Sam receives an email from a friend in Stanford, Becky Warren, whose brother Zach has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. Keen to help them out, Sam convinces Dean that they should travel to St. Louis.
When they arrive, Becky explains that Zach came home to find his girlfriend Emily beaten to death. Becky claims that Zach was with her when Emily was killed, but that a security tape shows him arriving home around the time of her death.
Claiming that Dean is a police detective, Sam gets Becky to take them to the scene of the crime. The only clues they find are that the house was robbed about a week before the murder, and that the dog next door has become vicious since the attack. Dean is still skeptical, but he and Sam examine the security tape, which Becky has obtained from Zach’s lawyers. On the tape Zach’s eyes flare when he looks directly at the camera.
Elsewhere in town, “Zach” watches a man leave his apartment and kiss his wife goodbye. Later that night, someone who appears to be the same man returns and tortures her.
Early the next morning, Sam and Dean return to Zach’s house, as Sam points out that if the person they saw enter wasn’t Zach, then he must have left by the back entrance to avoid being captured on the video camera. A blood smear in the alley behind the house supports this theory. They then see an ambulance pass, and follow it to discover that another murder has occurred. In a striking similarity to Zach’s case, the man claimed to be driving home at the time his wife was killed.
Dean and Sam find another bloody trail behind the apartment block, and follow it down a manhole to the sewer. On finding a pile of skin and blood they realize they are dealing with a shapeshifter. Suddenly the shapeshifter attacks them, and runs off. During their pursuit the boys are separated, and when they reunite at the car, having lost the creature, Sam suspects that Dean is actually the shapeshifter. As Sam confronts him the creature knocks him out and takes him prisoner.
Sam regains consciousness in the sewer, bound to a beam. The shapeshifter has access to Dean’s memories, and claims that Dean is angry at Sam for having left him to go to college, and for having opportunities Dean never had.
The creature finally leaves, telling Sam it has plans to attack Becky. At her house, Becky invites the shapeshifter, who she obviously thinks is Dean, in for a beer. They talk for a while, but eventually the creature attacks her. Suddenly a SWAT Unit arrives, and the shapeshifter flees, leaving Becky alive but bloodied.
In the sewer, Sam struggles to get free, and suddenly hears Dean regain consciousness. Together they manage to escape, and as they walk the streets, they see a police sketch of Dean on TV – he is now wanted in relation to Becky’s attack. They return to her house and Dean gets the Impala while Sam distracts the police.
Dean returns alone to the sewer to track the creature, and finds Becky there – the creature has assumed her identity now. Back at Becky’s house, the shapeshifter has tricked Sam, and is holding him captive. Sam fights back, and then Dean arrives, finally shooting the creature who looks just like him.
The police decide to release Zach, as they now suspect "Dean Winchester," who they found dead at Becky's house, was the culprit in Emily’s murder. As they leave town, Dean muses that he is missing his own funeral.
- "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly
- (plays while the shapeshifter is surrounded by police in the apartment)
- "Good Deal" by Mommy and Daddy
- (plays while the shapeshifter is surrounded by police in the apartment; Netflix version)
- "Poison Whiskey" by Lynyrd Skynyrd
- (plays at the gas station, where Sam's reading his emails)
- "Hey Man, Nice Shot" by Filter
- (plays when the shapeshifter is fleeing the crime scene and shedding its skin in the sewers)
- "Mary" by The Death Riders
- (plays when the shapeshifter is fleeing the crime scene and shedding its skin in the sewers; Netflix version)
- (plays at the end of the episode when Dean tells Sam that he wished he could have a normal life)
Check this out.
Dean: Well, maybe it’s just a camera flare.
Sam: That’s not like any camera flare I’ve ever seen. You know, a lot of cultures believe that a photograph can catch a glimpse of the soul.
Sam: Remember that dog that was freakin’ out? Maybe he saw this thing. Maybe this is some kind of dark double of Zack’s, something that looks like him but isn’t him.
Dean: Like a doppelganger.
Yeah. It’d sure explain how he was two places at once.
Hey. Remember when I said this wasn’t our kind of problem?
Definitely our kind of problem.
Two dark doubles attacking loved ones in exactly the same way.
Dean: Could be the same thing doin’ it, too.
Sam: Shapeshifter? Something that can make itself look like anyone?
Dean: Every culture in the world has a shapeshifter lore. You know, legends of creatures who can transform themselves into animals or other men.
Sam: Right, skinwalkers, werewolves.
We’ve got two attacks within blocks of each other. I’m guessin’ we’ve got a shapeshifter prowlin’ the neighborhood.
Is this from his victims?
Dean: You know, I just had a sick thought. When the shapeshifter changes shape—maybe it sheds.
Sam: That is sick.
Dean: Well, one thing I learned from Dad, is that no matter what kind of shapeshifter it is, there’s one sure way to kill it.
Sam: Silver bullet to the heart.
I hate to say it, but that’s exactly what I’m talkin’ about. You lie to your friends because if they knew the real you, they’d be freaked. It’s just—it’d be easier if—
Sam: If I was like you.
Hey, man, like it or not, we are not like other people. But I’ll tell you one thing. This whole gig—it ain’t without perks.
I think we’re close to its lair.
Sam: Why do you say that?
Dean: Because there’s another puke-inducing pile next to your face.
Where is he? Where’s Dean?
Shapeshifter Dean: I wouldn’t worry about him. I’d worry about you.
Sam: Where is he?
Shapeshifter Dean: You don’t really wanna know. I swear, the more I learn about you and your family—I thought I came from a bad background.
Sam: What do you mean, learn?
Shapeshifter Dean: He’s sure got issues with you. You got to go to college. He had to stay home. I mean, I had to stay home. With Dad. You don’t think I had dreams of my own? But Dad needed me. Where the hell were you?
Sam: Where is my brother?
Shapeshifter Dean: I am your brother. See, deep down, I’m just jealous. You got friends. You could have a life. Me? I know I’m a freak. And sooner or later, everybody’s gonna leave me.
Sam: What are you talkin’ about?
You left. Hell, I did everything Dad asked me to, and he ditched me, too. No explanation, nothin’, just poof. Left me with your sorry ass. But, still, this life? It’s not without its perks. I meet the nicest people. Like little Becky. You know, Dean would bang her if he had the chance. Let’s see what happens.
So, you’re saying that there’s something out there that made itself look like my brother.
Shapeshifter Dean: Mmhmm.
Becky: What’d you call it?
Shapeshifter Dean: A shapeshifter. Yeah, maybe we’re crazy. But what if we’re not? I mean, look, you said it yourself that Zach was in two places at once. Now, tell me how that can happen.
Becky: Okay, so, this thing—it can make itself look like anybody?
Shapeshifter Dean: That’s right.
Becky: Well, what is it, like a genetic freak?
Maybe. Evolution is about mutation, right? So, maybe this thing was born human but was different. Hideous and hated. Until he learned to become someone else.
Shapeshifter Dean: It’s funny. I kind of understand him. He’s all alone—close to no one. All he wants is for someone to love him. He’s like me. You know, everybody needs a little human touch now and then. It’s so hard to be different.
Sam: About what?
Dean: I really wish things could be different, you know? I wish you could just be... Joe College.
Sam: No, that’s okay. You know, the truth is, even at Stanford, deep down, I never really fit in.
Dean: Well, that’s ‘cause you’re a freak.
Sam: Yeah, thanks.
Dean: Well, I’m a freak, too. I’m right there with ya, all the way.
Sam: Yeah, I know you are.
Dean: You know, I gotta say—I’m sorry I’m gonna miss it.
Sam: Miss what?
How many chances am I gonna have to see my own funeral?
Trivia & References
The song playing in the pre-title teaser, "In A Gadda Da Vida"
may be an homage to the 1986 film Manhunter
, in which the same song is background music to a very similar scene. Manhunter
was the first film to feature the character Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a character Dean
references on other occasions.
I don’t know, it was like he was downloading your thoughts and memories.
Dean: You mean, like the Vulcan Mind Meld?
- In Star Trek the Vulcan Mind Meld is a procedure that involves physical contact with a subject (though instances of mind-melds without contact have been seen), making it possible to share thoughts, experience, memories, and knowledge with another individual.
The text in the ancient book, "Written by a priest who went dark side", is taken from Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico
(Commentaries on the Gallic War), Book VII.
Filming Location: Gastown, near Victory Square.
cited this episode as one of his favorites to the premiere edition of the Official Supernatural Magazine
- "I really enjoyed "Skin"! Great sets!"
At the Paley Festival
in 2006, John Shiban
spoke about the gratification he got from coming up with scary concepts and effects.
- "A fan was watching the show and giving her impressions as she watched it, 'Oh my god, Dean’s taking his shirt off!' And followed immediately by, 'Oh my god, he’s taking his skin off!' I knew then that we had it. I was very pleased with that."
The aerial shot of the Impala
traveling through green fields dotted with livestock was also used in 3.04 Sin City
What's really odd is that it also seems to have appeared in an episode of House
When Sam is reading his text messages on his phone, one of the messages was sent by a Jerry Wanek
, a reference to the show's production designer.
Sam's contacts include Jerry Wanek
and John Marcynuk
, both named after production designers for Supernatural
, and Mary Ann Liu and Stanislava Shmakin, both named after graphic designers for Supernatural
When Sam is checking his emails, his email is shown to be email@example.com.
The fight scene in which Sam fights Shapeshifter Dean was mainly done by the actors themselves. There are just a few edits that uses the stunt actors, the rest of the fight scene was done all by Jared and Jensen.S1Com, p. 42
In 1.15 The Benders
, Dean's police record indicates he died on March 7, 2006 in St. Louis.
When Dean kneels down to look at the Shapeshifter and take his necklace back, you can see Shapeshifter Dean's eyes move if you watch closely.
Sides, Scripts & Transcripts