(As I mentioned in my post announcing this rewatch project, there will be spoilers!)
Season 3, Episode 11: Mystery Spot
Image and episode summary from Wikipedia:
Sam awakens in his motel room Tuesday morning to Asia's "Heat of the Moment", and finds Dean already up and getting dressed. During breakfast, they discuss the disappearance of a man at the Mystery Spot in Broward County, Florida. That night, they break into the attraction, but are confronted by the owner who inadvertently kills Dean with his shotgun. To Sam's surprise, he sees Dean when he wakes up the next morning, once again getting dressed and lip-syncing to "Heat of the Moment". The day appears to be repeating itself, so Sam suggests they visit the Mystery Spot during the day. As Dean agrees, he is killed by a speeding car. The time loop continues, with Dean's getting killed in various ways despite Sam's attempts to circumvent it. One hundred Tuesdays later, an agitated Sam notices that the man at the diner is using a different syrup than before. He confronts the man, who reveals himself as the Trickster (Richard Speight, Jr.): a demi-god who enjoys playing fatal pranks on the pompous (he previously dealt with the Winchesters in an episode at a college campus). The Trickster admits to starting the time loop to convince Sam that he cannot save Dean, but offers to return time to normal. When Sam still tries to kill him, the Trickster snaps his fingers and initiates the next morning (Wednesday). The Winchesters decide to leave town, but Dean is gunned down in an attempted mugging. With the time loop broken, Dean remains dead. Months pass, and a distant Sam has become a lone hunter in his search for the Trickster. He ignores Bobby's numerous calls, but eventually hears a message claiming that he has located the Trickster. The two hunters reunite at the Mystery Spot, where Bobby prepares a summoning ritual. Realizing the truth, Sam stabs Bobby in the heart with a wooden stake in an attempt to kill the Trickster, however it is but an illusion as the real Trickster appears. Sam begs that Dean be brought back to life and they would not hunt the Trickster anymore. The Trickster points out that Dean is his weakness; both brothers are always willing to sacrifice themselves for one another, and their enemies know it. He restores the timeline to Wednesday with both Dean and Sam intact.
Okay folks, I think the episodes remaining in season three are pretty much the best episodes of the season, and I am definitely including this episode in that category! Mystery Spot is an episode I have rewatched several times. It’s such a great episode!! If you like the funnier, wackier episodes of Supernatural (and I sincerely hope that you do), then this is the one for you!
Mystery Spot is one of the earlier episodes that is weird and funny and clever – like a precursor to classic episodes Changing Channels and The French Mistake – but it’s been a while since I saw it, so I’m excited to be watching it again now!
We get a reminder in the recap that Bela has stolen the Colt. Boo.
Sam jolts awake when the alarm goes off – “Heat of the Moment”.
“Rise and shine, Sammy!” I love Dean’s dance moves.
Sam is impatiently waiting for Dean to get ready. He seems to be a little annoyed with him this morning.
Breakfast time! They sit down at a booth and Dean reads the menu: “Tuesday – pig in a poke.”
The waitress comes to take their order. Dean has the special with a side of bacon; Sam has pancakes.
Dean starts talking about the job they’re in town for, which he says is small time. They’re investigating the disappearance of a professor, whose last known location was the Broward County Mystery Spot. According to the brochure, it’s a place where the laws of physics have no meaning.
The waitress brings their food but drops the bottle of hot sauce. Oops.
After eating, the boys are walking down the street, talking about the Mystery Spot. They pass a barking dog and Dean bumps into a blonde girl. They pass two delivery men trying to move a large desk through a door, arguing as it gets stuck.
They enter the mystery spot, which looks kind of like a funhouse. Sam has the EMF reader out and they start looking around. They have no idea what they’re looking for.
Then someone shows up with a gun! It’s the owner, thinking they’re robbers. He shoots Dean!! Sam runs over to him, telling the owner to call 911, but as Sam holds Dean in his arms, he dies. “Not like this,” Sam says.
Dean death count: 1.
Title card! A little late.
Then Sam wakes up again to Heat of the Moment, seeing Dean. “Rise and shine, Sammy!” Sam is understandably confused as the events of yesterday morning seem to be repeating themselves. He watches as Dean gargles like yesterday, and Dean asks if he’s alright. Sam says he had a weird dream.
“Clowns or midgets?” Dean asks.
They enter the diner and sit in the same booth as yesterday. Dean again says “Tuesday. Pig in a poke.”
“It’s Tuesday?” Sam asks. The waitress comes over and Dean places the same order as before. Then he starts talking about the job, just like he did yesterday.
Sam is so confused, asking Dean if he remembers any of this. Sam says it’s happened before. Not like déjà vu, like it’s really happened before. Sam asks if it feels like they’re living yesterday all over again and gets mad when Dean keeps talking about déjà vu.
The waitress brings over their coffee and as the hot sauce falls, Sam grabs it before it hits the floor.
Dean compliments his reflexes.
Outside, they again pass the barking dog, with Sam staring at it as they pass. Dean tells Sam he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Sam: “Yesterday was Tuesday, right? But today is Tuesday too.”
Dean is not sure he believes Sam. Then Dean bumps into the blonde girl again.
Dean tells Sam this was crazy and maybe it was like one of Sam’s visions, but Sam says no, it was way too vivid. He tells Dean that they were at the mystery spot, and then…then he woke up. Interesting. He doesn’t want Dean to know that he died.
They pass the arguing movers again.
Sam thinks the mystery spot might have something to do with it and says they have to check it out. Dean says they’ll go after close, but Sam says no. Let’s go now, business hours, nice and crowded (so Dean doesn’t get shot after hours again).
Dean goes to cross the road and BAM! A car comes out of nowhere and hits him! Sam runs over and, again, as he holds him, Dean dies.
“Rise and shine Sammy!”
Sam is losing it. We see again that it’s Tuesday and Dean is interested in the pig in a poke, haha. Sam tries to explain to Dean what’s going on. The waitress comes to take their order and Sam orders for both of them, haha.
Sam tells Dean he thinks he’s in a time loop, like Groundhog Day. Dean does not seem to believe him, saying it’s crazy.
The waitress brings coffee and, again, Sam catches the hot sauce before it falls. Dean compliments his reflexes and Sam says no, he knew it was going to happen. He tells Dean that he’s gonna have to go with him. And he can’t calm down about this because Dean dies today.
He tells Dean he’s watched him die twice and he can’t do it again. Dean says he still thinks Sam’s nuts but whatever it is, they’ll figure it out.
Back outside, they pass the barking dog and the blonde girl, and the movers. Dean is talking about the mystery spot, saying it seems too X-Files to him but they’ll go and check it out after close.
Sam says no – Dean learns that he dies there (that’s one way), so he says they’ll go now. As he goes to cross the road, Sam runs after him, and pulls him back just before the car can hit him. Dean laughs, then sees Sam’s face and realizes that’s the other way he died.
Dean wants to know if it looked cool, like in the movies. Sam tells him he peed himself.
“Of course I peed myself. Man gets hit by a car, you think he has full control over his bladder? Come on!” Hahahaha.
They carry on, with Dean carefully crossing the road.
At the mystery spot, they speak to the owner. They try to find out what ‘mystery spot’ means. Apparently it means a place where the laws of physics have no meaning.
“Like how,” Sam asks in exasperation.
Dean brings up the missing man, and the owner says the police scoured the whole place and didn’t find a trace of him.
Sam is getting frustrated, telling the man that there’s something weird going on here, and does he know anything about it or not.
The owner is taken aback by Sam and tells them that he bought the place at a foreclosure auction last month. Dean tells Sam to get some air and they head outside.
Dean tells Sam that place is full of crap and Sam wants to know what is happening. If it isn’t the mystery spot, what is it?
Dean clarifies, asking Sam that every day Dean dies, and that’s when Sam wakes up, right? Sam says yes. So Dean says the plan is to make sure he doesn’t die. If he makes it to tomorrow, then maybe that will make the time loop stop. Time to grab some food, head for the motel, and lay low until after midnight.
As he goes to take another step, he gets smushed by the desk! The movers look down from the window it fell out of, and Sam looks at Dean, trapped under the desk, sighing.
“Rise and shine, Sammy!”
Sam is not in a good place right now. He seems very defeated.
In the diner, we see that Sam has explained it all to Dean again. Dean says they’ll figure it out and if he’s stuck in groundhog day, why? What’s behind it?
Sam thought it was the mystery spot but now he’s not so sure. Sam says the only thing he can think to try and do is keep Dean alive until tomorrow. Dean says that shouldn’t be too hard, but Sam says he’s watched him die a few times.
Dean says nothing is set in stone. If Sam says he orders the special every time, why not change it up today: he changes his order to the special with a side of sausage instead of bacon, insisting that he’s not gonna die.
The food comes and Dean takes a bite of sausage. Sam laughs a little, looking a way, perhaps realizing that this could work.
But then – Dean chokes on his sausage.
The next scene shows Dean in the shower, yelling to Sam, “You mean we can’t even go out for breakfast?”
Sam is looking out the window, and yells back to Dean that he’ll thank him when it’s Wednesday.
“Whatever that means,” Dean mutters. Then we hear Dean slip in the shower and, presumably, die, with Sam’s horrified expression as he hears it too.
They’re eating in the motel room.
Dean: “Do these tacos taste funny to you?”
Dean plugs in his shaver and gets electrocuted.
Back at the mystery spot now, we see Sam pretty much taking the place apart with an ax, with the owner bound and gagged with duct tape, with Dean beside him.
“Everything’s fine. Nobody’s gonna get hurt here,” Dean says reassuringly. Then he tells Sam to drop the ax and let this guy go.
Sam is losing it. He takes the place apart, and as Dean heads over, saying to give him the ax…
The boys are at the diner, and sit in the booth. Dean stares at the menu board. “Tuesday. Pig in a poke.”
Sam puts some keys on the table. Dean asks what they are and Sam says they’re the old man’s – trust him, you don’t want him behind the wheel.
Dean places his order and when she turns to Sam, he says, “Hey, Doris? What I’d like is for you to log in some more hours at the archery range. You’re a terrible shot.”
Doris: “How’d you know?”
Sam: “Lucky guess.”
Hahaha. I love the way we get glimpses of other ways Dean has died without them being shown on screen.
Sam and Dean again discuss Sam’s theory that he’s caught in a time loop, like Groundhog Day. Sam tells Dean that this is the 100th Tuesday he’s been through and it never stops. So yeah, he’s a little grumpy.
Sam says hot sauce. Then catches it before it falls. Sam tells Dean he knew it was going to happen – he knows everything. And to prove it, he says everything that Dean says, simultaneously. Hahaha.
It’s freaking Dean out.
Sam tells Dean about the other people in the diner: the cashier skimming from the register, the judge who puts on a furry bunny outfit at night, the guy who’s going to rob the mechanic on the way home…he tells Dean that the point is that he’s lived through every possible Tuesday and watched Dean die every possible way. He’s torn the mystery spot apart, burnt it down, done everything he can to try and save Dean’s life, but no matter what he does, no matter what he tries, Dean still dies. And then Sam wakes up and it’s Tuesday again.
This is a really funny episode, but that little speech from Sam highlights how horrifying the situation actually is.
Back on the street, Sam points out the dog, the man who’s lost his dog, the woman who bumps into Dean.
Dean stops Sam, asking Dean if all the time they’ve walked down this street, has he ever turned and walked back after the girl? Sam watches, saying no. Dean takes a flyer from the girl and shows it to Sam.
“A hundred Tuesdays and you never bothered to check what she was holding in her hands?” He shows Sam – it’s a flyer of the missing professor they came to investigate. Dean says the girls is his daughter. Sam chases after her.
Meanwhile, the dog barks at Dean, who smiles and leans down to pet it.
Back at the diner, Sam is investigating the missing professor, telling Dean he talked to his daughter, and the guy is quite the journalist, writing about tourist attractions, which he likes debunking. He calls himself a truth debunker.
They get up to leave and Dean chuckles. “It’s just funny, you know? I mean, this guy spends his whole life crapping on mystery spots and then he vanishes into one. It’s kinda poetic, you know, just desserts.”
Sam agrees, “You’re right, that is just desserts”. Then he notices a plate left on the counter. It’s a pancake with strawberry syrup. Dean sees Sam staring and comes back, asking what’s wrong.
Sam looks out the window at the man who just left, saying that he’s had maple syrup for the past 100 Tuesdays and suddenly he’s having strawberry. Suspicious.
“Free country,” Dean says. “A man can’t choose his own syrup?”
Sam tells Dean that nothing in this place ever changes. Ever. Except him.
“Rise and shine, Sammy!”
Sam looks different. Intense.
At the diner, he watches the man eating the pancakes, dismissing Dean when he asks Sam about being caught in a time loop. When the man leaves the counter, Sam gets up to follow him, leaving Dean to chase him and catch up.
Sam accosts the man outside, telling him that he knows who he is, pointing a stake at him. “Or should I say what.”
The men begs Sam not to kill him. Sam says it took a long time, but he figured it out, saying it was his MO that gave him away: “Going after pompous jerks, giving them their just desserts – your kind loves that.”
Dean seems a little nervous, trying to talk Sam down, but Sam tells Dean that there’s only one creature powerful enough to do this – make reality out of nothing, stick people in time loops – a trickster!
The man insists that he’s just a guy, Ed Coleman, but Sam yeslls at him not to lie, saying they’ve killed one of his kind before.
BUT! Then he morphs into the trickster – the same on from the season 2 episode Tall Tales – and says, “You didn’t”. Trickster is still alive!
Sam asks why he’s doing this, and the trickster says they tried to kill him last time. Why wouldn’t he do this? And as for the missing professor, the trickster says that he didn’t believe in wormholes, so he dropped him in one.
The trickster says he made Sam and Dean the second they hit town. The trickster admits that it is fun for him, killing Dean over and over again, but tells Sam this is so not about killing Dean.
“This joke is on you, Sam. Watching your brother die, every day. Forever.”
Sam is pissed.
“How long will it take you to realize? You can’t save your brother. No matter what.”
Sam threatens the trickster that if he kills him, this all ends now. That kind of gets to the trickster, telling them he was playing around. Fine. Wake up tomorrow and it will be Wednesday.
Sam doesn’t believe him but the trickster says if he’s lying, they know where to find him: having pancakes at the counter.
Sam says it’s easier to just kill him now, but the trickster says he can’t have that. He snaps his fingers and we cut to Sam waking up again.
This time, the song that’s playing is “Back in Time”.
Dean is already up, and Sam looks at the clock, seeing it’s Wednesday. Sam is so happy. “This isn’t the most beautiful song you’ve ever heard?”
He asks Dean what he remembers, and Dean says they ran into the trickster, but that’s about it. Sam tells Dean to get ready to go. No breakfast.
As they’re loading up the trunk, a man approaches Dean. It’s the guy from the diner that Sam said was going to rob someone later.
He’s pointing a gun at Dean, telling him to hand over his wallet. Dean tries to calm him down, and Sam is in the motel room when he hears the gunshot.
He runs outside and finds Dean lying on the ground, dying. But it’s Wednesday!
“This isn’t supposed to happen today. Come on!” But again, as Sam holds Dean, he dies.
“I’m supposed to wake up,” Sam cries.
Then it’s six months later. Sam is driving the Impala, and we hear through a series of voice mails from Bobby that they haven’t talked in a few months, but it sounds like Sam has been hunting on his own this whole time.
We see him enter a motel room, and stitch himself up after removing a bullet. Solo Sam is hardcore!
We hear another voice mail from Bobby, who says he’s worried about Sam and that he hopes he isn’t obsessing over this trickster. Bobby wants to help.
But Sam is definitely going after this trickster. We get a montage of Sam in the hotel room, and we hear from Bobby on another voice mail that he found the trickster.
We see Bobby in the mystery spot, and Sam enters. Bobby hugs him, saying it’s good to see him, and that he found a summoning ritual to bring the trickster here. Bobby tells Sam what they need, which includes a gallon of fresh blood. Enough that they need to bleed a person dry, and it’s gotta be tonight or else not for another fifty years. Sam goes to get some but Bobby stares after him.
Bobby: “You break my heart, kid.” He tells Sam he won’t let him murder an innocent man. Sam asks why he brought him here then. Bobby says it’s the only way Sam would see him and he’s trying to knock some sense in him.
Sam says he’ll do it himself and tells Bobby it’s none of his damn business what he does.
Bobby hands Sam a knife, saying if he wants his brother back so bad, to bleed him.
Sam says he’s not killing Bobby.
Bobby tells Sam that he’s nearing the end of his trail, but Sam and Dean can keep fighting and saving people. But Sam needs his brother. Let Bobby get him back. Sam and Dean are the closest thing he has to family and he wants to do this.
Sam takes the knife and says okay. Uh oh!!!
Bobby turns around, gets on his knees, telling Sam to make it quick.
Sam pulls out a wooden stake and stabs Bobby, telling him that he’s not Bobby!
But Bobby’s dead body just lays there. Uh oh. It was Bobby!?!?! Sam is not happy.
Phew, the body disappears. The trickster shows up! He teases Sam, telling him Dean’s dead and isn’t coming back, that his soul is ‘downstairs’ in Hell.
Sam wants the trickster to send them back so Dean’s alive, promising he won’t come after him. The trickster says he could but it doesn’t mean he should, and there’s a lesson he’s been trying to drill into Sam’s head.
The lesson: his obsession to save Dean, the way they sacrifice for each other – nothing good can come out of it. Just blood and pain. Dean’s his weakness. It’s gonna be the death of Sam. Sometimes you’ve just gotta let people go.
Like it or not, this is what life will be like without Dean.
Sam cries, pleading with the trickster. The trickster says this stopped being funny months ago and he’s over it. He snaps his fingers.
Back in time.
Sam wakes up again and Dean is already up, saying this station sucks (no Asia). It’s Wednesday. Sam has tears in his eyes. He gets up and goes over to Dean and gives him a big hug.
Dean asks how many Tuesdays he had. “Enough,” Sam says. He asks Dean what he remembers. Dean remembers catching up with the trickster but that’s about it.
Sam says let’s go. No breakfast. He won’t let Dean go anywhere alone, including to the parking lot.
Dean asks Sam if he’s ok. Sam says he just had a really weird dream. “Clowns or midgets?” Dean asks, smiling.
They leave the motel room, with Sam staring back at his bed before turning off the light.
This is definitely a funny episode (the various ways that Dean dies! The futility of all of Sam’s efforts to save him!), but the lesson that the trickster is trying to teach Sam is about not being able to save Dean from going to Hell, and that he needs to accept that. And boy does Sam’s life without Dean look bleak.
I really feel like this shortened season lends more urgency to every episode, even monster of the week ones. They all have something to do with Dean’s fate in some way or another, and while the previous couple episodes were about Dean grappling with his fate and realizing that there may be no way to save himself, this one shows us that Sam is struggling with not being able to save his brother. It’s really sad and a really great episode. It definitely holds up.