(As I mentioned in my post announcing this rewatch project, there will be spoilers!)
Season 2, Episode 15: Tall Tales
Image and episode summary from Wikipedia:
After Sam and Dean have no luck in their investigation of several random urban legends coming to life on a college campus in Springfield, Ohio, they ask Bobby for help. He figures out that a Pagan trickster—a demigod capable of manipulating reality—is behind everything and is pitting Sam and Dean against each other with the various pranks they thought the other was committing. They confront the janitor (Richard Speight, Jr.) of the building near where the manifestations had occurred, who reveals his true identity. The trickster tries to bargain with them, but the hunters attack him instead. He retaliates by conjuring minions to defend him, but Dean apparently kills him. However, its later revealed the trickster faked his death.
I love this episode! I remember it as being a really funny one. Weird and hilarious.
Obviously something bad is going to happen to this professor. What a dink.
Yikes her face!
Ok so something is happening to creepy professor. And the janitor is locking up outside when his body falls from his window to the ground below (SPOILER: strange to show us this scene since we know that janitor is the Trickster, unless I suppose it’s kind of like a decoy to keep us from suspecting him. MORE (MEGA) SPOILER: UNLESS since it turns out that trickster is actually the archangel Gabriel this janitor is actually the janitor before he becomes Gabriel’s vessel…but weird timing since as we know angels can’t possess a vessel without permission, unlike demons, so…I’m guessing that the whole trickster-as-archangel-Gabriel thing is a retcon and I’m overthinking this early scene!). END OF SPOILER!
What are the boys up to? One week later they’re staying in a hotel in town and Sam is doing some research. Looks like he’s working hard, and Dean is pigging out on the bed. Chicken wings or something gross on Sam’s bed.
Research is going slow and Sam is upset because he doesn’t have his computer. Sam asks Dean to turn down the music but Dean cranks it. Sam asks Dean to leave but he can’t because his car is messed up.
There’s a knock at the door! It’s BOBBY! I love Bobby!
It sounds like they wanted to talk to Bobby but not over the phone.They weren’t sure he’d believe them. They haven’t seen anything like it, whatever ‘it’ is. Bobby tells them to start at the beginning, so they tell him about the professor’s death they heard about. There’s a rumour that the campus haunted.
We now flashback to Sam and Dean interviewing students at the bar on campus. They’re trying to figure out why the professor may have killed himself. Someone tells them about the rumour of a ghost haunting the building the professor worked in: 30 years ago a girl had an affair with a professor, who broke it off, and she jumped out the window and killed herself. Now she haunts the building and anyone who sees her dies.
Cut to Dean doing shots at the bar (purple nurple). 3 shots in a row! Sam finds him and says they need to check out the professor’s office but Dean says no. He introduces a girl named Starla to Sam – she’s pretty drunk. Dean says she’s got a sister – good news Sam! Haha
THE STORY PAUSES and Dean gets mad at Sam in present day recounting events to Bobby, saying that’s not how this happened.
THAT’s what I love about this episode. It takes what could be a fairly straightforward MOTW episode and plays with the narrative in a really funny way that lovingly mocks Sam and Dean.
Dean begins telling Bobby what happened. According to Dean, her name wasn’t Starla – but he can’t remember what it was. He tells Bobby she was classy and an anthropology student. They were talking about ghost stories. Of course in Dean’s flashback it’s a much classier scene, and he’s a total hero, and Sam is an annoying stuck-up priss.
Sam’s “Dean, what do you think you’re doing” etc. cracks me up!!! “Blah blah blah blah” cracks me up! Classic.
Back in the present day, the boys are bickering again and Bobby is getting annoyed, wanting to know what’s going on. They say they’ve been on the road and in tight quarters for too long.
The boys figured it might be a haunting and went to check out the crime scene. The janitor let them in and they checked out the professor’s office. They hear from janitor that he’s the one who found the body.
In the background Dean is eating some food, and in present day he’s upset with the way Sam tells the story with the way Dean’s eating. Hahaha.
The janitor tells Sam and Dean the professor wasn’t alone – but it wasn’t the first time he’d seen the professor go up to his office with a girl.
There were no traces of EMF in the office. Back at the motel, Sam and Dean try to figure out if there’s a legend, a ghost, what. Dean wants to check out history of the building. Sam opens his laptop and it’s broken – it turns out Dean was using the laptop and it’s frozen on BustyAsianBeauties.com. Hence the broken computer at the start of the episode.
Bobby stops their story to ask if they found anything about the history of they building. They tell him no, it was clean. Bobby says maybe they’re not dealing with a haunting.
Then they tell Bobby there’s more – and they tell him it’s pretty weird.
Cut to a student – the guy Sam interviewed earlier in the bar – walking through campus at night. He hears some weird noises and sees strange lights in the sky. He tries to run but is sucked up into the sky through a beam of light.
Back to the present – Bobby is incredulous that it could be aliens. Bobby’s never found honest-to-God evidence of aliens, his whole life.
Sam says they figured they’d at least talk to the guy. Flashback again – they’re in a bar, asking the guy (Curtis) what happened.
Curtis is very reluctant to tell them anything. But he says he blacked out and lost time and when he woke up, he didn’t know where he was. Whoever had taken him – alients, he says – did tests on him and then the aliens probed him. Sam and Dean are kind of having a hard time keeping a straight face. And then the aliens made him slow dance. To Lady in Red!
Dean is lost for words.
Bobby doesn’t believe them but they say that’s what Curtis told them happened. Bobby says the kid must be nuts, but they find a crop circle or something – a circle in the grass Sam says was made by a jet engine or something. Between the angry spirit and alien, they have no idea what the connection could be.
They talk to Curtis’s roommate and Sam gets very emotional with this “brave little soldier”. “You’re too precious for this world”. Of course, Sam interrupts Dean’s recollection of this story…and Bobby is kind of annoyed.
They learn from Curtis’s roommate that whatever happened to Curtis, he had it coming. As pledgemaster, he put the guys through hell this semester and got off on it, and now he knows how they feel.
Back at the hotel, Dean says the connection between the victims is that they’re both dicks. Sam wants his laptop but can’t find it. Dean says he doesn’t know where it is. Sam is getting upset with Dean using his stuff. He thinks Dean hid his computer. Dean says he didn’t, and that Sam lost the laptop. They start fighting about food, Dean being messy, messing with Sam’s stuff. Sam is really upset. He threatens to screw with the Impala. Dean says it would be the last thing Sam ever did.
In the present, Bobby asks if Dean took Sam’s computer and Dean says no.
They tell Bobby there was one more victim – they put it together from the evidence. This victim was a research scientist, who did animal testing. “A dick”, as Dean says. Which fits the pattern.
In flashback, we see this guy walking across campus and he sees something down a storm drain. He reaches in for what seems to be a fancy watch, but then he gets eaten by something!
The boys break into the morgue to see the body – the cops didn’t release cause of death because they didn’t know what it was. It turns out there isn’t much left of the guy. And his office is in the same building where the professor’s was, and right out front of it is where the frat guy had his run-in with the aliens.
Sam finds a scale in the guy’s remains – alligator. Sewer alligator! According to Sam, it’s a classic urban legend, but Dean is totally sceptical. Dean says sewer alligators are not real. Neither are alien abductions. This case is super weird and the boys want to call Bobby for help.
They each take one end of the sewer drain to search and Dean ends up finding that someone has slashed the Impala’s tires! Oh no! And that someone has dropped money with a monogrammed money clip (which of course has Sam’s initials) right beside it.
Back at the motel Dean confronts Sam about messing with his car. Dean says he’s keeping Sam’s money he found as reparations.
They fight, with Sam trying to reach for the money and Dean playing keep away. They continue to fight and then Bobby showed up about an hour later.
Back in the present, Bobby is mad and says he’s surprised at them. He tells Sam that Dean did not steal his computer and shushes him when he protests, and tells Dean that Sam did not touch the car. If they pulled their heads out of their asses, it would have been pretty clear to them that they were dealing with a trickster. Bobby says they – Sam and Dean – are the biggest clue. A trickster creates chaos and mischief and has them so at each other’s throats and can’t even think straight. It’s been playing them. According to Bobby, a trickster is a demi-god (Loki, Anansi), immortal, and can create things out of thin air and make them vanish – real things. Tricksters target the high and mighty and knock them down a peg with a sense of humour, e.g. deadly pranks. They usually look human. Dean says the janitor has been at ground zero this whole time.
We see the janitor – the trickster – reading National Enquirer magazines and talking to his doggy. He goes to get something to eat while drinking champagne. He has a sweet tooth!
The boys go to speak with the janitor and say they want to check offices upstairs. Sam pretends he forgot something at the car and says he will catch up, when really he goes downstairs to snoop through the janitor’s locker.
Sam wants hard proof, but Dean thinks the janitor’s they guy. Apparently tricksters have a sweet tooth. Dean thinks Sam missed something, they fight, Sam says he’ll snoop around the guy’s place and Dean should stay here and keep an eye on the guy. The janitor is watching this whole exchange. I think this fight is clearly planned for the trickster to see it.
Dean waits out front for Sam to come back but then he goes back inside the building. He hears a noise from one of the rooms and goes in. It’s an auditorium. Shaft is playing, and there’s a bed on the stage with two ladies, looks like they’re waiting for Dean. There’s a lava lamp and booze. The girls say they’ve been waiting for Dean. He knows they aren’t real but they tell him it will feel real. Dean knows better.
The janitor appears, and says the girls are a peace offering. He knows what Sam and Dean do. He’s run into their kind before, since he’s been around a while. Dean says they can’t let the trickster keep hurting people. The trickster says those people got what’s coming to them though. He likes Sam and Dean, and tells Dean to treat himself (to the ladies) as long as he wants – just long enough to let the trickster move on to the next town.
Dean says that he can’t let him do that. The trickster says he doesn’t want to hurt Dean – although he can. Dean says he digs the trickster’s style and that the slow dancing alien was funny. The two of them have a laugh. Then the trickster tells Dean he shouldn’t have come alone. Dean agrees and says he didn’t. Sam comes in as does Bobby – as I thought, that argument on campus earlier was a trick!
The boys have very big stakes. The trickster makes a chainsaw wielding killer appear and fight with Sam! The girls start beating Dean up! Bobby goes to rescue Sam and his stake gets chainsawed! Dean manages to get a stake – Sam tosses it to him – and stabs the trickster. The chainsaw killer and girls disappear. The trickster’s body just lays there on the seats. Dean says the trickster had style!
Bobby says they’ve got to get the hell out of there before someone finds the body. Sam tries to apologize, and so does Dean.
Bobby: “You guys are breaking my heart. Can we please just leave?”
Back in the auditorium, after Bobby, Sam, and Dean have left, we see the trickster appear, looking down at his dead body – which was a decoy! The fake dead body disappears as the real trickster watches, eating a chocolate bar. He’s still alive!
I love this episode! I love the way it played with the narrative structure and made fun of itself – the way Sam and Dean exaggerate each other’s behaviours when recounting the story to Bobby cracks me up every single time – and the sheer WTF-ness of it all (slow dancing alien?? Sewer alligator??) was fun.
I also love episodes with Bobby! And of course, this marks the first appearance of the trickster, who is an important character later on!
-Trickster: demi-god (Loki, Anansi); immortal; can create things out of thin air and make them vanish – real things. They target the high and mighty and knock them down a peg with a sense of humour; deadly pranks; usually look human; major sweet tooth.