Review: Supernatural 3.1


In the US: Thursdays, 9/8c, The CW

In the UK: ITV2 at some point

Characters re-cast: 0

Major characters gotten rid of: 0

Major new characters: 1-2

Format change percentage: 5%

Number of souls sold: 1

The pretty-boy ghost hunters are back. After doing some bad things and some stupid things that can’t be talked about until ITV2 finishes showing the second season, they’re back on the road hunting all sorts of nasty demons again.

If this first episode of the third season is anything to go on, things are going to be a whole lot grimmer this season, interspersed with just a little bit of humour.

Let’s talk about it after the break. Not you though, ITV2 viewers. I’ve put salt outside the door – you’ll have to wait.

After a second season that pretty much finished off all the questions and plot arcs that the first season had started, we’re going into the new season with a different set: how is Dean going to avoid imminent death and eternal damnation by the end of the season; is Sam still pure Sam or is there a bit of demon in him now; what set of extremely nasty demons emerged from the depths of Hell when the gate got opened?

So far, it’s clear that season three’s mission is to keep us guessing on points one and two, while telling us that the answer to point three is “very scary” ones. The idea of the seven deadly sins having escaped is quite a cool one, although given the ease and speed with which they were despatched, it’s hard not to think that an opportunity has been somewhat wasted here. Still, as is pointed out by the end, if the seven deadly sins are just one of the groups of demons that emerged, what are the others like?

Although we haven’t lost anyone since the end of the second season, we have one, maybe two new arrivals. David Cassidy’s daughter has turned up with the word “Buffy” stencilled on her forehead, right below her compulsory blonde locks, giving demons a good stabbing for no well-defined reason at this stage. And since Supernatural until now was one of the few shows without anyone British hiding among its ranks, it’s good to see they’ve finally capitulated to our growing acting empire and added a black British female hunter to the roster of demon-murderers (you say slayers, I say murderers. Go demon rights!).

But with all this upping of the ante and everyone who knows anything hacked off with the brothers Winchester for letting loose a whole bunch of demons on the world, there’s little time for Supernatural‘s trademark pop culture humour, beyond a reference to Se7en. Yes, Dean’s determined to enjoy his last year on Earth as much as possible, but that doesn’t make too much of a difference to his already-hedonistic character. I’m sure that might well change in future episodes, but at the moment, if you’re a new viewer tuning in, you might end up thinking that the show’s a whole lot less funny and a whole lot more “horror” than it usually is. And old viewers might be wondering if something’s been lost between seasons that might discourage them from tuning in this year.

Still pretty good, with some genuinely scary moments. But not quite the Supernatural of old.