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5) Was the lady in white a good storyline to begin the story with and did it help us understand some of the limits the show was facing - or the boundaries it was going over such as the burned mother and the murderous mother?
Elle - I think it was a good storyline to start. It went beyond a typical ghost, establishing that certain supernatural beings were hunted for specific prey and were vulnerable in their own precise way as well - both of which become fundamental later on. There was a focus on the human element of the spirit's life, again an important mythological element in the show going forward. At the same time, this story allowed less complications (than say jumping head first into demons or souls) which afforded character development and room to move through the Supernatural world a little bit. Since the episode is book-ended with the two unsolved murders, obviously connected, the WiW was also a shorter storyline. So yes, it was a good storyline to start.
Elle2 - The urban legend aspect certainly gave us the monster of the week backdrop, as each week we explored different urban legends – although that pesky chupacabra is still rampaging somewhere “two states over.” J However, that really got blown away when Kripke introduced angels; suddenly heaven entered into the arc. While faith and God had been touched upon in Faith and then Houses of the Holy, it became central in Season 4 and remains influential even into Season 10. Also, the burned mother and the murderous mother shows that not only are mothers central to the storyline, but that the show wasn’t afraid to be graphic and/or dramatic. Also, as I wrote in my answer to Question 3, it shows a marriage of the natural and the supernatural that remains elemental to the show.
Metamorphic Rocks - It was a fitting story to begin the show's "monster of the week" format, and the parallels to the Lady in White and the Winchesters' circumstances were illustrated well. Also, it had just the right amount of scare factor, from the woman mysteriously appearing on the side of the road, to the subtle but creepy changes in her face when she's in the car with Sam, to the famous first blood splatter we see when she kills the Jericho boy. And the scene where the woman's ghost children beckon her home before attacking her and dragging her to the beyond still gives me chills.
Percysowner - I loved the woman in white story. I think it set the tone for the show, or at least for the first few seasons, before we got into the Apocalypse, really well. They gave ghosts a reason why they haunted and a way to be destroyed. It really worked for me.