In Rosedale, Mississippi, in 1930, Robert Johnson makes a deal with a demon at the crossroads, asking to be the greatest blues guitarist that ever lived. The deal is sealed with a kiss. In Greenwood, Mississippi, in August 1938, Robert Johnson is playing blues guitar at Lloyd's Bar. There is a sound outside and he leaves, running as he hears dogs chasing him until he takes refuge in a house. Soon after he is found dying, mumbling about the black dogs that are after him.
In the present day, Sam and Dean are researching the case of an architect, Sean Boyden, who jumped to his death from a building he designed. He had previously reported seeing a dog in the building. Thinking this may be a supernatural black dog, the boys decide to investigate and under the guise of writers from Architectural Digest, interview Sean’s partner. They discover he had been working as a bartender at a bar called Lloyd's ten years ago, when suddenly he’d shown great talent and became an overnight success.
Dean and Sam start tracking all the complaints about black dogs in the area recently. At the house of Dr. Silvia Pearlman, who has risen to be Chief of Surgery at a young age, her maid confirms the report, and adds that the doctor left unexpectedly a couple of days before. Dean finds a photo of the doctor at Lloyd's. In a hotel room, Dr. Pearlman screams as she is attacked by an invisible dog.
Sam and Dean go to Lloyd's Bar, which is situated near a crossroads. The intersection is surrounded by yarrow, a plant used in summoning rituals, and at its center they dig up a tin containing a vial of graveyard dirt, black cat bones, and the photo of George Darrow. They realize that the black dogs are actually hellhounds which are collecting souls due in payment for deals with a demon.
The boys visit George Darrow, a painter, who admits to having summoned a demon ten years ago and made a deal for artistic talent. After the deal, however, the demon stayed at Lloyd's Bar for a week and made deals with Sean Boyden, Silvia Growman, and a man named Evan Hudson. George is resigned to dying and the boys leave him to his fate.
At Evan Hudson’s house, he admits to Sam and Dean that he made a deal with the demon to save his wife from dying of cancer. Dean suggests he go and summon the crossroads demon and try and exorcise it, while Sam protects Evan. Sam is wary of the plan -- like Dean he has been wondering if their father made a similar deal with the Yellow-Eyed Demon for Dean’s life, and he is wary of Dean’s motives. But as they hear the howling of the hellhounds, he agrees to go along with the plan.
Dean summons the crossroads demon and tries to lure her into the Impala, which is parked over a devil’s trap. When she realizes the trap she begins to taunt Dean about how much he has suffered since John’s death. She offers to bring John back, in exchange for Dean’s soul to be claimed in ten years' time. Just as it appears Dean may make the deal, the crossroads demon realizes she is under a devil’s trap painted on the water tower she is standing beneath. Meanwhile Sam and Evan stand inside a protective circle as the hellhounds approach.
The demon refuses Dean's offer of her freedom in exchange for Evan Hudson's life, so he begins to exorcise her while Sam and Evan desperately try to avoid the hellhound. Finally, the demon relents and with a kiss to Dean, breaks Evan's deal and calls off her hellhound. While Dean initially considers continuing the exorcism, he instead keeps to his deal and breaks the Devil's Trap. The demon taunts him about John's fate, but before he can do anything to it, it flees its meatsuit, leaving behind a confused young woman.
Back in the Impala, Sam and Dean talk about the deal their father made. Dean feels undeserving and while Sam tries to convince him otherwise, he asks whether Dean considered accepting the crossroad demon’s deal. Dean doesn’t answer.
- "Hellhound on My Trail" by Robert Johnson
- (played by Robert Johnson in the first flashback scene of the episode)
- "Crossroad Blues" by Robert Johnson
- (plays during the flashback scene with Johnson at the Crossroads)
- "Downhearted Blues" by Son House
- (playing in George's apartment, when Sam and Dean question him)
- "Key to the Highway" by Big Bill Broonzy
- (plays on the radio in the Impala as Sam talks to Dean about John)
- "Chaos Surrounds You" by Brian Tichy
- (Dean turns up the radio to end further discussion on whether or not he considered making the deal)
- "Hair of the Dog" by Nazareth
- (plays during the "Soon" preview for upcoming episodes)
Dean: Secretary's name is Carly. She's twenty three, she, uh, kayaks, and they're real.
Dean: I swear, if this is another freakin' Pomeranian barking in the neighbor's yard...
I'd be willing to bet that's graveyard dirt. And a black cat bone.
Dean: That's serious spellwork. I mean, that's Deep South Hoodoo stuff.
Sam: Used to summon a demon.
Dean: Not just summon one. Crossroads are where pacts are made. These people are actually making deals with the damn thing. You know, 'cause that always ends good.
They're seeing dogs, all right. But not Black Dogs, they're seeing hellhounds. Demonic pit bulls.
Sam: So it's just like the Robert Johnson legend, right? I mean, selling your soul at the crossroads, kind of deal?
Dean: Yeah, except that wasn't a legend. I mean, you know his music. You don't know Robert Johnson's songs? Sam, there's, there's occult references all over his lyrics, I mean, "Crossroad Blues"? "Me and the Devil Blues"? "Hellhound on My Trail"? The story goes, he died choking on his own blood, he was hallucinating, and muttering about big evil dogs.
So what is that stuff out front?
George Darrow: Goofer Dust... What, you boys think you know somethin' about somethin' but not Goofer dust?
Well, we know a little about a lot of things. Just enough to make us dangerous.
George Darrow: I called that thing! I brought it on myself. I brought it on them. I'm going to hell, one way or another. All I want is to finish my last painting. Day or two, I'm done. I'm just trying to hold them off 'till then. Buy a little time. Okay, boys. Time you went, go help somebody that wants help.
Dean: What'd you ask for anyway, Evan? Huh? Never need Viagra? Bowl a perfect game? What?
Sam: Dad. You think maybe Dad made one of these deals, huh? Hell. I've been thinking it. I'm sure you've been thinking it too.
Dean: It fits, doesn't it? I'm alive, Dad's dead. The yellow-eyed demon was involved. What if he did? What if he struck a deal? My life for his soul?
Crossroads Demon: You did know about your dad's deal, right? His life for yours? Oh, I didn't make the deal myself, but... boy, I wish I had.
He did it for you.
Dean: Exactly. How am I supposed to live with that? You know, the thought of him... wherever he is right now. I mean, he spent his whole life chasing that... yellow-eyed son of a bitch. He should have gone out fighting. That was supposed to be his legacy. You know? Not bargaining with the damn thing. Not this.
Sam: How many people do you think Dad saved? Total?
Dean: That's not the point, Sam.
Evan Hudson is safe because of what Dad taught us. That's his legacy, Dean. But we're still here, man. So we gotta keep going, for him.
Trivia & References
The title, "Crossroad Blues," is taken from a Robert Johnson
song of the same name. Robert Johnson is performing the song at the beginning of this episode before he begins to panic at the sound of the hellhounds
and sight of the demon
. The song also plays during the scene where Robert Johnson is making his deal
with the crossroads demon
. This song was later covered by the classic rock band Cream
, but they shortened the title to "Crossroads."
Lloyd's Bar is a reference to the bartender "Lloyd" in The Shining
, who appeared after Jack said, "God, I'd give anything for a drink. I'd give my god-damned soul for just a glass of beer."
So much for our low profile. You've got a warrant in St. Louis, and now you're officially in the Fed's database.
Dean: Dude, I'm like Dillinger or something.
- John Dillinger was an American bank robber who was considered a dangerous criminal. His activities in the 1930's contributed to the further development of the FBI. John Dillinger's exploits and law enforcement's efforts to catch him were the subject of the 2009 movie Public Enemies.
The picture of the black dog that Dean
comments on is actually that of Fenrir
, a monstrous wolf in Norse mythology. His destructive powers were so feared that the gods had no choice but to imprison him. Also in the picture is the god Tyr
, a deity noted for his courage and strength.
Yeah, MySpace, what the hell is that? Seriously, is that like some sort of porn site?
- MySpace is a website that allows people to meet others with similar interests.
Great. So we've gotta clean up these people's mess for 'em? I mean, they're not exactly squeaky clean. Nobody put a gun to their head and forced 'em to play Let's Make a Deal.
- Let's Make A Deal is a TV game show that started in the '60s.
Though this house probably ain't up next on MTV Cribs
, is it?
- MTV Cribs is a reality program that offers a look into the homes of celebrities.
Wasn't for cash. Oh, who knows. Maybe this place is full of babes in Princess Leia bikinis.
- A Star Wars reference. When Princess Leia is captured by Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi she is forced to wear a golden bikini marking her as a slave-girl.
This is the first episode where we meet someone possessed who flashes red eyes, indicating that they are a crossroads demon
The crossroads demon
in this episode sticks around Lloyd's bar for about a week after being initially summoned, seducing others into making deals. This resembles Crowley
's strategy in 8.14 Trial and Error
, where he shows up and proceeds to make deals with several different members of the same family.
There is now a warrant for Dean
's arrest in St. Louis and he is listed in the FBI database. Sam
has no record.
Sam and Dean find patches of yarrow, a yellow flower, planted at the corners of the crossroads
outside of Lloyd's Bar
. Sam says that yarrow is used in summoning rituals.
The box Dean unearths contains a small, clear-glass bottle of graveyard dirt, the bones of a black cat, and at least two other items, one of which looks like a bundle of herbs (likely dried-out or burned yarrow), and a black-and-white picture of the one who buried the box.
At the end of this episode a promo was aired that became known as the "Soon" promo, as the word "soon" appeared on the title card. It was a compilation of scenes from upcoming episodes: 2.09 Croatoan
and 2.10 Hunted
, ending with the moment before Dean reveals to Sam what John had told him. The music in the clip is "Hair of the Dog" by Nazareth.
Sides, Scripts & Transcripts
- ↑ On a photo made 10 years ago, it is written in the back side: November 1996