Movies & TV / Columns

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

April 13, 2017 | Posted by Joseph Lee

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

Last week on our Spawn retrospective, Al Simmons became Malebolgia’s hellspawn, sent to Earth with a little memory of who he was. His mission was to kill evil people and send their souls to Hell, but he’s busy trying to remember that he’s dead. Once he gets over that, he struggles over knowing that he’s essentially a monster who will never see his wife again. He takes it out on the criminal element, culminating with stopping a child killer from murdering Wanda’s little girl Cyan.

Season two is another six episodes, and it’s time to see how things have changed. Spawn appeared to be willing to put his past behind him at the end of season one, at least enough to grow. He also didn’t seem willing to kill anymore, sparing Billy Kincaid. The secondary characters also had some development, as Wanda herself was getting things done and trying to find out the truth behind the murders (which led to Cyan being a target, but it all worked out in the end).

We also had some set up for this season, as a woman named Angela who kills hellspawns became aware of Al. Meanwhile, Jess Chapel, the man who killed Al Simmons, is hired by Jason Wynn to look into some missing weapons. He doesn’t do a lot except sit around in the background and look menacing. Do these characters make any significant impact on season two? Nope! But let’s take a look at all six episodes anyway and see what they got wrong.

Episode 7: Home Bitter Home
Written by: Larry Brody, John Shirley, John Leekley and Rebekah Bradford
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh
Air Date: May 15, 1998

You may notice that first of all, Alan McElroy is no longer writing the episodes. Considering how well-written season one was, this can only be viewed as a bad thing. I’m not sure about the production history, but it’s possible he was working on another project when season two began pre-production. His IMDB said he also wrote the Spawn film, so it may have just been a case of him being tired of the material and taking a break.

This episode is the best of the season, as Chapel finally tracks down Spawn in the alleys and they have a huge fight. And by “huge fight,” I mean it’s a curb stomp battle. Spawn wipes the floor with him, and then, after revealing who he is and proving it, lets him live with the guilt. That’s cold-blooded, Spawn. This episode is the most in tone with season one and it follows the character development of that season. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really last.

Episode 8: Access Denied
Written by: Larry Brody, John Shirley, John Leekley & Rebekah Bradford
Directed by: Tom Nelson
Air Date: May 22, 1998

This begins a series of episodes that focus less on Spawn and more on Terry Fitzgerald, the man who ended up with Wanda. The first season focused on other characters too, but never at the expense of Spawn and his own personal turmoil. This episode isn’t as bad as it gets though, although it does seem to forget Spawn’s growth as he begins killing again and is generally mopey about everything. I guess it doesn’t really make for a dramatic show if he’s fine with his situation but I would expect the character to grow and learn from his past.

Terry, meanwhile, is the least interesting character (in my opinion) and yet we’re following him around. He’s still working on a data error in Wynn’s company from last season and discovers it’s related to missing weapons. He tracks down the source to find nuclear weapons, only for Wynn to send his people to kill him. Spawn learns that Terry really cared about him and lets him live, but then disappears to do not a lot of anything for the next couple of episodes. Terry wanders around, so I guess that’s interesting to somebody.

Episode 9: Colors of Blood
Written by: Larry Brody, John Shirley and Victor Bumbalo
Directed by: Mike Vosburg
Air Date: May 29, 1998

I should mention that Todd McFarlane’s hand-holding intros are back this season and will presumably appear in the third as well. Once again, there’s no point to them other than a dumb introduction and this show doesn’t really need a Cryptkeeper.

This is the worst episode of the season because nothing really happens. Spawn doesn’t have a lot to do except to blow up at the homeless people (again) because they ask for his help. Drug dealers are killing the homeless and only Spawn can stop them, since the police appear to be ineffectual. Terry, meanwhile, is busy roaming around doing nothing and Wynn is looking for him by pretending to get close to Wanda. It’s not really interesting, and neither is Spawn’s story this time.

Episode 10: Send in the KKKlowns
Written by: Gerard Brown and John Leekley
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh
Air Date: June 5, 1998

A religious nut (again) is on the loose, killing off African-Americans because he claims it’s the lord’s work. The twist is that he’s working for Malebogia, or at least he claims he does. Eventually he grabs Terry and plans to make him the next victim, but he pissed off Spawn. Meanwhile, Wanda’s out looking for Terry and runs into some bad people.

This episode has some very creepy images as the killer strings up his victims in his hideout, many of which are in advanced stages of decomposition. Spawn is very, very angry when he arrives, and leaves the killer strung up with the corpses after killing him. However outside of the visuals, this is another meandering watch until the end, as again, Terry’s not that interesting. It does feature a sad moment of Spawn attempting to reach out to Wanda just to scare her, but they repeat that to greater effect in the next episode.

Episode 11: Deathblow
Written by: Gerard Brown, Rebekah Bradford and John Leekley
Directed by: Tom Nelson
Air Date: June 12, 1998

This episode features the saddest moment of the series so far, which I alluded to up there. Spawn visits Wanda’s house while she’s sleeping (and takes out a hitman). At first he simply sits there and mourns what he lost, but then she wakes up to find him in the middle of killing a guy sent to kill her. This gives her the wrong impression and she screams and cries until Spawn is forced to leave. He doesn’t even get to tell her who he was.

I should point out the absolute neutering of Wanda this season. She was a strong character in season one, working to clear the name of the man in prison for the child murders. She was smart, hard-working and independent. In this season she doesn’t do anything except worry about Terry, scream when Spawn’s around and mope. Her only role is to be in danger, which she’s quickly rescued from.

Terry got arrested. So that’s what all of his extended scenes was worth.

Episode 12: Hellzapopin
Written by: Gerard Brown, Rebekah Bradford and John Leekley
Directed by: Mike Vosburg
Air Date: June 19, 1998

The season thankfully ends on a high note, as Spawn has finally decided to act on the knowledge that Wynn ordered his killing. Cogliostro informs him that if he kills Wynn, he’ll just come back as a hellspawn himself. Cogliostro and Clown are a angel and demon on Spawn’s shoulders and for most of the episode he listens to Clown. Listening to Clown is the easier choice, as it means he gets his vengeance. It’s a lot harder to let the guy who killed you live (even though, you know, Spawn did it in the season premiere).

Spawn ultimately makes the right choice, but not before he finds where Wynn is hidden and takes out all of his goons. Honestly, Spawn hasn’t had much of a problem taking out anyone in the last two seasons, except for Violator. Since we don’t see Violator at all this season, Spawn doesn’t really have any serious threats except for his own self-loathing and conflicted emotions. He needs to really piss off Malebogia so we can get some challenges worth his time.

That’s really season two in a nutshell. It feels like an epilogue of season one, as it’s merely wrapping up that season’s loose ends and dragging things out to do it. Characters were ignored or given little to do, while others were developed more at the expense of boring the viewer. Spawn himself seemed like a secondary character for a few of the episodes, in a six-episode season named after him.

Next week it’s season three, which is also the final season. I’ll also give my thoughts on the movie, although I’ve made that clear when talking about Spawn in general last week.

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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