Reviewbr> “Don’t worry Sam, I won’t trade you for smokes” - Dean Winchester
An old cell block at Green River County Detention Centre – that would be prison to you and me Russ – is re-opened and a sealed cell door is forced open. Naturally this can’t be a good thing, and it releases something supernatural judging from the sudden drop in temperature and clocks stopping. A prison guard becomes the first victim of what we quickly determine is a revenant.
Three months later and the Winchester bros. are breaking into a museum in Arkansas; they trip a hidden motion sensor and find themselves surrounded by an improbable number of museum guards. And if you think team Winchester is taken down slightly too easy here then join the club. It’s time to meet old friends, and FBI Agent Henrickson is on hand as Dean and Sam get sent to prison and find a number of exportation orders arriving from other States. Can the boys hunt out the revenant, survive their fellow inmates, and not incur the wraith of the guards? An interesting episode kicks into gear.
Director Rohl is all over Folsom like a rash and shoots in a sort of washed-out fashion to perhaps help convey the sterility of the prison locations. Even the bright orange of the prisoner overalls are subdued, as no vibrant colour is allowed on set in any scene during the duration of the episode. Actually I was kind of waiting for some bright colour to be used in a sort of M. Night fashion but Rohl didn’t oblige me in any shape or form.
On a side note it looks like the crew went with the cold conditions in order to have the various actors’ breath visible as they come under the scrutiny of the revenant. This works a whole lot better than CGI, which is pretty noticeable to anyone who has seen more than three movies.
Is it just me or is director Mike Rohl our go-to guy when it comes to police procedure and field craft? In both the current episode and Rohl’s previous, The Usual Suspects, screen time is spent on law enforcement officers and their rules of engagement in the current situation. Something to keep an eye on as I assume Rohl will be a regular crew member.
The humour is there, had Dean found his Nirvana, but there's some bitch slaps aimed at the Hollywood system
Once again we have a writer happy enough to highlight the differences in outlook of the brothers. Dean takes to prison life like Paris Hilton receiving a vodka cocktail while Sam appears withdrawn and not liking his new living conditions. For some reason we are focusing on Dean’s ability to consume large amounts of food in the second half of season two, whether or not this has any bearing on the rest of the season will be sort of interesting.
Regular writer John Shiban’s script is up to the normal standards of Supernatural with believable dialogue, a nice collection of one-liners, and a good handle on the pace of the episode. There’s nothing that will force you to drop your “suspension of disbelief” with all bases covered in terms of developing the various plot lines and points. At one stage I was going to cry foul over Shiban’s revenant seemingly sucking the life out of its victims but guess end of day you can’t complain with the device being used in anything from Ring to The House on Haunted Hill (remake).
Special mention of the makeup team’s work for Folsom Prison Blues, outstanding and creepy. In the close-up of the revenant we have almost reptilian eyes set in an alien inspired face, simply awesome. In long shots, when we finally do get to see the revenant in all her glory, it’s pretty freaky deaky stuff.
In terms of where Folsom Prison Blues – shouldn’t that be “Folsom Detention Centre Blues”? – fits in the Supernatural universe, we are seeing a return to the “traditional” style of episode, no doubt with the season finale, a two-parter in season two, in mind. At some stage we have to get back to the big nasty and clearly the Producers of the show don’t want that to be too much of a jump from the more left field episodes we have been getting from about mid season. With one more regular episode to go before the season gears towards a cliff hanger you can bet your knickers it’s going to be a demon-inspired outing next up.
Once again an episode highlights the difference between Dean and Sam. What I’m picking up on is that Dean has the more cavalier approach and will do whatever is required to get the job done, while Sam is more cautious and wants a slow and easy approach with a guaranteed escape plan if things go pear-shaped. Shiban also hit another aspect of the brothers personalities that I hadn’t noted till this episode. Dean wants to save the inmates from the revenant and views that as the primary function of the family business while Sam wants to get out before the walls really close in via the extradition orders arriving on a daily basis. Not sure if that was simply a plot pointer for Folsom Prison Blue or if it will have a direct impact on the season closure.
Gosh, revenants in prisons, welcome to horror 101, this is a pretty hoary device for the genre and crops up from time to time in studio motion pictures as well as pretty much being a requirement of any television franchise. Once again I’m calling it a standard card in the dark genre tarot deck so knock yourself out there. Clearly there’s a Johnny Cash reference going down which sort of makes the episode title illogical.
We seem to have decided in the later part of season two to dispense with “mullet rock” in any shape or form. For Folsom we get Booker T and the MGs doing “Green Onions” and Alice in Chains belting out “Rooster”. Any thought that we might just be going to get some AC/DC or Black Sabbath seems to have gone out the window.
I was pretty happy with Folsom Prison Blues and grooved to director Rohl’s beat with the episode. The major plot twist is pretty much easy to spot from about the second scene, but on the bright side you do get some pretty cool creature effects. Writer Shiban seemed to be having a lot of fun with the episode – just how many references to prison flicks can Dean get in during fifty odd minutes? – and delivers on all fronts. Guess I wasn’t going near a perfect score in this episode due to having seen it before and not getting a totally original take on the subject matter.
Well I’m sorry to report we have some good news and some bad news for fans waiting on the release of season three. Seems the writers’ strike took its toll on the Supernatural production schedule with only sixteen episodes making up the third year. The good news there is that means we have 25% less episodes to review for the episode guide, awesome! Actually I would be more than happy to get the normal twenty two episodes, but you take what you are dealt. In a further blow to horror fans, the mooted appearance of one Jason Voorhees in season three didn’t happen due to copyright issues. In an ironic twist Jared Padalecki is going up against Crystal Lake’s most famous son in the new Friday the 13th movie in 2009.
Full recommendation on Folsom Prison Blues; the episode has enough horror content to appease dark genre fans but doesn’t go too far into deeper genre waters for non horror viewers. You don’t need to have seen any of the other episodes, though once again it may help with explaining some of the recurrent characters. Take time out tonight and lock yourself away with the episode.