Supernatural: Nightmare
May 26, 2021 8:31 AM - Season 1, Episode 14 - Subscribe

When Sam begins to have waking visions in additions to his nightmares, he and Dean investigate the unusual murders he envisioned, only to find they're all true, and that perhaps Sam's not the only one with special abilities.
posted by orange swan (11 comments total)
 
Dean: C'mon, let's just pick this up in the morning, all right? Check out the house, we'll talk to the family...
Sam: Dean, you saw them, they're devastated. They're not gonna want to talk to us.
Dean: Yeah, you're right. But I think I know who they will talk to.
Sam: Who?
[cut to a scene of Sam and Dean ringing the doorbell of the Miller residence, dressed as priests]
Sam: This has got to be a whole new low for us.


The actress who plays the stepmother in this episode is Beth Broderick, who plays Zelda Spellman in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I never recognized her on my first time through the run of the show and was having difficulty recognizing ever after I knew it was her. The sixteen years that have elapsed since this episode was made have physically changed her, of course, but I think it's just as much because she's playing a completely different kind of person. She's a Julliard graduate and a fine actress who disappears into her roles.  

Jensen Ackles came up with the bit of him eating some of the cocktail sausages that were on the coffee table in front of him when he was talking with the stepmother. Because it wasn't in the script, the sausages weren't intended to be eaten and had been prepared as a prop, and though they were technically edible they didn't taste very good. But because of that scene the writers made it a character trait of Dean's that he loved snacks and junk food and would basically eat whatever was put in front of him. 

I found it a stretch that the authorities wouldn't have intervened in the Miller family's very open and extreme abuse. Children's services had gotten very interventionist by the late nineties. I'm also side-eyeing the neighbour's assertion that "the worst" part of the Miller family's abuse was that *the stepmother* did nothing about it. Of course she should have tried to protect Max, but the person who does nothing is NOT worse than those who are committing the actual abuse. It was misogynist of the guy to assign the passive stepmother more blame than the abusive father and uncle, especially given the very real possibility that she may have been abused or threatened with/afraid of abuse herself.  

It's a breakthrough for Sam to begin to see his family life in comparison with other families that have had to weather the kind of destructive evil forces and resulting trauma and grief his family did, instead of only with the normal, middle class/privileged kids he would have known in the public school system and at Stanford, and to realize just what his father was up against. John Winchester may have clashed with Sam over Sam's wanting to do other things with his life than hunt, but at least Sam never felt his dad hated him or blamed him at all for his mother's death. 

It's very Dean that, when Sam develops psychic abilities, he suggests a trip to Vegas. And also very Dean that he won't let on how concerned he is about Sam. That devil-may-care attitude and sense of humour of his is just as much a part of his armour as the weaponry in the trunk of the Impala.
posted by orange swan at 8:57 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Thanks for these posts! I had momentary "hunh?" because I remembered Beth Broderick from the 90s Sabrina the Teenage Witch and had thought it was Miranda Otto in the new Netflix Sabrina series... which sent me running to check my memory on imdb ... only to find out something interesting enough to make me check out the new Sabrina again... I dropped away from it not too far in.

And these posts are also making me want to revisit Supernatural -- I watched at the beginning but life intervened somewhere around Season 3-ish...?
posted by profreader at 11:42 AM on May 26


Oh shit, I got that totally wrong!!! I mixed up Beth Broderick and Miranda Otto. No wonder I didn't "recognize" Beth Broderick in this episode as the same actress from the recent Sabrina -- it's not her.
posted by orange swan at 12:31 PM on May 26


...buuut (spoiler I suppose) ... Beth Broderick does show up in the new Sabrina in a couple of episodes as (another?) Zelda alongside Miranda Otto ... I guess a double? So it is on her Imdb as well.
posted by profreader at 12:42 PM on May 26


Oh, okay, that makes me feel a bit better about making such a ridiculous error. I must have seen and misread that listing.
posted by orange swan at 1:14 PM on May 26


Is the new 'Chilling Adventures' worth watching? How YA is it?
posted by porpoise at 2:04 PM on May 26


Jensen Ackles came up with the bit of him eating some of the cocktail sausages that were on the coffee table in front of him when he was talking with the stepmother. Because it wasn't in the script, the sausages weren't intended to be eaten and had been prepared as a prop, and though they were technically edible they didn't taste very good. But because of that scene the writers made it a character trait of Dean's that he loved snacks and junk food and would basically eat whatever was put in front of him.

I think of Dean's love of junk food and burgers and so on as one of his most prominent traits and I'm legitimately surprised that it wasn't in from the start.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:16 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


I like this episode okay but it's a bummer of a story. I wished we got more of the stepmom, because I thought the story itself also kind of came down on her deserving special punishment for not intervening in Max's abuse in a way I felt weird about. I don't know she came off as unsympathetic so much as underwritten.
posted by jameaterblues at 5:21 PM on May 26


I loved the food part of Dean, because on paper it's this healthy food vs junk food contrast between the brothers, but it goes further into a sort of orthorexia nervosa for Sam which ties in to his whole loss of bodily autonomy and sense of contamination, while Dean has experienced genuine starvation hunger (there's a scene somewhere when someone says "have you ever been really hungry, like starving" and Dean is doing an oh yeah recognition, while Sam looks baffled) which coupled with the flashback scenes of young Dean giving up food so Sam can eat and other notes, plus Ackles being shorter than Padalecki has led to some lovely meta about Dean being malnourished as a child from a really shitty gas station diet and neglectful father, but working to keep Sam reasonably fed.

Max is one of the characters I wish they'd kept around, but at the time and still in hindsight, it was narratively interesting that he died by suicide because that's definitely an option presented first as terrible and then gradually seriously considered by Sam as the ethical solution to being one of the Special Kids.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:14 PM on May 26 [3 favorites]


I'd never thought of that root cause of Dean's eating habits, dorothyisunderwood, but I think you're right. My take on it was that Dean's unabashed love of food stems from his having committed to a hunter's life, and all it entails. He will never marry, will never have a real home, will always be poor, will never receive any recognition for the brutal and vitally important work he does, and will die a terrible death at a young age, but he's damn well going to live while he's alive, so he's an unapologetic hedonist when it comes to enjoying whatever simple pleasures are within his reach: casual sex, food, his beloved car, and his favourite music, TV shows, and movies.

I think this reactionary hedonism explains part of his love of food, and that the food insecurity/hunger he experienced as a child explains the other part of it.
posted by orange swan at 4:41 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


This is the second consecutive episode I noticed the clock. The Supernatural wiki says it first appeared in the Bloody Mary episode (thought I didn't catch it), but that its form differed slightly in that episode. I remembered the starburst clock from my original series watch, and I'm surprised to see it appear so early in the series.
posted by lilac girl at 11:15 PM on June 26


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