For the second straight week the Winchesters were relegated to second fiddle and an episode struggled as a result. Last week it was Sheriff Jody’s turn to be the focal point of a vampire family story. This week we were treated to the backdoor pilot for Supernatural: Bloodlines and introduced to approximately 17 characters that were called by name far too often within a 42-minute span. At this point in the season it was frustrating to see another hour wasted on an episode that had no bearing on the show’s big story arcs. I don’t care about setting up a spinoff (we’ll get to that in a second) when I’m watching a season of Supernatural wind down. I want what Arrow gave viewers last week with its third-to-last episode: an incredible hour of television that was one of the show’s absolute best, one that jumpstarted the finale way ahead of schedule. Now with only three episodes remaining, I fear the writers will try to cram too much resolution and setup for next season into a little over two hours of actual running time. If this ends up happening, I’m going to hate-watch Bloodlines with far more hatred than I would have otherwise.
Let’s start with the best part of this backdoor pilot: Chicago. Seriously, I love the Windy City, and it was such a nice change to see Sam and Dean in a recognizable metropolis rather than some unknown Canadian town posing as a dot on the American map. I hope the showrunners take time to explore the city and make it as authentic as possible. The second best part of this pilot was Lucien Laviscount, the actor playing Ennis. His character was poorly written in this episode (see “Line of the Week” below) and the reason he got pulled into the monster world was half-baked (quarter-baked?) at best. We only spent a few minutes with Ennis and his girlfriend and the time we got wasn’t enough to sell me on her as anything more than a lazy plot device. For crying out loud, Ennis was going to propose to this girl and SHE GOT MURDERED! You know what would’ve happened if my wife had been murdered before she could answer my marriage proposal? Infinite amounts of sobbing, depression, and gaining 50 pounds of sadness weight, that’s what. Ennis only cried over the death of his almost fiancée when she died in a way which honestly shouldn’t have given her more than a mild concussion. Alas.
More DOA than Ennis’ girlfriend was the writing in this episode. Dear Lord it was abysmal. I was tuned out halfway through and I can give you five lines that tell me everything I need to know about the writing on this new show: 1) Margo’s “elbow” line 2) David’s “we shift our shape" line 3) David’s “laugh track” line 4) David’s “blondes have all the fun” line 5) Ennis’ monologue (see below). Sensing a pattern here? David was a train wreck in this episode, which is a shame because I can see that his character has potential. I was much more interested in Julian, played by Never Back Down star Sean Faris. His scene with Violet showed how rotten he is and I like that he’s already trying to cut deals with other families to amass power in his war against the shape shifters. Why couldn’t we have spent more time with him? Instead we got David and his cache of clichés. Typically this could be explained with the old “every pilot has its problem” adage. We all remember the Supernatural pilot, correct? That first hour grabbed me like no other show I’ve ever watched. The writing was snappy and fun. I loved the characters. A show built around Ennis and David has a long way to go to be in the same zip code as the Winchesters.
I’m also unsure why the writers chose a lame human villain for the backdoor pilot. What a wasted opportunity to dive right into the conflict between the monster families. Instead we got yet another hostage situation where the victim breaks free and is saved, only this time instead of Sam or Dean, it was David and Violet and the two tons of cheese their relationship injects into any scene. If you’re reading this recap, comment below with the approach this pilot could have used that would have hooked you. Is a Freddy Krueger impostor anywhere near the top of your list? Are you like me and would have preferred some family feuds to start things off? Perhaps Sam and Dean needing to be saved by Ennis? Let me know. Maybe we can all get jobs on the Bloodlines writing staff. I’m sure they’re not hiring but they should be after this performance.
I wish Supernatural: Bloodlines the best of luck. With Supernatural in its final years, the CW needs a show to fill the void its impending departure will create. I’m just not sure Bloodlines is that show. To me it has The Vampire Diaries written all over it. (If you’re wondering why vampires aren’t one of the five ruling families, The Vampire Diaries and The Originals are why. Don’t buy that crap about vampires being “down and dirty” people like truckers and bikers.) Nothing can replace the “lightning-in-a-bottle” pairing of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki that has sustained Supernatural for almost nine full seasons. Nothing should replace those two characters. But solid writing and a better pilot would be a nice start. Pilot episodes don’t have to stick the landing perfectly. But they can’t crash and burn, either.
Someone call the Chicago Fire Department…
Line of the week
“But I couldn’t walk away. This is my fight now. Hell, it’s a damn war. And I gotta start somewhere.” – Ennis (Seriously just gouge out my eyes at this point)
Next week on Supernatural
Way too much will happen in 42 minutes. Thanks filler episodes.