Week 10 of our Supernatural countdown extended to a second day. If you didn't read yesterday's post about the first half of our top 10 best episodes, you can find it here. Now for the continuation with the top five best episodes from the last five seasons.
5. All Hell Breaks Loose: Part 1 (episode 2.21)
Andy: Calm down? I just woke up in freakin' Frontier Land!
As the second season came to a conclusion, the strings of the psychic kids storyline finally pulled together, revealing the Yellow Eyed Demon’s ultimate plan – a death match that would leave him with one final special kid to run his uprising demon army. When Sam wakes up in a ghost town, he discovers Ava, Andy and a few other psychic kids are there as well. While Sam tries to pull everyone together for protection and to figure out a way out of the secluded town, demons are coming after them one by one. Meanwhile Dean and Bobby try to find Sam only to discover that the Roadhouse has been burnt to the ground with Ash and a number of other hunters inside. Andy sends visions to Dean to help lead him, but before he can get there, Sam discovers Ava has gone dark side and he’s left to fight the distrustful and very strong Jake to the death.
Why it’s so awesome: The psychic storyline finally pays off with a death match no one seems to want to be a part of, Andy returns even more awesome as he was before, Ava becomes evil, we finally discover exactly what happen the night Sam’s nursery burned down, and above all else, the powers that be had the guts to burn down the Roadhouse, killing off Ash and then having Dean watch as Sam dies without it even being the finale. The last few moments of this episode are numbing with Dean arriving just in time to watch his brother get stabbed in the back. Unexpected and the catalyst for the next three seasons of story are all set up in this episode.
4. Nightshifter (episode 2.12)
Dean: Ron's game plan was a bad plan, I mean it was a bit of a crazy plan, but right now crazy is the only game in town.
Sam and Dean discover a string of robberies in Milwaukee with strange circumstances – all the robbers are found having committed suicide shortly after their crimes. While they investigate, they meet Ron Reznick, a conspiracy theory buff who thinks that a “mandroid” is behind the crimes, taking up the guise of someone it killed. Realizing Ron’s research is close, but not quite right, Sam and Dean determine the shapeshifter’s next target, only to get caught up in a not-quite-bank-heist that Ron pulls in an ill planned attempt to save everyone. After convincing Ron that he believes him, Dean looks everyone in the vault and goes on a search of the bank. In the mean time, the police and SWAT team come in, and once Dean is shown on television, the FBI led by Special Agent Victor Henriksen take over. All signs are pointing to the Winchesters being caught, but yet somehow they kill the shifter and make their escape.
Why it’s so awesome: It will come as no surprise that this is absolutely my favorite episode, but it’s probably not the best episode. Despite the long-running story lines, Supernatural relies heavily on the monster-of-the-week formula. “Nightshifter” is the quintessential MOTW episode, carrying off all the necessary elements perfectly. It has a memorable and sympathetic side character directly involved with the monster, there’s a mystery that the boys have to solve to catch the monster, some random girl drools over Dean to Sam’s bemusement, outside elements are working against the boys to prevent them from catching the monster, and in the end the Winchesters are victorious but have to run from the site of their victory. Henrikson is a worthy reoccurring adversary introduced and the episode is full of humorous one liners. Sam takes out two SWAT guys on his own, Dean has to fight the shapeshifter who has taken the form of a girl, and the brothers have to escape a building full of feds. On top of that, you have one of the most fitting musical cues of any television show I’ve ever seen with their escape to the sound of Styx’s “Renegade”.
3. Point of No Return (episode 5.18)
Zachariah: So you know you can't trust them, right? You know Sam and Dean Winchester are psychotically, irrationally, erotically codependent on each other, right?
Being the 100th episode, this episode had to be big and, occurring towards the end of season 5, had to start winding down the apocalyptic storyline. Dean had been spiraling towards saying yes to Michael, Castiel had lost his faith, and Sam was hanging on by a thread. Sam catches Dean before he can say yes to Michael and drags him back to Bobby’s, locking him up in the panic room. Adam is brought back to life, digging himself out of his own grave much like Dean did in the season before. Even though Castiel gets to him first, Zachariah steals Adam away from Bobby’s house and into the ethereal green room where Dean had been held captive the season before. Despite all being frustrated and disappointed with one another, Sam, Dean and Castiel have to work together to rescue Adam and subvert Zachariah once again.
Why it’s so awesome: The writers did not disappoint with the 100th episode. Adam returning as an alternate vessel, Castiel beating the crap out of Dean due to his disappointment, Dean being locked up in the panic room much as he’d locked Sam up in the past, the angelic “green room” making a reappearance, Castiel showing he’s a badass by taking on five angels on his own by carving a sigil in his chest with a box cutter, but most of all, the final showdown with Zachariah. Facing the potential death of both his brothers, Dean really says yes to Michael and means it, only to change his mind. That wink, that one tiny little wink at Sam says everything and Dean is back in the fight.
2. In My Time of Dying (episode 2.01)
Spirit Dean (to John): I've done everything you've ever asked me. Everything. I have given everything I've ever had. And you're just going to sit there and you're going to watch me die? I mean, what the hell kind of father are you?
After the car crash that ended the first season, Dean wakes up to find he’s on the verge of death, moving as a spirit while his body lay comatose, and something is haunting the hospital to which he and his family have been taken. With the help of an ouija board, Dean discusses the situation with Sam – a reaper is in the hospital and trying to take him. Meanwhile another spirit named Tessa is roaming hallways, confused about how she got there as well. John sends Sam to retrieve the Colt and gather some supplies he said will assist Dean’s recovery. Instead John summons the Yellow Eyed Demon and offers a bargain to save Dean’s life. When it’s reveled that Tessa is the reaper in human shape, she tries to convince Dean to come with her, that his part in the fight is over, only to be overruled by a higher power.
Why it’s so awesome: Jensen Ackles performs brilliantly on an episode that’s being carried on his shoulders. Emotionally, it’s a powerful episode and a suitable follow up to the shocking season finale yet moments of humor and heart keep it from being completely overwrought and overwhelming. Yellow Eyes alludes to Sam’s special abilities and what might be in store for him later in the season. The secret John shares with Dean before his inevitable death carried end up being a letdown half a season later, but at the time it was a suitable mystery to carry through the main storyline. Despite being distant and demanding, John proves that he would do anything for his boys and that maybe he wasn’t the worst father ever. And there’s one of the most iconic images of the show’s history – the coffee cup Sam is carrying falling to the ground and splashing everywhere as he runs to his father, who has collapsed on the floor dead.
1. Lazarus Rising (episode 4.01)
Castiel: I’m the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition.
After being sent to hell at the end of season 3, Dean has to dig himself out of his own grave in the middle of a grove of trees that have been knocked down by some epic force. He discovers hand prints burnt into his shoulders, but otherwise his body has been healed of all scars and marks from his previous life. As he reconnects with Bobby and Sam, he keeps hearing a high pitched screeching sound. Bobby takes them to the psychic Pamela Barnes to discover how Dean might have gotten out of hell. Despite warnings, she tries to glimpse who or what was behind Dean’s resurrection and gets her eyes burnt out of her skull. Even so, Bobby and Dean go to an abandoned barn to summon Castiel, using all precautions they know, only to be faced with something they had never seen before – an angel of the Lord.
Why it’s so awesome: I can’t say I ever expected the show to actually introduce angels canonically into the story, much less through the spectacular scene of Castiel storming into the barn, framed in lightning and getting stabbed in the chest by Ruby’s knife. When he looked at it and pulled it out before dropping it on the ground, you knew something had just changed in the show. Tearful reunions with Bobby and his brother, unknowingly seeing Ruby in another body, the hand prints burned into Dean’s skin, angel as holy tax accountant... all small, but awesome details in a game changer episode.
So there are the top 10 episodes I think are the best. Now it's time to argue! What was left out and which ones don't belong?