If you bought the season 1 DVD set, you’ll remember the commentary Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles provided for “Phantom Traveler.” In between the babbling, bumbling, and fake snoring (which may be why they’ve never done another commentary unsupervised), they talked about how the entire Supernatural team grew to know and trust each other throughout the season. Jensen said the show would continue to improve and that season 2 would be better than season 1.
I scoffed! I could not imagine how anything could be better than season 1. Guess what? It was!
My not-so-scientific data collection shows a shockingly different list of top episodes from what I expeccted. According to IMDB and TV.com, the are the rankings:
- First place: All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2
- Second place: Born Under a Bad Sign
- Third place 3-way tie: Croatoan; What Is and What Should Never Be; and All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1 (To which I say, one of these thing is not like the others.)
Although I had several 5-star episodes, my top four were fairly easy to pick. In fact, I can even rank them. And so I shall.
#4. Nightshifter (212)
It’s entertaining from beginning to end, and lots of places in between. As the “Then” rolls by, it’s interrupted by a breaking news report, and even now I’m always a little surprised and have to regain my bearings that it’s not really a news bulletin.
The middle gave us memorable characters. Chris Gauthier made Ronald Reznick such an entertaining character, I sometimes forget the episode also introduced FBI Agent Victor Henriksen, a great recurring foe wonderfully played by Charles Malik Whitfield.
With Dean and Sam in SWAT gear, the ending rocked to “Renegade” by Styx, as the dirty Impala drove off
into the sunset… er, out of the parking garage.
The show even allows me to add my own dialog. When talking about the shapeshifter from St. Louis, the conversation goes
Sam: Shapeshifter. Just like back in St. Louis. Same retinal reaction to video.
Dean: Eyes flare at the camera. I hate those friggin’ things.
Sam: You think I don’t?
Dean: Yeah, well, one didn’t turn into you and frame you for murder.
Me (for Sam, because he doesn’t reply): Yeah, but one turned into my brother and tried to kill me. So yeah, I got a reason to hate ’em.
#3. Born Under a Bad Sign (214)
In the first Supernatural March Madness, “Born Under a Bad Sign” was in the finals, losing only to the champion. (We’ll get to that in a moment.*) It was one of the those episodes that stumped me, and those are often my favorites.
It was a tour de force for Jared Padalecki. He was Sam; and yet, he wasn’t Sam. When he gave up all pretense of being innocent, he became downright frightening. His scenes with Jo were so nerve-wrenching, my heart pounded. When he knock her out and began stroking her, my stomach literally lurched.
When Sam taunts Jo about her father, I often imagine this was Jared’s Emmy reel. His movements, facial expressions, timing, and sing-song “my daddy shot your daddy in the he-ad” were so different from the Sam we know and love,so menacing, and so perfect.
#2. In My Time of Dying (201)
*And just what episode did “Born Under a Bad Sign” lose to? That would be “In My Time of Dying.” Actually, “In My Time of Dying” won every Supernatural March Madness tournament except one.** (Most tournaments took place at LiveJournal.) I agree with its status in the Supernatural Hall of Fame, which is why I’m a bit surprised it wasn’t the top-rated episode per IMDB and TV.com.
Eric Kripke wrote a powerful script. Kim Manners gave us sterling direction, often throwing us a little off-balance. Several times, in one continuous shot, other-worldly Dean would appear, then disappear. You knew something was different, you just couldn’t place it.
It was so perfect, it didn’t need a shocking ending that left us speechless. But it gave us one.
#1. What Is and What Should Never Be (220)
**That one Supernatural March Madness that “In My Time of Dying” didn’t win? It was “What Is and What Should Never Be.” I wonder if my own love for this episode skewed the results. After 10 years, it remains my all-time favorite episode.
I tend to love the “alternate reality” episodes, but this is one or two cuts above all the others. How did Dean wake up in this universe of light and color? His strained relationship with Sam bothered him. The hunter in him couldn’t let go of his visions.
Both actors said the new relationship was difficult for them to play, but both were superb. Despite his 6’5″ frame, Jared managed to make Sam seem like a meek brainiac. (Jared is a brainiac, but certainly not meek.)
And Jensen! I feel this should have been his Emmy reel rather that “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2.” Yes, his grief at Sam’s death was heart-breaking, but here his anguish was low key, and that’s always harder to do. His speech to his father in the graveyard still moves me to tears.
Way too many to mention!
What were your favorite episodes from season 2? (No poll, since only two people voted in the season 1 poll. And I was one of them.)