Supernatural: In the Beginning
July 15, 2021 4:36 AM - Season 4, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Castiel sends Dean back in time to 1973, where he encounters younger versions of his parents and, for the first time, meets his grandparents, Deanna and Samuel Campbell.


Dean: Sammy, wherever you are... Mom is a babe! I'm going to hell. Again.

Mary: I want a family. I want to be safe. You know the worst thing I can think of, the very worst thing, is for my children to be raised into this like I was.

Dean: [to John, as they stand by the Impala] This is the car of a lifetime. Trust me, this thing's still going to be badass when it's forty.

Dean: [referring to killing the Yellow-Eyed Demon in 1973] All right, if I do this then the family curse breaks, right? Mom and Dad live happily ever after, and Sam and I grow up playing little league and chasing tail?

Castiel: You realize, if you do alter the future, your father, you, Sam, you'll never become hunters. And all those people you saved, they'll die.
Dean: I realize.
Castiel: And you don't care?
Dean: Oh, I care. I care a lot. But these are my parents. I'm not gonna let them die again. I can't. Not if I can stop it.
Castiel: Destiny can't be changed, Dean. All roads lead to the same destination.

Dean: [introducing himself] Dean Van Halen.


The diner scene where Dean meets his young father John Winchester for the first time pays homage to the same scene in Back to the Future, where Marty first met his young father George McFly, also in the diner. The only difference is the year: 1973, not 1955.

The diner Dean enters where he meets his dad is called Jay Bird, the same nickname later given to Jenson Ackles' oldest daughter Justice Jay (Jbird).

"In the Beginning" is a reference to the Bible's John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." It is also the very first line in the book of Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

Series debut of Mitch Pileggi as Samuel Campbell, Sam and Dean's maternal grandfather.
posted by orange swan (14 comments total)
Dean and Sam didn't even know their maternal grandparents' names, or that they were named after them. John Winchester seems never to have talked to his sons at all.

God, the bleak futility of this episode. Dean got John to buy the Impala (which he probably would have bought anyway), but otherwise he couldn't change a thing about his family's terrible fate. And for crying out loud, I could have done without Dean lusting over his 22-year-old mom. But when young Mary tells him how much she wants a safe, normal life and for her kids not to grow up as hunters, and Dean starts crying because he knows what will happen to her and her children... arghh. He carries so much grief within him over his family's tragic history.

Loved the shot of both John and Dean turning in exactly the same way and with the same expression when a man enters the diner and says, "Winchester!"

Good casting match for both young John Winchester and young Mary Campbell. I suppose when casting directors are looking for young versions of an actor, they put out a photo of the actor at that age and say, "We need someone who looks as much like this photo as possible."
posted by orange swan at 4:50 AM on July 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Forgot to mention... when Dean is transported back in time, he complains to Castiel that Sam isn't with him, and he talks to Sam, even though Sam won't be able to hear him. Dean has such a need for Sam's companionship.
posted by orange swan at 5:44 AM on July 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

If John is a mechanic from a family of mechanics, he should know his cars and not need Dean to sell him on the virtues of the Impala. I guess it could be argued that he just wanted to see what this strange guy was going to say, but the scene didn't quite read that way to me.

I loved seeing Dean in the Pinto (or Bobcat). It has been a while since I've watched this one, and I'd have to go back and take a better look at the car to see if it's a Merc or a Ford. Yes, despite their reputation, I have a soft spot for these models.

I loved seeing Mary support the jewellery piece of the era: a charm bracelet. But boy oh boy would those charms garner a lot of unwanted attention. She'd be getting all kinds of questions about her religious practices and her faith and her belief, and none of them would be assuming the best of her. It's a pretty obvious tell that she's a hunter--or at least something that's not mainstream--and I find it odd that she would be wearing it so prominently.
posted by sardonyx at 10:36 AM on July 15, 2021

And yes, for the record, I still have my charm bracelet in my jewellery box. I keep thinking I should pull it out and wear it since anything goes these day, but I'm not the fashion-forward type to get away with wearing it ironically or as a revival of a past trend. I'd just look odd and outdated. Part of me thinks I should cut off the charms (because back in the day, those were typically soldered onto the bracelet) and just have a lovely silver bracelet I could actually wear.
posted by sardonyx at 10:51 AM on July 15, 2021

I don't know what the style is now, but I know Pandora was doing very good business on charm bracelets just a few years ago, with a bunch of retail locations.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:43 PM on July 15, 2021

Those are new styled, clean-line charm bracelets. Mary's and mine are the 1970s style dangling charm bracelets. It's the difference between something like this and something like this. One is not cool, not stylish and not in fashion. The other supposedly is.
posted by sardonyx at 12:57 PM on July 15, 2021

I think the vintage-style charm bracelets look, well, charming, and that the Pandora ones are hideous, so if I were you, I'd wear the hell out of the 1970s one.
posted by orange swan at 1:01 PM on July 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Maybe I will. I'm with you on not liking the Pandora ones at all.
posted by sardonyx at 1:04 PM on July 15, 2021

Have you seen this Saturday Night Live Pandora-themed sketch by any chance? Given how I feel about Pandora bracelets, it leaves me cackling every time -- especially Cecily Strong's last line.
posted by orange swan at 1:08 PM on July 15, 2021

I hadn't seen that, but it's so true! Very funny.
posted by sardonyx at 1:38 PM on July 15, 2021

I remember the twist that Mary was actually a hunter seemed huge at the time - she'd spent years being the woman in the refrigerator, so giving her some fight and agency was amazing and, frankly, unexpected.
posted by dinty_moore at 3:12 PM on July 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Mary being a hunter was wild. WILD. I really struggled with season 3 and was not excited about season 4, but when she jumped Dean in the alley this was suddenly a show I wanted to watch again. Lots of water to come under that particular bridge, but it really is one of my favorite twists the show ever did and this is one of my favorite episodes.

Mitch Pileggi was a great Azazel. I could take or leave Skinner on XF, and you definitely see Fredric Lehne's influence, but he's so creepy and brutal and menacing. And for somebody who effectively kills every member of that family and in fairly horrible ways, what he does to Mary here is so fucked up on a completely different level.

We never find out exactly what Mary tells John about her parents' deaths, let alone what else John figures out after her death, but what on earth is he supposed to think of what happened at the end there? Presumably Mary can convince him that Samuel only almost killed him, but it's wild that as far as John knew they were naming their second kid after a guy who dragged Mary screaming out of a car and tried to twist John's head off like a bottle cap before dying of a mysterious stab wound (and whose wife would be found dead in her kitchen with a snapped neck, surely a strange coincidence.) (Maybe that's why Mary suggested naming the first kid after her mom.)
posted by jameaterblues at 8:28 PM on July 15, 2021

I'll admit, it was satisfying to see that it was Mary and her side of the family that had history as hunters. Everything so far has been John the hero, John the brave, John the legendary hunter and Mary as little more than an afterthought. Orange swan is absolutely right, though, John can't have ever said anything to his kids about anything that matters in life beyond the best uses for salt and silver. The boys deserved a better dad than that.
posted by sardonyx at 8:31 PM on July 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

We never find out exactly what Mary tells John about her parents' deaths, let alone what else John figures out after her death, but what on earth is he supposed to think of what happened at the end there?

Mary must have told him something of the truth -- that her father was possessed, at least. It would not have been possible for them to live as a married couple with that kind of lie/mystery between them. I believe that she told him some, if not all, of the truth, and that it would have given him a basis for understanding the cause of her death ten years later, and thus he became a skilled, obsessed hunter after Mary's death rather than helplessly succumbing to the trauma and horror of an event that would otherwise have been totally beyond his understanding.
posted by orange swan at 6:43 AM on July 29, 2021

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