Sam has a vision of Dean killing a man tied to a chair, leading them to River Grove, Oregon, where Sam recalls the story of the Roanoke Colony when he stumbles across the word "CROATOAN" carved into a street-side telephone pole.
Sam and Dean seek out the man in Sam's vision and discover increasingly violent people who appear to be controlled by some kind of "demonic virus". They discover that all lines of communication - radio, phone, cell signal - have been cut off from the town, and when he attempts to leave via road, Dean discovers a roadblock made up of "infected" locals who fire upon him.
Dean and Sam hole up in the local medical center along with the local doctor, a nurse, and 'Sarge' (an ex-marine). The doctor studies the blood of an infected person and notes that there appears to be traces of sulfur in the blood, leading Sam to further suspect demonic intervention. The demon virus is transmitted via exchanging blood, but the sulfur does not manifest until four hours after infection. Sam speculates that it could be related to a theory in John's Journal, that Croatoan is the name of a demon associated with plague and pestilence, and calls what's going on "demonic germ warfare".
Duane Tanner, the man Sam saw in his vision and whose family Sam and Dean first encountered exhibiting signs of infection, turns up at the medical center claiming to have been out of the town fishing and just returned. The medical center occupants suspect he might be infected, and they restrain him by tying him to a chair.
Recognizing the scene from his vision, Sam tries to convince Dean not to kill Duane, as they don't know yet whether he's infected with the Demon virus. Dean locks Sam in a room to stop him from preventing the killing, but Dean is unable to follow through anyway.
Sam and Dean use medical supplies to make explosives, building an arsenal to help them escape the town, as the infected townspeople are milling about outside. The nurse of the medical center attacks Sam, deliberately cutting her hand and his chest to exchange blood and ostensibly infecting him with the demon virus. Dean kills the nurse. Believing Sam to be infected, the remaining people in the medical center decide to leave in the Impala. Dean elects to stay with Sam, and seems to be on the cusp of sharing some innermost thought with his brother when the doctor returns with the news that the rest of the townsfolk have disappeared.
Five hours later, the doctor announces that there is no trace of the demon virus in Sam's blood, therefore he wasn't infected. This leaves both Sam and Dean uneasy. The team in the medical center go their separate ways, Duane riding in Sarge's truck.
Duane asks Sarge to pull over because he "has to make a call", and draws out a goblet and knife. Slitting Sarge's throat, Duane catches the blood in the goblet. When he swirls, it starts whirlpooling, and Duane speaks into it as if he's communicating with someone (though we only hear one side of it), saying, "I don't think any more tests will be necessary... The Winchester boy, definitely immune as expected." Duane's eyes then turn black, indicating that he's probably possessed. The entire scene is reminiscent of Meg in 1.11 Scarecrow.
Sam and Dean end up on the shore of a river, drinking beer and talking. Dean is on the cusp of revealing the big secret John told him in 2.01 In My Time of Dying when the episode ends.
Well, all your weirdo visions are always tied to the Yellow-Eyed Demon somehow... so was there any black smoke? Did we try to exorcise it?
Sam: No. Nothing, you just plugged him, that's it.
Dean: Well, I'm sure I had a good reason.
Sam: I sure hope so.
Dean: What does that mean? I mean, I'm not gonna waste an innocent man... I wouldn't!
I never said you would!
Roanoke was one of the first English colonies in America, late 1500s?
Dean: Oh yeah, yeah, I do remember that. The only thing they left behind was a single word carved in a tree. Croatoan.
Sam: Yeah. And I mean, there were theories — Indian raid, disease, but nobody knows what really happened. They were all just gone. I mean, wiped out overnight.
You don't think that's what's going on here, I mean...
Sam: I'm sorry, all right? I hesitated, Dean, it was a kid!
Dean: No, it was an "it". Not the best time for a bleeding heart, Sam.
Quarantine? What is it?
Man: Don't know. Something going around out there.
Dean: Uh-huh. Who told you that?
Man: County Sheriff.
Dean: Is he here?
Man: No. He called. Say, why don't you get out of the car and we'll talk a little?
Dean: Well, you are a handsome devil, but I don't swing that way, sorry.
Man: I'd sure appreciate it if you got out of the car, just for a quick minute.
Yeah, I'll bet you would.
A demonic virus?
Sam: Yeah, more like demonic germ warfare. At least it explains why I've been having visions.
It's like a Biblical plague.
Sam: Dad always had a theory about Croatoan. He thought it was a demon's name. Sometimes known as Deva or sometimes Resheph. A demon of plague and pestilence.
Hey look, man, I'm not happy about this, okay? But it's a tough job and you know that.
Sam: It's supposed to be tough, Dean. We're supposed to struggle with this, that's the whole point.
Dean: What does that buy us?
Sam: A clear conscience, for one!
Well, it's too late for that.
Sam: This is the dumbest thing you've ever done.
Dean: Oh, I don't know about that. Remember that waitress in Tampa?
Dean: I'm tired, Sam. I'm tired of this job, this life... this weight on my shoulders, man. I'm tired of it.
Dean: Right before Dad died, he told me something. He told me something about you.
Sam: What? Dean, what did he tell you?
Trivia & References
The word "Croatoan" was carved into a tree on Roanoke Island at the site of the Lost Colony
introduces himself and Sam
using the aliases "Billy Gibbons" and "Frank Beard." They are the singer/guitarist and drummer of the band ZZ Top.
Later on, though, they call each other Dean and Sammy, stating that they are brothers, and strangely no one becomes suspicious.
Sam: Yeah... Roanoke? Lost colony? Ring a bell? Dean, did you pay any attention in history class?
Dean: Yeah! Shots heard 'round the world, How bills becomes laws...
Sam: That's not school, that's Schoolhouse Rock.
- Schoolhouse Rock! is a series of 46 educational short films featuring songs about schoolhouse topics, including grammar, science, economics, history, and politics. Originally conceived by Thomas G. Yohe in 1972, the shorts were broadcast on the ABC television network between 1973 and 1986; they were then broadcast infrequently during the 1990s and 2000s.
That was kind of creepy, right? A little too Stepford?
- Referring to the 1975 sci-fi/horror film The Stepford Wives, based on the novel by Ira Levin.
If it is a possession there could be more. I mean, God knows how many, it could be like a friggin' Shriner convention.
- The Shriners is a fraternal organization which focuses on fellowship and charitable acts. They meet annually for a convention in a major city; these conventions regularly draw 20,000 participants or more.
My neighbor... Mr. Rogers, he —
Dean: You've got a neighbor named Mr. Rogers?
- Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was an American children's television series that was created and hosted by Fred Rogers.
I feel like Chuck Heston in the Omega Man.
- The Omega Man is a film about a man (played by Charlton Heston) being the sole survivor of an apocalyptic plague that turns the rest of the world's population into mutant monsters.
Yeah, good point. Night of the Living Dead didn't exactly end pretty.
- Night of the Living Dead is a zombie film directed by George A. Romero. It is known for having a nihilistic ending.
All right, then we should keep him tied up, and we should wait and see.
Dean: For what? For him to Hulk out and infect somebody else? No thanks, can't take that chance.
- The Incredible Hulk was originally a comic book character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. A scientist, Bruce Banner, transforms into the strong and almost unstoppable green monster, the Hulk, whenever he becomes angry or panicked.
Yeah, you know, all this driving back and forth cross country, you know, I've never been to the Grand Canyon. We could go to TJ, or Hollywood. See if one of us can bang Lindsay Lohan.
- In 8.21 The Great Escapist, Sam remembers a trip to the Grand Canyon with Dean and their Dad. Writer Ben Edlund confirmed that the Grand Canyon trip was a mistake on his part.
- TJ is a nickname for the city of Tijuana, in Baja California, Mexico.
- The brothers do make it to Hollywood in 2.18 Hollywood Babylon.
- Lindsay Lohan is an actress better known for her rehab visits and partying than her movies.
The title of this episode seems to cause some difficulty for a number of folks. On IMDb it's listed as "Croatian," on the Official Site
The town of River Grove, Oregon, is fictional. There are also no towns near Crater Lake that are large enough to have their own medical clinic (River Grove's proximity to that National Park is implied by the "Visit Crater Lake" poster that helps Sam hone in on the site of his vision).
Sides, Scripts & Transcripts