…that they ended it 90 seconds early, preferring to spare us the atrocious plot and give us Jensen Ackles lip-synching to Eye of the Tiger, which, while hilarious, doesn’t make up for a largely uninteresting ep with serious moral vacuity.
Anyway, 4.6, "Yellow Fever" has Dean falling ill with a "ghost sickness" spread to him by a Lenny type [ref. Of Mice and Men] named Luther who was lynched by a chain, then dragged behind a car till he died. The ghost sickness causes Dean to relive Luther’s last days, growing progressively more scared and hallucinatory until his heart pops. A surprisingly blase Sam and Bobby defeat Luther by scaring him to death. They recapitulate his worst fear by lynching him behind a car AGAIN. The ghost dissolves, and Dean’s okay.
I’m going to disregard the flaccid writing and out-of-character lines for everyone in this ep to focus on a more fundamental problem: its philosophical bankruptness demonstrated by the methods used to defeat the ghost. Bobby explains to Sam something about "fighting fear with fear," which prompts their questionable idea that reenacting Luther’s death will cause him to go away.
However, fighting fear with fear never works for two reasons.
1. Everyone gets all worked up and increases their chance of explosion, even if they are trying to make the bad guys explode.
2. Using the adversary’s stratagems puts one in the same category as one’s adversary. If the adversary goes around killing people, killing people in retaliation just makes one sink to the adversary’s level. Fear is the fuel that monsters run on. If one uses the same fuel, one risks becoming a monster onself.
Actually, the best way to fight fear is not to scare the pants off it, but to accept it and try to calm down to gain some perspective. Luther’s brother seemed to advocate something similar when he revealed that he wasn’t scared about the deaths around town; he said something like, "There’s no time for fear." Rather than being afraid, he loved his brother and felt compassion for him. The writers took this promising line and ignored it completely in favor of a stupid confrontational pissing contest between the living and the dead.
I think it would have been much more interesting, challenging and psychologically insightful for Dean to fight against the ghost sickness by trying to remain calm and trying to face down the subjects of his panics. He actually was doing this a bit toward the end of the ep, telling the Lilith in his hallucination, "You’re not real! You’re not real!" However, his attempts at self-control mattered nothing because Sam and Bobby’s deus ex machina of double-killing the ghost worked. The ep thus ended up being shallow, gimmicky and incredibly disturbing in its cavalier dismissal of a) the horror of lynching, b) a main character’s impending death and c) the just plain wrong conceit of how to deal with fear.