Dean and Sam are investigating some mysterious disappearances in Hibbing, Minnesota. After interviewing a young boy who heard something when the last victim, Alvin Jenkins, disappeared, Sam himself goes missing -- kidnapped from a parking lot outside a bar in the same manner as the other victims.
Dean reports his disappearance to the local sheriff’s office, pretending to be a police officer looking for his cousin. Inside a barn, Sam is being held captive in a cage, as is Alvin Jenkins. Two hooded figures enter and leave food, and Sam is astonished to find their captors are not supernatural beings but people.
Deputy Kathleen Hudak begins helping Dean, and they identify a truck making a noise similar to what the witness reported. However, Kathleen discovers Dean's true identity along with his damaging police record (1.06), but motivated by the disappearance of her brother years ago, she agrees to continue the search for "cousin" Sam in hopes that she will also discover what happened to her own brother.
While Sam is trying to escape, the door on Jenkin’s cage opens, and against Sam’s warning he leaves the cage. Once outside, Jenkins is pursued, hunted, by two men who eventually kill him. Kathleen and Dean follow the truck to where it enters a property, but as they prepare to follow on foot, Kathleen handcuffs Dean to the sheriff’s car.
When Kathleen approaches the house, the door is answered by a young girl, Missy Bender, who distracts her while her father, Pa Bender, knocks her out. Dean manages to escape from his restraints just before two other members of the Bender family approach. Dean finds Sam and Kathleen in the barn and he sadly confirms for Kathleen that he has seen her brother’s car near the house -- evidence that the Benders were responsible for his probable murder. Dean is unable to open the cages and goes to the house to search for a key. He finds grisly and gruesome human remains decorating the house. Missy Bender surprises him and stabs him, allowing the rest of her family to attack and overpower him.
Pa Bender boasts to Dean that his family has been hunting and killing humans for generations. He threatens Dean with torture to find out if other police are on the way, and then says Dean must choose whether Sam or Kathleen will be the prey for the next hunt. Dean chooses Sam, but then Pa instructs his son Lee to go and shoot both Sam and Kathleen.
Out in the barn, Sam has freed himself and Kathleen and they overpower Lee and then the other Bender son, Jared, who comes to investigate. Sam knocks Jared out, and then shoots Pa Bender, leaving Kathleen to cover him while he searches for Dean.
While alone, Pa Bender taunts Kathleen about her brother’s death, and she kills him. Meanwhile, Dean escapes and locks Missy in a closet. Kathleen joins the brothers and tells them she killed Pa Bender as he tried to escape. She lets the boys leave before the police arrive and admits that knowing her brother’s fate has not assuaged her grief.
(plays at Kugel's Keg bar, with Dean playing darts and Sam doing research)
"Sweet and Low Down" by George Gershwin
(plays while Pa Bender is in the kitchen)
"Whiskey and Guns" by Jim Moncur (AudioSparx)
(plays at Kugel's Kec bar, with Dean playing dart and Sam doing research)
"Sweet and Low Down" by George Gershwin
(plays while Pa Bender is in the kitchen)
Dean: Well, they could be right, it could just be a kidnapping. Maybe this isn’t our kind of gig.
Sam: Yeah, maybe not. Except for this—Dad marked the area, Dean. Possible hunting grounds of a phantom attacker. Dean: Why would he even do that? Sam: Well, he found a lot of local folklore about a dark figure that comes out at night. Grabs people, then vanishes. He found this too—this county has more missing persons per capita than anywhere else in the state.
Dean: That is weird.
Dean: Don’t phantom attackers usually snatch people from their beds? Jenkins was taken from a parking lot.
Sam: Well, there are all kinds. You know, Spring heeled Jacks, phantom gassers. They take people anywhere, anytime. Look, Dean, I don’t know if this is our kind of gig either.
Dean: Yeah, you’re right, we should ask around more tomorrow.
Deputy Hudak: Samuel Winchester. So, you know that his brother, Dean Winchester, died in St. Louis. And, uh, was suspected of murder. Dean: Yeah, Dean. Kind of the black sheep of the family. Handsome, though.
Alvin Jenkins: Well, no offense, but this is a piss-poor rescue.
Sam: Well, my brother’s out there right now, too. He’s lookin’ for us. So—
Alvin Jenkins: So, he’s not gonna find us. We’re in the middle of nowhere. (He nods towards the door leading into the building.) Waiting for them to come back and do God-knows-what to us.
Dean: Look, look, look. If you wanna arrest me, that’s fine. I’ll cooperate, I swear. But, first, please—let me find Sam.
Deputy Hudak: I don’t even know who you are. Or if this Sam person is missing. Dean: Look into my eyes and tell me if I’m lying about this. Deputy Hudak: Identity theft? You’re impersonating an officer.
Dean: Look, here’s the thing. When we were young, I pretty much pulled him from a fire. And ever since then, I’ve felt responsible for him. Like it’s my job to keep him safe. I’m just afraid if we don’t find him fast—please. (His voice breaks.) He’s my family.
Dean: Have you seen ‘em?
Sam: Yeah. Dude, they’re just people.
Dean: And they jumped you? Must be gettin’ a little rusty there, kiddo.
Dean: Yikes. I’ll say it again—demons I get. People are crazy.
Pa Bender: I’ve hunted all my life. Just like my father, his before him. I’ve hunted deer and bear—I even got a cougar once. Oh boy. But the best hunt is human. Oh, there’s nothin’ like it. Holdin’ their life in your hands. Seein’ the fear in their eyes just before they go dark. Makes you feel powerful alive.
Dean: You’re a sick puppy. Pa Bender: We give ‘em a weapon. Give ‘em a fightin’ chance. It’s kind of like our tradition passed down, father to son. 'Course, only one or two a year. Never enough to bring the law down. We never been that sloppy.
This episode has similar themes to the The X-Files episode "Home," which features a secluded family that has a long tradition of inbreeding and violence toward anyone who comes close to its members. Both episodes play on the same themes: a strong (and perverted) sense of family and a vision of horror that isn't brought by demons or creatures, but humans. It is often said to be the scariest and most disturbing X-Files episode.
Deputy Hudak: Alright. What’s his name?
Dean: Winchester. Sam Winchester. Deputy Hudak: Like the rifle? Dean: Like the rifle.
Winchester rifle is the blanket term for any lever-action repeating rifles produced by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.
Mrs. McKay: Tell the officers what you were watching on TV.
Evan: Godzilla vs. Mothra. Dean: That’s my favorite Godzilla movie! It’s so much better than the original, huh? Evan: Totally. Dean: Yeah. He likes the remake. Evan: Yuck!
Godzilla first appeared in a self-titled 1954 Japanese film. Many films featured Godzilla - in the fourth film Godzilla vs. Mothra Mothra was enlisted to fight him. The foes met again in the Millennium series (1999 - 2004) movie called Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. The remake Dean refers to Sam liking is most probably the 1998 American remake Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick.
Alvin Jenkins: But I’m waitin’.
Sam: Waitin’ for what? Alvin Jenkins: Ned Beatty time, man.
Ned Beatty is an award-winning actor whose debut role was in the famous 1972 horror movie Deliverance, where he played a suburban man viciously raped by psychotic mountain men. See Deliverance for other episodes which have quotes from this movie.
Kathleen: Greg. I think we’ve got something. These traffic cams take an image every three seconds, as part of the Amber Alert program. These images were all taken around the time that your cousin, Sam, disappeared.
In the United States and Canada, an AMBER Alert is a notification to the general public, by various media outlets, of a confirmed child abduction." The alert goes out through a large number of outlets, including television, radio, and email, and usually includes a description of the abductor and his/her car and license plate.
Kathleen: It says here your badge was stolen. And there’s a picture of you.
Dean: I lost some weight. And I got that Michael Jackson skin disease...
One of the numerous controversies that surrounded singer/performer Michael Jackson throughout his life was his changing physical appearance. One of these changes was a drastic whitening of his skin, which Jackson attributed to the skin disease vitiligo but has also been rumored to be the result of bleaching creams.
Alvin Jenkins: They're just a bunch of psycho hillbilly rednecks... lookin' for love in all the wrong places.
"Looking for Love" is a song from the album of the same name by country singer Johnny Lee. This is also a second reference to Deliverance, which also featured "psycho hillbilly rednecks" who sexually assaulted the protagonist.
In the scene where Dean enters the Benders' barn to find Sam and Kathleen, the original script had Dean humming the "Dueling Banjos" theme from Deliverance, a horror film that shares some story elements with this episode (most notably the antagonists being murderous backwoods psychos). However, possibly because they couldn't get the rights to the music, in the episode itself the humming is cut out, though you can still see Dean's mouth moving.
Filming Location: Memorial Peace Park, Maple Ridge (in front of the ACT), Bordertown.