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Supernatural Fodder

Supernatural: Bloodlust Critique

Excellent episode. The writers set us up for some nice episodes later on.


I predicted that the Winchesters would find another mentor to replace John. That's a standard writing trick. Generally, you don't want the heroes too strong in the beginning. It makes the story too linear. If the story progresses like this - hero meets mentor, hero learns from mentor, hero goes it alone - it's awfully linear. So you throw in twists, like hero loses mentor prematurely (think Star Wars here. Luke loses Ben), or hero learns, but finds his mentor does not teach him all he needs to know, so he must discover it himself (again, think Star Wars, Luke must leave Yoda prematurely), or find another mentor.

So having them learn all they can from one mentor, then move on to another, greater mentor is a way to add interest to the plot. Typically, the hero's eyes are opened to how little they know.


The writers in this case threw me a curve here. The brothers learned from this mentor, but in a negative way. This mentor shows them how little they know, by how little he knows.

That's a fantastic twist on the technique.

The brothers don't want to learn from Gordon. He can teach them intensity even more than John. He can teach them dedication and single-mindedness, again, even more than Joh, but he hasn't learned to distinguish good from evil. He is a weaker hunter than the Winchesters.

So in the end, Sam and Dean find out their father, while not perfect, was a better mentor than Gordon.

Double duty writing

This is excellent writing because the whole episode does double and triple duty. You have to have that economy to write a great hour long TV series, there's just so much that you can pack into 43 minutes.

Let's look at everything that happened with this plot:

1) the brothers see hunting in a new light. It's a battle of good versus evil, not human versus supernatural.

2) the awareness of good versus evil is a continuation of a previous storyline (the good spirit of the mother in the episode "Home" from Season 1).

3) John is cast in a new light. He's no longer seen as being as driven and singleminded. Some things did take priority over hunting for John - like family, even if it was John's weird, obsession-driven definition of family. Contrast John's family with Gordon's family - Gordon killed his own sister, and relished it. The differences are stark, and clear, and we begin to see John in a new, more understanding way.

4) Some of the previous hunts are now morally ambiguous. So far, the series has shown only the morally clear hunts. I predict that a future episode may show fallout from hunts in Sam and Dean's childhood. This fallout may be consequences due to John (or even one of the brothers) killing something that should not have been killed. Don't forget (as mentioned in the Eric Kripke blogger's teleconference) that Dean's eyes bled in the "Bloody Mary" episode last year. That means he feels secret guilt for someone's death.

Number 4 is the reason the last exchange between Sam and Dean is such good writing. Dean wonders about past hunts. The scene is set for a future episode as I described above. But Dean also is no longer morally clear. The scene is set for Dean to have doubts. And he is in a business where hesitation and doubt can get you or someone close to you, killed. Or worse.

Future directions

So now the direction of the series is up in the air. Which way will it go? Will future episodes bring more moral choices the characters must face? I think so, in fact, besides grief, I believe this will be the theme this year - moral choices. Dean's dark side is even closer to the surface with the death of John. He will have to struggle to control it, and we may see episodes where he fails. That gives the writers another point of conflict to work with. And the more conflict, the stronger the show.

Also, I'm making another prediction. Sam is not half-demon. This episode clinches it for me. He is the moral guide for the brothers. I don't believe that's possible if he is half-demon.

But we now know that there are good spirits. Maybe Sam is half-angel.....

Posted by Miller on October 17, 2006 10:01 AM
Permalink |

Great analysis of the show! I love reading your thoughts each week.

I'd kinda prefer if Sam was half demon. We need to see a dark side in him sometime. He can't be the goody-goody forever. Yes, I like him as the moral compass, but he needs a little more depth. I think we've only seen him get "really" mad once - at Dean when he said they should forget revenge on the demon for their mom and Jess.

So does Sam = Luke and Dean = Han Solo? Ya think they'll run into an unknown sister that's half demon (or angel) and she and Dean are meant to be together? :)

-- Posted by: shannon at October 17, 2006 11:17 PM

Shannon, maybe they have already met her? If Ellen and John had an affair, Jo could very well be Sam and Dean's half sister.

I enjoyed your critique of the show as well, it gave me some things to ponder.

-- Posted by: some girl at October 18, 2006 1:03 AM

Well, they'd need a sister that was half with Sam and not with Dean (meaning, from the implied demon half of Sam). Jo could be the candidate, but I'm not keen on her ... yet. She seems extry young.

-- Posted by: Shannon at October 18, 2006 8:42 AM

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