(As I mentioned in my post announcing this rewatch project, there will be spoilers!)
Season 3, Episode 6: Red Sky At Morning
Image and episode summary from Wikipedia:
In Sea Pines, Massachusetts, a woman sees a ghost ship in the harbor, and mysteriously drowns in her shower later that night. Sam and Dean question the woman's aunt Gertrude (Ellen Geer), who knows about the ghost ship and asks them if they are working with a woman named Alex. After the brothers leave, they are confronted by Bela. Using the pseudonym of "Alex", she "solved" the case for Gertrude, who has withheld payment since the Winchesters arrived. More deaths occur that night, and the brothers realize that the ship is a death omen linked to the spirit of a sailor hanged for treason. The sailor's hand was crafted in a Hand of Glory. Bela suggests that they destroy it to stop the ghost ship. Using tickets provided by Gertrude, the trio attends a lavish function at the local Maritime Museum. Bela steals the hand, but sneaks away from the brothers. She sells the hand to a client—her goal all along—but then sees the ghost ship. With her death imminent, Bela turns to the Winchesters for help. They have discovered that the spirit only targets people responsible for the deaths of family members, which Bela will not elaborate on. The three of them conduct a summoning ritual at the sailor's grave. The vengeful spirit is confronted by the captain who ordered his death—his brother—and both disappear.
Warning before we get into this – this is fairly widely regarded as one of the worst episodes of the series (along with Bugs and Route 666 from season one). Let’s see if it’s as meh as I remember!
So this episode opens with a jogger at night along the water, where people’s boats are docked. She sees some sort of ghost ship on the water, but it disappears. That’s definitely weird. She carries on jogging, but then we see her in the shower, and there’s a ghost watching her! Creepy! The ghost touches the door of the shower, and she turns around, opening the door after hearing a noise, but not seeing anything. She gets back in the shower, and then the ghost attacks her, slamming her into the shower door. I guess she dies?
After the opening credits, we meet Sam and Dean driving. Dean asks Sam if he has something to tell him. When Sam says he has no idea what Dean’s talking about, Dean says there’s a bullet missing from the Colt. He knows Sam went after the crossroads demon and shot her. Sam says she was a smartass. Dean asks if he’s out of the deal, but Sam says he would have mentioned that. No, someone else holds the contract, but the demon wouldn’t say. Dean says they should find out and their best lead would be the demon that Sam shot. He shouldn’t have done it.
Sam says he’s going to try and save Dean and he’s not going to apologize for it.
They meet the aunt of the dead girl, and she says she found the body. The coroner said she had drowned. They learn that Sheila, the dead girl, told her aunt about the ghost ship she saw. Alex, a mystery person that Sheila’s aunt mentions, apparently thinks it could be a ghost ship.
Sam and Dean walk along the water, wondering who this Alex is, talking about ghost ships. Sam says every 37 years it shows up and there’s a rash of dry-land drownings. So this could just be getting started. The ship seems to be a death omen. They need to ID the boat.
Oh no! The car is missing! Dean is freaking out. Oh no, Bela shows up and says she had the car towed. What is she doing in town? Sam figures out that she’s Alex. Bela sells old ladies like that charms, holds séances, etc. Dean tells her about the ghost ship, but Bela says she knows. She tells them to stay out of her way so she can finish her job, and stay out of trouble.
Dean: “Can I shoot her?”
Sam: “Not in public.”
Oh no, someone else is in a bathroom and senses a ghostly presence! This guy’s bathtub starts to fill with water. That is not a good sign. At all. The water in the tub is opaque and it won’t drain. As he leans over the tub, something reaches out and grabs him!
Bela is interviewing the dead guy’s brother, when Sam and Dean show up and basically tell her to get out of there. They interview the man about his brother and ask about the ship his brother claimed to see. An old ship, looked like a smuggler vessel – turns out they were night diving and both saw the ship. Sam and Dean get out of there when they see Bela speaking to real cops.
She comes up to them later while they’re getting weapons out of the Impala. They tell Bela they’re sticking around to save the other brother who saw the ship. Bela says he can’t be saved in time and they know it, but Dean says they have souls so they’re going to try. Bela says she’s going to find the ship and put an end to it. Dean asks how she got like that. She says they’re no better than she is. When Dean says they help people, Bela scoffs and says they do this out of vengeance and obsession and Dean’s a stone’s throw from being a serial killer, while she gets paid to do a job and she does it. Sam tells her to get lost.
Sam and Dean are staking out the brother’s home and Sam goes over some paperwork, telling Dean the brothers came into a big inheritance. Why did these people see the ship? What did they have in common?
Meanwhile, the brother calls to them, asking why they’re watching him. Sam says they’re undercover cops and they’re there because they think he’s in danger, but he gets in his car and takes off.
“You moron, we’re trying to help you!” – Dean
The guy’s car stalls and he sees a ghost in the car! The ghost reaches out and touches the man, who seems to be drowning even though there’s no water…by the time Sam shows up, he’s dead. Dean shoots a rock salt round at the ghost, but they’re too late to help the guy.
Driving the car, Dean tells Sam they can’t save everyone. Sam says lately he feels like he can’t save anybody.
The next day, they’re doing some research when Bela shows up. She makes fun of them for squatting in an old run-down house and taunts them for not being able to save the dead man.
Bela says she comes bearing gifts: she’s identified the ship. She tells them about it: a merchant sailing vessel and in 1859 a sailor was tried aboard for treason and hanged. He was 37, which Sam says explains the 37-year cycle. When Bela hears that they saw the ghost but he was missing a hand, Bela says that he was cremated but not before his right hand was cut off to make a hand of glory (Sam explains that the right hand of a condemned/hanged man is a serious occult object and very powerful). Sam says it doesn’t explain why the ghost is choosing those victims, but they agree that the hand counts as remains: burn it and the ghost goes away. Bela says she knows where the hand is. It’s at a museum, but she needs help getting it.
Cut to Dean in a suit! Sam is already at the museum with his date, and it looks like Bela’s plan involves Dean posing as her date at the museum’s event tonight. Bela certainly seems to appreciate Dean in a tux. She says they should have angry sex when this is over, which flusters Dean. “Don’t objectify me.”
At the museum, Bela chastises Dean for chewing gum. Two seconds together at the museum and he’s getting on her nerves already.
Sam’s date turns out to be Bela’s old lady client (the niece of the dead girl), Gert. She is quite handsy with him!
Sam excuses himself to talk to Dean and Bela. Sam wants to know how much longer he has to do this, and the answer is as long as it takes. Gert shows up with champagne, which Sam downs quickly.
Bela and Dean sneak off to look for the hand of glory. They assess the security situation, trying to come up with a way to get upstairs to look for the hand. Bela pretends to faint (and Dean manages to sneak an hors d’oeuvre). Security helps Dean take her upstairs to recover, and once they’re alone, Bela gets up and tells Dean which room has the hand, saying it’s in a locked glass case wired with an alarm.
Downstairs, Sam is dancing with Gert, while upstairs, Dean is trying to break into the case.
Bela answers the door to the security guard when he knocks to check up on things, and she appears disheveled, asking him for a few more minutes, giving the impression that she isn’t in there alone. Unfortunately, he bumps into Dean as he comes around the corner and smirks at Dean.
Dean got the hand, and Bela wants it but Dean won’t give it to her.
Gert asks Sam about the investigation, and he says these things take time. She tells Sam that the two now-dead brothers are rumoured to have knocked off their father to get the inheritance. Nothing was ever proved, but people talked. Sam asks if Sheila was connected to them or had any tragedy in life. Her car flipped when she was a teenager, but her cousin was killed.
Bela and Dean show up, and Bela leaves with Gert. Dean and Sam head for the cemetery, with the hand. In the car, Sam asks Dean to see the hand, but he can’t find it. Of course, Bela has it. We see Bela in her car, with a stack of cash in her purse. Seems she was able to sell the hand to her client. Then she sees the ghost ship, which we all know means she is marked for death!
Back at their place, Dean is still angry with Bela. And guess who shows up…Yup, Bela asking them to let her explain. She tells them she had a buyer, and she sold the hand. She can’t get the hand back in time to save herself from the ghost ship. So she’s asking Sam and Dean for help. Sam explains the spirit’s motive: it targets people who’ve spilled their own family’s blood. Dean wants to know who Bela killed, but she says it’s none of his business. Dean tells her have a nice life. What’s left of it.
She says they can’t leave her, but Dean says “Watch us”. She asks for their help. Dean taunts her, but Sam wants to know what she did. She tells them they wouldn’t understand, no one did. She says never mind, she’ll do what she’s always done, and she’ll do it herself. Dean says she just sold the only thing that could save her life. But Sam seems to have another idea.
The three of them are at the cemetery, and it starts to rain. Sam reads something from a book. They’re doing some kind of ritual and the rain gets worse. Dean tells Bela to stay close, and the ghost shows up, throwing Dean out of the way. Sam keeps reading while the ghost grabs Bela. She starts spitting up water, like we saw one of the other victims do. Sam keeps reading, and when he finishes, he ghost turns to look at him. The other ghost (the captain of the ship who had him killed – who was his brother) has appeared, and apologizes. The angry ghost attacks his brother’s ghost, and they both disappear. I guess that’s it?
The next day, while Sam and Dean are packing to leave, Bela shows up and gives them 10k (Sam gave the ghost what he wanted: his own brother). Dean taunts her for having an easier time throwing money at them than saying thank you.
Sam says they don’t know where the money’s been, but Dean says he knows where it’s going. The boys hit the road, and Dean is heading for Atlantic City.
He tells Sam he’s been doing some thinking, and he understands why Sam went after the crossroads demon. If the situation was reversed, he would have done the same thing. He sees what Sam’s going through, but Sam will be okay. He’ll keep hunting and live his life, will get over it. Dean says he’s sorry for what he’s putting him through.
Sam tells him to go screw himself. Sam says he doesn’t want an apology, he can take care of himself, so quit worrying about Sam. That’s the problem: he wants Dean to worry about himself, to care that he’s dying. Dean doesn’t have anything else to say about it.
I can see why this is not anyone’s favourite episode. To me, the MOTW element is kind of lame (I like the idea of a ghost who is angry at his brother – and it certainly parallels Sam and Dean – but dry-land drownings are kind of silly, and the special effects on the ghost ship are not great, and Gert putting moves on Sam was not very funny or fun or whatever they were going for to watch).
And Bela featuring so heavily in this episode didn’t help in my opinion. I think her character had potential, but the innuendo or whatever they were trying to do with her and Dean didn’t do it for me. Bela is not the kind of person that the Winchesters would consider an ally: she’s only out for herself and her actions tend to hurt people (the rabbit’s foot in Bad Day at Black Rock was stolen from John Winchester’s storage locker because Bela was trying to sell it to someone, was it not? And that rabbit’s foot led to a lot of people being hurt/killed). And I don’t care for the backstory they try to set up for her either, hinting at some dark past of hers.
I think she could have turned out to be a good foil for the Winchesters had the writing been stronger for her, the way Crowley is in later seasons possibly, but here I felt like they were forcing Bela on me. They were trying to make Bela happen. Of the non-main characters this season, I find Ruby and Gordon much more interesting and those characters feel like they fit into the plot, whereas Bela’s feels like she’s being crammed in without really fitting into the story.