Season three is when I started watching Supernatural, Mystery Spot to be exact. I'd been on some spoiler lists or e-mail lists and had seen constant queries for information on Supernatural and had gotten irritated by how much time was ˜wasted' by people for this show , then I found it. Now I get it.
Season three is an awesome season, in parts, in other parts it's sorta not so much. Looking back on it I can see where elements or themes were worked in and had there not been such a lengthy break in the season and the reduction of six episodes, I think this season would have evened out and been superb. Compression was a real problem and thus as a whole this season starts weak, builds, has several awesome episodes in a row that are fabulous, sputters and ends high.
Without further rambling, I present The Road So Far, Season 3.
The Magnificent Seven:
Before I knew anything about Supernatural I belonged to a fan forum paying homage to the latest incarnation (on television) of The Magnificent Seven. The board lit up over the summer when it became known that Supernatural was doing an episode with that fandom's favorite show. I knew nothing about Supernatural so I cheered *not really* and went on about my life. Now, having seen the episode I can say that there is not too much to cheer about.
M7 boasts Kim Manners as the director (plus), Eric Kripke as the writer (plus), Bobby is heavily featured (plus) and opens to AC/DC Hell's Bells (plus). After that it goes downhill. Ruby makes her entrance and love her or hate her , I'm of the opinion we were never to love her nor trust her, but then I'm cynical like that. She's properly mysterious, knows who Sam is, has a demon-killing knife, and is watchful and even helpful in a fight. Good start there. Otherwise this episode has not much to offer, other than Sam learning that, if they try to welsh or weasel out of the deal, he's back to rottin' meat.
The Kids Are Alright:
They really aren't and Sera Gamble is properly creepy with the kids and gruesome with the opening death , I saw it coming and knew I didn't want to watch and yet, still I did. Sure my hands were in front of my face and I was hunkered down on the floor in nervous anticipation of the gore, but I watched. Disgusting.
I like the emotional vulnerability that Dean had in this episode. The writers do a good job of balancing his shallowness with his emotions. Sure Dean wanted to go see this girl for no other reason than eight years ago, give or take, she was part of the bendiest weekend of his life. Add to that the honest surprise on his face that Lisa Braeden had actually grown and matured and wasn't just sitting there waiting for him to return for another romp shows just how insular his view on life and the world is. What's interesting is that while initially he's amazed that Lisa doesn't just open wide the door and welcome him in, when he does ˜crash the party' and discover that perhaps there is something more going on something that will have a deeper impact on his life, he doesn't run away at all. Instead he wants to find answers, is Ben my son? And what does that mean?
Dean hangs around, offers some ˜advice' on how to deal with bullies and then in the end is genuinely saddened when he learns that Ben is not his son. It's a touching scene at the end and the fact that the writers et al in this show worked hard to incorporate Lisa later on in Dream a Little Dream of Me works so well because they laid such excellent groundwork here.
Sam is not short-shrifted in this episode either, yes there is the troubling , and by the end of season 4 downright tiring , aspect of constantly separating Sam and Dean so that each is often off doing something separate from the other, but it did have its purpose (not the least of which is that I will cherish every brother moment be it fight, hug, exposition or just standing there looking at something¦anything) although only now after the satisfying season finale, Lucifer Rising, am I even slightly able to ponder its purpose. I digress , it happens a lot , where was I?
Oh, yes, Sam does not get short-shrifted here. Sam gets to do the scut work, otherwise known as research, but more importantly he gets time with Ruby and some information that even to this date I don't fully have the answers for, such as why did Yellow Eyes kill off all of Mary's friends and relatives [and I don't just mean her mom and dad, there were others there] maybe we'll know, maybe the writers' strike messed that up to the point it's best left alone, don't know. I do know that if there is a real purpose to all that carnage after Mary's death, Kripke and Co. will let us know.
Having covered Ruby's journey rather thoroughly (as far as I'm concerned) in my review of When The Levee Breaks and more recently in Is Sam Too Stupid To Live?, I'll not spend much time on Ruby in this season or the next¦I only like repeating myself so much. Needless to say, Ruby starts setting her claws here.
Bad Day At Black Rock:
Jared says he doesn't do comedy, seriously? He's awesome here, comedic falls, facial expressions, the fabulous bi***face he has...and more. I'm puzzled that Jared thinks he's not good at this stuff, then again perhaps that's why he did such an amazing job here, he didn't feel any pressure to live up to anybody's standard, thus he set the bar himself and then promptly sailed right over it.
Bad Day At Black Rock introduces me to a location I dearly hope we go to again¦if for no other reason than to simply pan the camera around slowly and drink in all of the set design¦John's storage room. I love that John is never far from the heartbeat of this series, cell phones, the journal, the storage room and more.
Also, BDABR is another way to show us just how important Bobby was and is to this journey. Season three does much for deepening the awesomeness of Bobby, from hex boxes in the storage room providing another connection between Bobby and John, to the reveal that Dean's amulet was given by Bobby to Sam and was intended for John. Then of course there's the reveal of Bobby's past in Dream a Little Dream of Me¦Bobby and the Winchesters are woven together on and off through the years and Season 3 adds to the layers each time some little tidbit is revealed.
Bela is introduced in this episode and I hazard that had she never appeared again, she would have gone down as one of those bizarrely fan favorite nasties. We'd love to hate her for getting over on the boys with the scratch tickets and for shooting Sam *hiss* but there would be plenty of glee that Dean tricked her (twice) and got the rabbit's foot away.
Still, the writers cleaned up the mess that was Bela (Lauren Cohan is excellent throughout though, I enjoy her performances each time¦forced writing and all such as the silliness of Gordon in Fresh Blood) but by Time Is On My Side all that Bela was came into sharp focus and while I do not miss her, I enjoy watching her scenes much more now with the knowledge of hindsight.
So far in Season 3 we've got three episodes under our viewing eyeballs and not one of them would I suggest as ˜critical' or ˜significant' to the overall viewing of the show. TKAA and BDABR have things going for them, notably Ruby's information to Sam and his desperate attempt to absorb all that information and DALDOM is that much more poignant because we understand who the girl is in Dean's dream but overall to the arc, we're 0 for 3.
I know a lot of people don't like this episode but like any Supernatural episode there are things to like. First off, Bobby is here , woo hoo! Then again, having seen Ruby's whole story (I think ˜cause you never really know with Mr. Kripke) her part here is quite devious, fix the weapon, make nice, then sink your lure a little deeper at the end. There's some decent music in here and the demon (Casey) is quite excellent, she and Dean have wonderful exchanges. For all that they're trapped in a basement and simply talking, their exchanges spark and tease us about the demons' plans and offer insight into Dean's growing , although he'll never tell Sam , anxiety about just what hell holds for him.
I like the expanding idea that demons are not all in the same fight, they squabble amongst themselves and have fun ˜pushing' us mere humans in various directions. Looking at society today it's easy to see that a simple push here a poke there and a prod now and again have taken us to quite some depths of depravity, but then that's for a whole other discussion, not Supernatural, still it's great the Kripke and crew stay true to what makes genre shows so awesome to watch, there is some morality lessons afoot if you're willing to listen and perhaps even hear.
Sin City isn't great in many respects but I like going back and digging out little elements. Dean is concerned enough about Richie (a slimy character who I really do not believe Dean would ever seek out as a friend) that he can't bring himself to eat. Bobby rides to the rescue with the newly restored Colt , just how did Ruby do that? Sam is definitely on his downward spiral blowing away not one but two human hosts, although, true to his nature he is troubled by it afterwards. Sure, Dean was in danger from one and the other was standing awful close, still he didn't blink. That's a big change. [This sparked a kernel of an idea that I have in the works so I won't add anything more here]
And then there's that last little exchange with Ruby, Katie Cassidy gives a fabulous facial expression at the end that leaves little doubt , and something that was greatly missing in almost all of Season 4 Ruby , that Ruby is bad news. Watch that ending again when Ruby tells Sam she's going to be there with him while he does things that go against his gentle nature. Her expression is downright evil just before it goes out of focus. Well done, Ms. Cassidy, well done.
I wanted to not enjoy this one, not sure why, but in the end, after I get past the three little pigs and Hansel and Gretel and the silly obscure way Sam comes up with Cinderella, this is an episode about separation, loss and coming to grips with the reality of loss.
Dean is so determined that Sam will be all right that he actually thinks telling Sam that ˜that's just how it's going to be' is going to work. I love Sam's rejoinder¦ You're not dad! True that! Then there's Sam suffering in plain sight as the surviving brother relates his horror at watching his two brothers get killed right in front of him. Oh, Sam, your expression says it all, it's as if the events of No Rest For The Wicked are flashing before your eyes in preview, I'm in pain.
In the end I rewatch this episode time and again to watch how Sam deals , or doesn't , with the approaching reality, Dean is going to die and he is just going to have to let him go. Then there's the other part of this episode that is quite disturbing, Sam's purposeful murder of the CRD. It's intense and absolutely premeditated and another step for Sam's journey that takes us all the way to the depths of his fall in Lucifer Rising.
Red Sky at Morning:
I know, I know , boo, hiss; hiss, boo. And it isn't all Bela's fault either. I do admit, this is a lot cooler to watch now knowing Bela's story. I give the writers' great credit for recognizing their error (blame it on those meddling network people) and cleaning up the mess. Lauren Cohan is excellent, Bela is not. I do like at the end that she gives the boys some cash, Dean's reaction to that is so telling and it explains a lot of the differences between them. For Bela giving them $10,000 was easier than saying thank you. Sad.
Dean hyperventilating is cool, Sam Latinating is always good and the special effects crew outdid themselves with the whole water merging into water bit at the end. So, I'll end there on those high moments.
Ah, yes, here's where Season 3 starts to roll out the really excellent episodes. How can you not like Fresh Blood , sure, there's Bela again but I like that she gets a hard awakening by Dean when he tells her that he will kill her if they get out of this. She pays attention and actually does a good turn , still, in the end she's irredeemable, so no one need say Cristo wondering if I've gone all possessed.
Gordon is an excellent foil for the boys and the fact that he's back in all his badness ready to tangle with the Winchesters ratchets up this episode to awesome. Dean is in full-on denial mode ready to sacrifice himself every which way he can as if to prove to himself , ˜cause no one else is buying it , that he's not afraid of his fate. Sam calls him on it as only a brother can do and we get a nice throwback to Faith with this exchange¦
Sam: You know what, man? I'm sick and tired of your kamikaze trip.
Dean: Who, whoa, kamikaze? I'm more like a ninja.
Sam: That's not funny.
Dean: It's a little funny.
Sam: No, it's not.
Dean: Hey, you better take care of that car or I swear I'll haunt your ass.
Sam: I don't think that's funny.
Dean: Oh come on, it's a little funny.
Of course it should come as no surprise that Sera Gamble wrote them both. I like how Sera used the vampire, Dixon, and made him somewhat sympathetic while at the same time using him to teach Dean a lesson, one that Sam clearly picked up on.
Dixon: Do you know what it's like when you don't give a damn? It's like being dead already, can you think of a worse hell?
Dean: Well, there's hell.
It's the expressions that make those moments truly special, check that scene out again, the vampire is actually beginning to break through Dean's shield of denial over his fear. Clearly Sam gets the message, for although he's checking out the carnage left by Gordon, he absorbs the words and the sentiment, later on in their absolutely awesome exchange in the hotel he calls Dean out for being the guy with nothing to lose anymore ˜cause he's already dead. Yep, brothers get to the heart of the matter like no one else.
Fresh Blood ends the arc of Gordon and sends him off in excellent style. Gordon is a character I love to dislike , and I miss him. He was slimy and too eager to kill without reason in Blood Lust, moved to completely irredeemable in Hunted when he tried to kill Sam not once but twice [or is it three times since there were two grenades?]. Bad Day At Black Rock proved he was over the edge, even if he only had a couple of lines, still his repeated mantra of Sam Winchester must die proved he was off his meds. Fresh Blood ends him wonderfully as he is obsessed yet still plays within the rules , rules of his own making.
Notice the beginning of the episode, we have no idea how he got out of prison, nor how he found Bela, still he could have easily killed Bela once she gave up the location of Sam and Dean; he didn't. There is some element of honor there, he made a deal and he stood by it. What is fascinating is that, once he was turned into a vampire, he continued as a hunter. He killed the two newly changed vampires , brutally , and then slipped up as he felt the lure of the vampire blood and killed an innocent. Kubrick gets ˜ganked' because he got in Gordon's way; I believe Gordon would have let Kubrick go if Kubrick hadn't attempted his move. Then there's the end, Gordon makes it clear that his plan is to kill Sam and then kill himself , something Sam should have some memory of as that was his stated goal way back in Croatoan when he thought all hope was lost.
Fresh Blood is a Sera Gamble script from top to bottom, there's plenty of blood and gore to keep Mr. Kripke smiling, there's emotions a plenty from Sam and his continuing downward spiral as he kills Gordon by slicing his head off with wire, that's personal, slow. As much as Sam feared and was repulsed by ˜seeing' himself do that all the way back in Born Under A Bad Sign, here he doesn't appear all that moved. Dean moves back to big brother role , just ˜cause , and there's the death of not one but two characters we've seen before, plus a whole host of vampires, one, two, three, four, five¦I lost count. Truly a Sera Gamble script, she loves to kill them.
Another thing that makes it awesome, Kim Manners.
A Very Supernatural Christmas:
Love, love, love this episode. I love it in the springtime, summertime, fall and winter. I love it when it's raining, snowing, sunny, muggy, breezy , I just love it. Bright sweaters, gingerbread houses, garish decorations, sleazy Santas, Sam and Dean singing Silent Night, and Dean can't bring himself to sing the word virgin¦ Hah!
We get the fabulous young actors Colin Ford and Ridge Canipe who very believably are bored, scared, tired and older than their years all the while being young, vulnerable, sad and decidedly brothers.
It's Dean's wish for a 'real' Christmas, beer can wreath and all that sends Sam on an emotional sentimental journey into the sadness that was their childhood. It's easy for me to see these boys as adult hunters, choosing their lifestyle , well, sort of choosing it , but to see them as eight and twelve [or eight and a half plus and twelve almost thirteen] when they're stuck in a seedy motel with no shot at a warm, cheery fire in the fireplace, no Christmas tree, no turkey in the oven, no presents being wrapped to be given or received , besides the loan gift Bobby gave Sam to give to John [and who among us hasn't carefully wrapped something in newspaper to give a loved one , raise your hand if you remember doing that *raises hand*]
It's the juxtaposition of the over-the-top cheer and garishness of the Carrigans' and the flashbacks of Sam's and Dean's childhood that pushes this episode into one of my favorites to curl up with a box of tissues and laugh and cry over and over again. The ending gets me every time as Sam's flashback morphs into the present and the camera bleeds Colin Ford's sorrowful yet reluctantly resigned face into Sam's wonderingly tortured and facing the reality that this IS the last Christmas with Dean. It's magic.
Thank you, Jeremy Carver.