Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Supernatural: Bloodlust – review – TV episode


Directed by: Robert Singer

First broadcast: 2006

Contains spoilers

This episode of the series Supernatural is from season 2 and aired in the UK for the first time last Sunday on ITV2. The series concerns the brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki)Sam and Dean and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) as they hunt Supernatural entities.

The vampire episode in Season 1, Dead Man’s Blood, became a little bogged down in main arc story coming, as it did, towards the end of the season but it did establish the vampire lore. The vampires can be killed by decapitation and are incapacitated by exposing their systems to dead man’s blood, they live by night but can survive sunlight and rather than two fangs they have a set of second sharp fang-like teeth that descend/ascend from the gums.

Unlike the earlier episode this was not as bogged down in main story/character arc but it did open up the possibility that not everything they have hunted is necessarily evil and greyed the distinctions in the series. It did this by having vampires that fight their natures and are not feeding on humans. Not a favourite of the traditional vampire fan, I realise, but done in quite a clever way.

finding the fangIt begins with a girl running through the woods and being attacked by a figure with a scythe. The brothers head towards the town, as there have been two beheadings and several cattle mutilations they believe supernatural forces may be at work. They investigate and when examining the head of the corpse discover the second set of teeth – they know vampires are about and begin their hunt.

Sterling K Brown as Gordon WalkerAs they search they meet another hunter, Gordon Walker (Sterling K Brown), who is the figure from the beginning. He doesn’t want help with his hunt but, getting in trouble when fighting a vampire, the brothers save him – though Dean may have been overtly violent.

Dean and Gordon celebrate and Sam heads back to the motel and phones roadhouse owner Ellen (Samantha Ferris) who tells Sam to beware of Gordon. There are actually a couple of Silence of the Lambs references in the episode. In the morgue Dean quotes the film when he quips “Put the lotion in the basket.” And when Sam asks Ellen why he should beware a fellow hunter, whom she says is good at the job, she explains “Yeah, and Hannibal Lecter's a good psychiatrist.”

Ty Olsson as EliSam is then kidnapped by the vampires. When he comes round he is confronted by a set of fangs attached to vampire Eli (Ty Olsson) however the leader of the vampires, Lenore (Amber Benson), is on hand. She explains that they do not feed on humans – hence the cattle mutilations – and that they are leaving the area. They have taken Sam to explain in the hope that they will cease their pursuit.

Sam is released and explains to Dean, who is sceptical. However Gordon has already headed towards the nest and the brothers are in a race against time to stop a slaughter, one that Dean doesn’t necessarily disagree with.

the effect of dead man's bloodThe episode has an extension of the dead man’s blood theme. Gordon tortures Lenore with a knife dipped in it, causing great pain and a reaction of agonizing looking infection in the skin that is both a well done and subtle effect.

One reason that this episode works for me is that the vampire’s motivation for not attacking humans is not altruistic. They fear that they will be wiped out by humanity if they continue to attack humans. Their Lenore tempted by bloodinstincts are clearly still one of the predator, as displayed when some of Sam’s blood is dripped onto Lenore’s face. They have chosen a different path out of a sense of self-preservation and yet by doing so blur the moral lines for the brothers. I can understand the backlash against 'good' vampires (Louis, to a degree, and Angel have a lot to answer for) but these are not exactly good by choice but by necessity.

Whilst the first vampire episode was a much more traditionally vampiric episode this episode was a rounder story due to the ability to concentrate on the story rather than the main arc. In truth, neither of the vampire episodes are necessarily the stronger episodes of the series, but this was an above average episode that was a pleasant enough way to spend 40 minutes and introduced a human character, in Gordon, who is potentially as dangerous as their supernatural foes and may well become a recurring character (he is in at least one further episode). 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Mateo said...

Nice review. I liked the first episode more than this recent one, personally. I felt that Lenore was altruistic, it seemed to me like her companion was the one who resisted killing humans for practical reasons. Either way I wouldn't be surprised if these characters kept reappearing once or twice per season.

By the way, there is a new vampire series coming to the U.S. next fall. Well, it's actually just a pilot so it might not make it to a series. But if you were curious it is called "Twilight" and it is on CBS. I'm not sure if it'll make it's way over to UK but it's worth a look. Actually CBS is a very conservative station so I wouldn't expect it to be very original. It is supposed to be about a vampire private eye who falls in love with a mortal woman. Yes, that sounds exactly like Angel, I know.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Mateo, cheers - I remember you mentioning this on another post and saying you prefered the first. To be honest the only reason this raised above the first, for me, was the fact that they bogged the first down in resolving wider arc and character issues - good for the series, not good as a stand-alone. imho.

Not heard of Twilight so will do some checking, but it seems we're getting a lot of detective vampire series at the mo.

Dresden files is out, and should have vampires in it. Blood Ties, I believe, is out or due out in the States - based on Tanya Huff's books it is a mortal, female private eye who works witth/falls in love with a guy who happens to be a vampire and the bastard son oh Henry VIII. Now this!

I'm almost waiting for them to announce an Anita Blake series! (though that would have to be on an adult chanel if it follows the later books!)

Mateo said...

I did not know about Blood Ties. I see that it is on the Lifetime channel, that means it probably won't be particularly good, but we'll have to see. I'll probably watch it (and Twilight) even if they aren't great. I don't remember, have you reviewed Blade The Series yet? I don't recall you doing so. It was fairly standard fare, but still watchable for vampire fanatics.

On a non-vampire note, there's another series that seems more interesting; Babylon Fields, set in a post-apocalypse with zombies. Supposedly a comedy/drama.

Do you watch Supernatural normally, by the way, or just the vamp episodes?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Mateo, I am currently watching Blade the series, it's about half way through it's UK run. I quite enjoy it as a mindless piece of escapism. Certainly not as good as the first two films it is, potentially, better than Trinity (which for me suffered through amateurish direction).

Jones isn't bad as Blade, not as good as Snipes - although possibly edging above Snipes in Trinity as he seemed to sleepwalk the role in that.

I really must dig out the Blade films and review them sometime!

I watch Supernatural on a regular basis. In fact (though this might seem like blasphemy from me) I actually think many of the none vamp episodes are stronger than the vamp ones. "Something Wicked" from the first season and the reaper episodes spring to mind.

The reviews, however, are of the vamp episodes as stand alone, which again explains why the first dropped. Great episode for a fan of the series as it brought to a head a lot of the tensions between Sam, Dean and their Dad - not so good for someone just watching the vamp aspect.

Babylon Fields sounds interesting.