Sure, it was a repeat, but weren't we all a little excited on Thursday to go to the TV Guide and see our beloved show Supernatural listed in the lineup again? I got a little emotional, and I didn't even care what episode was on. The CW played a cruel joke on us for six weeks, and I'm glad it's over.
The episode chosen for repeat viewing was "Malleus Maleficarum", a graphically gross tale about shallow suburbanites who unwittingly sold their souls to the devil via witchcraft all in hopes of getting a better mortgage rate. The writer of this episode was Ben Edlund, who makes my short list of writers whose warped mind I most want to emulate when writing my own stuff. This wasn't his best script (that honor belongs to season two's "Nightshifter"), but I still enjoyed his unconventional view of witches and demons, and he delivered plenty of drama for the Winchester boys. There was one element in particular that made this episode stand out from others, but first let's cover the other stuff.
Lately I've been spending a lot of time working with all sorts of multimedia tools in order to get this website close to my vision. I'm not there yet, but in my dabbling this weekend with video editing tools, I found a whole new appreciation for these fans that manage to put these videos together. The time it takes is staggering!
I don't spend a lot of time on YouTube seeking out Supernatural videos, nor do I pay much attention to the recs on livejournal. There's just not that much time in my life. However, there are three in particular that I've been sent links too, and find myself repeatedly going back to them. So, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day, I'm sharing them here.
MaloventMe did an absolutely gorgeous Sam centric video to Annie Lenox's "Dark Road". This made me pretty weepy and the lyrics are perfect for Sam.
I canâ€™t believe weâ€™re already up to â€œBad Day at Black Rockâ€ in the repeats list. It seems like the finale was just yesterday. Oh, it was, because I watched it again for the hundredth time. Is it September yet? No? Okay, I guess Iâ€™ll kill time with this review.
Be prepared, this is a long one. Why? Because this episode gave me the opportunity to carefully examine all the elements required for compiling a brilliant piece of comedy. Thereâ€™s far more to comedy writing, directing, and acting than we realize. It requires precise timing, proper wording, consistency, expressions that sell the funny more than a piece of dialogue ever will, and a clever plot to weave through all the madness.
I can only imagine that when the idea of a rabbitâ€™s foot as the foil was pitched, the assignment went to Ben Edlund because of his gift for taking something simple and creating a complex situation that spirals out of control (see last seasonâ€™s â€œNightshifterâ€). He must have dusted off the manual â€œHow To Write Great Comedyâ€ because all the rules are here. First rule is to pick the type of humor, and he wisely chose what often works with this show, dark humor, but introduced that in combination with something that had never been done with Supernatural before â€” perfectly timed physical comedy. Granted a writer doesnâ€™t sell physical comedy alone; much of that credit goes to the stunt coordinator, the director, and the actors, but to see this done so well after trying it for the first time, his risk obviously paid off in gold.
Reviewing episodes after seeing the rest of the season creates an interesting challenge. I try to judge the episode on its merits alone as if I was watching for the first time, but I can't avoid recalling post episode subplots that cleanly tie into the one up for review. "The Kids Are Alright" is one of those episodes. It sets the framework for Dean's season three character development, yet also carries over the sentiments first revealed in "What Is and What Should Never Be". So, forgive me, but this episode is going to be judged on how it bridges the gap between that stellar season two episode and the latter part of season three. It's a key piece to Dean's intense personal struggle, the one he tries to hide from the surface, but one that also defines him.
Before I start plowing through this better than average episode (a huge improvement over the season premiere), I would like to take time to honor this episode's writer, Sera Gamble. I like profiling writers as many of you have noticed from my previous reviews and somehow I've overlooked the show's head writer. As a writer myself I've learned throughout the years how to appreciate the precision and careful crafting that goes into creating a work of art such as a script. There's way more to it than meets the eye, and with a television script in particular, every word counts. There are only 40 minutes to tell the story, thus so much needs to be said with so little.
Sera Gamble is a master of her craft, and has consistently provided one gem after another that upon deconstruction gives us so much to ponder. Her strengths lie in the character development and bringing out the raw emotional elements of the relationship between the brothers. She wrote the tear-jerkers like "Faith" and "Heart", stories that exposed deep inner layers like this episode, "Houses of The Holy" and "Dream A Little Dream of Me", and explored deep character dilemmas in "Salvation", "Bloodlust" and "Time Is On My Side". Remember though, this is also the evil woman that killed Sam Winchester and made him kill his lover after his first hot night of passion in a while, so torture and despair isn't lost on her either. Come to think of it, she came up with the mellon baller to the eye socket too. Seems like she relishes in putting Sam through the ringer. It's all done in love though, I'm sure.
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