Blu Ray Review: Supernatural Season Four

 

Supernatural

The Complete Fourth Season

Warner Bros.

 

 

 

Sam Winchester is the veritable ‘chosen one’ of the demons.  This status has conferred on him certain powers, which ironically are perfect for fighting demons.  With his demon-given powers, Sam was to have led the demon hordes in a war against humanity, but he chose not to.  In season four, we see Sam embrace what he is, but not why he is.

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Blu Ray Review: Supernatural The Complete Third Season

 

Supernatural

The Complete Third Season

WB

 

 

 

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.

 

Blu Ray Review: Supernatural The Complete Second Season

 

Supernatural

The Complete Second Season

WB

 

 

 

Disparate plot points from the first season are woven together to create a continuity and mythology in the second season of Supernatural.  The thing that killed the Winchester brother’s mom is now identified as the Yellow-Eyed Demon, and he seems to have some interest in Sam’s psychic powers.

Dean (Jensen Ackles) begins the the season in a coma, which he only comes out of through his father’s sacrifice.  This weights heavily on him throughout the season; both for the injustice of it (the belief that his father’s life was worth more than his) and for the sense of responsibility he now feels for Sam (Jared Padalecki).

The brothers have encountered a number of people like Sam at this point, all with psychic powers, and most homicidal.  Sam fears that his powers may hold the side effect of making him evil.  This, of course, complicates things for Dean, who has to weigh his desire to protect Sam against his responsibility to hunt evil, as they both fear that those two lines may one day cross.

The knowledge of Sam’s powers, and the fear of what may come of them, spreads to other hunters, who do not feel an affinity for Sam and prefer to take a ‘better safe than sorry,’ approach to the situation.

Another unifying story in this season is Harvelle’s Roadhouse a dive of a bar /restaurant run by Ellen and her daughter Jo.  Ellen’s husband was a hunter who once worked with Sam and Deans Father, a relationship that breeds familiarity, if not trust.  The bar is a hangout for other hunters, most of whom we learn are loners with varying degrees of mental stability.  The roadhouse conceit expands on the world of hunting, and in doing so, shows that there isn’t much to it.  There’s no united front, and many of the other hunters we meet are little better than the things they hunt.

The roadhouse, psychic kids, and Yellow-Eyed Demon, are the basis of many episodes in the second season, but they remain largely episodic.  The only difference being, that instead of a random supernatural occurrence, the one dealt with happens to be related to something we’ve seen before.  With the introduction of a named big-boss demon, the demons step up as the primary villains of the series, instead of just being one of the many magic creatures they encounter.  With the promotion, the demon-lore aspect of the series is fleshed out with various spells, exorcisms, and summonings.  All of this creates a more focused mythology which is easier to get into and holds your interest between episodes.

Season two of Supernatural is a step up from season one.  The over arching mythology of the series is expanded, and the plot is narrowed and focused.  The season finale ties together not only the plot lines, but also the character arcs of Sam and Dean, resulting in a higher level of drama than we have thus far seen in the series.

Blu Ray Review: Supernatural The Complete First Season

 

Supernatural

The Complete First Season

WB

 

 

 

Supernatural has a lazy setup.  It’s like the network said, ‘we need a show where some guys fighting supernatural stuff,’ and they got back a show called ‘Supernatural,’ about two young, fit brothers named Sam and Dean, who fight utterly random ‘supernatural’ things.  And one of them has psychic powers for some reason.

A long time ago, when Sam was just a baby, the brothers’ mother was killed in a mysterious way, which involved levitation and spontaneous combustion.  This opened their father’s eyes to the world of the supernatural, and set him on a path to fight it.  He trained his two kids from childhood to follow in his hunter footsteps; but this was not the path Sam wanted to take, so he left for college.

Sam manages to build a ‘normal’ life for himself, until his brother Dean shows up one day to drag him back in.

Sam is the smarter of the two.  He does the research to determine what, exactly, they’re fighting and what the best means are to kill it.  He seems to be driven more by bitterness than anything else.  He genuinely doesn’t like hunting, and yet his natural compassion for others make it impossible for him to walk away when someone’s in trouble.  He regrets every finding out about the supernatural in the first place.

Dean has been hunting continuously.  He lives a nomadic life with his father, who is the only anchor in his life.   When his father goes missing, he immediately falls back to the only other fixed point he knows, Sam.  He needs his brother more on an emotional level than a practical one.  He’s action oriented.  He likes jumping in an killing things, and harbors a deep contempt for all things unnatural.

The Winchester brothers play pranks on each other, taunt, ridicule, and tease; but they also depend on each other.  They each require something from the other to survive as hunters.  The two are very believable, both as people and as brothers.  They are not idealized heroes; just average guys who occasionally do heroic things.

While there’s a primary goal for the season, it’s rather simplistic; ‘find our dad.’  There’s no deep mystery to it, and little to tie it into the other stories as a whole.  There isn’t much of an internal consistency to the supernatural occurrences, it’s just a hodge-podge of any old scary story they could think of.  Many of the stories take their inspiration from urban myth; like the hook man, bloody mary, haunted houses, and killer hillbillies.  Generally, the brothers travel to a new town, get involved in a problem, and move on; giving the series a bit of an anthology feel.

That said, the individual stories are told well, and the brothers are wonderfully average, possessing no special powers, or training.  This keeps the series grounded in a realism that gives the supernatural threats they face more crediblity.

Supernatural has a somewhat weak premise, but it is well executed, and the individual episodes make up for the faults in the larger story.