10. “A Very Supernatural Christmas” (3×08)
A young Dean tries on the necklace Sam presumably shoplifted from the powerful-religious-items section of Claire’s.
You got chipper pagan gods in Christmas sweaters torturing the Winchesters. You got flashbacks to Sam and Dean’s subpar childhood Christmases. Most importantly, at long last, you got the origins of Dean’s mysterious necklace. (Spoiler alert: Sam gave it to him as a Christmas present. That’s it. I don’t think we’ll ever know why it has weird God-finding powers. Oh, well. Who cares. Everything to do with God in this universe is super boring anyway, am I right?) This also has a poor little baby Sam asking, “Is that why we never talk about Mom?” to which baby Dean replies, “Shut up! Don’t you ever talk about Mom! Ever!” before storming out the door. I thought Dean was overreacting in the pilot when he responded to Sam saying their mother was dead with, “Don’t you talk about her like that!” Now, however, I have to give him credit for at least not getting enraged at their mere mention of a mother. He’s really grown. Give him another ten years and maybe you’ll be allowed to point out that his dead mom is dead without getting punched in the face. All in all, this episode is great because it accomplishes the three main jobs of a good Supernatural episode: it’s scary, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s funny.
9. “Ghostfacers!” (3×13)
Ed and Harry introduce their pilot in a very Andrew Wellsian fashion.
This episode is set up as the self-produced and unsolicited pilot for a reality series starring amateur ghost hunters Harry Spangler (Travis Wester) and Ed Zeddmore (A.J. Buckley.) I always dig it when this show shakes it up, and focusing on two ancillary characters like the Ghostfacers while relegating Sam and Dean to supporting cast territory is about as shaken up as things can get. There’s a good amount of bumbling silliness, but shit also quickly gets real and I get choked up every time I watch this damn episode. To Corbett, King of the Impossible!
8. “Changing Channels” (5×08)
Allow me to ask the obvious question: why are they transporting four bouquets of flowers?
The Trickster is a great idea for a character because he gives the show license to do ANYTHING. This show can already get away with doing most stuff, but throw the Trickster in there and, hey, why wouldn’t Sam get trapped inside an ad for genital herpes medication? The first couple of Trickster episodes didn’t really make the most of him, but this episode, which shows Sam and Dean getting thrown into various TV programs, totally nails it.
7. “Season 7, Time for a Wedding!” (7×08)
Dean insists that Becky should have asked his permission before marrying Sam. Season 8 spoiler: Dean is Sam’s father. Season 9 spoiler: Sam is a girl.
Finally, the on-again, off-again Sam and Becky tie the knot, causing Samky shippers everywhere to squeal with delight while also nervously wondering, What will the show be about now that the central couple has gotten together? You guys, I am really funny. All deadpanning aside (hilarious though it may be), this episode features the triumphant return of Supernatural superfan Becky Rosen (Emily Perkins), who through nefarious means has made Sam fall in love with her. As my roommate pointed out, this is about 90% the result of magic and 10% the result of Sam being super agreeable. This episode also features noted greatest guy in the world Crowley (Mark A. Sheppard) harshly scolding a crossroads demon for fucking with his precious Winchesters. I may be paraphrasing here.
6. “Monster Movie” (season 4)
It sure was nice of Mr. Burns to invite the Winchesters to his place in PENNSYLVANIA.
This episode is in black and white and is all about classic monster movie villains killing residents of a small town in the spookiest-state-in-the-union Pennsylvania, making for the worst Oktoberfest ever. It’s wacky and quirky, but ultimately emotionally resonant, too, with a villain who kind of reminds me of Abed from Community. This episode also has Dean bizarrely insisting that he came back from Hell a virgin. I don’t get why he’d think that or why he’s so excited about it, but hey, if Dean wants to be pumped about losing his virginity for a second time I guess I’ll let him have this. He has so little, you guys. It’s pretty much just this and turducken sandwiches.
5. “Bad Day at Black Rock” (3×03)
Losing his shoe in a sewer grate transforms Sam into Charlie Brown. Does anyone else find this moment super relatable?
Look, I’m a simple man with simple needs. Sometimes I just want to see Sam win the lottery and find a gold watch, then trip and fall down and lose his shoe in a sewer grate. This episode is such a fun romp that it’s easy to forget that, oh yeah, Sam might die soon if they don’t sort all this out.
4. “What Is and Should Never Be” (2×20)
Dean rejoices in the fact that his mother is alive again, then presumably yells at himself not to talk about her like that.
Alternate universe! Alternate universe! I love the main Supernatural universe, so I don’t know why I’m always so pumped when the show briefly lets me out of it. I guess I just want Xhibit to put some escapism in my escapism. This episode has Dean cast into a universe where he and Sam aren’t hunters and their mom never died. Since it’s a perfect world, their dad is still dead. Was that too harsh? I shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, I know. Even the fictional dead. John Winchester just makes me so mad! Hug your damn sons, John!
3. “The Monster at the End of This Book” (4×18)
I am forever grateful that we don’t live in a world where Sam looks like Fabio.
This episode marks a turning point in Supernatural‘s history: in it, the Winchesters discover they are the subjects of a series of novels entitled, yep, Supernatural. This could so easily have been a shark-jumping moment, but the hyper-meta plot is well-executed, entertaining, and actually makes perfect sense within the context of the elaborate season plot, so this show’s sharks are still firmly planted on the ground. This is Chuck Shurley’s (played by Rob Benedict) first episode, and thank God for that, am I right? What a cutie pie.
2. “Sex and Violence” (4×14)
Nick Munroe worms his way into Deans heart by exploiting his biggest fetish: blind faith. “Oh, the murderer is a siren like from Greek mythology? ‘Kay!”
You know how sometimes you watch a TV episode that has a twist ending, and then you go back and watch it again and given all the information the first half totally doesn’t make sense? Not the case here! This is one well-constructed episode that features Jim Parrack as Agent Nick Munroe, quite possibly my favorite single-episode Supernatural character, as well as the lovely Maite Schwartz who, based on this and her role in the Community episode “Early 21st Century Romanticism,” seems to be the constant target of adorable behavior by cute boys. And don’t worry, pervs of the world: this is not only a great episode, it’s also the one I watch when I need some Supernatural me-time. Y’all know what I’m talking about. Hey-o.
1. “After School Special” (4×13)
Cherish these times, Dean; soon you won’t be able to keep things away from Sam by holding them over your head.
Depicting an 18-year-old Dean (portrayed sexily by Brock Kelly) and a 14-year-old Sam (portrayed adorably by Colin Ford) this episode shows us a little more of the Winchesters’ unhappy childhood, as well as Dean teaching a gym class in knee-high socks and shorts. It also ends on one of the cutest/saddest reaction shots in all of Supernatural history. As an added bonus, the lovely Candace Accola guest stars.
I’m always interested in keeping my finger on the pulse of the Supernatural fan community, so please: what’s everyone’s favorite episode? I bet no one will respond to that. I mean, Supernatural‘s not exactly popular.
Screen caps from Home of the Nutty.