As a result of the writer’s strike in 2007/08 this season is shorter than the others, with only 16 episodes, and the whole thing feels a little rushed in places. The supporting character Bela, for example, isn’t really developed properly or given a particularly satisfying story, in fact her pay off feels a tad rushed and it’s hard to have much sympathy for her fate, given that she was pretty annoying.
It’s a shame that it got cut short as this season finds the Winchester boys in an interesting situation. Not only is Dean on borrowed time having sold his soul to save his brother, they have to deal with a whole host of new nasties, including some particularly horrible ancient evils. And then there’s the usual mix of spirits and monsters to take care of.
Despite the “condemned man” vibe hanging over Dean, this season has quite a few decent comedy episodes, and that’s one of the things I’ve always loved about the show, it’s ability to switch between the creepy and gruesome to the goofy and funny.
That’s not to say there aren’t some nice character moments, and the writers should be applauding for how they reveal the brothers’ fears and desires along the way, along with their knack for writing a strong and believable bond between the two.
On the monster front there’s a little less variety, with most of the episodes dealing with demons, with vampire and some spirits thrown in too, but there are a couple of decent creatures thrown in.
Honourable mentions, comedy episodes A Very Supernatural Christmas and Ghostfacers, along with Mystery Spot, which starts out fun and then veers into some pretty dark territory. There’s also a great siege episode Jus In Belo, which brings one storyline to a close while also teeing up Lilith, the new big bad. It’s a well handled episode, and works better than Croatoan from the previous season as a tense, boxed in showdown.
No Rest For The Wicked
The finale for the season sees Dean’s time run out, and the boys finally collide with Lilith, who with her creepy little girl host is a different threat to Yellow Eyes, her reign of terror in a suburban home is seriously unnerving and sadistic, like she’s toying with the humans. While she wins the day and claims Dean’s soul she can’t destroy Sam, thus suggesting that Sam’s powers and importance are greater than the audience previously thought.
The scene where Dean is mauled by the invisible hell hounds
It’s a solid ending to the season, and the final shot of Dean in hell is enough to lock you in for the next season as you hope that Sam can rescue his brother from the pit.
And the scene where the brothers ride off to the showdown singing along to Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” is an oddly moving
Long Distance Call
This is a creepy one, with a Crocotta, a creature which mimics the voices of dead people to lure people to their deaths, now embracing new technology to chase people via phone or online chat rooms. The monster is one of the more evil the brothers face, exploiting people’s grief and tormenting them mercilessly, pushing them to breaking point.
By mimicking John it also throws Dean off his game, and manipulates him into harms way. A low key episode but one that stuck with me and is rather well done.
The Kids Are Alright
This one is pretty creepy, with Dean visiting an old flame to discover she’s now a settled down mother to a young boy. One of the women in the neighbourhood is starting to feel uneasy around her daughter, who is increasingly clingy. The monsters here are changelings, which replace children and feed off the mothers’ life force. These are rather evil looking things, and the fleeting glimpses the mothers get is a nice way of setting up the unease.
It’s also a good episode for character development, as we see Dean get a glimpse of a life he could have had, with a proper home, kids and regular living. It’s something that emerges more as the seasons go on, Dean’s original dedication and enjoyment of monster hunting fading as he rues what he missed out on.
This episode brings to a close one of the running storylines of the series, namely the brothers’ feud with vicious vampire hunter Gordon. Gordon, having decided that Sam is dangerous and needs killing has been after them for a while and having busted out of prison is on their trail.
They cross paths when both go after the same vampire, Dixon, who is turning young women to join his family. Capturing Gordon he plans to feed him to the newly turned vampires as revenge for the members of his group Gordon has killed in the past, however, he decides that it would be worse for Gordon to become what he hates and finally understand what drives vampires, and turns him.
With his new strength and resilience, along with his fighting skills, Gordon is a formidable foe for the brothers as they head for a final showdown.
The episode works as a finishing point but also highlights that the brothers’ former black and white view of monsters was naive, with Dixon lamenting his loneliness and longing for companionship in his extended life. It also continues their antagonistic relationship with Bela, and Sam’s brutal killing of Gordon fosters the growing doubts Dean has about his brother.
Bad Day at Black Rock
A pretty much straight ahead comedy episode, this sees the brothers investigate when a storage unit owned by their father is robbed, and only one item taken. The item in question is a rabbit’s foot which gives anyone who owns it ridiculous good fortune, but as soon as it is lost to them their luck changes, and they die within days.
The extreme ends of the luck spectrum is mined for it’s comedy potential, with the characters experiencing bizarre accidents, over the top bad luck and some wonderful set pieces, particularly one where Dean takes out two armed hunters with a pen and a remote control. It’s goofy fun, but it really works and props have to be given to Jared Padalecki for his comedy work as Sam becomes increasingly fed up with his bad luck.
The episode also introduces us to Bela, who could have been an interesting new player in the brothers’ world, a mercenary figure working in the shades of grey between good and evil, but unfortunately the character never really got the depth she needed and, in truth, is quite annoying at times.
But it’s continuous laughs really make it work for me, as does the way Dean tricks Bela into going along with his plan.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.