions he has to ask. Sweet of him to try, though, because he loves that girl. Bless his soon-to-be-broken-again heart.
Cassie’s mom tells them that her husband thought the truck belonged to a man named Cyrus. Super helpfully, Dean has a copy of the article on Cyrus Dorian’s disappearance at hand. But Cassie’s mom doesn’t see how it could be Cyrus Dorian’s truck as he died 40 years earlier.
Dean asks her how she knows that Cyrus is dead, because Dean is full of tact and sensitivity.
Mom responds with “We were all very young.” Oof. That’s never a great way to start anything.
Turns out Mom was seeing Cyrus at the same time that she was secretly dating Cassie’s dad, Martin. Mom broke it off with Cyrus, and then Cyrus found out about her relationship with Martin, at which point he apparently went crazy and murdered black men, but “nothing was ever done.”
Cassie’s mom and dad had had plans to marry in a little church in town but changed their minds and eloped to avoid extra scrutiny. Still, someone (Cyrus) set fire to the church the day of their anticipated wedding, murdering a choir full of school children who had been rehearsing there. Then, one night, Cyrus came for Cassie’s father. He beat him terribly, but Martin managed to escape and turn the tables on Cyrus, whom he beat to death.
Dawn: I’m going to go on record here that this is the scariest shit — in a that nasty real life kind of way — that SPN has ever dealt with, and I, for one, can’t wait until we get back to ghoulies and ghosties and demons. Because fuck.
Dean interrupts to ask why she didn’t call the police, and Kathleen Noone as Mrs. Robinson gives him a look we can only describe as equal parts incredulity, shock, and death glare. She patiently explains that this was 40 years ago. So Martin called his friends.
Dean interrupts again to ask why Major Tool told Cassie that her mother would know that he wasn’t a racist. Because he’d figured out what Martin had done, she tells them, and he did nothing, “because he also knew what Cyrus had done.”
For the sake of brevity, we will refrain from making the argument that one decent act does not make someone not a racist, and that Major Tool seemed pretty darned steeped in bigotry at the top of the ep. But know that argument is there to be made.
The brothers have figured out that Cyrus’ spirit is awake and angry owing to the demolition of his family home by the same former deputy that covered up his (super deserved) murder. They are going to have to dredge the swamp and burn the body. Whee!
Dean gets Cassie to agree to stay in the house (which we are betting is about to get another appearance by Ghost Truck of Doom) while they go out to fight the bad guy. They make out. Sam gets a minor case of the awkward giggles. So do we.
But despite the giggles, let’s call SPN Life Lesson #33 don’t leave your girlfriend home alone, idiot. It’s like Dean’s never seen his own show.
The boys manage to pull up the truck, with the help of a handy tractor. Sam tries to bust his brother’s balls a little more, but Dean is happily getting some and since he thinks he doesn’t need to worry about that anymore, it’s time to get down to the Family Business. But as Dean and Sam burn Cyrus’ body, the ghost truck appears and it is PISSED. Dean leads it away while Sam figures out how to burn the truck. Dean calls Sam for help but Sam isn’t ready. They are woefully unprepared for this turn of events, and it’s both tense and totally adorable because of their bond.
When Sam dials Dean back, though, he has coordinates (from Cassie — yay, Cassie!). He directs Dean to make a series of turns. When he stops, the ghost truck drives right through him…and into the hallowed ground where the church Cyrus burnt down once stood. It’s genius, right? Except not quite, because this conversation happens and we sorta love it:
SAM: Church ground is hallowed ground, whether the church is still there or not. Evil spirits cross over hallowed ground, sometimes they’re destroyed, so I figured, maybe, that would get rid of it.
DEAN: Maybe? Maybe!! What if you were wrong?
SAM: Huh. Honestly that thought hadn’t occurred to me.
DEAN: (as he stares at his phone and hangs up, mimicking Sam)Well it honestly didn’t occur to me.
So Dean is all…
And Sam is all…
And so we are all…
The next morning, Cassie walks Dean to Baby. He wants to pretend there’s a chance; she wants to be a realist. They kiss goodbye.
Sam tries to have a heartfelt conversation with Dean, who totally turns off and tells Sam to wake him when it’s his turn to drive.
Sarah’s Final Thoughts: Like Dawn, I really strongly prefer that my fiction be of the more escapist nature, as I watch TV to take a brief break from the world around me. Also, it’s often risky to tackle such serious subject matter in one episode of any TV show, as real life problems are a) more nuanced and b) typically are tackled over the course of years, not minutes. That said, I really dug Cassie and would like to see her character developed further (she’d make a great Scully to the Winchesters double-Mulder). Unfortunately, she’s another one-episode character. We’re half way through season 1, and I think it’s time for the writers to put some effort into developing characters who are people of color and characters who are female. I’m getting a distinct “women are soooo hard to animate” vibe from the show so far, and while I’m still having fun watching, I’m starting to feel more critical on this point.
Dawn’s Final Thoughts: I prefer my horror to be horrible, but in a very make-believe kind of way. Like monsters that aren’t real as opposed to ones that are, ghost truck or not. This ep was important not in the overall S1 mythos, necessarily, but for the character development that occurred, particularly with Dean. Also, Cassie, we hardly knew ye. I loved you so much more than Lisa.
Next week, we’re getting a HEAVY dose of Season 1 mythos, including a lot more information on what exactly is happening inside Sam’s head. And we’re probably still searching for Dad. Like you do.