Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Anatomy of an Awesome Episode

I started thinking about my favorite episodes as I scrambled for a topic this week. And I started thinking about how most of them have certain elements in common.

1) High Stakes

As you know, if you’ve been reading this blog, “Croatoan” is one of my favorite episodes. And the stakes are high. Sam may be infected with a demon virus that will change him irrevocably. Dean stays with him to die with him, to the point of giving up his car. (You know, the scene that I love so much, when Dean makes this choice, is actually pretty short. Feels longer.) The stakes can’t be any higher—the boys’ death. Riveting stuff. HOW will they get out of this?

I also love “Faith.” The stakes here are high because, well, first Dean is dying, then he has a reaper after him. The twist is that if he lets the reaper get him, the sweet Lila will be cured of her brain tumor. Oh, the dilemma!

What about “The Monster at the End of this Book?” HIGH stakes. Lilith is coming, Sam might sleep with her to make a deal, Dean must stop him and doesn’t know how! The boys are at odds and are unable to take steps to avoid what seems like an inevitable conclusion.

2) Humor

In “Croatoan,” despite the dark storyline and high body count, there is humor when Sam sees the word “Croatoan” carved on the pole. He goes into exposition and chides Dean for not paying attention in school. Dean defends himself with “A Shot Heard ‘Round the World” and “How a Bill Becomes Law.” Sam says, “Dude, that’s not school. That’s Schoolhouse Rock.”

When Dean’s in the hospital in “Faith,” he rails against how much daytime TV sucks. Considering he got an Emmy for being on “Days of our Lives…” Also, “Ooh, that fabric softener teddy bear. I’m gonna hunt that little bitch down.”

Humor in “The Monster at the End of this Book:” Oh, so much. I laughed the first fifteen minutes. My favorite, when Chuck was apologizing for “Bugs” and “Red Sky at Night:” “Horror is one thing, but to live bad writing. If I’d known it was real, I would have given it another pass.”

3) Advancement of the Myth-Arc

The way they get out of trouble is that Sam is immune to the virus, because of his demon blood. Hmm, the plot thickens.

Okay, so maybe “Faith” doesn’t have a big part to play in the myth arc, but it was just first season.

“The Monster at the End of this Book” was ALL myth-arc!

4) Metallicar-porn

Also, no Metallicar porn in “Faith,” though she is shown a bit.

In “Monster…,” poor Metallicar has her back window bashed!

Okay, so there are too many episodes to do this with, and this post is already long enough. What are your requirements for an awesome episode? What episodes are your favorites?


Trish Milburn said...

Good observations. That Schoolhouse Rock quote is one of my favorites.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I think you hit the nail on the head, though for myself, I'd probably divide it into two sets: the myth-arc eps, and the non-myth-arc eps, because one set of favorites is awesome because the episodes advance the myth-arc, and the other set is awesome because they provide relief from it.

Still, yes, all of those elements have to be there!