In the fourteenth episode of the second season of Supernatural, I AM PRETTY SURE YOU CAN’T DO THIS TO ME, but you did it anyway. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.
Well, shit. I fell for it, but I don’t feel too bad about that because I was meant to fall for the con that the writers just pulled on me. Wait, did Bobby write this episode? Nevermind!
“Born Under a Bad Sign” is a trip, y’all. The episode is structured strangely, since the writers throw us into this nightmare headfirst, and then they spend over half an hour refusing to tell us what’s going on. It’s surreal because the inevitable struggle between Sam’s willpower and his “destiny” seemed to arrive with little fanfare and then WHY ARE YOU TORTURING JO OH MY GOD? It’s so sudden. Sam killed someone, it’s on video, and NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE.
Again, it’s the point, and it’s almost like we’re experiencing this journey through the other characters’ eyes. We watch Sam interact with Sam, then Jo, then Bobby, and Sam never reveals what’s happening to him. WHICH I SHOULD HAVE SEEN AS A CLUE. If this had truly been the yellow-eyed demon, he would have boasted about possessing Sam, no? And I think that’s why I struggled to understand what was going on. How did this fit in the plan that demon had? Were all these special children going to become weapons against other hunters? That’s it?
HAHAHA OH GOD, I WASN’T EVEN CLOSE.
There are two huge reasons why “Born Under a Bad Sign” is so compelling, however. Let’s just talk about Jared Padelecki, because this episode is a lot like “Skin,” in the sense that Jared finally gets to explore an alternate version of Sam like Jensen did with his own character as a shapeshifter. It’s not until the second half that Jared just becomes this other demon in Sam’s body, and it’s INCREDIBLY UNSETTLING. For the first half of “Born Under a Bad Sign,” Sam seems like Sam. In hindsight, though, I think you can tell that this isn’t really Sam, and it’s another eerie aspect to this story. He was too willing to let Dean kill him. He was too eager for Dean to fulfill his promise to John. And once the demon within Sam knew that this wouldn’t work, Sam turns into PURE EVIL. Yeah, I admit that it was entertaining to watch Sam make this transformation. That is, right up to the moment where he hurts Jo and THAT IS ILLEGAL AND YOU SHOULD STOP. OR I WILL FICTIONALLY HURT YOU BACK. No, no, THAT WHOLE PORTION WITH JO AND SAM IS SO NOT OKAY THAT I JUST WANT TO STRIKE IT FROM MY MEMORY. And to add insult to injury, the demon teases Jo with a possible explanation of her father’s death: JOHN WINCHESTER KILLED HIM OUT OF MERCY. !!!!!!!! WHY ARE YOU EVEN DOING THIS TO ME, SUPERNATURAL. WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU? Oh lord, that is so brutal and sad and I just wanted to hug Jo.
Then this episode just gets surreal. Watching Dean and Sam spar with one another is strange; watching Sam shoot Dean in the shoulder is upsetting; but watching Sam BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF DEAN AFTER THROWING HIM AND BOBBY AGAINST THE WALL IS SOMETHING I COULD ALSO DO WITHOUT. It’s unnerving to think how similar Sam acts to Meg, you know??? It’s clearly the same demon that possessed them both, and it’s impressive to know that brutal sassiness passed between the two actors.
Yet at the same time, it’s important to acknowledge how much of “Born Under a Bad Sign” is specifically about Dean and his dedication to Sam. Throughout this episode, Dean is given clear chances to take out Sam, which would fulfill John’s request, and he consistently looks for another option. Every time, he truly believes that he has a choice, and every time, one of those choices involves keeping Sam alive. Casual reminder that one of those options is DEAN DYING. DEAN WOULD DIE FOR SAM. Okay, can we not test this claim? Can this not happen? THANKS, THAT WOULD BE GREAT. Dean has fictionally died enough already so YEAH. NO THANKS.
But it’s a vital bit of character growth for Dean, and I can’t ignore that! It all reminds me of Dean’s monologues/lines in “Devil’s Trap,” about how he can’t imagine a life without his family. He’s already lost his father, AND WE’VE SEEN WHAT HAPPENS TO DEAN WHEN HE LOSES A MEMBER OF HIS FAMILY. Sam really is all he’s got left, which is what the demon uses to taunt Dean with after the failed exorcism. I think Dean’s curt refusal to let Jo come with him is indicative of how he hasn’t let anyone else get close to him. He can’t quite trust anyone else, even if they are talented or a good hunter. (I do wonder where Bobby fits into this, as he demonstrates quick-thinking and reliability in this episode.) So it makes sense that Dean would pursue any option, no matter how risky, that would keep Sam alive.
Of course, the big reveal here is that the yellow-eyed demon has nothing to do with Sam’s possession. It’s actually the same demon expelled from Meg last season, who CRAWLED OUT OF HELL TO GET REVENGE. Oh, and he apparently saw John Winchester on his way out. Damn it, I hate that we can’t tell if a demon is lying or telling the truth, because I have no way of telling if either story the demon shared about John is true or not. EVIL. YOU ARE EVIL. But aside from successfully ridding Sam’s body of the demon, there’s not much closure to be found in “Born Under a Bad Sign.” Dean and Sam are left unsettled by the whole affair, which exacerbated their fears and concerns about Sam’s role in the yellow-eyed demon’s plan, whatever that is. There’s no resolution yet, and I hope the fact that Sam experienced some of what happened isn’t foreshadowing for the final plans. Sam now knows what it feels like to kill an innocent human. Still, there’s some certainty at the end of this: Dean promises that he’ll find a way to save Sam in the end. But what price will he have to pay to do so? I DON’T EVEN DON’T WANT TO KNOW.
The video commission for “Born Under a Bad Sign” can be downloaded right here for just $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
– Please check out the MarkDoesStuff.com. All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often.
– I will be at quite a few conventions and will be hosting events throughout the US, Canada, and Europe in 2014, so check my Tour Dates / Appearances page often to see if I’m coming to your city!