This episode opens with a couple leaving a small town that seems idyllic only to have their car break down in the middle of nowhere. They are outside of a creepy farmhouse and decide they need to go find help. As they walk through the orchard, they pass an incredibly creepy scarecrow. They hear weird noises and get scared and start running towards their cars (very Blair Witch style and it’s dizzying and a bit nauseating) when the guy disappears. The woman turns around and sees his body on the ground and his face is gone. She starts screaming as the scarecrow moves towards her.
John Winchester gives the brothers a list of names of couples that have all disappeared. They all travelled through the same section of Burkitsville, Indiana, at the same time of year.
After Sam leaves during an argument, Dean asks a man in Burkitsville about the missing people, and he claims he hasn’t seen them. Dean keeps asking around and gets directed to go towards the place one of the couples was last spotted. While he’s driving, some weird static comes over some of his equipment. He ends up at the farm from the opening scene. He sees the creepy scarecrow and notices weird markings on the arm of the scarecrow, and looks at the missing person poster. The man in it has the same tattooed markings on his arm.
Dean meets Emily, who tells Dean that while the towns around them have suffered from economic problems, their town has been spared, almost as if they were “blessed.”
Sam runs into a blonde girl on the side of the road who will become important to the story later. At the bus station, Sam runs into the blonde from the side of the road again. She is sort of flirting with Sam, and introduces herself as Meg. (Stay away, Sam!)
Dean stops into the local diner, where he starts a conversation with a couple at the next table. The same man he spoke to when he first got to town chastises him for talking to other people. Dean brushes him off and asks the couple what brought them to town. They say they were just passing through town when they stopped for gas and found out one of their brake lines was leaking. They tell Dean that the car will be ready at sundown. Thinking that’s a long time for that type of repair, Dean offers to fix the brake line for free but they decline. Then Dean tells them that the roads aren’t safe at night and that they might be in danger. He comes off as a bit crazy to the couple.
The sheriff arrives at the diner and wants to talk to Dean. He then literally runs Dean out of town, following him in the police car until he reaches the town line.
Meanwhile, Sam is eating with Meg, where she is telling him a sob story about her family life that could be Sam’s own story, so it draws him in. This is deliberate. She talks about how her family expects her to just do what they say, etc., almost the same things Sam said to Dean in their earlier argument.
After nightfall, Dean drives right back into town. We see that the couple from the diner is now in the orchard, expressing disbelief that their car broke down when they just had it fixed. They hear a noise and start running. The scarecrow is awake and after them. As they run, they see Dean, who has a large rifle. He tells the couple to get back in their car and shoots the scarecrow, though it seems to have little effect. Once they reach the road, the scarecrow disappears into the orchard.
Dean calls Sam and tells him about the scarecrow. He says it’s a pagan god because of the timing of the sacrifices, which occur at the same time every year. Dean is headed to the local community college to find out more because he doesn’t have Sam’s help. Sam says if he needs his help, to just ask.
Dean goes to visit a professor and ask him questions about local pagan lore. Dean finds out that the pagan god gets its power from a sacred tree, and he surmises that if the tree were burned, the god would die. As he’s leaving the professor’s office, he is hit over the head with a rifle and knocked unconscious by one of the police.
Dean is put in an underground room, and the town brings Emily into the box, where they are both locked in. Emily’s aunt and uncle are sacrificing her for the “common good” after the intended couple escaped when Dean helped them the previous night.
Dean asks Emily if there are any special trees that are treated as sacred by the town. She says there is a tree that is known as the First Tree, and while it’s in the orchard, she doesn’t know where. Dean and Emily are then tied to trees in the orchard by the townspeople.
Sam shows up right before the scarecrow wakes up and unties them, only to have the townspeople stop them, which doesn’t go well for Emily’s aunt and uncle. The next morning, Emily burns the tree and leaves town.
Meanwhile, Meg has gotten another ride from a truck driver. She tells him to pull over, which he does, expecting sex. Instead, she slits his throat after telling him she has to make a call. Meg is a demon! But it’s a rewatch, so we already knew that.
Important Character Introduction:
Sam sees a young blonde girl that we will come to know as Meg, sitting on the side of the road listening to music. He taps her shoulder, frightening her, and asks her if she needs help. She is very dismissive of him, and when a truck pulls over and asks them if they need a ride, both say yes. The truck driver says he will only take the girl.
The episode opens with a phone call. Their father calls from a pay phone and tells them that he’s onto the thing that killed their mother, that it’s a demon and that they have to stop looking for him. He tells Sam to write down names. Sam keeps asking questions and John is starting to get impatient and tells Sam he’s giving him an order. Dean, who has been motioning for the phone the entire time, grabs it from Sam’s hand, and when he speaks to their father, the change in his demeanor is striking, as Dean answers, “Yes, sir.” He immediately writes down the names, no questions asked.
In the car, Sam just suddenly stops driving and says they are going to California instead of Indiana, where the job is, because their father called from a Sacramento area code. Dean is arguing that they were given an order and that it’s important. Sam just wants revenge. When Dean tells Sam he knows how he feels, Sam says, “Do you?” Dean just has this incredulous look on his face. Sam questions the blind faith that Dean has in their father. Dean says, “It’s called being a good son.” Sam gets out of the car. Dean, clearly irritated, gets out after him and tells Sam he’s a selfish bastard. Sam says he’s going to California and takes his backpack out of the trunk and starts walking. Dean says it’s the middle of the night and he will, “Leave your ass.” Sam says that’s what he wants him to do. So, Dean closes the trunk, gets back in the car and drives away, leaving Sam walking along the highway.
During their phone conversation, Dean sort of apologizes to Sam without actually saying anything. He literally has trouble physically saying the words, but does tell Sam that’s he’s right and he needs to live his own life and that he’s proud of him.
Sam shows up and saves Dean and Emily, who have been tied to trees in the orchard. Dean asks Sam if the scarecrow is still there. Sam says, “What scarecrow?” This is not a good sign. They run for the street, Dean planning to burn the tree in the morning, but are stopped by the townspeople standing there with rifles.
Emily asks her uncle to let them go, and he tells her that she has to let the scarecrow take her but that it will be over quickly. While he is talking, the scarecrow comes up behind him and stabs him from behind. It also grabs Emily’s aunt and drags them both away. The townspeople scatter and Sam, Dean, and Emily run for the street. When they turn around, the scarecrow is gone. He already has his yearly sacrifice.
Impersonation of the Week:
Dean approaches a man and introduces himself as John Bonham. The man replies, “Isn’t that the drummer for Led Zeppelin.” Dean is caught off guard, though impressed that the man knows classic rock.
Sam gets worried when Dean doesn’t pick up his phone and decides to go to Burkitsville after Dean, to make sure he’s okay.
Sam shows up when Dean and Emily are tied to the tree. When Dean asks him how he got there, he says he stole a car.
The last scene with Sam and Dean, where Sam says they have to stick together, is emblematic of the theme of the entire series.
Dean tells Sam to hold him, sarcastically, after Sam says they have to see the whole thing through together.
After Sam leaves, Dean scrolls through the contacts on his flip phone, pausing a moment on Sam before closing it without calling.
State of the Week:
“Dude, you fugly!” – Dean, to the creepy scarecrow
“Everybody’s nice here.” – Emily
“I can cope without you, you know.” – Dean
“I take everything back I said. I’m so happy to see you.” – Dean
“Jess and Mom, they’re both gone. Dad is god knows where. You and me, we’re all that’s left. So, if we’re going see this through, we’re going to do it together.” – Sam
“Hold me, Sam. That was beautiful.” – Dean