The Supernatural review: S04E01-10

From ‘Lazarus Rising’ through to ‘Heaven And Hell’.

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 4, episodes 1-10.

‘Lazarus Rising’
Writer: Eric Kripke / Director:Kim Manners

There’s so much that I like about this episode. From the direction and the bleak, saturated tone at the start, to Castiel’s first appearance, and to Bobby having a go at Dean, it’s a great introduction to the fourth season and the major series arc. It was also fairly bold to start off the way they did, but fitting – we knew Dean was coming back anyway, so why not kick off with it?

‘Are You There, God? It’s Me, Dean Winchester’
Writer: Sera Gamble / Director: Phil Sgriccia

This episode has a few choice moments – introducing a number of plot points that would carry on for the rest of the year as well as making us aware that the endgame is the release of Lucifer – but it’s only really memorable as a solid episode with a bit of fan service. Good to see that Meg got a bit of payback though, I always felt that the boys had it coming for that.

‘In The Beginning’
Writer: Jeremy Carver / Director: Steve Boyum

The flashbacks were always a fun part of Supernatural, so having a whole episode dedicated to the back story of the Winchesters was a real treat. I’m not sure how I feel about the particulars of it – making Mary and her family hunters takes out some of the dramatic gravitas of the series premise, but the quality of the guest stars was great.

Writer: Cathryn Humphris / Director: Kim Manners

Probably the weakest episode of the season for me, it’s a shame that it was also director Kim Manners’ last on the series, shot before he unfortunately succumbed to lung cancer. The main problem was that I just didn’t care enough about the sort-of villain for his awful situation to have much in the way of emotional impact.

‘Monster Movie’
Writer: Ben Edlund / Director: Robert Singer

Following a weak episode is one of the most comedically and stylistically strong of the show as a whole. ‘Monster Movie’ is a real treat – incredibly affectionate toward the films that gave the show so much, but also clever enough to weave a real plot thread through the silliness. It’s got all of the elements, and they all come together perfectly.

‘Yellow Fever’
Writer: Andrew Dabb, Daniel Loflin / Director: Phil Sgriccia

Funny! ‘Yellow Fever’ followed the stellar ‘Monster Movies’, and continued the ‘Dean-as-a-punchbag’ theme that’s been going on for a few seasons in Supernatural now. If you haven’t seen this episode on DVD, then do so, otherwise you’ll be missing out on the superb end credits sequence. Cool episode, great writing.

‘It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester’
Writer: Julie Siege / Director: Charles Beeson

Remarkable only for being totally middle-of-the-road, this episode is neither bad nor outrageously good, for me. I do like the ethical conflict and the testing of Dean, but let’s be honest, after four years of seeing teenagers die horribly, you become a bit numbed to it after a while. And there’s something I didn’t think that I’d ever write.

‘Wishful Thinking’
Writer: Ben Edlund / Director: Robert Singer

A bit better than the last episode was ‘Wishful Thinking’, particularly for Hulk Kid’s appearance. It reminded me a bit too much in places of the basic structure of ‘Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things’ though, and as a result I don’t think I can get fully behind it as such. Still, season four really shows an uptick in production value for me, and even the average episodes are a class above what we saw in previous years.

‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’
Writer: Sera Gamble / Director: Charles Beeson

I loved this two-parter, and the first instalment was undoubtedly the strongest part of it. Beeson did a great job in this episode, and the score fit wonderfully with Alastair’s arrival. A nod should go heavily in Sera Gamble’s direction as well, if only for the line “I’m wearing a paediatrician”. Absolutely classic, and one of the best of the season.

‘Heaven And Hell’
Writer: Eric Kripke / Director: J Miller Tobin

Not quite as impressive as the first part, but still good fun, ‘Heaven And Hell’ represents something I love about Supernatural, that it will take the time to properly explore a plot for the sake of filling out peripheral characters or elements of the back story that may seem inconsequential. It gives a more textured feel to the universe, and strengthens your connection with the players.

All entries in this series: