The Supernatural review: S01E11-22

From ‘Scarecrow’ through to ‘Devil’s Trap’.

Recently, I’ve had cause to watch the entire run of Supernatural through, by means of introducing it to my partner and various other friends. As a build-up to the new season next September, and as I’ve finished my previous series of literary micro-reviews, I’ve decided to go through every episode to date.

I’ll aim to get these up twice a week, on Tuesday and Friday mornings, but the schedule may deviate. For now, season one, episodes 11-22.

‘Scarecrow’
Writer: Patrick Sean Smith / Director: Kim Manners

Easily one of the finest episodes of the series, and certainly one of the show as a whole’s most popular. ‘Scarecrow’ was significant in terms of the story for being the first big schism between the brothers, and for introducing Meg, who would go on to be a recurring pain in the neck through to the end of season five. Expertly shot, with a nice use of colour once more from Mr Manners.

‘Faith’
Writer: Sera Gamble, Raelle Tucker / Director: Allan Kroeker

There’s something about this episode that can’t really be quantified or articulated adequately, a quality and definition to it that elevates it above its peers in this season. The story itself isn’t particularly amazing, but there’s something about faith healers that seems so quintessentially American, complementing the overall feeling of this show.

‘Route 666’
Writer: Eugenie Ross-Lemming, Brad Buckner / Director: Paul Shapiro

Supernatural tackles racism in a mildly successful outing. The Duel-esque feel helps add levity to the proceedings but it’s somewhat let down by a contrived romantic subplot for Dean that seems to run counter to his entire established character. Sam, too, seems a bit of a wet fish in this episode, but there are highlights, such as the no-nonsense fishermen.

‘Nightmare’
Writer: Sera Gamble, Raelle Tucker / Director: Phil Sgriccia

Sam’s psychic premonitions come to the fore in this episode, when he learns that there are other children like him. It’s strange really, Sam’s powers were a subplot that flared up in this season and the next, then died down, then flared up differently in the fourth. It’s hard to argue with the end result, but this starting block was a bit of a misfire.

‘The Benders’
Writer: John Shiban / Director: Peter Ellis

Supernatural excels at the solid midseason episodes, and ‘The Benders’ is most definitely that. There’s really nothing special to it, but there is potential, and you can’t help but feel that a different director may have squeezed a little more out of the story. That being said, it’s good enough as is, and refreshing not to be battling monsters and mutants for a change.

‘Shadow’
Writer: Eric Kripke / Director: Kim Manners

A mythology-heavy episode, ‘Shadow’ is easily one of the best instalments of the first season. It pushed the story miles forward, reunited the boys with John Winchester, and was notable for its exceptionally heavy and brutal violence. In true Supernatural style, small events would have big repercussions later in the series.

‘Hell House’
Writer: Trey Callaway / Director: Chris Long

I’m going to admit this now while we’re still in the early stages, I don’t like the Ghostfacers. They’re watchable enough, but the show’s continued insistence on using them is something that’s always baffled me, outside of their expert inclusion in season four’s ‘It’s A Terrible Life’. This episode was a bit of a mess in terms of concept, but saved by Chris Long.

‘Something Wicked’
Writer: Daniel Knauf / Director: Whitney Ransick

Supernatural is pretty firmly into its monster-of-the-week concepts now, and it’s moved on from the false starts at the beginning of the season with some genuinely interesting and creepy ideas. The flashbacks to when they were younger also kickstarted a trend that would run through the show, and the child actors did a great job.

‘Provenance’
Writer: David Ehrman / Director: Phil Sgriccia

The misdirection in this episode was fairly predictable, but as a whole, the narrative was a fun romp. It’s clear by this point that the show’s learned from its mistakes, and managed to blend the pop-horror sensibilities of episodes such as ‘Bloody Mary’ with the harder and darker edges of episodes such as ‘Scarecrow’. Not perfect quite yet, but getting there.

‘Dead Man’s Blood’
Writer: Cathryn Humphris, John Shiban / Director: Tony Wharmby

Introducing the Colt, a weapon that would be incredibly important to the main arc of the storyline for years, this was also the first episode featuring vampires, which were less so apart from setting up the excellent run with Gordon Walker later on. Dead Man’s Blood was nicely shot by Wharmby, while John Shiban managed to up his game for the first time this season.

‘Salvation’
Writer: Sera Gamble, Raelle Tucker / Director: Robert Singer

From the beginning of the episode it’s clear that season one intended to go out with a bang, as Meg starts slaughtering Hunters wholesale. It also showcased some great work from Robert Singer, and also the smooth and easy interaction between Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

‘Devil’s Trap’
Writer: Eric Kripke / Director: Kim Manners

I could award this season finale five stars purely for the unexpected and shocking cliffhanger ending, but there’s so much else that works well here. The tension as John is possessed by Azazel, the rescue and everything else all combine into vintage Supernatural, and arguably the best bookend the show put out.

All entries in this series: