[This review was originally posted the week of June 8, 2013 at the New Stream of Conscience.]
What an terrific week of Supernatural viewing! Four excellent episodes, including two of my all-time favorites.
Something Wicked (118)
Perhaps I’m overly fond of “Something Wicked” because it’s the first Supernatural I watched. But I don’t think so. I’ve now seen 172 episodes, many of them several times, and “Something Wicked” always stands out for several reasons.
First of all, the monster of the week, the shtriga, is really scarey. Secondly, the writing is taut. The brothers spar with each other, but also show how much they care. The mystery builds over the course of the episode. The lighting perfectly sets the mood. (The microfiche light reflecting newsprint off Sam’s face comes to mind. And now I’m wondering how many of the show’s target viewers even know what microfiche is!) The melodic background music mournfully expresses the mood of the town. (I’m not sure if this was Chris Lennertz or Jay Gruska. Both have produced some beautiful scores.)
Of course, the real draw of this series is the family dynamic. We finally get a glimpse into the life of the young Winchesters on the road, holding up in motel room after motel room. And we get a better understanding of Dean’s overwhelming need to take care of Sammy. It’s his “job,” drilled into his head by his father. Dean knows immediately why John sent them to Fitchburg, WI. But his overly cavalier attitude isn’t just meant to avoid discussing it with Sam, it’s as if he’s trying to deflect his own guilt.
To top off the goodness, my second favorite song from season 1, Ozzie Osbourne’s “Road to Nowhere,” plays as the beloved Impala heads off into the sunset.
The episode was so very well done, I don’t know why the director and writer were “one-hit wonders.”
Trial and Error (814)
- Trial—as in the three trials needed to close the gates of hell
- Error—as in all the stupid mistakes the brothers make in this episode (and this season, for that matter)
As mentioned in my initial review, this is one of my favorite episodes from this season. Sure, the twists were a little predictable, but they were twists. It’s a pivotal episode, setting up the arc for the second half of season 8. We got not one, but two heartfelt brother speeches (one each); we finally got to see what hell hounds look like (pretty much as scary as expected); Dean got a proposal and a kiss. What wasn’t to love? Plus, I was happy to see Tamara Braun (middle-sister Cindy). Sure, Tamara tends to overact, but here it was fun. After all, she called Sam “Ken doll.”
The final twist? Did not see that coming. So Dean has to take a back seat while Sam gets all the glory? Nay, I say! The “every man” put into heroic situations is far more interesting than the hero. Plus it gives us the angst of the season finale. In “Trial and Error, Sam optimistically believes he can perform the trials and survive. Yet in “Sacrifice,” he’s willing to die because he believes he’s disappointed his big brother.
In the end, the decision to not close the gates of hell came down to Dean. That’s a pretty significant role in the “mytharc,” if you ask me.
And really, how can you resist Nerd Winchesters?
– Written by Andrew Dabb; directed by Kevin Parks
– TV Fanatic fan rating 4.7 (out of 5); IMDB rating 8.6; TV.com 9.0 (Finally! Someone agrees this is a great episode!)