Supernatural's attempt to branch out is a contrived mess in this week's episode, Bloodlines.
On the night he had planned on proposing to his girlfriend Tamara, Ennis Roth's life is turned upside down when she is brutally murdered outside a restaurant. Elsewhere, after stealing the answers to his college math exam, David Hayden gets a call from his sister Margo that their brother Saul has just been killed and that he needs to come home. David and his family are shape shifters and he plans on getting to the bottom of it. At a police station, Ennis is being questioned by Detective Costa on what he saw but his story of a monster that uses claws like Freddy Krueger isn't making the headway he was hoping for. That's when Sam and Dean take over the interrogation under the guise of federal agents. They get the details they need but tell Ennis that monsters don't exist and to let the professionals handle it. Back at his home, Ennis is coming to grips with what happened and looks at his deceased father's gun when he notices a hidden compartment of silver bullets in the case. With the loaded gun in hand, Ennis heads back to the restaurant and finds the private club inside where numerous patrons were murdered before Tamara and Saul. The host finds him behind the bar, bears his vampire fangs and almost kills Ennis but luckily Sam Wholesale Fashion Jewelry and Dean show up to cut his head off. Sam gives Ennis the talk but warns him to stay out of it. Ennis is still consumed by revenge and after researching Saul Lassiter, he decides to stake out some of his known associates. David has the same idea and takes the form of a guard in order to get close with his ex-girlfriend, Violet, to see if she has any answers. The two of them talk for a few minutes before being attacked by the hooded killer. David is saved by Ennis but Violet is taken just before the Winchesters show up. If they plan on saving Violet, the Winchesters will have to work with the two strangers to track her down and stop the killer.
My hopes weren't high for this backdoor pilot but Bloodlines was much worse than I could have expected. As a concept, the idea of five monster families in control of Chicago sharing an uneasy alliance is great. What happened in this episode was anything but. Stylistically, Bloodlines didn't feel unique or different from Supernatural in any way. Though is appeared as though parts of this episode were filmed in Chicago, that was never used to the advantage of the show and as a result, it could have been any city. Selecting a specific city as a setting should have significance and it didn't in Bloodlines. Another glaring issue was the pacing of the episode. Characters were introduced so quickly that it was difficult to keep up and I found myself referencing IMDB just to get the names of the main characters.
Speaking of the main characters, David Hayden and Ennis Roth have a long ways to go if the show is picked up. While I don't expect the two characters to have the same level of chemistry that Sam and Dean share, they simply had none. The problem being that neither felt unique. David wasn't consumed by anger at the loss of his brother, Ennis wasn't especially likeable and the other characters like Julian, Margo and Violet were there because they had to be for the sake of the pilot. As far as their portrayals, Nathaniel Buzolic as David left a lot to be desired. We've seen Buzolic before as Kol in The Vampire Diaries but he didn't bring any excitement to David. As Ennis Roth, Lucien Laviscount fell flat. Laviscount appeared nervous and his English accent could be heard clearly at times through his dialogue. I wholeheartedly admit that the dialogue for both characters was dull and didn't help either actor. It lacked personality, subtext and anything that would distinguish Ennis from David. The dialogue was written in a way to move the story from one scene to the next rather than naturally transition or make the story feel organic.
The biggest problem with Bloodlines is that it suffers from all of the clichés that all pilots do: fourty five minutes or so is spent attempting to establish characters and resolve a plot while arbitrary cliff hangers are there to entice the audience to continue watching. I take issue with that formula because as a member of the audience, I like to think that we are smarter than that. The extra scene with Julian in his home was pointless, Margo's ambitions to start a war amongst the five families was predictable, the narration by Ennis near the end was entirely out of place and the mysterious call from Ennis's supposedly dead father was a non-event. If Bloodlines does get the full season order, I expect a lot more. At the same time, I could always just watch The Originals because it's much better.
Overall, Bloodlines is easily one of the worst episodes of Supernatural this season. There was nothing unique that set it apart from Supernatural and as good as the concept is, I'm not more interested to see what happens to Ennis and David after I watched the show. Maybe next week's episode, King of the Damned, will get bring Supernatural towards a better ending for the season.