At episode’s outset, we encounter the worst sort of evil that Hell hath ever unleashed upon humankind…. dead-eyed, amoral, soul-sucking creatures who feed upon the hopes and dreams of mere innocent mortals……
Yes! It’s the popular clique at high school, headed up by a devil of a blonde cheerleader who’s nearly as bloodthirsty as the worst kind of demon that any Winchester has ever had to do battle with. Mind you, her bloodlust is sated by simple pleasures – like blackballing fellow clique members simply because she’s woken up on the beeeyotch side of the bed. So Blondie decides to make things difficult for one of her own – another impossibly good-looking PYT named Taylor, who approaches her friends with lunch tray in hand and no inkling of what’s to come. Blondie accuses Taylor of being a “slut.” (Uhhhh, isn’t that the currency of choice and how membership dues are paid in such circles?) No matter, because clearly Blondie has Queen Bee status around here, and she leads the rest of the pretty posse in demoting Taylor from the most desirable table in the lunchroom.
Poor Taylor is then forced to seek refuge at a table where (GASP!) a heavyset girl named April is poking at the cafeteria gruel and trying to withstand the social hell of lunchtime. April tries to prop Taylor up with some compassionate and encouraging words…..only Taylor doesn’t take kindly to the fact that a “fat ugly pig” would feel sorry for her. The well-intentioned April runs from the table on the verge of tears.
The next day, Taylor is lamenting her social comeuppance by studying herself in the mirror of the girl’s room – possibly marveling over how good-looking she is, even while weeping- when she senses something…….and it’s not that the world is continuing to spin on its axis in spite of her dire misfortune, either. Rather, she turns around and sees the April glowering at her. “You think I’m ugly?” April asks. Taylor mumbles an apology for that whole “fat ugly pig” outburst, and then returns to starting at herself in the mirror……through which April soon escorts Taylor’s head. After getting in a few more rounds of skull-shattering sink-cracking action, she then drags Taylor to the toilet, where she proceeds to drown her. April’s not totally heartless though. She gets a bit weepy after the fact. OK, so she’s not shedding tears, exactly – more like blood, or black tar. And she cops a bit of a “Who’s ugly now?” attitude. But we all grieve in different ways.
Cut to a totally bitchin’, Gothic, old-school asylum, where our teenage murderess April has been committed. Sam’s visiting her, and he’s pretty interested in her claim about having been possessed at the time of the murder – even if the cops and doctors have dismissed such a story as “crazy.” (Er, hopefully her doctors diagnosed her with a slightly more professional assessment than that….) April describes an out-of-body experience during which she saw what she was doing, but couldn’t stop. Only when Sam starts running down his demonic activity checklist, she thinks maybe he’s the one who is a few fastening short of a fully operational straightjacket.
Sam leaves and climbs into the car, telling Dean that he thinks April is telling the truth – even though she didn’t score high on his “So You Think You’ve Been Possessed By A Demon?” test. Dean offers up the theory that high schoolers can be vicious even without benefit of demonic aide, only Sam’s thinking maybe they should poke around at the school a bit before drawing any definitive conclusions.
Ah, but this is Truman High School, where the boys were students themselves once upon a time – at least for five minutes.
Flashback to a much younger Sam, who is not that jazzed about starting his third school in as many months. A much younger Dean gives him an ineffective pep talk about how it’s only a matter of time till Dad earns some money and they can move on (to yet another school, anyway).
The two boys are then separately introduced to their new respective homeroom classes. Sam is mortified, and shuffles off to settle in his seat. The kid sitting next to him – an unassuming bespectacled boy named Barry – thinks Sam is supercool because he’s packing a switchblade. Dean meanwhile is making himself at home by swaggering to his desk while calling the teacher “sweetheart” and waving off her insistence that he’ll need books. The cute blonde sitting nearby think’s he’s supercool because he’s a hottie with attitude.
Back in Sam’s class, Barry is being picked on by the bully sitting behind him. Sam tells him to knock it off The bully asks Sam if he’d rather be the scapegoat. Sam glowers and rebuts with a “Bring it!” attitude, which seems to catch the bully off-guard for a minute.
Fast forward to present day. Sam’s pushing the janitorial cart around the very same halls he once trod as a student. (Is this a particularly convincing undercover act, I ask you? A school janitor who could have easily sauntered off the pages of GQ? Wouldn’t this raise suspicions, if anything?) He passes by his old homeroom teacher, who doesn’t recognize him.
Dean has lucked upon a slightly more dignified cover story – that of gym teacher. If anything, he’s a little too jazzed about his new gig. He struts around in tight shorts and a headband while extolling the virtues of dodgeball, and nearly decapitating a runty member of his class in the process. Sam pokes his head into the gym and motions for Dean to join him.
Sam says he’s been over the entire school with a fine-toothed demon detector, and there’s not a whiff of sulfur anywhere. Dean thinks there’s nothin’ to see here and that they should move on – but not until after lunch, seeing as how it’s sloppy joe day and all.
Elsewhere, in a home ec class, the blonde cheerleader’s boyfriend is hounding his lab partner – clearly a young man of a more studious bent – and insisting that the smartie pants hand over the algebra homework answers yet again. The geek appears to be in a trance for a moment, and seems suddenly emboldened enough to talk trash back to his tormentor. Never mind that they are hovering over a fully operational food processor – the jock still doesn’t hesitate to puff out his chest in alpha male fashion and give the geek what-for. The geek responds in kind – with a little help from the food processor. Alas, pureed jock hand won’t be winning the fed-up fringe-dweller any extra credit today – a girl pulls the jock away, and what’s left of his bloody stump, as the rest of the students run as fast as they can out of blender range. Sam comes running in response to the commotion and arrives in time to witness the nerd lose consciousness and fall to the ground. A moment later, with Sam hovering over him, the kid has no memory of what just happened. We can assume that the black-ish liquid oozing out of his ear has something to do with it, however.
Ectoplasm, the Winchester boys opine. Which means they’re dealing with ghostly rather than demonic possession. Rare, says Dean. But not impossible, says Sam. They should at least figure out if anyone has died a violent death here before, he adds. Dean is all over that, and has already procured a little 411 from the principal’s office. During which Dean managed to ALSO discover that three of the cheerleaders are actually of consensual age!! This doesn’t sway the ever-serious Sam. Onward – Dean says there was one suicide a while ago – kid named Barry Cook.
Barry…Barry…..yeah, that name sounds familiar to Sam. His poor, bullied pal from that first day in homeroom. Turns out the poor guy slit his wrists in the first floor girl’s bathroom – same one where Taylor got spritzed but good with eau de toilette. So this Barry could be a vicarious thrill-seeking spectre who is using fellow present-day nerds to go after their bullies? Sam confirms that Barry did have a particularly hard time in school. The kind of hard time that can best be told in a flashback.
Flashback to poor Barry walking the halls. A jock trips him up and sends him flying with his books. Sam stops to help Barry pick up. While Sam isn’t impressed with this new school, Barry is more philosophical, and says he’s just biding his time – only three more years till he can go to college and become a vet. As anyone who loves animals can attest to, four legged creatures tend to be much nicer than the two legged ones.
In this same flashback, but elsewhere on campus, Dean is gettin’ some from that cute blonde Amanda from his homeroom, in what appears to be a janitor’s closet. He’s entreating her to hit the midnight drive-in movie with him tonight, only she’s claiming curfew constraints. After laying it on pretty thick about how he’s got a sweet deal with no parents around, Amanda fells him with a simple question about how he must miss his dad.
Barry and Sam are walking down the hallway when they come face to face with Barry’s bully, Dirk. Sam tells the bully to lay off – again – and Barry runs to get help from a teacher. Sam attempts to talk reason to Dirk, which only gets him punched in the face. Their homeroom teacher Mr. Wyatt comes to the rescue, and chases after Dirk as Sam comes to his feet.
Back in the present, Sam and Dean are burning Barry’s bones. Sam feels a bit badly about this, even though Dean insists Barry will be at peace now. Sam wonders if he couldn’t have maybe helped Barry if they’d just had a chance to stick around a bit longer.
In another flashback, after learning of Sam’s brush with Dirk’s fist, young Dean wants to school the bully in how much of a bitch payback can really be. Sam insists he doesn’t need Dean’s help – which Dean concurs with, only…..since Sam was already well-versed in doling out whupass at this juncture, why didn’t he open a can in Dirk’s general direction? Only Sam just wants to be a normal kid instead of “the freak, for once.” And it turns out that Dad is gonna be delayed at least another week, so there’s something to the whole “blending in” scheme of Sam’s. Dean isn’t so sure – his lip-locking lady friend, Amanda, wants him to meet her parents. Which totally messes with the lone wolf rolling stone vibe he’s got going on.
Sam’s teacher Mr. Wyatt wants to have a word with him after class. He’s a little confused about Sam’s “What I Did During Summer Vacation” essay, in which Sam details how he and Dean and Dad all showed a werewolf the business end of a silver bullet. Mr. Wyatt’s gonna give him an A, though, ‘cause it’s good stuff. It’s even “You could become a writer” good. Sam explains that isn’t an option – he’s required to go into the family business: werewolf killing……er, auto repair. Mr. Wyatt gives Sam the whole “You can be whatever you want to be” speech.
This recollection has made present-day Sam so nostalgic, he wants to go back and thank Mr. Wyatt for being such a good teacher. Blech – Dean wants to wait in the car. Sam approaches Mr. Wyatt’s classroom, when a girl stops him and asks where room 305 is. After noting, “You got tall, Winchester,” she stabs him and throws him around a bit, for old times sake. He serves her up a fistful of salt and holds her mouth shut, which sends the black nastiness fleeing from her body.
Sam and Dean are conferring elsewhere. How’d this ghost know Sam’s real name, anyway? This must mean that Barry’s resting peacefully up in nerd heaven, so who is the angry spirit?? In flipping through the case paperwork, Dean suddenly notices that all three vengeful nerds ride the same bus to and from school. It breaks certainly haunting rules, of course – ghosts are normally confined to a location….but is it possible the ghost can hitch a ride on kid commuters and travel from its main location?
Sam and Dean check out the bus, which is making the ghost meter utter all sorts of high-pitched sounds. No one died on the bus, so what’s the deal? How is a spirit tethered here? Dean rifles through the glove compartment, and realizes that the driver – one Dirk MacGregor Sr. – just got his permit, and has only been on the job for two weeks – which is right before the attacks began. MacGregor? Sam remembers his son pretty damn well.
Flashback. Dirk Jr. is kicking Barry around. You know, for a change. Sam steps up again, and sends Barry to the bus. Sam begins to walk away when Dirk pushes him down. Like most bullies, Dirk doesn’t know he’s finally messed with the wrong nerd. Next to werewolves and demons, a 10 year old opponent is a piece of cake, and Sam wipes the floor with him, after which he christens him “Dirk the Jerk.” The other kids think that’s a pretty catchy nickname, and can’t resist chanting it as Dirk goes running with his tail between his legs.
In present day, Sam and Dean go to visit Dirk’s father under the pretense that they were friends back in the day. Funny – Dad doesn’t remember Dirk having any friends. And he died at age 18, anyway. There is vague mention of drinking, and drugs, and more drugs. To hear Dad tell it, Dirk had a pretty hard time in school. Beyond being called dirty and poor by the rich and good-looking set, he was then saddled with that “Dirk the Jerk” label that really stuck. But he was only a jerk because his mother died of cancer when he was 13. His dad was too busy working three jobs to be around much, so Dirk had to tend to his dying mother, of course. Then his puppy was run over. (OK, I’m making up the puppy bit….just got carried away by the momentum of it all….). Sam’s looking about fifty kinds of remorseful right about now.
Dean’s all business as usual, however, so he tells Dirk Sr. that they’d like to pay their last respects (via some salt and a lighter, if you want to get technical about it). Where was Dirk Jr. buried? Ahhh, but he wasn’t. He was cremated. Mostly. Except for that lock of hair, which Dad held onto. Which he keeps in his Bible. On the bus.
The very same bus which is transporting a whole gaggle of jocks back from a game at that very moment. There’s a substitute driver named Eddie at the wheel. The fact that he’s leaking black ectoplasm doesn’t probably bode well…at least not for the jocks.
Eddie’s driving has become a bit erratic, but no matter – there’s a mat of spikes laying in wait for the out of control vehicle, and when “Eddie” steps off the bus to investigate, Sam is waiting for him. With a shotgun. Dean seals the deal with a surprise attack from behind, and binds Eddie in a rope soaked in salt water. Dean looks for the lock of hair in the bible in the glove compartment, only it’s not there. And Eddie isn’t talkin’, either. Except about how he hated all the good-looking popular jocks in school, and how he got sick of being the poor fringe-dwelling loser. (Never mind that whole nerd-torturing hobby of his! It was just to let off steam!)
Eddie suddenly breaks his bonds, and Sam breaks Eddie’s torso with a few shots to the midsection. Only the evil within jumps the confines of this mortal shell for another. Soon a jock from the bus is gushing ectoplasm and jumping Sam from behind. As this young athlete uses his finely trained biceps to pounding Sam into the asphalt, Sam instructs Dean to find the lock of Dirk’s hair, which shows up in the boot of Eddie, who is dying on the pavement nearby. Pretty soon that lock of hair has been singed way past well-done, and the spirit is expelled from its latest timeshare co-habitant – this time permanently.
While this is enough to put the evil spirit to rest, it wasn’t quite powerful enough to kill the parade of flashbacks. One more rises from the ashes: young Dean is making out in the janitor’s closet with another young cute babe, only it’s not Amanda. See, Amanda would be the one who is opening the closet door and looking really irritated. Only she takes the high road and forgoes the traditional slap in the face for a calm speech that exudes wisdom well beyond her high school years. That or she’s suddenly been possessed by Dr. Phil, as she astutely labels Dean a fraud whose bravado can’t hide the fact that he’s just a lonely, sad boy. Onlookers seem to agree with her assessment, which takes the wind out of his sails. Meanwhile, as Sam comes cruising down the hall, he’s now the big guy on campus being barraged with high fives and mad respekt.
Dean’s phone rings. It’s Dad. Time to pack up and hit the road. The timing works out well for Dean, seeing as how he’s just been dethroned from his pedestal. It’s a little unfortunate for Sam that he won’t be able to bask in his newly acquired respect, however. As he and Dean pile back into Dad’s car, Sam looks up and sees Barry watching his departure rather wistfully.
Back in the present, Sam finally gets around to visiting Mr. Wyatt. That werewolf essay wasn’t sitting too far back within the foggy confines of the teacher’s memory. Sam credits Mr. Wyatt for being the reason he went to college – never mind that he ultimately got sucked back into the family business. Mr. Wyatt’s glad Sam is at least happy. He’s happy – right? I mean, as much as a guy who’s dad was murdered by demons – and who’s brother was dragged by demons to hell and who spends pretty much every day before and since looking over his shoulder for demons – can be.
Next week – demonic strippers?
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