Dean and Sam cremate their father’s remains on a funeral pyre. As they say farewell to him, Sam asks Dean whether John had any final words. After a pause, Dean lies and says no.
While staying with Bobby, Dean is consumed with repairing the Impala, and refuses to discuss John’s death. Sam finds an old message on John’s cell phone and they track it down to an address. The boys borrow a Dodge Caravan from Bobby and go to Harvelle’s Roadhouse. Here they meet Ellen Harvelle and her daughter Jo who, to the boys’ surprise, knew their father and know all about demons. The Roadhouse is a regular haunt of hunters, and Ellen’s deceased husband Bill was also a hunter. Another regular at the Roadhouse, Ash, offers to help analyze John’s research on the Yellow-Eyed Demon.
While waiting for Ash to complete his work, the boys investigate a series of murders that have occurred while a circus is in town. A clown has been seen in the vicinity of the deaths. The boys get jobs working at the circus, but continue to clash over how they are dealing with their grief. When their suspicions are aroused after a little girl sees a clown her parents can’t see, they stake out the girl’s house and manage to save her from a clown who disappears as they shoot at it. Sam calls Ellen, who tells the boys the creature is a rakshasa that must be killed with a brass dagger. Suspecting Mr. Cooper, the carnival owner, the boys return to the circus. The real culprit is the blind knife thrower, who attacks the boys and traps them in the funhouse. Sam manages to kill the rakshasa with a brass pipe from the organ.
The boys return to the Roadhouse where Ash has set up a computer program to alert them to appearances of the Yellow-Eyed Demon. Ellen offers them her spare room, but they return to Bobby’s place. Back at Bobby’s, Sam admits he is not dealing with John’s death, but charges that Dean isn’t either. As Sam walks away, Dean picks up a tire iron and with rage and grief smashes into the Impala.
All right, Dean, it's just... We've been at Bobby's for over a week now and you haven't brought up Dad once.
Dean: You know what? You're right. Come here. I'm gonna lay my head gently on your shoulder. Maybe we can cry, hug, and maybe even slow dance.
Don't patronize me, Dean, Dad is dead. The Colt is gone, and it seems pretty damn likely that the demon is behind all of this, and you're acting like nothing happened.
Oh god, please let that be a rifle.
No, I'm just real happy to see you. Don't move.
Come on. This crap ain't real. There ain't nobody can track a demon like this.
Sam: Our Dad could.
There are non-parametrics, statistical overviews, prospects and correlations, I mean... damn! They're signs. Omens. Uh, if you can track 'em, you can track this demon. You know, like crop failures, electrical storms... You ever been struck by lightning? It ain't fun.
Well, at least I'm not afraid of flying.
Dean: Planes crash!
And apparently clowns kill!
Mr. Cooper: You two have never worked a show in your lives before, have you?
Dean: Nope. But we really need the work. Oh, and uh, Sam here's got a thing for the bearded lady.
Yeah. I think. Dad would have wanted me to stick with the job.
Dean: Since when do you give a damn what Dad wanted? You spent half your life doing exactly what he didn't want, Sam.
Sam: Since he died, okay? Do you have a problem with that?
Naw, I don't have a problem at all.
Dean: What's the matter? You sound like you just saw a clown.
Sam: Very funny. Skeleton, actually.
Sam: Dean, I cannot believe you told Papazian about the homicidal phantom clown.
Dean: I told him an urban legend about a homicidal phantom clown. I never said it was real.
Dean: What's that?
Ellen's best guess. It's a race of ancient Hindu creatures. They appear in human form, they feed on human flesh, they can make themselves invisible, and they cannot enter a home without first being invited.
You were right.
Dean: About what?
About me and Dad. I'm sorry that the last time I was with him I tried to pick a fight. I'm sorry that I spent most of my life angry at him. I mean, for all I know he died thinking that I hate him. So you're right. What I'm doing right now, it's too little. It's too late. I miss him, man. And I feel guilty as hell. And I'm not all right. Not at all. But neither are you. That much I know... I'll let you get back to work.
"Everybody Loves a Clown" is a reference to the song
by Gary Lewis & the Playboys.
After the teaser, Dean
are at their father's funeral pyre. The way it is shot is a visual reference to the end of Return of the Jedi
when Luke burns the body of his father, Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker.
You've gotta be kidding me, this guy's no genius. He's a Lynyrd Skynyrd roadie.
- Lynyrd Skynyrd are an American southern rock band, originally active from 1966–1977; with the surviving members reuniting in 1988.
You know, I thought you were gonna toss me some cheap pickup line. Most hunters come through that door think they can get in my pants with some... pizza, a six pack, and side one of Zeppelin IV.
- May be a reference to the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Mike Damone, a character who claims to be an expert on women, recommends in his five point plan that, "When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV." Though referred to as Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin's fourth album is technically untitled.
You didn't think I'd remember, did you? I mean, come on, you still bust out crying whenever you see Ronald McDonald on the television.
- Ronald McDonald is the mascot for the fast-food restaurant chain McDonald’s. This line is also considered by some to be to a fantext - gekizetsu's Letters from Sam to Stephen King.
So, you two ever worked the circuit before?
Sam: Yes sir, last year through Texas and Arkansas.
Mr. Cooper: Doing what? Ride jockies? Butcher? A&S men?
- Carny lingo. A ride jock operates a ride, butchers are the guys who walk around the place selling drinks and food, and the Age & Scale men are the carnies that're good at guessing stuff, like age and weight.
The most famous example of a rakshasa-like creature in modern horror texts is Stephen King's It
, a creature that also hibernates for a stretch of time and appears as a clown.
It's nowhere around. At least, nowhere I can find. But if this fugly bastard raises his head, I'll know. I mean, I'm on it like Divine on dog dookie.
- This is a reference to the John Waters film, Pink Flamingos, in which infamous transvestite Divine eats dog feces. Pink Flamingos is widely considered the epitome of bad taste films, and arguably it's Ash who makes this reference because he seems to fit the trash demographic Waters portrays and celebrates in his films.
A lot of the things that should make Sam uneasy were ad-libbed. Phil Sgriccia, co-executive producer, relates the story of the clown-chair in Mr. Cooper's trailer: "As the boys came in, I said to Jensen, 'Sam hates clowns, which chair do you sit in?'"S2Com
The town in which the rakshasa
first strikes in this episode is Medford, Wisconsin.