The backdoor pilot has come and gone. What it left me with were questions…not about the characters or situations, like a good mystery would induce, but about how the showrunners are going to turn this into a stand-alone series. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
Don’t get me wrong. Some parts of “Bloodlines” showed promise for a spinoff to find its own footing. Forty two minutes in a show that still needs to squeeze in some Sam and Dean is not enough time to develop the handful of important characters for Bloodlines. There were some misses though.
Our main character, Ennis, is introduced very early on and we follow him around for the entire show. In fact, Sam and Dean only pop in every now and then as set dressing, to remind people that we are, in fact, watching an episode of Supernatural.
There were a couple of things that really did not work for me. Things that I should have cared about, like Ennis finding out his father was a hunter and had this secret storage unit and such, all felt like a very similar rehashing of Supernatural’s beginnings. The episode even ends with Ennis’s long-gone Dad calling him on the phone with a warning. Sound familiar?
Ennis’s motivation is like any other hunter’s motivation, and therefore predictable. In the first five minutes, his girlfriend is killed by the Silver Claws Guy because this is the beginning of an episode of Supernatural, and that thing tends to happen. She is simply pushed aside by the bad guy and killed in the most remarkably easy fashion, which made it seem like she was a fragile rag doll. Ennis later has his CW musical moment when he’s doing his snooping around. There’s a totally unnecessary black-and-white flashback to his girlfriend getting murdered (seriously, this happened 10 minutes earlier…it’s unlikely we forgot).
Speaking of character motivation, another that was sorely lacking was our bad guy. He is revenge-killing monsters because they killed his son. But he also killed Ennis’s girlfriend because “She got in the way.” Talk about double standards.
In this episode we see a little of that Romeo and Juliet, star-crossed lovers schtick with Violet and Julian. The lovers also help bring up the subject of how the bloodlines are super important to all the monsters. Retaining a pure bloodline is important to each clan. We get a good idea of the tensions between the monster families.
What helped overall was the humor in the episode. Dean had the “fillet of Susan” line, but David the Shifter is gearing up to be the funny guy in the new series. I found David to be one of my favorites for this new show. His backstory includes some resentment from his family for adopting a more human lifestyle. He teams up with Ennis and the boys to figure out who murdered his brother, but he’s also the comic relief.
Ennis is likeable enough, and Lucien Laviscount certainly seems like he can pull off the charm, but Ennis should not be groomed to be a classic guns-a-blazin’ hunter. This kid didn’t grow up into this lifestyle like the Winchesters. He doesn’t have the skills or the practice (as evidenced in his shoddy marksmanship). What he does have is the kind of smarts that thought to use a camera phone to detect a shapeshifter in his presence. Ennis should be the type of hunter who relies more on intelligence than on physically besting his opponents. That can at least set this apart from the well-trained hunters of Supernatural.
“Bloodlines” could find itself as a spinoff with its own following. What the spinoff needs to do is have characters we really care about, unique situations and resolutions, and a healthy dose of humor. It needs to be a complete entity unto itself. It can be Supernatural in origin and style, but the writing and characters need to be different. I think they started a little bit of that here, but fell back on some recycled material that made the episode fall flat.