Supernatural: Frontierland
September 12, 2021 5:28 AM - Season 6, Episode 18 - Subscribe

Castiel sends Sam and Dean back in time to 1861 to collect the ashes of a phoenix.


Dean: I'll stay here, hook up with the posse. Because you know me, I'm a posse magnet. I mean, I love posse. Make that into a T-shirt.
Sam: You done?

Sam: Look, just because you're obsessed with all that Wild West stuff --
Dean: No, I'm not.
Sam: You have a fetish.
Dean: Shut up. I like old movies.
Sam: You can recite every Clint Eastwood movie ever made, line for line.
Bobby: Even the monkey movies?
Sam: Yeah. Especially the monkey movies.
Dean: His name is Clyde.

Sam: [steps in horse manure] Oh, damn it. Come on.
Dean: You know what that is?
Sam: Yeah. It's horse--
Dean: Authenticity.

Castiel: You only have 24 hours.
Sam: What? Why?
Castiel: Well, the answer to your question can best be expressed as a series of partial differential equations.
Bobby: Aim lower.

Samuel Colt: When you've done this job as long as I have, a giant from the future with some magic brick doesn't exactly give you the vapours.

Elkins: What'll you have?
Dean: Well, okay, great. I'll have your top-shelf whiskey.
Elkins: Only have the one shelf.

Bobby: Well, there's gotta be something that can juice you up. A spell, something.
Castiel: There is one thing that might work but it's extremely dangerous.
Bobby: Shocker. So lay it on me.
Castiel: It's your soul.
Bobby: What do you want me to do? Make another deal? Seal it with a kiss?
Castiel: I need you to let me touch it.
Bobby: Touch it?
Castiel: The human soul, it's pure energy. If I can siphon some that off, I might be able to bring Sam and Dean back.
Bobby: And the catch is?
Castiel: Doing this like putting your hand in a nuclear reactor. I have to do it very gingerly.
Bobby: Or?
Castiel: Or you'll explode.
Bobby: Wow. Keep both hands on the wheel.

Dean: You know what this means?
Bobby: Yeah, I didn't get a souloscopy for nothing.

Dean: Sheriff, can we have a word?
Sheriff: Depends who's asking.
Dean: Marshal Eastwood. Clint Eastwood. [indicating Sam] This here's, uh, Walker. He's a Texas ranger.

Dean: Iron shackles. Iron bars, iron nail. See a pattern? Don't worry. Most creatures I meet can't get it up for iron. It's a common monster problem.

Bobby: Either of you jokers ever heard anything about a phoenix?
Dean: River, Joaquin, or the giant flaming bird?

Dean: What are we looking for?
Bobby: Well, anything that'll put a run in the Octomom's stockings.

Bobby: You goin' to a hoedown?
Castiel: Now is it... is it customary to wear a blanket?
Dean: It's a serape. And yes, it's a...
Sam: ...
Dean: Never mind, let's just go.

Sheriff: So what can I do for you, boys?
Sam: Uh, we're looking for a man.
Judge Tye Mortimer: I'll bet. [looks at Dean] Nice shirt there.
Dean: What's wrong with my shirt?
Judge Tye Mortimer: You're very clean.
Dean: ... It's dirtier than it looks.


The bar keeper in the saloon is named Elkins. In Dead Man's Blood (ep. 1.20), the boys meet a Daniel Elkins, who possesses the Colt. It's possible that the barkeep is an ancestor of Daniel Elkins, and the Colt remained in the Elkins family until the vampires took it from Daniel.

Dean introduces Sam as "Walker, he's a Texas Ranger", a reference to the 1990s TV series Walker, Texas Ranger, which starred Chuck Norris in the title role. After Supernatural ended in 2020, Jared Padalecki assumed the title role in the 2021 CW reboot of Walker.

The gold Sam and Dean take to Wyoming is the gold they took from the dragons in "Like a Virgin" (ep 6.12).

When knocking on a door Sherriff Dean says, "Candy gram for Mongo," to get a guy to open the door. This is a direct reference to a scene in Blazing Saddles when the sheriff is trying to trick a person.

Bobby (Jim Beaver) mentions that the only Star Trek incarnation he is familiar with is Deep Space Nine. Beaver's late wife, Cecily Adams, played the recurring character Ishka on Deep Space Nine. Additionally, Beaver played Adm. Leonard in the first episode of Star Trek: Enterprise.

Dean models his western gear on Clint Eastwood's, like Marty McFly did in Back to the Future Part III, even to the point of wearing a serape.

The opening title sequence shows a map being burned through its centre to reveal the Supernatural logo, just like the opening title sequence of the long-running TV western, Bonanza.

Bobby says they can't leave the boys in Deadwood. Jim Beaver played Ellsworth on the show Deadwood.

The logo on the postal delivery guy's jacket at the end of the episode is the logo for "Winchester Repeating Arms".

Jared Padalecki and the real Samuel Colt were both born on July 19.

The title and the line "Good you got less than an hour before you have to pick the kids up from Frontierland," are based on the Disneyland and Disney World American Old West-themed areas.

Bobby refers to "The Mother of All" as "Octomom". Two years before this episode was made Nadya Suleman made worldwide headlines by giving birth to octuplets, all of whom survived. Within months it was revealed that she had had six previous children, all via in vitro fertilization, and had requested that all the remaining frozen back-up embryos be implanted in her at the same time (something so unethical the doctor who did it was banned from ever practicing reproductive medicine again). At this time she was a single mom, unemployed and on public assistance. Eventually she tried and failed to get a reality TV show, was convicted of welfare fraud, declared bankruptcy, and faded from public notice.

Colt and Winchester are both names famously linked to gun manufacturing. Oliver Winchester, founder of Winchester Repeating Arms Company, had a father named Samuel Winchester.

Dean calls Rachel "Ms. Moneypenny", referencing M's secretary from the James Bond novels and films.

While filming the QuickDraw showdown, Jensen Ackles had to "fan" his gun (meaning draw the gun from the holster at his hip and quickly fan his other hand across the top of the gun to pull the hammer back). On the first take he cut his hand really badly on the pistol, which is a heavy metal prop and not a functional gun. He had to film the scene a few times and each time ended up cutting his hand even deeper. He now jokes that he has a "nice little scar" to show for it.

After Sam and Dean are pulled back to the present while leaving the phoenix ashes behind, Dean asks Castiel to send them back, but Castiel is too weak. It doesn't seem to occur to any of them that because this is time travel, the situation isn't time sensitive. They could let Castiel recharge for as long as he needed and he could then send them back in time to one minute after the phoenix was killed.
posted by orange swan (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The coincidence of Dean calling Sam "Walker, Texas Ranger" when Jared Padalecki would become Walker ten years later was fun. Reminds me of an early nineties episode of Law & Order, when Chris Noth's character Mike Logan was bringing a suspect played by Cynthia Nixon into the precinct, and Logan's partner looked up from his desk and said, "Has she been Mirandized?"

Dean's romantic ideal of the wild west got pummeled in this episode. The clothes he bought weren't right -- they were way too fancy -- the saloon was dirty, deserted, and served rot gut, he found himself at a public hanging before he'd been in town for ten minutes, and the only woman he saw was a prostitute who wasn't especially attractive, had rotten teeth, and looked syphilitic. He did get to be sheriff. This kind of thing is common among those who've never studied history and get all their ideas about history from movies and TV. Sam, with his university education, knew better.

But I must admit Dean and Sam wore their western gear and cowboy hats well. Not surprising given that they're played by Texans.

Dean was way too rude to Rachel. He could at least have done her the courtesy of trying to work with her, since Castiel had sent her.

I didn't believe Dean would just drop the Colt on the ground before running to get the phoenix ashes. He knew how important that gun was and would have been much more careful with it, no matter how hurried he was.
posted by orange swan at 5:55 AM on September 12, 2021

Hunting a phoenix in the old west is a weird premise that deserved a weirder story. But it's lucky for Sam and Dean that the phoenix was a murderer now and not still a guy living quietly with his wife in Wyoming, or having to kill him for his ashes might have introduced some tension or emotional stakes beyond a halfassed swing at Dead Wife #359 been a real bummer. The whole pretense of exactly 24 hours in 1861 meaning exactly 24 hours in 2011 makes no sense to me.

I've never fought in a war, but if I were in a civil war and the leader of the side I picked kept ghosting us to go run errands for his friends, I think I would have some legitimate concerns! I feel like Castiel could've just told Bobby that Rachel, his friend and right hand, got killed by the other side, without making her out as a traitor. I think he's justifying it to himself and it's meant as a sign that he is doing real bad stuff he wants known even less, but it's lousy and the story doesn't give a shit about her either, and it never comes up again.

That looks like a pretty normal sized horse, and it is just not that much smaller than Jared Padalecki.

Setting the historical Samuel Colt aside, I wish we got a little more of this one or at least better writers, because this is a dude who, beyond I assume still patenting and popularizing the revolver, built a Devil's Trap out of a railway system, and somehow made or got his hands on a gun and bullets that can kill nearly anything on this and several neighboring planes of existence, something apparently no one else ever managed because 150 years later they need Ruby to tell them how to make the bullets, and also has seen enough shit that a giant from the future with a magic brick who tells you to stow your crap and can reason inductively is barely worth getting up from his desk. What was HIS deal?

(Okay one quick thing about the real Samuel Colt: his brother John killed a printer named Samuel Adams in New York City in a case that I won't try to summarize but was at one point thought to have been committed with a Colt revolver. Samuel Colt showed up at the trial to have someone shoot a revolver at him and caught the bullets in his hand to prove it couldn't have caused the wound in question. (The actual murder weapon was an ax.) Also, John tried to get rid of the body by stuffing it into a shipping crate and mailing it to New Orleans. None of that has anything to do with Supernatural, but it's more interesting to me than watching this episode.)

The civil war in Heaven was fine as an excuse for why Castiel isn't around all the time, but for most of the season that plot has just been him showing up and talking about how much his life sucks right now, which is fair, but not a very interesting way to tell that story. So now we're starting to get to the part I think they're actually interested in telling, which is what Castiel is willing to do to himself and his friends to win this war, but the buildup has been so thin it's hard to follow or care much about what's going on or why.
posted by jameaterblues at 8:42 AM on September 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

I’m not buying that Dean went out and bought those clothes. Look we know the boys make DeLorean jokes, so they’re familiar with Back to the Future. Dean is a western fan, and the resident pop-culture expert. I’d lay good money on the fact that he has seen the third movie where Marty makes exactly the same kinds of purchases, right down to the poncho and the embroidered shirt (although Marty’s was a bit more colorful) and he gets ridiculed for his attire. Why oh why would Dean make the same mistake? Marty also calls himself Clint Eastwood, so come on the (bad) example is right there.

Sam wins the looks good in a cowboy hat competition. Dean’s first hat was truly terrible on him. Plus, with shorter hair, his ears stick out a bit too much.

With those legs, he could pretty much walk over the horse, so mounting (from either the near or the off side) shouldn’t be an issue. And while it’s traditional to mount on the left (near) side, a very well-trained cowpony should be able to accept a rider getting up from either side. Additionally, going to Stanford, I would have suspected out of the two boys, Sam would have had better odds at being exposed to horses and people who ride.
posted by sardonyx at 9:24 AM on September 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

With those legs, he could pretty much walk over the horse

For a second there I thought you meant Ackles rather than Padalecki, heh. He's not quite *that* bow-legged.:)

I would think Dean would have more interest in learning to ride than Sam, given his love of westerns. And they are from the Midwest, after all. They must have known someone who had horses during their drifter childhood.
posted by orange swan at 9:30 AM on September 12, 2021

I got the strong impression that neither of them have been on a horse in their lives, and Dean was invoking his older brother powers to goad Sam into climbing on the poor animal while he stays on the ground where it's safe and offers advice absorbed from movies written by people who had also never been on a horse in their lives. (Older sibling powers are great, cannot recommend highly enough.)
posted by jameaterblues at 9:52 AM on September 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

LOL! My mistake. I definitely should have had Sam's name in the opening part of that paragraph.

I was having a hard time with just how challenging Sam found the mounting process. Tall plus strong plus athletic, means he should have been up in the saddle without too much difficulty, even if it was his first time.

I was trying to figure out where they boys would have run into anybody with a horse. Even though they're from the midwest, they seem like most of their experiences are pretty urban or suburban. The odd time their investigations have taken them into the countryside, they don't seem all that familiar or comfortable. Wasn't there some whining about how far they had to walk to get to the barn on that apple orchard? (Or is my recollection not entirely sharp?) That's why I figured their real-life (instead of cowboy movie) experience with horses was pretty much non-existent. That is unless Sam had some rich friends who invited him to a weekend at their country estate, but even then, that would have been a long shot.
posted by sardonyx at 9:53 AM on September 12, 2021

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