Remember those episode spotlights I did for a while last year? Well, after watching last night’s episode of Supernatural (read SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t seen it), I feel compelled to pick it up again. Remember, this ep aired last night here in the states, so if you’re not caught up with SPN Season 8, then please stop reading so you don’t curse me out later.
In this episode, as summarised perfectly at TV.com, the story starts as a ‘found’ footage story, a la Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch Project. We’ve only seen the series do this once with Ghostfacers, but the end result was still pretty amazing. The story follows three friends, one who is the geeky, timid kid with the cameras, the other is his suave friend and his girlfriend. As per any episode of Supernatural, there are demons and murder and a good deal of gore. It would be impossible for me not to spoil the ending without saying why the episode was so affecting, but I’ll do my best to gloss over the details.
While following a local bully, the two friends get separated, one of them attacked by a mysterious creature. The other friend finds him and takes him home. Once home, the cuts miraculously heal, and he’s stronger after the attack. While this is occurring, the Winchester brothers are investigating the story, unaware of the constant filming. Many long-time SPN fans dislike the minimisation of the Winchester boys, but it actually makes for great storytelling.
As the one friend grows stronger, and somewhat inadvertently kills the bully, the geeky friend decides he wants this power as well. A scuffle ensues and while the one friend just wants to leave well enough alone, the geeky friend won’t have it and they both become infected with being purebred werewolves. As insane as this story is, the twist comes with the discovery of the main werewolf and how the video was left for the two brothers to find later. The big reveal has the girlfriend alive, the only one to survive. If you’re a fan of SPN at all, you know Dean is known for never letting anything get away. But in a surprise twist, Dean agrees with Sam, and they decide to give the girl a chance instead of hunting her down.
I’ll be the first to admit that this show screams ‘jumped the shark’ with every other episode, but in this one, they got it right. The idea for SPN has grown stale, they keep hunting the same demons, trying to defeat Lucifer, trying to defeat whatever the writers can come up with. But in this episode, you see a lot of character and heart and a story that makes you feel badly for the victim who ultimately is a monster herself. The girl leaves a pleading message, begging the brothers not to hunt her down, and as per maybe one or two other instances, they let her go.
The draw for Supernatural (SPN) isn’t the scares, but the characters, something that makes Bones never feel old to me. Just a few weeks ago, I was so bored with an episode of SPN I couldn’t sit still, flipping through games (though, I could also blame the NLCS for being too exciting). I wish the writers would focus more on compelling characters instead of making bigger, meaner baddies for the boys to fight. It is rare to see one good episode a year, anymore, but if you only watch one new SPN ep this year, let it be this one.