SPN has had some real gems for episodes and I've seen a lot of them mentioned with other people doing this meme. For me, this is easy - 2.01 In My Time of Dying. I love everything from the emotional scenes between various Winchesters to all the guest stars. The thing I adore about this episode is the way it's filmed. It was written by Eric Kripke and directed by the brilliant and much missed Kim Manners.
There are shots taken from interesting angles and changes in light as Dean's situation worsens. My favorite shots are the ones with Sam and Dean's spirit where the camera swings all the way around the boys showing Dean from our perspective and then not seeing him when we're looking from Sam's point of view. There are some shots from this episode that are instantly recognizable to anyone in fandom. Because everything is better with caps, here they are with what I like about the episode.
It starts off with Sam holding off the demon driver with the Colt to protect his family. At the end of this section, he's yelling Dean's name and the shot switches to the incoming life flight helicopter.
We know that all three Winchesters are put in the helicopter but only Sam is conscious. When we first get to the hospital, we see Dean sit up and start to walk around but something is really off about how quiet and unattended his part of the hospital seems to be. I love this shot with the large red exit sign and Dean getting smaller as he heads down the hall.
Then we get a series of really odd angle shots of Dean coming down the stairs. They just add to the feeling that something is wrong.
Eventually we find out that Dean is a spirit gone walkabout and his body is in critical condition. I really like the conversation between John and Sam about Dean. We don't know Dean's in the room until Sam walks out and the camera shows Dean in the corner.
Well, you sure know something.
I like that our view of the wrecked Impala starts with Sam's view of it.
I'm a big fan of Bobby (have I mentioned I miss Bobby?) and I particularly like how he gets the connection Sam is making between the car and Dean. If even one part is still working, Sam's not giving up. Bobby just rolls with it.
The next bit I like is the scene with Dean and John. Dean doesn't understand why John isn't helping him.
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?
It's one of the few times Dean actually questions John's behavior as a Dad out loud where we can hear it.
Even when he's not physically present, Dean's still trying to keep the peace.
I think it's interesting that what he's able to accomplish is an act of violence, one step down the road to an angry spirit.
The first splat of liquid on the floor.
Classic shot of Sam watching them trying to revive Dean.
Then the classic of Dean watching.
The scene in the hallway is one where both brothers are there but the camera draws back so we see Sam standing there alone. There's that exit sign and Dean's headed away from it again.
The talking board scene is my favorite with the way the camera circles all the way around showing Dean and then not when we look from Sam's point of view.
John has gone off to summon Azazel. I love this shot of the doors with his shadow and the biohazard sign, particularly the way it's shot from underneath.
From this point on, the lighting around Dean gets darker and darker.
So much shadow.
Both Sam and Dean get shadowed.
Thanks for not giving up on me, Sammy.
The conversation with Tessa is also very shadowed. She's one of my favorite guest characters, along with Death and Charlie.
Azazel is another guest that I really like.
Dean's spirit isn't in the room, he's off with Tessa and the room is really dark. The talking board is abandoned on the floor. It's too bad that Dean isn't lurking during this scene because Dean would have gotten an idea about how much Sam will miss him. He wouldn't remember it anyway but that's beside the point.
While Dean is talking with Tessa, he sees his reflection. Dark and trapped by bars.
I like the light coming in the window.
I just really like the scenes with these two.
Cool shot of Sam yelling for help after Dean's spirit ends up back in his body. Even at this point, there's a bit more light.
The section with John telling Dean how proud he is of him always makes me cry. I don't alway like John, but I do here.
Then he delivers his secret bad news bomb that we don't find out the answer to until mid-season. If there's a secret a Winchester can keep to make a relationship more complicated, count on it.
Pretty much instant recognition. The second splat of liquid.
The last shots of the boys as they pronounce John dead. It's interesting to compare Sam watching here with Sam watching them work on Dean earlier.
A while back hugemind did a meta about the exit signs in the episode here. When I watched this originally, I didn't notice the lighting, the sign or much of the filming (even the first time through I loved the talking board scene). I didn't know John was going to die. I sat watching, and felt my heart get near yanked out of my chest. I soon learned that it's par for the course with this show. I guess whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Doesn't matter though with this one. I still cry.
Caps from The Home of the Nutty