SUPERNATURAL: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

Directors: David Nutter, Robert Singer, Kim Manners, Allan Kroeker and more
Writers: Eric Kripke, Ron Milbauer, Sara Gamble, Raelle Rucker and more
Starring: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Nicki Aycox, Adrianne Palicki, Samantha Smith, Jim Beaver
Score: Christopher Lennertz, Jay Gruska
Episodes: 22
Release: 09/2005 – 05/2006
Network: The WB

Written by Christoph Staffl

Supernatural, more than any other show, always had a special place in my heart. The journey of Sam and Dean grabbed me within the first minutes of the first episode and never let go. Then I discovered a great deal online and bought the currently available 13 seasons on BluRay. I always liked the idea of going through all of them again, taking notes, connecting the dots – just having a good time. And experience it with a fresh and open mind, if you will.

Coincidentally it was recently announced that the upcoming 15th season would be the shows last. Let’s see if we can get through all fourteen until the final season airs.

Spoilers ahead!

One thing that became iconic over the years, besides the ’67 Impala and the classic rock soundtrack: the title page. In this first season, it’s kept simple. The title card focuses on the horror theme of the show, with screeching sounds and shifting letters. It sets the stage for what is about to unfold on screen.

What is the core of the first season? One might think it is to find what killed Sam and Dean’s mother, Marry, and Sam’s girlfriend Jessica. In my opinion, though, it is more about (re)connecting. We as the viewers connect to the world, to the main characters and the monsters they hunt and fight. Remember, 13 years ago we knew nothing about them.

But more specifically, Dean is reconnecting with his brother, Sam with his father and all of them reconnect as a family. But they all have to realize at some point, that the hunt for the yellow-eyed demon is not worth dying for. For John it might be too late, as he says: somewhere along the way, he stopped being a father and became a drill sergeant. They have been on the road for over a decade, and conflict was a constant companion – especially after Sam went away to go to college.

Early on John tells a young Dean that he is responsible for his brother’s safety. In a way, he had to give up his childhood so Sammy could enjoy his a bit longer. The episode “Something Wicked” (1.18) focuses on this aspect. Sam on the other hand always fulfilled the role of the outsider. The one who longed for a normal life. Over the next seasons, we explore this theme further. However, the first season points out the differences between the brothers; while also establishing that, in the end, they support each other.

As dark and heavy as the show might seem at times, the writers and creative team also have a lot of fun creating this world. The BluRay specials show how much dedication and heart goes into every single episode. They accomplished to do a small horror movie every week.

The creative team of Supernatural plays with various themes from horror movies and makes them their own. The typical horror-movie-setting is established before the title card rolls in each episode. They introduce the mystery, and then the brothers come to town to investigate it. Everything, beginning with the music to the settings, the dark colors and the style of the monsters fit together perfectly. One thing I could live without though is the stereotypical screams of the girl or woman in danger. It gets very old very quickly. Fortunately, the latter half of the season does not use it as often anymore.

A lot of the monsters and effects presented in the first season are hand-made. The work with prosthetics and such pays off, especially in episodes like “Skin” (1.06) which introduces the Shapeshifter. The subtle use of CGI elevates the hard work. I think the show ages well.

Speaking of the Shapeshifter: Supernatural always did and still does a great job at establishing lore of its own. They may take a lot from various cultures and religions, but creator Eric Kripke and the other writers put it all together, so it seems thought through and unique – creating a world of their own. Another example is vampires. John believes them to be extinct, but as we learn in the episode “Dead Man’s Blood” (1.20), they are very much alive. However, not all bad things that happen are supernatural. Where monsters have patterns and reasons, sometimes even a purpose, humans do not (watch episode 1.15 “The Benders”).

Another thing they introduce early on are episodes that serve as a kind of breather from the more horrific and grinding episodes. In “Hell House” (1.17) we meet the reality-tv-inspired “hunters” from the fictional website Hellhound’s Lair. And it will not be the last time they make an appearance.

Another thing that comes time and again over the seasons (to the point where Death herself warns the brothers) is death. Dean officially dies as the Shapeshifter takes on his form and gets shot in the end, which brings me to one of my favorite episodes: “Faith” (1.12). Dean gets electrocuted and is about to die. Sam arranges for him to meet a healer and miraculously it works. The episode plays with various themes of ethics and that everything has a price. Even a seemingly godsent healer is not what he seems to be. Instead, his wife controls a reaper and trades lives. And not just any people, but those she deems immoral.

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles portray Sam and Dean perfectly. They are brothers first in this season and yet have to figure out what it means to hunt together, be around each other constantly and how to deal with their dad. It is also established, that they had a life before we meet them. Their story is not just told in flashbacks and via the things they mention when talking to each other. The Winchesters also encounter people they’ve met before (for example Missouri in episode 1.09 “Home”).

Those people include not just “co-workers” and lives they saved, but also ex-girlfriends. Dean can reunite with the love of his life in episode 1.13 “Route 666”: Cassie. Still, he convinced himself that the life of a hunter is not suited for longtime relationships. Sam, on the other hand, had a happy life with Jessica. Almost a year after her death Sam begins to slowly move on and live life again as he meets Sarah (in episode 1.19 “Provenance”).

Meg could have been another love interest if she were not talking into a bowl of blood and summoning shadow demons to lure out John. And it does not help that the demon possessing her is the daughter of the yellow-eyed demon. Her destiny towards the end of the season is heartfelt and traumatizing. It shows that not everything is just black and white, but there is a hell lot of gray in the world.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s presence can be felt throughout the season, which is quite an accomplishment because he is barely on screen. The first time he talks to his sons (over a phone) happens in the episode “Asylum” (1.10), and they meet for the first time in the episode “Shadow” (1.16). Nevertheless, you know that their father influences every decision the brothers make (especially Dean). His omniscient presence creates respect and authority. You can also see it in the way Sam and Dean behave around him. And you believe that John can handle everything the world throws at him.

And if John can’t find a solution, Bobby sure will. I love Bobby, he is the best character besides the brothers in Supernatural, but we will talk more about him in the coming seasons.

The first season ends in a very intimate way. The three of them – John, Sam, and Dean – fight against a bunch of demons and believe to be safe, as the yellow-eyed demon reveals himself. He obsessed John. And as John, he tortures Dean, fights against Sam and reveals a bigger plan for him. It is heartbreaking to watch John fight against the possession, begging Sammy to shoot him with the colt to kill the demon as well. But yellow eyes escapes and a truck hit the Winchesters while they drive into the night. Has evil won?

I am hooked again and could sit down for a week or two and binge-watch everything. But I want to enjoy the journey and drag it out a bit longer.

BluRay extras:

  •  The Devil’s Road Map
  • Day in the Life of Jared and Jensen
  • Supernatural: Tales from the edge of Darkness
  • Gag Reel
  • Deleted Scenes
Christoph Staffl
christoph.staffl@gmail.com

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