This episode for me is up in my first 10 favorites. I like Jo - although I don't believe she could make a romantic interest of Dean's, I do believe she makes a very fine younger sister and looks up to especially Dean as a kind of father figure almost. I thought the idea of a serial killer back as a ghost was also an interesting idea and I liked the way they tricked him and trapped him for all time. As to the ending with Ellen's big revelation... I have my own thoughts about it that I will go a little more into later. So - let's begin!
"Surrender" by Cheap Trick
(plays as Sam and Dean are driving to Philadelphia over the opening credits)
"Cold as Ice" by Foreigner
(plays after the awkward silence in the car while driving back with Ellen and Jo)
The episode starts with a beautiful night view of the city of Philadelphia and introduction to the monster of the week.
And where are Sam and Dean? They are in the parking of the Roadhouse talking about a case that doesn't sound like a case at all. I am assuming we are not supposed to be thinking very deeply about how the boys came to be in the Roadhouse parking lot on their way out to a case without having gone in... But they hear a cat fight inside and decide to investigate. They are immediately told to leave by Ellen, told to stay by Jo, then interrupted by an innocent looking "normal" family that decides to try out the Arby's down the street instead(I have a feeling it is quite a ways down the street). Quite a funny scene actually.
Jo shows Dean her file on the case while Ellen reluctantly gets the phone.
Jo: Take it, it won't bite.
Dean: No, but your mom might.
He is surprised to learn that she put the file together herself. Ellen urges them to take the case, telling Jo she cannot go because "this family has lost enough," reminding us of Jo's father who had died on a hunt. Jo cannot say anything to that, and Sam and Dean are on their way.
Having checked out the apartment their usual way - by breaking in - and found ectoplasm (meaning this is one seriously pissed off spirit), they are on their way out when they hear Jo's voice. She is coming up with the manager, and when Dean and Sam confront her, she pretends to be Dean's girlfriend. Cute scene again - Dean surprised and exasperated? (this expression on his face is what I imagine when I read the phrase "shooting daggers from his eyes") but Jo seems to have the money to rent the apartment so they actually get a chance to stay in the very same apartment as they investigate.
Jo: if Dean-o loves it, it's good enough for me.
Dean: Oh, sweetie.
As they are in the apartment discussing Jo's talent in poker in addition to the case, Dean gets the phone call from Ellen - and here again a cute scene.
It is interesting to think of why Dean kept Jo's presence a secret. His attitude toward authority figures? His admiration of Jo for her talents (file & poker?) and a weakness for her headstrong personality?It could be also that as Sam, Dean was also feeling bad that they "snaked" her case. In anycase, Jo gives him a triumphant smile in return. When they decide to investigate the apartment building for signs of the spirit in the pipes, however, Dean is adamant that Jo stay with him. Another cute scene which is very parent/child to me.
Dean: Oh, this isn't negotiable.
Then we have an interesting conversation while they go through the halls. Jo accusing Dean of being sexist, and Dean telling her that it's her lack of experience that makes her untrustworthy. He also tells her that she should be listening to her mom and keeping out of hunting - that she is lucky she has a mom that wants her to stay out of it.
Dean: Jo, you've got options. No one in their right mind chooses this life. My dad started me in this when I was so young... I wish I could do something else.
Jo: You love the job.
Dean: Yeah, but I'm a little twisted.
Jo: You don't think I'm a little twisted too?
Dean: Jo, you've got a mother that worries about you. Who wants something more for you. Those are good things. You don't throw things like that away. Might be hard to find later.
It reminds me of Something Wicked when he tells Sam he wished Sam could have stayed innocent. It is also interesting that although Dean admits that he wishes he could do something else, he also admits that he likes the job (and Jo could tell he did).
Right after, Jo finds signs of her first spirit - another cute scene:
"Mazel Tov, you just found your first spirit."
(Showing gross bit of hair attached to skin. ew..)
In the next scene, Dean, who has been sleeping in a reclining chair - having given up the bed to Jo- wakes up to find that Jo has not slept in the bed and has been going over the case at the table - twirling that small knife of hers like she had the day before. Dean is like - that's not a knife - and tries to give her a bigger one but then she tells him the knife used to be her dad's. Dean can relate. In that moment of mutual understanding and friendship, Jo dares to ask Dean about what he remembers about his dad - what the first scene that comes to mind is. Now, seriously, I don't think it could have been the first scene that came to mind, but it was probably the happiest of his growing years - dad praising him for hitting the bulls-eye every single time. (Does that remind you of a scene in Season 5?) Jo tells him of her memory as a family. Dean also relates to Jo when she tells him that she wants to hunt for dad - to bring her closer to her father. He looks at her with the warmest, kindest eyes...
When they find out about the second victim from Sam and figure out that it is the ill-famed H.H. Holmes, they figure they need to start making holes in walls to find him as quickly as they can. And, after all that about not letting her out of his sight, Dean lets her go into a small space that he cannot enter with her. Why? It was a mistake. How Dean must have hated himself for it. And Jo gets taken. It is a very good thing that Sam has done some more research and has found the sewer space. Using a metal detector(?) above ground, they find the old man hole and go down.
(Does this scene remind anyone of the gag reels? :D)
They crawl through the sewer to rescue Jo.
While all this is happening, Jo has her first encounter with a "pissed off" serial killer and we see her fear and courage. We find that the other girl(one of them at least - Teresa) is also alive. We also find out that Jo's(dad's) knife is pure iron and she is able to blow the spirit away the first time.
The second time the spirit touches her, Sam and Dean are there to blow him away and rescue the two girls - but that's not the end. Dean asks Jo to stay there as bait so that they can trap the spirit.
I love the contraption that they make to close the sewer opening with salt. As soon as the spirit is in the room, Jo rushes over to Dean and Sam and the spirit is trapped.
But that is not the end says the smiling Sam. The reason why they are waiting at the manhole...
They cement the room to trap the spirit - just as H.H. Holmes cemented his own body. Nice touch.
Ellen, to whom Dean was unable to lie once Jo was taken, has come to pick up Jo and take her home. Once they get back - after a very solemn ride! - Dean apologizes to Ellen but also tells her that Jo's dad would have been proud of Jo (Just like Ellen told the boys after the job in Everybody loves a Clown...) but Ellen tells them to leave the two of them alone. She then scolds Jo not only for going on the hunt after Ellen had told her not to, but also for entrusting her life to Sam and Dean because, "like father, like sons." And we find out why John and Ellen had a falling out. Jo explains to Dean:
I guess my father figured he could trust him. Mistake. Guy screwed up, got my dad killed.
It was your father, Dean.
Why do you think John never came back? Never told you about us? Because he couldn't look my mom in the eye after that, that's why.
It is also good to remember that this version that Ellen tells Jo is most probably what John told Ellen when he got back. John blamed himself for Jo's dad's death. And in her sorrow, Ellen did too. But she had at least forgiven John and maybe stopped blaming him later on. She would not have called him and left that message otherwise. I think though, that Ellen's feelings for Jo, to keep her out of hunting, is so strong at this point that she tells Jo the story to keep her away from it.
The memories of future seasons just breaks my heart. Oh, and what Dean and Sam would have done to keep it all from happening if they had known.