Jo Harvelle

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Jo Harvelle
Supernatural character
Jo Harvelle
Alona Tal as Jo Harvelle
First appearance"Everybody Loves a Clown"
Portrayed byAlona Tal
Information
GenderFemale
OccupationHunter
Bartender
FamilyEllen Harvelle (mother)
William Anthony Harvelle (father, deceased)
 
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Jo Harvelle
Supernatural character
Jo Harvelle
Alona Tal as Jo Harvelle
First appearance"Everybody Loves a Clown"
Portrayed byAlona Tal
Information
GenderFemale
OccupationHunter
Bartender
FamilyEllen Harvelle (mother)
William Anthony Harvelle (father, deceased)

Joanna Beth "Jo" Harvelle is a fictional character on The CW Television Network's drama/horror television series Supernatural portrayed by Alona Tal. Aspiring to be a hunter of supernatural creatures like her parents, she was introduced in the second season in order to explore a mother-daughter relationship in the hunting world. Jo was originally intended to serve as a love interest for lead character Dean Winchester, but instead turned into a sister-like figure for him. She was ultimately removed from the series by the end of the second season—Kripke admitted the conception of the character was flawed from the beginning—but returned in the fifth and seventh seasons. While critical reaction to Jo Harvelle was generally positive, many fans disliked the character.

Plot[edit]

Jo Harvelle first meets Sam and Dean Winchester in the second season episode "Everybody Loves a Clown".[1] The brothers look for her mother Ellen at Harvelle's Roadhouse—a saloon frequented by hunters of supernatural creatures—after she leaves a voice mail message on the phone of their deceased father, John Winchester.[2] Throughout the second season, Jo appears to have romantic feelings for Dean; though he states that he also has feelings for her, he will not act on them.[1] Wanting to be a hunter like her late father to feel connected to him, Jo later slips away from the Roadhouse against her mother's wishes to help the brothers on a hunt, but they ultimately have to rescue her from a vengeful spirit. An angry Ellen reveals to her that John's recklessness caused the death of her father,[3] which strains Jo's friendship with Sam and Dean.[4] Jo later leaves the Roadhouse to live the life of a hunter.[5] A demon possessing Sam later sows more dissent by claiming that John actually killed her father "to put him out of his misery" after he incurred fatal wounds, despite her father's pleas to see his wife and daughter one more time.[6] Dean rescues Jo from the demon, and she then attempts to follow Dean in the search for Sam. However, Dean refuses to allow her to come. Dean tells Jo he will call her, but as he leaves, Jo quietly whispers, "No, you won't".[6]

In the fifth season episode "Good God, Y'All!", Jo reappears with her mother Ellen in a small Colorado town called River Pass. They plan to help Rufus, a demon hunter and one of Bobby's friends, kill the demons that have laid siege to the town. However, Jo and Ellen are separated in the chaos. Jo later finds and joins up with Rufus and other townspeople. Eventually, they attack Sam and Ellen, both of them appearing to be possessed by demons. Jo joins in with Rufus to torture the supposed "demon" out of a captured Sam with holy water and salt, but becomes doubtful when no demonic effects are present on Sam. Dean and Ellen arrive and, after a brief struggle, convince Jo and Rufus that War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, is responsible for making all the townspeople turn against each other by thinking that both sides are demons.[7]

Jo and Ellen once again team up with the Winchesters in "Abandon All Hope...", where they help the brothers reacquire the Colt — a mystical gun rumored to be capable of killing anything — in order to kill Lucifer. Upon tracking his location to an abandoned town, they are confronted by the demonic Meg and a pack of hellhounds. Knowing that her wounds are fatal and that Lucifer must be stopped, Jo convinces them to build a bomb and to use her as bait for a trap. Ellen stays behind and opens the front doors while the Winchesters escape onto the roof. After Jo dies in her arms, Ellen blows up the building, killing the hellhounds and herself in the process.[8]

Jo is mentioned but not seen in the episode "My Heart Will Go On", in which she is temporarily restored to life as a result of the angel Balthazar saving the Titanic from its destined sinking. She later reappears in "Defending Your Life" as a spiritual witness called by the Egyptian god Osiris to judge Dean's guilt, but she does not blame Dean for her death, Sam's cross-examination confirming that Jo was a hunter because of her father rather than because of Dean's influence. Despite this, Osiris ultimately orders her to kill Dean in exactly the same manner that she herself died, but before she can do so, Sam kills Osiris and thereby frees Jo's soul.

Characterization[edit]

Series creator Eric Kripke initially described Jo as an "innocent girl who wanted to be a hunter" and who tends to look before she leaps; she is also "enthusiastic" and very "girl-next-door in her approach" to hunting the supernatural.[9] However, Jo grows throughout the season as she rebels against her mother by running away to be a hunter, which Kripke felt made her harder and tougher.[9] Regarding her character's capture by a vengeful spirit in "No Exit", actress Alona Tal felt that Jo was a "badass" who handled the situation well. Tal commented, "She fought and risked her life and stayed there as bait. It took a lot of guts."[10]

The actress noted that Jo matures during her hiatus. Having found out the hard way that "banter doesn't always work", she becomes quieter and "not as mouthy".[11] The character "called the shots" in her final appearance, and was the "bigger person" by forcing everyone to accept the reality of the situation. After years of hunting together, the relationship between Jo and Ellen also develops; Tal came to view them more as equals rather than daughter and mother. Although Jo's feelings for Dean remain the same, Tal liked the fact that she does not easily give in to Dean's advances in "Abandon All Hope...". She believed that Jo resists her urge to "go crazy [with him]" due to the dire circumstances, which "gave it a little more meaning".[12]

With the character now a spirit in her seventh season appearance, Tal felt that Jo's death brought her "clarity" and "a different level of comfortability". Noting that the afterlife is a "completely different world", the actress described Jo as "just relaxed and not angry".[13]

Development[edit]

Due to the father-son dynamics of the hunting world depicted in the series' first season with the Winchesters, the writers decided to explore a mother-daughter relationship. This resulted in the introduction of the character Alex Harvelle and her mother Ellen,[9][14] though the Alex character was eventually renamed Jo.[14] Tal had been a fan of the show, and decided to audition for the role. Since the character was not fully explored during her first few appearances on the show, Tal did not know what her personality would be.[14] Because of the way Jo is introduced—threatening Dean with a rifle—Tal was under the impression that the character was an experienced hunter.[15] With this in mind, she decided to portray her as "somewhat confident and cool" by making use of her experience in the Israeli army,[10] where she served for two years.[14] Tal commented, "When I was in the army I was holding my gun and feeling all dangerous and badass. It's an attitude, it's a different kind of walk, and the way you hold yourself, the way you look at things. I tried to put that in there because she didn't say much."[10]

The writers originally intended Jo to serve as a love interest for Dean Winchester, but this was eventually dropped from the plan when the character came across as more of a "girl-next-door", in Kripke's opinion, than the stronger type of character Dean would be attracted to, like Sydney Bristow of Alias.[9] Tal also noted the tension between Jo and Dean, which made the characters "snappy" towards one another, resulting in the appearance of a brother-sister relationship.[10] Kripke admits that, even before Jo's debut, he had doubts about the way the character was conceived.[16] Because of these factors, the character was eventually phased out of the second season altogether.[9]

During the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International, Kripke announced that Jo would return in the series' fifth season.[17] The opportunity to return surprised Tal due to the character's negative fan reaction and the large time span since her previous appearance.[11] She was later alerted about Jo's demise in "Abandon All Hope..." by director Phil Sgriccia. Though unhappy, Tal was "all for it" because she felt it benefited the show, and found it "grand" that Jo "went out in a blaze of glory".[12] Despite the character's death, Tal expressed interest in returning to the series in the future.[13] Jo was one of many deceased characters the writers considered to appear in the alternate reality of the sixth season episode "My Heart Will Go On", but they ultimately settled on Ellen.[18] Tal's eventual return for the seventh season was announced at the 2011 Comic-Con.[19] Feeling that she herself grew as a person since her appearance in the fifth season, Tal tried to mirror that in her performance. She noted, however, "Obviously, [Jo] died. So there’s been some issues."[13]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception to Jo has been generally positive. Diana Steenbergen of IGN favored Jo from the beginning, deeming her "tough and direct, and also female, something the boys don't have a lot of in their lives right now". She also believed that Jo and Dean had a "natural chemistry" between them,[20][21] which continues even with her reappearance in the fifth season.[22] However, Steenbergen was confused by Jo's anger at Sam and Dean over John Winchester's involvement in her father's death, feeling that the show's producers may have added it to the story as an excuse for Jo's removal from the series.[23] She called Jo's death "one of the saddest moments in the show's history", and expressed the desire to bring Jo back permanently. Regarding Jo's reappearance in "Defending Your Life", Steenbergen deemed the scenes between Jo and Dean as "compelling" and the "highlights of the episode".[24] While Tina Charles of TV Guide was at first unsure about the character, she felt that by the episode "No Exit", "Tal did step things up and kinda won me over". She believed that while Jo did not make a good love interest for Dean, she was good in a "sisterly or friendly fellow-ghostbuster way", deeming her as "someone they can count on in a pinch". Overall, Charles felt that Jo "fit into that world, whether she was a little overzealous or not".[25] The character's death saddened Charles, but she admitted it was a "very effective move". She described her scenes with Dean in "Abandon All Hope..." as "amazing", and explained, "I feel like I finally felt their connection and the kiss was pretty potent."[26] Commenting on the character's her dying farewells in the fifth season, Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune noted that Tal "brought [her] A-game to 'Abandon All Hope…'". Ryan added that "[Tal fits] perfectly into the 'Supernatural' world because [she understands] that on this show, restraint is everything. It's not necessarily just about what the characters say or do, it's about what they don't say—what they can't find the words for".[27] Like Steenbergen, she deemed Jo's final scene with Dean in "Defending Your Life" as the "best part of the episode", believing that Jensen Ackles and Tal "have always had nice chemistry together". Ryan disliked that Dean felt he was responsible for Jo's choices and ultimately her death, writing, "I'm such a fan of Jo that to retroactively take away her agency and go along with the idea that Dean was her puppetmaster felt as though it would do a disservice to one of the show's (increasingly rare) cool female characters."[28] However, Sean Elliott of IFMagazine disliked the "Scrappy-Doo qualities of the character". He compared Jo to Dawn Summers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, feeling that she "is always trying to help and always gets in the way".[29]

Fan reaction to the character was generally negative.[9][16][30] Ackles summed up the response as, "No, no, we just want this to be about the boys."[30] Though Kripke believed that Tal was a "terrific actress" who "did valiantly and beautifully with the part [they] gave her",[16] he felt that introducing her as a love interest was a mistake and came to believe that women should only be introduced into the series as antagonists.[31] In 2012, however, fans voted "tough and compromising" Jo the 53rd sexiest female character in fantasy and science fiction film and television in a poll conducted by SFX for the Top 200 Sexiest Characters In Sci-Fi.[32]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  1. Knight, Nicholas (2008). Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 2. Titan Books. ISBN 1-84576-657-1. 

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Writer: John Shiban, Director: Phil Sgriccia (October 5, 2006). "Everybody Loves a Clown". Supernatural. Season 2. Episode 2. CW.
  2. ^ Knight, p.26
  3. ^ Knight, p.44
  4. ^ Writer: Matt Witten, Director: Kim Manners (November 2, 2006). "No Exit". Supernatural. Season 2. Episode 6. The CW.
  5. ^ Writer: Raelle Tucker, Director: Rachel Talalay (January 11, 2007). "Hunted". Supernatural. Season 2. Episode 10. CW.
  6. ^ a b Writer: Cathryn Humphris, Director: J. Miller Tobin (February 8, 2007). "Born Under a Bad Sign". Supernatural. Season 2. Episode 14. CW.
  7. ^ "Good God, Y'All!". Supernatural. Season 5. Episode 2. September 17, 2009. CW.
  8. ^ "Abandon All Hope...". Supernatural. Season 5. Episode 10. November 19, 2009. CW.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Knight, p.15
  10. ^ a b c d Knight, p.138
  11. ^ a b Cairns, Bryan (January 2010). "Like Mother, Like Daughter". Supernatural Magazine (14) (Titan Magazines). p. 60 
  12. ^ a b c Cairns, Bryan (May 2010). "Hey Jo!". Supernatural Magazine (16) (Titan Magazines). pp. 28–29. 
  13. ^ a b c http://tvline.com/2011/10/14/supernatural-season-7-episode-4-alona-tal/
  14. ^ a b c d "Alona Tal". BuddyTV. September 9, 2007. Retrieved December 19, 2009. 
  15. ^ Bernstein, Abbie (December 2007). "Natural Born Hunter". Supernatural Magazine (1) (Titan Magazines). p. 28. 
  16. ^ a b c Don Williams (January 30, 2008). "'Supernatural' Creator Talks about Going Up Against 'Lost'". BuddyTV. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  17. ^ Christi Kassity (July 27, 2009). "Comic-Con 2009: The Apocalypse of 'Supernatural' Season 5". BuddyTV. Retrieved April 15, 2009. 
  18. ^ http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/04/15/supernatural-john-winchester-almost-returned/
  19. ^ Vlada Gelman (July 24, 2011). "Supernatural @ Comic-Con: Sam's Flashbacks, Castiel's Future, and… Ninjas from Space?". TVLine. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  20. ^ Diana Steenbergen (June 4, 2009). "Supernatural Flashback: "Everybody Loves a Clown" Review". IGN. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  21. ^ Diana Steenbergen (June 18, 2009). "Supernatural Flashback: "Simon Said" Review". IGN. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  22. ^ Diana Steenbergen (September 18, 2009). "Supernatural: "Good God, Y'all!" Review". IGN. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  23. ^ Diana Steenbergen (June 23, 2009). "Supernatural Flashback: "No Exit" Review". IGN. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  24. ^ http://www.ign.com/articles/2011/10/15/supernatural-defending-your-life-review
  25. ^ Tina Charles (November 3, 2006). "November 2, 2006: No Exit". TV Guide. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  26. ^ http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/supernatural-2011/episode-4-season-7/defending-your-life/192272
  27. ^ Maureen Ryan (November 20, 2009). "The family business: Let's talk about 'Supernatural's' 'Abandon All Hope...'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 19, 2009. 
  28. ^ http://www.aoltv.com/2011/10/17/supernatural-season-7-episode-4-recap/
  29. ^ Sean Elliott (February 12, 2007). "TV Review: Supernatural: Season Two- "Born Under a Bad Sign"". IFMagazine. Retrieved October 10, 2009. [dead link]
  30. ^ a b Ileane Rudolph (October 26, 2007). "Up Close with Supernatural's Jensen Ackles: Part 2". TV Guide. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  31. ^ Michael Ausiello (July 21, 2007). "Supernatural Exec: "We Won't Be One Tree Hill with Monsters!"". TV Guide. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  32. ^ "Top 200 Sexiest Characters In Sci-Fi". SFX. March 27, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2014.