Sunday, 6 June 2010

Supernatural S1E2 - "Wendigo"

"Wendigo" was quite a good episode, more of a re-pilot just in case you missed the first episode-- you can tell, either way. The exposition is all there again, and the threat clearly outlined after a certain point. And it's scary. It is. You get the creep factor even as you don't see the monster-- and as I pointed out last time around, the fact that you don't see the Wendigo itself (hell, you don't even see it until the last fifteen minutes).

In fact the episode sets itself up early on with the dream sequence that has a major shock that you don't see coming, because it just makes sense that Sam would be there in the cemetery. That shock came from nowhere and I loved it, because it's just... it sets up shop, I think. Supernatural is, as Eric Kripke intended, a horror film week to week, and the structure, the context I guess, is the underlying Winchester subplot. These guys tell great stories, and the characters are really well defined, that you don't care.

So the story mirrors the Winchester's situation perfectly-- a sibling is missing, and needs to be found. Dean seems to notice this, and needs to solve it, but Sam doesn't care. Sam, to be fair, is a complete bastard in this episode, not wanting to babysit, but it's understandable because he's just lost Jess and now their father is leading them on a wild goose chase. That would make me angry, I'm sure.

I like how in the earlier seasons the show really knew its demographic. The young folk always, eventually, believe Sam and Dean, but the old guard, the older generation, they always view them with disdain, and of course, again, rightly so. These guys are running around with fake IDs and causing trouble, people seem to be dying as soon as they arrive. I like that. Sure, as the series as a whole progresses that eschews, but right now it's fitting, and you can't help but enjoy it. It gets more obvious next episode, with "Dead In The Water" and the Sheriff a) being the cause of the ghostly lake and b) trying to protect his family and c) trying to get the Winchesters to leave.

Again, characters are well-defined by their actions-- Sam is angsty still, he takes... well, he's never unangsty, and Dean is a cocky sonofabitch, the fact that he's wearing biker boots to hike into Blackwater Ridge, he's eating M&Ms as supplies, his bravado in the face of the guide, Roy. In the earlier episodes, in fact, it feels like Sam is shortchanged in the character building department, because he's so well defined by his loss of Jessica and his need to find John. That's it. Dean, meanwhile, is fun, he's bouncy, and he's not buried under the broodingness that later becomes him. He's the comic relief to an extent, and with the overarching plot being so damn depressing, it's required.

I don't think it's the best episode, not as good as the first, and not as good as, say, "Scarecrow" or "Provenance", two episode I do quite like, but it does continue to establish the mythology. Watching from the beginning gives you a better sense of things, where the show is coming from, but that's something I'll discuss when I hit "Phantom Traveler".


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