Mensch of Letters

Ep 12 - Every Simple Human Vice and Virtue

November 24, 2021
Mensch of Letters
Ep 12 - Every Simple Human Vice and Virtue
Show Notes Transcript

This week: Little sibling crimes of being taller, a sprinkling of daloy politsey, Sam gets snubbed by the FBI, Elijah the Prophet is playing with your dogs, and the covenant is just Eldest Daughter Disorder writ large.

(Supernatural Season 2, Episodes 7, 8, and 9)


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Our intro music is Fun Tashlikh and our outro music is Szarvaszo Stomp, both by Yid Vicious, who you can find at their website, where their music is available for purchase.   

Iscah  00:17
Hello and welcome to Mensch of Letters, the first, best, and only Jewish Supernatural Podcast. I'm Iscah, and I want to make a demon deal for the ability to stop procrastinating...but I keep putting it off.

Jules  00:28
I'm Jules, coming to you in dramatic slow motion.

 Iscah  00:32
And we're here to make a bad TV show slightly better by making it Jewish. This week, we're looking at season two episodes, seven, eight and nine.

 Jules  00:43
All right, episode seven, "The Usual Suspects". At a police station in Baltimore, Maryland,  the police have brought in two persons of interest for questioning about the murder of a woman named Karen Giles. One of them the police have found was already wanted in connection with the torture and murder of a woman in St. Louis until his presumptive death. In another room, meanwhile, the suspect's brother is being questioned in the hopes of flipping him. Wait, brother? That's right. It's Sam and Dean and we are thoroughly in media res.

 Jules  01:18
The detective questioning Sam, Diana Ballard, has gone for the good cop angle to start with. She tries to convince Sam to help her and himself by telling them what he knows in the hopes of making a deal. Sam tells her that Karen's husband Dan theny was a friend of their fathers that he indeed came to Baltimore to pay their respects after her husband's murder. In a series of flashbacks, we learn the truth.

 Jules  01:43
Sam and Dean saw Anthony Giles's death in the newspaper, and the strangeness of it—his throat was slit in his office with no trace whatsoever of any killer—drew their attention. They began their investigation with Karen, who mentions that Anthony had a nightmare the night before he died, waking in the middle of the night to see a woman with red eyes standing at the foot of his bed. At Anthony's office, the Winchesters find a piece of paper with nothing but the name "Dana Shulps" printed on it, over and over, Shining-style. Some initial searching turns up no record of a Dana Shulps in Baltimore. Sam works on cracking Giles's computer in the hopes of finding more there, and Dean decides to go back to Karen and see if she knows anything. Karen however, has been seeing a figure in her home, appearing and disappearing, and calls 911 to report an intruder. Her phone dies mid-call and her printer begins printing nothing but "Dana Shulps"—and then she sees a woman with red eyes and screams.

 Jules  02:44
Dean arrives at Karen's home, and when no one answers his knocks, picks the lock and breaks in. He finds Karen's body, throat slit and notices red marks on her wrists—which is when the cops find him. Back in the present, Ballard and her partner, Pete Sheridan, who has been questioning Dean, compare notes. They're both frustrated; Sam and Dean's stories match up perfectly. The only hope they have is for Sam to flip. Ballard expresses doubts—they've got no weapon and only circumstantial evidence. It also becomes clear that two detectives are lovers, and that Sheridan knew Anthony Giles and has a personal interest in putting Dean away. Sam and Dean, meanwhile, are both puzzling over Dana unbeknownst to either of them, is Ballard, whose computer screen fills up with the words while she's working on a report.

Jules  03:39
Eventually, with the help of a very confused public defender, Dean identifies that as part of an anagram, referring to Ashland, the name of a street, and asks the lawyer to take the info to Sam. Once he's gone. Dean tells the police he wants to confess, and proceeds to swear to his innocence and cheerfully tell everyone the truth—that they're looking for a vengeful spirit and "Dana Shulps" may have been a result of confusion on the ghosts part. He also throws in that those murders in St. Louis for the work of a shapeshifter. When the cops leave, disgusted, to check on Sam, they discover that he's gone. Dean was covering for him while he made his escape. Ballard meanwhile, has been visibly shaken since Dean dropped the words "Dana Shulps", and things just keep getting weirder for her when she goes to the bathroom, where she sees a woman with a slit throat. Ballard returns to Dean, asking him about his story. He realizes that she's genuinely disturbed and may in fact believe him. He also notices red marks on her wrists similar to those Karen Giles had. He tells her how to find Sam, and urges her to do so.

Jules  04:48
Sam, when Ballard tracks him down, has dug up information on women who've died or disappeared from Ashland Street, and Ballard identifies one of them, Claire Becker, as the woman she saw. Claire disappeared almost a year ago, but before that she was brought in twice for dealing heroin. Ballard and Sheridan had both worked narcotics at the time. At an abandoned building where Claire was last seen, Claire appears to Ballard again leading her to a wall near a window on which part of a sign can be seen. "Ashland" and the beginning of the word "supplies", SUP—or, rearranged, Dana Shulps. Sam is confused, however, by the fact that Claire appears to have been leading them to her body, which doesn't fit with a vengeful spirit's pattern. When they find the body, her hands are bound at the wrists, and she's wearing a necklace just like one Sheridan gave to Ballard. Sam realizes that Claire isn't a vengeful spirit at all—she's a death omen. She doesn't want vengeance, she wants justice, and she's trying to warn people about her killer's identity. Ballard informs Sam, horrified, that heroin went missing from the station's lockup about a year ago. It was clearly stolen by a cop, but they never figured out who it was.

Jules  06:07
Sheridan, meanwhile, has taken Dean from the station, ostensibly to deliver him to St. Louis, but he pulls over and drags Dean into the woods. He gets out his gun, but they're found by Ballard and Sam. Ballard forces Sheridan to tell her the truth: he stole the heroin and gave it to Claire to fence, but she threatened to turn him in, so he killed her. Tony Giles helped him launder the money, but got cold feet so Sheraton killed him as well as his wife. He now plans to kill Dean and let him take the fall. With the help of Claire's ghost the furious Ballard kills Sheridan. She tells Dean that she can take care of the charges for this case, but can't help him with the St. Louis chargers. But she's pretty distracted right now, so if Sam and Dean happened to escape, well, there's nothing she can do about that. Leaving the scene, Sam and Dean agree that she seems like a pretty nice know, for a cop.

Iscah  07:07
All right, episode eight, "Crossroad Blues". In Greenwood, Mississippi, in 1938, a Black guitarist plays the blues on stage in a smoky bar, often glancing at a woman in the audience. He's interrupted by growling and shadowy figures from outside that nobody else seems to notice. And he flees, terrified. The young woman and some men in the audience follow him. And when they find him in his home, where he's barred the door, he's already dying and whispers "dogs, black dogs".

Iscah  07:36
In the present. Sam admonishes Dean for being cavalier about having a warrant and an entry in the federal database and pretends he's not jealous because they ignored him. Moving on to the case, he tells Dean about an architect who jumped off the roof of a condo he designed—and had previously called Animal Control about a vicious, wild black dog that no one else saw. They interview the man's business partner and learn of his meteoric rise to success 10 years ago, after having been a bartender at Lloyds who "couldn't design even a tent".

Iscah  08:05
At Animal Control, they get a list of everyone who's recently called in about big black dogs. One of them is a doctor, Sylvia Pearlman, who isn't there, but they're able to speak to her maid. Dean comments that the doctor is chief surgeon at the hospital. Impressive for how young she is, and she tells him that Dr. Pearlman got the position 10 years ago. On the back of a photo of Dr. Pearlman at a bar with friends is written "Lloyd's Bar". Dr. Pearlman is hiding at a motel and seems to be having demonic hallucinations. Lloyd's Bar, it turns out, is on a crossroads, surrounded by flowers used for summoning rituals. And at the dead center, Sam and Dean dig up a box filled with materials for summoning and making a pact with a demon. Back at the motel, something invisible bursts into Dr. Pearlman's room and attacks dragging her away. A flashback shows the man from the beginning blues musician Robert Johnson at a similar crossroads, making a deal to become "the best bluesman ever lived".

Iscah  08:58
Dean says these people are just reaping what they've sown, but Sam's insistent that they help. They find the man who made the first deal, George Darrow, who's become a brilliant but unknown artist. He's resigned to his fate, just buying himself a little time to finish his last painting, using Hoodoo protections learned from his grandmother. However, he still directs them to the last person he knows made a deal. Evan Hudson has also been hearing the hellhounds, but puts on a brave face as he says goodbye to his wife, who's going on a trip. When Sam and Dean arrive, he eventually tells them that he made the deal to save his wife, who was dying of cancer. Against Sam's better judgment, Dean goes to the Crossroads to summon the demon, while Sam stays behind to protect Evan.

Iscah  09:37
The demon tells Dean that she can't allow Evan to renege on his contract, but she can make a new deal with Dean: his father back for Dean's life, 10 years from now. He appears to consider it but has actually lured her underneath the devil's trap and begins an exorcism. At Evan's house, the hellhounds have broken in and blown away the circle of goofer dust that George Darrow gave them, so they flee. Suddenly there's silence, and back at the crossroads Dean and the demon are kissing. She has agreed to break the contract. Dean frees her from the devil's trap, but she taunts him that his father's in hell before vacating the body she was possessing. That night on the road, Sam attempts to console Dean saying that even if their dad didn't go out fighting, his legacy of saving people, and teaching them to save people, stands on its own. Then with some worry, he tries to confirm that Dean wasn't actually considering the demon deal. And Dean instead of answering merely turns his music all the way up.

Jules  10:27
All right, episode nine, "Croatoan". Sam has a vision of a young man tied to a chair pleading for his life—and Dean shooting him in the head. In the hopes of making sense of what he saw, because it sure looked a lot like Dean killing someone in cold blood, they head for River Grove, Oregon, which Sam has identified as the place from his vision. They're able to put a name to the young man, Duane Tanner. They also find that there's no cell service any longer in River Grove, and that phone landlines have been cut. Sam notices the word "Croatoan" carved into a wooden telephone pole, a reference to the lost colony of Roanoke. At the Tanner home, Duane is nowhere to be found, but his mother Beverly has been tied to a chair by her husband and other son, Jake, who's descending on her with a knife. The Winchesters rescue her, shooting her husband in the process, and take her to a clinic.

Jules  11:26
While a doctor, Dr. Lee, tends to Beverly Tanner, Sam and Dean tried to make sense of the situation. The Tanners acted possessed, but there was no black smoke or other signs of demonic activity. Dean volunteers to drive to the next town for help, leaving Sam at the clinic. Driving through town Dean is disturbed by further evidence of violence. When he reaches the highway he encounters a roadblock manned by the locals, one of whom tries to drag him forcibly from the car. Back in town Dean, encounters another man, Mark, who appears to be unaffected, and the two head back to the clinic together.

Jules  12:03
At the same time, studying a sample of Mr. Tanner's blood, Dr. Lee has discovered what looks like a viral infection, though it's not like any she's ever seen. It also left a strange residue in his blood, which looks like sulfur. She asks Beverly Tanner for a blood sample, and Beverly flies into a rage, attacking Dr. Lee and throwing Sam against a cabinet. When Dean returns, Sam fills him in—this appears to be a demonic virus, causing violent rages and transmitted through blood. This reminds them of something in their father's journal: John theorized that "Croatoan" was the name of a plague demon who was responsible for wiping out the Roanoke colony. Mark, meanwhile, has found Beverly, who's locked in a utility room. He warns the others that over time, the infected only seem to get stronger, and there's only one way they can guarantee their safety from Beverly. Dean grimly confirms with Sam that she's infected and shoots her.

Jules  13:02
Later that night, a few other infected townsfolk have gathered around the clinic menacingly (like you do). While the survivors inside—Sam, Dean, Mark, Dr. Lee, and a nurse named Pam—are trying to come up with a plan, Duane Tanner, the young man from Sam's vision, finally arrives, banging on the door and begging for help. He was on a fishing trip, and has been hiding in the woods since he saw what was happening. The group ties him up upon noticing that he's bleeding. Dr. Lee says that after someone's first infected the virus takes three hours to incubate, and until someone actually turns there's no way to tell if they're infected. Dean and Sam talk privately. Dean believes that Duane's sudden appearance, coupled with his injury, are sufficient proof that Duane is infected. Sam is horrified to realize that Dean plans to kill Duane without confirmation of infection. When he tries to stop Dean from leaving, Dean locks him out of the room. The scene with Duane unfolds as Sam saw it—except ultimately, Dean falters, and can't bring himself to shoot.

Jules  14:09
Later, Sam and Dean are using medical supplies to create explosives so they and the others can fight their way out. Dr. Lee informs them that it's been four hours now and there's no sign of violence from Duane or sulfur in his blood. Dean is evasive when Sam asks why he didn't go through with it. But before he can press the issue, Sam is attacked by Pam, the nurse. Dean shoots her, but not before she can slash Sam with a scalpel cut her own hand and bleed on him. The others now echo Dean's own earlier arguments back at him: they can't take the chance. Dean, furious, refuses to let anyone near Sam. Sam asks for a gun to shoot himself and Dean again refuses. Finally, Dean hands Mark the keys to the car, and tells them all to go. Sam, distraught, tries to convince Dean to leave as well, but Dean refuses and tells Sam wearily that he's just ready for all this to be over, to rest. There's clearly something weighing on him, but before he can clarify, Dr. Lee returns and leads them outside: the town is deserted. Everyone but the other survivors seems to have simply vanished.

Jules  15:20
The next morning Dr. Lee confirms that she's checked Sam's bloodwork and there's no sign of infection. She's mystified by his apparent immunity but discovers that the tanners blood no longer shows traces of infection either. The survivors part ways: Dr. Lee remains at the clinic while Mark and Duane head for the next town. Sam and Dean are both uneasy with the way things have turned out, too many questions left unanswered. On the way out of town, Duane Tanner asks mark to pull over—he needs to make a call. Black-eyed, he slashes Mark's throat, and uses his blood to contact someone, just as Meg did last season. Everything, he reports, went as expected; no trace of the virus has been left behind, and "the Winchester boy" is immune. No further tests are necessary.

Jules  16:10
Sam and Dean, later, are treating themselves to a beer, and you can't really blame them. The relaxing atmosphere is cut short, however, when Sam asks Dean what he meant last night about being tired, and what it was really about. Dean keeps trying to deflect, but Sam is insistent, and Dean finally admits that he can't share this with Sam. Before he died, it turns out, John made Dean promise that he would handle this himself—because it's something to do with Sam.

Iscah  16:39
Oh, boy. We are really ramping up.

Jules  16:43
We are we really are. It's very exciting.

Iscah  16:47
Delightful. So one of the first notes that I have on "The Usual Suspects" was Sheridan's line about how he thought that Dean was stepping up his game with regards to crimes. So apparently, he, and I would assume also John, have in fact been busted for the credit card fraud and B&E's and grave desecration before.

Jules  17:17
Yeah, I find it interesting how apparently Sam and Dean's stories both match, I guess. 

Iscah  17:24

Jules  17:25
Yeah. Like they both had the same, presumably, story about the Gileses being friends of the family. I guess, since Dean tells Ballard, like, how to find Sam, I guess maybe we're supposed to conclude that, like, they have a standard story for just this kind of scenario.  

Iscah  17:45
They have to have at least an outline of a story. And then I think we're also supposed to conclude that they are like, just that in sync. 

Jules  17:54
[laughing] Yeah, maybe. 

Iscah  17:56
That even you know, down to the tiny details, like, they get everything the same. 

Jules  18:00
Down to their lies. 

Iscah  18:01
Yeah. I think this is one of the times where it would be absolutely hysterical if he was a real law student at this point. Like, because Ballard brings up, like, oh, you would know this being pre-law. And it would just be that much funnier if he was a whole entire first-year law student. 

Jules  18:26
That would be pretty funny, actually, I think you're right. That's a shame. Although going back to their cover story, actually, I just saw one of my other notes, like, surely the police would already know whether Giles was in the Marines or not. Like, presumably, there would have been something in the article that Dean found, or more. Like, apparently, Sheridan and Anthony Giles were friends. So wouldn't he know? I mean, I guess presumably, maybe there was something about him being in the Marines, but I'm like, That's odd. You could have at least thrown in a line or something about it. Or maybe something in the headline of the article. 

Iscah  19:09
Yeah, I think I think that would be pretty common for, like, an obituary to mention. 

Jules  19:13
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I guess I assume if he wasn't, then the police would have said something, would have been like, "That's bullshit. You're lying. He was never in the Marines." But yeah, it was a little weird. I did like the opening with all their different cover stories that they've used. 

Iscah  19:32
Yes, that was so funny. 

Jules  19:33
Yeah. Also, it's nice, this was back in the early seasons, before they just started making it FBI all the time. Later on, it's always just FBI. And it's so much less interesting once they start doing that. 

Iscah  19:49
Yeah, it's a million times more entertaining when they make it unique to each situation.  

Jules  19:56
Yeah. Yeah. 

Iscah  19:57
Like sometimes it doesn't even make sense for the FBI to be there. 

Jules  20:01
Yeah! Which occasionally people will call out. They'll be like, "what is the FBI doing here for this?" and they have to come up with a reason why the FBI would care about this. 

Iscah  20:12
Just fit your cover story to the situation instead of fitting the...situation to your cover story? Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. I can words good. 

Jules  20:29
Also when Ballard brings Sam his coffee, I'm like, "wow, Jared was not very good at pretending that cup had coffee in it." It was very, very clearly an empty paper cup. I'm like, you could have at least filled it with water or something. If Jared is that bad at pretending this cup has liquid in it. I just found that very funny. 

Iscah  20:53
Yeah. Also, when Ballard asked Sam, like, how's that road trip going for you? And Sam says, great. I mean, we saw the second largest ball of twine in the continental US. Awesome. And I wasn't sure the first time I was watching it, if "awesome" had already been, like, established as a Deanism yet. But I went and looked through the transcripts using that transcript search engine thing that somebody made. And, like, the majority of the times that "awesome" has been used in the show so far, have all been Dean. So I think that kind of character or bravado that he's putting on and that she was definitely is pulling a lot from Dean. 

Jules  21:39
Interesting. That's interesting. I was just gonna say they're both in their 20s in the mid-aughts, so it made sense. It didn't even register to me. But yeah, that's, that's interesting. I like that. Also, I'm going to be the most irritating kind of pedantic nerd here, but the, uh, the wiki, under "Errors" for this episode notes that "Dean's lawyer mentioned he could be facing the death penalty. However, Maryland does not have the death penalty, though Missouri, where the shapeshifter framed Dean for murder in the season one episode 'Skin' does." This is not actually an error. The death penalty is no longer used in Maryland, but it wasn't actually abolished in Maryland until 2013. So in 2006, it would have been actually a real—it would have been accurate. 

Iscah  22:37
Whether he was extradited or not. 

Jules  22:39

Iscah  22:39

Jules  22:40
Exactly. I'm sure everyone is very interested in this trivia. But I was born in Maryland, it's very important to me to get these details, right, clearly. 

Iscah  22:52
Yeah, my sister was actually born in Baltimore, too. 

Jules  22:54
Oh, nice. I was also trying to figure out where I knew Karen Giles from, and once again, it's the first appearance of an actor who will show up a couple more times over the series. She is also the publisher in "Monster at the End of This Book". And she is in season 15, apparently, in the episode golden time, which I do not remember, but I do definitely remember her from "Monster at the End of This Book". So that was, that was fun. Another one for the drinking game. Drink whenever you see someone who will show up again. 

Iscah  23:30
Delightful. Also, Ballard's line about how it's not your fault. Dean's your brother, we can't pick our family. 

Jules  23:39
Oh, boy. 

Iscah  23:40
That one reminded me of something from episode 21, last season, where Dean is like, telling Sam, "For the last time, what happened to them—" talking about Mary and Jess—"was not your fault". And Sam says "Right, it's not my fault, but it's my problem." And then Dean says, "No, it's not your problem. It's our problem." 

Jules  24:00

Iscah  24:01
I think "we can't pick our families" also pretty strong contrast to the later concept. "family don't end with blood". It don't even have to begin with blood either. 

Jules  24:12
Yeah, interesting. Interesting. I like when they're first talking to Karen and Dean's like, "Well, did he mention anything unusual before he died?" And she's like, "Unusual?" And he just keeps like naming synonyms. He's like, you mean—he's like, "Like, strange." And she's like, "Strange?" He's like, "You know, weird." I'm like, I don't think the word is the problem here, Dean. Like, sweetie, I don't think listing synonyms is really what you need to be doing here, to get across what you're asking. 

Iscah  24:47
God bless, but what is your thought process here, Dean? 

Jules  24:51
God bless 'im. I also did really enjoy Sam saying okay, we know it was wrong to enter a crime scene but she gave us the key to the office! And then, immediately, smash cut to them picking the lock. I'm like, that was very funny. 

Iscah  25:08
It's great. And before they actually head out to take the case, Dean says to Sam, "What do you think, Scully? Want to check it out?" Sam's like "I'm not Scully, you're Scully." He says, "I'm Mulder, you're a redheaded woman." Which is like. Okay, thanks for the weird mid-aughts misogyny first of all. 

Jules  25:28
Also, what a strange thing to say. Even in the context of mid-aughts misogyny. It was so strange. 

Iscah  25:35
Yeah. And it was also very funny to assign Sam as the skeptical one in the Mulder-and-Scully dynamic, because we find out just a few episodes later that he like, does believe in God, and he prays every day. 

Jules  25:56
Interesting. That's true. 

Iscah  25:59
Which I mean, I guess although Scully is actually religious also.

Jules  26:04
I was gonna say, mostly Dean should be Scully because she's much shorter than Mulder, so. 

Iscah  26:11
[laughing] That's true. 

Jules  26:16
Mostly, I suspect he probably just didn't want to be reminded of that. He was getting out ahead of it. Before Sam could bring that up again, can rub that in his face. 

Iscah  26:28
Little brother transgressions of being taller than me. 

Jules  26:31
It's terrible. The worst, so rude. 

Iscah  26:34
I've got three younger siblings, and only one of them has not betrayed me by being taller. 

Jules  26:39
Harsh. That is tough. 

Iscah  26:41
That's why they're my favorite. 

Jules  26:45
Mine are 50/50. Yeah, one of them is shorter, a few inches shorter, which is okay. And one of them is several inches taller. I'm like, wow. Okay. So after everything I've done for you. 

Iscah  26:57
Also, Sam is the one to crack files his password on his computer. So apparently, he is both Lawboy and Hackerboy. 

Jules  27:06
Yeah. Yeah. That seems to show up now and then. And then later, by the end, they're both hacking like it's no big deal. But yeah, as I recall, that shows up now and then that Sam is the one who is not only better with computers, but also...a hacker, for some reason? I don't know what the prerequisites at Stanford look like, but now I'm very curious. 

Iscah  27:35
I'd love to know what exactly he is doing to, quote unquote, "crack" Giles's password, but I suspect that the writers have no idea. 

Jules  27:45
I doubt it. Yeah. 

Iscah  27:47
Probably just had some vague idea of hacking as you type some things in into a box that holds code. 

Jules  27:54

Iscah  27:55
And you just keep doing that until it gives you the answer. 

Jules  27:58
Yes. I was gonna say he opened a drawer and found the Post-It with the password written on it. So that's what I think actually happened. 

Iscah  28:09
Yeah, but that wouldn't give us the opportunity for Sam to say that it's going to take him another 30 minutes. And Dean sits down and immediately starts making weird mouth noises because he is an ADHD kid. 

Jules  28:25
Let's see. I—at one point, when Sam and Ballard are trying to find Dean and Sheridan, Ballard's like, well, dispatch has been calling him but he won't answer the radio. I'm like, so what exactly was his plan? Like, the—the cops already know something weird is going on here. Like, there were going to be some questions. Probably not many, because, you know, it's the cops, and a suspect somehow dying is probably not going to raise that many questions, but it's gonna raise some, especially since he was behaving weirdly beforehand. Also, I like that line of Sam's about how sometimes spirits don't want vengeance, they want justice. I think that fits well with, you know, what we talked about in our very first review episode, where we talked about, sort of, how a lot of Jewish tradition kind of conceives of ghosts as representing, like, misdirected energy, that something's sort of gone wrong in this cycle of the movement of energy from earth to heaven and back again. And yeah, I thought that line of Sam's fit pretty well with that concept. There's also a fairly long tradition in rabbinic literature of ghosts attempting to communicate with the living it turns out, yeah. 

Iscah  29:51
Gosh, I—I remember this story that I read once where I believe it was a rabbi in, like, Talmudic times, who was in or passing by a graveyard, who encountered one or two spirits or like, physical undead people, who—they were like, "Well, I'm not actually dead, as you can see. I'm, like, talking and moving around, I think I should be able to go rejoin the world of the living." And he had to, like, convince them that even if they're not fully dead, they're definitely not alive anymore, either. And they cannot leave the graveyard. And I asked around some, like more knowledgeable friends, to see if they could find the story for me, but they haven't been able to yet. But if they—if they ever do—  

Jules  30:51
Yeah, that's a good one. 

Iscah  30:53
I will, I will definitely— 

Jules  30:54
Sounds like a good one. 

Iscah  30:55
Link that on a relevant episode, which will not be hard to find. Because this is the ghost show. 

Jules  31:04
Also slipped up once during my summary, but Buffy has just, like, completely affected my brain, you know, many years ago, so I keep wanting to call them the Gileses rather than the Gileses. I keep forgetting it hard—has a hard G rather than a soft G. 

Iscah  31:26
Noticed another instance of Supernatural having very weird—very weird relationship to time, because it went from 2AM to like, dawn? 

Jules  31:39

Iscah  31:39
And without them implying that very much time has passed at all. They haven't called back to the station or anything. 

Jules  31:47
Yeah. Yeah.

 Iscah  31:52
But at that point, Sam mentions that Ballard could lose her job over them escaping. And I think it would be very fun and sexy, in a better universe, if she was like, "After what Pete did, I think I'd rather be doing something else," and, like, kind of implying that she no longer trusts the system. 

Jules  32:11

Iscah  32:12
Because like, the best thing to do is to never become. But the second best thing, if you have made the mistake of becoming a cop is to stop being a cop. 

Jules  32:24
Yeah, that would have been interesting. 

Iscah  32:26
But of course, the CW is too cowardly for that, then and now. 

Jules  32:31
Although, early on, at least, the show was a lot more sort of—had much more of that mid-aughts, like, libertarian bent and was a lot more distrustful of law enforcement in general. Actually, would have been interesting, too, if she'd just been a recurring character, even as a cop, you know, someone who could like, tip them off if there were inquiries about them, or if something popped up that looks strange. That could have been pretty interesting, too. 

Iscah  33:05
Yeah, there's so many opportunities for all these side characters who have learned about the supernatural world. And then, I mean, I can't blame them for wanting to just keep living their lives and not get drawn into it. But it does make the world of hunters as just uniformly people who had a very traumatizing experience with the supernatural and then decide to go out and kill things. 

Jules  33:36
Yeah, yeah. 

Iscah  33:37
Which makes it very boring. 

Jules  33:39
Yeah. Everybody's got basically the same backstory and it's, yeah, it's just not all that interesting. 

Iscah  33:46
And even if they were fairly committed to that formula, you can have variations within that of, like, people who take more of a later seasons Bobby approach, they're just the ones collecting information and sending other people information about hunts, and acting as a fake federal agency's switchboard, and people who will only do, like, ghosts cases, and they won't kill anything, and stuff like that. 

Jules  34:17
Yeah, yeah. 

Iscah  34:19
And conversely, like really emphasizing people on the other end of the spectrum who are like, yeah, I do enjoy having the power of life and death over living beings that I consider beneath me. 

Jules  34:29

Iscah  34:30
Have that contrast really say something about what these hunters are. 

Jules  34:34
Yeah, I was gonna say, if you are gonna stick with that formula every time then do sort of almost like a Watchmen-style deconstruction of it, where you look at it and say, okay, how would that screw these people up? You know, and Supernatural comes close to doing that sometimes, but it always sort of backs away from a lot of the the more really interesting stuff you could do with how this damages people, and what kind of damage people who get into this, in the beginning, have to start with. And they do occasionally try to do things with it. But I think they sort of back away from doing nearly as much as they could or going nearly as deeply into it as they could. 

Iscah  35:21
And, like, we—we're having fun doing our thing here talking about how to make it better. And that, that's an aspect I enjoy about fandom in general and Supernatural fandom in particular, but still. It's nice thinking about what if they had done this in the first place. 

Jules  35:41
Yeah. Kind of might have been nicer if the show was not so bad that it, like, breaks your brain and makes you obsessed with how it could have been better. 

Iscah  35:54

Jules  35:57
That's about all I had on this episode. 

Iscah  36:01
Me too. So let's go ahead and move on to "Crossroad Blues". 

Jules  36:06
All right. Oh man "Crossroad Blues". Wow. Yeah, I have to say, I think it does. It's doing a lot of work. And this one is—this is by Sera Gamble, isn't it? 

Iscah  36:25
It is, yes. Oh, gosh. That reminds me. 

Jules  36:28
Oh, yeah. 

Iscah  36:28
The last one was written by Cathryn Humphris, and the director was Mike Rohl. So I think—I cannot remember what the last one was that Cathryn Humphris wrote. But I think it was a pretty good one too. If I recall correctly. 

Jules  36:45
Yeah, the name sounds familiar. 

Iscah  36:47
She does a couple of the early ones, and then drops off from later seasons. Okay, yeah, the last one was "Dead Man's Blood". 

Jules  36:56
Oh, nice. Okay, got there first. 

Iscah  36:58
And then her last one is middle of season four, about. Yeah, she's just got a handful of.  

Jules  37:05
Oh, okay, cool. 

Iscah  37:08
Yeah, this one is Sera Gamble. And Steve Boyum, which definitely does not sound familiar to me. 

Jules  37:16
Okay. And yeah, I was gonna say, I wanted to confirm because I do have, God knows I have my criticisms of Sera Gamble, but this episode is really doing a lot of work. You know, it's a really solid Monster of the Week episode, but it's also doing a ton of work in two different regards. First, with, like, Dean's anger, and grief, and fear, and dread, over, like, the realization of what John did, and also with foreshadowing what's going to happen at the end of the season. And I gotta say, it's very impressive that she manages to thread that needle, I think really well with this episode. 

Iscah  38:02
Yeah, yeah, that's very true. 

Jules  38:05
Especially when we get that scene with what's his name, Hudson, where he talks about how throughout the episode, Dean's been angry, and sort of callous about these people and like, "leave them to their fates". And then he meets this guy who said he made the deal to save someone he loved. And again, that is both really good at hinting at what Dean's struggling with currently, and foreshadowing what's going to happen. 

Iscah  38:34
Absolutely. I mean, some of it is pretty, it's very clear foreshadowing, some of it is kind of basic—not in a bad way, but just easy to implement, easy to see. And yet it still manages to drive me crazy every single time. 

Jules  38:53
Yeah. Also jumping back to the beginning, I like that they do you know, and it's not their fault. That's sort of the format they've already established. They do like the "Then" for the flashbacks and previously, and then "Now" to indicate this is the current episode starting. But it was very funny to me to have them use the "Now" title card, and then cut to a scene that is taking place nearly 70 years prior. I just found that entertaining. 

Iscah  39:24
That's true.

Jules  39:26
I also think that opening scene is probably the most non-white people ever on-screen in Supernatural. 

Iscah  39:33
God it probably is. And only two of them even get a name. 

Jules  39:39
Yeah. What's weird is that I feel like they never actually confirm in the episode that that is in fact supposed to be Robert Johnson. Like— 

Iscah  39:50
Yeah, 'cause they have the two flashbacks of him. And Dean mentions Robert Johnson. Yeah, but he only ever gets called Robert. 

Jules  39:58
Yeah, I don't know. It's just a little weird. I guess they don't feel like they need to spell it out. But something out it just seemed a little strange to me. Also, Johnson made his deal in 1930. Isn't 10 years standard for a demon deal? 

Iscah  40:15
Yeah, yeah, that was weird. 

Jules  40:17
Why did he—although I did some research, and his wife died in 1929, in childbirth, and her relatives told a blues researcher that it was divine punishment that—because he sang secular music, i.e. he sold his soul to the devil. So possibly he made the deal in 1928 instead. 

Iscah  40:40
Yeah, I guess it's probably a matter of Supernatural sometimes not being very good at keeping track of details like chronology. 

Jules  40:51
Yeah. I'm like, I shouldn't poke at it too hard. It shouldn't pull too many threads. But yeah. 

Iscah  40:58
That's half the fun. 

Jules  41:00
What else are we here to do if not that? 

Iscah  41:03
I thought it was funny how, to mix it up a little bit, instead of talking loudly about the supernatural in public, they're talking loudly about Dean's arrest warrants. 

Jules  41:12
How Dean is in a federal database. 

Iscah  41:17
And Sam is like so hurt that they have not included him. 

Jules  41:21
So jealous. And he clearly does not want to be. He clearly feels even stupider because he is mad about it. But he is also real mad about it. 

Iscah  41:35
It's okay, Sammy, even if the FBI doesn't have a wanted poster for you, there's a wanted poster in my heart. 

Jules  41:43
Poor Lawboy.

 Iscah  41:46
And then he's talking about how there are spectral black dogs all over the world— 

Jules  41:51
Was literally about to say that. 

Iscah  41:53
Which is so vague as to mean literally nothing.  

Jules  41:55
Like, are there, though? 

Iscah  41:56
Like, of course, a ghostly Black Dog. It's like of course, our death omens and some of them are just animal spirits. Like, dog, comma black, comma ghostly. That could be anything. But in terms of English folklore, not some kind of universal ghostly Black Dog. Yes, it does act as a death omen or some other type of evil or negative force. 

Jules  42:25
I did find—I looked it up, tried to do a little research and did find this in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism. "Like many peoples of the Near East, Jews have historically had an ambivalent attitude toward dogs. The few images of dogs found in the Bible are negative. Dogs were regarded as highly sensitive to the presence of the spirit world. Thus, both the Talmud and medieval Jewish literature regard the behaviors of dogs as ominous—" ominous as in omens, not bad or good—"frolicking dogs signify good tidings, and may even signal the presence of Elijah in the vicinity. Barking dogs mark the presence of the Angel of Death." 

Iscah  43:11
I love the concept of, you see a bunch of dogs just jumping around and playing and it's because—

Jules  43:17
Elijah's nearby? 

Iscah  43:18
Because Eliyahu HaNavi has descended from heaven temporarily— 

Jules  43:24
Just chilling. 

Iscah  43:24
To play with your dog. 

Jules  43:25
He's just that—he's just chilling. You know, he saw some good boys. 

Iscah  43:34
Who among us can resist? 

Jules  43:36
Wow, there's—now I can hear a dog barking right outside right now. So that's unsettling. 

Iscah  43:43

Jules  43:44

Iscah  43:45
I also found an American Black Dog legend from Meriden, Connecticut, that says "if you meet the Black Dog once it shall be for joy, if twice it shall be for sorrow, and the third time shall bring death," which seems like a good fit, interestingly, with like, Supernatural's hellhound mythos. Like, once you get your wish, twice, you're reminded it's coming due, three times and you have to pay up immediately. 

Jules  44:09
Interesting. I like that. Yeah. 

Iscah  44:12
I would really like it, if Supernatural would just commit to having something be from a particular place. 

Jules  44:22

Iscah  44:23
Because, you know, America is kind of full of immigrants. And I mean, obviously the, the indigenous people who were here long before white people came along and colonized it, but I would definitely feel a lot more wary about Supernatural attempting to use more native mythology or cosmology, or anything. 

Jules  44:45
At least not without, like, hiring a First Nations writer or something. Imagine that. 

Iscah  44:50
Yeah, yeah. And consultants from the specific nations that they would like to talk about, but there are also European immigrants here. 

Jules  45:00

Iscah  45:00
Who brought along their own stories, and European culture is an open one. 

Jules  45:04

Iscah  45:05
In fact, they generally attempt to impose it on everybody they come across. 

Jules  45:09
Well, and there are some really interesting, like, crazy little bits of folklore if you go on, like, deep dives in specific areas, you know, and there's a lot of just American folklore, you know, that has developed over the past several centuries.  

Iscah  45:25
Just uniquely synthesized from the presence of European settlers and native people and, you know, descendants of the African diaspora who were—who were brought here. 

Jules  45:36
Yeah, so even in, in America, there are like, really cool, interesting, weird, creepy, local legends. And yeah, it just, they sort of use a lot of very generic stuff. Like not even diving deep into like, what, some weird Scottish legend from some very specific region in Scotland to use, or Spain, or, you know, like, you could do some really interesting stuff, if you would get a little more specific and just get out a couple folklore dictionaries from the library, because you'll find all kinds of wild shit in there.

Iscah 45:36
Yeah. And which one was it? That was the scarecrow episode? 

Jules  46:08
Oh, yeah.

Iscah  46:24
I can't remember the number right now. But you know, they had that town that was highly concentrated with immigrants from a specific region in Scandinavia. And you could, you could do that again. 

Jules  46:37

Iscah  46:38
There are plenty of—and not even as like, they brought the villain over. But just because these people all came here from this specific area, and they brought over their own customs and traditions. You know, maybe something else, maybe many things— 

Jules  46:55
They brought a ghost! 

Iscah  46:56
—positive and negative, followed along. 

Jules  46:58
Yeah, yeah. And it just ends up feeling very generic, it really would have made the world of the show a little more interesting. Again, like, there's all sorts of crazy shit in European folklore as well, they wouldn't have had to go scrounging through a bunch of other people's folklores to find it, even. 

Iscah  47:22
We've made such a better Supernatural than the one we got. 

Jules  47:25
Yeah, yeah. I did enjoy, sort of, like, I rolled my eyes a little at the line about, like, oh, true geniuses always seem to die young. But, you know, I actually—thinking about it, I was like, you know, a deal with the devil is kind of an interesting metaphor for, like, throwing yourself into your work at the expense of all else, you know, that you eventually just sort of burn out. And it's very easy to kind of like fixate on this above all else, and prioritize one aspect of your life and just sort of, you know, lose everything else. So I thought I thought that was interesting, actually, you know, using a deal with the devil as a metaphor for that. 

Iscah  48:18
On a lighter note, when they go to the Animal Control Center, to get the list of you know, other calls about big black dogs, and the receptionist, or whoever it was, who gave Dean her MySpace profile. 

Jules  48:37

Iscah  48:37
I deeply apologize for this. But I was too young for MySpace. Thank you. By the time I was old enough to get an account, it was on the way out and I got a Facebook and stuff. 

Jules  48:49
Oh my gosh, I remember when Facebook was only for college students. That's when I got one. It was—it was—wow. MySpace. God. MySpace. Amazing. Yeah. One of my notes is just oh my god, MySpace. Wow. So many memories. Actually, not that many memories, because I never really spent much time on it. But I had one. I have some memories, and they are very vivid. 

Iscah  49:19
And I think it's—it does make a lot of sense for Dean to be kind of out of touch in this way. I don't think he would have hardly ever been on the internet except, like at the library doing research for hunts. And I specifically noted he would have been in sixth grade in 1990, ninth grade in '93. And I—obviously that was before I was born, so I have no idea, like, when most schools started introducing computer labs and computer classes. 

Jules  49:52

Iscah  49:53
But that was like, Geocities era. 

Jules  49:55
Yeah, that would have been—early '90s was prior, even a little prior, I think. Geocities era would have been mid '90s-ish, I would say. So yeah, certainly. I mean, like, I took keyboarding classes and like, played Oregon Trail in elementary school. But that would have been—I'm, you know, a few years younger than Dean. So probably he might might have, sort of, in high school, depending on the budgets of the schools he was going to, but also—that also raises the issue of like, even if certain schools, you know, had the budget for computers and keyboarding classes, probably it would not—you know, how long would he have been at any given school with that? So, you know, having to sort of piece that together. 

Iscah  50:46
And would he have cared enough to pick those classes or go to them, even? 

Jules  50:52
Yeah. And certainly there would not have been a lot of exposure to the internet. Definitely. 

Iscah  51:00
Oh, and then I made a note about the second person that we find who made a demon deal is Dr. Pearlman, and that is a fairly common Ashkenazi Jewish. And I think one of the really great things about doing Jupernatural is that if we're making as many people as possible Jewish, that allows for just a lot of nuance and complexity, you don't have to look at two or three Jewish characters and be like, hmm, yikes, kind of full of stereotypes and negative traits for the most part. You can have Jews who are heroic monster hunters, you could have Jews who sell their souls for material gain and Jews who embody every simple human vice and virtue in between.

Jules  51:51

Iscah  51:51
Because you don't have to depend on one person being the Jew of the show. 

Jules  51:56
Yeah. Again, we've talked before about some of the issues with bringing in Hoodoo, which is actually you know, a tradition, a cultural practice of its own. It's not just spooky stuff. 

Iscah  52:10
Yeah, like, is there no European magic that you can reference? Like, can you—I know that a lot of white magic—as in like white people magic, and the whole conversation about using white to refer to like, good protective magic and black magic is like dark, destructive, that's a whole 'nother thing. But can you try not to appropriate a spiritual tradition literally developed to survive slavery? 

Jules  52:36
There's so much—like, there's so many different European traditions of folk magic. I'm like, you, you didn't need to do that. And I think Hoodoo may be, like, the only sort of American tradition that they could think of. And I'm like, you, you could find plenty of other American folk traditions. 

Iscah  52:57
Yeah. All right, and in the direction of like, what could we do to make this Jewish? You know, how can we connect it to Jewish folklore? Well, there's not a huge tradition of demon summoning in Jewish mythology to begin with. But there is one pretty big example, which is the story of King Solomon summoning Ashmodai or Asmodeus, called a prince or king of demons, depending on which which text you're looking at, specifically, and forcing him to work on constructing the Temple. 

Jules  53:37

Iscah  53:38
Specifically, he summoned him, tricked him into getting very drunk, and then magically bound him. 

Jules  53:46
I did like, a little later on, that we do get a little more, like, specific Hoodoo, but it is coming from a Black man who has learned these traditions from his family, and it has been passed down and he, you know, tells them a little. He gives them this, you know, goofer dust and tells them, you know, how do you not know about that, basically. So I do—that is slightly better to like to show that, you know, this does have a specific cultural context. And even though these guys sort of know a little bit, generically, about Hoodoo, they don't—they clearly don't have any in-depth knowledge of it, and of these traditions, and do kind of get put in their place, a little, about it. 

Iscah  54:33
They're not the center of the universe. They're not the end-all be-all of hunters. 

Jules  54:37
Other people have traditions that you do not know about. And again, it goes back to what we were saying earlier about, you know, it makes the world feel a little bigger, that, you know, other people's traditions have meaning, and have power, and other people's rituals have power. 

Iscah  54:55
Absolutely. Oh, another thing that I made note of during the flashback when Robert is making his deal, the demon is barefoot. And so in Jewish tradition shedim have chicken feet. 

Jules  55:12
Oh, yeah. 

Iscah  55:13
Usually. So I think it would be interesting if, like, its feet look normal, but then you saw it was leaving chicken-shaped footprints behind. 

Jules  55:23

Iscah  55:25
Also, one of the things that really bothers me generally, is that the subtitles that Netflix have are often incorrect. They leave out a lot of things, and sometimes straight up change them. For example, Robert says, "I want you to make me the best blues man ever lived." But the subtitles say, "I want to be the best in the world." Which I think it sucks all the life and uniqueness out of the dialogue. And it really kind of—kind of spits on deaf and hard of hearing viewers. 

Jules  56:02

Iscah  56:02
Like, that's not what he said. 

Jules  56:04

Iscah  56:04
What he said was unique to, like, his own dialect as a Black man in the south. And you just made it something really generic. 

Jules  56:15
And I know that in some cases, I think—I don't remember exactly—and it can vary what the process looks like. But I think in some cases, it can be that, like, you know, the caption service gets a script. And it may go through changes after they've gotten it and written up the subtitles. But this has been out for, you know, 15 years now, it would not be that hard to get it more accurate. 

Iscah  56:47
They could change it if they wanted. 

Jules  56:48
Yeah, it's a little weird. 

Iscah  56:51
And I made another note of the relation of the story, as it's presented in Supernatural, and the story of Robert Johnson in real life, and the existence of the legend is real. You know, that's a—that's a real thing that's been passed around. And historians note that the story dates from Johnson's rediscovery by white fans more than two decades after his death, and the detail about the crossroads is a later addition. 

Jules  57:23

Iscah  57:23
Also, another version puts it in a graveyard, which does have some relation to real life, because Johnson and his mentor Ike Zimmerman both practiced in graveyards at night, because it was quiet and no one would disturb them. 

Jules  57:36
I have heard that yeah, that is interesting. Oh boy, though, speaking of the work this episode is doing, the—the Jacting is top-notch in this episode, I gotta say. You know, there's a lot. That last scene with Dean and the crossroads demon is—is really, really excellent. 

Iscah  57:41
Oh, it's just—every time Dean says virtually anything about the demon deals and the people who have made deals. 

Jules  58:12
It's a lot. Yeah. 

Iscah  58:15
It's so much. 

Jules  58:16

Iscah  58:18
One of one of my comments, I just put an upside-down smiley face. 

Jules  58:23
Nice. Yeah, yeah, definitely. Also, the—I can never remember any of these people's names. I need to get better about that. The, the painter. What was his name? 

Iscah  58:40
George Darrow.  

Jules  58:40
Thank you. Darrow. I even have that written—rhymes with yarrow! That Darrow says like, you know, that he's just tired of this, that he's—he's just tired and he's, he's ready for it. He's resigned and made his peace with this. But his like—you know, where they say you don't really want to die. And he says, "I don't? I'm tired." And it was—oof, that is extremely resonant with the next episode. We'll discuss that there. But with—Dean says the exact same thing. It was just again, I'm like, wow, this episode is doing a lot of heavy lifting on several different emotional and character and storylines. So actually, it's pretty impressive. 

Iscah  59:29
Yeah. Another thing that I was impressed by was, it felt like a fairly decent comment on white privilege. Because George says, like, he—he only asked for talent instead of fame. So it's kind of implied that Boyden, the architect, and Dr. Pearlman, either they did ask for fame in their fields, or they might have only asked for talent also, but white privilege was enough of a boost that they did get fame, money, and admiration. Whereas George was brilliant but unknown. 

Jules  1:00:09
Interesting. That's an interesting point. Yeah. I do feel really bad for that woman at the end who the demon was possessing. After Dean exorcises her, I'm like, so she just kind of comes to in the middle of nowhere with this strange dude standing over her. Like, yikes.  

Iscah  1:00:29
And a bar nearby. 

Jules  1:00:30

Iscah  1:00:32
I mean, I can't—I can't decide if that's better or worse, that the demon apparently had her on this information blackout, as opposed to when that demon possessed the, the real Meg Masters. 

Jules  1:00:49
Oh, yeah. And she was— 

Iscah  1:00:50
Kept her aware the whole time. 

Jules  1:00:52
Aware, yeah. Yeah, whole lotta horror there. 

Iscah  1:00:57
Also, when the two of them go to Evan Hudson's house, and Dean asks "You ever been to a bar called Lloyds? Would have been about 10 years ago?" And then Evan slams the door shut. Dean calls out, "Come on—" 

Jules  1:01:13
"We're not demons!" 

Iscah  1:01:14
And Sam says "Any other bright ideas?" How were you going to slow pitch it to him? Sam? 

Jules  1:01:19

Iscah  1:01:20
What were you gonna say? 

Jules  1:01:23
Yeah, yeah, no, that was—that was very funny. 

Iscah  1:01:27
And then, despite the—I thought, fairly good commentary about what privilege they had, it's still very interesting how the only one with a selfless reason for their demon deal, and the only one that they were able to save, was the white dude. 

Jules  1:01:45
Yeah, yeah. 

Iscah  1:01:47
Although I did—I appreciate that at least they didn't show George Darrow's death because that would be— 

Jules  1:01:53
Yeah, that's something. Yeah, overall, every time I rewatch that episode, I'm always like, oh, God, all right, let's just get through it, Monster of the Week, I know it's important. But you know, I'm always kind of surprised by how engaging it is and how much work it does and how well it ties into everything else that's going on. So it's always sort of a pleasant surprise for me. 

Iscah  1:02:21
And then, after the demon spots the devil's trap drawn under the Impala and starts getting angry at Dean, she's saying like, oh, I should kill you. And she's like, no, I don't think so, I'm not gonna put you out of your misery. 

Jules  1:02:36

Iscah  1:02:37
Dean asks. "Yeah, why not?" She says, "Because your misery is the whole point." 

Jules  1:02:41

Iscah  1:02:41
"It's too much fun to watch." Drives me nuts how this is true in and out of universe. 

Jules  1:02:47
Meta. It's a very, very meta line, isn't it? Yeah. We're all just here to watch the men suffer. 

Iscah  1:02:56
And if he had taken the deal, he was 27— 

Jules  1:03:02
Oh, no. 

Iscah  1:03:02
—at the time, he would have made it to 37, which is a bare three years fewer than he actually died at. 

Jules  1:03:11
Four years, isn't it? 

Iscah  1:03:12
So I'm going— 

Jules  1:03:13
I thought four years. 

Iscah  1:03:15
Was he 41? 

Jules  1:03:16
I think so. 

Iscah  1:03:17
Oh, okay. 

Jules  1:03:17
But still, yeah, I take your point. Yeah. 

Iscah  1:03:21
Gonna go fight a CW executive. 

Jules  1:03:23
Although to be fair, do we know—I mean, people can die before their deals come due, I assume? I thought that was sort of just the outward limit. So like, that's how I interpret deals, that, you know, if you get hit by a car a week after you make your deal, that's too bad for you. So who knows, he might not have—he might've died multiple times anyway! 

Iscah  1:03:55
Oh, I don't know. I think they're always like, okay, I—you sell your soul, and then in 10 years... 

Jules  1:04:09
Yeah. So I don't know. That was sort of, I can't—I go back forth. 

Iscah  1:04:14
I feel—I feel like if they died any earlier than that, it would kind of implicitly break the contract, and they'd have to—the demon would have to do something to make up for it. 

Jules  1:04:23
We're getting into— 

Iscah  1:04:24
Bring it back to life or something. 

Jules  1:04:25
We're getting into Lawboy territory here. What exactly is the fine print of these contracts? I'm sure Crowley could tell us. 

Iscah  1:04:33
Oh Crowley. Can't wait to see that bastard. The last note that I have for this episode is Sam's point about John's legacy. Which—despite the fact that I do believe John Winchester is a goy, and I'm willing to die on this hill, and also despite him being unrelatedly, a shitty person, hunter, and father—Sam's point about his legacy connects neatly to another point about how we speak of the dead. And it's not exactly un-Jewish to wish for a person to rest in peace, although that formula is derived from Christian Catholic rites, and it would be more typically said as "peace be upon him or her", עליו or עליה השלום in Hebrew, the usual honorific is זכרונו or זכרונה לברכה, "may his or her memory be a blessing". And I found a quote from Tablet magazine: "It wishes not only that, when the living think about those who have died, they do so with warmth and joy. It also offers the possibility that the lives of the dead serve as a blessing, marking the way those lives have mattered and continue to matter in this world, even if they are no longer." 

Jules  1:05:46

Iscah  1:05:47
Yeah. So Sam is talking about using the blessing of John's memory and the good that he did in the world by saving people as an example for themselves to continue saving people. 

Jules  1:05:56
And John doesn't have to be Jewish for Sam and Dean to have that. 

Iscah  1:06:01
Yeah, absolutely. All right, onto "Croatoan". 

Jules  1:06:05
All right. Oh, boy. Honestly, this episode is mainly—the episode itself is, like, fine. It's—it's a serviceable, like, Monster of the Week episode again. But yeah, it's setup for the episode that makes my brain whir like an overheated laptop fan in season five, so. So I show it respect, I have a great deal of respect for it. 

Iscah  1:06:32
One of my first notes here is it's one of Psammy's Psychic Psufferings, spelled with all PS's. 

Jules  1:06:37
Nice. Nice. All, the dramatic slow motion, especially in that opening really kind of drags the episode down, I feel like. I'm like, where did that come from? That—why? No. 

Iscah  1:06:51
They were going for something. 

Jules  1:06:52
Going for something. 

Iscah  1:06:54
Going where? I don't know. But I don't believe they arrived. 

Jules  1:06:58
It feels very, I don't know. It feels very early-aughts action movie, so I guess that's what they were going for. Probably. But yeah, it just really does not work here. Who directed this episode? I don't remember. You said, but I forget. 

Iscah  1:07:18
No, I didn't mention it yet. The writer is John Shiban. 

Jules  1:07:21
That's right. 

Iscah  1:07:21
A friend. The director is Robert Singer. 

Jules  1:07:24
Ah. I was gonna say, is this a Singer thing? That seems like a Singer tic. There we go. 

Iscah  1:07:30

Jules  1:07:31
There we go. That and dramatic close-ups. Not as many of those this episode, at least not noticeably. 

Iscah  1:07:42
So the first guy that they meet in—what's it called? River—River Grove. Yeah. Dean recognizes the guy as having been a Marine because he has a tattoo of the USMC bulldog mascot, which makes sense. And he also addresses him as Master Sergeant, which I was confused about, because the tattoo doesn't seem to me— 

Jules  1:08:06
I was gonna say— 

Iscah  1:08:06
To be specific to rank, and I didn't see any other rank insignia 

Jules  1:08:11
—rank indicators. But yeah, maybe there's something I'm forgetting. 

Iscah  1:08:16

Jules  1:08:17
I do like when Sam's like, "So what do you think? Multiple demons, mass possession?" And Dean goes, "If it's possession, there could be more." And I'm like, well, yes, Dean, hence the "multiple" and "mass". There you go, sweetheart. 

Iscah  1:08:34
God bless. 

Jules  1:08:35
He's lucky he's pretty. 

Iscah  1:08:37
For sure. Although I did, I did kind of get mad at Sam, when he was lecturing Dean, like, did you even pay any attention— 

Jules  1:08:46
Right? I was annoyed by that too. 

Iscah  1:08:48
—because he didn't remember what Crotoan was at first, which to be fair, I think that's kind of a minor thing. And I'm not even 100% sure I learned in any of my history classes. It's something he could easily missed— 

Jules  1:09:01

Iscah  1:09:01
—if they moved to a new place in the middle of the year. 

Jules  1:09:03
I mean, I know, I know it and learned about it many times. But that's because I grew up in Virginia. So we had a whole bunch about Virginia history. So yeah, if they weren't at any schools in Virginia, at any point, especially early in the year when we covered the Colonial period, then the odds that he would have learned about it are slim, yeah.

And then I have one note, that's just, all caps, "SAMUEL MIDDLENAME WINCHESTER, STOP CALLING YOUR BROTHER DUMB." So what if he's naming off Schoolhouse Rock songs? So what? 

Jules  1:09:38
That's enough. 

Iscah  1:09:39
Yeah. And I made a note on the real life aspect of it, which is that most historians today believe that the most likely answer to be that the colonists gave up on English ships returning with necessary supplies, and assimilated with one or more local nations, potentially including but not limited to the Chesapeake, the Croatan, the Roanoke-Hatteras, the Lumbee, the Catawba and the Coree. I personally think this is the most likely answer also, but I'm not a trained historian by any metric. I don't even have an Associate's degree. I've failed English four different times. I don't know why I'm just kind of roasting myself here. 

Jules  1:10:17

Iscah  1:10:17
I'd just emphasize that I'm very much a lay person when it comes to history. 

Jules  1:10:21
I do have a history degree, actually. And you are correct. That is, as far as I'm aware, the like, general assumption, in no small part because, like, Sam mentioned that their dad had a theory about a disease wiping out everyone, and like, that was floated as a possibility, or they all starved because they didn't have sufficient supplies or something. But there weren't any, like, bodies. There weren't, like, an unusual number of bodies or burials where the colony had been. So you would have expected to find some indication that there was a mass death, that everybody died, and there really wasn't that, and that was part of the mystery. 

Iscah  1:11:06
And no bodies lying around tends to support a conclusion that they just went... 

Jules  1:11:11
They just dipped out. 

Iscah  1:11:12
Fuck it, let's give up. And the Wikipedia article also mentioned that at the time, European colonists who had to, like, assimilate with or live among the Native nations at the time, tended to not want to go back to Europe after that, they didn't actually like it. 

Jules  1:11:34
They took the chance to stay assimilated. 

Iscah  1:11:36
...Native people were living . 

Jules  1:11:37
And not the other way around. It did not work like that the other way around. The indigenous Americans who were taken to Europe, or just forced to live among European settlers generally did not want to stick around. And European settlers who ended up living among First Nations communities did, actually, they tended to be much happier there. 

Iscah  1:12:05
I love being able to point and laugh at earlier European colonists. Haha, your society sucks, and nobody wants to be there. 

Jules  1:12:11
It sucks. Although having said that, now I'm thinking a whole big part of the mystery is that everyone vanishes at the end of this episode, too. So, like, oh, no, I don't want to have to give credit to John Winchester, but that would actually fit with there being no bodies at Roanoke either. Still, it seems unlikely, especially given that there was a local nation, a local community called the Croatan. I'm like, that—that seems more likely. 

Iscah  1:12:51
Yeah. Oh, and when they were talking about John's theory, they said that he thought that Croatoan was the name of a demon. But it's literally just like, oh, I can't remember which, in the Algonquian family of languages, one of—one of the languages under that umbrella—it just means like, "council town" or "talking town". Like, it's nothing sinister. 

Jules  1:13:25
Some basic googling, you could have learned this. 

Iscah  1:13:32
But of course, I don't expect any better from John Winchester. 

Jules  1:13:36
I wonder how the hell it came up in the first place, to be in his journal. Now I'm like, what? You didn't encounter this before, clearly. How—what was the context of that? What the hell, were you just spouting off random theories? 

Iscah  1:13:54
I wouldn't be surprised. Oh, and when Dean goes to get out of the town, and that guy stops him he says, "Say, why don't you get out of the car and we'll talk a little," and Dean laughs and goes "Well, you are a handsome devil, but I don't swing that way, sorry." Sir. 

Jules  1:14:15
What a strange thing to say. 

Iscah  1:14:16
Excuse me, you're the one that turned the conversation in that direction. Literally did not have to— 

Jules  1:14:21
No one asked. 

Iscah  1:14:22
—and did anyway. Projection much? Like... 

Jules  1:14:25
No one asked. You did not have to—you did not have to do that. 

Iscah  1:14:33
Also it took me until watching it this time to get the joke that it's a demon virus and he says "handsome devil" 

Jules  1:14:39
Oh. Nice 

Iscah  1:14:41
When the guy is infected already. 

Jules  1:14:42
Ha ha ha. Oh, I see that—I see what they did there. Also, jumping ahead a little bit, but one my notes is that Sam should probably get tested for everything else, because, like, he may not have the demon virus but that's not all he could have been exposed to by somebody forcibly, deliberately, putting their blood onto his open wound. Y'all should probably stop and see a doctor. Do a few tests. 

Iscah  1:15:16
Get a blood panel. 

Jules  1:15:17
Yeah, exactly. 

Iscah  1:15:19
Also, I noticed that at some point, they start using real names in front of Sarge, the guy from the beginning, who they definitely introduced themselves to with their ZZ Top aliases, but he doesn't comment on anything, which I can only assume is like, "this day is already so goddamn weird—" 

Jules  1:15:40

Iscah  1:15:41
—type of thing, and he just does not have the energy to care. 

Jules  1:15:45
That's a good catch. I had not caught that. Yeah. And then later on, at the end, when they mentioned to the doctor, like, "we're not actually feds" and she's like, not sure what to do with that information. She's like, "okay." Also, some research I was doing. And again, from the Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism, I was doing some research about disease. And you know, there's that line in Exodus that God says, "I am the one that heals you." And Christian Scientists have taken that to mean that, like, human intervention would be working against God, that you can't really intervene in disease or illness, because God will do it. But Judaism pretty much goes in the opposite direction. And in fact, says, "the sages blamed some disease on demonic forces, and therefore permit the use of virtually any remedy, whether natural or supernatural." Which, by the way, is the name of the show! Take a drink. But I found that very interesting, actually. I was like, huh, that is, that's very interesting. 

Iscah  1:17:01
Yeah. And then also, when Duane Tanner shows up, and that's the guy who got shot in Sam's vision at the very beginning, and they're suspecting he's infected, arguing about if they should shoot him or not right away, without bothering to see if he really is infected. Dean says, "Hey, look, man, I'm not happy about this, okay. But it's a tough job. And you know that." Sam responds, "It's supposed to be tough, Dean. We're supposed to struggle with this. That's the whole point." Big Jewish mood. 

Jules  1:17:33
Yeah, yeah. 

Iscah  1:17:34
I've been thinking about parsha Va-yishlach a lot. That's the one where Jacob is on the way to see his brother Esau for the first time, like, since he betrayed him many years ago, and he doesn't know if he's going to be killed or not. Or if you know, his, his brother's men are going to attack and kill, like, his whole family. And the night before he wrestles with a man or an angel, depending on the interpretation. Anyway, that's going to be my bat mitzvah parsha— 

Jules  1:18:07
Oh, cool. 

Iscah  1:18:07
—at the end of November. Yeah. So I've been—I've been writing a dvar about that. And yeah, just—just big Jewish mood. 

Jules  1:18:15
That's very cool. I have to say, this episode does move along at a very good clip. The pacing is pretty solid. In this episode, I gotta give it that. 

Iscah  1:18:27
For sure. I can't get over Sam's tearful puppy dog eyes when everybody else leaves and Dean is preparing to euthanize him. Like, definitely, early on, it's one of the things that Jared does very well. 

Jules  1:18:46

Iscah  1:18:48
The puppy dog eyes. 

Jules  1:18:50
Yeah, this was when Jared was still putting effort into the show in general. Pre-phoning it in. And again, some excellent Jacting here happening from Jensen Ackles, I gotta say.  

Iscah  1:19:09
His whole speech about how tired he is— 

Jules  1:19:12
Oof, God.

Iscah  1:19:13
And then he keeps going for another 13 and a half years before dying young, bloody, closeted, and miserable. 

Jules  1:19:19
It's just so infuriating. Yeah, every time Dean talks about like, being tired or being ready to be done, or occasionally hints at being passively suicidal, I'm like, I just got that much angrier over—over the ending of the show. 

Iscah  1:19:42
And then, of course, Duane was not infected, but he was normal demon possessed and they never tested for that, because they were focused on the whole virus thing. And he kills Sarge who is the only Black man. 

Jules  1:19:57
Of course, yeah, yeah. 

Iscah  1:20:02
Wouldn't be Supernatural without that. 

Jules  1:20:04
Wouldn't be. That's also fairly—the extreme whiteness, and the one Black guy ending badly, is also pretty true to Oregon's history. So... 

Iscah  1:20:14
That's true. The Pacific Northwest is not actually usually live up to its cool, hippie liberal reputation if you are a person of color. 

Jules  1:20:26
Especially its modern reputation. 

Iscah  1:20:30
I do enjoy how Dean says he's never going to talk. And Sam says he's just going to keep asking until Dean gives an answer. 

Jules  1:20:37

Iscah  1:20:37
Using little brother crimes for good instead of evil. 

Jules  1:20:40
Very strong sibling energy. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Also, where did the bodies go? What did happen to everyone? Like, I guess maybe they're all demons now? I don't know. Like... 

Iscah  1:21:00
Demonic cleaning crew? 

Jules  1:21:02
I guess. But I'm guessing maybe they all ended up possessed because there's—their bodies would have had to go somewhere. Maybe not. I don't know. Maybe one demon could have just gotten rid of them all. Also, what about the doctor? 

Iscah  1:21:22
Yeah, yeah. She said she had to, like, call in the authorities or whatever, she would have been another person who would be great to get back. 

Jules  1:21:32
Yeah. And Duane was like, yeah, there's—there's no traces left. But I'm like, you—you left behind the person who knows the most about it. Which, granted isn't much, but still. That's—that's a pretty big omission there. I guess maybe Duane's just gonna go back and kill her too. But still. 

Iscah  1:21:55
And I would have—I would have thought that—Sam and Dean taking off, I understand. You know, what, what are you going to do about it? But I would have expected that like, Duane and Sarge should have stuck around to also try to explain what the fuck happened. 

Jules  1:22:13
Yeah, well, I guess—I guess Sarge's deal was that he was gonna go because the phones were still out. So somebody had to go get help. Although, presumably, Sam and Dean would have done that on their way out of town could have just stopped at the next town and said, "Hey, y'all might want to check—check on them up the road back there." But—so I'm like, okay, ostensibly, I get it. But yeah, I don't know. It's all just—it all kind of falls apart at the end. There's many, many questions. Much like Sam and Dean, we are all left with several questions. 

Iscah  1:22:50
And, you know, again, on the theme of Dean never getting to rest for the entirety of the show, basically. He talks about how they should go to the Grand Canyon or Tijuana or Hollywood and just take a little break. And they never do. 

Jules  1:23:07

Iscah  1:23:09
They get to go to Hollywood once but it's for a job. 

Jules  1:23:11

Iscah  1:23:14
He also says why do we got to get stuck with the responsibility— 

Jules  1:23:18

Iscah  1:23:18
—which is so chosen people as duty, not gift. 

Jules  1:23:21
Yeah, yeah, exactly. That's that's very Jewish. Chosen to do the dishes. I think I said one time on my Tumblr that it's just, "what if Eldest Daughter Disorder, but an entire people?" And you know what, I stand by that. 

Iscah  1:23:42
Fair. All right. So I think that brings us to the end of our episode. And it's time for our very favorite game of Fuck, Marry, Kill. 

Jules  1:23:57
All right. 

Iscah  1:23:58
This week, I am going to present you with Diane Ballard, George Darrow and Dr. Amanda Lee. 

Jules  1:24:06
Hmm. That's tricky. That is very tricky. I don't know. I would say...well, Ballard seems sort of like wife material, but I would not marry a cop. So we—I don't know. I don't know about that. Probably marry Dr. Lee, actually, I think. You know, she's a doctor. I mean, you know, come on. She's clearly smart. Pretty competent. She's pretty. Yeah, I would say, probably marry Dr. Lee, is what my instinct says. I guess maybe—that's hard. Who do—I think probably fuck Darrow. Although artists can be iffy, whether whether you should sleep with them or not. That can always be a toss-up, super arty guys, but he seems, he seems alright. He's appropriately grumpy with Sam and Dean so that—that speaks to a certain amount of common sense— 

Iscah  1:25:13
Fair. I think I would definitely also marry Dr. Lee. I'm not usually one for small towns, I do like living in a larger city, but it can be nice for a while. 

Iscah  1:25:13
Point in favor. 

Jules  1:25:13
—I feel like. Yeah, and I—although I do feel bad about killing Ballard, because she does not seem totally irredeemable, cop notwithstanding. But yeah, we can just get her out of the way. 

Jules  1:25:39
Yeah, I like rain. I like rainy climates. Pacific Northwest could be okay. 

Iscah  1:25:47
Still regret not ever being able to go out and visit my sister when she was living in Seattle. But then, I would fuck Diana, only post-atonement for being a cop, and then very kindly wait for George to die. 

Jules  1:26:08
He's doomed anyway. 

Iscah  1:26:09
I would not kill him, but he is, he is kind of doomed. 

Jules  1:26:13
As with some of our previous entries in this game. 

Iscah  1:26:16
All right. We don't have any new messages on, you know, any of the usual platforms that we use. But if in the future, you have any questions, comments or kvetches, you can contact us on Twitter @menschofletters, on Tumblr at, via email at Or if you want to join the Discord and bring up any questions, comments or kvetches that you have there, you can also do that. It is open for anyone to join.

Jules  1:26:54
Heck yes, come and join us. 

Iscah  1:26:58
If you like our show, please spread the word: retweet, reblog, tell your friends, tell your guitar instructor, tell your frazzled, underappreciated public defender. 

Jules  1:27:07
Poor guy. 

Iscah  1:27:08
We are on iTunes, Spotify, Google podcasts, we are on your favorite podcatcher, and we are on your least favorite podcatcher. Please also rate and review us on iTunes, because the more of those we get, the more they start recommending us to the internet at large. There's a threshold of five, if I recall correctly, and we have kind of stalled out at three. 

Jules  1:27:31
All right, come on. 

Iscah  1:27:32
But it would it, it would be very nice if you were to give us more— 

Jules  1:27:39
Who wants to be the fifth? 

Iscah  1:27:40
If you give us a five star review we will shout you the podcast here. Isn't that worth its weight in gold? We are also always taking guests, so if you've ever dreamed of going on a niche podcast taking a Jewish lens to the CW television show Supernatural— 

Jules  1:27:59
Who hasn't? 

Iscah  1:28:00
—contact us via any of the aforementioned methods. If you are a Jewish Supernatural fan, if you're a gentile ally, if you are a Jewish non-fan, any of those things work and we would love to have you. For more Mensch of Letters content, check out our Patreon. If you go to, you can support us for as little as $1 a month. At the $1 Ghost tier, you get access to Patreon exclusive content and a special role in the Mensch of Letters Discord. At the $5 Werewolf tier, you get a more special role in the Discord and early access to Patreon exclusive content. The $10 Shade tier gets you an even more special role in the Discord and all the perks of lower levels. Finally, the $18 a month Mensch tier gets you the most special role in the Discord, all the perks of lower levels and our undying gratitude. You can find me elsewhere at @clairewinchestermills on Tumblr or at @pinejaysong on Twitter. 

Jules  1:28:10
You can find me at @juleshastweets on Twitter and at @trekkiedean on Tumblr. 

Iscah  1:29:07
Our intro music is "Fun Tashlikh", and our outro music is "Szarvaszo Stomp", both by Yid Vicious, who you can find at, where they also have four different albums of klezmer music available for purchase. Thanks for listening and have a great day. 

Both  1:29:22