The Winchesters are injured and unconscious following a collision between the Impala and a semi-trailer. The truck driver is possessed by a demon, and advances on the car but Sam brandishes the Colt and the demon flees.
The family is taken to hospital, where Dean, as he tries to find Sam and his father, discovers he is in fact a disembodied spirit. He discovers Sam in a hospital room where Dean’s body lies comatose. The prognosis is not good; the doctor tells Sam they do not know if Dean will survive.
John sends Sam to retrieve the Colt from the trunk of the Impala, and obtain some items that John claims are to provide protection from The Demon. Sam meets Bobby at a wrecker’s yard, where Bobby doubts that the the Impala can be salvaged. When Sam fiercely counters that it can be repaired, in a way that sounds analogous to Dean’s state, Bobby agrees to tow the car to his place. Sam hands over John’s shopping list, and Bobby reveals that the ingredients are used for summoning demons.
Back at the hospital, Sam confronts his father over his lie while Dean’s spirit watches in dismay. With the energy generated by his frustration, Dean manages to smash a glass but suddenly he dissipates, as his body has gone into cardiac arrest. Sam rushes to his side and watches tearfully as the doctors work to revive Dean. Dean's spirit sees an apparition over his body that he attacks. As it disappears, Dean’s heart starts again.
Dean encounters another spirit wandering the hospital, Tessa, who appears to be in a similar state to Dean. As a code blue is called, Dean rushes to see the apparition present again as a young girl dies and he realizes that it is a reaper who is taking the spirits of people as they die – a natural process.
Sam tells John that he has sensed Dean’s presence, and he is determined to contact him. After he leaves, John makes his way to the hospital basement, where he performs a summoning ritual, despite having promised Sam that he would do nothing until Dean recovered.
Sam returns with a Ouija board. Dean is skeptical, but he manages to communicate with Sam and informs him that a reaper is after him. Sam rushes to John’s room, but finding him gone, he takes the journal to research lore on reapers. Dean reads over his shoulder, and when he reads that reapers can take human form, he realizes that Tessa is in fact the reaper.
When Dean confronts Tessa, she admits her true nature, and explains that Dean’s choice is either to stay as a disembodied spirit, and become the type of vengeful spirit that he hunts, or pass from this world with her.
Meanwhile, John has successfully summoned the Yellow-Eyed Demon who is surprised that John doesn’t want to kill it, but rather to deal with it for Dean’s life. As they barter, John reveals that he knows about the Demon’s plans for Sam. Finally the Demon agrees to return Dean to his body, in exchange for the Colt and John’s life – and soul.
Just as Dean is about to reveal his decision to Tessa, she is overtaken by the Yellow-Eyed Demon, who uses her to return Dean to his body. Dean has no memory of his out of body experience. John and Sam are at his bedside as he recovers, arguing as usual. John tells Sam he is sick of arguing, and sends Sam to get him some caffeine. While Sam is gone, John tells Dean how proud he is of him, and how he regrets that the burden for caring for the family has always fallen to Dean. After asking him to look after Sam, John whispers a secret to Dean which shocks him. John then leaves to face the Yellow-Eyed Demon.
As he is returning with the coffee, Sam finds John collapsed on the floor of his hospital room. He and Dean watch in anguish as, despite the doctor’s efforts, their father dies.
- "Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent
- (plays during recap of previous events)
- "Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
- (playing on the radio immediately after the car accident)
Come on, Sam... Go find some Hoodoo priest to lay some mojo on me, I'll be fine.
Look, if the doctors won't do anything, then we'll have to, that's all. I don't know, find some Hoodoo priest and lay some mojo on him.
Sam: [sees the wrecked Impala in the junkyard] Oh, man... Dean is gonna be pissed.
Spirit!Dean: (to John) I've done everything you've ever asked me. Everything. I have given everything I've ever had. And you're just going to sit there and you're going to watch me die? I mean, what the hell kind of father are you?
Sam: [trying to communicate with Spirit Dean using a Ouija board] Dean, are you here?
Spirit!Dean: God, I feel like I'm at a slumber party. Alright Sam... this isn't going to work. [moves the marker on the board] I'll be damned.
That stuff from Bobby, you don't use it to ward off a demon, you use it to summon one. You're planning on bringing the demon here, aren't you? Having some stupid macho showdown
John: I have a plan, Sam
That's exactly my point! Dean is dying, and you have a plan! You know what, you care more about killing this demon than you do saving your own son!
Sam: Dean, are you here? I couldn't find anything in the book. I don't know how to help you. But I'll keep trying, all right? As long as you keep fighting. I mean, come on you can't, you can't leave me here alone with dad, we'll kill each other, you know that. Dean, you've got to hold on. You can't go, man, not now. We were just starting to be brothers again. Can you hear me?
Tessa: You saw my true form and flipped out. It kinda hurts a girl's feelings.
It's an honorable death, a warrior's death.
Spirit!Dean: I think I'll pass on the seventy two virgins, thanks. I'm not that into prude chicks anyway.
That's funny. You're very cute.
I'm not going with you, I don't care what you do.
Tessa: Well, like you said, there's always a choice. I can't make you come with me, but you're not getting back in your body, and that's just facts. So yes, you can stay. You'll stay here for years, disembodied, scared. Over the decades it'll probably drive you mad, maybe you'll even get violent.
Spirit!Dean: What are you saying?
Dean, how do you think angry spirits are born? They can't let go, and they can't move on, and you're about to become one. The same thing you hunt.
Yellow-eyed Demon: You know the truth, right? About Sammy? And the other children?
John: Yeah. I've known for a while.
It's time to put the pain behind you.
Spirit!Dean: And go where?
Sorry, I can't give away the big punchline.
John: You know, when you were a kid, I'd come home from a hunt, and after what I'd seen, I'd be, I'd be wrecked. And you, you'd come up to me and you, you'd put your hand on my shoulder and you'd look me in the eye and you'd... You'd say "It's okay, Dad"
Trivia & References
The title card
has changed from the green of season one. "Supernatural" dissolves out of flames, with the second "A" having the form of a pentacle.
Over the PA in the hospital we can hear "Paging Dr. Kripke," a reference to the series creator, Eric Kripke
Dean is not wearing his amulet during this episode.
When Dean tells Sam "Give me some ghost whisperin' or something," he is referring to the TV series Ghost Whisperer
Sam: (arguing with John)
Go to Hell!
- Possibly foreshadowing John's bargain with Azazel and his literal going to Hell as a consequence of the deal. Or it could just be a figure of speech.
Dude, I full on Swayze'd that mother.
- Dean is referring to actor Patrick Swayze's role in the movie Ghost. Sam and Dean later learn how to move physical objects and fight as astral projections in 4.15 Death Takes a Holiday. Tessa also appears in this episode.
The character Tessa
is a reference to Neil Gaiman's character "Death," from his Sandman
comic book series, as well as spin-off mini-series.
The name on John's medical insurance is "Elroy McGillicuddy." This is a reference to I Love Lucy
- "McGillicuddy" is Lucy Ricardo's maiden name. Could also be a reference to Elspeth McGillicuddy, a character in the Agatha Christie novel 4.50 from Paddington
(also known as What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw
Filming location: The flight of stairs in the hospital Dean comes down while searching for somebody to tell him what happened to his brother and father in the car crash were used a couple more times in Supernatural
, namely in 1.05 Bloody Mary
and 1.11 Scarecrow
Tessa is a reaper, but is very different to the one seen in 1.12 Faith
Tessa explains that angry spirits are those who have refused to go along with their reaper. They remain trapped on earth, unable to communicate or move on and it eventually drives them insane.
Dean is in room 3751.
What are you, some new agey guy?
Dean: You see me messing with crystals or listening to Yanni?
- Yanni is a Greek composer and keyboardist known for his "new age" music style.
Stage three: Bargaining.
- Tessa is referring to the Kübler-Ross model which describes the five stages of grief : Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Despression and Acceptance.
I think I'll pass on the seventy two virgins, thanks.
- In Muslim belief, a martyr is promised 72 virgins after his death if he dies as a warrior. Zachariah tells Dean Paradise will give him two virgins and 70 sluts (total of 72 women) in 4.22 Lucifer Rising.
It's [the reaper]
here naturally. There's no way to stop it.
Dean: Yeah, you can't kill Death.
- Dean is wrong, as we later find out in 4.15 Death Takes a Holiday that it is possible to kill reapers.
John Winchester is pronounced dead at 10:41 a.m.
There is a discrepancy in the dates on the heart monitors -- Dean's heart monitor indicates he went into cardiac arrest at 19:27 on 12 Aug 06; however, John's heart monitor shows he died at 09:06 on 19 Jul 06. Note: The doctor pronounced John dead at 10:41 a.m. so he was using a different watch entirely. Also, because Angela's cell phone shows the date as Aug. 22, 2006 when she dies in 2.04 Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things
, the July 19th date is more likely correct.
The heart monitor for the little girl who died had the date of 17 July 2006.
Sides, Scripts & Transcripts