Supernatural Roundtable 1: Deep Voices and Death
Welcome everyone to the first edition of our Supernatural roundtable!
We love Supernatural. We love Sam and Dean. And Cas. And Ellen and Bobby and Jo. We love the Impala and the way Dean laughs at his own jokes. We love the exorcism rituals and the creepiness and the super meta humor. And we know we’re not alone. If you’re a Supernatural fan, we hope you’ll join us in discussing the series over the next several months!
Today, we’re starting off right smack from the beginning. Our discussion today will center around the pilot through episode five of season one, “Bloody Mary.” I’m joined here by Tabatha Bourgiugnon and Kelly McLaughlin, avid Supernatural fans both!
Emmie: And we’re back…in the car again. You know, I feel like I was just here. Probably because I can’t get enough Supernatural and started this rewatch less than a month after finishing the series. First thing I noticed? The deep voices haven’t started yet. It was really noticeable going from season 8 back to season 1.
Tabatha: Would you believe I hadn’t even remembered the deep voices until you mentioned them? Now I can’t wait to see where they start. Let me just say…I’m a fan of the deep voiced brothers. Also….they look so YOUNG! Especially Sam!
Kelly: Wow, you are absolutely right, their voices are higher. I like both, I think the higher thinner voices mirror their young age and the niavete about the road ahead. Also, I wonder if they all went deeper because Misha Collins came in with his absolutely wacked deep voice, which he still doesn’t understand why he used.
Emmie: They really do look young, hey? Sam looks like such a college student. I kind of love it, because that’s exactly what he’s supposed to be. Well cast, SPN CSA people. Well cast.
So let’s talk about the pilot. We’ve got a whole season to go through, but the pilot is really exceptional in several ways and also problematic in others. For me, the introduction to the characters is gorgeously executed. They did a fantastic job of making Sam and Dean sympathetic and set up the premise very well. The production value of this episode is exceedingly high for a pilot. However…there’s a however, and that’s the giant pink elephant in the room. Namely, that so far the only women in the show are killed to further the development of the male protagonists.
Tabatha: I love how we meet Sam and Dean. In fact, I always feel like I’m “coming home” somehow, when I watch the Pilot episode. What hits me is the very clear sense of family; this was a family that loved each other deeply, and believed they had their whole lives ahead of them. The other thing that strikes me is how it immediately sets us up to feel that women in this series are something to be protected. Totally get your point about that.
Kelly: I haven’t rewatched it in depth for a long time. The well-constructed plot and well-written dialogue were just amazing. Not all pilots are of such a high caliber. In fact, some pilots now look hokey. But this one still stands the test of time. In fact, Mary and Jess’s deaths are still scary and touching.
I wish one of the woman could have stayed. Jess’s character was written so well that I still ship her with Sam, after eight seasons. My favorite line was actually in the second episode when Sam is dreaming and carrying flowers to her grave site, but they aren’t roses because, well, Jess doesn’t like roses as “they’re lame.” She was so well developed for such little time on the screen time. So we lost two gals in this episode, Mary and Jess.
I was thinking back to why I didn’t watch this series when it first aired. I think that it comes down to identifying with the characters. Sam and Dean have always been tricky for me. They are handsome, athletic, smart and cool. Those types of guys are usually too cool for me and I shy from them. Honestly, it was Cas’s nerdy, trench coach wearing angel that hooked me to the show and then I learned to love Sam and Dean.
Looking back, I should have watched as it aired because Sam and Dean are very complex guys with loads of quirky levels that become quite evident in these early episodes.
Emmie: I agree with you, Kelly. I had a hard time relating to Dean at first because he seems so white bread at first. Does anything Dad says without question, has a job, does it. Eventually, though, his geeky little references and the way he laughs at his own jokes got me. Both Dean and Sam are multi-layered characters, and I love it. Back to the subject of season one and tropes, I also immediately picked up on the whole “Kiss of Victory” trope in these early episodes. In “Wendigo,” Haley kisses Dean. And immediately again in the next episode (Amy Acker!), “Dead in the Water.” What do you all think of that?
Tabatha: Yes! In fact, I remember thinking “Who gets kissed this time?” while watching these first few episodes. I think it goes back to the “women are to be protected” thing for me; the “Hero” has come along and rescued the “Damsel in Distress”, and she’s so thankful (and enamoured) that she just can’t help but kiss him.
Kelly: I never noticed the “Kiss of Victory” trope. It is noticable, though thankfully lacking in “Bloody Mary.” In my opinion, there’s no doubt that Sam and Dean are hot and the women are grateful. There’s no need for kissing.
Emmie: Yeah. You can show gratitude without “paying for it” with any kind of sexual act, and I think they do start to edge away from this trope later on. This season still has a pretty strong start, even though most of the episodes at first are very one-offy. We see our first on-screen exorcism in “Phantom Traveler!” This episode gives me a wiggins, because I’m terrified of planes crashing after a bad experience with an engine blowing out in a plane I was on several years ago (I can’t watch the LOST premiere without a minor freakout, either). Also, “Bloody Mary,” anyone? I used to play that game. Scared the gallumphy bejeebus right out of me as a kid. But I did it anyway.
Tabatha: I remember playing “Bloody Mary” the same night as learning “Nicky Nine Doors”. I don’t think I was ever so terrified in all of my young life – but I played anyway. The “Bloody Mary” episode always makes me think of “Candyman”, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. My favourite thing (I just realized I’m the only Canadian here, and I’m spelling ‘favourite’ funny to you guys! Ha!) about the episode is when Sam tells Charlie not to feel bad about her boyfriend’s death, and Dean tells him that it’s good advice. I like that they’re keeping Sam human about Jessica’s death, and in the process, tying it back to the beginning/how it all began for the brothers. Plus, Jessica’s “cameo” at the end is spooky as hell.
Emmie: No worries on the spelling, thing — I’m the only editor of this blog who uses American spellings, and even then not always. HA. I also just realized that they reused the name Charlie later with Felicia Day’s character. I like Felicia better. Because she is Captain of the Good Ship Geek. I’ll stop digressing. Where were we? Bloody Mary!
Kelly: Both Phantom Traveler and Bloody Mary rocked and again, scared me. I also hate hate hate airplanes. And I was right with Dean and his anxiety the whole episode. And I NEVER played Bloody Mary as a child. In my area, you had to say “Bloody Mary” 21 times. This episode freaked me out, which is good considering that I’ve seen it a number of times.
Overall, I was stunned at the solid writing of these episodes. Women aren’t always weak and they participate in the investigations even if they need protection. The death rate for women is EP 1= 2, EP 2= 0, EP 3=1, EP 4= unknown due to plane crash, EP 5= 1. The boys are about equal though I haven’t kept as careful track. Please correct me if I’m wrong on my counts.
I also took note that the young teen in “Bloody Mary” is named “Charlie.” I guess that they like the name?
Finally, Tabatha, you are so right. Sam is grieving and the show is careful to include ample time focusing on his suffering. Perhaps, this is why Jess remains such an important character to so many fans. We grieved for her with Sam.
Emmie: I have always been very impressed with the way the show handles grief, both with Jess and with other deaths later. They do a wonderful job of showing how different characters deal with it, from hiding it inside until it seeps through the cracks to wanting to discuss it, talk about it, air it in the open. I also love how differently Sam and Dean handle it.
I think that about wraps us up for our first Supernatural Roundtable! Please join our discussion in the comments. What stood out to you about the first five episodes of the show? Is this your first time watching?
We’ll be back on July 16 to discuss season one episodes six through eleven (“Skin” through “Scarecrow”). Watch along, chime in. We want to hear from you! Until then, make sure you go check out the Nerdist podcast with Misha Collins. And for all you Sam-lovers out there, Papa Razzi wrote you a song.
Meet Your SPN Knights of the Roundtable…
Emmie Mears is the creator of Searching for SuperWomen and an author of urban fantasy. Her favorite fandoms are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, Star Wars, and — oh, who is she kidding? Too many to name. Catch her on Twitter (@emmiemears) or tweeting from the @WeAreSuperWomen account about all kinds of abundant geekery.
Tab Bourgiugnon didn’t choose the Geek Life; the Geek Life chose her. Thanks to a husband and two kids who regularly bombard her, she’s got a never-ending supply of interesting and geeky things to think about. In her grown-up life she’s a word-and-media slayer, and regularly engrosses herself in all things marketing. You can find Tab on Twitter (@tab_b).
Kelly McLaughlin, a mom to two boys, works part time counting money and is married to her college nerd sweetheart. She found Buffy while burning dinner for her kids. Her fandoms include the Whedonverse, Supernatural, Star Trek, Whoverse, and Legos. Kelly desperately wants to read Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman script. Say howdy to Kelly on Twitter (@hann23)!