While on their way to Bisbee, Arizona, Sam gets an email from an old friend from Stanford, Rebecca Warren. Rebecca's brother, Zach, has been arrested for murder, but Rebecca maintains that, at the time of the murder, Zach was with her.
Sam and Dean dig around and find that it's not an isolated incident; another man was allegedly at two places at once when his wife was attacked. This leads them to believe that they could have a doppelgänger or a shapeshifter on the loose.
Following each attack, the assailant escaped through the back way and then the trail disappears. The boys end up finding the trail in the sewer where they come across a pink, gelatinous mess distinguishable as being human only by the fact that there's an ear and hair in it. Thoroughly disgusted, they return to the car to get the only thing that can stop any kind of shapeshifter: a silver bullet.
They head back to the sewers, armed and ready, The shapeshifter attacks them and they give chase, only to lose when they come above ground (where, remarkably, nobody pays attention to two fully grown men holding guns climbing out of a sewer in a quiet park). They separate to track it down, but find each other before they find the creature. Dean, however, as we're shown, is actually the shapeshifter and he captures Sam before heading off to see 'Little Becky.'
Sam and the real Dean find themselves tied up in the sewers as Shapeshifter!Dean is attempting (and failing) to seduce Rebecca. They free themselves call the cops to go help Rebecca, which leads to an APB being put out on Dean for her attack.
The boys resolve to go kill the shapeshifter before it can do any more harm, but find themselves without any weapons. They go to the car (which the shapeshifter parked outside Rebecca's house) to get more only to find themselves in a police ambush. Dead escapes and Sam's taken in to custody but is (presumably) released because they can't hold him.
Dean takes it upon himself to track down the shapeshifter in the sewers but finds Rebecca bound and gagged. Knowing that Sam went to see her, Dean has to hurry to go save his little brother before the shapeshifter can kill him.
Facts & Figures.
People it mimics:
Some other guy
Rebecca's Email to Sam:
hey sam -
wanted to update you wasn't sure if you'd heard the news. zach was arrested for killing his gf. sounds crazy, i know - but he's charged with murder. cops say they have dna, fingerprints all kinds of evidence...
he didn't do it!!
this all feels so unreal.
just thought you'd like to know.
St. Louis, Missouri
Monster of the Week.
The Skinwalker, as portrayed in this episode, is a genetic mutation; a result of an evolutionary process which makes it able to assume the likeness of whomsoever it wishes to. It also has the ability to read the thoughts of the person he/she is mimicking. The transformation, however, is not a pleasant one. We never actually get to see the transformation into a person, but we see them transforming back. The process involves ripping the skin off (which dissolves into a disgusting goop after removal), the loss of fingernails and teeth, and quite a bit of bleeding. (This is, IMHO, awesomely grotesque. Ed.)
The origins of this particular Skinwalker are unknown. The genesis of the creature being glossed over in favour of Dean's character development. The only thing we do learn about it is that "he's all alone. All he wants is for someone to love him." This only goes part way to explaining his motive as we see him killing the girlfriends of the people he mimics, but we never see him seducing them or trying to be a part of their lives. This points to a) the skinwalkers inability to integrate into a relationship even on the short term, b) simple revenge against the world for shunning him, or c) a convenient plot device.
Regardless of the Skinwalkers motives, there is one simple way to kill it. Like all shapeshifters, all it requires is a gun and a silver bullet.
Sends dogs crazy.
Eyes flash. (No specific reason for flashing.)
Psychic ability (Limited). Can access the thoughts and feelings of the skin he's in up to a point. The longer he's in the skin, the more information he can glean.
(Thanks to: darkhavens.)
Thoughtform (Psychic Projection)
Mystique. X-Men. (Mystique is the fluffy bunny version. Ed.)
Horror Movie Clichés.
"Animals have a sharp sense of the paranormal."
Pop Culture References.
Vulcan Mind Meld. (Original Star Trek.)
Sam: Hey, Bec, can we take those beers now?
Rebecca: Oh, sure. [walks out of room]
Sam: Hey, ahhh... maybe some sandwiches, too?
Rebecca: What do you think this is? Hooters?
Dean: ... I wish.
Shapeshifter!Dean: He's sure got issues with you. You got to go to college, he had to stay home. I mean... I had to stay home. With Dad. You don't think I had dreams of my own? But Dad needed me. Where the hell were you?
Sam: Where... is my brother?
Shapeshifter!Dean: I am your brother. See, deep down... I'm just jealous. You got friends. You could have a life... Me? I know I'm a freak. And, sooner or later, everybody's gonna leave me.
Sam: What're you talking about?
Shapeshifter!Dean: You left. Hell, I did everything Dad asked me and he ditched me, too. No explanation. No nothing. Just [whoosh]. Left me with your sorry ass... But, still. This life? It's not without its perks. I meet the nicest people! Like Little Becky. You know Dean'd bang her if he had the chance. Let's see what happens.
Dean: That better be you, Sam, and not that freak of nature.
Sam: Yeah, it's me. He went back to Becca's looking like you.
Dean: Well, he's not stupid. He picked the handsome one.
Dean: I bet he drove over to Rebecca's.
Sam: The news said he fled on foot. I bet it's still parked there.
Dean: Ugh. The thought of him driving my car.
Sam: Come on.
Dean: It's killing me.
Sam: Let it go.
Dean: Sorry, man.
Sam: 'bout what?
Dean: I really wish things could be different, y'know? I wish you could just be 'Joe College'.
Sam: Nah, it's okay. You know, truth is, even at Stanford, deep down, I never really fit in.
Dean: Well, that's 'cos you're a freak.
Sam: Yeah, thanks.
Dean: Well, I'm a freak, too. I'm right there with you all the way.
Sam: Yeah, I know you are.
Dean: Y'know, I gotta say... I'm sorry I'm gonna miss it.
Sam: Miss what?
Dean: How many chances am I gonna have to see my own funeral?
Dean's Mix Tape.
00:20 In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida - Iron Butterfly
30:25 Hey Man Nice Shot. - Filter
40.00 All Right Now - Free
(Thanks to: beluga.)
Dean's ID Fraud.
Detective - Bisbee, Arizona
Sam's Palm Pilot
Crosses (At least 3)
Stakes (1 Visible)
Gaelic Stone Cross.
Two handguns (One in a brown holster with 'U.S.' something embossed on it.)
See comments for specifics.