Supernatural: Fallen Idols
August 8, 2021 4:21 AM - Season 5, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Sam and Dean head to a small town where a man who recently acquired James Dean's car has been found sitting dead in the car, his head having somehow hit the windshield with 85 mile per hour force while the car was parked in his garage.


Dean: [giving his best Abe Lincoln impression] Four score and seven years ago, I had a funny hat.

Sam: How long am I going to be on double secret probation?

Sam: [Searching on the computer] You got to be kidding me.
Dean: What? [sees what Sam found] You got to be kidding me.

Dean: Is that Gandhi?
Sam: [being choked by Gandhi] Yeah!
Dean: Dude is squirrely. [after burning Gandhi's glasses] You couldn't have been a fan of someone cool? Really... Gandhi.

Dean You know, I gotta tell you, you are not the first god we've met, but you are... the nuttiest.
Leshii: No, you, you people, you're the crazy ones. You used to worship gods. But this? This is what passes for idolatry? Celebrities? What have they got besides small dogs and spray tans? You people used to have old-time religion. Now you have Us Weekly.

Dean: Not a word.
Sam: Dude. You just got whaled on by Paris Hilton.
Dean: Shut up. [lies back and grunts in pain, holding his head]

Sam: [On the phone] Dean, are you in a bar?
Dean: No, I'm in a restaurant.
Bartender: Here's your beer.
Dean: ...that happens to have a bar.


Dean introduces himself and Sam as Agents Bonham and Copeland. Both are the last names of drummers: John Bonham was the drummer for Led Zeppelin; Stewart Copeland was the drummer for The Police.

Sam's question "So how long am I gonna be on Double-Secret Probation?" references National Lampoon's Animal House.

While investigating the car, Sam wonders if it's like "Christine". Christine is a Stephen King novel/movie about an evil car come to life.

The wax museums curator states that every famous wax figure has an original item from the real person portrayed (Abe Lincoln's stovepipe hat, Gandhi's bifocals, etc.) and even states that he is wearing the Fonz's leather jacket. In actuality, the Fonz's brown leather jacket resides on display in the Smithsonian Museum, but the Fonz did have a few different jackets, and sometimes wore a black one like the curator is shown wearing.

Dean tells "Paris" that he's never even seen House of Wax, referring to the movie House of Wax that starred both Paris Hilton and Jared Padalecki. Among the numerous House of Wax references, not only do Jared Padalecki and Paris Hilton end up on opposite sides of conflict as they do in House of Wax, but Sam even kills Paris in the episode by decapitating her, similar to the denouement in the movie, in which his character kills hers by stabbing her through the head.
posted by orange swan (12 comments total)
That wax museum was amazingly creepy! I wouldn't want to be in there at night. I winced for the guy who owned it, who was so earnest about trying to make his sad little museum a success, and had his artifacts destroyed for nothing.

Sam getting his ass kicked by evil Gandhi was hilarious.

I can't stand Paris Hilton, but I must admit she did a very good job in her scene, both in terms of dialogue delivery and during the fight scene. And that using her to mouth an indictment of celebrity worship was actually a creative piece of irony on the part of the writers. I remember thinking it was very funny when the real Paris Hilton appeared during my first run through the series. It was just so unexpected.

This is the first time anyone very famous has appeared so far in the show, and I can't think of any other occasions when it happened later on. Supernatural doesn't usually employ celebrity cameos or even well-known actors, and I think it's probably deliberate policy, as it was on The X-Files, because doing so would detract from the sense of realness that they were aiming for.

Fun little meta joke when Dean says he's never seen The House of Wax and Sam/Jared Padalecki looks crushed.

Dean posing as a talent agent in an effort to pick up the bartender was actually quite shitty. I know he can't tell anyone who he really is or what he does, because they'll think he's insane, but it's a different matter when he's leading a woman on with empty promises. I'm inclined to think he doesn't generally do much harm to his pickups. He goes for age appropriate and extremely attractive women who would be well-used to male attention, and I think they usually see right through his patent ruses, understand that he's just good for a one-night stand, and take him or leave him in full awareness of those terms. I do cringe when he's trying to put the moves on a naïve or unintelligent woman, because they might actually fall for his bullshit. Fortunately he seems to prefer intelligent women, but I think that bartender bought what he was saying, and I hated to see it.
posted by orange swan at 4:32 AM on August 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

When this episode first came out, I got into a pretty big fight with a friend over Paris Hilton. My argument was that she knows exactly what she's doing with her persona - and whatever failings she may have, she's savvy about her brand and income (not that she really needs it, being an heiress).

With the recent stuff coming out about physical and sexual abuse while at boarding school (and being essentially kidnapped to one) and advocating for her former schoolmates, any residual resentment I had of her has pretty much been tempererd out. Also, out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

Yeah, the talent agent shtick was gross. I had a friend (female) who was in the talent/ promotions scene/ circuit and, ugh, so many completely horrible people (mostly men). Like, flats of roofied water bottles (with aftermarket tamper-evident caps) as a fridge staple horrible. She got into the habit of "I love Vancouver tap water! I never drink bottled."
posted by porpoise at 11:56 AM on August 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

X-Files did have Tea Leoni (then married to Duchovny) and Gary Shandling, playing themselves, playing Scully and Mulder in one of that show's own more meta moments.
posted by Pryde at 11:57 AM on August 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

You're absolutely right that Dean's talent agent line was completely skeevy. Also, is this the first time Dean admitted to Sam that he was the one who broke the first seal? That's a pretty big secret to be carrying all this time, especially with Sam feeling so guilty that he was responsible for breaking the final one. Bad Dean. Very bad.

I didn't now that Padalecki costarred with Hilton. That reaction makes a lot more sense now. Speaking of said actor, I think he reaches peak sideburns in this episode.

Okay before I get into the main body of my comments (because let's face it, I'm sure everybody reading these discussions expected me to have something to say about this episode), I've got to put out a couple of qualifying statements.

1. I don't care about James Dean at all. I mean, intellectually, I can understand the James Dean phenomena, but emotionally, I just don't get it. I don't think he's that good looking or that good an actor or that compelling a figure.

2. I'm not an expert on Porsches by any means.

3. If you spend enough time around cars and car enthusiasts, you end up playing silly little games in your head--sometimes almost automatically. One of them is "guess what's under the car cover." I'm pretty rusty at this, but the easiest mode to play it on is to play it while watching TV shows or movies because there are only a handful of cars that Hollywood deems worthy of being uncovered dramatically. For example, it's never a 1991 GM J-body.

4. There are certain people who get obsessed about cars involved in fatal accidents, especially if the fatalities involved famous people. I'm not one of those people. I find that kind of an interest ghoulish, and I want nothing whatsoever to do with cars in which people got killed or seriously injured, and that includes knowing anything about them.

Okay, with all that out of the way, here I go.

As soon as the covered car came into the shot, my mind went to "I bet that's a Porsche." The instant the narration started going on about "I finally found it" (or whatever the actual dialogue was), I said to myself, "I guess it's going to be Jame Dean's Porsche."

Now, keep in mind my qualifying statements. Outside of knowing that James Dean died when he crashed his Porsche and knowing vaguely when that happened (I mean the general decade), that's the limit of my knowledge about the entire situation. I was, however, under the impression that the car was totalled, and that there wouldn't be anything to find.

Sure enough after the cover was flipped and I was proven right in my assumption. One point for me.

It's when the camera started to go over the details of the car that I started to question things. I as said, I assumed a complete wreck and here is a pristine model. Okay, fine. Then the camera zoomed onto the dash and what comes into prominence but a radio, and at that point, I started to question whether James Dean's car would a) have a radio and b) have that particular radio. Again, I know nothing about the car, but somehow that detail just feels really off and somehow the radio looks wrong, but again, I could ignore it.

We all know this show loves to indicate supernatural goings-on by showing radios going nuts picking up EM frequencies (or whatever the in-show explanation actually is), so the radio on the Porsche going nuts was to be expected--especially after they telegraphed the existence of the radio.

After the owner got killed by the car, the radio thing was still bothering me enough that I actually stopped watching the episode, fired up my browser and went looking for interior shots of the car that would show the dash and the existence (or non-existence) of a radio or even the car's build sheet and parts list. I couldn't find either of those things, but I did come across more information about Dean's car in particular and that model of Porsche.

They seem to be designed as kind of a club-racer car (which again, leads me to suspect that a radio wasn't necessarily standard equipment--gotta cut down on extra weight, you know).

Apparently the car (or the remaining bits of the car) is actually thought to be "cursed." I had absolutely no idea about that, and before finding out about it, I would have thought that Steve McQueen's missing Bullitt Mustang would have been a better choice for a rediscovered famous car, as it was actually (as far as people knew) in one piece. (If you don't want to read the cursed link, the gist is that people who found themselves in contact with those parts ended up getting hurt or dying and the car itself vanished during transport). Plus, even before his final crash, Dean had an accident with the car, although I suspect that occurred because it was just too much car for him to handle, not because of any supernatural force associated with the car.)

Relatively recently, the Porsche hit the news because one of its parts was sold off to some TV ghost hunter (never heard of him) who plans to put it in his haunted museum. It seems the guy never saw this episode of the show.

Needless to say, I eventually went back to the show, watched the rest of it and realized that I wasted my time because the car wasn't actually James Dean's. Of course, then the question cropped up, if I know so little about the car and I was skeptical of it, shouldn't Dean be more suspect about its origins than he is? Especially given that he knows so much about the car that he knew to look for the chassis number 550-0055, and he's such a car guy? It seems my car-hunting instincts are better than Dean's. Another point for me.

So there you go: more than you (or I) ever wanted to know about how Jame Dean's Porsche fits into this episode.
posted by sardonyx at 12:11 PM on August 8, 2021 [3 favorites]

I should probably add that if it turns out the car actually did have a radio (or that particular radio), it wouldn't bother me in the least to be corrected.
posted by sardonyx at 12:55 PM on August 8, 2021

I'll just say here that I hesitated to describe the car as James Dean's in the post, because of course I knew it turned out not to be his car, but felt I had to word it that way in order to avoid spoilers.
posted by orange swan at 5:31 PM on August 8, 2021

I think you did fine. The owner died believing it was James Dean's car, so we may as well call it that in the title.

BTW I started to write Dean's car in my post but then realized with a James Dean and a Dean Winchester in the mix, I'd better specify which Dean I'm talking about.

I should offer up a minor addendum: when I was editing the post I cut a sentence that should have been included. When talking about the curse, I mean to write something like: "The car and some of its individual parts became the property of other people... and people who found themselves in contact with the car or those parts..." but I figure even with the editing mistake, the meaning was clear enough.

I probably should say something about Paris Hilton. I'm not really a fan, but I applaud her for coming onto a show like this and taking a poke at the kind of fame she made for herself. I just wish she was a stronger or more compelling actress and was better able to make the role really pay off.
posted by sardonyx at 5:55 PM on August 8, 2021

The talent agent shtick stood out to me too, because it seemed so callous and unnecessary, and I can't imagine where he'd see it going that wouldn't do wrong by this random woman. (Also, lying about working for a talent agency is bad enough, I don't want to know that he carries around talent agency business cards, cmon.)

I barely knew who Paris Hilton was in 2009 and only sort of know now, but she seems to have a sense of humor about herself. I don't really buy the whole "celebrities are our modern gods" thing though Supernatural is certainly not the first to argue it. I know nothing about cars or James Dean but I can think of like three safer ways to get the engine number off a car that wants to kill you than crawling under there and doing a pencil rubbing. But I spent a solid month of 2004 writing a forty page research paper about Gandhi's military career and watched Gandhi chomping down on Sam's neck going "FAKEOUT, he was a vegetarian" (he was only a fruitarian for part of his life) so. that's what I'm bringing to the table, friends and neighborinos.

I'm not so sure Sam and Dean ever do totally get to a partnership of equals, I think they try, but family dynamics can be impossible to fundamentally rewrite for people with lives much less complicated than theirs.
posted by jameaterblues at 6:48 PM on August 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

Have any of you heard what Tina Fey said about Paris Hilton on Howard Stern's show in 2006 after Hilton hosted SNL in 2005? (An episode so terrible, by the way, that I turned the TV off two or three sketches in.)

Q: What is Paris Hilton like?

Tina Fey: She's a piece of ****. The people at SNL were like maybe she'll be fun, maybe she won't take herself so seriously. She takes herself so seriously! She's unbelievably dumb and so proud of how dumb she is.

Q: Was she bad on SNL, was she hard to deal with?

Tina Fey: She was awful. People never come in and say "I'm not doing that." So, this guy Jim Downey wrote a really really funny sketch, it was supposed to be Lorne Michaels just finding out that she had a sex tape and telling her she couldn't host the show because SNL has standards... So she was like "I'm not doing it!" and refused to come out of her dressing room. Also, you would walk down the hall and find what just looked like nasty wads of Barbie hair on the stairs... Her hair is like a Fraggle.

Q: Did she give you ideas for sketches?

Tina Fey: Yeah, she wanted to make fun of all the girls she hates. She was like "I want to play Jessica Simpson, I hate her." She would come in the room and say, "You should do a show about Jessica Simpson because she's fat."

Q: What was the bet you guys had going about her?

Tina Fey: The cast had a bet if she would ask anyone on the cast anything about themselves, you know like how are you? Where are you from? Anything. I think Seth Meyers won because at one point, she asked him if Maya Rudolf was Italian.

To be fair, the SNL appearance was 16 years ago, and Hilton may have matured some since.

For the record, Fey also used a slur to describe Hilton's appearance, and I have removed that comment from the quoted material since it doesn't bear repeating. In a later interview with Playboy magazine, Fey said in reference to her comments about Hilton, that she regretted "sinking down to that level of discourse". But even though she wasn't entirely proud of what she said, she stood by her opinion on Hilton, calling her "a terrible role model and a terrible young woman" who "needs to be ignored".
posted by orange swan at 8:00 PM on August 8, 2021

Oh crap, that should have been "Maya Rudolph". It was a cut and paste of someone else's mistake, but I meant to check the spelling as I thought it didn't look right, and then forgot. My queendom for an edit button.
posted by orange swan at 5:44 AM on August 9, 2021

So, this guy Jim Downey wrote a really really funny sketch, it was supposed to be Lorne Michaels just finding out that she had a sex tape and telling her she couldn't host the show because SNL has standards.

I'm sure Paris is awful, but I also kinda think this sketch may not have been as really really funny as Jim and Tina thought it was?
posted by Pryde at 9:54 PM on August 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

Admittedly, Tina Fey herself does not come across well in the quoted material, even though I removed the worst comment.
posted by orange swan at 7:18 AM on August 11, 2021

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