Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) investigate a small town in Wisconsin where children are falling into comas for no apparent reason. The brothers discover that a witch is creeping into the bedrooms of the children and stealing their “life force.” While battling the witch, Dean recalls a past mistake that almost cost Sam his life at the hands of the very same witch, an event which has fueled Dean’s protectiveness over Sam and his blind obedience to his father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
The episode was written by Daniel Knauf and directed by Whitney Ransick.
A father tucks his young daughter in for the night. After the lights are out, the tree outside the window starts tapping on the window, making spooky shadows. Except … that bit looks a lot like a monstrous hand, doesn’t it? The hand opens the window and a black-robed figure glides into the room. It hovers over the girl as she screams.
Where the children go
Their dad sent them coordinates to Fitchburg, Wisc., but Sam can’t find any reports of anything spooky. Maybe his dad was wrong. When they get to town, Sam notices there’s only one child on the playground. It’s after school – shouldn’t the playground be crawling with kids? They ask the mother on the playground, who tells them several kids have recently gotten sick – hospital sick. The guys put on their suits and go to the hospital, where they pose as CDC officials. Dean notices a hunched old woman staring at him malevolently – she’s got an inverted cross on the wall of her room. Doctor Heidecker tells them six kids have fallen ill. They thought it was some sort of pneumonia, but it’s not reacting to treatment. It’s like their bodies are just wearing out. The disease seems to spread through children in families. Dean asks to interview the kids, but they’re all in comas.
The guys check out the latest victim’s house and find a strange handprint rotted into the windowsill. Dean’s seen that handprint before. Once he sees that and meets Michael, the snarky, mature-beyond-his-years boy who helps his mom run the hotel they’re staying at when he’s not taking care of his younger brother, Dean has a flashback to 15 years ago, when his dad was hunting and he was in charge of watching Sam. Young Dean was less obedient than current Dean – why does Dad always repeat the rules to him? Papa Winchester tells him to lock the doors and windows, shoot at anything scary, and above all, never leave Sam. But after three days with nothing to do, little Dean gets stir-crazy and locks a sleeping Sam in the room while he goes to the hotel’s arcade. When he gets back, that black-robed figure is hovering over Sam, sucking the life out of him. Dean tries to shoot it, but he distracts it. Papa Winchester comes in and drives it away, but he’s furious at Dean for breaking the rules. They leave town, and the monster lives to kill again.
That black-robed figure is a Shtriga, a witchlike figure who feeds off the life force of humans, preferably young children. During the day, it takes on a human disguise – often a feeble old woman. Dean decides they need to check out the scary woman at the hospital, but when they get there, she proves herself to just be a scary, crazy old woman. Oops. When they get back to the hotel, they find out Michael’s brother has fallen sick.
While Dean goes to the hospital again, Sam does some research – dozens of children tend to die from a mysterious illness every 15 or 20 years in small towns around here. The Shtriga is just getting started. Then Sam sees a picture of Dr. Heidecker tending to the sick kids – but it’s in a newspaper from 1893.
To kill the Shtriga, the guys need to shoot it with consecrated iron while it feeds. For that, they’ll need Michael’s help – as bait. He initially refuses, but eventually agrees – after all, he’d do anything for his little brother. The guys wait for the Shtriga to attack – it has to be seriously involved in feeding or it will get away. It finally attacks, and the guys burst in. They shoot it, but it’s only mostly dead – it attacks Sam and starts to suck the life out of him. Dean shoots it while it’s feeding, and the Shtriga is finally dead.
The kids in the hospital start to get better. Everyone is so relieved, they don’t even wonder what happened to Dr. Heidecker. Michael lies to his mom that nothing special happened while she was at the hospital with his brother. Sam apologizes to Dean – now his slavish devotion to following their dad’s orders makes sense. But Sam feels sorry for Michael – now he knows that nightmares are real, and he’ll never be the same. Sam wishes he ever had that kind of innocence. Dean says he wishes Sam could, too.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
as John Winchester
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as Miles Tarnower
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as Doctor Hydecker
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as Elderly Patient
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No Episosde Stills
Episode Screen Caps:
“Road to Nowhere” by Ozzy Osbourne
“Rock Bottom” by UFO
Sam: Are you sure you got the coordinates right?
Dean: Yeah, I double-checked. It’s Fitchburg, Wisconsin. He wouldn’t have sent us coordinates if it wasn’t important, Sammy.
Sam: Well I’m telling you, I looked. And all I could find was a big, steamy pile of nothing! If Dad’s sending us hunting for something, I don’t know what.
Dean: Well maybe he’s gonna meet us there.
Sam: (sarcastic chuckle). Yeah, because he’s been so easy to find up to this point.
Dean: Well you’re a real smartass, you know that?
Michael: I thought I was having a nightmare.
Dean: I’d give anything not to tell you this, but sometimes nightmares are real.
Sam: You’re getting wise in your old age, Dean.
Dean: Damn right.
Dean: Dad never spoke about it again. I didn’t ask. But he, uh, he looked at me different, you know. Which was worse. Not that I blame him. He gave me an order and I didn’t listen, and I almost got you killed.
Sam: You were just a kid.
Dean: Don’t. Don’t. Dad knew this was unfinished business for me. He sent me here to finish it.
Michael: King or two queens?
Dean: (asking for a room) Two queens
Michael: Ya, I bet.
Dean: What’d you say?
Michael: Nice car.
Sam: (Michael’ll) always know there are things out there in the dark, never be the same, you know? Sometimes I wish that…
Sam: I wish I could have that kind of innocence.
Dean: If it means anything, sometimes I wish you could, too.
Dean: You’ve heard a gun shot before?
Michael: Like in the movies?
Dean: It’s going to be a lot louder then in the movies.
Sam: I don’t know why you didn’t shoot him right then and there.
Dean: Yeah, Well. First of all I’m not going to open fire in a friggin’ pediatric ward.
Sam: Good call.
Dean: Second, it wouldn’t have done any good cause the *******’s bulletproof unless he’s chowing down on something. And third, I wasn’t packing. Which is probably a really good thing cause I probably would have just burned a clip in him off of the principle alone.
Sam: Hey Dean, I’m sorry.
Dean: For what?
Sam: You know, I’ve really given you a lot of crap for always following Dad’s orders. But I know why you do it.
Dean: Oh God, kill me now.
Sam: An old person, huh?
Sam: In the hospital? Whew, better call the Coast Guard!
Sam: It got away?
Dean: Yeah, Sammy, it happens.
Sam: Not very often.
Dean: Well I don’t know what to tell you, I mean, maybe Dad didn’t have his Wheaties that morning.
Sam: Dude, dude, I am not using this ID.
Dean: Why not?
Sam: Because it says Bikini Inspector on it!
Dean: Don’t worry, I’m sure there’s something in Fitchburg worth killing.
Sam: Yeah, what makes you so sure?
Dean: Well, because I’m the oldest, which means I’m always right.
Sam: No it doesn’t.
Dean: Yeah, it totally does.
When Sam and Dean are about to barge in on the old lady in the hospital, we see the number of her room. The number is 237. This is the same room number they used in the movie The Shining. They have also had this room number in the episode “Playthings.”
In the scene when the brothers first met the doctor and are talking with the nurse, there is a reflection of the boom-mic just above the doctor’s head in the glass wall.
When Dean shoots the Shrtiga in the head, there is a misfire on the blood, which spatters on the camera.
When Michael is pouring the milk for Asher, his hand is on the bottom of the glass. When the camera cuts to close up, his hand is gone. When the scene switches to flashback, young Dean’s hand is on the bottom of the glass again.
When Joanna is telling Michael that Asher is going to be all right, first shot Joanna’s hands are on Michael’s shoulders. Next shot, they are on his head, next on the shoulders, and then, back to the head. They keep switching back and forth.
The scene with Sam looking at the empty playground was filmed in downtown Port Coquitlam, BC. The producers changed the sign on the Japanese restaurant behind Sam to Glasow’s Restaurant, but they didn’t change the signs in the window, so close inspection still shows Japanese lettering.
The cartoon that Sam is seen watching during Dean’s first childhood flashback is Thundercats, an 80’s cartoon about a group of cat-like creatures who battle evil mutants on a foreign planet.
When recounting other places the “Shtriga” hit Sam says that it had been to “Brockway, Odgenville, and North Haverbrook” These same (fictional) towns were swindled out of a fortune by unscruplous con-man Lyle Lanley in The Simpsons episode ” Marge vs. the Monorail.”
Erica Carroll previously played a nurse in the episode “Faith.” That episode was in Nebraska, this one in Wisconsin.
Now I lay me down to sleep
Pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I die before I wake
Pray the Lord my soul to take
This is a well-known Christian bedtime prayer that dates back hundreds of years. It has also become well-known from the song ‘Enter Sandman’ by Metallica.
Something Wicked this Way Comes is a 1962 story written by Ray Bradbury involving children involved with the supernatural. Bradbury was inspired by the line “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes,” from Shakespeare’s MacBeth. Bradbury’s novel was made into a movie in 1983, starring Jason Robards and Jonathan Pryce.
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