Our adventure starts in Hibbing, Montana. Ja, you betcha. Note the town: this will become important in later seasons.
There’s an adorable little boy watching scary teevee in his bed. Something catches his attention, and he ends up at his window, which overlooks a seedy parking lot outside of a tavern. There’s a dude taking out the trash, all very calm and normal. At least, until the dude gets yanked under a car by an invisible something.
Death by Monstrosity: 1
The scene changes to Mom standing with the kid, talking to two dudes in state trooper’s uniforms. She’s complaining about her kiddo being questioned again – the more often he tells the story, the more he believes it. The deputies remove their hats, and we discover dundunDUN it’s Sam and Dean. Obvs.
Turns out the boys are in the area because their dad marked it as the possible hunting grounds of a phantom attacker. Otherwise, they would’ve just written this off as normal disappearance stuff. They discuss it a bit while Dean plays darts in the tavern. Then Sam gets attacked by a cat under a car while Dean’s in the bathroom. Psych! But when Dean comes out to the parking lot to join his bro, there’s no bro. Oh, dear.
Dean does some useless yelling his brother’s name and trying to ask drunk people if they’ve seen anything, but it’s a no go. He does notice some security cameras. So the next morning, he heads over to the sheriff’s office, posing as Sam’s cousin the state cop, to see if he can scare up any footage. He has to do some very earnest persuading to get the lady deputy to let him help investigate.
Meanwhile, Sam wakes up in a cage. Oh, dear. I’m going to assume he got his head bonked here.
What Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?
Sam: 5 6
We learn Deputy Hudak has remarkable attention to detail, because she finds a shiny license plate on an old camper on security cam footage. Ooo, stolen plates! A rusty, screechy black van drives by, and Dean puts it together with the kid’s description of the “monster.”
Dean and Deputy Hudak have been looking for the camper all day, apparently, because now it is night, and they are past the last traffic cam sighting of it. They’re in the backwoods now. And Dean’s cover gets blown because she’s smart enough to query the badge number he gave her. Which of course is a stolen badge, belonging to a big black dude. Dean makes a horrible joke about having that Michael Jackson skin disease, and then has to fast-talk her into not arresting him. This includes being quite emotional about taking care of him since childhood and being terrified of losing him.
Dean’s Man Tears:
And Deputy Hudak is utterly unmoved until her eyes rest upon the photograph of her beloved brother who went missing, and of course she has Feels and changes her mind about arresting Dean immediately.
Back in his cage, Sam manages to rip out a hose and pull down a bracket. The doors unlock. Sam somehow knows that This Is a Trap, but Jenkins runs to freedom anyway, where he’s promptly hunted down and murdered in the woods by a bunch of psychopathic laughing hillbillies. This is in no way cliché or anything.
Death by Monstrosity: 1
Dean doesn’t want to press his luck, but has to for exposition purposes, so he asks Deputy Hudak why she’s helping him so that we can learn that her brother Riley disappeared in circumstances similar to Sam’s a few years ago. Then they go to the woods, where she tricks Dean and then cuffs him to her cruiser when he insists on accompanying her in the search. No, there’s no real reason why he can’t go with her. It’s just that the plot needed her to go alone, so.
Dean manages to reach the antenna and free himself from the cuffs in a non-nail-biting will-he-won’t-he-escape-before-the-hillbillies-find-him sequence. I’m pretty sure the writers of this episode have heard of building tension and things like that and thought they’d give them a try. Shame they’re so obvious about the tropes that suspense is dead before it takes its first bated breath.
Sam and Deputy Hudak have a touching bonding scene when she wakes up in a cage. Then the door opens! Someone walks in slowly and creepily! IT’S THE HILLBILLIES! Oh, wait, it’s just Dean. Who obviously has to make a double entendre joke about getting out of the cuffs when the deputy asks how he managed it.
Definitely Hetero Dean: 1
Dean gives Sam shit for getting caught by people as he tries to figure out the locks. Then he says people aren’t predictable like monsters are, so, y’know, maybe stop throwing shade all over your brother, there, Dean.
Deputy Hudak finds out her brother’s car is parked out back with other victims’ cars, so he definitely got kidnapped and killed by the psychopathic hillbillies. I’m sure we’re all shocked and deeply affected by this revelation.
Dean goes into the house to look for the key, and finds a jar of indeterminate human remains. I’d be squicked if I could make out what it might be. Then he finds a bunch of Polaroids with the hillbillies posing with their human prey like game hunters posing with their trophies, which might have more of an impact if this wasn’t a well-worn trope. Dean finds he can relate better to demons than humans. Then he goes off exploring the rest of the house and runs into a wind chime sort of thing made from human jawbones and stuff. He comes upon one of the hillbillies cutting up their most recent victim, and also finds the keys just laying out, so that would’ve been great if he hadn’t also found a jar of human teeth sitting beside them. That’s pretty much the only genuinely creepy thing about this episode. I don’t care how badly something’s written, a jar of human teeth will never not be creepy.
Blood and Gore: 1
Missy appears, and Dean gets stabbed in return for his attempt at compassion. He and Daddy Hillbilly fight. Other hillbillies appear. Dean is brained with a cast iron pan while he’s in the middle of telling various hillbillies whose ass he will kick first.
What Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?
When Dean wakes up, Pa Hillbilly explains to Dean that they hunt humans, which somehow Dean hadn’t figured out yet. He goes on and on about how no other animal compares to hunting humans and stuff, and okay, I get it, writers, you read “The Most Dangerous Game” in high school and were duly impressed. Newsflash: you are no Richard Connell. Also, hillbillies aren’t as creepy as sophisticated rich men when it comes to human-hunting villains.
I do like Missy’s barrette, though. This ep isn’t a total loss.
Dean of course chooses Sam, which would’ve been clever, but of course Pa tells the boys to shoot them in the cage, which ruins the ruse. It would’ve been very bad indeed if Sam hadn’t had his bracket to throw at the dude with the rifle. He gets out of his cage and beats the dude with his own gun, which jams. Meanwhile, Missy pokes a knife at Dean while the other guys go off to hunt. Gosh, we wonder if Sam and the deputy will ever escape alive, be still my heart, etc.
I quite like her muscles, tho.
Then the episode concludes with Sam giving Dean shit for being ambushed by a little girl as they walk off into the woods.
Ewww Goils: 1
I won’t give it a sexism point, though, because he would’ve given Dean shit for being waylaid by any human. I mean, that’s just what you do when your brother gave you shit about it earlier.
Brotherly Love: 1