If you haven’t been watching Supernatural, then I can completely sympathize. I actually didn’t start watching the show until halfway through season two, mainly because I didn’t care to watch a series that was nothing more than a mindless monster hunting show.
What I didn’t realize was that this was actually one of the deepest monster hunting shows ever on television. (Yes, that includes Buffy and Angel.)
I imagine that the people involved with the show didn’t necessarily always know how deep the show was going to become. The series was probably fairly easy to pitch:
Two brothers, who are demon hunters, travel on a roadtrip, dropping into a different horror movie plot each week.
I wouldn’t think that it would be hard to sell that premise, do you?
But what about this premise:
A television series about a couple of homeless, dysfunctional brothers who are constantly at each other’s throats. They go around fighting demons while, on a week-by-week basis, they have to decide whether there’s any way they can actually trust each other enough to work together, or if the other brother is going to get them both killed (or worse).
That’s a trickier sell, but it’s got a higher potential payoff. With Supernatural, that’s pretty much what you’ve got. For those who want to dive straight into the show, you can go to the Supernatural website and click on “Full episodes” to watch the last few episodes (the season 5 finale is Swan Song) … or you can continue down, past the spoiler space, and see what you’re in for.
Season One – SPOILERS:
The series pilot starts with a woman coming into her baby’s nursery, only to discover a man standing over the baby’s crib. She assumes that it’s the baby’s father, but he’s still downstairs watching television. She screams. As the father runs into the room, he finds the baby alone … then a drop of blood falls. He looks upward, seeing his wife held against the ceiling by some invisible force. She bursts into flames and the father is just able to get the baby, Sam, and his older brother, Dean, out of the house as it burns down.
Fast forward 22 years. Dean (Jensen Ackles, from Smallville and Dark Angel) shows up at Stanford University to get his brother Sam (Jared Padalecki, from Gilmore Girls) to help him out. Their dad is missing, off on a “hunting trip.” Sam agrees, but he needs to be back by Monday, because he has a law school interview. He’s starting a normal life, with his girlfriend, Jess, as opposed to the lifetime of monster hunting that his father had raised them in while seeking vengeance for his wife’s death.
This being the pilot of the series, there’s a monster who is dispatched fairly quickly. In fact, the pulpy “monster-of-the week” theme is big in the show, but it’s the continuing plotlines that keep things interesting. Still, overall, the first season is kind of slow going – the perpetual problem with SF premiere seasons, as the shows try to find their footing.
Right out of the gate, though, the first plotline takes a major jolt at the end of the episode, when Sam returns to his campus house. He calls out for Jess, but gets no reply. A drop of blood falls from the ceiling. He looks up to see Jess held against the ceiling by an invisible force. Then she bursts into flames and Dean gets his brother out just in time.
As the season progresses, the tension between Sam and Dean gets stronger. Sam has always resisted his father’s dominance, while Dean had been the loyal son. While Sam challenged his father’s authority, thinking he knew better, Dean had been the one his father could depend on, in effect raising Sam. (This is, actually, the only sense in which Dean – whose interests pretty much consist of fighting, rock & roll, beer, and women – has ever been responsible.)
Finally, Sam and Dean meet up with their father … in time to track down a magical Colt, a gun created – along with 13 bullets – in 1835 by Sam Colt. The gun and bullets can actually kill anything – even demons. (Normally, you can’t kill a demon easily, you just end up killing the human body that the demon is possessing, while the demon escapes in the form of black smoke.)
Together, the family confronts the demon that killed Mary Winchester. The demon reveals that he has plans for Sam and other children like him, implying that it was not random chance he was in the Winchester’s nursery 22 years earlier. The demon possesses John, who has enough control to order Sam to shoot him (and thus kill the demon), but Sam of course resists and doesn’t follow his father’s order. The demon escapes.
As they’re driving to the hospital to tend their wounds, their car is slammed into by a semi being driven by a demon-possessed driver…. and that’s the end of season one.
Look for recaps of Seasons Two through Five in the coming week, in anticipation of next Friday’s Season Six premiere.