Supernatural: Season 2 — a review

There are SPOILERS in this post. You have been warned.

At the end of Season 1, Sam, Dean and John Winchester were involved in a serious car accident. As Season 2 opens, Dean is in a coma, possibly dying. Sam and his father John have suffered minor injuries. Dean has an out-of-body experience and a pretty Reaper tries to collect him, though Dean resists. In order to save his son, John Winchester contacts the yellow-eyed demon Azazel and exchanges his life, and the demon-killing Colt revolver, to save Dean.

This is how the season-long arc is kicked off. John is no longer on an extended hunting trip without his sons; he is dead. The Winchester brothers now have a dual story goal. One, to track down and kill Azazel, the demon responsible for killing both of their parents. And, two, to track down the other children like Sam and find out what the demon’s plan is for them. Before he died, John told Dean a secret about Sam’s origins. We’ll find out what that is as the story goes along.

I like this repositioning of the series so that the mythology assumes a greater role. We can accept that we’re in a world where demons, ghosts and monsters exist, and that there are “hunters” whose job is to kill these creatures. Think of the hunters as a network of Slayers, only self-appointed instead of “chosen.” We also now know that Samuel Colt made a revolver that could kill demons, that common table salt can repel many spiritual creatures, and that vampires have rows of teeth like sharks. This season continues to grow the mythology in some surprising and enjoyable ways, leaning less on the formulaic monster-of-the-week episodes that were a heavy part of the first season.

Along with the Winchester brothers, we learn of the existence of Harvell’s Roadhouse, a bar frequented by hunters. The roadhouse is run by Ellen Harvelle and her daughter Jo. Ash, a young man with a Joe Dirt mullet, is a genius locator of things paranormal using technology. Along with Bobby Singer, a hunter friend of John’s who appeared at the end of Season 1, we are building a support network for the Winchesters that was mostly missing before. Plus, the existence of these others who know what’s really going on in the world gives the Supernatural universe more depth. Unfortunately, the roadhouse is burned to the ground by the finale episodes, and Ash is apparently dead. I really liked the idea of the roadhouse as the hunter hub world; but, that sentiment apparently wasn’t shared by series creator Eric Kripke.

We don’t skimp on the monsters either. In this season, we get a killer clown (always creepy) that’s actually a Hindu demon. We discover a group of reformed vampires led by a familiar face, Amber Benson, of Buffy-fame. We find out that zombies are also a thing in this world, but it takes more than a head-shot to dispatch them. The ghost of H.H. Holmes is still killing women. Hellhounds may have truly been on the trail of Robert Johnson. A demonic plague may have been responsible for the lost colony of Roanoke. Werewolves exist here as well (why not? We have vampires already). Shapeshifters make a return visit, as do several ghosts, both the vengeful and benign kind. Dean discovers a djinn that gives him his It’s A Wonderful Life moment as he sees what the world may have been like if his mother had never been taken from them by the demon.

Along the way, we’re discovering other of Azazel’s children, young people like Sam with powers. This story arc plays out in the two part season finale, “All Hell Breaks Loose, Parts 1 and 2.” Azazel collects all of these “children” in an abandoned town, the essential idea being that they are there for the ultimate Thunderdome Deathmatch, with the winner earmarked for something special by the yellow-eyed one in the coming Apocalypse. The Deathmatch is decided in part one of the finale, and Sam isn’t the last one standing. Part Two is about what Dean does following the outcome of part one. Dean is definitely his father’s son. In the process, they accidentally open a Devil’s Gate, a doorway to Hell, and release an army’s worth of demons, and we have a final confrontation with Azazel. I thought the quest for revenge against the yellow-eyed demon would last the entire series. I was wrong.

Looking over the ratings I gave each episode, Season 2 didn’t have the highs of Season 1 for me, and I honestly thought the werewolf episode, “Heart,” was the worst episode of the series to date, the only episode I gave a less-than-average rating. However, those middle episodes were mostly above-average. I’m not going to bother to do the math, but I’d say the seasons are, objectively, about the same. Subjectively, however, I’m giving Season 2 the edge. I like how the world creation of Supernatural is continuing to progress, how the relationship between Sam and Dean is crystallizing, and how the monster-of-the-week is still occasionally entertaining but is not our main focus.

I have a lot of episodes out there to watch, and, so far, I’m looking forward to them.

Season 2 Report Card: A

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