Let’s get right to the point: as an episode of Supernatural, “Bloodlines” is the weakest of the entire series and there’s no point for it to exist; as a backdoor pilot to the spin-off Supernatural: Bloodlines, however, it’s an interesting introduction to a world far distant from that of the Winchesters’.
In this week’s backdoor pilot of Supernatural: Bloodlines, written by Andrew Dabb, a mysterious man with silver claws goes on a murderous rampage in a monster bar and mistakenly kills Ennis Ross’ (Lucien Laviscount) fiance as he flees the scene. When Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) cross paths with Ennis, knowledge is shared, shape-shifters are saved and a new hunter is born. Elsewhere, a forbidden relationship between shape-shifter David (Nathaniel Buzolic) and werewolf Violet is revealed, and David must overcome his sister in order to claim his place in the family.
For all intents and purposes, Supernatural: Bloodlines is Supernatural-lite and it should be appreciated as such, if possible. As Dean says, “What is this, The Godfather with fangs?” – which is something “Bloodlines” can only achieve through its tone, albeit in another episode, apparently. There’s a confusing mash-up of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals thrown into the Supernatural world of Sam and Dean, and at no point is any of it justified or fully realized. The one saving grace in all this is Ennis Ross, who happens to have the most interesting story in all of this – up until the end, when the episode added a bit of Arrow in the mix with a mysterious phone call from his “dead” father.
There’s one element of this idea which still remains compelling: the world of Supernatural is enormous, as is its established mythology. Sure, a seemingly unimportant monster mobster rumble in Chicago feels like an odd approach to it all, but at its heart there’s an interesting introduction of a new hunter. No one will argue that it’s fun to sit at the proverbial adults table with Sam and Dean, watching weighty battles of biblical proportions – yet fans of Supernatural know that the series has removed much of the human element along the way, so it’s nice to see it return in some form. A tryst between a shape-shifter and a werewolf, which can cause a full-on war between the Five Families, might be a bit too True Blood for this CW attempt, however.
CW is heavy on emotion and everyone knows it, but “Bloodlines” never quite finds the balance between supernatural and romance, which is surprising, to say the least. In Supernatural’s early seasons, there were many times when an emotionally heavy episode would just appear out of nowhere, often just for an episode. The show is much more than that now, and its writers are likely too far removed from that aspect of the series to simply return to it for characters they have no attachment to.
When one goes from writing about angels falling from Heaven to disagreements about family lineage, loss of momentum can be expected, and in this instance it’s most certainly felt. In all of Ennis’ scenes there’s a familiar drive and purpose, and his story benefits greatly from it. This, unfortunately, isn’t the same for David and Violet, who feel as if they’re simply reading from a spec script a fan of The Originals dropped off. It’s not that a relationship of this type can’t work; the episode just doesn’t even try to make us care about a relationship which will clearly play a big part in the spinoff series.
Nothing of any importance will ever happen on this show; it simply can’t. For almost 10 years, Sam and Dean have literally been battling Heaven and Hell, saving the entire world time and time again, and there is no greater threat than the destruction of humanity. Supernatural: Bloodlines attempts – and largely fails – at bringing audiences in closer to convey intimate tales of a world Sam and Dean are now too busy to pay attention to, or appreciate.
Is this a spin-off series worth being excited for? Unfortunately, no. Even so, there’s always a chance that things could change for the better, perhaps with a different attempt. As Supernatural fans know, CW president Mark Pedowitz is as big of a fan of the show as they are and, as a fan, it’s highly likely that he feels as disappointed with this Supernatural: Bloodlines backdoor pilot as everyone who watched it.
Supernatural returns (for real) next Tuesday with “King of the Damned” @9pm on CW. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below: