Supernatural: Wendigo/Dead in the Water
So I realized after watching the first couple of episodes that I’m going to need to increase my basic knowledge of the supernatural in order to really feel like I’m getting the richness of this show. I’ve got vampires, were-beasts, and zombies covered, but a wendigo? Thank goodness for Wikipedia.
Season 1, Episode 2: Wendigo
Sam and Dean follow a journal clue to the Colorado wilderness and find an old supernatural cannibal and a brief romantic interest for Dean, but no Dad.
Creature-of-the-Week: A wendigo, which is an entity that was once a human who resorted to cannibalism, and as a result transformed into a being that craved human flesh. Or something. There are (as there usually are) varied legends. In this show, the wendigo was lightening fast, a superior hunter, and could mimic the voices of humans — specific humans.
Body Count: 3 (and I think one of them is Finn from Glee!)
Pretend Credentials: Forest Rangers
When we left Sam and Dean at the end of the Pilot, Sam was newly recommitted to the family business (why do I get the feeling that phrase is going to get used a lot?) due to the death of his girlfriend, presumably at the hand of the same evil being who murdered dear old Mom twenty-two years ago. Dean had managed to get his hands on Dad’s journal, which contains all of his research (in one journal? twenty-two years worth?), and also a set of coordinates that Dean thinks are a message from Dad.
I was pleased when, after the cold open that introduced the case of the week (campers attacked by mysterious being) we picked up pretty much where we left of: Dean and Sam are in the car, headed for Blackwater Ridge, Colorado, which is the location of the coordinates.
Once there, Dean does a cute little sidestep to get information by simply saying “Yes” when the forest ranger asks if he’s with “Haley,” thus sending the brothers into the case of the week. I like this character trait. Dean has no way of knowing what’s going on with “Haley” or why she’s bothering the ranger, but he’s willing to jump in and find out, because it sounds interesting…and possibly like a mystery. This episode reveals Dean’s character further: he’s a bona fide monster hunter. He catches a scent and wants to kill the baddie, and make sure it’s done right.
Sam, on the other hand, has no such patience. He decides early on in their venture into the woods that Dad’s nowhere to be found and wants to bail. They’re wasting time, after all, and he’s the one who has a recently renewed urgency at finding the evil thing that killed his girl and his mother. He eventually comes around, and the brothers manage to save the family and destroy the beast.
Family is becoming a theme. That’s not really a surprise; we have two brothers as main characters searching for their father and avenging their mother. But the first episode involved a spirit who came into being because of family betrayal, and in this episode we have a brother and sister unwilling to give up searching for their other brother. I think it’s safe to say I should be looking for more family to come.
One last point. I’m not naive enough to think they’d actually find Dad here. However, I was surprised that it proved to be such a dead end. No Dad. No trace of Dad. No new clue to find Dad. Okay, so…what next? This could be a very bad move for the show, because getting back on track might require a coincidence that will be hard to swallow. (And a part of me is concerned that the “find Dad” device is going to drag on into infinity like the mythical mother on How I Met Your Mother.) On the other hand it could be brave and brilliant, if the brothers get back on track by looking at a current piece of evidence in a different way. Let’s see, shall we?
Season 1, Episode 3: Dead in the Water
Sam and Dean decide to check out a mysterious drowning in a creepy Wisconsin lake even though it has nothing to do with Dad, and Dean and Fred-I-mean-Andrea have a kiss.
Creature-of-the-Week: A ghost, or spirit, of a boy. This boy was accidentally drowned by bullies many years ago and haunted the lake in which he was drowned.
Body Count: 4 (unless you count the previously drowned Chris and the long ago drowned Peter, which makes it 6)
Pretend Credentials: Forest Service Officials
This episode opens (after the case of the week cold open) with Sam expressing the same frustration I was just mentioning over the dead end in the Dad trail. Dean isn’t bothered. He was convinced during the last episode that Dad had sent them to Blackwater Ridge as a signal that they should continue the family business and help people. He wants to go up to this Wisconsin lake and check out these mysterious drownings. Sam thinks that’s a distraction, but reluctantly goes along. This is character continuity. I buy it.
The boys talk to the local Sheriff, find out the Lake is being drained, get a little stonewalled when they try to get information about the drownings (one of which was the Sheriff’s son-in-law), and then start to leave — and oh, look, in walks their next clue in the form of the Sheriff’s daughter (played by Amy Acker!) and her mute son. I’m a little nervous about the use of coincidence here as a way to learn information about the case, but I’m willing to go along for now.
The case of the week here plays out nicely, mostly because Amy Acker is a delightful sweet-but-snarky widow worried about her son. Sam and Dean get clues and follow them, always one step behind the evil in the lake, as it claims a few more lives. Thankfully, they save Amy Acker from a bathtub drowning, figure out what’s going on, and then save the son from a lake drowning before the spirit is quieted.
The horror movie tropes are in full swing in this episode. We get the creepy lake, the sad old man, the silent child who draws clairvoyant pictures, the old woman who sadly tells Dean and Sam that there’s no little boy living there “anymore,” and so on. If we weren’t clear on the genre before, we are now, folks. While this could be hokey, it works for the show.
The family theme continues here. Most obviously, Dean reveals to the mute boy that he was scared when his Mom died, but he tells himself she would want him to be brave. Sam is listening, and hearing that affects him and his attitude towards his brother. Then there’s the beast of the week, who is killing the family members of the two individuals who wronged him in order to exact revenge.
Finally, in both this episode and Wendigo, Dean is established as a ladies’ man. In Wendigo, he had a flirtation with the sister of the missing camper; in Dead in the Water, it’s Amy Acker’s character who falls for him. There’s even a little bit at the beginning of Dead in the Water where a waitress is flirting with Dean and Sam shuts it down. This could get old, or it could be charming. Right now, it’s charming. As is Jensen Ackles.
And Dad? Nowhere to be seen.