Bloodlines: Backdoor Pilot Review

bloodlinesSince there is one more episode left before I could review the entire ninth season of Supernatural, I will settle for reviewing Bloodlines, which aired as the 20th episode of the show for Season 9. The episode,which showcases the first three of five monster families that control Chicago, was intended as a backdoor pilot for a possible Supernatural spinoff.

Ennis Ross (Lucien Laviscount) is an ordinary guy set to propose to his long time girlfriend when he witnesses the unorthodox murder of a gentleman whose heart was brutally snatched out of his body by a cloaked figure with long silver claws. Unfortunately, Ennis’s girlfriends gets caught in the crossfire and is accidentally killed by the beast. Dean and Sam catch wing of the case and as with their standard MO, drive to Chicago to interview the guy posing as FBI agents. Unbeknownst to them, the victim is a shapeshifter named Sal Lassiter (Bryce Johnson), the son of one of Chicago’s five mobster type “monster” families and his death may be the spark that ignites a full on war among the families in question, most especially between the shifters led by Sal’s sister Margo and the werewolves headed by Julian Duval (Sean Farris). In order to stop the war, the youngest Lassiter son David (Nathaniel Buzolic, The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars) returns home to make sure that the real killer pays for the murder, and in the process, he comes across his old flame, Julian’s sister Violet.

AT EACH OTHER'S THROATS. Sal and Julian go at it at a monsters' VIP bar.
AT EACH OTHER’S THROATS. Sal and Julian go at it at a monsters’ VIP bar.

Truthfully, there was a lot of potential for this spinoff project. The premise was good — the Mafia-type monster families dividing up Chicago for their own operations, the subplot of the Romeo and Juliet love story between the heirs of the shifter and werewolf clans, the vindictive daughter (Margo), the arrogant leader (Julian), the plotting and the politics (alliances with the Jins, marriage to unite werewolf families). There was a certain level of coolness about the project straight off the bat. Usually, this, plus casting good looking actors (as is the formula of most CW shows) is enough to greenlight the project.

On paper, it all sounds great, and for the entire episode, it does inspire some curiosity about what will happen next, especially since in the end, Ennis seemed to be warming up to a bigger conspiracy and his bitterness pushing him to take action against the families, despite Sam and Dean’s advice.

My problem with the pilot was the cast of characters. Lucien Laviscount as the main hero was super annoying and the poster child for overacting. He played the angry fiance in textbook fashion, clenched jaw, rants and impulsive actions — perhaps all too well that it became tedious to watch him on screen. I didn’t like his character. I didn’t like him one bit. I wanted Ennis to just die and let the monsters deal with each other, and that is not a promising feeling for a potential viewer. David was a better character, because he had a certain charm about him. His character was not one dimensional, and he was able to balance out his emotions about the loss of his brother, his father’s deteriorating health, and his heartbreak, with a levelheadedness in wanting to investigate who the actual culprit was before taking action. He was a lot smarter than Ennis, that’s for sure. I was a bit bummed that Sal was the one to die first because I’ve seen Bryce Johnson in other films and television series and thought that he could have brought something more to the spinoff if he had stayed longer. His encounter with Julian at the bar could have been prolonged in the spinoff to a season long rivalry because David definitely would not go borrowing trouble.

STAR CROSSED. Shifter David and werewolf Violet rehash their past in front of the Duval mansion.
STAR CROSSED. Shifter David and werewolf Violet rehash their failed romance in front of the Duval mansion.

All in all, I thought that even though Bloodlines was not a bad episode per se, the CW made the right choice in not picking up the spinoff because the plot of Bloodlines was pretty much an echo of the storylines of its other shows, only placed in a different setting. The Originals has witches and vampires at war. Supernatural has nine seasons of dealing with monsters, and the Romeo and Juliet thing, they have Star Crossed, The Vampire Diaries and Beauty and the Beast for that. Pushing this spinoff may create a redundancy that turns off viewers. Even though it may have been interesting to see the other monsters at play in Chicago, I could sleep soundly at night not knowing. So good call, CW.