The Supernatural review: S02E11-22

From ‘Playthings’ to ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’.

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 two, episodes 11-22.

‘Playthings’
Writer: Matt Witten / Director: Charles Beeson

I know that it’s not one of the fan favourites, but I really enjoyed this episode. Beeson did a great job creating mood and tension, while the set up was a classic Supernatural yarn. I’m not even pretending to be objective, in all honesty, it gets four stars because I loved the hell out of it.

‘Nightshifter’
Writer: Ben Edlund / Director: Phil Sgriccia

This is another decent episode. I wasn’t quite as enthused about ‘Nightshifter’ as some, but there are a few bits that I really enjoyed. When Sam and Dean seemingly turn on the group on the vault, for one, and how they actually get out of the situation in the end for another. Mostly, I just love Charles Malik Whitfield in this episode, and his ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ attitude.

‘Houses Of The Holy’
Writer: Sera Gamble / Director: Kim Manners

From the comments, I know that a few of you quite like this episode, but for me it’s down there with ‘Bugs’, ‘Swap Meat’ and ‘Jump The Shark’ as one of the worst of the series as a whole. I just couldn’t get on board with it, particularly with Dean’s new implied agnosticism at the end. Continuity of character wasn’t a strong point, particularly Sam’s sudden mild evangelism.

‘Born Under A Bad Sign’
Writer: Cathryn Humphris / Director: J Miller Tobin

Thankfully though, after the disappointment of the last episode, Supernatural comes back with a powerful left hook. I actually skipped this episode by accident when I first watched season two, so discovering it was a real treat. I have a bit of trouble wondering why the boys never protected themselves like this before, but overall it’s a great detective and revenge romp. One of the best.

‘Tall Tales’
Writer: John Shiban / Director: Bradford May

Aside from a few funny scenes, ‘Tall Tales’ doesn’t really have a massive amount of weight behind it, being mainly a vehicle to introduce the godlike Trickster, who becomes a very important fixture in the show later on. Mainly, I rewatch this episode for Sam and Dean retelling the bar scene to Bobby – comedy gold.

‘Roadkill’
Writer: Raelle Tucker / Director: Charles Beeson

Tricia Helfer pops up everywhere, doesn’t she? I quite enjoyed this neatly written episode from Raelle Tucker, even if I wouldn’t exactly place it in my top ten. The ending still rings a little too cheesily for my liking, but the twist is a fun one, with Sam and Dean knowing all along. Great writing, some good licks in direction and acting, but nothing inordinately impressive.

‘Heart’
Writer: Sera Gamble / Director: Kim Manners

‘Heart’, I think, gets a bad rep. I actually quite like the epsiode, even if the final part is a little too melodramatic (bless you, Jensen Ackles). It’s an important episode for Sam, but also for the show as well, which demonstrates that it can handle popular subjects with skill and panache without descending too far into cliche and repetition.

‘Hollywood Babylon’
Writer: Ben Edlund / Director: Phil Sgriccia

I would have loved to have given this episode four stars, I really would, but one indulgence in a post is enough I think. Incredibly funny (“They’re like mini Philly cheese steak sandwiches, they’re delicious!”) and great to see McG taking a swipe at himself as well. The plot, I can take or leave, but it’s the acting and Ben Edlund’s dialogue that gets me every time.

‘Folsom Prison Blues’
Writer: John Shiban / Director: Mike Rohl

John Shiban is a bit of a wildcard with Supernatural. Some times, he can turn out episodes that are just a slight grade above being a bit shit, really. Other times he comes out with powerhouses like ‘Croatoan’. This lies somewhere in between – a harebrained scheme with a bit of a rubbish monster (poor Tiny), but brisk and consistent enough to keep you interested. Decidedly middle of the road.

‘What Is And What Should Never Be’
Writer: Raelle Tucker / Director: Eric Kripke

I loved ‘What Is And What Should Never Be’, which proves that Supernatural has the ability to delicately balance fan needs, character development and higher concepts. It’s a critical episode for Dean, and one that has resonance and relevance for the rest of the series, particularly when we get into the fourth season.

‘All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One’
Writer: Sera Gamble / Director: Robert Singer

The first part of the finale is the most satisfying for me, mainly due to Robert Singer’s direction and the moodiness that he imbues each scene with. We also see the destruction of the roadhouse and a shocking twist at the end. It’s an all-round heavy hitter, and it knocks it for six every time I rewatch it.

‘All Hell Breaks Loose, Part Two’
Writer: Eric Kripke, Michael T Moore / Director: Kim Manners

Still good, but less impressive, was the actual season two finale. I was mostly impressed with what they accomplished – killing your primary antagonist early on in the series is a ballsy move, and combining it with a decent mechanism to turn the premise on its head even more so. As we’ll see in seasons three, four and five, however, the show manages it.

All entries in this series: