(As I mentioned in my post announcing this rewatch project, there will be spoilers!)
Season Two, Episode Eight: Crossroad Blues
Image episode and summary from Wikipedia:
Sam and Dean investigate a suicide and believe a black dog may be involved. After research, they find that the man worked at a bar ten years earlier, but suddenly became an overnight success in architecture. They eventually realize that the dog was a hellhoundsent to collect his soul, the man having made a demonic pact to gain his talent. However, the demon also made deals with other people, so the brothers track down one of them, learning that he gave up his soul to cure his wife of cancer. As Sam stays behind to protect the man from the hellhound, Dean summons the demon at a crossroads and tricks it into stepping into a devil's trap—a mystical symbol that contains a demon and strips it of its power when the demon is inside of it. When the demon refuses to relent, Dean starts an exorcism. Eventually, in exchange for her freedom, the demon relents and releases the man from his deal. Before she leaves, she taunts Dean about his father's deal, revealing that John is suffering in Hell.
This is one of my favourite episodes. It introduces a very important concept/element that we’ll see throughout the series (crossroad demon/deal).
The introduction of this episode (set in 1938) is so wonderfully creepy!
I love the idea that only those affected – who’ve made the deal – can see the hell hounds.
Dean is officially in the federal database! But nothing on Sam.
The brothers are investigating the death of an architect who reported a vicious, large black dog a couple of days before he died. Apparently ten years ago this guy went from being a bartender at a dive bar called Lloyd’s to some sort of mega-talented genius, practically overnight.
Now they’re looking for a doctor, who’s been missing for two days. Her maid has no idea where she is but the doctor had reported a stray dog before she disappeared. She’s the chief surgeon (youngest chief surgeon at the hospital) and seems to be another overnight success story, starting ten years ago. Hmm she also visited this Lloyd’s Bar.
Cut to the doctor, who seems terrified, in a motel room. Suddenly the manager knocks on her door, telling her that she either has to pay for another night or get out. She opens the door and turns around go get cash to pay for another night, but when she turns back, the manager’s face is doing something super creepy! She throws the cash at him and locks the door.
Sam and Dean go to Lloyd’s Bar and notice flowers, used for summoning rituals, nearby. In fact, they’re all around the crossroad where the bar is located. They dig at the centre of the crossroad and find a box buried there, containing bones, graveyard dirt, etc. That’s some serious spellwork.
Sam says that these people aren’t seeing black dogs, they’re seeing hell hounds.They brothers realize that the demon who made deals with them is back and colelcting. We learn that crossroads, in lore, are where deals are made with a demon (people sell their soul) and a hell hound is like a demonic pitbull.
We go back to the doctor, and see that her motel room door is being broken down. We the viewer don’t see the hell hound (I think I read once that it was a budgetary thing, but I like that they’re invisible to only those who the hell hounds are after). Suddenly the window breaks and something tears at the doctor, dragging her away.
Then we flashback to 1930 – the guitarist from the beginning of the episode is seen burying a bag at a crossroad. A demon appears (crossroad demons have red eyes) and they have to kiss to seal the deal. The guitarist, Robert Johnson, trades his soul to be the best bluesman who ever lived.
Back in the present, Dean tells Sam that the Robert Johnson legend is true.
Apparently Dean is not happy to help these people being hunted down by the demon and its hell hounds. He says it’s not like they’re squeaky clean, and no one forced them to make a deal. Sam counters, saying so what, they’re supposed to leave them to die? Dean doesn’t want to help but Sam definitely does.
When you make a deal with a crossroad demon, you need to use your own photo in the mix, as part of the ritual. They decide to look for the guy who’s photo is in the box they’ve just uncovered.
His name is George. When they find him, he’s not living in a great place. The brothers notice goofer dust at his doorway (Sam and Dean don’t know what it is – Dean thinks it’s pepper and tells George when you want to keep something out, go for the salt).
Dean shows George his picture and asks if he’s seen a hell hound yet. Sam assures him that they want to help.
George is an artist (and explains to them that goofer dust is hoodoo to keep out a demon, giving them a bag). He says he’s got a few minutes left. He knows that they want to help, but says that sometimes a person makes their bed and has got to lie down in it. He tells them that he called the demon because he was weak; who doesn’t want to be great and want their life to mean something?
But he never thought about the price. Dean asks George if it was worth it. His answer: “Hell no”.
George says he asked for talent but should have gone for fame, because now he’s broke, lonely, and has a pile of paintings no one wants. He tells them that ten years ago, the demon didn’t leave, and he didn’t count on that. After making the deal, the demon stayed at Lloyd’s for a week, chatting and making more deals.
George tried to warn people but no one listened: the architect and doctor (from earlier in this episode) are both dead. But there was one other guy.
George says he’s done for. When Sam tells him that there must be a way, he says “You don’t get it. I don’t want a way”. He says he brought this on himself, on the others He’s going to hell, one way or another, and he just wants to finish his last painting.
George tries to tell them to get out, and tells them he doesn’t want to die. He’s tired. He finally kicks them out, and Sam and Dean leave.
Now we see someone else, who must be this last guy who made a deal at Lloyd’s Bar 10 years ago. Seems that he hears a dog. Yikes. But he tells his wife that it was nothing. Sounds like his wife is going to visit her sister for the weekend. Oooh her face did the creepy thing too!
Sam and Dean show up at this guy’s door. His name is Evan. They ask if he’s ever been to Lloyd’s Bar, and he slams the door in their faces. But that won’t stop Dean! He kicks in the door and they find Evan in his office. The brothers say they know about his deal and want to help. Evan says he doesn’t want to die and Dean says of course, not now. Dean taunts him – what did he ask for?
It turns out that Evan’s wife was sick. He made a deal to save her (she had cancer) and says he would do it again. Evan did this for her – but Dean says he did it for himself, so he wouldn’t have to live without her. But now she’s going to have to live without him. How would his wife feel, if she knew what it cost? (OBVIOUSLY SOME JOHN-WINCHESTER RELATED FEELINGS HERE!)
Sam says they’ll figure it out. Dean will go to the crossroad to summon the demon, and trap and exorcise it. Sam isn’t happy with this plan. He knows Dean thinks their father made a crossroad deal. But Dean goes out, and tells Sam to keep Evan alive.
Dean summons the crossroad demon, who seems to know who Dean is. Dean asks her to talk in the car, in private.
Sam makes a circle using the goofer dust, and tells Evan to stay inside the circle, no matter what.
Dean tells the demon that he wants to make a deal. He wants Evan released from his contract. Nope. Demon says that isn’t negotiable. Dean says he’ll trade himself. “Like father, like son”, the demon says. She taunts Dean about his dad making the deal, trading his life for Dean’s.
The demon sees the devil’s trap around the car and won’t get in.
Evan hears the hell hounds right outside the door (Sam can’t hear them).
The demon is angry with Dean. She says she won’t put Dean out of his misery because is misery is the whole point – it’s too fun to watch knowing how John Winchester sold his soul save Dean: “it’s gotta hurt”. And it’s all his fault, according to the demon, who says she could have brought John back. She walks away, but Dean calls out.
Meanwhile, the hell hounds are attacking, trying to break down the door. Suddenly they break into Evan’s office through the vent.
Dean and the demon move somewhere else to talk. Can the demon really bring John Winchester back? She says of course. And she can give Dean ten good years wit his father and brother. John Winchester is supposed to be alive, and Dean is supposed to be dead. So this deal would really just set things right.
Dean walks away, pauses, and asks, “You think you could throw in a set of steak knives?” The demon’s been tricked! The devil’s trap by the car was a decoy and now the demon is really trapped!
Dean says that he’ll let the demon go if she calls the hell hounds off Evan. But the demon says that she can’t break a contract. So Dean goes to exorcise the demon.
Eeek meanwhile back at Evan’s we see the floors being clawed up by the invisible hell hounds. Creepy!
The demon tells Dean to think about his dad, but he begins the exorcism.
At Evan’s the goofer dust circle is broken – Sam and Evan run!
The demon tells Dean to wait – and back at Evan’s, the hell hounds stop.
We see Dean and the demon kiss – they’re sealing the deal! – and Evean is free. He and his wife will live long lives.
The demon says her word is her bond when she makes a deal – “it’s the rules”. The demon tells Dean he got what he wanted – now he needs to let her go (still trapped). Nope!! Dean starts to exorcise her. Cold. But she is a demon…haha the demon says it’s funny how she’s the trustworthy one, once she sees that Dean is going to double cross her.
The demon threatens to come ater Evan once she gets out of hell eventually. Dean lets her go. Then the demon says that Demon would have never pulled that stunt if he knew.
Dean: “Knew what?”
Demon: “Knew where your dad is. You should’ve made that deal. People talk about hell, but it’s just a word. Doesn’t even come close to describing the real thing.”
Dean: “Shut your mouth, you bitch.”
Demon: “If you could see your poor daddy, hear the sounds he makes cause he can’t even scream.”
Dean: “How about I send you back there?”
Then the demon smokes out, leaving its vessel confused.
We see Sam and Dean back on the road. Sam says maybe she lied – demons lie all the time.
Dean wonders why their father made the deal. Sam tells him that he did it for Dean. Dean replies, “Exactly. How am I supposed to live with that?” He says John spent his whole life chasing the yellow-eyed demon. “He should have gone down fighting. That was supposed to be his legacy. Not bargaining with the damn thing.”
Sam says that their dad’s legacy is the people he saved and the people they’ve saved because of what he taught them. They’re still there and have to keep going.
Sam asks Dean – “You never considered actually making that deal, right?”
But Dean looks away and turns on some loud rock music, not answering.
Weird to see a preview of upcoming episodes.
What a great episode!! I love the MOTW story, which actually introduces a few concepts that recur throughout the series (hell hounds, crossroads, red eyed demons).
I also love the way this episode connects to what happened with John Winchester.
And there were some great spooky moments! This is definitely a top-tier episode!
-Black dog: some say they’re animal spirits, some say death omens.
-Hell hounds: demonic pitbull
-Crossroad lore: a literal crossroad where pacts are made; involves burying something (photo, bones, graveyard dirt) at the crossroad; spot where people make deals with demons by selling their soul in exchange for something; crossroad demons have red eyes