Yes, Top Ten Villains/Baddies/Nasties starts tomorrow. I promise!
In the meantime, Bethany was kind enough to let me repost a wonderful list she put on her livejournal of the ten episodes a new fan should see to get familiar with the show. I admire her ability to pick just ten! As usual with guest posters, do not repost any of this. Either link to this site or to Bethany's livejournal at sometimeredhead.livejournal.com/.
Thanks again Bethany for letting me share this, and enjoy everyone! Do you agree with the choices?
As the number of Supernatural watchers rose with season 4 there is the chance that the same thing might happen for season 5. This got me thinking, there have been 82 episodes so far but what are the episodes that a Supernatural virgin would need to see to get up to speed.
Before I started this list I decided to give myself some rules Jesterz.net style. The episodes must give the viewer some information on the plot, characters, the SPN world or introduces a concept that is pivoital to the series. I am limiting myself 10 episodes as it's an easy number and works out at around 7 hours of TV. You could argue that every episode contains some if not all of these elements but I need to draw the line somewhere. I am not including the pilot in this episode as I believe that this is a given as it introduces the show, the concepts, and the characters and is designed to do so and as such is essential viewing for any series. I'm listing the episodes in the order they aired not by "importance" as I am writing this list in the order in which they should be viewed. So I will list the episode and why I have included it in my list.
This was a hard list to compile, especially when I realised that there were 82 episodes to choose from. I spent many work hours thinking this over but I still don't think that this is my definate list rather the list that made sense to me while I was sitting in my sitting room eating my roasted salmon and watching Jack Dee Live at the Apollo. If you have other suggestions please let me know, all idea's welcome.
So rules in place for this entirely subjective list lets get going:
1 - Home
This episode had certain elements that were important to the development of the characters and the story. Although we now know that the night of the fire isn't the first time that the YED crossed the path of the Winchesters but it is the moment that changes the lives of John, Dean and Sam and so their investigation into the events of that night and the affect on John and subsequenty Sam and Dean is so important. It introduces Sam's visions, the YED and gives the boys a further insight into John. We had to wait another 54 episodes to understand the significance off the "I'm sorry" that Mary gives Sam but it is crucial to the fate of her boys. I thought it was an important moment at the time, Sam meeting his mother for the first time in his conscious memory. I thought that she was saying she was sorry about Jessica or leaving them which was powerful enough, but after 'In the Beginning' it was so much more powerful. This is the point in the series where things go deeper, the series myth arc begins to develop, you begin the learn about the Winchesters and their relationship with YED; the characters develop, Sam has visions but doesn’t want to tell his brother because he fears what Dean will think and although we found out in ‘Bloody Mary’ that Sam had visions the full extent of what that means begins to unfurl here; Dean shows the cracks in his facade and the insecurities show through, his belief that his father could do a better job, his fears for Sam all take root in this episode.
2 - Devil's Trap
This episode contains many vital elements not least the introduction of everyone’s favourite uncle Bobby! This episode has the introduction of the Devil’s trap an element often used as a vital or pivotal plot point. The idea that the colt can kill but only if you kill the person being possessed as well. The exorcism of the demon and seeing Meg after the demon has gone, is something that this show has never avoided and in this moment you see the boys deal directly with the consequences of their actions and how despite their best intentions, trying to protect their family and help people, bad things can still happen. And of course it’s the first big meeting of the Winchesters and the YED and the fallout from this confrontation which has such serious connotations for Sam and Dean. But for me the important moments arewhen Dean realises man in front of him isn’t his father because of the praise he gives, it’s only a moment but it’s such a glimpse into Dean and the relationship between the Winchester men. The other moment is for Sam, finding himself in the middle between his brother and father chooses to side with his brother and protect his brother and never thinks twice about it, as is shown by a little glance in the rear view mirror as he looks at the battered figure of his brother across the backseat. This isn’t the first time Sam has gone to extremes to protect his brother but here I think you see the almost maniacal elements of John Winchester beginning to surface in defence of the brother he adores, elements that surface to lead him astray when faced with the death of Dean.
And of course as a purely gratuitous side note – the best cliff hanger ever and Sam and Dean as firemen!
3 - In My Time of Dying
This one is picked for the obvious reasons, the deal, the reaper, Dean’s very near death experience, the brotherly bond that survives even through the veil of death and the death of John.
Also another set of gratuitous moments – the slumber party Ouija board and who knew hospital gear could look so good?
4 - All Hell Breaks Loose part 2
This was a hard choice between part one and part two because part one has the reveal about the blood in the mouth that gave Sam his powers and that Mary recognised the demon and the whole demon army plan. In the end I decided that the first part was less important than the second part because the blood in the mouth/Mary’s recognition although both very important later are both revealed and developed in ‘In the beginning’ and in such a short list I felt I didn’t need to repeat elements. And the whole demon army plan is a bit of a red herring as it wasn’t really to raise an army and to find the child to lead them all but rather to release Lilith and break the final seal. The other significant part is Dean selling his soul – carrying on the grand old Winchester tradition of self sacrifice - which not only has such a devastating effect on Sam when Sam can’t save him but also that he unwittingly provides the demons with the righteous man they have been waiting for. I may be being controversial but I believe that Alistair lied to Dean about John just to torture him, although he probably doesn’t lie about John not breaking as we see he has the strength to pull himself out of the pit to help his sons but I don’t think you’d class John as a righteous man, a good man, but not a righteous man.
5 - No Rest for The Wicked
I feel the reasons for including this episode is obvious, Bobby is awesome, Lilith can’t hurt Sam, Ruby hints that Sam has the power to stop Lilith and Sam out of desperation is willing to listen to her, Dean dies and goes to hell.
6 - Lazarus Rising
"I’m the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition" Dean comes back from hell by the hand of an angel and god has plans for him – the whole game changes.
Oh and Sam can exorcise demons with his mind.
7 - In the Beginning
Dean goes back in time to meet his mother and discovers that the Winchester family tradition of hunting and making deals didn’t start with John, the YED really did kill his entire family and his end game was a whole lot bigger than a p*** poor demon army, we know what Mary was sorry for, that the angels are onto Sam and what he is doing wth Ruby and in the end so is Dean.
8 - Heaven and Hell
It was a toss up between this episode and ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ but ‘Heaven and Hell’ won out because of a couple of reasons. Dean's speech at the end was a huge factor in this, it’s such a huge moment for the character, not only revealing such a huge part of how Dean is thinking and feeling since his return from hell and that he feels that he is now in the place that he can admit all his guilt, shame and pain to his brother. This moment also has huge implications for the end of season 4 and season 5. It's such a vital moment for Dean's character and as we later find out a crucial development for the story. There was also the reveal that only 4 angels have ever seen God and that although claiming to be acting on orders direct from the man upstairs that actually there might be a management crisis up in heaven and the idea of angels rebelling. And finally, I only noticed this recently after seeing the season finale that Anna talks to Dean about how it’s better to be human to feel pain and evil rather than feel nothing at all, a sentiment which he is still sceptical about at the time but is similar in tone to the speech he give Castiel while in the ‘green room’ that he’d rather have all those things then be a Stepford wife. While I don’t think that Anna is right when she says that angels have no emotions, she raises a good point in that they don’t see the world and humanity the same way as humans do and it highlights the importance of the relationship of Cas and Dean and Dean as Cas’s window to humanity.
9 - On the Head of a Pin
Such a superb episode – dark, powerful, intense and oh so heartbreaking. The angels seem to operate the ends justify the means policy, Cas is being lied to but has faith and begins to think for himself and make his own decisions "you can’t win Uriel, I still serve God" (can i get a hell yeah). Angels are rebelling left right and centre, Sam's drinking demon blood, Dean broke in hell and in doing so broke the first seal, which devastates him and destroys him so he has nothing left.
There were some just brilliant lines in this episode, from the great, the brilliant Ben Edlund:
"If I go in there you won’t like what will come out"
"There’s something in my throat, I think it is my throat"
"I don’t know what to do, please tell me what to do"
"Strange how a leaky pipe can undo the work of angels when we ourselves are supposed to be the agents of fate."
"Now.. I can kill"
"I’m not all here, I’m not strong enough. I guess I’m not the man either of our dads wanted me to be. Find someone else. It’s not me."
10 - Lucifer Rising
Ruby is evil (fangirls all across the world scream I knew it) and Sam goes the final step only to realise he was lied to and manipulated, "God has left the building" ....maybe, Zach and "senior management" let the demons break the seals, while other angels fought and died to stop them, maybe it’s not just humanity they see as collateral damage, Dean kills Ruby with Sam’s help, Azazel’s plan was really about raising Lucifer and using Sam to break the final seal, the boys are back together (yay!), Bobby and Cas are many levels of awesome and Lucifer is rising...
As I’ve been writing this list I have come to a greater appreciation for this show and the writing as you see elements that began early on in the series wind their way through the story and surface with significance later and aid the development of both the characters and the story in such a subtle manner as it is seamlessly woven in that it is only later on that you understand and appreciate how the seeds of later events and developments were sown.
Hats off to Kripke and his talented team!