Archive for Eric Kripke

Rip Your Heart Out: A UK Review: Supernatural #8.4 “Bitten”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews
  • Directed By Thomas J. Wright
  • Written By Robbie Thompson
  • Original Air date 24th October 2012

season 8

This review is dedicated to fellow writer/reviewer and Supernatural fan Jorge Solis (@JSolis82).

Supernatural has made a demonic return to our UK TV screens, broadcasting in double bill formats on Sky channel Living every Wednesday from 10pm. Thus far, Season Eight kicked off with Dean (Jensen Ackles) (minus Castiel (Misha Collins)) escaping from purgatory following a deal with a vampire named Benny (Ty Olsson), whom he resurrects. Once reunited with Sam, who this time has decided to get on with his life instead of hunting for Dean’s whereabouts, they go on a quest to find Kevin (Osric Chau), a prophet who has been chosen to translate a tablet deemed The Word of God. The tablet is said to contain spells that can ultimately unleash every demon imaginable on this earth through opening the Gates of Hell which Crowley (Mark A. Shepperd) has sinisterly discovered. It also has the reverse effect and could potentially close them, which provides us with the Winchester’s main quest for this season. The brother’s relationship is once again strained full of angst and conflict, Sam has had a mysterious relationship with a vet named Amelia during Dean’s absence, which he addresses to Dean and the viewers that it has ended, so far under unknown circumstances. The youngest Winchester now has a taste for a normal life and toys with the idea of giving up hunting for good. But, can Dean survive going solo? This is the aspect I’m mainly looking forward to the writer’s developing as the eighth season unfolds because the dynamic between Sam and Dean is the heart of the show. The season’s plot focusing on closing the gates of hell is sure to be a captivating watch and could prove the Winchester’s most difficult task yet. 

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The long-running horror series is famed for its stand-alone, monster-of-the-week episodes. Following a two-part introduction to the main focus of the season in We need to talk about Kevin (#8.1) and “What’s up, Tiger Mommy?” (#8.2), the subsequent episodes return to this well-known, established formula. Episode Four titled Bitten which is the subject of this review came as a surprisingly experimental and gripping stand-alone addition to the Supernatural-verse. Taking characteristics from the found-footage sub-genre, it almost felt like a horror short from an anthology such as V/H/S rather than an installment of Supernatural. This type of episode has refreshed the show to a degree and demonstrates that straying from the expected structure can work successfully. Bitten is an example of how television these days is becoming more cinematic through expanding on trends within the horror film genre, bringing in recognizable traits and styles for fans. The show has previously attempted a type of found-footage format with Ghostfacers (#3.13) which satirized ghost-hunting style shows e.g. Most Haunted balancing humor and all out creepiness really well. Werewolf mythology has always been a frequently re-visited fixture within the show (as has its close relatives Shape-Shifters) particularly the episodes Heart (#2.17) and All Dogs go to Heaven (#6.8), Bitten crosses over previously seen narrative styles that Supernatural has depicted over the past eight years.

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Rather than focusing the episode on Sam and Dean investigating a horrific incident, normally linked to the occult, Bitten has them in the background, making short appearances throughout. The Winchesters are firmly placed in the eyes of the viewers as they watch a video taken from the perspective of film students Brian (Leigh Parker) and Michael (Brandon Jones) after entering a blood-soaked crime scene. There are themes present which emphasize the rise of technology in the modern world as Brian and Michael mess around with their cameras, searching for a subject to create a movie on. It demonstrates that so many people in today’s society have easy access to the world of film-making with found-footage particularly being a popular trend, suggesting that anyone who can pick up a camera can think they’re a filmmaker.  The same sequence discussed also introduces Kate (Brit Sheridan) who becomes Michael’s girlfriend. Strong character development is then defined between the trio, setting up the later conflict that will be seen within the episode. Considering these young actors have to hold their own in this episode away from Sam and Dean, they do a tremendous job and play well-rounded, engaging characters.

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Brian displays jealousy towards his best friend’s new found relationship and hints that he is also in love with Kate. When Michael is bitten by the lycanthrope, he becomes stronger and even more appealing in Kate’s eyes which causes Brian to fixate on wanting to be just like him even more. The episode takes a dark turn as expected, heightening the blurry lines between human and monster in the werewolf mythos and how the individual doesn’t have the choice, bringing in a heart-breaking effect similarly to Sam’s decision to murder his werewolf lover in Heart.

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Milo Green’s What’s The Matter has a strong presence throughout adding to the devastation as it echoes back to the happier times when the trio first met. It was refreshing to see the perspective of the victims and how they view Sam and Dean.  As they eavesdrop on their investigation they refer to them as just a couple of  unconvincing FBI agents with nods to The X Files (which comes at no surprise as director Thomas J. Wright worked on the show). They misinterpret the brother’s relationship as romantic, echoing back to the earlier seasons, adding humor within a dark, twisted storyline without going over the top with meta referencing i.e. Wincest.

Bitten is a beautiful, thought-provoking episode with an engrossing storyline. Its left open-ended, therefore I’m hoping it will at least be followed up or referred to later on. Bitten experiments with Supernatural’s format, yet returns to what the earlier seasons conveyed. I can definitely place this episode as one of my favorites and it goes to show why Supernatural is still one of the most popular genre shows on television today.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

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More Supernatural From Me: “The Grieving Process”- A Review of “Adventures in Babysitting” (#7.11)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING** CONTAINS SPOILERS.

  • Directed by Jeannot Szwarc
  • Created by Eric Kripke
  • Written by Eric Kripke and Adam Glass
  • Original Air Date: 6th January 2012

Following an emotional farewell to beloved father-figure Bobby in the  stunning previous instalment “Death’s Door” (#7.10), “Supernatural” returned with “Adventures in Babysitting” dealing with the aftermath of initial grief. Dean is on a revenge-driven spree, with absolute determination to destroy the Leviathan’s once and for all, his one problem is figuring out the what the numbers Bobby spent his last moments insuring them was a key to the Dick Roman-led monsters actually means. The focus of the episode does however distance itself from the main storyline and takes the audience back to what “Supernatural” was first about two brothers who hunt evil and save the greater good. During the opening it appears Dean has lost this incentive as he resorts to wallowing in grief and alcoholism. Sam struggles to reach him, conveyed by scenes of them sitting in complete silence. Dean’s worst fear is realised as he has lost two significant people to him in a short space of time and he and Sammy are left behind to keep fighting. As Dean struggles, Sam discovers a new case they can work on, helping a young girl find her missing father who also happens to be a hunter. Interestingly when Sam first meets Krissy, the audience sees him in a point of view shot from her perspective, he reassures her and potentially the audience that she can trust him, considering Sammy’s history was this possibly foreshadowing what’s to come? The episode is ultimately about reconnecting therefore the brothers must once more go their separate ways before achieving it.

The episode allows Dean to go through the grieving process, via an enlightening journey where by the end he finds a sense of peace and impacts two lives in a positive way. Prior to this he once again encounters Frank, an expert in government secret identities and friend of Bobby’s. Dean and Frank don’t initially see eye to eye and both could be considered “loose canons”, with Dean’s lack of fight and Frank’s extreme paranoia. The episode title apart from the obvious where Dean has to take Krissy on the hunt with him, could also be applicable to the Frank and Dean scenes as they both act as liabilities to each other and argue more than work together at first. Frank is also an example of what Dean could potentially become. Frank’s wife and daughter had been killed years before and Frank has faced life alone, he is an amalgamation of what Dean could be one day, he soon realises he does have one drive left that will keep him going, he’s not totally alone, he has his brother and once he discovers Sam’s in trouble again his instincts kick right back in.

Krissy was an interesting character and demonstrated a new direction for Kripke in relation to his female characters. Its no secret that female characters on the show, even the strong ones are either evil (e.g. Ruby, Meg) or get killed off (e.g. Jo, Ellen); Krissy surprised the audience by coming across as a hindrance and “the annoying kid” stereotype to begin with, it was then refreshing to see a young, tough female character who can look after herself, however it is depressing to see such a young person already taken in by a life of hunting as Krissy acts more grown up that she should be. She also rescues Sam and Dean which considering the level of grief they are both consumed in demonstrates their current state of vulnerability and that sometimes they need to be saved. The ending is fitting and bittersweet, Sam and Dean walk away knowing they have impacted two lives by encouraging Krissy and her father to walk away from the life, as they can both relate, seeing their younger selves in her. The final image of Dean driving away was powerful as he manages to reach some kind of resolution and gives out a sense of fear and optimism towards the future.

“Adventures in Babysitting” was a welcome mid-season return for “Supernatural”, with leviathan’s left to kill and the brothers now having to make it on their own, fans are in store for a hell of a ride!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Mrs Sam Winchester: A Review of “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding….”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

…and some thoughts on the latest season as a whole…

**SPOILERS INCLUDED**

  • Directed By Tim Andrew
  • Created By Eric Kripke
  • Written By Daniel Loflin & Andrew Dabb
  • Original Air Date: 11th November 2011

When “Supernatural” gets more surreal than usual, fans know they’re in for a treat! “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding” (#7.8) does exactly that. The episode title is tongue-in-cheek and ironic; continuing the notion of placing the “Supernatural”-verse into a real-life context or a meta-fiction/reference, intelligently demonstrating how self-aware and referential of itself the show is. This sub-plot within the show began back in season four with “The Monster at the end of the Book” (#4.8) where Sam and Dean discover there is a series of books based on all their endeavours that has a small cult following , “The Real Ghostbusters” (#5.9) came next and poked fun at fan fiction and conventions; and then there was the previous season’s “The French Mistake” (#6.15); where Sam and Dean actually discover that they have been on a Television show the entire time and are really played by two actors named Jared and Jensen! Thus far “Supernatural’s” seventh season has featured a great balance of horror, comedy, surrealism, drama and backstory. With the unfortunate demise of Castiel the show has stayed strong and returned to its original roots with some exceptional stand-alone episodes; most memorably the Jensen Ackles directed “The Girl Next Door” (#7.3) and fan favourite “Shut Up, Dr. Phil” (#7.5) that saw a reunion between “Buffy” and “Angel” co-stars Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters. “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding” is the episode that sews up loose ends within the storyline and eventually acts as a re-connection for everyone’s favourite hunters!

The episode opens ambiguously with Dean drowning his sorrows in a Las Vegas bar while acting flirtatiously with an attractive blonde. Considering his recent behaviour in terms of avoiding his issues; the audience are almost led to believe that he may be about to do something completely out of character, say get married! However this is not the case as it is soon revealed that Sam Winchester is about to marry his biggest fan, Becky Rosen who made her debut in Season Five’s “Sympathy for the Devil” (#5.1). The tone of the episode is completely perfect for the Seventh Season’s relatively light-hearted approach in comparison to previous seasons darker storyline’s and if anyone is going to wed the youngest Winchester brother there is no one better in terms of a comic context than Becky! Evidently not all is as it seems; Dean’s reactions are priceless mirroring exactly what the audience is thinking along with pure frustration at his brother; whereas Jared Padalecki underplays Sam’s decision well giving a sense that he is actually serious instead of the over-the-top route both the writing and acting could have gone in; further emphasising the episode’s surrealism.

One of the most enjoyable factors of the episode is the “old-school” feel the show has returned to, with the standalone, “monster-of-the-week” formula making a welcome return as well as the re-invention of one of the show’s most iconic monsters; the cross-roads demon. It was definitely interesting to see the cross-roads demon in a vulnerable position against Crowley-The King of Hell. His character becomes much more complex as he acts partly on the side of the Winchester’s through his hatred for the leviathan’s following his prior humiliation in an attempt of forming an alliance with their leader  in “Slash Fiction” (#7.6); however it still demonstrates Crowley is always out for his own means; choosing the side that will be beneficial to him and using that to the full effect. This sets up some exciting potential of what the rest of the season has in store; and a test for Sam and Dean; will they take advantage of his manipulation?!

Its the character-arc’s within “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding” that are most impressive. Dean is in a position of self re-evaluation as he comes to terms with the fact that he is mostly alone. Bobby isn’t around as much, he has suffered the loss of Castiel and on the surface Sam is behaving as if he is “okay” without him and attempting to move on. The introduction of Garth, who even though was an entertaining character still proves to Dean that he is still a strong, determined hunter all by himself. Becky’s character is delved into further, there is a manipulative streak in her which is an unlike-able character trait in terms of how she “drugs” Sam with an elixir in order to get what she wants. However her motivations to an extent are understandable as the writers lead the viewers into her backstory of how she was bullied during high school and just wanted to show everyone that she was no longer insecure, in that sense she is relate-able and does come through in the end reluctantly accepting she has to let Sam go. Throughout the episode Dean is mostly paired with Garth, who was recommended through Bobby while Sam is with Becky; these two characters actually compliment each other well, as both are slightly geeky and act as hindrances to the protagonists. It also shows metaphorically how Sam and Dean are more alike than they like to believe. By the end of the episode the hunters have mostly re-connected. Its unexpected and has more impact that a comic episode supports this idea rather than a darker episode featuring epic fight between them as it uses subtly well.

Even though the episode is not the strongest or the best in terms of writing; it still features some great moments and storyline continuity; with a great balance of drama and comedy. Thus far I am enjoying the witchcraft-based episodes in the season as its an interesting direction to take, however I am looking forward to seeing more leviathan’s and the return of Dean’s “baby”- the Impala in future instalments!

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-supernatural/

Hayley Alice Roberts.

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

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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.