So is it October yet? No? Damn.
Every looooooooong hiatus I do my annual (sometimes biannual) series rewatch. Usually I rewatch the current season first and then go back to the Pilot and start watching the series from the beginning. Weirdly, for some reason this hiatus Iâ€™m finding myself rewatching the series from the beginning whilst rewatching season 7 at the same time. Interesting to say the least. And not at all confusing!
I didn't start writing reviews for Supernatural until season 5, even though I started watching it when the "Pilot" first went to air. I didn't connect with the fandom until sometime around the end of season 4 and then wasn't brave enough to start writing until at some point during season 5, when my friends encouraged me after getting tired of my overly long comments on their blogs! So you see, though I have revisited many of the earlier episodes in one form or another, I've never really written one up. Which got me to thinking, this would be a good hiatus project! Writing up my favourite episode from each season. A project that will keep me busy until I head of for Vancon! (Yay)!
So here we go, sweetondean's inaugural "Supernatural" Flashback, Surviving the Hiatus one season at a time.
Watching season 1 is interesting. I mean, of course I watch random episodes all the time, but I find the whole season rewatch is always illuminating, no matter how many times I do it. I'm struck by how damn good the show was from the outset, but I'm also struck by how much it's improved. There's a butt-load of exposition in the scripts of the early season 1 episodes and to be honest, it's not always delivered well. Do you remember Kripke talking about the exposition in the "Pilot" at last year's Paley panel? I was rolling around laughing as he described the boys telling each other things that they both would obviously already know. He's right; it's clunky but a necessary evil in a new show, especially one with a big back-story like Supernatural has. Still, sometimes I wince. People have a lot of nostalgia for the brother's relationship in the first season and while I love it, it's what hooked me in after-all, give me the later incarnations of Winchester love any day. Sure, they're getting on better (mostly) and larking around and pranking each other in the early seasons, but the depth of their relationship now is something I find beautiful and touching. That they still, after everything they've put each other through, love each other to the (dysfunctional) level that they do, is what keeps me as engaged as I am. Even if it's not always on display, it's there and it's rich and mature. The other thing I always notice is how far Jensen and Jared have come as actors, particularly, at the risk of offending the Jared girls, Jared. On occasion Jared is a tad, umm hammy, in the early episodes. But he gets noticeably better by the middle of the season when he seems to settle into Sam and of course now, he rocks the screen. Sam, himself has changed out of sight, praise Chuck, because I want to give him a good slapping in those first episodes! His bitchfacing is completely epic! Also, he's Whiney McWhines-A-Lot. Dean is kind of Dean. He was always awesome in my eyes (as if you couldn't guess). Yeah, sure he's way more carefree in season 1, but hey, that's to be expected, let's face it, he's older and wiser and has been through a lot in the last 6 years. But even in the early episodes he still has that tendency towards being a bit morose and a definite tendency towards martyrdom and self-disgust that has led him down so many a dark path. Also, he can still flirt with the hot chick, even when facing death.
Which segues me nicely into my favourite episode of season 1:
People who know me know that "Faith" is not just my favourite season 1 episode; it's pretty much my favourite episode. Well not pretty much, it is. Which is a little baffling to me because I'm someone who prefers the later seasons to the earlier seasons. So for me to have an episode from season 1 as my all time favourite is kind of weird.
So why "Faith"? Why this episode? Why does this one resonate with me to the level it does? Why is this the episode that I turn to when I've had a crappy day or feel sick or just can't decide which to watch? I think it's because, for me, it's when the whole enchilada came together.
When I look at season 1, I pinpoint 3 specific episodes where I believe the elements that Kripke was trying to bring together, form a perfect storm. "Skin" is when I feel the Sam and Dean characters started to be fully realised. "Home" is where the mythology really kicked in. We also saw a new side of Dean, a chink in his cocky armour and we get a great big dose of foreshadowing in regards to Sam, that doesn't become understood until season 4.
Then there's "Faith". "Faith" is an important episode. With "Faith", all of a sudden the show felt big. It established a world beyond the ghosts, monsters and demons. It didn't feel like a simple, little horror show anymore. We started talking about the after-life. The Grim Reaper became a reality and by introducing the concept of the Reaper we were introduced to the possibility of a world beyond which the boys had previously dealt. It also posed the question, if there's a Reaper and an afterlife, is there then a God? A Heaven? The Reapers, of course, became a theme much visited throughout later seasons. It was the first time we saw the boys faced with the moral conundrum of choosing one life, knowing it would adversely affect another. Previously, good and evil, live or die had been a little more cut and dried, but not in "Faith." We got to see a binding spell, something the brothers would use later themselves on the Reaper's boss, Death. We saw Sam step up and take the big brother role for the first time, calling the shots. We saw how far the brothers would go for each other, because even though Sam didn't know how Roy was saving lives, I often wonder if he'd have taken that route anyway to save Dean and of course we see a Dean that we get to know very well, a Dean who puts himself a long way down the list of his own life's priorities. There are shots a Famine and Angels amongst the boy's research, plus there's the "A young man with an important purpose. A job to do. And it isn't finished," line from Roy which foreshadows Dean's roll in the future. There's a lot going on, much of which you can't catch until well into later seasons. The genius of Eric Kripke and his 5-year plan.
I love how Faith starts. I love the set up. Grabbing weapons. Rushing into the house. Rescuing the kids from the cupboard. Sam getting grabbed. Dean shooting the stun gun and sending Sammy out with the kids and then Deanâ€™s (kinda) fatal mistake of shooting the Rawhead whilst lying in water. Zap! Dead Dean. The beginning of this episode freaks me out every damn time.
They are some strong brother moments in "Faith" all of which reveal and reinforce who we know the Winchesters to become. Dean's legendary bravado covering his fear, which we see again and again, especially in season 3 when facing Hell. Dean questioning Roy why him, a question he repeated in season 4 when saved by Castiel. His penchant for self sacrifice, dying in someone else's place as we saw him do for his brother in season 2 and then attempt to do for the world in season 5 before Sam stepped in. Sam's laser focus on the task at hand, this time on not allowing his brother to die, which we saw again in season 3 when he was saving his brother from Hell and then in season 4 when he believed he was charged with stopping Lilith. When Dean struggles with allowing Layla to die, it's Sam, who reminds him that's not their choice to make. When Dean finds out that Marshall Hall died when Dean was healed, it's Sam who reminds him, Marshall would have died anyway, if not for Dean then for someone else. The brothers make a great team in "Faith", supporting each other ever step of the way, even when faced with a myriad of difficult circumstances and decisions. I think that's what's really highlighted in their relationship here, that they're a team. "Faith" doesn't feel like big brother, little brother. Then there's the look Dean gives Sam at end of the episode when he realises Sam has organised for Layla to visit Dean to say goodbye. Kablamo! It makes my heart explode.
In fact, this whole episode makes my heart explode.
I think "Faith" may have started my love affair with Sera Gamble's words. She wrote this one with her writing partner in season 1, Raelle Tucker. I've always loved how Sera has written both the boys, never once being a fan who saw her favouring one brother over the other. I've always loved how she's written their interactions and relationship and "Faith" is one of the episodes where I think their relationship is perfectly displayed.
It's beautifully shot. "Faith" has a lovely, grungy, blue tint throughout. A muted pallet, which captures the tone of the story and the environment in which it's set. I miss the colour grade they used on season 1, that washed out look. I often wonder why the director Allan Kroeker never did another episode? Maybe he was too busy directing every other show under the sun, but still. "Faith" also has possibly the best music cue of the series with (Don't Fear) The Reaper. That scene, with the old man being healed intercut with the young woman being chased down by the Reaper is simply stunning.
I'm not alone on loving this episode. Eric Kripke has said that "Faith" is a favourite. In the Season One Companion he's quoted; "It's when I first realised what the show was capable of. Here's this episode about: Is there a god? What's meant to be? And is there free will? And is your life worth the cost of someone else's life? It's a metaphysical and moral study of the boys' universe."
Kripke aside, I know "Faith" is a top five episode for many a fan, but honestly if I could wrap my arms around "Faith" and give it a great big kiss I would! It's helped me through so many bummer days and crappy feelings. It's like an old friend. Familiar, warm and understanding. The kind of friend where I know what they're going to say before they say it! And I haven't even mentioned how fantastic Dean's freckles are in "Faith", especially on Bluray, or the hoody, or sick Dean needing special cuddles or any of that superficial stuff, like Sammy's puppy eyes, because that's obviously so beneath me. No, honestly though - if you haven't watched this episode on Bluray you are missing out! Hot Deanfinition freckles, the very best kind.
So, that's it, "Faith." It means a hell of a lot to me. I couldn't tell you how many times I've watched it!
Next week it's on to season 2. It's a toss up between 3 episodes! Hopefully my continued rewatch will help me clarify which one I'll write about.
What's your favourite season 1 episode? Let me know in the comments.
Hiatus is hell, so keep the faith (no pun intended)!
Thanks for reading!
I have to agree that the boys have both improved in their acting, but having gone to Jared's earlier project in Gilmore Girls, I can't help but feel he was bigger than the material there. That being said, I always sense in season 1 that both Jared and Jensen were trying to figure out who Sam and Dean exactly are, trying different takes and body languages to get it right. I think both Scarecrow and Faith are where they finally settle into those comfortable skins of the Winchesters finally, and use that to build what we see now.
I really felt bad for Dean in Faith. Here he was, resigned to his fate only to be saved and then find out someone had died for him. I love how you capture the conversation the boys have about that. Sam is right, while it might suck that another died in Dean's place, someone else would have been healed in his place anyways. It just always guts me that Dean thinks so little of himself here and we see it continue later in the seasons.
it also touches on things they're still dealing with and lays a solid foundation for just about everything that comes after, including seasons 6 and 7 after the 5 year plan. I think that's pretty cool that one episode can contain just about everything without tipping the full deck of cards to the audience.
And its emotional impact is just long lasting. It lingers and makes us assess things.
I'm glad I am not the only one doing a rewatch project. I look forward to seeing what you have to say for your season 2 pick.
This episode always amazes me in how it sets up so much of the story and pretty well captures the whole concept of Supernatural in one perfect 43 minute chunk.
kisses and brazilian hugs.
If I had to pick it would have to be Skin. Jensen showed his acting chops in that for sure.It was several characters all in one episode. The shifter's talks with Sam about how Dean really felt. The fight scenes. Oh, and Jensen as the shifter. When he went after that girl,and tied her up, he was terrifying.
You are right about Faith. It is amazing. Definitly a go-to episode when I'm jonzing for a Supernatural fix
Sam as you put it may of whined but at least he had a voice back then as was allowed to talk even if some regarded it as 'whining' .But all the ones you mentioned I would easily rewatch time and again over recent episodes .
I like Faith and Skin, especially Skin. I too enjoyed the peek into Sam's college days. I also loved that amulet scene, Dean's expression when he took it back said a million words as to the importance of that necklace. Plus we got TiedUp!Sam. In Faith I do love the scene in the hospital when Sam vows to save his brother, that's one of my all time favourite scenes. The Don't Fear The Reaper scenes were wonderful too. There really were some fabulous episodes in S1 although my absolute favourite is Shadow with Nightmare a very, very close second.
I really loved how they wrote him in these episodes. As someone just starting to process overwhelming grief his behaviours, attitude and responses, to the cases and to the people they met, felt so real and believable to me.
Again, I find it fascinating how we all see these characters and the things they go through so differently. Everybody sees and feels things and relates to the characters in their own way. I guess it's a great tribute to the writing and the acting that the show gets people debating so much.
when i first saw it , i was just blown away . its perfectly simple , i mean they didn't want to make the whole episode complex , because the main thing about reapers and after life and possibility of God , is not some simple issues , but they wrapped it up in a very simple but amazing way of telling story and i just love it.
and the fact that it is up to sam , to take care of his brother , is wonderful. i mean , he was always under his big brother protection and now HE has to save him.
yes , i just love this episode. and the way you described it , made me wanna watch it again!
All I wanted to do was hug him then. I think that's what drew me to his character and endeared him to me.
Hello my name is Jane and I'm a Samgirl..LOL
And also..I love Faith too. It is a favorite to watch. Also loved Home..our first glimpse into the mythology. Mary's "I'm sorry" at the end...so sad, especially now when I watch it knowing what she meant and that they didn't answer that question until season 4 just shows how awesome this show really is!!
Thats belittleing what Sam was experiencing and feeling. it would be like someone boiling Deans season 4 - 7 questioning the reason he was hunting as simple whining.
Honestly there were more times then not that I wished SOMEONE would tell Dean when he started whining about why he didn't know why he hunted that if he felt that way; truely, deep down felt that way then he should quit. Quit, walk away. Go back to the burbs. Sam would support whatever choice he made...he just needed to make a CHOICE.
But i actually put effort to look behind the 'whining' to see the reasons, feelings, thoughts and experiences behind it all.
Maybe thats why some only see Sam as 'whiny' because they dont put any effort into looking at the whole picture....they arn't willing to show sam the empathy they lavish on Dean.
But I agree that Sam definitely had reasons to be showing the attitude he did in S1, just as Dean had his reasons due to his own storyline. It may not have been pleasant to watch all the time in either boy's case, but it made sense to me. Some fans will be more forgiving than others, on both sides of the fence, taking into consideration all that caused that attitude. Some know the reasons, but don't find it enjoyable to watch, as you apparently didn't enjoy watching Dean struggle. But I don't think either Sam nor Dean has cornered the market on scorn or sympathy.
Other favorites of S1 for me:
Home. I could go on and on about this one
Even though the guys have grown and matured, I miss the heart of those earlier seasons.
But I also agree that this season really was more of a slow build and probably the closest to the show description "Road tripping with monsters." I think the lack of focus on the overall arc worked here better than it did in the latter seasons because Dean and Sam didn't really know what they were looking for or where to look (as opposed to later seasons, when they knew but couldn't do anything so the plot conveniently curled up and hid until they could). So their focus was more on saving people here, and it worked. I don't know that they can ever really go back to that again, but I do think as a journey this season worked well, at least for me.
I don't know if I can pinpoint just one episode from this season to hold above the rest. (I can hold up one over the entire span of the show, though - In My Time of Dying.) But I think this show got deep starting with Skin when shapeshifter Dean told us/Sam the thoughts of the real Dean. There are 7 in all in season 1 that I simply love, though I can rewatch anything at any time for any reason (even Bugs) - and I do, daily.
And it had a Dean sex scene. They are few and far betweem and so need to be cherished and appreciated!
The monsters don't make the show for me. It is the relationship that endears them to me.
Don't get me wrong. I love every season and almost every episode still and would have to be killed to keep me away from this show!
Really hard to pick favourites from season 1, but Faith is way up there and may be number one. But there are a few others also, like Asylum, Scarecrow, The Benders, Hell House (my favourite funny), Something Wicked, Provenance and Devil's Trap that could also be number one. Can't I have them all as number one?
Each one of my favourites has breathtaking moments of emotional impact and insight into the brothers' relationship and that relationship is why I love the pilot up to Lazarus Rising. When the relationship goes sour, my enjoyment decreases and just leaves angst and pain in its place. A steady diet of that is too hard to take sometimes.
I don't wait until hiatus to rewatch, as I watch an episode every night before bedtime. When I get to the final one I start again, always in order, never missing or skipping over one, even the ones that hurt the most. (obsess much?) I'd be lost without that ability right now. It just seems the natural thing to do. Right now I'm up to Caged Heat in season six. By the way, I find myself enjoying season 6 way more than when I watched it live. Probably because I know what is wrong with Sammy and that he will be resouled. Watched Clap Your Hands last night and it was hilarious again! Sam was a hoot in that one!
Favourites of season 2? Many indeed! In My Time of Dying, Everybody Loves a Clown, Bloodlust, Hunted, Born Under a Bad Sign, Hollywood Babylon, Folsom Prison Blues, What is and What Should Never Be (perhaps that one is my favourite for season 2) and All Hell Breaks Loose 2.
As Leah D said, "even though the guys have grown & matured I miss the heart of those earlier episodes".
Love love your articles Sweetondean! Sorry that they start up the S/D wars sometimes. Never mind that! Just keep on doing your thing. Looking forward to the next one.
As always, love your articles.
And I completely, totally, unequivocally agree that this is a brothers' story.
I love Faith too. I think it was the moment when they showed us what this show was really capable of. I remeber reading/watchin g an interview where Sera and Raelle were talking about how they'd had their doubts about putting the episode out there cause they weren't sure how people would react. I think this episode in particular is when SPN stopped being just a horror show, so I'm glad they did get it out. If I had to pick a favourite though from the season, it would probably be Home. It just had a bit of everything really, including Missouri, who is still one of my absolute favourite guest characters. (I really wish they could bring her back)
Oh, and Devil's Trap will always have a special place, seeing as it's the first episode I ever saw.
I've never seen that show either, thank goodness! And never want to. It's the Winchester brothers' show that I watch too.
I adore me some Sammy but I'll admit that Jared improved a lot over the course of the season. He was never bad to me, in fact compared to most of the guest actors he was great, but compared to Jensen that first season he had to step up his game (and he did). Faith was one of the episodes I first noticed his improvement. I also liked that episode was the first one you saw that the depth of feeling and protectiveness between the brothers was mutual. I think Sam saw Dean as invincible and took for granted that he'd always be there the same way Dean did with John. But in that episode, Sam got a big wake up call that kids get when they realized parents can die.
The first time I watched Faith it obviously wasn't apparent how much that set in motion Dean's fate. It was the first time someone died for him. This first chink in that defensive armor, not from almost dying but from having someone die for him. Foreshadowing what his father does.
I didn't see Sam as whiny so much as overwhelmed, but I don't see Dean as being whiny this season either as some do. For Sam I had thought that maybe for some people it was just Jared's ability to pull off those emotions in S1. But since I definitely don't see that with Jensen this season, I guess the line of whiny crosses at different places for different people.
I also am a brothers girl and do not understand the fan wars between S and D. The beauty that is SPN, for me, is the relationship between the brothers and seeing it grow and mature has made it better and better. I know I am not very critical in my viewing of the episodes. I don't have an episode that I hate. If the brothers are on screen, there will be chemistry.
Hubby and I just started our rewatch of S1, and I look forward to Faith, especially after reading your article. You have given the episode some, until now, hidden depth and character study I will enjoy noticing.
I loved reading the comments and seeing that others just watch SPN from beginning to end over and over like I/we do. Have to admit, as a senior citizen, I sometimes feel pretty immature needing my SPN fix everyday, but for now I do and, thank chuck, I have the DVDs, so I can.
I love your writing and look forward to your next article.
I started watching the show because it was a horror show and i knew the work of one of the actors (Jared) and i had liked his acting...it (S01 and Jared's character as well as both Js acting) got me hooked...and every episode is my favourite (there are very less no of episodes that i did not like in the all seven seasons )
I love how you love this episode so much, it was a great one indeed. Makes me cry every time. Dean is so vulnerable and I love the way Sam is dead set on saving his brother no matter what. The lengths these two go for each other, just gives me goosebumps. They are indeed a team in this episode.
I could never pick a favourite out of season one, but I love to watch "Home" & "Faith" one after the other, I always double-bill those two. On the one hand, you have Sam that Dean is worried about, and on the other it's Sam worried about Dean. Oh, yeah, we do love these two individuals.
I'm just elated I found this fandom, people of the same mind as me. I'm in the States and every person I've met so far has never heard of SPN!!! How the hell can that be? It's the best thing since sliced bread.
Thanks for these episode flashbacks Amy, I'll be looking forward to your next one.
I adore Faith and it is one of my all-time favourites. I have different favourites for different moods, but Faith does get many rewatchings.
What I just realized about Faith is that it is also probably the first episode where there really isn't a Monster of the Week. Or, more accurately, the Monster isn't a What, it's a Who.
The Reaper may be killing people, but he's acting under the aegis of Sue Ellen. She's the real villain in this episode. And even though Dean doesn't say "Monsters/demon s I get. People are crazy" until Episode 15 The Benders, the line would have fight equally well in Faith.
Like you, and others have pointed out, what makes this episode so compelling is the questions it asks - What is a life worth? What is my life worth? Are some lives worth more than others? What about God & Heaven and so on.
What I love about those questions is that they are so universal, and yet so personal and individual. Maybe that's another reason this episode resonates with so many people.
Thanks for taking me down memory lane!
I don't understand how anyone could watch Faith and think that Dean loves Sam more than Sam loves Dean, but there are fans who do. I think the difference is that Sam has always been very secure in Dean's love for him, but Dean doesn't feel the same. Dean has a deep fear of abandonment -- his mother died, his dad went off and left him with the responsibility of a younger sibling constantly, and during S1 has disappeared, Sam went off to Stanford -- so it isn't a question of whether Sam reciprocates Dean's love, but whether Dean believes it, I think.
As for Sam and Jess, it wasn't just Sam's grief over Jessica's death that made him so angsty and difficult, it was his guilt. He had dreamed about it. He felt responsible. At one point he says that he should have told her the truth. He had to have realized that keeping the truth from her (as he told Dean in the pilot he always would) was selfish. I always try to keep in mind Sam's age when he went off to Stanford. He was just an idealistic teenager. He thought that he could put his past behind him and become the normal kid he's always wanted to be. Jess's death was the first lightning strike of reality that he couldn't ever do that. So, yeah, I understand the bitchy, difficult, unhappy Sam of S1.
I love both boys completely despite their faults. If I have a complaint about Sam's character the past couple of seasons, it's that he's become a little too zen about his problems. I get that he's had character growth, but seriously? He's not a little upset by what Cas did to him? IDK. On the other hand, I'm not seen sufficient character growth from Dean. Will he ever get over some of that self-righteousn ess? Come on. Well, we've been promised character growth for Dean from his time in Purgatory. We'll see.
Another great review. Thanks!