In “First Blood,” Sam and Dean have been taken by the Secret Service for trying to assassinate the president. Castiel and Mary have no idea how to find them. The black ops imprisonment doesn’t feel like Supernatural, but perhaps that’s the point. Still, we’ll take monster hunts over secret American military installations any day of the week. Despite the incongruence, “First Blood” manages to include a few lines destined to become Supernatural classics, as well as emotional Winchester family moments. “
Though “First Blood” doesn’t follow a monster hunt, the episode is about hunting in some ways. Castiel opines how the brothers’ absence means that people will die.Without Sam and Dean, Castiel seems lost. Castiel makes his own attempt to roll into Lancaster, Missouri to deal with a vampire nest, but fails. Fortunately, there’s still a hunter around who can take care of business—Mary Winchester. Mary follows up on the Missouri case and then responds to a call for help in Louisiana.
We see the independence of American hunters when Mick, of the British Men of Letters, fails to recruit with his speech: “Let me paint you a picture of a world without monsters or demons.” Mick describes the American hunters as surly, suspicious, and unable to play well with others. By the end of the episode, Mick has managed to get Mary Winchester interested in what he’s selling.
Mick responds to Castiel’s call for help because he figures he can make inroads with the American Hunter community if he helps the Winchesters. Since their help involves using a thermal imaging satellite, it’s not clear why Mr. Ketch needs to be there as well. His purpose becomes clear when he cleans up after the Winchesters by killing all the soldiers that Sam and Dean had so carefully spared during their escape. Sam and Dean won’t be happy when they find out about Mr. Ketch’s special purpose.
Supernatural has had fun episodes that give nods to certain genres or movies, like the play on Clue in “Ask Jeeves” or the reference to I Know What You Did Last Summer in “Halt & Catch Fire.” Yet, this Ode to Rambo/Prison Break feels out of place in Supernatural. We’ve seen some interesting jail moments and some great escapes in Supernatural over the years, but “First Blood” is weighed down with jailers we’re not interested in and over-the-top music. At least we didn’t have to watch them be tortured—though Dean’s assertion that being locked up for six weeks was worse than being in Hell is just ludicrous.
The escape was certainly better than the prison scenes, but there was still too much focus on their pursuers. Though we believe Sam and Dean could take down these guys once they set themselves up in the cabin, it seems like the soldiers should’ve caught up with the boys well before they made it there. Wouldn’t the black ops military site have access to thermal imaging satellite technology as well?
The chase through the woods did give us some fantastic lines, even if they were cribbed from fellow prison escapees. Dean makes reference to Cool Hand Luke and The Watchmen when he warns their pursuers:
“Well, what we have here is a failure to communicate. ’Cause we’re not trapped out here with you. You’re trapped out here with us.”
After Sam and Dean rout their pursuers, the Secret Service officer asks them who they are. Sam coolly responds, “We’re the guys that saved the world.” Nice one, dude. Of course, as the Lady Tony pointed out, it’s the Winchesters’ actions that have created the need to save the world.
Though it was interesting watching how despondent Castiel was without the Winchester brothers, “First Blood” was at its best after Castiel, Mary, Sam, and Dean are reunited. We finally learn that the Winchesters managed to fake their deaths with the help of Reaper Billie. She comes for one of the brothers, per their agreement. Were they going to use Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide which of them would die?
Mary tries to sacrifice herself in their place. How could they not have seen that coming? We expect that Mary will give up her life for her sons eventually, and for a moment we thought we were going to get sucker-punched with Mary’s death now and we weren’t ready. Cas isn’t ready yet either, so he kills Billie. Cas tells the Winchesters:
“You know this world, this sad, doomed little world, it needs you. It needs every last Winchester it can get and I won’t let you die. I won’t let any of you die. And I won’t let you sacrifice yourselves. You mean too much to me, to everything. Yeah, you made a deal. You made a stupid deal and I broke it. You’re welcome.”
“First Blood” was written by Andrew Dabb and directed by Robert Singer, so we had expected more. Beyond a few fun lines of dialogue, there were some good moments in “First Blood.” Castiel seeking Crowley’s helping and desperately asking, “Do you even care that they’re gone?” Mary carrying a bloody knife after beheading vampires and telling Castiel to put on his seat belt because she drives fast. And the smug British Men of Letters being impressed that Castiel and the Winchesters had defeated Lucifer (again). After the first 20 minutes “First Blood” definitely improved, but it wasn’t up to Supernatural’s usual standard. You have to give it to them for trying something different. After all, “First Blood” was the 250th episode of Supernatural.
I think you missed the point when you said this episode did not deal with monsters. When God was brought into the storyline, the show moved away from supernatural monsters and started questioning who are the real monsters. In this episode Sam and Dean were the monters. The FBI guys were battle between what some consider right and wrong. What’s the line People are crazy, monsters I get. This has been the battle throughout the show. Crossing that line between being a monster (a freak) and being a human and the choices they make. Sam and Dean were the monsters but let all the government guys live. So would that make the BMOL the real monsters in the end?
Interesting point about what it means to be a monster.
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I think this episode is much more about artistry than the actual plot line itself.
In this episode, we see the scale of who & what Sam & Dean really are. Up until this ep, we all knew the boys were kick ass, but would also immediately scale them down in relation to the power & force of the American Gov’t. Would they be let out? Would there be a grand escape, orchestrated from the outside?
None of that. The boys are so top notch at what they do, that they not only escape… they overpower.
“It seems we have a failure to communicate. We’re not trapped here with you. You’re trapped here with us.”
It seems, that in each scene, we get to see each character in its truest form. What each one means to the other. Both Castiel’s despair and loyalty were on display.
I just think this is the most artistic and beautiful episode they’ve made. I’ve covered 11.5 seasons in just over 3 months. 😛
Very well said. The scenes in woods are quite beautiful and some of the dialogue is very good.