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A Bloody Good Time: Todd McFarlane’s Spawn Season Three Retrospective

April 20, 2017 | Posted by Joseph Lee

Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)

Last week on our Spawn retrospective, Spawn threw down with Jesse Chapel, driving him crazy from the revelation that he’s really Al Simmons come back from the dead. He then wandered around the rest of the season while Terry became a target for Jason Wynn. He ultimately went to kill Wynn but decided to spare him.

It wasn’t a good season and a huge departure in quality from the first season. Characters were cast off to the side, Terry had way too much focus and Spawn probably had too little considering it was his own show. Plus characters were either written out quickly (Chapel) or ignored altogether (Angela) from what I read were rights issues of some kind.

This is not only the third season, but it’s the one that won an Emmy. That means there had to be something here that set it apart from the other two, right? At least enough to set it apart from the second season. So let’s dive in and find out how the classic HBO series comes to an end.

Episode 13: The Mind Killer
Written by: John Leekley
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh
Air Date: May 23, 1999

We’re already off to a good start as this focuses more on Spawn’s inner turmoil as Cogliostro is now attempting to convince him to give up his shroud and reclaim his humanity. Spawn is still not entirely into the idea, because he doesn’t think he’s like the other hellspawn. This season really shows Spawn finally becoming more of the hero end of antihero, actively seeking to do better. He’s not as into it here as he’s still the sympathetic jerk from the last two seasons.

There’s also a nice parallel here with some a one-shot character who must decide to kill his friend and end up in hell like Spawn did, or take a bullet for him and save his soul. It helps that Al’s story is shown in more detail, as the moment in which Hell took an interest is revealed. It shows that Al’s always had a rage inside of him and in addition to his killing, his decisions to kill when he didn’t need to put him on Hell’s radar. Well that and another reason that’s revealed near the finale.

Episode 14: Twitch is Down
Written by: John Leekley
Directed by: Tom Nelson
Air Date: May 24, 1999

Twitch Williams, one of the cops that have been investigating nearly every murder inside of the alley, gets told to look out for “the guy in the red cloak.” He interviews the only one to survive a hostile encounter with Spawn, Jesse Chapel, and determines that somehow, this creature is Al Simmons. Of course, Twitch doesn’t think Spawn is inhuman, so he just assumes it was a government cover-up.

This season puts a lot more focus on Twitch and his partner Sam, which works for me as I enjoy the pairing. I would have enjoyed it more with Terry if Terry was at all interesting. These two are because they have a fun chemistry and different personality types. In the span of this episode, Twitch not only confronts Spawn (a serious show of courage on his part), finds out Jason Wynn is the one responsible for Al Simmons’ death and gets shot by the corrupt police chief.

That’s a lot of story for 30 minutes, but it never feels rushed. It’s probably the best episode of the season although it does have some strong competition.

Episode 15: Seed of the Hellspawn
Written by: John Leekley
Directed by: Mike Vosburg
Air Date: May 25, 1999

Somehow Twitch has miraculously survived being shot in the head, which makes Chief Banks lose it. Twitch is suffering from partial amnesia due to having a bullet in his brain, so the revelation that Banks worked for Wynn isn’t coming yet. Meanwhile, Spawn learns the cloak can allow him to shapeshift, which would let him say goodbye to Wanda. He chickens out as Al and eventually comes back in as Terry to have sex with her.

I get the general idea involving Al taking the form of someone Wanda loves so he can be with her again but…let’s be honest, he took advantage of her. It’s really creepy and kind of rapey in a way. Granted, the hellspawn is not exactly a hero and wasn’t one in life, but tricking a woman into having sex with you, no matter what your feelings, is wrong. It makes the character hard to like, even if they later salvage it by giving the impression that Wanda knows it wasn’t Terry with her. So that helps somewhat but it’s one of those “Moral Event Horizon” things you read about on TVtropes otherwise.

Episode 16: Hunter’s Moon
Written by: John Leekley
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh
Air Date: May 26, 1999

Lisa Wu, a secondary character last season, is revealed to be the angelic bounty hunter Jade, who tracks down and kills hellspawns. So she’s basically taking the place of Angela after her vanishing. She’s after Spawn, because of course she is, and officially starts her hunt by confronting Cogliostro. This old man is not afraid of Spawn, bosses everybody around and does whatever he wants. However once Jade shows up, he runs away. Since he was a hellspawn himself, it’s understandable but it really establishes how bad she is.

Before we get Jade vs. Spawn, we get Spawn vs. a vampire. The vampire, named Lilly, has decided she wants the bounty on Spawn’s head and hunts him down to his usual hideout. After the fight ends (guess who wins), Jade confronts a wounded Spawn and tells him she won’t kill him until he’s strong. At least she’s honorable.

Episode 17: Chasing the Serpent
Written by: Rebekah Bradford
Directed by: Chuck Patton
Air Date: May 27, 1999

This one isn’t very good until the end, as it’s mostly setting up for the finale. Terry and someone Spawn knew from his past life, Major Forsberg, have been holed up in an opium prison by Jason Wynn. Terry outed Wynn as a bad guy and he’s getting payback by drugging him up and torturing him. Spawn hears about it and goes to save the day. Just when it looks like he’s gonna get gunned down, Jade saves him. That’s the biggest moment of the episode. She sees his good heart and decides not to kill him.

I think I just have this part of my brain at this point that doesn’t care about Terry. So I sort of blocked out those scenes until Spawn arrived. We’ve also got more foreward momentum on the Twitch story, heading to a pretty great conclusion. This was the worst of the season but by no means outright bad.

Episode 18: Prophecy
Written by: John Leekley
Directed by: Brad Rader
Air Date: May 28, 1999

The prophecy in the title alludes to one that says that a baby concieved by a hellspawn will decide who wins the final battle between good and evil. Guess who just fathered themselves a hellspawn baby? Wanda’s pregnant and even she’s not sure she wants to keep it, as she’s not sure it’s even Terry’s. Spawn, meanwhile, has to kill Jade to prevent her soul from being damned to Hell. It’s actually a really sad moment in that Spawn has finally found someone (outside of Wanda and her family) he doesn’t want to kill, and he has to do it.

And the Twitch story ends in a great way, with Chief Banks being caught trying to kill him again by Sam, an excellent one-sided brawl and a nasty ending. Let’s just say Chief Banks won’t be around to hurt anyone anymore.

The season ends with Spawn finally deciding he wants to get rid of the shroud and become human again. It’s fully earned as he goes through a lot this season to finally convince him of this. Even the sexual deviance is implied to be part of his evil nature as a Hellspawn more than Al Simmons’ actions. Unfortunately, we’ll never know what happens with Spawn’s baby if you don’t read the comics, because it’s also the end of the series.

The series ends with more questions, almost as if they wanted to keep it going. Or maybe Spawn deciding to rid himself of his shroud was always the plan. Honestly, I didn’t find a lot of info regarding the behind-the-scenes of this show. Since I watched it on Amazon Prime and not DVD, I didn’t have any access to any commentaries or anything like that (if there were any). The airdates for the episodes seem to imply that HBO was burning them off within a week, so it may just be a matter of ratngs.

I think Spawn should make a comeback in somewhat. Give it a Netflix series, a new movie, something. The stories are good enough to be an R-rated franchise and it’s still confusing why we haven’t had an attempt at a movie since 1997.

Since the focus of these TV recaps is to do a smaller show then a large show, I’ve got to go big next time. So over the next several months, starting whenever I get some time, I’m going to take on Tales From the Darkside. Next week, however, who knows?

Ending Notes:

That’s it for me. Leave some comments here, on my Twitter or my Facebook.

Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)

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