Death Takes a Holiday
Production information
Season : 4
Episode : 15
Original airdate : 12 March, 2009
Directed by : Steve Boyum
Written by : Jeremy Carver
Preceded by : Sex and Violence
Followed by : On the Head of a Pin

Death Takes a Holiday is the fifteenth episode of Season 4 of Supernatural.


"Reapers take a break from work, and that means no one can die. But the escorts to the next world aren't off getting some R&R, unless you call being held hostage by a demon restful and relaxing."[1]

Full synopsisEdit

Sam and Dean are alerted by a call from Bobby to a possible case in Greybull, Wyoming, in which death seems to have just vanished from the town in the last week a half; a terminally ill husband walked out of hospital alive and well, and another resident, Jim Jenkins, survived being shot in the heart while being mugged, practically unfazed. Sam and Dean head to Greybull to investigate, and pose as reporters for a religious blog to interview Jenkins on his inexplicable survival which he considers a miracle from God. When they ask Jenkins about the events leading up to the mugging he survived, there are no signs that he or the other survivor encountered a crossroads demon and made a deal to get rid of death.

Sam and Dean look into the disappearance of death from Greybull, and learn that the last death to happen was that of young boy Cole Griffith; who died of an asthma attack ten days ago. As they discuss what it could be (with Dean hoping that for once it could indeed just be a miracle, while Sam believes it can't be anything good considering their experience), Sam realises based on how death seems to have just gone from the town that it could be because there's no reapers around to kill and reap those whose time is up. Sam suggests that since Cole Griffith was the last one to die before death in town stopped, he may have seen what happened that got rid of the town's reaper, and so they should try and contact his spirit to get answers from him.

Sam and Dean subsequently head to Cole's grave at the local cemetery to summon Cole's spirit. They discuss what this case is and what it means if they fix it; Dean is reluctant to fix the loss of death as it means good people will start dying again, but Sam is stoically and coldly convinced that this is how things have to be. Before Sam and Dean can summon Cole, they are stopped when Alastair (having survived the angelic blast from Anna that destroyed his original vessel, and now possessing the local groundskeeper) arrives and catches them. Alastair easily dispatches Dean by knocking him away with telekinesis, but Alastair's powers have no effect on Sam. Sam telekinetically pins Alastair and tries to use his demon powers to exorcise him, but Alastair smokes out and flees. After the encounter with Alastair, back at their motel room, Sam and Dean discuss what happened; with Sam lying to Dean about trying to use his powers on Alastair, and claiming that Alastair smoked out as soon as his powers didn't affect Sam. Sam also reveals that Bobby has called back on the brothers' theory that the local reaper has gone missing, and he believes the reaper has been kidnapped by demons; as an arcane, obscure version of the Book of Revelation that Bobby's researched indicates that killing a reaper under a solstice moon (which is tonight) breaks another one of Lucifer's seals.

Dean sets about finding and rescuing the local reaper from the demons with Sam, but as reapers can only be seen and touched by the dead or dying, Dean comes up with a plan that both he and Sam find insane yet are confident might work. They subsequently call Pamela over to perform astral projection on Sam and Dean, so that they can enter the Veil as ghosts to find and rescue the reaper. Though Pamela also finds it insane, and has gotten sick of being constantly pulled into Sam and Dean's angel-demon war with the seals, she agrees to do it to try and save the seal and get one step closer to averting the Apocalypse. Pamela performs an astral projection ritual on Sam and Dean, which successfully separates the brothers from their bodies and sends them into the Veil. In the Veil, Sam and Dean wander around town for a while in search of any signs of where the reaper is (while also enjoying the perks of being ghosts), but when Dean is ready to give up for a while, they two spot Cole Griffith as a ghost in his house's window.

Sam and Dean head in to the Griffith house to talk to Cole, and after getting him to calm down, Cole reveals that just after he died of his asthma attack, the local reaper came for him, but a cloud of black demonic smoke appeared and abducted the reaper before it could convince Cole to come with it. It's also revealed that after Cole died and stayed behind as a ghost, he's been showing signs to his mother that he's still here with her (by throwing and knocking over belongings in his bedroom), but she just keeps getting sadder and more depressed no matter how much Cole tries to comfort her. Just then, another reaper suddenly arrives, and is revealed to be Tessa (from In My Time of Dying). After Tessa restores Dean's memory of their encounter at the time of John's death, she reveals that she's here to put the town 'back on the rails' and to restore death and kill those who were meant to die. Dean and Sam try to convince her to skip town or to leave Cole alone since Sam and Dean need him to find where the demons took the missing reaper to. Tessa refuses to skip town, and doesn't care about the seal or the angel-demon war, but she agrees to hold off for now, but warns Cole will be first once she starts reaping the town.

Sam goes to Cole to try and get him to tell them where the demon smoke went, but Cole initially refuses. Sam resorts to lying to Cole that Tessa will leave him alone and let him stay with his mother forever rather than move on, and when Cole asks him to swear to this, Sam falsely swears to this lie. Cole then goes down to Dean and Tessa, and explains to them that what he saw indicates that the demons holding the reaper captive are located at the local funeral home. However, just then, the demon smoke returns and abducts Tessa; leaving Sam and Dean with until nightfall to learn how to use their ghost abilities and stop the demons breaking the seal. Cole agrees to teach Sam and Dean how to use their powers, and he shows them how to telekinetically move objects and the wind with their mind and how to hit and punch other ghosts and beings via bursts of anger.

Sam and Dean subsequently head off to the local funeral home, the outer-walls of which they find is scrawled with unusual runes and sigils that seem to only be visible in the Veil. Sam and Dean head in and find the demons holding Tessa and the town reaper captive in a trapping sigil, and set about dispatching the demon guards to free the reapers. However, Alastair arrives, possessing a new vessel, and has the demons successfully trap and capture Sam and Dean with a ring of iron chains. Without his body, Sam is unable to use his demonic powers on Alastair, and the brothers are trapped and unable to stop Alastair. Alastair explains that Tessa showing up to restore death to the town was exactly his plan, as not one but two reapers must be killed under the solstice moon to break a seal. Alastair then reveals that he has a weapon which is capable of killing reapers - a scythe which he strongly hints at as being that of Death himself. As Sam and Dean are trapped, Alastair then sets about using the scythe to kill the reapers and break the seal; successfully destroying the first reaper with the scythe, before preparing to kill Tessa.

Meanwhile, as Sam and Dean's spirits cannot be destroyed, a demon assassin has been sent by Alastair to the motel room where Sam and Dean's bodies are to kill them. When Pamela senses the demon in the motel room, she tries to reverse the astral projection and get Sam back to his body to defend himself, but she finds herself occupied with fending the demon off. Back at the funeral home, as Alastair prepares to kill Tessa and break the seal, Sam and Dean use their ghostly telekinesis to successfully drop a chandelier on and break the reaper trap; freeing Tessa at the last second before Alastair can kill her, and Tessa then frees Sam and Dean and teleports away to safety with them. Pamela successfully brings Sam back to his body, but the demon then mortally stabs her; although she remains alive due to death being missing from the town. Sam then immediately gets rid of the demon by using his powers to exorcise it. Meanwhile, in the Veil, as Dean tries to find his way back to the motel and his body, Alastair catches up with him, but Castiel suddenly arrives, and Alastair is captured by Heaven. Cass reveals to Dean that it was not Bobby but him who called Sam about the loss of death and warned them about the seal, and that the reason the angels couldn't help and needed Sam and Dean was because the scroll on the funeral home was angel warding that stopped them from saving the reapers. Castiel declares that today was a victory and they won this battle since Sam and Dean succeeded in saving a seal, but Dean feels reluctant and upset that death will return and the good people in this town will start dying again. Castiel declares that there is a natural order which must be followed, and that he made an exception for Dean (rescuing Dean from Hell) because Dean is "different."

Dean and Tessa subsequently return to Cole to get him to come with Tessa and move on, and Cole is disappointed that Sam lied and made a false promise to him about him staying. Cole still wants to stay behind with his mother because of how much pain and grief she's in, but Tessa tells Cole that his presence is what's causing her misery, because it means she can't let go and move on. Cole is still fearful about crossing over because he doesn't know what's waiting for him in the afterlife; but Dean warns and promises Cole that staying behind and watching the world move on without him is much worse than whatever's waiting for Cole on the other side. Cole finally agrees to go, and Tessa reaps him. Tessa warns Dean that just like humans lie to themselves about their loved ones "going to a better place" and being "together again" in death out of fear of what's waiting for them in the afterlife, Dean is also lying to himself about the angels' plans for him. Tessa tells Dean that Dean is right to trust his gut instincts that whatever the angels have in store for him isn't something good. Pamela then brings Dean back to his body, but before the boys can get Pamela medical aid, her stab wound from the demon begins to take effect now that Tessa has restored death to the town. As Pamela lies dying, she tells Sam and Dean that they can curse Bobby for bringing her into their angel-demon situation; and Dean tells Pam she is going to a better place, before they both admit that that is a lie. Pamela also whispers a secret in Sam's ear - she can sense the demonic darkness inside of Sam, and knows what Sam did to the demon using his powers, and she warns Sam that he is wrong to think anything remotely good will come out of what he's doing. Pamela then dies, leaving Dean saddened, and Sam shaken by what she told him.









  • This episode, and all of Season 4, is dedicated to Kim Manners, who died of lung cancer on 25 January, 2009.


  1. Supernatural: The Complete Fourth Season DVD episode guide
Supernatural Season 4
Lazarus RisingAre You There, God? It's Me, Dean WinchesterIn the BeginningMetamorphosisMonster MovieYellow FeverIt's the Great Pumpkin, Sam WinchesterWishful ThinkingI Know What You Did Last SummerHeaven and HellFamily RemainsCriss Angel Is a DouchebagAfter School SpecialSex and ViolenceDeath Takes a HolidayOn the Head of a PinIt's a Terrible LifeThe Monster at the End of This BookJump the SharkThe RaptureWhen the Levee BreaksLucifer Rising

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