Sam Winchester -
Dean Winchester -
Bobby Singer - Jim Beaver
OTHER SUPERNATURAL SEASONS
OTHER DEMON HUNTERS
Buffy The Vampire
Dean Winchester, dead and sentenced to hell, finds himself intact and in a coffin. Forcing his way back above ground, he convinces Bobby who he is and they both go on search of Sam to find out how it was done. The problem is that Sam didn't do it. Dean doesn't know who freed him and neither do the demons that Sam has been tracking, but they are seriously scared.
Dean has been to hell and back and we're not talking figuratively. Fortunately for him, and the show, he has no memory of his time in Hell, which saves all the messing around with believable character drama so that we can get straight on with the story. This is a shame because seeing how a prolonged stay in Hell affected a hardass like Dean would have been interesting. Character drama, though, has never been what the show has been about.
Story is at the heart of SUPERNATURAL, usually a story borrowed from somewhere else, but this time the story is original to the mythology of the show and is all the better for it. Following up on how Dean escaped from Hell it keeps the mystery bubbling until the final moments when it throws out a revelation that is a real Didn't see that one coming moment. Add in some creepy moments and a seance that goes horribly wrong and the entertainment value is guaranteed.
SUPERNATURAL is back and looking good.Top
Are You There God? It's Me Dean Winchester
Demon hunters are being killed, so Sam, Dean and Bobby go in search of an answer. They find instead the ghosts of those people that they failed to save. They have been raised by the demon Lilith as part of a very big plan, but the brothers have to keep them at bay for long enough to allow Bobby to wipe them out.
The show manages to deftly balance its 'monster of the week' heritage with the new mythology that it has established around Dean's escape from hell into an episode that is both creepy and action-packed. It also answers some more about the background to the season arc and the show has certainly upped its ambitions in terms of scale. The threat facing the Winchesters is nothing short of biblical.
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.
In the Beginning
Dean's angel transports him back through time to 1973 and introduces him to his parents just before they got together. It turns out that it was his mother that was a hunter originally, not his father and her father as well. It is a time of omens, omens that Dean recognises as belonging to the yellow-eyed demon and so he sets out to prevent the killing of his entire family. Along the way, he learns the truth of how Sam was chosen as one of the demon's psychic children.
Season 4 hits three great episodes in a row as the mythology of the show continues to be built. Here we find out the truth behind how the yellow-eyed demon came to give Sam his special powers. It's a story with surprises along the way and neatly ties in with what we know of the background story to date. The yellow-eyed demon may be dead, but his plan goes on and that is what's worrying the angels because they don't know what it is.
Jensen Ackles seems to get all the best episodes to himself and here's another one where Sam is effectively absent. He makes the most of it and gets to play confused, angry, amused and heartbroken all in one story. Dean's character continues to grow and with it so does the show. He also gets some wonderful lines as well in a sharp script that is funny when it wants to be and dramatic when it chooses.
This is possibly the best run of episodes that the show has come up with to date and it could be that the 'monster of the week' origins have been left far behind.Top
After learning that Sam is using his demon-bestowed powers to fight the forces of evil, Dean is somewhat upset, but a call from an old friend takes them on the case of a man who is about to turn into a monster whether he wishes to or not. Sam, however, believes the man has a choice and if they can confront him with what they know they will be able to save him.
Back to the monster of the week format, but at least it bears some point in terms of the ongoing story arc insofar as it allows Sam to articulate what the powers mean to him and how he is suffering from something done to him in which he had no choice. It's not very subtle, but then subtlety never was a cornerstone of this particular show. It is, however, nicely acted with some tense moments and some seriously yucky ones, mainly due to the main villain's eating manners.
A step down from what the series has offered up this season and missing the trademark humour that has enlivened it at times, it's still a solid episode.Top
A small town's Oktoberfest is interrupted when Dracula kills a local. No, Sam and Dean don't believe it either, but then a werewolf kills a teen on lover's lane and a museum security guard is taken out by what appears to be a mummy. Either a legion of classic movie monsters has invaded the town or it's a shapeshifter acting out his greatest horror movie moments.
This is a gag episode, but what a gag episode. Shot it black and white (well, shot in colour and then digitally black and whited later anyway) and with a lush classical score and new credits it is clear that everyone got into the spirit of this nonsense. The script is as witty as the show has produced and the cast play it totally straight, thus making it work all the better. The sole exception is Todd Stashwick whose hammy Dracula impersonation is pitch perfect, well over the top but exactly what the material needs.
Also needed was a light hand on the direction and that's exactly what it gets. Apart from the black and white there is a gothic mansion inside an humble apartment, all created from special effects props and leading to some funny moments as papier mache doors collapse. OK, it's a joke stolen from THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS, but the whole concept is stolen from the gag episodes that BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER used to do so well. In fact, Monster Movie stands up with any of those and that is high praise indeed.
Oh, and if you've fantasised about Jensen Ackles in Lederhausen then this is the episode for you.Top
Sam and Dean investigate a series of deaths by heart attack in healthy victims. It turns out to be a ghost sickness that makes its victims scared of everything until they literally die of fright and Dean has caught it.
The plot here is perfunctory, but then the plot is not what it is about. This is about Jensen Ackles acting scared in various degrees. It's a gag, but it's one that works so well, running against the characters normal behaviour, that it doesn't really matter. Ackles plays it up for all that it's worth and Jared Padalecki also sells it well with his repertoire of exasperated expressions.
What little plot there is behind the gag is taken from Of Mice and Men almost and is resolved in a manner that is particularly cruel (though not gory for once) even for this show.Top
It's The Great Pumpkin Sam Winchester
Two unusual deaths on the two days leading up to Halloween cause Sam and Dean to suspect that a powerful witch is trying to raise the spirit of Samhain, a powerful demon who is the very essence and origin on Halloween. They have to locate and stop the witch before Dean's angels decide to smite the whole town out of existence.
The main plot here is your standard 'something's wrong, something hidden is doing it, who is it, oh it's them let's get 'em' sort of plot that the show has done far too often for its own good. There is blood involved (some very nasty moments involving razor blades in sweets and bobbing for apples in boiling water) and the action is fine, but it's all a bit 'been there, done that'.
What is interesting here are the angels. There are hints about other agendas and plans and that's what is really holding this season of the show together, giving it a focus. If it weren't for that, then this would be a very average episode.Top
Women are being stalked in their showers by what appears to be a ghost and there's a bigfoot roaming the woods. Something is wrong and it all appears to be connected with the wishing well in a chinese restaurant. The thing about wishes is that they don't always turn out the way you expect and chaos will reign if Sam and Dean can't find a way to put it right.
Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. That's the moral underpinning the story, but once again the story is really just an opportunity for Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki to show off their surprisingly successful double act. Here they get an absolutely priceless scene where they have to confront a giant, porn-addicted teddy bear. If that doesn't make you laugh then perhaps you ought to get down the well and wish for a sense of humour.Top
I Know What You Did Last Summer
Sam and Dean learn of a woman who is being hunted by some very powerful demons. As the information comes from Ruby, herself a powerful demon, Dean is far from convinced, but when the demons attack and Ruby makes off with the girl, Sam is forced to tell Dean why he trusts her so much.
This episode fills in the hole that was the six months that Dean spent in Hell and what Sam was doing all that time. It's action packed, though a little less dramatic than perhaps we might have wished for, but the main story makes up for that, introducing a girl who can listen in on angels and who is therefore a critical asset in the war between Heaven and Hell as well as a demon whom even the knife that kills everything can't kill.
The Sam and Dean double act continues to be the backbone of the show, this time giving some fine moments such as when Sam's recollections get at bit too personal for Dean and when Dean has to apologise to Ruby. It is the relationship between these two that really makes the show and some of the looks that pass between them are worth a dozen pages of script.
It's also not a standalone episode, finishing as it does on an unusual thing for this show, a midseason cliffhanger. It's a good enough cliffhanger, though, to make sure that we have to be there next time around to find out what happens.Top
Heaven and Hell
The angels have come for Anna, who realises that the reason that she can hear angels is because she used to be one. The team attempt to track down her grace (or angelic energy), but the most powerful beings on either side of the war are massing to take her, one side to kill and the other to torture.
SUPERNATURAL has come a long way since the early days of 'demon of the week' episodes. This is the finest of this season's episodes providing tension, action and drama in equal measures with a bucket of blood thrown in for good measure.
It's not so much the plot that interests here as much as the theology going on behind it. We learn so much more about the nature of angels, of heaven and of hell. We also learn what Dean's dark secret is, the one that he brought back from Hell, the one that continues to haunt him in his dreams and in his waking hours and it's the possibly the finest character moment that the show has ever produced requiring and equally fine acting moment from Jensen Ackles to sell it.
SUPERNATURAL is going from strength to strength, building a deep and abiding mythology that continues to surprise, much in the same way that the show itself is doing at the moment.Top
A family with a tragic history move into a house where there is even a more tragic history. Fortunately, Dean and Sam are on hand to help out, but the ghost of the girl in the walls turns out to be totally unlike any ghost they have ever faced.
Stepping back from the main season arc, this is a 'monster of the week' tale, but it's a pretty good one, well told. There are lots of creepy moments with opening doors, a spooky girl who is straight out of japanese horror films and a twist into a story that is ripped directly from the news headlines.
We've seen this before, and done better, but then we've also seen it done a lot worse.Top
Criss Angel is a Douchebag
At the Iowa magic convention people are dying mysteriously whilst an old time magician is just as mysteriously not dying from tricks that even Houdini couldn't carry out. Sam and Dean suspect that he is using real magic, but how do you catch a master escapologist?
This week's SUPERNATURAL isn't about Sam and Dean Winchester, it's about growing old and what it does to once proud men. It's anchored around a startlingly good performance from Barry Bostwick as Jay, a once-amazing magician reduced to bitter failure as age has robbed him of the dexterity and skills that were his stock in trade. He is frighteningly good as a washed up, washed out and washed over old man. It's some of his best ever work and it is the centre of the episode around which everything else, including the show's nominal stars, rotate.
The rest of the plot is pure hokum and you'll guess whodunnit before they tell you, but there'll be one wrinkle that you don't see coming, mainly because it doesn't make a whole load of sense.
That doesn't matter, though, because this is Barry Bostwick's episode and you'll be watching this for his performance alone.Top
After School Special
Kids are killing bullies at a school that was attended by the Winchester brothers for a matter of a couple of weeks in their youth. It would appear to be a case of ghost possession, but whose ghost and where are the remains to be burned and salted?
The ghost of schooldays past informs what is otherwise a not very interesting episode. Salting bones and corpses that are already cremated? The show's already done that a few times and so there is a real case of deja vu about all of that.
Unfortunately, the bullying story has also been done a million times and more often than not better than this. Only Dean's experience breaks from an established form of the time-honoured tale and makes for any real interest.Top
Sex and Violence
Dean is ecstatic when the deaths of loving wives and relatives turns out to be a case involving strippers. A not so mythological siren is making men kill for her and she has her eyes set on both Sam and Dean.
Although it starts off very much like After School Special (in fact frighteningly so), this episode soon perks up with the introduction of the siren and Dean's predictable response to the presence of many scantily-clad women. It is, however, Sam's dalliance with Maite Schwartz's foxy doctor that provides most of the entertainment.
The recently-forgotten plot arc is served only by the song of the siren forcing the boys to tell a few home truths before trying to rip each others' heads off.Top
Death Takes a Holidy
Sam and Dean take a trip to a town where people are no longer dying. The local reaper appears to have been kidnapped in order to be sacrificed as part of breaking one of the seals to release Lucifer. The only way to see a reaper is to be dead or dying, so Sam and Dean enter the spirit world where they are worse than helpless.
The reference to GHOST tells you where the inspiration for this episode comes from and it follows a pattern that has been established in afterlife tales like that and DEAD LIKE ME. Playing with conventions, though, is what this show does best and it takes the idea and works it into the SUPERNATURAL mythology well enough, bringing back a face unfamiliar enough for us to need reminding of. There is also a moment that could have been taken wholesale from the script of any episode of GHOST WHISPERER.
It still falls to the sparking relationship between the two leads to make this work and there are enough good lines in the script to allow them to do that.Top
On the Head of a Pin
The angels come to Dean asking for him to use the torture skills that he learned in Hell on a demon to learn who is killing their fellow angels. Dean will learn more about what he did in Hell than he could ever have wanted to know and one of the Angels will learn the meaning of doubt.
This is another episode that deals with the ongoing plot arc of the battle between the angels and the demons to prevent Lilith from raising Lucifer and it is all the better for it. The plot arc for this season is particularly strong and this episode is also very strong, stepping away from the usual template of working out the mystery of what evil is at work and then dealing with it into a character-driven episode.
The writers really have it in for Dean this season as he learns more about what he did in Hell and why he was pulled back out again, facts that tear at his very being and call for a very strong performance from Jensen Ackles, something that he is proving to be capable of. The other main character development here is in the shape of Misha Collins' angel Castiel who is forced to deal with the possibility of Doubt (capital letter deliberate) and the possibility that all is not well in Heaven.
This is fabulous, heady stuff that continues that strengthens the case for SUPERNATURAL as the strongest fantasy show for quite some time.Top
It's a Terrible Life
Dean is a high-flying marketing and sales director at a company where Sam is a lowly telephone IT support tech and they don't know each other. Sam, though, is having dreams of another life where he is a demon hunter skilled in the art of slaying demons. When members of staff start to kill themselves for failing in their work, it becomes clear that something dark and dangerous is going on, but will these decidedly non-demon-hunters be able to cope?
Alternate realities have been done before and even on SUPERNATURAL itself before. The hook is clearly to find out what has happened to the Winchester brothers and who has caused it and how they are going to get out of it. The 'monster of the week' is a rather disappointing ghost, but then anything more than that and the guy for marketing and the dweeb from the phone desk probably couldn't have handled it anyway. There are some nice lines, but since they boys don't know each other the sparkling repartee is sadly absent.
The reason why all this is happening turns out to be OK and one thing is for sure - you won't ever try and climb out of a lift between floors after seeing this - ever.Top
The Monster at the End of This Book
Sam and Dean learn that their entire life is being written about in a series of books known as the 'Supernatural' series. They go to visit the author and find that his latest novel is predicting that uber-demon Lilith will be arriving that night and taking Sam to bed, must to his consternation. The pair try to find a way around the man's plotting, but are thwarted at every turn. He is a prophet of God and his books are holy writ. Which doesn't look good for Sam.
Another excellent entry into the gospel of Sam and Dean. Actually, the books that are being written are going to be known as the 'Winchester gospel', which just about tops Dean's day. The scepticism and disbelief that both brothers display is almost as much fun as when they are trying to hold a conversation that has already been written. The basic idea is, of course, old hat, but the show makes it its own, freshening it up in the process, making it funny, but also exciting as Lilith comes to call, now a hot dentist rather than a little girl and makes Sam one hell of an offer.
Immense fun, well-played and well-written. The show goes from strength to strength.Top
Jump the Shark
Dean answers his dad's old phone and learns that the person he is speaking to is his father's son. He and Sam head into the town to meet Adam, who just might prove to be their half-brother. Of course, it might also be a trap, but he passes all the tests with holy water and silver that Dean thinks to throw at him. The question, then, is what has kidnapped Adam's mother and why.
By learning that they have a new brother, Sam and Dean learn a few things about their father, themselves, their relationship and their lives. The horror side of the story is merely a device to allow that to happen. It isn't stressed or pressed home, but comes out naturally in the story and the script and is well-played by the enduring double act of Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles.
This being SUPERNATURAL it may be about blood, but it's also about spilling that blood and there is a nasty torture scene for Sam and a trip through the catacombs for Dean. Nice.Top
Dean is summoned to what appears to be a war zone, to find that Castiel has been forcibly taken back to Heaven, leaving an understandably confused Jimmy Novaks behind. Sam and Dean have to race to save Jimmy when he returns to the arms of his family only to find that service to angels doesn't come without its own dangers.
This is another super episode that plays around with the mythology of the current plot arc. Castiel, the angel, doubted and so was summoned (some would say ripped) back to heaven for a little readjustment. In war there is no winning, only degrees of losing and heaven's army is looking little different from that of the enemy, especially with Castiel's chilling final statement about whom he serves.
The episode revolves around Castiel and it is grounded by a good performance from Misha Collins, making his ordinary Jimmy Novaks different from Castiel in subtle, but effective ways. Sure, he's a little bit watery eyed all the time since he's been missing his family, but that's in keeping with the story.
It's a bit of a character piece, but this being SUPERNATURAL the demon action kicks in before the end and the plot goes in directions that might not be expected. Another top episode for sure.Top
When the Levee Breaks
Trapped inside Bobby's panic room to go cold turkey on the demon blood that he's been drinking, Sam suffers horrible hallucinations. When he is freed by a surprising rescuer, he heads straight for Ruby with Dean in hot pursuit. With both brothers believing that they are the only route to stopping the apocalypse, it is inevitable that there will be a showdown between the Winchester brothers.
Penultimate episodes are often disappointing because they have their sights set on the big finale that is to follow and so don't manage to be satisfying in themeselves and that's the case here. It starts of fine with Sam's drug intervention giving Jared Padalecki a chance for some showy acting, but it doesnt' follow that through, setting the brothers on a collision course that isn't going to solve anything because that's for the big finale to do.
Still, the face-off with Lilith, revealed as the original demon and only one step from being an angel herself, is set and that finale is a can't miss proposition.Top
Following their falling out regarding what needs to be done to stop Lilith opening the final seal and freeing Lucifer himself, Sam and Dean find themselves on a collision course, but are they being manipulated, by whom and for what purpose?
We were promised an almighty smack down between near-angel Lilith and the Winchester brothers, but this final episode doesn't give us that. What it gives us instead is a series of revelations that bring the entire backstory of the show since the very first episode together into one single, overarching mythology. Suddenly the entire history of the yellow-eyed demon, Lilith, Ruby, Sam's powers, everything comes into focus for this one moment. This is quality plotting and certainly feels like it has been intended from the start, though not many showrunners would be confident enough to think they could plan a plotline over four seasons and expect to see it fulfilled.
As an episode, though, it is a bit disappointing. Dean spends nearly the whole episode wasting time in a heavenly hotel suite and Sam overcomes Lilith's demon guards off camera and in one second. There's also a little sense of 'Where's BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER when you need her?' about the setup, though that won't bother anyone who never saw that show.
This season finale, however, is all about the revelations and about setting up the ultimate cliffhanger and with this, SUPERNATURAL has firmly stepped into the camp known as Unmissable.Top
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