Riding Down the Highway
Why the Impala Is the Third Main Character
By Mary Fechter
She was there for them the night their mother died.
She carried them through their childhood as their father chased his vengeance.
She took them on their quest to find their father. She saved their lives in an impact with a semi. She hides their secrets.
She is the Impala.
The Connection to the Past
The only constant in the lives of the Winchester brothers is Dean’s 1967 Impala, a fact made clear from the first act of the pilot episode, where John cradles his sons on the hood of the car as their house burns. In the next act, twenty-two years later, grown-up Dean and Sam walk from Sam’s apartment to that same vehicle.
Since childhood, they’ve known only temporary homes and motel rooms. Whatever belongings that traveled with them had to fit in the Impala or be left behind. Her roomy interior was their playground as their father followed his grim path. Imagine young Sam and Dean on the endless road trip, teasing each other, fighting, wanting to stop to eat or go to the bathroom, likely driving John crazy. The practical jokes shown in “Hell House” (1-17) might have begun on those long-ago drives as the boys entertained themselves.
How long did it take before the Impala wasn’t just a means of transportation, but a home in herself? Dean longs so much for a home, and is more attached to the Impala than Sam is, because it is the only home he’s known, the only thing he took from the home where his mother …