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S01.E06: Skin

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When one of Sam's old school friends is framed for the murder of his girlfriend, Sam and Dean investigate, discovering that a shapeshifter is responsible for that murder and possibly other similar murders.

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This is one of my favorite episodes from S1. I think it really showed me what this show could be, it almost feels like this little show grew up a bit with this episode.

 

First and foremost, I have to say that Jensen puts forth a stellar performance. The subtlety he plays when he's the shifter whose pretending to be Dean, but really the shifter, but channeling Dean. It's downright freakin' awesome! I wonder if this is the episode that they realized who they had hired and who Dean could become--far more than they expected, I think.

 

Robert Duncan McNeil did a fabulous job directing. The way they shot the action sequences are just fantastic. And that shedding skin scene with the stop action was just great. That is some of the grossest, but yet beautiful and completely awesome stuff I've watched. Usually this show gets the gross, but rarely does it hit the beautiful or awesome factor with this stuff for me.

 

The music selections were perfect, IMO. There's just so much goodness in this episode that the wobbly moments are easily forgotten.

 

I still maintain that some of the best fight scenes I've ever watched are between Jared and Jensen. They're not always easy to watch emotionally, but as fight scenes between two regular guys, they are far more interesting than most of the ninja nonsense I've seen over the years. These guys have such a great physicality and ease in how they work together, that I find myself sitting on the edge of my seat. And, I'm not one to generally give a crap about such things.

 

The main drawbacks on this episode is little, silly Becky (who I tend to mentally write out of the episode and pretend doesn't exist) and that they never really explained how the shifter chose his victims or why he really ever felt the need to kill these women in the first place. But really, I find I don't care much about those things much when I watch it.

 

ETA: This being a fairly typical John Shiban episode--he does seem to like a good scary legend.  It seems he's more about scaring or creeping folks out than he is about characterizations or motivations.

Edited by DittyDotDot
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The main drawbacks on this episode is little, silly Becky (who I tend to mentally write out of the episode and pretend doesn't exist)

 

I'm ashamed to say that she almost ruins this otherwise very entertaining and effective episode for me. I can't even pinpoint it, but she bugs me beyond the telling of it and is a sad example of SPN's exaggeratedly  "spunky 'n sassy!" females who somehow don't even seem real to me, let alone likable and interesting. And I just didn't buy her as a college friend of Sam's. I think the show had a really interesting opportunity here to show how Sam's academically inclined, comparatively 'sheltered' friends from Stanford just didn't fit into Sam's new world, but silly (tm @DittyDotDot), "OMG, wanna have some beers, boys?!" Becky didn't really fit the bill IMO. 

 

My Becky-centric whining aside, I agree that the pace, tone and overall mood of this one was really great, and it highlights some of Jensen's most rewind-worthy acting of the entire season! 

Edited by mstaken
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I agree about Becky, and it makes me sad to do so.  I wish she felt more like a friend of Sam's from college, because in these early episodes I like the contrast between the life he left behind and the life he's being pulled back into.  And they try, obviously, to highlight that here.  But something just doesn't click, and she's not much more than a plot device. 

 

That aside, I like the ep. It's a great vehicle for JA for the reasons mentioned above.  Also for Dean as a character.  When he goes off on his own to hunt down the shifter, we can see how he was a competent hunter on his own when he and John were working separate hunts.  He loves having Sam around, but he doesn't need him except in the sense that he always needs his brother (something that hasn't crossed into the dysfunctional at this point).  He's a good hunter all on his own.  And Sam would be, too. 

 

I remember back when I first saw this episode I felt it was such a dark episode.  But that was only in comparison to the ones that came before.  Perspective is everything.

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I was okay with Rebecca, liked her even, by herself, but this show's thing with classism was there again. It's not one of their worst moments with it but it's there. She was worryingly naive, but an actual character.

 

Hunter Dean and Shapeshifter!Dean was awesome, Dean killed himself. JA FTW in this one. Again, back when they had these great fight scenes (I miss those) and there was effort with the monsters. When was the last time this show went in a sewer or had a great MoTW? There was a damn good SWAT scene. It's still a great episode.

 

I thought it was stupid that they decided it was a good idea to have Dean blamed for Rebecca's brother's accused crime, drawing more attention is never good. A dead serial killer being seen later? Come on.

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Interesting note about the show's tendency towards (reverse?!) classism, @amazinglybored! I see that at certain points as well.  I also feel like there's a certain amount of anti-intellectualism and anti-"geek/nerd"etc. sentiment, but if I let myself ponder that too hard, I'll get annoyed with the show, and at the moment I'm loving this nostalgic, oh-right-THIS-is-why-I-loved-SPN trip down memory lane that we're all taking! 

 

There was a damn good SWAT scene.

 

Heh---yeah, I miss when they'd sometimes have these battles to evade human law enforcement officials rather than the gazillion indistinguishable devils and angels :)  

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I thought it was stupid that they decided it was a good idea to have Dean blamed for Rebecca's brother's accused crime, drawing more attention is never good. A dead serial killer being seen later? Come on.

 

That's one of the aspects that I loved of the first three seasons...their continuing problems with societies rules and laws was a big draw for me and another reason I love this episode. It made sense that they would once in a while but heads with the law and if they never have a record it would have been harder for me to swallow. That's one of the tonal shifts of the current seasons that I've felt is way off base especially since they like to use the badges in every damn episode.

 

at the moment I'm loving this nostalgic, oh-right-THIS-is-why-I-loved-SPN trip down memory lane that we're all taking!

 

This is why I like to re-watch during the hellatus...it makes me go into the new season much less pissy.

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Interesting note about the show's tendency towards (reverse?!) classism, @amazinglybored! I see that at certain points as well.  I also feel like there's a certain amount of anti-intellectualism and anti-"geek/nerd"etc. sentiment, but if I let myself ponder that too hard, I'll get annoyed with the show, and at the moment I'm loving this nostalgic, oh-right-THIS-is-why-I-loved-SPN trip down memory lane that we're all taking!

 

They're usually pretty negative about the blue collar/working class, so it wouldn't be reverse if you go that route. They're bad about everything, nerds, brute strength, the uneducated, etc. Considering it was supposed to be a blue collar show it's baffling. They only seem to like traditional and "normal" intellectual ventures.

 

 

 

Heh---yeah, I miss when they'd sometimes have these battles to evade human law enforcement officials rather than the gazillion indistinguishable devils and angels :)

 

So much. I wish they'd stuck with that. Law enforcement unknowingly tangling with the shape shifter and impeding the hunters was great.

 

 

 

That's one of the aspects that I loved of the first three seasons...their continuing problems with societies rules and laws was a big draw for me and another reason I love this episode. It made sense that they would once in a while but heads with the law and if they never have a record it would have been harder for me to swallow. That's one of the tonal shifts of the current seasons that I've felt is way off base especially since they like to use the badges in every damn episode.

 

No, no, I loved that too. I just thought it was stupid to draw more attention to themselves by doing it. They're criminals, they keep doing illegal things and they come in contact with people and the police. Let's frame Dean as a dead serial killer! To make everything harder, it was stupid, imo.

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I think my major problem with Rebecca was that the actress just wasn't very good. Sometimes she seemed to emphasize words in a sentence oddly. 

 

I also liked the choice not to have shapeshifterDean's comment to Rebecca (that made her call him disgusting) be audible. It added to the creepiness.  

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Oh Netflix, why must you suck with not having "In a gadda da vida" for this episode as it's supposed to have. TERRIBLE.

Rebecca is really annoying and a hypocrite. She had NO problem with walking right under the police tape and then lectures Sam about messing up a crime scene? WAT?

I kind of have a new head!canon upon a couple of re-watches that there was more than one shapeshifter and one of them got Dean when they first broke into Zach's house and the dog was barking at Dean, like maybe he was barking at shapeshifter!Dean.

As to why the shapeshifter didn't give himself away before that is because he was having fun pretending to be Dean.

I dunno that timeline is so squirrelly LOL

Edited by catrox14

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Skin is great.  Love just about every bit of it. 

There's some great brother moments where you really see how out of touch they are with each other.  Sam's college friends, the distance he put from his life and family when in college, keeping in touch with them and Dean not noticing that until now.

Hindsight being what it is, I see the both of them doing this little dance in these early episodes.  Walking a little on eggshells around the issues of "their dad" and "hunting" and "going away to college" and "family duty".  You can see it and feel it in some of the bantering and in some of the more than bantering- the passive aggressive digs in their jokes.  They've fallen into the roles they remember, but each of them are realizing that the other's changed in the 2 years they didn't speak (and the 4 years that Sam's been away).

That being said, its why I LOVE so much that Sam knew it wasn't Dean.  He knew before the whole key catching thing.  He was certain enough to pull a gun on "Dean".  

The MOTW was great and the creepy skin effects were awesome (when also played with the right song NETFLIX!!)

Then the MOTW just lays it out there, too.  "<Dean's> sure got issues with you." The characters will continue to dance around it

Spoiler

(for a few more episodes, at least. Don't worry Asylum and Scarecrow we're coming)

, but I appreciate that they bothered to lay so much ground work for their characters to react to, and learn from and grow.

On June 10, 2014 at 1:04 PM, DittyDotDot said:

That's one of the aspects that I loved of the first three seasons...their continuing problems with societies rules and laws was a big draw for me and another reason I love this episode. It made sense that they would once in a while but heads with the law and if they never have a record it would have been harder for me to swallow. That's one of the tonal shifts of the current seasons that I've felt is way off base especially since they like to use the badges in every damn episode.

Yes. This is VERY missed.

And I agree with an earlier post, too... it was dumb of them to leave the body of the shapeshifter behind and even dumber to leave it behind and let Dean get framed!
They are in contact with the law too often to compromise themselves like that.

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41 minutes ago, GirlyGeek said:

And I agree with an earlier post, too... it was dumb of them to leave the body of the shapeshifter behind and even dumber to leave it behind and let Dean get framed!
They are in contact with the law too often to compromise themselves like that.

Becky's brother was still in jail and if they'd burned the shapeshifter, then he'd probably still be in jail. I always thought it was rather brilliant and highlights how willing they were to take a hit in order to help/save someone else. I always loved how they never seemed too concerned about having records and/or being detained by the police. I kinda miss that aspect of the show these days.

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17 minutes ago, DittyDotDot said:

Becky's brother was still in jail and if they'd burned the shapeshifter, then he'd probably still be in jail. I always thought it was rather brilliant and highlights how willing they were to take a hit in order to help/save someone else. I always loved how they never seemed too concerned about having records and/or being detained by the police. I kinda miss that aspect of the show these days.

Actually that's a good point.  I guess I was just thinking there had to be another way to not get a serial killer rap for Dean AND still get Becky's brother (what the heck was his name) out of prison, too.  
But then we wouldn't have

Spoiler

all the wacky hi jinx later on with Hendriksen and The Usual Suspects, etc

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Oh also!  So much love for the scene where Dean and Sam escape from the sewer and are walking through the alley!  
First and foremost, take special note of the ONE Layer of clothing on Dean... won't happen much over the next 11 years.  And Dean is so pissed about the shapeshifter wearing his face and driving his car.  Its hilarious to me every single time.

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The one where the show causes me endless nightmares from the body horror of those teeth and nails and bleech....

I thought it was VERY bold of them to have one of the heroes look like a psycho killer in EP5 of a new TV series.

I think Dean is mad at Sam for leaving for Stanford but not just because he was "stuck" with his Dad.  That bit surprised me.  Because his Dad seems important to him.  

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3 minutes ago, SueB said:

The one where the show causes me endless nightmares from the body horror of those teeth and nails and bleech....

Heh, and I'm sitting there going...MORE!!!

No, it is creepy and disgusting, but I love that they committed and did it. This right here might be why I cut Kripke so much leeway on other things, he wasn't one to shy away from a challenge.

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1 hour ago, SueB said:

Skin.  Man, I just CAN'T get past the teeth falling out.  It throws me every time. *shudders*

Just watched it and it was phenomenal, as expected :)

I loved the teeth. In fact, I loved the whole transformation. I feel like it's so anti-climactic for the Shifter to undergo this enormous transformation just to go from looking like one guy to looking like another guy. Just cracks me up how they tried to wring every bit of cinematic glory out of that. TBH I usually don't like gross and gory, but I liked this scene a lot for some reason.

But what I liked about this episode in general was that EVERYTHING was a little creepier than it had to be. Even how the shifter guy was SO self-pitying. He even glommed onto whatever self-pity he could find in Dean's "skin" and went on and on about that. Also just a bit creepier than it had to be was how Dean kept telling Sam to isolate himself, and how, at the end, Sam told his college friend (or friend's sister? whatever) that Jessica hadn't ever known about his life, and that she wouldn't be hearing from him for a long time, either. Sam and Dean, committing to isolation for life. That's so sad as a concept, but they're so peppy about it!

Also, usually in "he's not who he seemed!" stories like this, I feel like the obvious metaphor is for someone "turning into someone else" post-sex or in some kind of romantic context, a la how they did that story on Buffy (with Angel becoming Angelus). But SPN went in a very different direction, with the Shifter failing to get people to "see behind the mask" and getting upset at that, and also by making it more about isolation and identity and less about relationships or perception. I thought that was cool.

The only thing that was really throwing me is that they dressed Rebecca in the weirdest clothes. Lots of tank tops with teeny tiny overshirts tied right under the boobs. I don't remember those being in style at all, and even if they were...come on. It looked ridiculous. That's just her regular clothes she wears around the house? Meanwhile, Sam is swimming in wide-leg/carpenter pants and hoodies, which also looked kind of ridiculous. Surprisingly so, because I would have thought, how dated could jeans and sweatshirts really be? Extremely dated, it turns out.

I wanted to like Rebecca, but I think she was miscast and underwritten. But that was really the only weak part of the episode IMO.

On 6/10/2014 at 0:05 PM, mstaken said:

I think the show had a really interesting opportunity here to show how Sam's academically inclined, comparatively 'sheltered' friends from Stanford just didn't fit into Sam's new world, but silly (tm @DittyDotDot), "OMG, wanna have some beers, boys?!" Becky didn't really fit the bill IMO. 

Poor thing, she obviously REALLY wanted to get them those beers.

Probably just looking for an excuse to have one herself, and they had to go and ruin it. ;)

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11 hours ago, rue721 said:

Just watched it and it was phenomenal, as expected :)

I loved the teeth. In fact, I loved the whole transformation. I feel like it's so anti-climactic for the Shifter to undergo this enormous transformation just to go from looking like one guy to looking like another guy. Just cracks me up how they tried to wring every bit of cinematic glory out of that. TBH I usually don't like gross and gory, but I liked this scene a lot for some reason.

 

And the attention to detail of the shifter stealing clothes.  Much better than the nowadays of clothes shifting with the shifter.

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Caught part of this one today. When Dean was bemoaning the shifter driving his car and Sam was all, “Get over it,” I couldn’t help but think that today’s Sam would have been as annoyed/unsettled as Dean. 

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this was one of the few episodes i watched at night and i wish i didn't, this was actually pretty scary (now that i think of it, i watched the pilot at night. i hopped right into bed after that, not a good memory lol).

the skin changing scene was horrific but i was shocked on what a good body jensen had, all that muscle but was lean at the same time. it was seen for like 2 seconds but still. i kind of hate how much of him is covered now, lol.

On 22/03/2017 at 1:14 AM, rue721 said:

 

The only thing that was really throwing me is that they dressed Rebecca in the weirdest clothes. Lots of tank tops with teeny tiny overshirts tied right under the boobs. I don't remember those being in style at all, and even if they were...come on. It looked ridiculous. That's just her regular clothes she wears around the house? Meanwhile, Sam is swimming in wide-leg/carpenter pants and hoodies, which also looked kind of ridiculous. Surprisingly so, because I would have thought, how dated could jeans and sweatshirts really be? Extremely dated, it turns out.

 

nope, this is extremely appropriate. i remember this style so much, i grew up in the early 2000s and became legal 2yrs ago so this is all i saw in my childhood. all the men were covered and baggy, and all the women bounced around in short, tight sexy like clothes. the early 2000s fashion was pretty ridiculous i agree, but this show is not exaggerating. it's very on point with 2004-5. it's very nostalgic for me.

Edited by Iju

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