1×03 “Dead In The Water”

Like most other episodes, Dead In The Water starts out not with the Winchester brothers, but in the town or city where the episode is set, giving the viewers a “sneak peek” at the threat the boys will be facing.

There have been other water-based horror/thrillers before–most notably, Jaws, and it’s obvious this episode takes its cue from that movie, having a nearly identical opening sequence. It continues in that vein throughout most of the episode, giving you an intense concern about not only lakes, but kitchen sinks, bathtubs, and indeed, anywhere you can find standing water.

It also establishes completely something that the previous episode, Wendigo, only hints at; it cements Dean’s empathetic nature. In Wendigo, Dean is willing to halt the search for their father to help the girl search for her missing brother because their parents are gone; in Dead In The Water, Dean finds himself drawn to the young boy Lucas, who watched his father die in front of him on the lake. Both situations are similar to Dean’s own; in the first case, both parents gone–mother dead, father missing–with only herself and her brothers left, and in the second case, a young boy approxmiately Dean’s age when his mother was killed.

It’s a surprising characterization, considering that Dean is the one who–at least in Sam’s eyes–will follow John Winchester without question, doing what he’s told because it’s an order, and yet, Sam is the one who is most determined to find their father, while Dean seems content to let John take care of himself while they “…kill every evil thing between here and there” on their search, leaving the trail leading to their father to get colder and colder every day they spend hunting.

When Dean talks to the young boy, you get a sense that he is talking openly, without the barriers and pretenses that he might put on for another adult. There is one scene in particular, where Dean is talking to the boy about what happened to his mother, and Dean says, “See, when I was your age, I saw something real bad happen to my mom. And I was scared too. And I had trouble talking, just like you. But see, my mom, I know she wanted me to be brave. I think about that every day. And I do my best to brave.” This line is enough to kill you on it’s own; Jensen Ackles seems one step away from tears.

But it’s Jared Padalecki that makes the scene, because of a single filming option. Instead of the camera remaining on Dean in the foreground, they instead choose to shoot Sam’s reaction, while he is watching Dean, who appears to the camera as a blurry shadow. Padalecki underplays the moment, which makes it all that more poignant; it’s as if he’s seeing that his brother is a real, fragile human being for the very first time under all the bravado. It’s mostly in his eyes; they flick in a heartbeat from the boy to Dean, and he never stops watching his brother, or listening to his words. His face barely moves, except for a convulsive swallow, at which point he turns his head as though suddenly aware he’s eavesdropping on something personal and private, just between Dean and the boy.

Sam, though, is not portrayed as uncaring. He’s simply portrayed as determined, and still steered on by anger and desperation, with the need to find the demon that murdered his girlfriend, Jessica. Dean has had years to manage that anger, and Sam has had less than a month. When he interacts with the boy and the boy’s mother, Sam is at his most caring and tender, careful and quietly spoken, showing no sign of his anger, and that starts to flesh out Sam’s character even further, showing the layers with which he is endowed.

Dead In The Water sports one of my favorite scary-genre staples; the idiotic people. In Van Helsing, David Wenham’s character says, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s not to be the first one to stick my hand into a viscous material.” Apparently, the people of Lake Manitoc, Wisconsin, have never seen Van Helsing, because when a kitchen sink in perfect working order suddenly starts spitting up brackish, black water *from the drain,* one of the characters blindly *sticks his arm into the water and down the drain.*

See, you and I know this can’t end well. Furthermore? We know not to do that. What, Lake Manitoc doesn’t sell Drano? Because I know my first inclination is always to reach into a gross sink clog and pull out moldy food and who knows what else. Ick.

By the end of the episode, you feel like you’ve learned a lot about both the brothers. You get insights into what kind of man Dean Winchester really is, and what kind of man Sam Winchester is going to be in a few months, when the pain fades and who he is shines through.

The most heartwarming moment is seeing Dean interacting with a fully recovered Lucas. Earlier in the episode, Dean makes the comment of, “Aren’t kids great?” and Sam rightfully points out that Dean doesn’t even *know* any kids. And yet, he is the one who manages to make the connection with Lucas, and he is the one who could have easily have been a stand-in father figure, if he had had the good sense to stay in Lake Manitoc. His parting advice to the boy? “Zeppelin rules!”

Zeppelin *does* rule.

Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know // Your stairway lies on the whispering wind. // And as we wind on down the road // Our shadows taller than our soul.

Best Line:
Dean: See, when I was your age, I saw something real bad happen to my mom. And I was scared too. And I had trouble talking, just like you. But see, my mom, I know she wanted me to be brave. I think about that every day. And I do my best to brave.

Sam and Dean by the killer lake


One Response to “1×03 “Dead In The Water””

  1. Another insightful review! The comment about Sam’s reaction to what Dean was saying is totally spot on to what I thought when I watched that–it’s as if he was seeing Dean for the first time; and you’re right, no words spoken from Sam, but his eyes mirrored his soul.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: