"Nightshifter" first aired on January 25th, 2007, which would have been a day after Dean's birthday, and for simplicity's sake we'll just assume SPN time mostly aligns with that. Of course, that was his 28th birthday, not 27th... But I can't math so I messed it up and watched that one instead. XD But whatever. I have absolutely no issue with also rewatching 2x12 next year, too! And I don't really want to rewatch 1x12 "Faith" or 1x13 "Route 666" right now (Dean's actual 27th birthday would've fallen in between their airdates), so it all works out.
I adore 2x12, because "in trouble with the law" is one of my favorite SPN themes, and Ronald Reznick is one of my favorite one-episode characters. One one hand he was a total kook, with the laser eyes and the holding up a bank with an assault rifle, but the episode had a lot of empathy for him, too. (Without excusing his behavior--Dean supplied the empathy, Sam supplied the reminder that you can't purely romanticize quirkiness because sometimes lovable nerds hold up banks with assault rifles and that's a big NO.)
What I love about S1 and S2 is how much Sam and Dean both struggle with the basic tenets of who they are and where they fit into the rest of the world, if they do at all. And it is a struggle. On one level we still have Sam rejecting the crazy and Dean embracing it ("One of us!") but it's more than that. Because we consistently get these moments where Sam is absolutely furious with anyone from the outside who's getting mixed up in "their kinda stuff," in a way that's different from Dean grumbling about police doing their job but being bad at it because they don't know that's what they're doing, etc. And honestly until Sam comes back around I don't know that Dean even had a ballpark from which to draw parameters around what is normative and what isn't. He's coming from such an extremely specific place and he doesn't see it until Sam's back in the picture struggling to draw lines, too. Dean thinks he's got it down but come S2 he realizes he really doesn't (re: monsters [2x03 "Bloodlust"]; re: John [the whole season]; re: society [2x12, for example]).
Also, HOW MUCH DO I LOVE ANALOG??? I LOVE IT. If they were doing this kind of legwork in S14, Sam probably has a GIS program installed on his laptop, and he'd just pull up digital layers and work from there. But hey, party like it's 2007, because we got a red Sharpie and some municipal maps of the city of Milwaukee as well as its sewer system, which they probably had to scan out of the local history section of some random Milwaukee library. <3____<3
Actually, let's be real. If Sam and Dean needed to do this in S14, they probably wouldn't even need the GIS; they'd just wing it--unless they were working with a really big area. I feel like at this point they don't need a lot of prepwork because they've got that mental muscle memory down.
Also, moment of glory for this sweater guy, who knew exactly how to pat Sam and Dean down even though as far as we can tell he's a bank teller who's never needed to give anyone a professional pat down. I like him:
Also, the scene after Ronald gets shot by the police snipers is fantastic, and I think where Dean's empathy for Ronald really comes through. He's visibly shaken and upset by Ronald's death. And sure, part of it's because he's upset and shaken because there is an entire police force on the other side of the walls and a shifter loose and he and Sam are really really screwed, but Ronald's also a piece of the pie. Dean's having three discrete sets of emotions all at once here--fear of snipers/escape from this shit; feeling for Ronald; goal-oriented determination to get rid of this goddamn shifter.
When Sam slides in next to him Dean startles big time, and when Sam leaves he jumps again. He keeps looking at the windows, and at Ronald's body, and man there's a lot going on and it's all riding a panicked surface. <3333 But that third string of emotions is still keeping it together because they need to get this job done, and they need to escape the police somehow.
And I could write a whole DiscourseTM essay about this shot, if that's what I were interested in, but I really like this shot and don't enjoy Discourse, sooooooo.
Next up, Sam's 27th birthday episode!