Project SPN Rewatch: Yellow Fever
(As I mentioned in my post announcing this rewatch project, there will be spoilers!)
Season 4, Episode 6: Yellow Fever
This episode opens with Dean running down the road at night, being chased by something. Oh no! He turns a corner and trips, telling a homeless man to run!
Then we see that it’s a cute, tiny, adorable dog chasing after him! Hahaha.
43 hours earlier:
Sam and Dean (agents Tyler and Perry) arrive in a town in Colorado. At the morgue, they are shown the body of a man who died of a heart attack. But Sam notes that this man was in his forties and a marathon runner. Dean notes that a couple of other perfectly healthy men died of heart attacks the other day. They ask for the results of Frank’s autopsy.
As the doctor performs the autopsy, Sam and Dean watch. He asks Dean to pass him the rib cutters. Sam and Dean have clearly been to a few autopsies…
Dean notices a tan line like the kind left by a wedding ring, except this guy isn’t wearing a ring. He says he didn’t know that the dead guy was married.
Sam asks how the man got the scrapes on his hands and arms. The doctor says that when you drop dead, you actually tend to drop. He probably got scraped up when he hit the ground.
Then the doctor says that he can’t find any blockages in any major arteries. He removes the victim’s heart, saying it looks pretty damn healthy.
Haha he hands the heart to Dean to hold, and Sam gets sprayed with spleen juice! Gross.
At the sheriff’s office, Sam and Dean meet the sheriff (who makes them take off their shoes before entering his office). He introduces himself (Al Britton) and after shaking their hands, loads up on hand sanitizer.
Sam says they’re looking into the death of Frank O’Brien (the dead guy from earlier). Turns out he’d been a friend of the sheriff’s. They’d known each other since high school and says Frank was a good man.
Sam asks if he noticed Frank acting strange before he died. The sheriff says he was jumpy and wouldn’t answer his phone. When he sent some of his officers to check up on him, they found his body.
The sheriff starts to cough and uses some more hand sanitizer. A lot more. He wants to know why the FBI is interested. Dean says they’re just checking, and it was probably just a heart attack.
In the next scene, as Sam and Dean are heading to the car, Dean says there’s no way that was just a heart attack. Sam agrees, noting that they have three victims with the same red scratches and who all went from jittery to terrified to dead within 48 hours.
Dean figures something scared the victims to death and they try to determine what can do that.
“What can’t?” Dean asks, listing ghosts, vampires, chupacabra…it could be a hundred things.
Sam says they should make a list and start crossing things off. They figure they’ll go talk to the victim’s neighbour, the last person to see him alive. Dean stops Sam. “I don’t like the looks of those teenagers down there.” Sam looks. It’s 4 kids hanging out on the sidewalk by the car. Dean takes an alternate route.
We see the boys at the victim’s neighbour’s house – it seems he is a fan of snakes…and Dean seems nervous.
They learn that the victim was freaking out and Dean, after taking a moment to look around in fear, asks what scared Frank.
The neighbour tells them: witches. But he means the bad witch from The Wizard of Oz. And it turns out that wasn’t the only thing that scared him: Al-Qaeda; ferrets; artificial sweetener; Pez dispensers…
Sam asks what Frank was like and his neighbour doesn’t want to speak ill of the dead. He hesitantly says that Frank was a bully in high school.
Dean asks if anyone would have wanted to get revenge on Frank. The neighbour says no, Frank got better, and after what happened to his wife – she died 20 years ago and Frank was broken up about it.
The neighbour notices Dean staring at the snake he’d holding. He laughs, telling him not to be scared of this snake, Donny. “It’s Marie you gotta look out for. She smells fear.”
Then we see Marie slither over the back of the couch behind Dean and start to climb over him. That is a big snake!
Later we see Dean sitting in the car, scratching at his arm. Sam gets in the passenger side. Dean tells Sam what he learned about Frank’s wife, Jessie. She had manic depression and back in 1988 she went off her meds, and vanished. Her body was found two weeks later, three towns over, dead in what was deemed a suicide.
Sam asks if there was any chance that Frank had something to do with her death. Dean says no, he was working when Jessie disappeared and had an airtight alibi.
Sam, meanwhile, had been to Frank’s place. He didn’t find any EMF, hex bags, or sulphur, ruling out ghosts, witches, and demons.
Sam notices that Dean is driving the speed limit. Very unlike Dean.
They pass the motel and when Sam points it out, Dean tells him, “I’m not going to make a left-hand turn into oncoming traffic. I’m not suicidal.”
Sam stares at him.
“Did I just say that? That was kind of weird,” Dean remarks.
Sam asks Dean if he hears something. His EMF meter! It’s going nuts but as Sam moves it away from Dean it dies down. He moves it back towards Dean and it starts going off.
“Am I haunted?” Dean asks.
Later we see Sam approaching the motel, getting off the phone with Bobby, telling him to keep looking. He hears music. He turns and sees Dean in the car, ‘Eye of the Tiger’ playing.
[Note: the end of this episode has the full video of Jensen Ackles rocking out to this song. It is very worth watching so I’ve embedded it here for your entertainment!]
Sam goes over to him and Dean gets out of the car, showing Sam the scrapes on his arm. Sam says he just talked to Bobby and Dean won’t like this: it’s ghost sickness.
Dean doesn’t know what that is.
Sam says that some cultures believe that certain spirits can infect the living with a disease. It’s why they stopped displaying bodies in houses and started taking them to funeral homes. Symptoms of ghost sickness include: getting anxious, then getting scared, then really scared, then your heart gives out. Just like their victims.
Dean says they haven’t even seen a ghost in weeks. But Sam says ghost sickness spreads like any sickness – a cough, handshake, whatever. Frank was the first to die and probably the first infected. He infected the other victims during a softball tournament. And Dean likely got it from Frank’s corpse.
Sam says Dean probably has 24 hours until his heart gives out. Dean asks why him and not Sam, who did, after all, get hit with spleen juice.
Sam says that he and Bobby have a theory: all three victims were dicks. They all used fear as a weapon and this disease is returning the favour. Dean says he doesn’t scare people, but Sam responds: “Dean, all we do is scare people.”
Dean asks how they stop it, and Sam tells him they have to kill the ghost who started it all. They think it might be Frank’s wife.
Sam then asks Dean what he’s doing waiting out in the car. Dean tells him their room is on the fourth floor. “It’s high.” Sam says he’ll try to get them a room on the ground floor.
Back in their room, Dean stares at the clock, and as it ticks, he notices his heart beating. As he looks at an old book with some gruesome pictures about ghost sickness, he begins to have hallucinations.
Sam comes back into the room to find the clock ripped off the wall and broken on the floor, and Dean drinking a beer on the couch. Sam says that Jessie’s body was cremated, so she is not their ghost. He tells Dean to stop scratching at his arm.
Dean coughs, and can’t stop. He runs to the sink and coughs something up. Sam realizes that Dean is their biggest clue.
“I don’t wanna be a clue.”
Sam says the abrasions on Dean’s arm and the wood chip he just coughed up are clues. They drive out to a lumber mill.
Dean takes a look and says he is not going in there but Sam says he needs backup and Dean’s all he’s got. Dean takes a gulp of some sort of alcohol and opens the trunk.
“It’s a little spooky, isn’t it?” he asks Sam. Sam rolls his eyes.
They grab some weapons. Sam goes to hand Dean a gun and Dean won’t take it, saying it could go off. “I’ll man the flashlight.”
Inside the mill, Dean keeps close to Sam while Sam looks around. Sam’s EMF reader is lighting up. They realize the EMF won’t work with Dean around. Sam puts it away.
He bends down to pick something up – an engraved ring. Frank’s ring. Dean asks what Frank was doing out here.
As they move slowly down a dark hallway, they hear a noise. They approach a set of lockers and Sam gets ready to open it. Dean looks so nervous. When Sam opens it and a cat jumps out, Dean loses it and screams.
“That was scary!”
This clip is a classic!
They keep looking around and find an office. Sam looks at the papers on the desk and Dean notices something: a pass for an employee named Luther Garland, and a drawing of Frank’s wife Jessie.
Suddenly the machinery turns on! Creepy!
Then Dean sees a ghost – Luther, in the corner. Sam turns around and sees it too. He slowly approaches Luther and calls out to him. When Sam turns back to Dean, we see Dean running away in fear!
Sam turns back just in time to see Luther walking towards him, his face scraped up. Sam shoots him with a rocksalt round and the ghost dissipates.
Sam finds Dean crouched by the trunk of the car drinking. He holds up Luther’s employee pass, saying they’ve got the right place. Dean looks very scared.
Back at the sheriff’s office, Sam gets the file on Luther Garland. Dean stands behind him, swaying.
“Is he drunk?” the deputy asks Sam, who replies no (but clearly yes).
Sam reads the file, saying that according to its contents, Luther Garland’s cause of death was physical trauma. He asks what that means, but the deputy says that it happened 20 years ago, before his time. He doesn’t know anything more. Sam asks if they can talk to the sheriff, but he is apparently out sick.
Sam says to have the sheriff call and he takes the file with him.
After they leave, we hear the sheriff on the intercom to the deputy asking who it was. The deputy tells him it was the FBI guys, wanting the Luther Garland file. So the sheriff isn’t out sick after all.
We see him in his office scratching up his arm, loading his gun. He is hallucinating and it is not good.
Sam and Dean arrive at their next location, with Dean freaking out, telling Sam their plan won’t work. Their badges are fake. If they get busted, they could go to jail! Sam is impatient, telling Dean to calm down and take a deep breath and not to scratch.
They approach Luther Garland’s brother, saying they’d like to ask some questions about Luther. They show their ID and Dean is super nervous as the man inspects them.
He asks what they want to know about his brother. Sam says that according to the police report, Luther died of physical trauma. His brother laughs. He says that it doesn’t matter what he thinks but Sam says they’re trying to get the truth.
He says everyone was scared of Luther and called him a monster, he was too big, too mean looking, too different. It didn’t matter if he was kind or never hurt anyone. A lot of people failed his brother, including him. He was a widower with young kids and told himself there was nothing he could do.
Sam shows him the drawing of Jessie. He recognizes her and says that her husband Frank killed her. He said everybody knows. Jessie worked at the mill and she was always really nice to Luther. He had a crush on Jessie and Frank didn’t like that. When Jessie went missing he was sure that Luther had done something to her. Jessie killed herself but Frank didn’t know that.
We see a flashback of Frank coming at Luther with a gun, attacking him and chaining him behind his car, dragging him to his death. Frank was never arrested because Frank was buddies with the right people and Luther was just a freak.
Sam says he must have hated Frank. Luther’s brother says he did for a while, but life is too short for hate. And Frank wasn’t thinking straight, with his wife missing. It was a shame what he did to Luther, but that’s fear: it spreads and spreads.
As they leave, Dean says he knows what the scrapes are on his arm: road rash. And Luther probably swallowed some wood chips when he was being dragged behind Frank’s car.
Sam says it makes sense – Dean is experiencing his death in slow motion. Dean says they need to burn Luther’s bones and get him healthy, but Sam says it won’t be that easy: Luther’s body was ripped to pieces and there’s no way they’ll find all of his remains. But they’ll figure something else out.
Dean starts to lose it: “What are we doing?”
Sam: “We’re hunting a ghost.”
Dean: “A ghost? Exactly. Who does that?”
Dean: “Us. Right. And that, Sam, that’s exactly why our lives suck. Come on, we hunt monsters! What the hell? Normal people, they see a monster and they run, but not us, no no no, we search out things that want to kill us or eat us. You know who does that? Crazy people! We are insane! Then there’s the bad diner food and the skeevy motel rooms and the truck stop waitress with the bizarre rash…I mean, who wants this life, Sam? Seriously! Do you actually like being stuck in a car with me eight hours a day every single day? I don’t think so! I mean, I drive too fast and I listen to the same five albums over and over and over again and I sing along, I’m annoying, I know that, and you…you’re gassy! You eat half a burrito and you get toxic! You know what? You can forget it.”
Dean tosses the car keys to Sam. Sam calls after him and Dean says he’s done with hit. He’s out, he’s done, he quits, and he walks away.
Then we see Dean walking down the road alone, and he hears a noise. He turns around and sees the adorable little dog behind him from the beginning of the episode.
Next we see Dean sweating and out of breath in their motel room. Sam walks in, saying he looked everywhere for him.
Dean asks what they do now. He’s got less than four hours. “I’m gonna die, Sammy.”
“Yeah you are,” Sam says. “You’re going back.”
“Back?” Dean asks.
Downstairs, Sam tells him. “Hell. It’s about damn time too. Truth is, you’ve been a real pain in my ass.”
Dean’s vision is getting a bit blurry and we can hear his heart beating faster. As he looks at Sam, his eyes go yellow. Startled, Dean gets up but Sam puts out a hand and Dean is thrown back against the wall.
Dean yells at the demon to get out of his brother but Sam says no one is possessing him, this is what he is going to become. It’s what he wants to become, and there’s nothing Dean can do about it. He puts a hand around Dean’s neck.
Suddenly we see Sam calling Dean’s name, trying to get his attention. So that was all a hallucination.
Next we see Sam and Bobby meeting up on the side of the road somewhere. Bobby asks where Dean is and Sam tells him home sick. Bobby!!
We see Dean in the motel, watching Gumby and scratching his arm.
Bobby asks Sam if Dean has started hallucinating yet, and Sam tells him yes, a few hours ago. He tells Bobby that Dean has just under two hours. Bobby found an old encyclopedia of spirits – written in Japanese – that lists a ghost that could be what they’re looking at. A buruburu infects people with fear but you have to burn its remains. The lore says that the ghost is fear, and it can be killed with fear.
“So we have to scare a ghost to death,” Sam summarizes.
Back in the motel, Dean’s phone rings. Sam tells him he’ll be fine and they have a plan. He tells him to hang in there and we see he and Bobby are at the mill. Bobby says this is a terrible plan but Sam says if Bobby has a better idea, he’s listening.
They enter the mill and Luther’s ghost is there watching.
Dean, in the motel, hears hell hounds barking and clawing at the door. Suddenly the door opens and it’s the sheriff. Dean asks what he’s doing and the sheriff, with his gun drawn, asks why they’re looking into Luther’s death. He hits Dean and says Frank was his friend; so he made a mistake; so he didn’t bust him; so what? And Dean is going to bring him down over that? No.
They fight, and Dean throws the sheriff of him, thinking he’s a demon. We see the sheriff start to seize up as his heart starts to beat too fast, calling at Dean to get away from him. Dean tells him to calm down but the sheriff dies.
Back at the mill, Sam enters the office and tells Bobby on the walkie talkie that last time the ghost came right at him. It’s almost like he’s scared. Sam puts his gun down and says he’s gotta make him angry.
Sam grabs a drawing of Jessie and starts ripping it, calling Luther’s name. He rips up more drawings and the machinery comes to life again. Sam keeps calling Luther’s name, and when he turns around, Luther is right behind him. The ghost grabs Sam.
Back at the motel, Dean is scratching his arm and hearing Sam talk about him going back to hell, while hell hounds bark.
Dean picks up a bible but he hears a voice say hi: it’s Lilith! The creepy little girl version, telling Dean it’s time to go back now. Dean tells her she is not real, but she asks what’s wrong. Doesn’t he remember all the fun he had down there?
Lilith tells him he does remember – four months down there is like 40 years. “Like doggie years.”
Lilith tells Dean, as he grabs his chest, that he remembers every second. He tells Lilith that she is not real but she says it doesn’t matter. He’s still gonna die and burn.
Dean asks why him, why he got infected, and she tells him he knows why; listen to his heart.
As Dean is panicking, Sam is fighting off Luther’s ghost. He gets tossed around but manages to wrap a chain around the ghost’s neck and yells for Bobby. We see Bobby drive off and the chain around Luther’s neck is connected to the back of the car. As Bobby drives off, the ghost is pulled behind him.
Meanwhile Lilith is still tormenting Dean, but as Luther’s ghost is pulled behind Bobby’s car, he vanishes and the machinery shuts off. It looks like they saved Dean just in time.
Dean and Sam and Bobby are on the side of the road, with Dean getting the lowdown on what they did to save him while he passes around some beer.
Sam tells him that it was what Luther was most afraid of – pretty brutal though. Sam and Bobby ask how Dean’s feeling and he says fine. Bobby asks if he’s sure – “this line of work can get awful scary.” Haha Bobby.
Bobby drives off, leaving Sam and Dean together. Sam asks Dean what he saw near the end. He looks at Sam but sees his eyes flash yellow for a second. Woah creepy.
Dean lies. “Howler monkeys,” he says. Sam laughs. Dean says it was just the usual stuff, nothing he couldn’t handle.
This episode has some really good moments, including Dean’s speech to Sam about how strange their lives are, and it shows us that yes, Dean does remember his time in hell, and that time was longer down there than it was up here. While Sam and Bobby would have experienced four months passing with Dean in hell, for Dean it felt like 40 years. That’s a long time to be tortured.
And it also showed us that one of the things that Dean fears the most is not only Sam becoming some sort of demon, but choosing to become that way. And when he hallucinated Lilith, she told Dean that he knows why he’s been infected by the buruburu, perhaps hinting at something else that Sam (and the viewer) doesn’t know about Dean’s time in Hell.
I do love that Bobby showed up to save the day, because I just love Bobby, but I do think it was really cruel that in order to stop a ghost who was basically misunderstood and tortured to death, they had yo reenact his death. That just didn’t sit well with me.
Overall, this was a good monster of the week episode that sheds some more light on Dean’s time in hell.