Monday, March 10, 2008

Supernatural “Fresh Blood” – review (TV episode)

Sam and Dean

Director: Kim Manners

Season 3, released 2007

Contains spoilers

For those who haven’t seen it, Supernatural tells the story of the brothers Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padaleck and Jensen Ackles respectively). When Sam was 6 months old their mother was killed by a demon. Their father, John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), set the surviving family on the road of killing Supernatural entities whilst they search for the one that killed their mother.

At the beginning of this season they have stopped the demon, closed the gate to Hell (though many demons escaped) and Dean has a year to live. This episode includes a couple of recurring characters; we briefly see Bela (Lauren Cohen), a double-crossing thief of supernatural artifacts, and Gordon (Sterling K Brown), a vampire hunter who has come to believe that Sam is the antichrist and must be killed. Probably the (minor) shame of this episode is that the recurring characters might obfuscate the plot for the casual viewer as this proves to be the strongest vampire episode they have put in the series so far. The episode aired on ITV 2 last night.

Sterling K Brown as GordonThe episode begins with Gordon approaching Bela, to discover the whereabouts of the Winchesters. Regular watchers will know that he must have just escaped from jail, presumably with the help of another hunter, Kubrick (Michael Massee), and as they are together later this seems to pan out. Bela does not take well to threats but, mercenary as ever, sells the location to Gordon.

Dean 'chums the waters'Sam and Dean are hunting. They have found a man, still alive, with a vicious neck wound. Dean decides to “chum the water” and slice his own arm. The blood attracts the vampire they are hunting, Lucy (Mercedes McNab). Dean stands his ground waiting for her to attack.

Lucy in attack modeNow the vampires in Supernatural are a somewhat different breed and it is worth looking at them for a second. Rather than fangs they have a second set of teeth that slide out of the gums when they attack. They have a very keen sense of smell and hearing. Vampirism is a virus spread via blood, although it does give them immortality. The blood of a dead man is a poison to them, but just enough can render them insensible. Lucy jumps Dean who injects her with dead man's blood.

Lucy believes she has been druggedShe awakens, tied to a chair. They have captured her to discover the whereabouts of the nest. She doesn’t understand and it becomes clear that she is newly turned, by a vampire named Dixon (Matthew Humphreys) we later discover. Dixon has been luring a particular type of woman and giving them a ‘drug’, which is in fact his blood. She truly thinks that she is high, hallucinating and cannot come down. He is building a new nest.

Gordon as a vampireLater, and where the pathos of the episode comes in, we discover that his entire nest was wiped out by hunters and he cannot face eternity alone. Before that, however, Sam and Dean are on his trail and nearly get him when Gordon and Kubrick start gunning for them. In the resultant melee Gordon is captured by Dixon. When he mocks Dixon, the vampire makes the mistake of turning him – rather than feeding him to the new vampires – as an ironic twist.

a vampire shot by the coltGordon is now a vampire but is still intent on killing Sam. All Dean and Sam have in their favour is the colt – a magical gun that can kill any supernatural entity – and the knowledge that beheading will kill a vampire too. Gordon, on the other hand has improved senses, strength and a wicked streak a mile long.

Sam next to a decapitationThis season of Supernatural, to me, became a little more hardcore in its use of gore and horror motifs – no bad thing at all. The season could have floundered, having answered the main arc that ran through the first two seasons, but just seems to becoming stronger as it goes on. Perhaps this is due to the relationship developed by the actors on set and our vicarious relationship with the characters (if we watch regularly).

Therein lies the rub, as I try to review these episodes as stand alones and yet find it difficult to divorce myself from the series as a whole. Whilst this does have recurring characters within it and builds up the relationship between the brothers, which had been rocky this season due to the situation they find themselves in, I found the general story, whilst simple, nice and to the point. It moved from the more altruistic vampires we saw in season 2 and brought in a blood lust that perhaps was missing in that earlier episode. Certainly I imagine that I would have little difficulty in watching this stand alone. 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

My review of the season 1 episode is here and the season 2 episode is here.

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