1×11 “Scarecrow”

Scarecrow is roughly the halfway point of the season; there’s 21 episodes and we’ve already seen ten. After this, there’s ten to go. Scarecrow does a great job of reminding the audience that now is the time momentum has to be built, to start that train bulleting towards one hellacious finale in Devil’s Trap.

There’s a lot of things going on in this episode; there’s a supernatural storyline, there’s the Winchester storyline, and then there’s the introduction of a new element; the Demon. Scarecrow somehow manages to weave all three threads into one cohesive story, and set the stage for the build-up of the latter half of the season.

The teaser itself sets up the–no pun intended–supernatural part of the episode; a malicious scarecrow that can come down off it’s pole at will kills strangers who wanders into the orchard where he’s staked out. Nothing out of the ordinary, except kudos to the teaser’s final shot, which is the empty scarecrow pole, loose ropes flapping in the wind while a woman screams off camera, and then abrupt silence. Not another sound on the soundtrack as it fades to black. Creeeeeeeeeepy.

… You know, I think Scarecrow is the first episode with a title card.

After the teaser, the action picks up exactly where last episode left off with Dean getting well-earned sleep after the fight with Dr. Ellicott (see the review for Asylum and sleeping through the ringing of his cell phone, which Sam answers when Dean doesn’t wake up.

He wakes up, however, when he finds out who is on the other end of the phone call–their father. Dean wakes up and gets dressed almost instantly, holding out his hand for the phone, which Sam refuses to hand over. Instead, he and John talk, John telling Sam what he knows–that it was a demon that killed their mother and Sam’s girlfriend, that John himself is fine and unharmed, and he’s closing in. And for the brothers to stop looking for him and keep hunting. Sam, of course, is irate and demands more, but John tries to reassert authority and give them a new job.

It’s not until Dean rips the phone out of Sam’s hand that he hears John saying, “I am giving you an order,” and like the perfect soldier he is, Dean puts aside his own concern and does what he is told, just as he always does.

Can I just be amusingly shallow and point out I love the way Dean goes, “Yahtzee” after Sam asked like, four questions in a row? Because I’m envisioning Dean and Sam shaking the little dice cup and Dean cheating and turning over one of his dice to give himself a better roll, and it’s adorable as hell.

Unfortunately, all those good feelings I had for Sam go right out the window with this episode. And I could go into a long diatribe why, but I’ll keep it short and say, Sam’s a brat who never had to grow up like Dean did because he had a brother to love him.

They’re on the way to Indiana, and Sam stops the car in the middle of the road, going into his familiar “we don’t always have to do what Dad says” spiel, and Dean is trying to calm him down. And then Sam does something that I really don’t know how Dean forgives him for; he tells Dean that Dean’s got no way of knowing how Sam feels. He tells Dean that whatever he remembered, as a four year old, was in no way equal to what an adult Sam felt losing a girlfriend six months ago.

Well, you know what, Sammy? I don’t blame Dean for booting your ass out onto the side of the road. Maybe you did lose your girlfriend six months ago. But you know what? Dean lost a hell of a lot more, despite being younger, and he sacrificed a hell of a lot more for your ungrateful ass. He was your mother, for all intents and purposes, and the only reason you’re capable of being a shithead to him now is because of what Dean gave up to raise you then. Ungrateful ass. And I’m so, so proud of Dean calling him a selfish bastard.

I really feel bad for Dean, because he knew Sam was going to leave him, eventually, but he kept hoping that he wouldn’t. But this scene, where Dean warns, “I will leave your ass!” and Sam answering, “That’s what I want you to do.” Is just killer. Jensen Ackles shows you Dean’s pain and anger, and shows him swallowing it down with nothing but a slam of the Impala’s trunk and bright red brakelights as he leaves Sam on the side of the road.

Appropriately enough, it’s raining when Dean reaches the town of Burkittsville. Dean keys through his cell phone, pausing on Sam’s mobile before closing the phone in disgust and getting out to go to work. Dean introduces himself to a cafe owner as John Bonham, and the cafe owner, quite calmly asks, “Isn’t that the drummer for Led Zeppelin?” (The answer, of course, is yes. Bonham died in 1980 at age 32. Led Zeppelin was subsequently disbanded.) Dean’s usual charm fails him with the cafe owner, and he’s forced to seek information elsewhere.

Meanwhile, a hitchhiking Sam runs into a blonde woman, also a hitchhiker. He offers to help her if she needs it, with the girl (wisely, I might add) refusing help from the stranger, citing the fact that he could be any kind of freak since he was hitchhiking. Blondie takes a ride from “Shady Van Guy”, in a white panel van, which incenses Sam when Blondie answers that she definitely trusted Shady Van Guy over Sam.

Back in Burkittsville, Dean is still showing around pictures of the couple from the teaser, and we find out that he is showing them to the elderly owners of the gas station, who gave the couple directions back to the interstate. They don’t remember the couple, of course, but the young woman who works with them does, because of the young man’s tattoo. When she remembers him, and reminds the elderly couple that the missing kids were “just married,” the man seems to have a sudden memory of them. “Yes, they came through for gas, weren’t here more than ten minutes. We told them how to get back to the interstate,” and Dean asks for and is given the same directions.

As he is driving by the orchard where the couple was murdered, the EMF indicator in the back seat goes crazy, squealing and lighting up like paranormal activity was heavily present. Pulling over to the side of the road, Dean takes the EMF meter out of his pack, and then starts to investigate. Coming face to face with the scarecrow, Dean’s verdict is, “Dude, you’re fugly.”

After having seen the missing man’s tattoo on the scarecrow’s arm, Dean returns to the town and starts questioning the young woman, who’s name is Emily. The elderly couple are her aunt and uncle, and she’s lived with them since she’s thirteen. The scarecrow terrifies Emily, and they are working on the car of another couple that had car trouble–Dean puts the information together and starts to realize what is going on.

Sam is at the local bus station, looking for the bus to Sacramento. He’s told that it won’t be until five PM the next day, and that the only other way to get there is to buy a car. Frustrated, he picks up his mobile to call Dean, finger hovering over the dial button much as Dean’s did in the earlier scene, but the “Hey!” of Blondie Hitchhiker from before stops him and he tucks the phone away as he hunkers down to talk to her. Afer finding out that Sam’s headed to California, same as she is, Blondie finally introduces herself–her name is Meg.

Dean’s caffeine addiction shows up in the next scene, when he walks into Scotty’s cafe–again–and the first thing he orders is black coffee. Yes, black coffee, ladies and gentlemen. The Blood In Dean Winchester’s Veins. The new couple, who owned the SUV Dean noticed before, is sitting in the cafe having lunch, and Dean makes sure to take a table near them and having “friendly conversation” with them, much to the chagrin of the cafe owner.

Dean’s pointed questions to the couple reveals that they stopped for gas, and the elderly gentleman at the gas station–Emily’s uncle–saw their brake lines were leaking, and offered to fix them. They’ll be on the road again by sundown. He gets fidgety when he hears that, offering to fix the brake line himself in an hour or so, so they’ll be well on their way before dark, but they turn him down. When that happens, Dean starts talking about his brother, and how Sam could give them the puppy-dog eyes, and they’d just buy right into it. When Dean refuses to leave the couple alone, the cafe owner calls the local Sheriff, and Dean is run out of town, sirens blaring, and told not to come back.

Meanwhile, Sam and Meg are sharing a meal and talking, with Meg revealing that she has left home because of her parents. They want what’s best for her, she said, but didn’t care if she wanted it or not, and that she was supposed to do things “because she was told to.” It’s obvious that Sam relates to this, because it’s an obvious equivalent of his situation with Dean and John. He even goes so far as to tell her “I know how you feel,” which is a shocking thing for him to say considering that he just bitched Dean out for saying the same thing earlier.

There’s an obvious attraction there, as Sam and Meg toast their independance together, but before we see much more, we’re back in Burkittsville with Dean.

Dean hasn’t let being run out of town on a rail stop him, and not long after dark, the Impala tears up the asphalt as he returns to town. The couple from the diner are already in the orchard, with the Scarecrow moving around after them as they’re looking for help, because their car broke down.

The Scarecrow finally shows itself, chasing the couple through the orchard with a scythe, until they run smack into Dean. Using his shotgun, Dean helps hold the scarecrow off long enough for the couple to return to their car. When asked what it was, Dean answers, “Don’t ask.”

During the night, or in the early parts of the morning, Dean has broken down and called his brother. He and Sam are talking about the scarecrow while Meg sleeps in the bus terminal beside Sam while Dean regales his brother with what happened. He even reminds Sam, “I can cope without you, you know.” He tells Sam that he’s on his way to a local community college to talk to a professor, since he doesnt have his “geekboy sidekick” to do the research for him. When Sam teases him, “If you’re hinting that you need my help, just ask,” Dean is quick to reassure him that he’s not hinting for anything.

The conversation grows awkward as they get into chick flick territory, with Dean stammering his way through apologies and meaningful exchanges while Sam doesn’t even need a translation; he knows what Dean is trying to say. He’s able to understand and say, “I’m sorry, too,” when Dean can’t stammer the words out, but the apology is there nonetheless. He’s able to understand when not to say anything, when Dean confesses that he admires that Sam stands up to John, and wishes that he could. The whole episode is worth it for this single conversation between the two brothers, which they can’t even have unless they’re states apart.

Dean ends the conversation with a serious goodbye; “I’m proud of you, Sammy” and “Promise me you’ll take care of yourself.” He asks one more thing; “Call me when you find Dad,” and then hangs up without even saying goodbye. It’s a painful conversation to witness, because it’s so intensely personal between those two guys, it’s almost like an intrusion into their lives.

Even Sam realizes the farewell in Dean’s phone call; it leaves him near tears, and when Meg asks him what his brother had to say, his only answer is, “Goodbye.”

For a non-geekboy sidekick researcher, Dean doesn’t do too bad. The professor shows him a book of Norse gods, because the area was settled by Scandinavians, and dean recognizes one of the pictures. It’s a Vanir, a Norse god of plenty who was built in effigy and placed in a field and sacrificed to–a ritual sacrifice, of one man and one woman. Ding, ding, ding. As he leaves the professor’s office, however, he is slammed in the face with the butt of a rifle, courtesy of his old friend, the Sheriff.

There is a meeting in the rain; Dean has foiled their plan to sacrifice to the god, and already the trees are beginning to die. Emily’s uncle agrees that if Dean has to die, then so be it, but he doesn’t understand why his niece, Emily, has to be the other half of the sacrifice.

Meanwhile back at the bus terminal, Sam is starting to get an inkling that something is wrong. Meg tells him their bus to Sacramento just came in; Sam tells her to catch it alone, because he thinks Dean is in trouble. He’s been trying to call for three hours and just keeps getting voicemail, which he knows is not like Dean. Meg begs Sam to go with her, but he can’t. “He’s my family,” Sam says, and leaves Meg in the terminal alone, while he goes to find his brother.

Back in the storm cellar, Dean is trying to explain to Emily what is happening. When the time comes, they’re escorted out to the orchard, with Emily’s aunt and uncle trying to explain to her why she has to be sacrificed with Dean while they’re being tied up for the scarecrow. Emily’s aunt starts quoting the whole “Good of the many” thing, which I always relate to Star Trek; The good of the many outweighs the good of the few or the one. (The source is usually attritubed to Jeremy Bentham and his utilitarian code of ethics.)

When night has fallen, Dean and Emily are trying to escape their ropes when they hear motion, and Dean is struggling hard to get himself untied when he hears “Dean?” “Sam!!” is the enthusiastic response, and he takes back everything he ever said about being glad Sam was gone, and admits to being “so glad” to see him. Sam frees Dean completely, and when Dean asks how he got here? “Stole a car.” “That’s my boy!” Dean crows, only to get to his feet and find out that the scarecrow is already stalking them.

The three of them try to escape, only to be countered by the townspeople with shotguns; they intend to see the sacrifice through. And they get their sacrifice, all right; the scarecrow chooses Emily’s aunt and uncle, dragging them off while the rest of the people run in fright. Dean and the others escape, only to return in the morning and burn down the tree that is the source of the scarecrow’s power. Why they didn’t burn the effigy too, I don’t know. But hey. I don’t write it, I just review it.

Best Lines:
Sam: I think you’re stuck with me.
Dean: What made you change your mind?
Sam: I didn’t. I still wanna find Dad, and you’re still a pain in the ass. But Jess and Mom, they’re both gone. Dad is… God knows where. You and me, we’re all that’s left. So, uh, if we’re gonna see this through, we’re gonna do it together.
Dean: Hold me, Sam. That was beautiful.


6 Responses to “1×11 “Scarecrow””

  1. Oooo! I was ready for you to go on a diatribe of Sam-bash. A humorous and inciteful review!

  2. Well, as much as I’m a Deangirl, I’m not gonna bash Sam. I may not agree with what he does some of the times, but in the end, Sam’s got his own issues, just like his brother, and I love Sam just as much as I love Dean. I just tend to cut Dean a little more slack than I do Sam because Sam had advantages that Dean didn’t.

  3. I like both brothers equally (heck, I can’t imagine one without the other!); and I know you’ve said that you’re a DeanGirl, so I really appreciated that your review took into consideration both sides of the equation. I do have to point out one thing that Dean has one up over Sam, and a reason why I tend to give Sam a benefit of the doubt when he acts like the most annoying li’l brother ever: Dean has a much better understanding of their familial situation as he is the older one and it seems as though Sam has been kept in the dark about all these — heck, he doesn’t even know that Dean carried him out that night of the fire. In there family dynamics, it seems John has overburdened Dean with responsibilities and sheltered Sam. It’s no wonder Dean and Sam are the way they are… and it’s also no wonder that Sam, although the more openly emotional one, seems to be the stronger person inside–emotionally and mentally; and Dean, the tough bad-boy on the outside, seems to be the more broken person that can crack anytime. It’s these ironies in the characters and their relationship that really keeps me coming back to this show. Don’t get me wrong, the first time I saw this show, I was attracted to the actors — pretty boy Jensen and tall handsome Jared are just too hot to not watch. But the prettiness can go only take you so far, the characters (with the brilliant acting) is what’s kept me tuned in. In other words: I came for the pretty, I stayed for the soul!

  4. In there family dynamics, it seems John has overburdened Dean with responsibilities and sheltered Sam.

    You hit exactly what I’ve been trying forumulate for AGES now precisely on the head. Because that’s exactly what happened. Even from the very second that the Incident happened, it’s been Dean’s responsibility to protect Sam–John doesn’t take care of Sam himself, he gives baby Sam to Dean and tells him to take him outside–the implication is, safe. And in later episodes–I hate talking them out of sequence, but more of how I feel about the Sam/Dean dynamic is solidified in Something Wicked. But without saying too much about that, the reason that I cut Dean slack that I don’t cut Sam is because Sam is the “normal” brother, insofar as a Winchester can be. He *isn’t* the emotionally broken one, because Dean provided stability to Sam, whereas Dean didn’t have anyone to provide that for *him.* I mean, you can argue that Dean and Sam had each other and I won’t say you’re wrong, but by the same token, a young Sam can’t hope to fulfill the complex needs of a growing Dean, whereas Dean-forced-into-early-adulthood can and did obviously fill those needs for Sam. Like I said in the review, the only reason Sam knows to be a jerk *now* is because of the love Dean gave him *then.* And while I do agree that Sam was sheltered from a heck of a lot–probably more than we realize, yet, and represses even more, there are some things that he *should* be able to remember, and one of those is Dean raising him. But he seems to focus more on John than Sam, and the bad fathering that John did as opposed to the good raising that Dean did.

  5. 1. Could you tell me how the tattoo belong to the scarecrow? Did it “eat” the man and make the man’s body?
    2. Could you tell me the name of evil which give power to the scarecrow?
    3. Could you tell me the language which is used as a magical spell to give power to the scarecrow?
    Thank you

  6. Hi, Endy! I can give you the best answers I’ve got, and I’m hoping to get my hands on the monsters book soon, so if I come across any more later, I’ll definitely let you know. But! Here’s what I know:

    1) While it’s never made absolutely clear, I do think the scarecrow ate the man and the woman. It’s always bothered me that the girl tripped over the skeleton of the man, because it made no sense to me that he’d leave bone behind, but yes, it feeds off their flesh and blood.

    2) It wasn’t evil so much as a mythological creature; the Norse (think in the Denmark area) myths speaks of a race of deities known as Vanir. On the show, they’re not portrayed as powerful as they are in the actual Norse pantheon, but as minor deities.

    3) Based on the carvings and the runes on the tree, I’d guess that it was an early Norse or Celtic.

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