- the bond between the brothers,
- the theme of the strength of family, and that family don't end with blood,
- the charisma of and chemistry between the actors,
- the heroic fantasy/reality myth arc of an epic battle between good and evil, Heaven and Hell
- the action
- the music
- incredible casting, starting with 2, then 3, now 4 great looking guys
- the car, "We are home", and traveling the backroads on a road trip
- phenomenal sets, lighting, direction and overall cinematography
- the way that the themes of the show spill over into real life, with the cast loving their fans and visa-versa
But how would you convince the uninitiated of this show's uniqueness? Which episode would you show a friend or family member to get them interested in Supernatural? You can only choose one - to represent the brothers' love for each other, the family that means so much to them, their heroism, their battles and triumphs - just one that captures the essence of everything in the list above. Out of the 320 episodes that have aired thus far (and that we've basically memorized), which episode do you think best represents everything we love in Supernatural?
Years ago, when I first started watching Supernatural and desperately wanted to prove its merits to my extended family, I thought it was best to start at the beginning. So, when I had an opportunity to convert a new, potential fan, I showed them "Pilot." That was a bad idea. The ghostly horror of it scared my sister so badly that half way through the episode, she was closing her eyes and looking the other way. By the end of the episode, she swore she's never watch another hour of what was obviously a horror show - and she has held true to her word. Her first impression was a disaster.
So, which episode should I have chosen to represent Supernatural? My first impression of Supernatural was somewhere in season 4. Unlike many fans who vividly remember which episode lured them into Supernatural's gravitational well, I don't remember which episode I saw first. I just know it was sometime in season 4 (on TNT) and that the music, the brothers' bond and the Heaven/Hell battle (in that order) won me over in one episode.
I might have an opportunity one day to convert another unsuspecting, innocent bystander to the SPNFamily, so I asked the The WFB writers which episode they would choose. I was honestly surprised at how fast they all replied! There was almost no pondering or debating for any of them! Here's what they said (in the order in which they responded).
Nate Winchester - 2.12 "Nightshifter"
I can tell you which one I've actually done: "Nightshifter". My aunt, who knows nothing about Supernatural, just put it on one day. At the end of it she's like "That was really good!"
Kate Provance - 11.04 "Baby"
"Baby", no question in my mind. Not only does it display all of our main characters in one way or another, its success depends on the relationship between Sam and Dean. With the addition of the mention of John and the Darkness, it adds to our myth arc of the season in a really wonderful way. I also love it because it is SUCH a character piece. That whole scene in the Impala after Sam’s dream is ALL CHARACTER and it makes my little screenwriting heart so happy.
Lilah Kane - 11.04 "Baby"
"Baby." That whole episode is just one big brotherly bonding and, of course, an ode to Baby, too. It was a masterpiece in how it was filmed. It also had warm humor. A real day in the life of the Winchesters and Baby, and how happy they are while hunting. I think many people (who I would show this episode to) would like it.
Elle - 10.05 "Fan Fiction"
Ooo, this is so tricky. So many good episodes. I would choose "Fan Fiction" maybe. Not only because I love a good musical and in a unique way it summarizes some key plots of the show, but because this episode touches the notes of humour and love and drama that are imbued in the series from top to bottom. It also has the students explaining to Dean why they love it so much, which is a nice way to communicate to strangers what is so great about the show. Plus, it's such a fantastic episode - especially that high note at the end with Chuck (you know, before he goes all, Old Testament).
If someone hadn't already said it, I may have chosen "Nightshifter" also, because even after all these years, that episode and its ending with the music cue still stand out as one of the best episodes of television in my mind.
Bettina Bier - "Baby"
A tough question. The first episode that popped up in my mind while reading it was "Baby". If they don't love this episode, I don't know which else. One of my faves. Baby, hunting, the bond between the brothers, Cas on the phone and also some moments to laugh.
Kimm Curran - "4.06 Yellow Fever"
This is so tough! "Baby" always gets my vote and I have so many others. Here is one of my top 10 that I always tell people to watch if they have no idea about Supernatural: "4.06 Yellow Fever".
Classic ghost haunting episode with some intense Winchester moments. The storyline of Luther Garland who was bullied, dragged to death because he was different, then Dean getting ghost sickness is a great twist to a classic haunting. Dean's paranoia and hallucinations convey the actual fear of Garland. The intensity of being scared to death and getting the sickness is because Dean is someone who uses fear as a weapon. Then Dean screaming as the cat jumps out of the locker is hilarious! Great quotes: "And that Sam, that is exactly why our lives suck. I mean, come on, we hunt monsters! What the hell?! I mean, normal people, they see a monster, and they run. But not us, no, no, no, we -- we search out things that want to kill us. Yeah? Huh? Or eat us! You know who does that? Crazy people! We...are insane!" The relationship with Bobby, and the Winchesters learning from Bobby, is also something I love. They are growing as hunters, and as brothers. The scene with Baby dragging Garland gets me every time, too. This was someone who was hurt and belittled his whole life. There is a somewhat bittersweet message that comes through in the episode that is not in your face - sometimes the bad guys/ghosts/monsters are not really "bad" just misunderstood, which, to me, is a mirror to Sam's experiences but also sets up some of the tension we see in seasons to come with good vs bad. And who could forget the outtakes of Dean/Jensen doing "Eye of the Tiger"? Amazing.
After seeing everyone else's choices, Nate came back with a few more ideas:
"Baby" is amazing. If I had any hesitation it's that it might not mean much to someone until they've seen the car go through it's licks. From chasing down the boys in the first episode, to being rebuilt, to saving the world in swan song... But even without that it's a great preview of how experimental the show could get sometimes. Of course, the "Pilot" is a worthy start, too. I myself started on "Wendigo" so I am partial to that one, too. ? [Just one, Nate!]
Update: Soon after I published, Emberlast chimed in.
Emberlast - "Pilot"
I'm not a big fan of skipping around in a story. If I wanted someone to enjoy Supernatural the way I do, I would show them "Pilot". After all, it establishes the tragic motivation driving their lives, highlights the differences between the brothers, throws in a spooky urban legend, and ends with Dean running into a fire to drag his brother out. I know that, when I saw the first episode, I wanted to keep watching to find out why Mary and Jess had been so viciously killed and where their dad was. Almost every other episode reveals something that it would have been better to build up to. I thought "Hunted" might be a good one - there's danger, action, a dispute between the brothers, and the grim hint that Sam could become evil; that would be intriguing! The drawback is that that episode starts with Dean revealing what their father whispered to him in the hospital -- you don't want to give that away right off the bat! So then I thought "Tall Tales" for its humor, but, to me, that humor is funnier after seeing the Winchesters interact for thirty-six prior episodes. Then, I considered "The Usual Suspects": we see Dean's humorous arrogance in the police station and Sam's intelligence. But the climax of the story sidelines the Winchesters, leaving them standing waiting for the guest star to save the day. So, when it comes down to it, just watch the pilot and keep going!
So which episode do you think would best show non-believers why we love Supernatural so much?
I've given this more thought as I've been recently reconsidering my first, poor choice. "Baby" is obviously a popular recommendation from my writers, but I know my sister wouldn't have made it through the beheading part! I love "Baby" dearly, but I don't think I personally would have gotten past all the blood that splattered everywhere in the car to tune into the show a second time. "Nightshifter"'s music cue at the end is one of the best of the series, but the stand-off with the police never appealed to me. "Yellow Fever" is a real possibility. It's funny but has a serious underlying theme. Nothing too gross... yeah, that's a strong contender.
I then asked a "civilian" (i.e. a fan but not addicted) for their opinion, to get a good cross-section of viewpoints. My spouse (drafted into this survey over lunch) immediately said "Mystery Spot" (3.11) because "it's funny but still shows the boys' bond and what a real hunt is like."
Hmm, it's not too gory and definitely a classic, so I'd have to agree that it's a good nomination.
I've considered "Just My Imagination" because the MoTW hunt is so creative and cute, plus Sam's conversation with Sully reduces me to tears every time. Maybe that's a little too sweet, though, and doesn't prepare the potential obsessive fan for real monsters. My #1 favorite, "Swan Song" needs the prior 4 years of context to appreciate. My #2 favorite, "Don't Call Me Shurley" has too much Metatron and Chuck to accurately represent 15 years of the boys' lives.
My current thinking is that maybe "Lebanon" would do the trick. It has a hunt that is a typical MoTW, so it's a true representation of the stated purpose of the boys' lives (Saving People, Hunting Things) but the hunt isn't overly gory. I wouldn't consider it a horror episode, either, so that's a plus. It has Castiel and shows Cas using his powers. Then the half of the show where Sam and Dean reunite with Mary and John melts my heart. The true emotion that the actors feel and portray perfectly conveys the love I feel as a fan for that family. What do you think? Might that is the one, best episode to show an unsuspecting novice? If I have to pick one, "Lebanon" is my next trial.
It's your turn, now. We've fessed up to the episodes that we'd stake our fan reputations on. Which episode do you think best represents Supernatural? Let's discuss!