Happy Birthday Supernatural!
DECADE: A Supernatural Anniversary Series by VMOTD
Part I: 10 MEMORABLE MONSTERS
22 years ago
A monster enters a typical suburban home.
Actually for us it was September 13, 2005, 10 years ago.
Today Supernatural is 10 years old, and it’s the longest-running sci-fi series in the history of American television.
This is cause for celebration. As we wait for season 11 to begin, I thought we could celebrate together with what I like to call a series of Perfect 10s. I present to you Decade, A Supernatural Anniversary Series. This is a thematic trip down memory lane, through our favorite episodes, scenes, characters and moments. The theme of this first installment? Monsters! Of course…
This is how we play. I show you mine, you show me yours. Let’s reminisce and party like it’s 2005!
The Perfect 10, aka Number 1. Shifter!Dean (Shapeshifter)
Episode 6 of Supernatural grabbed my attention instantly. Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is playing. Blood on the walls. The victim, bound and gagged. Who did this? Hands in the air, the suspect turns around and reveals his face. Enters the Shapeshifter, or Dark Double, and this one has a longing for love and a sadistic streak.
Jensen Ackles is bewitching in this version of Dean Adjacent. Shifter!Dean has all of Dean’s charm, charisma, sex appeal, and bossiness, and none of the humor, goodness and social restraint that make them less threatening in the genuine article. He likes it in Dean’s skin. “I am your brother. See, deep down, I’m just jealous. You got friends. You could have a life. Me? I know I’m a freak. And sooner or later, everybody’s gonna leave me.” Shifter’s talking about himself as much as he is about Dean, and that’s why he’s so comfortable in this suit. Unlike others he’s borrowed, this skin knows solitude, abandonment, dysfunction, and pain.
When Becky rejects him, he responds with ropes, chains, sharp objects and blood. Her blood. “You’re a nice girl, Rebecca. I mean, I liked you.” If all of this wasn’t disturbing enough, cue Shifter!Dean shedding his skin to the tune of “Mary” by The Death Riders.
“I must say, I will be sorry to lose this skin. Your brother’s got a lot of good qualities. You should appreciate him more than you do… Cheers.”
To the best Monster of the Week to ever do it. Rest in pieces, Shifter!Dean.
2. Nick Munroe (Siren)
“Perfect, everything that I wanted.” For Adam Benson, it was a stripper named Jazmine. For Lenny Bristol, it was Belle. For Dean, it was a brother closer to the one he remembered before Hell. Enters Nick Munroe and his proposition to a spellbound Dean: “I should be your little brother. Sam. You can’t trust him. Not like you can trust me.” Nick also has some words for the one he’s come to replace. “I gave him what he needed”. And it wasn’t some stripper. “It was you. A little brother that looked up to him, that he could trust. And now he loves me.”
The Siren illustrates the disconnect between the brothers in season 4 and it speaks for those who, like Dean, struggle with this new version of Sam they no longer trust. Jim Parrack did a beautiful job portraying this seductive predator. He reminds me of a snake hypnotizing his prey. He’s greedy, and he’s decided to indulge himself. Two for the price of one. Cut him on the neck, “just a little”, “right there” he says to Dean. “Come here”, he beckons to Sam. The emperor has set the stage. Gladiators in position, fight to the death. Winner gets the prize. Be right back, this bad girl needs some ice.
3. Doc Benton (Self-made Immortal)
Doc was a monster in the old-school sense of the word. That face of his, chopped up, old skin sewed together with new skin forcefully peeled off a live victim’s skull. The way he got up after Sam drove over him, and snapped his neck back into place. “This whole eternal life thing is very high maintenance.” You don’t say.
“This here, now, this is what’s gonna save you.” No wonder Dean wasn’t hot on the idea, but Sam, how much do I love thee for offering to take the formula too. We’ll be Thriller rejects together Dean, I’ll patch you up when you need a new ticker (cause you know you love those cheeseburgers), in like thirty years. Brother, we’ll figure it out… I love this show.
4. Dracula (Shapeshifter)
A monster who appreciates the classics and knows how to set the mood: werewolf at the drive-in, the mummy emerging from a sarcophagus in a cloud of… dry ice?
“Continue to be of such service, and your life will be spared.” No such luck for this one. He put on quite a show, gave us Dracula on a moped (honk honk), Dracula using a coupon to pay for a garlic-free pizza, costume changes and the great monsters of the silver screen, but in the end, the monster must get the gank.
“Real, is being born this way. Different.” Doesn’t he sound like our Perfect 10? The shapeshifter is my favorite (non demonic) monster of the SPNverse. Twisted chameleons, often longing for love, who don’t seem to understand that murder is not the way to go about obtaining it.
“No, Mina, do not weep. Perhaps this is how the movie should end.” I’ll blame Todd Stashwick’s excellent performance for the tear that almost fell from my eye. Darn Shifters.
5. Max Miller (Psychic Kid)
Max Miller never stood a chance. He was used as a punching bag by his father and uncle while his step-mother yelled “Dinner’s in five” from the other room (probably), and destined to die in Yellow Eyes’ Next Top Psychic Kid Pageant. He’s memorable not only because of his story but because of his abilities. Simply put, the kid who’d been marked by hands all his life didn’t need his to orchestrate his revenge. The encounter with Max marks a turning point in season 1. Sam learns a few things about his visions and he showcases a new psychic ability. When he sees his brother die, Sam moves a heavy bookcase with the power his mind.
I enjoyed watching Max use his powers throughout the episode. Playing with knives, confiscating Dean’s gun and using it to keep Dean at bay, closing windows, locking down garage doors, what couldn’t that kid do. Survive, I suppose. Sam worries he’s going to turn into Max. Dean reassures him, “as long as I’m around, nothing bad is gonna happen to you.” Be still my Winchester Girl heart…
6. Jack Montgomery (Ruguru)
Just like Max was a mirror for Visions!Sam, Jack is a mirror for soon-to-be addicted to demon blood Sam. He’s the embodiment of Sam’s fears. He’s also a cautionary tale and a warning: “Slippery slope, brother.”
“I’ve got demon blood in me.” “I’m a whole new level of freak!”
Sam has related to several ‘monsters’ before Jack, but this one’s different. He’s almost a perfect mirror in his tragedy. A good man afflicted by a blood curse he didn’t ask for. Travis and Dean see a thing they’ll have to put down like all the others. For Sam, Jack is a man who hasn’t committed any crime, but is already sentenced to hang because of the blood running through his veins. I understood Sam’s desperate need to believe Jack would be able to control the darker parts of his nature. If he can do it, so can I. Keeping the faith against impossible odds. That’s quintessential Sam. Unfortunately, Jack ended up chewing on Travis’ neck while Jack’s wife watched, horrified. “The Rapture” completes the parallel when Sam cuts the neck of a demon and drinks its blood while Dean watches, speechless. “It doesn’t matter what you are. It only matters what you do.” Oh, Sam, it was never that simple.
The most visually striking monster of the show, face tats and a glowing hand, but its strength resides in what it can do. Stick you in an elaborate dream universe constructed around your deepest wish while it drains you of your blood in real time. In Dean’s dreamverse, Mary and Jess are alive. The Winchesters are civilians. There are a few flaws but it feels like a second chance.
The past crashes Dean’s hopes in the form of a plane. United Britannia Flight 424 from “Phanthom Traveller” was never saved. Neither were the children attacked by the Shtriga from “Something Wicked”, or little Taylor from “Playthings” who drowned like Maggie wanted her to. Our hero goes back home, torn about his decision to leave a world where demons have no power over Winchesters. Still there was something missing.
“It was just a wish.” “We never went hunting and you and me just never uh… you know.”
“Yeah. Well, I’m glad we do.”
Me too, Sam. Whatever “uh… you know” is.
8. The Vanir (Norse God)
“Everyone in this town is so nice.”
“Yeah, what’s the catch?”
I love urban legends on this show and this is one of the greatest. A couple on a road trip make a stop in Burkittsville, Indiana. They’re welcomed with open arms by the townspeople. A copious meal, some assistance, even an apple pie for the road. The way to the interstate? Turn right on Orchard Road. Nighttime. The car dies. No cell phone signal. There’s a light coming from inside the orchard. (How convenient.) “Looks like a house over there.” Enters the Vanir. Director Marie’s prop scarecrow was a joke but this life-size straw man gives you the heebie jeebies.
The cinematography is amazing all through the episode, and the couple looking up at the scarecrow has no idea they look like offerings presenting themselves for sacrifice. The music, the race through the orchard, the sound of branches cracking as the scarecrow descends from its perch… the sound of its breathing, that loud, heavy sound has got to be the scariest part. Only way to survive? Outrun the straw man and get out of the orchard, or, have your brother pop up to save you because you’re not picking up your phone. The disturbance caused by his intervention will place you inside a protective circle while Stacy and Harley wind up smack in the middle of Scarecrow’s trajectory, ripe and ready to be plucked.
“Hold me, Sam”. That rescue, was beautiful.
9. The Merchant Family Portrait (Ghost)
“Ugly ass thing. If you ask me we’re doing the art world a favor.” The “monstrosity” that is the Merchant family portrait is one of the most creative ghost stories of Supernatural. Three things move and transform inside that portrait. Isaiah Merchant, his adopted daughter Melanie, and the razor blade. This monster is full of twists and turns.
First they burned it and it rose from its ashes. Then they thought it was Isaiah. They spotted the Merchant family mausoleum in the painting but realized on site that Daddy Dearest’s urn was missing. They found the pine box Isaiah was buried in, away from the family he was presumed to have killed, and they torched the old man’s bones. “Where’s the little girl?” Sarah would ask when they saw the painting again. That lil Melanie was a crafty one, but not even a house devoid of salt could help her when she was faced with the Winchesters and their antique doll expert, Sarah Blake.
10. Veritas (Roman Goddess)
When I come home after a long day, I put on comfortable clothes and find something to eat. Not Ashley Frank. Oh she does get a snack, a delicious, juicy, freshly extracted human tongue, but this diva enjoys her meal dressed in hip-hugging gowns, dripping in jewelry. Serinda Swan is elegant, funny and effortless as the most glamorous MOTW this show has ever featured. Aside from her sense of style, her fondness for mutilated bodies and her always hilarious reaction to barking dogs, Veritas represented a breath of fresh air for this gasping viewer.
I had a problem with Soulless Sam from the moment we met him in “Exile on Main St.”. I started seeing red after “Live Free Or Twihard”, and I was done by the time “You Can’t Handle the Truth” rolled around. Needless to say, I was desperate for Sam to come back.
“How are you doing that? That’s not possible. You’re lying to me!” “You’re not human.” There it was. Spoken by the goddess of no lies, the turning point that gave the story the boost it needed, assured me we were one step closer to getting Sam back, and helped sustain me through the four episodes that separated us from “Appointment in Samarra”.
All these monsters have been linked to the Winchesters lives in some way or another. As we celebrate 10 years of the ones who killed them, I wonder what they would write on the Deadly Twosome’s anniversary pie.
“Mallory to your Mickey”.
Thank you, Veritas. This goddess wouldn’t lie.