“Bloody Mary” succeeded in freaking me out when I first saw it. Perhaps because of that, I unintentionally missed it during my first all-season rewatch of Supernatural in late 2008, when the show was only 4.5 seasons old. Months later, I was dealing with the disappearance and suspected suicide (since confirmed) of a friend. I decided take my mind off things by completing my rewatch with “Bloody Mary”. The episode was as scary as I had remembered, but what really got to me was Sam’s words to a woman who had been blaming herself for her boyfriend’s death: “You really should try to forgive yourself. You probably couldn’t have stopped it. Sometimes bad things happen.” It felt like Sam was speaking directly to me! I knew that I would probably always have complicated feelings about my friend’s fate, but at the end of a traumatizing day, Sam’s words were a comfort.
I’ve seen this episode so many times now, the scare has gone out of it for me, but I still admire the episode’s homage to Japanese horror movies like Ringu.
Rewatching the episode this time around, I paid a lot of attention to the “rules” of the haunting, and so did the episode. I now understand why some people don’t like the episode: it really does get spend a lot of time explaining the rules. But the rules made sense. Anyone can look into a mirror and manifest Bloody Mary by saying her name three times, but Bloody Mary will haunt whoever in the vicinity has been keeping a secret about their role in someone else’s death. She seems to ease up when someone confesses their secret.
So when Donna says “Bloody Mary” three times, the ghost goes after the friend standing next to her, Charlie. Bloody Mary chases Charlie around campus. She finds Sam and Dean and tells them that she felt responsible for her boyfriend’s suicide. After that, Bloody Mary leaves her alone. Later, when Sam calls for Bloody Mary, he gets a Bloody Sam reflection that blames him for Jess’s death. Sam’s eyes start to bleed, and Bloody Mary goes after for him. Coming to Sam’s rescue, Dean’s eyes also start to bleed.
For years, fans wondered why Dean’s eyes were bloody. What deadly secret was he hiding? It’s never addressed explicitly in the episode or any subsequent episodes in the series. But knowing only what we know of the first four episodes of Supernatural, I’m satisfied with concluding that Dean’s eyes bleed because he doesn’t feel like he’s done enough to protect his family. I do like the more dramatic theory posited by Dean-girlx on Fanpop that Dean specifically felt guilty about not acting fast enough years earlier to stop the Shtriga, as revealed in episode 1.18, “Something Wicked”.
However, I’m now conflicted about how I felt about Sam’s reaction to seeing an apparition of Jess in the final scene. After solving the case, Sam tells Dean that he’s made peace with Jess’s death, but then he sees her standing on a street corner. Sam reacts with distress, but doesn’t tell Dean. So was the show trying close the door on Sam’s guilt? Was it opening new lines of guilt? Was it saying that Sam would always have to live with complicated feelings about his role (or non-role) in Jess’s death? “Bloody Mary” ended with a lot of conflicting emotions. Maybe that’s just true to life.
Recently, Jared Padalecki said one of his favourite sound cues was “Laugh, I Nearly Died” by The Rolling Stones, which played when Sam sees “Jess” again. The original music appears on the DVD, but not on Netflix because the music licensing agreements did not cover streaming. The two song lists are included in the Supernatural Wiki’s episode recap for “Bloody Mary” and other Season 1 episodes.
- Episode 1.01 “Pilot”
- Episode 1.03 “Dead in the Water”
- Episode 1.04 “Phantom Traveler”
- Episode 1.05 “Bloody Mary”
- Episode 1.02 “Wendigo”