It’s Terror Tuesday, and though Supernatural isn’t a horror show, there are definitely some scary moments. At the behest of Kristin McFarland, I started watching the show a couple months ago, but it wasn’t until this week that I really dug in and marathoned most of the first season.
I finished the first season yesterday. I had a lot of thoughts, both while watching and since finishing (I also watched the season 2 premiere), and I thought I’d lay some of them out here.
First seasons of shows can be a little ishy, and in my opinion, the first season of Supernatural was no exception. Don’t get me wrong; there was a lot of good, and I certainly intend to keep watching, but there were some head-scratching moments that took me out of the story.
For those of you who have not watched the show, be warned that here be spoilers. Mmkay?
The premise of the show is that these two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, lost their mother to a demon at a young age. After this horrific incident, their father started hunting the things that go bump in the night and expecting his kids to do the same. When the show begins, their father has vanished, Sam is in pre-law ignoring the beasties and considering proposing to his girlfriend, and Dean shows up to drag him out of his safe life and back into the world they grew up in.
It’s a pretty solid premise. They start out with the goal of finding their dad, who left them a journal full of dirt on the less-appealing creatures that roam the earth.
At first, I didn’t see much of an arc. Most of the episodes were sort of one-offs with Dad’s whereabouts occasionally speculated about and the boys tackling various spirits, ghosts, and ghoulies. If that’s all there was, I don’t know that I would have kept watching.
There were even a couple of pretty blatant Buffy rip-off episodes that made me borderline amused. For instance, the episode “Something Wicked,” which bears erm, striking similarity to a season 2 episode of Buffy (“Killed by Death”) in which a monster attacks and steals the life force of children in a hospital. Buffy’s even mentioned a couple times (by a pair of Jonathan/Andrew-esque nerds who run a paranormal website). Aside from that stuff, the Winchester boys take on some well-known legends, like Bloody Mary.
All that’s cute, but what kept me watching first was the chemistry between Sam and Dean and the fact that they kept growing more layered as the season progressed. Dean goes from good ole boy to a big brother I think everyone wishes they’d had, a character with deep-seated emotions and an over-arching need to feel needed. Sam goes from a scared college boy in denial to someone who takes up the yoke given by his father with pride and learns just how much Dean sacrificed to preserve even a little of his innocence.
The dynamic between the brothers is striking, poignant, and often downright beautiful. Their dad, John Winchester, is sort of the weaker link in the family, because the writers didn’t seem to give him much consistency, which made his changing decisions seem foolhardy instead of touching. The brothers talked about him as a hard-ass, but it’s clear moving through the first season that he loves his boys, because even though he’s told them to stay away from him, John pulls an Angel and lurks in the vicinity, watching them.
He tells them they can’t help, then he changes his mind. He goes from singleminded demon-destruction plans to making a deal with one (okay, so that’s episode 1 of season 2), and his character gets a bit muddy because of it. Either way, the one constant in John Winchester’s character is that he loves his sons.
Though there are some odd moments, the occasional killer truck, and a finale that was less cliff-hanger and more “What on earth are you trying to do?” but overall I really enjoyed the first season of Supernatural.
Through the last eight or so episodes, they did a good job of raising the stakes and cultivating tension on the show. My only WTF moment at the end was the finale, which seemed to suffer from a severe lack of thought. Demon leaves them for dead and just goes on its way? No. If that demon wanted them that dead that much (which, hello, it did), I don’t think it would have just assumed they wouldn’t come after it again after smashing them with a Freightliner. That said, the premiere episode of season 2 would have made a much better wrap-up to the first season because it is what more definitively ended the arc of season 1.
So, Supernatural fans, I’ll leave you with the knowledge that I’ll continue on. I’ll also give you a chance to let me know which Winchester boy I ought to have a crush on, because I’m torn. Vote below!