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My criteria for picking bad episodes is a mixture of a couple of things. One, is it one of the more critically panned episodes? Something so bad, that even when it's good it's still really bad? Two, was I extraordinarily pissed after watching, cursing to the high heavens that yet another of my very precious hours was ruined by a spectacular lack of foresight by the creative team? Many episdoes actually hit that list, so then I pared it down to, "Which ones were bad on an extraordinarily epic scale?" Now we have winners, or should I say losers!
10 - "Bugs" (1.08)
I know, it’s season one, right when "Supernatural" was still trying to find it's footing, but how can this not make the “worst” list? It’s legendary in it’s badness. So many things were not done again after “Bugs” was done. For one, Sam and Dean were banned from using umbrellas again. Bad and tacky special effects weren’t used again as a substitute for a climactic battle until the season closer in season 13. We certainly haven’t had a monologuing Native American since then. At least the showdown with the bees in the attic that was supposed to take all evening but only lasted a few minutes led to many great behind the scenes stories. It was an idea that writer Eric Kripke was warned couldn’t be done, and dammit his producers were right. But when this horrific family ordeal, ending with a very shaken family, closed out with the brothers cruising off in the Impala to the hard rocking tune of “There’s No One Like You” by the Scorpions, you knew at that point the post production team had given up.
9 - "Route 666" (1.11)
I get it again, season one was an uneven season, but a RACIST TRUCK? Seriously? It’s interesting that Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross Leming have continued to deliver scripts since then that have been very tone deaf with racist and misogynistic plots. It’s really a shame to see this was only the beginning. Check out bad the dialogue and hammy acting in this one though. Easily one of the series worst in those categories. This only ranks low on this list because season 1 gets a rookie pass.
8 - "Mannequin 3: The Reckoning" (6.14)
I usually hate poorly done, ill-conceived, absolutely stupid monster of the week episodes when they immediately follow something far better that ended with an exciting mini cliffie. Case in point, “Mannequin 3: The Reckoning.” It was the episode to follow that explosive ending of the brilliant “Unforgiven,” in which Sam is left seizing on the floor after being flooded by traumatic memories of his torture in Hell. After freaking about about poor Sam for a week, horrified by the instability in his head, it was all brushed under the rug in 1 minute so we could endure 42 more minutes of a super-bad killer doll story. Talk about a massive letdown. This was a disappointment that was repeated again in season seven”s “The Girl Next Door” after Sam’s heartbreaking meltdown and the brothers both being rushed to the hospital in dire straits in “Hello Cruel World,” and season eleven’s “All in the Family” after the dramatic and fan thrilling ending of “Don’t Call Me Shurley” (They STILL haven’t acknowledged the amulet?).
It’s all a glaring reminder that when lazy writing happens, huge and memorable opportunities are lost and the resentment truly never ends comes re-watch time. But of all these examples, “Mannequin 3: The Reckoning” was the one in the poorest of taste. I just don't know what they were thinking when breaking this one.
7 - "There’s Something About Mary" (12.21)
This could have easily been, “The British Invasion” as well. Both were equally asinine in their plotting, had ill conceived ideas that came out of nowhere (the evil headmaster?) instead of being developed organically, and plotting, dialogue, and editing were just plain awful. The fact that a Harry Potter ripoff where the students have to kill each other from “The British Invasion” didn’t make the list just shows how bad “There’s Something About Mary” is. That’s because yet another strong female character, Eileen, is killed for no good reason other than to get a cheap emotional reaction from Sam, which was mild at best. By season 12, killing good characters for no good reason had turned into lazy desperate writing falling back on the same tired trope. In other words, it had gotten really annoying. It was enough to trigger #firebuckleming outrage on Twitter and rightfully so.
I think history has proven that the whole British Men of Letters story was an utter pile of junk and a total waste of time in season 12, easily rendering that season one of the worst of the series. This episode was the BMOL at their dastardly peak, even though it was never clearly explained why they were that way and what their true mission was. They were not believable villains and this mind programming on Mary Winchester so she could kill all the American hunters, including her OWN SONS, made no sense whatsoever. The showdown in the bunker was a pile of junk, but at least it did lead to something promising in the next episode. Add onto this the whole weak Lucifer and Crowley scene killing pissing contest in the fake Hell lair that had already dragged on for episodes and I just wanted that hour of my life back so badly. Actually, three hours, since I spent two hours on Twitter afterward bitching up a storm about this episode.
6 - "Man’s Best Friend With Benefits" (8.15)
Not in the history of “Supernatural” has a more tone deaf episode aired. Not even “Route 666” although it might be not coincidence that both episodes were written but the same writers. A black woman is a familiar to a white male witch. That woman splits her time between her human form and animal form, a dog. This of course requires her to wear a dog collar. Oh, and she’s his lover. So basically we’ve got a black woman acting as a sex toy to a white man while wearing a dog collar and calling him “master”. If that sounds offensive, just watch the rest of the plot. It totally butchered all existing lore on witchcraft, forgot completely the strides the brothers made toward healing their rift in episodes prior, was boring and sluggish as hell and the dialogue was perplexing at best. Even the usually strong VFX was B-movie quality. Considering that the episodes previously introduced the most exciting Men of Letters legacy and the MOL bunker, this was just a complete letdown to anyone who thought they might actually keep running with that. It was like it never happened.
Coming soon, episodes 1-5! Agree with the choices so far?