Before I get started, I beg for a few paragraphs of self indulgence to get an issue off my chest. This is something that has been stewing for a while now, but considering it's still happening during repeats, well, I just feel like bitching. If you just want the episode review, please skip down to the next heading.
Ahem. Enough throwing Gossip Girl in my face CW! If I see another promo for Gossip Girl obscuring my view of a Winchester, I'm driving to LA and smacking Dawn Ostroff myself. I'm not in your target demographic and have no interest in your all teen network. I wouldn't even be watching this silly network if it wasn't for Supernatural, Smallville, and Reaper being pitifully stuck on it, left to flounder on their own while all I read is about is how the ninth ranked show is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Last week The CW only aired two original shows, Friday Night Smackdown and Farmer Takes A Wife. They were one and two respectively in the ratings last week, but Smackdown (4 million) is going away in September and Farmer Takes A Wife barely drew 2 million. It was almost beat out in the ratings by a Supernatural rerun (1.83 million), one that aired for the third time. Their precious Gossip Girl barely cracked a million on Monday. How is that the most buzz worthy show on the network?
I hate The CW. I hate how a brilliant, incredibly crafted show, with its fantastic acting, top notch writing, great directing and jaw-dropping story telling, not to mention critical and fan acclaim, is stuck with a network that insists on shooting itself in the foot. I saw the overall ratings statistics for all of the networks for the 2007-2008 season compared to 2006-2007, and with the exception of Fox, everyone has double digit declines. The CW, however, has declines in all demographics of 20% or more, making it easily the champion for most bleeding of viewers. Their precious 18-34 demographic lost 26%. This is the coveted market? They've thrown all their network resources toward a target demographic for a 26% decline? All networks are reporting increases in advertising upfront dollars except The CW. They stayed flat. Face it CW, most cable stations are kicking your butt in the ratings and revenue department right now, let alone other networks.
This network, no matter what image they like to project, forgets that Smallville and Supernatural are their top two scripted shows, yet they continue to alienate viewers by telling us we want to be watching teen trash instead. Reaper drew much higher ratings than Gossip Girl but almost got cancelled. Smallville is likely in its last year, or it should be considering it's clearly run its course, so I beg you Warner Brothers and ABC Television Studios, for all decency and fairness, find Supernatural and Reaper a new home and let this network crash and burn with their elusive and fickle teen demographic.
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.
Reviewing "The Magnificent Seven" is weird since I'm going from something unbelievable like the finale last week to this episode, easily one of the worst of the season. Last week I marveled at the awesomeness of the Kripster for his flawless script in "No Rest For The Wicked", and now I get to ask what the hell he was thinking for this season three premiere. I forgave him for this misstep a while ago though since nobody is perfect but still, it pains me to be so harsh. I suppose there are pitfalls to being a critic. Forgive me Master Kripke.
Before I go on, I want to send a huge thank you to everyone that sent a "Damn You Kripke!" in honor of last week's still jaw dropping finale (Dean!). The response was far greater than I expected, and it just goes to show how great this fandom is. I love you guys!
DAMN YOU, KRIPKE!!!!!
There, I feel better. No actually... hold on... *rubs ears gently while humming to self in attempts to calm down*... Nope, it ain't working. This is the OMFG that the CW should have been promoting.
For the record, this is my first Supernatural live season finale. I didn't get into the show until the beginning of season three, so I was able to watch the past two cliffhangers back to back via DVD. This is my first summer of agony, and dammit, the pain is deep.
Dean died and went to Hell!!! Sam is more powerful than Lilith!!! Ruby is banished somewhere!!! Bobby is just plain awesome!!! You're all sick of the exclamation points!!! Okay, now that I'm calmer (breathe, breathe) I must take time to do the proverbial drop at the feet of the Kripster himself, the writer of this masterpiece, and bow down in his glory. This was better than his other scripts like "Devil's Trap", "In My Time of Dying", "All Hell Breaks Loose Part II", and "The Magnificent Seven" (okay, any script was better than that one).
All season, this show harped on the "Dean's going to Hell" story line, and we fans just assumed they would come up with a way to get him out of it. So, imagine our surprise when it actually happened. Kripke went there! You magnificent bastard. Sam didn't go darkside either and even the expected shot of Sam weeping over Dean's mangled corpse blew us away. Sure, there's that whole "˜Dean-hanging-on-a-hook-in-Hell-screaming-in-agony-Sam's-name' plot twist, but you wanted us to curse at you all summer, didn't you Mr. Kripke?
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 Supernaturallisted 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.