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Thursday, 11 February 2010

Supernatural: Good God, Y'All

After the carnage of the last episode, Bobby is left in a wheelchair and Castiel explains that the only power that can defeat Lucifer is God himself ... and God is nowhere to be found (shades of Garth Ennis' amazing comic book series, Preacher).

Castiel heads off on his quest as the brothers receive a call from old hunter Rufus Turner (Steven Williams), from Time Is On My Side, saying he's under fire in a town full of demons.

By the time the Winchester's get there the place looks like a deserted warzone, but they do bump into Ellen Harvelle (Samantha Ferris), last seen in back in All Hell Breaks Loose at the end of Season Two.

She quickly explains that she and her daughter Jo (Alona Tal, from even further back in Season Two) had got the same call from Rufus, but since turning up had gotten separated. Ellen has been hiding out with the few un-demonised, survivors in a "demon-proofed" basement.

But what top scriptwriter Sera Gamble has been concealing from her characters is a brilliantly simple twist involving the First Horseman of The Apocalypse that the Winchesters have encountered - namely War (in the form of Titus Welliver, who, bizarrely given the actor portraying Lucifer's vessel, is, of course, also The Man In Black from Lost - i.e. Jacob's nemesis. What a tiny, tangled web of potential fanfiction heaven the show makers have forged here.)

Starting with Meg in the last episode, I was delighted to see so many familiar characters returning for this final, big Apocalyptic season. Jo and Ellen, in particular, were a very important of the Winchesters' early hunting stories and their interaction with regular hunters, outside of Bobby (who is more like a father-figure to the brothers, anyway), has been an underused element of late.

While Sera Gamble's twist in the tale is mighty impressive, as we have come to expect from the fan-favourite writer, given the amount of time that has passed since the Winchesters last met the Harvelles, and their shared history, there is no closure or resolution to the storyline of their reunion.

The story's coda is nonetheless powerful and important to the development of the brothers, but is severely undermined by the total abandonment of the secondary characters.

Yes, I realise they are almost certainly returning, but the Winchesters don't possess that foresight and Dean, at least, should have wanted some wrap-up with Ellen and Jo. It's a slip in the writing that in other shows might go unnoticed, but stands out like a sore thumb here because the writing on Supernatural - especially in the major arc stories - is usually so tight.

Next week: Free To Be You And Me.

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