Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S01E03 – Dead in the Water

In the third episode of the first season of Supernatural, Dean and Sam head to investigate some mysterious drownings, which ends up hitting a little too close to home for Dean. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.

Okay, so this is a much better idea of what Supernatural could be, and I had a great time watching this episode. Feelings! Amy Acker! A LEGITIMATELY TERRIFYING ANTAGONIST! Can we not make water scary. I’m pretty sure “The Waters of Mars” already did, so this is 100% unfair. I REFUSE TO DEAL WITH THAT SINK DROWNING. It’s too disturbing to think about!

I’m fascinated by “Dead in the Water” because it starts off so typical of stories of scary monsters in the like, but the writers twist our expectations and give us a story that’s more about grief and family secrets than anything else. And isn’t that perfectly relevant to characters like Dean and Sam? In Lucas, Dean finds an unfortunate kindred soul, someone who watched their parent die in front of them, and the writers don’t hesitate to explore this idea. Truthfully, I do think “Dead in the Water” addresses grief in a plausible way, both through Lucas and Bill Carlton.

It’s hilarious to me that the show isn’t making any attempts to give us a believable reason for Sam and Dean to show up to these places. I mean that in the sense of how Dean just consistently makes up excuses and justifications to the people he meets, and eventually, I’m going to start worry about his ability to do this. You can only pretend to be so many federal or state officials before you’ve used up all your secret identities! Still, it’s not an important detail for me; I actually kind of like the idea that Dean is so used to improvisational detective work that he just has an endless list of ways to trick people into talking to him. That being said, it’s kind of brilliant that within a few minutes, Andrea is able to call out Dean for his ridiculous pick-up game. Her characterization here isn’t as boring and problematic as the women in the pilot. Instead, we get a portrait of a mother trying to do what’s best for her son in the wake of her father dying. Even Lucas himself skirts dangerously close to being a horror movie stereotype, and yet Sera Gamble and Raelle Tucker make his story more about his fear of what’s happening around him and his inability to deal with the trauma surrounding his father’s death.

Ultimately, I think that’s what made me like “Dead in the Water” so much. The grief these characters experience is always respected. When we first meet Will, he’s so distraught over the loss of his daughter that he is unable to speak. In this sense, the show gives us an adult and a child whose grief (and possibly even PTSD) manifests in similar ways, which made me feel a lot better about Lucas’s role in the story. Even when he begins to exhibit psychic tendencies through his drawings (also a common horror trope), it’s not chalked up to be this huge or monumental thing. No, it’s just part of how he deals with what’s happened to him.

It’s Dean, though, who provides the empathy that no one else could have given him. Like certain elements in “Wendigo,” the story here validates the trauma that Dean once went through. Watching his mother die as a child not only fucked up him for years, but it now motivates and informs his life as an adult. So I love the idea that sometimes, we need people in our lives to empathize us, to understand what it is we’ve gone through. I imagine that Lucas felt terribly, miserably alone, and the psychic visions he was getting probably didn’t make him feel better. And then here comes this man – this adult man – who is able to talk about being scared and mortified, and then he suggests that there is still a way to stay brave. I don’t think that this story suggested that Andrea couldn’t provide for her son. I’d actually say that this episode showed us how close they were! But there’s a power to the sort of personal understanding that Dean gives Lucas that’s special in its own right.

It was fascinating to me, then, that through this, Sam was able to learn about Dean’s own emotional reasoning behind his hunting. Of course, Dean, being the most stereotypical dude of all dudes who ever duded, has to immediately act like feelings aren’t cool because BLEH. Okay, that is one aspect of Dean that I’m not terribly interested in, especially since he expresses feelings like every five seconds. The whole “I am a straight man and I’m very straight and look at that butt straight I’m straight” thing is already exhausting because I get it. You don’t need to tell me this every five seconds.

CAN WE ALSO TALK ABOUT HOW FRIGHTENING THIS IS? “Dead in the Water” has a couple truly fucked-up scenes, specifically that sink sequence which is not okay in any universe that has existed, does exist, or will ever exist. But it’s also a wonderful moment to let us know that this is NOT AT ALL WHAT WE THINK IT IS. I thought this episode had the best mystery and the most suspense so far. You know, it’s just making me look forward to this show really scaring the hell out of me. The Wendigo was a little creepy, and Constance was unnerving, but NO THANK YOU to drowning sequences in sinks or bathtubs. No. NO!

In the end, I found this to be both entertaining and thought-provoking. It’s a strong entry at the beginning of the show, and they’ve already established that sometimes, the Winchesters cannot save everyone. People are going to die along the way, and the best these brothers can do is save who they can. In this case, Dean was able to save Lucas from Peter’s vengeful spirit, thanks to Jake giving himself up so that Peter will stop killing the ones he loves. “Dead in the Water” is disturbing and emotional, and it gives me a small idea of why so many people enjoy Supernatural.

The video commission for “Dead in the Water” can be downloaded right here.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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