“Carry On Wayward Son’s”- A Look back at some classic “Supernatural”

With the seventh season premiere fast approaching; here’s a look at some classic episodes of a dark, sexy, scary, gory show known as “Supernatural”.

“Provenance” (#1.19)

  •  Directed By: Philip Sgriccia
  • Written By: David Ehrman
  • Original Air Date: 13th April 2006

Who is she?

“Provenance” is very atmospheric and conforms to the horror genre well. The plot of the episode centres on Sam and Dean investigating the latest in a series of murders in upstate New York. During the first season the hunter brothers relied on their father’s journal to guide them from case to case and this was exactly the character motivation that led them into this latest scenario. The creep factor was conveyed superbly and genuinely gave out a few scares. Personally, from a young age I have always been unnerved by old paintings; “Provenance” realised these fears as its hard not to be superstitious in thinking the eyes are moving and watching! The atmosphere creates heightened tension throughout; pulling the audience into safe and scary places from one moment to the next; from gory murders to the usual Winchester banter. “Provenance” concludes in an unexpected twist, insinuating the message of “things aren’t always what they seem”; the climax is intense and effective cutting back from scenes of Sam and Sara battling the evil force and Dean’s attempts to defeat it. Another element that appeals in this episode is seeing some brief character development from Sam and playing with the possibility of another love interest other than Jess. Sara suits his character well as they bond over their separate tragedies. This romance is something I’ve always hoped the writers would re-visit as he just didn’t meet her at the right time. I like seeing old school Sam and his more sensitive side pre-Lucifer, Ruby, Demon Blood and no soul along with Dean’s complete disbelief that an attractive woman would be interested in his “geeky, younger brother” over him. “Provenance” demonstrates an equal balance of horror, humour and has some nice moments thrown in. In terms of season one as a whole its one of the stronger episodes as its not as predictable as earlier instalments such as “Bloody Mary” (#1.5) or “Hook Man” (#1.7) which of course are based on well-known urban legends. At this point the show was still establishing itself so the formulaic horror premise’s can be forgiven.

“What is and should never be” (#2.20)

  • Directed By Eric Kripke
  • Written By Raelle Tucker
  • Original Air Date: 3rd May 2007

The ideal family image.

Regular readers will be aware that I’m a great fan of “alternate reality” concepts in my favourite shows. “What is and should never be” is thought-provoking and deeply emotional. Jensen Ackles is presented with the opportunity of performing incredibly gritty material as he portrays Dean’s conflicts between his reality and the alternative life. What if he never lost his mother? What if he and Sam were living in normality?  For fans; the episode is an intriguing insight into what the protagonists may have become if the “Supernatural” universe had not become part of their lives. The tone for the majority of the episode feels contrasting in comparison to usual “Supernatural” instalments. The horror conventions are limited until the conclusion. The “normal family” scenario plays out as a soap opera among the tensions and issues between the Winchester Brothers. The episode therefore uses the post-modern ideology of a generic hybrid. Scenes featuring Dean’s excitement over the chance to participate in normal activities such as mowing the lawn and flicking through television channels are both endearing and bittersweet. Dean’s typical bravado is stripped away and he appears childlike in certain moments. He enjoys his idyllic alternative world. The episode depicts this through its mise-en-scene featuring stereotypical imagery of the perfect family home; a white picket fence and a freshly mown lawn. His speech by John’s grave when conflicted of whether he should give up playing the hero and embrace his true happiness is powerful and emotional. The notion of a romantic relationship for Dean is toyed with. Carmen is an example of Dean’s ideal woman, we later discover as he admires her image in a beer advert in a magazine. Possibly unintentional foreshadowing is occurring but in terms of appearance Carmen is similar to Lisa Braden. Both characters represent Dean’s ideals of the type of woman he can see himself having a future with, of course under normal circumstances. The distance between Dean and Sam is compelling viewing and gives a taste of what’s to come during season 4 and 5. The concept of the Winchesters leading separate lives that exclude each other feels depressing. Sam’s character feels unfamiliar and more uptight than usual; it’s interesting to see how different he would have become without being a hunter and exposed to Dean’s influence. His trait of wanting to take control however still remains. The core of the episode focuses on Dean growing as a character, displaying true strength when making the tough decision to sacrifice his wishes for the greater good. I also enjoy the references to “The Wizard of Oz” and the nods to earlier episodes e.g. “Phantom Traveler” (#1.4) and “Playthings” (#2.11). Dean’s powerful and emotional journey and strong character development is the reason this episode is one of my favourites.

“Changing Channels” (#5.8)

  • Directed By Charles Beeson
  • Written By Jeremy Carver
  • Original Air Date: 5th November 2009

Supernatural The Sitcom?

“Changing Channels” delivers “Supernatural’s” humorous side at its best. The episode is vital as it enlightens viewers regarding the Winchester’s up and coming roles in the impending apocalypse. An important character development is also revealed as the audience discover the Trickster’s true being. Typical conventions are challenged as on the surface, “Changing Channels” appears as a “filler” episode.  This “filler” is soaked in humour, and acts as escapism for viewers from the darker storylines in the show. However, the episode holds more significance than what is usually expected. The episode was also important as it makes an interesting comment on American Television; taking satires of medical shows e.g. “Grey’s Anatomy” and Police orientated programmes such as “CSI”. Dean makes a valid point when he states that there are far too many cop shows on television these days and they are all the same. The concept of intertextuality is used in a tongue in cheek manner throughout. Surrealism is a key theme. Scenes that depict this notion well include viewing Sam and Dean in a sitcom scenario; it’s almost as if they are caricatures of themselves; these scenes overall are hilarious. They also support “Supernatural’s” consistent methods of self-awareness and referencing; used previously in “The Monster at the end of the book” (#4.18) and in the following episode “The Real Ghostbusters” (#5.9).  Another example is where Dean describes “Doctor Sexy” as compelling viewing due to the fact it includes ghosts. Even though to an extent the characters are taken out of context; they still remain in sync with the usual flow of “Supernatural”. Sam still behaves awkwardly especially in the “Herpexia” commercial scene, providing laugh out loud material. During the hospital sequence where Sam keeps being referred to as a “brilliant coward” by another “doctor”; it appears metaphorical in relation to the fact he broke the final seal and must let Lucifer’s form into him. The Trickster is a fascinating character; personally the episodes his has featured in have to be some of my favourites. His character takes an unexpected and refreshing turn as it is revealed he is much more powerful that initially assumed. He is given a higher purpose in order to fit in with the show’s angel mythology and I only wished he would have stuck around a little longer. The hybrid of humour, horror, drama and darkness is strongly conveyed which is why “Changing Channels” is one of the most popular episodes. It is also groundbreaking as a statement on modern television.

Hayley Alice Roberts.


4 Responses to ““Carry On Wayward Son’s”- A Look back at some classic “Supernatural””

  1. I LOVE Supernatural, I LOVE Dean… I can’t wait for the new season, should be able to see it online tomorrow!!! 😀

  2. Completely in agreement with you! I am so excited 😀 Hopefully I will be able to write a tie-in review with the season premiere!!! x

  3. […] Check this out for more “Supernatural” from me: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/carry-on-wayward-sons-a-look-back-at-some-classic-supe… […]

  4. Those boys have been through a lot.

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