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May 29, 2007 |

By Stacey Nosek | TV | May 29, 2007 |

When Dustin suggested that I compose my inaugural Pajiba column on “Supernatural,” given my enthusiasm for the show and other staff members’ lack thereof, I have to admit I was pretty thrilled. I’ve been writing about the show on my blog for quite some time now, but it’s been somewhat unsatisfying due to my small readership not actually including any “Supernatural” viewers.

It’s been my experience that “Supernatural” seems to be met with some resistance, and perhaps even disdain, by non-viewers. Admittedly, the show is cheesy. Gloriously cheesy. For me, personally, while it started out as something of a guilty pleasure, it’s moved up to become a legitimate television watching experience. Many times I’ve heard the show compared to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which series creator Eric Kripke has often vehemently rebutted. I have to agree with him; it seems like lazy criticism to say as much. Kripke has said in several interviews that his concept was for each episode to play out as a short horror film, which I believe it manages to accomplish, to an extent; but at the same time I’ve picked up on (plausibly unintentional) similarities to other shows like “Quantum Leap” and especially “The X-Files.”

For those unfamiliar with the premise, “Supernatural” is about the Winchester brothers — saintly, virtuous Sam (Jared Padalecki) and wisecracking, philandering Dean (Jensen Ackles), who lost their mother to a “yellow-eyed demon”-related fatality as children. Under the leadership of their father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, whom I like to refer to as “Ass Dad” for being the assiest, most irresponsible TV dad ever), the three Winchester men vow to hunt down the thing that killed their mother and anything else they encounter along the way. The first season opens with Ass Dad gone missing and Sam away at college, estranged from the family. Dean enlists his brother’s help to find their father and, with the aid of a cherry ‘67 Impala, various weaponry, and a bitchin’ classic rock soundtrack, off they go. It’s also for these reasons that I think “Supernatural” has been handed an unfair stigma of “man repellent.” True, the show naturally resonates with the female audience given the eye candy of the two leads (three if you count Ass Dad; four if you count the car), but I think it’s got enough going for it to be appreciated by both genders.

Much like early “X-Files,” Season One was composed mostly of self-contained episodes. I liked that. The series explored a slew of urban legends and ghost stories, everything from the Hook Man to Bloody Mary. (The Bloody Mary episode freaked my shit out to the point where I couldn’t look in the bathroom mirror for days.) There was a recurring storyline, with the pair searching for Ass Dad and learning more about Sam’s telekinetic powers and his connection to the Yellow-Eyed Demon, as well as finding others who share the same affliction. But even so, that was only a handful of episodes, mostly toward the end of the season.

Season Two, on the other hand, shook up the formula and immersed itself in the mythology of the series, introducing a cavalcade of (mostly sucky) recurring characters. If the first season could be described using words like creepy, fun and campy, the second season could be best summed up as “angst-riffic.” The first year’s cliffhanger leaves off with the three Winchester men, for all intents and purposes, dead or dying after getting mowed down by a tractor-trailer-driving demon. (Trust me, it was cooler than it sounds.) The second season picks up with Sam and Ass Dad skating by with minor injuries, while Dean spends the first episode in a life-threatening coma/out-of-body experience until Ass Dad makes a deal with the Yellow-Eyed Demon to trade his life for Dean’s, as well as a fabled Colt pistol which is, apparently, the only thing that can kill the demon.

And so it begins. Right before Ass Dad drops dead, per deal, he whispers a Super Big Secret about Sam to Dean, which we are to believe is the cause of Dean’s major bug up his ass for the following 10 episodes. But we don’t know what the secret is, because otherwise it wouldn’t be a Really Big Secret. Instead, we get Sam constantly goading Dean to talk about his feelings. Grief! If I wanted to watch men talk about their feelings I’d flip to the Lifetime channel — I signed onto “Supernatural” for badassey hunks killing things, hot cars and mullet rock.

Well, my opinion clearly didn’t matter. And you know what I’ve learned about Really Big Secrets on TV shows? The longer you make your audience wait, the more they’re going to expect something awesome. So don’t act like you’ve got a flush when you’ve got a pair of 3s. Which, of course, proved to be the case as the Super Big Secret turned out to be some vague crap — that Sam might turn evil someday, and if that day came Dean would have to kill his brother. Which, really, wasn’t so much a secret per se, as a reason for Sam to go all bitchcakes angsty for the next 10 episodes.

Thankfully, the Yellow-Eyed Demon fiasco finally culminates at the end of the season. (Y’know, a name for Old Yellow Eyes would have been nice…. Just saying.) Sam disappears and wakes up to find himself in a ghost town inhabited by others who have been given special powers. We’ve been led to believe the children with special powers were created to form an army but, as it turns out, it’s a fight to the death to pick a “big winner” to see whom will serve as the Demon’s right-hand man (or lady) for the impending apocalypse.

But payoff be damned, we eventually find out that all the right-hand man is needed for is to use the Colt (remember it?) to unlock the gates of hell in a special “No Demon Zone.” Seems like kind of a lot of trouble, don’t you think? I mean, he’s a demon. Couldn’t he have just used his demony influence to just get someone to do it, rather than mastermind this mommy-killing, family-ruining plan which has been 20 years in the making? Whatever. Anyway, runner-up Jake kills Sammy dead and moves on with the Master Plan. Dean trades his soul (which is now set to expire in one year) for Sam to come back to life and, with the help of some friends, all go to stop Jake and close the gates. But not before Ass Dad frees himself (from hell) and distracts the Demon just long enough for Dean to plug him one in the head with the Colt. Hooray!

OK, so clearly the whole Yellow-Eyed Demon storyline turned out to be somewhat disappointing. But I still love this show, and despite everything, Season Two did produce some fantastic episodes. A few standouts — “Bloodlust,” guest starring Amber Benson of “Buffy” fame as a (squee!) vampire; “Nightshifter,” which featured another Shapeshifter (trapped in a bank with our boys during a pseudo holdup); “Everybody Loves a Clown” (nuff fucking said); and one immensely enjoyable humor-themed episode, “Tall Tales,” featuring a Trickster (whom I believe was a god rather than demon) doing some major screwing with Winchester head. And while it wasn’t the greatest episode, I should mention that Sam got some werewolf action this season — and by action I mean sex! The werewolf sex was kind of horrifically unsexy though, and then he had to shoot her like she was Old Yeller, for fuck’s sake, which unfortunately did lead to more angst.

While I may not buy Season Two on DVD to watch over obsessively (haven’t totally ruled it out, either) as I did for the previous season, all in all it wasn’t bad for a sophomore year. I think Kripke is the kind of guy that takes viewer feedback to heart, so I’m hoping next season will produce more of the elements that made the first so outstanding.

Stacey Nosek lives in a quaint little town in rural Pennsylvania, which she enjoys immensely despite feeling somewhat out of place. You can also visit her blog, Litelysalted.

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"Supernatural: Season Two" / Stacey Nosek

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