“We’re not going to save everybody.”
This episode makes my head hurt. I know it’s pretty standard for characters in horror stories to do completely unsafe and illogical things, but I was actually yelling and throwing emery boards at the screen. We begin with a pretty blonde girl swimming alone in a unusually dark lake. After a few ominous point-of-view shots from beneath, she is dragged under the surface of the water.
At a diner somewhere in America, the Winchester boys are doing what they do best. Sam is pouting and Dean is flirting with a waitress. Sam reminds Dean that they have a job to do and Dean reminds Sam that they are allowed to have fun once and a while. Once the blood comes back into his brain, Dean starts telling Sam about a possible job in Wisconsin. In the past year, three swimmers have apparently drowned in Lake Manitoc and their bodies were never found. Sam wants to keep tracking their father, but Dean convinces him to at least check it out.
Posing as Agents Ford and Hamill, (Star Wars geeks) of the U.S. Wildlife Service, Sam and Dean question Will, the brother of our pretty blonde. He is sure she didn’t drown. She didn’t splash about or give any indication that she was in distress. It’s like something just pulled her under. Thinking they might be dealing with a cryptid, Sam asks if they’ve noticed any dark shapes in the water or unusual tracks along the shoreline. Logic fail, Winchesters. Local law enforcement has dragged the lake three times in the past year and ran a sonar sweep. If there was some big scary monster down there, it probably would have turned up by now.
The local sheriff, clearly a step ahead of our boys, doesn’t buy into the idea that something is attacking these swimmers. Besides, with the dam falling apart there won’t be a lake soon enough anyways. Things are starting to get kind of tense with the sheriff when his daughter Andrea shows up and OH MY GOD IT’S FRED BURKLE! Ahem. Excuse me. I mean, guest star Amy Acker. Dean is kind of smitten with Andrea, and why wouldn’t he be? Her son Lucas is lurking around in the backround doing his best Ada McGrath impression. Dean tries to win Andrea over by pretending to love kids. She ain’t even having that. “It must be difficult,” she says, “with your sense of direction. Never being able to find your way to a decent pick-up line. Enjoy your stay.” Hey Dean, need some ointment for that burn?
While researching the disappearances in the lake, the boys find out that Andrea’s husband was one of the three victims. (Way to go, Dean. Hitting on a widow?) His son Lucas watched him drown while on a wooden raft and was so terrified that he waited in the middle of the lake for hours until he was rescued. He hasn’t said a word since. Despite the fact that he is clearly traumatized, Dean tries to get Lucas to open up to him about what happened. While Dean is uncharacteristically emotive, Lucas never looks up from his coloring. Later, while talking with Andrea, he runs up to Dean and gives him a drawing of a house with a red roof.
Back at the Cartlon house, Will is getting dinner ready when the kitchen sink starts to fill with black water. Momentarily forgetting that his sister mysteriously drowned recently, he sticks his arm into the black water to try and unclog the sink. Dude, it is clogged with evil. You’re going to need sanctified Drano or something. This is one of those situations where you’re so annoyed with the stupidity of a character that you’re almost pleased when he gets pulled into the sink and drowns.
Clearly, this is not a cryptid. Whatever it is can travel through the pipes, so no one in town is safe. Especially anyone with a connection to Bill Carlton. Not only did it take both of his children, but Andrea’s husband was Bill’s godson. Going to question the grieving Bill Carlton yields nothing. Well, almost nothing. Dean realized that the house in Lucas’ drawing looks just like the Carlton home. Clearly, Lucas knows something about what happened and as difficult as it may be they need to get him to talk. Dean tells Lucas that he saw something “real bad” happen to his mom when he was a kid. Which is putting it mildly. He tells Lucas that his father would want him to be brave. This seems to sink in a bit and Lucas hands him another drawing, this time of a yellow house next to white church. Standing in front of the house is a little boy with a red bicycle. The kid’s a budding Norman Rockwell.
Back in the Impala, the boys decide to track down the house and church in the drawing. After listening to Dean tell Lucas about their mom, Sam gets all tenderoni. Dean tries to play it off like he was just trying to get information out of the kid. Oh Dean, we all know that under your furrowed brow line and worn leather jacket is a sensitive man with the soul of a poet.
When they find the yellow house, they ask the old woman who answers the door if a little boy lives there. With little provocation she invites them in and tells them about her son, Peter. 35 years ago he simply vanished while coming home from school. “Losing him,” she says, “It’s worse then dying.” Now where have we heard that before? And who is this in the photo with Peter? Why it’s a young Bill Carlton. He obviously had something to do with Peter’s disappearance. It’s even possible that he killed him. Peter’s spirit is taking revenge on Bill by going after his loved ones.
Back on the lake, Bill Carlton is sitting on the dock staring at the water:
You’ve taken everything. Everyone. I’ve got nothing left. I didn’t understand. I didn’t believe. Now I think I do. I think I finally know what you want.
Sam and Dean arrive just as Bill heads out into the lake in a small fishing boat. They yell for him to come back to the dock, but within seconds the spirit flips his boat up into the air and then drags it under the surface of the water. It’s really never a good idea to be the only witnesses to a supernatural death. Especially when the local sheriff just found out that you’re not really with the wildlife service. It’s just a wee bit suspicious. The sheriff gives them two options: go to jail, or get the hell out of town and never come back. Being incarcerated would really put a cramp in Dean’s style. And Sammy’s too soft for prison life. Besides, with Bill Carlton dead, the spirit of Peter should be at rest. No reason to stick around, so the boys head out of town.
I’m trying to imagine Andrea’s thought process here. “Oh, all these mysterious water-related deaths are so stressful. A nice soak in my bathtub that’s full of water from the lake where people keep drowning would be really relaxing and not all dangerous.” Can’t tell if this is bad writing, or if she’s just stupid. At least we get to see some Burkle side boob before Peter’s vengeful spirit drags her under the water.
Dean is really worried about Lucas and can’t shake the feeling that something bad is going to happen. He seemed terrified when they left. They arrive at Andrea’s house to find a terrified Lucas and a hallway full of water. Sam busts down the door to the bathroom and drags Andrea out of the tub, thankfully still alive. Also naked.
The next morning a shaking Andrea tells Sam that while she was being attacked she heard a voice saying, “Come play with me.” Ugh. Child ghosts are just the worst. Dean’s busy snooping around and finds some old photos of Sheriff Jake as a kid. Photos of him with Peter and Bill Carlton. Before they have time to process this information, Lucas runs off into the woods. Sam, Dean, and Andrea follow him to a moss covered clearing. He gives Dean a knowing look and heads back to house with Andrea in tow. After some digging, Sam and Dean find an old bicycle just like the one in Lucas’ drawings. Peter’s bicycle. Unfortunately, Sheriff Jake shows up right as they make their discovery. Nobody likes a gun wielding, mentally unstable law enforcement officer with a foxy daughter and secret murdery past. Andrea sees her dad pointing a gun at the Winchesters and comes running over to flail her arms and yell and look concerned. You know, help.
Sam and Dean are trying to reason with Jake. Because he seems like a real reasonable guy.
Dean: You’ve got one seriously pissed off spirit.
Sam: It’s going to take Andrea, Lucas, everyone you love. It’s gonna drown them and it’s gonna drag their bodies God knows where so you can feel the same pain Peter’s mom felt. And after that it’s going to take you.
Jake: How do you know that?
Sam: Because that’s exactly what it did to Bill Carlton.
Jake finally breaks down and confesses to killing Peter. It was an accident. He was with Bill and they were just having a bit of fun by holding Peter’s head underwater. Typically sociopathic kid stuff. Unfortunately they held his head under too long and he died. They didn’t know what to do, so they let his body drift out into the lake and buried his bicycle. Since his body is somewhere in the lake, there’s no way to salt and burn the remains. The only solution is get Jake and his family away from the lake and out of the reach of Peter.
Meanwhile, the ghostly voice of Peter has drawn Lucas to the edge of the lake. He’s reaching into the water for no apparent reason when an ashy grey arm pulls him into the lake. Sam and Dean dive into the lake after him, telling Andrea and Jake to stay on the shore. Jake sees the figure of Peter in the lake and finally believes that the drownings are his fault. He wades into the water shouting for Peter to take him instead of Lucas. He begs for it to just be over. The spirit drags him under and Andrea promptly loses her shit. Within seconds, Dean resurfaces with an unconscious Lucas in his arms.
The next scene opens with Sam and Dean walking towards the Impala while sad music plays. Nice try, director. You want us to believe that Lucas died. This show is dark, but not that dark. Andrea eventually and shows up with a plate of sandwiches and a very alive, very chatty, Lucas. Andrea is alarmingly pragmatic about the whole situation. She’s happy that her son is safe, and thankful for Sam and Dean’s help. So thankful she plants a very PG kiss on Dean. Dammit, Dean. You could have lived in a pretty lakeside house with Fred Burkle and artist savant son. Instead you go gallivanting to hell and back for the next six seasons. What is wrong with you, man?
Winchester Victory Jam: “Movin’ On” by Bad Company