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PilotSupernatural : Season 1 Episode 1

"Pilot" is the first episode of the television series Supernatural. It premiered on The WB on September 13, 2005, and was written by series creator Eric Kripke and directed by David Nutter. The Supernatural pilot introduced the characters of Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), brothers who travel throughout the country hunting supernatural creatures, as they battled a ghostly Woman in White (Sarah Shahi) while searching for their missing father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

PilotSupernatural : Season 1 Episode 1

Kripke was developing the concept for ten years before it was greenlit as a television series. Before it could be filmed, the script underwent numerous revisions. The episode was produced in Los Angeles, though future episodes were filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, to save money. The episode established the series' tradition of a rock-music soundtrack, and included background music scored by Kripke's friend Christopher Lennertz. It received mixed reviews, with critics praising the horror elements but having varying opinions of the lead actors' performances.

The pilot stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as Sam and Dean Winchester, whom Kripke likened to Luke Skywalker and Han Solo of Star Wars.[4] Padalecki knew executive producers McG and Nutter,[7] the former convincing him to audition for the role. He was excited to play "the reluctant hero", and compared Sam to The Matrix's Neo.[8] However, Nutter also asked Ackles to audition for the role of Sam.[9] Nutter and Kripke found themselves in a predicament, as they felt both actors were great as Sam. To remedy the situation, Warner Bros. president Peter Roth suggested Ackles instead audition for Dean.[10] Kripke agreed, believing Ackles' "smart-ass attitude" made him "born to play" the Harrison Ford-like character,[11] and Ackles preferred the character of Dean after reading the script.[12] Both actors were the only ones to audition, and network executives instantly noticed a brotherly chemistry between them.[13] Evil Dead-actor Bruce Campbell was Kripke's first choice to portray John Winchester, father of Sam and Dean. However, Campbell was unavailable,[10] and Jeffrey Dean Morgan eventually received the role. With Morgan's scene taking place 22 years before the series, he expected to be replaced by an older actor for subsequent episodes, and was surprised when he was later asked to reprise the role.[14]

The episode was written by series creator Eric Kripke, who described its creation as a "very difficult, birthing process" due to the numerous rewrites required.[4] The original version did not feature the Woman in White, and John Winchester died in the teaser.[4] In the revised script, Sam and Dean Winchester were raised by their aunt and uncle instead of their father. Because of this, Sam is unaware that supernatural beings exist, and Dean must convince him of the truth when he asks for help. Kripke realized this made the backstory too complicated, and reworked it with co-executive producer Peter Johnson so that their father raised them to be hunters like him. This decision granted the brothers proficiency in both fighting and swindling people.[16] Other revised concepts included Sam believing Dean to be a serial killer who murdered their father,[17] and John dying instead of Sam's girlfriend Jessica.[13] The scene in which the brothers discuss their childhood and delve into their backstory was rewritten 20 to 30 times, and the final version was heavily trimmed.[11]

Originally, the studio did not want Kripke to kill Jessica at the episode's end, but rather keep her as a recurring character in the series. Kripke felt this would not fit the series's format, and decided to have her revealed as a demon, with the revelation prompting Sam to join Dean in hunting. However, with only a short amount of screentime available to depict this, Kripke believed it would be a "tough aspect to sell".[19] Because Luke Skywalker only begins his journey after the deaths of his aunt and uncle, Kripke found it more appropriate for Sam's motivation to be Jessica's death.[11] Thus, the character is killed in the same manner as Sam's mother, making the deaths the "right bookends".[19]

To depict the supernatural aspects of the show, the series makes use of visual, special, and make-up effects, as well as stuntwork. Businesses, such as visual effects company Entity FX,[21] were contracted for production of the pilot episode. Subsequent episodes were filmed in Vancouver and required a new crew that works exclusively for the show.[22] Mary Winchester's death scene, which had the character pinned to the ceiling and burning to death, required actress Samantha Smith to lie on a floor with two propane pipes spouting fire approximately five feet away from her on either side. For the actual burning of the character, a fake body the crew named "Christina" was made out of wire and papier-mâché, and was then ignited on a fake ceiling.[15][23] However, the room quickly caught fire, forcing an evacuation.[23] Green screen coincided with the visual effects for the ghostly Woman in White,[4] and executive producer McG chose to make the imagery of her death sequence an homage to Chris Cunningham's Aphex Twin video "Windowlicker".[11] Japanese horror also influenced the scene, such as the school uniforms worn by the ghost children, the water cascading down the stairs, and the Dark Water elements.[11]

The episode's synthesized orchestral score was written by Christopher Lennertz,[24] Kripke's friend and next-door neighbor. The two attended USC School of Cinematic Arts together, and worked together on various projects afterwards. Lennertz described Supernatural as "one of those dream situations where you get to work with someone who you admire, but also have a relationship with already", and noted he and Kripke "were already on the same page without even talking about [the series' music]".[25]

For the scenes involving Mary and Jessica's deaths at the hands of the demon Azazel, Lennertz used a piano solo with discordant notes and reverberations to create a "really nasty" sounding echo effect.[6] He would later reuse this theme in the season one episode "Nightmare".[26] The episode also included a number of rock songs,[23] which would become a tradition for the series.[27] Kripke wanted to feature the song "Enter Sandman", but Metallica would not grant permission.[28]

Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times found the first half of the episode "quite effective", with the "camera angles, spooky music and jumpy sequences...[being] as frightening as those found in any horror movie, with an added twist of suspense". However, she deemed the depiction of the ghostly villain as "pretty silly", and noted the second half "stops building suspense and turns predictable". Calling the series "Ghostbusters' Creek", Stanley felt the episode "reverts to a WB family drama about the bonds between two mismatched brothers and their father".[34] Similarly, Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe called Ackles and Padalecki "generic cuties who hold their lips together tightly, except to utter the word 'Dude'". Although Gilbert noted there are a couple "moderately creepy" twists, he found there to be "nothing about the central family story in Supernatural or its bland actors that makes it addictive".[35]

Work on the pilot episode garnered two Emmy Award nominations in 2006. Lennertz was nominated in the category of "Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (Dramatic Underscore)",[36] and the sound editors[note 1] for "Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series".[36]

Dean seems to have lost control because of the Mark of Cain, so Sam and Castiel lock him up in the bunker. Gadreel (Tahmoh Penikett) reveals that Metatron (Curtis Armstrong) wants to take the place of God, using the power of the angel tablet. Sam goes after Metatron on his own, while Castiel and Gadreel decide to go after the tablet in Heaven. Dean enlists the help of Crowley. Complications ensue, resulting in a heartbreaking and shocking end to the season.

Why Supernatural: Bloodlines didn't happen, we might never know for sure. After Bloodlines didn't move any further at the CW, creator Dabb would eventually reflect, explaining that the timing just wasn't right and that their idea "was probably a little too similar to The Originals." But what makes the most sense is what he would say later, that they "wanted to do something set in the Supernatural world but very unlike Supernatural." He hit the nail on the head. Not only was "Bloodlines" one of the most hated episodes of Season 9 (though some say it's underrated), but the concept was so unlike the road-show that was Supernatural that it felt somewhat unnatural to watch. The characters weren't as exciting as Sam and Dean, and the story, while terribly compelling, didn't quite land the same way as the Winchester's revenge-fueled first season did.

Had Dabb and company taken a more Chris Carter approach to spin-offs, they might've had a hit on their hands as The X-Files creator did with the short-lived series Millennium. While Millennium only lasted three seasons (due largely to its dark, thematic content, which was somewhat ahead of its time), the series made its mark and has a large cult following to this day. What made it work was that it didn't rely on an X-Files connection other than sharing the same series creator. Instead, it allowed itself to be its own thing, eventually crossing over with The X-Files as time went on and the series found its legs. Contrast this with Carter's later spin-off, The Lone Gunmen, which followed three X-Files supporting characters and only lasted one short season. Its heavy reliance on X-Files fans, though the series ran a starkly different tone, kept it from ever standing on its own and the characters were quickly drafted back into the main series.

When "Wayward Sisters" aired in Season 13, Supernatural fans thought for sure that this next spin-off series, titled Supernatural: Wayward Sisters, would be an immediate hit at the CW. Having spent years with characters like Sheriffs Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) and Donna Hanscum (Briana Buckmaster), and the past few seasons developing the complex Claire Novak (Kathryn Love Newton) and Alex Jones (Katherine Ramdeen), Dabb and company used the beginning of Season 13 to set the stage for their next attempt at a spin-off. They introduced the psychic Patience Turner (Clark Backo), the granddaughter of Sam and Dean's one-time ally Missouri Mosely (Loretta Devine), and the dreamwalker Kaia Nieves (Yadira Guevara-Prip), who tried to help the brothers find their missing mother. With lots of character history behind them, the Wayward Sisters seemed like an instant hit, feeling "more like an outgrowth of Supernatural" rather than some random side-plot, according to Dabb. 041b061a72


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