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Previously on Supernatural – stuff happened.

This episode plunges right in to the Monster of the Week by opening up onto a group of youngish guys on a camping trip in the deep woods. Aside from the conspicuous lack of drunken teenage girls in various states of undress, it looks like a pretty standard horror setup. You know they’re about to get attacked and probably eaten. No big surprise when it happens, but the execution is good. We never get a good look at the monster. At this point I’m guessing the Forest Monster from Lost is making a cameo.

Cut to Sam at the grave of his late girlfriend. He spouts some sappy goodbyes and bends down to lay flowers. Suddenly a hand reaches up from the ground and grips his wrist!

Oop! Naw...just a dream! Admit it, you jumped.

The rest of the episode proceeds at a brisk pace. The Brothers Winchester encounter the sister of one of the campers in the opening bit. The coordinates Pops left them are the same as missing-brother Bobby’s last known location so the boys team up with Hailey to find her brother. The three of them, a third brother whose name I never caught, and a guide/hunter hired by Hailey head off into the woods. The rangers and the guide, Roy, are convinced that the only things lurking in the forest are grizzly bears, but unless the bears are were-grizzlies, we know that ain’t it.

After coming upon the ruined campsite, Dean and Sam use their powers of deduction and encyclopedic knowledge of supernatural phantasmagoria… and find the answer in Dad’s grail diary.

This happened in the last episode too. Before the guys could do any detective work, Deus ex Daddy slips them the cookie. I hope this isn’t the beginning of a pattern. It’s really no fun if the answers are provided before the test.

Turns out it’s a Wendigo, a creature out of Native American myth that’s impervious to bullets and blades. Fortunately (and again, too easily) they already know its kryptonite, all they have to do is find the missing campers (who are most likely being stored in a monster larder), dispatch it, and not get killed in the process.

There was some great chemistry between Dean and Hailey, and all of the guest characters were well developed. This lead me to speculate that both her brothers would get killed and she’d have to join the team, rounding out the cast a bit. Alas, no dice.

We received some nice development for the season arc, providing a bit of mission tension between the leads. Sam is all for barging in headfirst and finding Dad. He believes that the sooner they find him, the sooner he’ll have resolution for his girlfriend’s murder. It comes as a surprise to Dean, who has always been the more gung-ho of the two, that he’s now the one who wants to take the search one step at a time. His goals are to find their father, yes – but also to help as many people as they can along the way.

This seems almost out of character for what we know of the cavalier Dean, and stands in contrast to formerly reluctant Sam, whose pain from the loss of his girlfriend is pushing him along a the path tread by his father 22 years before.

The MOTW story was a fun, Buffyesque romp. They played the Wendigo for maximum creeps by taking a cue from Ridley Scott’s Alien. We caught only the merest flashes of the creature until the very end, and even then we never got a really good look at it. Thus we were spared groaning over a fake-looking monster.

Next week – there’s something spooooky in the lake, and Angel’s Amy Acker guest-stars!

Marin Carpenter

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