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S03.E11: Mystery Spot

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Sam keeps reliving the same day.

 

 

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This is one of those times when the show figured out how to blend a MoTW into a myth heavy episode and knocked it out of the park. I'd argue it's the best of the season--although, that's rather subjective and I'm not really feeling to argumentative today anyway. Everyone was on their game here--writing, directing, acting and production--everything seems to gel. I've always loved the idea of the Trickster so, that alone, makes this episode a win in my book.

 

Kim Manners did an outstanding job directing. I really appreciate how he shot those walk-and-talks down the street. The first one is pretty steady with more wider shots showing us some of the details. The second is a bit more shaky, more close ups to ramp up Sam's confusion that he might be reliving the same day. Then they get a little choppier; showing us more the details in flashes with Sam's growing frustration. Until it all becomes smooth when it's all just second nature to Sam. Nicely done Mr. Manners, nicely done. And when Dean gets mowed over with that car continues to be surprising no matter how many times I've seen it.

 

The art department continues on their psychedelic wacky shroom trip. The motel room, the diner, and especially the Mystery Spot are all things of beauty. Every time I watch it I notice something new in the Mystery Spot set--it reminds me of watching The Addams Family--so much delightful, delightfulness!

 

My only nitpick about the episode is that I think it could have easily been a two-parter. I could have taken a few more days with Sam reliving the day--maybe a day where he does nothing to figure things out; maybe a day he and Dean take a day off and go enjoy the local mini-golf course or something like that; and I think I wouldn't have minded a few more wacky deaths--and then the second part following Sam right after Dean died for real--calling Bobby; burying Dean; running off and hunting the Trickster. Although, it works fine the way it is also, so it's only a minor quibble for me. Well, I have another nitpick, but it's not really this episode's fault--

 

I find S4 to be more irritating after this episode because it appears that Sam didn't learn a damn thing here, but that's all on TPTB, IMO, not this finely crafted and executed episode.

 

So kudos to Jared for walking that line from being frustrated with Dean's messy and pokey ways--as anyone would be that spends that much time with a someone completely opposite to them--to entirely shut-down and vengency (even though that's not my favorite part of the episode), to just wanting it all back, all of it. And kudos to Jensen for--not only all the humorous deaths--but also playing the outsider perspective from the inside (if that even makes any sense). And one of the best hugs ever!

 

I really could continue to wax on, but I think you guys are probably tired of reading my rambling ramblings by now.

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Ditto again, DittyDotDot to everything you said. Love this episode - one of my top five or so in the series. What surprises me is that here in S3, I love Carver's writing (for the most part), and now as show-runner and writer of the premiers and finales for each season, I'm much less impressed. Wonder what happened?

 

Anyway, I, too cannot get over how they filmed that car scene and when Sam is holding Dean there after the accident, he truly looks dead. I have to look away even...

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Jensen's ability to fake die on screen is not right and should be illegal because he really looks dead, dead, dead. Freaks me the fuck out everytime.

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I seriously think this may be my very favorite episode of the entire series. If I could keep only two episodes, this would be one of them. (Along with the Pilot...yes, I'm odd!) As others have said, it's one of those episodes that manages to combine humor, suspense, drama and that trademark SPN angst with great success. The brothers' relationship is spot on here: there's bickering and disagreement as to how they should proceed, yet still deep affection and the reminder that each needs the other. (Remember when the show used to imply that Dean and Sam made each other's lives BETTER rather than, like, immeasurably worse?! God, I miss that show.)

 

Even though the shift from the wacky first half to the grimmer second half can be a little tonally jarring, I think it actually kind of works and makes sense given the storyline and theme here; without Dean, Sam's world is a far grimmer, colder and crueler place. And I'm just going to come out and admit that I have Asia's Heat of the Moment on my ipod and listen to with alarming frequency :)  

Edited by mstaken
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If I had to show someone a single SPN episode, this would be it. I may be a little biased, since one of my all-time favorite X-Files episodes was "Monday," and this was clearly a riff on that storyline. At the risk of losing my Dana Scully Fan Club card, "Mystery Spot" actually did it a lot better.

 

My most-favorite part was the perfectly-in-unison "You think you're being funny but you're being really really childish! Sam Winchester wears makeup. Sam Winchester cries his way through sex. Sam Winchester keeps a ruler by the bed and every morning when he wakes up he—"

 

(Remember when the show used to imply that Dean and Sam made each other's lives BETTER rather than, like, immeasurably worse?! God, I miss that show.)

 

Word.

I'm in the doldrums of mid-S9 at the moment, and I have to go back to the Mystery Spot hug just to remind myself that in his heart of hearts, Sam.loves the hell out of Dean (so to speak)....and that I like Sam.

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Agreeing on the love for this episode. Everyone here just seems to be at the top of their game from Jensen and Jared to the director and set crew.

 

I think my favorite moment not yet mentioned is that moment when Sam holds a shot Dean and closes his eyes, wanting nothing more to hear that song that he's been dreading for at least 100 days, because not hearing it means that Dean is dead for good... that he would rather have to live another Tuesday again and again and again if it would mean he could have Dean back for that day. His "I'm supposed to wake up now" is heartbreaking, and for me entirely explains the darker second half of the episode. Sam just snaps and becomes focused on that one thing - and it's interesting for me how much "Mystery Spot" Sam shares characteristics with

Soulless Sam

in that regard - in this case finding the Trickster and getting Dean back. Because...

 

@mstaken - Even though the shift from the wacky first half to the grimmer second half can be a little tonally jarring, I think it actually kind of works and makes sense given the storyline and theme here; without Dean, Sam's world is a far grimmer, colder and crueler place.

 

I agree. And for me Sam realizes it the moment he wishes he would rather have those Tuesdays back than no Dean at all. It just makes that hug at the end of the episode alll that more awesome and genuine for me. If I had to choose a favorite hug of the series, that one would be mine.

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Is it weird that I want a clock radio that shows days of the week now?

I do wonder exactly how Dean died every time. Did he have a heart attack over breakfast one morning? Did a helicopter drop on him? Did the old World Weekly or whatever it was called's BatBoy attack him a different time? I want to know!

I like this episode a lot; Sam got to be really smart and driven and brotherly and ruthless and it worked beautifully.

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I love this episode! This is the episode that made me fall in love with the show, tbh. The exact moment in the episode is that montage of Dean slipping in the shower, electrocuting himself with the electric shaver...Although it might have been when Sam is frantic to take the Mystery Spot down to the studs with an ax, and when Dean tries to take the ax away, accidentally kills Dean. LOL. I'm cracking up just thinking about it. So absurd.

 

Sam killed me in this episodes, of course. And it was also fascinating seeing him be so isolated from Dean when Dean was right there.

He did seem very similar to Soulless!Sam, too, which is interesting in retrospect. I'll have to think more about that when I'm not exhausted, though, and might be able to say anything new about it.

 

without Dean, Sam's world is a far grimmer, colder and crueler place.

 

This episode showed that without having anyone say it, and actually showed it much more clearly than any of the characters could have said it anyway, which I thought was wonderful.

 

It also was perfectly structured, imo. The act outs were A+. Maybe the best-written episode of the show imo.

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Rewatching because as with Dark Side of the Moon, this one will probably fall tomorrow. I really do love this episode, SAMs growing desperation and isolation. Death by taco will never not be funny, I remember when I watched this for the first time I actually screamed when Dean was hit by the car and when the desk fell on him. Just saying I hate that damn Asia song, couldn't stand it when it came out and they played it all the time. Loved smart Sam, he was determined. 

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I thought this was pretty funny at first, but definitely took a dark turn.  I am a newbie to the show, but of course, I know it goes on for many seasons, so I knew Sam would figure out some way to bring Dean back.

It is a bit unsettling to see how Sam is losing his "Samness" from S1, I guess due to his death.  

More to watch...

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Dean of the moment! No matter what, I can't hear something different in this scene. Asia's on tour with Journey and I want to go just so I can say, "Dude, Asia" until someone gets the reference. I really like how the first time the day plays out, Sam does seem genuinely amused by Dean's enthusiasm for the song.

"Twice now, I've watched you die. And I can't." I'm such a sucker for the brotherly declarations of protection.

This is such a great juxtaposition of the serious and ridiculous. Jared nails it in this one. Just the pure range of emotions. From happy to grieving to lost puppy to Terminator to "Holy crap, I killed Bobby!" 

I think my favorite Dean death is the offscreen reason that the waitress needs to log some more hours at the archery range.

Spoiler

But seriously, what was Loki/Gabriel trying to pull? I mean, knowing what we know from season 5, was he, what, trying to ensure they didn't save Dean, so he'd break the first seal? 'Cause he was team Bring on the Apocalypse at the time, yes?

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As to you spoiler question.

Quote

 

 

 

Quote
Spoiler

That was a total retcon, so I don't think you can look at it as to what "Gabriel" was trying to do.  Even so, I'm not even sure what the "trickster" was trying to do?  Whatever it was, I don't think he succeeded.

 

 

 

Edited by Katy M

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well this episode really saddened me lol. this show always hits me personally because i have an older brother, and he's not only my big brother. he's a combination of many. he's my only older brother but he's he's the oldest of us all (there's 6 of us), so he's not only my bigger brother he's my BIGGEST brother, and the only sibling older than me. so seeing sam so cold at the end, and not caring to slaughter an innocent life for his brother is completely understandable.
in this way, sam is like me. dean isn't just his only brother, he's his only sibling and only big sibling. whether it's a sister or brother you just rely on your elders a lot and worship them from afar no matter what; the olders will never know just how exactly you adore them. and since dean is the same gender as him he feels even for his older brother.
so when he just stood there and begged softly at the trickster, for dean to come back, my heart broke. because i would be doing the same. i was near tears when the trickster went back to wednesday and sam woke up and saw his big bro. also i don't know if anyone noticed, but when sam said in the final scene "It's Wednesday" it was much different from his other time. the last time he said "IT'S WEDNESDAY" because he was so happy to get out of tuesday. but this time he said it softer ("It's Wednesday...."), like he had come out of a dream and could hardly believe himself say it. this, of course, is because of the subtle but powerful acting of jared, so well done there i must say.

i also liked the hug scene. first i thought it wasn't going to happen and i was going to pout major time but when he did i was satisfied. the part i like the most isn't sam but dean and his reaction, which is actually important in this short moment.
i actually thought dean would either (a push sam away quickly like "Hey, what's going on?" because he was vulnerable and scared why sam was hugging him so tightly for or (b let sam hug him for a while then push away and ask the same thing. now let me be clear, this is what i THOUGHT would happen with this scene (because of western masculinity), but that doesn't mean i would think it to correctly align with his character. neither of these scenarios happened and i am happy for that.
but i lead off what i was talking about in the first place. what i mean to say is that dean's allowing of sam's hug shows us two, maybe even three things. 1, it shows that dean's guard is 1000% down with sam because sam could have done anything to him like that lol. 2. it shows that, once again, NOT to say that dean isn't the tough guy alpha he's born to be but he's definitely a softie for hugs (<3) and 3 he trusts sam for him to march at him in determined manner and fling his arms around him fiercely and not move a muscle. he let sam hug him as long as he desired, in the end he was just confused (as anyone would be).

since i am speaking of dean, i would like to point this out as well:

What [is it]?
You all right?
Hey.
You with me?
You sure you feel okay?
What's wrong?

i pulled these from the transcripts just to make sure, but i had already noticed form this episode just how attentive dean is for sam. he is constantly asking about sam's well-being, so now i understand when sam gets pissed when dean asks these same familiar words. i also noticed just how much he's willing to throw his own desires out for his little brother. sam doesn't want to go eat breakfast? dean doesn't give a syllable of protest; they're not eating breakfast. sam doesn't want him to go into the parking lot? guess what, dean's staying right where he wants him to. sam doesn't want dean to visit the mystery hole at midnight? okay, they're not doing it. sam is so spoiled, lmao.

i guess what really depresses me is the constant looming shadow of "Dean will die, Dean will die and there's nothing you can do about it..." over sam and the audience. i get so frustrated and sad and trapped. what's even worse is the "6 months later" scenario was completely believable because sam really was getting shxt done without dean. it was pretty dang scary.

lastly, my only (very small) gripe was the last scene could have been better done. in my opinion, i think it would have been right for the last scene to have dean driving the car at night and sam leaned over sleeping on his shoulder. he just got a brother who was dead for half a year, he would most likely want to be by his side for at least the rest of the day.  dean would glance worriedly at sam and mutter something like "What kind of weird ass dream did you have man?"

P.S. oh and my sister said that one of dean's deaths should have been done by sam himself, from strangling him for listening to that asia song for the millionth time. that would have been such great comedic relief. something like

(In the diner, Dean speaks through a mouthful of food)
"So...how many times did I die?"
"More times than I can count. Hell last time you died right on your bed." (Sam looks away, chin in his palm, half irritated and thinking of something else)
"What happened to me? Heart attack or something?"
(Sam looks over) "Huh? Uh no, actually that was me. I strangled you because I couldn't take another decibel of that damn Asia song anymore."
(Dean stares)
(Sam looks taken aback)
"What? After all the ways you died, take this one was actually deserved."

Edited by Iju

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I'm with those of you who hold this episode among their favorites. "Clowns or midgets?" "Does this taco taste funny?" "Hey puppy. Who needs a friend?" [That may not be the line, but you know what I mean]. The humor JA brings to those scenes is something else. His ability to look continually fresh when Sam repeats the same bits over and over. 

I laugh out loud so many times, and then cringe with the death scenes. Except when they're kind of funny. 

And Sam without Dean? So alone, so tough, so altered. JP really sells that, and it's a great opportunity for the character. He thought he had to become more like Dean to survive the crossroads deal, and voila, he's harder in ways that I didn't expect to see. 

Would have been nice for Sam to actually learn the lesson that nearly broke him of his Samness-- in the same way it would have been nice for Dean to believe what he told his dream self in Dream a Little Dream of Me. I could watch this episode a dozen times in a row. I won't, because it might make it less enjoyable, but it's one of the ones I think will never really lose its punch.

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I'm watching this episode for the second time today. (Don't judge me. Also, thanks TNTHD and TNTHDW.) I'm struck again, as I am every time I see it, by how gentle Dean gets with Sam once he realizes how freaked-out and desperate his brother is. He does what he can to reassure Sam - "If you and I decide I'm not gonna die, I'm not gonna die" - or settle him down - "Okay, Kojak, let's get some air" - or solve the problem - "So, let's just make sure I don't die." (And, honestly, Sam's relieved sigh because Dean has a plan gets me every time).  

Plus the scene in the Mystery Spot with Sam tearing the place apart and "Sammy, that's enough; give me the axe" then the arguing/scuffling and blood spatter is one of the best of the series, imo. 

Edited by bethy
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I admit that I am a sucker for Groundhog Day stories (I loved Russian Doll more than I can quantify) so I was predisposed to love this, but it really did hit all the right notes. I was even a huge fan of bringing back the trickster, who was sort of played for laughs/light hearted. Sure he killed some people but they deserved it. But instead, he is killing Dean which hits hard. He is still hilarious about it though. The consistency in the trickster's humor is really amazing. The guy/demigod who made a frat bro slow dance with an alien is definitely the same as the guy/demigod who has Dean choke on sausage because he knows they are trying to change something.

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