So is it October yet? No? Damn.
Every looooooooong hiatus I do my annual (sometimes biannual) series rewatch. Usually I rewatch the current season first and then go back to the Pilot and start watching the series from the beginning. Weirdly, for some reason this hiatus Iâ€™m finding myself rewatching the series from the beginning whilst rewatching season 7 at the same time. Interesting to say the least. And not at all confusing!
I didn't start writing reviews for Supernatural until season 5, even though I started watching it when the "Pilot" first went to air. I didn't connect with the fandom until sometime around the end of season 4 and then wasn't brave enough to start writing until at some point during season 5, when my friends encouraged me after getting tired of my overly long comments on their blogs! So you see, though I have revisited many of the earlier episodes in one form or another, I've never really written one up. Which got me to thinking, this would be a good hiatus project! Writing up my favourite episode from each season. A project that will keep me busy until I head of for Vancon! (Yay)!
So here we go, sweetondean's inaugural "Supernatural" Flashback, Surviving the Hiatus one season at a time.
Watching season 1 is interesting. I mean, of course I watch random episodes all the time, but I find the whole season rewatch is always illuminating, no matter how many times I do it. I'm struck by how damn good the show was from the outset, but I'm also struck by how much it's improved. There's a butt-load of exposition in the scripts of the early season 1 episodes and to be honest, it's not always delivered well. Do you remember Kripke talking about the exposition in the "Pilot" at last year's Paley panel? I was rolling around laughing as he described the boys telling each other things that they both would obviously already know. He's right; it's clunky but a necessary evil in a new show, especially one with a big back-story like Supernatural has. Still, sometimes I wince. People have a lot of nostalgia for the brother's relationship in the first season and while I love it, it's what hooked me in after-all, give me the later incarnations of Winchester love any day. Sure, they're getting on better (mostly) and larking around and pranking each other in the early seasons, but the depth of their relationship now is something I find beautiful and touching. That they still, after everything they've put each other through, love each other to the (dysfunctional) level that they do, is what keeps me as engaged as I am. Even if it's not always on display, it's there and it's rich and mature. The other thing I always notice is how far Jensen and Jared have come as actors, particularly, at the risk of offending the Jared girls, Jared. On occasion Jared is a tad, umm hammy, in the early episodes. But he gets noticeably better by the middle of the season when he seems to settle into Sam and of course now, he rocks the screen. Sam, himself has changed out of sight, praise Chuck, because I want to give him a good slapping in those first episodes! His bitchfacing is completely epic! Also, he's Whiney McWhines-A-Lot. Dean is kind of Dean. He was always awesome in my eyes (as if you couldn't guess). Yeah, sure he's way more carefree in season 1, but hey, that's to be expected, let's face it, he's older and wiser and has been through a lot in the last 6 years. But even in the early episodes he still has that tendency towards being a bit morose and a definite tendency towards martyrdom and self-disgust that has led him down so many a dark path. Also, he can still flirt with the hot chick, even when facing death.
Which segues me nicely into my favourite episode of season 1:
People who know me know that "Faith" is not just my favourite season 1 episode; it's pretty much my favourite episode. Well not pretty much, it is. Which is a little baffling to me because I'm someone who prefers the later seasons to the earlier seasons. So for me to have an episode from season 1 as my all time favourite is kind of weird.
So why "Faith"? Why this episode? Why does this one resonate with me to the level it does? Why is this the episode that I turn to when I've had a crappy day or feel sick or just can't decide which to watch? I think it's because, for me, it's when the whole enchilada came together.
When I look at season 1, I pinpoint 3 specific episodes where I believe the elements that Kripke was trying to bring together, form a perfect storm. "Skin" is when I feel the Sam and Dean characters started to be fully realised. "Home" is where the mythology really kicked in. We also saw a new side of Dean, a chink in his cocky armour and we get a great big dose of foreshadowing in regards to Sam, that doesn't become understood until season 4.
Then there's "Faith". "Faith" is an important episode. With "Faith", all of a sudden the show felt big. It established a world beyond the ghosts, monsters and demons. It didn't feel like a simple, little horror show anymore. We started talking about the after-life. The Grim Reaper became a reality and by introducing the concept of the Reaper we were introduced to the possibility of a world beyond which the boys had previously dealt. It also posed the question, if there's a Reaper and an afterlife, is there then a God? A Heaven? The Reapers, of course, became a theme much visited throughout later seasons. It was the first time we saw the boys faced with the moral conundrum of choosing one life, knowing it would adversely affect another. Previously, good and evil, live or die had been a little more cut and dried, but not in "Faith." We got to see a binding spell, something the brothers would use later themselves on the Reaper's boss, Death. We saw Sam step up and take the big brother role for the first time, calling the shots. We saw how far the brothers would go for each other, because even though Sam didn't know how Roy was saving lives, I often wonder if he'd have taken that route anyway to save Dean and of course we see a Dean that we get to know very well, a Dean who puts himself a long way down the list of his own life's priorities. There are shots a Famine and Angels amongst the boy's research, plus there's the "A young man with an important purpose. A job to do. And it isn't finished," line from Roy which foreshadows Dean's roll in the future. There's a lot going on, much of which you can't catch until well into later seasons. The genius of Eric Kripke and his 5-year plan.
I love how Faith starts. I love the set up. Grabbing weapons. Rushing into the house. Rescuing the kids from the cupboard. Sam getting grabbed. Dean shooting the stun gun and sending Sammy out with the kids and then Deanâ€™s (kinda) fatal mistake of shooting the Rawhead whilst lying in water. Zap! Dead Dean. The beginning of this episode freaks me out every damn time.
They are some strong brother moments in "Faith" all of which reveal and reinforce who we know the Winchesters to become. Dean's legendary bravado covering his fear, which we see again and again, especially in season 3 when facing Hell. Dean questioning Roy why him, a question he repeated in season 4 when saved by Castiel. His penchant for self sacrifice, dying in someone else's place as we saw him do for his brother in season 2 and then attempt to do for the world in season 5 before Sam stepped in. Sam's laser focus on the task at hand, this time on not allowing his brother to die, which we saw again in season 3 when he was saving his brother from Hell and then in season 4 when he believed he was charged with stopping Lilith. When Dean struggles with allowing Layla to die, it's Sam, who reminds him that's not their choice to make. When Dean finds out that Marshall Hall died when Dean was healed, it's Sam who reminds him, Marshall would have died anyway, if not for Dean then for someone else. The brothers make a great team in "Faith", supporting each other ever step of the way, even when faced with a myriad of difficult circumstances and decisions. I think that's what's really highlighted in their relationship here, that they're a team. "Faith" doesn't feel like big brother, little brother. Then there's the look Dean gives Sam at end of the episode when he realises Sam has organised for Layla to visit Dean to say goodbye. Kablamo! It makes my heart explode.
In fact, this whole episode makes my heart explode.
I think "Faith" may have started my love affair with Sera Gamble's words. She wrote this one with her writing partner in season 1, Raelle Tucker. I've always loved how Sera has written both the boys, never once being a fan who saw her favouring one brother over the other. I've always loved how she's written their interactions and relationship and "Faith" is one of the episodes where I think their relationship is perfectly displayed.
It's beautifully shot. "Faith" has a lovely, grungy, blue tint throughout. A muted pallet, which captures the tone of the story and the environment in which it's set. I miss the colour grade they used on season 1, that washed out look. I often wonder why the director Allan Kroeker never did another episode? Maybe he was too busy directing every other show under the sun, but still. "Faith" also has possibly the best music cue of the series with (Don't Fear) The Reaper. That scene, with the old man being healed intercut with the young woman being chased down by the Reaper is simply stunning.
I'm not alone on loving this episode. Eric Kripke has said that "Faith" is a favourite. In the Season One Companion he's quoted; "It's when I first realised what the show was capable of. Here's this episode about: Is there a god? What's meant to be? And is there free will? And is your life worth the cost of someone else's life? It's a metaphysical and moral study of the boys' universe."
Kripke aside, I know "Faith" is a top five episode for many a fan, but honestly if I could wrap my arms around "Faith" and give it a great big kiss I would! It's helped me through so many bummer days and crappy feelings. It's like an old friend. Familiar, warm and understanding. The kind of friend where I know what they're going to say before they say it! And I haven't even mentioned how fantastic Dean's freckles are in "Faith", especially on Bluray, or the hoody, or sick Dean needing special cuddles or any of that superficial stuff, like Sammy's puppy eyes, because that's obviously so beneath me. No, honestly though - if you haven't watched this episode on Bluray you are missing out! Hot Deanfinition freckles, the very best kind.
So, that's it, "Faith." It means a hell of a lot to me. I couldn't tell you how many times I've watched it!
Next week it's on to season 2. It's a toss up between 3 episodes! Hopefully my continued rewatch will help me clarify which one I'll write about.
What's your favourite season 1 episode? Let me know in the comments.
Hiatus is hell, so keep the faith (no pun intended)!
Thanks for reading!