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Supernatural is truth
Bible Entry 1x22: Devil's Trap 
22nd-Sep-2006 08:41 pm
Wonder Woman 1

1x22 Devil's Trap

Boring Production Crap
Original Air Date: 05/04/2006
Writer: Eric Kripke
Director: Kim Manners

Guest Players
John Winchester: Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Meg Masters: Nicki Lynn Aycox
Bobby: Jim Beaver
Demon: Sebastian Spence
Firefighter: Matt Riley

What Time Is It?
The timeline posted over at Super-Wiki suggests this episode takes place exactly a year on from the pilot: that is, 2nd November 2006 for the climactic events. But the canon basis for such an exact date is inconclusive. In Salvation John says that he picked up the Demon's trail "about a year ago". So the canon timeline for Salvation/Devil's Trap is roughly a year since the events of the pilot episode: i.e. late October or early November.
Now, Which One Was That?

After their confrontation with the Demon in Salvation, Dean is still trying to reach John by phone. The phone is finally answered by Meg, who tells Dean he'll never see his father again. Dean tells Sam what's happened and they high-tail it out of there, arguing over what to do next. They need help, and Dean takes them to see Bobby, another hunter who's evidently an old ally, if perhaps not a friend. With Bobby's help, they set a trap for Meg, who obligingly walks right into it. Apparently the plan was to torture her for information, but Bobby warns Dean that Meg is a human possessed by a demon, and the plan changes. While Dean interrogates Meg, Sam performs an exorcism. Meg eventually reveals that John is alive and being held in "a building" in Jefferson City, Missouri. Dean orders Sam to complete the exorcism even though they know it will kill Meg; Sam is hesitant but obeys Dean's order.

The brothers head off to rescue John. Sam insists Dean leave the Colt behind. They find the building where John is being held captive, and it's full of "civilians", including kids playing outside. They set off the fire alarm to get the building evacuated and go in dressed as firemen when the fire truck shows up. They find John and Sam tests him with holy water. He seems fine. The male demon who captured John in Lincoln catches up with them behind the building and starts beating on Sam. Dean shoots the demon with the Colt, killing it and saving Sam's life.

There is absolutely no way any summary can do justice to the climactic scenes of this episode, so I'm not even going to try. I'm just going to tell it.

As night falls, the three men are holed up in a cabin in some out-of-the-way location. Sam thanks Dean for saving his life, but Dean is angsting over what happened. "Killin' that guy, killin' Meg - I didn't hesitate. I didn't even flinch. For you or Dad, the things I'm willin' to do or kill, it just...it scares me sometimes." John appears, and tells Dean he did the right thing and he's proud of him. As they talk, the lights flicker and the wind picks up outside; John says the Demon has found them, sends Sam to check all the entrances are salted and demands Dean give him the Colt. But Dean points the Colt at John, realising that he is possessed. Sam returns at this point and though he's clearly thrown by the scene he takes Dean's side. John tells Dean to shoot him if he's so certain, but Dean won't shoot his father. Then the Demon reveals its presence, telekinetically trapping both brothers against the cabin wall.

The Demon taunts them both, but it's Dean who draws its worst attention. The Demon tortures him, making him bleed from the chest. As Dean begs his father not to let The Demon kill him, John apparently breaks free momentarily. In that moment Sam is able to move away from the wall and he snatches up the Colt. He shoots John, but in the leg, a non-fatal wound. John begs Sam to use the last bullet to shoot him, which will kill both John and The Demon he's hunted for so long. But Dean begs Sam not to shoot. Sam, torn between the two men, hesitates long enough for The Demon to escape. After, as Sam is driving them to the nearest hospital, John chides his son for failing to obey him. Sam protests that they can regroup and start over. As he talks, a big black semi crashes into the side of the Impala, running them off the road. Our final view of the Winchester men is the three of them unconscious and bleeding in the wreckage of their car.

All the Niggling Little Details
  • There were five bullets left for the Colt when John took possession of the gun. John used one to kill Luther (in Dead Man's Blood). Sam used one against The Demon in Salvation; it seemed to have no effect. As Devil's Trap begins, there are three bullets left.
  • Two bullets are used in the episode: Dean shoots the demon in the alley to save Sam's life; and Sam shoots John in the leg. This leaves just one bullet, and when that's gone, if John is to be believed, the Colt will be useless.
  • Location, location, location: The episode opens in the brothers' motel room in Salvation, Iowa. From there they drive to Bobby's place. The sign says "Singer's Autos" but there's no indication where this is located. From Bobby's it's off to Jefferson City, Missouri, where they find John being held in Sunrise Apartments, near the river. The final scenes take place in a cabin, which again, could be almost anywhere.
  • Bobby Singer's dog is called Rumsfeld, presumably a reference to Donald Rumsfeld.
  • Bobby keeps holy water in a hip flask. Why not?
  • Dean and Bobby share a flask of whiskey while Sam has his head in a book. No surprises there!
  • "Oh, we’re goin’ for it, baby—head-spinning, projectile vomiting, the whole nine yards." - this is, I believe, the second time in season one that Dean references The Exorcist. The first was in Phantom Traveler.
  • The exorcism ritual Sam uses is from John's journal, and seems to be the same one he used in Phantom Traveler. But the effect seems rather different - in Phantom Traveler Sam stressed that it was a two-part ritual; in Devil's Trap it doesn't seem to be.
  • Meg has been possessed by the demon for a year; as long as Sam has been on the road with Dean.
  • There's a lot of contradiction in what Meg tells the brothers:
    1. Demon-Meg claimed she didn't know the address of the building where John was being held - obviously she was lying.
    2. Sam asks post-exorcism Meg where The Demon is and she specifically says it's not at Jefferson City: "Not there...other ones...awful ones," she says. I guess it's possible The Demon didn't let Meg in on the plan, but it seems weird to me.
  • Meg - the real Meg - is a hell of a gal, isn't she? She must have been in agony, but she actually thanks Sam, and uses her last moments of life to try to help them.
  • The brothers steal firefighter uniforms to get into Sunrise Apartments, and apparently had time to bless the water supply, too.
  • Dean says he always wanted to be a fireman when he grew up.
  • There are at least five demons (or demon-possessed people) guarding John, including the one Dean kills. Two are in the apartment with him, and two possess people outside the apartment during the rescue. Is John so good they think he needs that many guards, or are they just putting on a good show for the sake of the trap? Maybe both...
  • When they rescue him, Dean doesn't seem able to consider the possibility that John could be possessed. It's Sam who insists on the test, with Dean behaving as if it's a crazy idea.
  • We see two people outside Sunrise Apartments become possessed, and it happens in seconds. Sam's holy water apparently confirms that John is not possessed at that time. Later, when Sam questions The Demon about that test, it says, "You think somethin' like that works on somethin' like me?" - implying that it's too powerful for holy water to work. But given how quickly those two guys became possessed it seems at least possible that John was not possessed until after the brothers rescued him; it would be consistent with Meg's certainty that The Demon wasn't there.
  • The Demon certainly knows how to hit the boys where it hurts, doesn't it? It confirms Sam's fear that Mary and Jess were killed because The Demon has some plan for Sam, playing on his guilt. It describes Meg and the demon Dean shot as its children, playing on Dean's major vulnerability - family. It taunts Dean by telling him John is aware of what's going on, and by claiming Sam is John's favourite. As with the shape-shifter in Skin, there's enough truth in The Demon's words to hurt them both, but is it all true? We cannot know for sure.
  • Sam. Oh, Sammy. That's twice in one episode (or three times, including the scene in the Impala) he's sided with Dean against John. This family's gonna need some serious therapy.
  • As for the end of this episode...OMGWTFNOYOUCAN'TDOTHATTOUS!!! As cliff-hanger endings go, that's right up there in the top...er...one.
Where'd That Myth Come From?
  • Key of Solomon
    The Key of Solomon is an ancient manual of demonology, supposedly written by King Solomon himself (yes, the one in the Old Testament). The legend says that Solomon summoned and enslaved demons to assist in building the great temple in Jerusalem and the Greater Key of Solomon is the sum of his knowledge, written down to be passed on to his son. The oldest surviving copy is a Greek translation which dates back to the 15th century. Others date from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries but the texts and illustrations are not consistent. Much of the original text has been lost in repeated translations. The Lesser Key of Solomon, also known as the Goetia is sort of the "revised edition" of the original: some of the material in it is lifted directly from the older manuscripts, but it's been expanded and added to, notably by Aleister Crowley. There are several versions of the text and illustrations available online: easy to find via Google.

    Neither the magic circle Dean, Sam and Bobby used to trap Meg in the episode, nor the "Devil's Trap" symbol actually appear in either version of the Key of Solomon. However, there are illustrations in the surviving texts that are pretty close. This is either sloppy research on the part of the writers, or, a more intriguing possibility: since all of the surviving manuscripts are translations and therefore inevitably inaccurate in places, perhaps Bobby's copy of the Key of Solomon is a more "pure" version of Solomon's original text than the copies you can find in occult bookstores. That said, from what I can tell from screenshots Bobby's book is written in a Roman alphabet, not Hebrew. I can't tell what the language is: a logical assumption would be Latin (it must be a language Sam can read), but the screenshots I have aren't clear enough to tell.
     
  • Magic Circles
    There are a lot of different magic circles. Ritual Magic, Satanic Magick, Fairy Rings, the stone circles of the Druids, Medicine Wheels, the circle of power used by modern wiccans...they show up all the time in folklore and legends. In most ritual magic traditions, however, a magic circle is created for the magician to stand inside while he summons spirits, and the spirit or demon is trapped on the outside. A Wiccan magic circle keeps the power raised within it.

    The circle used in the episode to trap Meg (screenshots here and here) consists of a double outer ring with what appears to be Hebrew script (the script should be an invocation of God); inside this is a heptagon (seven-sided polygon) and inside this is a seven-pointed star. The number seven is considered the most powerful of the magic numbers, but to invoke its full power there ought to be three times seven. So where's the third seven? At each vertex of the star - seven points - there is writing. Again, none of the screenshots are clear enough for me to be certain, but I think these are the sigils of seven angels. This much of the circle is derived, with a little artistic license, from the Great Pentacle. The Great Pentacle is from the Lesser Key of Solomon, but it does not appear in the oldest manuscripts and is probably a 19th century addition. Within the pentacle there is another double circle with some writing and a scorpion in its centre. This part is from the Greater Key of Solomon: it's The Fifth Pentacle of Mars (upside-down, for some reason), about which is written: Write thou this pentacle upon virgin parchment or paper, because it is terrible unto the demons, and at its sight and aspect they will obey thee, for they cannot resist its presence.
     
  • Exorcism
    Sam is using an edited (for film, I assume) version of the Roman Catholic ritual of exorcism. Rather than me taking credit for other people's work, I suggest phantomas's excellent post here for a translation of the Latin used in the episode. For the real ritual, I couldn't find an online version of the 17th century Rituale Romanum which I believe is the one Sam is using (an updated version was published by the Vatican in 1952, but experienced Catholic exorcists prefer the older version) but I did find some interesting translations here and here.
     
  • Devil's Trap
    The Devil's Trap symbol used in the episode (screenshots here and here) is not a real protective symbol . However, there's one in the Lesser Key of Solomon that is very close. This is the magic circle given in the Goetia and used to summon demons. The magician would stand within the circle, and the demon was summoned into the triangle at the top. Once within this Triangle of Solomon, the demon would be unable to escape and was forced to obey the magician's commands within the limits of its own nature. The letters within the points of the triangle are the name Michael as in the archangel. Basically the "Devil's Trap" Sam draws on the Impala is this symbol without the external invocation and with a pentacle added in the centre.
     
  • The Colt
    Y'know, when I first saw these three episodes, my reaction was A magic gun? Give me a break. But there is a long tradition of magical weapons in folklore, from Excalibur of Arthurian legend to Tyrfing of Norse mythology, a magical sword that could not miss its stroke. Norse mythology also gives us the magical arrow of mistletoe that slew Balder. Some enchanted weapons bring things other than death (eg. Cupid's arrows), but there are myths from many cultures of weapons enchanted in order to kill. So why not update the myth and enchant a gun?
What's in a Name?
  • No aliases were used during this episode...unless you count The Demon pretending to be John.
  • Sam/Sammy Battle: Sammy: 7 (1 from Dean, 6 from John); Sam:  26 (17 from Dean, 8 from John, 1 from Meg)
What Did You Just Say?
(I am seriously tempted to just paste the entire episode transcript in here. 'Cause, dude, this was one hell of a script!)

DEAN: They've got Dad.
SAM: Meg? What'd she say?
DEAN: I just told you, Sammy.

SAM: Dean, if that were true, why didn't Meg mention a trade? Dad...he might be...
DEAN: Don't!
SAM: Look, I don't want to believe it any more than you. But if he is, all the more reason to kill this damn thing. We still have the Colt. We can still finish the job.
DEAN: Screw the job, Sam!
SAM: Dean, I'm just tryin' to do what he would want. He would want us to keep going.
DEAN: Would you quit talkin' about him like he's dead already? Listen to me! Everything stops until we get him back, you understand me? Everything!

BOBBY: Normal year, I hear, say, three demonic possessions, maybe four, tops.
DEAN: Yeah?
BOBBY: This year, I've heard of twenty-seven so far. You get what I'm saying? More and more demons are walking among us. A lot more.
SAM: Do you know why?
BOBBY: No, but I know it's something big. A storm's coming. And you boys, your daddy - you are smack in the middle of it.

DEAN: Gotcha.

DEAN: Where's our father, Meg?
MEG: You didn't ask very nice.
DEAN: Where's our father, bitch?

DEAN: For your sake, I hope you're lying. ‘Cause if it's true, I swear to God, I will march into hell myself, and I will slaughter each and every one of you evil sons of bitches, so help me God.

DEAN: Dude, what are you drawin' on my car?
SAM: It's called a Devil's Trap. Demons can't get through it or inside it.
DEAN: So?
SAM: It basically turns the trunk into a lockbox.
DEAN: So?
SAM: So, we have a place to hide the Colt while we go get Dad.

DEAN: You know that guy I shot? There was a person in there.
SAM: You didn't have a choice, Dean.
DEAN: Yeah, I know. That's not what bothers me.
SAM: Then what does?
DEAN: Killin' that guy, killin' Meg - I didn't hesitate. I didn't even flinch. For you or Dad, the things I'm willin' to do or kill, it just...it scares me sometimes.

DEAN: He'd be furious.
JOHN: What?
DEAN: That I wasted a bullet. He wouldn't be proud of me. He'd tear me a new one. You're not my dad.

SAM: Dean? What the hell is going on?
JOHN: Your brother's lost his mind.
DEAN: He's not Dad.
SAM: What?
DEAN: I think he's possessed. I think he's been possessed since we rescued him.
JOHN: Don't listen to him, Sammy.
SAM: Dean, how do you know?
DEAN: He's different.
JOHN: You know, we don't have time for this. Sam, you want to kill this demon, you've got to trust me. Sam?
SAM: No. No. (He walks over to Dean)

DEMON/JOHN: You know that little exorcism of yours? That was my daughter.
DEAN: Who, Meg?
DEMON/JOHN: The one in the alley? That was my boy. You understand?
DEAN: You've got to be kiddin' me.
DEMON/JOHN: What? You're the only one who can have a family? You destroyed my children. How would you feel if I killed your family? Oh, that's right. I forgot. I did.

DEMON/JOHN: You know, I never told you this, but Sam was gonna ask her to marry him. Been shoppin' for rings and everything. You wanna know why? Because they got in the way.
SAM: In the way of what?
DEMON/JOHN: My plans for you, Sammy. You...and all the children like you.
DEAN: Listen...you mind just gettin' this over with, huh? 'Cause I really can't stand the monologueing.
DEMON/JOHN: Funny. But that's all part of your MO, isn't it? Masks all that nasty pain. Masks the truth.
DEAN: Oh, yeah? What's that?
DEMON/JOHN: You know, you fight and you fight for this family, but the truth is...they don't need you. Not like you need them.

DEMON/JOHN: You kill me, you kill Daddy.
SAM: I know.

JOHN: I'm surprised at you, Sammy. Why didn't you kill it? I thought we saw eye to eye on this - killin' this demon comes first. Before me, before everything.
SAM (looks back at Dean in the rearview mirror): No, sir. Not before everything.

Counting the Cost
Pain Quotient:
  • Dean: thrown into a wall by Meg, thrown into a car windshield by another demon, tortured by The Demon, and then injured in the car crash (extent of injuries unknown).
  • Sam: badly beaten by demon, injured in car crash (extent of injuries unknown).
  • John: tortured by demons (Meg implied this, but might have been lying), possessed by The Demon, shot in the leg with the Colt, injured in car crash (extent of injuries unknown).
Collateral Damage:  
  • Bobby's dog, Rumsfeld - I'm not sure about this, because we only see the dog go missing, but I think the implication is Meg killed it.
  • I'm counting the real Meg as collateral damage, too: she pretty much qualifies as an innocent victim of the demon, though technically Sam killed her. Twice.

The Bad, the Ugly, and the Dead:

  • Demon-Meg, died after the exorcism performed by Sam.
  • Male demon, shot by Dean with the Colt.

Metallicar Watch:

  • Sam draws the Devil's Trap symbol on the Impala's trunk. I dunno about you, but Dean certainly considered that damage to his car.
  • The Metallicar was seriously injured by a demon-possessed truck (okay, a truck with a demon-possessed driver, but it sounds cooler the other way!). Extent of the damage unknown...but it didn't look good. *meep*

Zippo Count: No zippos were seen in this episode.

Sacrificed on the Altar of Whoops!

  • Crew or equipment visible: When Dean is asking how Bobby will explain things to the police, in the bottom right of the frame, next to the desk and by the boys, you can see a pair of hands taking pictures before they quickly move out of shot again. (Credit to IMDB for this one).
  • Possibly a "deliberate mistake" rather than a "Whoops": Sam asks post-exorcism Meg where The Demon is, and she seems very certain it's not in the same location as John: "Not there...other ones...awful ones," she says. I guess it's possible The Demon didn't let Meg in on its plan, but it seems weird to me, especially as Meg also says the demons want the brothers to try for John, which implies there's a trap there somewhere.
  • The cabin at the end is presumably in an isolated area, since Dean says "We couldn't have found a more out-of-the-way place to hole up." Yet, at the very end, Sam tells John that the hospital is only ten minutes away. Even taking into account how fast Sam is probably driving, and that they may have been in the car for a little while before that conversation, that doesn't sound very out-of-the-way.
Driver Picks the Music
Fight The Good Fight by Triumph
Turn To Stone by Joe Walsh
Bad Moon Rising by Credence Clearwater Revival
What Did They Just Say?
Official Heavy Metas
The Dark Corners of Dean's Psyche in Devil's Trap by noelql
Devil's Trap - Sam by kronette

Other really cool people talked, too!
There were so many excellent metas posted after this episode, and I didn't bookmark any of them! Please comment and let me know of any I ought to list here... 

Comments 
24th-Sep-2006 02:02 pm (UTC)
Wonderful details here - thank you especially for the "myth" section.
24th-Sep-2006 04:15 pm (UTC)
You're welcome :-)
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