This week Supernatural ends the first half of season 6 with “Appointment in Samara,” an episode featuring the return of a familiar face: Death. While most of this season’s episode titles have been references to movies or TV shows, this one is a literary reference, and knowing what it means might help answer questions about what the episode is about.
The title refers to an old Babylonian story of a Baghdad merchant who sends hi servant to the local marketplace. The servant bumps into Death, who gives him a threatening gesture, becomes terrified and flees. He tells his master about the meeting before escaping Death by traveling 75 miles to the city of Samara.
The merchant then goes to the marketplace to talk to Death and find out why she made a threatening gesture. Death replies that is wasn’t a threat, it was surprise, because she didn’t expect to see the servant there since she already had an appointment with him in Samara.
It’s a classically ironic and fatalistic tale where a character does everything he can to avoid Death, only to wind up exactly where he was supposed to be all along. For modern examples, look no further than the Final Destination franchise, where characters attempt to avoid dangerous situations only to wind up dead anyway.
It’s also a concept Supernatural is familiar with. In “The Monster at the End of This Book,” Dean and Sam put it into effect by actively trying to avoid the prophecies of Chuck Shurley, only to have all of them come true.
Here’s the official description for “Appointment in Samara.”
“Dean seeks out Death to help get Sam’s soul back. Death tells Dean he will help Sam if Dean will agree to act as Death for 24 hours. Meanwhile, Sam decides he doesn’t want his soul back and asks Balthazar for a protective spell to keep his soul out of his body. Balthazar tells Sam he needs the blood of his father for the spell to work and since John Winchester is dead, Sam decides Bobby is the next best thing.”
My guess it that the title could refer to Sam’s attempt to keep his soul out of his body and that, like in the story, his actions will lead directly to him actually getting his soul back.
Supernatural airs Friday at 9pm on the CW.
(Image and video courtesy of the CW)