Supernatural: In the Beginning

Mary: "You know the worst thing I can think of? The very worst thing? It's for my children to be raised into this, like I was."

This is one of my favorite Supernatural episodes, ever. It was like the last piece of the Winchester family puzzle snapping into place.

It started as a funny, adept homage to Back to the Future, complete with a recreation of the scene where Marty McFly met his father at the soda fountain ("Hey, Winchester!"). It continued with Dean's attraction to his mother, and the scene where he got to know his late grandparents at the dinner table. Discovering that Mary and her parents were hunters made a lot of sense, and shifted the story from comic to tragic.


Mary sold her soul, or more accurately, Sam's future, to the Yellow-Eyed Demon in return for John's life. (And John in turn sold his soul for Dean, and Dean for Sam. A Winchester family tradition, with Sam the only exception.) I bet that when Mary made the deal, she thought she could kill the Yellow-Eyed Demon herself ten years in the future, especially since Dean even told her when It would be coming. But she couldn't, and because she interfered, It killed her. This episode finally explained what happened in the pilot episode, and it made total sense. Wow.

I thought at first that Dean's trip into the past was Castiel testing Dean's commitment to doing God's bidding. (Which Dean would have failed miserably, but who could blame him?) Instead, and what a great twist, it was all about Sam. Castiel knew that Sam was flirting with dark powers. I thought the Yellow-Eyed Demon plot was over, but as Castiel pointed out, we still don't know what the Yellow-Eyed Demon's end game was. And if Sam is still on the road to fulfilling it.

Marvelous casting of young John and Mary. John looked a lot like a darker version of Dean, and Mary a little like Sam as well as the actress who played her earlier. They certainly could have brought back the earlier actors, but it just felt right to see Dean and his parents the same age. And terrific casting of X-Files icon Mitch Pileggi as Samuel Campbell. His leering, sneering sexual interpretation of the Yellow-Eyed Demon was chilling.

Bits and pieces:

— Biblical title. Appropriate.

— Dean and Sam were named for their late maternal grandparents, hunters Samuel and Deanna Campbell. Nice touch, and prophetic as well.

— Dean introduced himself to John as Dean van Halen. And when he and his grandfather were masquerading as priests, he referred to Samuel as "Father Cheney."

— Dean talked his father into buying the Impala. That was fun. Wouldn't John have bought it anyway, though?

— Mary described John as sweet and kind, a man who came back from Vietnam still believing in happily ever after. John changed a lot.

— As he dreamed all of this, Dean was sleeping at the Willow Tree motel. The willow tree symbolizes inner healing as well as dreams. Another nice touch there.

— This episode was like a parallel to "What Is and What Should Never Be." Except Dean passed that test. He failed this one.

— The action took place on April 30, 1973. Mary died on November 2, 1983. So it wasn't exactly ten years. Was Sam born on April 30, perhaps? And Dean's birthdate was given as January 24, 1979. Not that it's important. I just like to record these things for future reference.

Quotes:

Dean: (trying his cell phone) "Can you tell me where I can get reception on this thing?"
John: "The U.S.S. Enterprise?"

Dean: "So angels got their hands on some DeLoreans? How did I get here?"

Dean: "Are you allergic to straight answers, you son of a bitch?"
Only Dean would have the nerve to call an angel a son of a bitch.

Dean: "Sammy, wherever you are, Mom is a babe. I'm going to Hell. Again."

This is an outstanding must-watch episode. Four out of four stars,

Billie
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Billie Doux adores Supernatural which is a good thing since apparently, it's eternal.

7 comments:

Phil said...

This show is really hitting it's stride. The last 3 episodes have all been excellent, and has vaulted the show into the "must-see" category of TV. The leap in quality the show is experiencing....it's almost at the level of a Buffy or Lost....just Wow! The religious angle (angel) is a fantastic touch...and I get the feeling that the eventual culmination between Dean & Sam is going to be tragic. Can't wait to see where this season takes us!

Anonymous said...

I really loved this episode, too. And I agree with Phil that Supernatural has gotten very very good. Who knew.

Anonymous said...

Really, really good. That scene where Dean tells Mary not to go into the nursery is touching and once again, Jensen is great. But I loved that these sacrifices they do for each other is like a family tradition for them. And what is sadder is that Mary unwillingly sealed her fate and the fate of her entire family.

ChrisB said...

OMG! OMG! OMG! The best episode yet.

Just when I think this show is top notch, it ramps up the story even more. And to think I nearly gave up on it after the first few episodes. Yet another reason to always listen to Billie. :-)

Let me start by saying that I was ten years old in 1973 and they got the details exactly right. Tab? I laughed out loud - it was a game changer in its day. The VW bus that John nearly buys? That was my family car. The clothes, the food, the albums all were a walk down memory lane.

It was wonderful to see John and Mary as young kids. Loved how sweet and gentle John was and how badass Mary was. Loved her kicking the crap out of Dean. And the "I'm going to hell. Again" had me wiping the tears of laughter from my eyes.

Loved the grandparents' names, but what an insight into the boys' past. How is it possible that Dean didn't even know their names? And I thought the slow building trust between Dean and Samuel was very nicely played. And how wonderful was it that they both turned up at the farm as priests?

The conversation between Dean and Mary was so, so touching. Dean gets emotional so infrequently that when he does it packs a punch. The tear running down his face as he told his mother not to get out of bed on the day she died nearly did me in.

Watching Mary with the demon, it is now clear why she apologised to Sam in season one. It's also pretty clear why Sam is the 'chosen' one. She puts the other 'breeders' to shame.

Mitch Pileggi was really good as the demon. From sniffing Dean (yuck) to kissing Mary (yuck squared), I was creeped out. Honestly, this is the first role I have seen him in where he didn't remind me of Walter Skinner.

Finally, for an episode in which JP had about 30 seconds of airtime, I agree with Billie that it's all about Sam. Just another example of how superlative this show is.

Kenny Winchester said...

In my opinion, this is one of the best episodes of the series, and apparently it is also in everyone's opinion as well.

It's a coincidence that my former co worker got me into this show and her name was Billie Jean....Seriously...lol

There are a few facts I want to share about this episode:

1. This episode was supposed to be filmed and aired in season 3. Due to the writer's strike, they saved it until season 4.

2. Sam Winchester's birthday is May 2, 1983 and the yellow eyed demon showed up to his nursery exactly six months after that on November 2, 1983. That means that the Yellow Eyed Demon showed up exactly 10 years, 6 months and 2 days after he made the deal with Mary.

3. The sad thing I realized when I watched this episode was knowing that if Dean didn't tell Samuel about Liddy Walsh, Samuel and Mary wouldn't have tried to save Liddy and the Yellow Eyed Demon wouldn't have 'caught Mary's scent'. You can figure out what happens after this.

I love your reviews and I will try to interject every now and then to add my two cents. Supernatural has turned me into an analytic freak who is all about details...lol.

Billie Doux said...

Loved your comment, Kenny Winchester, and I'm looking forward to more.

My middle name isn't Jean, btw. :)

Puppet James said...

What can I say that hasn't already been mentioned? This is, simply put, a stellar piece of television art and undeniable acting from everyone involved.

What I love the most, both the first time I watched it and now, looking back, is how easily it clicks into place with the pilot and other episodes. This is when you can tell that creator Eric Kripke had planned out the first 5 seasons before shooting a single episode. Everything is connected and it is done almost effortlessly, especially in an episode like this.