Hunt Initiation Log (Season 2)

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The purpose of the Hunt Initiation Log is to track the source of the hunts Sam and Dean Winchester undertake. Sometimes they find hunts themselves, sometimes other characters give them information. Some episodes are more personal, with no clear hunt. This provides one more means of analyzing the characters. For example, it reveals that while Dean is the quintessential hunter of the family, Sam actually more often instigates the hunts, and that Sam gradually takes a more active role in that regard.

The Hunt Initiation Log has been divided up into seasons due to length:

Hunt notes, by episode

2.01 In My Time of Dying

Comments: This episode almost had no hunt at all. It's almost completely personal in nature. But the half-dead ghostly Dean spots something killing people, and by golly, if you're Dean, being half-dead is no reason to stop hunting so he sets out to kill the thing: "If I can grab it I can kill it." He winds up rescuing himself at one point. John summons the demon but the summoning is purely for personal reasons, to make a deal to save Dean's life. (Which counts as half a hunt, debatable). Sam tries to assist Dean with his hunt but doesn't initiate it. He's got other worries.

Initiator/Method: Dean/observation-eye witness; John/summoning spell

2.02 Everybody Loves a Clown

Comments: There is a genuine Winchester hunt in this episode, although it's pale and gets lost, drowned out by the amazing brother interaction. The hunt's nothing more than a potboiler, a backdrop as Sam and Dean deal with the aftermath of John's death. However, ELaC is a return to the hunt styles of your everyday season one episodes, complete with back-and-forth research banter. Sam presents the hunt; Dean doesn't seem to be very skeptical, although he challenges Sam, asking "How do we know we aren't dealing with a psycho carny in a clown suit?"

Initiator/Method:Sam (and Ellen)/Sam spots a folder on Ellen's bar. She says she was going to give it to a friend, but offers it to Sam. So while Sam gets a point for initiating, this is also a hunt handed to them. It's a bit of a throwback to a John-initiated style hunt, where the patterns are presented to the boys and they go and find the thing and kill it. (Note, though, that Dean says this hunt is Sam's).

2.03 Bloodlust

Comments: The boys are en route in the opening. Dean says "got my car, got a case" the way some guys might say "got a sixpack, got the game on the big screen TV." In ELaC, hunting seemed to be the only place where Dean was on sure ground. In Bloodlust he's got the Impala back as well as the hunting. It seems like this may be Dean's hunt; Sam says "You hear of a couple of severed heads and a pile of dead cows and you're Mister Sunshine." It's not 100% clear it was Dean who heard about it first; Sam might have told him. There's a lot of research banter (both between the boys, and with the sheriff) but it's not Dean trying to test the strength of Sam's thesis. More like both Sam and Dean are trying to get to a mental "game face" (or "hunting face.") Research banter is easy, familiar, concrete, fun; and while they're doing it, they don't have to talk about...other things. This episode starts out as a straight-out hunt but by the end it becomes personal, and the hunted creatures, Lenore and the other vampires, are not the prey Dean thought they were. While the other hunter, Gordon, is not who Dean thought he was, Gordon was already there and already on the hunt.

Initiator/Method: Dean/word-of-mouth

Additional notes: The hunting community is entering into Sam and Dean's world; they are not alone.

2.04 Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things

Comments: This is the opposite of what happens with Dean playing devil's advocate to Sam's insistence something is a hunt. Sam's point by point objections to Dean's hunt sound perfectly reasonable. Dean desperately needs to hunt to feel better, a throwback to Wendigo when he tells Sam what helps is killing as many "evil sons of bitches" as he can. Sam tells Dean "maybe you're imagining a hunt where there isn't one so you won't have to think about Mom or Dad." It turns out to be a zombie, which doesn't comfort Sam at all, because there's still reason to be worried about Dean.

Initiator/Method: Dean/observation

2.05 Simon Said

Comments: Sam has one heck of a vision. This is one of those episodes that starts out as a general, trying-to-save people hunt and turns personal when it gets into the mytharc. Sam also fears turning into what they're hunting.

Initiator/Method: Sam/vision

Additional notes: First Sam-vision-initiated hunt of the season.

2.06 No Exit

Comments: Like mother, like daughter. Jo puts together a folder of research, spotting patterns in a series of murders in Philadelphia. She doesn't know what it means yet. It's only when she joins Sam and Dean in Philly that they find out it's the ghost of H.H. Holmes, American's first serial killer. Jo also does a good amount of the actual investigating and hunting under Dean's supervision, and finds the actual ghost the first time with an E.M.F. meter. This episode is also a hunt turned personal. First the spirit kidnaps Jo. It's also personal because Jo in jeopardy leads to a revelation from Ellen that her husband died while hunting with John, and we learn she blames John for her husband's death.

Initiator/Method: Jo/research

2.07 The Usual Suspects

Comments: To paraphrase Dorothy Sayers, this episode is a hunt with police interruptions. There is an actual hunt, complete with a ghost. It's Dean who points out the newspaper write-up on Anthony Giles's death to Sam and hands Sam the newspaper. So the point this time goes marginally (but clearly) to Dean, even though neither plays devil's advocate, and Sam rapidly gets to the same conclusion Dean made: something supernatural is afoot. The hunt initiation scene is in keeping with the episode as a whole showing how in sync Sam and Dean are.

Initiator/Method: Dean/newspaper article

2.08 Crossroad Blues

Comments: While there's no evidence who noticed the odd deaths first, Sam is definitely the research force behind this hunt. Point to Sam. Dean asks "What have you got on the case there, you innocent, harmless, young man, you?" and Sam hands over a stack of printouts and rattles off details. Dean plays slight devil's advocate, asking a few pointed questions. Sam rattles off lore about black dogs. The episode doesn't so much wind up as a hunt as a defense as Sam and Dean try to rescue people from the deal they made with the devil at the crossroads, and as often happens on SPN, the hunt gets overshadowed as a more personal story unfolds.

Initiator/Method: Sam/research

Additional notes: Sam is gaining on Dean, which supports Sam's getting more involved with the hunting life. Sam was reluctant hero in season one but at this point in season two he seems more committed.

2.09 Croatoan

Comments: It's a bit like Sam's vision at the opening of Simon Said, where he sees someone shooting somebody--only this time, Dean's the shooter. Sam wakes up on the floor, which would support the idea that the visions grow more intense each time.

Initiator/Method: Sam/vision

2.10 Hunted

Comments: The points in this episode were allocated based on a poll and fan discussion/opinion.

Initiator/Method: Gordon/tracking. Sam/research

Additional notes: A point to Sam now brings his tally ahead of Dean's for season 2. Sam gets a point because of his initiative breaking into the doctor's office to get information on one of the psykids. It's not a hunt as such but it's usual Winchester MO on a hunt, and Sam is investigating the reasons behind the kid's (unnatural) death. However, Gordon is the only clear hunter in this episode. He is hunting Sam, whom Gordon believes will turn into something dangerous. Ironic, because first of all, even Sam and Dean aren't sure of what's going to happen with Sam or what his capabilities are. Secondly, Gordon behaves as if he believes in what he's doing; he sees himself as the good guy trying to rid the world of what he thinks is an evil thing. Dean spends a lot of the episode tied up in a chair waiting for Sam to rescue him. An instance of the boys doing role reversal. Dean's ineffectiveness might also tie-in to his emotional reeling from Croatoan and from telling Sam what John whispered.

2.11 Playthings

Comments: Ellen contacts Sam with a lead on a possibly haunted inn. Sam is raring to accept the job. Sam's new compulsion to hunt this season continues and goes up a few notches; he fears what he might become. The longer he can hunt and save people, he believes, the longer he can forestall turning into something dark. Unlike Dean, Sam doesn't hunt because it's second nature, he's hunting as an aggressive way to keep himself "good."

Initiator/Method: Ellen/research. Sam/taking the job

Additional notes: Point to Ellen and to Sam. Ellen because contacting the boys is the equivalent of John sending them coordinates in season one. Sam's hunt count has pulled ahead of Dean's. This fits with Dean losing his hunting mojo, and with Sam's increased commitment to hunting.

2.12 Nightshifter

Comments: It's been a while, the first this season (although Bloodlust is debatably a co-initiation): a Sam & Dean shared-initiated hunt. It's unclear in the opening scenes how they ended up in Wisconsin investigating the deaths and there's no hint of which brother is more eager to be on the job. Also, a point to Ronald, who in his own fumbling way went hunting for the shapeshifter (even though he thought it was a mandroid).

Initiator/Method: Sam & Dean/research. Ronald/research.

Additional notes: Everything was in place for a clean-cut, classic SPN hunt, co-initiated by Sam & Dean. But the body count kept rising and in the end everything had gone completely FUBAR. Dean kills the shapeshifter in the end, but this is a hunt that unravelled.

2.13 Houses of the Holy

Comments: There doesn't appear to be any indication in the episode whose idea the hunt was. The first we see of the boys, Sam is interviewing the girl who thought she saw an angel.

Initiator/Method: Sam and Dean (shared)

Additional notes: Sam argues that the supernatural thing is an angel. Dean argues that it's a demon or a spirit and there's no such thing as angels (or unicorns for that matter). That scene, early in the episode, plays almost like a classic Sam & Dean hunt validation debate, with Dean as devil's advocate. Except the discussion isn't really a debate about what they're really hunting, it's about the boys' belief systems.

2.14 Born Under a Bad Sign

Comments: Dean winds up hunting Sam -- okay, well, not Sam as such, but the demon formerly known as Meg, who has possessed Sam's body. Still, this is a first, one brother hunting the other.

Initiator/Method: Dean/tracking and deduction

Additional notes: This episode put the brakes on Sam's recent run of being the hunt instigator. Actual!Sam was merely a passenger until the very end. Which is a sad irony, as Sam's great fear is becoming something he's not (see Playthings), of acting out of control. Here, it wasn't him, he was possessed, but at the end he tells Dean he was awake for some of it.

2.15 Tall Tales

Comments: Sorry, too busy giggling.

Initiator/Method: Sam & Dean, Bobby/newspaper articles, research, hunter knowledge, deduction

Additional notes: Another shared initiation! As Sam tells Bobby, "It all started when we caught wind of an obit." In fact, Sam uses the word "we" or "we're" or "us" a whopping 6 times in that short piece of opening dialogue. Which is fascinating given that the episode is about how much Sam & Dean are getting on each other's nerves. It's Bobby who figures out the hunt, despite all Sam & Dean's research and efforts.

2.16 Roadkill

Comments: Wow, this one is easy.

Initiator/Method: Sam & Dean, research and deduction.

Additional notes: The boys seemed very in sync during the flashback sequences showing us how they solved this hunt. Classic. As of Road Kill, Sam & Dean are tied, and their shared hunt count is creeping upward at a steady rate. Which means that while Sam started getting more agressive about hunting, and Dean did lose his mojo for a bit, things are slowly progressing forward. Not back the usual MO of season one, but to a new place, where Sam and Dean are more and more in step with each other as hunters. Sam caught up to Dean, and now they're doing more shared hunts.

2.17 Heart

Comments: Since the first scene after the teaser is Sam posing alone as a detective, and in the scene following, Sam unloads paragraphs of exposition at Dean, it really looks like Sam's hunt.

Initiator/Method: Sam, research, deduction, observation of patterns

Additional notes: Sam's research-fu and the brisk way he presents the facts of the hunt to Dean is impressive. The sad irony here is that Sam ends up having to hunt, and kill, a woman he cares about. His progression as a hunter comes with a lot of heartache. Note that Sam has pulled ahead of Dean for hunt initiations this season.

2.18 Hollywood Babylon

Comments: Sam is the one who persuades Dean to step off the studio tour, and he's the one who picked up on rumors of the haunted movie set online. Point to Sam, who is intent on the hunt in this episode, focused, knowledgeable and professional.

Initiator/Method: Sam/research

Additional Notes: By contrast with Sam's focus, Dean is having a blast exploring an alternate career path as a Hollywood PA. He's still the hunter (and someone pointed out that Sam doesn't carry a gun in this episode. Dean, on the other hand, does a lot of ghost-shooting) but for once there's something shinier than hunting for him. Dean's behavior underscores Sam's subdued manner in this ep, which is in emotional continuity with "Heart." Sam's hiding behind the hunt, which is almost a Dean sort of thing to do.

2.19 Folsom Prison Blues

Comments: The structure of this hunt is like early season one, with Deacon standing in for John. Deacon by the end of the episode does turn out to be a paternal figure, less gruff than Bobby, but we can assume not a hunter himself.

Initiator/Method: Deacon/contacts the boys after there are deaths at the jail

Additional Notes: Dean is much more gung-ho for this hunt, and Sam thinks Dean's plan to get them arrested and thrown in county jail is a very bad idea (understatement). Dean says they repay their debts. And Sam more than holds up his end of the job. So they get no initiation points, but the hunt was very much a partnership. They even burn the body together (note that Sam does the digging this time; interesting flip from earlier in season 2 when actor Jared Padalecki had his wrist in a cast and it was written into the episodes, where Sam couldn't do a lot of the heavy work, c.f. Crossroad Blues, Dean digs up the crossroads while Sam looks on).

2.20 What Is and What Should Never Be

Comments: There was a hunt-within-a-hunt in this episode. The real world hunt -- the boys hunting the djinn -- acted as bookends for the bulk of the episode and was already in progress in the teaser. Sam is deep in research, Dean is driving around checking leads. It looks very much like a shared initiation. We don't know exactly how they found out about it. Then there's the hunt within Dean's coma-induced world.

Initiator/Method: Sam & Dean/research and observation; Dean

Additional Notes: Dean's hunt initiation in this episode stands out, character-wise. It's almost as significant as John's decision to hunt the thing that killed Mary to begin with. With that decision, John gave up on giving himself and his kids a normal life, just as Dean makes his decision to give up a normal, peaceful life to return to the hunting one (when he thinks the coma-world is real). Dean's decision to wake up at the end of the episode (once he knows the coma-world is false) seems to be a less significant decision to return to the hunt (it is a decision to return to the hunt, and to Sam, rather than die passively in a coma -- but that seems like it would be an easy choice for Dean).

2.21 All Hell Breaks Loose: Part One and Part Two

Comments: The last two episodes of season two scramble the hunt initiation log. AHBL is possibly the most personal of all the episodes. 2x21 begins with Sam's frightening disappearance and ends with his death. 2x22 begins with Dean's desperate actions to save Sam's life. It ends with the boys killing the demon who murdered their mother, the hunt that has driven the Winchesters since the pilot. No hunt initiation points in 2x21. In 2x22, surprisingly, there are hunt initiations. (Surprising because the episode is so deeply personal). Bobby tries to get Dean to go after the demon, arguing that the they're looking at the possible end of the world. "Then let it end," is Dean's heartbreaking response. The series quintessential hunter in the end leads with his heart, his grief greater than his need to hunt. Once Sam is back on his feet, he insists on going after the demon. So, point to Bobby, and point to Sam (and Dean...Dean needs pie). Note that this puts Sam's final initiation tally for Season 2 far ahead of Dean's, which bears out Sam's arc of becoming more focused on hunting.

Initiator/Method: Sam/deciding to hunt, Bobby/maps, research, deduction

Hunt Initiation tallies

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