From Route 666 to The Apocalypse: Ranking the episodes of Supernatural, Episodes 106-100

Throughout its six years on the air, Supernatural has had a substantial amount of good-to-great episodes, which made this list difficult to compile. However, like any long-running series, Supernatural has aired its fair share of missteps, problem children and downright horrible episodes. These things happen. Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be discussing all the series’ episodes, albeit briefly, in list form. From #126 all the way to #1. Remember, this list was made with my personal biases, tastes and thoughts in mind. I like to think about television more critically than the quote-unquote “general viewer,” but when it comes to something like Supernatural, I’m also a massive fan. I like certain characters, plotlines and seasons more than others, and I’m certain my list will reflect that. If you disagree, feel free to tell me why, but I’m certainly not presenting this list with some sort of scientific formula. This is how I see the series and these episodes, that’s all.

I’m really short on time today folks, so it seemed best to just stop at 100 and give this week’s final entry a nice round feeling to it. I hope to have more and much longer entries in the list next week.

106. “The Usual Suspects” (S2): At this point in the list, we’re heading into murky territory. I pretty much like all seven of the episodes on today’s section of the list. They have their issues, but any criticisms I make should be taken with the knowledge that I still enjoy the episode overall. “The Usual Suspects” is a nice episode to kick off the section because there are some really solid things about this episode even though it’s not supremely fantastic overall. Forcing the brothers to interact with official law enforcement is always a recipe for success and the obvious ways in which this episode is structured work fairly well. The twists and turns in the case are pretty good. Unfortunately, Linda Blair’s performance is sort of off and just generally odd throughout, which brings “Suspects” down, if only a little bit.

105. “Jump The Shark” (S4): I really do understand what the production team was trying to do with this episode. Not only does it make sense that John would eventually have sex with another woman and perhaps end up with another child, it totally makes sense for the series to play with that kind of “twist.” However, the episode itself doesn’t really live up to the playfulness and fun that the title suggests. Instead, this is a fairly straight-ahead and depressing standalone case of the week. It’s always good to learn more about John’s past, but it didn’t feel purposeful enough in this episode. The series later tried to make Adam more integral to the apocalypse narrative and was only slightly more successful in that endeavor.

104. “Bedtime Stories” (S3): It’s sort of surprising that it took the series until season three to tackle Brothers Grimm tales, but when it did, the execution is mostly fine. “Bedtime Stories” features the right mix of tones and the stories are handled with a nice pinch of levity. However, Supernatural and the Brothers Grimm feel like such a perfect fit and just one throwaway episode isn’t enough for me. I know tons of other series and films have borrowed from the Grimm brothers, but a simple vengeful spirit — there it is again! — story at the beginning of a season isn’t really the best Supernatural could have done in their arena. Perhaps the production team found it too derivative to tackle Grimm stories and they’re probably right. Oh well.

103. “All Dogs Go To Heaven” (S6): Huh. There are a lot of things to like about “Dogs.” It’s a fairly quiet effort that actually takes some time to focus on the skinwalker Lucky and has a similarly well-intentioned thematic connection to RoboSam’s personal issues. But both times I watched this episode, I finished it wanting a lot more from the premise. Not all episodes of the series have to be mythology-heavy or supremely dramatic, but I actually think this one could have pushed the subtlety and intimacy even further. I don’t know, this is a weird episode for me.

102. “Bloody Mary” and 101. “Scarecrow” (Both S1): Two season one episodes that tackle well-known myths, two episodes that I really love to re-watch when I’m in the mood for season one. Both of these episodes see the series work in a more comfortable rhythm and pacing, leading to fairly thrilling and scary stories that reaffirm the series’ original premise well. “Scarecrow” gets the slight advantage because it brings us the ever-villainous and manipulative Meg and her shocking slicing of the dude’s throat at the end. I wasn’t quite sure what the heck Supernatural was about at this point, but I knew that if it was willing to do crazy things like that for cliffhangers, I was totally invested.

100. “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things” (S2): This is one episode that I like perhaps more than I should. The zombie case is played mostly for dramatics with very little humor, but it actually works in context because of Dean’s struggle to let go of John after his death. His rants about “what’s dead should stay dead” are only slightly on-the-nose and really fit the character’s psyche and emotional instability well. When I catch this episode on the TNT reruns, I’m always surprised at how much I truly enjoy it. Simple, moderately poignant and effective storytelling.

There you have it folks. Again, apologies for the short batch, I’m just super-busy today and in the next few days.

Season breakdowns:

S1: 9
S2: 4
S3: 4
S4: 3
S5: 2
S6: 5

Previous entries: 

126-117
116-107

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One thought on “From Route 666 to The Apocalypse: Ranking the episodes of Supernatural, Episodes 106-100

  1. Jump the Shark, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead things and All Dogs go to Heaven are lower for me. Scarecrow is much, much higher and I really liked Bedtime Stories. I agree that Linda Blair’s performance was off in Usual Suspects, which always makes the episode off for me.

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