Warning: long post.
I picked up the first season on DVD a couple days ago and am now 10 episodes in. I know there's some/a good number of Supernatural fans on here, so I figured I'd start a thread.
I'd previously only seen a few episodes from later seasons, so I know the general concept and I'm familiar enough with Sam and Dean. This series has gotten a lot of praise from some people whose opinions I trust so I figured "what the hell, why not?" While I know some general stuff from later seasons I don't know a lot in terms of specifics so I'd appreciate a general lack of spoilers if possible. I'll talk in this first post about some overall observations and then briefly about each episode (I'm up through "Asylum" so far). This thread probably won't be anywhere nears as awesome as TheGodBen's old recap posts, but hey, it should be fun.
So, General Thoughts
Maybe it's because of the tone and mood of the show, or maybe because Amy Acker's an early guest star, but I keep comparing this show in my mind with Joss Whedon's Angel
(which I'm also watching through but more slowly and with my brother). Well, not directly comparing I guess, but in general thinking of it running along the same lines. One thing I often find myself thinking is "Okay, this ending seems too happy and well-wrapped-up... where's the ominous warning or the lingering dread or the sense that the monster isn't really
gone?" The overarching plot thread (searching for their Dad and for the thing which killed their Mom and Jessica) is more grim than early Angel
, but the episodes themselves seem to wrap up as less morose and gloomy, if that makes sense.
Sam and Dean are great leads - totally buy them as brothers and their deep affection for each other even while they're battling bizarre supernatural monsters and mostly-avoiding their deep-seated issues. I do kinda wish there was a female lead, but "two brothers roadtripping across America to hunt evil monsters" is a pretty solid core idea, and where the Fang Gang were tied to one location and could thus develop recurring characters and a larger cast, the Winchesters are always on the move. I know from later on though that there's more developed recurring characters, so no worries there.
The show can be often creepy, but rarely rises to truly terrifying IMO (thus far). One thing I really like is that the show's drawing on urban legend, local myth, and Americana for its baddies, kind of an "American Gods" sensibility here.
A really good intro to the show. I actually had to go back and watch the first scene of Sam at Stanford again because I was expecting Sam to be a dirty blonde with bigger hair (am I right in thinking that from later seasons?) and rather grumpier so was a bit confused when Dean first shows up. The episode does a nice job of setting up the general concept behind the show and also giving us a taste of what to expect with the Woman in White - one of the better villains thus far IMO. Tragic waste of Adrienne Palicki to kill her so early (though I guess this was before her Friday Night Lights days?) but her death nicely sets Sam on what seems to be a self-destructive path. 8/10
A good second outing - nice villain and nice job of keeping it mostly in the shadows and dark; did we ever get a clear look at the Wendigo? I was kinda hoping they'd go with the "it perpetuates itself by creating another one" idea and have the brother somehow turn out to be one of the monsters, but what we got was good. Though this episode does start (or continue?) something that's not really a problem so much as a nagging annoyance: why doesn't the beast/ghoul/demon just kill Sam and Dean, since they're apparently normal humans? Yeah, suspension of disbelief, but the speed the Wendigo was said to move? 8/10
1x03: Dead in the Water
I'm not sure if it's my own fear of drowning, the dark secret underlying everything, or simply the always-delightful Amy Acker, but this is one of my favorite eps so far. Nice to see Dean bonding with the little boy after his utter failure at pickup lines. The contrast between Dean's general horniness and Sam's continued morose nature while thinking about Jess is good to see. Also interesting that ultimately the brothers didn't so much defeat the spirit as it (mostly) got what it wanted. And the brief glimpse we got of the drowned little boy was pretty chilling. 9/10
1x04: Phantom Traveler
Ok, any jokes about "Toxic Love" aside, the villain this week was pretty excellent. I was glad to see Sam point out that Dean's great discomfort about flying made him a perfect target to be possessed - kinda wished the demon had tried or Sam had to cast the demon out of his brother at some point. Still, the confrontation with the demon and his taunting words to Sam about Jessica (a lie, presumably) were well done. I was hoping I think for a little more of Doctor Who's Midnight in that confrontation, but there was nothing wrong with it for sure. As always, the female guest star was gorgeous - being a CW show, I guess that's to be expected, eh? 8/10
1x05: Bloody Mary
Oh my, how gruesome! Nicely done on using a well-known tale and making it pretty darned spooky - the way Mary appeared always in shadow (until the final confrontation) worked in the episode's favor I think. And Sam confronting "himself" in the mirror was excellent - more of that delicious Winchester misery that I'm guessing is a huge part of this show. However, the truth behind Mary seemed a little... I dunno, weak? Nothing wrong with it I suppose but it didn't really work for me. 7/10
Interesting how we never get to see the villain in its true form - assuming it even has one. Also, I found it interesting that sometime during the pilot Sam or Dean casually references skinwalkers, but here it seems to take them a bit to figure out (and even then they just call it a "shapeshifter"). It's interesting how in "Dead in the Water" Dean was perfectly happy to stop and help random people while Sam was wanting to push on and keep looking, while here it's Dean who doesn't seem to care. Of course, this is one of Sam's friends - friends that he still keeps in contact with. I wonder if the police might shouldn't be after Sam for what happened in Palo Alto, come to think of it? Was the fire that killed Jessica just ruled an accident? Wouldn't it look kinda suspicious that Sam took off right afterwards? Anyway, I'm straying away from "Skin," which, while I don't seem to have much to say here, I thought was excellent. The brothers' drama is the heart of the episode, of course, and the shapeshifter changing was suitably gruesome. Though, let me see if I've got this right - the shifter was Dean, tied up and beat/attacked Becky and was captured (but escaped). Then the shifter kidnaps and stashes Becky and turns into her, showing no obvious wounds, am I right? I guess it's fortunate Sam didn't ask her why she didn't have any bruising and there were no neighborhood dogs... but I nitpick. 8/10
1x07: Hook Man
Yeah I admit it, I thought it was the preacher at first too and not Lori. I realized what was happening right when the plot wanted us to I think. The idea of a "moral guardian" killer is a good one, and making its manifestation a result of Lori's deep-seated conflict was a nice twist, as was the Hook Man coming after her because she felt she deserved to be punished. Though, wouldn't it ultimately be self-defeating of the ghost to kill Lori? Sam and Dean make surprisingly effective frat guys, if a bit scruffily dressed. 7/10
Yeah... aside from being disgusting this is probably the weakest episode so far. Nothing wrong with surviving a plague of bugs, but the dramatic conclusion seemed a bit arbitrary and sudden. It went from darkness to daylight in like 10 seconds, and Dean's homemade torch, while nice, didn't seem to be doing anything but somehow held back the onslaught. The trip to the Indian man seemed to be ultimately pointless - I mean, he told them the legend but they could've just as easily picked that up from someone in the town, right? Why bugs only? Why not coyotes or trees or the very ground itself? And the Winchester drama seemed a bit odd this time too - though the idea of John Winchester going to Stanford periodically to privately check up on his son was a nice touch. Overall though, meh. 5/10
Ooh, this one's good. It's nice to see the Winchesters come back home and have to confront (or at least, Dean has to confront) some truly awful things from their past. Seeing Dean nearly break down on the phone leaving a message for his dad was a nice scene. I cringed a bit when the poltergeist began going after the baby, saying "Surely they wouldn't kill the baby would they?" but fortunately no. Missouri Mosley was a very cool character, I hope she comes back again. Also I like the fact that the evil haunting the house wasn't the thing that killed Mary and Jessica but a fairly random (if powerful) poltergeist. I assume Mary's spirit was the one Missouri couldn't pin down? I'm guessing these prophetic dreams Sam's begun to have are going somewhere; I seem to recall from a later season episode that Sam's not entirely human, so premonitions must be the first step in that? One nagging question: why was Mary's spirit still there? And moreover, did she have to sacrifice herself to get rid of that poltergeist? Seems a bit undramatic for her soul to be consumed in battle with a villain of the week. Nice twist at the end, I look forward to seeing John join up with Sam and Dean 9/10
Maybe I was just tired while watching this episode, but it seemed fairly ho-hum. The twist that the spirits aren't attacking but are instead trying to communicate what was done to them is a nice one and we get another nice Winchester v Winchester battle. Still, while it's a decent episode and there's nothing wrong with it, ultimately it didn't do much for me. Maybe more could've been done with the random teenagers, but I guess there wasn't time. 6/10
And... whew, long post! Okay, that's where I am now. I'd be glad to see what you all think of my basic thoughts; I'll try and keep this a running thread, but no promises.