Dead in the Water was a distinctly average episode by Supernatural's standards however if I had a fear of water I may have felt differently. Phantom Traveller is a memorable episode for me as I am terrified of flying.
PLOT: A nervous flyer is trying to calm himself down in an airport bathroom when he appears to be attacked by black smoke. The flight is forty minutes into its journey when the man gets up and opens the back door of the plane causing it to crash.
Sam and Dean receive a call about the crash from Jerry, a man who John has helped in the past. After listening to the pilot’s mayday recording they hear EVP which repeats “no survivors” and assume that an angry spirit is involved.
The brothers pose as Homeland Security to investigate the wreckage and discover a high amount of sulphur scattered around the plane.
Things take a more serious turn as the presence of sulphur means that a demon is involved, which at this stage, is far beyond the Winchesters’ hunting capabilities.
The pilot, who survived the initial plane crash, is killed in another crash and the brothers realise that a surviving stewardess is the next likely target.
As the Winchesters board her flight Dean reveals a fear of flying. With Dean rendered useless by his fears it is up to Sam to figure out who the demon is possessing and how to exercise it without causing chaos on the plane. END PLOT.
Phantom Traveller shows us the Winchesters at their best – researching, investigating and finally killing what they happen to be hunting.
The Winchesters have always been resourceful but we get a glimpse of Dean’s creative side as he converts an old Walkman into a fully functioning EMF meter. Sam may be skilled at research but Dean shows he is more than just the muscle.
The brothers are starting to gel and work together more easily and their complimenting skills are obvious to see in this episode.
Phantom Traveller ends with the brothers listening to John’s updated answer-phone message wherein he asks potential clients (for want of a better word) to contact Dean in an emergency. The brothers say nothing and drive off in silence. It is a very decent ending as even though we are only four episodes into the show we know that each brother is lost in their own thoughts after learning that John has gone off the grid completely.
Demons feature heavily in Supernatural but Phantom Traveller has the accolade of giving us the first black eyed demon and exorcism. The demon is typically bothersome and plays on Sam’s grief over Jessica by taunting him that she is currently burning in hell. Black eyed demons are generally the weakest of the bunch however Phantom Traveller was a great introduction to this branch of the supernatural.
Phantom Traveller is also the first time that we see Sam step up and take charge of a hunt. Dean’s fear of flying does lead to some comical moments of panic which include manic eye movements and humming Metallica in order to calm down. Ackles has the charm to pull off Dean’s flirty nature but he also has a set of decent comic chops and brings a lot of humour to the character.
Padalecki does on occasion get over shadowed by Ackles but in Phantom Traveller he got his moment to shine and he didn’t disappoint.
Some of the guest stars were possessed and they brought a good level of calm creepiness to the episode. Demons come and go on Supernatural and it saves on the budget by having them quickly possess a human – some of the most famous characters are demons and the show uses the human performances to great affect.
Supernatural is infamous for its shoestring budget but the big set piece, the initial plane crash, was extremely well executed. The wreckage sets were also impressive and it is easy to see just how much effort and detail is put into the production of the show.
My fear of flying means that this episode is always a stressful one to get through but Phantom Traveller is the perfect early episode to show the Winchesters working at their best. It gets a 8/10.
Dean line of the week: “It's your job to keep my ass alive so I need you sharp. Seriously you're still having nightmares about Jess?”
Dean spends the entire show being concerned about Sam but in true Winchester fashion he doesn’t come right out and say so.
Sam line of the week: “Dean, you're panicked; you're wide open to demonic possession so you need to calm yourself down, right now.”
The more emotionally vulnerable a person is the more likely they are to be possessed. Dean has gone into a major meltdown and it is up to Sam to snap him out of it
Guest line of the week: Jerry: “He (John) was real proud of you I could tell. He talked about you all the time”
John Winchester is still very much a mystery at this stage. John and Sam aren’t on speaking terms so it is nice to see that John was proud of Sam despite leaving. Sam’s reaction to this line is surprise.
Musical cue of the week: Paranoid – Black Sabbath
Who knew Paranoid would make good back ground music to crime scene investigation?!
Monster of the week: Phantom Traveller
A black eyed demon