“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester”
Originally aired October 30, 2008
I was robbed! Halloween is over and I missed it! You kept me up all night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, and all that came was a beagle. What a fool I was. Trick or treats come only once a year! And I missed it by sitting in a pumpkin patch with a blockhead.
Wow. This town really goes all out for Halloween. Graveyards, skulls, cobwebs, ghosts—the works. Shiny suburban mom returns home, victorious after wrestling the last tub of mixed candy goodness away from some little old lady.
Don’t be fooled by the elderly. They will cut you.
She puts the container of ill-gotten treats into the cupboard and then shoos her shiny suburban spouse away. Does he remember last year? They ran out of candy at 6:30. What she doesn’t say is that they then had to start handing out Ziploc bags of pennies and the little sample tubes of toothpaste you get from the dentist.
It took them days to get all the egg off the front of the house.
The minute shiny suburban mom leaves the room, dad makes for the inexpensive gobs of high fructose corn syrup. He sighs in satisfaction as he pops a sweet into his mouth. It tastes better because it is forbidden.
He grabs another and then realizes something … isn’t … quite … right. He reaches into his mouth and we get this grosstastically awesome inside the mouth POV where we actually see the razor blade EMBEDDED IN THE ROOF OF HIS FOOL MOUTH! EEP!
OUR PARENTS WERE TELLING THE TRUTH! OUR PARENTS WERE TELLING THE TRUTH!
He touches the blade and jerks back a bloody, nicked finger. He stares at it all, ‘Dude, that ain’t right’. He reaches into his mouth a second time. We’re treated to the POV of him slowly pulling the razor out of his flesh and the rivulet of blood that follows. EWW!
Not so shiny dad gapes in shock at the offending bit of cutty metal and then gasps in pain. He coughs up another razor. A fine spray of blood spatters on the kitchen floor. Is that hardwood? In a kitchen? Well lah-dee-dah, guvnor. Aren’t we fancy?
He painfully coughs and coughs again, each cough more bloody than the last, before finally collapsing on the floor. Shiny wife comes back into the room and screams and screams at the sight of her husband’s lifeless body.
One day before Halloween. Sam asks the grieving widow Wallace how many razor blades they found. She says two on the floor, one in his stomach, and one stuck in his throat. She questions how it’s even possible to swallow four razor blades.
As Dean does a sweep of the kitchen, she turns a stink eye on him. She says the candy was never in the oven. Dean assures her that they need to be thorough in their investigation. He spies a long black scrape on the floor suggesting that someone moved the fridge. He reaches behind it and yahtzee!
Dean holds up a hex bag and Sam changes tack. He asks if Mr. Wallace had any enemies or anyone who might have held a grudge against him. The missus goes from taken aback to outraged when Sam suggests her husband was having an affair. Mrs. Wallace says it’s not possible and then drops some civilian logic. If someone wanted to kill her husband, there are better ways than a razor blade in a piece of candy he might eat.
Sam is hard at the research, trying to identify the component parts of the hex bag. Dean walks into the motel room—chewing—and unwraps another piece of candy. Dean is unfazed by Wallace’s death. It’s going to take more than a few razor blades to scare him off the good stuff.
Sam points out that for them, every day is Halloween. And today, they’ve got witches.
Next, he picks up a coin that he identifies as Celtic, at least 600 years old. I love how he states this with such authority when you know he just read it 5 minutes ago on Wikipedia. Dean sniffs at the third component of the bag. I also love how consistent this character trait is. Dean is nothing if not tactile. He is compelled to touch, sniff, and taste everything.
Sam says he’s holding the charred metacarpal bone of a newborn baby. He declares it to be at least 100 years old. Okay, now he’s just making stuff up. Dean doesn’t think its age makes it any better.
“Witches, man. They’re so friggin’ skeevy.”
Sam says only a powerful witch could have put together this bag. One with more juice than they’ve dealt with before. Dean doesn’t have much to add to what they know. He says their victim was so vanilla he made vanilla seem spicy. There doesn’t seem to be any obvious reason why someone would want him dead.
Basement rec room Halloween party. Sexy nurse (nice callback to Jess, btw) announces to Claire from Heroes that she has, in her time, attended soirees that were of a distinctly higher quality than the affair they are currently enduring. In short, it’s one big Charms Blow-Pop. Can’t they just go TP someone?
Claire ignores her and asks Justin if he’s gotten into the liquor cabinet yet. Alas, no. It’s triple locked. He says that tomorrow night’s mausoleum party is going to be so much better than this snooze fest. Oh, Claire doesn’t think it’s so bad. Hey, let’s bob for apples!
She dives in and seizes a forbidden fruit in her teeth. Suddenly Justin doesn’t think quaint entertainments of yesteryear are so lame anymore. Not to be outdone for attention, Nurse Betty wants to have a go.
Betty bobs and suddenly can’t raise her head out of the water. She begins to panic, her feet scrabbling at the floor. Claire rushes over to the tub, yelling at Justin to help her. They each grab an arm and try to pull Betty out of the water—water that is now bubbling and steaming. Tub POV and we see Betty screaming in pain as her face turns red in the now boiling water.
Hotel. The second hex bag sits open surrounded by candy wrappers. Dean searches online for clues in the victims’ backgrounds while Sam hits the books and works up a theory. He suggests maybe the witch isn’t working a grudge; maybe it’s a spell.
Three blood sacrifices made over three days, the last before midnight on Halloween, will summon the demon Samhain. Sam calls him the pied piper of dark evil beasties. He can raise ghosts and zombies.
Leprechauns, asks Dean?
“Those little dudes are scary. Small hands.”
Sam doesn’t think Dean is taking this seriously enough. He leans in and says it only starts with ghosts and ghouls. It ends with every awful thing they’ve ever seen. Up to and including Bella, bees, and racist ghost trucks. Everything they fight, all in one place. This gets Dean’s attention.
“It’s going to be a slaughterhouse.”
Dean has been sitting in front of Widow Wallace’s house for hours with nothing but a pile of candy wrappers to show for it—until Claire walks up. She happens to be the Wallace’s babysitter. Sam says she was also suspended from school following a violent altercation with her teacher.
In the high school’s art room Dean is confronted with a host of flashback triggering, ‘call a psych consult immediately’ masks hanging from the ceiling. Sam asks if it brings back memories. What? Of Hell? No, no, heavens no. Dean doesn’t remember anything from Hell. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it. Sam just means high school, being a teenager, and all the angst. What did Dean think he meant?
Dean shrugs Sam off. His eyes rove over the room but keep flickering back to the masks. At least until Justin and his bong of unusual size catch his attention. Now that brings back memories. Justin is going to need a bigger
Art teacher Mr. Harding greets the boys, but please, call him Don. Even his students call him Don. “Yeah, we get it, Don.” They identify themselves as Agents Geddy and Lee.
- Ugh. Rush.
- If anyone is a Rush fan, it’s Don. Their covers are so blown.
- Now I’ve got “Closer to the Heart” trapped in my head. Thanks, SHOW.
Agents Well, At Least I Don’t Have to Wait in Line for the Ladies Room tell Don they have questions about Claire. He says it’s a shame about her getting suspended. She’s a bright kid with loads of talent. Don certainly bears her no ill will for trying to claw his eyes out. He was only trying to “rap” with her about her work. And yeah, using “rap” in that context might prompt me to scratch someone’s eyes out, too. Hippie. Now get a haircut!
He says that Claire’s once promising work had taken a turn for the inappropriate and disturbing. Dean wonders what could be more disturbing than the flashback masks.
raps at him explains that she covered page after page with bizarre, cryptic symbol—when she wasn’t sketching out detailed images of gory, primitive killings and placing herself in the middle of them as a participant. Sounds like a witch to Dean.
Sam wants to be sure. He asks Don if any of the symbols look like the mark on the hex bag coin. Don says, sure. Also, Claire is an emancipated minor who arrived in town only a year earlier. Also, she turned Don into a newt, but he got better.
The boys meet up at the motel after looking for Claire and canvassing her friends for intel. An astronaut approaches them in the parking lot. He holds up his bucket. Dean is not having it.
He points out that they’re standing in front of a motel. The astronaut is not to be deterred. “So?” Dean counters that they simply don’t have any candy. Sam has a confused. There’s a ton of candy in the … Dean says there WAS. But now it’s gone. Don’t judge. You all know you’ve been there. Sam’s bitchface clearly never has. He can’t believe Dean ate the whole thing.
The astronaut eyebrows his complete and utter lack of caring. We switch to an inside the helmet POV. A slightly muffled Dean says they can’t help him. With a hint of a whine the astronaut cuts to the chase. “I want candy.”
“Oh, I think you’ve had enough.”
That’s cold, Dean. He’s not fat, he’s big boned. Astronaut narrows his eyes and fixes Dean with a laser-like glare of death. To say Dean is taken aback is an understatement. I think he might be wondering if Lucifer isn’t already walking free.
Astronaut holds the stare another moment before moving on to mug some other unsuspecting adult. He bumps into Dean as he goes. Dean turns and holds out his arms as if to say, ‘You wanna go, Astronaut? You wanna go?’
Sam walks into the motel room and draws on the stranger sitting just inside the door. It’s Castiel – YAY! A day without Misha Collins is a like a day without blue eyes and bed head. He looks worried and worn. Dean rushes in behind Sam. He places his hand on Sam’s gun and identifies their visitor. The large bald man standing by the window is a mystery. Dean looks concerned. Sam looks gobsmacked.
The believer has finally had his faith rewarded. Castiel stands and greets him. Sam’s face is amazement and delight. He whispers, “Oh my god”, and then immediately stammers out an apology for the blasphemy. Oh, Sam. He breathlessly tells Castiel it’s an honor and extends his hand. A hand that just floats there in space for a long … long … painful moment.
Sam’s eyes are full of expectation and hope. He jerks his hand a bit, as if to convey how this human mode of greeting works. Castiel considers a moment, and then clasps Sam’s hand, saying he’s heard a lot about him.
“Sam Winchester. Boy with the demon blood.”
Sam blinks rapidly. He looks like he’s just been kicked repeatedly in the chest. It is painful and hurtful and oh, Sam. Castiel then pours lemon juice in the paper cut, telling Sam he’s glad to hear he’s ceased his extracurricular activities.
Like killing demons with your MIND is an after school club.
The large bald man by the window rumbles, ” … Let’s keep it that way.” Calling him “Chuckles”, Dean asks Castiel who his friend is. The angel doesn’t have time for answers, only questions. Have they stopped the raising of Samhain? Have they located the witch? Is the witch dead? No, yes, no. But hey, at least they know who the witch is.
Apparently, she knows who they are, too. Castiel shows them the hex bag that was hidden in the wall. He asks again if they know where the witch is. Dean turns and shoots a worried look at Sam. Nobody told him they would be tested on this material. Sam gives him a look back—he didn’t study either.
Castiel explains that—shocker—the raising of Samhain is one of the 66 seals. He says the seal must be protected at all cost. Dean clarifies for viewers just tuning in that this is about their “buddy, Lucifer.” Really, I think that bit of dialog is here just so Robert Wisdom can give his awesome line reading of, “Lucifer is no friend of ours.” There’s just something about his voice – it’s like buttuh honey.
Dean is not so enamored. If the angels would just tell them where the witch is, the boys will gank her and then it’s delicious candy goodness for all. But of course it’s not that easy. It’s never that easy. Castiel says they are not omniscient. The witch has cloaked herself and is hidden, even to them.
That’s no problem as far as Sam is concerned. He’s a can-doer, not a can-donter. They know who the witch is, so if they work together … Chuckles cuts Sam off.
Dean has had just about all he’s going to take of angel of the second bagging on his baby brother.
“Who are you and why should I care?!”
Castiel wearily, and in a tone that suggests this is going even worse than he expected, introduces Uriel. He’s what you might call … a specialist. Make no mistake. Uriel is a cleaner. Castiel is clearly conflicted by what they have to do here, but he says they’re out of time. The witch must die. The seal must be saved.
So they’re going to destroy the town, delivering the wrath of Heaven to the doorsteps of 1,214 people. Uriel says this with the ease and unconcern of a being who has done this all before. Approval or condemnation is irrelevant.
Castiel tries to persuade the boys to the angelic point of view. He understands it is regrettable but they have to hold the line. Too many seals have broken already. Dean scoffs bitterly. He doesn’t see why failure on the part of the angels should earn this town a death warrant.
Eyes narrowing in frustration, Castiel says that the good of the many outweighs the lives of a few. There’s a bigger picture here. And then Castiel takes a step toward Dean. If Lucifer rises, then Hell rises with him. Is that something Dean is willing to risk? Dean can’t answer. He’s too busy having another flashback.
Sam says they’ll stop the witch and save the seal. No one has to die. Uriel is bored now. He says they’re wasting time with these “mud monkeys.” So what, is that like a unified theory of creationism and evolution?
Castiel cuts his eyes to Uriel and then steps away from Dean. He’s sorry. They have their orders. Sam is appalled. They’re angels. They’re supposed to show mercy. Uriel smirks. Humans are adorable with their silly stories and superstitions. Mercy? Says who?
Castiel’s face is hard. He says they have no choice. Dean au contraires. They’ve never questioned a crummy order before? Are they both just daddy’s blunt little instruments? Uriel takes that as a compliment. Castiel on the other hand … His face goes tight with anger, but he pushes it down. He tells Dean to have faith. The plan is just. It comes from Heaven.
Note he doesn’t say God. Just heaven. I’m thinking an order has to go through a lot of links in the chain of command before it reaches Castiel’s pay grade. Sam looks stunned and unbearably sad. Dean just looks like all his doubts have been confirmed. “It must be nice, to be so sure of yourselves.” Castiel won’t be judged for his obedience. He won’t be judged for his existence.
“Tell me something Dean … when your father gave you an order, didn’t you obey”?
Oh, swing and a miss my friend. Clearly you missed “Dream a Little Dream”. Dean’s worked out those particular daddy issues. “Change of plans”, he says. Castiel’s face is inscrutable. It’s hard to tell whether he’s pleased or disappointed. Dean says he can’t stop them, but if they’re going to smite the town, they’ll need to add a +2 to the tally. Because the Winchesters aren’t leaving.
Dean figures that if they went to all the trouble to bust him out of Hell, he must be worth something to the man upstairs. Uriel smiles, almost with a glimmer of admiration. Dean might actually be worth killing. Which is the only way Dean says the angel will be able to get him out of town.
Dean turns away from Uriel to stare soulfully at Castiel. He says they can do this. They will find the witch. They will stop the summoning. Uriel is furious, but is quickly silenced. Castiel is convinced. He suggests they move quickly.
And then the boys walk outside to find Metallicar covered with eggs. DEATH! DEATH TO HE WHO DEFILES METALLICAR!!!!! Dean walks around to the driver’s side, surveying the carnage. He pauses a moment and then turns, his face a mask of fury, before letting out a cry of rage.
He slams the door as he joins Sam in the car. Hey, take it easy! It’s not her fault you ate all the candy and she got egged. Dean lets out a sigh and then notices Sam is in a mood.
He thought they’d be different. He thought they’d be righteous.
Dean says the angels are righteous. That’s kind of the problem. There’s nothing more dangerous that a person who is convinced he’s right. Sam eyebrows a maybe, and then goes right to the heart of his matter. This is God? This is Heaven? This is what he’s been praying to?
Dean tries to reassure Sam. Don’t give up, is all he’s saying. After all, Babe Ruth was a dick but baseball is still a beautiful game. It’s a lovely moment between the brothers. Dean doesn’t want Sam to lose his faith any more than he wanted him to lose his innocence.
Sam takes some small comfort from Dean’s words, and turns his attention to the hex bag in his lap. It occurs to him that it would take no small amount of heat to char a bone. Like say, the heat from an art room kiln. It’s also no small coincidence that the hex bag showed up after they talked to Don, not Claire.
Castiel and Uriel watch happy Halloweeners trick-or-treat. In the middle of the afternoon? That’s not right. Castiel says the decision has been made. Uriel doesn’t think much of it. He calls it a decision made by a mud monkey. Plumbing with two legs. Castiel coldly warns him off. Uriel is close to blasphemy. The angel says there’s a reason they were sent to save Dean. He has potential. He may succeed.
At any rate, it’s out of their hands. Uriel says it doesn’t have to be. There’s always Plan B—dragging Dean physically out of town and then blowing it off the map. Castiel reminds him of their “true” orders. Is Uriel prepared to disobey?
Later that evening, a family bypasses the only house on the block without
a garish and elaborate holiday display in the front yard its porch light on. The occupant of the house, Don, is too busy preparing to sacrifice a bound and gagged Claire to pass out candy.
He raises the ritual knife in the air, only to be aerated from behind. Sam checks the body while Dean cuts Claire down. She is outraged! Outraged I tell you! Don was going to kill her! And did they hear the incantation? How sloppy it was? She says her brother always was a little dim.
Oh noes! Two witches!
Claire mojos them to the floor as the boys go for their guns. Don was going to make her the final sacrifice. Thanks to Sam and Dean, that honor now goes to him. Claire says Halloween was once the one night you kept your children inside. Tonight, everyone’s going to see what Halloween really is.
She begins the incantation to complete the ritual while Sam inches over to Don‘s body. He puts his hand in a pool of Don‘s blood and smears it all over his face. He does the same to Dean, telling him to follow his lead. Dean wonders if ‘follow my lead’ includes throwing up in his mouth a little, because he just did.
Claire speaks the final words, the floor cracks open, and demonic smoke pours into Don‘s waiting vessel. Thus possessed, Samhain rises and lurches over to Claire. They share a tender reunion. And then he calls her a whore and snaps her neck.
Samhain catches a scent on the air. He turns and looks at Sam and Dean before walking past them and out of the house. Based on Samhain’s POV his vision is as bad as mine.
Dean gives the room a stink eye as soon as he hears the door click. Would Sam like to explain the bloodening now? Sam says back in the day, people wore masks to hide from Samhain. He thought he would give it a shot. Dean is thunderstruck. But really? Shouldn’t he be used to Sam taking shots in the dark by now?
The boys Impala to the cemetery to head off Samhain. Sam is like, so. This demon is pretty powerful. Might take more than the usual weapons. You know, like say for instance, MY MIND!! Dean is not even trying to hear this. He says Sam is not using his power. Ruby’s Knife is enough. And didn’t Sam just declare two episodes ago that it was like playing with fire and he was done?
Mausoleum party. The kids are happy to see Don until he locks them in the crypt to become zombie food for the newly risen undead. The boys storm in and Sam rushes off to confront Samhain, despite Dean’s protests.
Dean gets the kids safely out. He stands a moment in the center of the crypt, steeling himself as the undead crawl out of their graves. He drops his bag and pulls out a metal stake. “Bring is on, Stinkie.” He sets to pinning the undead back in their gravebeds, and then the ghost pops up. She mojos him into the wall and zaps away.
Samhain is in the chapel. He extends a hand and flings out the white light of doom. Sam calmly walks through it. “Yeah, that demon ray-gun stuff? It doesn’t work on me.” Fight fight struggle fight. Sam attacks Samhain with the knife. The demon knocks it away. BUNGIE! Sam raises a hand of great vengeance and furious anger. He stops Samhain in his tracks, but only for a moment.
The demon inches ever closer. Puffs of smoke wisp into the air through the bullet holes in Don‘s chest. NICE. Well played, Show. Sam struggles as Samhain continues to mime his way across the floor towards him.
Sam sees Dean come around the corner and then returns his focus to the demon. He clutches his head in pain. His nose starts to bleed. Smoke pours out of Samhain’s mouth. Do Sam’s eyes turn black, or are the whites just obscured because he’s squinting? It’s hard to say. I think we’re meant to wonder.
Finally, Don‘s meat suit falls to the floor. The demon burns away into nothing.
Sam packs up his things in the hotel room. Suddenly there’s an angel on the sofa where there wasn’t one before. “Tomorrow, November 2, it’s an anniversary for you, right?” Uriel taunts Sam with Mary and Jess’s deaths. And how he brazenly uses the power that Azazel gave him. He says the demon’s “profane blood” pumps through Sam’s veins.
“You were told not to use your abilities. You were told not to. You’ve been warned. Twice now.”
Sam says that Dean was right. The angels are dicks. Now he’s gone and hurt Uriel’s feelings, such as they are. He flutters from the sofa into Sam’s dance space. He says Sam is only alive because he’s been useful. The moment that ceases to be true, “one word, one. And I will turn you to dust.”
Another little piece of Sam’s faith falls away. He feels it happen and it breaks his heart. But wait, Uriel isn’t done yet. “As for your brother, tell him that maybe he should climb off that high horse of his. Ask Dean what he remembers from Hell.”
Dean is sitting alone on a park bench, worrying his ring. The camera swings around and we see Castiel has joined him. Dean is not surprised and he doesn’t react. He’s gotten used to these sudden appearances.
Dean thinks Castiel is there for the ‘I-told-you-sos’, but the angel isn’t there to judge. He explains that he and Uriel were sent to do whatever Dean told them to do. Their orders were to follow his orders. It was a test to see how he would perform under battlefield conditions. Dean thinks it all sounds a little over the top.
“It was a witch. Not the Tet Offensive.”
This actually gets a smile and a chuckle from Castiel. Dean assumes he failed Heaven’s test, but he’s okay with that. He says if he had it to do all over again, he would make the same call. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen with the seals—he doesn’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. But what he does know is that the town and everything and everyone in it is still there because of him and Sam.
The Apocalypse may be looming, but there’s still the family business to tend to.
Castiel says he was praying that Dean would choose to save the town. Angels may be made of fire and humans made of clay, but they are still his Father’s creations. Works of art. And yet … the seal was still broken. Castiel warns that Hell on Earth looms ever closer for all creation. And that’s not an expression—it’s literal. Dean of all people can appreciate what that means.
And then Castiel does something that seems very human. For a moment he’s not quite so alien. The clay must be rubbing off on him. He confides a secret—with the preamble that he’ll only tell Dean if he swears not to tell another soul. In my mind they pinkie swear on it.
The words don’t come easily for the angel. To be able to say it to another person, you have to first admit it to yourself, and that is painful.
“I’m not a … hammer, as you say. I have questions. I have doubts. I don’t know what is right and what is wrong anymore.”
Castiel doesn’t know whether Dean passed or failed Heaven’s test. But he does know that, in the coming months, Dean will have more decisions to make. “I don’t envy the weight that’s on your shoulders, Dean. I truly don’t.” More eyefucking and then Castiel is gone. We leave Dean alone on the park bench with the burden of choices yet to be made.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site chron.com.