Project SPN Rewatch: Roadkill
(As I mentioned in my post announcing this rewatch project, there will be spoilers!)
Season 2, Episode 16: Roadkill
Image and episode summary from Wikipedia:
As Molly McNamara (Tricia Helfer) and her husband drive along a highway, a man suddenly appears in the road. They crash in an attempt to avoid him, and Molly later wakes up alone in the car. The man reappears and chases after her, but Molly flags down a car driven by the Winchesters. She tries to show them the wreck, but the car has disappeared. While later driving to the police, they are confronted again by the man, but Dean drives through him, causing the ghost to dissipate. The brothers reveal that what has been chasing her is the vengeful spirit of Jonah Greeley (Winston Rekert), who died on that roadway years earlier and now kills drivers on the anniversary of his death. The trio locates Greeley’s home nearby, and, after digging up his corpse, salt and burn the body. With the ghost of Greeley gone, the Winchesters explain to Molly that her husband is still alive, but is now married to someone else. Molly—having died in the same car accident that killed Greeley—is a spirit that has been reliving the same night since her death. Accepting the truth, she finally moves on.
This episode opens with a car driving down an empty stretch of highway at night. A woman, Molly, is driving and the man in the car – husband? – refuses to accept they’re lost. He’s looking at the map; Molly says they’ve been on the road for an hour. She wants to stop and get directions but he says he knows exactly where they are.
They are lost.
The man – David – kisses her, and they start laughing, but as they approach a corner, they see someone in the road and swerve; the car goes off the road – they weren’t paying attention! The car crashes. Molly wakes up in the car alone. Where is David? She gets out of the car to look for him but doesn’t see him.
Molly walks through the woods and calls for David. She sees a cabin/shed/house in the distance with a light on in a window and approaches. She knocks on the door but no one answers. Molly opens the door – it’s unlocked. It turns out the light in the window is a candle burning. And it looks like there’s dried blood on the counter; lots of tools hanging up; a man standing in the corner. Molly recognizes it as the man they saw in the road. She says she didn’t see him there; she’s so sorry. He turns around and his face goes wonky – he’s a ghost or something!
Molly runs through the woods and sees a car coming down the highway. It turns out to be Sam and Dean’s car!
They seem to know about this guy Molly’s talking about – she tells them her story and asks for help. Sam wants her to go somewhere safe and then they’ll come back to look for David but she says no. She isn’t leaving without him.
They agree to take Molly back to her car. When they get there, the car is gone. Molly is sure this is the right spot but there’s no car. Sam tells Dean they have to leave – that guy could show up at any second.
But Molly won’t go anywhere without David. Dean says they’ll take her to the police. They get in the car.
Molly tells Sam and Dean it’s her 5 year anniversary – she and David were supposed to be in Lake Tahoe. They were fighting; she called him a jerk with the last words she said to him. Sam promises to figure out what happened to David. The car radio goes weird. Molly recognizes the song – it was playing when she and David crashed. They hear a voice on the radio saying ”She’s mine”. They see the guy standing in the road and Dean drives right through him – he’s a ghost!
Molly is freaked out. The car dies, and Dean pulls over on the side of the road. It won’t start. The ghost won’t let them leave. They get out of the car and Dean gets some tools. Molly sees the weapons and is understandably nervous. She backs away, tells them thanks for the help but she’s got it covered. She leaves – but Sam says it’s no coincidence they found her. They were already out hunting for ghosts.
Molly doesn’t believe them at first but Dean says she knows what she saw. Sam says the guy was Jonah Greeley, who died 15 years ago on the highway. He was a farmer. One night a year on the anniversary of his death, he haunts this road. The boys are there to try and stop him.
She doesn’t want to stick with them. Dean says plan A was trying to get her out of there but obviously Greeley won’t let them leave the highway. She won’t be safe on her own. Every year Greeley finds someone to punish what happened to him. This year it’s Molly.
Molly asks them why her? She didn’t do anything.
Sam: “Doesn’t matter. Some spirits only see what they want.”
Molly wants to know if Greeley took her husband. The boys don’t answer but Sam says they can help. But Molly has to help them too – by taking them back to that cabin where she saw Greeley. They get there and look around – it must have been his hunting cabin, Dean says.
Sam notices that there are no markers or headstones. He explains that they want to dig up the corpse and salt and burn it to get rid of the spirit, provided there’s a corpse to be found. But they have no clue where it could be – Greeley had 1,000 acres and he could be buried anywhere.
Dean is being kind of rude and short with Molly – this highway haunting only happens once a year and they have until sunrise to wrap this up. They go look around outside for Greeley’s house, in case he’s buried there. Dean goes one way, Sam and Molly go another. Molly starts calling David’s name, walking away from Sam, and Greeley’s ghost pops out of nowhere. Dean shows up and shoots him in the head with a rocksalt round, making him go away (temporarily).
They find a path to Greeley’s house and follow it. Sam explains to Molly about rocksalt/salt keeping spirits away, how it repels impure and unnatural things (in many cultures salt represents purity).
They enter the house – it’s abandoned, neglected, run-down. There are no headstones outside. Dean tells Sam and Molly to check upstairs for notes or records that might indicate where Greeley could be buried, and he’ll look downstairs.
Upstairs, there are papers strewn all over the place. Sam starts looking through them while Molly finds an old album, full of pictures of Greeley and his wife, newspaper clippings, a love letter he wrote his wife. Molly doesn’t understand how a guy like that can turn into a monster. Sam says spirits like Greeley are like wounded animals; they’re lost, in so much pain they lash out. Molly asks why they’re here – Sam says some part of them is keeping them here. It could be their remains, or unfinished business. It could be revenge, love, hate, but whatever it is, they hold on too tight and can’t let go. They’re trapped, caught in the same loops, playing the same tragedies over and over. Molly says she feels sorry for him. Sam says something happened to spirits, something they couldn’t control.
Dean pops up – says Sam always gets all Jennifer Love Hewitt about this stuff, but as for Dean, he doesn’t like them, and isn’t making apologies for them. There’s nothing downstairs.
Dean sees a hidden door behind a piece of furniture. He breaks it down and they enter the room. There’s a skeleton in there!! It’s Greeley’s wife, who hanged herself – and who no one ever saw after she claimed her husband’s dead body. Molly says she didn’t want to live without him.
They agree that they can’t leave her like this. She deserves to be put to rest. Dean doesn’t really seem to want to help but he does.
Sam cuts the rope and they bury her body.
Molly asks what happens if they find Greeley’s bones and put him to rest. Dean says that answer’s beyond their pay grade. All that matters to Dean is that they never come back. Sam says after spirits let go of whatever’s keeping them, they just go. Hopefully someplace better but they don’t know – no one does.
S says their father used to tell them burning their bones is like death for ghosts. The truth is, they still don’t know for sure, and that’s why we all hold on to life so hard. We’re all scared of the unknown.
Molly says the only thing she’s scared of is losing David. She has to see him again.
They’re back waiting in Greeley’s house, and Molly’s looking though the photo album again. Sam and Dean talk – Sam wants to tell her about her husband but Dean says they can’t. Sam says it’s cruel to keep her in the dark but Dean says for her own good. He tells Sam to stick to plan – get her out of there and then tell her.
Molly heard that last part – “Tell me what?”
She’s upset, saying they don’t care about her or David, they just don’t want her to mess up the hunt. But then they hear a radio – they know Greeley is coming. Dean tells Sam to stay with Molly. He goes into the room where they hear the radio. Which isn’t even plugged in. This is definitely ghostly.
Dean gets ready for Greeley to show up. The windows ice up and the words She’s Mine appear in the ice on the glass!
Molly is standing in front of a window in the other room – bad move. Greeley breaks through the glass and takes her. The boys run after them into the woods but can’t find them.
They go back to the house. Dean says they have less then 2 hours until sunrise. He wants to find Greeley’s bones; Sam wants to find Molly.
They notice a picture in the album and realize that there’s a tree marking a grave marker by the cabin. It’s an old country custom, Sam says.
Molly is tied up in the cabin, asking Greeley what he did to David. He tells her not to worry about him anymore – she should worry about herself. She says she didn’t do anything to Greeley. She knows about his wife, and says hurting her (Molly) won’t bring back his wife. Greeley says his wife is gone, and all he’s got left is hurting Molly. He cuts her. She begs him to let her go. He says she’s not going to leave. Never going to leave. He cuts her again.
The boys are outside the cabin, hear Molly’s scream, and see her tied up with Greeley in there. Sam tells Dean to get Molly, and he goes over to the tree marking the grave. Dean shoots Greeley with a rock salt round. Greeley shows up again, and hurts Dean.
Sam is digging outside, and Dean yells at him to hurry up. Sam sees Greeley’s skull. As Greeley gets a knife and approaches Dean, Sam applies salt to the bones and lights them up. Molly watches as Greeley’s ghost goes up in flames, and it seems to pain Greeley. Greeley’s ghost is gone!
They take Molly back to their car. Sam says to Molly, “Let’s get you out of here”. She refuses to go anywhere without knowing what happened to David. She thinks Greeley killed him. Sam says David’s alive. They’ll take her to him. She gets in the car.
They pull up outside a house and show Molly that David is inside. She doesn’t understand. He’s making coffee. The boys look at each other, as she watches David smooch another woman in the kitchen. She asks them what’s going on.
It’s David’s wife. It turns out that Molly died 15 years ago when they hit Greeley with their car. David survived. It wasn’t just one spirit haunting the highway – Greeley and Molly both were. For the past 15 years, one night a year Molly appears on the highway. 1992 was their anniversary – it’s 2007 now. We flashback to Sam and Dean talking about the accidents on the highway over the years, saying the crashes happened because a woman appeared in the middle of the road chased by a man covered in blood. Research flashback! They piece together that Molly and Greeley are both spirits haunting the road. They talk about where Molly was buried. It turns out she was cremated. They can’t burn her bones. So what’s keeping her here? Her love of David.
We flashback to the night of accident, with Sam telling Molly some spirits only see what they want.
Sam and Dean encounter her and Sam realizes that she doesn’t know she’s dead. I love the way we flashback through the episode!
Now Molly understands. Each year Greeley punishes someone for his death, chasing them, torturing them, and each year, it’s Molly. She doesn’t remember any of it because she couldn’t see the truth. That’s why he won’t let her off the highway: because she killed him – she killed them both.
Sam and Dean waited to tell her truth because she wouldn’t have believed them, and they needed Molly to get rid of Greeley. They brought Molly to see David so she could move on. She wants to see him, to tell him she loves him. Sam says he already knows that. If she wants to go in, they won’t stop her, but she’ll freak David out – for life, Dean says.
Sam says David has already said his goodbyes and now it’s her turn. This is her unfinished business. Sam says to let go. Of David, of everything – and Sam thinks then she’ll move on. He admits that he doesn’t know where she’ll go, but she doesn’t belong here. “Haven’t you suffered long enough? It’s time. It’s time to go.”
Molly walks away and as the sun comes up, Molly disappears. Sam and even Dean have tears in their eyes. Dean says she wasn’t so bad for a ghost. Is she really going to a better place? Sam says he hopes so. Dean says they’ll never know until they take the plunge themselves. Sam says it doesn’t really matter – “Hope’s kinda the whole point”.
Then they hit the road.
I figured out very early on that Molly was dead but I loved watching Sam and Dean react to her and interact with her. SO GOOD. I loved that the boys knew she would be there, the date of her death, etc. They were looking for her – hunting her. And I liked watching the way they reacted to her story. It seems like they’re hunting the ‘man’ coming after Molly but they know their stories (Greeley and Molly’s) are connected. On a rewatch, there’s so much to see and pick up on.
This is another MOTW ep that plays with narrative and structure in a way that’s super entertaining and rewatchable.