Yellow Fever is the 6th episode of Season 4. It aired on October 23rd, 2008.
Several men die from fright after being infected with a mysterious illness that causes acute anxiety, which leads to total terror. Sam and Dean investigate, and Dean becomes infected. Sam desperately searches for a cure before Dean dies and is sent back to Hell.
The episode begins with Dean running for his life. At first it seems he's being chased by hellhounds, but it is then revealed that he's actually running from a beribboned Yorkie.The scene cuts to 43 hours earlier, where the boys are examining the body of Frank O'Brien, a healthy 44-year-old marathon runner who died of a heart attack after two days of intense fear and paranoia -- the third such death in town. Sam and Dean insist that the somewhat lazy coroner perform an autopsy, and he complies as they observe. He excises the victim's heart (and asks Dean to hold it) but can't find anything that would indicate that a heart attack was imminent. He accidentally squirts "spleen juice" onto Sam's face. They discover a number of scratches along Frank's arm,and a mark on his hand indicating that he wore a wedding ring.
The boys go to visit the eccentric Sheriff Al Britton, a good friend of Frank's. He makes them remove their shoes before they enter his office. After shaking hands with them, he slathers on hand sanitizer. He confirms that Frank had been acting strangely.
Next, the boys visit Mark Hutchins, Frank's reptile-loving neighbor and the last person to see him alive. Dean is noticeably unnerved by Mark's menagerie of pets. He tells them that Frank seemed afraid of everything lately: Al-Qaeda, ferrets, artificial sweetener, Pez dispensers, and witches, especially "that green bitch" from The Wizard of Oz. Mark tells them that Frank had been a bully in high school, but that he "got better," especially after the suicide of his wife Jessie in 1988.
That evening, Dean's strange behavior escalates and he sets off an EMF detector, proving that he's "haunted." He's also begun to incessantly scratch his left forearm. A call to Bobby diagnoses Ghost sickness, in which a spirit literally infects a person with fear, which intensifies until the victim's heart gives out. The victims had all used fear as a weapon during their lives, which Sam summarizes as, "they were all dicks." Bobby also theorizes that if the ghost that started the infection is destroyed, the sickness should clear up.
In the hotel room, Dean begins to hallucinate, and unexpectedly coughs up a wood chip. Sam realizes that the symptoms are trying to communicate something about the original ghost. They investigate the abandoned Cassity & Sons Lumber Mill and - after a run in with a stray cat that makes Dean scream like a girl - they find an ID card for Luther Garland, along with a number of drawings of Frank's wife Jessie. When the ghost of a hulking man appears and machinery starts to move on its own, Dean cuts out back to the Impala in terror.The official police file says that Luther Garland died of "physical trauma." At the Peaceful Pines Assisted Living home, John Garland, Luther's brother, tells a different story. Luther was "the town freak," but Jessie O'Brien was kind to him, and he became infatuated with her. When she vanished, Frank O'Brien came after Luther, chained him to his truck and dragged him up and down the road in front of the mill. No law enforcement mounted an investigation. Sam and Dean realize the victims are experiencing Luther's death in slow motion. The lack of remains - and the impossibility of a simple salt-and-burn - set Dean off more, who rants about the insanity of hunting and Sam getting gassy from eating half a burrito, panics and flees from the Yorkie, which he mistakes for a hellhound.
Back at the hotel room, Dean's hallucinations grow worse. He sees Sam's eyes turn yellow, and he imagines Sam telling him that he wants to give in to the influence of his powers, while Dean goes back to Hell.Bobby meets Sam at the wood mill with two hours to go before Dean's heart is set to give out. Bobby reveals that he is fluent in Japanese, and identifies Luther as a buruburu which can be killed with fear. Sam lures Luther out of hiding by destroying his drawings of Jessie O'Brien. He then wraps an iron chain inscribed with a spell word around Luther's neck, while Bobby drags him behind the Impala until he dissipates -- a "terrible" plan that both dislike, but which they feel is their only option.
While Sam and Bobby are trying to catch the ghost, Dean is alone in his room and hears hellhounds. Sheriff Britton breaks down the door, and is crazed and convinced that Dean and Sam will turn him in for his complicity in covering up Luther's murder. His heart gives out before Dean can reason with him.As Dean reaches for a bible he finds on the floor, Lilith appears to him in the guise of the little girl from 3.16 " No Rest For The Wicked". She tells him that he does remember his time in Hell -- four months was like 40 years. When Dean asks why he was infected, Lilith tells him that he knows, and that he must listen to his heart. When Luther is finally dispatched by Sam and Bobby back at the mill, ending the infection, Lilith disappears, as do the scratches on Dean's arms.
Later Sam asks Dean how bad his hallucinations and fears got by the end. Before Dean can tell the truth, he sees Sam's eyes flash yellow. Dean says he saw howler monkeys, thus not revealing the truth.
Featured Supernatural Beings
- Demons (hallucination)
- White-eyed Demon (hallucination)
- Chupacabra (mentioned only)
- Vampires (mentioned only)
- Survivor - Eye of the Tiger
Message From Eric Kripke
"I've never before responded directly to the fandom's comments about an episode, and I don't plan to make a habit of it, but I couldn't resist dropping in a thought about 'Yellow Fever'.
Which is this: Dean is not a dick.
None of the writers, or anyone on the creative team of Supernatural, think Dean's ever been a dick, past, present, or future. He's a hero. Dean did not contract the ghost sickness because he's a dick. Victims contract the illness because they use "fear as a weapon." Dean asks Lilith at the episode's end, "Why did I get infected?" And she cryptically responds, "You know why. Listen to your heart." We, as the writers, probably should have emphasized this mystery more, I take responsibility for that omission. But the point is: the reason he was infected is because of a secret he's keeping. A dark secret that will be revealed in Episode 10. And not at all because of any dickishness, implied or otherwise.
- Yellow Fever (in reality) is an extremely deadly virus. The episode probably meant yellow as in "yellow belly", which is another term for a coward.
- "Agent Tyler" and "Agent Perry" is a reference to Aerosmith band members Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.
- Azazel appears as a hallucination to Dean, this is his first appearance (in present time) since All Hell Breaks Loose - Part 2, he is portrayed by Jared Padalecki in this episode.
- The fictional town in Colorado where this episode takes place, Rock Ridge, is also the name of the town in the film Blazing Saddles.
- [Sam opens a locker and a cat jumps out]
- Dean: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
- [Sam stares at him]
- Dean: That was scary!
- [Sam just walks off]
- [Sam offers Dean a pistol]
- Dean: Oh, I'm not carrying that. It could go off. I'll man the flashlight.
- Dean: I mean, who would pretend to be an FBI agent? That's just nutty!
- Dean: What are we doing?
- Sam: We are hunting a ghost.
- Dean: A ghost. Exactly! Who does that?
- Sam: Us?
- Dean: Us, right. And that Sam, that's exactly why our lives suck! I mean come on, we hunt monsters! What the hell? I mean normal people, they see a monster and they run but not us. No, no, no. We search out the things that want to kill us. Heh, heh? OR EAT US!! You know who does that? Crazy people! We are insane!
- As Dean's time is running out, Bobby arrives and presents Sam with an "Encyclopedia of Spirits" which dates back to the Edo Period. Sam thumbs through the book and is shocked. He asks Bobby, "You speak Japanese?!" Bobby answers "Kimi ga umareru mae kara zutto dayo," which means: "(I've) always(known Japanese) since before you were born."
- After Sam realizes that Dean is their biggest clue, right after Dean coughs up the wood chip, Dean says "I don't wanna be a clue." This is a possible reference to the TV show Seinfeld, which is again quoted by Dean in Family Matters. The line is a template often used by Jerry Seinfeld's character (Jerry Seinfeld) which is "I don't wanna be a ...", the space being filled by: 'pirate', 'cowboy', and even 'Switzerland'. (x)
- The Garland brothers and John's re-iteration of their story strongly mirrors the novel ''Of Mice and Men. '' by John Steinbeck.