One of my favorite episodes “ER” was one that actually focused on the drama of the patient, not the doctors. An oafish but loveable Jim Belushi played an oafish but loveable father and coincidentally, a young Jared Padalecki was his hockey player son. Then in its seventh season, the show turned its focus on the complicated, emotional inner workings of a Chicago hospital outward into an small and terrifying experience as passing through said hospital as the victims of a violent car accident. It was an intimate and imaginative glimpse at an life-altering experience—one that the show’s characters took for granted and even mocked every week because they were so desensitized to the misfortune, violence and stupidity that landed people in the hospital.
“Supernatural,” now in its eighth season, has erected its own framework of familiarity, inside jokes, and mythology that it can do the same. It attempted this with season 3's "Ghostfacers," but that episode was more of a bleep-laced laced uncut glimpse at a single hunt. “Bitten,” an episode constructed on the ‘found footage’ style iconisized by “The Blair Witch Project” and made timely by the “Paranormal Activity” franchise, turned a normal ‘monster-of-the-week’ investigation into an epic, spine-tingling love story mangled cruel bite of the supernatural. And as much as I’d hoped for some progression in the stories of the brothers, I was taken by an engrossing, if an excusably predictable, disastrous love story that only this show could tell.
It begins with the telltale snark and insult of a bromance, and while it’s not Sam and Dean, if you squint hard enough, it could be. These are college kids—one is a well-muscled, dimpled adorable jock named Michael (Brandon Jones); the other is a geeky, movie buff and sidekick named Brian (Leigh Parker). Brian spots a hot blonde from behind the lens at their favorite hang-out, but it’s Micahel who makes the score. Very quickly, three’s a crowd as the now girlfriend Kate (Brit Sheridan) all but moves into their house, and Brian’s relegated to the third wheel and the loner who edits movies alone while his best friend scores a room away.
Brian and Michael are the type of friends that will do anything for each other, like film a lecture for a class that other sleeps through, protect each other from bullies, and even conceal feelings about a girl they like because she fell in love with the other one. Just when it seems like Micheal, Brian and Kate have found some strange, hipster equilibrium, a kid is killed on campus, and Brian films two gorgeous FBI agents roll onto the crime scene in a classic car, and dub them "Rissoli and Isles." Yes, Sam and Dean arrive to investigate the brutal and mysterious mauling of the trio's neighbor. They're in the scene for no more than a minute before we dip back into the lives of the lovebirds…and Brian. It's incredibly and unapologetic voyeuristic, but I'm already attached to them, especially when Michael shares the song that was playing (Milo Greene's "What's The Matter") when he met Kate—AWW!—and when he has to head out with Brian to film scenes because "he has nobody else to do this stuff with." Double Awww! I have no one to go to go conventions for a certain television show with, and none of my friends will take one for the team.
Michael and Brian are not boys not yet men, so a night out involves some tree-climbing, a few thousand "dude, you are so lames" and a skirmish with the campus bully. Unfortunately for Michael, he flees from the douchebag of the week and into the woods. In an honest-to-goodness terrifying sequence that unfolds in blurry, night-visioned glory, the camera Michael drops captures glowing eyes, horrific screams and otherworldly strength as he’s snatched out of frame and thrown through the woods like a rag doll. Brian finds him panicked and bitten, but the bite mysteriously heals. And leaves him with superhuman strength.
As strange as it seems that they haven't gone to the police or even called their parents, the show does a fantastic job at fabricating a heightened reality through new, epic love and the overall adrenaline rush that is being twenty and discovering just how cool (and eventually harrowing) the world can be. Michael, enormous bong in hand, pronounces himself a “golden god” in a way that makes you think he's praying that this overwhelming and frightening physical transformation is a capitol-G Good Thing, and because he's seen Marvel’s “Avengers” one too many times. Hoping to capture his best friend's real life origin story and maybe an Oscar, Brian plants cameras all over the house.