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'Supernatural' recap: Let's start at the beginning

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Pilot” | Aired Sept 13, 2005

As a die-hard fan of the show, I figure Supernatural recap readers fall into two categories: nostalgia and newbies. For the nostalgia folks, I promise I’m leaving goodies in here for you—but I want to talk to the newbies for a sec.

If you’re catching up on Supernatural, it’s likely because you’ve finally decided to dive in for a number of reasons. But nine seasons is a LOT to catch up on. I’ve been there. I dove in at season 5 and had to power through four full seasons to get caught up.  That’s why I’ll be including an additional “The Story So Far” rating in my recaps that will give you my scale from OMGWATCHIT! to You Can Skip This. Hope it helps!

“The Story So Far” Rating: Must watch.

We open in “Lawrence, Kansas. 22 years ago.” Meet the Winchesters: mom Mary (Samantha Smith), dad John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), young Dean and a baby Sam. After a quick good night, we cut to odd happenings in Sam’s nursery and weird static on the baby monitor that wakes Mary up. When she goes to check on Sam, it looks like John’s in with him—but John has fallen asleep watching TV downstairs.

Her scream wakes John up, but all he sees is Sam in his crib. Everything seems fine until blood drips on the pillow next to little Sammy’s head and John looks up.

Mary is on the ceiling. Just as we begin to process that, whumph, she bursts into flame.

mary on fire

Grabbing the baby, John encounters Dean coming down the hall. He thrusts Sammy into Dean’s arms and tells him to take his brother outside.

Supernatural recurring theme #1: Dean’s job is to look out for Sam.

John tries to go back in for Mary, but it’s too late. This leaves the Winchester men alone outside, with their life up in flames.

winchester boys

Back in the present at Stanford University, Sam Winchester is alllll grown up.

Hello, Jared Padalecki.

sam season 1

Sam is mid-discussion with his girlfriend, Jessica (Adrianne Palicki). Sam is not a fan of Halloween. Gee, I wonder why? But he relents and out they go so we can get the skinny on Sam’s life these days.

Short version: Sam is crazy smart, has an interview at Stanford Law School in a few days for a scholarship,  and hasn’t told his family because they’re “not exactly the Bradys.”

Sam awakens the next morning to sounds in the apartment. An intruder? Whoever it is, suddenly Sam is in some pretty decent hand-to-hand combat with the guy and, wait a minute …

Oh, hi, Dean (Jensen Ackles).


Why is Dean in Sam’s kitchen in the middle of the night? He and Sam need to talk.

Dean’s reaction to Jess entering the room is to hit on her and then sort of dismiss her with a smile as he says he needs to steal her boyfriend. Nope, Sam says, you can say whatever you need to say in front of Jess.

sam and jess

Dean says, “Dad’s on a hunting trip … and he hasn’t been home in a few days”.

sam and jess oh noes

Oh, look, Sam wants to talk to his brother outside.

Dean came to get Sam because they need to find Dad. Dad is fine, Sam retorts. Dad goes missing on these hunting trips all the time. Dean says this is different, but Sam says he’s not coming. He’s sworn off hunting. Because growing up the way they did sucked.

Sam is in Stanford because he wanted a normal life. Why hasn’t he talked to his family? Because when Sam said he wanted to go to college, Dad said “Stay gone.”

At this point, we meet the most amazing car trunk in the history of car trunks.

impala trunk

That is the trunk of a black 1967 Chevrolet Impala. Show creator Eric Kripke originally wrote the car as a 1965 Mustang, but changed it to an Impala because a neighbor said it would be a better choice. Why?  Because A) The trunk was big enough to put a body in, and B) It was a car that would cause people to lock their doors when they stopped next to it at lights.

While fans have also dubbed the Impala the “Metallicar” based on Dean’s musical preferences, Dean calls her “Baby,” and she’s always been Baby to me.

Amongst the weapons and other monster-hunting paraphernalia is info on the case their dad was working on. Jericho, California, has had 10 disappearances over the last 20 years—all men, all along the same five-mile stretch of road.

Sam agrees to go, with the proviso that he has to be back by Monday.

Well, he can go as soon as he explains to Jess. Not that he actually explains. He just tells her he’s going, that it’s okay and that he’ll be back in time. Oh, Sam, you sweet thing. Your explanations to women have never been any good, have they?

Cut to a guy driving at night in Jericho, California, talking to his girlfriend. She wants him to come over. He’s got stuff he has to do. Love ya. Yeah, yeah. His phone starts to crackle, and when he looks up, he sees a woman on the side of the road and stops to ask if she’s okay.

sarah shahi

She asks if he wants to come home with her.

Oh, look, suddenly he has nothing to to!

Zoom—off they go to a dilapidated house. She looks longingly at it, saying, “I can never go home.” Then she disappears. Poof.

Oh no. Where’d she go? There she is.

woman in white back seat

Lemme cut to the chase. We’ve found whatever it is that’s doing the killing.

Let’s check back in with Sam and Dean. A road-trip pit stop allows time to explain how Dean and his dad pay for things (scamming credit cards), and what Sam thinks of Dean’s music choices. Cassette tapes? Black Sabbath? Motörhead, Metallica?

Dean has one answer for him.

driver picks the music

When they roll into Jericho, they find police on the stretch of highway, along with the most recent crime scene. Cops aren’t a problem. Dean’s got ID in the glovebox. Lots of them!

The boys flash federal marshall creds (for you SPN vets, no names used; I hadn’t noticed that before), but they don’t get much intel aside from giving us the dead guy’s name (Troy) and the girlfriend. She gives them their first real clue—an old legend about a woman who died “like, decades ago.” Supposedly she’s still out there.

Research time!

Supernatural recurring theme #2: Dean is not all that good at searching on the net.

Sam has the Google-fu in the family. We have a match.

Constance Welch. Committed suicide after finding her two kids in the bathtub, dead. She jumped off a bridge … the same bridge we saw earlier, where Troy died.

Guess where we’re going?

It’s a nice night for a walk on a bridge and a little chat about Sam’s desire for a new life. Dean is not buying it. Sam may want a new life, but he’s one of them. Sam doesn’t want this life. Dean says he has a responsibility. I’m sure this fight could get bigger, but Constance Welch is on the bridge.

Then Dean’s car starts up. Without the keys.

car on bridge

The best part of this is how Dean comes out of the river after they both jump off the bridge to get away. He’s covered in mud, which is an excellent plot point to get them over to a motel for a room. Lo and behold, a guy with the same last name as the name on Dean’s credit card rented out a room there for a whole month.

They’ve found the Winchester Cave. No dad, but lots of research, and Sam finds the same thing his father was onto.

Constance Welch is a Woman in White—a woman who died under tragic circumstances and whose ghost seems to be after men who are unfaithful.

Now all they have to do is find her body and burn the remains. That’s whatcha do with ghosts on Supernatural.

Sam tries to take a moment to apologize for what he said during the fight. Dean says “no chick-flick moments,” and we’re back to being brothers.

jerk bitch

The love fest doesn’t last for long, because once Dean has cleaned up, he heads out and directly into the cops.

dean arrest

Now, before you go thinking they arrested Dean for being a jerk, it seems they have a bigger agenda. After finding him in a room with all that research (thanks, Dad!), Dean’s a prime suspect in the disappearances.

The sheriff also drops a leather-bound journal on the table and wants to know what it is.

While Dean is not going to tell the guy that it’s one of the most comprehensive monster-hunting journals anyone’s ever made, and that all of John’s notes are in those tattered pages, pictures and what have you … I’ll tell you that.

John also left Dean a coded message in that journal. We’ll get back to that.

In the meantime, Sam has gone to find Constance’s husband, John, and finds out their dad was there a couple days ago. Sam learns that Constance’s husband was unfaithful, but when he suggests that maybe Constance killed the children out of anger for the infidelity, that ends the conversation real quick.

When Dean escapes from jail thanks to Sam making a fake 911 call, he contacts Sam to tell him about the message in the journal. They’re map coordinates. John Winchester has left town.

While they’re talking, Sam runs into Constance.

woman in white car

Constance wants Sam to take her home. When Sam says no, she locks him in and the car starts heading toward her house. Talk about a backseat driver!

When they arrive,  Sam asks if she’s afraid to go inside the house and she tries, unsuccessfully, to seduce him (he’s never been unfaithful). Failing that, all she wants to do is kill him.

woman white ghost

Suddenly, Dean is there, firing bullets into the car at her. She disperses long enough for Sam to regain control.

Boy, does he take her home. By driving the Impala directly into the house.

Sam is okay, which is good. Constance is in the house and so are the ghosts of her kids. Aw … they want to hug her. Ecto-splosion! Bye, Constance!

While they’ve figured out where Dad is, Sam is determined to go home. Dean drives him, albeit unhappily. Dean thinks they made a hell of a team back there. Sam agrees, but he heads home, ready to get on with his life.

Life, however, has other plans. As he lays down on the bed, happy to be home, he looks up to see Jess on the ceiling.

jess on fire

Just like before, the room bursts into flame. Dean saves Sam just in the nick of time.

We end as we started: the boys outside, watching the remains of a fire burn the place and people they love—with one small difference.

These boys have work to do. Things to kill. People to save.

You know. The family business.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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