Supernatural on CW

2006, TV Show

Supernatural Episode: "It's a Terrible Life"

Season 4, Episode 17
Episode Synopsis: Sam and Dean live normal, separate lives but they don't seem to know each other, even though they work at the same company. However, when colleagues start committing suicide, they team up to investigate the situation.
Original Air Date: Mar 26, 2009
Guest Cast Jim Beaver Genevieve Cortese A.J. Buckley Travis Wester
Full Episode
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Season 4, Episode 17
Subscription | Netflix
Length: 42:06
Aired: 3/26/2009
Also available on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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Supernatural Episode Recap: "It's a Terrible Life" Season 4, Episode 17

Right off the bat we were treated to an alternate reality where Dean Smith was a corporate go-getter and Sam Wesson (yes, Smith & Wesson, like the handguns), the computer expert, set up shop in a cubicle. In this world the ghost hunting brothers were merely two strangers who worked for the same company. How would Sam and Dean reconnect? Would they rediscover their Winchester (yes, like the rifle) memories? And why in the world did they have to go through this?

While I was watching "It's a Terrible Life," I realized I needed this. Usually I find it jarring to tune into a more comedic episode after getting one that dripped in drama and angst. Don't get me wrong, I always end up loving the humorous follow-up to a dramatic Supernatural, but it usually takes me a bit to get into it. Well, I was ready to laugh. I welcomed Dean abandoning rock music, driving a Toyota Prius and listening to NPR. I relished seeing Sam in his yellow polo shirt and being in on his tech support calls. By the way, I can't tell you how many times I've called up tech support at my day job and they've said the same thing Sam repeated to the computer un-savvy that called him for help: "Did you turn it off then on?" I hate to say it but I could totally relate to everything Sam was going through in the cubicle. It had to suck even more for him because Sam's a big guy. There was no way he was comfortable in that small a space.

As this alternate reality unfolded, Sam and Dean kept running into each other in the elevator as coworkers started dying. Two of Sam's cubicle neighbors killed themselves after growing despondent over mistakes they had made. It turned out they both had recently been called up to HR and came back changed men. I loved how Sam's radar immediately started going off. Dean's did too, but especially when he witnessed one of the "suicides" and saw the ghost for himself. Slowly but surely, Sam and Dean's ghost hunting reality started to butt in on their alternate one. It was really fun to see them trust their instincts once again. It was even more fun to get to see Sam and Dean work so well together. Much has been said about the Winchester brothers' relationship this season. It's been rocky, their vibe has been off and they've been hiding things from each other. It was great to see them actually work off each other. They battled the ghost in synch and more importantly they had each other's backs. It was truly an awesome sight to behold. The spirit of that murdering boss never stood a chance.

This episode signaled the return of the Ghostfacers. I love these guys, and I loved the way they were reintroduced: Sam Wesson and Dean Smith got ghost-busting tips from them (and the Ghostfacers got to call the Winchesters douchebags) via the internet. The tutorial on rock salt, iron and burning the bodies to help rid the world of spirits was so funny. It was great the way they kept referring to the "Winchesters" but it also left me confused. Was the angel Zachariah trying to clue in the boys to their real selves? I don't know. Alternate realities just confuse me sometimes. Like I'm still trying to figure out if it was really our Sam working with Dean or was it just a Sam that was there to help his big brother realize he was meant to be a hunter and has a destiny to fulfill. After all, we did get some Sam POV scenes. If it was really our Sam then I feel he definitely needed a reminder of why he and Dean do what they do. He needed to be reminded of a time when yeah, he had his visions, but he could get the job done without a whole mess of superpowers at his disposal. And if this is what they were trying to get at with him, I really feel like we needed one more scene where we saw that Sammy got it. I suspect we didn't get that because I don't think Eric Kripke and the writers want Sammy to get it just yet. I think he has a ways to go before he's going to get it. I really think I just needed some better Sammy closure and this episode would have been perfect.

What I really loved was that even though Sam and Dean were put in a different reality, much of them stayed the same. At one point Sam Wesson said he just felt like he didn't belong here in this world. I think it was a lot like Sam wanting to get out of the hunting life when he was a teen and made the decision to go to Stanford. He didn't feel like he belonged on the road battling ghosts and things that bump in the night. He was also the one to question his existence first. It's in Sam's nature to question everything so that was very realistic to me. And then there was Dean Smith who said: "I don't believe in destiny. I do believe in dealing with what's right in front of us, though." That was so him circa "Faith" when he basically said he only believed in reality, in what he could actually see. Didn't he once tell Sam he didn't believe in destiny? I can't remember.

We met Castiel's boss Zachariah. Apparently, he cooked this whole alternate reality business up as a way to teach Dean a lesson. To help him put aside everything that happened in "On the Head of a Pin" and to put aside what he learned about his part in the apocalypse. Dean needed to remember he was a hunter. And I'm sure a lot of people got a kick out of the angel telling Dean to stop whining about it and get to what he was destined to do. After hitting rock bottom last week, hopefully Dean will be able to pick himself up and get back to the job he has loved for so many years. He's really needed now because as the angels have said, it's his destiny to stop "it," whatever "it" is. "It" seems to have many meanings. And speaking of Dean, I love how the writers have taken four seasons to paint a very intricate portrait of Dean and who he is, and what his likes are and then in this episode, show us a Dean that is on the other end of the spectrum. It was hilarious, everything about him totally rocked, and I thank Sera Gamble for delivering the goods on a suspenders-wearing, steamed latte-drinking, Prius-driving, corporate manager with a phat apartment and a big office with a window to the world. It was awesome seeing Dean in this environment but it also definitely reinforced (at least for me) that he didn't belong there. Can't wait to see his passion for hunting (and saving his brother) revived.

Other thoughts:

The song at the beginning of the episode: The Kinks' "A Well Respected Man."

As much as I dig Dean the hunter, I have to say he looked damn good as a Director of Sales and Marketing. Suits, well, suit him. And yes, the shallow end of the pool is open once again. Because I also have to say that Sam looked hot when he kicked that door down.

Dean ate a salad and jumped on the master cleanse craze. My friend tried that once. She stopped it after two days and was sick for almost a week after that. Loved when Dean came back to reality and one of the first things he said was he was hungry. You know he had to be jonesin' for a cheeseburger and some pie.

Sam had dreams in this other reality. How great was it when he was nodding off and he had flashbacks of kicking butt as a hunter? They even showed when Sam offed Gordon.

It was great how awkward Sam and Dean were in the beginning. I mean, Dean even thought Sam was hitting on him. Very funny. Sorry, it was.

I loved this taking place at an actual office instead of Sam and Dean's usual haunts. We got to see kills like someone microwaving themselves to death and that security guard that got elevatored to death.

Loved seeing Jack Plotnick who played Ian, Sam's coworker. He's the one who stabbed himself in the neck with his pencil. He didn't last long, unfortunately. Some people may recognize him from his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He played Deputy Mayor Allen Finch during Season 3. He was also in the pilot for The Mentalist.

Kurt Fuller as Zachariah was awesome. This guy has been in everything. I hope we get to Cas' boss again.

Once the ghost was nabbed, how great was it when both Sam and Dean were flush with the adrenaline of the moment and they were feeling good from a job well done?

Dean called Sam "Sammy." That hasn't happened in a while.

I appreciated the fact the show brought up how this is the worst time we've seen since the Great Depression. I always love it when scripted shows insert some of our reality into their world.

Just like Ben Edlund did a stellar job with the drama-filled "On the Head of a Pin," Sera Gamble did a great job bringing the laughs and inserting the Ghostfacers into "It's a Terrible Life." It's not her usual thing, but I really enjoyed it.

It was awesome when Dean Smith revealed his dad was Bob, his mom Ellen and his sister was Jo. Meanwhile Sam said his ex- fiancée was Madison. Such a blast from the past on almost all fronts.

Favorite lines:

"All I know is when are they going to have another show like Project Runway?"

"Do I know you?" "I don't think so."

"I don't know you, OK? But I'm going to do a public service and, uh...let you know that...that you over share."

"So are you telling me that your dreams are special visions and you're some kind of psychic?" "No. I mean, that would be nuts."

"Hey, how the hell did you know that ghosts are scared of wrenches?" "Crazy, right?"

"Holy crap, dude." "Yeah, I could use a beer." "Oh sorry man, I'm on the cleanse. I got rid of all the carbs in the house."

"Winchesters still suck ass though." "Affirmative. Suckage, major."

"That was amazing." "Right. Right?"

"Yeah, now sucks. My portfolio is in the sewer. I don't even want to talk about it."

"All right. What do we do now?" "We do what I do best, Sammy. Research." "OK, did you just call me Sammy?" "Did I?" "I think you did. Yeah. Don't."

"I quit."

"My god, am I hungry."


 What did you guys think?



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Right off the bat we were treated to an alternate reality where Dean Smith was a corporate go-getter and Sam Wesson (yes, Smith & Wesson, like the handguns), the computer expert, set up shop in a cubicle. In this world the ghost hunting brothers were merely two strangers who worked for the same company. How would Sam and Dean reconnect? Would they rediscover their Winchester (yes, like the rifle) memories? And why in the world did they have to go through this?

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Premiered: September 21, 2006, on CW
Rating: TV-14
User Rating: (9,918 ratings)
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Premise: Two brothers hunt demons, ghosts and other supernatural entities as they investigate crimes caused by paranormal forces.



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