Supernatural Leaves the Black and White Behind with Season 2’s ‘Bloodlust’

And our Supernatural rewatch continues…

The third episode of Supernatural’s second season is hard hitting, thanks to not only Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles’ acting skills, but several very talented (and well known now if they weren’t then) guest stars. Amber Benson was already a fan favorite from her time on Buffy, and Ty Olsson would become  a Supernatural fan favorite when he returns to team up with Dean in Purgatory as Benny. And of course the amazing Sterling K. Brown as Gordon Walker makes this episode powerful – it’s not surprising that he’s gone on to more mainstream fame on This Is Us.

As I’ve said many many many times, someone really needs to buy Supernatural’s casting agency a fruit basket. A really big one.

This episode is written by Sera Gamble and directed by Robert Singer, who both have been integral to Supernatural and went on to become showrunners. No wonder it’s so damn good.

These early episodes are enriched so much by the music cues, and this one is no exception. The recap gives us ‘Wheel in the Sky’ with strikingly appropriate lyrics for what the brothers are experiencing. “The wheel in the sky keeps on turning, I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow…”

We revisit John’s funeral, and Sam’s question to Dean – did he say anything to you?

And Dean’s stoic ‘no’, followed by his breakdown at the Impala’s expense. It still hurts.

And then we’re off – to Red Lodge, Montana.

A woman runs through the woods, falling down and then scrambling up, desperate and terrified. She finally hides behind a tree, and of course we’re all rooting for her, thinking a monster is after her. She finally thinks she’s eluded it and looks around the tree – and a large knife slices her head clean off.

Oof.  Little do we know, she’s a vampire – but our first instincts turn out to be right. What was hunting her was the real monster.

Cut to our boys, and one of the most iconic Supernatural songs ever, AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’. The car roars down the road, Dean behind the wheel, enjoying his (now restored to her full beauty) baby. By this time, the show knew how much the fandom loved what we at the time called “the Metallicar” and lingers on her shiny chrome and sleek black exterior. We know what Dean sees in her; we see it too.

And Sam, though he loves to tease his brother about it, loves and values that car almost as much. She’s home, after all.

Dean: Wooh, listen to her purr!

Sam makes a face, trying for grumpy but a smile trying to break through.

Sam: You know, if you two wanna get a room, just let me know.

Dean hears it for the affectionate nudge that it is and plays along.

Dean: Aw, don’t listen to him, baby, he doesn’t understand us.

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Looking Back on Dead In The Water – Classic Supernatural!

I wrote an article here on New Year’s Eve about how I’m dealing with Supernatural ending, because I’m still having lots of feelings about the loss of my favorite show ever, especially in the midst of so much stress – political and social upheaval and a raging pandemic. We need our comfort shows more than ever!  One of the things that’s helping is going back to the beginning and rewatching from the start. In a way, it’s giving me new content, because watching those early episodes now is completely different with the perspective of knowing how the story plays out and how it ends. I understand Sam and Dean more deeply than I did when I watched these episodes for the first time 15 years ago. At the same time, I’m struck by how well they hold up and how truly ingenious the writing, directing, acting and cinematography was, right from the start.

Today’s episode rewatch is the third one that aired, and the first directed by Kim Manners, who would come to have such a significant impact on the show’s two young stars, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. ‘Dead In The Water’ is one of the most well known episodes, giving us some iconic scenes as well as some of the first memorable gag reel moments. The episode was written by Raelle Tucker and Sera Gamble, who would go on to be showrunner when Kripke departed at the end of Season 5 (and would also helm another of my favorite shows, The Magicians).  So, let’s dig in…

Kim Manners and Serge Ladouceur during filming. Cap mckaysangel

The episode opens on a cabin that’s familiar to most fans, and I had to take a moment right away because I now realize that it’s a cabin that I think I’ve actually been to in real life – on one of the location tours given by Supernatural’s locations supervisor for many seasons, the one of a kind Russ Hamilton.  I’m notoriously bad at remember things like locations, though, so somebody correct me if the ‘Russ bus’ never in fact visited this particular Vancouver cabin. At any rate, it’s striking, and beautiful in its own way. There is so much atmosphere provided by locations and set dec for Supernatural, making it so much memorable than it would be otherwise.

I don’t think, at the time I first watched this episode, that I realized that the show customarily opens with the guest stars of the week being attacked by the monster of the week, especially in the early seasons. But director Kim Manners does a great job of setting up the sense of foreboding even if you didn’t know something bad was about to happen. The family in the dimly lit cabin is a dad and a sister and brother, with no mom around – because many of the guest characters are parallels for the Winchesters in some way. The girl opts for a swim in the gigantic deserted lake, out there all alone, which seems like a terrible idea even if this wasn’t Supernatural. We see her from beneath, highlighting her vulnerability, as she begins to get scared, hearing unintelligible whispering all around her even though no one is there. Uh oh. It’s scary as hell even before anything happens thanks to Manners, and then whoosh, she’s pulled under.

The lake looks peaceful once again, no sign of the girl. Uh oh.

And then, customarily, the show pivoted to the Winchester brothers, in this case at the Lynnwood Motel, which I’m totally taking as a shout out to me even though I was entirely unknown to any of them at the time. Hindsight. Dean flirts with the waitress, who flirts back, understandably, and Sam cuts that right off with a “Just the check please.”

Dean sighs, put upon.

Dean: You know, Sam, we are allowed to have fun every once in a while. That’s fun.

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Catching Up With Supernatural alum Sera Gamble and company – The Magicians at Comic Con 2018!

 

The Magicians returned to San Diego Comic Con to celebrate the upcoming Season 4, and I couldn’t wait to chat with the cast and producers again. It’s one of my favorite shows – I love the creativity of it, the imagination, the willingness to go wherever the story takes them even when that is sometimes the last place you expect it to go! Not to mention the amazing actors and writers who bring the sometimes surprising story to life, based on Lev Grossman’s fascinating books.

The press room for the show was first, so I headed to the Hilton Bayfront and grabbed a table.  First to our table were showrunners Sera Gamble and John McNamara. I was ecstatic to see Sera again – she’s the former showrunner and writer for Supernatural, and was literally the first person from Supernatural who took the time to talk with me when I started researching fandom and writing books about the show, and she contributed some valuable insights to my first few books. I will be forever grateful for her generosity in answering my questions, facilitating my research, and always encouraging my writing over the many years since.

Sera and John summed up where we ended the last season, which was with everyone in quite a dilemma.

John: No one knows who they are.

Sera: Alice does, but she’s locked in a prison in the library. So it’s a very interesting first episode because our characters have no fucking clue who they are.

Not to mention Eliot is now the monster…

Me (with my psychologist hat firmly on): Are you treating this like the characters have amnesia and it’s almost like a trauma for them?

John: It’s more like you are that person, an entirely different human being.

Sera: They even look different.

John: When they look in the mirror, they see someone different.

Sera: We’ll explain why in the first episode, but we’ve actually got two sets of actors. It required a lot of explaining when we were producing the first episode, but it makes sense when you watch it.

Me: Oooh that’s intriguing…

John and Sera: (cagey grins)

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The Magicians’ Sera Gamble on What She Learned from Supernatural and What’s Next!

Once you’re part of the SPNFamily, you’re always part of the SPNFamily – so my recent trip to Comic Con included lots of catching up with some of the people who have shaped the show in important ways. Sera Gamble started as a writer on Supernatural, working closely with Eric Kripke, and later took over as showrunner when Eric left after Season 5. I first met Sera when I was writing Fandom At The Crossroads and Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls – in fact, she was one of the very first people to grant us an interview, and her insights were instrumental in encouraging us to keep writing. There’s an amusing scene in Fangasm (okay, there are LOTS of amusing scenes in Fangasm, whatever…) – anyway, there’s an amusing scene in Fangasm where Kathy and I arrive at the WB booth at Comic Con to interview Eric Kripke and find that he’s brought Sera with him.

Eric: Oh! These are the two who sent me the porn!

Sera: (cocks eyebrow)

It’s a long story, but let’s just say that was an interesting interview.

Sera is now writer and showrunner on The Magicians, which just began filming its third season on SyFy. For those who aren’t familiar, The Magicians is based on the books of the same name by Lev Grossman, and airs on SyFy in the US. The magical Brakebills University in the series is a mash up of “Hogwarts and Harry Potter for adults” and Narnia with a little Supernatural mixed in, darker and more adult oriented than the first two and more consistently magical than the last. The main characters include Quentin, who discovers that the books he has always loved are in fact not fantasy or fiction after all; Julia, his childhood friend who isn’t allowed into the magical world and whose life is marked by significant trauma; Alice, who is overcome by too much magic in Season 2 with dire consequences; Eliot, the reluctant king and Margo, the queen trying to find her way and her identity. The cast also includes Penny, the traveler, a villainous character known as The Beast, and the Dean of Brakebills, played by Rick Worthy (known to Supernatural fans as the Alpha Vamp).

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