Every weekday through September 12 BuddyTV is counting down the 10 best Supernatural episodes of all time.  Come back every day as we unveil the list, and see if your favorite episode made the cut!

Original Air Date:  September 13, 2005

Written By:  Eric Kripke

Summary:  In an opening flashback, we see the night Mary Winchester was killed by the Yellow-Eyed Demon 22 years earlier.  In the present, Sam is preparing to interview with a prestigious law school and is settled down with his girlfriend, Jessica.  His life is turned completely upside down when his brother, Dean, walks back into his life after a two-year absence.  Dean needs Sam’s help tracking down their father, who’s disappeared with little explanation, but Sam is reluctant to get involved in the family demon hunting business.

Why It’s On The List:  The pilot is the most important episode of any television series.  A successful first episode should introduce all the characters in a memorable fashion, set up the universe that the show takes place in, and give viewers some idea of what will be happening week to week.  It also has to be compelling enough to draw people back for the second episode, otherwise the series is doomed.  The pilot of Supernatural does all of these things wonderfully.  It explains the mythology, fills us in on the backgrounds of the two main characters, let’s us see the dynamic between the Winchester brothers, and creates an ongoing mystery while also introducing the monster of the week structure.  It’s about as good as a pilot can get.

The reason the pilot isn’t higher on this all-time top 10 list is because, like all great shows, I believe Supernatural has topped its first episode numerous times over the years.  It’d be rather depressing if Eric Kripke and his crew of writers had never achieved anything greater than the pilot after three seasons and 59 more episodes.  The pilot is great, but there are better Supernatural episodes out there.

Just as I wrote yesterday when discussing “No Rest for the Wicked,” it’s the little moments that make an episode worthy of being considered one of the all-time best.  Many of my favorite moments in the Supernatural pilot come courtesy of the great rapport between Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki.  I love the crazy kung-fu fight they have when Dean first sneaks into the house, followed by Dean pointing his Smurfs-loving gaze at Sam’s girlfriend.  I love the moment when Sam mocks Dean’s cassette collection, only to be told to shut his cake hole as AC/DC’s “Back in Black” blares on the soundtrack.  I love the shout out to The X-Files, and the introduction of John Winchester’s journal.  And, of course, I love the following exchange:

Sam:  Hey Dean. . .what I said earlier, about mom and dad, I’m sorry. . .
Dean:  No chick flick moments.
Sam:  Alright. . .jerk.
Dean:  Bitch.

It’s quick exchanges like the one above that make Supernatural the show we all know and love.  That realistic banter between the brothers is the saving grace of every single episode.  Even if the Winchesters are facing down a somewhat lame monster of the week, such as this episode’s Woman in White, the playful banter always makes up for it.

I’ve tuned into countless pilots that left me feeling completely cold and failed to instill me with a desire to return for more episodes.  Even shows as great as Veronica Mars and The Wire had pilots that made me cringe.  Supernatural avoids that pitfall with a first episode that’s actually equal to the best the show has to offer.  That’s a rarity on television, and that’s why the Supernatural pilot is worthy of all the praise the fans have heaped upon it.

<< EPISODE #10      |      EPISODE #8>>

– Don Williams, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of the CW)