In the sixteenth episode of the second season of Supernatural, Dean and Sam try to help a woman escape the grip of a vengeful spirit who haunts a specific stretch of highway every year. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.
You know, up until the big twist ending, this wasn’t that bad of an episode. It was quiet and thoughtful, if a bit typical for a ghost story. I figured that the writers were taking time to give us a monster-of-the-week that was largely unconnected to the season’s mythology, and I assumed that Sam’s big monologue was meant to be subtly self-referential. It made sense! This wouldn’t have been the first the show had done such a thing, and many of the better non-serialized episode still featured emotional continuity between the Winchesters. Plus, the story here in “Roadkill” is standard fare for ghost stories: the spirit who haunts a lonely highway after dying a violent death at the hands of a careless driver.
So how did the writers twist that? Initially, not very much. Tricia Helfer (MY QUEEN SHE IS SO AMAZING) guest starts as Molly McNamara, a wife trapped by the vengeance-seeking spirit of Jonah Greely. What proved to be interesting was how Molly questioned the Winchesters as they set out to find Greely. I admit I always love it when someone else discovers the world of the supernatural, and Molly was an inquisitive force here. She wanted to know why the Winchesters did what they did, what happened to the spirits they set free, and what that meant for the spirits themselves. Honestly, I thought it was fascinating, twist-aside, how this episode forced us to think about the souls dispatched over the course of the show. Dean and Sam aren’t in the business of the afterlife; they just send souls wherever it is that they go. (However, we’ve had multiple confirmations that Hell is real, soâ€¦ is there a Heaven? How does that work in terms of the show’s mythology?) Given Sam’s experience in “House of the Holy,” I actually thought this worked really well as a metaphysical companion story, you know?
And it was fitting to me that of the two, Sam was the one more easily sympathetic towards what Molly was asking. While the past thirty-seven episodes have certainly deconstructed the notion that Dean is the more unemotional sibling, Sam needed to be the one to be paired off with Molly. Yeah, I think it’s entirely intentional that he’s the one telling her that sometimes, these spirits can’t help what happens to them. It reminded me of Sam’s fear of becoming a pawn of the yellow-eyed demon, and I honestly thought he was projecting his own concern onto Molly. OF COURSE I WAS TRICKED. OF COURSE. So it stands to reason that this dichotomy had to be complete with Dean as the force who didn’t really want to understand why harmful spirits turned out the way they did. Again, it’s not like this show hasn’t addressed Dean’s black-and-white morality before. However, he’s more prone towards wanting to complete a hunt over understanding the emotional stakes at hand. It’s very classic Dean, and I have no problem with the writers portraying him as they did here. It makes a lot more sense to do so in this particular story.
I hadn’t even noticed that by the time Sam burned Greely’s bones, there were still like eleven minutes left in this episode. I SHOULD HAVE NOTICED. IT WAS A SIGN. I certainly had a whole review planned in my head that was going to address how this episode was neat, but underwhelming. I mean, up to that point, we had a few really touching moments between Sam and Molly where Sam struggled to explain the complicated nature of ghosts to a newcomer. Molly acted as a filter for the Winchesters’ behavior. And then there was Dean’s whole desire to hide the truth of David’s demise from Molly, which seemed a bit strange, but I understood that Dean’s need to complete this hunt outweighed the need to give Molly closure. Truthfully, they both needed her to catch Greely.
EXCEPT I HAD NO IDEA JUST HOW MUCH THIS WAS TRUE. When we saw David in another house, my thoughts drifted to some bizarre theory about how Molly had been erased out of her own life or something, because thatâ€¦ sort of made sense to me? In hindsight, this is one of those theories that I’m glad I didn’t vocalize because it’s really bad and makes no sense at all. By revealing that the hunt Dean and Sam were on included Molly, we’re instead given an episode that’s about the refusal to let go. Shit, y’all, so much of this episode is purposely designed to give us hints about the true nature of Molly McNamara. In fact, while I picked up on the fact that Sam and Dean were acting incredibly uncomfortable with this whole hunt, I never assumed it was because the spirit they were hunting was RIGHT THERE WITH THEM. I thought Dean was irritated that someone wouldn’t let them do their job! HAHAHA, SHE WAS THEIR JOB. LAUGHING TO KEEP FROM CRYING.
This is a clever episode, and I appreciated how the twist at the end added a lot of depth to Tricia Helfer’s performance. All of her doe-eyed horror and disbelief was rooted in her inability to move on, not just her shock at discovering the world of spirits and ghosts. I mean, I questioned how Greely was able to make Helfer’s car and the evidence of the crash disappear, but never once postulated that it wasn’t there to begin with. Jesus, IT WAS RIGHT THERE. Anyway, the twist ending makes this a far more memorable episode than it otherwise could have been. The whole rising sun metaphor was a bit heavy-handed, but at least there was closure for Molly by the end of this. And it was great to get an episode where Sam and Dean were mid-hunt! All in all, I’m pleased.
The video commission for “Roadkill” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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