By John Keegan
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I’ve been impressed with this series so far, but the real test of any series will come after the first couple of episodes. The pilot is all about establishing premise, and the second episode is typically taking the ideas from the pilot and reshaping them into an ongoing format. After that, it’s all up in the air. Take “Threshold” as a good example: the first two hours were promising, but the third hour didn’t meet the same standard.
I’m happy to say that “Supernatural” hasn’t had the same problem yet. I think this is because it’s not trying to be something more than it is. Whatever opinions I had about the format before haven’t changed after this episode; if anything, those opinions were solidified. The continuity remains at the character development level, and if the characters themselves still feel like mysteries themselves, that’s all the better.
This episode says a lot about Dean, and I love the way that Jason gets to play with his range. He’s been criticized in the past, and while I certainly understand those criticisms, I can’t help but feel a certain something from the character and Jason’s portrayal. It’s not anything extraordinary, but there’s a sincerity there. I mentioned before that there’s a lot happening in Dean’s head, and that his scars drive his choices, and that’s definitely the case here.
Dean throws off a lot of charm, and it works for the ladies. Then again, it’s hard not to want to charm and woo Amy Acker! But his cool exterior and faux-James Dean attitude betray a number of psychological hang-ups and self-recrimination. It’s clear that Dean feels like he let his parents down, and he’s trying to make up for it. It’s probably a lot more complex than that, and perhaps that’s why I like the character so much. The writers could have just made him cool and confident; instead, he’s still, in many respects, the child he was when his mother died.
Sam is mostly kept to the background in this episode, serving the purpose of pushing Dean’s buttons when necessary to reveal what’s hidden. That works well enough in this case, but it does expose some of the weaknesses in the actor’s range. After reading some comments about Jared in several reviews and such, I took a moment to review some of his scenes in this episode. He was rather wooden at times. Hopefully the next episode will focus on him and his character can be defined by something other than a desire to find Daddy and be done with it all.
As for the actual “case” in this episode, I liked it. It was unusual, especially since it broke slightly from the pattern established in the first two episodes. This was closer to something out of the “X-Files” in its early days, when Mulder would be chasing something hinted at in newspaper clippings. This makes sense, given that not every incident will be traced back to some legendary source. To be honest, I would have preferred if the ghostly form of the original victim hadn’t shown up, but I understand why they did it.
It’s still early, but I find that this is ranking rather high on my list of new shows, which is ironic, since many other reviewers forgot it was also in the running. I still can’t tell if “Invasion” will live up to its potential, and “Threshold” still has time to settle out, but this is three solid episodes in a row with minor complaints. I only hope the ratings are good enough for the network!
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