Season 3 Episode 9

Malleus Maleficarum

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Jan 31, 2008 on The CW
out of 10
User Rating
900 votes

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Episode Summary

The seemingly harmless practices of a group of neighborhood witches goes bad when one of them kills a woman. Ruby offers her assistance... but she has a few secrets of her own.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • Witches, witches and more witches

    All things considered, Season 3 of Supernatural has been pretty good. I've been letting the high quality of Season 2 blind me, so when I think back on the Season up until this point, it's actually been really good. Supernatural has the tendency to take an episode that could be considered average under other circumstances or on other shows and make it excellent. This episode was the opposite: it had a great plot, great suspense, and multiple twists.

    A coven of neighborhood women turned witches are investigated by Sam and Dean after one of their own is responsible for a couple of deaths. As the episode unfolds, we learn that the demon in charge of the coven is extremely powerful, more than Sam and Dean originally thought, and that Ruby happens to know her. We ALSO learn that Ruby was once a human witch hundreds of years ago but had been turned by a demon and ever since, has been trying to keep the human side of her in front of all else.

    This episode was just chockful of little tidbits of information. We learn about a reference to a new player in the West who views Sam as competition and wants to eliminate him. Also, it seems that Dean's attempts to stop his death will be for nothing, seeing as Ruby herself has said there's nothing she or anyone can do. I don't expect that to stop Sam at all though. After all, they're the most important things to each other and they'll pull throughmoreless
  • One of the most visually disturbing and inherently frightening episodes ever!

    Witchcraft is a fascinating subject and I'm glad that Supernatural acknowledged it with such a frightful, intense and disturbing episode!

    Ben Edlund's script is tight and solid, the supporting actresses all very good (and especially Erin Cahill as Elizabeth Clark, the most shy and recalcitrant of the witches), Robert Singer's direction is phenomenal and the episode is just scary: the episode doesn't portray a rather simple, quite banal, wand-waving magic, but a bloodier one. "A witchcraft" as said Eric Kripke, "that hurts you and costs something... and there's bleeding in bowls and sacrificing chickens". He was right. There's something so tactile about the witchcraft portrayed in "Malleus Maleficarum" and it's this quality that makes it so disturbing: bloody, falling teeth; worms and maggots; pins in the throat... This is a vicious witchcraft, an unsettling one, a powerful one to see in an episode of Supernatural. If you like this angle, be sure to watch "Sanguinarium" (The X-Files, 4x06), which is a great episode directed by none other than Kim Manners.

    The episode isn't just about a monster of the week, because it also recounts Ruby's backstory (she was once a witch who sold herself to a demon) and, foremost, because it sheds a light on Sam's slow and stead transformation: the thought of losing Dean and the conscience that he will be left alone in fighting their war are struggling within is soul, and he's trying to harden himself up in preparation of the days to come. This is a subtle transformation, and a very deep one, and once again it shows the depth and the profundity of Supernatural.moreless
  • Witches are whores.

    This episode was hilarious. So much funny lines. Ruby of course livens things up with saving Dean's life. After he repeatedly called her a b***. Ruby is so awesome. And we learn a whole lot more of her in this episode. She was human once. All the demons were. That was pretty big. She was around when the plague was big. And finally she was a witch back then. The other demon girl was funny too. I'm so glad she died. I am also glad Renee died. Then Ruby & Dean bonded & it turns out there is no way to save Dean out of his deal. What are the Winchesters going to do now?moreless
  • Sam and Dean happen upon a coven of witches.

    This season is definately looking up. Sam and Dean happen upon a coven of witches. Solid writing and good additions to the lore of the series. One small qualm, the endings of episodes seems to be that of Sam and Dean getting the crap kicked out of them and then disposing of the "creature of the week". I'd like for the "creature of the week" to win once in a while. But that is a small qualm in a strong episode that shows that this season may be finding its footing after a very rought start. Sam and Dean are clicking.moreless
  • Really great episode.

    Well, overall it was one of my favorite episodes of Supernatural this season. Sure it didn't really have the best side-mystery like the fairy tale episode, which I just can't forget, but they were able to connect the side-story into the mainstream story, which is looking very interesting at the moment. We also get a very good luck at who Ruby really is and her past and she helps Dean and us viewers further understand how demons come to be and what Dean should expect when he's going down under. She also reveals her true motives into getting close to Sam. Wonderful work with this episode.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (9)

    • When Sam and Dean walk into Amanda's house and find her dead, the camera cuts to her and we see that her mouth is completely closed. When the scene is about to end and there is another shot of Amanda, we see that her mouth is now open.

    • When Sam and Dean walk out of the Duttons' house, it begins to rain and we can see that both of their jackets become wet around the shoulders. However, when they get in the car, their jackets are dry.

    • The demon picks up a wrought iron fire poker to beat Ruby with. However it has been established, many times, that demons cannot touch iron

    • When the demon possessing Tammi kills Renee telekinetically by snapping her neck, Renee's head moves in the opposite direction than the demon's hand.

    • We know that Sam and Dean were arrested at least twice before and police certainly have their prints in the system. So why would they break and enter into Amanda's house without wearing gloves thus leaving their prints as evidence around a murder scene?

    • When Sam was being pinned to the wall, first his bangs were on his forehead and then two scenes later, they weren't. Then a scene later, the bangs were back across his forehead.

    • Towards the end when the demon has been killed, Ruby's bangs keep changing position from off to the side to between her eyes.

    • When the spurned witch was killed at the beginning of the show 3 of 4 candles were blown out. When Dean and Sam came looking for her and found her dead, two candles remained burning.

    • While Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" is playing in the background, closed captioning displays the words for Nazareth's "Love Hurts".

  • QUOTES (19)

    • Dean: I saw Hellraiser, I get the gist.
      Ruby: Actually, they got that pretty close. Except for all the custom leather.

    • Sam: Stop the spell or die! Five seconds.
      Renee: What? No… please… don't kill us!
      Elizabeth: We were just getting Renee a lower mortgage rate!

    • Sam: (about Amanda) See, her house was littered with Satanic paraphernalia.
      Dean: A regular Black Sabbath.
      Elizabeth: No, that… but she was an Episcopalian.
      Dean: Well… then we're pretty sure she was using the wrong Bible.

    • Dean: I mean, this doesn't exactly look like the TV room of a bright and stable person, does it?

    • (Dean dying)
      Dean: You want to kill me. Get in line, bitch!
      (after saving Dean's life)
      Ruby: Stop... calling me bitch.

    • Dean: Are you feeling okay?
      Sam: (sighs) Why are you always asking me that?
      Dean: 'Cause you're taking advice from a demon for starters. And by the way, you seem less and less worried about offing people, you know, it used to eat you up inside.
      Sam: Yeah, and what has that gotten me?
      Dean: Nothing, it's just what you're supposed to do okay, we're supposed to drive the friggin' car, and friggin' argue about this stuff. You know, you go on about the sanctity of life and all that crap.
      Sam: So you're mad because I'm starting to agree with you?
      Dean: No, not mad, I'm... I'm worried, Sam. I'm worried 'cos you're not acting like yourself.
      Sam: Yeah, you're right, I'm not. I don't have a choice.
      Dean: What's that suppose to mean?
      Sam: Look, Dean, you're leaving right? And I gotta stay here in this crap-hole of a world... alone. So, the way I see it, if I'm gonna make it... if I'm gonna fight this war after you're gone then I gotta change.
      Dean: Change into what?
      Sam: Into you... I gotta be more like you.

    • Dean: Why does a rabbit always get screwed in the deal? Poor little guy.

    • Dean: So let me get this straight. You were human once. You died, you went to Hell, and you became a...
      Ruby: Yeah.

    • Ruby: The answer is yes, by the way.
      Dean: Sorry?
      Ruby: Yes, the same thing will happen to you. It might take centuries, but sooner or later, Hell will burn away your humanity. Every hell bound soul, every one, turns into something else. Turns you into us, so, yeah... yeah, you can count on it.

    • Sam: Look, I know it's dangerous, that she is dangerous, but like it or not, she's useful.
      Dean: No! We kill her before she kills us.
      Sam: Kill her with what? The gun she fixed for us?
      Dean: Whatever works.
      Sam: Dean, if she wants us dead, all she has to do is stop saving our lives.

    • Dean: They killed the nut job, should we thank them or what?
      Sam: They're working black magic, too, Dean. They need to be stopped.
      Dean: Stopped like stopped? They're human, Sam.
      Sam: They're murderers.
      Dean: Burn, witch, burn.

    • Ruby: You need to help me get him ready for life without you. To fight this war on his own.
      Dean: Ruby? Why do you want us to win?
      Ruby: Isn't it obvious? I'm not like them. I don't know why. I wish I was, but I'm not. I remember what it's like.
      Dean: What what's like?
      Ruby: Being human.

    • Dean: There's no way from saving me from the pit, is there?
      Ruby: No.
      Dean: So why'd you tell Sam you could help?
      Ruby: To get him to talk to me. You Winchesters can be pretty bigoted.

    • Ruby: That's what happens when you go to Hell, Dean. That's what Hell is. Forgetting who you are.

    • Dean: You saved my life.
      Ruby: Don't mention it.
      Dean: What was that stuff? God, it was ass. It tasted like ass.
      Ruby: It's witchcraft, short bus. (she leaves)
      Dean: (mutters) You're the short bus, short bus...

    • Sam: It's not so simple. We're not just hunting anymore. We're at war.

    • Dean: What the hell were you thinking?
      Sam: What? What the hell was I thinking?
      Dean: She's a demon, Sam. We want them dead, they want us dead!

    • Ruby: Put a leash on your brother, Sam - if you wanna keep him.

    • Dean: I hate witches. They're all spewing their body liquids everywhere. It's creepy. Hell, it's downright unsanitary!

  • NOTES (3)

    • International Airdates:
      Denmark: February 17, 2008 on TV3
      Australia: February 18, 2008 on Network 10
      UK: March 23, 2008 on ITV2
      Norway: August 3, 2008 on TVNorge
      Spain: October 20, 2008 on AXN
      Sweden: November 2, 2008 on Kanal 5
      Portugal: January 1, 2009
      Germany: March 2, 2009 on Premiere Film
      Finland: June 18, 2009 on Sub
      Czech Republic: March 19, 2010 on Prima COOL
      The Netherlands: March 28, 2010 on Net5
      Slovakia: September 24, 2010 on Markiza

    • The radio station Paul Dutton listens to in the car, 101.1, is the frequency of a classic rock station CFMI in Vancouver, where the show is filmed. Classic Rock 101 plays many of the same songs and artists used in the show.

    • Music: I Put a Spell on You by Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison.

  • ALLUSIONS (10)

    • Tammi: You're really telling me you threw in your chips with Abbott and Costello here?
      William "Bud" Abbott and Lou Costello were an American comedy duo known for rapid-fire word play. Their most well-known routine is the quintessential "Who's On First?"

    • Tammi: What did you think it was? Make-believe, positive thinking, The Secret?
      Referencing The Secret, a New Age self-help book that talks about how positive thoughts are powerful magnets that attract wealth, health, and happiness; on the flip side, it claims that fleeting negative thoughts are powerful enough to create terminal illness, poverty and even widespread disasters. It has been widely denounced as pseudoscience.

    • Tammi: That's what happens when witches get voted off the island.
      This is a reference to the CBS hit Survivor where the losers are voted off the island.

    • Tammi: Nice dick work, Magnum.
      Referencing the TV series Magnum P.I., starring Tom Selleck as easygoing detective Thomas Magnum who worked in Hawaii and stayed at the home of his benefactor, Robin Masters.

    • Dean: I saw Hellraiser, I got the gist.
      Referencing the series of movies which first premiered in 1987, featuring the white-skinned demonic Cenobites who are summoned to Earth by the Lamentation Box and deliver pain and pleasure (but mostly pain).

    • Dean: It's like Fatal Attraction all over again.
      Referencing the 1987 movie with Glenn Close as a woman who has a brief affair with married businessman Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) and then becomes obsessed with him when he breaks it off and starts terrorizing him and his family.

    • Dean: Burn, witch, burn.
      Referencing the movie Burn, Witch, Burn released in 1962. The movie was about a scientist (played by Peter Wyngarde) who discovers that his wife may be a reborn witch.

    • Dean: Looking for some craggy old Blair bitch in the woods?
      Referencing The Blair Witch Project (1999), a movie supposedly made from footage found in the woods, chronicling three student filmmakers filming their trek through the woods to make a documentary about the legendary Blair Witch.

    • Detectives Bachman and Turner
      This is a reference to the rock band Bachman Turner Overdrive, known for their hit "Taking Care of Business."

    • Malleus Maleficarum is the title of a treatise on witches and witchcraft, which was written by Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger in 1486. The complete title and subtitle was "Malleus Maleficarum, Maleficas, & earum haeresim, ut phramea potentissima conterens", which translates as "The Hammer of Witches, which destroyeth Witches and their heresy like a most powerful spear". In the book, the authors aimed to refute any claims against the true realty of witches, to show that most witches were women, and to set out ways of dealing with them. Interestingly, in relation to the prevalent themes of Supernatural in Season 3, it also asserts that three elements are necessary for the successful accomplishment of witchcraft: the evil-intentioned witch, the help of the devil, and the permission of God. The publication of Malleus Maleficarum was instrumental in the Catholic Church's ultimate acceptance of the reality of witchcraft as a clear and present heresy, and became the handbook for witch-hunters and Inquisitors throughout late medieval Europe.