The Supernatural review: S04E11-22

From ‘Family Remains’ through to ‘Lucifer Rising’.

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 11-22.

‘Family Remains’
Writer: Jeremy Carver / Director: Phil Sgriccia

Relatively run-of-the-mill for the midseason return episode, but ‘Family Remains’ manages to hit the right notes nonetheless. It’s tense in the right places, creepy in others, and it’s been a while since the ‘humans are just as evil’ angle, so we’ll forgive them for repetition.

‘Criss Angel Is A Douchebag’
Writer: Julie Siege / Director: Robert Singer

I’m going to be honest, I didn’t enjoy this episode at all. Some of the elements worked – the plotline about three aging magicians losing touch with an evolving world – but it could have been so much more. Instead, it seemed a bit schlocky in places, with a twist anyone could have seen coming a mile off.

‘After School Special’
Writer: Andrew Dabb, Daniel Loflin / Director: Adam Kane

The kid who plays young Sam in this episode does really well. I do enjoy the flashback scenes, and it’s particularly poignant given the upcoming development of Sam in the series. Yes, the villain wasn’t great, but it was a decent point that small actions can have huge repercussions, ones that we don’t necessarily intend or forsee.

‘Sex And Violence’
Writer: Cathryn Humphris / Director: Charles Beeson

There’s a lot to like and dislike in this episode. For the positives, Sam and Dean having to carry on their charade in front of another FBI agent, and Bobby’s great turn on the telephone. For the negatives, Sam and Dean’s fight and division, which lessened the impact of it later.

‘Death Takes A Holiday’
Writer: Steve Boyum / Director: Jeremy Carver

Season four comes back to form with this episode, which also sees the return of Tess, back from wherever Azazel banished her to in season two’s debut. Nicely shot, with a really sad subplot for the kid, it also kicked the story forward a bit more after several episodes that seemed to tread water.

‘On The Head Of A Pin’
Writer: Ben Edlund / Director: Mike Rohl

A fan favourite, and with good reason, ‘On The Head Of A Pin’ has so much story progression that it’s amazing they crammed it into one 45-minute slot. Dean’s interaction with Alastair is great, and the big revelation is shocking. It’s just a shame they never really followed up the psychological damage that it must have done to Dean.

‘It’s A Terrible Life’
Writer: Sera Gamble / Director: James L Conway

“I’m on the cleanse!” A more light-hearted interlude between the encroaching darkness of the last few instalments and the relentless charge of the back three is a welcome one, and it manages to crowbar in a bit of plot to boot, as well as introducing a hugely important character in the form of Zachariah.

‘The Monster At The End Of This Book’
Writer: Julie Siege, Nancy Weiner / Director: Mike Rohl

The first of the big meta episodes comes next, introducing Chuck and the archangels. It’s one of the great Supernatural instalments in my opinion, cleverly written with a deft hand of characterisation for a primary antagonist, more or less a rare thing in serialised television like this.

‘Jump The Shark’
Writer: Andrew Dabb, Daniel Loflin / Director: Phil Sgriccia

I could take or leave this episode. I suspect that it was put in as a backdoor for the later episodes of season five, an escape hatch that the writers could take if they penned themselves into a corner vis-a-vis the main arc, which I personally think I was proved right on. It’s got a nice twist at the end, but it’s nothing special.

‘The Rapture’
Writer: Jeremy Carver / Director: Charles Beeson

I really enjoyed ‘The Rapture’, although I know some fans weren’t overly impressed with the two penultimate episodes of season four. It was nice to see a more human edge to Castiel through his host, despite his new line of obedience to Heaven through his abduction, and it closed off a big unanswered question in the form of Jimmy.

‘When The Levee Breaks’
Writer: Sera Gamble / Director: Robert Singer

A midpoint between the brewing conflict and open war, ‘When The Levee Breaks’ is a necessarily slow episode that takes its time and deals with Sam’s addiction problem. Jensen Ackles and Jim Beaver both do great jobs in this episode, and it was a nice touch to have Dean repeat his own father’s words to Sam. It’s just a bit dull, though.

‘Lucifer Rising’
Writer: Eric Kripke / Director: Eric Kripke

The season four finale promised to be explosive, and didn’t disappoint. Ruby was finally revealed for what she really was, but it wasn’t until this episode that I was 100 per cent on her true alignment. It’s a great climax, and I can remember five months of hell waiting for the next part. One of the best.

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