(As I mentioned in my post announcing this rewatch project, there will be spoilers!)
Season 3, Episode 1: The Magnificent Seven
Image and episode summary from Wikipedia:
The season begins with brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) bracing themselves for the possibility of an apocalyptic war. They realize that hunting down the hundreds of spirits that escaped from the Devil's Gate—a doorway to Hell briefly opened at the end of the previous season—will be an enormous task. With only a year left to live—he made a demonic pact to resurrect Sam—Dean decides to live life to the fullest and exhibits a carefree attitude that troubles Sam, who is trying to find a loophole. Friend and fellow hunter Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) informs the brothers about a supernatural sighting in Nebraska, which turns out to be demonic manifestations of the Seven Deadly Sins. While investigating, they meet Isaac (Peter Macon) and Tamara (Caroline Chikezie), a husband and wife team of hunters. Isaac and Tamara trail one of the demons to a bar, but discover that all the patrons are demonically possessed. The two are restrained, and Isaac dies after being forced to drink drain cleaner. Before the demons can target Tamara, Bobby and the Winchesters crash their car into the building. They throw the personification of Envy into the trunk, and drive away with Tamara. The hunters interrogate the demon and then exorcise it. Later that night, the other Sins track them down. During the scuffle, a mysterious blonde named Ruby (Katie Cassidy) saves Sam and kills three demons with a magical knife—demons are typically immune to physical harm—before departing. The rest of the Sins are exorcised. As Sam continues his research the next day, Dean reveals that a clause in his pact will end Sam's life if he tries to escape the deal.
So we know that at the end of season two, Sam was brought back from beyond the grave by Dean via a crossroads deal: Dean traded his soul to bring Sam back, and rather than the usual 10 years that people have before the hellhounds come to collect their souls, Dean has one year. So that’s constantly hanging over Sam and Dean’s heads throughout this season.
An interesting note – at least to me – about this season is that it was shortened due to the writer’s strike that took place that year. Rather than a full 22 or 23 episode season, season three has 16 episodes. Despite the shorter season , I look back on season three as being one of the strongest, perhaps because it was shorter – there was, by necessity, more urgency to the storytelling and more of a focus on the season’s overarching plot, i.e. trying to get Dean out of his crossroads deal.
So this episode opens at night in the suburbs. Everything looks nice and normal, but we know by now that there’s no such thing on this show. Hey beardy, taking out the trash. What was that noise? That rattling in your garbage cans? I would be very scared to investigate, especially when the street lights start flickering and a huge black cloud rolls in!
Ooh, those aren’t clouds – those are demons! Lots of them! Beardy is unable to escape and is now possessed. Uh oh.
So many demons! They’re everywhere! There are going to be a lot of possessed folks this season.
Also, I love the opening title card this season. Very cool.
One week later: Sam is reading, doing some research on demons and crossroads deals. Where is he doing this research? In the car. Why? Because Dean is entertaining some female guests in the motel.
Sam gets a call from Bobby, checking up on him, telling him that the answer to getting Dean out of that deal won’t be found in a book – not that he knows where the answer is. But Bobby has some information that might lead to something, so despite what may be going on in the motel room, Sam goes in to get Dean.
On the road, Dean seems to be in pretty good spirits, considering he has one year left to live. Sam tells Dean that Bobby found signs that, while they could be nothing, could also be signs of demonic activity. Dean mentions that it’s strange how after the Devil’s Gate was opened and there were demon sightings over several cities – 17 – it’s been five days and nothing. What are the demons waiting for? Dean is impatient for the war to get started already.
The boys pull up outside a farmhouse in Lincoln, Nebraska the next day. Bobby is already there waiting for them, disgusted by Dean’s choice of a bacon cheeseburger for breakfast. Dean’s response? “I sold my soul. I got a year to live. I ain’t sweating the cholesterol”. Valid point.
The three of them get ready to enter the house when it becomes clear that no one is going to answer the door. Inside, they’re greeted by an awful smell, which Dean notes can’t be a good sign, and shortly after they find the bodies of the home’s inhabitants. They’re all dead, sitting on a couch in front of the TV, which is still on. The scene is wonderfully creepy.
They check for sulphur, to see if there’s any sign of a demonic presence, and hear a car pull up. It turns out to be two hunters that Bobby knows, Isaac and Tamra, who are also there investigating the same signs that led Bobby to the farmhouse.
Back at Isaac and Tamra’s, the couple tells a curious Sam that they’ve been married for eight years.
Dean gets off a phone call and informs everyone that the family’s cause of death was dehydration and starvation. No signs of restraint or violence, and there was a fully stocked kitchen in the house. Strange.
Isaac tells the brothers that he and his wife don’t play well with others and this isn’t Scooby Doo, and they are not teaming with the fools who opened the Devil’s Gate in the first place. Things are getting tense!
Tamra pulls Isaac away to try and cool everyone’s temperatures. Later that night, everyone is holed up in the house. And someone walks out of the shadows, watching the house. Who is this mysterious blonde?
The next day we see beardy (from earlier in the episode) stroll into a shop. He strikes up a conversation with a woman inside, and she proceeds to attack another woman over a pair of shoes. Yikes!
Sam and Dean show up to investigate the aftermath. Dean hits on a witness – telling Sam he’s trying to make every second count, haha – and Bobby strolls in, looking sharp in a suit. He’s just come from speaking with the suspect – posing as an attorney with the DA’s office – and says he doesn’t think she was possessed. She was lucid, and really wanted the shoes. He spilled holy water on her and nothing. Combined with that dead family, Bobby doesn’t buy that this was a coincidence. They take a look at the security camera footage and see beardy talking to the suspect right before the attack. The hunt is on!
And this blonde girl, who was watching Isaac and Tamra’s house, is tailing Sam, who of course knows he’s being followed. He’s no dummy! But when he turns around, she’s gone!
Later, Bobby and Dean have traced beardy to a bar. Sam shows up and fills them in: Beardy is named Walter, and came to town about a week ago – right around the time the Devil’s Gate was opened. They think it’s a safe bet he’s possessed. As the boys sit in the car, beardy – Walter – shows up and enters the bar. Bobby warns them that the demons who came out of the Devil’s Gate are going to be able to do things they’ve never seen before. It would be safer to tail Walter first, rather than charge in after him, but Dean is not cool with that. Bobby won’t let them make a move yet, but then we see that Isaac and Tamra have shown up at the bar and are going in. This won’t end well!
Inside the bar, Isaac and Tamra sit at a table ordering drinks, keeping an eye on Walter. We see that Isaac has a flask of holy water. Before they can make a move, though, Walter goes into the men’s room. Isaac tells Tamra to pull the car around the back and that he’ll be right out.
Before Isaac gets very far – and while Tamra is still inside – he’s grabbed by a man who tosses the flask of holy water aside and reveals himself to be possessed – the black eyes! – and Tamra and Isaac are now a little concerned. The demon tells them he doesn’t like hunters in his bar. It turns out that the patrons are all demons! And the door has been locked, so the Winchesters and Bobby can’t get in!
Walter taunts them, and sadly, the end of poor Isaac is near. A demon hands him a bottle of drain cleaner, telling him to drink it. While Tamra looks on in horror, Isaac chugs the bottle of drain cleaner, and then crumples to the floor.
Before they can hurt Tamra, the Impala crashes through the door and the Winchesters and Bobby rescue her. They have to leave Isaac behind, unfortunately. Dean gets a little too reckless fighting these demons before making his escape, but he is able to trap Walter in the trunk, the inside of which is cleverly warded with a devil’s trap.
Back at Isaac and Tamra’s, they have Walter trapped inside in another devil’s trap. Tamra says she’s heading back to the bar to get Isaac. Dean volunteers to go with her, with Sam yelling at them that it’s suicide. Dean says he’s dead already. Sam asks how Dean is planning to kill them, but Tramra says she doesn’t care. Sam says they don’t even know how many there are, but Bobby jumps in, saying yes they do – there are seven. He is reading from a book and explains that the demons are the manifestations of the seven deadly sins. What a cool idea!
Dean does a terrible Brad-Pitt-from-Seven impression, haha.
Bobby tells them that in 1589, someone identified the seven sins, as actual devils. Sam realizes that the dead family was touched by sloth. The girl who killed someone over shoes – envy (that would be Walter). Bobby says Isaac was touched with gluttony. Tamra gets worked up and Bobby yells at her that it’s been half a millennium since these demons have been topside, so it’s time to take a breath and figure out their next move.
He tells her he’s sorry for her loss, but I think Bobby has a point. They can’t go charging in.
Walter taunts them, now that they know who he is. Sam wants to know why he’s here, what he and the others are after. Walter – envy – takes some coercion before he’ll answer, but he tells them that they already have what they want: they’re out. They’re free, thanks to the Winchesters. Walter says he’s celebrating, having fun. Of course, this angers Bobby, Tamra, and the brothers.
Walter teases them all, telling Dean he’s practically a walking billboard of gluttony and lust, Tamra is full of wrath – the reason she and Isaac became hunters in the first place. Walter says he’s natural human instinct, not sin. He goes on and on, saying they’re all animals and will be slaughtered like animals, and then announces that the others are coming for him. Dean says maybe, but they’re not gonna find him. He’ll be in hell. Tamra begins to exorcise the demon.
Bobby says they don’t need to worry about hunting them – the demons will be coming to look for them. Dean offers to stay behind and slow them down while Bobby and Sam get Tamra out of there, but Sam shoots that down right away. Bobby agrees. Dean says they’re outmanned – there are six demons – but Bobby says there’s no place to run that the demons won’t find them. Sam announces that if they’re going down, they’re going down together.
Offscreen, we hear Walter being exorcised. So that’s one down. Tamra joins them, coolly announcing that while the demon has been exorcised, the man – Walter, the vessel – didn’t make it.
The four of them prepare for a fight, gathering holy water and weapons. Sam and Dean share a look, right before a radio turns on on its own. It’s time.
The doors and windows have been lined with salt. Sam and Dean are in one room, Bobby and Tamra in another. Suddenly Isaac shows up, calling for Tamra. Uh oh! This isn’t good! He’s calling to her, pleading for help. This is clearly a ploy, but Tamra wants to go out and help him.
Bobby tells her that Isaac’s corpse is being possessed by one of the demons. Isaac is calling to her to let him in, asking how he could leave her after they swore they would never leave each other. Tamra is shaken, and Isaac taunts her about the night their daughter was killed. I presume this is the incident that turned them into hunters.
Tamra can’t take it anymore and opens the door, tumbling down the stairs, attacking the demon inside Isaac. Meanwhile, the other demons enter the house. Bobby manages to exorcise one, while Dean fights another upstairs – Lust. Sam has to face off against three demons, which seems quite unfair. Pride taunts Sam, saying they’ve all heard of him. The prodigy, the boy-king, although looking at him now, he doesn’t believe the hype. He won’t bow to a cut-rate, piss-poor human like Sam, and now with the yellow-eyed demon dead, he doesn’t have to do a damn thing. He’s fair game now and it’s open season.
Dean, meanwhile, manages to get rid of the demon he’s battling. Sam is having a more difficult time. Then the mystery blonde shows up, and uses a super cool knife to kill one of the demons! Who is she? What is this knife? She takes out another demon with the knife, and then in a super cool move, takes out the last one while Sam looks on. What a cool scene. Sam asks who the hell she is, and all she says is, she’s the girl who just saved his ass. “See you around, Sam”. Then she’s gone!
So the demons are gone and the bodies get salted and burned the next morning. Tamra gives Isaac a hunter’s funeral further away. Bobby informs them that two of the people possessed will survive. Sam asks what kind of knife can kill a demon, but Bobby has no idea. They don’t know who the blonde girl was.
Sam asks, if they let out the seven deadly sins, what else did they let out? That is a troubling question.
Tamra takes off, saying goodbye to Bobby and the boys. Bobby tells the boys to keep their eyes peeled for omens, and takes off.
Sam tells Dean he was thinking of heading to Louisiana – Tamra told him about a priest down there who might be able to hekp with the demon tell. Dean tells him no, forget it. No hoodoo is going to get them out of this. Sam gets mad- he’s been bending over backwards trying to be nice, to keep Dean alive, and Dean acts like he couldn’t care less.
Dean tells him that if they try to trick the crossroads demon in any way to get out of the deal, Sam dies. There’s no way out. Sam asks how he could make that deal – Dean couldn’t live with Sam dead. Sam asks how Dean felt when their dad sold his soul for him, and now he’s gone and done the same thing to Sam, saying it’s selfish. Dean agrees, but says he’s okay with it, after everything he’s done for this family. He’s tired. He says he feels like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Sam: “It’s hellfire, Dean”. Dean says whatever, Sam’s alive, he feels good, for the first time in a long time. He’s got a year to live and would like to make the most of it. “What do you say we kill some evil sons of bitches and raise a little hell?” Sam is not okay with this, but what can he do?
Going back to an older season after watching the current season on TV right now, I can’t believe how young they look! They’re babies!
This is a great season opener. It sets up the conflict – Dean’s crossroads deal and the impossibility of getting out of it – and the army of demons that has been unleashed means that there will be plenty of danger and demons to fight in the coming episodes.
I also thought that Isaac’s death was definitely one of the more memorable ones the show has done. That scene has always stuck with me. And of course, the mystery of the blonde girl and her magic knife is so intriguing! Season 3 is off to a great start!