Supernatural began simply with brothers Sam and Dean Winchester hunting monsters in their 1967 Chevy Impala on a quest to find their father. However, as time passed, the story became more and more complicated and exaggerated, with increasingly artificial villains including God’s sister, long-lost mothers of demons, and the constant and ineffective revivals of dead characters.
Compared to some of these more complicated narrative threads, “Bugs” is straightforward and somewhat derivative, following the monster of the week formula that defined Supernatural in the early seasons. In this case, the supernatural threat was a plague of insects. After a new housing estate is built on the cursed land of Native Americans, residents are harassed and even killed by various insects for six days. Sam and Dean have to unravel the story of the curse and then help a newly moved family survive the sixth night, during which they are attacked by a swarm of killer bees.
Filming for this episode was notoriously difficult, as the production initially brought in real bees to use in the climactic scene. However, after going through all these problems, it turned out that the bees did not look good on camera. They ended up having to revert to CGI plagues instead, though that didn’t save the crew from a completely harrowing shoot, leading to an apocryphal example of why “Bugs” is still viewed with such infamy.
Yet for all the episode’s flaws, Supernatural had no shortage of other infamous moments and unsatisfying narratives, especially after the completion of Supernatural creator Eric Kripke’s five-year plan. for the show and its subsequent departure from the series. From season 6 onwards, the quality of the show lost some kind of consistency.
The showrunners changed every few years, and none were able to deliver the smart and compelling balance of humor, mythology, and family drama in long form that Kripke had initially achieved. After season 8, most of the episodes of Supernatural are much worse written than “Bugs”, with plots that are much more ridiculous and annoying.
On a show that ran for 320 episodes, it’s a huge distinction to be crowned “worst,” and it’s not one of those that deserves this entry from the freshman season. While “Bugs” is not a good episode, and may even be one of the worst episodes of Supernatural, to call it the worst of all time is an overstatement, given the tough competition. At the very least, “Bugs” represents an era of Supernatural in which a bad episode was a notable exception, rather than the rule.