There's been a lot of hate piled on "Bugs" over the years, and let me just start by saying this: I get it. "Bugs" isn't a good episode. The pacing is bad, the writing is worse, and the night lasts for like 8 minutes. (8 minutes! There isn't even a "look at the evening pass" montage or anything!) There are plenty of reasons to dislike this episode. Hell, Alice can probably spend an hour listing all the reasons she hates it.
BUT! I love "Bugs." There, I said it. I love this episode. Not in a "this episode is so good, I want to put on some Led Zeppelin and make out with it" kind of way. More in a "this is so bad, it's good" kind of way. It's like eating a whole plate of chocolate-chip cookies. I know I shouldn't, but they're so damn good I can't stop myself. And maybe I feel a little sick afterwards, but that doesn't stop me from eating an entire plate the next time I bake. It's a guilty pleasure, my "Dr. Sexy." I'm never going to put it on my Top 10 Episodes list or anything, but when I think of "Bugs," I don't cringe in horror like most fans probably do. I giggle and smile because I like watching this episode. So, in no particular order (or maybe more or less chronologically since I'm writing this as I watch the episode) here are some reasons why I love "Bugs."
- There's a "previously on" section with words on the screen and everything! I always forget they did that back in season 1.
- The guy getting eaten to death by bugs is really, really awesomely gross. I bet you've forgotten just how gross it is! Here's a handy reminder.
- Sam lounging on the Impala in front of the bar reading the paper is kind of hot.
- They're both smiling! Dean's so proud of himself for his pool-hustling winnings, too.
- Dean watches "Oprah"!
- Remember when there was time for dramatic Impala driving scenery shots?
- Sam knows it's suspicious when you find dead bugs but no bug trails!
- Dean makes this face.
- Dean stopping for the free BBQ is perfectly in character for him. They established earlier in the episode that he's hustling pool for cash, so it makes absolute sense that he'd want to get free food whenever he can. This is also true of grad students.
- The first time people mistake Sam and Dean for a couple happens in this episode. A lot in this episode. And it is amusing. The best part is how Sam clues in right away and is bemused, but it takes Dean a second to work through what the developer says. And once he does, he can't say "we're brothers" fast enough. But the second time it happens, he just plays it up, uses it as a way to embarrass his brother and leave him with the pushy real-estate agent.
- Sam Winchester, bug whisperer.
- Aw, Sam gives an "it gets better" speech. That's cute. And then heartbreaking when you realize for him it got better when he left for college. Meep.
- Sam drives the Impala!
- Along with getting free food at the BBQ, squatting makes total sense when you're always low on money. Luckily, this empty house also has a working steam shower and towels to go with it.
- The real-estate agent vs. the spiders scene is hilarious! First off, if a spider that big crawled on my face, I sure as hell wouldn't just brush it off and go back to watching the news, and I like spiders! That's a freak-out situation right there. At least she manages to freak out about the (bad) CGI spiders that come out of the showerhead.
- This is a really cool shot of Sam and Dean breaking in to dead lady's house.
- PLASTIC HALLOWEEN SPIDERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's just great when Dean pulls up the towel after the realtor gets killed and they all fall out. Seriously one of my favorite parts of the episode right there.
- Dean's "Hamlet" moment.
- I love how Sam's worried people are going to see the bones in the box he's carrying, so he covers them with his jacket. But then goes and talks about a "bunch of skeletons in an unmarked grave" right in front of everyone anyway.
- Dean stops to ask for directions when they're heading to the reservation, which is all kinds of great.
- "You know who starts sentence with "˜truth is'? Liars." That guy got saddled with all sorts of clunky exposition, but that line was precious.
- The history in this episode is such a hot mess, it makes me laugh. Joe White Tree says that his family was living in the area 200 years ago, which would have been 1806, since the episode takes place in 2006. Then the cavalry comes and makes them leave the land. First of all, the United States didn't even HAVE a standing cavalry until 1808, when it commissioned a unit of light dragoons. The unit had 8 men in it. Second, the Indian Removal Act wasn't signed until 1830, under Andrew Jackson. So troops wouldn't have been removing any Native Americans from their lands until at least that late, and they started in the east and worked their way west. Ha ha, research!
- The bugs chew through the phone lines. And the power lines. Those bugs are clever, I tell you.
- Flaming. Can. Of. Bug. Spray. YES!
- How can you not laugh at the 8-minute night in this episode? It's amazing!
- I do feel bad for Jared and Jensen, though, having to film with all those bees and getting stung a lot and they ended up needing to CGI them in anyway.
- I love that at the end of the episode when the family is packing up, Dean just helps load boxes while Sam talks to the son, Matt. No use just standing around looking pretty. Load some boxes, Dean!
- They made it a whole episode without using the FBI as aliases! They pose as nephews of Dustin the dead guy, brothers looking for a retirement home for their father, students in Anthro 101, Dean pretends to be Travis Weaver from Oklahoma Power and Gas. But no law enforcement!
- They're such brothers in this episode: Dean teasing Sam about being scared to go in the sinkhole, Sam and Dean arguing about how they were raised, Sam hits Dean's stomach when he pulls into the garage of the house they're squatting in. There's a lot of discussion about how they were raised, how much Sam resented their father. But Dean also tells Sam about the times when John would go to Stanford just to check up on him. There's some good bonding going on in this episode.
- But did I mention PLASTIC HALLOWEEN SPIDERS!!!!!!!?? Best ever.
Ah, "Bugs." That was fun, watching the episode again. It's so bad it's good! Hilarious, over-the-top, ridiculous, and a great way to spend 45 minutes. So, who's with me? Anyone else think "Bugs" is so bad it's good? What are your favorite parts?
If you watch it trying to have fun with it, I see no reason to hate it... You can cringe because of the quality, but still a classic funny episode!
After all, who could hate an episode that had as much as this one did about the brothers' background.
And who could hate an episode that had both a guy and a woman saying this to Sam and Dean, "Let me just say â€“- we accept homeowners of any race, religion, color, orâ€¦sexual orientation," and have Dean call Sam, "honey" to embarrass him. That line still cracks me up.
Supernatural Wiki says that Kim Manners begged EK not to do this script. I think Kim wasn't wrong on this one.
Speaking for myself only, prior to the last ten minutes of Swan Song, if an episode disappointed me, I was able to shrug it off with a "not the best," and move on to the next one. Beginning with S6, my disappointment became cumulative, building finally to the point that, if it were not for the fact that a new showrunner had been announced, I wasn't planning on watching S8. Now I'm all excited again, but with lower expectations than I once had.
Now that I think about it, I could even do a mind wipe and pretend that Dean is coming back from Hell, not Purgatory, and take Sam and Dean's story from there.
2 The brother moments which were both typical of sibilings but revealing at the same time were spot on I felt.
3 It was a episode that gave us some insight into Sams thoughts on his Dad and done at a time Sam was still cared about rather than being a plot point he became in later seasons..
It is just a guilty pleasure as Ardeospina article put so well
I especially love the brotherly moments, the insights into their childhood and Sam's thoughts on his father. The scene when Dean tells Sam that John would go to Stanford to check up on him is one of my favourite scenes of the entire series so far.
Thanks so much for this article Ardeospina. I'm definitely going to squeeze a re-watch of the episode in today sometime.
I basically rewatch it for the brotherly scenes....
Anyway, getting back to Bugs. The bugs plot is a call back to all of those awful bug horror movies of the '70s or '80s (and I think one of the Poltergeist movies, (edit: or maybe it was an Amityville Horror movie I'm thinking of)), and parts are cringe-worthy, but the brother dynamic was written so much better during that time period than it is now. It's been a while since I've seen the episode, so I can't offer that much detail in my comments, but I too remember some good moments.
My favorite three things about "Bugs"?
#1) The brief but wonderful scene by the sinkhole where Dustin died. Older brother baits younger brother in to doing something he definitely does NOT want to do by calling in to question younger brother's courage? Priceless!
#2) The scene when the female real estate agent calls in to question the nature of Sam & Dean's relationship. Older brother unashamedly and gleefully sets up younger brother for complete humiliation? Priceless!
#3) And finally, remembering the story Jensen once told about how Kim Manners refused to wear any protective gear during the filming of the attic bee scene because "if my actors have to film without any protection then I don't want any either". God we miss you, Kim.
I love SPN and can find redeeming features in every single episode. But if I was forced to choose my least favorite epi, it would definitely be any episode from the second half of Season 7. Thank you Ardeospina for pointing out that there are MANY wonderful redeeming features in "Bugs".
I agree, I liked bugs. In fact, there are no episodes of SPN that I don't like. True, some are better than others and some are real stand-out-OMG-h ow awesome was that, episodes. I am one of those people (maybe one of the only people) who watches the show in order, I can't just pick up a disc and watch any random episode. I start at the beginning and watch the series all the way through and then once I am done, I start over back at the pilot and watch it all over again. I find redeeming moments in all the episodes and even enjoy laughing at the "bad" moments too.
I recently got my sister and brother-in-law to watch the show. My brother-in-law is invested, my sister seems to just be watching it as a bonding thing with me cause she knows how obsessed I am. When they first started watching season one, I warned her about "Bugs" because I know how hated it is generally in the fandom and I was afraid she wouldn't see the beauty in it and would stop watching the show with a call to me saying "plastic spiders, really?" After they watched the episode she called me and said "I don't know why people hate "Bugs" so much. In fact, I think it may be my favorite episode so far!" Although I can't agree with her on THAT statement I can say that I enjoy watching "Bugs" and look forward to seeing it again next time I am watching S1.
You are not one of the only people as I too always watch the show in order. And never skip one either. I just have to, for whatever reason. Right now I'm up to 'Provenance' again tonight. Love that one too.
Also agree I like all episodes as there is alway something in each and every one to cherish. A few are not as good as others and I'm so fond of seasons 1 - 3 and can find no fault with any of them.
Good news! Our Space channel is going to start showing Supernatural from the beginning on week nights at 8:00 pm. They're going to show the whole damn series! So happy I'll be seeing it on real TV time as well as my nightly dvd episode.
I LOVE the hotel room in Provenance and the music when they enter and the "huh" from the boys. Absolutely CLASSIC!! I am laughing just thinking about it! Enjoy the rewatch.
Love back when Dean hustled to put food and a roof over their heads. When they bickered like real brothers, argued about Dad, squatted in houses and Dean scoffed up free food. (see Provenance for that too) and there was time to show the magnificent Impala flying down the road and people kept thinking they were gay. How could you not just love this episode? And Dean asking directions? And the umbrellas? Just feel good hilarious stuff.
The spiders were a hoot! That huge one dropping on her face and she wasn't too upset. The phoniest CGI ones in the shower and the plastic ones stuck in the towel. Just laugh out loud stuff.
Also, the native American saying every man, woman and child were killed and no one was left. How did he know the land had been cursed if no one was left to tell it? The look on Dean's face when he said 'you know when someone starts off with "the truth is" they are a liar'. He likes Sam. He doesn't lie. Funny especially how we know now just what a great liar Sam is and they both were all the time and still are.
So, Kim Manners, you didn't have to stick your finger down your throat for this one, as it turned out just fine as it is. So thanks, Kim, for the fun of it. Bee stings and all.
Thanks Ardeospina. This was great!
My little nit pick is just that it seemed to me to be obvious that hours had passed since they got in the attic and the roof got chewed through, but everyone else is annoyed by the 'shortest night' ever. Should have had a sign at the bottom saying '5 hours later'. But then that's just another amusing mishap.
It's just a feel good episode that I enjoy entirely!
You are making me want to go watch Bugs!
I appreciate the moments you highlighted, especially the plastic spiders, which were just plain funny, and Dean's hustling (agreed, total grad student behavior. Dean would have loved college.)
Now if it weren't for all the bugs.
I do love very low B movies, so "Bugs" can become one of those. Now, please if you could come up with something funny about "Defending Your Life"!
All the comments on this article, but especially yours, and how much fun I had putting this article together has convinced me to make this a series. I'm going to watch the worst episodes and do a review like I did here. I think it's going to be called "So Bad It's Good or Just So Bad." So keep an eye out for that! I'll definitely do "Defending Your Life!"
Thanks to Kim Manners, one of my favorite shots of the Impala is in this episode. It's the one where the car (in the background) drives up between the yellow police tape (in the foreground). That shot just really caught my eye.