Another week of Hellatus has come and gone so it’s time for the second installment in this five-part series.
I want to clarify my purpose in tackling this project, the purpose is to pick the one, and only one, episode per season that I believe is the pivot point for the season as well the series as a whole. Each season has many, many excellent episodes as well as episodes that are not so excellent but have excellent moments, with that in mind, I try to pick one out of 22 (or in one case 16) that is the pivotal episode.
Rules for pivotal episodes:
As I’ve learned from Alice, rules are necessary when embarking on such an adventure. Thus, I have some rules regarding how I decided upon the pivotal episode of each season.
First off, it must add to what we know thus far, either for Sam or Dean or for the storyline as a whole.
Second, it must be built upon in future episodes and events.
Third, the episode as a whole must be strong, this is the pivotal episode, not necessarily the most powerful episode of the season but in no way can it simply have a pivotal scene while the rest of the episode is flat or uneven or even forgettable.
All right. With the preliminaries out of the way let’s jump into Season 2.
The second season’s pivotal episode came a bit earlier than last time and may be an episode that flies under the radar for a lot of people. I hope you’ll hang with me though and then in the end, as always, I’m eager to read your thoughts and opinions.
While In My Time of Dying was critical for John’s sacrifice, Dean’s choice between going with the reaper or staying and eventually becoming an angry spirit (something that gets a nice repeat in Malleus Maleficarum as Dean learns that all demons were once human and that one day (in a few centuries or so in hell) he’ll become a demon), Sam’s struggles with John’s seeming obsession with the demon as well as his own determination to save Dean, and it is a strong, very strong episode, it does not pivot the series, despite John’s death.
Bloodlust, Simon Said, Croatoan, Hunted, Born Under a Bad Sign and What is and What Should Never Be have many crucial elements but some do not bear fruit for several seasons and others add to the complexity of the brothers’ relationship but do not significantly change it. These six are particularly strong episodes in their own right as well as having nuggets within that add to the story overall but are not the pivotal episode.
Simon Said introduces Andy but since we already know there are other psychic kids, and that Gordon is over the edge, it adds layers to the story without altering the course. Sam’s concerns over what the demon is doing and Dean’s fears that he may not be strong enough to save Sam are all elements that we saw in Nightmare and continue the elements that we were introduced to and pivoted upon in Nightmare.
Croatoan and Hunted also add to the mystery of Sam and the psychic kids with the addition of Ava and the demon’s kidnapping of her at the end as well as the revelation that Sam is mysteriously immune to some demon virus. Since Croatoan’s mystery does not get anything further added to it until Season 5 it is hard to suggest this is a pivotal episode although the moment is certainly pivotal.
BUABS and WIAWSNB are powerhouse episodes giving each of the leads a chance to showcase their talents, but neither overall are pivotal. Meg returns and possesses Sam in order to torment Dean and also opens Sam up to being prey for other hunters. BUABS also introduces the anti-possession charms which get an upgrade in the form of tattoos and later the boys receive Enochian etchings on their ribs so their arsenal of hiding and protecting themselves grows a little bit more.
WIAWSNB allows a grief-stricken and increasingly burdened Dean a respite from his burdens by thrusting him into a fantasy world where his fondest wish came true, Mom never died. While Dean’s realization that things aren’t always as you would want them to be as he realizes that having mom and having a loving girlfriend and a ‘normal life’ are nice he does not have that which is ultimately most important, Sam. Add to that the realization that his life as a hunter does mean something and that many people are alive because of his and Sam’s and John’s efforts allow him to refocus his attention taking it off his losses and putting it on his purpose and his victories and we get a powerful episode in which Dean finds his purpose again, however events the next week knock him back down.
None of the above make my choice of pivotal episode for, if we look at what happens in Seasons 3, 4 and 5, we realize that none of that would have happened if not for the seeds planted much earlier in Season 2.