harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,
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harsens_rob

SPN, "Pilot" episode review







Supernatural

S1, E1

"Pilot"

Written by: Eric Kripke

Directed by: David Nutter


Blurb: "Take me home." Along a lonely California highway, a mysterious woman in white lures men to their deaths -- a terrifying phenomenon that may be the brothers' first clue to thir father's whereabouts.  Spoilers will apply


Scene 01: We start with a slow pan in 1983 through scrabby tree branches and a night sky. We're in Lawrence, KS.


We push in on a house with the music letting us know that there is something foreboding going on.


Commentary: Wow. First scene & I'm already going to reference Buffy ... sorry. I know it's irritating. BTVS is its own thing and SPN is its and I've no right trying to compare them in SPN's reviews. BUT -- this introduction music has such a Buffy-teaser scene sound to it, I just can't help it. I immediately get nostalgia-feelings.


Scene 02: We skip inside of the house, where a woman is holding a toddler. She tells him they're going to say goodnight to his brother (this is Mary Winchester, Dean in her arms and Sam in his crib).

Behind Mary and Dean, comes John. Dean runs into his arms with an excited exclamation. He picks up our Dean and says good night to little-cutie Sammy, who coos cutely in his cutey-baby way ... and cute.

There is a bit more foreboding as the mobile above Sammy's crib starts up completely on its own. With another foreboding musical sting, we also close in on his clock and it comes to a complete stop. A nightlight in the corner of the room start blinking with the ominous music continuing.


Scene 03: In her own room, Mary is sleeping soundly as the baby monitor relays Sammy's cooing. She comes to wakefulness as Sammy sounds like he's beginning to fuss over something. She rolls over and calls for her husband, but he hasn't come to bed.

With an "oh, man" she hauls herself out of bed to see to Sammy.

We close in a picture of her and John on the nightstand (which is TV-Speak for "Something bad is going to happen" ... and I'm guessing [okay, I've already seen this so I know] it will be Mary).


Scene 04: Mary wanders down the hallway toward her son's room. She sees John standing over her son's crib and calls out to him to ask if Sam's hungry ... John just shoos her, but again, the whole way this is filmed is still filled with foreboding.

Mary goes to head back to bed, but the light fixture at the end of the hallway is flickering. She wanders down there to tap it with her finger, instead. Mary hears the tv going and *something* makes her uneasy or curious enough to go downstairs.


Commentary: This scene in context actually doesn't make much sense. Wouldn't she have just assumed that John was watching TV and went to check on Sammy? We'll discover much more about Mary's family in retrospect, however, that nearly makes all of this make sense. Kind of. I have a different issue with her history and how it relates to this scene but we're much too early to start divulging all of the secrets that pour out in future episodes.


There she sees her husband passed out in his chair with a war movie on. So, who is in Sammy's room... that is what she's going to find out as she flies up the stairs in a panic.




Scene 05: Mary runs through the hallway to her son's room. She sees *something* that causes her to scream, startling John awake downstairs. We have a bad feeling for our cutey-Sam.


Scene 06: When John also races to his son's room, the door is suddenly closed, where before it was opened... huh.

He bursts in, and finds cutey-Sammy cooing to himself. Assured that his son is okay, he takes a moment to gaze down at him as he gets his breathing under control after that panic. We don't hear anything more from Mary and have to wonder what happened to her and who was the man in the room hovering over Sam's crib [yes, yes, we know the answer - don't spoil my "I've never seen this before" conceit].


Commentary: There are actually several babies playing Sammy and every one of them is cute as all get out... and apparently really happy babies. Nearly every scene, they're just happily googly. I just can't keep the goofy-grin from my face ... which is unnatural for me... stupid babies.


But not everything is wonderful. John notices a drop of blood near Sam's face on his bedding. When he reaches over to find out what it is with his finger, more droplets splash heavily down onto his hand.

John looks up at the ceiling.


Scene 06: Only to find Mary pinned there by some invisible force. She gasping and has been sliced across her middle.


Commentary: I'll give the scene this... it was certainly shocking. However, and I'm not just nitpicking - it caught my eye immediately on watching it for the first time as a re-run on TNT - there is no way in hell that a) Mary's blood would be just dripping with that wound, the floor should be soaked with her blood and b) there is no way for the droplets to reach Sam's crib without some sort of anti-gravity drift happening. We'll run into the same thing near the end of the episode where blood is dripping where it simply could not reach without teleport powers.


Anyway, John and we are suitably horrified. But its worse that that... Mary suddenly spontaneously combusts as well, filling the ceiling with flames and threatening to immolate John and baby-Sammy.



Commentary: I wasn't going to include this screen cap because everyone uses this screen cap ... but look at this, divorced of the ghoulishness of it: It is just beautifully rendered CGI and is almost painting-like. Also, this method of killing Mary kind of doesn't make sense in retrospect, either, when we learn how/why/who in the future, but again, we'll have to discuss that later.


So, Mary completes her hideous death as John watches in horror and shock. He gets up off of the floor and scoops up baby-Sammy, rushing into the hallway.


Scene 07: Dean has come down the hallway, drawn by all of the commotion and John quickly shoves Sammy into his arms and tells him to run out of the house. As Dean saves his brother's life (and brother saving brother will be a regular motif of the series), John rushes back into the bedroom.

The room however is engulfed in flames, so yelling for Mary isn't really helpful at this point. There is a dramatic fireball of doom that should have roasted John, but doesn't.


Scene 08: Outside, Dean is stares up at the burning room where his dad and mom are. Sammy is so swaddled in his blanket that we don't see an inch of skin, so he smothers in his brother's arms ... okay, not really... but it is obvious that a baby is not in kid-Dean's arms (baby screams would have helped here immensely).

John dashes out of the house, not a human torch, somehow. He scoops up Dean holding Sammy and rushes them away from the house just before the window of the bedroom blows out.




Scene 09: Sometime later, the fire department is finishing with making sure the fire is out as John holds his children close and grieves for his wife.

We cut to an ambulance door opening so that we can have a drifting close up back to John, kid-Dean & baby-Sammy. John gives a death glare at the remains of his house, which promises death just as hideous to whatever pinned Mary to the ceiling and flamed her.


Commentary: Wow. 4 minutes and 42 seconds of set up for our series. I LOVE this opening.


Scene 10: We jump to the present and Stanford University.

We have a chick dressed in a sex nurse outfit and calling for Sam to get a move-on, as they're running late. Yes, it would be Halloween - she's not just in the habit of dressing as sexy nurse to go to the grocery store - more's the pity.

We see the photo of Mary and John that was on her night table that night 22 years ago, in case we thought that this Sam would be a different Sam from baby-Sam that we spent over 4 minutes with setting up the series.

We see Our Sam, who is giant Jared Padalecki from "Gilmore Girls".

Girlfriend is forcing him to go to a Halloween party, which he reminds her he doesn't do Halloween.


Commentary: Jared is a bit awkward here and the scene is dull and doesn't really accomplish much.


Scene 11: At a bar party, annoying music plays and people mill about... blah-blah.

Girlfriend, Sam and Best Friend are doing shots in celebration of Sam's high score on his LSATs. Our Sammy [and yes, that is how I'll be referring to him for many, many episodes to come] is pre-law.

Best Friend asks after how proud Sam's family must be, but Sammy looks down and says they don't know. We get an uncomfortable look from Jess (Girlfriend) revealing that Sam's going to reveal a troubled relationship with his family.


Scene 12: Late that night, back in Jess and Sam's apartment: Sammy is awoken by a loud noise downstairs.


Scene 13: He goes off to investigate. He sees the flash of a man walking around and steels himself to confront the intruder. There is a heavily shadowed hand-to-hand combat scene, until we find out that the intruder is just adult-Dean.

Adult-Dean is played by Jensen Ackles, who apparently was on stuff that I never watched because I had no clue who he was.


Commentary: And, just as an aside, Jensen is one of those men who just looks better as he gets lines and creases on his face. I'll also say that I was deeply unimpressed with Dean's character and find him really irritating in first season episodes, but by god does Jensen rock as soon as he's given some meaty scenes to work with. By the end of S2, he's my favorite actor on the show (sorry, Jared). I still find his character to be exasperating and irritating, but we'll talk about that more as we reach those scenes. Here, he has the stud-muffin, cocky swagger going on that makes his character feel completely hollow.


So, anyway, they fight in some decent choreography. Jess interrupts, Dean makes entirely sleazy and inappropriate comments at her and then we can get to the reason for his visit.


Scene 14: So, Dean explains that their dad went off on a hunt and hasn't been heard from in several days. He's come to grab Sam and go looking for their missing father, while Sam is pissed that Dean has broken into his place (and by extension, his life) to go off on a chase after a father that Sam obviously doesn't get along with.

Sammy tells Dean that their father disappeared during a poltergeist hunt, too and some sort of Devil's Gate case and he was fine.


Commentary: Nice way to fill us in with short, direct lines about what John is into these days. We can already tell that Dean has followed the family business of hunting down supernatural menaces, while Sammy broke away and was placed on the outs with his kin over his choice not to do so.


They argue over the way they were brought up and John and we can tell that this is a rehash of old fights.


Scene 15: Sam expositions his way through a brief overview of their childhood, which apparently wasn't much of one. Dean berates him for trying to follow a normal life, while Sammy tells him that he was just going to college. He also tells us that John was the one who told him that if he left the family, not to bother coming back.


Commentary: Buffy!

Also, John seems like a giant ass. What is interesting is how over the course of the series, we'll see Sam becoming more and more like John and Dean question everything he believed about his father, until I swear he kinda hates the man.


Dean tells Sam that he can feel in his bones that John is in real trouble this time. He gets his way. We see the trunk of Dean's Impala is stuffed with monster hunting gear.


Commentary: Ah, the Impala. It becomes such a character in its own right, that during S6 & S7 where the objective is to strip Dean & Sam of the entire supporting cast they have to abandon the car, as well. The automobile nearly develops its own personality with this show.


Dean gives Sam (and us) the lowdown on what John was investigating when he disappeared. He also plays a message he received from their father, but it is badly garbled with interference. John mentions that he thinks something is starting to happen and he needs to check it out....


Commentary: At first I didn't catch this, but John isn't referring to the case at all. He's referring back to the night of Mary's death and how that impacts Sam especially -- but... later for that, too. Yes, this initial episode does everything we need it to, setting up not only the basic premise for us, but setting up the major story arc for later S1 and S2 all in these dialog scenes. And, wonderfully, it only becomes apparent in retrospect of what exactly they're doing here. So nice, Kripke, so nice.


After John's message ends with him warning Dean that they are all in danger, Sam mentions that he heard EVP on it. Dean knows and he slowed the message down and filtered it. Present under John's message is a woman's voice stating that she can never go home.


Commentary: And also, Ackles and Padalecki are completely awesome in acting opposite one another in this scene. It is hard to believe that these two actors haven't already worked closely together before this.


Sam will give Dean the weekend, but then he needs to get back by Monday for his scholarship interview.


Scene 16: In the apartment, Jess questions his just taking off.


Commentary: Another nice, subtle touch... Sammy packs away a wicked looking blade that he has obviously kept close to hand tucked away in the bedroom. The only thing that really bugs me about Jess' scenes is how they keep her dressed in the tiniest tiny shorts and tight half-tee through the entire exchange. Like, she didn't even throw on a pair of PJs after Dean spent their entire exchange staring at her creepily and making unclever sexual overtures toward her. And, I noticed that in the bedroom scene earlier, she chose to sleep on top of the blankets so we could run the camera up her legs, while Sam chose to sleep under the blankets and completely dressed. I mean, really. Blatant much?


So, Jess is trying to understand this sudden turn of events following a brother's arrival who she had never met and who Sam seems to have not overly shared about (other than he clearly told Jess that he and his family weren't close and has severe problems with one another, judging by the bar party scene).


Scene 17: We jump to Jericho, CA where a random, doomed dude is driving down the highway that was the focus of John's investigation. Doomed Dude is on the cell with his girl when he spots a woman at the side of the road. She has this jumpy, weird thing going on, but he doesn't seem to notice. His car radio also starts acting weird, which thanks to the opening we know is a sign of bad, supernatural mojo.

Because she's a hot chick with a dress top that accentuates her boobs, he offers her a lift. She acts off, but since she's being overtly sexual he ignores her obvious nutso vibe, too. When she invites him to come home with her, he's all up in it.




Scene 18: Potential-Cheater-Boyfriend is having some inkling that maybe a random hot chick inviting him home wasn't all it was advertised when he pulls up to a dilapidated house.


Commentary: Let me say, as well, that the actress (Sarah Shahi) isn't just sultry and beautiful. She has such a wealth of pain and fear in her eyes and I loved her work in this episode.


Our lady repeats the phrase heard on Dean's tape. Cheater-Wannabe is getting more flabbergasted at where his attempted sexfest has led, instead. We focus on him looking at the way obviously abandoned homestead. When we switch views and he looks at the passenger seat, he finds that the woman has suddenly vanished.


Commentary: Okay, look - she's a Woman In White/Weeping Woman. I'm tired of talking around it. You can find her basic myth HERE, but you should know before you jump there that it basically describes her whole motivation in this episode. Since I didn't know the details of this myth, I didn't see where the story was going to end, which is preferable. So, I'm putting a spoiler warning on following that link.


Anyway, Cheating-Stud gets out of the car, gets jump scared by bird, races to his vehicle and drives off.


Scene 19: When he's back on the road, getting over his adrenaline kick, the WiW is suddenly in his back seat. He crashes through a "bridge closed" blockade and squeals to a halt. There is much screaming and then blood splatters.


Scene 20: Saturday morning, Dean and Sam have stopped for a breakfast of junk (Sam passes because Jared's torso is a temple) and for gasoline for The Girl (all cars are girls, they're like boats that way).

Our Sam, showing that keen sense of sneakiness developed through a lifetime of training, questions Dean nice and loudly about whether he paid for his booty with the ol' credit card scam (which nicely explains why Dean, Sam, et al never seem to have a worry about resupplying and finding motels to stay in -- nice, Kripke, very nice).

Sammy then berates Dean (with affection) about the fact that he still has cassettes and a tape deck in the car... plus all of the music he listens to is old (or classic, take your pick).


Commentary: And, two more ongoing themes are visited... the classic rock that Kripke favors being played at every turn (and most of it is great rock, so shut up) and Dean insisting on calling Our Sam 'Sammy', even though he clearly doesn't appreciate being referred to that way anymore now that he isn't a kid (and yes, I've noted that I ignore his ban on that moniker as well --- suck it up, Our Sam).


Scene 21: Impala carries Our Sam and Dean (yeah, he doesn't really get a moniker until his first major cry scene in which he'll become Beautiful Dean) to Jericho.

Sam hangs up the cell phone and relays to Dean that there isn't any sign of their dad at the morgue or the hospital, so there is hope he's alive somewhere. They see cop cars at the closed bridge and stop to investigate (leading us to our first 'alternate identity' IDs ... this pilot has everything we need for this series). Passing themselves off as improbably young, casually dressed and too gorgeous for the sun Fed Marshals, they find out about the latest missing young man. (Oh, and also, whenever the sunlight highlights the freckles on Jensen's nose, you can call him Adorable Dean, until we elevate him to Beautiful Dean -- which we can do in this scene before they get out of The Girl.)


Commentary: I just want to mention here, since it is prominently display, Adorable Dean is wearing the necklace in this first episode that we'll see referred to later. I LOVE this continuity stuff. I also love that ultimately it will server a greater purpose, leading us to a clear indication that these boys' fates were never really their own at all, although I have to say between the Y.E.D. and then the later Lucifer stuff ... well, their destinies are really twisty, windey and a mess.


Scene 22: So, anyway, we find out that Tried-To-Cheat-Boyfriend is dating a deputy's daughter. Dean and Our Sam overhear this, so they'll have a lead to follow up on.

We have a brother moment of bickering and hitting, but Dean had it coming. It wasn't necessary to insult the local constabulary. Dean is a bit of an asshole, I have to say.




Scene 23: Sam & Dean find girlfriend hanging up missing posters (which considering the emphasis placed on how everyone knows everyone, seems a little silly in context -- surely everyone knows he's missing already and who to call if he turns up). They pass themselves off as friends from Modesto also looking for him.


Scene 24: They learn from girlfriend about what we saw already. They also hear the legend of the hitchhiking ghost who picks up men and kills them (a little too easily and apropo of nearly nothing -- this part comes off as convenient info dump).


Scene 25: Computer Search. The basic WiW legend comes up as a local fact when Constance Welch found her kids in the bathtub drowned after she'd left them for several minutes. She jumped off the bridge and drowned herself... and became a psychotic ghost who picks up hitchhikers and tries to get home again, even though she keeps saying she can't.

Hmmm... what is missing, I do wonder.


Scene 26: That night, Our Sam and Dean (no sunlight, no freckles, no Adorable Dean) visit the bridge. They bring up their father and Sam reminds Dean that he can't stay trying to track him down for days or weeks. He needs to get back to school and his chosen life. Dean questions how Sam is going to pull off the normal life, when he's starting by lying to Jess about who he is and where he's come from.

Sam insists he won't be a hunter. He low-blows by mentioning the fact that even if they find and kill the demon who took her life, she isn't coming back. He's appropriately threatened by Dean with a beatdown. But this highlights the difference between them. Dean still has vague memories of an idealized version of his Sainted Mother. Sam just has some photos of her face ... he just doesn't have the impetus for the vengeance kick that Dean & John have.


Commentary: And, again, I have to give props to Jared & Jensen for their acting here. They do a wonderful job of playing off of one another and their chemistry is obvious.


The brotherly tension is broken when Dean spots Constance on the bridge railing, where she replays her leap into the river below. This is quickly followed up by The Girl turning over on its own. The Impala races for our boys, trying to mow them down and they both go over the side of the bridge to escape.


Scene 27: Our Sam has managed to grab onto a protrusion on the bridge and hauls himself back up. He yells for Dean, who wasn't quite as fortunate. Thankfully Dean isn't harmed just wet and covered from head to toe in muck.


Scene 28: Our Sam and Dean return to town on Sunday morning and get a room for the day. When Dean whips out the credit card with the fake name, the clerk mentions that another guy with the same last name rented a room for a month. They've finally gotten a solid lead on dad.


Commentary: I find the plot with the WiW far more interesting than searching for John, actually. His hide-n-seek quickly wears thin, until we understand why he's doing this in retrospect. The search-for-dad plot often fits uncomfortably side-by-side with the monster of the week plots, as well. As here. We barely hear about John for whole scenes and then suddenly he's in the forefront, even though there is a monster of the loose and that should be the focus for the time being, and then he quickly gets shoved back into the background just as Dean and Our Sam are suddenly gung ho to find him again. The moving of John's whereabouts from front burner to back burner to front burner, etc doesn't work as well as it could have.


Scene 29: Sam jimmies the lock on John's motel room door and they find the walls covered in information about the WiW, proving that he was there and following the same leads as they are now. Dean gets cleaned up, while Sam looks around -- he calls to check in on Jess. Dean leaves to get something to eat.


Commentary: Also, note that one wall of John's room has articles that appear to have nothing to do with the Woman in White involving demons and witches. Clearly John has several stokes in the fire. I looked for any foreshadowing that any of this may refer to Sam... does anyone spot anything interesting in this regard? (Actually, on the intro scene that leads to the DVD menu, one of the post-its from John's wall is featured ... it says "tainted" and "demon" ... very relevant.


Scene 30: Outdoors, Dean is rousted by the cops, who cotton onto the fact that he's no Federal Marshal. The fake credit card was spotted by the clerk. He has time to warn Sam before they take him into custody.


Scene 31: Dean is in the interrogation room (do they generally have windows... I thought they'd be more grungey and cut off from the outside as a psychological tool) where the Sheriff questions him. He has learned quite a bit by going through John's room, including Dean's name and the fact that an "older guy" exists and is partnered with him in some way.

Naturally, he's suspecting some sort of serial killer partnership. He tosses John's journal onto the table, which Dean's eyes immediately lock onto.

The Sheriff leafs through the journal in front of him, until he reaches a page that has "Dean: 35-111" written on it. He wants to know what that means. He clearly recognizes the message from John, but Dean denies knowing anything, which Sheriff doesn't buy.


Scene 32: In the meantime, Sam is off questioning Constance's widower-husband. Sam discovers a few things... John had already covered this ground, for one. He also finds out that Constance was buried in a plot somewhere on the grounds of the abandoned house, where Mr. WiW refused to continue living following the death of his family. Sam asks if the marriage had been happy and after a suspicious pause, her husband states it was.

Sam also, rather tactlessly, tells him the story of the Weeping Woman, suggesting that Constance murdered her children because he had cheated on her. He is rightfully thrown out.


Commentary: Awesome job by guest-starring Steve Railsback. Anytime someone is so filled with emotion that they shake, I'm sold. His trying to hold back his tears, and possibly hold back from taking a swing at Our Sam, despite his height and build broke my heart a little. Kudos, Steve, kudos.


Scene 33: Back with Dean, he's trying to convince the Sheriff that the number written is an old high school locker combo ... which is right up there with Buffy's attempts to lie.

A deputy interrupts to report that shots have been fired and the Sheriff handcuffs Dean to the desk before rushing off. But, the journal of John's has a paperclip attached to one of the pages, and Dean is very good at picking simple locks.


Scene 34: After he escapes, he calls Sammy from a payphone and thanks him for the fake 911-call. As the two brothers talk, Sam fills him in on what he's pieced together about Constance. Dean tells Sammy that John left them a set of coordinates in his journal for them to find. He's no longer even in Jericho.

Their discussion is cut off suddenly by the appearance of Constance in the road, surprising Sam into slamming on the breaks as he slams right through her.


Commentary: Another interesting twist here, is Sam asking Dean what the hell could be so important that John would leave the Woman in White Ghost undealt with... another foreshadow of what we're going to come to find out.


As Dean is calling for Sam, he's trying to get himself back together. But, from the back seat, Constance tells him to take her home.... OH NO, OUR SAMMY! [We'll be saying this a lot.]


Scene 35: Constance orders Sam to take her home again and he refuses. This doesn't stop her though as she takes control of The Girl and forces the car to drive to the homestead.

Psychic powers off the car, Bitch.

Once pulled in front of her former home, she repeats that she can't go home, while Sam asks her not to do what he knows is coming. He realizes that she's afraid to go into the house, even though she wants to. She disappears momentarily from the backseat, only to appear in the passenger one. She tackles Sam down onto the seat and begs him to hold her.

Sam tells her she can't kill him because he's never been unfaithful, but she tells him that he will be. (Poor Jared, straddled by the absolutely ravishing Sarah... such a tough life.) She forces a kiss on him as he struggles to reach the keys to the Impala for some reason. She sits up and ghost-faces before vanishing suddenly.



He thinks she's vanished for a moment, but no... she's just gone inviso-girl while her hand punches through his chest and grips his heart.


Commentary: For a tv budget, this is a very good effect actually, as Constance in her half-decay face flashes in and out of frame as we see her finger holes in Sam's bloody shirt. I like this shot.


Now, apparently the fact that Constance kissed Sam and he didn't resist her hard enough, or perhaps got hard a bit is enough to put him in the cheater's column I guess. But before we can have blood splash The Girl's interior, Dean has managed to arrive and shoots through the window right into the ghost, which dissipates her temporarily but doesn't drive her off.

This allows Sam to sit up enough to start Impala and he tells the inviso-ghost that he's taking her home. He guns the engine and drives straight through the house's wall.


Scene 36: Dean runs in after the car, where Sam is temporarily pinned behind the wheel. As he is helping him out, Constance is looking at a photograph of her children.

Well, the fact that she's back in her house kinda pisses her off ... or maybe it was just Sam getting away... or Dean shooting her in the face.

Whatever, she telekinetically moves an old bureau and pins both boys against Impala's side. She moves in for the kill....


Scene 37: But, behind her the lights start flickering on suddenly despite the obvious lack of electricity to the house. And, as we've seen over and over already, flickering lights means bad hoodoo. Her attention distracted by a new sound, she looks over her shoulder and sees water running down the side of the staircase.


Commentary: I really like this shot, too... it gives me the chills. In fact I really like the effects they've used to represent ghostly apparitions. Their simple tricks, the flashing in out & the sudden sped up movement, but it really works.


At the top of the staircase, she sees her children gazing down at her. They give her ghost whispers which obviously frighten her and then their very suddenly standing in front of her with their own ghostly powers. They hug the mommy who drowned them and she vanishes in a gruesome special effectstravaganza with screams of horror. All three vanish through the floor in a black gateway.


Scene 38: With the ghosts gone, the dresser is able to be moved by the boys. They wrap up.

Dean complains about Sammy screwing over Impala by crashing through the wall.


Scene 39: The boys cruise on down the highway with Impala down to one headlight. In the car, Sam finds the coordinates left for Dean by John in the journal. It points to their dad having gone to Colorado for reasons unknown. Dean wants to head for Colorado post haste, but Sam reminds him he has to get back, it being Sunday night.



Dean is very obviously disappointed, but takes Sammy home.


Scene 40: The brothers pull up to Sam's apartment and he gets out. Dean really doesn't want to let him go, but he drives off.


Scene 41: Sam comes in to an empty apartment, but there is a plate of cookies with a note from Jess telling him she loves him. He goes into their bedroom and collapses on the bed. Jess is apparently in the shower, as the bathroom light is on and the water can be heard running. He smiles at himself, glad to be back with her.


Commentary: Yes, this does make me flash strongly to Giles coming home to a waiting Jenny in BTVS: Passion. And, isn't this laying it on a bit thick. I'd rather they cut some of this maudlin set up to show us why Dean is going to suddenly show up out of nowhere in a minute. But, I'll get to that....


So Sam lays back, and there is the drippy blood. This time it's on his forehead rather than hand like with John, but we've still seen this before (and like with Mary, there is no way that blood could drip from where Jess is to where Sam's huge forehead is laying). Sam flinches at the blood droplets, opens his eyes and horrible shock, there is poor Jess in the exact same position as his mother died.

She bursts into flame too, and like his father before him he reacts with stunned horror.


Scene 42: Downstairs, Dean bursts into the apartment, calling for Sam.


Commentary: Okay, so in the deleted scenes, we saw why Dean turned around and made this dramatic entrance. As he was driving away, his radio started the weird flickering thing that he recognizes as something supernatural going on. Since there isn't anything in the car, he immediately fears for Sam and spins the car around to race back to the apartment.


Upstairs, Sam is lying on the bed seeing Jess burn up and yelling for her. Dean rushes into the rapidly burning bedroom, spots Jess on the ceiling and Sammy frozen on the bed yelling for her. He grabs Sam and drags him from the room, just before it goes up.



Commentary: Nice work by Jared here... my heart is really breaking for him in this scene.


Scene 43: In a continuing echo of 22 years earlier, we cut to the fire department damping out the flames with Dean looking on the scene. Sammy is at the Impala loading up a gun, which, uh, seems a bit of an obvious place for that sort of activity, but fortunately everyone's attention is elsewhere.

Dean and Sam share a look and Sam nods his head.

As we look out at them from inside the trunk, Sam tells Dean that they have work to do and slams the trunk shut.


Commentary: And, I'm sorry, but this ending music sounds so much like the chase music in BTVS: Dracula, too. Are they purposely trying to evoke Joss' show as an homage to it?




The Good: I'm not even sure what to list... this is one of the strongest pilots I ever seen: Let's start with the casting - Jensen, Jared, Jeffrey, Sarah, Samantha & Steve were all terrific. All of them.

The mystery surrounding what was going on in Sam's crib and how it ties to him 22 years later is a great hook.

The fire effects and gruesome deaths of Mary and Jess and the way it ties the past and present together was inspired.

The Woman in White was an effective plot and she made a pathetic, but horror-bound villainess.

The effects to represent the ghosts are great.


The Bad: I'm not going with anything here.


Other Thoughts: There are a few individual scenes where the acting gets awkward, especially by Jensen in the apartment the first time. Also, the jumping between John's mysterious disappearance and the Woman in White plot sit uncomfortably with each other, with John's mystery coming out the worse for the experience. I was much more into her story and everytime we took a break to re-visit "where is John", it was an unwelcome intrusion. There is also that prolonged bit to make us feel extra bad for Sam... as if just seeing Jess gutted and burning wouldn't be enough on its own... when the deleted scene of Dean realizing something is wrong would have been more valuable.

But these are such minor things compared to all that this episode gets right. In fact, since I spent so much time mentioning Buffy, let me say that this episode is better than any season beginner that Buffy or Angel ever filmed. If I had caught this premiere at the time it aired, it wouldn't have taken me so long to find and fall in love with this show.


The Score: 4.50 out of 5


-end-

 
Tags: recommendation, supernatural season 1 reviews
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