“Dead In The Water” is an “on the fence” episode for me. There is plenty of good, but there is also plenty of bad. This is the debut for the series of Kim Manners as director and Sera Gamble and Raelle Tucker as writers. Even though this is the creative team that has taken the show to amazing heights, it’s obvious here that everyone was still trying to find their stride. Even Jensen and Jared didn’t have the same chemistry. If “Wendigo” felt like an X-Files
episode, “Dead In The Water” WAS an X-Files
episode. It had the same exact feel down to the pacing, suspense, somber tone, moodiness of the main characters and of course, the mysterious creature in the lake. The same lake used in a couple X-Files
episodes. I imagine this is where all the rip off accusations started happening.
Beyond that though, this Dean centered episode gave his character some deeper layers that is so well done. If we had gotten the macho bit again by the third episode, I’m sure viewers would have started to write off him off as a shallow pretty boy. Instead, Dean takes a personal interest and connects with a boy, Lucas, who’s deeply traumatized by witnessing his dad’s death. Something Dean can relate. He even opens up to Lucas, telling him how he lost his mother when he was young, was scared and afraid to talk about it. Even Sam’s thrown back by that confession. To me, that’s one of Dean’s best moments in the entire series.
There is some good guest acting too, for Amy Acker (Andrea) and Nico McEown (Lucas) really steal the show. Of course no one else does, including some really bad performances by the adults trying to cover up their murder of a classmate years ago. There’s some great creep factor to this episode too, especially the bathtub scene. Has it been done before? Sure. I still love it though and got pretty freaked out. Far more than the drowning in the kitchen sink or the Jaws recreation in the lake.
By putting Jensen Ackles in a lake and having him emerge in dramatic slo-mo, shaking off the water and gasping for air all while rescuing Lucas from drowning, the episode can’t lose. This is why Kim Manners is a genius. This is all anyone remembers of this episode and probably always will. That one shot redeems any weaknesses up to this point. Like Sam being wallpaper. Like the weak cover up by the clueless sheriff and no one in the town really caring about the drowning victims. Like the lack any great brotherly moments. Like me trying to figure out who was Mulder and who was Scully.
My overall grade is a B. Despite all the goodness with Dean’s character development, I honestly don’t like the story. This isn’t an episode I like watching repeatedly because I get kind of bored. It also fails to be unique, something that changes by the next episode.