In the pilot episode of Supernatural, I yell at mostly everything because why are you making that decision? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to start Supernatural.
Oh my god, it’s happening.
So, this intro is going to be a tad larger than usual. BUCKLE IN. THERE’S A LOT THAT MUST BE SAID BEFORE WE START SUPERNATURAL.
1) PLEASE DO NOT SPOIL ME OR ANYONE ELSE WATCHING THIS SHOW FOR THE FIRST TIME. If you’re new to Mark Watches, I watch shows with as little knowledge as possible of the show beforehand. I do have a guide as to what constitutes a spoiler, but here’s an easy way to determine if what you’re about to say is a spoiler: Can that information be gleaned from the actual episodes that I have seen? No? THEN DON’T TELL ME IT. Nothing from future episodes, nothing from interviews and behind-the-scenes, NOTHING AT ALL. Additionally, don’t try to hint at the solution to mysteries and plots by pointing out things I missed or skimmed over from the past. This project works best when I am viciously and sadly unprepared. Trust me. You will thrive off of my pain and terror once I realize what’s going on.
2) You may use rot13.com to cypher all spoilers! Spoiler talk is allowed on my sites; that’s what all the gibberish in the comments is. Feel free to cypher all spoilers for the show, as long as you take care not to spoil other people in the process.
3) Video commissions to accompany reviews are $25 per episode, can be purchased here, and will remain free to download while I am reviewing that season. So, once I finish season one of Supernatural, all the video commissions will move to my store to be archived, and will cost $0.99 a piece to download. This helps pay for the very high cost of hosting this website and my videos for y’all. Please consider supporting me, as it helps me pay bills and keep my online universe running.
4) Please read the Site Rules and the FAQ. My moderators and I are doing are best to run a safe, inclusive community. We have a strict policy about slurs and bigotry. If you are warned by a moderator, please take the advice they give as a warning and nothing more. It is not a personal judgment on you. We are not trying to control how you speak in your own life; we are merely asking you to be considerate of others while you post in this one community. Repeated offenses or particularly egregious ones will get your comments deleted and may possibly earn you a suspension or a ban. And if you use the Free Speech/First Amendment argument in any sense, it’s an automatic ban.
5) Do not bring fandom drama to my community. One of the reasons I put off watching this show for so long was because even I was subject to some of the Supernatural fandom’s bizarre penchant for absurdity. Please, let’s discuss the show, respect one another, and have a good time. My moderators and I are not interested in hosting a rehashing of every terrible thing someone else did; let’s not go around ripping bandages off wounds and igniting a firestorm of awful.
I really do want to have a good time and find out why so many people love this show, so, let me do my thing, and we’ll have a party ‘round here, okay? Now, onwards to another thing.
What Mark Knows About Supernatural
So, I don’t often get to do these because lately, I’ve been doing books and shows that I’ve either never heard of or am totally ignorant of their content. Supernatural is an exception, though, as I am about to demonstrate, I really don’t know that much about it. But I like being transparent about this so that y’all know going forward what I already know!
- There are two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester.
- Apparently a lot of people are convinced they’re soulmates? (And apparently, I’m not really gay since I don’t believe this SORRY I CAN’T HELP IT, IT’S JUST SO FUNNY TO ME.)
- They have a car that is very American!
- Pie? Something about pie.
- There’s a gay angel played by Misha Collins named Castiel who shows up later in the show.
- Tuesday? Something about Tuesday that I have no context for.
- It’s spooky!
- It is very problematic, and for some reason, despite that I have asked folks to not tell me anything about a show I’m about to watch, everyone seems to think they can break this rule with this show. Y’all, I don’t know what made you think Supernatural was an exception. I like going into shows without a bias or any idea what I’m in for, but I’ve lost count of how many times people who should really know better started lecturing me about how so totally problematic it is and it doesn’t treat people well and WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME THIS. YOU KNOW IT IS AGAINST THE RULES.
- I also know that there is a woman somewhere in the United States who is now going to drop out of ever following Mark Does Stuff again because I’m starting this show for my site. Y’all can thank her, as she is 90% of the reason I decided to commit to putting it on the calendar. She very angrily told me that HOW DARE I consider watching this show because then I am legitimizing it and then I’m only supporting how awful it is and YOU ARE ALSO BREAKING THE RULES OF MY SITE STOP IT. She gave me the ultimatum I referenced above, and I told her that she shouldn’t let the door hit her on the way out. Nope, you don’t get to break the rules and THEN tell me what I am allowed to watch of my own volition. Also, if you can’t wrap your mind around the idea of critical analysis, what the hell are you doing on my site?
- Anyway, I needed to get that out of my system. I am coming into Supernatural like everything I approach for Mark Does Stuff: I ultimately would like to appreciate it. I love discovering why people are obsessed with something. As you can see, I actually don’t know a single plot besides Wincest and gayngels, and I’m pretty sure those are more fandom canons than anything else? So, I really do want to give this show a chance. And, let me just dispel what I once said: I’m not going to give this show just a season’s chance. Initially, I wanted to test the waters and only watch one season, but fuck it. I’ll do all eight aired seasons; I imagine I’ll catch up to season nine easily, too, since that just started. So nine seasons! And if I hate it, then so be it. Hopefully I can be as entertaining as I was back when I did Mark Reads Twilight.
And with that, it’s time to begin, y’all. Holy shit.
“Take your brother outside as fast as you can – don’t look back. Now, Dean! Go!”
And that’s what I took away from “Pilot”: Dean Winchester hasn’t looked back ever since he left that house. Instead, he’s devoted his entire life to hunting, which was loosely defined as going out and killing really creepy things.
There’s a part of me that was ecstatic to watch this show for one sole reason: I love the horror genre. And I mean that I will go out and watch any shitty horror movie in the hopes that even one part of it will hit me where I want it to. I’ve been obsessed with horror since I was a child; I managed to sneak a copy of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark into my house after checking it out of the library and forging my mother’s signature. (If you’re reading this Mom, SORRY.) I would wait until after my bedtime, wait until my mother and father were transfixed by 60 Minutes or Dateline or whatever adult program they’d watch at night, and then I would pull out a flashlight from under my mattress and hide in a fort of blankets, reading. I’d read every word of that book, over and over again even the appendices and Alvin Schwartz’s commentary on how he came up with some of his retellings. I’d stare at Stephen Gammell’s illustrations, horrified and bewildered by the man’s ability to terrify my goddamn soul.
When I was 8, I found a battered copy of It in a box in the garage, left behind by my older sister before she moved on to the rest of her life. I devoured it in six days, not understanding many of the sexual references and scenes, but convinced that there was nothing more frightening in the entire universe. I avoided gutters and rain grates for years. And a very justifiable phobia of spiders gripped me for nearly a decade. Then, I went back to that box and found The Stand. I read that in eight days, stealing time between lessons in third grade to read, using recess to get lost in a book that was drastically too old for me. I went back to the library, but found that the books capped at a sixth grade reading level. So, at home that afternoon, I crouched down on the floor in the living room, turning my head sideways to read the colorful spines of the books on the bottom shelf, the ones I knew were my mother’s “adult” books. I saw a complete set of Edgar Allan Poe stories that my mother had ordered from Reader’s Digest sitting there, and I pulled it out, running to my mother with my new prize in hand, begging her if I could read it. She seemed confused at first, but conceded that I could, as long as I finished my homework first.
The Tell-Tale Heart. The Mask of Amontillado. Berenice. The Black Cat. The Fall of the House of Usher. They broke my heart, they gave me nightmares, they disturbed me that sometimes I’d have anxiety attacks, thinking about just how soul-crushing the final twists to these stories were. And I couldn’t stop. I wanted that feeling over and over again. I wanted to shout at people not to go into that dark house at the end of the street. I wanted to feel that oppressive, enveloping horror as I realized the scope of the story. I wanted my heart to flutter in terror at the dread of every new story I read.
I found comfort in Mary Shelley, H.P. Lovecraft (fuck that piece of shit racist asshole, by the way, I don’t care how much I liked him as a kid), Clive Barker (QUEER HORROR OH MY GOD), Stephen King (his short stories are THE BEST EVER for the most part), Richard Matheson, and Shirley Jackson (MY QUEEN YOU WERE SO PERFECT).
It wasn’t until I was much older that horror as a film genre became my new thing. It was easy to sneak books into my house past my conservative mother. Movies? Nearly impossible. I missed everything. (With the exception of The X-Files and The Twilight Zone, which were totally fine to watch??? I don’t understand my mother sometimes.) I spent a lot of time in college asking my friends to get me movies to watch that I’d missed out on. However, it wasn’t until the advent of Netflix that my life changed FOREVER. Y’all. Y’all. I had a 4-disc-at-a-time account, and would go through about 15-20 films PER WEEK for nearly a year. I watched virtually everything across the entire globe during that year, and that meant I saw a lot of horrible movies. And some good ones! John Carpenter’s The Thing. Lake Mungo. (THAT ENDING GAVE ME NIGHTMARES FOR WEEKS.) Frailty. The Vanishing. Alien. The Descent. (THAT MOVIE IS NOT WHAT I THOUGHT IT WAS ABOUT.) [REC] (Fuck the American remake.) Do Michael Haneke’s films count as horror? Because they’re all so fucking unsettling that they’ll haunt you for years.
Anyway, we can devote AN ENTIRE THREAD to talking about awesome horror films. I swear this has a point, though! I’m coming into Supernatural from someone who adores the genre, despite that it is flawed and a hot mess. If you’re a horror fan, I’ve found you generally see more bad movies than good ones, but some of the bad ones end up making for a great time. About fifteen minutes into “Pilot,” I realized that even if this truly is a problematic show as people have said, I am going to have so much fun yelling at bad decisions. In this episode alone, we’ve got people picking up badly dressed hitchhikers! We have people going into clearly abandoned houses that look haunted. We’ve got a brother essentially breaking into his brother’s house in the dark and being shocked that he’s met with a fist. Dude what are you fucking doing?
He’s being Dean. The pilot does a good job of establishing the dynamic between these two brothers. I got the sense that Dean was a lot more crude and stereotypically masculine than Sam. But I was most intrigued by their ideas of loyalty to their father. I mean, come on, y’all, you know I love fascinating family dynamics, so as plain and simplistic as some of this dialogue is, it’s totally up my alley. NOT SORRY: I WILL DEVELOP FEELING ABOUT RIDICULOUS FAMILY DRAMAS LIKE MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT. But Sam clearly didn’t want anything to do with the life of a hunter, going so far as to spend years away from the rest of his family. Dean, however, hasn’t ever considered leaving that life. So how was Sam going to rectify these two opposing forces? He seemed happy at school and happy with Jess. (Holy shit, it’s Tyra Collette. This is too weird!)
AND THUS, THINGS HAPPEN TO PULL SAM AWAY FROM HIS LIFE. That generally includes killing all of the women. Seriously, only two women make it out of this pilot alive. Mary, Jess, and Constance are all dead and very, very gone by the end. Which… okay! I get that Mary’s death is a motivating factor in the Winchester’s dedication to hunting down the demon-thingy that killed her. I get that! Tragic backstory… that sort of goes hand-in-hand with a brofest, y’all. But… wait. I’ll get to this at the end.
I come into pilot episodes with the bar set low. It’s not that pilots are historically terrible; it’s just that I always want to give a show a few episodes to build interest, to show me what they’re about, and to make their mark. Yet Supernatural doesn’t waste a lot of time to give me the basics: The Winchester brothers hunt evil, scary things in the world, they do it in an Impala, and everyone around them is consumed by bad decision making. The show is properly spooky in atmosphere, and I can already tell that there’s a potential for the writers to address just about every single urban legend and supernatural entity known to the world. (This show does seem to borrow heavily from The X-Files, though I appreciated the Mulder/Scully reference. I don’t mind the borrowing when it’s acknowledged!)
So, how is Supernatural going to set itself apart from other supernatural-themed shows? Well, I am totally into the Winchesters as bickering detectives. What, it took like fifteen minutes for them to start hitting each other and calling one another names? Okay, count me in for that. Plus, I don’t get the sense that show is going to take itself too seriously. I loved that Dean was caught for credit card/identity fraud in the very first episode, almost as if the writers were saying, “Yeah, we know this is bullshit. Let’s make fun of ourselves first.”
For the most part, though, there are some serious attempts at creeping me out. I admit to jumping a few times. But it was dark in my boyfriend’s apartment! Don’t judge me! Constance is appropriately creepy, but she sort of suffers from the same problem that Mary and Jess do: We don’t really know anything about her. She’s an idea, though ironically, Constance is the most developed woman in “Pilot,” despite that she’s merely a seductress murderer. Also, I thought the whole “woman in white” legend was based on women who had been betrayed? Not one who had such a specific story as Constance. Well, I suppose the show can also invent their own narratives around legends. Regardless, I think I’d love to see Supernatural focus on American folk legends because the idea of the Winchesters going to small towns across this country and finding weird shit is completely appealing to me.
Anyway, I wouldn’t call this one of my favorite pilots. It was a hell of a lot of fun to watch, and I get the basic gist of what Supernatural is about. It’s most likely going to be an episodic story, though I was surprised that we didn’t find John Winchester by the end of the episode! Okay, so it’s doing the X-Files thing where it combines monster-of-the-week episodes with a season-long arc, I’m guessing? I’m into that. I certainly haven’t been pulled in yet, but it’s just started. The only thing that absolutely bothered me was the deliberate fridging of Jess so that Sam would have a reason to go with Dean on his quest to find their father. I seriously haven’t seen such a blatant use of that trope in years! Literally, Jess (and law school, somewhat) was in Sam’s way, so the writers literally kill her. I mean, why did that even happen? What is the demon-thingy that causes this and why is it tormenting Sam? Will y’all still consider me an adult now that I’ve typed “demon-thingy” three times in one review? Look, I don’t know what was responsible for Jess and Mary’s death. I don’t know what to call it! STOP JUDGING ME.
So, that was Supernatural. Not awful, but not mind-blowing. Can we just get more of the Winchesters arguing with each other over petty shit? That’s the most entertaining thing about this.
The video commission for “Pilot” can be downloaded right here.
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