Supernatural Season Two
Hits and Misses: Part One
Secondly, and I should have stated this before but when I consider a season’s Hits or Misses, I’m looking at the particular season in a sort of vacuum. By which I mean I’ll look at in terms of what came before, but not necessarily what came afterwards. For example, in season one I said it was a miss that Dean didn’t sort things out with John. However, in season two there is some…resolution (for lack of a better term) of this between John and Dean. This doesn’t negate that in terms of season one on its own this was a miss for me. This was a sort of defacto rule established in my first article looking at the front half of season seven – because obviously (at the time of writing) I didn’t know what the second half of the season would address. I don’t know if that makes sense or not, but there it is.
Finally, in part two I’ll include the list of more unanimously accepts Hits or Misses that I didn’t put on the list. I didn’t forget about them, just ran out of room! That said, I found it incredibly difficult to find a proportionate number of misses for all the hits in season two. It’s such a solid season, so some of the misses are small things that, like with season one, may come across as nit-picky and I will mark these as such.
Okay, now that the housekeeping bits are out of the way, here are the Hits and Misses of season two, part one:
Hit: Ellen, Ash and the Roadhouse
There is probably little need to go into why Ellen rocked: she was a kick ass hunter chick who knew exactly how to handle the boys, whether it be a tough love or a tougher love approach. Ellen’s introduction to the show was awesome – ‘nough said.
Ash, part of the Roadhouse crew was an equally great addition to the show. For starters, Ash was a fun character who fit well (as did the entire Roadhouse for the most part) within the middle-America, blue collar styling’s of Supernatural but in an intelligent way. Secondly, as a genius with technology and machines, Ash allowed some of the research, etc. to take place off camera/behind the scenes, narrowing the necessary exposition.
Finally, the Roadhouse itself as a place was a hit. This apparent middle-of-nowhere bar gave the boys a touchstone that they’d sort of lost in the wake of their father’s death. It also let the audience get a peek inside the hunter world and begin to understand that it’s maybe more expansive than we initially thought.
Overall – the Roadhouse and the people connected to it were a hit.
Miss: Jo, in the beginning
While there is no question that I love Ellen and have felt that way from the beginning, Jo drove me crazy, at least in the beginning. I appreciate that Jo was supposed to represent a more naive world view on hunting and all things encompassed therein. She was young, impulsive and had enough information about those go-bump creatures to be reckless rather than a fully effective hunter like her mother. In my opinion, however, Jo was never fully developed as this green, hasty character and instead came across more petulant child who puts people around her in danger more often than anything else. This isn’t to say Jo doesn’t realize a more well-rounded character down the road, but for the purposes of this list and season two, Jo is always a miss for me.
Hit: Zombies and Graveyards, Oh My!
CSPWDT is a favourite episode of mine because it has tight delivery of the MOTW story as well as the one-shot characters. Forget vengeful spirit, we’ve got a revenge hungry zombie on the loose taking retribution against all who wronged her in life (and then some). Additionally (and more on this later) the subplot between Sam and Dean, where Dean is denying his feelings and lashing out at strangers and Sam is so focused on Dean that he would’ve missed the case entirely. From beginning to end, this is a fantastic episode and an all around hit.
Miss: Clowning Around
Everybody Loves a Clown is one of my least favourite Supernatural episodes. Like some of the episodes that I dislike, there are strong pieces to the episode, but on a whole it just doesn’t work for me. The “creature of the week” comes across as weakly conceived, in my opinion. Sure, the running gag of Sam’s fear of clowns offers some amusement but for most of the time while the boys are at the circus, I find myself willing the episode to go fast and end. I can’t even put my finger on what exactly it is about this episode, except large parts of it just don’t feel Supernatural to me: the Rakshasa comes across as too clever, getting the drop on the boys a few times, and overall the evil clown thing tries too hard to be scary and smart and instead, at least to my mind, falls short. Thus, evil clowns at the circus are a miss for me.
Hit: Gordon and Lenore
Supernatural likes to play with the fixed views on good and evil. We’ve certainly had evil people in the past (The Benders), but these two characters demonstrate how someone can look good and appear to be fighting the good fight (Gordon) all while being six shades of crazy; and on the flip side, something that has been thought innately evil without hope of redemption (Lenore) can change. This is one of the episodes of Supernatural that challenges the way people think, even the way their own characters think, and have everyone maybe viewing the world a bit differently by the end.
Additionally, these characters are very well laid out. Gordon, for all intents and purposes, seems like a great, if eager, hunter whom Dean strikes a bond with. What becomes apparent by the end is how black and white in his world view Gordon is and just how dangerous that makes him. Lenore, on the other hand, strongly conveys her struggle with trying to remain on the right path and not succumb to her base instincts, rising above instead to keep the human in her alive and well. And by the end, despite all temptations, Lenore is successful where Gordon’s crazy is amped up to eleven. For solid characters and some thoughtful reflection on the world and human condition at large, Bloodlust, Lenore and Gordon are a hit.
Miss: Detective Sheridan a.k.a. Flashing Neon “I’m Evil” Sign (Nitpick Alert!)
The Usual Suspects is one of my all time favourite SPN episodes: it’s funny, it has an interesting storyline, and for once the MOTW is not the supernatural being. All of that aside, there is something about the lead detective, Peter Sheridan, that bugs me. For me this character is FAKE. Maybe this was a creative choice on the part of the actor, given that Sheridan is supposed to be hiding his real self throughout the episode (you know, the murdering bastard part of himself). I find myself wondering why all the other detectives, particularly Diana Ballard, don’t click in earlier that he is unstable and very clearly a liar. Sheridan just wants it too bad for the whole episode, and not in the “he killed my friend and I need justice” way. Maybe I could have bought that the other cops wouldn’t know something was wrong with Sheridan if not for one oversell: that he volunteers to transport the prisoner – by himself- late at night. First of all, I can’t believe police protocol would allow for this, not the least of which includes liability on the part of the police. Second, why would this prisoner be transported at heaven-knows-what-time at night? Sorry, but these things take time and paperwork to process. This is a pretty minor issue with an otherwise rock solid episode (hence the NP alert) but it is a miss in my book nonetheless.
Sam and Dean are suffering the loss of their father as we open season two, and in this writer’s opinion, their grief is tangible, convincing and wholly in character. For Sam, he’s upfront about his feelings and wants to talk about them. Sam visits Mary’s headstone, he tries to call Dean on his masked emotions and deals with everything in a largely Sammy Winchester way. For his part, Dean keeps a tight lid on his feelings for a good long while, and because of this we get the momentary lapses of control where his anger and grief take hold. In these moments, we see Dean lash out at Sam and the Impala; we see him pouring everything into a case (even more than usual) and take his anger out even on strangers (see: Angela’s dad – CSPWDT). Finally, Dean breaks down on the side of the road and confesses his feelings to Sam, both of them teary-eyed and visibly upset. Yes, the grieving this season is spot on and a definite hit.
Miss: No Exit
Remember when I said Jo bugged me and, in my opinion, she was more of a whiny adolescent who put everyone in danger with her limited knowledge and impulsive attitudes? Yeah, well, this episode offers up shining examples of that behaviour. I’m not going to go any further into the Jo stuff here, as that’d be redundant and the episode has many other rich areas to mine for purposes of this Miss classification, just know that I really hated anything and everything that involved Jo in this episode.
Furthermore, I hate the bad guy in this one. The near misses and partial sightings of this “super scary” ghost just don’t feel frightening so much as bad horror movie calibre to me. Also, the ghost serial killer combo failed, in my opinion. It was meant to up the ante in terms of the intelligence and danger level of the bad guy but it read to me more like a way to break the rules without really putting much thought into it: “we’ll call it a super powerful ghost, so the usual limits, etc don’t really work and also we’ll call him a serial killer so he’s extra creepy by caressing victims and such” – umm, yeah, this did nothing for me.
Finally, the last thing that was a real miss in this episode for me was the reveal about Jo’s dad and John Winchester. Hate to say this again, but it felt like contrived drama more than anything else – there was no real and true purpose for this so-called twist and reveal.
No Exit was no hit – one of the few full-scale misses of season two, if you ask me.
What didn’t this episode have? Drama, heady emotion, tragedy and strong characterization – all carved out in a short 42 minute span. This episode achieved what many made-for-TV movies strive for and miss – it made us care about Madison and get invested in her relationship with Sam in a very narrow window of time. Madison was a strong character, and because Sam
loved her had such strong feelings for her and their situation, so did we – and this made the ending all the more heartbreaking. Add to that the brotherly moments, combined with the underlining knowledge that one day it may come down to Sam on the receiving end of that bullet, and this episode is positively Shakespearean. Brilliant episode, title card to end credits.
Miss: the powers – why do they have different ones?
This may or may not be a nitpick alert – you decide for yourself. Personally, I’m of the opinion the power storyline was kind of fumbled all around and was glad when it dropped off. Perhaps, unlike the majority, I really didn’t like any of the other “special kids” and so my opinions on this plot point and everything encompassed therein likely stem from that dislike. These characters were never well-developed, to my view, and I was never really clear why they all had DIFFERENT abilities. Or was it the case that they all had the same, just hadn’t figured out how to work the controls? This is one case that might have benefited from exposition just a tad or a less convoluted, cramped story design. There was a lot of mystery about these magic abilities and not in a good way – so Azazel’s kids? Big miss in my book.
Hit: Meg Possesses Sam
This can’t really be a surprise, as I think for the most part people really enjoyed this episode. Jared Padalecki was a good actor to this point, though still coming into his own. This performance ratcheted him up to A-list calibre in my book (he’s consistently elevated this bar and continues to do so today). There was no question that this was Meg not Sam Winchester. The cold and unadulterated malevolence with which Jared depicts possessed Sam in this episode still gives me chills, even years after the fact. So that’s the acting side of this Hit. From a plot point, it was also fantastic. This was unexpected, played on the unknown with regard to John’s warning to Sam and the fears of Dean (and the audience) that Sam might “turn” into something wicked to be stopped. For the dramatic twists and supreme acting, the possession of Sam Winchester is unquestionably a hit.
Miss: Dean giving up the Impala – nitpick alert!
Okay, in truth there is no real, legitimate rhyme or reason for this one. I just absolutely loathe that Dean gives up the keys. I don’t care how many magic Jedi hand sweeps he’s subjected to, Dean Winchester should NEVER hand the keys over to a stranger. No way, no how. Doesn’t jive for me. MISS!
Tessa is our first real exposure to a reaper in Supernatural. Before her appearance, the silent and vengeful reaper in Faith was it. Tessa’s character is interesting and well conjured: she starts off as an apparent person in need of help and gets close to Dean from that angle. By the time she reveals her true identity, she knows exactly what she needs to say and do to convince Dean that lingering on the astral plane is not for him. Tessa’s approach is gentle yet authoritative and convincing – exactly right for someone who needs to convince Dean of anything. If not for YED interference, she’d have sold Dean on the afterlife and for that, Tessa is an undeniable hit.
So that’s it for season two misses, part one. Stay tuned for part two coming in the next couple weeks!
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