Category Archives: Supernatural

Supernatural – Route 666

And after a couple of decent episodes, Supernatural returns to a ho-hum one. This time, we get a blast from Dean’s past when his old girlfriend calls him up about her father’s suspicious murder. It should have been a great episode, but it was hampered by the fact that there wasn’t much chemistry between Dean and Cassie.

The best part of the episode was Sam’s facial expressions. He played the teasing younger brother role to a T. And I loved Dean’s reaction to Sam’s confession that his plan (which involved using Dean as bait) was only a theory he thought would maybe work.

The title of this episode didn’t have much to do with a series of racially-motivated murders committed by a ghost truck. While three of the murders took place off of Route 6, the location didn’t have anything to do with them. They turned out to be all tied to a murder/cover-up from the 1960s.

While there were a few intense moments when vehicles or people were being chased down by the truck, in all the episode didn’t have a creepy feel to it. It also seemed pretty standalone, with no references to the traumatic events of the previous episode. And since it looks like Cassie never shows up again on the show, there won’t be much if any impact on future episodes.

I’ve gotten far enough into the show that one episode like this isn’t going to make me put the show on the back burner, but after the past two episodes I was hoping for something better. Only nine more episodes left until season two (which I’ve heard really improves the show)!

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Supernatural – Faith

Great episode! It kind of reminded me of early Angel episodes, which I’m sure was helped by the guest star appearance of Julie Benz, who played Darla on both Buffy and Angel.

This episode starts out with the brothers taking out a baddie that needs to be electrocuted. Only problem – when Dean zaps him, they’re both standing in the same puddle of water. The shock causes Dean to have a heart-damaging cardiac arrest, and the doctors only give him weeks to live.

Dean’s actually pretty resigned about the diagnosis (I guess with his choice of occupation, he has to figure something will get him sooner or later), but Sam is determined to find a cure for his brother. He tries to contact their dad (I’m liking the guy less and less – not even coming when your son is dying?) and calls up all the contacts in their dad’s journal. One of them points the boys to a faith healer. Dean is skeptical, but Sam convinces him to go, and Dean is healed by the blind pastor.

But Dean sees a shadowy creepy old man as he is healed, and when he finds out a local man died of a heart attack around the same time as the healing, he begins to question whether the “miracles” are something darker. After matching up other healings to other deaths, Dean and Sam figure out that a Reaper is at work here, possibly bound by the pastor to do his bidding.

They do some investigating and find out it’s the pastor’s wife who is meddling in black arts and choosing victims based on their immorality. Dean’s snooping around puts him on her hit list, but Sam is able to save the day by destroying her talisman, and the Reaper takes the person who has bound him for so long.

What could have been just an episode about hypocritical church people gets a different spin by the presence of Julie Benz’s character, Layla. Dean is initially attracted to her, but is thrown for a loop when he finds out she has an inoperable brain tumor. (She’s there with her mom, so it was easy to assume the mom was the one who needed healing.) Stopping the Reaper means that Layla will die in a few months. I loved her and Dean’s conversation at the end of the episode, where she tells him that if you’re going to have faith, you can’t just have it when the miracles happen, but when they don’t, too. And Dean admits he’s not the praying type, but he’ll pray for her.

The episode differed from the previous creepy episodes, in that it was more of a mystery with few spooky moments. I would have enjoyed a few more twists, but all in all, this was an excellent episode.

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Supernatural – Scarecrow

Well, the people who mentioned this was one of the better episodes of season one were right – I enjoyed this episode more than any of the previous ones. Interestingly, it was the first episode after the midseason break, which fits well for change to the holding pattern we’d been stuck in (Sam wanting to find their dad, Dean wanting to carry on their dad’s mission).

“Scarecrow” picks up with the duo right where the last episode left off – the call from their father, John Winchester. He wants the guys to stop looking for him, and he gives them info on another job. But Sam has finally had enough. The call came from a payphone in California, and that’s where he wants to head, not a small town in Indiana where road-tripping couples disappear yearly. He gets out of the car, grabs his gear, and starts walking. Surprisingly, Dean lets him go and drives away, leading to a refreshing change of format for this episode.

Sam comes across a fellow hitchhiker named Meg, and the two later meet up at a bus station and share “not wanting to live up to family expectations” stories as they wait for their bus. She seemed like more than a random one-episode character and I thought I’d seen the name come up before on Supernatural sites.

Dean arrives at the town in Indiana, but his direct approach in asking about the previous year’s couple leads to the sheriff escorting him out of town. He comes back and rescues this year’s couple from a creepy animated hook-handed scarecrow made out of last year’s victim (recognizable by an arm tattoo). Dean realizes how much easier this would be with Sam along, and he and his brother talk on the phone and make up, though Sam still plans to go after their dad. Dean even admits he respects the fact that Sam is willing to buck his father’s orders. (Yay for a well-acted scene! Interesting that the actors had a better connection in two separate places during one call than they had in some previous entire episodes.)

They figure out that the deaths are likely a ritual sacrifice to some sort of pagan god, and Dean finds a nearby professor to help him with determining which one. Only the professor is in on the ritual, and since the other couple is gone, Dean and a niece of one of the townspeople are kidnapped to be the sacrifice. Sam gets worried when Dean isn’t picking up his phone, and instead of getting on a bus with Meg, heads to make sure his brother is okay. He arrives just in time to rescue Dean and the niece, but the scarecrow grabs her aunt and uncle instead. The three burn the sacred tree fueling the god, preventing future animated scarecrows.

Sam tells Dean he doesn’t want to chase revenge for their mom and Jess, or go after their absentee father. He’s going to stick with the person he cares about who is right in front of him – finally moving from a begrudging/reluctant companion to one who will stick with Dean through thick and thin (hopefully!). I’m glad they finally brought that part of the show to a rest – the push-pull of leaving/staying was getting annoying.

And they started a far more intriguing story arc, as the final scene has Meg having the guy who picked her up pull over, then slitting his throat and collecting the blood in a chalice, which she uses to “call” her “father.” Yep, Sam was the safer choice of hitchhiker to pick up. We only hear Meg’s side of the conversation, but she’s unhappy at not being able to dispatch both Dean and Sam on her timetable.

So this episode had a lot of things going for it – change in format, start of new story arcs, and an interesting local bogeyman of the week. After “Asylum” seemed to have an endless amount of “wander in a creepy area and wait for something to jump out at you” moments, it was nice that this episode kept them collectively under 5 minutes, even with 3 separate scenes. This is the kind of episode I was looking for when I started the show. No, it’s not perfect, and I’m still longing for more of a Scooby Gang a la Buffy, but I genuinely enjoyed it and am actually looking forward to the next episode.

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Supernatural – Asylum

Okay, when I was making the photo collage for this week’s poll (favorite scary show), I had no idea the random freaky-looking Supernatural image I grabbed would turn out to be from the very episode I ended up watching the same evening! And it was one of Supernatural’s more creepy episodes, which made me regret deciding to watch it so late at night. Ah, well, onto the review!

I bookended watching the episode with two other shows I’m having a hard time getting into (but people/buzz keep telling me I should like), Doctor Who and Arrested Development. I figured perhaps an iffy episode of Doctor Who would make Supernatural seem better by comparison, but I happened to watch one of the most heartfelt episodes – at least so far – of the British show (“Father’s Day”). So it didn’t do Supernatural any favors, but I still thought “Asylum” was pretty decent.

It’s a fairly simple “evil spirits, find the body, salt and burn” episode, set in a creepy asylum. Far too much of the episode seemed to be characters wandering around the place, waiting for ghosts to pop out of any corner (or having them dart around behind the characters’ backs). Both the two cops that visit the place at the beginning of the episode and the two teens caught inside with the brothers later on seemed pretty cardboard – though I did like that the girlfriend knew how to use a shotgun.

As usual, this show rests on the relationship between Dean and Sam, and I am seeing signs of improvement in that area. The scene where Dean pretends to be an annoying reporter, and Sam makes him leave so he can bond with the cop and get answers was humorous. I also liked that Dean knew not to give the spirit-addled Sam a loaded gun – no tearful “I knew you wouldn’t shoot me” moments here.

The good son/rebel son dynamic is getting a bit old, though. As is the tug-of-war between looking for their father and hunting creatures (especially since creatures always win). At least there seems to be some movement on the father end (now that we know he’s just avoiding them) with the phone call at the end of the episode.

Watching this right after an episode of Doctor Who really helped me see the parallels between the two shows and why I’m having trouble getting hooked on both of them. Both have two characters traveling around in a specific vehicle putting their lives in danger saving people from otherworldly attacks. Doctor Who has more reoccurring characters so far, though Supernatural will eventually have more. The visual effects are better on Supernatural, but the storylines are more varied on Doctor Who. I like Dean and Sam better (though only marginally) than the ninth Doctor and Rose, but I know the British dynamic will change in later seasons, while I’m “stuck” with Dean and Sam for the duration of the American show.

My favorite shows, however, tend to have five or more main characters and be set in the same location. Everything from Community to Buffy to How I Met Your Mother to NCIS to The Vampire Diaries fits that mold. Maybe that’s why I never really got into Tru Calling (not enough main characters) or Revolution (characters scattered and on the move).

Anyhow, this was a decent episode of Supernatural, one of the better ones I’ve seen so far. I just hope it doesn’t give me nightmares (remember to not watch future episodes late in the evening!).

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Supernatural – Home

Okay, I’d heard this was a good episode, and it was one of the better ones I’ve seen so far, but as it ended I felt rather ambivalent. What, really, has changed?

This episode, thanks to one of Sam’s prescient dreams, takes the brothers back to Kansas, where a mother and her two young children have just moved into the boys’ childhood home. Early creepy indications include scratching noises and the sighting of a figure wreathed in flames.

Dean and Sam make some inquiries around town and finally meet with a no-nonsense female psychic who knew their father. Missouri’s presence in the episode shows again how hard it is to connect to a show when there are only two main characters. She made a good addition to the team for the episode, and made me wish for a consistent third character to liven up the relationship dynamics.

Okay, after watching this episode and the Heroes pilot, I am going to have a lifelong fear of garbage disposals. The monkey with the cymbals was pretty clichéd, though.

I figured out early on that flame-figure was Mary Winchester, thanks to coming across spoilers while verifying facts for polls. So that part of the episode didn’t have the impact on me that it could have. And seeing Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s name in the credits let me know that good ol’ dad would be showing up at some point – unfortunately it was in a closing scene with Missouri, so no family reunion just yet. Plus his excuse for not seeing his sons seems incredibly lame. There’d better be a good reason for why seeking this “truth” is keeping him apart from his sons when it didn’t for the first 20 years after the fire. Especially after Dean’s phone call to him, which was some of the best acting I’ve seen on this show so far, by Jensen Ackles or anyone else.

And so Dean and Sam faced their fears, went back home, and saved the day – but what do they have to show for it? Yeah, it was cool that they saw their mom, but a) they already knew she was dead, and b) they already were pretty sure she loved them. It’s interesting that we as viewers now know that John Winchester isn’t locked in some hell dimension, but his sons don’t know. So as far as I can see, nothing changes. Maybe I’m just too used to Joss Whedon shows, but after a pivotal episode like that, isn’t something (even if it’s a tiny shift in a relationship or a new fear a character will have to overcome) supposed to be different?

Well, there is the fact that now Dean knows about Sam’s dreams. Would have been nice to touch on that near the end. But I guess I’ll have to see if this episode has much of an impact on later ones.

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Supernatural – Bugs

I went into watching this episode expecting it to be terrible (perhaps remembering Smallville’s cringe-worthy bug episode of its first season), but to my surprise it wasn’t half bad. I even laughed a few times, including when Dean stuck his towel-wrapped head out of the bathroom.

One of the things that made me enjoy the episode was getting some backstory on Sam’s relationship with his dad. Even though it was presented awkwardly (come on, writers, this isn’t the 80s), it really gave me a better idea of how the brothers relate.

Since the description gave away that a Native American burial ground had something to do with the bug attacks, I had the Buffy episode “Pangs” in my head the entire time, but the two didn’t have all that much in common. I did think the much more specific curse on “Bugs” made an interesting difference. (And now I have an arrow-riddled Spike yelling, “A bear! You made a bear! Undo it, undo it!” going on a constant loop in my head.)

I really disliked how the final attack was supposed to be 6 hours long (a little after midnight until dawn), and yet the way it was shot it seemed like a half hour at most. It made the sunrise seem like a cop-out.

All in all, while “Bugs” was a little corny in places, it was much better than the last episode, and is giving me a little hope for the show.

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Supernatural – Hook Man

So, it’s been almost exactly a year since I last watched an episode of Supernatural. I gave the show six episodes in the summer of 2011, and it failed to impress me. But since many of this site’s visitors love the show, and I’ve caught several cool moments (and unfortunately far too many spoilers) while doing research for polls, I decided to give it another shot. Especially since it’s now on Netflix.

Sadly, “Hook Man” was a rather terrible episode to try and get me into the show. Basic premise: an angry spirit with a hook for a hand goes around killing people, and Dean and Sam have to risk their lives to stop him (yes, quite similar to other episodes). Far too much of the episode was taken up with “scary atmosphere,” there was only one major twist I could see coming a mile away, and please tell me getting picked up/questioned by law enforcement doesn’t become an every-other-episode part of this show. I didn’t recognize any of the guest stars, though apparently the minister (Dan Butler) is from Frasier.

Dean and Sam were a little less awkward together in the episode, but still have a long way to go. With Supernatural hinging so greatly on their relationship (as the show’s one constant), it has to sizzle. A few of the later clips I’ve seen indicate that it eventually does (one of the reasons why I tried another episode), but I don’t know how much I’m willing to watch to get to better episodes.

It probably doesn’t help that I’ve seen so many other speculative shows that early episodes of Supernatural pale in comparison. Buffy, Angel, and Grimm all started with a similar “baddie of the week” setup, yet their main characters are far more engaging, there are more plot twists, and fun dialogue makes you laugh.

I did like how this episode showed Sam (yes, I still want to call him Dean – thanks, Gilmore Girls!) connecting with someone and showing how Jess’s death is still affecting him. But it’s still painted too broadly – this show could use more nuance. I wonder if that’s why it’s so popular internationally – less subtlety prevents things from getting lost in translation.

Another part I enjoyed was Dean and Sam falling on each other after climbing in a window, as well as Dean’s remarks about Sam’s college life (and his choice of caffeinated beverage).

But I still don’t get why thousands of teen girls and young women are so into these guys. Give me Spike, Monroe, or Wesley any day (or Giles, Xander, Oz, Angel, Nick, Captain Renard, Doyle . . . yeah, the Winchester boys would be pretty far down on the list – and that’s only looking at 3 other shows at the moment).

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Supernatural – Skin

This episode started off with a glimpse at the middle of the episode (since it was a misdirect instead of stealing thunder from the climax, I didn’t mind), which seemed far more like an episode of Criminal Minds than Supernatural. That and the “normal” introduction to the attack – a friend falsely accused of murder – didn’t really influence me toward believing there was a natural explanation for all this. I hope Supernatural does throw in a few non-speculative scenarios eventually, if only to make red herrings less blatant. But in episode six of a show? The theory’s not even worth considering.

“Skin” did add a few twists to the shapeshifter trope. I hadn’t heard of the whole silver bullets thing to kill them before, but using silver to kill supernatural baddies is old hat. What impressed me was the whole “downloading memories,” thereby foiling the one easy way to tell the shapeshifter and the real person apart; needing the person to be alive to maintain the charade (unlike the First in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which needed the person to be dead to impersonate them); and the elaborate skin-shedding process (which was pretty gross).

I liked that this episode continued to build on Dean and Sam’s relationship, which still needs some work if I’m going to get addicted to this paranormal-battling duo. I hate that I’m still lukewarmish about this show. It’s been almost two months since I watched the first episode and this is only number 6. In that same amount of time I’d watched 4 seasons of Bones, or watched 5 seasons of Buffy and 2 of Angel.

What say you, Supernatural fans? Should I keep going or give up on the show?

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Supernatural – Bloody Mary

Another good and creepy episode with the Winchester brothers. Out of all the shows I watch, Supernatural is the one most likely to make me worry about things that go bump in the night. I say most likely, because TV shows and movies rarely scare me – but then, I don’t really seek out ones that do. Horror is not my genre of choice. I much prefer thrilling adventures and deep characterization to cheap scare tactics.

It’s interesting – the three episodes of Supernatural I’ve enjoyed the most so far have all been ghost stories. Perhaps it’s because those types of stories seem to have more emotional depth, and their serious nature suits the somber tone of the show. Most episodes of other speculative shows I watch feature bad guys you can punch and behead (and sometimes toss out witty insults and puns while doing so).

“Bloody Mary” starts out with a trio of preteens playing Truth or Dare, with one dare involving saying “bloody Mary” three times in front of a mirror. Sam and Dean notice an unusual death notice in the paper, and head to Toledo to investigate.

The topic of money comes up briefly when Sam bribes a morgue clerk with Dean’s poker “earnings,” which makes me wonder what Dean and Sam are living on. Yes, a few of the jobs they could get with referrals would earn some cash, but the majority of the work they do involves no payment at all. Yet they have to pay for gas, food, and motel rooms somehow. What about Sam’s college tuition?

I love it that the ghost, set free by the breaking of the mirror, has to confront the idea of all the people she’s killed when faced with another mirror. But why did Dean’s eyes start bleeding too? Was it the power of the ghost set free and out for vengeance, or does Dean have a secret in his past involving a death, too?

I liked the way this episode finally starts to deal with some of what Sam’s going through with Jessica’s death. And a bit more of the mystery is peeled away. Sam had dreams about what was going to happen? Since he was a baby when this thing killed his mother, even if he heard all the details later there is no way he’d be able to picture it exactly. So it had to be some sort of psychic warning (which given one spoiler I’ve seen about the show, makes perfect sense). But I’m glad they still showed that it’s effecting him. Something that traumatic, even if Sam’s making steps toward healing, should not go away in 4 episodes.

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Supernatural – Phantom Traveler

This episode finally sets up the “why” for future episodes. If Dean and Sam aren’t going to be following a trail of otherworldly clues to find their dad, they need to have a reason for coming across all of these supernatural baddies. Since word likely got passed around that John Winchester’s number was the one to call when dealing with paranormal events, having his voicemail message refer people to Dean’s cell is a good way for the brothers to find out about “jobs” in the future.

“Phantom Traveler” was interesting but not amazing. Jaime Ray Newman, whom I’ve most recently seen in season three of Veronica Mars, guest stars in the episode and gives a decent but unremarkable performance. I think the episode gave too much away at the beginning with showing how the plane went down – figuring out the why is what causes viewers to be glued to seats. Sometimes it works to have the audience know more than the main characters as it creates tension; here it doesn’t. It just makes Dean and Sam look slow for not figuring it out sooner (when in reality, they figured things out almost too quickly).

The one part I did enjoy about this episode was Dean’s fear of flying. Having a character that faces off against demons and ghosts without breaking into a sweat get all panicked about stepping onto a plane was a great stroke.

This season is beginning to remind me of  season one of Angel, but it’s only a murky reflection. While many shows have a “baddie of the week” premise (from speculative shows with actual monsters to crime drama with murderers to catch), what keeps viewers watching is the team dynamics as they solve things. Limiting the team to only two members strips away most of the potential dynamics, but a show can pull it off if the two characters sizzle together. Sam and Dean don’t. They don’t even have an explosive secret to up the tension.

Another way this show pales in comparison to Angel (and most other shows) is the tiny amount of a long-term story arc. Yes, they want to find their dad. Yes, they want to find the thing that killed their mom and Jess. But that’s it, and those quests get far too little screen time. And there doesn’t seem to be any sort of plan toward finding either of those – just a whole lot of wandering and maybes. So frankly, I’m getting a little bored.

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Supernatural – Dead in the Water

I approached this third episode of Supernatural feeling a little ambivalent about the show. The pilot had been amazing and almost too creepy. The second episode had been a bit of a dud. But for most shows, the third episode plays a pivotal role – after episode one establishes the premise of the show, and episode two establishes the “formula” of a normal episode, episode three usually gives the best picture of the rest of the season, and sometimes the rest of the entire show.

(Hmm, just to prove that theory to myself I looked up the third episode of some of my favorite shows – so many awesomely fun moments – from John Casey throwing a microwave at a bad guy in Chuck to Spike making fun of Angel to Beckett grabbing Castle’s ear when he tries to overhear her phone conversation.)

So after the “previously on” section played (I seriously hope they don’t show clips of the pilot in front of every episode this season), the episode opened with a victim’s last moments while the credits blinked up on the screen. I saw one name and immediately got excited – this episode guest starred Amy Acker!

Best known as Fred from Angel, she’s also in Dollhouse and even a couple episodes of No Ordinary Family. I think it was brilliant to cast Amy so early in the show – Angel had only been off for a year, and Supernatural was aimed at similar viewers. And the show was nice enough to make her an integral part of the episode – not just a cameo walk-on.

This episode did a great job of making ordinary moments creepy, and the Winchester brothers played off each other much better. They actually seem like a team. The dialogue steps up a notch, too, with Acker delivering a fun zinger:

Must be hard with your sense of direction – never being able to find your way to a decent pickup line.

The brothers introduce themselves as Agents Ford and Hamill, a Star Wars reference it took me a bit to catch. And Dean shows a bit of his vulnerable side, but I’m still not feeling why thousands of fans are gaga over these characters. I’m hoping that will become more apparent soon, as the brothers are this show’s only constant so far.

Yet in all, I loved this episode, and am definitely looking forward to more Supernatural!

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Supernatural – Wendigo

So I finally got around to the second episode of Supernatural, and I wasn’t all that impressed. I’m still not feeling Dean and Sam as a team, and since so far they’re the only core characters, a lot hinges on the two of them and how they interact.

This episode doesn’t really have anything to distinguish it from any other monster-hunting show. Unwary campers are caught by an unseen creature, our two heroes come in and investigate, putting themselves in danger, and finally are able to defeat the creature and save the day. There’s the pretty girl to impress, and the stubborn guy who doesn’t listen and gets himself killed.

Aside from a decent soundtrack and a pre-Glee appearance of Cory Monteith, there really isn’t much to say about this episode. I’m not giving up on this show yet, since there has to be a reason it has such a cult following. I just hope I won’t have to get through all of season one before that becomes apparent. I’d put this episode on par with Smallville, to which I still haven’t returned.

I think the main thing I’m missing is humor. This show takes itself way too seriously. I think Joss Whedon has spoiled me. And the dialogue seems rather humdrum, too. I found myself wanting the brothers to find their dad just so the show could have a new character who might change dynamics.

The one part I enjoyed about this episode was the startling end to the dream sequence. It gives me a little hope for future episodes.

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Supernatural – Pilot

It was only recently that I’d even heard of the show Supernatural. It popped up a few times on TV blogs and articles, and I gathered that it had a strong fan base. Without probing too deeply (trying to avoid spoilers!), I learned that two brothers, trained by their dad after the death of their mom, hunt all sorts of supernatural baddies.

The pilot introduces the Winchester brothers, Dean and Sam (played by Jared Padalecki, who I knew as Dean from Gilmore Girls, which made things a bit confusing). The entire episode was quite creepy, something I wasn’t expecting. Most of the speculative shows I watch involve vampires or superheroes, and fighting them means physical battles. As such, they tend to be more scary/suspenseful than creepy, but Supernatural’s pilot ranks right up there with the handful of episodes that were creepy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Hush” and Angel’s “Room w/a Vu” come to mind).

The pilot featured Life and Fairly Legal’s Sarah Shahi. The acting and effects were above par, and it contained enough of a hook to make me want to watch the second episode. The only thing that didn’t ring true was Dean’s comment to Sam that they made a great team. Their teamwork wasn’t impressive at all in this episode – they seemed to just stumble onto things individually. (A bunch of shows come to mind that have much better teamwork in the pilot episode that ultimately brings the characters together to form the show – Leverage, Bones, White Collar, Burn Notice . . .) But I’m guessing this improves with future episodes. I’m looking forward to what a regular episode will bring.

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