Phantom Traveler is the 4th episode of Season 1. It aired on October 4, 2005.
A plane reservation is a ticket to terror when a demon possesses the staff of an airplane, forcing it to crash. Knowing the demon is on another flight, Sam and Dean board the flight to attempt an in-air exorcism.
AIRPORT- We see a very nervous man named George go into the airport bathroom to wash his face to calm himself before flying. Another man enters and tries to reassure him flying is safe. When this man leaves, a strange black entity emerges from the nearby air vent and goes into George through his eyes.
BOARDING PLANE- The now possessed George gets on board his flight. The welcoming stewardess notices his eyes are all black, but shrugs it off. After 40 minutes into the flight, George asks the passenger beside him the time. He then comments, "Time really does fly" before saying he's going to stretch his legs. A young man near the exit notices George heading for the emergency release handle and shouts for him to stop when he reaches for the handle, but somehow George manages to open the door and it blows off, hitting the plane's tail. The plane goes into a dive and we see everyone screaming in fear and panicking.
EARLY MORNING- MOTEL- It's 5:45 a.m. and Dean is awakened from his sleep by Sam. Sam hasn't slept for a while now. He says what they do preys on his mind. Dean says he's never afraid like that, but Sam pulls a huge knife from under Dean's pillow and isn't convinced. Dean's cell phone rings, interrupting their conversation. It's a man Dean and their dad once did a job for in the past. He says he needs their help again.
AIRPORT- Dean and Sam meet the man from the phone call in some kind of aircraft workshop. His name is Jerry, and apparently he had some kind of ghost problem once before at his home. This time, though, his problem is more work related. He plays them the voice recorder of the downed airliner and they all hear a horrid noise. Jerry says he doesn't think the plane had mechanical failure, which is what the authorities think. Apparently, there were 7 survivors, including the pilot. Sam and Dean ask for access to logs, flight recordings etc., as well as the wreckage. Jerry says he can get them everything but access to the plane's remains.
STORE- Dean goes to a copy shop and fakes two Homeland Security ID's. Sam is waiting outside, and in the meantime has checked out the noise on the voice recorder. It's clear now that something is saying "No survivors."
PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL- Dean and Sam go visit the young man who last saw George trying to open the plane's emergency exit. He's one of the 7 survivors and has admitted himself to the psychiatric hospital because he's afraid of what he saw. He tells the brothers he knows it is impossible for George to open the exit, as it had 2 tons of pressure on it and yet he did. He tells them George had strange black eyes too.
GEORGE PHELPS HOME- Next, Sam and Dean visit George's widow. They find his address and name from the flight manifest. George's wife tells them he was just an ordinary guy going to a dentist's convention. This disappoints the brothers as they had assumed he might be some evil creature masquerading as a man.
OUTSIDE- The boys decide they need to check the wreckage to get any kind of clues and for that they need suitable attire. They go shopping and come out of the store dressed in black suits. Dean says he feels like the Blues Brothers.
WAREHOUSE- Sam and Dean gain access with their fake ID's and go check out the plane's remains. They find an odd residue on what's left of the emergency exit's handle, but then the real Homeland Security agents appear and the boys have to make a quick exit, taking a sample of the residue with them.
AIRFIELD- Chuck, the downed plane's pilot, is about to take his first aircraft up since the crash. It's only a small prop plane, but he's still very nervous as he waits. We see the strange black entity appear and seep into Chuck's eyes.
JERRY'S OFFICE- The boys find out the substance from the handle is sulfur and conclude they're dealing with some kind of demonic possession.
AIRFIELD- Chuck takes the plane up, his nerves are strangely gone. After 40 minutes, he deliberately crashes into a field near a place called Nazareth.
MOTEL- Sam and Dean look up demons and possession on their laptop. Sam finds Japanese item stating that disasters are caused by certain demons. Dean says this is something bigger than usual and he wished their dad was there. His cell rings- it's Jerry with more bad news about Chuck's plane going down.
JERRY'S OFFICE- The boys have visited the site where Chuck crashed and have found more sulfur residue. They realize the demon is using some kind of biblical reference because it is crashing planes after 40 minutes in flight. (It's crashed several over the years) 40 minutes apparently signifies death. They also figure it is going after all the survivors from the flight because they shouldn't have lived.
IN THEIR CAR- Sam rings the rest of the survivors to see if any plan to fly. Apparently, only one does, Amanda Walker, the stewardess. Their only problem is, they can't contact her and her flight leaves soon! Dean floors the gas and prays.
AIRPORT- The boys arrive and Dean has Amanda paged. He tells her her sister has had an accident to try and stop her flying, but the ruse doesn't work as she had just gotten off the phone with her sister. She goes to board the flight and we see the black entity lurking.
Sam says they have to get on the plane with Amanda and exorcise the demon or everyone on it will die. Dean suddenly confesses he's very afraid to fly. Sam offers to do it alone but Dean doesn't like that idea.
ON BOARD THE PLANE- Dean has given in and boarded the flight, but he's not a happy guy. He's obviously pretty scared. Sam tells him he has to stay calm. They only have 40 minutes to find who the demon has possessed. Apparently, it's most likely to be someone uneasy or under pressure/stress. They think it might be Amanda so Dean goes to talk to her. He says God's name in Latin but it doesn't freak her out- she's not the one!
Dean goes back to Sam and as the plane encounters turbulence Dean hits panic mode again. Sam calms him and explains he has to be careful as if he's panicking he's wide open for demonic possession. The exorcism is in two parts. The first one makes the demon leave the body it has possessed, but it also makes it more powerful- it can survive without a human host! They must make sure they read out both parts of the ritual to banish it back to hell.
Dean doesn't like the sound of this, but uses his home made, "Walkman spook detector" to check out the passengers- he finds nothing. They now have 15 minutes and are getting nowhere, then, suddenly the meter picks up on something. The demon is in the co-pilot!
Sam and Dean enlist Amanda's help. They tell her the plane will go down if she doesn't lure the co-pilot to them.
She admits something was strange on the original flight and tells them she saw George's black eyes too. Eventually she goes to get the co-pilot still not really understanding what's going on. He arrives and the brothers try to subdue him. Sam recites the exorcism while Dean grapples with the demon, tossing holy water on him and fighting him down. The demon screams it knows what happened to Sam's girlfriend Jess, but then is forced from the body it's in and the black entity vanished into an air duct.
Immediately, the plane starts to take a dive and people begin to scream. The lights flicker and Sam drops the diary he's been reciting from. In the darkness and mayhem he has to grapple to retrieve the book or everyone will die! The plane plummets and Dean is pinned to a wall panel, obviously terrified. Somehow, Sam manages to grab the book at the last minute and finish the exorcism. A huge electrical discharge flares around the plane and it levels out. The Winchester boys have saved the flight.
AIRPORT LOUNGE- People are being tended to by paramedics or questioned by the authorities about what happened on the plane. Amanda mouths thanks to Dean and Sam and they walk away. Sam talks to his brother and is obviously upset that the demon knew about Jess. Dean says the thing knew his fears and probably lied.
OUTSIDE- As the boys head for their car, Jerry thanks them for all they've done. Dean asks Jerry how he got his cell phone number, as he hasn't had it long. Jerry tells them their dad's voicemail points to Dean's number. This is a surprise as last time they checked their father's number wasn't working. Dean rings and hears the voicemail. This means their dad could still be alive somewhere, but why hasn't he contacted them directly? The two drive off in their Impala as the screen fades to black.
- Dean Winchester
- Sam Winchester
- Amanda Walker
- Jerry Panowski
- Max Jaffey
- Chuck Lambert
- George Phelps
- Disaster Demon
- Black Sabbath - "Paranoid"
- Rush - "Working Man"
- Nichion Sounds Library - "Load Rage"
- Metallica - "Some Kind of Monster"
Featured Supernatural BeingEdit
The episode number, 1.04. is a possible allusion to the famed Eastern Air Lines Flight 401, which crashed in the seventies. The ghosts of flight 401 were said to occupy planes that featured parts of the original plane and to help to save those planes on occasion.
During the scene on the plane where Sam and Dean are talking to Amanda the flight attendant, Sam says a line including the phrase 'the truth is out there' which is a possible reference to Fox series The X-Files, which in the credit sequence featured that phrase and also in the X-Files office there was a poster that stated 'The Truth is Out There' in addition, John Shiban, who also wrote for The X-Files, also worked on Supernatural.
- Dean: Did you get any sleep last night?
- Sam: Yeah, I grabbed a couple of hours.
- Dean: Liar. 'Cause I was up at three, and you were watching the George Foreman infomercial.
George Foreman: Famous heavyweight boxer who is now best known for late night ads where he flogs his electric grill.
- Sam: Yeah, he told me. it was a poltergeist?
- Man: Poltergeist? Man, I loved that movie.
Poltergeist is a 1982 horror film directed by Tobe Hooper, about a family that moves into a house built on an Indian burial ground. It is said that the movie was cursed due to very strange events happening to actors on and off of the set.
- Dean: Man, I look like one of the Blues Brothers.
- Sam: No, you don't. You look more like a... Seventh-grader at his first dance.
The Blues Brothers were a comedic R&B duo comprised of John Belushi and Dan Akroyd that originated on the late night sketch show Saturday Night Live and later made two movies (one of which, was not well received). The pair's usual attire were black and white suits, ties, hats and sunglasses.
- Dean: This goes way beyond floating over a bed or barfing pea soup. I mean, it's one thing to possess a person, but to use them to take down an entire airplane?
Reference to the films The Exorcist, in which a little girl is possessed by a demon. Among her afflictions are levitating objects and projectile vomiting. Like the Poltergeist, there are several legends that follow the Exorcist. Unlike the Poltergeist, the Exorcist has a very interesting set of trivia. Could also be a reference to Ghostbusters in which a woman is possessed and levitates over her bed.
- Dean: Miss Walker. Hi, this is Dr. James Hetfield from St. Francis Memorial Hospital.
James Hetfield is the lead singer/rhythm guitarist of Metallica.
- Sam: I think we can go more subtle. If she's possessed, she'll flinch at the name of God.
- Dean: Oh, nice.
- Sam: Hey.
- Dean: What?
- Sam: Say it in Latin.
- Dean: I know.
- Sam: Okay. Hey!
- Dean: What?!
- Sam: Uh, in Latin, it's 'Christo'.
- Dean: Dude, I know! I'm not an idiot!
Christo is not Latin for "God" but Greek for "The Anointed One" (as in the title "Christ"). Moreover, it should be "Christus" or "Christe" - "Christo" is in either the dative or ablative case, and therefore manes something like "to Christ" or "by Christ".
- Antagonist: Disaster Demon
- PCP: "Man, I don't care how strong you are. Even yolked up on PCP, no way you can open an emergency door on a flight" (Dean). PCP or Phencyclidine, a recreational drug, can have effects of euphoria, loss of ego boundaries, aggressive behavior and can induce feelings of strength and power.
- The Demon smoke in this episode is different than the variety introduced in later seasons. It resembles a swarm of insects, unlike the later more fluid cloud-like appearance.
- The Demons eyes change later in the series as well, in this episode only the iris of the eye is black. Later the whole eye will be filled in.
- The Holy Water causes tissue damage to the host, when it is used on the demon. In later seasons, this wouldn't be the case.
- The plane flying over Sam and Dean at the end of the episode is an Air Canada plane, as the series is filmed primarily in British Columbia.
- While using the EMF meter to seek out the demon, Dean comes across a passenger who bears heavy body modifications which makes the meter go off. It is unknown whether this person bears any supernatural qualities.
- The use of "Christo" to make a demon reveal itself is never mentioned throughout the rest of the series.
- This episode marks the first time the boys dress in suits and impersonate federal agents.
- There really was a Flight 401 that crashed. Afterwards the airline did salvage parts. And then passengers on planes that received parts started reporting seeing either the pilot or the co-pilot. Although the airline denied the planes were haunted they did eventually remove those salvaged parts and the haunting stopped. The incident was made into a book, and a movie, both with the same name, The Ghost of Flight 401.
- Error: The Latin word for God is "Deus", not "Christo".
Dean: "Dude, stow the touchy-feely, self-help yoga crap."
- Czech: Démon v letadle (Demon in the Plane)
- Finnish: Aavematkustaja (Phantom Traveler)
- French: Le Fantôme voyageur (Phantom Traveler)
- German: Phantom-Reisende (Phantom Traveler)
- Italian: Il fantasma dell'aria (Air's Ghost)
- Polish: Tajemniczy Podróżnk (Mysterious Traveler)
- Romanian: Fantoma Călător (Phantom Traveler)
- Spanish: El viajero fantasma (Phantom Traveler)
- Hungarian: Zuhanás (Falling)
- "Supernatural: "Phantom Traveler" Review", IGN review.