Sam Winchester -
Dean Winchester -
OTHER SUPERNATURAL SEASONS
OTHER DEMON HUNTERS
Buffy The Vampire
The Magnificent Seven
Following the opening of the gates of hell, the world is infested with a whole lot more demons. Sam and Dean are called on by an old friend who believes that something is going down. They capture one of the demons and discover that they are up against the Seven Deadly Sins, the actual Seven Deadly Sins.
SUPERNATURAL kicks off with a spectacular statement of intention. The set up here is perfunctory to say the least. The story is about the showdown in the house when the deadly sins break in and the boys have to get creative. Even that isn't going to prove enough, but a new character is introduced in the coolest (and one of the bloodiest) sequences that the show has ever put together. She will no doubt be back and we're looking forward to that. In the meantime, it looks like business as usual for the Winchester brothers.
If the season continues like this then it's welcome back Sam and Dean.Top
The Kids are Alright
Dean wants to check up on an old girlfriend and thinks that there might be a job in the town of Cicero for them as well after a man falls on his desksaw. On arrival, it becomes clear pretty quickly that something is going on. Male parents are dying, mothers are suffering and the kids are not what they seem.
The title is ironic, the kids are most definitely not alright. Sam and Dean go through the usual motions of tracking down exactly what they are and how to stop what is happening, but that's just formulaic. What's more interesting in this episode is the suffering that is inflicted upon the mothers by the children. One mother is driven to the point of killing her 'child' and suffering all the trauma that entails. None of her story impacts on the main thrust of the plotline, but it makes the story deeper by seeing it more from the victim's point of view.
The special effects of the kids' real appearances are pretty impressive and the death of the father in the garage is bloody (why would anyone whose desk saw started up on its own go anywhere near it?), clearly making a statement that this series is going to try and up the scary stakes. Kids who don't act like kids are inherently scary.
And then there's the girl who helped out Sam in The Magnificent Seven. Her true nature is revealed and she offers Sam what he could want the most. The season plot arc is well and truly established.Top
Bad Day at Black Rock
The Winchester brothers learn that there father owned a storage container in which he dumped the things that he couldn't destroy when it is broken into and a curse box is stolen. The box contains a rabbit's foot with a strong curse on it. Whoever touches it has incredible luck, but when they lose it (and everyone loses it) they are dead within a week. Sam just lost the foot to a female con artist.
SUPERNATURAL has covered a lot of genres to date, but outright comedy is not one that pops up a lot. This, though, is a very funny episode. As soon as Sam loses the rabbit's foot, he starts falling over, losing shoes and getting captured by psycho killers out for his head. It's played for laughs and it really works. Any show that can get away with the line 'Don't play with my Jesus' must be doing something right.
The future plot arc of the show gets some groundwork with the introduction of Michael Massee who is your go-to guy for religious maniacs (see Revelations). He's out to kill Sam and there's no doubt that he'll be back. We also want to see Lauren Cohan back as the artefact thief who is as cool as any character they have ever had. SUPERNATURAL really comes up with strong female characters and this one is great fun.
But most of all this is just a very funny romp that plays with the characters to have a lot of fun.Top
Sam and Dean check out a town where the pursuit of any pleasure is allowed, if you can pay the price. Suicide and murder seem to be those prices. Sam follows the owner of the bar at the centre of all this and Dean follows the hot bartender. Both get some surprising answers.
'Not all demons are the same' seems to be the theme emerging in this third season of SUPERNATURAL, whilst this episode provides some interesting background to what will be the plot arc. The yellow-eyed demon that the brothers killed at the end of the last season was the general of the emerging demon army, but with him gone there are any number of demons jockeying for position to take his place, a place that was reserved for Sam. This would explain why the female demon is willing to help Sam, willing enough to help build a new version of the Colt pistol that can kill anything, and we mean anything.
Dean also learns that the demons have a god, a god named Lucifer, so there's always the possibility of a run in with the Devil popping up at a later date.
There's not a lot of action or tension in this episode, but it does indicate that season three of SUPERNATURAL is going to be a bit more in depth than those that went before it.
It's going to be an interesting ride.Top
People are dying in a manner very reminiscent of fairy tales, the old kind where death and violence were not far from the surface. Ordinary people are being forced to carry out these killings by a troubled child spirit. It's up to Sam and Dean to find out about the child so that the killing can stop.
Kids in comas having their dreams come true? I wonder if the writers of this episode ever saw the BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER episode Nightmares which has a very, very similar set up. At least the show has the nerve to play out the scenario to its less than happy ending.
More importantly, and interestingly, Sam pays a visit to the demon of the crossroads with the newly rebuilt Colt pistol that can kill anything to demand Dean's life with threats. She again mentions that there is someone that she answers and it is he who holds Dean's soul contract. Sam's response to her answer lends weight to the idea that something changed in him when Dean brought him back from the dead. This is the heart of the series plot arc and is proving to be more interesting than the weekly plots.Top
Red Sky at Morning
People are drowning on dry land hours after seeing a ghostly clipper ship. It appears to be the work of a spirit who was hanged on the ship by his brother, the ship captain. His hand is on display in a nautical museum, so Sam and Dean set out to get it back, but they are teamed up with untrustworthy artefact thief Bela, so it's not only ghostly betrayal they have to deal with.
When an attractive woman in a skimpy jogging outfit runs across the screen there's a hope that the show's original tag line 'Scary just got sexy' might have been remembered by someone, but then the ghostly clipper ship appears and the heart sinks. Fortunately, this is not some pallid remake of John Carpenter's THE FOG, but goes off in a direction that is all SUPERNATURAL.
It's brilliant to see Bella, the con artist from Bad Day at Black Rock, dodgy accent and all. Lauren Cohan gets a bigger part in events and the character begins to become more rounded and interesting. As all the victims of the clipper ship killed a relative in the past, it is clear that there is a darkness in her family story and so we are sure to see her again at least once. The moment where she tells Dean that they need to have angry sex after everything is sorted out is priceless and she continues to play verbally with both of them in a script that is full of witty putdowns. Sams' being groped by a woman old enough to be his grandmother is also very, very funny.
So scary is no longer sexy, but it is damned entertaining.Top
Gordon, the hunter that has decided Sam is the antichrist, gets up close and personal with a vampire and is turned into the ultimate nightmare - a vampire with hunter's skills. Sam and Dean have to find a way to take him down before he kills both of them.
Another competent episode is raised above the ordinary by the turning of Gordon into a vampire. It is ironic and more chilling to have a hunter turned into the thing that he hates the most in all the world. That aside, it is business as usual as Sam and Dean track down a bad guy, albeit a (only slightly on this evidence) skilled opponent.Top
A Very Supernatural Christmas
It's Christmas and people are going missing. They are disappearing up their chimneys and the young son of one victim swears that it was Santa that did it and there's a reason why his suit is red.
The anti-Santa; it's an idea so perfect that it's a surprise that it hasn't been used to death already. Admittedly the idea is better than the execution of the episode, which is the usual competent and entertaining stuff. The banality of evil is a theme that crops up from time to time in shows such as this and the perpetrators of the crimes here are so normal that they are beyond creepy. This makes the torture and violence that follows all the more gruesome and shocking.
The cheap tackiness of the 'Christmas Village' that Sam and Dean are forced to visit in their investigations also says a little something about the crass commercialisation of the holiday. Not anything new, of course, but something.
The flashbacks to Sam and Dean when they were young and the Christmas that Sam found out that monsters are real shows the life that the boys have lived, throwing that into stark contrast with the privileged, consumer goods-filled events being looked forward to by those that they protect. Unfortunately, they also introduce a level of sugar that is not often seen in the show and is always more welcome by its absence.
Still, it's Christmas so you know you're going to have make allowances. Fortuantely, though, not too many.Top
A beautiful woman spits up her perfect teeth into the sink and later her widower almost chokes on maggots. The witch responsible then cuts her own wrists, but it seems that there is more than one witch at work here and then there's the small matter of where a witch gets her power.
And it's back to the scary and violent stuff. The opening scene in which the teeth are set loose is gruesome enough, but then there's the whole maggot-eating thing which is not good for anyone with a deep dislike of wriggling things. The wrist-opening is pretty brutal too. Brutal is the word for the whole episode really. The women in the coven think that they're just playing in the shallows with this magic stuff, but when they find out just how deep they really are death comes to roost and it's not pretty.
Ruby, Sam's demon friend, is back as well with some information for Dean about the true origin of demons and what it means for his future, the one that he is going to have in Hell after his death. She says that she's just trying to get Sam ready for life after Dean, but we don't believe that. She says that she's not like other demons and we certainly don't believe that. She also says that there's no way to save Dean from the Pit, and we just know that's going to be the season finale. In any case, this is the interesting part of the show, the running plot arc not the monster of the week plotline.
Having said that, the banality of evil thing is again a theme here, carried over from A Very Supernatural Christmas. Fortuantely, the scary is back in SUPERNATURAL.Top
Dream a Little Dream of Me
The Winchester's long time partner Bobby is found in a coma that might have been caused by someone involved in taking an ancient drink designed to allow walking someone else's dream. In order to get him to wake up, the boys have to go into his head to get him back. Dean, however has set himself up as the next target and might just learn a thing or two about himself. And there's the question of just why artefact thief Bella is willing to help them.
Dream episodes in genre television are usually good value. They allow for vivid, sometimes disturbing imagery and a chance to find out a bit more about the inner workings of characters. In this case, we get a face-off between Dean and his future self as a demon. OK, it's hardly original (and even has the nerve to reference the good vs bad Superman sequence in SUPERMAN 3), but it is well played by Jensen Ackles and is scarily gritty. Bobby's inner life also has some depth and guilty secrets, but these are more interesting than affecting.
It is bizarre that Sam can be set apart from the people having the dreams because I would have thought that the landscape was shaped by the dreamer and so anyone inside would have to be where the dreamer pictured themselves to be, but that's just a niggle and Sam deals with his particular dream nemesis in a very straightforward way.
That said, Sam's dream of Bella is funny and, true to form, her ulterior motive comes to light right at the very end of the episode.Top
A physicist disappears whilst investigating a small-beer theme park called the Mystery Spot where the laws of physics do not hold. The laws of time certainly aren't as Sam wakes up every day to find that it's Tuesday and Dean is going to die. Sam seems unable to prevent Dean's death, but is that the purpose of the loop and what would happen if he could break it?
SUPERNATURAL does GROUNDHOG DAY, but manages to put enough of a twist on it to avoid everyone reaching for the off switch. It starts off as intriguing then becomes comic as each death of Dean gets sillier (there's even a montage!), but then turns darker as the loop ends and Dean still dies. What follows is even more intriguing and hints at the plot arc behind the scenes.
Jared Padalecki does a surprisingly good job of conveying Sam's desperation and slide towards madness, showing just how much he has grown into the role since the show began, but then he has got some nice stuff to work with thanks to a script that is more nuanced than at first it appears and plays again on the hidden forces that appear to be jockeying for position with Sam as the focus.
One of the better episodes of the series' third season.Top
Jus In Bello
Whilst chasing down Bella and the stolen Colt pistol, Sam and Dean are taken prisoner by the FBI. Locked in a small town jail, they are surrounded by an army of demons that start to kill their captors. An ally arrives with a plan to get them out, a plan that involves pulling the heart out of a living virgin, but Dean comes up with a riskier, but more human plan.
SUPERNATURAL continues to plunder old movie plots, this time taking on John Carpenter's ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13. Of course the besiegers are demons rather than gangbangers, but otherwise things aren't too much different. The debate between the rights and wrongs of one life against thirty has an edge to it and the way in which the final battle plays out is pretty clever.
Less clever is Lilith, Sam's nemesis in the demon-ruler competition. That she turns out to be a little girl (very reminiscent of BLADE is disappointing, but then the show has never been good with the original ideas, just rehashing old ones in a fun way.Top
Dean and Sam go into an old abandoned house that every four years becomes the most haunted place in all America, and from which nobody returns after midnight. They find that they've been beaten to the punch by a group of would-be reality TV show stars who are making a documentary of their night in the house, a night that will see lives lost and the truth uncovered.
The faux-camcorder footage style of filming has become sort of de rigeur at the moment, with CLOVERFIELD being the most successful recent outing of the idea. Here at the SCI FI FREAK SITE, we're not big fans of 'gimmick' episodes. They can be done incredibly well (ask any fan of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, but they are usually just playing around with the format because they don't have a good story to tell. That's how it starts out here as well, but as the episode progresses there are some very effective sequences with ghosts appearing out of the gloom and a very unnerving birthday party in the bomb shelter.
It's also quite gory, the camcorder style playing down the grue as a poker is thrust through a victim's throat (oh very FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH). The show also cheekily references the writers' strike that kept it off air, this being the first episode back after the strike's resolution.
Those moments don't make up for an episode that is just a gimmick episode after all.Top
Long Distance Call
A series of phone calls from dead loved ones leading ordinary people to commit suicide, brings Sam and Dean to another small town. It's just another case until Dean gets a call from his father explaining how he is abel to get out of the deal he made for his soul.
An original story in SUPERNATURAL is a very rare thing indeed, but this is just such a thing and a nice one to boot. The effect that the phone calls, and hope, has on Dean is the heart of it, but the creepy truth about the phone calls is a nice strand with some bloody and brutal death involved.
There is a real sense of Dean's time running out and his smart exterior starting to crack, making the character all the more real.Top
Time Is On My Side
There's only three weeks until Dean's year is up and the demon comes to take his soul. Sam has an idea, though, and takes Dean in search of a doctor who is supposedly immortal. Dean, however, leaves in search of Bella and the Colt pistol that can kill anything. She no longer has it, but Dean finds out the truth about her, and the name of the demon that holds his contract.
The penultimate episode of this writers' strike truncated season and it sets up the finale by revealing that the demon with Dean's contract is the same one that is after Sam, Lilith (as seen in Jus In Bello).
The main plot is gruesome enough as the immortal doctor finds that the years take toll on his body parts and they need to be replaced, but it suffers from not making sense (the doctor hasn't updated his methods at all and likes to operate on conscious patients when their muscle contractions would heighten the risk of something going wrong) and a solution that has been used far too often in recent times to be truly chilling any more.
Then there's Bella's story, which is just a sideshow, crowbarred in due to the shortened run where it deserved a whole episode. We always liked the character, albeit that she was a bit cartoonish with her 'british' accent and would have liked to see her go out in style, although we don't doubt that we'll see a new version of her soon.
Overall, an OK episode of SUPERNATURAL, but it serves its job as a set up to the finale.Top
No Rest For The Wicked
The day of Dean's descent into Hell has arrived, but the boys have a plan. It's not much of a plan, but at least it's a plan. Lilith has possessed a little girl and is spending time torturing her family. Armed with the 'kill anything' knife taken from Sam's demon friend Ruby, the brothers go after her, but how do you fight a demon as strong as Lilith with only a knife?
This week's episode is taken straight from the TWILIGHT ZONE episode in which a boy with powers holds a surrogate 'family' prisoner in fear, pretending to have a perfect life. That, though isn't the bit of any interest to the audience. We want to know about Dean and his deal.
The opening sequences are good as Sam and Dean implement their plan to get Ruby's knife, but it's all downhill from there until the final few minutes when the boys face off against Lilith. It's a bit muddled as a climax, what actually happened not really being certain, but the very last shot sets up a new season that has its work cut out to find a satisfactory solution.Top
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