Ten weeks from now, one of the most underrated shows will return to the airwaves. Supernatural will move to Friday nights to live out its sixth season of monsters, mayhem, and brotherly angst. Because I’m impatient and need something to preoccupy myself until Supernatural returns, a countdown will ensue. Each Friday, I create a countdown based on the show. For week 10, we have the 10 best episodes.
Due to the difficulty of narrowing down 104 episodes to ten, I made a few concessions. This list excludes episodes that would generally be considered comedic or made me cry like a little kid who lost their favorite toy. Those episodes get their own play in the countdown later. Today’s list includes the first half of the ten best episodes that best encapsulate what Supernatural is all about. The top five episodes will follow tomorrow.
Spoilers through the end of season 5 ahead.
10. The End (episode 5.04)
Dean: What, are you stoned?
Castiel: Uh...generally, yeah.
When the angel Zachariah finally tracks down Dean, he transports him to the year 2014 after Lucifer has won the epic apocalyptic battle. Entire cities have been quarantined due to the large number of Croatoan sufferers. Dean meets up with his future self, who is now leading a resistance that wants to destroy Lucifer with the Colt. After proving his identity to his future self, Dean learns that Sam had “died” in Detroit, just as everyone had been telling them. He joins the suicide mission to face Lucifer, only to see that he has taken Sam as a vessel and plans to kill his future!Dean.
Why it’s so great: This episode finally paid off episode 2.09, “Croatoan,” an episode most fans had figured the writers had forgotten about. It gave us Castiel as a drug and alcohol fueled orgy leader, who had become mortal. The prophet Chuck had become protector of toilet paper. Jensen Ackles once again got to act against himself, where he alternated between playing the damaged and hopeless future!Dean and the current!Dean who still had a little bit of fight and dignity left. The only negative of this episode was the fashion decisions of Sam-as-Lucifer and his over acting as he imitated the more understated Mark Pellegrino.
9. Two Minutes to Midnight (episode 5.21)
Death: This is one little planet in one tiny solar system in a galaxy that’s barely out of its diapers. I’m old, Dean. Very old. So I invite you to contemplate how insignificant I find you.
The final three episodes of season 5 run together into one long movie-like ending and are best watched in one go. As the apocalypse grows closer, Sam and Dean join up with the demon Crowley (played brilliantly by Mark Sheppard) to track down the last two horsemen – Pestilence and Death. After quickly doing away with Pestilence with the help of Castiel, Dean and Sam split up. Sam joins Bobby (recently able to walk again) and the near-mortal Castiel to destroy a pharmaceutical warehouse before the Croatoan virus can be released, while Dean and Crowley hunt down Death before he can destroy Chicago. The chilling meeting between Death and Dean over pizza will become one of the most iconic scenes of the series as Dean finally gets the last horseman ring.
Why it’s so great: Sam shows off his mental and physical strength in the take down of the warehouse. Castiel returns after certain death with his dry humor intact, but feeling hopelessly lost. Bobby regains the use of his legs as a “add on” for selling his soul to Crowley. Crowley is his usual snarky self. Dean faces Death and walks away having saved Chicago and possibly the world. Despite all the victories, in the end everyone is feeling hopeless because all signs are pointing to the inevitable – Sam will have to say yes to Lucifer to end the war.
8. No Rest for the Wicked (episode 3.16)
Dean: (to Sam): If this is my last day on earth, I don't want it to be socially awkward.
The 2008 writers’ strike cut Supernatural’s third season short, causing the producers to condense the story of Sam trying to get Dean out of his deal and Dean’s subsequent descent into despair as he realized he didn’t want to die, much less go to hell. As Dean runs out of time before his deal comes to term, Sam, Dean, Bobby and Ruby enter suburbia to off Lilith, who camped out in the body of a little girl to terrorize her family. After figuring out that the entire neighborhood is full of demons, they come up with a plan that includes holy water sprinklers and an attempt to off a sleeping little girl, only to find that Lilith has swapped vessels. After hell hounds take out Dean at the stroke of midnight, Lilith attempts to off Sam only to be blocked by some indeterminate power that scares her. The season ends with Dean screaming for Sam while being chained up in hell.
Why it’s so great: Dean and Sam singing Bon Jovi’s ”Dead or Alive” in the car, Dean’s hallucinations as he gets closer to the gates of hell, the incredibly creepy girl they found to play Lilith, but most of all, show runner Erik Kripke had the guts to show Dean getting torn up by hellhounds and then shows him on meat hooks in hell.
7. Jus in Bello (episode 3.12)
Dean: It's like he’s got a contract on us. Think it's because we're so awesome? I think it's 'cause we're so awesome.
After being caught in a setup by Bela, Agent Henrikson finally catches up to the boys in a jail in a small town in Colorado. While being stuck in a jail cell, things start going wrong as one of Henrikson’s FBI buddies becomes possessed by a demon and attempts to kill both Sam and Dean. After exorcising the demon, the sheriff of this small town discovers the rest of Henrikson’s crew had their throats slashed and the helicopter they arrived in explodes. Only after Henrikson himself becomes possessed and is exorcised in front of what remains of the jail’s small staff do they believe Sam and Dean’s story of demon possessions and what’s waiting for them outside. Rather than hide, they prepare, open the doors and fight the entire demon uprising.
Why it’s so great: Henrikson returns as one of the most underutilized yet awesome secondary characters the show has created and finally learns that the Winchesters aren’t the bad guys. The siege of the jail by the town full of demons is masterfully executed with everyone inside surviving while the demons are destroyed one by one. The first creepy little girl portraying Lilith appears, only to destroy Henrikson and his jail staff allies.
6. Devil’s Trap (episode 1.22)
Meg: An exorcism? Are you serious?
Dean: Oh, we're going for it, baby. Head spinning, projectile vomiting, the whole nine yards.
The finale of season one held nothing back since the show had no idea if they would be returning for a second season until after filming had been completed. After meeting up with their dad, the Winchesters split up again in an attempt to save their friends. When Dean calls his father only to have Meg answer, he fears the worst and the brothers con her into barging into the house of Bobby Singer, a family friend who is expecting her. After learning where their father is being held captive, they go after him, checking him for possession via holy water as they rescue him. After running to a secluded cabin, John revels he’s been possessed by the Yellow Eyed Demon and tortures Sam and Dean close to death. John surfaces long enough to allow Sam to shoot him with the Colt.
Why it’s so great: The introduction of Bobby, Meg fitting the exorcism while in the Devil’s Trap, Dean realizing his father was possessed about Daddy Winchester told his son he was proud of him for sacrificing a Colt bullet to save his brother, but most of all, because of the sudden WTF-ness of the final moments – as Sam rushes his broken and bleeding father and Dean to the nearest hospital, a demon possesses a passing truck driver who slams into the Impala, knocking them all unconscious.
Come back tomorrow for the top five best Supernatural episodes and to tell me how wrong I am!