Hey all! Introducing Erica, who is taking over for Sarah as we return to the Wonderful World of Winchester. Erica is our new SPN newbie who will occasionally utilizes the also new skills of her husband, Shane. Erica assures Dawn that Shane has been cautioned not to diss our boys lest we need to pop a cap full of rock salt in his ass. As such, we are allowing him to comment in our recap. Occasionally. Onward!
DAWN: Sadly, this episode is not an homage to the great Richard Matheson novel Hell House, nor the classic horror film of the same name. But still, I am super excited about this ep. Though not quite as excited as I will be about future eps (at which point I might be apoplectic). Bring on the fan favorites!
ERICA: Dawn is super excited, and I’m not quite sure why. Also? I’m guessing this has something to do with Ghostbusters, which means hopefully it’s a comedic-ish episode. Cause, damn if these boys ain’t emo AF.
SHANE: I have no idea what’s going on, and thus, no thoughts. Thought if they start squirting water at the chandelier like it’s an uvula, I’m turning it off. I’m just sayin’.
ERICA: I have no idea what that means. Anyway.
Who ya gonna call for the reaction gifs? That’s right, the goddamn Ghostbusters. With a few exceptions for fun.
Season 1, Episode 17: Hell House
Written by: Trey Callaway
The Story So Far: The usual, but now with handy, dramatic chyrons! We kinda wish it was narrated by movie trailer guy, and now you will hear it in his voice as you read: “Their mother mysteriously died….Now two brothers….Are on a quest to find their father.” Family business, must find dad, blahbbity bloop. Onward.
Normal chyron tells us we are in Richardson, Texas, two months ago. Shane wonders why it was two months ago. Teenagers are walking the dark with a flashlight, clearly on their way to do Something Stupid.
ERICA: Because that’s not the most traditional start to a horror flick EVAR.
SHANE: Aww..the obligatory ham-fisted flirting….
Oh, look, an abandoned house that future Deadshirt!Thurston’s cousin told him about. Blonde Girl (you poor SPN Life Lesson 24 child) is not into this idea. But stupid teenage boys head in, including one that Blondie might kinda like despite his really awful pick-up lines, so in everyone goes. “Come on,” one says. “This way.” And suddenly it’s urban legend time: “They say that it lives in the root cellar. It goes after girls. Always girls. It just, strings ’em up.” (Of course it does.) The friends scoff. (Of course they do.) Also why is there light coming through the window when it’s supposed to be dark outside? Bad editor. No cookie.
ERICA: Why, oh why, do stupid kids go into abandoned houses? Haven’t these kids ever watched a horror film ever?
DAWN: Because SPN Life Lesson #25.
Idiot teens move to the root cellar, “where Satan cans all his vegetables.” (Erica: hardy har har) That was witty, but it’s probably not going to save any lives. Witmaster proceeds to insult the farmhouse and whatever/whoever may or may not be living in it, which is probably unwise. And BOOM! Dead body hanging from the ceiling. Roll opening credits. In utter defiance of most of our previously learned SPN Life Lessons, every single one of them survived. Supernatural, indeed.
Here comes Baby, heading on down Route 35. Dean is driving, classic rock on the radio: Death comes driving down the highway, in its Sunday best... Sam is sleeping peacefully in the passenger seat. Time to fuck with Sam! Dean sticks a plastic spoon in his brother’s mouth, snaps a cell phone pic, turns up the music and happily air drums to Blue Oyster Cult as little brother wakes up in a panic. If you’ve ever been on a road trip with a sibling, this will be extra funny to you. We also learn that they have been having prank wars for many, many years, and a new one is has just begun. Dawn thinks the show should just be about the prank war. Erica has been in a prank war and dislikes them, ‘cause she always lost. Shane wonders how a spoon is funny. But apparently there is also a case. Oh, fine.
So there’s this house in the neighborhood that is abandoned (like they are) and supposedly haunted (like they are) and so of course lots of teenagers dare each other to go there (like they do). According to Sammy, the ghost that haunts this place is “a pretty misogynistic spirit,” and all the nerdy fangirls like us swooned a little because he knows what that word means. Anyway, this particular group of idiot teens — with not a Deadshirt among them! Yet! — called the cops when they saw the dead girl swinging from the rafters, but when the cops got there, there was no body. So are the teenagers jerks or is this a real case? Dean thinks the former, but Sammy has read firsthand accounts. Where, you might ask, as Dean did? Well, uh, you see, hems and haws Sam, it was on a paranormal website — hellhoundslair.com (which sadly doesn’t exist anymore; it just takes you to the CW’s main site). Time to talk to the kids, natch, but where? “Same place you always kind kids in a town like this,” says Sam. So we figure it’s off to the back of somebody’s barn for some stolen whiskey!
Except it’s a soda shop. We shit you not. Not like a diner, mind. Like an actual fucking cheeseburger and ice cream Happy Days-esque kind of place.
SHANE: It took them all day to get there?
DAWN: Question not the ways of time in SPN! Else we shall eject you from our recap, silly man.
ERICA: Ooh…you want some cold water for that burn there, babe?
Apparently both Sam and the SPN writers either think it’s 1957 or have never met any actual teenagers. We get snippets of all the teens stories, none of which quite match except that they all agree the girl was there, definitely there, definitely dead, and it was definitely Craig who sent them there in the first place.
Let’s meet Craig! He’s kind of a normal, surly teenage writer who works in an indie record shop. Dawn is also a writer who was a surly teenager who worked in an indie record shop and she thinks Craig is spot-the-fuck-on. Erica wonders what a record is. This makes Dawn surly.
So Craig tells them the story of Mordecai Murdoch who lived during the Great Depression along with his six daughters. Seems the Murdochs were running out of money and Mordecai decided that he’d rather slaughter his family than let them starve to death, so that’s just what he did. Hung them all, then himself, and now his spirit hangs any girl unfortunate enough to enter the house. Craig heard this story from his cousin Dana, but of course he didn’t believe a word of it, himself, until he saw the dead girl that night as well. So now he doesn’t know what to believe. Nor do the boys. Or, at this point, us. Off to Hell House!
Dawn: (singing) Hell House! On a dark abandoned street! Hell House! Where dead bodies swing from trees! (because rafters doesn’t rhyme, duh.)
Shane: Why are they walking everywhere? There’s definitely roads. Where’s the car?
Dawn: ROCK SALT IN THE ASS, SHANE.
The way in is kinda gross and muddy because ghosts are shitty landscapers. Also the EMF is fucked because of all the power lines. In they go, to see all the occult tagging going on, most of which is definitely post-Depression in origin, according to Sam. According to Dean, that bit of trivia is why Sam never gets laid. But Dean kinda recognizes one of the symbols too, though he can’t remember from what or where. And since the paint on that one if fresh, it’s looking like maybe the cops were right, but then there is a BIG! NOISE! and that means it’s time to break down a door and get bright lights shined into their eyes. Wait, what?
Hey it’s two other guys! With cameras! Dean is not amused. He is even less amused when the two introduce themselves as “professional paranormal investigators.” Sam knows their names — Ed Zeddmore and Harry Spangler. It’s the Hell Hounds (at least for now, as fandom knows)! And they are arrogant in that way that only people with no earthly idea what they are doing are arrogant. They call Sam and Dean “amateurs” and proceed to explain what EMF is, and show how their EMF is all “hot” at 2.8mg. Dean would really rather be anywhere else.
ERICA: Who the hell are these fools?….oh. Stoners.Obvs.
The next day, Hunter Homework takes Sam to the library, where he finds out virtually nothing, except for a Marin Murdoch who lived in the house in the 30s with his two boys, none of whom died. It’s gotta be a bust, so time for beer!
They get into the Impala and Dean starts the car. The radio blasts salsa music and Sam giggles like a kid. Dean says this is “bush league.” We are kinda with Dean on this one.
DAWN: I would have put glitter in the air vents.
ERICA: OOH glitter bombs!! That’ll NEVER get out!
SHANE: I don’t think he liked the prank…
It’s nighttime again and more teenagers are daring each other to go into Hell House. Jerkoff teen boys are a big part of life in this town, it seems, since this new teen girl, Jill, is given the choice of go into the haunted house or hook up with this gross guy. We’d take the homicidal ghost too, honey. Jill is sweet and smart and cute and brunette, but since the dumb blonde girl survived the pre-credits trip, we suspect Jill is not long for this world. And we are right, because enter Mordecai. RIP, Deadshirt!Jill. We hardly knew ye, but we kinda liked ye.
The boys come upon the investigation and are surprised to learn about Jill. Dean thinks they must have missed something. But it’s a little tougher to get into the house this time, what with cops crawling all over it. Luckily, Dean spots the Hell Hounds. “Who ya gonna call?” he yells, and we adore him, and the cops chase Ed and Harry off the property.
ERICA: Well, that explains the Ghostbuster reference. And the GIF choice.
DAWN: Dean is totally the movie geek of the Winchester family.
That symbol is still on the wall and it’s driving Dean a little nuts. Erica hates it when that happens. Shane is pretty sure Dean is going to kick himself when he figures it out. But he is distracted from his frustration by all the jars of ick in the basement, which he naturally dares his brother to drink. Karma pays him back for that when rats run out of a cabinet; Dean hates rats, in a very Indiana-Jones-and-snakes kind of way. But before we can giggle at those silly Winchester antics, here comes Mordecai with a goddamn axe, and it’s shotguns away! But the fucker doesn’t feel it, and we are as confused as Sam when he exclaims, “What the hell kind of spirit is immune to rock salt?” They run. Mordecai breaks things (Erica: Lots of things). Our boys barely get out in time.
Outside, they run straight into the Hell Hounds. Ed and Harry are like WTF, and our boys are like WTAF and also STFU and let’s GTFO, which they do. Ed and Harry have just enough time for possibly the finishing each other’s sentences moment ever — “Sweet lord…” “…of the Rings” — before the cops arrest them.
Back in the hotel of the week, Dean is frustrated about the symbol and Sam is confused as hell over Mordecai’s decidedly unghostly behavior and lack of ligature marks around his neck. He was sporting slit wrists thought, which was not part of the original story. Then Sam finds that someone has posted retelling of the legend on the Hell Hounds’ site; this one says Mordecai “was really a Satanist who chopped up his victims with an axe before slitting his own wrists.” Changing the story changes the ghost? Weirdness. But it must be making some kind of sense to Dean, who sits straight up in that time-honored lightbulb over the head kind of way.
We are going to the record store to buy a Blue Oyster Cult album! Fire of Unknown Origin, to be exact, which prominently features the very symbol that was confusing the hell out of Dean Oh, Craig. You over imaginative little nonconformist indie outcast, you. As it turns out, the legend is and always was total bullshit, invented by Craig and cousin Dana. They made it all up, he swears, just told some people, who told other people, and so on and so on until it ended up on the Hell Hounds site. It was funny at first, Craig says. But now there is a dead girl, and a pretty damn real spirit. So our boys remain pretty damn WTF.
Back to the hotel room. Sam is in the shower. Dean has a through the door conversation while happily sprinkling itching powder all over Sam’s discarded clothes. Oh, look, it’s wet Sam in a towel. With pecs. And washboard abs. And that v-shape that hip muscles make, the one you can see when a towel is hanging kinda low on the hips….
ERICA: Stop it, I’m getting thirsty…*drools*
Oh, uh, yeah, Sam also has a theory: a tulpa, which is a Tibetan thought projection that monks can create “out of thin air” via group concentration. So if 20 monks can create a golem, what can thousands of web surfers do? Make a Mordecai, apparently, thanks also to a Tibetan sigil Craig and his idiot cousin painted on the wall, a pic of which is on the website. This also explains why the spirit changed and also why rock salt had no effect. Mordecai is not a traditional spirit, which means destroying him isn’t subject to the old rules. He’s basically a brand new kind of big badass, which isn’t terrific.
But Dean has an idea, so they need to go to a copy store. Sam packs up, bitching about being allergic to laundry soap. and now it’s Dean’s turn to laugh. “You’re a friggin’ jerk,” Sam says. “Oh, yeah,” Dean crows back.
At the Hell Hound trailer, Ed and Harry are trying to get themselves together to go back to the house. Harry is more than a little reticent. Ed reminds him that this is their ticket to fortune, fame, and real live girls. “WWBD?” Ed says. “What would Buffy do?” “She’s stronger than me,” Harry says, and we all nod our heads. Even more so when both Hounds squeal at a knock on their door.
It’s our boys. Snark is exchanged, and you have to appreciate the Hell Hounds for not backing down. At first, anyway. Then Harry is a little Ed-maybe-we-should, but Ed is more the-fuck-we-should, and that’s fine because Sam and Dean kinda figured that and they have A Plan. A really good one, actually, that involves both changing the legend and putting in a guaranteed safety net of a way to kill Mordecai. Not bad, boys.
Sam and Dean head to a local cafe to await the website changes they know will be coming. There is a laughing guy holding a bass on the wall — the fish, not the instrument — and Dean is just tickled by the damn thing so he keeps pulling the string to make it perform. Sam is less tickled. Bitchface is in the house, y’all.
But the story has posted. The boys posit that the iron rounds they worked into the tale will be viable by nightfall. They toast beers. Sam puts his back down on the table. Dean…can’t. Oh no Sam didn’t! Oh yes he did! Super glue ftw! Now it’s Sam’s turn to cue the laughing fish. Nicely done, Sammy.
Back to Hell House! Again! Where the laughing fish holding guy is in a tree, all the better to distract the cops. Those laughing fish–what AREN’T they good for? This gets the boys into the house, where this delightful exchange occurs:
Dean: I barely have any skin left on my palm.
Sam: I’m not touching that line with a ten foot pole.
ERICA: He shouldn’t NEED his palm…*drools*
DAWN: I have two perfectly good ones. Please let me help.
They wonder if Mordecai is home. So does Ed? Wait, what? WTF are they doing here? “We’re just trying to get a book and movie deal, ok?” Ed says. And here comes Mordecai! But with an axe again? Huh? What the hell happened? No time to ask right now, because the boys are too busy emptying their shotguns into the spirit, which disappears but isn’t destroyed. Shane is too busy wondering why Dean holds his gun like a gangsta. Why? Because the server crashed before enough people could read and therefore concentrate on and create the new story. Damn internet. Time to go! But here comes Mordecai and his trusty axe again. The Hell Hounds panic; Ed tries chanting “The power of Christ compels you,” which is both ineffectual and hilarious. Sam distracts Mordecai and ends up against the wall with an axe handle pressed against his throat for his troubles. Dean goes with a new plan — torch the damn house. No house to haunt, no haunting. Seems legit! Let’s go!
ERICA: (singing) We didn’t start the fire! No we….wait, we TOTALLY started the fire!!
The next day, the brothers are chilling at a picnic table in the trailer park when the Hell Hounds come by on their way home from the grocery store. Ed and Harry are pleased as hell to report a phone call they got from a Hollywood producer who wants to buy the rights to the Mordecai story for a film and also an RPG. Our boys graciously congratulate Ed and Harry, and wish them farewell on their journey to Hollywood. They watch the trailer pull away, and no one is surprised when Sam admits to having been the producer. But we are a little surprised that Dean left a dead fish in the Hounds’ car. Well played, boys. Well played. Off we drive in Baby, to the strains of BOC and “Burnin’ For you.”
Erica’s Final Thoughts: I greatly dislike the Hell Hounds. They bug the shit out of me. You’re telling me they’re coming back?!? Oh ffs…arrogant little pricks…Also? Not as humorous as I was hoping, what with the Ghostbusters references. I was kind of “meh” on this episode, tbh. I hope next week’s is better.
Dawn’s Final Thoughts: GHOSTFACERS! I love Ed and Harry and this was a great introduction. I can’t wait to have them back. I also love the prank war and how it sets up a history that will be a prominent plot point in one of my very favorite episodes Season 2 episodes. This was a fun Monster of the Week that will serve as mythos starting points for a lot of later action. Good job.
NEXT WEEK: FAMILY DRAMA! Dad sends the boys on a mission that seems awfully familiar to Dean. Which means Dean has bad memories of childhood. Which means guilt and vendetta. Which means Dawn will be raging about John. ‘‘Cause that’s all new, right? Crowley help us. .