In Baltimore, Sam and Dean investigate the murder of a lawyer, Tony Giles, who was killed in his office, although the security cameras show no one either entering or leaving the room.
They interview his wife Karen, who reports that he had a nightmare or vision of a woman the night before he died. Breaking into his office, Sam and Dean find a printout with “danashulps” printed repeatedly on it, which they assume to be a name -- Dana Shulps. Sam stays to hack into the computer while Dean decides to return and ask Karen whether the name means anything. At her home, Karen sees a ghostly figure and rushes to call 911. When Dean arrives, he finds her dead in a pool of blood with a pile of paper near her which also has “danashulps” printed on it. As he bends over to examine bruises on her wrists, the police burst and arrest him.
Sam is arrested at their motel room, and back at the police station the boys are interrogated separately. A lengthy police record has been uncovered for Dean, including suspicion of involvement in the murders in St. Louis, where he was reported as dead. Detective Diana Ballard interviews Sam, and he spins her a tale about Tony being an old friend of their father. Detective Ballard reveals she knows a lot about Sam’s history as well, and tries to get him to admit Dean’s involvement in the murders.
Detective Ballard leaves to confer with her colleague Detective Pete Sheridan, with whom she is having a relationship. Sheridan is convinced of Dean’s guilt; he appears particularly invested in the case because Tony Giles was a friend of his. Dean’s lawyer, Jeff Krause, arrives, but rather than speak to him Dean borrows a pen and tries to work out if “danashulps” is an anagram. His lawyer helps by pointing out that one word it forms, “Ashland”, is a nearby street. Dean gets Jeff to take a coded note to Sam, passing on the information and telling him to escape.
Dean announces that he wants to confess, thus diverting all the police attention onto him. He doesn’t confess to the murders, but says that he thinks a ghost is responsible and that the word “danashulps” is a message from her. Predictably, the police believe he is wasting their time, which he has been in order to allow Sam time to escape. Dean is cuffed and put in a cell.
Meanwhile, the word “danashulps” appears on Ballard’s computer screen and she sees the ghostly figure of a woman with her throat slit. When she returns to speak to Dean, he see that bruises have appeared on her wrists similar to those he saw on Karen. He suspects she has seen something supernatural and tells her to go to Sam for help.
Together, she and Sam identify the woman she saw as Claire Becker, a heroin dealer who had worked as a police informant. She disappeared eight or nine months ago, but was last seen at 2911 Ashland Street. Sam explains to Diana that they need to find her body and salt and burn it in order to stop the killings.
While Sam and Diana are searching a building on Ashland, Claire appears again and points them to where they find her body hidden in a wall. Sam is bemused as to why the ghost would lead them to her body. Diana sees that Claire is wearing a distinctive necklace which is identical to one Pete has given her. Sam deduces that Claire is not a vengeful spirit, but a death omen who is trying to warn people who are about to be murdered.
Diana tells Sam that a couple of years ago some heroin went missing from the police lockup. She suspects that Pete stole it and used Claire to fence it. They suspect Pete is the murderer. Pete has taken Dean from the police station and driven out to the woods, intending to kill him. Sam and Diana track the car via its lo-jack and arrive just as Pete has a gun to Dean's head. He admits that he killed Claire because she was going to turn him in, and then killed Tony who had been involved in laundering the money and was getting nervous, and Karen because he suspected she knew too much. Pete tries to convince Diana that he can pin the crimes on Dean, but as he is about to shoot Dean, Diana shoots and wounds him. Pete disarms her, but the ghost of Claire appears and distracts him long enough for Diana to draw her backup gun and kill him. Diana agrees to let the boys go, telling them she will feel safer knowing they are out there fighting the supernatural.
Detective Sheridan: Well, first I thought you were just stepping up your game. Credit card fraud, breaking and entering, and this one... puzzled me. Grave desecration. But still these are a long way from murder. Then we get a fax from St. Louis. Where you're suspected of torturing and murdering a young woman. However, no one could prove anything, of course, because supposedly you died there. But I gotta tell you something. You look pretty healthy to me. So now we know Karen Giles wasn't the first person you murdered. But I guarantee you she's the last.
I needed some time off. To deal. So I'm taking a road trip with my brother.
Detective Ballard: How's that going for you?
Great. I mean... we saw the second largest ball of twine in the continental U.S. Awesome.
Uh, do me a favor? See if you recognize any of these words, you know, local names, places, anything like that?
Kraus: Do you understand how serious these charges are?
I'm handcuffed to a table. Yeah, I get it. Humor me. Take a quick look.
Dean: My name is Dean Winchester. I'm an Aquarius. I enjoy sunsets, long walks on the beach, and frisky women. And I did not kill anyone. But I know who did. Or rather what did. Of course it can't be for sure, because our investigation was interrupted. But our working theory was that we're looking for some kind of vengeful spirit.
Detective Sheridan: You murdered them in cold blood just like that girl in St. Louis.
Dean: Oh, yeah. That wasn't me either. That was a shapeshifter creature that only looked like me.
Let's pretend for the moment you're not entirely insane.
Detective Ballard: What would one of these things be doing here?
Dean: A vengeful spirit? Well, they're created by violent deaths. And then they come back for a reason, usually a nasty one. Like revenge on the people that hurt 'em.
And uh, these, they're capable of killing people?
Yeah. Yeah, there's definitely something in there. You know? This is bothering me.
Detective Ballard: Well, you are digging up a corpse.
Sam: No, not that. That's, uh, that's pretty par for the course, actually.
Detective Ballard: Then what?
It's just, I mean, no vengeful spirit I've ever tussled with wanted to be wasted, so why the hell would Claire lead us to her remains? It doesn't make any sense. All right, here. Give me a hand.
Now this all makes perfect sense.
Detective Ballard: I'm sorry?
Sam: Yeah. You see, Claire is not a vengeful spirit, she's a death omen.
Detective Ballard: Excuse me?
Claire's not killing anyone. She's trying to warn them. You see, sometimes spirits, they don't want vengeance, they want justice. Which is why she led us here in the first place. She wants us to know who her killer is... Detective, how much do you know about your partner?
Dean: Pee break? So soon? You might want to get your prostate checked. Son of a bitch. Hey, I'm cool in the van, you go do what you gotta do.
So, uh. What now, officer?
Detective Ballard: Pete did confess to me. He screwed up both your cases royally. I'd say that there's a good chance that we could get your cases dismissed.
Sam: You'd take care of that for us?
I hope so. But the St. Louis murder charges? That's another story. I can't help you. Unless... I just happened to turn my back, and you walked away. I could just tell them that the suspects escaped.
Trivia & References
The title of this episode is a reference to the movie The Usual Suspects
, which itself references a line from Casablanca.
The way this story progresses is similar to how the movie The Usual Suspects
unfolds: told through a series of flashbacks during the course of a police interrogation.
You're twenty three years old, no job, no home address. Your mother died when you were a baby, your father's whereabouts are unknown. And then there's the case of your brother Dean. Whose demise was, well, just a little bit exaggerated. Feel free to jump in whenever you like.
- This is a reference to the popular quote "Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated," widely but erroneously attributed to Mark Twain. What Twain actually said was, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."
My favorite kind. What do you think, Scully? You wanna check it out?
Sam: I'm not Scully, you're Scully.
Dean: No, I'm Mulder. You're a red-headed woman.
- Dean and Sam fight over who is "Mulder" and who is "Scully" - Mulder and Scully being the leading duo of The X-Files.
Hey, thanks for the law review, Matlock. But. If you want to help me... I need you to see my brother.
Kraus: I hope that's meaningful. But I'd like to discuss your case now.
Sam: Sure thing, Matlock.
- Both Sam and Dean jokingly call their lawyer "Matlock." Matlock was a TV legal drama that ran in the late 1980s-early '90s, "Matlock" being the name of the defense attorney the series focused on.
Tony Giles saw it. I'll bet you cash money Karen did too. But see, the interesting thing is the word it leaves behind. For some reason it's trying to tell us something. But communicating across the vale, it ain't easy. You know, sometimes the spirits, they, they get things jumbled. You remember "REDRUM." Same concept. You know, it's, uh, maybe word fragments... other times, it's anagrams. See, at first we thought this was a name, Dana Shulps. But now we think it's a street. Ashland. Whatever's going on, I'll bet you it started there.
- Another reference to The Shining.
I'm not joking Ponch.
- Dean refers to Detective Sheridan as "Ponch," a reference to his resemblance to Eric Estrada in CHiPs.
Dean's note to Sam - addressing him as "Hilts" and signing off as "McQueen" is a reference to The Great Escape
- Steve McQueen played the lead character, Captain Hilts. It is most likely that this is code meaning one brother will stall, buying the other enough time to make their "great escape."
I want to know more about that stuff you were talking about earlier.
Dean: Time Life. Mysteries of the Unknown. Look it up.
- Time Life is a direct marketer known for selling books, music and movies. Mysteries of the Unknown is a series of books about the paranormal.
Sam and Dean's practice of picking the first motel in the yellow pages and signing in as "Jim Rockford" is revealed to be the method they use to find each other when they get separated. Jim Rockford is a fictional private investigator from the 1970s TV series, The Rockford Files.
Dean: Yeah, for a cop. Did she look familiar to you?
Sam: No, why?
Dean: I don't know. Anyway, are you hungry?
Dean: For some reason I could really go for some pea soup.
- Dean's comment on "looking familiar" and mention of "pea soup" are references in homage to guest star Linda Blair and The Exorcist, the film that she is best known for, in which her character, a possessed teenager, at one point vomits pea soup.
The episode takes place sometime between October 2006 and May 2007, as Sam is mentioned as being 23 years old.
was a straight-A student at school and got into Stanford
with a full scholarship.
The apartment where Jessica
died is confirmed as his (rather than hers), and Jess was the only fatality that day.
and the murder that the police refer to happened in the first season episode, 1.06 Skin
When Detective Diana Ballard
finds Sam he is staying at the Aardvark Motel. According to Dean, if separated he and Sam would meet at the first hotel listed in the phone book. The word "aardvark" is the first word (after "A") in an English language dictionary.
The starburst clock
shows up in the motel room that Detective Ballard finds Sam in. You can see it on the wall on the right side right before Sam sits down at the computer. It is the only episode during season two that it appears in. It shows up next in episode 3.02 The Kids Are Alright
Sides, Scripts & Transcripts