harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Supernatural Reviewed: Season 1 - 'Shadow'


Season 01, Episode 16


Writer: Eric Kripke
DIR: Kim Manners

Blurb: In Chicago, Sam has the luck to run into Meg, the pretty blonde he met weeks earlier at an Indiana bus stop. But it may be bad luck, especially if Meg is connected to a demon wreaking death on the Windy City.

Scene 01: We open, not surprisingly considering the blurb, in Chicago, Illinois.

It’s night and we’re looking down on the cityscape.

Scene 02: A young woman with ear buds in is walking down the city street. She’s bumped into by a scraggly man, but continues on her way past a corner bar and grill. Like all young women in the big city, she can’t resist finding the closest, darkest, most isolated back alley to walk down.

For some reason, the fog in this particular alley in Chicago is pouring in overtime, while at the same point, her music player begins to static.

We know that this usually means that supernatural hijinks, and probably demonic, are afoot. But she, alas, does not.

As she complains to the universe about her music player dying, a whispery wind starts blowing across her.

Like all young women in the big city who wander down isolated, dark alleys at night, when she hears her name whispered loudly on an unnatural wind, she shouts, “Hello?!” into the apparently empty night.

She hears her name again on the wind, and starts to get an inkling that something is wrong. She begins to rush-walk through the alley as the breeze intensifies. Now beginning to panic, she sees a dark shadow, vaguely manshaped on the walls around her.

She now finally jogs in fear as the dark, manshaped shadow continues to reflect off of the walls around her. She rushes out into an also empty street. Behind her the long shadow cast on the ground by something follows.

Scene 03: Our young woman of the big city rushes to her apartment where she must struggle to get her keys out of her bag to unlock the entrance door to the building.

The vague whispering continues over the wind.

Scene 04: Our young lady in the big city makes it to her apartment, where she can breathe a sigh of relief. Especially after she gets her alarm activated.

Safe at last, our young woman in the big city grabs herself a beer and starts listening to her voice messages. We find out her name is Meredith. But alas, she’s not safe in her locked, alarmed apartment after all.

Shadow stalks at Meredith from behind, taking vaguely human-ish features before resolving into something which looks stereotypically Grim Reaperish with the cloak and the long arms and the claws… oh, the claws….

It’s a scream of shock and pain for Meredith… and her shadow….

Commentary: The opening on this one is a bit drawn out, and the set up is a bit too close to the general clichés, but I did like the shadow effect killing her via her own shadow. And while the actress seemed a bit stiff and self-conscious during her leisurely stroll scene, she does better when she’s actively trying to escape her mysterious stalker.

The spray of blood on the wall from her shadow was a nice touch.

Credits Jitterbug

Scene 05: A week later, Sam and Dean roll into the city. They’re already in utility uniforms, with Dean unloading from the trunk, while Sam stares at the apartment of recent doom.

A newspaper headline that Our Sam glances over reveals that our Unfortunate was the second such “Stealth Killer” victim. We also see that the uniforms for Sam and Dean are displaying that their cover identities are alarm company technicians.

As the boys make their way, Dean complains that their dad is able to pull off the hunting thing without all of the dorky costumes.

Scene 06: The landlady lets them in to “check out what went wrong with the alarm” and they manage to get into a few questions with her. It turns out she was the unlucky one to find the body.

They find out from her that all of the windows were locked, the door was both locked and chained. The alarm was set when she got in with the police, and there were no signs of a struggle.

Sam, somehow, gets her to reveal the condition of Meredith’s body… I guess she just likes to gab, because really what is standing around talking about the details of the murder doing to “inspect the alarm”. She does tell our boys during her gossip that if she didn’t know any better, she’d swear that a wild animal got to Meredith. Dean shares significant glance with Sammy.

Scene 07: After she goes back to her day, Dean and Our Sam review the bare bones facts of the case. We find out that before their arrival this morning, Dean was out romancing a deputy on the local force to weed out some more facts and probably bedding her, since Dean is a regular Studly Slut in these early episodes.

For whatever reason, he also failed to mention the most interesting fact of this case to his brother until now: Meredith’s heart was missing [which apparently was of little interest to landlady since she also failed to bring it up… weirdly…].

[Still having a problem with relevant facts being data dumped awkwardly, eh scripters?]

Meanwhile, Dean’s “spirit detector” is going crazy pointing to definite supernatural chicanery afoot. Despite this, Dean suggests werewolf attack but Our Sam shoots that down due to the moon not being full. Plus, a werewolf is very physically present and would’ve left some type of trace.

Dean suddenly gets a questioning look and requests Our Sam to dig up a roll of masking tape.

Scene 08: Dean uses the tape to connect the blood splatter. He produces a symbol connecting the blood splatter by the tape, but neither of them recognizes it.

[Maybe because it’s totally made up. Dean’s only able to replicate this ‘clue’ because he ignores some of the splatter that is outside the borders of the symbol he’s ‘finding’, and because you can literally make any symbol connecting any series of a dozen points, so this totally fails to make any sense. Especially since Dean wasn’t recognizing a particular symbol in the [very little] splatter and just happened to connect this one providentially.

C‘mon Eric, we can do better than this.]

Scene 09: Later that evening, Our Sam and Dean are back in regular clothes and Our Sam is meeting his brother in a bar [of course] where he’s busy chatting up the buxom bartender [of course]. Our Sam digs through their father’s journal until Dean breaks away from Buxom in order to join him to tell him that, other than the bartender’s number, he’s got bumpkis to explain why Meredith (who waitressed here) might’ve been targeted for supernatural slaughter.

Sam had been spending his time looking for the symbol, which has also been a bust. The boys return to the first victim, a white male, a banker and not someone who had ever had contact with Meredith, as far as Sam could find.

Sam spots something of interest and he suddenly leaves his brother at the table to his questioning to head across the bar.

Scene 10: Of such interest is the showing up, rather conveniently and suspiciously, of his old hitchhiking acquaintance, Meg.

Meg pulls the ‘so, surprised’ but we know this to be BS because of her whole slit-throat, talking-into-bowls-of-blood thing that we saw her do in an earlier episode. Sam is just puzzled.

Sam brings up Meg going to CA, which she states that she did but it got to be old so she came to Chicago for a while.

In the meantime, Dean is smirky behind Sam’s back. He clears his throat to be introduced but Sam goes on conversating with Meg [oh c’mon Spellcheck -- conversate should totally be a word]. Sam finally gets around to introducing Dean after he rudely clears his throat a little louder, and Meg irritates at him to cover his mouth.

Meg then goes on to berate Dean for treating Sam “like luggage, dragging him around” instead of letting him do what he wants to do. This drives Dean to go back to the bar for another round, while Meg tells Sam if Dean were her brother she’d probably kill him. Sam blows it off as Dean meaning well.

[It’s hard to see this in any other light but Meg trying a little too hard and clumsily to feed any seeds of discontent Sam may be holding still, as clearly whatever is going on with her, her benefactor and Our Sammy - it doesn’t include the other Winchester.]

Sam gets her phone number and her last name, not to mention where she’s from originally -- all casually… or…? [I don’t know if it’s the scripting or just that Sam is having trouble buying the coincidence and was fishing for information to check up on because this scene really felt a bit hinky in how he was suddenly asking for all of this information about her.]

Meg Masters tells him to call her and they’ll hook up while he’s in town, and does so in a flirty way.

Scene 11: Out on the street on the way back to The Impala, Dean asks after Meg and Sam tells him he only met her once, and his seeing her again feels like a weird something, that is bothering him [Yeah, the prior scene was definitely Sam purposely fishing for information he can check up on… good job, Script].

Dean is stuck on Sam bitching about him to ‘some chick’.

Once past that, Sam insists to Dean that something isn’t right about his meeting up with Meg again randomly at some Chicago bar where a waitress just so happened to have been slaughtered. Dean suggests random happenstance, but Sam insists that ‘random’ doesn’t happen to them. He sends Dean off to dig into Meg Masters of Andover, MA while he keeps an eye on Meg. Dean is sure that Sam is just wanting to think with his downstairs brain [which he’s all for], and is letting his noggin’ get in the way.

[And oh Jared Padalecki’s Hair… what is going on with you?]

Scene 12: Later, Dean has been working on both Meg’s background and the symbol that he happened to see on the floor of Meredith’s apartment. He grabs his cell phone for a call to his brother.

Scene 13: Cut to Sam in the car outside of Meg’s apartment. Dean tells Sam that Meg checks out, including a high school photo. He suggests that Our Sam [who he has guessed is watching her apartment] go and knock on her door.

Sam turns conversation back to the case and asks about the symbol.

From Dean, he learns it’s Zoroastrian and is connected to an old school ‘demon of darkness’. He describes them as Pit Bulls of the Zoroastrian set. Sam is impressed. He questions how Dean found all this and Dean tells him he doesn’t have a market on paper trail hunting, but then admits he called one of their Dad’s contacts.

But the point is that this Daeva has to be summoned by someone, so they’ve got a puppet master to locate and stop. In addition, they also tend to turn on their summoner’s so for somebody to risk summoning one of these ancients, they must really know their stuff.

Dean then turns conversation back onto Our Sam getting laid by Meg, at which point he’s hung up on.

Scene 14: Our Sam watches Meg’s apartment just as a light flips on. He watches up through Meg’s window as she struts by in a bra and chooses out a shirt. He’s caught between being embarrassed and titillated, when some walkers-by notice him eye-spying on the woman dressing in her apartment.

He has to stammer out that it isn’t what it looks like.

By this time, Meg has wandered out of her apartment building. She marches as if she’s got a bug in her butt, and walks right in front of Impala. But Our Sam laid across the seat so she wouldn’t notice him there.

He gets out to follow her on foot.

Scene 15: Meg walks through the rainy night into another one of those deserted Chicago streets. She enters a condemned building, which nevertheless has an unlocked door.

Sam is quite a bit ways down the block following along.

Scene 16: In the condemned place, Our Sam looks for Meg while trying to be quiet… which utterly fails because everything echoes. He finds a locked door, but then notices an old elevator. Which he gets into. While clanging the doors echoingly.

With a look of equal parts “damn” and determination, he starts climbing his way up the iron working that surrounds the old elevator shaft up toward the second floor.

On the second floor, he finds black candles flickering. He has to suddenly duck down when he spots Meg walking across the floor toward the makeshift altar.

He watches as Meg picks up her Cup-O’-Blood for another conversation. She tells whoever is listening that he/she shouldn’t come because the Winchesters are in town unexpectedly.

Whoever she’s speaking with doesn’t care to wait and obvs issues orders that he’s on his way and she’d better see to it that they’re not interfered with. She assures whoever that she’ll be waiting for them.

Sam hangs on the gated door of the elevator, until he sees Meg walk away, and hears a door somewhere in the back of the room click shut. He struggles then to pull himself up for a closer look at Meg’s accoutrements.

Among these is the symbol painted in blood on a mirror.

Commentary: This is another weirdly directed scene, that I can’t tell if it was done deliberately, or if it was just awkwardly acted. Nicki Aycox feels particularly self-conscious while moving around this scene, and I thought for sure that Meg was going to show up right behind Our Sam and inform him that she knew he was there the whole time. It felt like she was acting awkwardly because she knew she was being watched and was baiting Sam out into the open.

But then the scene just ends on a not-commercial-break instead, and now I’m wondering if the acting was just supremely awkward in this scene.

Scene 17: Sam rushes back into the hotel room at dawn where Dean comes out of the bathroom. Both of them simultaneously say with urgency that they need to talk to the other.

Minutes later, Dean angrily says “So hot, little Meg summoned the Daeva”. Which Sam confirms most definitely. They also discuss Meg’s talking into a cup of blood, and Sam tells Dean that she was talking with somebody other than the summoned shadow spirit.

Dean gets a look of surprise and then rushes back to the desk in the room. He holds up two file folders and tells Sam that what he wanted to tell him is that he was able to get the case files from his ‘friend’ Amy in the police department, and they’d missed something on the first scan of the case.

What Dean has found is… disturbing. The Old Man who was killed wasn’t from Chicago, but was born in Lawrence, Kansas… the same as Dean and Sam. And, what really causes the chills, is that Meredith Allen was adopted. And she was born in … Lawrence, Kansas.

Sam asks Dean if Meg could be tied up with the demon who killed their mother and Dean suggests they go, trash the alter, and snatch up Meg for some interrogation. But Sam tells him they can’t tip her off, until they find out who she was communicating with. He tells Dean they need to stake out the abandoned warehouse and find out who Meg is awaiting the arrival of.

Dean tells Sam that they shouldn’t be doing this one alone.

Scene 18: Cut to Dean on the phone with someone, telling them they have a serious lead on the demon who hurt their family. He’s on the phone with John’s voice mail and tells him to get to Chicago as soon as he can.

In the meantime, Sam has hauled in just about everything that was tucked away in the Impala’s trunk to gear up for taking on whatever Meg was talking to.

As the boys start loading up their guns, they both play the “Are you nervous?” , “No way” thingie in which we can tell that they’re both a little scared shitless.

Sam suddenly asks Dean if he can imagine their actually getting caught up with the damned thing that killed their mother, but Dean warns not to get ahead of himself. Sam brings up going back to school and being a regular person again if they can “end this tonight”. Dean is less than happy to hear that Our Sam still has intentions of not hunting monsters the rest of his life, despite everything they’ve done over the past several months together.

Sam picks up on Dean’s mood, which to be fair isn’t well masked. Dean admits that he wants him, Sam and John to be together again, hunting as a family. It’s one of the few times when Dean isn’t being cocky, headstrong and macho about needing somebody he can trust at his back out on the road.

Sam is sympathetic, but he tells him that when “this is all over”, he’s going to go his own way with his own life again.

Commentary: I loved where this scene led. I loved the look of genuine vulnerability and loneliness that we see behind Dean’s façade, and I absolutely loved Jared and Jensen and the way they connected as actors in this scene. The scripts like to set Dean up as being our machismo brother looking after the sensitive Sammy with swagger so when these moments come and Dean turns into a real person, they’re special moments. And I’m glad to say that Jensen really embraces Dean’s usually hidden pain and acts the crap outta them.

Very good going to both our actors in this scene.

Scene 19: Later that night, Meg is standing over her altar again at the warehouse when Dean and Sam clumsily and noisily climb the elevator shaft again. Meg is busy chanting her little heart out, while the boys haul themselves up onto the floor from the shaft.

They slip to the back of the room behind her back, guns drawn and slip behind some old boxes o‘ junk, and wait for her ‘boss’ to show his face.

She suddenly calls out, “Guys… hiding is a little bit childish, don’t you think?” busting them.

Scene 20: Meg confronts the boys, telling Sammy that his holding a gun on her puts a crimp in their relationship. She also tells Dean that their guns aren’t going to be of much help. Sam asks who she’s waiting for and Dean asks after the Daeva.

She tells them that she’s been waiting for Our Sam.

In the meantime, we see the Daeva shadow-being creeping up walls.

Scene 21: It attacks Sam’s shadow and he’s quickly knocked to the floor. Dean looks around, but his shadow is quickly knocked around as well. Dean is knocked into some crates, while Our Sam gets slashed down his back.

Scene 22: When we come back from not-commercial-land, we find Our Sammy coming to from a bout of unconsciousness. He’s been secured. Across from him, Our Dean is also secured to a post. Meg shares cheeze-whiz grins their way.

Dean tells Sam that his girlfriend is a bitch. Our Sam guesses that this whole thing had been an elaborate trap from the beginning that they walked right on into. Dean asks her why she doesn’t just kill them already and she smiles that he’s not very quick on the uptake. She tells the Winchesters that the grand trap isn’t for them.

Meg and whoever she’s working on behalf of are after the elusive John.

Dean tells her she’s not going to get John, he’s too good and won’t walk into such an obvious ploy but she tells him that John’s judgment tends to get clouded when it concerns his boys. She tells Dean, that despite his own belief, she happens to know that the elder Winchester is already in Chicago and offers her confidence that he’ll come.

Dean is confident in John’s ability to fight off the Daeva, but Meg shares that there is more than one in the room with them right now… invisible, except for the shadow, and ready to strike.

Our Sam questions Meg’s motives. She tells him for the same reasons he does what he does: Loyalty, Love. She brings up, cuttingly, ‘Mommy’ and ‘Jess’. Sam tells her to go to Hell, but she tells him she’s already there.

She then slinks over to him to breathily flirt in his ear. She shares with Our Sam that he didn’t go unnoticed when he was watching her changing.

Meg turns to biting and licking Sam’s neck, but Dean tries to get free of his bonds and she hears him. She leaves Our Sam to turn her attentions back to Dean.

Scene 23: Meg finds the knife that Dean had shifted from his coat sleeve and was trying to use to cut through his rope. She holds a smartass smile directly in his face, before slinking back over to Sam to continue her flirtations.

She asks Our Sam if he was trying to distract her from his brother’s attempt to get free [which no… makes no sense since Sam wasn’t in any way playing along… so… uh… whatever]. He answers no, because he had a knife of his own.

Sam grabs Meg with his now free hands and then head-butts her to the face!

Our Sammy rushes to Meg’s demon communicating altar and flips it over. The Daevas, now not controlled and a bit pissed about being enslaved, immediately go after Meg. She yells as she’s dragged across the warehouse floor.

Meg is easily tossed through the windows to the ground far below. After this, they depart with no interest in Our Boys.

Commentary: So, the confrontation with Meg was somehow both dragged out a bit too long to eat up run time, and was a bit too anti-climactic in how quickly it was ended. The flirty-slinky thing with Sam was, well cheezy and awkward. But I did like how Dean apparently deliberately made noise to draw Meg over to him, so that Sam could work on freeing himself, since Meg was more interested in getting close to the younger brother and Sam’s head butt to her was pretty cool.

But her lines about Sam trying to distract her from Dean made zero sense. Unless… maybe she meant that Dean was trying to distract her from Sam out of jealousy, and then Sam said that wasn’t it, he was distracting her because Sam had his own knife?

Yeah, actually, that woulda made more sense. If that is what was meant. I don’t really wanna have to go back to look at it more closely because it was sooooo awkwardly acted.

Scene 24: After collecting their gear, the Winchesters return to their hotel room.

In their room, they run into an intruder waiting in the dark… which turns out to be the lost John Winchester!

Dean and he embrace in teary hugs, while Sam’s greeting with him is more restrained and tense. Dean tells John about it being a trap and apologizes for not knowing.

John tells Dean that it’s alright, as he figured it might’ve been. He tells the boys that he arrived just in time to see the girl take her swan dive. John tells the boys that this isn’t the first time that their mystery demon has tried to stop him. He tells the boys that he’s close to finding it and killing it… not exorcise it, not send it back to Hell, but killing it.

Our Sam wants to join John to help, but he declines that it isn’t the time yet. John and Sam have a teary moment and man-hugs over their having had their knockdown-dragout the last time they saw each other.

But just as they are wrapping up their manly-tender moment, the Daeva reveal they hadn’t gone away after all. John is hit across the room, quickly followed by Sam being knocked to the floor [again]. Dean’s Big-No of anguish is cut off by being pummeled himself.

Commentary: Okay, that was pretty great. I didn’t see the Daevas still being around and it was really nice that the ‘anti-climax’ wasn’t the anti-climactic end to the conflict after all.

Scene 25: Outside, hearing the battle steps from the shadows… MEG! Not so dead after all!

And around her neck is an amulet with the Daeva symbol, pointing to her “attack and thrown out window end” being a part of the whole trap!

Commentary: Awesome twist. I LIKED it. It totally makes up for that Meggy awkward sexxing thingy we had to witness.

Scene 26: In the hotel room, John is looking into the face of the Daeva shadow ready to claw him apart, and end his quest for Mary’s demonic killer.

As John is being clawed apart, and Dean is being battered, Our Sam grabs his gear bag. He warns everyone to shut their eyes and he grabs a road flare. He [wordily] shouts that the demons are shadows, so let’s light ‘em up.

It’s enough to drive them away, though it isn’t easy on our humans’ lungs.

[It’s also one of the brightest, spotlighty flares in existence, apparently. And it casts white light rather than emergency red, too.]

They all retreat to outside and stumble their way toward the Impala.

Scene 27: Our Sam tries to get everybody into the car for a retreat, but Dean tells his father that he can’t come with them. Sam is outraged and confused and wants them to stay together to find the demon behind all of this. But Dean points out that they almost got John killed, when he was doing just fine on his own.

He tells Sam that John is stronger when he’s not around the boys as they’re his Achilles Heel.

Our Sam begs John not to cut them out again, as he needs to be a part of the fight. John tells him that the fight has only begun. John assures him that every one of them will have a part to play when it’s time. But for the moment, they need to separate again.

Our Sam has a *really* hard time letting go, now that they’ve just resolved the bitterness from their last meeting, but Dean and John are correct for the time being. He finally nods and claps John on the shoulder.

Commentary: The logic here is a bit iffy… the whole “we’re a hindrance, rather than a help” at this juncture is a bit… hmmm….

But I really enjoyed the performances here. Everybody did a terrific job with the conflict of having John separate from his kids again for who knows how long this time, especially Jensen realizing that he has to tell John to go away for his own good, and Jared’s insistence that Sam needs to be a part of the final fight. The makeup team also did a great job on the three principal’s wounds, especially that gnarly claw mark across Jensen’s forehead.

Scene 28: John tells the boys to be careful and then gets into his truck to rush away, while Our Sam and Dean get into the Impala. The Demon-Busting Flare is also continuing to burn, so it’s a minor miracle that it hasn’t caught the building on fire, or that the police and fire trucks haven’t rolled up before everybody can make their escape considering how long they stretched the moment.

Meg comes up from hiding to see the Impala rushing away. She gives pissy-glare at the retreating Winchester brothers….

The Good: I liked the Shadow Attack effects, and the spray of blood across the wall from our first onscreen victim was nicely realized.

I totally loved that Sam isn't buying Meg's "oh wow, what are you doing here" act during their bar re-meet.

I also loved the amount of fakeouts we get in retrospect: Meg knowing Sam is watching her, her knowing Sam followed her to the warehouse, her knowing the two Winchesters are stalking her later, the set up being about John - not trapping the boys, and especially the Daeva turning on Meg - which we were warned could happen beforehand by Dean's research - actually being to put the boys at ease thinking that Meg was vanquished and the Daevas off to parts unknown only for them to suddenly attack John in their hotel room and for Meg to not be as dead as she looked on the pavement. All of this was really good twists in the script and does add a sense of real danger to their mysterious demon behind the scenes.

I also liked Dean's clumsy, noisy attempt to cut his ropes with a secreted blade being a set up on Meg so that Sam could actually free himself while her attention was distracted -- though the dialog was a bit fuzzy to me.

I LOVED the acting between Jared and Jensen when Sam is telling Dean that they're nearing the end of the hunt and Sam is going to get back to his schooling, especially the real vulnerability Jensen gives to Dean.

I liked the filming of the attack on John in the Winchester motel room [with a caveat in Other Thoughts].

I really enjoyed the acting work from Jeffrey, Jared and Jensen [okay, does Eric have a thing for the letter 'J' in casting?] when Dean realizes that he and Sam are endangering John.

The Bad: That all important clue in the blood splatter on Meredith's carpeting was just... bullshit. Dean seeing any such pattern, while ignoring the blood splatter around it, when he'd never seen the symbol before is Total Bullshit.

Other Thoughts: There is this thing about Dean that is ... icky... and crops up from time to time so let me complain a bit about it here: His interest in Sam's sex life is just... too much. It takes up too much script time better spent building up mysteries and staging attacks or discussing emotional issues like John Winchester.

Although I liked the bit with Dean distracting Meg for Sam to free himself and take the fight to her, the lead up to the escape and the flirty-thing between Meg and Sam felt overdone and stretched out to fill time.

I did enjoy the attack and escape from the Daevas in the hotel room, but that savior-flare.... Hmmm. It was just a bit way too much as far as the White Light Of The Heavens and the length of time it managed to burn without setting the room on fire and the amount of time spent right afterward for the boys and John to say a teary good bye without the police or fire station intervening while they were standing around. It was overdone is what I'm saying.

The Score: Overall this was a pretty great episode with some nice twists and turns in the plot and it was great to see John Winchester having some genuine feeling for his sons and regret at things being the way they need to be for the moment.

3.75 out of 5 stars

Next up in TV reviews: BTVS, Season 3, "The Zeppo".

Next Movie Review: Still "Clash of the Titans"

Tags: supernatural season 1 reviews

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