SUPERNATURAL: Season 1, Disc 3, Episodes 9-11 Review

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Rick Trivett finds a lot to like on Supernatural season 1, disc 3...

Season 1, Disc 1, Episodes 1-4 Review
Season 1, Disc 2, Episodes 5-8 Review

The wick gets turned up to eleven with a brilliant opening episode, and this is by far and away the best disc of the series so far.

I’ve received some comments that I have been over critical of Supernatural from some ardent fans of the show. I’d like to assure you that this is not the case, I’m simply giving an honest opinion. Like any long running television series, there are some good episodes, some not so good and the occasional terrible one. There is also the occasional gem, that one episode that lifts the whole series and puts it up in the realms of greatness. Some shows, Babylon 5, for instance, have a lot of these, and happily it is one such episode that I have the joy to begin with.

Wow! What an episode! The first one that Eric Kripke has written for a while, and a real humdinger. Directed by Ken Girotti. It is so good, it's difficult to write about it without wanting to give a blow by blow account, but “this happened and then that happened, and there was…” would result in several thousand words of my drivel. However, this episode has it all. Right from the opening sequence, when Sam realises that his dreams are more than just dreams, through to the close, when we finally get to see the boy’s father, John Winchester, again, it is well thought-out and executed. Even though the protagonist is a plain and simple poltergeist, unlike other episodes that have been based on “restless spirits”, the interpretation has been well worked. There are some brilliant flying knives moments, a few bits to make you jump, and some clever – you know what’s coming but still have to watch – sequences. The richness of the story is enhanced because the action takes place in the boy’s childhood home, the place where their mother died, and with the inclusion of their father’s psychic friend, Missouri Mosley. Everything in this episode not only entertains and provides the plot, it also builds on the back-story and grounds the show. I’ve probably used “brilliant” too many times, but with this one it is hard not to. Home is the kind of episode that makes a television series into a cult show.

This is another good episode, all be it a little overshadowed by the previous one. An old abandoned asylum is always a good setting, given that both the previous occupants, and probably the staff as well, are going to be unhinged (something used to great effect in the Batman universe). Richard Hatem gets the writing credit on this one and gives the story a good twist. Sam and Dean are sent a tip by their father to go and investigate the Roosevelt Asylum, which has been closed since a riot in 1964, but was the last place visited by a present day police officer before he went all Norman Bates. There is a touch of 80’s horror with teenagers visiting the “haunted” asylum, but fortunately, it is only a touch. The boys soon realise that the spirits of the former inmates are not dangerous and only trying to communicate. An investigation in to the history of the place and the reason for the riot, uncovers a sinister side to the asylum and the cruel experimentation carried out on the inmates by the psychiatrist that was supposed to be helping them. I won’t say anything more for fear of spoilers.

The third and final episode on this disc because of the distributors desire to make a little extra money by splitting the series into two boxsets… Anyway, not quite as brilliant as Home, but not far from it. There is so much going on in this episode, that it is practically bursting at the seams. So much so, I had to go back and watch Scarecrow for a second time to take it all in.

First, there is the phone call the boys get from their father, the first time he has spoken to them directly. Then there is the discord between the brothers which see them split up, with Sam keen to find their father, and Dean intent on following his instructions to investigate the regular disappearances of young couples. The plot for the episode focuses around a Vanir, from Norse mythology, in the form of the world’s scariest scarecrow. It is bringing prosperity to an otherwise quiet backwater town, provided that it receives a young couple each spring as a sacrifice. Dean manages to work this out and prevent it happening again, but the townsfolk do not appreciate his efforts, and in an attempt to appease the Vanir, offer him and a girl from the town instead.

Meantime, Sam is hitchhiking to find his father and meets up with a rather attractive fellow hitchhiker Meg Masters. When Sam’s attempts to phone his brother are unsuccessful, Meg does everything she can to persuade Sam that his brother is fine and not to worry.

I will say not more as I have probably said too much already, except to say that we learn more about Meg at the end of the episode.

I do have one tinsy-wincy gripe with this episode, and that is the orchard, the home of the scarecrow. I’m not an expert on plants or trees, but it looked like coppiced birch or hazel to me, not apple trees. We are also told that it is spring, the reason for the sacrifice, but we are informed that the “orchard” is an orchard because of the barrels of apples under the trees. Surely apples are harvested in the autumn? Or is it the custom in the US to leave barrels of harvested fruit in the orchards until spring? It is such a shame, as it tarnishes an otherwise brilliant episode.

R.J.Trivett (Rick) is the writer of comic fantasy series the Lyonnesse Tales. He hasn’t been able to give up the day-job yet, whatever it is, but lives in high hopes. When not reading, writing or watching a boxset, he tours around the UK and Europe on a motorcycle looking for interesting roads and sampling the local equivalent of beer. 

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