Supernatural: Crossroad Blues
June 11, 2021 10:31 AM - Season 2, Episode 8 - Subscribe

When Sam and Dean try to save the lives of some people who have sold their souls to a crossroad demon, the demon offers Dean himself a deal.
posted by orange swan (4 comments total)
Sam: So much for a low profile. You've got a warrant in St. Louis and you're officially in the fed's database.
Dean: Dude, I'm like Dillinger or something!
Sam: Dean, it's not funny. It makes the job harder, we've got to be more careful now.
Dean: Well, what've they got on you?
Sam: I'm sure they just haven't posted it yet.
Dean: Wait, no accessory? Nothing?
Sam: Shut up.
Dean: Ha! You're jealous.
Sam: No I'm not!
Dean: Alright, what have you got on the case there you innocent, harmless young man you?

Dean: We know a little about a lot of things; just enough to make us dangerous.

Sam: [when Dean returns to the car after a fact-finding mission] So?
Dean: The secretary's name is Carly, she's 23, she kayaks, and they're real.
Sam: You didn't happen to ask her if she has seen any black dogs lately, did you?
Dean: Every complaint called in this week about anything big, black, hairy, or doglike. There are 19 calls in all, and uh... [pulls a post-it off a piece of paper] I don't know what this thing is.
Sam: You mean Carly's Myspace address?
Dean: Yeah, Myspace, what the hell is that?
Sam: [laughs]
Dean: Seriously, is that like some sort of porn site?

Crossroads Demon: Look, your dad is supposed to be alive. You're supposed to be dead. This will just set things straight. Put things back in their natural order, and you get ten extra years on top. That's a bonus.
Dean: Do you think you could throw in a set of steak knives?

Dean Winchester: [after crossroads demon kisses him] What the hell was that for?
Crossroads Demon: Sealing the deal.
Dean: You know, I usually like to be warned before I'm violated by demon tongue.

From the IMDb trivia section for this episode:

Robert Johnson was a young, and by all accounts untalented, boy who, as a teenager in the early 1920s, would hang around bars listening to the Blues musicians of the day. He dreamed of being able to play like them. From the accounts of his contemporaries, he disappeared for a few months and when he resurfaced he could play the Blues better than anyone. He shot to fame almost over night. His music does feature many occult references, and the legend grew that he had sold his soul to the devil in return for talent and fame. He died at 27, under mysterious circumstances. There are several different accounts of his death, and he left behind at least three women claiming to be his widow. It is not known where, or if, he was buried. To this day he remains an artistic legend, and those who remembered him maintained till they died that they had never seen anything like him before or since.

The song "Crossroad Blues", from which this episode takes its title, is playing when Robert Johnson makes his deal with the demon at the crossroads. The version used is actually sung by the real Robert Johnson. It is the only recording ever made of him singing that song.

The doctor is hiding out in Baskervilles Motel, which is a reference to Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskervilles", a Sherlock Holmes mystery centering around a mysterious gigantic black dog.

Here's a link to "Crossroad Blues", as performed by Robert Johnson.

The actress playing the demon who visits Robert Johnson, Christie Laing, is the same actress who played Lori's roommate in "Hook Man" during the first season.

Invisible hellhounds is a pretty neat MOTW. Cost effective to pull off too, I'm sure. 
posted by orange swan at 10:54 AM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

I imagine demons have long memories. Dean has got to be on someone's shitlist.
posted by porpoise at 10:14 PM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Also Hellhound On My Trail! All else side, this episode led me to some incredible music.

Demon deals and the soul economy and all of that end up being such an elaborate Thing on this show, maybe not ultimately to its benefit. But the basic core that is selling your soul to a devil at the crossroads: solid as hell and a great visual that instantly felt like it belonged in the show's world.

So do crossroad demons end up mainly dealing with people who live in or can get to places with unpaved intersections where they can bury their summoning? I live in a city, intersections are not the problem, but I wonder if the demons could live with a box tossed down a manhole or whatever.

My recollection is that Robert Johnson's legend is possibly a later mix up with that of a different 1930s Black blues musician named Tommy Johnson (no relation), who was allegedly happy to go around telling people he'd sold his soul to the devil to be amazing at the guitar. Obv, deal with the devil legends go way way back, and really could've done without the bonus racism in a lot of iterations that try to "explain" Black genius as not only supernatural cheating, but literally demonic in origin. That said, I would find "I am available to play at your wedding, and also--and I need to stress that this not a coincidence--in league with Satan" VERY compelling, as guitarist pitches go.
posted by jameaterblues at 2:28 PM on June 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Good point about the music.

The line about "should have asked for fame instead of talent" struck a nerve.

I'm a little bit surprised that they point out yarrow growing at that crossroad. It has some hemostatic properties, recognized by the ancient Greeks. In Chinese culture, yarrow stalks are the traditional tool for divination using the I Ching. I'm unfamiliar if they have any traditions in Western occultism, or if it's purely made up by the show. It's native to Asia, Europe, and North America.

In the Western tradition, crossroads were a place to leave executed criminals - partially from superstition (the crossroad confuses ghosts) and also as a boundary between settlements, a legal no-man's land (and I guess, as superstition as a boundary between Earth and Hell).

So if one was to be rational consistent, a random intersection in a city probably wouldn't do it. An intersection between different municipalities/ administrative regions ought to qualify (I live down the block between an intersection of Burnaby, New Westminster, and Coquitlam).

Haven't noticed any yarrow growing there.
posted by porpoise at 2:52 PM on June 12, 2021

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