“A Very Supernatural Christmas”
Originally aired December 13, 2007
ONE YEAR AGO
Seattle, Washington. Little Stevie welcomes his Grandpa into the Folgers commercial he calls home. The child immediately begins making inquiries about presents, concerned perhaps by the old man’s lack of luggage. Sorry Little Stevie. Grandpa spent two days trying to get rebooked after his flight was cancelled. His bags are sitting forlorn and abandoned in a terminal in Cleveland.
In fact, this might not even be Little Stevie’s Grandpa at all. This could be some poor guy who was trying to get to Portland, gave up, and just started knocking on doors hoping someone would take him in. Brace yourself for disappointment kiddo, but who knows, “Maybe [Santa] will come.”
Later that evening, Grandpa has donned a red suit and faux whiskers. He gives a tentative jingle to a set of bells. It has the hoped for Pavlovian effect, as a jammie clad Stevie appears at the top of the stairs. He pads down the steps and gazes wide-eyed and slack-jawed through the balusters.
As the delighted child watches, St. Nick begins pulling gifts from his sack and placing them under the tree. Then up on the roof top there arose such a clatter! They both look up. Stevie is sure it’s the eight tiny reindeer! Grandpa is all, what in the who now? He goes back to his task, but stops again at the distinct sound of footsteps above him. Then he notices soot filtering down from the chimney onto the grate.
Grandpa goes to the fireplace, bends down, and peers up. Seriously? You don’t know what could be up there! There could be a bat! Do you really want a bat flying out at you and getting all tangled up in your faux beard? Of course not.
Although, considering what’s about to happen, Grandpa should be so lucky.
As Stevie looks on, a pair of hands reach down from inside the chimney and snatch Grandpa up into the sooty darkness! EEEP! The Foley guys go crazy with the crunching and squelching and screaming. Stevie stares with furrowed brow at the space where Santa now isn’t.
A bloodied boot drops through the void and onto the hearth. This ain’t no Charlie Brown Christmas Special, y’all.
Ypsilanti, Michigan. Dean interviews a shaky Mrs. Walsh following her husband’s disappearance. She and her daughter were in bed and Jim was downstairs. She heard a thump on the roof, heard her husband scream, “and now I’m talking to the FBI.” It’s three days until Christmas. What is she supposed to tell Brenda?
The boys don’t have any answers for Cindy. As they walk to the car, Sam does offer up a tooth he found in the chimney. He concedes that the space is too narrow for a man to go up – in one piece.
After ruling out a “serial killing chimney sweep” – and taking me out of the moment by suggesting that Dean doesn’t know who Dick Van Dyke is – Sam offers his “Evil Santa” theory. He outlines the lore on Anti-Claus, characterizing him as Santa’s brother who went rogue *cough* foreshadowing *cough* and metes out punishments to the wicked instead of handing out presents to the good.
Dean rejects this out of hand on the basis that Santa doesn’t have a brother – shady or otherwise. Not to mention the fact that there is no Santa. Sam is well aware, reminding Dean that he’s the one who told Sam that in the first place. Suddenly you can cut the tension in the room with a decorative novelty cheese spreader.
The boys check out the sad, down at heels tree lot and Christmas village that Jim visited just before he disappeared. It looks like it’s a carol away from being torched for the insurance money. A mother chases after her two children, obviously trying to get a hand on them before they touch anything. They don’t make tubs of antibacterial wipes big enough.
Dean begins to warm to the Anti-Claus idea. “It’s a Christmas miracle!” He suggests that they should celebrate this year. He says they can get a tree, a little Boston Market. It will be just like the good old days. Sam has less than no interest in reliving the anti-Hallmark card that was their childhood. The dead eyes of a plastic reindeer send us into a flashback …
Picture it! Broken Bow, Nebraska. Christmas Eve, 1991. The Wee!chesters, played by the always awesome Ridge Canipe and Colin Ford, were alone in the crummy motel that was home that week. Rankin/Bass’s Rudolph was on the TV as Sam wrapped up a gift for John. He told Dean that
Pastor Jim “Uncle” Bobby gave it to him. “He said it was real special.”
Well then John clearly didn’t deserve it.
Sam looked for reassurance that their absentee father would grace them with his presence, it being Christmas and all. Dean promised that John would be there. That led to more questions from Sam. “Why do we always have to move around? Where [does] Dad go when he takes off for days at a time?”
Dean became increasingly twitchy and irritable. “Quit asking Sammy, you don’t want to know.” When Sam mentioned Mary, Dean was instantly in his brother’s face, shouting at him not to talk about their mother. Ever! He grabbed his jacket and stormed out of the room, leaving a confused Sam in his wake.
Adult Dean catches Sam staring off into the middle distance, and asks what exactly they should be looking for. Sam recites the lore. “Anti-Claus will walk with a limp and smell like sweets.” They approach the Santa Shack. A boy is sitting on the lap of a Kringle who looks like he smells like a bus station. The child’s mother quickly pulls him away and makes a mental note to run his clothes through the wash twice when they get home.
A seasonal worker greets them and Sam tells her they’re only there to watch. As she runs off to call the police, Santa takes a break, and the boys note his gimpy gait and trailing aroma of candy. Sam thinks he smells more like Ripple, but still. Are they willing to take that chance?
Later that night they sit on stake out outside Bad Santa‘s double wide. They’re both tired and punchy. Dean takes the opportunity to revisit their earlier discussion. Why is Sam the boy who hates Christmas? He admits that they may have had some bumpy holidays in the past, but says they’ll do it right this year! Sam is happy for Dean to celebrate Christmas – just as long as it doesn’t involve him. Further argument is halted by the appearance of “Saint Nicotine” at the trailer window.
He casts a furtive glance into the night before drawing the curtains. A woman’s cries send the boys out of the car and up to the trailer, weapons drawn. As they prepare to enter, Sam realizes that “Mr. Gung-ho Christmas might have to blow away Santa.”
They rush in through the unlocked front door to find Cinder Claus on his sofa watching porn. In one hand he holds a bong that would make Andy proud, and in the other, a 3/4 empty bottle of whisky.
Bad Santa staggers to his feet demanding to know what in the hey now the boys are doing there. They struggle to come up with an answer and then Dean launches into an off-key rendition of Silent Night. Sam and Santa both slowly join in. They all mumble through the first verse, getting every third or forth word right. As Dean has them rounding yon the table Sam takes him by the shoulder and drags him through the door.
Meanwhile, in another Hallmark Channel house, a curly-haired moppet stands eagerly by the fireplace, waiting to greet Santa. He cheerily observes that St. Nick is early. He gets a menacing growl in response. The boy’s eyes go wide and he leans back to take in the figure now standing before him. He watches as Santa climbs the stairs. He jumps in surprise at the sound of his mother’s scream and the wet thudding slap that follows it.
The leather clad Kringle drags a squirming sack behind him, bumping it down the stairs. When he reaches the hearth, Santa delivers a squishing blow to the bag. The struggling stops. He looms over the child, reaching for him, and then reaches over and behind him to a plate of cookies. Santa takes one, pops it in his maw, and then up the chimney he goes.
The next day finds the boys at the Brady residence. Sam realizes that the Walshes and Bradys each have identical wreaths over the fireplace. Bobby thinks they’re most likely made of meadowsweet. Sam calls it the most powerful plant in pagan lore. He observes that most of our traditions associated with Christmas are based in paganism. This prompts Dean the non-believer to state with conviction that Christmas is Jesus’s birthday. After a brief lesson in the co-opting of pagan rituals by the early church, Sam identifies their beastie as the god of the winter solstice.
Dean finds himself feeling misty again. He fondly reminisces about the wreath that John stole from a liquor store that one time. The one full of empty beer cans. Dean grins at the memory, and suggests that, with a little effort, he could probably find one just like it. Sam finally calls uncle on this avalanche of nostalgia. Since when is Dean Bing Crosby? And why does he want to do Christmas so badly?
Dean awkwardly counters by asking why Sam is so against it. They finally and painfully manage to drag the truth out of one another. Dean wants this Christmas because it’s his last one … and that’s why Sam can’t.
“I can’t just sit around, drinking egg nog pretending everything’s okay … when I know next Christmas you’ll be dead.”
Sam can barely say the word. Dean accepts his brother’s admission without a word. They sit together in silence. Sam is hunched over slightly, emphasizing that in this moment, he’s just the scared little brother. He doesn’t want to be alone – the last man standing – any more than Dean did when he made the deal. Oh, boys.
Hey, let’s see what’s happening with the Wee!chesters in Broken Bow. That will cheer us up, right? Right??
Wee!Dean returned to the crummy motel room with dinner. He tossed Wee!Sam a bag of Funyuns and told him to eat his vegetables. Honestly, how did these kids not end up with rickets?
Anyhoo, Sam sat on his bed across from Dean. With an air of authority, he informed his brother that he knew why Dean kept a gun under his pillow. Why they laid salt down everywhere they went. He rolled to the other side of the bed, reached under the mattress, and pulled out John’s demonic day planner.
Sam tossed it onto the night stand, an open challenge. Dean blustered, but Sam would not be deterred. He asked the question. “Are monsters real?” After first telling him he was crazy, Dean slowly began to buckle. Sam didn’t even use the puppy dog eyes. He just stared up at his brother, daring him to lie.
After first extracting a promise not to tell Dad that Dean told, he laid it out for Sam. “First thing you have to know is, we have
a father who loves us, but whose grief makes him incapable of parenting. Energy that should be put into building a stable life for us is instead focused on a mission of revenge in the name of a woman who would be horrified to know that he’s raising us like wolves the coolest dad in the world. He’s broken and wrecked inside, just like a super hero. Monsters are real. Dad fights them. He’s fighting them right now.”
The truth was just a little more than Sam was expecting. He reminded Dean that John said the monsters under his bed weren’t real. Dean explained that was because John had already checked – otherwise, he would have given Sam a .45. But yes, “almost everything’s real. “Except Santa.
Sam knew from the journal that the monsters got their mother. He quickly made the progression that if they got Mary, they could get John, and ultimately them. Dean quietly insisted that Dad wouldn’t let that happen, believing in his father with a pureness and intensity that only a child’s heart could achieve.
Dean sat down on the bed next to Sam. He said they were going to be fine and asked his brother to trust him. Trust was something Sam suddenly found in short supply. As the tears started, Dean said that John would be there for Christmas. Just like he always was. (Except when he wasn’t). Sam didn’t want to talk anymore. He curled up in a ball, his back to Dean, and quietly cried himself to sleep.
“It will all be better when you wake up. You’ll see. Promise.”
Oh mercy, mommy needs a drink. Where’s the nog?
The boys make the rounds of the Christmas shops, running down the meadowsweet lead. They’re eventually directed to local pillar of the community Madge Carrigan. She gives the costly and rare seasonal items away for free. That’s not at all suspicious.
They pull up at her home and a testy Dean snarks that he can just feel the evil pagan vibe. Dude, are you not seeing the giant, life-sized boxing Santa in the front yard? It’s terrifying! And while she’s not exactly scary, the boys do find Madge a little off-putting. She says she is just wild about meadowsweet. She’s never smelled anything finer!
Father Knows Best joins her at the door and he couldn’t agree more! “The wreaths are fine. Fine, fine wreaths. Peanut brittle?” Dean doesn’t mind if he do! Sam slaps Dean’s hand away.
Back at the motel, Dean quickly gets to work sharpening god-killing evergreen stakes. He has a trash can between his feet, but the whittlings seem to be landing everywhere but the bin. Sam’s busy at the computer and comes up Yahtzee! He confirms that the Carrigans lived in Seattle during the previous year’s disappearances and that they’re decking their halls with vervain and mint.
“So what, Ozzie and Harriet are keeping a pagan god hidden underneath their plastic covered couch?”
The boys return to the Carrigan home under cover of darkness. Even Dean – the boy who loves Christmas – has to shake his head at the amount of holiday tchochkes on display inside. It’s like the Christmas Mouse walked in and threw up everywhere. In the basement they discover a shallow metal bowl containing roughly butchered rib bones. Mmm … ribs …
As they sweep their flashlights around the room, they find more bones – along with bloody smears on the walls, a work table, and a large saw. Dean spies the large leather sack in the corner. Bits of unidentifiable grisly horribleness lie on the floor next to it.
Sam finds a bizarro Santa coat, slick and stained with blood, and throws up in his mouth a little bit. He then spots a second bloody sack hanging suspended from the ceiling by a hook. He gently pokes it, and the bag erupts in a struggle, muffled cries coming from its depths.
Sam jumps and spins around coming face to face with Madge. She grabs him by the throat and hoists him up in the air, pinning him to the wall. Dean rushes over, stake at the ready, only to have Ward toss him head first into the wall. “Gosh I wish you boys hadn’t come down here.” As Sam struggles for air, his flashlight plays over the Carrigan’s faces, revealing their true sunken and veiny visages. Madge slams Sam’s head into the wall, and he falls to the floor in a heap.
As a jaunty yule be swinging tune plays, the boys slowly come to. They’re in the kitchen, tied up in chairs, back to back. Sam quickly assesses the situation.
“I guess we’re dealing with Mr. and Mrs. God. Nice to know.”
The Carrigans enter the room, spiffed up for the occasion in their finest teacher sweaters. They don’t see what all the fuss is about. Madge says they only take two, maybe three, tributes a year. Is that so bad? They used to take over a hundred!
Ward Cleaver takes up a curved dagger and slices into Sam’s forearm. He catches the blood in a small earthen bowl. Sam groans in pain, while Dean curses in rage. Beaver’s dad thinks they should show a little respect. “Back in the day, we were worshipped by millions. All of a sudden, this ‘Jesus’ character is the hot new thing in town. All of a sudden our altars are being burned down and we’re being hunted down like common monsters.”
Madge takes up the exposition baton, saying that they laid low for two millennia. They got jobs, a mortgage … “We assimilated. Why, we play bridge on Tuesdays and Fridays. We’re just like everybody else.” Dean would beg to differ. He says the blending? Not so smooth. Madge moves over to him and relieves him of some blood. Dean drops the b-bomb at her, earning a mild scolding.
“Goodness me! Somebody owes a nickel to the swear jar. D’you know what I say when I feel like swearing? Fudge.”
Ward continues down his own memory lane of sacrifices past. He says there was a time when kids came from miles around to be sitting where they are. Do Sam and Dean even know how lucky they are? To punctuate his statement, he pulls out one of Sam’s fingernails. Sam and I both kind of want to pass out at this point. Madge makes another cut to Dean’s arm, despite his steely eyed threat. “You fudging touch me again, I’ll fudging kill ya!” The boys gasp for breath and try to push through the pain. “Merry Christmas, Sam.”
There’s only one thing still missing. “Sweet Peter on a Popsicle stick, I forgot the tooth!” Ward picks up a pair of pliers. He shoves them into Dean’s mouth and latches onto a molar. Just as I’m about to crawl under the couch, the door bell rings. Everything comes to a stop as it rings a second time.
“Shommoddy unna ge’ at? Oo should ge’ at.”
The gods consider a moment before bustling to the door. They’re greeted by a monstrosity worse than their own. Seriously, I hope their neighbor is wearing that sweatshirt ironically. She offers up her own blood tribute in the form of a fruitcake, and then extends an invitation to go caroling. What time is it? It seems a bit late to be a wassailing. Ward begs off, citing a bum back. Once the door is closed, all pretense of cheerful good will evaporates. The poor sad fruitcake is dumped on the floor and forgotten.
The boys make good use of the distraction. They slip free and trap the gods in the kitchen. They then realize the evergreen stakes are in the basement. Which is only accessible through the kitchen. Which currently holds two very pissed off pagan gods. Oh noes! What to do?
The boys shove a china cabinet in front of the door, topple the Christmas tree, and wrench free several large branches. Struggle struggle fight struggle stabby stabby two dead gods Merry Christmas!
And with that, the tinkling pianos of memory send us back into the final Wee!chester flashback. As snow fell outside the window of their crummy motel room, an excited Dean roused Sam from sleep.
“Dad was here! Look what he brought!”
A bleary eyed Sam sat up to find a Charlie Brown tree strung with colored lights. He briefly wondered why John didn’t wake him before eagerly diving into the presents. He picked up the two packages laying by the couch and tore into the larger one. Yay! A Sapphire Barbie! He flung it away from him in mild disgust before turning to the smaller parcel. A glittery baton!
Wee!Sam turned the full power of his baby bitchface onto his brother. “Dad never showed, did he?” Dean swore that John was there … but he’s as bad at lying to Sam then as he is now. He finally admitted to stealing the gifts from the “nice” house up the block. He says he didn’t know they were “chick” presents. He insisted that John would have been there if he could. To Sam’s quiet, ” … if he’s alive” Dean offered up the mantra that will get him through the next 15 years of his life.
“Of course he’s alive. He’s Dad.”
Sam accepted this reassurance, as much for Dean’s benefit as for his own. Then he reached into his jacket pocket, pulled out the gift he’d wrapped earlier, and offered it to Dean. “Dad lied to me. I want you to have it.”
Dean hesitated before accepting and opening the comic book wrapping. Nestled inside the paper was the amulet. THE SAMULENT! And now I think I have something in my eye. Dean rolled the piece of brass in his palm before proudly pulling the cord over his head. He beamed, looking to Sam for approval. Sam silently nodded.
Bobby may have given Sam the necklace for John, but it was meant for Dean all along.
In the present day crummy motel, an anxious Sam waits for Dean. Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Let your heart be light. As he walks through the door, the camera lingers on the amulet, front and center in the middle of Dean’s chest as it always is (until it isn’t). He pauses in the doorway, surprised by what he sees, for Sam’s heart has grown three sizes this day.
There’s a festive Christmas banner over the TV and a small but respectable tree covered in twinkling lights, pine air fresheners, and fishing bobbers. Sam is all nervous expectation. He holds out a cup of egg nog. “Let me know if it needs some more kick.” Sam is delighted by Dean’s reaction.
Any more kick and Dean is going to break a rib! Sam is all “Let’s do Christmas … stuff, or whatever.”
Dean eagerly embraces the moment. Here we are as in olden days, Happy golden days of yore. He reaches into the plastic shopping bag he’s carrying, and pulls out two brown paper packages (not tied up with string). He smiles as he admits he got them at the gas mart down the street. Sam laughs and says “great minds think alike.”
He pulls two small gifts from under his chair. Dean is genuinely surprised to be receiving anything in return, and happily takes them. Sam opens his first, making an appropriately big show as he reveals … “skin mags! And … shaving cream!” Something in Sam’s face says these are the best gifts he’s ever received.
Satisfied that Sam is happy, Dean opens his presents. Motor oil and a candy bar. “Well, look at this. Fuel for me and fuel for my baby!” Dean extends his cup of nog in a Christmas toast.
“Hey, Dean … … …
I love you, man. Feel like watching the game?”
I love you too, Sam. Absolutely.”
As Rosemary Clooney sings about muddling through somehow, the boys settle back, content to be in the moment. The camera pulls back through the window, and we end with a lovely shot of them laughing and talking together, the snow falling gently on Metallicar and the Christmas lights glinting off her hood. Dean’s going to Hell, and Sam will be alone, but for now they’re together.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site chron.com.