The Complete Third Season
Season two of Supernatural ended with three major events. The first was a temporary opening of the gates of hell, the second was the death of the Yellow-Eyed Demon, and the third was Dean selling his soul to a demon to save Sam, a dept to be collected in one year’s time.
This writer’s strike-shortened season seems to have had a little trouble deciding what it’s about. The season opens with ‘The Magnificent Seven,’ which deals with the consequences of the Yellow-Eyed Demon’s death. The demon opened the gates of hell to release the untold number of demons who were to serve in his army, and lead by a corrupt Sam.
Without a leader, and disillusioned by the promised one (Sam), who had failed to turn evil, they run rampant on the Earth. Sort of. We don’t really see an escalation of demonic activity, and the storyline about all the new demons gets dropped pretty quickly.
Instead, the series shifts focus on to Dean, whose life is ticking away. As the season starts, Dean is enveloped in a ‘live-for-today’ attitude; which frankly isn’t all that different from his normal attitude. What is different is Sam’s acceptance of Dean’s antics, which perhaps push Dean to go a little further than he otherwise would.
Dean’s deal to save Sam included the stipulation that if he tried to get out of it, the deal would be off and Sam would die. So Dean is more or less resigned to his fate. On several occasions, he breaks down and shows how afraid he is, but at the same time, he recognizes the greater good. The theme of him feeling responsible for his younger brother is carried over from the last season. His ultimate sacrifice for his brother turns out to be protracted and frustrating, rather than flashy and heroic.
Sam, by contrast, is not resigned at all, and spends the season looking for a way out of the deal. Ironically, he wishes he could do the same for Dean as he Dean did for him; die. But as it turns out, it’s not the threat that keeps them from trying to save Dean, but the lack of means. Demon contracts are rather well written, it seems.
Season three introduced two recurring female characters (replacing Harvelle and her daughter from last season). The first is Ruby, a demon ally. She was to be one of Sam’s soldiers in the demon army; now she pops in at random intervals to save Sam and Dean with her magic knife and to scold them for not being ruthless enough to win in a war against evil. Her character isn’t explored much, she’s basically just the Tuxedo Mask of the series.
The other new character is Bella, a woman who steal and sells mystical artifacts. She’s a mercenary at heart, so she’s neither friend nor foe. She helps or hurts the brothers depending on which will benefit her more at the time. She’s given a two note back story that ties her in with Dean’s arc, but in a somewhat superfluous way. Supposedly, her character wasn’t that popular amongst fans at the time.
The quality of the individual episodes is about even with the previous season, which is a good thing. Stand outs include ‘A Very Supernatural Christmas,’ about a killer Santa, and ‘Jus In Bello,’ where they hide out in a police station under siege by an army of possessed people.
The story arc for the season is unfocused and doesn’t tie together that well, but Dean and Sam’s character arcs in dealing with Deans impending death make up for it. It’s a solid, but not perfect season in the series.