The Supernatural review: S03E01-16

From ‘The Magnificent Seven’ through to ‘No Rest For The Wicked’.

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 three.

‘The Magnificent Seven’
Writer: Eric Kripke / Director: Kim Manners

I’ve got a slight soft spot for ‘The Magnificent Seven’, given that I was on holiday in New York City, watching it in my hotel room as it aired. As a whole it’s not a bad episode per se, but I’m not a fan of the whole ‘seven deadly sins’ thing being personified in the form of demons. Ruby’s introduction was also terrible, but in terms of pacing and action it does work.

‘The Kids Are Alright’
Writer: Sera Gamble / Director: Phil Sgriccia

Not a fan. I can see why people like it, and there are a few good moments, but personally I’m slightly turned off by the Village Of The Damned trope in TV and film. It also crowbarred the Lisa character into the series, who inexplicably pitched up later on as an important player. It’s one I’ll skip.

‘Bad Day At Black Rock’
Writer: Ben Edlund / Director: Robert Singer

I actually like Bela. I’m not a fan of season three Ruby, but Bela’s alright by me, and I think it’s smart to have the boys outwitted now and again. Her introduction here is suitably frustrating and dangerous at the same time, and sets the tone for her character. Points also go for the ‘I lost my shoe’ sequence of unfortunate events that befall Sam.

‘Sin City’
Writer: Robert Singer, Jeremy Carver / Director: Charles Beeson

As a whole there’s nothing that really marks this episode out, like much of season three, but I particularly enjoyed the exchange between Dean and the demon. It was also important in another way for introducing the demon belief in Lucifer, and it’s a fairly enjoyable 45 minutes overall. It’s just a shame that the show hasn’t racked up another notch yet, particularly given the short episode order.

‘Bedtime Stories’
Writer: Cathryn Humphris / Director: Mike Rohl

The fairy tale angle works quite well for the show, and ‘Bedtime Stories’ proved to be an effective outing. The slightly surreal aspect to the entire thing was a nice touch from director Mike Rohl, and the twist was decent enough. It lacked humour, though, leaving the proceedings to be dramatic but without body.

‘Red Sky At Morning’
Writer: Laurence Andries / Director: Cliff Bole

Another big Bela episode comes at the cost of a slightly laughable villain in this caper episode. The banter between Bela and Dean is refreshing, particularly his protectiveness over the car, and their confrontation over the phone at the end. Just handing the boys $10,000 stretched credulity as well.

‘Fresh Blood’
Writer: Sera Gamble / Director: Laurence Andries

A tragic end for Gordon comes in the first real power episode of the third season, which sees the vampire hunter turned into a vampire but continuing his maniacal hunt for Sam. The only dodgy bits are the red-o-vision of course, but as a whole its an immensely satisfying and dramatic instalment.

‘A Very Supernatural Christmas’
Writer: Jeremy Carver / Director: J Miller Tobin

I’ve never thought that the show should have embraced the ‘pagan god’ subplot that it insisted on going through all the way up til the third season, and it certainly didn’t work in this Christmas themed episode. The whole thing, really, isn’t that cohesive as an episode, with jarring flashbacks supplanting the dull story and gruesome torture scene as the most interesting thing about it.

‘Malleus Maleficarum’
Writer: Ben Edlund / Director: Robert Singer

This is more of a Ruby episode than anything else, although given her character’s actions later on, it’s hard to know whether there’s any truth to the background information we’re given. A nightmare version of The Witches Of Eastwick is probably the best way to describe this episode, as it has little else going for it.

‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’
Writer: Sera Gamble, Cathryn Humphris / Director: Steve Boyum

This episode still doesn’t bring the show back to the level of quality that was evident in a fair amount of the second season, but it’s an improvement on the last two at least. Boyum enhances his dream sequences brilliantly, lending a nice visual quality to the instalment, while Gamble inflects the narrative with tension and moments of terror. A stunted villain character lets it down.

‘Mystery Spot’
Writer: Jeremy Carver, Emily McLaughlin / Director: Kim Manners

Probably the funniest, yet most tragic of the season three run, ‘Mystery Spot’ not only brought back the Trickster but ensured that I can never listen to Asia again without thinking of Supernatural. Dean was used as a bit of a punching bag here, but it drove him the first real inklings that he may not actually survive, like we all expected him to.

‘Jus In Bello’
Writer: Sera Gamble / Director: Kim Manners

Assault On Precinct Supernatural is easily my favourite episode of the third season, being a great siege/action episode from start to finish. Not only that but it had a poignant ending for Henriksen, reflecting the increasingly desperate tone of arc events that have been slowly building to date.

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

I’ve said before that I’m not the biggest fan of the Ghostfacers characters. They work in small doses, I feel, like in ‘It’s A Terrible Life’, but in a whole episode they come across as overwhelming and forced. Still, the juxtaposition between them and the Winchesters is good, but as a whole I felt as if the story for this episode was a little dull.

‘Long Distance Call’
Writer: Jeremy Carver / Director: Robert Singer

I’ve not been overwhelmingly positive about season three. I do enjoy it, don’t get me wrong, but I feel as if the show was treading water for most of its episodes, something you can’t do in the forced abbreviation that was brought about by the WGA strikes. This episode, I felt, was one that has more in common with the poor filler instalments of season one than where the show should have been in the third season.

‘Time Is On My Side’
Writer: Sera Gamble / Director: Charles Beeson

Ah, emotional resonance, you do know how to pull on the heartstrings. A decent episode for the final run of Supernatural, then, not with the greatest villain that’s ever graced its scripts, but the untimely (or timely, depending on your perspective) demise of Bela was handled in a classy way.

‘No Rest For The Wicked’
Writer: Eric Kripke / Director: Kim Manners

Lilith comes to the fore in ‘No Rest For The Wicked’, along with a great introductory sequence imbued with vintage Kim Manners directorial style. The episode as a whole is solid and nail-bitingly tense, right up until the conclusion and Dean’s messy shuffling off the mortal coil. Great episode, and a great finale to boot.

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