Supernatural: Red Sky at Night
July 1, 2021 10:49 PM - Season 3, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Sam and Dean investigate the death of drowning victims who were nowhere near water at the time of their death, and learn that each of the victims saw a ghost ship before they died.


Bela: [to Dean, who wants to know where the Impala is] I'm sorry. I had that car towed.
Dean: You what!
Bela: Well, it was in a tow away zone.
Dean: No it wasn't!
Bela: It was when I finished with it.

Bela: Really Sam... I expect the attitude from him, but from you...
Sam: You shot me!

Sam: How do you sleep at night?
Bela: In silk sheets, rolling naked in money.

Dean: [furious with Bela] Can I shoot her?
Sam: [also furious] Not in public.

Bela Talbot: [upon seeing Dean in a tuxedo] You know, when this is over, we should really have angry sex.
Dean: ....
Dean: [crossing his arms uncomfortably across his chest] Don't objectify me.
Dean: ....
Dean: Let's go.

Dean: [to Sam about Gert] What a crazy old broad.
Sam: Why, because she believes in ghosts?
Dean: Haha, look at ya, stickin' up for ya girlfriend, you cougar hound.
Sam: Bite me
Dean: Not if she bites you first.

Dean: [driving] So I've been waiting since Maple Springs. You got something to tell me?
Sam: It's not your birthday...
Dean: No.
Sam: Happy Purim? Dude, I don't know, I have no idea what you're talking about.
Dean: There's a bullet missing from the Colt. Wanna tell me how that happened?
Sam: [shakes his head]
Dean: I know it wasn't me, so unless you were shooting at some incredibly evil cans...

Dean: You went after it, didn't you? The crossroads demon, after I told you not to.
Sam: Yeah, well...
Dean: You coulda gotten yourself killed.
Sam: I didn't.
Dean: And you shot her?
Sam: She was a smartass!


When Sam summons the ghost of the captain of the Espirtu Santo, he calls on a bunch of names, one of which is Castiel, the name of a character to appear in the 4th season.
posted by orange swan (8 comments total)
I love how Bela manages to outsmart the Winchester boys time and time again. They both do plenty of lying on the job, and Dean routinely lies to women he's trying to get into bed, but they aren't good liars. Their lies are always ludicrously transparent. They're essentially straightforward men with a straightforward kind of intelligence. Bela has more sophistication, more finesse, and is super devious and unscrupulous in a way that they aren't. And they're always so helplessly outraged when she gets the better of them, because they can't outfox her, and they can't shoot her or beat her up, and they don't have any other tools in their toolkit.

The slow reveal of Dean coming downstairs in a tuxedo was a fun gender reversal. The trope is usually that a female character does that, while the male character watches. But even though Bela looks stunning too, it's Dean who is the camera's focus.

I find myself thinking about why Dean was so flustered by Bela's "angry sex" comment. Dean's usually quick with repartee, but she flummoxed him. I think perhaps part of it is that he's not used to or comfortable with women being the aggressor; ordinarily he pursues women, and they either respond by going along with what he wants, or shut him down. The thrill of the chase, of having to work to get what he wants, is probably a large part of the payoff for him. I can't think of any other times in the run of the show where a woman he found attractive pursued him or even initiated matters. He doesn't know how to handle being the passive object of a woman's desire. The other part of his discomfort is that he's probably very physically attracted to the gorgeous Bela but won't ever act on it because she's a terrible person. He does have some standards and wouldn't (at least not while in command of himself) sleep with a woman he didn't like or respect. Her comment likely stirred him in a way he didn't want to be stirred, and he was outfoxed yet again.

We got to see Dean in a tux, which is a sight not to be despised. It's rare for the Winchesters to dress and groom their best in the run of the show. We often see them in suits when they're posing as officials of one kind or another, but the suits are so cheap and stiff the effect is never all that pleasing. Jensen Ackles can wear clothes so well -- he has both the build and the bearing for it. Sam looked handsome in his tux too, and for a rarity so far in this series, his hair looked styled, but he's a little too tall and gangly to make a good clotheshorse.

On the other hand, Sam is better at passing for someone who belongs at a formal event, because he picked up some social polish at Stanford, while Dean is, well, crass. That bit with the chewing gum... I felt Bela's excruciating embarrassment at accompanying such a clod. It's not like Dean doesn't know better than to stick his gum on the underside of a fountain -- he was just being a contrary dickwad. Sam is always trying to civilize his brother somewhat, and in fifteen years it never has any noticeable effect. Dean sees no reason to change himself.

I loved the character nuance of Sam, who normally seems like the polished one in contrast to Dean, being far below Bela in social poise.

And Dean took a canape off the platter of a waiter who stopped to help him when he was supposedly anxious about his supposedly unconscious wife, because of course he did.

Dean and Bela just... pimped Sam out to Mrs. Case. Her characterization was an eye roller for me. It seemed like way too big a stretch for me that she would have acted the way she did. Do elderly women ever get handsy with young men in the way older men do with younger women? A little flirting I could see, but generally women don't have the kind of entitlement it takes to think that much younger men would be genuinely interested in them. It reminds me of that line about why you don't see women at formal events with much younger (and probably paid) escorts the way you see in gender reverse: because when women do it, we know we look like idiots.

The 10K Bela gave Sam and Dean was less than the amount of the lottery tickets she stole from them, but I suppose she felt she had to throw them some sort of bone.

That dead hand was quite the prop. Super realistic. Cool ghost ship too.

Ghosts can destroy one another, it seems. Well, we saw that happen in the pilot.
posted by orange swan at 12:15 AM on July 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm still convinced that Dean, the character, is (secretly) a clothes horse. I'm sure there are other episodes where he's in costume or cleaned up, again. And he peacocks.

Maybe the positive feedback here starts him down the path.

If Supernatural was a ttRPG, Sam must have picked up some cheap (inexpensive) ranks (ability) in etiquette (a skill) during college so he succeeds (more often than not) in code-switching depending on the company he's keeping.

I like how the ways that Bela so competently overmatches Dean can be used as a device to springboard Dean character development, at least from the writer's room pov.

'Hand(s) of Glory' is a historical thing, notwithstanding actual supernatural power, and I've found the idea behind the thing fascinating. It shares a lot of the same para-psychologies with superstitions/ stories from unrelated cultures.
posted by porpoise at 3:06 AM on July 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think for Dean clothes are a means for expressing the kind of person he wants to be. So far as I can recall we never see him enjoying dressing up to look his best. Sure, there are times when he gets right into the costumes, because he loves the idea of playing the specific role that comes with him. At one point later on he very enthusiastically buys cowboy attire for himself and Sam because he loves Westerns, and at another he revels in dressing up as a gym teacher, even though he looks like a dork, because as a very athletic guy he probably loved phys. ed. as a kid.

But he hates wearing anything that makes him look like something he's not and that he has no interest in being, and complains about it. He complained when Sam insisted on their buying black suits to pose as Homeland Security, and when they got work uniform coveralls to pose as security company employees, and in this episode griped that he felt ridiculous in a tux. He doesn't like dressing up in formal clothes and getting groomed to the nines because he has no interest in going to swank events at which he will probably be bored and uncomfortable (while he might enjoy the food). It's why he wears exactly the same kind of clothes throughout the entire series, and while Sam's hair evolves considerably throughout the series, Dean's never changes by a single hair. He knows perfectly well that he is very handsome, and sees no need to dress up to enhance that, though he is always clean, dresses in clean clothes, and keeps his face clean shave and his hair precisely cut and styled. He is who he is, and doesn't want to change, though he might sometimes enjoy taking on certain specific roles that he considers fun.

So I wouldn't call him a peacock because he doesn't preen himself in finery for its own sake, though he is someone who cares about what he wears and how he looks and wants his appearance to reflect who he is.
posted by orange swan at 5:43 AM on July 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I was actually pretty surprised when Dean choked at Bella's proposal. I mean in retrospect, and given all the things discussed above, it makes perfect sense, but it's probably the first time we see him not jump at the idea of sleeping with an attractive woman when the opportunity presents itself.
Overall, it was a smartly put-together scene playing with all the tropes and expectations and gender reversals an audience is familiar with.

Sam getting pawed was pretty uncomfortable to watch, but again, it's something viewers have seen happen time and time again to women in TV and movies. I think part of what makes it especially awkward is that the old woman is kind of played for laughs--or at least the audience is expected to laugh at her for being sad and old and horny. Older men are more typically portrayed as powerful, even when they're being creepy. It's that old adage about men getting more handsome and distinguished as they age whereas women just get old.

You're right, orange swan about just how bad Sam and Dean are when it comes to fabricating and selling lies. They're just terrible. I guess the fact that they get away with it is one of those things we're just supposed to believe about this show: monsters exist, heaven and hell are real and interfere in mortal affairs, Sam and Dean are great liars and con men. It's one of the things that does tend to annoy me about this show, but it's also one of those things that I just have resigned myself to waiving off.
posted by sardonyx at 10:25 AM on July 2, 2021

I don't think we're meant to think Sam and Dean are great at lying and conning. They routinely get plenty of pushback from the people they lie to, and if the people don't figure it out at first (and keep in mind these are often traumatized people they are dealing with who are not going to be on top of their game), they often do part way through the process. While they're good hunters by American standards, we learn later on that they're outclassed by British ones, for reasons I probably shouldn't get into for the sake of avoiding spoilers. And the feds know all about them.

I think the idea is that Sam and Dean are well-intentioned but rough and ready and often bumbling guys who are just doing the best they can with what resources they have -- and who usually manage to get the job done by hook or by crook.
posted by orange swan at 4:37 PM on July 2, 2021

The high point of this episode for me is the special effect of the water ghosts splashing each other into oblivion. (I definitely caught the Castiel namedrop this time around, I wonder if mocking up that spell was the first time the writers came across it.)

The way that the older lady is turned into a running joke is a sour note in this episode, even though a lot of the stuff with Bela is fun. To me it comes off to me less like a fun reversal of tropes and more like the joke is that this cartoon of an old lady wants sex (and also that she's perving on Sam in a way that is enjoyable to neither him nor me.)

I have no idea if this is true, but I would 100% believe that Jensen Ackles is someone who enjoys dressing up, maybe ideally dressing up as something, and that bleeding over into Dean a bit.
posted by jameaterblues at 6:21 PM on July 2, 2021

I feel like I should say that even though the deaths happen at night, the title verse portends good thing happening after red sky in the evening. The ghost's timing is messed up. He should be attacking in the morning or later during the daylight. ("Red sky at night, sailors' delight. Red sky in the morn(ing), sailors take warn(ing)." It is essentially a weather-forecasting rhyme advising mariners about when the weather was conducive to sailing.)
posted by sardonyx at 6:47 PM on July 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I had another thought about Sam and Dean lying on the job. One reason they don't make their lies all that convincing may be because they don't need to use their pretext for long. They only need to get a foot in the door and get some basic information that they can usually get in one conversation. The people they are helping usually soon realize that something supernatural is going on, and after that Sam and Dean can tell them the truth about what they're doing.
posted by orange swan at 5:00 AM on July 3, 2021

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