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The Haunting in Connecticut 2 : Ghosts of Georgia

The DVD Pile

Haunting In Connecticut 2 001The title makes no sense apart for wanting to connect this film to another supernatural mystery story by the same producers. And even though is set in Georgia it was filmed in Louisiana. Of course it is ‘based on true events’ but then that is a common claim in many of these films. This film does have couple of scary moments but it really spends more time uncovering the mystery than building up the cheap jump scares. The story was okay but not exactly original

A family move into their new house in country, a house that was going cheap because it has been lying empty for many years and needs some fixing up. Of course another reason it is so cheap is that is very haunted.  The family is Lisa Wyrick (Abigail Spencer) and her husband Andy (Chad Michael Murray) and they have a young daughter called Heidi (Emily Alyn Lind) and there’s also a freeloading sister Joyce (Katee Sackhoff) who appears within a day of them moving in.

It doesn’t take long for strange things to start happening because Lisa, Joyce and Heidi are all psychic and can see ghosts. Joyce totally accepts her abilities but Lisa has rejected hers and constantly takes medication to make them go away. Heidi seems happy with her powers but Lisa is putting pressure on her to reject them too.

This becomes increasingly difficult when time after time Heidi gets information from a spirit she calls Mr Gordy (Grant James) that is not only impossible for her to know but completely correct. When Mr Gordy tells Heidi that there is money buried in the garden and Andy finds a box of old coins buried there he is convinced there is more to Heidi’s story than childish imagination which is what Lisa is trying to convince everyone it is.

They get a visit from Pastor Wells (Lance E. Nichols) from the local church who tells them that their property is historically significant as one of the stations in the Underground Railroad. When slavery was legal in some states and illegal in others slaves on the run could use the Underground Railroad which was a series of safe properties owned by those sympathetic to their cause where they could rest or meet up. The owners of these properties were called Station Masters. They find the remains of the building where those on the run could hide. Many of the spirits that they see are of those who were on the Underground Railroad did not get further than this station. Some were merely victims of misfortune but many others were victims of something much more malevolent and its spirit is also still around.

Lisa doesn’t seem to have any convincing justification for her sceptical behaviour in the film. The ghosts are real and their revelations are true and even Andy who sees nothing spooky is convinced.  In fact Andy is so supportive and understanding of Heidi’s visions that there seems to no pressure on Lisa to be acting way she does. I know she is supposed to based on a real person and people are not always rational but I was never convinced.

This film was okay but I doubt I’ll be remembering it for long afterwards. It’s one of those stories that have been done several times before with minor variations in character and some of the details. The big evil is just nonsense which might be justified if the true story involved making these same discoveries. Unfortunately the only thing that’s true is that Heidi had reported having visions of Mr Gordy and other spirits. The acting was mostly okay and there were some reasonable special effects.

Rating 6.0/10

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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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X Men: Days of Future Past

At the Movies

858070_353242348128690_933500536_oStrap in for the long haul as I have a complete geek-out here. I’ve a been an X Men comic book fan for a long time and though I did enjoy all the previous films I was concerned when they fumbled their attempt at the Phoenix Saga in X Men Last Stand then stumbled again with Wolverine Origins. I was so happy when they went the prequel route in First Class and I really enjoyed seeing the younger take on Xavier and Eric. They followed this with a respectable solo film for Wolverine. And now they have really got their franchise back on track by using the time travel device to retcon away some of their less popular choices from earlier films with a strong character driven story.

Days of Future Past is based on the story in the comics and the script does a good job adapting the story without slavishly following it. The future is a nightmare with mutants hunted down and captured or killed by mutant hunting robots called sentinels that can adapt to any attack from those with mutant powers. The whole world is a war zone and mutants are nearly extinct. Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) gather with a small group of surviving X Men to try one last desperate attempt to not only save themselves but to prevent the whole nightmare from happening: they want to change the past.

Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) seems to have developed a secondary mutation where she can send a person’s consciousness back in time to an earlier version of themselves and we see her do this with Bishop (Omar Sy), allowing them to avoid a sentinel attack that nearly wiped them out. Thanks to this ‘reset button’ power the film doesn’t hold its punches when shows just how brutal these sentinel attacks are. We also get to see some nice bits of the X Men working together in battle such as Blink (Bingbing Fan) combining her portals with the attacks of the other X Men. These include Sunspot (Adan Canto) [who seems to have acquired Sunfire’s atomic fire powers], Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Warpath (Booboo Stewart) , Storm (Halle Berry) and it’s great to see Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) in full ice form using his ice slides.

Kitty’s power is only used for sending someone a couple weeks back at most as any more causes damage to the mind/brain. Xavier wants to go back to the 1970s to prevent the assassination of Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) the scientist who developed the prototype sentinels and was trying to sell them to the US government. When he was killed by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) this convinced the government of the danger posed by mutants and also gave them access to Mystique’s DNA which Trask’s company used to develop the lethal future sentinels.

Xavier is not physically capable of surviving the strain of the time displacement so they need to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) which has the advantage of making sense in the story and perfect sense for such prominent role to be played by the star of the series. I know that in the comic it was Kitty who went back and in the cartoon series it was Bishop but neither character has much chance of even existing that far back and Wolverine has been the audience entry point to this film series. Fortunately Wolverine is more than adequately balanced out by the other characters in this film.

Back in 1973 Wolverine wakes up in bed with some anonymous woman and he stops to give the audience a lingering look at his naked butt before a gang of thugs break down the door and try to kill him. After dealing with them he goes to find Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) in his family mansion. Xavier is living with Beast (Nicholas Hoult) who looks a bit more human than last time we saw him in First Class. This is because of a magic serum plotholefillium Beast developed which supresses mutations but stops working if Beast gets upset [a bit like the Hulk only blue and furry]. Charles has also been taking the serum so he no longer has his telepathy but for some reason the serum allows him to walk despite the bullet in his spine. Charles Xavier has been broken by events since the last film. Two of his students were conscripted into the army when the Vietnam war started and Mystique left with Magneto so he had no-one apart from Beast. He has lost his optimism and his vision of humans and mutants living together in peace.

Next Wolverine has to get Magneto (Michael Fassbender) who is being held in a non-metallic prison under the Pentagon. Fortunately Wolverine knows someone who can help them, a teenage boy called Peter Maximoff (Evan Peters) otherwise known as Quicksilver. This is one of those strange characters that live in a sort of twilight zone that allows Fox and Disney/Marvel to use them. He was an Avenger in the comics but he’s a mutant and has been involved in X Men related titles such as X Factor. He is a great character, funny and mischievous and the scene of him using his power to rescue them from armed guards is the highlight of the film as we see him racing round the room in bullet time gently nudging things, shifting things into place and when we return to normal time the guards have knocked each other out and all their bullets have missed. [A minor spoiler from the comics is that Peter is Magneto’s son but they only hinted that in the film.]

Now Magneto and Xavier have to get over their disagreements to stop Mystique but they don’t know where she is and since Xavier is powerless he can’t find her but they do know she is going to be in Paris to kill Bolivar Trask as he pimps his sentinel project to various military leaders. Mystique went with Magneto at the end of the First Class film but she has since left him too and now is working on her own for the cause of mutants in very practical ways, such as rescuing a group of mutant soldiers in Vietnam from getting sent to a secret lab as a reward for serving their country. These mutants include Havok (Lucas Till), Toad (Evan Jonigkeit), Ink (Gregg Lowe) and some other guy with spines. Mystique is not targeting Trask because of the sentinels but because of what he did to mutants during his research [in case you are wondering what happened to all the other mutants from First class.]

The mission to change history is going as planned but Magneto decides to try to take things further, leading to a very public mutant battle being filmed by several cameras and of course the mutant threat is the top news story, guaranteeing Trask gets funding for his sentinels. Now they have made everything worse so Xavier has to come off his magic juice so he can use Cerebro to find Mystique and this is where he uses Wolverine to contact his future self and find the reason to go on with the fight. Of course this means Xavier has to give up walking and re-establish his control of his mental powers.

Xavier’s character arc is basically about Xavier becoming the man he is in the other films, a teacher, a leader and a peacemaker. Magneto is already willing to play the role of the villain that the human authorities claim him to be. He may be willing to work with Xavier to prevent becoming victim of another holocaust but that doesn’t mean he will give up plans to launch his own holocaust. Mystique has grown away from both men as she fights for mutants directly on her own and the fate of the world depends on what choices she makes.

Bolivar Trask is an interesting villain with motives that seem to mirror Magneto’s. He is not motivated by hatred of mutants but out of loyalty to humans. He has read Xavier’s academic work and uses quotes from it in his presentation to the military. He does get side-lined by a plot that is more concerned with the interactions of the main characters so doesn’t really get to fully play a villain role but now that they have him set up I hope they make better use of him in later films.

As you can probably tell I really got into this film. The writers have done an amazing job linking up the past with future in a way that doesn’t hurt the head. Even though there are many characters in the film it focuses on Magneto, Xavier, and Mystique with Wolverine and Beast playing supporting roles. The scenes of the future were very brutal so there was always a good sense of how high the stakes were though there isn’t too much time to see any character stuff in the future. The cast are all really great especially James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence but a special word goes out to Evan Peters who took a lot of abuse before the film’s release and really delivered a version of Quicksilver that raises the bar for Marvel’s Avengers Age of Ultron film. I highly recommend this film especially to anyone who enjoyed the first X Men films and I’m really looking forward to Apocalypse in two years time

Rating 9.0/10

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Posted by on June 6, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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The Borderlands

DVD Pile

Botderlands DVD 001I saw this film going cheap in the local Sainsburys and remember  film critic Mark Kermode mentioning that he was genuinely creeped out by some scenes in it so I had to give it a go. It’s a British found footage film with a low budget and small cast but it manages get beyond these limitations to deliver an effectively atmospheric horror. It is a bit slow to get going and there is nothing you could really call action but it kept me watching and I was amused and surprised by the ending

A group of investigators from the Vatican are called in to a small English village church to investigate the strange occurrences that the local priest Father Crellick (Luke Neal) is claiming is a sign of a miracle. The investigators are Father Deacon (Gordon Kennedy), a gruff cynical world-beaten man, Gray (Robin Hill) who is a sound and camera technician and not an active church member and finally the officious little politician Father Mark (Aidan McArdle).

Gray sets up cameras all around the church and their living quarters and all three have to wear head-mounted cameras at all times except for sleep and toilet. This is apparently a precaution that resulted from an earlier case that ended tragically and there are references to this incident throughout the film but the main result is that Mark is in charge but before ‘The Incident’ Deacon led investigations.

The miracle being investigated is the video of the motion of a couple of things on the altar during a christening. Right away Deacon and Mark assumes it’s fake and they are just investigating how Crellick did it and they have the priest move out while they investigate. In fact only Gray is open to the events being real and he seems surprised at how close-minded Deacon and Mark are.  Deacon’s scepticism seems to be more from cynicism while Mark doesn’t believe in the supernatural at all, he believes in the church and his place in it.

When they investigate they get the same movements on the altar and there are sounds of things moving in the walls and the creepy sound of children crying. It doesn’t sound very exciting and mostly it isn’t but they do pretty good job building up tension. No matter what happens Mark always insists there’s nothing to it and has a naturalistic explanation ready no matter how desperate and unlikely it is.

Deacon comes to believe there is something evil going on and calls in help from Father Calvino (Patrick Godfrey) which puts Mark’s nose out of joint since Deacon went over his head to call him.  Calvino is an expert on church history and he talks about this church was built over a site of ancient pagan worship and whatever spirit they worshipped is still there.

They go the church and Calvino starts a banishment ritual and that’s when the things go crazy with lights blowing out and some force seems to be tossing them around.  When the lights come on again Calvino seems to have disappeared and Mark has gone down the old steps to the basement and this when the film starts becoming a bit like a Lovecraft story where Deacon and Gray chase after Mark and they get deeper and into strangeness and uncover disturbing ancient secrets.

The film is pretty interesting for a found footage film and it has an excellent cast whose performances helped with conveying the building sense of dread which is also helped with some great use of sound. Although I found the film interesting I have feeling others may think it is a bit slow and if you are not familiar with the works of HP Lovecraft the ending may seem strange. I found the first half was quite slow myself but the characters interested me enough to carry me into the second half.

Rating  6.5/10

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Posted by on June 1, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Supernatural Season One Episode 16 – 22

TV Binge

16. Shadow

jeffrey-dean-morgan-supernatural-shadow-3The brothers investigate a couple of brutal murders in Chicago and discover the people were killed by ancient Zoroastrian demons called Daevas. These are savage demons that are invisible apart from their shadows and they can only be summoned using ancient long forgotten black magic incantations

Sam is suspicious when he meets Meg again at the bar where one of victims worked and  he follows her home because he’s learned there is no such thing as coincidence. He follows her to a disused warehouse and sure enough he finds her performing a magic ritual at a black altar and talking to her bowl of blood again.

Sam goes back and tells Dean what he saw then they both return to Meg’s warehouse and right into Meg’s trap. Meg knew Sam was watching her all along and she captures them easily with help from the Daevas. Dean wants to know what she plans to do to them and Meg reveals she’s actually after John and she plans to use the Daevas to kill the three of them. She’s doing this for her master, the demon who killed Mary and Jessica. Dean laughs at her plan since he has no idea where John is but Meg knows John is in Chicago because Meg knows that John has one weakness, he needs to protect his sons and he will come to save them  Sam manages to break free and overturns the altar which frees the Daevas who turn on Meg and she goes through the window, apparently plunging to her death seven stories to the ground.

Sam and Dean return to their hotel and find John is there waiting for them. He was on his way and suspected the whole thing was a trap (but didn’t phone to warn them). Dean greets his father warmly but Sam is uncertain until John kind of apologises but not really and he hugs him too.  Suddenly the Daevas attack them. Meg was not killed because she’s not human and letting them think they got away was part of her plan. they only manage to escape when Sam ignites a magnesium  flare and the intense light drives off the shadows and the shadow demons with them.

Outside at the car they are recovering from the attack. Dean decides that John shouldn’t come with them. He agrees with Meg that they are a liability to John. John also agrees but Sam is frustrated that minutes after reuniting with John they are splitting up again and he feels he’s getting sidelined in the hunt for the demon but he’s outnumbered and they go off in different directions.

17. Hell House

Action figures in their original packaging

Action figures in their original packaging

Sam and Dean are investigating a haunted house that really looks fake with all sorts of occult symbols on the walls. They run into a pair of ridiculous ghost hunters Ed Zeddmore (A.J. Buckley) and Harry Spangler (Travis Wester) who have a website called Hellhounds.com. with videos and pictures of supposed hauntings. They are inspired by those lame ghost hunting cable TV shows and they have the motto WWBD – or What Would Buffy Do. and they are obviously comedy geeks, over enthusiastic and completely without any genuine experience.

The Winchesters conclude that there’s nothing to investigate and leave Ed and Harry to their fun. Next night a college student is found hanged in the house and Dean thinks they must have missed something. They return to the house and the authorities have a couple cops guarding the place so Dean sets them on the hellhounds as a distraction to let them get inside. They are attacked by the large axe wielding spirit who tries to kill them and seems immune to salt rounds and they have just get out.

They manage to trace the source of the ghost stories to a dick in a record store after Dean finally remembers one of the symbols is the Blue Oyster Cult logo. He confesses that he made the story up with stupid symbols taken from theology textbooks but Sam realises one of the symbols is real and is used to conjure a spirit called a tulpa into existence from the beliefs of those looking at it. Its weaknesses or strengths are determined by what people believe to be true so whatever Harry and Ed have wrote on their stupid blog is true. Sam and Dean try to trick Ed and Harry into changing the story and making the tulpa vulnerable but that fails hard so Dean just burns the place down – no house, no haunted house, no dead teens. Sam raises the interesting that if tulpas exist what else they have hunted only exists because of people’s beliefs.

This definitely an episode that plays it for laughs. All through the episode the brothers are playing pranks on each other such itching powder in the boxer shorts or superglue on the beer bottle. I enjoyed this series when it’s being playful like this and it lightens the mood for the intense season climax. I’m glad that Harry and Ed don’t get over used because I think the joke could get old very quickly

18. Something Wicked

A text message from John sends the Winchester brothers to Fitchburg Wisconsin to track down a creature that Dean met back when he was ten. Dean is very emotionally driven to track down the Shtriga that is an east European witch that is stealing the life energy of children and leaving them in a coma.

Sam eventually gets the story of how Dean let the Shtriga escape when John was hunting it back when the boys were young and it attacked Sam when Dean was out playing a video game. He feels guilty about nearly getting Sam killed but also responsible for the children this thing has attacked since.Sam gives a hard time for always going along with what John says but this is why he does.

We see a lot of flashbacks to Young Dean (Ridge Canipe) looking after Sammy while John is out hunting inspired by Dean’s memories of hunting the Shrtiga and from seeing the two sons of the woman running the motel they are staying at. When the younger boy is stricken down with the illness Dean realises the only way to kill the Shtriga is use the other kid as bait.

19. Provenance

This episode seemed a bit ordinary. There’s a painting that is being haunted by the evil spirit of one of its subjects and brutally killing anyone who buys it. Sam and dean try stealing the painting and burning it nut that doesn’t work so next its a hunt for the remains of the subjects for the old salt and burn treatment

The subplot here is that Sam really likes Sarah Blake (Taylor Cole) the daughter of the antiques shop owner who learns about their hunting activities when the painting kills another one of her customers. Sam would like a relationship but while he’s mixed up with this hunting lifestyle those he loves are in danger. Sarah tells him he’s being a patronising ass and she can choose how much danger she wants be in.

20. Dead Man’s Blood

The Winchesters hear about the death of a man called Daniel Elkins (Terence Kelly) and Dean remembers the name. John Winchester’s journal mentions him as a hunter and there is a contact number in the journal. They go to check it out and find the place has been wrecked but there are signs the man was a hunter like John and he left message in a PO Box addressed to J W – John Winchester

John actually meets them outside in the car. He knows what is going on and has an important task for them. He expects them to just obey without question but Sam demands answers.

Daniel Elkins used to specialise in hunting one type of supernatural creature – vampires and he and fellow vampire hunters had been so successful that most hunters thought vampires were extinct.  The letter to John was to tell him that Elkins has a magic Colt revolver but Dean noticed that the gun case was empty so now the vampires have it.

This Colt was created by Samuel Colt himself for a hunter in the 19th century and the stories claim that it can kill anything even the demon.  Hunters usually exorcise a demon which just sends it back to hell and doesn’t kill it but if they shoot the demon with the Colt it is completely destroyed.  John wants the Colt to destroy the demon that killed Mary.  The only limitation this weapon seems to have is that it only works with original thirteen bullets created for it and there’s only five left.

John gives them a brief summary of vampires before they sneak into their nest for the Colt. They feed on human blood and are invulnerable to most weapons but crosses, garlic and sunlight have no effect. Decapitation is the way to kill them and dead man’s blood makes them sick. They create new vampires by feeding their blood to humans and instead of fangs they have a row of shark teeth that retract into the gums until they are attacking.

They sneak into the nest and all the vampires are sleeping. John is inches away from getting his hand on the Colt when Sam attempts to rescue a victim who has already been turned and she raises the alarm so they have to run.

John comes with another plan the capture Kate (Anne Openshaw) the girlfriend of Luther (Warren Christie), leader of the nest. John knows they mate for life and Luther cares more about her than the Colt. He sends Dean and Sam to clean out the nest while he meets Luther alone to trade the vampire for the Colt and orders them to get out of the area afterwards.

Naturally they disobey his orders and come to his rescue which is just as well since the vampires had no intention of letting John get away alive. John ends up using one bullet to kill Luther to save Sam and the surviving vamps flee into the night.

Afterwards John agrees that they are more effective as a team working together and they are going to take on the demon and finish this together

21. Salvation

spn121_demon_megJohn has developed a unique expertise on the signs and omens that precede the appearance of the demon they are looking for and he thinks he knows where it will be next, a small town called Salvation in Iowa. There are still a number of possible families with six month old children that may by the demon’s target.

Then Sam gets one of his visions of a woman being attacked and he sees this same woman in the street pushing a pram. He tells John who acts all surprised and angry at not being told about Sam’s psychic abilities but we know that he already knows. Dean angrily points out that they tried to get in touch and John stayed hidden and John doesn’t push it any more .

John gets a call from Meg who has been busying murdering Pastor Jim (Richard Sali), a close friend of the Winchesters and she is about to murder Caleb (Josh Blacker), another close friend. Meg knows John has the Colt and she will murder her way through all John’s friends and acquaintances until John gives it to her. She slices Caleb’s throat to make her point.

John agrees to meet Meg and hand over the Colt but he intends to take a fake colt while Sam and Dean wait to kill the demon in Salvation with the real one. It is a risky plan but John has a couple of tricks to buy some time. Dean is not happy with his strategy since it doesn’t really have an exit plan.

Sam and Dean manage to stop the demon from killing anyone in the house but they fail to kill the demon. Meanwhile John’s trick with the guns gets discovered and Meg is very unhappy about that.

22. Devil’s Trap

With John missing, probably captured, possibly dead Dean knows that the demons are after them and they need help. They go to an old family friend Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) a crotchety old drunk who owns a junkyard and is an expert on demon lore. He has books full of incantations and exorcisms as well as protective circles that can imprison a demon. Considering how important Bobby becomes in later seasons it’s surprising he only appears in this last episode of the first season.

Meg finds them pretty quickly at Bobby’s but that’s because they wanted her to and they fool her into walking into a demon trap, a magic circle from the Book of Solomon drawn eilin. Dean wants to know where John is and is about to beat out information out of Meg but Bobby pulls him aside and tells him that Meg is a human possessed by a demon. Dean gets Sam to start reading an exorcism which directly causes the demon pain. It takes time but eventually Meg tells them what she knows about where John is.

Instead of letting Meg go Dean orders Sam to finish the exorcism. Bobby tells Dean that with the injuries Meg’s body has suffered the demon is the only thing keeping her alive but Dean is very firm that Meg has the chance to live or die as a human. Sam finishes the exorcism and the demon is expelled. The human Meg is still just barely alive but she thanks Dean for freeing her at last.  before she dies she confirm s the demon was telling the truth and gives more information about where John is being held.

They go to rescue John but Sam wants them to leave the Colt behind in car guarded by symbols that keep out demons. Thanks to a fire alarm and couple of stolen fireman outfits they mange to get John out only to run into the demon that helped  Meg capture John. It starts kicking the shit out of Sam and Dean puts a bullet in its head from the Colt which he didn’t leave in the car after all.

Safely catching heir breath in a hotel room John is looking out for anyone following them, especially the yellow-eyed demon who I’m going to call by his name because it’s not really a spoiler that he’s called Azazel. Supernatural uses eyes a lot, with creatures like vampires and shape-shifters having a sort of strange reflection off their eyes that shows up best in video. Most demons have black eyes including Meg but Azazel has cloudy yellow eyes like rotten egg yolks.

John thinks the demon is coming and asks Dean for the Colt but Dean is now thinking that John isn’t really John because John is being too nice and understanding about the use of a bullet during John’s rescue. He is right, John has been possessed by Azazel but Dean can’t bring himself to shoot his own father. Azazel attacks Dean and Sam pinning them to the walls with his telekinetic power. He tells Sam that he killed Jessica and Mary because they got in they way of his plans for Sam and all the children like him.

He starts trying to play to Deans fears and insecurities about his need for his family being greater than their need for him but comes back with a comment about killing Azazel’s kids  Meg and the other demon that captured John. Azazel starts tearing Dean open and  Dean pleads with his father to stop the demon killing him. For a moment John takes a charge and that’s enough for Sam to get free and grab the Colt. He shoots John in the leg which injures the demon enough to let go of Dean and John is in charge but he can still feel the demon inside. John begs Sam to shoot him kill him, kill the demon and end this while Dean begs him not to. Sam doesn’t  kill his father and the demon escapes as black smoke from John’s eyes and mouth.

Sam is driving them to nearest hospital with the badly injured  Dean on the back seat and John in the passenger seat. Sam is talking about still having one bullet so they need to regroup and try again. Out of nowhere a huge truck with a demon possessed driver smashes into them and the season ends with the three Winchesters unconscious and bleeding

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Entertainment, Television

 

Supernatural Season One Episodes 9 – 15

TV Binge

9. Home 

S1HomeThe monster this week is an angry poltergeist haunting the boy’s childhood home back in Lawrence Kansas and threatening the lives of the young widow Jenny (Kristin Richardson) and her two children who are living there. Sam had a nightmare where he sees Jenny screaming for help so now he finally has to tell Dean about his precognitive nightmares and of course Dean isn’t happy about been kept in the dark.

They try looking into what John did after the fire and learn that he visited a local psychic called Missouri Moseley (Loretta Devine) so they pay her a visit. Missouri acts as if the boys are old friends and, to Sam’s amusement, she treats Dean like a naughty child all the time, scolding him for things he’s only thinking about doing. John had come to her after Mary’s death to try and find out what killed her but though she sensed powerful evil it was gone.

Missouri goes to the house with them and her warm sympathetic manner gets them in the house much faster than whatever lie Dean was cooking up. Missouri assures Jenny that they can help and she has Dean make up some hex bags to place in house to expel the spirits. The spirit tries to stop them but they they manage to do it  just in time for Jenny to return from a trip to the movies

Missouri is sure it worked but Sam isn’t so sure and they keep an eye on the house that night. Sure enough the spirits are back and the Winchesters leap to the rescue.  Sam gets grabbed by the poltergeist but then a second fiery spirit in the bedroom resolves itself into Mary Winchester and after greeting both her sons her spirit sacrifices itself to destroy the poltergeist.

I like the scene at the end where it looks like Missouri is talking to herself about Sam and his growing psychic abilities only to reveal that she‘s taking to John Winchester.

10. Asylum

The boys get an anonymous text message that is simply coordinates and Dean assumes it’s from their father giving them a job though Sam is sceptical. The coordinates are of the derelict Roosevelt Mental Hospital in Rockford Illinois which is full of ghosts but the ghost of the insane Doctor Ellicott (Norman Armour) who ran the place gives a homicidal rage to people he touches. Sam and Dean discover the place was closed down after the patients rioted and there were many violent deaths of both staff and patients with many bodies never found so plenty of potential for vengeful spirits.

The Abandoned Asylum is a popular location for many horror films and these places are always going have stories of grisly goings on and tales of the spirits who haunt the place. This means it attracts teenage thrill-seekers. Sam and Dean find themselves having to a rescue a teenage couple as they search the place. Gavin (Nicholas D’Agosto) and Kat (Brooke Nevin) are there because Gavin thought it would be cool to go somewhere that is like a film without thinking through the desirability of becoming a stupid character in a horror film since that is the only genre of film set in this location. Dean comments on this himself when he is talking to Kat, advising to avoid wandering into haunted places in future.

Sam tries to take Katherine and Gavin out of the asylum but discovers the place is on supernatural lockdown.  He gets a call from Dean who had gone looking into a lead in the hospital’s records. This turns out to be a fake call to lead Sam into the basement and Endicott zaps Sam with his rage power.

Sam has a lot of pent up rage and he lets it all loose on Dean, his frustration at Dean treating him like kid, deciding where they go and never getting them any closer to finding John and kiling the demon. After Dean has taken out the ghost Sam tries to protest that his words were from madness but Dean clearly thinks it was Sam’s true feelings that inspired them.

Back at their motel room Dean just crashes out and falls asleep. Dean’s phone ring and Sam answers only find out it is John Winchester.

11. Scarecrow

meg-samWe start the episode with the phone call from John Winchester that was the cliffhanger ending of the previous episode. Sam has so much to talk to John about and John tells them that he knows what killed Jessica and Mary was a demon. John wants them to stop following him and tries to give them a job to take care of but Sam is furious and really doesn’t want to talk to him any more so Dean takes over, noting down names John wants them to look into.

The names turn out to be couples who all went missing on road trips across the country. They all went missing at the same time of year and all their planned routes passed through the town of Burkittsville, Indiana. They have all been sacrificed to the Vanir, a pagan god that looks a lot like a scarecrow.

This episode features the first of Sam’s huffs where he gets pissed off with Dean and he goes off on his own, this time it is mainly about their father because Dean is happy to do whatever John says.  Sam wants to go to California to find John so he heads off on his own.

Sam meets Meg Masters (Nicki Aycox) for the first time, apparently just a young hitchhiker who gets chatty with him and he confides all his troubles to her.  Meg seems genuinely frustrated when Sam rushes off to Dean’s aid when he fails to get in touch with him for a few hours.  Dean has annoyed the local much that they are going to sacrifice him to the god of the apple trees but Sam gets there just in time  save him from the evil scarecrow apple tree god

At the end of the episode we see Meg on her own getting in some guy’s car. Meg seems nice and normal until she pulls out a knife an slits the driver throat, collecting his blood in a strange looking bowl. She stirs the bowl and recites a spell then.she talks to bowl as if talking to someone we can’t hear but the gist of the conversation is that Meg is tracking Sam and Dean and she is frustrated at the order not to kill them .

12. Faith

Dean is dying after accidentally getting an electric shock when killing a monster and rescuing two children. Sam is nearly in tears as he leaves a message for his father and he is calling all their contacts to find some way of curing Dean.

Sam is desperate so tricks Dean into thinking they are going to see some sort of specialist but instead he takes Dean to a faith healer in a tent in a muddy field. Dean is of course grumpy and cynical when the blind preacher Reverend Roy le Grange (Kevin McNulty) starts his sermon.  Unfortunately for Dean, Roy heard his smartass remarks and replies to him directly calling him onto the stage to be healed.

Roy puts his hand on Deans head and something start happening and dean goes down to his knees before fainting dead away. When he wakes up his feels better but sees a strange grey skinned figure in a suit walk behind Roy and vanish.

This episode is the first time the brothers have actually spoken about what they believe. They see things all the time that prove the supernatural exists and to Sam this is evidence that God might exist too and miracles are possible. But Dean has only seen evidence of the evil done by the supernatural so his feeling is that whatever is going here is some sort of evil con.

They get Dean checked out at a hospital where tests show that his heart was never damaged. When talking about strange things happening the doctor mentions a healthy young man dying of heart attack the day before. Dean gives Sam his patented “told you so” look.  Sam looks into the death and confirms Dean’s suspicion that it matches the time he was cured. It was not a miracle that healed him but dark magic that traded Dean’s life for another man’s.

They figure out that somehow Roy has bound a reaper using dark magic. These are beings who escort the souls of the dead into the afterlife and binding them is very dangerous. They have to stop Roy healing anyone else which is complicated for Dean because he was about to heal Layla (Julie Benz), a woman Dean spoke to before and who has an inoperable brain tumour. Dean stops the healing and discovers it is Roy’s wife Sue Ann (Rebecca Jenkins) that has bound the reaper.

This seemed obvious to me since Roy’s blindness would have been a hindrance finding the ancient book of spells never mind reading from it. Sue Ann bound the reaper out of desperation to save Roy when he was dying of cancer and kept it bound out of ambition, her fall to the darkside, echoing what Dean said earlier about what evil can do to good people.

They stop Sue Ann and the reaper takes its vengeance for being bound but Dean regrets taking away the hope of those people, especially Layla. Sam has laid on a little surprise visit from Layla to say good bye and reassure Dean that she’s okay.

It is interesting to note that Dean was nowhere near as upset about his imminent death as Sam was. This a shared characteristic of the Winchester family in this series, they are literally willing to move heaven and hell  to stop each other from dying but are also willing to sacrifice themselves for the lives of others. This is really why they need each other.

13. Route 666

1120954_1348375236757_fullAfter one Dean-centred story we get another when he gets a call from an old girlfriend, Cassie (Megalyn Echikunwoke). She called Dean because her father has been killed by a ghost truck. Cassie is a journalist and Sam finds it hard to believe but Dean had told her that he was ghost hunter and that’s why she called him. Sam is shocked that Dean told Cassie the big family secret while he kept his hunter background secret from Jessica for over a year. This lapse is how Sam figures that Cassie was more important to Dean than he lets on.

The Ghost Truck appears to killing off important black men in the town and their investigations lead them back to the death of a serial killer Cyrus Dorian who targeted black men in the 60s. Cassie’s father had killed Dorian in self defence but the law at the time would not guarantee a black man a fair trail so he called his friends and they pushed the truck with the body into a swamp. The local deputy investigating Dorian’s disappearance figured it all out but covered it up. He grew up to be the mayor and also becomes a victim of the ghost truck.

Sam keeps trying push Dean and Cassie together and this works eventually. It turns out Dean opened up to Cassie about hunting because he loved her but she thought he was making up a crazy excuse to leave so she broke up with him.

The usual method of destroying vengeful spirits involves dragging the truck out of the swap then salting and burning Dorian’s body but that only seems to make the ghost truck angry so Dean leads it on a chase around the country roads while Sam tries to find another way to destroy the spirit. He has Dean wait in the grounds of an old church that Dorian burnt down when he was alive. When the truck tries to ram Dean car it vanishes away completely. Sam explains that there’s a story that spirits are destroyed by hallowed ground.  Dean is bit worried at Sam using him to bait the truck based on nearly nothing.

14. Nightmare

This episode is all about the psychic Sam plot. He has a vision of a man being killed and rushes them to Michigan to try and stop it happening but they get there too late. While they Investigate what happened Sam has another vision of the man’s brother being killed, this time he’s awake.

They find out Max (Brendan Fletcher), a young man who is the son of the first victim, with powers similar but different from Sam’s. Max is telekinetic and used his power to kill his father and uncle to pay them back for a lifetime of physical abuse. Sam has a vision of Max killing his stepmother and so they try to prevent it.

Max lost his mother the exact same way that Mary Winchester and Jessica died but instead of hunting down whatever killed her Max’s father drank and took out his anger on Max. Sam realises no matter how screwed up his life was it could have been a lot worse. When Sam is trying to talk Max out of killing his stepmother Max traps him in a cupboard.  Sam has a vision of Dean getting shot dead and his desperation seems to unleash a new  telekinetic power just like Max’s and he frees himself in time to stop Max.

Sam is very worried about his powers and whatever the demon wants with him. The most obvious fear is that he turns kill crazy like Max but Dean claims he isn’t worried because Sam has one thing Max didn’t have – he didn’t have Dean watching out for him.

15. The Benders

While investigating a possible supernatural attack Sam gets captured by a family of red neck torture cannibals who capture people to hunt and kill them. This episode is one I often miss out when I’m watching this season because… well I just prefer the other episodes.

The episode is definitely inspired by Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the family of back woods psychos who decorate their house with mobiles made of animal bones. I think there may be elements of other films that I’ve never seen but humans hunting humans is a common plot in episodes of many TV series. The Bender clan are  Pa Bender (John Dennis Johnston) and his three unwashed children and they have made some pretty elaborate cages for their victims.

Dean has to team up with a local cop Officer Kathleen (Jessica Steen) to rescue Sam but only after he convinces her not to arrest him for impersonating a law enforcement officer. Kathleen had younger brother who went missing ten years before so she understands how Dean feels. Dean thinks taking on monsters is easy compared to humans. There is logic to evil of monsters but the evil of humans is just madness.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Entertainment, Television

 

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Supernatural Season One Episodes 1 – 8

TV Binge

1. Pilot. 

marywinchesterThis first episode starts with the events that initiated everything so I’ll go into a bit of detail with it. At the home of John and Mary Winchester. Mary is awakened by noises from baby Sam’s room and goes to investigate. She sees the silhouette of a man and just assumes it is John and heads back to bed. The she hears the TV on downstairs and sees John asleep in front of it. She screams Sammy’s name and run up to nursery. John wakes up and goes upstairs to Sammy’s cot and at first he sees nothing. A drop of blood on his hand makes him look up to see Mary slashed across her stomach and pinned to the ceiling. Flames erupt around her body and John lifts Sam from his cot before the flames engulf the room and gets the boys to safety giving Sammy to Dean to carry outside.

Forward 22 years to the present and baby Sammy is now straight-A student Sam studying law at Stanford and looking forward to a future with his girlfriend Jessica Moore (Adrianne Palicki). Then Dean turns up in their apartment wanting Sam’s help to track down their father John who’s gone missing. In the intervening years John has been on a single-minded quest for vengeance against whatever supernatural entity killed his wife, hunting and killing every evil thing they come across and when his sons were old enough training them to be hunters too. When Sam left for college John took it badly and they fought so Sam has mixed feeling about seeing John again. Dean really turns on the guilt-tripping and pleading and persuades Sam to come with him.

The brothers investigate a missing person’s casein Jericho California that John was investigating and found it is a Lady in White style haunting though he left before getting rid of the ghost. These are the spirits of women who were driven mad by their husband’s unfaithfulness and murdered their children then killed themselves. Now she haunts the road and bridge where she died, getting a ride from cheating men who she kills and makes vanish.

Sam and Dean investigate the case with their usual brand of wit and deceit including impersonating state marshals which gets Dean arrested and this means he can get his hands on his father’s journal that the Sheriff (R.D. Call) has been reading. This journal has a record of every evil thing John has hunted and how it was killed as well as relevant passages copied from old books.

The ghost attacks Sam and he comes up with a very original solution – the ghost would ask to be taken home but then say she can never go home so Sam smashes the car into the house. This gives the two ghosts of the murdered children a chance to get their vengeance on the spirit of their mother and the ghosts consume each other and vanish.

They find coordinates left by their father in his journal as some sort of message but Sam wants to go back to his college and really has no interest in returning to hunting. He has no memory of his mother and so is not motivated to avenge her death Dean is disappointed but he drops off Sam at his apartment. Sam relaxes back on his bed and drops of blood hit his head. Jessica is pinned to the ceiling with her stomach slashed and there is an eruption of flames that engulf the room. Dean kicks down the door and drags Sam out to safety. Now Sam is just as committed to the hunt as his father was in his quest for vengeance.

2. Wendigo

A group of campers go missing in the wilderness at Blackwater Ridge Colorado, captured by a wendigo, a creature from Native American legends. It used to be human but it has gained powers including speed, strength and immortality from cannibalism and is a fantastic hunter.  Sam and Dean find themselves having to take care of a brother (Alden Ehrenreich) and sister (Gina Holden) who are searching for their older brother (Graham Wardle) and the smartass guide (Callum Keith Rennie) they have hired when they realise what they are up against is immune to their guns. Fortunately their father taught them what was effective if they survive long enough to use it.

Sam and Dean are following coordinates left by John in his journal as a message to the brothers hoping they will lead them to him.  Sam is twisted by grief and rage and this is making him impatient to find John and then find whatever killed Jessica but Dean tries to get him to realise that their search may take time and he can’t run on rage all the time. Their mission is to stop people getting killed by things and they have people to take care of right there.

3. Dead in the Water

The spirit of a young boy is haunting Lake Manitoc, Wisconsin and taking vengeance on those who killed him by killing their families before killing them. Dean and Sam have to keep the local sheriff’s (Daniel Hugh Kelly) daughter Andrea (Amy Acker) and his grandson Lucas (Nico McEown) from the clutches of the spirit who can travel through the pipes to attack people anywhere in the local town. Since the dead boy’s body was lost in the bottom of the lake they cannot get rid of his spirit by their usual method of by salting and burning the remains. The spirit does seem to be appeased when his killer sacrifices himself willingly to save his family.

Dean forms a connection with Lucas who is mute since seeing his father killed on the lake which reminds Dean of how he lost his mother at a young age . The boy seems to have precognitive powers and tries to warn Dean of the attacks through his drawings.

4. Phantom Traveller

A black smoky spirit creature is entering frightened air travellers and causing them to crash the planes they are on 40 minutes into the flight. This is the first demon the Winchesters come across in the series but this is very low level demon. They learn that it was a demon from the sulphur residue it left behind on the wreckage of a plane. The plan is to find the demon then exorcise it from whomever it is possesses and banishing it to hell.

They are brought into this case by a guy Jerry (Brian Markinson) that Dean and John helped before with a poltergeist so he knows this the sort of thing they deal with.  Sam learns that when John spoke about him it was with pride which surprises Sam since they had big argument when Sam left.

They learn that John has put a message on his phone telling people to contact Dean if they need help. This seems to suggest that John knows what they have been doing and Dean is right that he wants them to take over his work of saving people by hunting things.

Dean like likes to act like he is the fearless one and he certainly has no fear when taking on supernatural creatures but he’s afraid of flying in airplanes which isn’t even an irrational fear since if they cannot stop the demon the plane they are on will certainly crash.

There is a running sub-plot about Sam’s difficulties getting to sleep without nightmares that gets first mentioned in this episode and so far it’s just the recurring memory of her death and though Dean is concerned he doesn’t push it.

5. Bloody Mary

In Toledo Ohio three young girls on a sleepover are playing truth or dare and one dare is the old Bloody Mary thing – say her name in the mirror three times ans she”l gouge out you eyes. It is treated as just a stupid easy dare but the audience gets to see a spirit in different mirrors when no-one is looking. This example of the urban legend turns out to be a ghost in a mirror who kills people who have been secretly responsible for someone’s death but not necessarily the person who called her. The victims are found with dead with eyes burst and massive cerebral haemorrhaging.  Sam and Dean use ultraviolet light to reveal the names of people who have died on the back of the mirrors and they discover the link between those names and the people killed by the spirit.

Once they figure out the spirit’s MO Sam thinks he has the right qualifications to attract the spirit which basically means he’s been keeping something important secret from Dean. Though Dean knows Sam has been having nightmares about Jessica’s death Sam has never mentioned that these nightmares started before Jessica died and his guilt is that he said nothing to her out of fear of revealing the secret of his life as a hunter. Psychic Sam is a long-running plot that sees many twists along the way.

They find the original mirror that Bloody Mary was murdered in front of and Sam calls to her and sure enough she appears and attacks him but Dean manages to smash her mirror but this just frees her from the mirror. She attacks both of them but Dean holds up a mirror and her spirit is compelled to attack her own murderous manifestation and destroy itself or something.

6. Skin

Skin-1-6In St Louis one of Sam’s college friends Zach (Aleks Holtz) is arrested for murdering his girlfriend but his sister Rebecca (Amy Grabow) insists he was with her when the murder happened. They discover there is a shape-shifter in town and even though they are very familiar with the method for taking down a shape-shifter this one causes extra grief for the brothers when it takes the form of Dean and gets his face noticed by the police.

This shape-shifter changes form by shedding its skin, teeth, hair, everything and it seems to have a psychic link to whoever it impersonates so it not only looks the same, it has the same memories. While in Dean’s form it is a lot more frank with Sam about Dean’s feelings than Dean ever is. It talks about Dean’s fear of abandonment with both Sam and his father leaving him and about how much Dean has sacrificed to follow this mission and keep them together

Sam realises at the end of the episode that he really can’t have a normal life now that he has seen how much keeping things from his friends could hurt them and that Dean may be right about keeping attachments to a minimum.

7. Hook Man

Another urban legend gets an outing with a killer with a hook killing people off around the Eastern Iowa University campus with deaths staged just like in the tales children tell to scare each other. They seem to be associated with a young student Lori (Jane McGregor) who is the daughter of local church minister Reverend Sorensen (Dan Butler)

This is a fairly straightforward case with investigations uncovering a hook handed killer pastor in the past and this is the spirit who is killing people now. The only complication is that after salting and burning the remains the spirit is still active.  Sam figures out that the hook also counts as remains but it was reforged. They have to get all the silver in the church and put it in a fire to destroy the spirit. I always notice this solution as it makes no sense since this exactly what happened to the hook when it was reforged so that surely must have destroyed the spirit.

This episode didn’t have very much to do with main series story arc. There was a bit of a mention at the start of Sam’s effort to find John and the trail going cold.

8. Bugs

A series of deaths in a brand new housing development called Oasis Plains Oklahoma are caused by bugs and creepy crawlies. After investigating it turns out to be down to a Native American curse and there is no getting rid of the curse, there is just getting away from it.

Matthew (Tyler Johnston) the teenage son of property developer Larry (Andrew Airlie) gets a hard time from his dad and Sam sympathises with him and offers advice to the boy that Dean takes as an indirect swipe at their father. It seems Sam is having mixed feelings about meeting their father since in many ways he is still angry about many things but by the end of the episode he accepts he may owe his father an apology.

We see Dean raising funds by hustling pool at the start of the episode. This was mentioned back in the pilot but this the first we actually see how the boys make a living since hunting doesn’t earn any money and is quite costly at times. Sam complain that they could get day jobs but Dean is having none of that.
As soon as they get to Oasis Plain Dean expresses his disdain for suburbia with its manicured lawns but knowing Dean this is him discounting the life he could never have to convince himself that he’s lucky to never be cursed by a life of boredom.

While investigating the brothers pose as potential buyers and there is a running joke of everyone mistaking brothers for a gay couple. It is taken in good humour by Dean who even makes joke of it himself. There’s another nice scene where they go talk to an old Yuchi man who takes instant dislike Dean for trying to lie to him but happily answers all Sam’s questions

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2014 in Entertainment, Television

 

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Supernatural Season One

TV Binge

Supernatural Season 1 DVD 001I spend so much time watching TV series, binging on entire season in one go so I thought I may as well write about them. I cannot see how to avoid spoilers since even the presence of a character in one episode is often a spoiler to previous episodes, especially in this series. I’ll give an overview of the season as a whole before discussing the episodes in more depth in later posts.

Supernatural is about two brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester who travel around the United States hunting down dangerous supernatural creatures or phenomena and putting a stop to them. They have been raised in this life by their father John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) after their mother Mary (Samantha Smith) was killed by the demon Azazel in Sam’s nursery when he was a baby. Azazel’s signature method of killing is to slice his victims open and pin them to ceiling then set the place on fire. This scene is recapped at the start of every early episode so they really get their money’s worth out of it.

Sam and Dean are very different. Dean is the older brother and never lets Sam forget it, always calling him Sammy just to annoy him. He’s brash and straightforward while Sam is more studious and thoughtful. Dean is totally committed to his family and sees their life as hunters as an important task in itself while Sam hopes to see an end to their troubles and a return to normal life. Dean is always trying to live up to what he thinks his father wants while Sam questions his father in everything. These differences lead to a dramatic tension that runs through all the seasons.

Each season does have its own story arc but in the earlier ones most episodes are standalone “monster of the week” episodes where the Winchesters discover something strange is killing people and they figure out a way of putting a stop to whatever is happening. Although the episodes stand on their own there is often a development related to the main story arc and there’s usually an important lesson for one of the brothers.

The story of the first season is about the quest for vengeance for the murder of their mother and Sam’s girlfriend Jess (Adrianne Palicki). First they need to find their father who has been on this same quest for 22 years. He has left behind his journal with details of all the supernatural creatures he has dealt with over the years and it contains many scribbled notes and newspaper clippings and is one of their most valuable sources of information.

After ten episodes of running all over the country Sam starts getting the impression their father is keeping them out of the way. John does finally contact them only start giving them orders but his only pisses Sam off and he goes off on his own which is something that seems to happen at least once every season. He wants to find John right away while Dean carries on with the job that John gave them. While he’s gone he meets a young woman called Meg Masters (Nicki Aycox) who is actually possessed by a demon. Meg is a recurring character in this show and is actually working for Azazel. As soon as Sam thinks Dean is in trouble he rushes back to rescue him but the episode marks a change to increased emphasis on the search for a way to kill Azazel.

John discovered the existence of a revolver created by Samuel Colt that  according to legend can kill any supernatural creature and this is what he needs to kill Azazel. Acquiring the Colt and keeping it out of the hands of Meg and her demon buddies is a good part of the end of the season and leads to a very violent and intense climax.

This series really got off to a strong start with its first season thanks to the main characters that really get fleshed out. Sam is a fiercely independent man on a mission of vengeance and is much more similar to his father John than Dean is and this why they are always butting heads. Dean is much more committed to his family than the mission and is not prepared to see either Sam or John throw their lives away for vengeance. Dean’s the joker, the jock, the lad but that is really a front for someone who is terrified that those who he loves will leave him.

There are a few important supporting cast member who often return but none are more important than the grouchy old drunk Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) who in later seasons becomes like a surrogate father to the boys as well as providing important knowledge, helping to back up their cover stories when they are on jobs and having to listen to brothers bitch about each other. He only appears in the very last episode of the season but it is nice to see him

There is nice mix of stories with some more serious than others.There is quite a bit of humour in the stories mostly from Dean quipping and making references to films and making jokes at Sam’s expense. Late in the season in the episode Hell House the boys meet a pair of ghost hunters called Harry Spangler (Travis Wester) and Ed Zeddmore (A.J. Buckley) who think they are experts because they have website. They return in later seasons so we can enjoy seeing the brothers taking the piss out of them again. The more serious side comes in episodes like Faith in which Dean is dying and Sam takes him to faith healer. It is the first time that the series actually discusses the beliefs of the brothers.

This is series where bingeing on one season is not enough for me and I often go on to watch all the available episodes again

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