Dean and Sam decide to investigate the drowning of 18-year-old Sophie Carlton, as she is the third drowning victim in the last year whose body hasn't been recovered from Lake Manitoc. They pose as federal wildlife officers and speak to the local sheriff, Jake Devins, who tells them that they found nothing in the lake despite running a sonar sweep, but that the lake will soon drain away because the local dam is leaking. While they're at the sheriff's office, they also meet Jake's daughter, Andrea, and her son, Lucas. When Sam and Dean research the lake further, they learn that not only have six other people disappeared in Lake Manitoc over the last 35 years, but also that Lucas witnessed his father's drowning earlier that year.
Sam and Dean decide to talk to Lucas and they find Andrea and Lucas at the park. Dean tells Lucas he knows what it's like to see something that most people wouldn't believe and draws the boy a picture of his family. Lucas remains silent but draws Dean a picture of a house. Andrea is stunned when Lucas gives Dean the drawing, as Lucas has been withdrawn and not spoken at all since his father’s death.
That same night, Will Carlton drowns in the kitchen sink when something drags his head below the surface of the water. Sam informs Dean of Will’s death, and they conclude that whatever is in the lake knows the lake is draining and that it’s running out of time to get its revenge. They also assume that Sophie and Will's father, Bill Carlton, is somehow involved, as the thing in the lake has targeted his children and his godson (Lucas' father). They don't learn anything from Bill when they go to speak with him, but Dean notices that the drawing Lucas gave him earlier was of the Carltons' house.
The brothers visit Lucas again, and Dean tells him about his own experience of losing his mother; Lucas provides Dean with a second drawing depicting a house next to a white church and a boy wearing a cap with a red bicycle. Sam and Dean find the church and the neighboring house, and they visit the woman who lives there. They discover that her son, Peter Sweeney, vanished 35 years ago with his red bicycle. Dean spots a photo of Peter with Bill Carlton, and the brothers think that Bill may have killed Peter and the thing in the lake is Peter's vengeful spirit. They go back to talk to Bill, but they are too late as they witness Bill make his way to the middle of the lake in his boat. The boat explodes, and Bill vanishes under the water.
After the incident with Bill, the sheriff tries to run Sam and Dean out of town because he's discovered that they aren't really federal wildlife officers, but they sneak back because Dean suspects that the hunt is not over. They arrive at Andrea Barr's house just as she is dragged under the water in her bathtub. After Sam pulls her out of the water, she tells him that she heard a voice in the water say 'Come play with me.' Meanwhile, Dean goes through Andrea’s photo albums and discovers an old photo of Andrea’s dad, Jake, with Peter. Dean assumes that Jake was probably also involved in Peter’s death, and that Peter's spirit is targeting Bill and Jake's loved ones.
Lucas leads them to a spot near the lake where Sam and Dean dig until they discover Peter's bicycle. Jake appears and holds the brothers at gunpoint. He reveals that he and Bill buried the bike after they accidentally drowned Peter and let his body sink in the lake. Suddenly, Lucas is pulled into the lake by a ghostly hand. Dean and Sam dive in after him with no result until Jake walks into the lake calling for Peter to take him instead of his grandson. Peter drags him under the water, and Dean is able to save Lucas.
Sam and Dean prepare to leave and Andrea and Lucas see them off. Lucas has begun to talk again, and Andrea thanks them both for saving Lucas. As a parting gift, Dean teaches Lucas the phrase ‘Zeppelin Rules!’
- "What a Way to Go" by Jesse Turnbow (Black Toast Music)
- (plays at the Lynnwood Inn, when the guys look through newspaper articles)
- "Round and Round" by Ratt
- (plays when they arrive at Lake Manitoc)
- "Too Daze Gone" by Billy Squire
- (plays in the car with the "We don't have to hug, are we?" remark)
- "Movin' On" by Bad Company
- (plays at the end when they leave Andrea and her son)
Something you want to say to me?
Sam: The trail for Dad. It's getting colder every day.
Dean: Exactly. So what are we supposed to do?
Sam: I don't know. Something. Anything.
Dean: You know what? I'm sick of this attitude. You don't think I wanna find Dad as much as you do?
Sam: Yeah, I know you do, it's just—
I'm the one that's been with him every single day for the past two years, while you've been off to college going to pep rallies. We will find Dad, but until then, we're gonna kill everything bad between here and there. Okay?
So, cute kid.
Andrea: [to Dean]
Dean: Kids are the best, huh?
Andrea: There it is. Like I said, two blocks.
Must be hard, with your sense of direction. Never being able to find your way to a decent pick-up line.
'Kids are the best'? You don't even like kids.
Dean: I love kids!
Sam: Name three children that you even know.
Dean: So crayons is more your thing? That's cool. Chicks dig artists. Hey, these are pretty good. You mind if I sit and draw with you for a while? I'm not so bad myself. You know, I'm thinking you can hear me, you just don't want to talk. I don't know exactly what happened to your dad, but I know it was something real bad. I think I know how you feel. When I was your age, I saw something. Anyway. Well, maybe you don't think anyone will listen to you, or, uh... or believe you. I want you to know that I will. You don't even have to say anything. You could draw me a picture about what you saw that day, with your dad, on the lake. Okay, no problem. This is for you. This is my family. That's my dad. That's my mom. That's my geek brother, and that's me. All right, so I'm a sucky artist. I'll see you around, Lucas.
I just drove past the Carlton house. There was an ambulance there. Will Carlton is dead.
Dean: He drowned?
Sam: Yep. In the sink.
Dean: What the hell? So you're right, this isn't a creature. We're dealing with something else.
Sam: Yeah, but what?
Dean: I don't know. Water wraith, maybe? Some kind of demon? I mean, something that controls water... water that comes from the same source.
Sam: Your son said he saw something in that lake. What about you? You ever see anything out there? Mr. Carlton, Sophie's drowning and Will's death—we think there might be a connection to you or your family.
Bill: My children are gone. It's...it's worse than dying. Go away. Please.
Dean: Hey, Lucas. You remember me? You know, I, uh, I wanted to thank you for that last drawing. But the thing is, I need your help again. How did you know to draw this? Did you know something bad was gonna happen? Maybe you could nod yes or no for me. You're scared. It's okay. I understand. See, when I was your age, I saw something real bad happen to my mom, and I was scared, too. I didn't feel like talking, just like you. But see, my mom—I know she wanted me to be brave. I think about that every day. And I do my best to be brave. And maybe, your dad wants you to be brave too. Thanks, Lucas.
There are cases—going through a traumatic experience could make people more sensitive to premonitions, psychic tendencies.
Dean: Whatever's out there, what if Lucas is tapping into it somehow? I mean, it's only a matter of time before somebody else drowns, so if you got a better lead, please.
Sam: All right, we got another house to find.
Dean: The only problem is there's about a thousand yellow two-stories in this county alone.
Sam: See this church? I bet there's less than a thousand of those around here.
Oh, college boy thinks he's so smart.
If Bill murdered Peter Sweeney and Peter's spirit got its revenge, case closed. The spirit should be at rest.
Dean: All right, so what if we take off and this thing isn't done? You know, what if we've missed something? What if more people get hurt?
Sam: But why would you think that?
Dean: Because Lucas was really scared.
Sam: That's what this is about?
Dean: I just don't want to leave this town until I know the kid's okay.
Who are you? And what have you done with my brother?
Dean: I don't really give a rat's ass what you think of us. But if we're gonna bring down this spirit, we need to find the remains, salt them, and burn them into dust. Now tell me you buried Peter somewhere. Tell me you didn't just let him go in the lake.
Alright, if you're goin' to be talking now, this is a very important phrase, so I want you to repeat it back to me one more time.
Lucas: Zeppelin rules!
That's right, up high.
Trivia & References
The early scene of Sophie swimming in the lake, most notably the camera shots, is reminiscent of the opening scene of the 1975 film Jaws.
-esque shot from "Dead in the Water."
The same lake house and location in this episode was used in Jensen Ackles's movie Devour
Lakehouse used in both Supernatural
While there is no "Lake Manitoc" in Wisconsin there is a Lake Manitowoc, the city of Manitowoc, and Manitowoc county. This may have been the inspiration for the lake's name in this episode. "Manitowoc" comes from the Native American word "Mundeowk" meaning "home of the good spirit."
I’m Agent Ford, this is Agent Hamill. We’re with the U.S. Wildlife Service.
- Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill are the actors who played Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy. This is the first of several Star Wars references throughout the series. Also, Kripke has said that Dean and Sam are somewhat based upon Han and Luke.
Here, sit, please. There are no indigenous carnivores in that lake. There's nothing even big enough to pull down a person, unless it was the Loch Ness Monster.
Dean: Yeah. Right.
- The Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie is a cryptid lake monster purported to live in the waters of Loch Ness.
This whole lake monster theory, it, it just bugs me.
Sam: Loch Ness, uh, Lake Champlain, there are literally hundreds of eyewitness accounts, but here, almost nothing.
- Loch Ness and Lake Champlain are both homes to reported lake monsters, "Nessie" and "Champ."
Tell your friend this whole "Jerry Maguire" thing’s not gonna work on me.
- Reference to the movie Jerry Maguire, in which Tom Cruise plays the title character, who spends a fair amount of time trying to charm a single mother's child in order to get close to the mother.
So, I think it's safe to say we can rule out Nessie.
- Nessie is the nickname given to the Loch Ness Monster.
Door number 2 sounds good.
- In the television game show Let's Make a Deal, deals are offered to members of the audience by the host. The contestants usually have to weigh the possibility of an offer "behind door number 2" being a more valuable prize than the one that they've already earned.
Filming Locations: Lynwood Inn, North Vancouver; Buntzen Lake.
that Sophie Carlton
drowned "last week," her obituary, which Dean circles and shows to Sam, reads that she drowned on August 16. The printed obituary must be inaccurate because the episode's timeline is by necessity sometime after November 2, 2005.
's hand was broken while filming this episode, because he and Jensen Ackles got into a barfight. The way they tell it, they came into the bar after there already had been a fight and were then mistaken for the troublemakers. Another version of the story says that some guy wasn't very happy when his girlfriend approached either Jensen or Jared. See here
for the story.
Guest star Amy Acker is, like Jared and Jensen, also from Texas. She attended Lake Highlands High School, bitter rival of Jensen's high school which made for many on-set jokes between the two.
has cited this episode many times as one of his favorites. He especially points out the scene in which he had to erupt from the waters of Lake Manitoc while holding a child actor in his arms as one of the most "surreal" experiences he's had on the show. This was due to the stunt scuba divers that held both actors beneath the water's surface until the director yelled "Action!"
Jensen Ackles again cited this episode in the premiere issue of the Official Supernatural Magazine
- "...but Dead in the Water holds a special place in my heart, too. I liked what my character had to go through in that episode. It was kind of the first time where I really got a sense of who Dean was, and I was able to peel back some layers. I thought it was a good story that was directed well, so that was definitely one of my favorites. When I had to hold my breath with that kid, holding him in my arms...I hope you've never had to experience something like that. When you're treading water, just getting your mind around having two people below you in the water, pulling you down...that was a really weird sensation that I wasn't prepared for, not to mention I was responsible for the life of this 10-year-old kid that was in my arms. He's supposed to be dead, so he's limp. I'm actually treading water, keeping us boat afloat with my left arm. And when they say action and I have to hold my breath, he holds his breath, and I have two divers pulling me down. So after the first time, I kicked the divers loose and I sprung right back out of the water and I'm like, 'Okay, wait a second - I'm going to need a minute for this one.' But we ended up getting the shot, and it was nice."
Sides, Scripts & Transcripts