MUSIC LINK: "The House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals
(plays on the car radio, first when Molly is driving before the accident, and again when Sam and Dean are driving. Also plays on the radio in Jonah Greeley's house)
I guess one of the biggest reasons why I enjoy this episode is that I feel for Molly and her tragedy. I enjoy the first scene where Molly and her husband are arguing in their car. I feel the love they have for each other and her frustration with that typical guy "I know where we are going" attitude. I love Molly suggesting that they go back to the gasoline stand and her husband telling her it's not in a guy's genetic makeup to ask for directions. David, when he finds out he was wrong, tries to console Molly and appeal to her love for him and you can see her smiling despite herself. All the while going, "stop it" I don't want to love you. I want to be mad at you. And those words, "you're such a jerk." You know she doesn't mean it, she has already forgiven him and it kind of reminds you of Sam and Dean's banter too aye? Then Greeley suddenly appears in front of them on the road. Although Molly swerves into the woods and crashes trying to avoid hitting him, we know she did. She killed Greeley in that accident and killed herself as well. I always wonder whether all that was part of Molly's yearly cycle as well, or if the cycle actually starts from when she wakes up in the car without her husband... which makes more sense I guess.
So begins her search for her husband. (For the fifteenth time.) Why isn't he there? What happened to him? She has to find him. Through the woods she goes to Greeley's cabin. When she sees Greeley inside with his back turned, she recognizes him and is relieved to find that he seems to be alive and alright, but we can see his guts in his hand and know even in a first watch that he is a ghost.
I often hear that the only saving point of the episode is the surprise element of Molly actually being a ghost and the lack of this makes it not really worth watching again. I've found though that now that I know the surprise plot twist, I can concentrate more on Sam and Dean's reactions to Molly and catch the subtle hint of what they are thinking and feeling on this hunt. I can also concentrate more on my feelings for Molly and feel compassion for her plight just like Sam. So I'd like to suggest we look at the episode from ... maybe Sam's perspective - which is the second biggest reason that I like this episode. Seeing Sam's compassion for Molly. From the time Molly jumps in front of their car, Sam and Dean both know that Molly is a ghost. They have been looking for her - expecting her and Greeley to appear like they did for those people who experienced mysterious car accidents every year for 15 years - 12 of which were fatal. In three of those, the people survived to tell the tale of the mysterious woman chased by a man covered in blood. So, since we are looking from Sam's perspective, I'm going to go out of order here a little and include that back story in the beginning. They see Molly's ghost and screech to a halt.
Molly: You've got to help me!
Before Sam rolls that window down to talk to Molly, he says wonderingly to Dean...
Sam: Dean, I don't think she knows she's dead.
They are not surprised to see her. They are surprised she doesn't know she's dead. It changes things for them, I think. They maybe realize that they can convince her to let go. But that means they have to convince her of the existence of ghosts to begin with, then the fact that she is one...
Sam: What's your name?
Sam's expressions are kind and he talks calmly and quietly to her; asking her name, telling her his, just like he does with any victim. To him she is a victim, even though she is a ghost. Greeley, who has turned vengeful, has kept her here with him to scare and torture for eternity. They try to get her to come with them, somehow get her out of this situation so they can deal with Greeley separately. When she insists on going back to her car and finds it gone, she worries that they don't believe her. Sam calmly tells her that they do believe her. That's exactly why they want her to come with them. (Greeley is going to be here any minute.) The cops? Yes, what a good idea. (Anything to get her off the highway.) Finally she agrees.
We have a little touching scene in the car as Molly explains how she and David were on a trip to Lake Tahoe on their 5th anniversary. She mentions how the only time they ever argued was when they were in the car for long periods of time, and Sam goes, "Yeah. I know how that goes." He and Dean can relate to that. They've just finished explaining their old couple squabbling to Bobby in Tall Tales, saying that they were getting on each other's nerves because they had been on the road for too long. Dean looks at him, not with a "no way" face, more like why are you talking with this ghost like this? What's with the empathy?
Molly remembers what her last words to David were and starts to fret that he might have died with those words in his head; that he might have died thinking she did not love him. Sam just tells her, don't worry. We'll find out what happened to David. (We already know he is alive and well and remarried... but we'll tell you later when you are ready.) Just then the radio goes on by itself... Greeley's voice, "she's mine"... and he appears to them in the middle of the road as he did to her 15 years ago. Dean goes through him - he doesn't stop like he did for Molly. Vengeful spirits are not going to listen to reason aye? But it doesn't make a difference. Greeley is able to stop their car so they cannot get off the highway. On to their back up plan. Keep Molly with them to keep Greeley from hurting her (and keep Molly from running out onto the highway and getting other people hurt) while they look for Greeley's bones. As Dean starts getting the rifles, some gasoline, salt etc. out of the trunk, Molly sees all the weapons and freaks. So they explain as much as the truth as they can. They appeal to her reason. After seeing what she saw, she has to believe that there are such things as ghosts. This is pretty much what they do for any other victim too aye? She starts to walk away in denial, but when she thinks that there is the possibility that Greeley had taken David, she agrees to go with them and show them the cabin where she found Greeley.
Sam:Every year, Greeley finds someone to punish for what happened to him. Tonight that person is you.
Molly:Why me? I didn't do anything.
Sam:Doesn't matter. Some spirits only see what they want.
Molly:So you're saying this ... Greeley, he took my husband? Oh, god.
Sam:Molly, look, we're gonna help, all right? But first, you gotta help us.
So what Sam says here is a theme for this episode aye? That some spirits, both Greeley and Molly, only see what they want. Greeley is only focused on torturing Molly and Molly is only focused on her feelings for David. Sam avoids Molly's question of whether Greeley might have David because he knows that will keep her with them.
So first she helps them by taking them to the cabin where she found Greeley, which seems to be a hunting cabin - hooks and blood and all kinds of horrorish stuff around aye? Dean remarks "seems like a real sweet guy." (not)
When Molly asks them why they are looking for Greeley's grave and they tell her that they need to salt and burn the body, her response is typical, a disbelieving/resigned, "Oh, sure, naturally." She asks whether that would help them find David, and Sam replies that it would help both of them (avoiding a proper answer). They can't find a grave or any hints to it's whereabouts so they decide to find the main cabin where Greeley and his wife used to live. Dean leaves Molly to Sam and Sam tells Molly to keep close, but when Molly hears a voice calling to her, all she can think of is David. She forgets about Sam and his warning and hurries toward the voice. Well, of course it's Greeley. I love these scenes where Dean comes up behind the ghost or monster and blows them away.
Dean finds a "creepy brick road" so they decide to follow it. On the way Molly asks more questions and Sam patiently answers her as he would any other victim.
Sam: Salt repels unnatural things.
What do you know, the creepy brick road leads them to a creepy old house.
Dean: You know, just once I'd like to round the corner and see a nice house.
There are no grave stones outside. Dean tells Sam and Molly to go upstairs and check for hints of where Greeley might be buried while he looks downstairs.
Another scene where Sam shows his compassion and sympathy for Molly. It is only on a rewatch that we can see what he is really thinking here aye? Of course he also feels for Greeley's tragic death and what that did to him but he is talking about Molly here.
Molly: You sound almost sorry for them.
Sam: Well, they weren't evil people, you know? A lot of them were good. Just... Something happened to them. Something they couldn't control.
We've seen this compassion before, in Asylum, Usual Suspects and Houses of the Holy and if you count other monsters, Blood Lust... etc. This is his gift. Dean doesn't feel the same way though. It is a little harder for him to feel anything for those monsters who he has always thought of in black and white. He comes up and states that he doesn't like ghosts, period.
As they begin the search again together, Dean finds the hidden door to the attic. (He's sure good at that... reminding me of Asylum again.)
Dean: There's something behind here.
And they find out what happened to Greeley's wife, showing how much Greeley himself was loved and missed when he passed. Molly we can see is also compassionate and good. She not only feels for Greeley as she looks through the albums, but feels for his wife who could not live without him. Sam insists on bringing the wife down from the rafters and burying her despite Dean's reluctance. As they bury her, Sam and Molly again have a conversation about ghosts and dying.
Sam: After they let go of whatever's keeping them here, they ... they just go. I hope someplace better, but we don't know. No one does.
Molly:What happens when you burn their bones?
Sam: Umm... Well, my dad used to say that was like death for ghosts, you know? But... The truth is, we still don't know. Not for sure. Guess that's why we all hold on to life so hard. Even the dead. We're all just scared of the unknown.
Well, we know now what happens to ghosts in Supernatural when you burn the bones. They go to the same place they would go to anyway, but maybe more forcefully. But I assume the writers are trying to pose the universal question as well. The uncertainty that we live with and maybe the fear of death as well. And the importance of faith and hope.
Sam and Dean don't have any luck finding anything on Greeley's grave. Molly is looking through the photo albums for clues and feeling bad for Greeley while Sam feels worse and worse about not telling Molly the whole truth. He goes up to Dean who is thinking by himself in a different room and proposes that they tell her.
Dean:It's for her own good. Man, I know you feel guilty, all right? But let's just stick to the plan. Let's get her out of here. Then we'll tell her.
Which is when Molly comes in, having heard the last words, and demands to know right now. She accuses them of just using her as bait to get Greeley. We can see Sam debating whether to tell her, when thankfully or not, Greeley makes his presence known.
This time, an old radio with it's wire chewed off starts to play... of course, the same music.
I begin to wonder what they are trying to say with this music. Sure, yeah, it was the music playing when Molly crashed. But it probably has a little more meaning than that aye? As far as I can make out, the song is about a boy who was born into an underprivileged family and could not break free - and I guess it can be tied in to the loop situation Greeley and Molly are in during the episode. By playing the song, Greeley could be reminding Molly of how she killed him. The name, though, The Home of the Rising Sun... reminds me of the beautiful final scene of the episode where Molly is set free.
Anyway, Dean is alone in one room checking the radio. As he looks around the room, the glass on the door freezes up and Greeley leaves his message.
As Sam and Molly wait in the other room, Greeley grabs Molly through the window (only a ghost could do something like that aye?) and takes her away to the hunting cabin to torture her as he does every year. Sam wants to go find Molly and help her but Dean reminds him that it is more important to find Greeley's bones and burn them. Looking at a picture in the album, Sam remembers that trees are often planted as burial markers.
Dean: You're like a walking encyclopedia of weirdness.
(Sam answers, "Yeah, I know." :D)
They rush over to the hunting cabin where the tree is located and where Greeley just happens to be torturing Molly (or maybe that is why he tortures her there huh...). Before they get to her, we hear Molly talking to Greeley about his wife and how sorry she is, but Greeley tells her that his wife is gone and he doesn't care about her any more. The only thing he cares about is torturing Molly. His hate and vengeance has won over his love for his wife. She screams as he cuts her with his ugly nails and Dean rushes in while Sam stays behind to dig up and burn the bones.
Haha. Really cute Dean. The only problem is, Greeley appears behind him and flings him to the wall. And he can't move while Greeley cuts him on the cheek with his nails (shudder) then gets a knife to do some more permanent damage. We hear Dean shouting to Sam to hurry (Greeley is so intent on Dean that he doesn't register what Sam is doing). There are not many episodes I remember where Sam is actually burning the bones. I thought I'd keep that scene too so here it is.
As the bones burn, we see the effect on Greeley. This scene is not as beautiful as the other ghost burning scenes I have seen. Actually it is downright ugly and pitiful but it is an interesting contrast to the last scene and makes us think that the forceful removal to the other world through burning might just be painful for some so I thought I'd include it here as well. We've seen evil ghosts burn and good ghosts (Bobby) burn, but I've never seen them so in pain and anguish as this Greeley guy. It makes me think that he was really holding on way too tight to that life which he had lost and maybe also to his revenge.
When they get back to the car (Dean has his little conversation with Baby - "Oh, baby, it's been a long night. ") and Sam tells Molly to come with them but Molly wants to know what they have been hiding. Is David dead?
Sam:No, Molly. David's alive.
He tells her We will take you to him. They go to his house and Molly doesn't recognize him at first. Maybe he is a little plumper than he was? Middle aged? And a woman comes up to him and kisses him... What is going on? Sam and Dean drop the bombshell.
Sam:I'm sorry, Molly. 15 years ago, you and your husband hit Jonah Greeley with your car. David survived.
Sam:Each year he punishes somebody for his death... ah, chasing them. Torturing them. And each year, that somebody is you.
And here is Sam's little pep talk minus the unnecessary bits...
Sam:Molly, we brought you here so you could move on.
Molly:I have to tell him --
Sam:Tell him what? That you love him? That you're sorry? Molly, he already knows that.
David's already said his good byes, Molly. Now it's your turn. This is your unfinished business.
Just... let go. Of David. Of everything. You do that... we think you'll move on.
(Don't you think though that those Reapers need to be grateful for all the work Sam and Dean do for them?)
And she does. I love this scene. It is beautiful and full of hope.
And the conversation between Sam and Dean as they watch her disappear...
Dean:I guess she wasn't so bad... for a ghost. You think she's really going to a better place?
Sam:I hope so.
Dean:I guess we'll never know. Not until we take the plunge ourselves, huh?
Sam: Doesn't really matter, Dean. Hope's kind of the whole point.
So two lessons there at the end ... You've gotta let go when it is your time (a lesson that Dean will not accept with regards to Sam). And hope IS the whole point... Sam's theme throughout the series aye?